Late Night Open Thread: “Prepare Yourself… This Man Is Not Well”


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To be honest, I’m surprised none of the Trumplodyte Army has taken noisy public outrage against Olbermann’s remarks yet. It’s an interesting clip, and you might want to forward it to those of your Trump-curious (let’s say) acquaintances who haven’t demonstrated themselves so toxic that you’ve just cut all ties…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Herding Cats, or Progressives

(Arlo & Janis via GoComics.com)
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In the spirit of staying upbeat for the new day, here’s the new National Legal Director of the ACLU, David Cole, on “The Way to Stop Trump“:

… There is no question that President Trump will be a disaster—if we let him. But the more important point is that—as the fate of American democracy in the years after 9/11 has taught us—we can and must stop him… [I]f we now and for the next four years insist that he honor our most fundamental constitutional values, including equality, human dignity, fair process, privacy, and the rule of law, and if we organize and advocate in defense of those principles, he can and will be contained. It won’t happen overnight. There will be many protracted struggles. The important thing to bear in mind is that if we fight, we can prevail.

If you think this is overly naive, consider the fate of George Bush’s “war on terror.” In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush acted as if he were entirely unconstrained. He had reason to think that he could get away with it. His popularity soared to its highest level. The Supreme Court had just voted to put him in office. He had a solid Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and the Democrats had only a razor-thin majority in the Senate (thanks to Senator James Jeffords’s decision in June 2001 to switch from Republican to Independent, and to caucus with the Democrats)…

For much of his first term, Bush did indeed get away with such tactics. But much to his dismay, Americans did not sit back and accept that the executive was above the law. As I describe in my recent book, Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law, they protested, filed lawsuits, wrote human rights reports, lobbied foreign audiences and governments to bring pressure to bear on the United States, leaked classified documents, and broadly condemned the administration’s actions as violations of fundamental constitutional and human rights. Human Rights First organized retired generals and admirals; the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve, aided by an army of pro-bono lawyers, brought the plight of Guantanamo detainees to the world’s attention; the Bill of Rights Defense Committee sparked a grassroots protest through local referenda on the Patriot Act; and the ACLU used the Freedom of Information Act to dislodge thousands of documents detailing the CIA’s torture program, which it and PEN American Center then disseminated in accessible form. The academy, the press, and the international community all joined in the condemnation.

As a result, the course of history changed. By the time Bush left office in 2009, he had released more than five hundred of the detainees from Guantanamo, emptied out the CIA’s secret prisons, halted the CIA interrogation program and extraordinary renditions, and placed the NSA’s surveillance program under judicial supervision. His claims of uncheckable executive power had been rejected, and the Geneva Conventions applied to all detainees…

So if Bush could be stopped, notwithstanding widespread popular support, a large-scale attack on US soil leading to a war footing, and a history of judicial and congressional acquiescence in similar prior periods, Trump is also stoppable. He doesn’t have anything like the popular support Bush had after 9/11. And the recent history of the repudiation of Bush’s abuses will make it harder to repeat them…

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Apart from preparing for the Resistance, what’s on the agenda as we (sorta) start the new week (year)?

Excellent Read: “David Fahrenthold tells the behind-the-scenes story of his year covering Trump”

A well-deserved victory lap, with a promise for the future:

“Arnold and Tim, if you’d come up, we’re going to give you a nice, beautiful check,” Donald Trump said. He held up an oversize check, the kind they give to people who win golf tournaments. It was for $100,000. In the top-left corner the check said: “The Donald J. Trump Foundation.”

Along the bottom, it had the slogan of Trump’s presidential campaign: “Make America Great Again.”…

That was the start of nine months of work for me, trying to dig up the truth about a part of Trump’s life that he wanted to keep secret. I didn’t understand — and I don’t think Trump understood, either — where that one check, and that one question, would lead…

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The idea for this story had come from our executive editor, Marty Baron. One night, as we both waited for an elevator, Marty offered a suggestion.

Why don’t you go beyond Trump’s promises to give to veterans, he said, and look at Trump’s giving to charity, period?

The logic was that Trump had just tried to wiggle out of a charitable promise he’d made on national TV. What, Marty wondered, had he been doing before the campaign, when nobody was looking?

Working with one of The Post’s ace researchers, Alice Crites, I went digging for records that would reveal Trump’s charitable giving, going back to his early days as a Manhattan developer in the 1980s. We looked at old news clippings, detailing Trump’s public statements. And we looked at tax filings from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which had been dug out of storage by New York state.

Those two sources told two very different stories…

I kept looking, posting details of my search to Twitter. Soon I had attracted a virtual army, ready to join the scavenger hunt. I had begun the year with 4,700 Twitter followers. By September I had more than 60,000 and climbing fast. I began hearing from celebrities and even a few personal heroes, offering their assistance out of the blue. The barbecue columnist for Texas Monthly — an idol to me, as a journalist and a native Texan — was watching videos of other people’s parties taken at a Trump golf resort. He thought he’d spotted the painting in the background (he hadn’t). Kathy Griffin, the actress, called me with her memories about visiting the set of Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, was sending me links on Twitter, new leads on Trump promises…

The point of my stories was not to defeat Trump. The point was to tell readers the facts about this man running for president. How reliable was he at keeping promises? How much moral responsibility did he feel to help those less fortunate than he?

By the end of the election, I felt I’d done my job. My last big story about Trump started with an amazing anecdote, which came from a tip from a reader. In 1996, Trump had crashed a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a charity opening a nursery school for children with AIDS. Trump, who had never donated to the charity, stole a seat onstage that had been saved for a big contributor.

He sat there through the whole ceremony, singing along with the choir of children as cameras snapped, and then left without giving a dime…

A few days [after the election], I was interviewed by another German reporter. He asked if these past nine months, the greatest ad­ven­ture in my life as a journalist, had been for naught.

“Do you feel like your work perhaps did not matter at all?” he said.

I didn’t feel like that.

It did matter. But, in an election as long and wild as this, a lot of other stories and other people mattered, too. I did my job. The voters did theirs. Now my job goes on. I’ll seek to cover Trump the president with the same vigor as I scrutinized Trump the candidate.

And now I know how to do it.

Last 2016 Saturday Morning Open Thread

I’ve discovered a new reporter I’ll be following in 2017 — Abigail Tracy, at Vanity Fair:

Six months after Donald Trump last held a formal press conference, during which he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, the president-elect finally spoke with reporters Wednesday during two impromptu, largely fact-free press conferences outside his gilded Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In his signature stream-of-consciousness style, the president-elect—at one point flanked by boxing promoter Don King—offered up a series of misleading, disjointed responses, during which he falsely claimed to have created thousands of new jobs, dismissed alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, whitewashed his sprawling financial conflicts of interest, and offered up word salad in a rambling defense of Israel…

So I guess now I’ll be subscribing to Vanity Fair — and also Teen Vogue, for their political coverage.
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What’s on the agenda for the last day of this can’t-end-soon-enough year?
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Header photo for the Vanity Fair article, incidentally:

Me The Next Four Years

Long Read: “Trump’s Team of Rivals, Riven by Distrust”

Thomas Wright, in Foreign Policy — “Mike Flynn, Jim Mattis, and Rex Tillerson don’t have much in common with each other — or Donald Trump. But together they might revolutionize American foreign policy”:

Understanding Donald Trump’s foreign policy is truly an exercise in separating the signal from the noise. Trump says and does so much, often on a whim, that it can overwhelm the senses. There is so much that he knows so little about — Taiwan, for instance — that it is hard to say if small actions are part of a coherent strategy or if he’s simply winging it.

But now that the president-elect has announced his picks for key foreign-policy positions, his foreign policy is starting to become clear or at least clearer. Though Trump’s own foreign-policy views are captured by his “America First” slogan, his administration will be split between three national security factions — the America Firsters, the religious warriors, and the traditionalists — each of which distrusts the others but also needs them to check the third. The question is what effect this power struggle will have on U.S. foreign policy, particularly amid a crisis — and whether Trump, over time, will insist on asserting his personal will against the other factions with which he has surrounded himself…

Few people think of Trump as a foreign-policy thinker. He has been on every side of numerous issues, including climate change, Syria, North Korea, Iraq, and nuclear weapons. However, it is indisputable that Trump has a small number of core beliefs dating back three decades about America’s role in the world. His overarching worldview is that America is in economic decline because other nations are taking advantage of it.

Three beliefs stand out. Trump has been a staunch critic of America’s security alliances since 1987 and has demanded that U.S. allies transfer vast sums of money to the United States in exchange for protection. He has opposed every trade deal the United States has signed since World War II and advocated for the widespread use of tariffs. And he has a soft spot for authoritarian strongmen, particularly of the Russian variety. This appears to date back to 1990 when he visited Russia and came back deeply disillusioned in Mikhail Gorbachev and convinced that Moscow should have emulated China’s repression in Tiananmen Square. Trump has been consistent on each of these issues for 30 years. For a detailed analysis of his statements and writings on these topics, see here and here. Trump repeatedly raised these views in the campaign, even when it was politically risky to do so (as in his praise of Vladimir Putin).

The big question has been whether and how Trump may act on these beliefs and convert them into policy…

Friday Morning Open Thread: Not Getting Into the Holiday Spirit

marvel-2016-xmas-sally-and-lotto

From wise garden commentor Marvel:

Here’s my gal Sal (in red antlers) and her old friend Lotto (under the tree). I know they don’t look happy here, but you’d be surprised: after this snapshot, they downed a cup of souped-up eggnog and went out caroling.

OK, maybe they didn’t. Truth: Sally shook her antlers off, then helped Lotto off with his hat.

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up another hectic-to-hellish week?

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One of the first things I learned about living with rescue animals who’d been abused or neglected: Overenthusiastic displays of friendliness scare them. Sometimes, you just have to go on with your daily routine, and let them come to you.

Therefore, I fully endorse Sam Bee’s message to Democrats hoping to persuade WWC voters: