U.S. post 2016 elections: Shock – not awe – & resistance

Written by  //  October 10, 2017  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  1 Comment

See also Trump Transition
The Democrats/progressives after the 2016 Election
The Resistance Report
Landmarks and City Halls Across the Globe Go Green
in a Show of Support for the Paris Climate Accord

A grim (prescient?) outlook that offers little hope that some form of global disaster can or will be avoided
History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trump
By Tobias Stone Entrepreneur, Academic, Writer
We are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination.
(HuffPost) after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.
That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe and so many more. Mugabe is a very good case in point. …
[Trump]  is using passion, anger and rhetoric in the same way all his predecessors did — a charismatic narcissist who feeds on the crowd to become ever stronger, creating a cult around himself. You can blame society, politicians, the media, for America getting to the point that it’s ready for Trump, but the bigger historical picture is that history generally plays out the same way each time someone like him becomes the boss.
On a wider stage, zoom out some more, Russia is a dictatorship with a charismatic leader using fear and passion to establish a cult around himself. Turkey is now there too. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia are heading that way, and across Europe more Trumps and Putins are waiting in the wings, in fact funded by Putin, waiting for the popular tide to turn their way. (25 July 2016)

10 October
A ‘pressure cooker’: Trump’s frustration and fury rupture alliances, threaten agenda
Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday….
This portrait of the president increasingly isolated in the capital city is based on interviews with 18 White House officials, outside advisers and other Trump associates. …
“Donald Trump got elected with minority support from the American electorate, and most of his efforts thus far are focused on energizing and solidifying the 40 percent of Americans who were with him, primarily by attacking the 60 percent who were not,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “That is great for his supporters, but it makes it very difficult to accomplish anything in a democracy.”
Bannon is recruiting GOP primary challengers in nearly all of the 2018 Senate races, looking for candidates who could defeat Republicans he views as too establishment and highlight the president’s stances on issues such as immigration and trade.

5 October
Bob Corker just told the world what he really thinks of Donald Trump
(CNN) There’s no question that Corker feels freer to speak his mind without the worry of angering the President and potentially stirring up a serious primary challenge. But what’s even more important/scary to contemplate: If this is Corker saying what he really thinks about Trump, what must the rest of Republicans in the Senate and House think of their President? And when will they speak out?

1 September
John McCain Didn’t Mince Words About President Trump in an Op-Ed
He called him “poorly informed,” “impulsive,” and seemed to question whether Trump knows how the government functions.
(Esquire) McCain’s public call for compromise in a democracy shouldn’t be groundbreaking, but in this environment, it deserves commendation. Acknowledging the true situation in the Oval Office, particularly as it relates to governing on Capitol Hill, is right and necessary, particularly from a Republican leader. …  But until McCain and his colleagues recognize that their party is broken, that it produced Trump for a reason, and that the country cannot be fixed until one of its two major political parties is, we will be in this mess for the foreseeable future—with or without Trump running America, Inc.
John McCain: It’s time Congress returns to regular order

21 August
Adam Gopnik: Why Obama Should Lead the Opposition to Trump
(The New Yorker) The appetite for Obama’s leadership is as real as ever, not merely among liberals but among Americans of many political stripes and sides; he left office, after all, with nearly record-high approval. … Will Obama step forward to help lead the opposition to Trump? … What the dissenting, or “resisting,” side needs is exactly what Obama can help supply: principled leadership from as close to a universally respected figure as one could hope to find.
The Daily 202: The elites strike back — getting under Trump’s skin
(WaPost) Seven months into President Trump’s reign, the elites are striking back. From Wall Street to West Palm Beach and West Hollywood, the past week has been a turning point, perhaps even a tipping point. Since Trump abdicated his moral leadership after Charlottesville, the well-connected have used their leverage — like checkbooks and celebrity — to send a message about what truly makes America great.

18 August
The stinging masterpiece of a resignation letter the President’s Arts Committee
(Daily Kos) ” We are members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH). The Committee was created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues. …  Effective immediately, please accept our resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.”

16 August
The Entire US Military Has Now Openly Broken With Trump And Denounced Racism
The men in charge of all the branches of the US military have denounced racism and broken with President Trump’s encouragement of racists.
(Politicususa) The Joint Chiefs have to protect their branches of the military while still respecting the chain of command, which is why none of them personally condemned Trump, but it was clear that all of them were concerned about Trump inspired racism infecting the military.

13 June
Md., D.C. suing Trump: Somebody had to do it
(Baltimore Sun editorial)  Whether intentionally or unwittingly, Mr. Trump has turned the presidency into a profit center for his private business, and he has prevented the public from knowing the extent of his conflicts. That is something no president has done, and none ever should.
McCain strikes back as Trump’s chief critic
(The Hill) McCain’s latest stunning public shot was to tell The Guardian that America’s standing in the world was stronger under former President Barack Obama

5 June
California Gov. Jerry Brown acts as America’s unofficial climate ambassador during a trip to China.
(LATimes) During his visit, the governor will try to demonstrate to the Chinese — and by extension, other world leaders — that some parts of the country are still moving forward.
The first two stops on Brown’s tour are places that envision themselves as California sees itself — progressive and green. Sichuan’s rivers and steep terrain have helped make it a hub for hydropower. Nanjing’s Jiangsu province, which he will visit on Monday, aims to position itself as a leader on renewable energy.

3 June
Two Republican Governors Just Joined US Climate Alliance To Fight Trump
Although it was seen as fairly unlikely that any Republican states would join the Alliance – primarily because of the sort of funding many GOP lawmakers receive – it appears that Trump’s actions on Paris have crossed a line. At the time of writing, two Republican Governors – those of Massachusetts and Vermont – have joined the Alliance.

2 June
David Brooks: Donald Trump Poisons the World
This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”
That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.

New York City Hall shines green in defiance

These 76 cities just adopted the Paris climate deal in defiance of Trump
Mayors of 76 cities across the U.S. are defying President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
(The Resistance Report) In a post to the blogging platform Medium, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, also known as Climate Mayors, announced their intent to uphold the United States’ end of the Paris accords within their own jurisdictions, despite Trump’s exiting of the agreement on Thursday evening.
The law of unintended consequences?
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is launching a coalition to defy Trump and uphold the Paris Agreement
(Business Insider) The coalition plans to submit a plan to the United Nations that commits to greenhouse-gas limits set in the Paris Agreement, according to The New York Times. It is negotiating with the UN to form its own National Determined Contribution — a set of emissions standards for each participating nation under the Paris Agreement — that is accepted alongside the other countries in the accord.
We knew something like this would happen!
Pittsburgh fires back at Trump: we stand with Paris, not you
Trump said ‘I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris’ – but city’s mayor retorts: ‘We stand with the world and will follow the agreement’
(The Guardian) Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, fired back after Trump referenced the city in his speech defending the White House’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.
Peduto seized on the comment, countering that Pittsburgh voted for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election. “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh,” he wrote. “Pittsburgh stands with the world and will follow Paris agreement.”
NB See Pittsburgh Office of Sustainability
Why Trump’s attempt to pit Pittsburgh against Paris is absurd
(The Guardian) Having revitalized itself from a coal and steel-based economy, its renewable energy industry is now a major employer, providing an estimated 13,000 jobs. The editorial board of its flagship paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has laid out in no uncertain terms how leaving the global agreement would hurt the US. And the city’s Mayor Bill Peduto, long an outspoken supporter of the global agreement, was actually in Paris in 2015 when the accord was drafted.
Silicon Valley Finally Admits How Much It Hates Trump

Leaders of nearly every major tech company slammed Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.
(Vanity Fair) The Trump administration is currently trying to convene a second major tech summit on June 19 with industry leaders to brainstorm ways to modernize the government’s I.T. infrastructure. But with C.E.O.s like Musk and Disney’s Bob Iger resigning from the president’s advisory councils, pressure will likely be intense on other corporate heavyweights to stop working with the White House in protest.

1 June
Charles P. Pierce: Are You Proud to Be an American Today?
The Rose Garden’s dumbest moment on record.
(Esquire) By announcing that the United States was withdrawing from the groundbreaking Paris Accords regarding the world climate crisis, the president* wallowed in rank, xenophobic victimhood while basking in the scattered applause of the otherwise unemployable yahoos whose self-respect is sufficiently low that they still work for him.  The transformation of the American government into a Breitbart comments thread is complete.
Our Disgraceful Exit From the Paris Accord
(NYT editorial) Mr. Trump’s policies — the latest of which was his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change — have dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness as well as job growth in crucial industries and squandered what was left of America’s claim to leadership on an issue of global importance.

21 May
Cleo Paskal: Constant media attacks cause Trump’s support to harden
As Ann Coulter wrote, ‘Every time I try to be mad at Trump, the media reel me back in by launching some ridiculous, unprovoked attack.’
(Sunday Guardian) OK, so we know what the Western mainstream media think of US President Donald Trump. Look at CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post or, for that matter, the BBC, the Canadian media, the French media, the Australian media, and so on.
… So what does his base think? The majority of Trump’s base has a completely different set of parameters from the mainstream media by which they judge his performance.
The first one, on which he wins every time, is that he is not Hilary Clinton. As long as the memory of her campaign lingers, it reinvigorates his support. Which is why, if the Democrats are serious about winning over some of his voters, they need to be a lot more “Sanders” (Remember him? The mainstream media and the Democratic Party don’t seem to.) and a lot less Clinton.
Other priorities depend on the sub-group of supporters.
… As it looks now, it seems the louder the Western mainstream media voices are against Trump, the better it is for his numbers. Another side-product of the onslaught is that many in the middle are simply starting to tune out.
Currently, it seems the constant media attacks are causing Trump’s support to harden, even though there are reasons for his base to be concerned by its own parameters. At the same time, the vitriol seems to be causing many on the fence to put the news on mute. So, if you hear endless anti-Trump pieces coming out of the US, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is losing support. At the moment, it could mean just the opposite.

14 May
G.O.P. Senators Pull Away From Trump, Alarmed at His Volatility
(NYT) Several Republicans have openly questioned Mr. Trump’s decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and even lawmakers who supported the move have complained privately that it was poorly timed and disruptive to their work. Many were dismayed when Mr. Trump seemed to then threaten Mr. Comey not to leak negative information about him.
As they pursue their own agenda, Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input, seeking to avoid the public relations pitfalls that befell the House as it passed its own deeply unpopular version. Republicans are also pushing back on the president’s impending budget request — including, notably, a provision that would nearly eliminate funding for the national drug control office amid an opioid epidemic. And many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Mr. Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
David Frum: A Special Prosecutor Is Not the Answer
Rather than an inquiry focused narrowly on criminal conduct, the way to resolve questions swirling around President Trump and his associates is to impanel an independent commission.
Of all the types of independent investigation that have been suggested, a special prosecutor is the most likely to disappear down rabbit holes—the least likely answer the questions that needed to be answered. A select committee of Congress or an independent commission of nonpartisan experts established by Congress can ask the broad question: What happened? A select committee or an independent commission can organize its inquiry according to priority, leaving the secondary and tertiary issues to the historians. A select committee or an independent commission is not barred from looking at events in earlier years statutes of limitations. A select committee or an independent commission seeks truth.
A special prosecutor, by contrast, seeks crimes.

10 May
Andrew Coyne: Assuming a plan behind Comey firing would be giving Trump too much credit
We have been given a picture of the next four years, in which the best-case scenario is that the U.S. continues to drift — distracted, paralyzed, consumed by scandals, with no policy direction but the whims of an increasingly paranoid president and whichever side is ascendant in the constant civil wars within his administration. And the worst case? Oh, how about nuclear war in Korea?
The question is whether this prospect can safely be endured. And the answer, it is now clear, is no. If sense prevailed, the wheels would already be in motion to remove him from office. Alas, political calculations on both sides of the aisle may conspire to leave him there: the Republicans, in dread of the turmoil his removal would unleash among their base; the Democrats, because he may help deliver them the Congress, as early as 2018.
They should think again. The risk is too great, not just to the republic, but to the world.

5 May
Measure on Pre-existing Conditions Energizes Opposition to Health Bill
Groups on the left posted graphics online listing pre-existing conditions that could, in theory, threaten health care coverage, with some shared hundreds of thousands or millions of times.
Individuals took up the call, too: More than 100,000 people posted on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmAPreexistingCondition, with many naming their own long-term illnesses or medical conditions.

4 May
George F. Will: A president who does not know what it is to know
His fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his limitless gullibility leave him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind.
It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Donald Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence. … it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict.

2 May
How Trump Could Get Fired
The Constitution offers two main paths for removing a President from office. How feasible are they?
By Evan Osnos
(The New Yorker Magazine 8 May edition) Law and history make clear that Trump’s most urgent risk is not getting ousted; it is getting hobbled by unpopularity and distrust. He is only the fifth U.S. President who failed to win the popular vote. Except George W. Bush, none of the others managed to win a second term. Less dramatic than the possibility of impeachment or removal via the Twenty-fifth Amendment is the distinct possibility that Trump will simply limp through a single term, incapacitated by opposition.
1 May

Historian Timothy Snyder: “It’s pretty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow democracy
Yale historian and author of the new book “On Tyranny” says we may have one year left to save American democracy
(Salon) American democracy is in crisis. The election of Donald Trump feels like a state of emergency made normal.
Trump has threatened violence against his political enemies. He has made clear he does not believe in the norms and traditions of American democracy — unless they serve his interests. Trump and his advisers consider a free press to be enemies of his regime. Trump repeatedly lies and has a profoundly estranged relationship with empirical reality. He uses obvious and naked racism, nativism and bigotry to mobilize his voters and to disparage entire groups of people such as Latinos and Muslims.
Trump is threatening to eliminate an independent judiciary and wants to punish judges who dare to stand against his illegal and unconstitutional mandates. In what appears to be a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, Trump is using the office of the presidency to enrich himself, his family and his inner circle by peddling influence and access to corporations, foreign countries and wealthy individuals. Trump and his representatives also believe that he is above the law and cannot be prosecuted for any crimes while in office.
What can the American people do to resist Donald Trump? What lessons can history teach about the rise of authoritarianism and fascism and how democracies collapse? Are there ways that individuals can fight back on a daily basis and in their own personal lives against the political and cultural forces that gave rise to Trump’s movement? How long does American democracy have before the poison that Donald Trump and the Republican Party injected into the country’s body politic becomes lethal?

Paul Krugman: On the Power of Being Awful
(NYT) One basic principle I’ve learned in my years at The Times is that almost nobody ever admits being wrong about anything — and the wronger they were, the less willing they are to concede error.
The news media spent much of the campaign indulging in an orgy of false equivalence; nonetheless, most voters probably got the message that the political/media establishment considered Trump ignorant and temperamentally unqualified to be president. So the Trump vote had a strong element of: “Ha! You elites think you’re so smart? We’ll show you!”
Now, sure enough, it turns out that Trump is ignorant and temperamentally unqualified to be president. But if you think his supporters will accept this reality any time soon, you must not know much about human nature. In a perverse way, Trump’s sheer awfulness offers him some political protection: His supporters aren’t ready, at least so far, to admit that they made that big a mistake.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.
(The New Yorker) Consider what’s become known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued; it’s the subject of entire textbooks’ worth of experiments. …
“As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

19 April
Democrats fell short of a win in the Georgia House race. Democrat Jon Ossoff had 48.6% of the vote (WSJ paywall) as of Wednesday morning—just shy of the 50% he needed for the seat. Now it goes to a June 20 runoff between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. Democrats poured money into Ossoff’s campaign, which was being closely watched as a referendum on Trump—who went on a major Twitter offensive against Ossoff before the vote.

6 April
Trump: We’ve had ‘one of the most successful 13 weeks’ in history
Robert Reich comments:
Um. …
First of all, it’s been a disaster. His repeal of Obamacare went nowhere. His entire legislative has been stalled. His Muslim ban is held up in the courts. His possible collusion with Russia over the 2016 election is preoccupying Congress and the White House. He had to fire his national security advisor. His Attorney General had to recuse himself from the investigation. His White House is in chaos. And his non-stop lies have brought his favorability rating to the lowest of any president in history at this point in office.
Oh, one other thing. He hasn’t been in office for 13 weeks. It’s been 11.

27 March
‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era
(Reuters) Although not as powerful as the religious right, which has been credited with helping elect Republican presidents and boasts well-known leaders such as Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson, the “religious left” is now slowly coming together as a force in U.S. politics.
This disparate group, traditionally seen as lacking clout, has been propelled into political activism by Trump’s policies on immigration, healthcare and social welfare, according to clergy members, activists and academics. A key test will be how well it will be able to translate its mobilization into votes in the 2018 midterm congressional elections.
“It’s one of the dirty little secrets of American politics that there has been a religious left all along and it just hasn’t done a good job of organizing,” said J. Patrick Hornbeck II, chairman of the theology department at Fordham University.

22 March
Graydon Carter: The Trump Presidency Is Already a Joke — But it’s no laughing matter.
in the end, proper historians and serious journalists will descend in droves to mop up the lies, the half-truths, and the criminality. Trump’s legacy and that of his family could end up in tatters. The self-lauded Trump brand may well wind up as toxic as the once self-lauded brand of another New York-Palm Beach family: the Madoffs.
(Vanity Fair) It can reasonably be said that our dear leader is now the most ridiculed man on the planet. In fact, he may well be the most ridiculed man in history. For a preening narcissist who takes himself terribly seriously, being the butt of the joke heard round the world has got to hurt. The handpicked assortment of craven nitwits and supplicants that he has surrounded himself with have valiantly tried to insulate him from the derision. But they’re only human. Your heart has to go out to the ones doing the heavy lifting: banty Sean Spicer, the M. C. Escher of the English language, and Kellyanne Conway, the president’s temperament fluffer. (Look away from CNN, Mr. President. There’s something shiny and bright over there!) Engaging as it is to watch these overworked mouthpieces, I fear their days must be numbered. Comments about microwaves that turn into spy cameras and what should be understood when the president puts words in quotation marks are having minimal effect in reducing the scorn heaped upon their boss. Hats off to them for their tenacity, but no amount of spin is going to change the fact that the Trump White House, like the company its inhabitant has run for the past four decades, continues to be a shambolic mess.

21 March
Wall Street Journal compares Trump to ‘a drunk’ clinging to ‘an empty gin bottle’ in scathing editorial
(Business Insider) The words of President Donald Trump and his White House staff are, in no small way, a matter of national security and credibility, and those things have entered a danger zone, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued on Tuesday.
The conservative-leaning editorial board pointed to Trump’s debunked claim that domestic and international entities had colluded with the Obama administration to spy on Trump’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

20 March
Trump’s Weary Defenders Face Fresh Worries
Mr. Trump’s allies have begun to wonder if his need for self-expression, often on social media, will exceed his instinct for self-preservation, with disastrous results both for the president and for a party whose fate is now tightly tied to his. … And Mr. Trump’s fixation on fighting is undermining his credibility at a time when he needs to toggle from go-it-alone executive action to collaborative congressional action on ambitious health care, budget and infrastructure legislation.
“I don’t always like what the president is saying,” the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told The Washington Examiner last month. “I do think he frequently, by wading into other matters, takes attention away” from “the very substantial things we’re already accomplishing.”

19 March
Trump’s Approval Rating Hits New Record Low
(Slate) The commander in chief’s approval rating fell to a new low over the weekend to 37 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll. That marks a sharp drop from the 45 percent of a week earlier and comes as Trump’s disapproval rating hit 58 percent, also a high point since the real estate mogul was sworn into office.
Needless to say, those are the worst numbers for any president this early in his administration in the history of modern polling.

18 March
We are the resistance poster‘Paris in Georgia’: political salons spring up across US in push against Trump
Taking inspiration from history, groups gather in Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco and beyond to plan opposition and create an outlet for their concerns
(The Guardian) The 2017 salon is more often marked by groups of friends and neighbors organizing specific political actions, from raising money to educating each other about the refugee ban, while hanging out and making new friendships.
… At 7pm on a Sunday night once a month [at the Progressive Salon of Decatur], a crowd of about 20 people pile into the semi-retired attorney’s lounge room, with the dining chairs set up around the couches in a semi-circle.
“We are not here to sit around around and complain,” explained Huber. The group is a mixture of people from the middle-class neighborhood of Chelsea Heights, including folk musicians, stay-at-home moms, lawyers and a former nun.
They are focused on three key topics: the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the April special election for the sixth congressional district in Georgia (vacant after Tom Price became head of health and human Services in the Trump administration), and the 2018 midterm elections (the governor of Georgia is up for re-election).

15 March
John Cassidy: Who Leaked Part of Donald Trump’s 2005 Federal Tax Return?
(The New Yorker) there are a number of reasons why the theory that someone connected to Trump may have been the leaker is far from implausible.
For one thing, the leak didn’t include the bulk of Trump’s tax return or the supporting appendices. These materials would have provided information about any loans he had taken out and details of any income he received from overseas. It is also curious that the return is for 2005, which was a particularly good year for Trump’s business. …  The revelation that he paid tens of millions of dollars in federal taxes, for this one year at least, must count as favorable to him.
The return was also leaked just when Trump needed a distraction.
Finally, a stamp on the second page of the partial return that Johnston received reads “Client Copy.” This appears to indicate that this document wasn’t sent to the Internal Revenue Service but was instead retained by Trump or his accountant.
‘People are scared’: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House
Staffers are leaving their phones at home, using secret apps and monitoring each other’s social media.
(Politico) It’s an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf, key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal, and Trump’s ambitious agenda has been eclipsed by headlines surrounding his unproven claim that former President Barack Obama tapped his phone lines at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign

14 March
Let’s normalize Trump
(LATimes op-ed) Trump thrives on attention, positive or negative; the more his craziest Tweets grab headlines and dominate the conversation, the more he’ll turn to his phone.

21 February
Michael Moore: Do These 10 Things, And Trump Will Be Toast
First, let’s acknowledge what we all know to be true: Trump is in deep, deep trouble ― in the pocket of Russians, surrounded by alt.right idiots, alone in his bathrobe in a mostly-empty White House ― and caught inside a disgusting “shit-sandwich”, so said his supporter who turned down the NSA job.
Only one month into his So-Called Presidency ― and yet there is good news, as this is what the American landscape looks like:
Tens of thousands of citizens across the country have stormed Congressional district offices and town hall meetings to express their rage at the Trump agenda (a dejected Republican congressman, after a 3-hour verbal assault from his angry constituents, said on TV last night, “let’s face it – they [the Obamacare supporters] have won.”).
A federal court halted Trump’s first Muslim Ban ― actually, make that FOUR federal courts have ruled against him! He’s conceded defeat and will not appeal to the Supreme Court (though he will try a new ban – and good luck with that, you son of a Scottish immigrant).
Progressive Democrat Congressman Keith Ellison appears to be the front-runner for this Saturday’s vote to head the Democratic Party ― and to FIX the whole damn mess! Also, a recruitment drive has begun across the country to find the best local candidates to run for state and federal offices in 2018. Millions are committed to never letting the Debacle of ‘16 happen again.
Republican members of Congress hear from angry constituents at town halls
Trump alleges, without evidence, that ‘liberal activists’ were crashing meetings
Constituents Shout Down Republican When She Ducks A Question About Obamacare
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) got a taste of voters’ outrage over the GOP’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn Besieged By Boos At Tennessee Town Hall

20 February

Joseph E. Stiglitz: How to Survive the Trump Era
Recognition of uncertainty is not a justification for denial.
(Project Syndicate) … when we are constantly barraged by events and decisions that are beyond the pale, it is easy to become numb and to begin looking past major abuses of power at the still-greater travesties to come. One of the main challenges in this new era will be to remain vigilant and, whenever and wherever necessary, to resist. (20 February 2017)

14 February
‘Unbelievable Turmoil’: Trump’s First Month Leaves Washington Reeling
(NYT) … a remarkably tumultuous first month for President Trump’s White House that has burdened the early days of his presidency with scandal, legal challenges, personnel drama and questions about his temperament during interactions with world leaders.
The Embarrassment of President Trump
(The New Yorker) In the past, the nation has had do-nothing Presidencies, and scandal-ridden Presidencies, and failed Presidencies, but until Donald J. Trump came along there hasn’t been a truly embarrassing Presidency.
After little more than three weeks, Trump’s behavior is no more erratic than it used to be, but in the context of the Presidency it seems so. This year’s “Saturday Night Live” season has been very funny, but the most startling moment was not a sketch but a depiction of something real: Trump’s obsessive tweeting, four years ago, about the end of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It’s been fascinating to watch him change policies in the twinkling of a tweet, as with his briefly confrontational China policy, inaugurated in December with a telephone call to Taiwan’s leader, and then reversed; or to witness his cobra-like lunges at newfound enemies, including the Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who revealed that Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had told him that he found the President’s attacks on the courts “demoralizing.” Trump just can’t seem to stop himself. Three months after the election, which he won, he’s still talking about those mythical fraudulent voters, and still calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.” When he did so recently, in a room filled with senators, it got awkward; one attendee told Politico that “an uncomfortable silence” filled the room.
3 January
Chris Patten: Comrade Trump and the Truth
(Project Syndicate) The inquiries into these weighty matters will continue after Trump’s inauguration, and you can bet that they will multiply, as leaks flood out of Washington. Some of these may be false flags or bits of speculation, but others may be true, and possibly horrifying. Either way, they will all be divisive, and they will weaken the US and its president. Still, Trump will weather the storm, unless investigators can confirm complicity between his campaign and any Russian entity known to be connected to Putin. One can only guess what the prize would be for finding such a treacherous link.
So, what can we do in the dark days ahead? For starters, we must not allow lies to crowd out the truth in public discourse and debate. If social media are full of falsehoods, counter them with facts. If co-workers are repeating fake-news headlines or ignorant, prejudiced claims, challenge them on it. If television or radio news programs are distorting the truth, pick up the phone and tell them and their advertisers what you think. And ask your pastors and other community leaders to roll up their sleeves and do the same. (See TD Comment below)
2 January
trump-portraitPaul Krugman: America Becomes a Stan
I know that many people are still trying to convince themselves that the incoming administration will govern normally, despite the obviously undemocratic instincts of the new commander in chief and the questionable legitimacy of the process that brought him to power. Some Trump apologists have even taken to declaring that we needn’t worry about corruption from the incoming clique, because rich men don’t need more money. Seriously.
But let’s get real. Everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.
The only question now is whether the rot has gone so deep that nothing can stop America’s transformation into Trumpistan. One thing is for sure: It’s destructive as well as foolish to ignore the uncomfortable risk, and simply assume that it will all be O.K. It won’t.
20 December
Sarcasm dripping from the page
Trump Campaign Manager Condemns Democrats for Trying to Delegitimize the President-elect
(New York Magazine) Kellyanne Conway believes that our constitutional system relies on the good-faith cooperation of the minority party in Washington — and that the very least that party can do is acknowledge the legitimacy of the duly elected president. …
In fact, early reports suggest that Democrats on Capitol Hill are attempting to foment cooperation with the next commander-in-chief. The party’s leading lights in the Senate — from Chuck Schumer to Bernie Sanders — have already expressed their interest in working with Trump on issues like infrastructure, child care, and family leave. …
Recall how the Republican Party responded to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. Instead of forming a “permanent opposition” that would have corroded our democratic institutions, the GOP framed the election of the first black president as a source of pride for all Americans — and then rallied behind that president, to help the nation battle its way back from financial crisis. And let’s not forget that Donald Trump’s rise to political prominence was fueled by the leadership he displayed in condemning the birther movement (which Hillary Clinton’s nasty 2008 campaign had started).
19 December
‘Unpresidented’: Donald Trump invents the Guardian’s word of the year
A tweet attacking China also offered the English language a new word – which might be used to describe a Trumpian act of folly such as nuclear war
Trump’s spelling error: an act of Joycean virtuosity or carelessness?
14 December
Trump’s flirtation with Bolton sends shivers through Senate
Republicans and Democrats have pledged to battle Trump if he names the least diplomatic diplomat to a top State Department post
(Politico) John Bolton, the mustache-sporting, Iraq War-cheering former United Nations ambassador, is possibly one of the least diplomatic diplomats ever to serve in the U.S. government. He has argued the U.S. should bomb Iran to stop its nuclear program, dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state and called the United Nations a “twilight zone.”
13 December
Trump postponed the planned Dec. 15 press conference explaining how he’ll separate himself from his businesses; now it will be in January. This gives the Electoral College, which votes Dec. 19 to confirm his election, a legitimate reason to vote him down, ethics lawyers say.
12 December
The Russian Hacking Allegations: Last Friday night, following the announcement that the Obama administration would launch a thorough review of election-related hacking, news broke that the CIA suspected the Russian government of orchestrating cyberattacks to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Now the Senate is also getting involved, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backing a bipartisan inquiry into Russia’s role—and a group of presidential electors is demanding a briefing on the hacking. But Trump is questioning the CIA’s conclusions, while some of his closest allies—including his likely pick for deputy secretary of state, John Bolton—are claiming without evidence that the hacks were conducted under a false flag.
11 December
“I’m, like, a smart person”: Trump doesn’t even listen to facts from his secret intelligence briefings
(Quartz) Most presidents-to-be spend their precious few months before taking office by taking in top-secret intelligence briefings and learning as much as they can from the people tasked with keeping the US safe. Not Donald Trump, whose cabinet pageantry and victory tour has left little time for briefings. Breaking with the tradition of receiving daily intelligence updates, the president-elect claimed that hearing such classified information would just get repetitive. “I get it when I need it,” he said on Fox News Sunday today. “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.” (N.B. He’s only been elected for four years.)
10 December
Trump, Mocking Claim That Russia Hacked Election, at Odds with G.O.P.
(NYT) An extraordinary breach has emerged between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the national security establishment, with Mr. Trump mocking American intelligence assessments that Russia interfered in the election on his behalf, and top Republicans vowing investigations into Kremlin activities.
Mr. Trump, in a statement issued by his transition team on Friday evening, expressed complete disbelief in the intelligence agencies’ assessments.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Trump’s team said, adding that the election was over and that it was time to “move on.”
Though Mr. Trump has wasted no time in antagonizing the agencies, he will have to rely on them for the sort of espionage activities and analysis that they spend more than $70 billion a year to perform.
Mr. Trump’s team lashed out at the agencies after The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A. believed that Russia had intervened to undercut Mrs. Clinton and lift Mr. Trump, and The New York Times reported that Russia had broken into Republican National Committee computer networks just as they had broken into Democratic ones, but had released documents only on the Democrats.
Not likely to happen, but an indication of how desperate people are
Russian Interference Could Give Courts Legal Authority To Install Clinton

secstate-candidates Frank Bruni: Donald Trump’s Bottomless Secretarial Pool
(NYT) It’s not as if Donald Trump wants for self-amusement, but still I pity him the apparent end of his search for a secretary of state. He had such a blast with it.
Luminary upon luminary genuflected before him. Oracle upon oracle plumbed the mists of his utterances. (“Just met with General Petraeus,” he tweeted. “Very impressed!”) He was the star yet again of a top-rated reality show, this one with the heightened stakes of war and peace — “The Apprentice: Armageddon.” I assume that Mark Burnett helped to vet the candidates
9 December
Shields and Brooks on Trump’s understanding of presidential power
David Brooks: Trump has picked the more extreme versions of all Republicans so far, the more aggressive. And I think the thing to watch out for is, I could totally paint a scenario where Trump runs an authoritarian regime. I can totally paint a scenario where he has no control over his own government.
And that’s in part because of his attention span problems, but in part because running an agency is very hard. Cabinet secretaries often have no control over their agency. And it becomes doubly hard when you’re really out of opinion with the people who actually work in the agency.
And it becomes triply hard, as I think may happen, a lot of people will leave the government. There are a lot of people in a lot of these sorts of places that are weighing, do I really want to serve here?
8 December
Don’t Let Trump’s Sideshows Distract You from His Policies
By Charles Krauthammer
(National Review) What appears as random Trumpian impulsiveness has a logic to it. It’s a continuation of the campaign. Trump is acutely sensitive to his legitimacy problem, as he showed in his tweet claiming to have actually won the popular vote, despite trailing significantly in the official count.
The 115th [Congress] is Republican and ready to push through the legislation that gives life to the promises. On his part, Trump needs to avoid needless conflict. The Republican leadership has already signaled strong opposition on some issues, such as tariffs for job exporters. Nonetheless, there is enough common ground between Trump and his congressional majority to have an enormously productive 2017. The challenge will be to stay within the bounds of the GOP consensus.
Trump’s Presidency Is Shaping Up to Be an American Tragedy
His administration is likely to be just as bad as you think – and possibly worse
(Rolling Stone) We can’t guess how bad it’s going to get over the next four or eight years. We don’t know what America will look like. But if you think things won’t change because they never have, you aren’t paying close enough attention to Donald Trump.
At the very least, we’re being led by an unqualified man-boy who doesn’t grasp even the most basic tenets of governance.
At worst, we’re headed down an extraordinarily dark road where the things that make America America simply cease to exist. A president who won on a campaign of anti-immigrant furor, who believes in casting aside freedom like litter, who craves constant validation and can’t abide criticism or satire – that’s a tyrant in the making.
2 December
Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in popular vote passes 2.5 million
Democrat’s lead greater than 10 previous US Presidents
Hillary Clinton has received more than 2.5 million more votes than Donald Trump in the Presidential election, making her lead over her rival greater than 10 previous US Presidents.
(The Independent) The former Secretary of State lost the electoral college and conceded her 232 electoral votes – distributed in different numbers per state – to Mr Trump’s final tally of 306 votes.
Yet the Democrat has accrued 65,250,000 total votes so far, compared to the President-elect’s 62,686,000 — meaning at least 2,564,000 more Americans voted for her.
27 November
N Ziehl: Coping with Chaos in the White House
A few days ago, I wrote a post for my Facebook friends about my personal experience with narcissistic personality disorder and how I view the president-elect as a result. Unexpectedly, the post traveled widely, and it became clear that many people are struggling with how to understand and deal with this kind of behavior in a position of power. Although several writers, including a few professionals, have publicly offered their thoughts on a diagnosis, I am not a professional and this is not a diagnosis. My post is not intended to persuade anyone or provide a comprehensive description of NPD. I am speaking purely from decades of dealing with NPD and sharing strategies that were helpful for me in coping and predicting behavior.
15 November
Donald Trump’s Transition Team, Or Lack Thereof, Is Causing Real Panic
(HuffPost) The self-proclaimed government outsider is having trouble finding people to run the government.
The problem is twofold: Trump and his staff are not creatures of the establishment and are naturally skeptical of those who are. At the same time, many Republican lawyers and government officials who would have jumped at the opportunity to work in a GOP administration are balking at employment under Trump and his cabinet picks.
In first test, Trump makes big mistake
By S.E. Cupp
(CNN opinion) It was the first serious test of Donald Trump’s leadership, and it would send an important and clear message to a country that is both excited by and terrified of his presidency.
And yet, in true Trump fashion, his appointment of both Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon to “equal” leadership posts in his cabinet has accomplished little but confusion and continued consternation over who Trump intends to be as president.
The idea that Trump only had these two options is also hugely shortsighted. If he were truly a courageous visionary, he could have chosen Kellyanne Conway, his tireless campaign manager who brilliantly steered him through the final harrowing months of his flailing campaign, attempting, with some success, to keep him on message and away from dumpster fires.
Instead of head-scratching and more scrutiny, the appointment of Conway would have been met with immense positivity from both sides of the aisle and signaled to the country that he was both committed to his cause but also serious about uniting the nation.
12 November
Andrew Cohen: Trump has no interest in unifying America
(Globe & Mail) On the morning after his election this week, Donald Trump also met the media to declare victory over Hillary Clinton. Suddenly this demagogue was a conciliator, soft and gracious, promising unity and perhaps a little irony, too.
Even if president-elect Trump wants to unite a polarized people, it won’t be easy. He won only 47 per cent of the popular vote (making him a minority president) with 200,000 fewer votes than Ms. Clinton.
If Mr. Trump won the election stoking fear and anxiety – crime is rising, terrorists are coming, industry is leaving, drugs are spreading – then why bother with the unity card? Divide and rule is more effective.
But if he is conscious of the moral burdens of the presidency, and is serious about bringing unity to a country in a continuing cultural war, here is what he can do:
Appoint Democrats to senior cabinet posts, as John F. Kennedy named prominent Republicans. Mollify Democrats in the Senate, as Ronald Reagan did; otherwise they can filibuster legislation and obstruct judicial and diplomatic nominees.
Seek compromise on immigration. Amend rather than repeal Obamacare. Forget prosecuting Ms. Clinton, building a wall with Mexico and deporting 11 million undocumented aliens.
Apologize for the harsh rhetoric. Show humility, and contrition, too.
Mr. Trump should do all this but he can’t. Temperamentally, he is about winning. Politically, he is not apt to compromise, nor will his circle of advisers – Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani – encourage that. Triumphalist Republicans, led by a newly empowered Vice-President Mike Pence, will push a social conservative agenda, not consensus-building.
11 November
Shields and Brooks on a ‘political earthquake’ and how America can move forward
(PBS Newshour) In their first post-election Friday analysis, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the factors that may have contributed to Donald Trump’s dramatic upset, including an American desperation for change. Also, how should we consider the subsequent protests that have erupted, and can we expect Trump’s policy positions to evolve?
Transcript – Mark Shields: (quoting Salena Zito at “Atlantic.”) … to understand this election, critics of Donald Trump take him literally, but not seriously. His supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
In other words, so while his critics were very upset with what he said, the — his supporters really were the mood and the positions he took, rather than precise phrases or words.
I say that because now, as of Tuesday, everyone has to take him seriously, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. I think the anxiety in schools that we hear, in minority communities, those with the archbishop of Los Angeles at Our Lady of the Saints Cathedral yesterday at an interfaith service with Jewish and Muslim, and was very open and said, our children are fearful that their parents — the government is going to come and take their parents away.
And I think that’s a consequence of the election. I mean, in addition, the fact that he won, but his positions appear to prevail, and I think there have left fear in a lot of places.
David Brooks: I do not believe, having spent these last many months interviewing Trump voters, that [racism is] a dominant element in at least a lot of the people I spoke to. They had good reason, as Mark just elucidated, for why they were really upset with the course of the country.
Their culture, their life economically, socially, families breaking apart, drug use, it’s going downhill. And I think the two things — one, we don’t want to turn this into a children of light, children of darkness, where us college-enlightened people, educated, enlightened people are looking down at those primitive hordes. We do not want that.
That’s what — that condescension is what fueled this thing in the first place. And so I don’t think we want that.
Second, through American history, we have had populist movements that often, often, often have this ugly racial element. But, often, there are warning signs of some deeper social and economic problem. And we have rapidly increasing technology, which is making life very good for people who are good at using words, and not so good for people who are not good at using words.
And so the ugliness can sometimes be super ugly, but also a warning sign of something down below.

9 November
View from New York: With Clinton’s loss, a revolution fails
Hillary Clinton represented a vision of the United States in which women, African-Americans and Latinos would share power. Instead, argues Stephen Blank, American voters reached for a mythical past.
(Open Canada) To us, here in New York City, Trump was the wild-eyed radical. But to many Americans, he was the true conservative, determined to resist the frightening changes in our country that had trashed our familiar and friendly life as we knew it.
The Trump victory does not represent a new start. Trump’s campaign promises were – like Brexit – an effort to recapture the past.
In the post-election piece I imagined I would be writing this week, I was going to argue that the key to what would come next was not Clinton’s policy ideas, but what would happen on the Republican side: Whether the party would adopt a scorched earth policy, opposing her at every step, or whether the party moderate-extremist gap would widen.
The election does not resolve this struggle. Indeed, if Trump really does attempt to implement his campaign rhetoric of building walls, deporting millions and tearing down alliances – and creating what would be an enormously imperial presidency – then those Republicans who opposed him (but often still voted for him) will be forced to take a stand or to slink off forever. The battle over the future of the Republican Party is just entering a new phase.
Also, in defeat, Democratic divisions, papered over during the campaign, will widen. Will the Democrats become the party of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? What happens to the moderate Obama-Clinton wing? (Indeed, to Obama’s “legacy”?) What will happen to Clinton’s urban educated white men, women, African-American, Latino grand alliance?
All grist for many mills. Stay tuned.
Californians are calling for a ‘Calexit’ from the US — here’s how a secession could work
(Business Insider) A fringe political group in California wants to opt out of a Donald Trump presidency by leaving the union.
The Yes California Independence Campaign aims to hold a referendum in 2018 that, if passed, would bring California one step closer to becoming an independent country.
Far-fetched as it may sound, the plan started gathering steam after Tuesday night’s surprising presidential vote. The movement has an impressive backer in Shervin Pishevar, a well-known angel investor who offered to bankroll a campaign to secede.
“As the sixth-largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states,” Yes California wrote in a statement.

Trump’s voters were ‘hidden’ in plain sight
By Salena Zito
(New York Post) In the end, their support for Trump was non-ideological and not solely a revolt by poorer whites left behind by globalization. These voters turned out for Trump, too, but it was the Ripepis of the world who put this race over the top for Trump.
Voters keep sending Washington a message, and Washington — and the reporters who cover it — keep missing the signal. On Wednesday, pundits kept trying to calculate why progressivism was rejected, and they kept looking past what was right in front of them.
Voters are rejecting big government, big banks, big corporations and big technology. They said no to establishment Republican primary candidates and Wall Street, and they hid from the political statheads trying to track their mood

One Comment on "U.S. post 2016 elections: Shock – not awe – & resistance"

  1. TD January 8, 2017 at 5:57 pm · Reply

    Re Comrade Trump and the Truth
    Patten makes sense. As a practical matter, the Congressional Republicans are the only ones who can get rid of Trump constitutionally. I think it should take about two years of Trump’s fumbling before they feel that they can impeach him with reasonable support from their constituency, thus giving Pence two years of incumbency on which he can run in 2020. Trump’s current attitude to Russia gives Putin a free hand to nab , risk free, say two of, western Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia. If Putin wants to take serious risks, he could also try one of the Baltic countries, but if he decides to do that , that must start there. (I do not think he will.) TD
    The danger is that when Trump feels embarrassed for having been so publicly taken, he might overreact. Congress might be wise to do something about Trump before that happens.

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