Archive for the ‘Blow’ Category

Blow and Krugman

January 16, 2017

In “John’s Gospel of Trump’s Illegitimacy” Mr. Blow says a lecher attacked a legend when Donald Trump tweeted an attack on John Lewis.  Prof. Krugman, in “With All Due Disrespect,” presents the patriotic case for frankness about a tainted election.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

On Friday, the Georgia congressman, civil rights icon and Donald Trump inauguration-boycotter John Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd something that I believe millions of Americans are thinking.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

The release of the clip in which Lewis made his stark assessment came on the same day that the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and other intelligence officials provided a classified briefing to members of the House, no doubt divulging information to which we mere mortals are not privy. After the meeting, Representative Maxine Waters of California blasted: “It’s classified and we can’t tell you anything. All I can tell you is the F.B.I. director has no credibility!”

It would be easy to simply claim that emotions are running high or that partisan pain is abnormally acute. But I continue to argue, strenuously and adamantly, that to simply see the extraordinary events unfolding before us as purely ideological blinds us to the very real concern that our sovereignty has been compromised.

Trump, the president-elect tweet stormer, couldn’t let this go, particularly Lewis’s assessment.

Early on Saturday morning, Trump shot back at Lewis in possibly one of the most ill-advised political social media moments I can recall, publishing two tweets that together read: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

Stop and think about what you just read: A lecher attacking a legend; a man of moral depravity attacking a man of moral certitude; an intellectual weakling attacking a warrior for justice. This on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, no less.

Trump attacks Lewis as, “All talk, talk, talk — no action”; Lewis, who repeatedly thrust his body unto the breach for justice, who was arrested, beaten and terrorized, including during the time that young Trump was at his well-heeled schools, receiving draft deferments from the Vietnam War.

In fact, one of Trump’s five deferments was in 1965, the same year as the Selma marches and “Bloody Sunday,” during which Lewis was struck so violently by a state trooper wielding a billy club that Lewis’s skull was fractured.

Coincidentally, Trump finally received his permanent exemption from the draft, a 4-F status, in the year before he and his father were sued by the Department of Justice for violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — one of the many justice issues Lewis championed.

As The New York Times noted at the time: “The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color.’ It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.”

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump doesn’t even deserve to stand in John Lewis’s shadow. The spectacular obscenity of Trump’s comment is incomparable and deeply repulsive.

And furthermore, I don’t find what Lewis said about Trump’s illegitimacy to be outrageous, or off the mark in the least.

I guess for me, it comes down to a rather profound semantic question: Does ‘legitimate’ refer here to the meaning in law or principle?

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

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

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

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

Mr. Trump, I join John Lewis in asserting with full confidence and clear conscience that I, too, don’t see you as a legitimate president. Your presidency is illegitimate insofar as outside interference in an election violates our standards and principles. You will wear that scarlet “I” on your tan chest for as long as you sit in the White House.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

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

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

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

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

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

By any reasonable standard, the 2016 election was deeply tainted. It wasn’t just the effects of Russian intervention on Mr. Trump’s behalf; Hillary Clinton would almost surely have won if the F.B.I. hadn’t conveyed the false impression that it had damaging new information about her, just days before the vote. This was grotesque, delegitimizing malfeasance, especially in contrast with the agency’s refusal to discuss the Russia connection.

Was there even more to it? Did the Trump campaign actively coordinate with a foreign power? Did a cabal within the F.B.I. deliberately slow-walk investigations into that possibility? Are the lurid tales about adventures in Moscow true? We don’t know, although Mr. Trump’s creepy obsequiousness to Vladimir Putin makes it hard to dismiss these allegations. Even given what we do know, however, no previous U.S. president-elect has had less right to the title. So why shouldn’t we question his legitimacy?

And talking frankly about how Mr. Trump gained power isn’t just about truth-telling. It may also help to limit that power.

It would be one thing if the incoming commander in chief showed any hint of humility, of realizing that his duty to the nation requires showing some respect for the strong majority of Americans who voted against him despite Russian meddling and the F.B.I.’s disinformation dump. But he hasn’t and won’t.

Instead, he’s lashing out at and threatening anyone and everyone who criticizes him, while refusing even to admit that he lost the popular vote. And he’s surrounding himself with people who share his contempt for everything that is best in America. What we’re looking at, all too obviously, is an American kakistocracy — rule by the worst.

What can restrain this rule? Well, Congress still has a lot of power to rein the president in. And it would be nice to imagine that there are enough public-spirited legislators to play that role. In particular, just three Republican senators with consciences could do a lot to protect American values.

But Congress will be much more likely to stand up to a rogue, would-be authoritarian executive if its members realize that they will face a political price if they act as his enablers.

What this means is that Mr. Trump must not be treated with personal deference simply because of the position he has managed to seize. He must not be granted the use of the White House as a bully pulpit. He must not be allowed to cloak himself in the majesty of office. Given what we know about this guy’s character, it’s all too clear that granting him unearned respect will just empower him to behave badly.

And reminding people how he got where he is will be an important tool in preventing him from gaining respect he doesn’t deserve. Remember, saying that the election was tainted isn’t a smear or a wild conspiracy theory; it’s simply the truth.

Now, anyone questioning Mr. Trump’s legitimacy will be accused of being unpatriotic — because that’s what people on the right always say about anyone who criticizes a Republican president. (Strangely, they don’t say this about attacks on Democratic presidents.) But patriotism means standing up for your country’s values, not pledging personal allegiance to Dear Leader.

No, we shouldn’t get into the habit of delegitimizing election results we don’t like. But this time really is exceptional, and needs to be treated that way.

So let’s be thankful that John Lewis had the courage to speak out. It was the patriotic, heroic thing to do. And America needs that kind of heroism, now more than ever.

Blow and Krugman

January 9, 2017

In “Donald Trump and the Tainted Presidency” Mr. Blow says a hostile foreign power got its way.  Prof. Krugman, in “Deficits Matter Again,” explains why the Trump-Putin economy isn’t like Obama’s.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

The more we learn about Russia’s hacking and the release of its electronic loot during our presidential election, the more it becomes clear that Donald Trump’s victory and his imminent presidency are already tainted beyond redemption.

While Russian hacks “were not involved in vote tallying,” the publishing of pilfered emails and promulgation of fake news altered the zeitgeist, poisoned the political environment and shifted public opinion, all of which redounded to Trump’s benefit.

Donald Trump is as much Russia’s appointment as our elected executive. The legacy of his political ascendance will be written in Cyrillic and affixed with an asterisk.

Do not let this be buried in the pundits’ blathering: A hostile foreign power stole confidential correspondence from American citizens — this is no different than physically breaking into an American office and carting off boxes of written letters — and funneled that stolen material to a willing conspirator, Julian Assange. The foreign power then had its desired result achieved on our Election Day.

This was an act of war and our presidency was the spoil.

This is not to say that some of what was revealed about the Democrats in the hacked emails wasn’t disturbing. It was, although most of the emails simply showed the unappetizing process by which the sausage is made. What made the leaks feel fishy was the absolute asymmetry of the targeting — it was Democratic only.

Putin helped to defeat a woman, Hillary Clinton, who promised to be a staunch adversary and helped elevate in her stead a Troglodytic lout who somehow believes that the snake that coils itself around you is just giving you a hug, and who sounded so pro-Vladimir Putin that he did everything but blow kisses at the Kremlin.

On Friday, intelligence officials released a damning report on the Russian hacking that read: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

On the same day, Trump was briefed on the hacking by intelligence officials, after which he released an incredulous statement claiming “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

(Ironically, that also happened to be the same day that a joint session of Congress performed its perfunctory duty of counting the Electoral College votes and verifying Trump’s victory.)

No sir, Mr. Trump, as is your wont, your assertions stretch well beyond your proof. An impact that cannot be measured is not the same as an impact that does not exist. The question isn’t “if” but “how much”; not the existence of impact but the degree to which that impact was dispositive.

The intelligence community did not say that the Russian hacking had “no effect on the outcome of the election,” but rather stated quite clearly: “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The U.S. Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.”

You twist the truth like a string of yarn caught in a fan. But eventually, you and every citizen of this country must face the fact that you were not only elected but also installed, that your victory will be forever tangled up in the yellow tape of an international crime scene.

No wonder then that you have systematically sought to denigrate all inquiry into this act of cyber warfare that the intelligence report called “unprecedented.” You have scorned our intelligence agencies — you tweet “intelligence” in quotes the same way that we should eventually use quotes around the word “president” when it precedes your name — and you have continued your assault on the press.

On Friday, Trump told my colleague Michael Shear that the focus on the hacking amounted to “a political witch hunt.” Wrong again. It’s a truth hunt. Furthermore, the only person subjected to a witch hunt in this election was named Hillary.

Yes, as you repeatedly exclaimed before the votes were cast, the election was rigged, not by widespread voter fraud, as you falsely suggested, but rather by widespread dissemination of fraudulently obtained information. It is no coincidence that WikiLeaks began to release John Podesta’s emails just an hour after Trump’s disgusting “grab them by the [expletive]” Access Hollywood tape surfaced.

Mr. Trump, your victory is tainted; your legitimacy is rightly in question. The American people cast their ballots in the fog of fake news and under influence of stolen property weaponized as a tool of propaganda.

Some may hesitate to say that the American presidency was stolen, but it is irrefutable that the integrity of our democratic process was injured when the sanctity of what we considered uncorrupted self-determination was assaulted.

Donald Trump is Vladimir Putin’s American “president” — clearly his preference and possibly his product.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Not long ago prominent Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, liked to warn in apocalyptic terms about the dangers of budget deficits, declaring that a Greek-style crisis was just around the corner. But now, suddenly, those very same politicians are perfectly happy with the prospect of deficits swollen by tax cuts; the budget resolution they’re considering would, according to their own estimates, add $9 trillion in debt over the next decade. Hey, no problem.

This sudden turnaround comes as a huge shock to absolutely nobody — at least nobody with any sense. All that posturing about the deficit was obvious flimflam, whose purpose was to hobble a Democratic president, and it was completely predictable that the pretense of being fiscally responsible would be dropped as soon as the G.O.P. regained the White House.

What wasn’t quite so predictable, however, was that Republicans would stop pretending to care about deficits at almost precisely the moment that deficits were starting to matter again.

Those apocalyptic warnings are still foolish: America, which borrows in its own currency and therefore can’t run out of cash, isn’t at all like Greece. But running big deficits is no longer harmless, let alone desirable.

The way it was: Eight years ago, with the economy in free fall, I wrote that we had entered an era of “depression economics,” in which the usual rules of economic policy no longer applied, in which virtue was vice and prudence was folly. In particular, deficit spending was essential to support the economy, and attempts to balance the budget would be destructive.

This diagnosis — shared by most professional economists — didn’t come out of thin air; it was based on well-established macroeconomic principles. Furthermore, the predictions that came out of those principles held up very well. In the depressed economy that prevailed for years after the financial crisis, government borrowing didn’t drive up interest rates, money creation by the Fed didn’t cause inflation, and nations that tried to slash budget deficits experienced severe recessions.

But these predictions were always conditional, applying only to an economy far from full employment. That was the kind of economy President Obama inherited; but the Trump-Putin administration will, instead, come into power at a time when full employment has been more or less restored.

How do we know that we’re close to full employment? The low official unemployment rate is just one indicator. What I find more compelling are two facts: Wages are finally rising reasonably fast, showing that workers have bargaining power again, and the rate at which workers are quitting their jobs, an indication of how confident they are of finding new jobs, is back to pre-crisis levels.

What changes once we’re close to full employment? Basically, government borrowing once again competes with the private sector for a limited amount of money. This means that deficit spending no longer provides much if any economic boost, because it drives up interest rates and “crowds out” private investment.

Now, government borrowing can still be justified if it serves an important purpose: Interest rates are still very low, and borrowing at those low rates to invest in much-needed infrastructure is still a very good idea, both because it would raise productivity and because it would provide a bit of insurance against future downturns. But while candidate Trump talked about increasing public investment, there’s no sign at all that congressional Republicans are going to make such investment a priority.

No, they’re going to blow up the deficit mainly by cutting taxes on the wealthy. And that won’t do anything significant to boost the economy or create jobs. In fact, by crowding out investment it will somewhat reduce long-term economic growth. Meanwhile, it will make the rich richer, even as cuts in social spending make the poor poorer and undermine security for the middle class. But that, of course, is the intention.

Again, none of this implies an economic catastrophe. If such a catastrophe does come, it will be thanks to other policies, like a rollback of financial regulation, or from outside events like a crisis in China or Europe. And because stuff does happen, and a lot depends on how the U.S. government responds when it does, we should be concerned that the incoming administration only seems to take economic advice from people who have consistently been wrong about, well, everything.

But back to deficits: the crucial point is not that Republicans were hypocritical. It is, instead, that their hypocrisy made us poorer. They screamed about the evils of debt at a time when bigger deficits would have done a lot of good, and are about to blow up deficits at a time when they will do harm.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

January 5, 2017

In “The Anti-Inauguration” Mr. Blow suggests that we augment our outrage with actions that are affirming.  Mr. Kristof considers “The G.O.P. Health Care Hoax” and says Republicans plan to replace Obamacare with TBD.  In “Reality Politics, Starring Donald Trump” Ms. Collins says it’s here and it can’t be canceled for four years.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States is just two weeks away, so now is the time to begin making plans to send him the strongest possible signal that your opposition to the presidency he has foreshadowed will not be pouting and passive, but active and animated.

Now is the time to begin making your plans for the anti-inauguration.

Exclaiming your resistance, while necessary, is insufficient. Resistance is a negative position. While negativity in the face of this menace is justified and admirable, negativity alone is a fractional response. As with most things in a fully articulated life, balance is required. You need to augment your outrage with actions that are affirming, behaviors that reinforce principles and values.

When politics seem out of your control, remember that community and culture are very much in your control. We help shape the world we inhabit every day. A life is a collection of thousands of decisions, large and small, made every day. Make those decisions with purpose and conviction, especially for Jan. 20.

The point is not necessarily to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, but rather to deprive it of oxygen and eyeballs; to plant a flag of resistance firmly at the opening gate. This doesn’t mean that people won’t attend or watch. They will. But every station that carries it, as many will, should feel the impact of your absence.

Just because succession of power in our fragile democracy isn’t denied by dictator or compelled by coup does not mean that the majority of Americans who voted for someone other than Trump, and view his ascension as an offense, should feel any pressure or compunction to bear witness to the pomp and pageantry surrounding the installation of a demi-fascist and full-blown demagogue as president.

This ceremony is part of a governmental apparatus meant to project a picture of seamless continuity and normalcy to Americans and the world.

But making Trump appear normal is contingent on public cooperation, which must be denied.

Here are some ways to make your opposition felt and bring forth some light on the impending Day of Darkness.

Protest.

Protests are being organized all over the country, including in the capital itself. Join in. One group, under the banner “Not My President,” is even planning a silent protest at the U.S. Capitol. Then of course there will be the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration. With more than 100,000 people saying they will attend on Facebook, and organizers estimating that they could get 200,000, this could be the largest anti-Trump rally yet.

Volunteer.

If you can’t travel to Washington or if there are no protests being organized in your area, volunteer at an agency or nonprofit that serves a community or advocates on an issue that has been directly targeted by the incoming president. These range from women’s rights, to civil liberties, to immigrant outreach, to environmental protection.

Donate.

If you can’t find a way to volunteer, donate. These groups will need as much funding as possible to defend themselves and their positions from a hostile administration and compliant Congress.

Subscribe.

Coming from me this may sound self-interested, but please try to look over my obvious and admitted conflict to see that the press, even with all its flaws — particularly those exposed during this election — is one of the last lines of defense against corruption and a slide toward autocracy. Trump’s hostility to, and delegitimizing of, the press is a deliberate tactic meant to shield him against future discovery and disclosure.

As Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, said on CNN’s Reliable Sources last month:

“If Donald Trump is trying to inoculate himself in advance, it’s like giving himself a vaccine, to prevent the illness that’s going to come when the media turn on his tax returns if they get another leak on it, when they look at some of the business dealings as he’s talking to foreign leaders. There are all kinds of stories that you can imagine, that have already been written, some of them, and what he’s trying to do here is, as I say, sort of inoculate himself by demonizing media. So, don’t believe anything they say.”

Read.

Spend part of the day reading about the rise and fall of empires and how it always seems far-fetched and inconceivable until it actually happens. There are many books that address this topic, but if you want something shorter, try Andrew Sullivan’s “Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic,” a counterintuitive meditation on how tyranny can spring from populism, or my colleague Paul Krugman’s “How Republics End.”

But, by all means, read something. That is oppositional in and of itself when facing a frightening man who seems constitutionally averse to intelligence — from national intelligence to individual intelligence — and who is apparently, how shall I say this, far from a voracious reader.

Watch.

If you must watch something on Jan. 20, try to find specific anti-inauguration counterprogramming. CNN this week reported one such effort:

“A group of entrepreneurs have banded together to create Love-a-thon, a Jerry Lewis-style telethon for the digital age. Love-a-thon will be a three-hour Facebook Live broadcast, beginning at 12:30 p.m. E.T. on Inauguration Day, January 20. The move is a part of an effort to raise money for three organizations — the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Planned Parenthood and Earthjustice.”

Write.

If you don’t already know, find out who all your representatives in government are, from the local level to the national level, get their addresses, and send them a letter or an email expressing your views and explaining in no uncertain terms what you expect from them going forward. Warn that if they let you down, you will remember your disappointment at the polls. Public pressure has a very real impact on political power. Don’t be silent. Don’t be invisible. Make them remember your name.

Connect.

Reach out to your friends and family — the people in what I call your “great sphere of influence.” First, let them know that you love them. This may seem mawkish, but in the wake of Trump’s hateful rhetoric, expressions of love and support are necessary. But beyond that, make sure that they too have an anti-inauguration plan. If they don’t, have them join you in yours. Also, make sure that everyone in your sphere is registered to vote.

You have the power to make anti-inauguration day an enormously effective first step on the path forward through an arduous four years, which promise to be difficult to navigate. Affirmative actions must be as much your guide and solace as resistance is your fuel and fire.

Remember your pre-Trump ideals and make sure that they survive into a post-Trump world.

Now here’s Mr. Kristof:

This week, President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans began to dismantle Obamacare, and here are the details of their replacement plan:

—— —- —- —- – —— —- —— —- – —- —- — —— —- —— —- —- —- — — – – – – —— —- —- —— —- —- —- – —— —- —— —- – —- —- — —— —- – —- —- — – —- —- — —— —- – —- —- — – —- —-

That captures the nonexistent Republican plan to replace Obamacare. They’re telling Americans who feel trapped by health care problems: “Jump! Maybe we’ll catch you.”

This G.O.P. fraud is called “repeal and delay.” That means repealing the Affordable Care Act, effective in a few years without specifying what will replace it.

If the Republicans ran a home renovation business, they would start tearing down your roof this month and promise to return in 2019 with some options for a new one — if you survived.

And survival will be a real issue. The bottom line of the G.O.P. approach is that millions of Americans will lose insurance, and thousands more will die unnecessarily each year because of lack of care.

The paradox of Obamacare is that it is both unpopular and saves lives. Preliminary research suggests that it has already begun saving lives, but it’s too early to have robust data on the improvements to life expectancy among the additional 20 million people who have gained insurance. It is notable that an Urban Institute study found that on the eve of Obamacare’s start, lack of health insurance was killing one American every 24 minutes.

One careful study found that the Republican health care plan in Massachusetts, which was the model for Obamacare, noticeably lowered mortality rates. For every additional 830 adults covered by insurance, one death was prevented each year.

The American College of Physicians warned this week that the G.O.P. course could result in seven million Americans losing their health insurance this year alone, by causing parts of the insurance market to implode. Back-of-envelope calculations suggest that the upshot would be an additional 8,400 Americans dying annually.

How can insurance make such a difference?

I’ve written about my college roommate Scott Androes, a fellow farm boy from Oregon, who switched careers in 2003 and didn’t buy health insurance on the individual market because it was so expensive. Then in 2011 he had trouble urinating and didn’t see a doctor because of the cost.

By 2012 he had blood in his urine and finally was scared enough that he sought medical help. He had waited too long: He had stage IV prostate cancer.

“I blew it,” Scott told me. “I feel like a damned fool.” He showed immense courage in agreeing to tell his story — despite concern that his legacy would be an article highlighting his foolishness — because he wanted people to understand the human cost of a lack of universal insurance. He died soon afterward.

That’s the system that the Republicans are trying to take us back to.

Americans spend two or three times as much on health care as a share of G.D.P. as other industrialized countries but get worse outcomes. American children are 75 percent more likely to die in the first five years of life than British or German children, according to World Bank data, and American women are twice as likely to die in pregnancy as Canadian women. The reasons have to do partly with American poverty, and partly with the high number of uninsured.

Trump would have you believe that he will keep the popular parts of Obamacare, such as the ban on discriminating against pre-existing conditions, while eliminating unpopular parts like the mandate. That’s impossible: The good and bad depend on each other.

The Trump approach would be like trying to amputate a dog’s rear end so you wouldn’t have to clean up its messes. It just doesn’t work that way.

A full repeal of Obamacare would also worsen the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office said in 2015 that “repealing the A.C.A. would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over the 2016-2025 period.” That’s more than $1,000 per American household.

Yes, health policy makes eyes glaze over. But focus on these two points: By broad agreement, the number of people insured will drop if Republicans “repeal and delay,” and more uninsured Americans means more Americans dying. That’s why the American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association and even conservative health care analysts have warned Congress not to repeal Obamacare without stipulating what comes next.

Republicans spent $7 million investigating the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and ultimately found no evidence of high-level wrongdoing. Now they are rushing toward a scam that may cost thousands of American lives every year.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Two big political events this week. A new Congress started work and “The New Celebrity Apprentice” arrived on TV.

“Celebrity Apprentice” is now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former action movie star who became a governor and is now recycling back into entertainment. He is replacing Donald Trump, a former reality TV star now preparing to move into the White House. Trump’s cabinet choices include one former governor who transitioned into “Dancing With the Stars” and is now seeking to become secretary of energy.

On Wednesday we learned that Omarosa Manigault, a former “Apprentice” contestant who’s said she’s done “20-plus reality shows,” is joining the new White House staff.

I think we are seeing a pattern here. Two major questions:

One is whether we’re going to wind up getting the next generation of political leaders out of these shows. If there were two tracks to becoming a future presidential candidate, would you rather collect thousands of signatures to run for the state assembly, or just spend a month locked in a house with a dozen strangers and 100 cameras?

O.K., you are a serious citizen and I do believe you would go for the signatures. But trust me, the future is not on your side.

The other question is whether the actual workings of government are coming to resemble a long-running reality TV series.

Senate Republicans began their year with health care. Their plan requires brave lawmakers to vote that Obamacare be replaced by Something Different. Nobody knows exactly what Something Different looks like. The Republicans are just sure it’s out there — sort of like the hidden immunity idol on “Survivor.”

“The answer here is bold action,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. Think of it this way: Repeal is Season 1. To find out what really happens, you’re going to have to tune in for Season 2, when Paul and the gang go off to a Pacific island, where they will compete to find the health care plan concealed under a rock in the forest.

But about the first week of Congress. The House Republicans started things off by voting to castrate the office that oversees legislators’ ethics. This was such a terrible beginning that you can’t help wondering if it was staged to gin up a little excitement and make Trump, who tweeted his opposition, look … bold. It’s like one of those “Real Housewives” shows where people walk into the room and instantly start telling X what Y just said about her downstairs.

The important thing was that Trump expressed his displeasure via Twitter, which is most certainly going to be the prime method of communication in reality politics.

How can you beat it? If the North Koreans say they’re building a weapon that could nuke America, you tweet “won’t happen.” Mission accomplished. If there’s deep confusion about Russian hacking in the last election, you announce that you’ll clear everything up by Tuesday. When Tuesday arrives you can tweet that a critical intelligence briefing had been delayed until Friday. And just to be clear what you think of folks like the C.I.A., you put “Intelligence” in quotes and add “Very strange!”

This is the future, people. Little tiny messages that end with a teeny-weeny sentence with an exclamation point. Soon we’ll look on email as an incredibly laborious method of communication, like our parents regarded 20-page letters written with quill pens. Trump saw the future a long time ago. “Half of my friends are under indictment right now because they sent emails to each other about how they’re screwing people,” he confided to Howard Stern back in 2005. “They’ll write you a message that they’re having sex with 15 different married women. It’s unbelievable. Email is unbelievable.”

So unbelievable.

Trump actually did once have an email address, MrTrump@GoTrump.com, which was advertised as a place where you could both do your travel booking and get “travel tips and advice” from the man himself. That business is no more, like the Trump steaks.

However, the president-elect does still have a connection to “Celebrity Apprentice,” where he is listed as an executive producer. Of course, anybody can be an executive producer — you’re reading this, so you can call yourself executive producer of reading. Yet why would the future president of the United States want credit for making a cheesy reality show, currently starring a guy who supported John Kasich in the primaries?

If you think of an answer, tweet it.

Trump’s alleged oversight has not stopped “Celebrity Apprentice” from being a pretty pathetic effort at entertainment. This week it lost in the ratings to “The Bachelor.” The new candidate there is a guy named Nick who has already been on three reality dating shows before. He has not found love, so it does seem as if his life requires a new direction. I am thinking the next stop’s the Iowa caucuses.

 

Blow and Krugman

December 19, 2016

In “Donald Trump, This Is Not Normal!” Mr. Blow says the coming threat to our nation cannot simply be ignored.  Prof. Krugman, in “How Republics End,” says no, our institutions won’t save us.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

This is my last column of the year.

In 2015, my last column was a roundup of the year’s biggest social justice stories as ranked by intellectuals and activists.

I thought that I’d make that a year-end tradition for the column, but this year Donald Trump has intruded.

That is not to say that issues of social justice have receded. They haven’t, at all. But the election of Donald Trump poses such a significant — and singular — threat to this country that for me all other issues are unfortunately, temporarily I hope, subsumed by the unshakable sense of impending calamity he presages.

The nation is soon to be under the aegis of an unstable, unqualified, undignified demagogue and with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, there is little that can be done to constrict or control his power and unpredictability.

It’s like seeing an ominous weight swinging toward a limb, sure to break it, while you feel utterly helpless to prevent the fracture.

As the exiting first lady Michelle Obama told Oprah last week: “We’re feeling what not having hope feels like.” In point of fact, we may be on the brink of feeling what an erosion of liberty, competent leadership, and absolute sovereignty feels like.

The durability of our democracy is not destined. It is not impervious to harm or even destruction. The Constitution can’t completely prevent that, nor can protocols and conventions. The most important safeguard against authoritarianism is an informed, engaged citizenry vigorously opposed to acquiescence and attrition.

In other words, it may well be that the only thing that can protect America from the man who will sit at its pinnacle of power is the urgent insistence of the public that radical alteration of our customs and concepts of accountability are not on the table, that authority in a democracy is imbued by the ballot, but it is also accountable to its people.

And people are already ill at ease with Trump. There is increasing resolution on the dimensions of Russian interference in our election — an effort that, according to recent reports, appeared aimed at injuring Hillary Clinton and installing Trump as president. The implications of such a breach, something that comes close to an act of war, are absolutely staggering.

The fact that a hostile foreign government executed a plan to influence, and therefore irrevocably damage, the bedrock of our democracy is unfathomable. The repercussions are nearly incalculable: it corrodes faith in the process, faith in elected officials, faith in national security, faith in our assumed autonomy.

To have a president who refuses to acknowledge the violation in order to avoid the asterisk by which he might be forever marked a Manchurian candidate or, more plainly, Moscow’s mule, is not normal.

Furthermore, to have a president who is disturbingly complimentary when discussing Russia; whose onetime campaign manager had pro-Russia ties; whose son said in 2008, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” and continued, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia”; and who has nominated for secretary of state a man on whom Vladimir Putin bestowed Russia’s Order of Friendship, is not normal. Americans shouldn’t have to worry about whether the White House will become an annex of the Kremlin.

Furthermore, to have a president surround himself with a rogue’s gallery of white supremacy sympathizers, anti-Muslim extremists, devout conspiracy theorists, anti-science doctrinaires and climate-change deniers is not normal.

To have a president for whom we don’t know the extent of his financial entanglements with other countries — in part because he has refused to release his tax returns — is not normal.

To have a president with massive, inherent conflicts of interest between continued ownership of his company and the running of our country is not normal.

Presidents may be exempt from conflict of interest provisions in the law, but exemption from legal jeopardy is not an exemption from fact or defilement of the primacy of a president’s fiduciary duty to empire above enterprise.

To have a president who nurses petty vengeances against the press and uses the overwhelming power of the presidency to attack any reporting of fact not colored by flattery and adoration is not normal.

It doesn’t matter if he is motivated by calculation — particularly toward diversion — or compulsion: His behavior remains unsettling and even dangerous.

To have a president who apparently does not have time for daily intelligence briefings, but who can make time for the most trite anti-intellectual stunts, like staging a photo-op with a troubled rapper and twilight-tweeting insults like a manic insomniac, is not normal.

I fully understand that elevated outrage is hard to maintain. It’s exhausting.

But the alternative is surrender to national nihilism and the welcoming of woe.

The next four years could be epochal years in the history of this country. They could test the limits of presidential power and the public’s passivity.

I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.

But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.

Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.

On the first point: Roman politics involved fierce competition among ambitious men. But for centuries that competition was constrained by some seemingly unbreakable rules. Here’s what Adrian Goldsworthy’s “In the Name of Rome” says: “However important it was for an individual to win fame and add to his and his family’s reputation, this should always be subordinated to the good of the Republic … no disappointed Roman politician sought the aid of a foreign power.”

America used to be like that, with prominent senators declaring that we must stop “partisan politics at the water’s edge.” But now we have a president-elect who openly asked Russia to help smear his opponent, and all indications are that the bulk of his party was and is just fine with that. (A new poll shows that Republican approval of Vladimir Putin has surged even though — or, more likely, precisely because — it has become clear that Russian intervention played an important role in the U.S. election.) Winning domestic political struggles is all that matters, the good of the republic be damned.

And what happens to the republic as a result? Famously, on paper the transformation of Rome from republic to empire never happened. Officially, imperial Rome was still ruled by a Senate that just happened to defer to the emperor, whose title originally just meant “commander,” on everything that mattered. We may not go down exactly the same route — although are we even sure of that? — but the process of destroying democratic substance while preserving forms is already underway.

Consider what just happened in North Carolina. The voters made a clear choice, electing a Democratic governor. The Republican legislature didn’t openly overturn the result — not this time, anyway — but it effectively stripped the governor’s office of power, ensuring that the will of the voters wouldn’t actually matter.

Combine this sort of thing with continuing efforts to disenfranchise or at least discourage voting by minority groups, and you have the potential making of a de facto one-party state: one that maintains the fiction of democracy, but has rigged the game so that the other side can never win.

Why is this happening? I’m not asking why white working-class voters support politicians whose policies will hurt them — I’ll be coming back to that issue in future columns. My question, instead, is why one party’s politicians and officials no longer seem to care about what we used to think were essential American values. And let’s be clear: This is a Republican story, not a case of “both sides do it.”

So what’s driving this story? I don’t think it’s truly ideological. Supposedly free-market politicians are already discovering that crony capitalism is fine as long as it involves the right cronies. It does have to do with class warfare — redistribution from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy is a consistent theme of all modern Republican policies. But what directly drives the attack on democracy, I’d argue, is simple careerism on the part of people who are apparatchiks within a system insulated from outside pressures by gerrymandered districts, unshakable partisan loyalty, and lots and lots of plutocratic financial support.

For such people, toeing the party line and defending the party’s rule are all that matters. And if they sometimes seem consumed with rage at anyone who challenges their actions, well, that’s how hacks always respond when called on their hackery.

One thing all of this makes clear is that the sickness of American politics didn’t begin with Donald Trump, any more than the sickness of the Roman Republic began with Caesar. The erosion of democratic foundations has been underway for decades, and there’s no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover.

But if there is any hope of redemption, it will have to begin with a clear recognition of how bad things are. American democracy is very much on the edge.

And so this is how America will end — not with a bang but on Twitter, with tweets from a malignant narcissist.

Blow and Krugman

December 12, 2016

In “Patriotic Opposition to Donald Trump” Mr. Blow says you may have been on the losing side of the election, but you are on the right side of history.  In “The Tainted Election” Prof. Krugman discusses coming to grips with illegitimacy.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Nothing is safe or sacrosanct in Donald Trump’s developing governance team, and America had better start being alarmed about it and moving to actively oppose it.

The time for voting has elapsed, but the time for being vocal has emerged.

Let’s take the tally:

He has chosen a man hostile to immigrants and with a complicated — to put it mildly — history on race to be attorney general.

He has chosen a man who is anti-abortion, pro-fetal “personhood,” and anti-Obamacare to be secretary of health and human services.

He has chosen a man who has criticized paid sick-leave policies and opposes increasing the federal minimum wage to lead the Department of Labor.

He has chosen a climate change denier and anti-environmental-regulation crusader to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

He has chosen a vocal proponent of school vouchers to run the Department of Education.

In a way, Trump seems to be trying to destroy these agencies from the inside out, the way a worm slowly devours an apple.

Furthermore, he is stacking these jobs with people who have given him cash. According to The Washington Post:

“President-elect Donald Trump has now tapped six big donors and fund-raisers to serve in his administration, lining up an unprecedented concentration of wealthy backers for top posts. Together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his allied super PACs and the Republican National Committee, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign filings.”

Trump’s defense: “I want people that made a fortune!”

And, just as the C.I.A. was asserting that Russia meddled in our election specifically to provide succor to this sap, reports emerged that Trump’s likely pick for secretary of state is Exxon’s chief executive, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin. Daddy Warbucks is hellbent on appeasing Mother Russia.

Angry yet? Yes. Good!

And understand this: You are not alone; you aren’t even in the minority.

A Pew Research Center report published last week found:

“Trump also receives low marks for his initial cabinet choices and other high level appointments. By 51 percent to 40 percent, more say they disapprove than approve of the cabinet choices and appointments Trump has made so far. In contrast, majorities approved of the choices made” by the past four presidents-elect. “In fact, approval ratings for Trump’s cabinet choices are 18 points lower than for the next lowest-rated president-elect.”

Furthermore, the report found:

“Just 37 percent of the public views Trump as well-qualified; 32 percent of registered voters described Trump as well-qualified in October. Majorities continue to say Trump is reckless (65 percent) and has poor judgment (62 percent), while 68 percent describe him as ‘hard to like.’”

Since the election I have heard from more people than I can count who express fear and anxiety about Trump and the future of the country. There is a stifling sense of discontent and foreboding and apprehension.

I know that it can feel like we are all drowning in a deluge of compounding outrages, with every headline about this impending administration appearing to one-up the last, but take heart.

You may have been on the losing side of this year’s election, but you are on the right side of history. In the final tally, courage will always defeat fear; love will always conquer hate; the beautiful diversity of America, and indeed all of humanity, will always outshine the darkness of racial enmity.

This is the reason I write, to remind people of honor and courage; to tell them that their cause isn’t lost, that their destiny is victory.

Maybe I am confined by my craft, pumping out polemics that, it is my great hope, help to stiffen the spines and lift the spirits of those determined to stare down the threat. Language, in that way, holds the possibility of transcendence and conscription. One of the first and most essential ways to mobilize around a cause is to establish its moral framing.

In a 1780 letter written to a fellow revolutionary considering “retiring into private life,” staunch abolitionist Samuel Adams — a man strongly opposed to slavery and therefore one of my favorite founders — wrote:

“If ever the Time should come, when vain & aspiring Men shall possess the highest Seats in Government, our Country will stand in Need of its experiencd Patriots to prevent its Ruin. There may be more Danger of this, than some, even of our well disposd Citizens may imagine. If the People should grant their Suffrages to Men, only because they conceive them to have been Friends to the Country, without Regard to the necessary Qualifications for the Places they are to fill, the Administration of Government will become a mere Farce, and our pub-lick Affairs will never be put on the Footing of solid Security.

There is no other time to which this could apply more perfectly than now. This is not the time for the “retiring” of “experiencd patriots.” A “vain and aspiring” man now possesses the highest seat in government and the administration of the government is on the verge of becoming a farce.

America needs you … now. Speak up.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

The C.I.A., according to The Washington Post, has now determined that hackers working for the Russian government worked to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump. This has actually been obvious for months, but the agency was reluctant to state that conclusion before the election out of fear that it would be seen as taking a political role.

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. went public 10 days before the election, dominating headlines and TV coverage across the country with a letter strongly implying that it might be about to find damning new evidence against Hillary Clinton — when it turned out, literally, to have found nothing at all.

Did the combination of Russian and F.B.I. intervention swing the election? Yes. Mrs. Clinton lost three states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – by less than a percentage point, and Florida by only slightly more. If she had won any three of those states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin/Comey made the difference?

And it wouldn’t have been seen as a marginal victory, either. Even as it was, Mrs. Clinton received almost three million more votes than her opponent, giving her a popular margin close to that of George W. Bush in 2004.

So this was a tainted election. It was not, as far as we can tell, stolen in the sense that votes were counted wrong, and the result won’t be overturned. But the result was nonetheless illegitimate in important ways; the victor was rejected by the public, and won the Electoral College only thanks to foreign intervention and grotesquely inappropriate, partisan behavior on the part of domestic law enforcement.

The question now is what to do with that horrifying knowledge in the months and years ahead.

One could, I suppose, appeal to the president-elect to act as a healer, to conduct himself in a way that respects the majority of Americans who voted against him and the fragility of his Electoral College victory. Yeah, right. What we’re actually getting are wild claims that millions of people voted illegally, false assertions of a landslide, and denigration of the intelligence agencies.

Another course of action, which you’ll see many in the news media taking, is to normalize the incoming administration, basically to pretend that everything is O.K. This might — might — be justified if there were any prospect of responsible, restrained behavior on the part of the next president. In reality, however, it’s clear that Mr. Trump — whose personal conflicts of interest are unprecedented, and quite possibly unconstitutional — intends to move U.S. policy radically away from the preferences of most Americans, including a pronounced pro-Russian shift in foreign policy.

In other words, nothing that happened on Election Day or is happening now is normal. Democratic norms have been and continue to be violated, and anyone who refuses to acknowledge this reality is, in effect, complicit in the degradation of our republic. This president will have a lot of legal authority, which must be respected. But beyond that, nothing: he doesn’t deserve deference, he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

And when, as you know will happen, the administration begins treating criticism as unpatriotic, the answer should be: You have to be kidding. Mr. Trump is, by all indications, the Siberian candidate, installed with the help of and remarkably deferential to a hostile foreign power. And his critics are the people who lack patriotism?

Will acknowledging the taint on the incoming administration do any good? Maybe it will stir the consciences of at least a few Republicans. Remember, many, though not all, of the things Mr. Trump will try to do can be blocked by just three Republican senators.

Politics being what it is, moral backbones on Capitol Hill will be stiffened if there are clear signs that the public is outraged by what is happening. And there will be a chance to make that outrage felt directly in two years — not just in congressional elections, but in votes that will determine control of many state governments.

Now, outrage over the tainted election past can’t be the whole of opposition politics. It will also be crucial to maintain the heat over actual policies. Everything we’ve seen so far says that Mr. Trump is going to utterly betray the interests of the white working-class voters who were his most enthusiastic supporters, stripping them of health care and retirement security, and this betrayal should be highlighted.

But we ought to be able to look both forward and back, to criticize both the way Mr. Trump gained power and the way he uses it. Personally, I’m still figuring out how to keep my anger simmering — letting it boil over won’t do any good, but it shouldn’t be allowed to cool. This election was an outrage, and we should never forget it.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

December 8, 2016

In “Trump: Madman of the Year” Mr. Blow says the president-elect is running two post-campaign campaigns: one high and one low, one of frivolity and one of enormous consequence.  Mr. Kristof, in “Identity Politics and a Dad’s Loss,” says four children in the Rev. Joey Crutcher’s life are dead. Policing, health and crime were causes. But their race may also have played a part.  But, Nick, as we know nothing is ever About Race…  In “Donald Trump Warms Up” Ms. Collins commiserates with poor Al Gore, thinking the president-elect had paid attention to what he said about climate change.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

So, Time magazine, ever in search of buzz, this week named Donald Trump Person of the Year. But they did so with a headline that read, “President of the Divided States of America.”

The demi-fascist of Fifth Avenue wasn’t flattered by that wording.

In an interview with the “Today” show, Trump huffed, “When you say divided states of America, I didn’t divide them. They’re divided now.” He added later, “I think putting divided is snarky, but again, it’s divided. I’m not president yet. So I didn’t do anything to divide.”

Donald, thy name is division. You and your campaign of toxicity and intolerance have not only divided this country but also ripped it to tatters.

This comports with an extremely disturbing tendency of Trump’s: Denying responsibility for things of which he is fully culpable, while claiming full praise for things in which he was only partly involved.

As my mother used to say: Don’t try to throw a rock and hide your hand. Own your odiousness.

But Trump delivered the lie with an ease and innocuousness that bespoke a childish innocence and naïveté. In fact, his words disguised cold calculation.

That is the thing about demagogy: It can be charming, even dazzling, and that is what makes it all the more dangerous.

Demagogues can flatter and whisper and chuckle. They can remind us of the good in the world because they have an acute awareness of the ways of the world. They can also love and be loved. They can reflect our own humanity because they are human, but their ambitions do not bend toward the good.

Their ultimate end is distraction, which allows domination, which leads to destruction.

Trump is running two post-campaign campaigns: one high and one low, one of frivolity and one of enormous consequence.

One is a campaign of bread and circuses — tweets, rallies, bombast about random issues of the moment, all meant to distract and excite — and the other is the constant assemblage of a cabinet full of fat cats and “mad dog” generals, a virtual aviary of vultures and hawks.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Trump had “settled on Gen. John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan, as his choice for secretary of Homeland Security.”

They also pointed out that Kelly had “dismissed one argument cited by those who advocate closing the military prison at Guantánamo, saying it had not proved to be an inspiration for militants.” The prison fell under his command.

Make no mistake: the prison at Guantánamo is one of the most glaring and enduring moral blights remaining from our humanitarianism-be-damned reaction to the attacks of 9/11.

Trump said of the prison last month:

“This morning, I watched President Obama talking about Gitmo, right, Guantánamo Bay, which by the way, which by the way, we are keeping open. Which we are keeping open … and we’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we’re gonna load it up.”

The Times also said that Kelly “questioned the Obama administration’s plans to open all combat jobs to women, saying the military would have to lower its physical standards to bring women into some roles.”

This is disturbing, but Kelly isn’t the only one of Trump’s military picks who has a disturbing attitude toward women.

Last month, The Daily Beast reported that the office of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for national security adviser, “told women to wear makeup, heels, and skirts.” These directives to women were presented in a “January 2013 presentation, entitled ‘Dress for Success,’” which was obtained by a Freedom of Information request by MuckRock. The presentation reportedly made sweeping patriarchal declarations — “makeup helps women look more attractive” — and gave granular detail — “Wear just enough to accentuate your features.” According to the presentation, “Do not advocate the ‘Plain Jane’ look.”

So, in other words, while G.I. Joe is in camouflage, G.I. Jane should be in concealer. Got it. Indeed, on Wednesday, my colleague Susan Chira pondered in these pages: “Is Donald Trump’s Cabinet Anti-Woman?” She went through a litany of anti-woman positions taken and policies advanced by Trump appointees, leaving this reader with the clear conclusion that yes, it is. She closed with this: “One of the few bright spots that women’s advocates see in a Trump administration are proposals championed by Ivanka Trump to require paid maternity leave and offer expanded tax credits for child care.” But, as she notes, there is legitimate criticism that even that is patriarchal because it doesn’t cover paternal leave.

The question hanging in the air, the issue that we must vigilantly monitor, is whether the emerging shoots of egalitarianism in this country will be stomped out by the jackboot of revitalized authoritarianism.

I feel like America is being flashed by a giant neuralyzer, à la “Men In Black.” We are in danger of forgetting what has happened and losing sight, in the fog of confusion and concealment, of the profundity of the menace taking shape right before us.

That is our challenge: To see clearly what this deceiver wants to obscure; to be resolute about that to which he wants us to be resigned; to understand that Time’s man of the year is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.

Well, they’ve also named Hitler and Osama bin Laden men of the year, so…  Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

This fall I sat down in Tulsa, Okla., with a black pastor whose unarmed son, Terence Crutcher, had been shot dead on the street by a white police officer.

The Rev. Joey Crutcher told me that Terence’s killing was just the latest loss his family had suffered. He had also lost a child to crib death years ago, and another to cancer. In addition, his grandson had been shot dead while driving home from church in a gang hit that was a case of mistaken identity.

Such heartbreak: Three children and a grandchild dead, each for a different reason. I’ve been thinking of the Crutchers because of the debate raging in the Democratic Party about its future. One faction argues that the left became too focused on “identity politics,” fighting for the rights of Muslims, gays, blacks and Latinos but neglecting themes of economic justice that would appeal to everyone, working-class whites in particular.

Mark Lilla of Columbia University helped spark the civil war with a provocative essay in The Times warning that “American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force.”

Speaking in Boston, Senator Bernie Sanders partly endorsed Lilla’s principle: “One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American C.E.O. of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.”

Lilla and Sanders have a legitimate point, and it’s clear in retrospect that the Democrats should have talked more about jobs and fairness for all. But Lilla and Sanders’s argument also collides with the basic truth that it’s not possible to have a serious conversation about justice, jobs and opportunity in America without talking frankly about race, gender and ethnicity.

Consider the Crutcher family: Each of the children’s deaths wasn’t exactly about race, yet each was linked to it. Young black men are disproportionately likely to be stopped by police officers, and shot dead by them. Crib death and cancer both are more lethal among African-Americans, because of disparities in incomes and health care. And crime in America disproportionately involves blacks, as both victims and arrested perpetrators.

So, sure, Democrats sometimes go overboard with identity and can do a far better job appealing to ALL who have been left behind — but identity still matters profoundly. The Crutchers have lost four young people, each in a way that statistically suggests a racial element.

How can we discuss a way forward without acknowledging that race is an issue here?

The blunt truth is that America’s most egregious failures have often involved identity, from slavery to anti-Catholic riots, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese-Americans, from unequal pay to acquiescence in domestic violence and sex trafficking. Ditto for the threats by President-Elect Donald Trump to deport 11 million immigrants or to register Muslims.

Yet Lilla and Sanders are right that identity sometimes has distracted from the distress in working-class white America. Life expectancy for blacks, Latinos and other groups has been increasing; for middle-aged whites, it has been dropping. Likewise, the race gap in education used to be greater than the “class gap”; now the class gap is greater.

It’s also true that broad efforts to create opportunity would help not only working-class whites, but also working-class blacks, Latinos and others.

I once asked Bryan Stevenson, the civil rights lawyer, how to think of the class gap versus the race gap, and he joked that for the many people caught in the criminal justice system who are both poor and black, “it’s like having two kinds of cancer at the same time.”

So do we really need to choose between identity and justice? Can’t we treat both cancers?

In moving beyond that dichotomy, maybe we can find some inspiration from Reverend Crutcher, who is truly something of a saint: He told me that he forgives the white officer who shot his son and prays for her.

“Every night, my wife and I cry because we see our son with his hands up,” he said. But he added, speaking of the officer who shot him: “She’s got people around her who are hurting, too. My heart goes out to her.”

Crutcher is modeling the broadest possible inclusiveness. Yes, there’s a tension between focusing on bigotry and highlighting jobs. Yes, Democrats should more clearly emphasize economic justice for all, including struggling whites. But I hope that Democrats won’t needlessly squabble over whether to prioritize identity or justice.

Like Reverend Crutcher, we can reach for both.

And last but not least we have Ms. Collins:

What do you think the theme for Donald Trump’s appointments has been so far? Generals, generals, generals? Climate change deniers, climate change deniers?

Those seem to be the leading contenders, although there’s always the ever-popular Give Chris Christie a job. While still cooling his heels as governor of New Jersey, Christie made history when a recent Quinnipiac poll showed him with a 77 percent job disapproval rating. None of his predecessors had managed such a feat. We knew he had it in him.

When I want to be cheered up, I always think about Christie, who’s currently lobbying for head of the Republican National Committee. (Next week, the Surface Transportation Board.)

On the downside, we had the heartbreaking saga of Al Gore, who happily emerged from a meeting with Trump this week, telling reporters about the “lengthy and very productive session” he’d had with the president-elect on climate change. It was, Gore added hopefully, a conversation that was likely “to be continued.”

Then Trump turned around and named Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. From Gore’s perspective, this would be like the judge in a divorce case naming the aggrieved husband as marriage counselor.

Pruitt is best pals with the oil and gas industry, and he knows the E.P.A. mainly as an entity to be sued. Under his watchful eye, his state has allowed so much natural gas fracking that Oklahoma now has way more earthquakes than sunrises.

Why do you think Trump went to so much trouble to set Gore up for heartbreak? The most likely answer is that he was only pretending to listen to what Gore was saying about climate change, while he waited for the chance to break in and talk about how tremendous, enormous, historic and stupendous his election victory was. This seems to happen a lot.

Also, it’s perfectly possible that by the time Trump sat down with Gore, he no longer remembered who he was appointing to the E.P.A. Perhaps he didn’t remember that Gore cared about the environment. The key to this man’s success, you understand, is failure to recall anything that happened before his most recent meal.

The selection of a Trump administration has been sort of mesmerizing in its own awful way. Ben Carson will be running Housing and Urban Development — Ben Carson, whose associate recently said he wouldn’t be taking any cabinet job because “he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”

And our new national security adviser is going to be Michael Flynn, a very creepy retired general whose son/former chief of staff has been promoting stupendously false stories about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in a child sex ring at a pizza restaurant.

Trump says he’s discussed his talent hunt with President Obama, who thinks “very highly” of some of the people on his list. Who do you think they are? Probably not the general with the son who tweets about Democratic child abuse. Maybe retired Gen. James Mattis, who Trump wants to make secretary of defense? Mattis is a pretty popular choice, possibly because his nickname is “Mad Dog.”

Do you think if Governor Christie had a nickname, it would help his chances? What about “Growling Gerbil”?

And then there’s secretary of state. Trump seems to be looking at nine million possibilities. By next week you may be in the mix. Think about it. You’re far better qualified than Rudy “Rabid Rabbit” Giuliani. And unlike David Petraeus, I’ll bet you are not currently serving out probation after pleading guilty to sharing highly classified government information with a lover.

Lately, it appears Trump has gone back into the field to drag in a whole new bunch of State contenders. My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

Rohrabacher is also a surfer and former folk singer who once claimed global warming might be connected to “dinosaur flatulence.” He’s told transition officials that if he gets the nod, he’ll make the terrifying John Bolton his deputy, so the nation can get a crazy warmonger plus a guy who knows how to play old Kingston Trio music.

Also in the running: Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil. Unlike Representative Rohrabacher, Tillerson seems to believe that human beings have had an impact on the climate; he just doesn’t care. (“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”)

Another name being bandied around is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who first ran for the Senate with a famous ad in which he shot a hole in federal environmental legislation.

Do you see a pattern here? Apparently the next secretary of state will be somebody who likes smog. Perhaps this is an opening for Chris Christie. New Jersey has had a lot of environmental problems. Maybe he could invite Trump to a football game for some bonding. They could talk foreign affairs, and then pollute something on the way home.

Blow and Krugman

December 5, 2016

In “Trump’s Agents of Idiocracy” Mr. Blow says resistance to Trump’s actions isn’t rooted in sour grapes; it’s about protecting the country.  Prof. Krugman, in “The Art of the Scam,” says we should prepare for government by bait and switch.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Last week when Donald Trump began his so-called Thank You Tour in Cincinnati, he had yet another opportunity to be magnanimous and conciliatory, to step beyond the division and acrimony of his campaign and into the unity and healing necessary to be president of a strained nation.

As is his wont, he declined, instead gloating and boasting, playing to the minority of American voters who chose him, relishing his own impenitence.

He is choosing to push America further apart rather than bring it closer together.

And be clear: It is not the job of the defiant to conform to a future president who makes them completely uncomfortable. The burden of unity lies with Trump, not his detractors.

“Just wait and see.” “Give him a chance.” But what if what you’ve already seen is so beyond the pale that it’s irrevocable? What if Trump has already squandered more chances than most of us will ever have?

What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn’t about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn’t about damaging the country, but protecting it.

There is no Electoral College clause that blunts ferocious opposition to the demeaning of women and racial, ethnic and religious minorities in this country; there is no Election Day reset on the coddling of white supremacy.

Furthermore, the emergence of Donald Trump as a political figure has threatened to kill many of the ideals that we hold dear: decency and decorum, inclusion and empathy, truth and facts themselves.

Trump and his agents of idiocracy are now engaged in an all-out crusade to exaggerate the scope of his victory, rewrite racial history, justify their vendettas and hostilities and erase the very distinction between true and false.

At a fiery exchange during a panel at Harvard, Hillary Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, rightly accused the Trump campaign of emboldening “white supremacists and white nationalists.”

The Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, barked back: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? You’re going to look me in the face and tell me that?”

“It did. Kellyanne, it did,” said Palmieri. Yes Kellyanne, that is exactly what you did and no amount of personal outrage about being called out on it is going to rewrite that history. Furthermore, everyone who sees you should say that to your face at every opportunity.

Resistance is not about some sort of clairvoyant condemnation of acts yet uncommitted, but rather about the resilience of memory, the rigidity of morality and the depth of wounds.

The truest measure of a leader is as much about how he or she attains power as how he or she wields it; while the latter is yet to be determined, the former has been revealed in devastating clarity.

A Pew Research Poll released last month found that “voters’ ‘grades’ for the way Trump conducted himself during the campaign are the lowest for any victorious candidate in 28 years.” The report continued: “For the first time in Pew Research Center postelection surveys, voters give the losing candidate higher grades than the winner.”

Furthermore, as Nate Silver responded to one of Conway’s tweets, “Trump will soon become the first president who failed to win a majority of the vote either in the general election or in his primary,” meaning the Republican primaries. He added: “That is to say, since 1972. Primaries weren’t widespread before that. 45/46% of the vote can go a long way under the right circumstances.”

And there are disturbing signs about how a Trump administration will conduct itself, from the early diplomatic blunders that signal a worrisome break in the continuity of protocol, to his team nursing vendettas and continuing to dangle the threat of jail in front of his opponents. Last week Conway appeared to waffle on whether Trump or a federal agency during his term might still pursue prosecution of Clinton; the Trump lackey Corey Lewandowski forthrightly said of the executive editor of The New York Times: “He should be in jail.”

And to add insult to injury, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes uttered this jaw-dropping line last week on The Diane Rehm Show:

“One thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch is that people that say facts are facts; they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way, it’s kind of like looking at ratings or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth or not true.” She continued: “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” Folks, Dimwit-ism is a disease easily spread and denigrators of the absolutism of truth are its vectors.

This is why resistance isn’t only principled, but essential and even existential.

We are not in an ordinary postelection period of national unity and rapprochement. We are facing the potential abrogation of fundamental American ideals. We stand at the precipice, staring into an abyss that grows darker by the day.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

December 1, 2016

In “Donald Trump’s ‘Monster’s Ball'” Mr. Blow says he assembles a team of billionaires and bigots.  Mr. Kristof suggests some “Gifts That Make a Difference,” and says we can give a present with more impact than a tie.  Ms. Collins says they should “Count Those Votes! Again!” and that nothing will change, but we’ll be reminded that Donald Trump is one of the least successful successful presidential candidates ever.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

If you’ve been in a funk over the results of this election: Buck up. It’s over. Dry the tears, push back against the malaise, burn away the fog and stiffen the spine.

There is work to do. Your country needs you, now more than ever. The loyal opposition needs your energy and your moral imagination.

You may be out of power, but you aren’t powerless. Righteousness is a self-propagating energy source. Indeed, there is most likely something to be gained in the midst of your loss. Sometimes, it is while wandering in the wilderness that purpose is perfected and voice is clarified. New champions will rise from these ashes, ones who may not now be apparent, and a new path forward will appear. Such is the way of the world; such is the precedent of history.

Donald Trump was elected on a wave of fake news, fake minority outreach and an 11th-hour email head fake by James Comey.

During the campaign, Trump lied with the ease of breathing and made promises he knew well that he could never keep. He positioned himself as a champion of the disaffected, all the while imagining himself a dictator.

Furthermore, Russia may in a way have won a new phase of the Cold War by dabbling in our hot mess of an election. And through it all, Trump nurtured an unhealthy bromance with Vladimir Putin.

Since winning the election, Trump has taken aim at some fundamentals of our constitutional democracy by not only attacking the media, but individual reporters, while also threatening to revoke American citizenship for the constitutionally protected act of flag burning.

Perhaps even more important and more ominous, he is assiduously assembling a team of advisers made up of billionaires and bigots, homophobes and Islamaphobes, climate change deniers and white supremacy believers.

Last month, David Axelrod called the budding cabinet assemblage a “Monster’s Ball,” and that may be too mild a phrasing.

During one of the debates, Trump boasted, while referring to Hillary Clinton: “I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in 10 lifetimes. All she’s done is talk to the African-Americans and to the Latinos.”

And yet Trump has named as his chief strategist Steve Bannon, who helped to rebrand Nazis with a new name, alt-right, which sounds more like a computer command than a batch of fanatical racists clinging desperately to poisoned ideas. Trump also named as his nominee for attorney general Jeff Sessions, a man once denied a federal judgeship over charges of racism, who fought for public school funding inequity in his home state of Alabama and who has been a stalwart foe of immigrants.

On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he was going to be a “real friend” of the L.G.B.T. community, and once even unfurled a rainbow flag — albeit upside down — with the words “L.G.B.T.s for Trump” scrawled on it. But the British gay news service Pink News claimed Tuesday that “every single Trump cabinet member so far opposes L.G.B.T. rights.” That was before further appointments were announced, but the point is well taken, as they methodically documented the individual appointees’ personal positions on equal rights.

On the campaign trail, the self-professed genital-grabber Trump said that he would be the “the best for women.” This week, Trump named anti-contraception, pro-fetal personhood Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he wanted to drain the swamp in Washington. But his cabinet choices suggest that his plan is simply to replace the murky water it contains and the smarmy ecosystem that it conceals with one more to his liking.

The same Trump who blasted Clinton for being “owned by Wall Street” assembled a cabinet that is a roster of the superwealthy, including at least two billionaires, and is considering other top-crusters including the miserable Mitt Romney, who is debasing himself by groveling for the secretary of state job before a man whom he once called a fraud. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog published a piece on Wednesday under this headline: “Trump said hedge funders were ‘getting away with murder.’ Now he wants one to help run the economy.”

Donald Trump is a fraud, and a dangerous one. This country is depending on morally principled patriots to never let that fact be shifted from center stage.

Trump rode to victory on a cloud of vapors and vapid promises, and now he is assembling a counsel of acolytes and opportunists. Now each of us must demonstrate our fortitude in vocal, steadfast resistance.

Trump must be made to know, in no uncertain terms, that he was elected president and not anointed emperor.

Not every battle can be won, but every battle must be waged. This is the proving ground. Are you prepared to stand your ground?

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Sure, you can buy your uncle a necktie that he won’t wear, or your niece an Amazon certificate that she’ll forget to use. Or you can help remove shrapnel from an injured child in Syria, or assist students at risk of genocide in South Sudan.

The major aid organizations have special catalogs this time of year: You can buy an alpaca for a family for $150 at Heifer International, help educate a girl for $75 at Save the Children or help extend a much-admired microsavings program for $25 at Care. But this year my annual holiday gift list is special. I’ve tied some items to the election of Donald Trump, and I’ve looked for organizations that you may not have heard of:

■ One battle over the coming four years will involve family planning, because of G.O.P. efforts to defund Title X family planning programs and repeal Obamacare, which provides free birth control. So consider a donation to one of the most effective counterforces: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, thenationalcampaign.org.

The campaign takes no position on abortion (except to note that family planning reduces abortions), and it has bipartisan leadership, so it is more likely to get a hearing in a G.O.P.-controlled Washington.

■ As Syria and Russia commit war crimes in Aleppo, heroic physicians from America and other countries are traveling secretly to rebel-held areas of Syria to treat the wounded in underground hospitals and call attention to the carnage. They work through the Syrian American Medical Society, SAMS, sams-usa.net, which supports more than 100 medical facilities in Syria.

■ Human rights and press freedoms seem likely to get much less attention from the next administration, which makes this a good time to support the Committee to Protect Journalists, cpj.org. The C.P.J. speaks up for imprisoned journalists worldwide and tries to end impunity for those who murder journalists (at least 40 journalists have been killed worldwide so far in 2016 for their work).

In the same vein, consider buying a gift subscription to a reliable news organization for yourself or a friend — as an investment in a robust civil society.

■ The recent hurricane in Haiti was devastating, and one of the most effective aid organizations in Haiti is Fonkoze, fonkoze.org, which has adopted a “graduation model” that has been particularly successful at combating global poverty.

Founded by a local Catholic priest, Fonkoze works with the most impoverished women in Haiti over 18 months to get them earning regular incomes through raising livestock or selling merchandise. It’s about teaching people how to fish, not handing out fish. I’ve seen it in action. It’s terrific.

■ Congo is home to probably the most lethal conflict since World War II, and it is sometimes called the rape capital of the world. One of the heroes there is Dr. Denis Mukwege, who founded the Panzi hospital to treat injured women and risks his life to stand up to warlords. He has survived an assassination attempt and some day will get the Nobel Peace Prize — but in the meantime, you can support his hospital at panzifoundation.org.

■ Criminal justice may suffer setbacks in the coming years, which makes this an excellent time to support groups like Equal Justice Initiative, EJI.org, founded by a legendary lawyer named Bryan Stevenson. If attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions has an opposite, it is Stevenson.

E.J.I. fights for indigent defendants and has won the release of inmates who were falsely arrested. It battles mass incarceration and is a voice for racial justice. And Stevenson’s memoir, “Just Mercy,” also makes a great gift.

■ I’ve reported on crimes against humanity unfolding in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, and now the United Nations is warning of the risk of full-blown genocide. In this impossible situation, a South Sudan-born American named Valentino Deng is running a high school, one of few still functioning. It needs support so students can get an education and build their country.

You may remember Valentino: He’s the “lost boy” at the center of Dave Eggers’s best-selling book “What Is the What.” What he has done since, in founding this school, is even more impressive.

It’s time to announce my annual win-a-trip contest, in which I choose a university student to accompany me on a reporting trip looking at global poverty and justice issues. I’m thinking about a 2017 trip to Liberia and Sierra Leone, or perhaps to Bangladesh. Information about how to apply is on my blog, nytimes.com/ontheground, and thanks in advance to the Center for Global Development in Washington for helping me pick a winner.

The win-a-trip journey is exhausting and may involve bed bugs, rats and the worst food you’ve ever eaten. But it is a chance to help shine a light on important and neglected topics, so if you know students perfect for the trip, encourage them to apply.

I’ll also make a pitch for Kiva, where for as little as $25 you can help someone start or expand a small business in some of the neediest places in the world.  I’ve been a Kiva lender for years.  Now here’s Ms. Collins:

Presidential recount underway. What’s your take on it?

— This is a plot to distract the country from the stupendous Election-Day fraud in which millions of dead people cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.

— Is it going to get rid of Donald Trump? If it isn’t, I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. Excuse me, I’m going back to bed.

Wow, happy holidays.

Yes, it’s true the postelection nation is still divided, this time between the folks who don’t want to believe Trump is going to be president and the ones who don’t want to hear that more people actually voted for Hillary.

But about the recount: The star of this show is Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president. On Wednesday Stein’s lawyers filed paperwork to force Michigan to recheck its vote tallies. She’s also getting a recount in Wisconsin and she’s working on Pennsylvania.

Since Stein got only 51,463 votes in Michigan to Trump’s 2,279,543, this would seem like an exercise in … um, futility? Deeply cynical minds think the real goal might just be to increase her donor database — her recount campaign has drawn more than $6 million. But Stein says she wants to demonstrate the need to reform the nation’s extremely messy voting system.

“It’s a healing and positive thing to examine the vote,” she said in a phone interview.

Hillary Clinton lost Michigan by 10,704 under the current count. Virtually no one — certainly not the Clinton lawyers — thinks she’s going to make that up in a recount. However, it’s definitely possible Clinton could have gotten 10,705 votes more if Stein had stayed off the ballot in the first place. “Jill Stein is the friend who ruins your wedding but really shows up for you during the divorce,” twittered comedian Morgan Murphy.

Stein claims most of her supporters wouldn’t have voted for anybody if the Green Party hadn’t been an option. But even if she did make a difference, she doesn’t care. “I don’t regard one candidate as preferable to the other,” she said.

We had heard something similar from Ralph Nader, whose presence on the ballot in 2000 probably cost Al Gore Florida, and the presidency. On many of Nader’s issues, Gore was not great. But the point of the American system of democracy is that in the end, you often have to take the responsibility for choosing the better of two unlovely options. And if Gore had been elected, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Case closed.

Knowing what we know now, do you think the best thing the Greens could have done to battle global warming would have been running around trying to get attention for Jill Stein, or working like maniacs to support Clinton and keep Donald Trump out of the White House?

“In my view they’re both lethal to the environment,” said Stein.

In my view, the Green Party screwed up, big time. We will think of it from now on as the Chartreuse Party.

The one positive effect of the recount, besides reassuring people who worry the Russians might be capable of hacking a massive American vote tally, is the way it reminds the nation, every day, that Donald Trump is one of the least successful successful presidential candidates in American history.

He lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than two million votes. Due to our extremely strange Electoral College system, five men have gotten elected president even though more people voted for their opponent. But no one in modern history has come anywhere near Trump’s ginormous negative accomplishment.

The only presidential victor since the Civil War who did worse was Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican who lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden in 1876 and won the electoral tally only after Republicans challenged the results in four states, all of which were finally decided by a Republican-dominated electoral commission on party-line votes. Everybody accused everybody else of fraud.

It was an election dominated by economic fear and racism. However, Hayes never claimed that “millions of people” in the contested states voted illegally, like another candidate we can think of. Perhaps Hayes decided winners don’t whine. Perhaps it was because there were not yet millions of voters.

It’s important for our mental health to accept that the current recount isn’t going to change the election results, although it’s theoretically conceivable that additional legal challenges could make it impossible for anybody to win the necessary 270 votes when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19. That would throw the decision over to the Republican-controlled Congress, and an obscure procedure that happened once before, when John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson.

I’m bringing that up just so I can note that John Quincy Adams is the only person besides Rutherford B. Hayes who won the presidency with a worse negative percentage of the popular vote than Donald Trump. Big loser! Sad!

O.K., done ranting. For today.

Blow and Collins

November 24, 2016

In “No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along” Mr. Blow says he doesn’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid.  Ms. Collins, in “Carving Donald Trump,” says pass the stuffing and wave the olive branch.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming.

After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery.

At one point he said:

“I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”

He ended the meeting by saying:

“I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushroomsin a marsh.

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.

I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

Amen, and thank you Mr. Blow.  Now here’s Ms. Collins:

On Thanksgiving, Americans sat down to dinner, looked at the big turkey and thought about Donald Trump.

O.K., that was totally the wrong attitude. We’re supposed to be having a reset. The president-elect has been going out of his way to build bridges. He came to The Times this week for a long conversation, during which he was extremely amiable. He blasted the alt-right twits who celebrated his victory with Nazi salutes. (“Of course I condemn. I disavow and condemn.”) He had nothing but praise for Barack Obama (“I really liked him a lot.”) He has no desire to see Hillary Clinton prosecuted. (“She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways.”)

Policywise, he was still the guy who’s not all that into position papers. In discussing climate change alone, Trump use the phrase “open mind” seven times. This is one thing you can count on. We haven’t had a mind so open in the White House since Warren Harding.

Trump certainly hasn’t been giving many hints about what he’s actually going to do. But the real, and very important, message from his outreach was to remind the nation that he’s not crazy.

Trump not crazy! The word spread throughout the land. The stock market soared. While it’s true that the country has generally expected a little more from an incoming president, this election year has always been the story of a very low bar.

Look at his appointments. In another year, people might question whether Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina would be the right choice for United Nations ambassador, since she has virtually no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs. However, given the fact that last week Haley appeared to be a finalist for secretary of state, the U.N. seems like an eminently sensible assignment. Plus, once again we are relieved it’s not Rudy Giuliani.

Ironically, Trump, who ran as the big-change guy, is spending his first days as president-elect trying to assure people the changes won’t be too large. The Mexican wall is going to be a mixture of wall and fences — think of it as the Great Wence. The war on illegal immigrants is going to be all about deporting criminals, which is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing for years.

The most astonishing moment in Trump’s visit to The Times came when the president-elect announced that waterboarding suspected terrorists was “not going to make the kind of a difference that maybe a lot of people think.” Those people would include all the folks who went to Trump rallies and cheered when the candidate said things like: “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. … It works.”

“If it’s so important to the American people, I would go for it,” said the man who spent much of the last year trying to make it important. But, he said, he’d talked to Gen. James Mattis — the odds-on bet for secretary of defense — and found that Mattis thought waterboarding was pretty useless and much less effective than trying to win over a prisoner with cigarettes and beer.

Now, you can look at this two ways. One is that we have a president-elect who never bothered to talk with any experts about one of his major campaign themes. The other is that he’s growing into the job.

Let’s take the second. Sure, we’ll probably be disappointed by Valentine’s Day, but it could get us through the holidays.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to set an example — to come up with an olive branch that doesn’t go overboard. Some little thing to smooth the edges before we start fighting about the Supreme Court and health care.

Over the past couple of years I have noted on several occasions that Donald Trump once sent me a letter saying I had the face of a dog. This was when he took exception to my description of him as a “thousandaire.”

I’ve decided I will refrain from mentioning the incident again until he does something really, really terrible as president. In the name of accuracy, however, I have to correct the record. I dug out Trump’s missive the other day and discovered he did not actually say I looked like a dog. He said I was “a dog and a liar” with the face of a pig.

Hard to believe I got that wrong. The moral is that you should always consult the primary source.

So off we go. Fiscal conservatives are terrified that Trump will spend a ton of money on construction projects and refuse to cut entitlements. Murmurs of the dread term “Rockefeller Republican” are probably wafting at Paul Ryan’s holiday table. Perhaps liberals can take comfort in the fact that the other side is just as freaked out as they are.

Next year at this time, we’ll be watching President Trump pardon the Thanksgiving turkeys. Unless he reverts and winds up ordering the turkeys tortured.

I wonder if he can get his hands on that machine that was behind Sarah Palin a few years ago…

Blow and Krugman

November 21, 2016

In “Trump: Making America White Again” Mr. Blow says the president-elect aims for a country by and for white men.  Prof. Krugman, in “Build He Won’t,” tells us not to fall for the Trump infrastructure scam.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

This may well be the beginning of the end: the early moments of a historical pivot point, when the slide of the republic into something untoward and unrecognizable still feels like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions, rather than the forward edge of an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure.

So many of President-elect Donald Trump’s decisions herald a tomorrow that is bleak for anyone who held hope that he could be a different, better man than the one who campaigned (I was not among that cohort), or those who simply assumed that the gravity of the office he is to assume would ground him.

Hard-line Trumpism isn’t softening; it’s being cemented.

Increasingly, as he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by “Make America Great Again,” he actually meant some version of “Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.” It would be hard to send a clearer message to women and minorities that this administration will be hostile to their interests than the cabinet he is assembling.

He has promoted Stephen Bannon, an alt-right, white nationalist cheerleader and sympathizer, to chief White House strategist.

Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the Bannon announcement with a blistering statement:

“The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable. In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”

But of course, Trump had no intention of rescinding the appointment. Indeed, he had more controversial appointments to come.

He has chosen the extreme anti-Islam hyperbolist Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who also happens to be a stop-and-frisk apologist and has tweeted that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” — as his national security adviser.

As The New York Times reported Thursday:

“General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States. (It is not.) His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.’”

In October, Flynn tweeted:

“Follow Mike @Cernovich He has a terrific book, Gorilla Mindset. Well worth the read. @realDonaldTrump will win on 8 NOV!!!”

The New Yorker dubbed Mike Cernovich “the meme mastermind of the alt-right” in a lengthy profile.

The magazine pointed out:

“On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.”

Then there was the choice of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. In 1986 Sessions famously became only the second nominee in 48 years to be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee, due to racist comments and behavior.

When confronted by the committee about remarks he was accused of making about the N.A.A.C.P. and the A.C.L.U., Sessions responded:

“I’m often loose with my tongue. I may have said something about the N.A.A.C.P. being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it.”

But not all of Sessions’s issues regarding minorities have a 30-year vintage.

In response to the attorney general announcement, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement that read in part:

“But we cannot support his nomination to be the country’s next attorney general. Senator Sessions not only has been a leading opponent of sensible, comprehensive immigration reform, he has associated with anti-immigrant groups we consider to be deeply racist, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Security Policy.”

Indeed, FAIR was quick to congratulate Sessions on his nomination Friday, saying in a statement: “It’s hard to imagine a better pick for the attorney general position than Senator Jeff Sessions”; the group called on Sessions to rid the country of sanctuary cities.

The S.P.L.C. has written about FAIR, saying:

“FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.”

Trump is making a statement that it would behoove America to heed: The America he envisions, and is now actively constructing from his perch of power, is not an inclusive America. It is a society driven by a racial Orwellianism that seeks to defend, elevate and enshrine the primacy of white men and is hostile to all “others.”

That orange glow emanating from the man is the sun setting on America’s progress, however slow and halting, on race and gender inclusion and equity.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”

So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.

But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams — someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university.” Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise.

And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.

To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit. The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing.

But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning. For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 billion while putting up $200 million in equity — but it would get a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

There are three questions you should immediately ask.

First, why do it this way? Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the Interstate Highway System? It’s not as if the feds are having trouble borrowing. And while involving private investors may create less upfront government debt than a more straightforward scheme, the eventual burden on taxpayers will be every bit as high if not higher.

Second, how is this scheme supposed to deal with infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centers? Our top priorities should include things like repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream? Maybe the government can promise to pay fees in perpetuity, in effect “renting” the repaired levee or waterworks — but that makes it even clearer that we’re basically engaged in a gratuitous handout to select investors.

Third, what reason do we have to believe that this scheme will generate new investment, as opposed to repackaging things that would have happened anyway? For example, many cities will have to replace their water systems in the years ahead, one way or another; if that replacement takes place under the Trump scheme rather than through ordinary government investment, we haven’t built additional infrastructure, we’ve just privatized what would have been public assets — and the people acquiring those assets will have paid just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.

Now, the Trump people could make all my suspicions look foolish by scrapping the private-investor, tax credits aspect of their proposal and offering a straightforward program of public investment. And if they were to do that, progressives should indeed work with them on that issue.

But it’s not going to happen. Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration — in fact, Mr. Trump is already meeting with foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead.