We begin today's roundup with Paul Krugman’s analysis of 2017:
Many of us came into 2017 expecting the worst. And in many ways, the worst is what we got.
Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it’s evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle — and every shred of their own dignity — as long as their donors get big tax cuts.
Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda.
Yet I’m ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion. The U.S. may yet become another Turkey or Hungary — a state that preserves the forms of democracy but has become an authoritarian regime in practice. But it won’t happen as easily or as quickly as many of us had feared.
At The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson also details the year of Trump:
Grit your teeth. Persevere. Just a few more days and this awful, rotten, no-good, ridiculous, rancorous, sordid, disgraceful year in the civic life of our nation will be over. Here’s hoping that we all — particularly special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — have a better 2018. [...] The year has been terribly depressing — but not paralyzing. Let’s end on a more positive note.
David Leonhardt engages in what should be a year-end exercise for every pundit:
There is a burgeoning tradition in which columnists devote a year-end column to the errors of our ways. The journalist Dave Weigel calls it “pundit accountability.” [...]
I’m a probability advocate. In previous jobs, I have helped create election scoreboards. Probabilities are more meaningful than safe “anything can happen” platitudes, vague “it’s likely” analyses or artificially confident guarantees.
But I’ve come to realize that I was wrong about a major aspect of probabilities.
They are inherently hard to grasp.
Former acting CIA director Michael Morell and former Republican congressman and chair of the Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers have penned an op-ed urging action on Russia’s attacks:
[T]he United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.
There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day.
Paul Waldman at The Week warns that Republicans will try to ram through a cruel agenda in case there’s a wave election on the horizon:
If even one house of Congress falls to the Democrats, the big, sweeping changes Republicans would like to see will be impossible; all that's left will be executive actions and tweaks to regulations, which are neither comprehensive nor lasting enough to be truly satisfying. So one way to deal with that reality is to go full steam ahead. If we might lose our majorities a year from now, this first theory goes, let's pass everything we've ever wanted to do while we still have the chance.
Most Americans thought 2017 would be the year this country finally smashed the glass ceiling. Few suspected we'd smash the Overton window instead.
Rebecca Ballhaus at The Wall Street Journal:
President Donald Trump, who is currently spending a 10-day Christmas vacation at the Florida luxury resort he owns, has visited one of his company’s properties on nearly one-third of the days he has been in office, according to a Wall Street Journal review of the president’s travel.
Of the more than 100 days Mr. Trump has visited one of his properties, he spent nearly 40 at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., which he visited for much of his two-week August vacation. And he spent 40 days at Mar-a-Lago, his luxury resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where he arrived Friday.
Jane Timm at NBC News:
From sweeping mischaracterizations of the Russia investigation to petty fibs about the size of his inauguration crowd, President Donald Trump told many tall tales to the American people this year.
At POLITICO, Emily Holden writes about Trump’s cabinet and the cabinet member’s secret tactics:
The Cabinet members carrying out President Donald Trump’s orders to shake up the federal government are doing so under an unusual layer of secrecy — often shielding their schedules from public view, keeping their travels under wraps and refusing to identify the people and groups they’re meeting.
A POLITICO review of the practices of 17 Cabinet heads found that at least seven routinely decline to release information on their planned schedules or travels — information that was more widely available during the Obama and George W. Bush administrations. Three other departments — Agriculture, Labor, Homeland Security and Education — provide the secretaries’ schedules only sporadically or with few details. The Treasury Department began releasing weekly schedules for Secretary Steven Mnuchin only in November.
And we’ll close on this note to put a smile on your face:
Former President Barack Obama is proving that he is more popular on Christmas Day on Twitter — the preferred domain of President Donald Trump — than the current president, simply by posting a Christmas photo of his family. Mr. Obama’s Twitter account published a photo displaying former First Lady Michelle Obama, her husband, Sasha Obama, and Malia Obama, along with five children dressed in red as little elves making curious faces on Twitter.