December 2, 2016

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ON THE RECORD.....

"The people wanted to hear this. So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then ... our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire." -- Jestin Coler, head of Disinfomedia, whose writer wrote the story in the Denver Guardian that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views. He says stories like this work because they fit into existing right-wing conspiracy theories. 11/23/16

"The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest,” -- Trump in an interview with NY Times.

It has been weeks since Donald Trump won the presidential election, and here is what we can say: he is still just himself. He is governing like he promised. He is appointing the loyalists, lackeys, and extremists he surrounded himself with during the campaign. He is tweeting the same strange, crazed missives, pursuing the same odd and counterproductive vendettas. His s of interest have proven, if anything, worse than expected, and he has shown no shame, restraint, or interest in addressing them. -- Ezra Klein11/27/16

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election
2. The DAILY GRILL
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. From the Late Shows
5. Donald Trump Wants You to Burn the Flag While He Burns the Constitution
6. Trump Will Pick His Own Auditor
7. Stanford Study: Most Students Can't Tell the Difference Between Fake and Real News
8. Federalism, the Constitution, and sanctuary cities
9. MIT and UC Berkeley election experts call for presidential election audit: There's cause for concern
10. Andy Borowitz: Trump Picks El Chapo To Run D.E.A
11. Mark Fiore Cartoon: TrumpLink Jobs Network
12. For $1 million and up, inaugural donors will get ‘candlelight dinner’ with Trump and other access

OPINION

1. Ben Fountain: Welcome to the reign of King Trump
2. Katha Pollitt: An Unabashed Misogynist Is in Charge of Our Country. Now What?
3. Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Kleptocracy Is So Astounding It Already Feels Like Old News
4. Paul Waldman: How long before the white working class realizes Trump was just scamming them?
5. Ruth Marcus: Breitbart isn’t ‘just a publication.’ It’s a pestilence.
6. Jane Caplan: Trump and Fascism. A View from the Past
7. Charles Sykes: Donald Trump and the Rise of Alt-Reality Media
8. Kathleen Parker: Who is the real Donald Trump (and what does he stand for)?
9. Eric Chenoweth: Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story
10. Michael Tomasky: Kleptocracy Crisis
11. Frank Bruni: The Pretend Populism of Donald Trump
12. Jonathan Chait: Why Donald Trump Is Lying About the Popular Vote
13. Kevin Drum: Donald Trump Flips Out Yet Again

FYI

1. Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia. -- Craig Timberg 11/24/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html

2. The DAILY GRILL

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Donald Trump presented no evidence to support his outlandish claim, and that’s because none exists. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this or any presidential election, and certainly not on the order of “millions of people.” One of the only documented cases of actual voter fraud in this election came when a Trump supporter tried to vote for him twice. -- Adam Peck in Think Progress

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TRUMP THEN VERSUS TRUMP NOW

“I think president Obama has been the most ignorant president in our history…President Obama when he became president, he didn't know anything. This guy didn’t know a thing. And honestly, today he knows less. Today, he knows less. He has done a terrible job.”-- Trump at a press conference in Florida, 7/27/16

VERSUS

“I have great respect…I very much look forward to dealing with the President in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the really great things that have been achieved.” -- Trump at the White House, 11/10/16

 

“Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” -- Trump on Twitter, 11/10/16

VERSUS

“Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” -- Trump on Twitter, 11/11/16

 

“Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a "fence." It's not a fence, Jeb, it's a WALL, and there's a BIG difference!” -- Trump on Twitter, 8/25/15

VERSUS

“There could be some fencing.” -- Trump on 60 Minutes, 11/13/16

 

“If I’m elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things…I don’t like the way they ruled…I would strongly consider [trying to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage].” -- Trump pm Fox News Sunday, 1/ 31/16

VERSUS

“It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done…And I’m fine with that.” -- Trump on 60 Minutes, 11/13/16

 

“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There has never been so many lies, so much exception. There has never been anything like it. We will have a special prosecutor. I go out and speak and the people of this country are furious. The long time workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this with emails. You get a subpoena and after getting the subpoena you delete 33,000 emails and acid wash them or bleach them. An expensive process. We will get a special prosecutor and look into it. You know what, people have been—their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you have done. You should be ashamed.” --Trump during Second Presidential Debate, 10/09/16

VERSUS

“I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t…It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.” -- Trump to the New York Times, 11/22/16

 

“We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out.” --Trump at the CNN-Republican Debate, 2/25/16

VERSUS

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.” -- Trump on 60 Minutes, 11/13/16

 

“Well I think maybe it’s not so bad to have Japan — if Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.” -- Trump to the New York Times, 3/ 26/16

VERSUS

“The @nytimes states today that DJT believes "more countries should acquire nuclear weapons." How dishonest are they. I never said this!” -- Trump on Twitter 11/13/16

 

“The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!” -- Trump on Twitter, 11/15/16

VERSUS

“I'd rather do the popular vote.” Says he was "never a fan of the electoral college." -- Trump to the NY Times, 11/2216

 

“I am not a great believer in man-made climate change.” -- Trump to Washington Postt, 3/ 21/16

VERSUS

“I think there is some connectivity. Some, something.” -- Trump to New York Times, 11/22/16

 

“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement” -- Trump during Policy address in North Dakota, 5/ 26/16

VERSUS

“I have an open mind to it." --Trump to New York Times, 11/22/16

 

"Wow, the @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the 'Trump phenomena.'" -- Trump on Twitter, 11/13/16

VERSUS

“I have great respect for the New York Times. I have tremendous respect…The New York Times is a world jewel. And I hope we can all get along." -- Trump to the New York Times, 11/22/16

3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Fox News Pushes Debunked Story About University Professors Offering Extra Credit To Students For Attending An Anti-Trump Protest http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/11/23/fox-news-pushes-debunked-story-about-university-professors-offering-extra-credit-students-attending/214620

Trump's Other Putin-Praising, Anti-Muslim National Security Pick Has Supported Torture And War With Iran. -- K.T. McFarland Is The Latest Fox News Personality To Be Named To New Trump Administration http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/11/26/trumps-other-putin-praising-anti-muslim-national-security-pick-has-supported-torture-and-war-iran/214622

Bill O'Reilly Defends Donald Trump's Ties To White Nationalists- O'Reilly: "Liberal Press" Are "Putting Out Absurd Storylines" That "Somehow The White Power Movement Is Gaining Momentum In The U.S.A. Because Of Trump" http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/11/28/bill-oreilly-defends-donald-trumps-ties-white-nationalists/214642

4. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump's Foreign Business Ties: A Closer Look

https://youtu.be/ud0LrLJzses

5. Donald Trump Wants You to Burn the Flag While He Burns the Constitution

It is usually a mistake to ascribe Donald Trump’s ravings to the news media or through Twitter to deliberate strategy. But Tuesday morning, the president-elect sent a missive that reeked of deliberate calculation, threatening to revoke citizenship for flag-burners:

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

Trump’s flag-burning tweet is a frightening moment not because his proposal stands any chance of enactment, but because it reflects one of the few signs that his dangerous and authoritarian politics is calculated, and not merely crazy. -- Jonathan Chait http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/trump-wants-you-to-burn-flags-while-he-burns-constitution.html

6. For $1 million and up, inaugural donors will get ‘candlelight dinner’ with Trump and other access
 
The committee raising money for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural festivities is offering exclusive access to the new president, Cabinet nominees and congressional leaders in exchange for donations of $1 million and more.

For seven-figure contributions, Trump's richest supporters will get a slew of special perks during the inauguration weekend, including eight tickets to a “candlelight dinner” that will feature “special appearances” by Trump, his wife, Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, according to a sheet detailing “underwriter package benefits” obtained by The Washington Post. The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed the authenticity of the donor brochure, which was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.

Other million-donor benefits include an exclusive lunch “with select Cabinet appointees and House and Senate leadership,” four tickets to “an intimate dinner” with the Pences, eight tickets to a lunch with “the ladies of the first families,” eight tickets and premier access to the inaugural ball and priority booking at “Premier Inaugural Hotel(s).”

So much for “draining the swamp!” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/11/29/for-1-million-and-up-inaugural-donors-will-get-candlelight-dinner-with-trump-and-other-access/?utm_term=.683f0a77afde

7. Stanford Study: Most Students Can't Tell the Difference Between Fake and Real News

The rise of “fake news” is a topic that is getting a lot of attention lately, thanks to the role that Facebook and other social platforms play in news consumption for a growing number of users. But there are other problems as well, a recent Stanford study found.

According to researchers from the university, a majority of students—more than 80% of them, in fact—could not distinguish between a piece of sponsored content or “native advertising” and a real news article. They also had difficulty determining whether a news story shared on social media was credible, and based their decision on odd or even irrelevant factors. http://fortune.com/2016/11/23/stanford-fake-news/

8. Federalism, the Constitution, and sanctuary cities

Under the Constitution, state and local governments have every right to refuse to help enforce federal law. In cases like Printz v. United States (1997) and New York v. United States (1992), the Supreme Court has ruled that the Tenth Amendment forbids federal “commandeering” of state governments to help enforce federal law. Most of the support for this anti-commandeering principle came from conservative justices such as the late Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in Printz. Ilya Somin 11/26/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/11/26/federalism-the-constitution-and-sanctuary-cities/?utm_term=.f73d5fd2317a&wpisrc=nl_volokh&wpmm=1

9. MIT and UC Berkeley election experts call for presidential election audit: There's cause for concern

On election night, when most of the world expected to see the the first woman become a U.S. president, the ballot results came rolling with win after win going to a man —  who blatantly lies, incites violence, commits fraud, bullies the disabled, sexually molests women, files bankruptcies, has thousands of lawsuits against him, boasts about not paying taxes, appoints misogynistic white supremacists to top positions, and choses an anti-choice/anti-LGBT vice president who believes in LGBT conversion therapy and swears he’ll take Roe v. Wade to the “ash heap, where it belongs.” The above is not speculation — it’s all on video coming out of the man’s mouth. No, this is not a normal president-elect and many around the country remain in disbelief, with some terrified.

Right now, Republican extremists own the Oval Office, the House, the Senate and they have made it more than clear they intend to gain majority in the Supreme Court. To many, the thought of this extremist regime being sworn in is terrifying. The time is now to investigate/audit and leave no doubt in the minds of the American people that all of our votes counted and that democracy is served. Now, more than ever. 11/22/16 http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/22/1603289/-MIT-professor-cryptographer-UC-Berkeley-statistician-call-for-a-presidential-election-audit

10. Andy Borowitz: Trump Picks El Chapo To Run D.E.A.

Just days after picking Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped another wealthy outsider by naming Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In an official statement, Trump said that El Chapo’s “tremendous success in the private sector” showed that he has what it takes to “shake things up” at the D.E.A.

Trump’s appointment of the former drug lord surprised many in Washington, in no small part because acrimony between the two allegedly prompted El Chapo, in 2015, to put a hundred-million-dollar bounty on Trump’s head.

But, appearing on CNN, the Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway said that the selection of El Chapo should surprise no one. “Mr. Trump always said that he would surround himself with the best people,” she said.

When asked why Trump had readily offered a job to El Chapo while still mulling the fate of another former adversary, Mitt Romney, Conway said, “El Chapo might not have voted for Mr. Trump, but that’s because he’s Mexican and in jail, and Mitt Romney is neither.”

The appointment of the former drug kingpin is far from a done deal, however, as associates of El Chapo report that he is “concerned” that being a member of the Trump Administration would be bad for his brand. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

11. Mark Fiore Cartoon: TrumpLink Jobs Network

https://vimeo.com/192861216

12. For $1 million and up, inaugural donors will get ‘candlelight dinner’ with Trump and other access
 
The committee raising money for President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural festivities is offering exclusive access to the new president, Cabinet nominees and congressional leaders in exchange for donations of $1 million and more.

For seven-figure contributions, Trump's richest supporters will get a slew of special perks during the inauguration weekend, including eight tickets to a “candlelight dinner” that will feature “special appearances” by Trump, his wife, Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, according to a sheet detailing “underwriter package benefits” obtained by The Washington Post. The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed the authenticity of the donor brochure, which was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.

Other million-donor benefits include an exclusive lunch “with select Cabinet appointees and House and Senate leadership,” four tickets to “an intimate dinner” with the Pences, eight tickets to a lunch with “the ladies of the first families,” eight tickets and premier access to the inaugural ball and priority booking at “Premier Inaugural Hotel(s).”

So much for “draining the swamp!” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/11/29/for-1-million-and-up-inaugural-donors-will-get-candlelight-dinner-with-trump-and-other-access/?utm_term=.683f0a77afde

OPINION

1. Ben Fountain: Welcome to the reign of King Trump

Welcome to the full flowering of the Era of Trump, which began with that now mytho-epic glide down the escalator at Trump Tower, where Trump commenced his candidacy with these historic words:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

If ever a monument is erected to the Trump presidency, then surely these words – shades of Gettysburg! – will be carved into the marble walls, along with “blood coming out of her wherever”, “fifty bucks a steak” and “I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. In true demagogic fashion, Trump bypassed the head and spoke directly to the gut, to the biles and bubbling acids of raw emotion. He said things that many civil, temperate Americans hardly dared to admit we carried in ourselves – were hardly aware of just how deeply we resented our own niceness, how angry our interior lives with all this stuff bottled up, years and years of internalized micro-aggression from a culture that kept insisting on diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance. Many discovered just what a drag political correctness was all these years, and to be free of it, freed from this code that was jamming us up? That was relief akin to a lung-puncturing primal scream. From the start Trump’s rallies had the air of the tent revival, that same hot thrum of militant exorcism and ecstasy.

The institutions, structures and traditions of American governance are about to be tested as they haven’t been in generations. You say you want change? Here it comes. Brace for impact. 11/22/16 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/22/king-trump-republican-party-donald-trump-presidency

2. Katha Pollitt: An Unabashed Misogynist Is in Charge of Our Country. Now What?

She lost. We lost. Women lost. Racism, nationalism, and “economic anxiety” won. Misogyny beat feminism. Wives with pro-Trump husbands didn’t secretly pull the lever for Hillary—only 8 percent of Republican women voted for her. Pussy did not unsheathe her claws and grab back with enough fire and ferocity. Yes, the gender gap hit a historic high: 24 percent. Yes, in every demographic, more women than men voted Democratic. Yes, a narrow majority of Americans voted for the sane, competent, qualified woman for president—and in a normal country, she’d be heading to the White House. But in the United States, having the most votes doesn’t mean you win.

There are dozens of reasons why Trump won, but misogyny was a big part of it. And if you didn’t know women can be misogynistic, now you do. Trumpettes, if you voted for a grotesque liar, bankrupt, and groper with no public-service experience, the only candidate in 40 years not to have released his tax returns, don’t tell me you preferred him just because Hillary is “unlikable.” Judging men and women by such different standards is what female self-hatred is.

The Trump phenomenon was like an Internet comment thread come to life: aggressive, bullying, ignorant, and contemptuous of women. Consider the T-shirts: “Trump That Bitch.” “Proud to Be a Hillary Hater.” “I Wish Hillary Had Married OJ.” “She’s a Cunt/Vote for Trump.” “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts… Left Wing.” (KFC objected to that one.) As Vox reported, one of the biggest predictors of Trump support was “hostile sexism,” as revealed by the responses to statements like “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist” and “Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor women over men, under the guise of asking for equality.” The more you agreed with these statements, the more likely you were to be a Trump supporter. For his supporters, nothing Trump could say was so vile that it couldn’t be repositioned as a gloat: Get your grab-’em-by-the-pussy gear right here! In 20 years, will aging white guys don these items for special occasions—cherished trophies of their youth, like shirts from a favorite concert? 11/15/16 https://www.thenation.com/article/an-unabashed-misogynist-is-in-charge-of-our-country-now-what/

3. Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Kleptocracy Is So Astounding It Already Feels Like Old News

One of the many surreal moments of the presidential campaign took place at a Republican debate in January, when a moderator asked Donald Trump if he would follow standard practice and place his assets in a blind trust after assuming office. Trump first dodged the question, simply insisting he cares more about the country than about his company. When pressed about the blind trust, he replied, bizarrely, “I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don, and Eric run it. But — is that a blind trust? I don’t know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives. And I wouldn’t ever be involved, because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country.”

It was difficult to understand what meaning, if any, could be drawn from this zigzag of verbiage. Was Trump merely pretending not to understand what the term blind trust means? (It means a third party places your wealth into investments of which you have neither awareness nor control, so that self-interest cannot influence your decisions in office.) Did he truly not understand? Was he actually saying he would continue as president to run his business, which was enmeshed in politics throughout the United States and in 18 other countries and which had infinite potential as a conduit for corruption?

The question receded into the background, in part because an endless series of other controversies obscured it, in part because Americans couldn’t fathom what Trump had apparently promised: the presidency as an adjunct of his real-estate and branding business. The developing world is filled with ruling families that use the state to amass huge and usually secretive fortunes. Such an arrangement has been heretofore unimaginable in the United States. And yet the surreal has quickly become real.
Trump’s behavior, if successful, would supply proof of concept that he can destroy norms unimpeded. He has already dismantled the twin guardrails against presidential kleptocracy, tax disclosure and personal divestment, in quick succession. It is a chillingly impressive achievement for a man still two months away from assuming the powers of office. 11/28/16 issue of New York Magazine. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/trumps-kleptocracy-already-feels-like-old-news.html

4. Paul Waldman: How long before the white working class realizes Trump was just scamming them?

Imagine you’re one of those folks who went to Trump rallies and thrilled to his promises to take America back from the establishment, who felt your heart stir as he promised to torture prisoners, who got your “Trump That Bitch” T-shirt, who was overjoyed to finally have a candidate who tells it like it is. What are you thinking as you watch this?

If you have any sense, you’re coming to the realization that it was all a scam. You got played. While you were chanting “Lock her up!” he was laughing at you for being so gullible. While you were dreaming about how you’d have an advocate in the Oval Office, he was dreaming about how he could use it to make himself richer. He hasn’t even taken office yet and everything he told you is already being revealed as a lie.

During the campaign, Trump made two kinds of promises to those white working class voters. One was very practical, focused on economics. In coal country, he said he’d bring back all the coal jobs that have been lost to cheap natural gas (even as he promotes more fracking of natural gas; figure that one out). In the industrial Midwest, he said he’d bring back all the labor-intensive factory jobs that were mostly lost to automation, not trade deals. These promises were utterly ludicrous, but most of the target voters seemed not to care.

So what are we left with? What remains is Trump’s erratic whims, his boundless greed, and the core of Republican policies Congress will pursue, which are most definitely not geared toward the interests of working class whites. He can gut environmental regulations, but that doesn’t mean millions of people are going to head back to the coal mines — it was market forces more than anything else that led to coal’s decline. He can renegotiate trade deals, but that doesn’t mean that the labor-intensive factory jobs are coming back. And by the way, the high wages, good benefits, and job security those jobs used to offer? That was thanks to labor unions, which Republicans are now going to try to destroy once and for all.

Had Hillary Clinton won the election, the white working class might have gotten some tangible benefits — a higher minimum wage, overtime pay, paid family and medical leave, more secure health insurance, and so on. Trump and the Republicans oppose all that. So what did the white working class actually get? They got the election itself. They got to give a big middle finger to the establishment, to the coastal elites, to immigrants, to feminists, to college students, to popular culture, to political correctness, to every person and impersonal force they see arrayed against them. And that was it. 11/23/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/11/23/how-long-before-the-white-working-class-realizes-trump-was-just-scamming-them/

5. Ruth Marcus: Breitbart isn’t ‘just a publication.’ It’s a pestilence.

To President-elect Donald Trump, Breitbart News — the racist, sexist and all-around offensive website once overseen by his campaign chairman and designated White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon — is “just a publication.”

Breitbart’s editors and writers, Trump told the New York Times, “cover stories like you cover stories.” Granted, Trump said, “they are certainly a much more conservative paper, to put it mildly, than the New York Times. But Breitbart really is a news organization that’s become quite successful, and it’s got readers and it does cover subjects that are on the right, but it covers subjects on the left also. I mean it’s a pretty big, it’s a pretty big thing. And he [Bannon] helped build it into a pretty successful news organization.”

Referring to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Trump observed, “I mean, I could say that Arthur is alt-right because they covered an alt-right story.”

No, no, no. The notion that Breitbart is “just a publication,” like the Times but just several notches to the right, is untrue and unacceptable. There are any number of conservative publications and websites that would fit that description.

Breitbart is something different entirely. That Trump would put it in the same category exposes both his failure to understand the role of the media and his failure to recognize — or to care about — the offensiveness of what Breitbart, under the Bannon regime, represents.

Breitbart isn’t “just a publication.” It’s a pestilence — one whose repugnant views Trump has invited into his White House. 11/23/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/breitbart-isnt-just-a-publication-its-a-pestilence/2016/11/23/949618d2-b1b9-11e6-840f-e3ebab6bcdd3_story.html

6. Jane Caplan: Trump and Fascism. A View from the Past

Is Trump a fascist? Let’s start with another question: why do we want to know? Is it simply to stick him with the most damning political label available? Or is it because his ideas, his actions, his support really put him in the same genus as the fascist movements and regimes of interwar Europe?

For months, historians of the twentieth century have been looking nervously at Trump and asking what tools we have to understand the man, his popular appeal and his backers – and to measure the danger he represents. Against my own better judgment, I have been spotting Mussolini in this gesture or turn of phrase, Hitler in that one; I have been watching the manipulated interactions of speaker with audience, the hyperbolic political emotions, the narcissistic masculinity, the unbridled threats, the conversion of facile fantasies and malignant bigotries into eternal verities, the vast, empty promises, the breath-taking lies. A whole repertoire seems to have returned us to the fascisms of interwar Europe, acted out by a man whose vanity is equalled only by his ignorance. But has it?

Fascism is not just the big bang of mass rallies and extreme violence; it is also the creeping fog that incrementally occupies power while obscuring its motives, its moves and its goals. It is about inserting demagoguery, violence and contempt for the rule of law into the heart of popular politics. http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/trump-and-fascism-a-view-from-the-past/

7. Charles Sykes: Donald Trump and the Rise of Alt-Reality Media

Trump’s victory means that the most extreme and recklessly irresponsible voices on the right now feel emboldened and empowered. And more worrisome than that, they have an ally in the White House. For years, Rush Limbaugh has gibed about what he calls the “state-controlled media”—the fawning liberal news outlets that Limbaugh has long decried for their lack of critical coverage of President Obama—but we may be about to see what one actually looks like—an alt-reality news outlet operating from within 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The new media will not only provide propaganda cover for the administration, but also direct the fire of a loose confederation of conservative outlets against critics and dissenters. Already, Fox’s Sean Hannity has urged Trump to freeze out the mainstream media and talk directly to the nation.

The “fake news” that we are now obsessing over is only the latest leading indicator of the perils of our new post-truth media/political world. Indeed, what we learned this year was that the walls are down, the gatekeepers dismissed, the norms and standards of journalism and fact-based discourse trashed.

All of this was a long time coming. For years, conservatives criticized the bias and double standards of the mainstream media (and much of that criticism was richly deserved). Over the years, I used my own radio show on many occasions to call out the many failures of the liberal media. But the cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets altogether and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. The media’s rather dramatic failure to get the election right this year has made it only easier for Trump’s supporters to ignore anything that happens outside the right’s bubble.

It’s possible that a Trump loss would have led to an exorcism of the worst elements of the conservative media. But they saw Trump’s victory as their victory too. The newly weaponized conservative media genuinely believe that they have changed the paradigm of media coverage. In the new alt-reality bubble, negative information simply no longer penetrates; gaffes and scandals can be snuffed out, ignored, or spun; counternarratives can be launched. Trump has proven that a candidate could be immune to the narratives, criticism and fact-checking of the mainstream media. This was, after all, a campaign in which a presidential candidate trafficked in “scoops” from the National Enquirer. And got away with it.

No wonder “fake news” could flourish in this environment.

Welcome to the media in the Age of Trump. 11/25/16 http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/donald-trump-conservative-media-charlie-sykes-214483

8. Kathleen Parker: Who is the real Donald Trump (and what does he stand for)?

In this season of Thanksgiving, a quirky source of gratitude has emerged — Donald Trump’s many campaign lies.

What else can one call the promises that he now treats as alien concepts? Almost daily, he reverses himself on a campaign promise, confirming what this column predicted: He would never keep his vows.

As a matter of practicality, Trump couldn’t do much of what he bragged about, such as build the wall and make Mexico pay for it. Now he’s talking fences.

Likewise, it isn’t the prerogative of the executive office to investigate, prosecute or jail Hillary Clinton, whom he now says he doesn’t plan to investigate because he doesn’t want to hurt the Clintons.

Similarly, Trump apparently no longer thinks that climate change is a Chinese hoax and has “an open mind to” future discussions. When retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s apparent choice for defense secretary, told the president-elect that he could get more information from a prisoner with a couple of beers and a pack of cigarettes than by waterboarding, Trump said, fine, he will rethink waterboarding.

If Trump has never been burdened by the truth, he at least has been true to his core value, which is say or do whatever it takes to win. And for him, what worked were lies. Or at least untruths. 11/25/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-is-the-real-donald-trump-and-what-does-he-stand-for/2016/11/25/089b82b6-b355-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html

9. Eric Chenoweth: Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story

In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.

U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support Republican nominee Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president’s foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directed the illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is ready to fully restore relations with the United States in an on-camera statement congratulating President-elect Donald Trump for his win against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. (Reuters)

From the Russian perspective, the success of this operation can hardly be overstated. News stories on the DNC emails released in July served to disrupt the Democratic National Convention, instigate political infighting and suggest for some supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — without any real proof — that the Democratic primary had been “rigged” against their candidate. On Oct. 7, WikiLeaks began near daily dumps from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, generating a month of largely negative reporting on Clinton, her campaign staff, her husband and their foundation. With some exceptions, there was little news in the email beyond political gossip and things the media had covered before, now revisited from a seemingly “hidden” viewpoint.

Frighteningly, Putin’s worldview has resonance in the populist and nationalist fixations of Stephen K. Bannon, the president-elect’s senior counselor, whose stated mission is to “destroy” the “establishment” and end the domination of the “donor class.” Bannon’s “closing argument” ad for Trump, redolent of Russian propaganda, described the United States as a corrupt and failing state because of nefarious “global special interests.” It all points to grave danger for democracy and a world order that has kept the peace for 70 years. Is this what America voted for? 11/25/16https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-keep-looking-away-from-the-elections-most-alarming-story/2016/11/25/83533d3e-b0e2-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html

10. Michael Tomasky: Kleptocracy Crisis

Let’s review: We have a president-elect who:

1. Will end up having received around 2.5 million fewer votes than his main opponent.

2. Whose campaign benefited, almost no one now disputes, from the help provided him by Russian intelligence agencies and other even more shadowy Russian actors—which is to say that foreign agents, whether Russian or any nationality, sought to influence this election to an unprecedented degree. 

3. Who is so tied up in compromises and conflicts because of his business dealings that past White House ethics lawyers, including at least one Republican one, say he will be in violation of the Constitution from his first day in office and argue that the Electoral College must not seat him.

4. Has already told the American people that, with respect to number 3, his attitude is precisely that of Richard Nixon, back when Nixon declared the president to be by the very nature of the office above the law. Trump said that the president “can’t have a conflict of interest”—meaning, presumably, that it can’t happen simply because he’s the president.

Want to imagine any one of these four statements applying to any Democrat, but especially to Hillary Clinton? Think about what we’d be hearing right now from Republicans if Clinton had won a substantial Electoral College victory but lost the popular vote by five more than Al Gore’s margin in 2000. Five hundred thousand was close, but 2.5 million isn’t, out of 137 million. It’s almost 2 percent. That’s a narrow win, yes, but a clear one—well above the threshold, for example, that triggers an automatic recount in the 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) that set such thresholds, which is most typically .5 percent or even .1 percent, but never more than 1 percent. 11/27/16 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/27/the-people-chose-hillary-clinton-now-we-need-to-stop-donald-trump-from-trashing-our-democracy.html

11. Frank Bruni: The Pretend Populism of Donald Trump

For all his thunderous talk before Election Day about “draining the swamp” of Washington, the water level looks fine, the mosquitoes seem unworried and the gators remain plentiful and well-fed.

Any suggestion that he would put an end to the self-dealing and personal enrichment of political insiders is contradicted by Trump himself, who hasn’t provided any concrete assurances that he won’t use the presidency to elevate his and his children’s fortunes.

In his interview with The Times, he was emphatic (and correct) that he had no legal obligation to liquidate any of his holdings or put them in a blind trust. And while he said that his concerns now are about the country, not his businesses, he acknowledged, “The brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before.”

He also volunteered that history provided no real guide for what he should do, because other presidents hadn’t possessed his kind of wealth. The remark came across as less philosophical than self-congratulatory.

This supposed populist has never been much for humility, and has spent at least as much time emulating the elites as defying and insulting them. He sent his children to fancy boarding schools. Three of them later attended the same Ivy League institution, the University of Pennsylvania, that he graduated from.

The signature ingredient in Melania Trump’s short-lived skincare line was caviar, because, I suppose, nothing says hydration to the everyday American woman like ingestible fish eggs. Had her business taken off, a white-truffle facial masque and Dom Perignon toner would surely have followed: populist ablutions for the parched skin of the little people.

And though in some situations Trump plays the skunk at the garden party, in others he’s the garden party itself. He can pantomime populism all he likes. The reality is still pomp.11/25/16 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/the-pretend-populism-of-donald-trump.html or http://nyti.ms/2g47XE2

12. Jonathan Chait: Why Donald Trump Is Lying About the Popular Vote

Trump “just won a mandate,” declared Paul Ryan on Election Night. Trump’s advisers have portrayed his victory as a kind of landslide.“This election was not close. It was not a squeaker,” said Kellyanne Conway. “There is a mandate there, and there is a mandate for his 100-day agenda, as well.” Representative Darrell Issa boasts, “Perhaps since Teddy Roosevelt … nobody’s ridden into town with that kind of a mandate to say business as usual is not going to continue.” Trump himself said of his election, “the people have spoken.”

The people have spoken, and they said, by a margin currently exceedingtwo million votes, that they prefer Hillary Clinton to Trump. The Electoral College says otherwise. Of course, in a country where democracy is instilled in the national ethos, it is natural that any governing party will portray itself as representative of the majority. But creating the myth of popular ascent has special importance to a populist candidate like Trump. His claim to represent a “silent majority,” and to stand for the people against the elites, is fundamental to his appeal. It is the reason he has dismissed protesters as paid agents of a sinister, hidden elite opposition. And it is the reason why his supporters have circulated fake maps attempting to depict blue America as a tiny, coastal fringe.

What the people want and what the system provides are two different questions. Trump’s vote-fraud conspiracy theory is a disinformation exercise to conceal the unattractive reality that the Republican Party is gearing up to exercise minority rule. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/why-donald-trump-is-lying-about-the-popular-vote.html

13. Kevin Drum: Donald Trump Flips Out Yet Again

I still wake up each morning thinking it can't really be true that Donald Trump will be president of the United States in less than eight weeks. I mean, he's…he's—he's a willfully ignorant crackpot. He's a ridiculous game show host. He's a five-year-old in a 70-year-old body. He's addicted to gossip and TV. He's a trust fund kid who thinks he's a great businessman. He doesn't have the attention span to read an actual book. He loves conspiracy theories. And he's got an ego so fragile it ought to be packed in Styrofoam peanuts.

Today, CNN's Jeff Zeleny said he was looking for evidence that Trump's allegation of massive voter fraud was true. This instantly sent Trump into a furious tantrum, prompting one of his periodic retweet spasms.

What kind of person is so unhinged that even though he won a presidential election, he goes nuts when he's reminded that he lost the popular vote and (a) demands that all his minions start writing sycophantic tweets about his historic landslide victory, (b) continues stewing about it anyway and fabricates an allegation of massive voter fraud perpetrated by the Democratic Party, (c) flips out at an anodyne segment from a CNN reporter about his lies, and (d) spends his evening hunched over his smartphone rounding up a motley crew of racists, nutbags, and teenagers to assure him that he's right?

What kind of person does this? And how easy is it to manipulate someone like this? We have a helluva scary four years ahead of us. 11/29/16 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/11/donald-trump-flips-out-again

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