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AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld writes that some Trump Electors were illegitimately seated in the Electoral College:

More than 50 Electoral College members who voted for Donald Trump were ineligible to serve as presidential electors because they did not live in the congressional districts they represented or held elective office in states legally barring dual officeholders.

That stunning finding is among the conclusions of an extensive 1,000-plus page legal briefing prepared by a bipartisan nationwide legal team for members of Congress who are being urged to object to certifying the 2016 Electoral College results on Friday.

Americans Take Action's Ryan Clayton says that "Trump's ascension to the presidency is completely illegitimate:"

"It's not just Russians hacking our democracy. It's not just voter suppression at unprecedented levels. It is also [that] there are Republicans illegally casting ballots in the Electoral College, and in a sufficient number that the results of the Electoral College proceedings are illegitimate as well."

It smacks of desperation with only two weeks until Inauguration Day, but he seems undeterred:

"We have a list of 50 illegal electors," Clayton said. "That puts Donald Trump below the threshold that he needs to be elected president. Let's debate it in an open session. According to the Constitution, the Congress, if nobody wins on the first round of balloting, picks from the top three candidates. That will be Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Colin Powell."

Senate Dems won't challenge the EC, though:

The activists said several House members were willing to sponsor a formal challenge--as Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, D-OH, did in 2005, then opposing ratification of Ohio's 2004 Electoral College votes. [...]

Notwithstanding any last minute changes of heart or courageous impulses, it's not likely Democrats will make a parallel high-profile stance protesting Trump's election.

H/t to Taegan Goddard for linking to Factbase's work in compiling Trump's tweets, speeches, and policies into a nearly 2.5-million-word searchable word salad. They have plans for the future, which should be interesting:

"We are testing this concept right now with the President-elect, though we plan to expand to cover other world leaders and people of note."

obstructionism

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MSNBC's Steve Benen looks at McConnell's obstructionism about-face:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Rachel on the show this week that he's "absolutely" prepared to hold open the Supreme Court's vacancy, agreeing that Republicans effectively "stole" a high-court seat with their partisan blockade last year. [...] The comments did not escape the attention of his Republican counterpart.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed a pledge from his Democratic counterpart to block President-elect Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, insisting "the American people simply will not tolerate" such a move. [...]

"Apparently there's yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all," McConnell said, adding: "I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate, and we'll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it."

Benen remarks that "if there's one thing the 2016 elections made abundantly clear, it's that most of the public couldn't care less about Supreme Court obstructionism:"

Senate Republicans, for 11 months, refused to even consider a moderate, compromise nominee - and GOP senators had little trouble keeping their majority.

His analysis is quite even-handed:

I've spent a fair amount of time looking for someone - in either party - who's been consistently principled on this, regardless of which party was in control at the time. I've never been able to find such an individual. There's plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

Queerty's look at conservative college students quotes Ben [a pseudonym], "a first-year student at Brandeis University:"

"I think it's a shame," he says. "A lot of people have negative preconceived notions about conservatives...we're intolerant, racist, homophobic."

"Gee, we can't imagine why," snarks Queerty:

After all, it's not like conservatives nominated (and elected) a man endorsed by the KKK and his stridently antigay running mate to the highest office in the land or anything. Oh, wait.

The observation that "Many conservatives on New England's campuses are feeling more marginalized and alienated than ever before" prompts this reaction:

Hmmm. Sounds a lot like the crap LGBTQ people and other minorities have had to put up with since, well, forever.

Ben comes from Chris Sweeney's Boston Magazine rant about how liberal professors are ruining college. "Exploring his conservative viewpoints," the piece notes, "is proving difficult to do on campus [which] makes Ben feel like an outsider:"

The way he sees it, coming out politically a step to the right is the fastest route to social isolation on campus and the surest way to invite ridicule from his professors. So he bites his tongue in class and retreats to his dorm room to read and listen to conservative commentary alone. "I think it's a shame," he tells me. "A lot of people have negative preconceived notions about conservatives...we're intolerant, racist, homophobic."

Sweeney writes that "Last spring, Samuel Abrams, a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, in New York, decided to run the numbers" on professorial political leanings:

From the start, he certainly expected liberal professors to outnumber conservatives, but his data--25 years' worth of statistics from the Higher Education Research Institute--told a far more startling tale: In the South and throughout the Great Plains, the ratio of liberal to conservative professors hovered around 3 to 1. On the liberal left coast, the ratio was 6 to 1. And then there was New England--which looked like William F. Buckley's worst nightmare--standing at 28 to 1. "It astonished me," says Abrams, whose research revealed that conservative professors weren't just rare; they were being pushed to the edge of extinction.

"At first," Sweeney writes, "even Abrams had a hard time believing the 28-to-1 ratio was accurate:"

He checked and rechecked his work, accounting for every variable he could think of--tenured versus untenured professors, age, income, type of college, the selectivity of the college, which departments the professors belonged to. Time and again, though, the results showed that geography was among the strongest determining factors when it came to the political diversity of professors. After Abrams took his findings public in the New York Times, academics were floored.

The NYT piece asks:

Why are New England professors so far left compared with the rest of the nation? That's a question for further research. My intuition is that inertia and history play a huge role here. Regions have traditions and cultures that can have powerful influences on thought.

"So how did our colleges and universities become such a liberal monoculture," one might ask, "and why is it so pronounced in New England?"

To this end, Abrams's research has fueled ample criticisms and theories. Nobel laureate and Times columnist Paul Krugman has argued that professors actually haven't become more liberal, but rather that the meaning of conservatism has changed and the Fox-ification and now Trump-ification of the Republican Party has pushed highly educated members of the right over to the left. Others contend that it's solely because conservatives don't go into academia. There is also the argument that political identities are social constructs that are far too complex and fickle to capture in a simple survey, as well as evidence indicating that the more highly educated a person is, the more liberal he or she tends to be.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Trump's lies about Obamacare have largely gotten a free pass from the media, writes Politicus USA:

Media Matters for America provided 10 facts reporters should mention when they cover Obamacare, and none of them will be mentioned by Donald Trump or congressional Republicans, or indeed, by the mainstream media:

1. Passage Of The ACA Has Resulted In The Lowest Uninsured Rate In Recent History 2. The ACA Medicaid Expansion Provided Health Care Access For Millions Of The Most Vulnerable Americans 3. The ACA Tangibly Improved Women's Health Care Coverage 4. The ACA Helped America Take Huge Steps Toward LGBTQ Equality 5. Contrary To Popular Belief, The ACA Extended The Solvency Of Medicare By Over 10 Years 6. The ACA Reduced The Budget Deficit, Reined In Medical Costs, And Reduced Economic Inequality 7. The ACA Improved Health Care Access For Minority Communities. 8. The ACA Banned Discrimination Against Those With Pre-Existing Conditions 9. The ACA Provided Crucial Insurance To Young Adults 10. The ACA Resulted In The Biggest Expansion Of Mental Health Care Services In Decades

"These are just plain facts," Politicus writes, "and they are beyond dispute:"

Donald Trump made opposition to Obamacare central to his campaign, but as usual, his attacks are lacking a factual basis. When Donald Trump speaks of "poor coverage," it needs to be remembered that we're talking about an additional 20 million + who have coverage and didn't have it before.

Additionally, the media "overwhelmingly failed to ask any substantive questions about Trump's health care policies or the consequences of repealing the ACA," and "virtually ignored Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's resurrection of his Medicare privatization scheme:"

While cable and broadcast news tended to avoid robust discussions of the impact of health care policy, right-wing media filled the void with rampant misinformation. Since the ACA passed in 2010, conservative news outlets have consistently attacked the health law with complete fictions, claiming it will explode the budget, create death panels, bankrupt Medicare, end in a "death spiral," and facilitate a government takeover of the health care system.

Today, media outlets regularly provide Trump surrogates with free airtime to push misinformation and avoid substantive discussion.

five major shifts

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Tom Engelhardt discusses exceptionalism and writes that, on election night, "I simply couldn't accept that Donald Trump had won. Not him. Not in this country. Not possible. Not in a million years."

Mind you, during the campaign I had written about Trump repeatedly, always leaving open the possibility that, in the disturbed (and disturbing) America of 2016, he could indeed beat Hillary Clinton. That was a conclusion I lost when, in the final few weeks of the campaign, like so many others, I got hooked on the polls and the pundits who went with them. (Doh!)

In the wake of the election, however, it wasn't shock based on pollsters' errors that got to me. It was something else that only slowly dawned on me. Somewhere deep inside, I simply didn't believe that, of all countries on this planet, the United States could elect a narcissistic, celeb billionaire who was also, in the style of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, a right-wing "populist" and incipient autocrat.

"So how did it happen here?" he asks. His answer identifies "at least five major shifts in American life and politics [that] helped lay the groundwork for the rise of Trumpism:"

* The Coming of a 1% Economy and the 1% Politics That Goes With It,

Without the arrival of casino capitalism on a massive scale (at which The Donald himself proved something of a bust), Trumpism would have been inconceivable. And if, in its Citizens United decision of 2010, the Supreme Court hadn't thrown open the political doors quite so welcomingly to that 1% crew, how likely was it that a billionaire celebrity would have run for president or become a favorite among the white working class?

* The Coming of Permanent War and an Ever More Militarized State and Society,

It's no coincidence that Trump and his generals are eager to pump up a supposedly "depleted" U.S. military with yet more funds or, given the history of these years, that he appointed so many retired generals from our losing wars to key "civilian" positions atop that military and the national security state. As with his billionaires, in a decisive fashion, Trump is stamping the real face of twenty-first-century America on Washington.

* The Rise of the National Security State,

* The Coming of the One-Party State, and

After all, the Republicans already control the House of Representatives (in more or less perpetuity, thanks to gerrymandering), the Senate, the White House, and assumedly in the years to come the Supreme Court. They also control a record 33 out of 50 governorships, have tied a record by taking 68 out of the 98 state legislative chambers, and have broken another by gaining control of 33 out of 50 full legislatures. [...] In many ways, the incipient collapse of the two-party system in a flood of 1% money cleared the path for Trump's victory.

* The Coming of the New Media Moment:

It may have seemed that Trump inaugurated our new media moment by becoming the first meister-elect of tweet and the shout-out master of that universe, but in reality he merely grasped the nature of our new, chaotic media moment and ran with it.

"Let's add a final point to the other five," he concludes:

Donald Trump will inherit a country that has been hollowed out by the new realities that made him a success and allowed him to sweep to what, to many experts, looked like an improbable victory.

Trump and tax cuts

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Steven Rattner's 2016 in charts piece notes "the strong economy that President Obama will be leaving him:"

Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, the lowest since August 2007 and a stunning decline from the 7.8 percent when Mr. Obama took office. The economy has expanded by nearly 15 percent (adjusted for inflation), the stock market has nearly tripled, auto sales have notched records, the federal deficit has been cut by more than half and house prices nationally are above past peaks. Even real median incomes ended marginally higher.

20170104-obamahighnote.jpg

Rattner says this of Trump's tax-cut plan:

It includes a $6 trillion tax reduction over the next decade, vastly tilted toward business and the wealthy. An estimated 83 percent of the benefits would go to the top 20 percent of Americans and 51 percent to the top 1 percent by 2025. A middle-class taxpayer would receive an average tax benefit of $1,090; a typical member of the top 1 percent would get $317,100.

These huge tax giveaways -- along with Mr. Trump's promises to increase infrastructure spending and not touch Social Security and Medicare -- would blow up the deficit and add $4 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years over and above current projections. That's made particularly ironic by Mr. Trump's claim in a Washington Post interview that he would eliminate our current $19 trillion of debt over eight years through better trade deals and economic growth. [emphasis added]

Here's another chart, an indication of the fiscal damage that Trump intends to wreak:

20170104-trumptaxcuts.jpg

motion to impeach

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Digby asks, does impeachment begin now?

After a huge public outcry this week, even Trump questioned the timing of the new Congress' first initiative, which was to roll back certain ethics procedures. (He wasn't actually against the rollback, just thought it was premature.) There are also some encouraging signs that repealing the Affordable Care Act may not be quite as easy as Republicans had hoped, which could tangle them up with their followers all over again. If they can be similarly stopped or slowed from enacting the rest of their agenda, we might just get through this thing.

She also observes that "As long as congressional Republicans let him strut around taking credit for 'getting things done,' he'll be happy to sign anything they put in front of him:"

So what are Democrats to do with this? It's already going to be an overwhelming task to fight off Trump's worst nominees, battle back legislation that's coming from 20 different directions and expose the mountain of scandals that are quickly piling up. The Trump train wreck is already creating a chain reaction of one explosion after an other.

"Robert Kuttner wrote this provocative piece for the Huffington Post," notes digby, "advocating for a group of experts, preferably bipartisan, to begin seriously putting together the case for impeachment:"

Some people are reflexively opposed to making such a strong statement so early in the administration. But Trump is already committing impeachable offenses, and dealing with someone like this requires being well prepared to take advantage of any openings to stop him.

Along those lines, Doug Rossinow examines leftists and liberals in the political heartland and discusses "left-liberal relations in American politics:"

The World War II and Baby Boomer generations came to see these political entities as inherently discordant. Yet many today lament that, in theory, liberals and leftists ought to work for broad, common goals; otherwise no one would think that Ralph Nader's voters in 2000, or Jill Stein's in 2016, should have voted for the Democrat. We seem caught between obsolete models of progressive politics and a yearning for a progressive solidarity that is closer to fulfillment than we may realize.

"The left," Rossinow says, "has returned to prominence after an era in the wilderness of American politics:"

Today, opposition to war, capitalist exploitation, and white supremacy cut across both liberalism and the left. Now the left is often called progressivism, a notoriously ambiguous term. Much of it has reappeared inside the Democratic Party--a development overlooked by those who equate the left with minor parties or anti-systemic organizing. We have Bush and Sanders to thank for this reinvigoration of leftist politics inside the party system. [...]

Now President Trump looms. The coming years will offer plenty of fronts on which liberals and leftists may collaborate if they can manage it. Both groups may call themselves progressives, and for many--especially millennials--the old, rigid, Cold War-era distinction between liberal and left politics may fade. Leftist elements certainly won't pledge undying loyalty to the Democratic Party, but the basic political fact is that today's progressive politics, whether it succeeds or fails in securing its objectives, is already taking shape in that party and around its edges.

Rachel M. Cohen looks at Trump's war on public schools and observes that "The next few years may well bring about radical change to education:"

During a March primary debate, Trump said charters were "terrific" and affirmed they "work and they work very well." A few months later he traveled to a low-performing for-profit charter school in Cleveland to say he'd invest $20 billion in federal money to expand charters and private-school vouchers as president. His campaign has not outlined where the money would come from, but suggests it will be accomplished by "reprioritizing existing federal dollars."

Mike Pence, notes Cohen, "worked vigorously to expand charter schools and vouchers while serving as Indiana's governor."

Today, more than 30,000 Indiana students--including middle-class students--attend private and parochial schools with public funds, making it the largest single voucher program in the country. Pence also helped double the number of charter schools in his state; he increased their funding and gave charter operators access to low-interest state loans for facilities.

"The new backlash from conservatives against testing and the Common Core should not be interpreted as a rejection of a federal role," she continues, "The right loves it when Washington intervenes--if it serves the right's purposes:"

While there are limits to what Trump and DeVos could do to end the Common Core standards (they are state standards, after all), Trump's executive bully pulpit could certainly help embolden Common Core opponents on the local level.

Also notable is the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association effort to "overturn a 40-year-old ruling that required public employees represented by a union to pay fees to cover the union's bargaining and representation costs:"

Now that the Republican Senate has refused to hold a vote on Obama's appointment of Judge Merrick Garland, Trump will nominate a conservative Scalia successor to the Court. With a number of Friedrichs look-alike cases headed to the Supreme Court, it's a near certainty that a reconstituted majority of five conservative justices will strike down agency fees, which could considerably reduce the resources available to the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association--two of the nation's largest unions. Were that not trouble enough, the massive support that the AFT and NEA gave to Hillary Clinton's campaign is not likely to endear them to a president with a well-known penchant for revenge.
That's not all the damage he could do, though:
Conservatives have also proposed rolling back Obama administration reforms that federalized all new student loans and applied stricter regulations, particularly to for-profit institutions. If President Trump does ultimately re-privatize student loans, consumer protections would likely disappear, and the cost of borrowing would rise.

University leaders are also worrying about what a Trump administration could mean for research funding. The government is likely to cut back on investments on budgetary grounds, but also on ideological grounds, since universities tend to be seen as liberal enclaves.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, says bluntly that "If Donald Trump opts for privatization, destabilization, and austerity over supporting public education and the will of the people," she says, "well, there will be a huge fight."

Trump's propaganda effort against Obamacare includes misrepresenting Bill Clinton's remarks:

People must remember that ObamaCare just doesn't work, and it is not affordable - 116% increases (Arizona). Bill Clinton called it "CRAZY"

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017

What Clinton said, though, was drastically different:

The current system ... But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small businesspeople and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.

So you've got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care and then the people that are out there busting it ― sometimes 60 hours a week ― wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.

So here's the simplest thing....let people buy into Medicare or Medicaid.

It's clear, the piece writes, that "Clinton was arguing for expanding health care access. He never called the ACA crazy."

Speaking of repealing Obamacare, digby wonders:

When Trump's own voters lose their health insurance will they be happy to sacrifice their own lives in order that their enemies will lose theirs? And by enemies, I mean me. And maybe you. Because that's what they're trying to do. They care more about cutting taxes for rich people than middle class people who don't get their insurance at work. [...]

Oh, and by the way, they don't think employers should be required to offer health insurance either. So, if they decide it's too expensive, it's really it's all about begging from your neighbors. After all, if you get sick when you aren't rich, it's really your fault right?

This is immoral. But then so are they.

In describing pushback on the delayed oversight killing, Kevin Drum quotes from the Washington Post:

The House GOP moved to withdraw changes made the day before to official rules that would rein in the Office of congressional Ethics. Instead, the House will study changes to the office with an August deadline.

"Oh please," he comments:

Trump didn't object to Republicans gutting the ethics office. He just thought they should do it later, when fewer people might notice. And that's what they're doing. They'll "study changes" and then gut the office in August, when everyone is on vacation.

Meanwhile, media outlets are falsely giving Trump credit for the reversal:

According to CNN, "President-elect Donald Trump dramatically strong-armed House Republicans into line Tuesday in his first Washington power play."

While it is true that Donald Trump criticized congressional Republicans, so did many other people.

And it is not true that he opposed gutting the OCE. His response this morning was only to say that while the OCE's existence was "unfair" to Republicans, that there were more important priorities to focus on.

We need to keep hammering on his unparalleled unpopularity, writes Eric Boehlert, who observes that "Trump's contrast with Obama in late 2008 is stunning:"

Obama entered 2009 with a 68 percent favorable rating. Today, Trump's favorable rating stands at an anemic 43 percent. And if history is any indication, that rating is almost certain to go down once the new president takes office.

Given the plurality of Americans who expect Trump to be a "poor" or "terrible" president, he wonders "what explains the press's passive, often genuflecting coverage of Trump since November?"

If Trump had just posted a 49-state, Reagan-esque landslide victory, I could more readily understand why the press would be acquiescing so regularly. But Trump just made history by losing the popular tally by nearly three million votes and remains, without question, the least popular president-elect since modern-day polling was invented.

Yet members of the press seem unduly intimidated by his presence, and have even rewarded him with chatter of an invisible "mandate." (He has none.)

Then he asks the big question:

Does anyone think that if Hillary Clinton had won in November while badly losing the popular vote to Trump, and then posted historically awful approval ratings during her transition, that story would not dominate Beltway coverage day after day, week after week?

And don't forget the press's entrenched fascination with Obama's public approval during his presidency, particularly the desire to depict "collapsing" support when, in fact, Obama's approval rating remained stubbornly stable for years.

There's a glaring Trump transition story hiding in plain sight: He's historically unpopular. The press ought to start telling that tale on a daily basis.

Conor Lynch suggests that 2017 could be even worse than 2016. As he writes, "there is little reason to celebrate the year's end this weekend, or to be hopeful for 2017:"

And when "deplorable Don" arrives in Washington, he will have a Republican-controlled Congress full of partisan lackeys, unscrupulous sycophants and empty-suit pontificators to lick his boots and kiss his ring -- as long as they can slash taxes for their wealthy donors, privatize Social Security and Medicare and, of course, repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In no time at all people will be feeling nostalgic for 2016 -- longing for the days when Donald J. Trump was just a billionaire demagogue running for president, without any real power. Before he became the most powerful toddler in the world.

Trump, Lynch continues, "did more than any other individual in recent American history to normalize public racism, sexism and xenophobia, as well as political violence:"

His provocative campaign emboldened bigots and misogynists and rejuvenated white-supremacist and neo-Nazi hate groups, while poisoning political discourse and accelerating the country's descent into a post-truth reality. If Trump had lost the election to Hillary Clinton, he would still have left the country hopelessly divided and more vulnerable than ever before to the forces of extremism and bigotry. But at least he would have left the country breathing.

Lynch writes that "this lunatic will have real and terrifying powers," leading to a "great potential for catastrophe:"

There is no telling what Trump will do once he is in the Oval Office, or how much of his campaign rhetoric was empty talk. But his erratic behavior since the election and the far-right cabinet he has assembled over the past month indicates that he will be every bit as reactionary, demagogic and impulsive as he was on the campaign trail.

He concludes with no small amount of resignation that "it is all but certain that 2017 will make 2016 look like the good old days, regardless of which beloved celebrities drop dead." Amanda Marcotte looks at political resolutions, noting that "2016 was a vile, no-good year that can go suck eggs:"

Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that 2017 will be treating us no better. In fact it is quite likely, with President Donald Trump in the White House, to be a waking nightmare from which there is no escape.

She offers "three resolutions I'm undertaking to preserve my sanity:"

1. No more attention given to dudes who want to relitigate the Democratic primary.

2. A strict outrage diet for Donald Trump's culture war antics.

But it's become clear that Trump's provocations -- from the Mike Pence "Hamilton" fiasco to whatever asinine thing he's saying on Twitter this week -- are rooted in his reality-TV background and his understanding that glib provocation is a great way to sow chaos that both distracts from and helps dismantle our democracy. So my goal is, every time Trump is spouting distracting culture war nonsense, to start looking for whatever, usually more serious, story he's trying to distract the public from.

3. Having a life outside politics.

But with Trump ripping through our democracy like a tornado, it's doubly important to remember that there are things in this world that aren't terrible. So it's important to take the time to read a novel or go to a museum or listen to a record the whole way through.

Similarly, AlterNet's Les Leopold explains why resisting Trump is not enough:

While resistance is critically important, we will fail unless resistance is contained within a long term strategy to reverse runaway inequality and upend neoliberalism (defined as systematic tax breaks for the rich, cuts in social programs, anti-union legislation, financial deregulation and corporate-managed trade.) If we don't build an alternative movement, our defensive struggles could enhance Trump's popularity rather than to diminish it.

He then lists the risks of a "resistance only" response:

1. It makes our politics Trump-centric or even Trump-dependent.

"Of course, resistance is badly needed," he says, while also stressing "a pro-active positive agenda:"

The key items include a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, free higher education, single-payer health care, massive infrastructure spending, a halt to the off-shoring of jobs, criminal justice reform, taking money out of politics, and reducing global warming. That's our agenda, not Trump's.

The fact that few if any of these issues are being discussed today shows the weakness of a Trump-centric approach.

2. Trump resistance can slide into defending the status quo:

3. Resisting Trump by itself will not win back swing states

Key swing states may remain in Trump's column if all we do is resist. A marginal voter could view progressive resist actions as simply disruptive if we don't put forth a positive agenda that frames our resistance and expands the debate. [...] The future goes to whichever camp develops the most compelling vision for America. A negation of Trump is not a vision.

4. Resisting Trump on trade and the off-shoring of jobs is a big mistake.

5. Betting on Trump's failure is reckless:

"it is not a forgone conclusion," he writes, "that Trump's economic policies will fail:"

So waiting for Trump's collapse or just pushing for it, seems like an irresponsible political strategy. Instead, we actually have to do the hard work of building something new that is independent both of Trump and the neo-liberal establishment.

5. Resisting Trump could turn into an excuse to stay within our issue silos:

This could cause "extreme fragmentation among progressive organizations:"

There is no common agenda, no common strategy, no common structure. We have enormous experience in promoting our specific agenda silos and very little practice in working together around a hard hitting common program that transcends all of our silos.

"We need a tangible organizing effort that brings together our many issue groups," he writes, which "entails four tasks:"

• We need a common agenda and common analysis.
• We need a national educational campaign that explains the agenda and analysis all around the country, as the Populists did in the 1880s.
• We need a new national organization that we can all join as dues paying members.
• Finally, we need to expand our own perceptions of the possible.

The Advocate's list of 6 things we must do the survive Trump's America, penned by Mark Joseph Stern, calls the spectre of Trump's presidency "a disaster for LGBT people throughout the nation:"

There can be no doubt that the Trump administration, together with a Republican-dominated Congress, will roll back hard-fought victories and stall the push for ever greater equality. [...]

Trump will take office at a moment when LGBT people enjoy historically high tolerance and support from the American public. His presidency will not change that, at least not immediately. The supermajority of Americans will still support marriage equality; trans people will continue to gain greater visibility, and thus acceptance; and despite distractions about "religious liberty" and discrimination, most people will still believe that nobody should be fired because they're LGBT. "Don't ask, don't tell" will not be revived. The Supreme Court, even one stacked by Trump, will feel immense institutional pressure to respect the precedent of marriage equality. We will elect more openly LGBT people to statehouses across the country. [...]

If Hillary Clinton were assuming office after Obama, the path forward would be clear and manageable. It will now be tortuous and grueling.

He offers "six suggestions as to how the movement can protect and even expand its rights over the next four years:"

1. Remember: Trump may not be a virulent homophobe, but he is a threat.

In order to shore up evangelical votes, Trump has already declared that the Supreme Court's marriage-equality decision should be overturned, that states should be allowed to deny transgender people access to public bathrooms, and that President Obama's executive orders protecting LGBT people should be rescinded. As president, he will surely continue to throw LGBT people under the bus when Bannon -- who has stated his desire to "turn on the hate" -- thinks it's convenient.

2. Keep the focus on Pence.

Dangerous as Trump may be, his vice president is significantly more threatening to LGBT people's safety and well-being. [...] It is too early to surmise the extent to which Pence's unrepentant, unrelenting homophobia will influence the Trump administration.

3. Watch out for cabinet cronies and "religious liberty."

Obama's appointees have interpreted bans on "sex discrimination" in existing civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity; as a result, they have granted LGBT people new protections in housing, credit, education, and employment. Trump's appointees will quietly reverse these interpretations, stripping LGBTs of vital federal protections.

These reversals should be met with public protests.

LGBT advocates should also prepare for a drawn-out brawl over bills designed to legalize discrimination in the guise of "religious liberty." Pence's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" allowed "religious belief" to supercede nondiscrimination ordinances in certain circumstances; congressional Republicans appear poised to offer Trump an even more extreme variation on this genre. Their "First Amendment Defense Act" would broadly legalize any anti-LGBT discrimination ostensibly required by one's "religious belief or moral conviction."

4. Focus on state politics and the community.

"Instead of wasting energy on the federal level," he writes, "LGBT advocates should find room for improvement in the states:"

These [pro-LGBT] governors can work to expand LGBT protections -- and veto gerrymanders that would permanently entrench an anti-LGBT Republican majority in the statehouse.

Meanwhile, every supporter of LGBT rights should get involved with their communities to protect the most vulnerable among us. Young queer people will soon face a barrage of hate, which starts at the top and trickles down into the classroom and home.

5. Change the legal strategy.

Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who toppled the federal Defense of Marriage Act as well as Mississippi's same-sex-adoption ban, thinks activists should shift their focus to blatantly hateful and extreme laws that explicitly license religious-based discrimination.

6. Don't lose hope, and don't back down.

The past eight years have marked a new era of openness in the United States. [...] Marriage equality marked a point of no return, and we are still just beginning to experience the benefits that will flow from that decision. We will not retreat; we will not become invisible; we will not stop demanding the full array of rights that are owed to us under the law.

Fareed Zakaria worries about the US becoming an illiberal democracy, which he believes is "something that should concern anyone, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump supporter or critic:"

It turns out that what sustains democracy is not simply legal safeguards and rules, but norms and practices -- democratic behavior. This culture of liberal democracy is waning in the United States today. [...][

But we are now getting to see what American democracy looks like without any real buffers in the way of sheer populism and demagoguery. The parties have collapsed, Congress has caved, professional groups are largely toothless, the media have been rendered irrelevant.

He wonders, "who and what remain to nourish and preserve the common good, civic life and liberal democracy?"

Politico comments on Republicans gutting Congressional oversight:

In one of their first moves of the new Congress, House Republicans have voted to gut their own independent ethics watchdog -- a huge blow to cheerleaders of congressional oversight and one that dismantles major reforms adopted after the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Monday's effort was led, in part, by lawmakers who have come under investigation in recent years.

"President-elect Donald Trump ran on a platform of draining the swamp of an often all-too-cozy Washington D.C.," writes Politico, "Monday night's moves go in the opposite direction, severely loosening oversight of lawmakers' potential conflicts of interest, use of campaign money and other ethical matters:"

Democrats created the Office of Congressional Ethics in March 2008 after the Abramoff scandal, in which the well-connected GOP lobbyist plead guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials. Abramoff and his clients had used campaign donations and favors to sway members, including former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who served 30 months in prison, and a number of staffers.

Their idea was that an outside agency of sorts could take up a more robust oversight of members. Republicans, however, have claimed the group has been too aggressive in making referrals.

"The proposed change will be included in a package of new House Rules governing the 115th Congress," the piece concludes, "which will be voted on Tuesday afternoon." That doesn't leave much time for public reaction, does it?

David Neiwert makes a great observation about GOP obtuseness:

So I see that amnesiac Republicans are very, very confused about why Democrats and other sane human beings are already standing up to voice their opposition to Donald Trump's presidency even before he is sworn in. [...]

Well, here's a little cure for their amnesia: An excerpt from my forthcoming book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (June 2017, Verso Press). This section is from Chapter Five, discussing the rise of the Tea Parties and how the Birther conspiracy theories helped fuel them.

"Conservatives did not consider Barack Obama to be a legitimate president," he points out, "a fact underscored by the growing 'Birther' campaign." [Rush Limbaugh's hope that Obama would fail--as seen here--is another example.] "Open political warfare," Neiwert continues, "a defiance of the new president's every objective, was to be the right-wing political project for the ensuing eight years," as Teabaggers disrupted healthcare townhalls:

And the behavior fit the blueprint for action laid out early on: Disrupt, distract, and destroy any chance for an actual civil and informed conversation. In other words, demolish the entire purpose of a town-hall forum as the means to bring health-care reform to a halt. [...]

But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting. When someone's entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren't just expressing their opinions -- they are actively shutting down democracy.

In an announcement that we should prepare to be ungovernable, Sarah Lazare issues "A call for civil servants to resist:"

"A core component of resistance is to get the class of civil servants, particularly on the federal but also the state level, to not comply with arbitrary laws and policies that are going to be created," said [Kali] Akuno [organizer with Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement]. "To not recognize the laws we know are coming that will discriminate against Black people, Latinos, immigrants and queer people. There is no need for anyone to comply. Let's not give it legitimacy just because it's the law. We need to be prepared to disobey and engage in civil disobedience. We need to get ready for that now."

In words reminiscent of Gunter Eich's exhortation to "be sand, not oil, in the gears of the world," Akuno envisions resistance as "just one prong of a broader strategy," including:

"not going to work, not participating in your run-of-the-mill economic activities, with the hope and aim that we can build prolonged acts of civil disobedience that lead to a general strike." While such plans are not fully fleshed out, he noted organizations across the country are actively discussing such a possibility.

"The orientation we're taking is not just about surviving Trump, but drawing attention to the fact that the system was already heading towards more severe types of repression, surveillance and austerity," he said. "We're also looking at the global dynamics as to why right-wing populism and fascism is spreading internationally."

What is clear, says Akuno, is that the right-wing populism of the Trump administration will not be defeated by civil discourse and liberal democracy. He emphasized, "If we are serious and steadfast, we can create a clear and comprehensive message around being ungovernable."

Similarly, John Scalzi looks at the arc of justice:

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

In the main I agree with that quote. There are things about it, however, that I think many of us elide.

The first is the word "long." I think both Parker and King understood that moral endeavors can be measured in years, decades and sometimes centuries.

Also, he notes, "The arc is not a natural feature of the universe:"

It does not magically appear; it is not ordained; it is not inevitable. It exists because people of moral character seek justice, not only for themselves but for every person. Nor is the arc smooth. It's rough and jagged, punctuated in areas by great strides, halting collapses, terrible reverses and forcible wrenching actions.

Crooks & Liars snarks that WSJ editor Gerard Baker won't report Trump's lies as "lies" because...reasons:

When Donald Trump says things that are undoubtedly lies, not even just hyperbole, Mr. Baker is of the opinion that calling a lie a lie will alienate readers, as if "readers" are also Trump supporters. You are also forbidden to have any controversial opinions, no matter how factual you are, because certain people don't like the truth. Being honest in a way they perceive as derogatory will cause them not to 'trust' you.

Here is Baker's statement:

GERARD BAKER: I'd be careful about using the word, "lie." "Lie" implies much more than just saying something that's false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.

As long as these returning champions come back every Sunday, it's okay to sugar coat lies as something the consumer decides is true or false, because you gotta get those advertising dollars. [...]

Thanks to this failure to call a lie exactly what it is, Trump's supporters believe the most outlandish fallacies to be true and by golly, no one will convince them of the facts without being labeled something awful, like 'educated' or 'intellectual elitist' or a 'thinker.'

Daily Kos's 9 craziest things that Trump voters believe refers to an Economist/YouGov survey (PDF); here are some of the lowlights, beginning with the question "Is the country better off now than it was eight years ago?"

Most Americans recall that eight years ago the nation was descending into an economic abyss. The stock market dropped 46 percent. Unemployment shot up to 10.1 percent. Home foreclosures hit record figures. And total household wealth declined by more than $19 trillion.

Yet somehow a whopping 60 percent of Trump voters responded to this question saying that the country was better off eight years ago than today. Another 19 percent say there is no difference. That's after stocks climbed back from about 7,000 to nearly 20,000. And unemployment dropped to 4.9 percent. The auto industry that was on the brink of collapse is reporting record profits. And the delusions of the Trumpsters are unique to their breed. Only 21 percent of Democrats thought 2009 was a better year.

That's not the only example, either. Only 36 percent of them realize that climate change is real, "only 26 percent of Trump voters correctly said that [the number of] persons without insurance decreased," and "68 percent of them said that it was definitely/probably true that Saddam had WMDs." Also, Obama's birth certificate is fake ("52 percent continue to say that Obama is definitely/probably a native Kenyan") and Pizzagate is real("46 percent of Trump voters said that this ludicrous fiction was definitely/probably true").

As Daily Kos reminds us, "this epidemic of ignorance was not accidental:"

It was a deliberate act of disinformation by Trump and the Republican Party. And the media bears its share of responsibility for putting ratings and profit before journalistic ethics.

John Tirman speculates that Trump's rise portends the end of the commonwealth:

Amid the many controversies attending the election of Donald Trump is one easy to overlook: the mounting assault on "public goods" -- public education, public lands, public information and public health, among them. The worldview of Trump and those he's bringing into government is one in which seeking private interest is paramount, not only as a business aspiration but as a governing ideology. Of all the attitudes of the new administration, this may be the most threatening to democratic practice.

"The scales have been tipping toward private interest rather than public good since the years of President Ronald Reagan," he continues, "and the coming of Trump promises an even stronger swing to private over public:"

It would be difficult to imagine more significant public goods than clean air, the avoidance of catastrophic climate change or the legacy of the nation's protected parks, forests and wildlife.

Yet all of these are in jeopardy. Turning over public lands to the states would in many cases result in "development" -- commercial enterprise, resource extraction, grazing, roads and sell-offs of land -- far beyond what is already granted on federal lands.

"What is particularly disturbing in 2016," he writes, I"s the attempt to limit participation and to limit the quality of discourse:"

The limits on participation are not gauged by expertise -- that is, how knowledgeable you are -- but by race or religion. A number of the white supremacists now ascendant have insisted that blacks, Jews and Muslims be treated differently, submissively, even denied the vote and other standard civil rights. So the very definition of who constitutes "the public" is under attack.

He concludes the piece by positing that "If the trajectory of 2016 continues through Trump's presidency, the 'commons,' the public sphere and the values of shared responsibility, will be tested as never before."

changing minds

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Vox's Brian Resnick discusses a study on changing minds, which he describes as "the hardest challenge in politics right now:"

Psychologists have been circling around a possible reason political beliefs are so stubborn: Partisan identities get tied up in our personal identities. Which would mean that an attack on our strongly held beliefs is an attack on the self. And the brain is built to protect the self.

When we're attacked, we evade or defend -- as if we have an immune system for uncomfortable thoughts, one you can see working in real time.

"The brain's primary responsibility is to take care of the body, to protect the body," Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Southern California, tells me. "The psychological self is the brain's extension of that. When our self feels attacked, our [brain is] going to bring to bear the same defenses that it has for protecting the body."

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Thanks to decades of right-wing paranoia and propaganda, even the science of fluoride isn't safe from ideological blindness--remember Jack D. Ripper?

Derek Beres analyzes white evangelical voters' fondness for Trump. "We often think of morality as rule-based," he writes, but "it seems difficult to explain why evangelical Christians swung their vote toward Donald J. Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election." Obama's 26% and 20% share of evangelical voters dropped to just 16% for Hillary:

Clarion calls for evangelical ballot checkmarks have long been religious: abortion, same-sex marriage, infidelity. Their moral card is pronounced and marketed throughout the campaign. Yet it's incredibly plastic. Every four years their demands shift, which explains how a thrice-married businessman with fidelity problems and previous endorsement of women's rights could command the largest evangelical vote of this century.

In a question tailor-made for Trump's personal issues, the observation that "Asking voters if private immoral acts will affect the ethical responsibilities of elected officials, the group that shifted most was the religious" makes perfect sense:

The biggest shift, however, was found in one specific group: white evangelicals. In 2011, 30 percent of that demographic claimed that a politician acting immorally behind closed doors can still be an upstanding moral leader. In the era of Trump that number has surged to 72 percent.

But...Hillary's emails!!!1!!

MediaMatters quotes from CNN's Reliable Sources to make a point about skeptical journalists:

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Let's tell some truths about lying, because the way Donald Trump lies has people rethinking some of the basic premises of journalism, like the assumption that everything a president says is automatically news. When President-elect Trump lies so casually, so cynically, the news isn't so much the false thing he said, it's that he felt like he could just go ahead and say it, go ahead and lie to you. That's the story. Why does he bend and flex and twist and warp and distort the truth? Personally I'm curious because I think Trump does it differently than past presidents. His lies are different and deserve scrutiny.

"I think fact-checking is important," Stelter continues, "but the framing of these stories is even more important." Digby concurs, writing that "what Stelter is saying is true:"

There's a lot of data out there showing that when people are shown facts it only tends to reinforce their own biases. [...] Journalism cannot rely on simply fact-checking, although it's important to do it. It has to try to promote truth, not just facts, and that means they have to think hard about ways to talk about politics and government that successfully does that.

"We are in big trouble," she observes, "if we don't figure out a way to govern from a common reality."

the C-suite credo

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Jon Chait points out how 'the wealthy would never steal' is a credo for Trump's party:

Donald Trump's government has not yet taken power, but its epitaph may have already been written. The author, Lawrence Kudlow, is a noted voodoo economist and the reported leading candidate to head the administration's Council of Economic Advisors.

In a National Review column, Kudlow makes the case not only that Trump and his administration are not corrupt, but also that they cannot be corrupt, by virtue of their wealth. "Why shouldn't the president surround himself with successful people?" reasons Kudlow, "Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption."

The examples of Bernie Madoff, Don Blankenship, the Enron crew, WorldCom, and too many others to list come to mind--but not at NR. "Conservatives like to imagine that their policy represents a challenge to the power structure," Chait continues, but 'crony capitalism' is not the only type of white-collar thievery. Chait continues:

The conceptual distinction between the good kind of wealth, earned through the free market, and the bad kind, earned through political favoritism, is an absolutely vital one for right-wing intellectuals. And yet Trump is showing how easily it collapses in practice. Conservatives have treated a first family using the powers of office to enrich itself -- not theoretically or in the future but right now, on an ongoing basis -- as, at worst, a distraction or a problem of optics. In practice, conservatives share Kudlow's belief that a government of and by the rich is necessarily virtuous.

The conclusion?

We can be pretty sure that Trump, his family, and his friends will be among the people who gain from his policies. Conservatives appear distinctly unalarmed by the prospect.

TrumPutin

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NYRB's look at how Trump will rule observes warily that "Over the last few days, concerns about some kind of a hidden alliance between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have exploded:"

There is the president-elect with his apparently fawning regard for the Russian leader. There are Trump's top cabinet picks, with their unusual Russian ties: as national security advisor, Lt. General Mike Flynn, who has met Putin and done paid events for a Kremlin-sponsored TV station; and as secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has done billions of dollars of business in Russia and received an award from Putin. And then there is the revelation, from the CIA, that Russia may have actively interfered in the US election to get Trump elected.

The piece notes that, of course, "There is still much we don't know about how Trump will rule:"

But in the month since his election, some characteristic patterns have emerged--and they bear some instructive similarities to the style Putin has practiced over many years. Here are a few of them:
  • Lying is the message. It's not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself. [...]
  • The media is the mirror. Trump, like Putin, has a demonstrably thin skin and short temper when it comes to being criticized by journalists. [...]
  • Taking charge of a boring world. The real-estate magnate and the KGB agent share a peculiar trait: both seem to be lazy and uninterested in the world they want to dominate. [...]
  • Interests rather than priorities. Attempts to decipher the process by which Trump is choosing his cabinet have stumbled over the usual question: What are the incoming president's priorities? [...]
  • A president behind enemy lines. Many of Trump's cabinet picks have one thing in common: they are opposed to the very mission of the agencies they have been chosen to lead. [...]
  • The chosen one. When I published a biography of Putin in 2012, some American reviewers criticized the book for asserting that Putin was merely an "ordinary man [whom voters could invest] with whatever they wanted to see in him." I argued that an unqualified man of limited intelligence had by accident come to rule a nuclear power. That simply does not happen, some reviewers claimed. [...]

"It does," he writes--and not only in Russia.

Slate asked, how tall is Trump?

Donald Trump went on quacky Dr. Oz's TV show Thursday to talk about his health, and somehow, the weirdest number to come up had nothing to do with his testosterone (though, yes, that too was discussed).

Instead, it was Trump's claim, through his doctor's letter, that he is 6-foot-3.

Most everyone else puts him at 6-foot-2.

Slate then asks, "Why does this matter?"

My colleague Jeremy Samuel Faust suggested a theory to me. It has to do with the other disputed number floating around prior to the show's airing: his weight, which the doctor's note put at 236 pounds, though some reports suggested he's 267 pounds. At 6-foot-3, 236 pounds, his body mass index is a convenient 29.5--overweight but just a biscuit shy of obese (BMI of 30). At 6-foot-2, 236 pounds, he's at 30.3--obese. BMI is a worthless measure of physical health, but maybe in this case it tells us a little something about a man's self-regard. Is it possible that Trump's doctor added the extra inch so that his patient, who is not exactly lacking in vanity, would not be "officially" obese?

Politico provides corroboration:

Donald Trump and his doctor claim he's 6-foot-3, but his New York driver's license says he's actually an inch shorter.

A copy of Trump's license, obtained by POLITICO through an open-records request, lists the president-elect at 6-foot-2.

20161227-trumplicense.jpg

Mother Jones' Kevin Drum piles on:

By a remarkable coincidence, I happen to be 6-foot-2 and weigh exactly 236 pounds. I have an unfortunate amount of belly fat to show for this, but nowhere near what Trump does. At a conservative guess, Trump weighs at least 30 pounds more

Hemant Mehta defends Snopes against distractions:

It's been a rough PR week for the people behind fact-checking website Snopes.com. There was a nasty piece against the site's founders and staffers at the Daily Mail and an article drawing attention to those attacks at the New York Times.

Ignore the distractions for a moment. The only question that matters is whether Snopes is reliable. Does it do a good job of setting the record straight on urban legends and (actual) fake news?

Mehta admits to having "no interest in the personal lives of the couple that founded the site:"

The people who accuse Snopes, or PolitiFact, or any other similar site of being biased -- often conservatives unhappy to have their pet conspiracy theories debunked by people who know better -- have no understanding of how fact-checking works. [...]

The personal lives of the people behind it are irrelevant, and anyone who brings that subject up as a reason to discredit the site are simply trying to distract you.

Don't fall for it.

Salon points out that all news is fake news in the Right's war on truth. "Conservatives," writes digby, "are launching an attack on the concept of reality itself"--one that's been brewing since the Reagan Era:

Conservatives learned to challenge the media's alleged liberal bias as a tactic to make reporters leery of any news that reflected negatively on conservatives. It was very effective. By the time right-wing talk radio came along and later Fox News, with its pretensions of being "fair and balanced," conservatives had convinced millions of people that their version of reality was the truth and that mainstream media and major newspapers were all catering to the liberals.

"The right-wing media complex," she writes, "is all-in on this:"

According to the Times, everyone from Laura Ingraham to Erick Erickson to Donald Trump himself is labeling anything they disagree with, including the fact-check sites like Snopes or Factcheck.org, as "fake news." Millions of people have been conditioned to believe their claims for years, which means polarization is only likely to get worse. If Americans can't even agree which facts are real, it's hard to see how we're going to be able to govern ourselves.

Michael Shermer offers some hope by explaining how to convince someone when facts fail:

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.

He lists Creationists, anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers climate-change deniers, and birthers as instances of this tendency:

In these examples, proponents' deepest held worldviews were perceived to be threatened by skeptics, making facts the enemy to be slayed. This power of belief over evidence is the result of two factors: cognitive dissonance and the backfire effect.

For another example, we can consider the question what does the science say about torture's efficacy?

The US president-elect Donald Trump has on several occasions insisted that torture is a good idea and that procedures such as water-boarding are not "tough enough" when dealing with terrorist groups like Islamic State.

"The view is clearly morally and ethically questionable," the piece continues:

Torture has a long history, and despite being prohibited worldwide (in 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations inserted the prohibition against torture in the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the use of torture appears to be increasing worldwide.

"The evidence that torture works appears to be anecdotal [and] the available science simply does not support the argument that torture is effective." Sadly, the Right's anti-objectivity efforts have been quite effective. Sometimes I'm not sure which campaign is more dangerous.

TPM's Josh Marshall expresses skepticism, calling fake news "the bright, shiny object of the post-2016 election America:"

I think there's a legitimate question about how much many people actually 'believe' what we call 'fake news'. In many cases, 'fake news', the latest manufactured outrage, functions as a kind of ideational pornography, ideas and claims that excite people's political feelings, desires and fears and create feelings of connection with kindred political spirits.

NYT's look at conservatives' Bizarro world mentions that Breitbart News "dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as "left-wing fake news:"

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

The piece notes that "top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda:"

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

Trumpian dishonesty

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Trump bragged that 100% of donations to his eponymous foundation go to "wonderful charities," but PoliticusUSA points out that his claim is ridiculous:

Trump's dishonesty is breathtaking in scope, given how he used his foundation to buy portraits of himself to hang in his own properties and an autographed Tim Tebow helmet, not to mention, as Rebecca Berg was quick to point out, "A large chunk of money went to advance Trump's political prospects."

Also, "The Trump Foundation gave a quarter of a million dollars to settle lawsuits involving @realDonaldTrump's businesses." In addition, MSNBC noted about that Trump's announcement "that he would dissolve his namesake foundation to avoid any potential conflict of interest during his time as president:"

The plan may quickly run into a snag, however. [...]

"The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," New York Attorney General spokesperson Amy Spitalnick said in a statement released Saturday.

"We know Trump's lying," the piece continues, "in part because the Trump Foundation has already admitted that some of its money covered non-charitable expenses:"

Trump used foundation money to buy giant portraits of himself. Trump used foundation money to make illegal campaign contributions. Trump used foundation money to settle private-sector lawsuits. Trump used foundation money to support conservative political entities that could help further his partisan ambitions. [...]

A month ago, the Trump Foundation admitted in official documents that "it violated a legal prohibition against 'self-dealing,' which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity's money to help themselves, their businesses or their families." The materials, filed with the IRS, were signed by Trump himself - so it's not as if he can credibly claim he had no idea what was going on.

It's not just the dishonesty, though; "what's alarming about Trump's latest deception is how brazen it is:"

The president-elect knows his claims are false, and he must realize that anyone with a passing familiarity with current events knows it, too. But Trump just doesn't care about getting caught lying, in part because his followers don't care, in part because he's counting on news organizations to push back against his lies with kid gloves, and in part because he assumes much of the public will reject any evidence published by journalists. [...]

The more inclined Trump is to keep this up-is-down experiment going, the more mind-numbing the next four years are going to be.

In other news, Kevin Drum dissects another Trump tweet, this one even more self-serving:

The world was gloomy before I won - there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10% and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016

"In a mere 26 words," Drum notes, "Trump has managed to mislead his audience in three separate ways without quite lying about anything:"

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn't matter. But it's still a fascinating little insight into how Trump gaslights his followers and the nation into believing that he's the savior of the country. Most people have no idea about any of these numbers, so he can say anything he wants and he's likely to be believed. Nor will fact checking change this even a tiny bit.

Is he warming up to be 2017's Misinformer of the Year?

twice-hacked

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Richard Eskow looks at Russian hacking and Republican election-rigging:

What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about allegations of Russian election-rigging than they are about Republican election-rigging? After all, American oligarchs like the Koch Brothers have no more right to undermine our democracy than Russian oligarchs do. [emphasis added]

GOP voting laws systematically discriminate against minority voters and working people. Yes, leading Democrats have lodged pro forma protests against them, but they should be shouting about it from the rooftops. They seem more comfortable challenging Russians than they do challenging a party that's undermining the electoral process much closer to home.

"It's a conspiracy in plain sight," he writes:

If Democrats want to challenge the electoral outcome, it would be better to do it on behalf of the minority and lower-income voters disenfranchised by Republican lawmakers. That's a charge we can prove. [...]

We can't resolve the Russian question without more answers, but we can fix what we already know is broken. Investigate Putin. But democracy, like charity, begins at home.

Matthew Yglesias' letter to future historians sounds an ambivalent note about our current situation. "I hope it will all turn out for the best," he writes, "But I fear that it will not:"

The election of a man temperamentally unfit to the presidency and lacking in the basic qualifications to perform the job, backed up by congressional allies who seem determined to ignore his flagrant corruption, is an alarming situation. The odds that he will systematically corrupt American institutions and install an authoritarian kleptocracy or blunder into some kind of catastrophic war seem simply too high to entirely discount.

"No matter how stupid it sounds," he points out, "the dominant issue of the 2016 campaign was email server management." He then reminds us that "Email fever reached its peak on two separate major occasions:"

One was when Comey closed the investigation. Instead of simply saying "we looked into it and there was no crime," Comey sought to immunize himself from Clinton critics by breaking with standard procedure to offer extended negative commentary on Clinton's behavior. He said she was "extremely careless."

Comey then brought the email story back to the center of the campaign in late October by writing a letter to Congress indicating that the email case had been reopened due to new discoveries on Anthony Weiner's laptop. It turned out that the new discoveries were an awfully flimsy basis for a subpoena, and the subpoena turned up nothing.

His details are damning:

• The New York Times dedicated 100 percent of its above-the-fold space to coverage of Comey's letter to Congress.
• Throughout the campaign season, network newscasts dedicated more time to Clinton's email server stories than to stories about all policy issues combined.
• Donald Trump's campaign rallies featured regular "lock her up" chants, centering the email server as the opposition's main criticism of Clinton.
• Across five television networks and six major newspapers, 11 percent of campaign coverage was stories about Clinton's email server.

"Indeed," he continues, "research from Gallup indicates that emails dominated what voters heard about Clinton all throughout the campaign," as these wordclouds demonstrate:

20161226-wordcloud.jpg

Even at the time, some of us found it hardly credible that a decision as weighty as who should be president was being decided on the basis of something as trivial as which email address the secretary of state used. Future generations must find it even harder to believe.

Digby makes a great point--that "It's actually a testament to her rectitude that a vague scandal called 'emails!' was all they came up with:"

They had certainly tried over the course of 25 years to come up with something real and they ended up having to make up this ridiculous fake scandal to justify their Javert-like obsession. Unfortunately, it worked as perfectly as any Clinton-scandal ever worked. It was a complicated story that added up to nothing but fit the "didn't pass the smell test" narrative for the media so they pimped it and pimped it and pimped it like it was Watergate.

Speaking of not passing a smell test:

Now we have Trump, the horror story some of us were screaming about until we were hoarse for the last 18 months, knowing that he could and might very well win unless the media, the Republican establishment and some very silly voters sobered up. They didn't. And now we all have to deal with the hangover.

Salon's look at Trumpers and the "drain the swamp" con makes the case that it's not about good governance--it's a political purge. The goal isn't better governance, it's a purely partisan goal of putting conservatives in charge.

This ties in with Newt Gingrich, who might have revealed too much:

"I'm told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore," Gingrich said...

"But, you know, he is my leader and if he decides to drop the swamp and the alligator I will drop the swamp and the alligator."

Adele Stan's analysis of Trump's oligarchy-building worries that it's "difficult to take in all the harm being inflicted on the republic at this moment in history, and the consequences are terrifying to contemplate:"

The stage has been set for a massive accrual of profits to private capitalists--both here and abroad--through the leveraging and misappropriation of the nation's assets and resources, be they highway funds or the fossil fuel that sits beneath the lands and oceans, or the lands over which such fuel must travel to reach a market. And even those two examples represent but a glimpse of the massive grift that is to come.

Stan writes that "the real act....is the diversion of the nation's assets in the service of financial flows between the private capitalists of the United States and the oligarchs of the world--especially those of Russia:"

Trump has found his model, and thanks to the political infrastructure created by private capitalists Charles and David Koch--oilmen themselves--he has access to a strong apparatus for maintaining power. It's the same apparatus that just stripped the incoming governor of North Carolina of much of the office's previously held powers. It's the apparatus that is likely to keep the U.S. House of Representatives in Republican hands for a generation.

It's all to the good of the gaggle of people who sit atop large, privately-held entities and corporations, people whose actions are unaccountable to the public because shares in their businesses are not traded on exchanges.

Rather than divest himself of any holdings, Trump will apparently maintain his position atop that financial apparatus:

Today comes word that rather than place his holdings in what is traditionally known as a "blind trust," Trump is contemplating a "half-blind trust," one that would leave his family in charge of the store.

The nation rustles lightly, its weariness from a hellish campaign and fear over its outcome obscuring its view with heavy eyelids.

In the land of unseeing, the half-blind man is king.

And thus we return to Newt, this time for a lecture on professional ethics:

We have never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don't work, and we're going to have to think up, you know, a whole new approach. ...

I've suggested that people who are widely respected, like Attorney General Mukasey, might -- that the president-elect might want to form a panel who are sort of a review group, if that makes sense, and that the panel would monitor regularly what was going on and would offer warnings if they get too close to the edge.

"This is not a surprise," the piece continues, "to anyone who has followed the three-decade-arc of the deeply corrupt and cynical career of Newton Leroy Gingrich:"

But let us take him at his word that Donald Trump wants to "clean up" Washington because we live "in an age when people are convinced that government corruption is widespread both in the United States and around the world." Exactly how does letting the incoming administration off the hook on corruption issues ahead of time help fight that perception?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn't.

"After eight years of complaining that Obama is a dictator who sees himself as above the law," Salon snarks, "surely we can expect the GOP to put its money where its mouth is. Right?"

not-so-good grief

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David Horsey writes, "I have never seen anything quite like the grief being felt by the majority of American voters who did not vote for Donald Trump."

This is not simply a case of Hillary Clinton supporters being bad losers. For most of those who feel traumatized by what happened on Nov. 8, this is not about the candidate who won the popular vote, yet lost the election. It is about the candidate who was picked as president by the electoral college on Monday. People are mourning because the fate of their country will now be in the hands of an intellectually disinterested, reckless, mendacious narcissist.

It is not just Democrats. There are plenty of conservatives and Republicans among those feeling depressed. Their party has been captured by a man who has no bedrock belief in any principle; a man whose only allegiance appears to be to himself.

Horsey offers at least a glimmer of hope:

In the presidential campaign, the fears of one group of citizens morphed into a powerful anger that Trump harnessed to propel himself to the White House. Now, another set of Americans -- a significantly larger group -- is feeling profoundly distressed. If their fears are borne out, their anger, too, will become a political force that could upend an election yet to come.

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