• First Post-Election Controversies Starting to Take Shape

    It looks like the relatively quiet period in the immediate aftermath of the election is over. Donald Trump’s naming of Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, as his “chief strategist and senior counselor”, will start to really test how Trump handles intense criticism outside of the context of a campaign.

    Bannon’s appointment drew sharp criticism from political operatives on both sides of the aisle who see Bannon as being too close to the alt-right and white nationalism. Breitbart has published stories with headlines stating that women faced with harassment online should “log off” and called Republican Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.”

    I don’t see how this kind of an appointment can stand as a senior advisor to the President of the United States.

    Let’s also take this moment to remind ourselves that, like Trump himself, Trump surrogates lie routinely when defending him. Newt Gingrich claimed that Trump’s connection to the alt-right is fabricated by the media:

    Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich blasted the idea Sunday that Trump’s campaign catered to the alt-right, calling it “garbage.”

    Hiring Steve Bannon proves that its connection could hardly be closer.

    Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump should put his assets in a blind trust “for the good of the country,” but on CNN that putting the Trump companies into a blind trust would “basically put his children out of work.”

    The kleptocracy begins to takes shape.

    Finally let’s take a minute to note a couple other casual lies from today. Here’s one:

    On undocumented immigrants, Trump said on “60 Minutes” that his administration will “get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million. We are getting them out of our country, or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country; they’re here illegally.”

    The remarks are another sign of retreat from Trump’s vows throughout much of the presidential campaign to remove all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. By focusing on criminals only, Trump would be mirroring current Obama administration priorities, and experts say his numbers are highly inflated.

    And another:

    [Trump] took aim at the New York Times, suggesting that a letter sent to subscribers amounted to the paper “apologizing for their BAD coverage of me.” The letter did not apologize for bad coverage.

    And another:

    [Trump] also tweeted, “The ­@nytimes states today that DJT believes ‘more countries should acquire nuclear weapons.’ How dishonest are they. I never said this!” Trump said during the campaign that perhaps South Korea and other countries should have nuclear weapons.

  • Report: Trump’s team had contacts with Moscow during campaign

    From Politico:

    Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run Interfax news agency in an interview reported on by The Washington Post. “Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions. I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”

    True to form, Trump lied about this during the campaign:

    The Manhattan billionaire has repeatedly denied any connection to the Russian government, claims that appear to be contradicted by Ryabkov.

  • Donald Trump Has Broken the Constitution

    Garrett Epps writing in The Atlantic:

    American national leaders gain their legitimacy by competing in compliance with not merely the outward forms but the clear values of our Constitution—equal dignity, religious freedom and tolerance, open deliberation, and the rule of law. These values don’t bind Donald Trump; norms of decency do not apply; he shrugs off the very burden of fact itself. Like dictators of the Old World, he uses his mass media power to lie, to insult, to strip individuals of their dignity, to commit the grossest libels of religious and national groups, and to encourage persecution, torture, and public violence. He actively campaigns against any notions of racial, religious, and sexual equality. He threatens those who oppose him with the unchecked power of the state.

    He is, in other words, a figure out of authoritarian politics, not the American tradition; and a democratic constitution that empowers such a leader has misfired badly.

    I have written before of the decay that had set in among American democratic norms before Trump came along to hijack them—of a political system so hardened in hatred that it has become unable to provide in orderly fashion for the nation’s finances, that permits legislative bodies to hobble the courts, that evades the vital questions of war and peace the Constitution was created to address, that hides in plain sight the growth of mass surveillance and toxic secrecy in government. And I’ve noted that never before in American history has the nation fought a “war” that lasted 15 years, much less one against an unnamed enemy who can never be located entirely or fully defeated. Over a decade and a half of no-holds-barred politics and “enemy-within” panic, Americans drove their democracy as if it were an automobile with an oil leak, until the engine at last has seized up and the vehicle has crashed.

  • Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

    Regarding today’s coordinated DDoS attack against core Internet infrastructure, this article from a month provides some interesting context:

    Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

  • Against Donald Trump

    For only the third time in its almost 160 year history, The Atlantic has endorsed a candidate for President:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than earned, through her service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state, the right to be taken seriously as a White House contender. She has flaws (some legitimately troubling, some exaggerated by her opponents), but she is among the most prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency. We are confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world; we have no doubt that she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country; and she has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.

    But the animus towards Donald Trump is the true motivator for this endorsement:

    Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.

    This judgment is not limited to the editors of The Atlantic. A large number—in fact, a number unparalleled since Goldwater’s 1964 campaign—of prominent policy makers and officeholders from the candidate’s own party have publicly renounced him. Trump disqualified himself from public service long before he declared his presidential candidacy. In one of the more sordid episodes in modern American politics, Trump made himself the face of the so-called birther movement, which had as its immediate goal the demonization of the country’s first African American president. Trump’s larger goal, it seemed, was to stoke fear among white Americans of dark-skinned foreigners. He succeeded wildly in this; the fear he has aroused has brought him one step away from the presidency.

  • Bruce Springsteen Nails Trump

    In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bruce Springsteen shows he has a deeper understanding of what’s going on in this country and why Trump is popular than most political professionals (hint: the interesting part isn’t where he calls Trump a moron):

    Well, you know, the republic is under siege by a moron, basically. The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it’s a tragedy for our democracy. When you start talking about elections being rigged, you’re pushing people beyond democratic governance. And it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do. Once you let those genies out of the bottle, they don’t go back in so easy, if they go back in at all. The ideas he’s moving to the mainstream are all very dangerous ideas – white nationalism and the alt-right movement. The outrageous things that he’s done – not immediately disavowing David Duke? These are things that are obviously beyond the pale for any previous political candidate. It would sink your candidacy immediately.

    And in particular:

    I believe that there’s a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it’s deeply affected people’s lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump’s thing is simple answers to very complex problems. Fallacious answers to very complex problems. And that can be very appealing.

    Pretty much exactly right. All the economic forces that have been putting downward pressure on the middle class for decades, and that were exacerbated and accelerated by the 2008 financial crisis, leads directly to Trump.

  • Donald Trump Retreats From Obama ‘Birther’ Theory

    Donald Trump, doing what comes most natural, lying about his years of spreading racist conspiracy theories about President Obama:

    In his news conference Friday, Mr. Trump falsely accused Hillary Clinton of having first raised questions about Mr. Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 Democratic primary.

    “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Mr. Trump said. “I finished it.”

    Mr. Trump’s assertion was false. During the 2008 Democratic contest, Mrs. Clinton’s senior strategist at one point pondered, in an internal memo that was later leaked, the ways in which Mr. Obama’s personal background differed from many Americans’. But neither Mrs. Clinton nor her campaign ever publicly questioned Mr. Obama’s citizenship or birthplace, in Hawaii.

    Donald Trump lies about absolutely everything, all the time. You can’t just walk away from literally years of spreading this garbage.

  • Donald Trump Uses Charity Money on Himsef

    From The Washington Post:

    Donald Trump was in a tuxedo, standing next to his award: a statue of a palm tree, as tall as a toddler. It was 2010, and Trump was being honored by a charity — the Palm Beach Police Foundation — for his “selfless support” of its cause.

    His support did not include any of his own money.

    Instead, Trump had found a way to give away somebody else’s money and claim the credit for himself.

    Everything about this man is a lie. Everything. And the lies often involved his boundless narcissism.