Jeet Heer at The New Republic explores boundaries of our post-truth era in Trump’s Lies Destroy Logic As Well As Truth:
At the end of a wholly persuasive refutation of Trump’s claim about actually winning the popular vote, for instance, Glenn Kessler at TheWashington Post offered this meta-analysis: “Now that Trump is on the verge of becoming president, he needs to be more careful about making wild allegations with little basis in fact, especially if the claim emerged from a handful of tweets and conspiracy-minded websites. He will quickly find that such statements will undermine his authority on other matters.
This analysis assumes that Trump wants to govern like a normal president, so that if he’s caught in untruths, he’ll face a credibility gap like the one that plagued Lyndon Johnson. What it fails to entertain is the possibility that Trump’s lies aren’t just incidental to his approach to politics but essential to it, that the president-elect sees lying as the source of his authority rather than as something that undermines it.
To be able to constantly lie and get people to accept contrary statements is, after all, an assertion of power. And it’s a type of power Trump understands all too well.
What’s really wrong with Trump’s claim of widespread illegal voting fraud isn’t just that it is untrue but also that, when combined with his other comments, it shows Trump doesn’t care about rational logic at all.
David Dayen at The Nation writes—Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin—Profiteers of the Great Foreclosure Machine—Go to Washington:
Most in liberal circles and on Capitol Hill are buzzing about Steve Mnuchin, chosen as Treasury secretary. And that’s with good reason; he is in fact despicable, the “Forrest Gump of the financial crisis,” as Elizabeth Warren put it, ever-present for every assault on homeowners. People keep bringing up Mnuchin’s 17 years at Goldman Sachs, following in the footsteps of his dad, also a partner there. But that may be the least distressing part of his résumé, depending on what you thought of Suicide Squad.
I did a comprehensive profile of Mnuchin six months ago when Trump tapped him as national finance chair of his campaign. And the picture that emerges is that of a profiteer. In an unusual deal with the FDIC, Mnuchin led an investment team that bought the predatory lender IndyMac, saddled with tens of thousands of failing mortgages, for $1.65 billion. The FDIC had a standard deal for buyers of crisis-era banks; they would cover all losses above the first 20 percent on loan defaults. Mnuchin, who became CEO of the lender, treated this as a money-printing machine: his bank, renamed OneWest, could foreclose on homeowners, harvest fees for appraisals and inspections and late payments, and get protected by a federal backstop. The FDIC lost $13 billion on IndyMac; Mnuchin and company made $3 billion in profits, most of that coming directly from the FDIC in loss-sharing costs.
What that meant for homeowners was they were rubble to be plowed so Mnuchin could profit.
Jim Hightower at Alternet writes—The Kochs Are Going to Have a Huge Grip on the Oval Office:
When you think of America's great constitutional originators, names like Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton and Franklin come to mind. And, of course, Abbott.
This past January, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the multimillionaire protege of the Koch brother's Plutocratic Kingdom and American Legislative Exchange Council darling, revealed to a startled nation that he has penned not one but NINE new amendments to the Constitution of the USA. Forget the Bill of Rights, Abbott is proposing a Bill of Sale, effectively transferring the title of our national government from the People to the Plutocrats. The upshot of his "tweaks" would be outlawing government actions that restrain corporate abuse of workers and consumers, while also preventing future congresses from meeting crucial public needs such as health care, voter rights and restoration of our national infrastructure.
One could call Abbott and his Founding Father pretentious and ludicrous—which both are—but he's not the force behind this diabolical, ideological tampering with our Constitution and our people's ideals of fairness and justice. ALEC, at the direction of the Kochs and their corporate cohorts, wrote this Bill of Sale.
Convening an explosive convention, permitted under Article V of the Constitution, is a longtime dream of those elites seeking an American Kochistan, and ALEC is spearheading a hodgepodge of right-wing groups that—believe it or not—are alarmingly close to succeeding.
Susan J. Douglas at In These Times writes—The Woman Who Might Have Been President—It’s time to talk about sexism:
So now, here we are, at the end of a long campaign in which the Republican candidate has injected the body politic with massive new doses of racism, xenophobia, attacks on a free press, conspiracy theories, and a dark, soured vision about the state of the country—and, let’s not forget, misogyny. While the conventional wisdom held that authoritarianism, racial prejudice and ethnocentrism were the main drivers of Trump’s support, my colleague Nick Valentino at the University of Michigan and his collaborators found in forthcoming research that “hostile sexism” was “more powerful than authoritarianism” and “nearly as important as ethnocentrism” as a predictor of support for Trump. This was especially true for men, and “voter anger” multiplied the effects of sexism. The researchers concluded that “sexism is a powerful determinant of voter choice in 2016.”
Yes, Hillary was a flawed candidate. Her penchant for privacy—not surprising given what the Republicans and the national press have put her through since 1992—was her Achilles heel, leading to the use of a private email server that came to symbolize her alleged untrustworthiness. It also led her to be not adroit enough with the media. Hillary misread the country: the fury about the wages of neoliberalism—which, yes, she embodied—that was gripping people, young and old, on the Right and the Left. Thus, she didn’t have a galvanizing progressive message that, as the Sanders campaign demonstrated, millions were hungering for, even some white men feeling they’ve been left behind.
But can we please remember this: In 2015, Hillary Clinton was listed by Gallup, for a record 20th time, as the woman Americans admired most. So we must come to terms with this sad fact, as Penn State professor Terri Vescio put it, “The more female politicians are seen as striving for power, the less they’re trusted and the more moral outrage gets directed at them.” Not all Trump voters are misogynists, but sexism played a role in his victory, as evidenced, in part, by all the Trump regalia calling Hillary a “bitch.”
Carol Giacomo at The New York Times writes—Why Donald Trump Shouldn’t Fill the Cabinet With Generals:
Appointing too many generals would throw off the balance of a system that for good reason favors civilian leadership. The concern is not so much that military leaders might drag the country into more wars. It is that the Pentagon, with its nearly $600 billion budget, already exercises vast sway in national security policymaking and dwarfs the State Department in resources.
Mr. Trump will need a mix of voices in his cabinet advocating diplomatic, cultural, economic and other responses to national security challenges. He will also need people with expertise in Asia, not just the Middle East and Afghanistan, regions where most of his favorite generals made their mark.
The United States has long warned other countries about the dangers to democracy of overrelying on the military in place of civilian leaders. If Mr. Trump fills his cabinet with generals, what kind of message will he send to the rest of the world?
Kate Aronoff at The Guardian writes—The election recount is a distraction. Only a strong left can beat Trump:
It’s hard to imagine a happy ending to the recount of this year’s election results, spearheaded by Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Barring miracles in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the coming weeks, the challenge for the next four years remains the same: make Trump’s job impossible, and build a visionary alternative to both his autocracy and Clinton’s Third Way neoliberalism. Everything else is a distraction. [...]
As the economist Mark Blyth has pointed out, “Global Trumpism” has been under construction for the last 30 years via neoliberalism, a project owned as much by the right as by Clintonian Democrats. Whatever the results of the recount end up being, voters in the US just raised a 60-million-strong middle finger to business as usual.
The result is both the real potential for autocracy and a gaping power vacuum in the Democratic party. Stein’s brand of politics are questionable for a whole host of reasons, including the way she fetishizes her party’s own marginalization, and distance from power. Indeed, her politics might be the opposite of what’s needed in Trump’s America: for the left to step into power at every level.
To have any shot of capturing back power from Trump, the future of the Democratic party will need to be more progressive and populist than at any point in its history. It should be headed by women, young people and people of color, emergent from formations like the Movement for Black Lives and Occupy. The party needs to have a thirst for transformative wins – to dismantle white supremacy and shake power and wealth down from the top.
E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—Democrats, skip the civil war:
Trump’s narrow wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (unless they’re miraculously overturned in recounts), plus his larger victories in Ohio and Iowa, have the Democrats focused on the white working class — and on whether it’s time for “the end of identity liberalism,” the headline of a recent New York Times opinion piece by Mark Lilla, a Columbia University political philosopher.
Lilla’s New York Times essay provoked a polemical tempest. Many advocates for African Americans, gay men and lesbians, immigrants and women fear Lilla’s suggestion would lead liberals to abandon beleaguered constituencies at the very moment when they most need defending.
In fact, Lilla is right that liberalism needs to root its devotion to inclusion in larger principles and should not allow itself to be cast (or parodied) as simply about the summing up of group claims. He is also dead on when he writes: “If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded.” Democrats, who gave us the New Deal and empowered the labor movement, should be alarmed by the flight of the white working class.
But Lilla’s critics are right about something, too: An effort to reach out to the white working class cannot be seen as a strategy for abandoning people of color, Muslims or immigrants, or for stepping back from commitments to gender equality, or for withdrawing support for long-excluded groups. Liberalism’s very inclusiveness offers Democrats long-term advantages both in the Sun Belt and among younger voters who will own the future.
Thomas Frank at The Guardian writes—How the Democrats could win again, if they wanted:
This year the Republicans chose an honest-to-god scary candidate, a man who really ought to have been kept out of the White House, and the party’s centrists choked. Instead of winning, the pragmatists delivered Democrats to the worst situation they’ve been in for many decades, with control of no branch of the federal government and only a handful of state legislatures. Over the years, and at the behest of this faction, Democrats gave up what they stood for piece by piece and what they have to show for it now is nothing.
Another shibboleth that went down with the Hillary Titanic is the myth of the moderate swing voter, the sensible suburbanite who stands somewhere between the two parties and whose views determine all elections. These swing voters are usually supposed to be liberal on social issues and conservative on economic ones, and their existence gives a kind of pseudoscientific imprimatur to Democratic centrism.
For years people have pointed out that this tidy geometry doesn’t really make sense, and today it is undeniable: the real swing voters are the working people who over the years have switched their loyalty from the Democrats to Trump’s Republicans. Their views are pretty much the reverse of the standard model. On certain matters they are open to conservative blandishments; on economic issues, however, they are pretty far to the left. They don’t admire free trade or balanced budgets or entitlement reform – the signature issues of centrism – they hate those things. And if Democrats want to reach them, they will have to turn away from the so-called center and back to the economic left.
Peter Dreier at The American Prospect writes—Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary—Trump’s appointee is the very model of a predatory lender:
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”
Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul—and, since May, his campaign-finance chair—to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury.
Trump’s earlier rhetoric aside, it’s actually a good match. Both Trump and Mnuchin earned their first fortunes the old fashion way: They inherited them.
Mnuchin will be the third former Goldman Sachs executive to serve as Treasury secretary in recent years, following Robert Rubin the Clinton administration and Henry Paulson in the Bush administration. Mnuchin will be joined in Trump’s inner circle by another Goldman Sachs alum, Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News chief and Trump campaign chair whom Trump named as his chief strategist and senior counselor.
Chauncey DeVega at Salon writes—Bill O’Reilly’s Trumpian pivot: Now the Fox News host is an apologist for the president-elect’s ties to white supremacy:
Fox News has long served as a type of semi-official propaganda arm for the Republican Party and movement conservatives. Although Fox management was originally skeptical about Trump and would have preferred another candidate, it has become clear that the channel will continue that role during Trump’s administration. To that end, Bill O’Reilly will be one of Trump’s leading mouthpieces. O’Reilly, long one of Fox’s most popular commentators and hosts, will be tasked with normalizing and legitimating Trump’s rule and (quite literally) whitewashing his anti-democratic behavior.
O’Reilly performed this role perfectly in Monday’s edition of his show, when he defended Trump against accusations of fascism, racism and white supremacist ideology. [...]
As a skilled propagandist, Bill O’Reilly follows a script and formula for presenting a distorted “post-truth” reality to his audience. Like other Fox News personalities, he ignores or distorts facts, mines racial resentment to manipulate his older white viewers, persistently and repetitiously presents the same talking points over and over again, depicts conservatives (and Trump) as victims, and alludes to a “conspiracy” by “liberals” that is somehow working against real Americans like his viewers.
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