January 19th, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....

I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president. ... I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton," -- Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

“I have no confidence the existing committees will have the authority, the resources, or the will to carry this investigation to its conclusion,” -- Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill) calling for “a commission like the 9/11 Commission” to investigate claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying he does not trust existing Senate committees to do a sufficiently thorough inquiry.

So there probably should not be a lot of celebrating at this first step (passing a budget resolution) designed to authorize the repeal of Obamacare being completed without bloodshed. The path ahead for Republicans is enough of a minefield that they may privately wish they had lost the election and could go back to casting votes without consequences. -- Ed Kilgore

John Lewis has used his voice to change a nation @realDonaldTrump uses his to try and silence those who disagree with him. -- Adam Schiff ‏@RepAdamSchiff

“Only a heedless few would reject that judgment out of hand, no matter how wounding. Who would think to call John Lewis ‘all talk, talk, talk—no action or results’? Who would have the impoverished language to dismiss the whole of John Lewis as ‘sad’? As it happens, the President-elect of the United States.” -- David Remnick

“John Lewis is a racist pig.” --Tommy Hunter, a Republican county commissioner in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

“Obama’s dignity and gravitas seem, of course, only more appealing as the Trump presidency approaches. The incoming president, who fired up his political career by cynically questioning Obama’s citizenship, has betrayed a reckless, petulant, bullying demeanor that threatens his ability to do the job. Trump may not embrace many of Obama’s policies; but he would serve himself and the country well by studying the way his predecessor conducted himself.” -- LA Times Editorial 1/14/17

“Obama produced a tremendous amount of progress in spite of a backlash he could do nothing to stop. And he will leave the White House with peace and prosperity and an approval rating hovering around 60 percent. Trump belongs to the right. He is a product of the backlash against Obamaism, and the personal and ideological antithesis of the urbane, intellectual, sober, empirically minded 44th president. Trump is related to Obama only in that he is the perfect incarnation of the rage, bigotry, and ignorance that defined his opposition. --Jonathan Chait 1/18/16

Totally biased @NBCNews went out of its way to say that the big announcement from Ford, G.M., Lockheed & others that jobs are coming back... to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS. Ask top CEO's of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!-- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump. GM said their decisions are part of a four-year efficiency plan and had nothing to do with Trump

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Nation With Crumbling Bridges And Roads Excited To Build Giant Wall
2. The DAILY GRILL
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. From the Late Shows
5. The Chaos President
6. One Media Outlet Is Special to Trump
7. CBS Poll: Dubious Distinction for Trump
8. GOP Governors Fight Own Party Over Obamacare
9. Trump Orders DC National Guard Chief To Leave In Middle Of Inaugural Ceremony
10. How Putin Played the Far Left
11. Still no ACA replacement plan, but GOP ads say it exists and is awesome
12. Donald Trump’s Cabinet will cash in on billion-dollar tax breaks
13. The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos: It Was "Hair-Raising" Stuff
14. Late Nite Jokes
15. Mark Fiore cartoon: De-Obamafication
16. Trump's inauguration will be protested in all 50 states and 32 countries
17. The Weakest President In 140 Years
18. CBO: 18 Million Could Lose Health Insurance In First Year
19. Trump Trackdown: 'The End of the World'

OPINION

1. David Remnick: John Lewis, Donald Trump, And The Meaning Of Legitimacy
2. Ronald Brownstein: What Happens to the Democratic Party After Obama?
3. Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump to America: I Won, Accountability Is Over
4. Paul Krugman: With All Due Disrespect
5. Michael Tomasky: Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare Dilemma: Govern or Destroy?
6. Eric Levitz: Trump Voters and the General Public Have Very Different Priorities
7. Paul Waldman: Republicans say they’ll protect you if you have a pre-existing condition. Don’t believe it.
8. Joy-Anne Reid: Trump Could Address These Legitimacy Questions—But He Won’t
9. Dana Milbank: Trump gets no respect. That’s because he hasn’t earned it.
10. David Leonhardt: The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R.
11. Charles M. Blow: John’s Gospel of Trump’s Illegitimacy
12. Jennifer Rubin: Trump is Putin’s mouthpiece
13. Jack Shafer: Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again
14. Martin Longman: Our Country Is Currently in Cardiac Arrest

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Nation With Crumbling Bridges And Roads Excited To Build Giant Wall

Across the U.S., whose rail system is a rickety antique plagued by deadly accidents, Americans are increasingly recognizing that building a wall with Mexico, and possibly another one with Canada, should be the country’s top priority.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of a Washington-based think tank called the Center for Responsible Immigration, believes that most Americans favor the building of border walls over extravagant pet projects like structurally sound freeway overpasses.

“The estimated cost of a border wall with Mexico is five billion dollars,” he said. “We could easily blow the same amount of money on infrastructure repairs and have nothing to show for it but functioning highways.”

Congress has dragged its feet on infrastructure spending in recent years, but Dorrinson senses growing support in Washington for building a giant border wall. “Even if for some reason we don’t get the Mexicans to pay for it, five billion is a steal,” he said.

While some think that America’s declining infrastructure is a national-security threat, Dorrinson strongly disagrees. “If immigrants somehow get over the wall, the condition of our bridges and roads will keep them from getting very far,” he said.

ELSEWHERE: Moving vans arrived at the White House on Wednesday to remove all traces of competence and dignity.

Working around the clock, movers started clearing out the optimism and progress that had accumulated during the past eight years.

IN OTHER NEWS: Former President George W. Bush is eagerly counting down the days until he is no longer the worst President in U.S. history, Bush confirmed on Tuesday. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report

2. The DAILY GRILL

“What are Hillary Clinton’s people complaining about with respect to the F.B.I. Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run - guilty as hell. They were VERY nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states - no enthusiasm!” -- Trump in a pair of tweets

VERSUS

“That’s not the question here. I think the question is whether outside actors influenced the outcome of the election, whether that be the Russians or the FBI. Trump doesn’t have good answers to these questions so he’s lashing out, as he usually does.” -- Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager

 

“You saw yesterday Fiat Chrysler; big, big factory going to be built in this country as opposed to another country. Ford just announced that they stopped plans for a billion-dollar plant in Mexico and they’re going to be moving into Michigan and expanding, very substantially, an existing plant.” -- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

Trump claims credit for these announcements, but that’s wrong.Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said the plan had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump; he credited instead talks with the United Auto Workers. ... With regards to Ford, analysts say Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan rather than in Mexico has more to do with the company’s long-term goal — particularly, its plans to invest in electric vehicles — than the Trump administration. -- Glenn Kessler, Wash Post Fact Checker

 

“Look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking. That Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it? That’s a horrible thing.” -- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

Trump overstates the disclosure about Clinton getting a debate question. During the Democratic primaries, a debate was held in Flint, Mich., to focus on the water crisis. Donna Brazile, then an analyst with CNN, sent an email to the Clinton campaign saying that a woman with a rash from lead poisoning was going to ask what Clinton as president could do the help the people of Flint. There’s no indication Clinton was told this information, but in any case it’s a pretty obvious question for a debate being held in Flint. In her answer, Clinton committed to remove lead from water systems across the country within five years. Lee-Anne Waters, who asked the question, later said Clinton’s answer “made me vomit in my mouth” because that was too long to wait in Flint. -- Glenn Kessler, Wash Post Fact Checker

 

“The only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters. … You learn very little to a tax return.” -- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

Trump is wrong on both counts. A Pew Research Center poll found that 60 percent of Americans believed Trump has a responsibility to release his tax returns.

 

“We have hundreds of billions of dollars of losses on a yearly basis — hundreds of billions with China on trade and trade imbalance, with Japan, with Mexico, with just about everybody.” -- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

Trump’s comment that there “billions of dollars of losses” in trade reflects a fundamental misunderstanding. Americans want to buy these products from overseas, either because of quality or price. If Trump sparked a trade war and tariffs were increased on Chinese or Mexican goods, then it would raise the cost of those products to Americans. Perhaps that would reduce the purchases of those goods, and thus reduce the trade deficit, but that would not mean the United States would “gain” money that had been lost. -- Glenn Kessler, Wash Post Fact Checker

 

“96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get. You know that story. The real number — that’s the real number. ”-- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

This is an absurd Four-Pinocchio claim, based on a real number. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, relying on a monthly survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS), shows that, as of December 2016, 95.1 million Americans 16 years and older were “not in labor force.” The BLS has data for the year 2015. It turns out that 93 percent do not want a job at all. The picture that emerges from a study of the data shows that the 95 million consists mostly of people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents or disabled. -- Glenn Kessler, Wash Post Fact Checker

 

“I think it’s a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public.” -- Trump at 1/11/17 news conference.

VERSUS

Trump was the leading purveyor of false “birther” claims, based on no evidence, that Obama was not born in the United States. He frequently claimed that Obama had spent $2 million to cover this up — a number he plucked out of World Net Daily, which promotes conservative-leaning conspiracy theories. -- Glenn Kessler, Wash Post Fact Checker

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

Fox Hosts End Argument Claiming “No One” Said Obama Wasn’t A Legitimate President With Birther Jokes. http://mediamatters.org/video/2017/01/13/fox-hosts-end-argument-claiming-no-one-said-obama-wasn-t-legitimate-president-birther-jokes/215019

Fox's Gutfeld Dismisses Real Life Consequences Of Health Care Repeal: “You Should Feel No Shame Burning This Bill” http://mediamatters.org/video/2017/01/12/foxs-gutfeld-dismisses-real-life-consequences-health-care-repeal-you-should-feel-no-shame-burning/215004

How Media Outlets Helped Trump Push A Fake News Story About Bikers And His Inauguration: Media outlets uncritically quoted President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that he saw a “scene” of “thousands” of the group Bikers for Trump traveling to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration, even though BuzzFeed had reported hours before that the photos being shared online were recycled, having been taken years ago. As is well-established, media run the risk of accidentally enabling lies if they repeat Trump's unsubstantiated or false claims without including context or a rebuttal. http://mediamatters.org/research/2017/01/18/how-media-outlets-helped-trump-push-fake-news-story-about-bikers-and-his-inauguration/215047

Trump Speaks With Foreign Diplomats, Regales Them With Fake News Story about the “record crowds coming” to celebrate his inauguration, including a group called “bikers for Trump.” Trump showed photos showing thousands of bikers purportedly making their way to Washington D.C., a fake news story uncovered by BuzzFeed hours before Trump went on stage.  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/01/17/trump-speaks-foreign-diplomats-regales-them-fake-news-story/215041

4. From the Late Shows

SNL Cold Open: Donald Trump Press Conference: https://youtu.be/4_Gf0mGJfP8

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: People Are Saying: Trump Likes Pee: https://youtu.be/AOfIm5YZzVo

Late Night with Seth Meyers : Trump and Russia: Couple Thing: https://youtu.be/CrkHjNyoNv0

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump's War with the Press and Conflicts of Interest: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/QwcRIyvPmWc

Back In Black - The Trump Inauguration's No-star Lineup: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/vcn43x/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-back-in-black---the-trump-inauguration-s-no-star-lineup

5. The Chaos President

He’s a chaos candidate,’ Jeb Bush said of Donald Trump 13 months ago. ‘And he’d be a chaos president.’ Even Jeb couldn’t have conjured a day as wild and unconventional as Wednesday. Trump used a rambling news conference to equate the intelligence community to the Nazis and pronounced himself a germaphobe; men in dinosaur outfits roamed the hallways outside rocky hearings for Trump’s secretary of state pick; the president-elect’s promise of a ‘blind trust’ for his assets was announced to be neither blind nor a trust; and the Senate started to repeal Obamacare, in the middle of the night.”

“It was a dizzying day, though it’s worth noting that the Trump team seemed to control the terms of the chaos – sometimes literally. Trump’s declaration that news organizations – specifically, Buzzfeed and CNN – are ‘fake news’ is an appropriation of that term for his own means. It’s in league with a Trump marketing style that’s morphing into a Trump governing style. When the distractions are intentional, they are part of the strategy. That might not be chaos at all. -- ABC’s Rick Klein: 1/12/17 http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/note-trump-takes-press/story?id=44731861

6. One Media Outlet Is Special to Trump

More than 250 journalists packed Trump Tower for the celebrity businessman's first full-fledged news conference since July, which was billed as a forum to discuss his separation from his business but quickly turned into a loud, wide-ranging free-for-all about U.S. intelligence, Russian hacking and, eventually, some of Trump's policy plans after he takes office on Jan. 20.

Only one seat was saved by a Republican National Committee aide, a front-row spot for a reporter from Breitbart, the conservative news outlet until recently run by Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon. Other reporters scrambled to save their seats. Reporters shouted and waved their arms at Trump to get his attention, rather than the president calling on questioners from a list, as is often the practice.1/12, 2017 https://apnews.com/a189444ade364775b2539b65887f1339

7. CBS Poll: Dubious Distinction for Trump

Just days before his inauguration, a new CBS News poll finds Donald Trump’s favorable rating at just 32%, the lowest of any president-elect since CBS News began taking this measure in 1981. http://www.newsweek.com/sidney-blumenthal-five-ways-measure-trumps-illegitimacy-543622

8. GOP Governors Fight Own Party Over Obamacare

Republican governors who reaped the benefits of Obamacare now find themselves in an untenable position — fighting GOP lawmakers in Washington to protect their states’ health coverage.

This rift between state and federal GOP officials is the real battle on Obamacare at a time when Democrats have only marginal power in Congress. The voices of even a handful of Republican governors intent on protecting those at risk of losing coverage could help shape an Obamacare replacement and soften the impact on the millions who depend on the law. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/gop-governors-republicans-obamacare-233576

9. Trump Orders DC National Guard Chief To Leave In Middle Of Inaugural Ceremony

In a bizarre move, Donald Trump has demanded that, Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz the commanding officer of the Washington, D.C. National Guard resign from his post in the middle of the Inauguration ceremony, even though the general will be in the middle of helping oversee the event's security, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

“My troops will be on the street,” he added. “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”

Schwartz told the Post that he was not informed why he must step down abruptly on Inauguration Day.

“I’m a soldier,” he said. “I’m a presidential appointee, therefore the president has the power to remove me.”

Trump's team has also ordered all politically appointed diplomats to leave their posts by Inauguration Day, breaking with tradition of allowing some ambassadors to stay on as their children finish out the school year. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/dc-national-guard-chief-removed-inauguration

10. How Putin Played the Far Left

In the aftermath of the U.S. intelligence community’s recent report on the Russian-directed hacking of the Democratic National Committee, it’s easy but misleading to conclude that the Russian government’s propaganda strategy lies solely in advancing the careers of conservative Republicans in the United States. Backing Donald Trump’s candidacy, via steady leaks of stolen communiques to organizations like WikiLeaks, was but one prong of the Kremlin’s assault on American liberal democracy. Part of its campaign to vilify Hillary Clinton involved catering to her rivals on the far-left and pushing any number of crankish conspiracy theories that appeal as much to “anti-imperialists” as to neo-Nazis. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/13/how-putin-played-the-far-left.html

11. Still no ACA replacement plan, but GOP ads say it exists and is awesome

A GOP-affiliated group is spending more than $1.4 million to run digital and television advertisements that laud a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act — despite the fact that the party has yet to present any such plan. 1.13.17 http://arstechnica.com/science/2017/01/gop-group-spending-1-4m-to-tout-aca-replacement-plan-that-may-not-exist/

12. Donald Trump’s Cabinet will cash in on billion-dollar tax breaks

Have you heard about the latest tax shelter for the super-rich?

Joining Donald Trump’s Cabinet!

Thanks to Internal Revenue Code Section 1043, any business guy or gal who answers the call of “President Trumputin” to Serve the Nation (America or Russia, take your pick) gets a sweetheart deal.

He can cash out all his big stock gains and pay zero — read that again: zero — tax.

Cha-ching! http://www.marketwatch.com/story/donald-trumps-cabinet-will-cash-in-on-billion-dollar-tax-breaks-2016-12-14.

13. The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos: It Was "Hair-Raising" Stuff

Last fall, a week before the election, David Corn broke the story that a former Western counterintelligence official had sent memos to the FBI with troubling allegations related to Donald Trump. The memos noted that this spy's sources had provided him with information indicating that Russian intelligence had mounted a years long operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and had gathered secret compromising material on Trump.

The former spy, he appeared confident about his material—acknowledging these memos were works in progress—and genuinely concerned about the implications of the allegations. He came across as a serious and somber professional who was not eager to talk to a journalist or cause a public splash. He realized he was taking a risk, but he seemed duty bound to share information he deemed crucial. He noted that these allegations deserved a "substantial inquiry" within the FBI. Yet so far, the FBI has not yet said whether such an investigation has been conducted. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/spy-who-wrote-trump-russia-memos-it-was-hair-raising-stuff

Buzzfeed published an article titled "These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia," with a dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years. You can download a readable text version of the dossier HERE.

14. Late Nite Jokes

"According to The Washington Post, the CIA found that Russia interfered in the election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Experts say this is the biggest scandal America's faced for decades, and the biggest scandal Trump's faced since Friday." –Jimmy Fallon

"Of course, Russia faced several obstacles in helping Trump win — namely Trump." –Jimmy Fallon

"In other news, a restaurant just opened in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. It's called Trump Fish, and it's a fish restaurant with an unauthorized Donald Trump logo. They stole Trump's face and name. Should be fine, Donald Trump never sues anyone." –James Corden

"The CIA says they believe that Russian hackers interfered with our elections, specifically to help Donald Trump win. But Trump says that's ridiculous — there's no way to know if the hackers were from Russia or China or some guy sitting on a bed someplace." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Nonetheless, a bipartisan group, including Republican Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, are calling for an investigation, and Trump does not like that at all. He refuses to point a finger at Russia. Why would he? He'll be up for re-election in four years, he might need them again." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Some people are saying we should vote all over again. This election, is like the killer in a horror movie — just when you think it's over, he pops up in the back seat, it's going to get you again." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Organizers have announced that Donald Trump will attend two inaugural balls during his first week in office. One in Washington, D.C., and then, of course, the real one in Moscow." –Seth Meyers

15. Mark Fiore cartoon: De-Obamafication

https://vimeo.com/198160379

16. Trump's inauguration will be protested in all 50 states and 32 countries

From the grave of a suffragist in upstate New York to the 16th Street Baptist Churchin Birmingham, Ala., and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, President-elect Donald Trump has quite a welcome committee: An estimated 1 million people plan to demonstrate in all 50 states and 32 countries.

The main event is the Women’s March on Washington, which will draw at least 200,000 individuals with concerns about threats to women's rights, including abortion, as well as affordable health care and equal pay. It has inspired about 300 others of varying sizes across the country and on every continent, according to Yordanos Eyoel, spokeswoman for the network of sister marches. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/16/trumps-welcome-committee-gush-protesters/96574160/

17. The Weakest President In 140 Years

The Great and Powerful Trump is the weakest and most vulnerable president in at least 140 years. Behind the scowl and the curtain there is a diminished man who cannot shake off the circumstances surrounding his election.

Before Trump, only four men became president without winning a plurality or majority of the popular vote. Only one lost a greater percentage of the vote than Trump. Three of them served only one term. Three assumed office under clouds of illegitimacy. -- Sidney Blumenthal http://www.newsweek.com/sidney-blumenthal-five-ways-measure-trumps-illegitimacy-543622

18. CBO: 18 Million Could Lose Health Insurance In First Year

The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill. Later, after the elimination of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.

Premiums in the nongroup market (for individual policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers) would increase by 20 percent to 25 percent—relative to projections under current law—in the first new plan year following enactment. The increase would reach about 50 percent in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and the marketplace subsidies, and premiums would about double by 2026.1/17/17 https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52371

19. Trump Trackdown: 'The End of the World'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1D2ynASqe4

OPINION

1. David Remnick: John Lewis, Donald Trump, And The Meaning Of Legitimacy

John Lewis represents Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, one vote of four hundred and thirty-five. He is also the singular conscience of Capitol Hill. Lewis is a dismal institution’s griot, a historical actor and hero capable of telling the most complex and painful of American stories—the story of race. That is his job, his mission. With Dr. King and Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker long gone, Lewis remains nearly alone in his capacity to tell the story of that era as a direct witness and, because of all that he has seen and endured, to issue credible moral judgment.

Donald Trump reveals his nature through the objects of his affection and the targets of his insults. He took his time before disavowing support from the likes of David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He has only praise for Vladimir Putin. He flatters Alex Jones, the leading crackpot conspiracy theorist of the airwaves, as a man of “amazing” reputation.
Trump chose to launch his political career as a bloviating booster of the racist conspiracy theory known as “birtherism,” declaring, in effect, that the Presidency of Barack Obama was illegitimate. But when Lewis went on “Meet the Press” this weekend and challenged the legitimacy of Trump’s election, citing charges of Russian involvement in the campaign, Trump immediately reached for his phone.

Trump’s inability to restrain himself is on daily display. Meryl Streep is “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” “Saturday Night Live” is “really bad television!” Hillary Clinton is “guilty as hell.” He refuses to school himself on policy, but it is a priority of state to sound off on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on the revival of “The Apprentice.” Trump admires the concision of his own writing. “Somebody said I’m the Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” he said in a speech in South Carolina, without identifying the “somebody.” If Trump doesn’t like someone or something that somebody says, well, “bing, bing, bing—I say something really bad about them.” Just like Abraham Lincoln.

John Lewis surely believes in the orderly transfer of power as a tenet of democracy, but asking him to keep quiet and sit through the inaugural ceremonies this time is asking too much. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/john-lewis-donald-trump-and-the-meaning-of-legitimacy

2. Ronald Brownstein: What Happens to the Democratic Party After Obama?

In many ways, Hillary Clinton’s loss raised to the presidential level the same problem that hurt Democrats down the ballot under Obama. Because the Democratic coalition has grown so clustered in urban centers, the party’s capacity to compete for House or state legislative seats beyond those metropolitan areas dramatically eroded during his presidency. Similarly, Democrats have struggled to win Senate and governors’ races beyond culturally cosmopolitan states that are mostly along the coasts.

As Obama himself has recognized, Democrats cannot cede all that terrain and thrive. “The lesson of this election is … you have to have an overarching message for the country and it has to have a meaningful economic component,” said David Axelrod, formerly Obama’s chief strategist. A candidate more capable than Hillary Clinton of energizing the growing groups most favorable to Democrats could win back the presidency in 2020 without big gains among the culturally conservative white constituencies that powered Trump. But one clear message of the Obama years is that Democrats cannot consistently control Congress or most state governments unless they compete better among white voters, especially those without college degrees. The next generation of Democratic leaders must find ways to better align the voters Obama undeniably added to his party with more of those that he lost. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/the-post-obama-democratic-party/512885/?utm_source=twb

3. Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump to America: I Won, Accountability Is Over

Donald Trump’s first press conference since the summer was a surreal exercise in the assertion of immunity from accountability. He either ignored questions about his behavior, or dismissed the questions as illegitimate. He painted a chilling depiction of politics not as an ongoing process but as a one-time event, settled in his favor by the presidential campaign, once and for all.

Perhaps most telling of all, Trump insisted that the election validated for all time his refusal to disclose his tax returns, the only way to substantiate his claims not to have any business with Russia: “The only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters. They’re the only ones. But no, I don’t think so. I won — I mean, I became president — no, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all.” Likewise, the people don’t care about his precedent-smashing plans to maintain ownership of his business in an un-blind trust. Selling off the Trump business, his lawyer came on to explain, would expose the president to “unreasonable losses.”

It is impossible to know what course American democracy will take under Trump’s presidency. The fears of authoritarianism may prove overblown, and Trump may govern like a normal Republican. But the initial signs are quite concerning. Trump believes he can demolish normal standards of behavior, like the expectation of disclosing tax returns, and placing assets in a blind trust. He has received the full cooperation of his party, which controls Congress and has blocked any investigation or other mechanism for exerting pressure. His dismissal of the news media might simply be a slightly amped-up version of the conservative tradition of media abuse, but it seems to augur something worse. Rather than making snide cracks about liberal bias, Trump escalated into abuse and total delegitimization. Will the abuse of the media be seen as an idiosyncratic episode, or the beginning of something worse to come? We don’t know. His early behavior is consistent with (though far from proof of) the thesis that he is an emerging autocrat. The people have granted him license to steal and hide as he wishes. The bully has his pulpit. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/donald-trump-to-america-i-won-accountability-is-over.html

 

4. Paul Krugman: With All Due Disrespect

As a young man, Congressman John Lewis, who represents most of Atlanta, literally put his life on the line in pursuit of justice. As a key civil rights leader, he endured multiple beatings. Most famously, he led the demonstration that came to be known as Bloody Sunday, suffering a fractured skull at the hands of state troopers. Public outrage over that day’s violence helped lead to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act.

Now Mr. Lewis says that he won’t attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, whom he regards as an illegitimate president.

As you might expect, this statement provoked a hysterical, slanderous reaction from the president-elect – who, of course, got his start in national politics by repeatedly, falsely questioning President Obama’s right to hold office. But Mr. Trump — who has never sacrificed anything or taken a risk to help others — seems to have a special animus toward genuine heroes. Maybe he prefers demonstrators who don’t get beaten?

But let’s not talk about Mr. Trump’s ravings. Instead, let’s ask whether Mr. Lewis was right to say what he said. Is it O.K., morally and politically, to declare the man about to move into the White House illegitimate?

Yes, it is. In fact, it’s an act of patriotism.

We shouldn’t get into the habit of delegitimizing election results we don’t like. But this time really is exceptional, and needs to be treated that way.

So let’s be thankful that John Lewis had the courage to speak out. It was the patriotic, heroic thing to do. And America needs that kind of heroism, now more than ever. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/with-all-due-disrespect.html

5. Michael Tomasky: Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare Dilemma: Govern or Destroy?

Mitch McConnell is a man of very few actual political convictions. No restrictions on campaign spending is the only thing he really cares about, and maybe keeping unions at heel. His chief political conviction is keeping the word “Majority” in front of the word “Leader” in his title. He’ll do on Obamacare whatever he thinks will make that more likely to happen.

That could mean—especially with more than 400,000 Kentuckians at risk of losing their coverage gained under Obamacare—that McConnell will slow-walk the thing. He’ll see how Trump’s doing, the state of the economy. He’ll size up the 2018 races and figure out how many of his people seeking reelection need repeal and how many might be hurt by it (he’ll also make those calculations for the Democratic incumbents running). And he’ll do whatever he thinks will keep him in power.

Unless normal calculations on the matter of Obamacare prove impossible. It may just be that the small-ish but ideological intense base is so ravenous for repeal that McConnell won’t be permitted to act his normal cynical calculations.

Things are different for a party in power, which is why I put those words in italics up above. When you’re in the opposition, you can play to that base all you want. McConnell always had the comfort of knowing that whatever the Senate did or didn’t pass, Obama would veto it. He could say hey, we did our best, but we got blocked. There are no consequences for your actions.

But when you’re governing, there are consequences. The question is: does the base care? Or is ridding the nation of this scourge called Obamacare of such fundamental importance that consequences are irrelevant?

That NPR asked people what should happen to the ACA. The biggest chunk, 38 percent, said keep it and expand it. Repeal and replace got 31 percent, and repeal only/the hell with it got 14 percent. This may be one of those times when, from where Ryan and McConnell are sitting, 14 is greater than 31. 01.12.17 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/13/mitch-mcconnell-s-obamacare-dilemma-govern-or-destroy.html

6. Eric Levitz: Trump Voters and the General Public Have Very Different Priorities

On November 8, roughly 60 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Donald Trump. But the GOP nominee won the presidency, anyway, because the nonvoting population is large and left-leaning, and because our founding fathers decided that picking presidents by national popular vote would unfairly deny Southern states the right to leverage their slaves into disproportionate political power.

And so Trump is headed to the White House, having secured the support of roughly 25 percent of all registered voters, many of whom claimed to dislike him even as they marked his name on their ballots.

This, combined with the Republican Party’s success at party-building (and gerrymandering) at the state level, leaves us in an odd circumstance: The American electorate has just given the president-elect and his party full control of government, even as a majority of voters disdains them both.

A new poll from Politico and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health illustrates one of the many implications of this strange state of affairs: Trump voters and the general public would like to see the president-elect prioritize very different parts of his platform.

Among the president-elect’s backers, 85 percent say repealing and replacing Obamacare should be a top priority; among the general public, that figure is 44 percent. (A separate Quinnipiac poll, released Friday, finds a mere 18 percent of the public wants to see the Affordable Care Act repealed in its entirety, with a plurality favoring the repeal of just some parts of the law).

There is one major policy item on which Trump’s supporters and the general public are in overwhelming agreement: More than 80 percent of both groups don’t think he should cut taxes on rich people.

So, if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that Trump and his party will not prioritize reducing the tax burdens of the wealthy. After all, it’s not like we’re living in a failed republic where the preferences of the economic elite carry more weight than those of 80 percent of voters. Right? http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/trump-voters-and-general-public-have-different-priorities.html

7. Paul Waldman: Republicans say they’ll protect you if you have a pre-existing condition. Don’t believe it.

Rep. Paul Ryan said at his town hall: “We believe that state high-risk pools are a smarter way of guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.” This is lunacy.

Ask any health policy expert about high-risk pools, and they’ll tell you that they’re absolutely the worst way to guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA, many states had them as a backstop for their most vulnerable patients. As this Kaiser Family Foundation reportexplains, they were characterized by high premiums, waiting lists to get on, lifetime and annual limits, temporary exclusions of the very conditions that made people seek them out (you often couldn’t get coverage for your condition in the first 6 or 12 months you were on the plan), and high deductibles.

So, to wrap this up: If you’re one of the 52 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, right now, under the Affordable Care Act, you can get insurance, no questions asked. If the Republicans get their way, you can get insurance if you don’t ever go without it, but if you lapse, you’ll be charged more and you may get pushed into a high-risk pool where you’ll get charged a lot more for inadequate coverage. If you can afford it, good for you. If you can’t, you’re screwed. There will be people who can’t afford that coverage, who’ll go without it, and who won’t be able to get care at the moment they most desperately need it. We know, because there were so many who suffered that fate before the ACA was passed.

That’s the “better” system Republicans want to give you. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/01/13/republicans-say-theyll-protect-you-if-you-have-a-pre-existing-condition-dont-believe-it/?utm_term=.bc46a9543891&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

8. Joy-Anne Reid: Trump Could Address These Legitimacy Questions—But He Won’t

The shadow of illegitimacy stalks President-elect Donald Trump. Those are not words to be written lightly. But they are becoming harder to avoid as Trump’s presidency-in-waiting becomes increasingly mired in scandal before it’s even begun.
Civil rights hero John Lewis shocked the world on Friday by saying bluntly that Trump is not a legitimate president (Trump responded in a Tweet on Saturday, hitting Lewis for the state of his Georgia congressional district). Lewis put his considerable moral authority on the line to make such a bold statement – though anyone who knows his history knows that he’s always been bold. But he is hardly the first person to think it: that this president increasingly lacks the core element required for a broad sense of legitimacy: strong public confidence that he was honestly and fairly elected, and will act in the national interest, and not some other interest – financial or worse – as president. 

Trump is now officially the most unpopular President-elect in modern American history. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, fewer than four in 10 Americans approve of the President-elect. Trump is upside down in terms of public confidence in nearly every measure, from his honesty, to his leadership skills, to whether he is level-headed, and even whether he will help improve people’s personal finances, which was his strongest suit going into the election. Just four in 10 believe he can unite the country. Trump retains just two majority positions that are positive: on his intelligence and the notion that he is a “strong person.” But even those measures are sliding.

Meanwhile, majorities of every group except Republicans (who are approximately 29 percent of the adult population) and white voters without a college degree believe the Russians interfered in the presidential election and want that intervention investigated. 

Some on the right will carp that Trump is being denied the usual honorifics and the presumption of legitimacy because he is a Republican. But Trump is no ordinary Republican. His candidacy was so infused with vicious racial and religious bigotry, and so tainted by his bizarre fealty to a foreign adversary, it’s impossible to disentangle the rot from his coming presidency, not least because so far, Trump has refused to do so himself.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/14/trump-could-address-these-legitimacy-questions-but-he-won-t.

9. Dana Milbank: Trump gets no respect. That’s because he hasn’t earned it.

Kellyanne Conway is walking a Dangerfield line.

“We got no forbearance. We got nothing. We got no respect,” the Trump strategist told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last week, complaining about media coverage of her boss. “This man is president of the United States!”

Conway raises a fair question: Why hasn’t the president-elect been given more respect?

Here’s a fair answer: He hasn’t earned any.

To Trump’s many self-assigned superlatives, he can now add another: the sorest winner. With charity for none and with malice toward all but his supporters, he has in the past two months set a new standard for gracelessness in victory.

Instead of brushing off criticism, as a president-elect can afford to do, Trump in recent days marked Martin Luther King weekend by telling off civil rights icon John Lewis (a King acolyte) and his “falling apart” and “crime infested” congressional district. He bemoaned> https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-earned-no-respect-for-being-the-ultimate-sore-winner/2017/01/16/778742f8-dc24-11e6-918c-99ede3c8cafa_story.html

10. David Leonhardt: The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R.

Obama leaves office as the most successful Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt. His effect on the “trajectory of America,” to use his benchmark, was certainly smaller than Roosevelt’s, but is in the same league as Reagan’s. Obama did more while in office, while Reagan better protected his policy changes, thanks to Republican gains in state and congressional elections — and the victory of his chosen successor.

Obama’s glaring failure on that last count leaves his allies needing to fight, hard, to defend their successes, rather than to make further progress on problems that badly need it, like climate and inequality. But it’s a testament to the last eight years that progressives have so much to defend.

“Any large scale of reordering of power and resources in American life will inevitably face resistance, sometimes for decades,” Chait writes. It happened after Reconstruction, the New Deal and the civil rights movement. But by continuing to fight, through victory and setback, the advocates of a freer, more broadly prosperous country won many more than they lost.

When future historians look back on today, they’re likely to come to a similar conclusion. They are also likely to believe that Obama’s vision of America was far superior to Trump’s. After all, a vast majority of Americans born in the last few decades share Obama’s vision. And history is ultimately written by the young. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/the-most-successful-democrat-since-fdr.html

 

11. Charles M. Blow: John’s Gospel of Trump’s Illegitimacy

It is true that Donald Trump is, by all measures of the law, the legitimate president-elect and will legitimately be inaugurated our 45th president on Friday, no matter how much it pains me to write that or pains you to read it. There simply is no constitutional or statutory mechanism to nullify the installation of an elected president based on election influencing, even by a hostile state actor. The framers of the Constitution had no way of anticipating digital warfare being used in a propaganda attack. The Constitution was ratified before electric lights were invented.

But there is another way of considering legitimacy, another test that his election doesn’t meet: That is when legitimacy is defined as “conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards.”

Here, Lewis and his fellow believers are on solid footing. Trump has bucked our conventions; his life is rife with percolating conflicts; Comey outrageously threw a wrench in the works with his meaningless, last-minute letter about Clinton’s email (which is now, quite rightly, being investigated); and the intelligence community has determined with high confidence that Russia interfered in our election in an effort to hurt Clinton and help Trump, their desired candidate.

The only thing of burning significance left to know is whether there was any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign and whether there are any other unknown connections between those two entities.

Mr. Trump, I join John Lewis in asserting with full confidence and clear conscience that I, too, don’t see you as a legitimate president. Your presidency is illegitimate insofar as outside interference in an election violates our standards and principles. You will wear that scarlet “I” on your tan chest for as long as you sit in the White House. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/johns-gospel-of-trumps-illegitimacy.html

12. Jennifer Rubin: Trump is Putin’s mouthpiece

Putin must be grinning like a Cheshire cat. For decades, Russia’s goal has been to split NATO, create fear among Europeans that the United States will not come to their rescue and set up a moral equivalence between Russia and Western democracies. “Trump is outdoing Vladimir Putin in his efforts to rip NATO apart. The comments weren’t so much new as gratuitous, and undercut the reassuring words that came from the testimony of his cabinet nominees last week,” said Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute. “It also reveals just how little Trump understands what American global strategy — since the founding — has been; the security of Central Europe is the first priority, and he’s damaging our interests there.”

Trump’s idea to lift sanctions with Russia still in Ukraine and Georgia would be precisely the sort of unilateral concession he would deplore had Obama proposed it. He is doing nothing less than attacking the foundation of the international order that has existed for 70 years. The Post reports: “The full ramifications of a breakdown in transatlantic relations are so extensive they are difficult to total. U.S. guarantees underpin European security. The United States and the European Union, with a population of 500 million, are each other’s most important trading partner. For decades, European nations and the United States have worked tightly together on issues of war, peace and trade.” One wonders what his hawkish apologists such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) must be thinking now.

Trump’s views contrast so sharply with those of nominees such as retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) that one has to question whether he intends them to actually do their jobs or simply act as seat-fillers as he sets U.S. alliances ablaze and boosts the United States’ most formidable adversary. Republicans in Congress have a clear choice: Putin/Trump or loyalty to their once strongly held principle that the United States must lead in the world to act as a check on malevolent forces. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/01/16/trump-is-putins-mouthpiece/?utm_term=.ee07f2530045&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

13. Jack Shafer: Trump Is Making Journalism Great Again

In his own way, Trump has set us free.

Donald Trump and his forthcoming presidency may be the greatest gift to Washington journalism since the invention of the expense account. His unorthodox approach to politics and governance has vaporized the standard, useful, yet boring script for reporting on a new administration’s doings. At his news conference last week, Trump began the process of washing the press completely out of his fake hair as he castigated CNN and BuzzFeed for reporting on the oppo-research dossier compiled on him. “Fake news,” said the man who has appeared on InfoWars and commended the outlet’s efforts.

Trump’s surrogate Newt Gingrich took to Sean Hannity’s program on Fox to assist in the maiming of the media. Trump and his team “need to go out there and understand they have it in their power to set the terms of this dialogue,” Gingrich said on the Jan. 11 episode. “They can close down the elite press.” Next up came Reince Priebus’ announcement that Trump might evict the presidential press corps from the White House for lesser lodging in the adjacent Old Executive Office Building, and Sean Spicer’s admonition that reporters “adhere to a high level of decorum at press briefings and press conferences,” according to a readout of his two-hour summit with the head of the White House Correspondents’ Association. (Or else what, one wonders?)

Now, before the Committee to Protect Journalists throws up the batsign and the rest of us bemoan Trump’s actions as anti-press—which they are—let’s thank the incoming president for simplifying our mission. If Trump’s idea of a news conference is to spank the press, if his lieutenants believe the press needs shutting down, if his chief of staff wants to speculate about moving the White House press scrum off the premises, perhaps reporters ought to take the hint and prepare to cover his administration on their own terms. Instead of relying exclusively on the traditional skills of political reporting, the carriers of press cards ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone, where conflict follows conflict, where the fog prevents the collection of reliable information directly from the combatants, where the assignment is a matter of life or death.

In his own way, Trump has set us free. Reporters must treat Inauguration Day as a kind of Liberation Day to explore news outside the usual Washington circles. He has been explicit in his disdain for the press and his dislike for press conferences, prickly to the nth degree about being challenged and known for his vindictive way with those who cross him. So, forget about the White House press room. It’s time to circle behind enemy lines.

It’s not winter that’s coming with the inauguration of Trump. It’s journalistic spring. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/trump-is-making-journalism-great-again-214638

14. Martin Longman: Our Country Is Currently in Cardiac Arrest

If Donald Trump has the goal of destroying American power, breaking up the European Union, dismantling NATO, lifting Russian sanctions, and helping to elect a bunch of Russian-aligned far right fascist parties in Western Europe, at least he’s willing to tell us exactly that. There’s very little subtlety about it at this point, and the only fig leaf he’s going to offer is the prospect that Putin will agree to some kind of reduction in our respective nuclear arsenals.

Is that a fair trade?

I don’t think so.

Of course, weakening the American relationship with its allies in the Far East is a goal that an ordinary Russian president would see as unattainable, and breaking the alliance between Washington and Riyadh would also serve Putin’s interests.

It’s hard to believe that Putin has struck this much gold.

Are Republicans really going to go along with this?

All in the name of white ethno-nationalism and petro politics? http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/01/16/our-country-is-currently-in-cardiac-arrest/

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