Archive for the ‘Collins’ Category

Collins, solo

January 7, 2017

In “Arms and the Trump” Ms. Collins says it’s another day, with another terrible shooting.  Here she is:

When a man at a Florida airport retrieves his luggage, takes out a gun and kills five people, the only part people are surprised about is that it happened at an airport.

In the grand sweep of American gunfire in the 21st century, all we can say about Friday’s Fort Lauderdale tragedy was that it’s the worst mass shooting so far in 2017. But there have already been six incidents with more than three dead or wounded victims. On Wednesday, three family members in Fontana, Calif., were killed in their home and another critically wounded. A 73-year-old relative was charged. Never even entered the national conversation.

But the Fort Lauderdale case was personal — almost everybody travels through airports. “You just can’t imagine how this could ever happen in a state like ours,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott at a press conference. A few minutes later he did remember to refer to the fact that last year 49 people were shot to death in a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Officials were still unsorting the history of the suspect, identified as Esteban Santiago, and trying to determine whether he was inspired, even in a totally deranged way, by ISIS. Whenever these tragedies happen, the nation holds its breath until there’s an assurance that it did not involve terrorism. If we get the word, there’s a sigh of relief and we go back to living in a country where a random guy will suddenly open fire in a mall or theater or school just because he’s nuts and has a gun.

In theory, when a horrific tragedy occurs, the nation is supposed to join hands and come together. It’s hard to do that in mass shooting cases because America is a land divided between gun places and non-gun places. The immediate reaction of many folks from gun places to the Fort Lauderdale shooting was that — aha! — Florida is one of the few states where it’s illegal to carry a gun anywhere in an airline terminal.

Meanwhile, many people in non-gun places wondered why airline passengers were allowed to have firearms in their luggage.

It’s hard to have a rational gun conversation in a country with such a cultural chasm. It’s the job of our national officials to bridge the gap. And it ought to be possible, since there are some important issues on which almost everybody agrees. One is that gun purchases should be run through background checks to make sure the buyer doesn’t have a record of lawbreaking or serious mental problems.

We will be arguing for a while about whether background checks could have stopped the Florida airport shooting. But either way, sensible regulation of gun sales will still be sensible regulation of gun sales.

This is the moment where I tell you that our president-elect does not believe in sensible regulation of gun sales.

Donald Trump’s position on gun laws has gone through a rather familiar evolution. Back in the day he was a sort of indifferent moderate. Then came the campaign and a love affair with the National Rifle Association, which dumped about $30 million into the effort to get Trump elected president.

Soon, he was fantasizing about packing heat during the Paris terrorist shootings. (“I can tell you that if I had been in the Bataclan or in the cafes, I would have opened fire. I may have been killed, but I would have drawn.”)

He appeared, during one rally, to suggest that if Hillary Clinton was elected president, gun lovers might want to take her out. (“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”)

And he has consistently endorsed the theory that if more people were carrying around guns, the nation would be a much safer place. Donald Trump Jr., a chairman of his dad’s new Second Amendment Coalition, declared, “My father defends the Second Amendment so that you and I and your spouse and your children can take care of themselves when someone much stronger, much meaner, and much more vicious than them tries to break into their home.”

In the real world, the chances that having a weapon in the house will translate into protecting the family from a vicious housebreaker are infinitesimal, and far, far smaller than the chances that someone in the family will wind up shot by the very same weapon.

But about the background checks: The N.R.A. lobbyists hate them. And Trump has promised that as soon as he’s sworn in, he’ll “unsign” Barack Obama’s executive order closing a big loophole involving online sales and gun shows.

Trump could make a really good start this month by just — not doing anything divisive. Give the country a hint that the guy who terrified so many Americans during the campaign will be more measured in office. Leave the background checks alone. We’ve been through a lot.

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.

 

Friedman and Collins

December 29, 2016

In “Bibi Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump” The Moustache of Wisdom says a true friend of Israel wouldn’t enable Netanyahu.  Ms. Collins has her annual “Year’s End Quiz” in which she says let’s take a look back on 2016 and see how much of the silliness you remember.  Here’s TMOW:

For those of you confused over the latest fight between President Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, let me make it simple: Barack Obama and John Kerry admire and want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel. I have covered this issue my entire adult life and have never met two U.S. leaders more committed to Israel as a Jewish democracy.

But they are convinced — rightly — that Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.

That is what precipitated this fight over Obama’s decision not to block a U.N. resolution last week criticizing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The settlers’ goal is very clear, as Kerry put it on Wednesday: to strategically place settlements “in locations that make two states impossible,” so that Israel will eventually annex all of the West Bank. Netanyahu knows this will bring huge problems, but his heart is with the settlers, and his passion is with holding power — at any cost. So in any crunch, he sides with the settlers, and they keep pushing.

Obama ordered the U.S. to abstain on the U.N. resolution condemning the settlements (three months after Obama forged a 10-year, $38 billion military aid package for Israel — the largest for any U.S. ally ever) in hopes of sparking a debate inside Israel and to prevent it from closing off any chance of a two-state solution.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.

Israel is clearly now on a path toward absorbing the West Bank’s 2.8 million Palestinians. There are already 1.7 million Arabs living in Israel, so putting these two Arab populations together would constitute a significant minority with a higher birthrate than that of Israeli Jews — who number 6.3 million — posing a demographic and democratic challenge.

I greatly sympathize with Israel’s security problems. If I were Israel, I would not relinquish control of the West Bank borders — for now. The Arab world is far too unstable, and Hamas, which controls another 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, would likely take over the West Bank.

My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support, such as radical political and economic autonomy for Palestinians in the majority of the West Bank, free of settlements, while Israel still controls the borders and the settlements close to it.

Bibi never lays down a credible peace plan that truly puts the ball in the Palestinians’ court. And when someone like Obama exposes that — and Bibi comes under intense criticism from the liberal half of Israel, which sees the country getting more and more isolated and less and less democratic — Bibi just calls Obama an enemy of Israel and caves to the settlers. U.S. Jewish “leaders” then parrot whatever Bibi says. Sad.

More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump— who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme. His ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, has compared Jews who favor a two-state solution to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve never heard such a vile slur from one Jew to another.

Trump also has no idea how much he is being manipulated into helping Iran and ISIS. What is Iran’s top goal when it comes to Israel? That Israel never leaves the West Bank and that it implants Jewish settlers everywhere there.

That would keep Israel in permanent conflict with Palestinians and the Muslim world, as well as many Western democracies and their college campuses. It would draw all attention away from Iran’s own human rights abuses and enable Iran and ISIS to present themselves as the leading Muslim protectors of Jerusalem — and to present America’s Sunni Arab allies as lackeys of an extremist Israel. This would create all kinds of problems for these Arab regimes. A West Bank on fire would become a recruitment tool for ISIS and Iran.

One day Trump will wake up and discover that he was manipulated into becoming the co-father, with Netanyahu, of an Israel that is either no longer Jewish or no longer democratic. He will discover that he was Bibi’s chump.

What a true friend of Israel and foe of Iran would do today is just what Obama and Kerry tried — assure Israel long-term military superiority to the tune of $38 billion, but, unlike Trump, who is just passing Israel another bottle of wine, tell our dear ally that it’s driving drunk, needs to stop the settlements and apply that amazing Israeli imagination to preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Happy almost New Year! Wow, we’ve been through a lot. Let’s take a look back on 2016 and see how much of the silliness you remember. We’re not going to talk about Hillary. Too sad. But here’s an end-of-the-year quiz about:

1  REPUBLICANS WE ONCE KNEW

It’s been a long year for Chris Christie, but he made history when …

  • A) The National Governors Association voted him “Least Likely to Succeed.”

  • B) A Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey showed his job disapproval rating at 77 percent.

  • C) He did the tango on “Dancing With the Stars.”

2  Ted Cruz said that when his wife, Heidi, became first lady …

  • A) “She’ll put prayer back in the prayer breakfast.”

  • B) “Michelle Obama’s garden will become a croquet court.”

  • C) “French fries are coming back to the cafeteria.”

3  Marco Rubio’s ad about how “It’s Morning Again in America” made news because …

  • A) It was an excellent depiction of why he is truly a Reagan conservative.

  • B) It was filmed in a way that made Rubio appear to be more than six feet tall.

  • C) It opened with a shot of the Vancouver skyline.

4  In a debate, Ben Carson said that when a president vets potential Supreme Court nominees, he should consider …

  • A) “How they’d look in the group picture.”

  • B) “The fruit salad of their life.”

  • C) “Legal things.”

5  THE CABINET OF TOMORROW

This year Rick Perry, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of energy …

  • A) Lost the paso doble competition to Vanilla Ice on “Dancing With the Stars.”

  • B) Came up with some new ideas for combating global warming.

  • C) Said his earlier reference to Trump’s campaign as “a barking carnival act” was simply “one of my ‘oops’ moments.”

6  Retired Gen. Jim Mattis, Trump’s selection for secretary of defense, is nicknamed …

  • A) Mad Dog.

  • B) Cranky Corgi.

  • C) Sullen Setter.

7  Linda McMahon, Trump’s pick to head the Small Business Administration, has known the president-elect a long time. McMahon’s husband. Vince, once paired with Trump in a …

  • A) Professional wrestling production in which Trump shaved off McMahon’s hair.

  • B) Build-the-Wall golf match in which they tried to see who could hit the most balls into Mexico.

  • C) Public service announcement warning young men about steroid abuse.

8  Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, is a fast-food franchise baron who once said …

  • A) “Vegetables are much more dangerous than people realize.”

  • B) “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

  • C) “Everybody has a minimum wage. Mine just happens to be $1 million a year.”

9  TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP

Trump won the Electoral College by one of the lowest margins in American history, and got nearly three million votes fewer than Hillary Clinton. Afterward, he referred to his victory as …

  • A) “God’s will.”

  • B) “A gift from the founding fathers.”

  • C) “A landslide.”

10  In a TV interview, Trump said that when he looks in the mirror he sees …

  • A) “Orange skin.”

  • B) “Fantastic hair.”

  • C) “A person that is 35 years old.”

11  Trump said he didn’t need a daily intelligence briefing because …

  • A) “I’m, like, a smart person.”

  • B) “The C.I.A. is out to get me.”

  • C) “Putin’s people give me plenty of information.”

12  Trump’s doctor, who wrote the famous letter declaring Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” gave an interview in which he said it had never occurred to him that Trump, at 70, would be the oldest president-elect. But he added …

  • A) “70 is the new 41.”

  • B) “If something happens to him, then it happens to him. … That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”

  • C) “Bronzer keeps you young.”

13  AND IN OTHER NEWS …

In a Seattle suburb, Dane Gallion was so unnerved by stories of mass shootings that he armed himself before going to see the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” Watching the film with a handgun tucked into his waistband, Gallion …

  • A) Became a hero when a disturbed man waving a rifle walked into the auditorium.

  • B) Became a hero when he stopped an armed robbery at the snack bar.

  • C) Accidentally shot the woman sitting in front of him.

I’ve got to admit that I had forgotten how utterly and irredeemably stupid some of this crap was…

 

Here’s the answer key:

 

 

1B, 2C, 3C, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8B, 9C, 10C, 11A, 12B, 13C

Collins, solo

December 22, 2016

In “The Senate Bathroom Angle” Ms. Collins says we are sorely in need of some cheerful news out of Washington, so she tells us Barbara Mikulski’s story.  Here she is:

We are sorely in need of some cheerful news out of Washington, so I’m going to tell you Barbara Mikulski’s story about the Senate bathrooms.

Almost every veteran woman legislator, in every level of government, has a story about the shortage of bathroom facilities at work. Really, there needs to be a book on this. It could have a happy ending, and none of the chapters would involve Russian attempts to manipulate an election.

Mikulski, 80, has served in Congress longer than any other woman in history. She’s retiring this month after representing Maryland for 30 years in the Senate. Before that she spent 10 years in the House. She was a social worker who got into Democratic politics during a battle to stop a planned highway that was threatening the ethnic Baltimore neighborhoods she loved. It was an unusual career route at the time, but she was an unusual person. “One of the things they said was that I didn’t look the part,” Mikulski, who is 4-foot-11, recalled. “… You know, chunky and I have a definite blue-collar style, so I wasn’t to the manner born, to the trust fund inherited.”

The classic way for a woman to win a seat in the Senate was to follow a famous male relative. Many of her predecessors were widows who succeeded their husbands. Nancy Kassebaum, the only other woman in the Senate when Mikulski arrived, was the daughter of the Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon.

When the Senate was in session and Kassebaum needed to use the bathroom, she had to stand in line at the women’s room used by the tourists.

Mikulski immediately eyed a lounge that was set aside for the senators’ wives. It was, she recalled in an interview, a memento of the days “when women would come over dressed in hats and gloves and sit adoringly listening to their husbands.”

Once she explained her plight, the wives invited Mikulski and Kassebaum to use their lounge, which became their refuge until 1992. That was when four new women were elected to the Senate, making a grand total of six. The media announced “the Year of the Women.” It was a title Mikulski took with, um, a grain of salt: “Wow, we get our own year … like the Year of the Caribou, the Year of the Mushroom, the Year of the Asparagus.”

They also got their own very modest two-stall bathroom. By 2013 there were 20 women in the Senate and waiting lines in the loo. Mikulski recalled that the Rules Committee, which controlled such matters, wanted to create an elegant place with a chandelier and little sinks with slim legs. “We wanted low cost. We didn’t want anything fancy or expensive, but we wanted maximum functionality — the way women use a bathroom and not the way men think women use a bathroom,” she recounted.

In the end, functionality won. The new bathroom had two more stalls, an extra sink and shelves in which each senator had her own basket to store combs, brushes, makeup, whatever. “And so when I leave they’ll retire my basket. … It’s kind of like retiring your jersey,” Mikulski said, rather proudly.

In Washington, Mikulski has always exhibited a highly unusual combination of feistiness and bipartisanship. Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, recalled that when she first arrived, Mikulski immediately reached out.

“She didn’t know me from Adam — or perhaps I should say from Eve,” Collins said in a recent tribute on the Senate floor. “Yet, despite the difference in our seniority, our states and our parties, she took me under her wing. … I was so grateful for her kindness and her wisdom. … She taught me the ropes of the appropriations process and instituted regular bipartisan dinners for the women of the Senate.”

Those dinners have become famous — especially since the male side of the chamber has become more and more viciously partisan. In the beginning, they were held in a Senate room named after the late Strom Thurmond, an infamous pincher of ladies’ bottoms.

“I know, the irony,” Olympia Snowe, the former senator from Maine, once told me.

Next session, women will compose 19.5 percent of Congress. “We went from 104 to 104 — down one in the House, up one in the Senate,” reported Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. Obviously we could do better, but on the plus side, we’re just a sliver away from passing Equatorial Guinea when it comes to gender diversity in the nation’s legislature.

Recently Mikulski and Collins invited their female colleagues for coffee, to welcome the latest generation of newcomers. It was a final gesture of outreach as Mikulski moved on into Senate history.

She deserves some kind of permanent memorial. Maybe they could put a plaque in that bathroom. Or better yet, they could rename the Strom Thurmond Room in her honor.

Cohen and Collins

December 17, 2016

In “Pax Americana Is Over” Mr. Cohen says the United States will be agnostic on human rights, freedom and democracy.  Ms. Collins, in “Trump and Putin, in the Barn,” says the nuns were right about Russia after all.  Here’s Mr. Cohen:

The thing about “The Apprentice” is you could turn it off. Now we get to watch Donald Trump all the time. There’s nowhere to hide. I was in Papua New Guinea recently. His name kept coming up.

The appointments cascade at reality-show speed. Rick Perry to head the Energy Department whose name he couldn’t remember when he wanted to dismantle it! Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency he’s spent the last several years suing! A fierce critic of worker protections to be secretary of labor! An oil executive, Rex Tillerson, whose company owns drilling rights on 63.7 million acres in Russia to handle dealings with Vladimir Putin when Moscow just infiltrated the American election process!

Next up: Kim Jong-un as press secretary, Cruella de Vil to head the Humane Society, and Mata Hari to lead the Cybersecurity National Action Plan.

All this is further evidence of Trump’s genius. He is master of the Art of Disorientation. He’s turned Americans into cartoon characters whose heads are always spinning. How the president-elect must laugh at all the fact-based journalism (ghastly tautological phrase) dedicated to disproving things he never believed and can’t remember anyway.

The disoriented are more inclined to seek saviors. Trump knows that. He’s been right up to now. Before anyone else, he was onto the way that direct democracy through social media has buried representative democracy.

One minute it’s “millions” of illegal votes for Hillary Clinton; then dangling little Mitt Romney; then being too smart for intelligence briefings. Let’s face it, folks. We have no idea what is about to happen in the White House or at White House North in Midtown Manhattan. We are in whatever territory lies beyond unknown unknowns.

But some things may be emerging from the fog. Trump is not interested in the rules-based international order the United States has spent the last seven decades building and defending. His foreign policy will be transactional. If it profits America, fine. If not, forget about it. Trump’s United States will be agnostic on human rights, freedom and democracy. America, suspending moral judgment, will behave a lot more like China on the world stage.

Except that’s a little unfair to China. The Chinese do understand the benefits of free trade (and they certainly understand that when Trump rips up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a strategic plan to offset Chinese power couched in an economic arrangement, Beijing grows stronger). Because they often can’t breathe, the Chinese also understand, in a way Trump does not, the importance of fighting climate change.

As an exercise, I’ve been trying to imagine Trump saying something — anything — about the heinous destruction of Aleppo by the forces of Putin and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. I’ve been trying to imagine what Trump might say about the brutal crimes against Syrian civilians in the beleaguered eastern sector of that once glorious city. I came up blank.

He did say it was “sad.” He said he’d ask Persian Gulf nations to put up money for “safe zones.” Good luck with that as the war nears its sixth year.

I guess that’s one advantage of the amorality in which Trump traffics: You may as well refrain from any moral stand because nobody will believe you anyway. (To be fair, Syria is a huge stain on the Obama presidency.) It would be obscene for Trump to speak of principles. That is a problem.

America is an idea. Strip freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law from what the United States represents to the world and America itself is gutted. Of course, realpolitik driven by interests is integral to American foreign policy, but a valueless approach of the kind Trump proposes leaves the world rudderless.

Pax Americana is over. It had a good run. A Putin-Trump alliance at the service of the butcher Assad — combined with the undoing of the military alliances, trade pacts, political integration and legal framework of the postwar order — constitutes its death knell.

Maybe everything will work out fine with a nuclear South Korea, a nuclear Japan, Baltic States exposed to the whims of Putin, the United States Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a flimsy NATO abjured by America, and swaggering Texan oil men running things while Trump takes time off in New York.

I doubt it. The embassy move alone could ignite widespread violence. David Friedman, the man Trump has nominated as ambassador to Israel, seems certain to stoke the fires.

Trump’s plans are full of contradictions he hasn’t begun to address. He’s against the Iran nuclear deal although of course he’s never read it. But Putin is for it. T

rump wants to eliminate the Islamic State. So does Russia, whose ally in Syria is Iran. Trump wants an America-first, business-driven policy. Boeing just signed a big deal with Iran. So maybe Trump ends up doing the only sane thing: preserving a nuclear deal that’s in everyone’s interest.

Who knows? Markets think they do. They love Trump. That’s because Trump believes big guys should take everything and little guys should take nothing.

But wasn’t it the little guys who voted for Trump? That’s funny, really it is. Or as he would put it, “Sad.”

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

I was raised in an era when we spent a lot of time worrying about Russia. That was because of Communism, which was such an obsession in my Catholic school that the countries on the map were colored red (Communist controlled), pink (leaning Communist) or green (safe – for now). Only the United States and Ireland were green.

For those of us who spent our childhoods getting drilled on how to be prepared to die for our faith in the event of a Communist takeover, it was a relief when the Soviet Union broke up and nobody felt obliged to worry about Moscow any more.

But now things are getting scary. Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, bombed the hell out of Aleppo, tried to interfere with our election. He’s just the kind of person Sister Mary Ingrid warned us about. But Donald Trump adores him. You can’t get into the Trump cabinet unless you think Putin is a great guy.

The bromance seems to have started in 2013, when Trump was preparing to go to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant. He wondered — via a tweet, naturally — whether Putin would be going there, too: “If so, will he become my new best friend?”

Sometime later, at a conservative conference, Trump described how “great” the Russians had treated him: “Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present with a beautiful note.” What do you think it was? A gun? Putin had given the president of Egypt an AK-47. But the owner of a beauty pageant would probably get some nesting dolls, or a nice selection of teas.

No suggestion of an actual meeting. Then when speaking at the National Press Club in May of 2014, Trump said that when he was in Moscow he “spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.” What do you think “indirectly and directly” means? Sign language?

The bond was blossoming, at least in Trump’s mind. When the presidential campaign got underway, he began to brag that he and Putin had spent quality time together when they were on the same news program. “I think the biggest thing we have is that we were on ‘60 Minutes’ together and we had fantastic ratings,” Trump said. “So that was good, right? So we were stablemates.”

Innocent listeners probably presumed they met in the green room before the show. However, Trump was interviewed for the show in New York. Putin was filmed in Moscow, talking with Charlie Rose about foreign affairs. They were in different parts of the world.

Also, what about “stablemates”? Are you envisioning Trump and Putin in their stalls, kicking around some hay and whinnying affectionately? That came up again in a primary debate, when Trump claimed that he got to know Putin “very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”

The ratings, by the way, were not “fantastic.” But we’re sort of used to that by now. We know that if our president-elect plays golf, losing 10 balls and failing to finish the game, he will tell reporters that he did fantastic, and that the caddies said he played better than Tiger Woods. But the idea that he would create a friendship saga with a world leader he’d never met is … weird. Particularly since the world leader is a thug who wants to become a male, shirtless version of Catherine the Great.

Putin, when he heard about the political valentines being sent in his direction, called Trump “very colorful, talented.” But he did not drop any hints about quality time in the barn together.

Then something … evolved. At a rally in February, Trump told the crowd that he had “no relationship” with Putin “other than he called me a genius.” We will not waste any time on the fact that Putin did not call Trump a genius.

The real turnaround came during the week of the Democratic convention, when WikiLeaks revealed the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. At a news conference, Trump said he hoped Russia would hack the Democrats more. This was perhaps a joke. Hahahaha.

But at the very same news conference — the last one Trump has ever had, by the way — he told reporters he had “never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius.”

Their first verifiable conversation occurred when Putin called Trump to congratulate him on winning the election. We now know that Russia had been running a hacking effort that seemed intended, at least in part, to help Trump get elected. Wow, do you think it was a plot all along, people? Some kind of Manchurian Candidate thing?

Would be hard to have a plot with a guy you never met. Except for that time in the stable …

Collins, solo

December 15, 2016

In “For Mitt Romney, Dinner and a Kiss-Off” Ms. Collins says at least Donald Trump didn’t make him ride home on the roof.  Here she is:

Farewell, Mitt Romney, farewell.

Romney, who once spent nearly a decade being rejected by the American electorate, got the heave-ho from Donald Trump this week — passed over for the secretary of state nomination in favor of an oil executive who is great pals with Vladimir Putin.

It is, of course, extremely fashionable in Trump’s Washington to be great pals with Vladimir Putin. Also to be a general or a climate change denier. Romney was always suspicious of Russia, never served in the military, and although he came up with multiple positions on the environment over the years, he would still have been one of the only Trump nominees to have sporadically held an opinion that the globe was warming.

It’s not like the list of appointees doesn’t have variety. Rick Perry once competed in “Dancing With the Stars.” Linda McMahon, the new head of the Small Business Administration, is probably the only one who’s performed in a professional wrestling competition. McMahon is among the highest-ranking female nominees.

At the very tiptop, so far, is Elaine Chao, Trump’s pick for secretary of transportation. We failed to elect a woman president, but if Chao is confirmed, there will at least be a woman 13th in the line of succession.

On Wednesday, Trump named Romney’s niece as head of the Republican National Committee. Do you think that was an attempt to make Mitt feel better — or worse? He had reasons to think he’d get more than a job for his brother’s daughter.

It’s true that during the campaign he had called Trump “a phony, a fraud,” and said some rather unflattering things about Trump University, Trump Magazine, Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks. But after the election, everything seemed fine and dandy. He was getting meetings with the president-elect, being dined (not wined; they’re both teetotalers) at a fancy Manhattan restaurant in front of half the national media.

Hard not to feel optimistic when the other apparent top finalists for State were David Petraeus, a man currently on probation for sharing military secrets with his mistress, and Rudy Giuliani, who had so come to resemble a bad-tempered Rottweiler that he did everything but howl at the moon.

After his big public dinner date with Trump, Romney burbled to reporters that they had a “discussion about affairs throughout the world, and these discussions I’ve had with him have been enlightening and interesting and engaging. I’ve enjoyed them very, very much.”

The man he’d denounced so vigorously during the campaign, he added, had “a message of inclusion and bringing people together, and his vision is something which obviously connected with the American people in a very powerful way.” If you had asked Romney at that moment what he thought about Trump University, he’d probably have announced plans to enroll.

But then, whammo. He was passed over for Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of Exxon Mobil, who seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Trump was reportedly moved by recommendations from Republican luminaries like former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice and Gates have a consulting firm that counts Tillerson’s company as a client, but that had nothing whatsoever to do with their miraculous, totally coincidental and spontaneous decisions to drop his name.

Roger Stone, a political consultant who frequently presents himself as a Friend of Trump, told a radio talk show host that the whole wooing of Mitt was just an effort to “torture” the former presidential candidate. Another theory is that Romney’s problem was a failure to apologize for those campaign insults.

It’s possible. Romney did once write a book called “No Apology.” However, given his track record, a better title might have been “No Apology Normally, Unless Something Else Happens.”

Should we feel sorry for him? He’d have been a more qualified pick than Tillerson. But really, Romney has been such a jerk during this election that it’s hard not to giggle.

He made a huge, dramatic profile in courage out of his refusal to support Trump, but he didn’t have the spine to say that he’d be voting for Hillary Clinton. Instead, Romney straddled that swamp masquerading as moral high ground where he rejected everybody, took no responsibility for anybody, and therefore was no help at all.

Then, when the man he denounced as a fraud got elected, Mitt was instantly in the employment line, grinning and blowing kisses. Suddenly we were reminded of all the years of political shape-shifting, when Romney’s opinions on everything from gun control to health care changed with every twitch of the polls.

And, of course, he’s the guy who once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car. The worst part was his excuse — not “too many kids in the back seat” but “my dog loves fresh air.” Somewhere, the spirit of Seamus is laughing.

Along with the rest of us.  But, Ms. Collins, you had no cause to libel Rottweilers that way.

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, 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…

Collins, solo

November 19, 2016

In “Oh, No! Donald Trump’s Calling” Ms. Collins says for an inside track on the new administration, ask a golfer.  Here she is:

Today, Donald Trump as diplomat. We’re not talking about the big stuff, like his ominous national security appointments — I know you’ve had a hard week. Let’s take it easy and just look at his phone calls with heads of state.

Most of them have been taking place in Trump Tower, although this weekend he decamped to Trump National, his resort in New Jersey. Excellent move! Trump National has two golf courses more than all of Manhattan, and as far as we know, there are no immediate neighbors trying to chisel the word “Trump” off their apartment buildings. Plus, if the president-elect gets bored, he can always arrange to have Chris Christie crawl over and keep him company.

It’s tough enough for New Yorkers to deal with the concept of a Trump administration without having it headquartered here. Traffic is jammed: Fifth Avenue businesses are blocked off and in shell shock. Never before has it been possible to feel such sympathy for the problems of Gucci and Tiffany.

In theory, this should end with the inauguration, but it’s hard to imagine the first family ever actually moving into the White House. Dad isn’t the kind of guy who would enjoy living in harmony with historic preservationists.

But about those head-of-state calls. Normally the State Department would work out a schedule, according to all sorts of diplomatic priorities, but Trump seems to just be picking up the phone. One of his first conversations was with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who got Trump’s number from golfer Greg Norman.

The British were stunned when Trump talked with the Irish prime minister before he spoke to any of the other European leaders. It’s not clear that he wanted to show favoritism. The Irish-first decision was allegedly at the request of Rudy Giuliani, and the way things have been going for Giuliani, it may have been the most significant thing he gets out of the transition.

Pop Quiz. When Donald Trump finally took a call from British Prime Minister Theresa May, he:

A) Asked her if she’d ever played at the Trump International Golf Links in Scotland.

B) Told her: “If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know.”

C) Asked her if she’d ever been to New Jersey.

D) Appeared to believe “crumpets” were a breed of small, fuzzy dogs.

The answer is B. Britain may have a special relationship with the United States, but so far Trump barely appears to understand we’ve been dating. The 10 minutes devoted to May was less than he spent accepting the good wishes of former “Celebrity Apprentice” winner Piers Morgan.

The bottom line is that there does not appear to be a plan. “There’s security issues about doing this while sitting in your gilt-encrusted living room with your socks up on the ottoman talking on your cellphone,” growled Norman Eisen, the former ambassador to the Czech Republic. And wouldn’t you feel better if you thought that Trump’s first talk with, say, the president of Turkey, had been preceded by a briefing?

Pop Quiz II. When Donald Trump spoke to the president of Turkey, he talked about:

A) Turkey’s rapid and disturbing slide from democracy to dictatorship.

B) The war on terror.

C) Trump Towers Istanbul.

D) Golf.

The answer was probably B, although you can bet Trump Towers Istanbul was in the back of his mind. “I have a little conflict of interest ’cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” Trump said during the campaign. “It’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one, not the usual one, it’s two.”

Two towers, got it. Trump actually made those comments during an interview with Stephen Bannon, who was then the awful head of a right-wing, misogynist, racist website, not the appointee to a powerful position in the incoming White House. This is why we’re talking about courtesy phone calls today, people. It’s the most cheerful thing we’ve got.

Trump has also had a lot of visitors, ranging from the owner of the New England Patriots to Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign in Britain. (Once again we are noting that the prime minister is coming in behind everybody. Really, if May ever does come to visit, she’ll probably have to see the White House with a tour group.)

Trump gave an hour to Bill de Blasio, the very liberal mayor of New York City, which was certainly gracious given the harsh words the two men have exchanged over the last year. De Blasio said he explained to Trump how fearful New Yorkers were of his ideas. The mayor also said the meeting went great. This is good news. Maybe Trump does have an untapped potential for diplomacy.

Tell it to the British. Meanwhile, I am sorry to report that de Blasio didn’t suggest Trump move to New Jersey.

You know, this shit would be funny if only…