THE BIG IDEA by David Weigel:
On Sunday, CBS News experienced one of our new, national rites of passage – apologizing for a tweet. The network had clipped a moment from “Face the Nation” in which Maya MacGuineas, the leader of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, insisted that “President-elect Trump is going to be inheriting the worst fiscal situation of any president… other than President Truman.”
The scorn did not stop until CBS added in MacGuineas’s qualifier: Trump would face the worst scenario “as judged by the debt relative to the economy.” That this did not move the audience indicated just how little the public cared about debt.
A lot of pushback but it's true - Debt/GDP will be worst for any incoming president other than Truman. Trump's plan would make it much worse https://t.co/v1g6LCPDvU— Maya MacGuineas (@MayaMacGuineas) November 20, 2016
On no issue, really, is there a greater gulf between the Washington consensus and the priorities of people who vote. Donald Trump has strongly suggested that he’ll fight for a major infrastructure package, and his incoming political strategist Steve Bannon has told the Hollywood Reporter that voters want it.
“With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything,” Bannon said. “Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”
Bannon was describing something akin to Franklin Roosevelt’s “bold, persistent experimentation.” Nothing could be further from the rhetoric of Republicans in the Obama years – or from what Washington elites thought the country needed. In both the vice presidential debate and the final presidential debate, moderators spoke under furrowed brows about how the debt crunch was threatening Social Security and Medicare.
Neither candidate budged. That’s confounded Washington’s debt hawks, who just eight years ago were linking arms with Republicans against the Obama stimulus plan (a little bit less than $1 trillion), and just five years ago were part of a wonkish discussion about the threat of a $20 trillion national debt.
Now, as the Post’s Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell have found, there is no loud Republican opposition to the idea of an infrastructure stimulus. The issue has divided Democrats more than anything else in the election hangover, with Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer initially saying they could work with Trump if he was serious, and the party’s base foaming at the idea of “collaboration.”
It has left the deficit hawks as men without a country. “I don’t think our phones will be ringing off the hook,” joked former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, whose Simpson-Bowles Commission created an austerity plan praised and then ignored by Washington. “Deficit or debt, fiscal or monetary, the real issue is the budget guys aren’t dealing with two-thirds of the budget – the entitlements.”
Both Hillary Clinton and Trump defended Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist, with Clinton saying they could be expanded and Trump saying they could be saved with wild, raging, America-great-again economic growth.
Trump’s apparent fealty to that view has proved depressing to deficit hawks. In 2013, Nick Troiano was part of The Can Kicks Back, a millennial-focused project to get young people excited about entitlement reform. Today, at the Centrist Project, he’s looking on in dismay.
“What’s playing out right now demonstrates that there is no party of fiscal responsibility; both parties only talk about it when they find it’s politically convenient,” he said. “Investments in infrastructure can certainly help grow our economy, but Washington would be throwing the next generation under the bus on a new highway if they simply run up our already unsustainable amount of debt. Dubious math won't pay for it; future taxpayers will. The politicians in Washington who Trump ran against as being ‘all talk, no action’ will only prove him right if those who spoke out against rising debt under President Obama give our new president a free pass.”
Third Way’s Jim Kessler, who will be part of a CRFB panel on Social Security reform next month, said that infrastructure spending and the attendant possibility of economic growth would put any reformer in a better position. But he found the lack of Republican spending protests to be revealing.
“Let’s end once and for all the notion that fiscal responsibility is a first principle among Republican officeholders,” said Kessler. “The concern about the deficit is purely episodic and is about who occupies the White House, not what the spending is about. We saw this under Reagan, Bush II, and it’s happening again under Trump and I fully expect much of the Republican congressional caucus to follow suit.”
In 2008, before winning the presidency and needing to pass economic fixes, Democrats found themselves on the deficit hawk team. In recent days, as the framework of Trump’s plan has looked heavier on tax credits then spending, Schumer and Sanders – and every other Democrat – has walked back his enthusiasm about a spendthrift Trump. But for the next two or four years, they might be on the same team as the hawks who bedeviled them in the Obama era.
-- In observance of Thanksgiving, The Daily 202 will not publish tomorrow or Friday. We’ll be back Monday. We are thankful for you, the reader.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) accepted Trump’s offer to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Costa reports. The move comes as Trump advisers are seeking to diversify his ranks, and makes the South Carolina governor his first female appointment to a cabinet-level post. “If confirmed, Haley would be replaced by South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, a top Trump ally,” Costa notes. “His ascension is seen inside of Trump’s inner circle as a welcome consequence of her departure … [and] a way to promote them both.”
The move indicates that Trump may be willing to look past old grievances in forming his new team -- Haley endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in the presidential primaries and was critical of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. "When she gave the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address last year, Haley criticized the “angriest voices” within national politics and their “siren call” to voters, a line widely seen as a not-so-subtle shot at Trump’s campaign. But when she visited Trump last week, Haley told reporters that she never disliked Trump in spite of her past comments. 'He was a friend and supporter before he ran for president, and was kind to me then. But when I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it,' she said. 'When we met, it was friends who had known each other before.'"
Haley, 44, is also the daughter of Indian immigrants, although she has very little foreign policy experience as a governor. The Charleston Post and Courier, which first broke the news, reports that she has taken at least eight trips to Germany as South Carolina's top lawmaker. "Her views on various U.S. military and national security matters usually fall within the GOP’s hawkish mainstream," Costa reports.
Watch Haley's State of the Union response speech below:
GET SMART FAST:
- Facebook has quietly developed internal software to suppress posts based on geographic location – a censorship tool reportedly created to help the company get back into China. (New York Times)
- Dow Jones closed above 19,000 for the first time ever -- a 120-year high that puts the index on track to post a stronger yearly performance than the S&P 500 for the first time since 2011. (Wall Street Journal)
- Hurricane Otto gained strength as it continued to move towards Central America, becoming the seventh hurricane of the season and the latest one on record in the Caribbean. Forecasters say Otto could be the first hurricane to make landfall in Costa Rica since records began in 1851. (Angela Fritz)
- A federal judge blocked Obama’s overtime pay rule expanding mandatory overtime to more than four million salaried workers, delivering a major blow to one of the president’s signature initiatives just one week before it was set to take effect. (Reuters)
- A new CDC study in Brazil found that some babies with Zika-linked microcephaly appeared to be born healthy and did not develop symptoms until five months to a year later, raising a brand-new set of questions and concerns over the mosquito-borne virus. (Lena H Sun)
- The driver of a school bus that crashed in Tennessee this week and left at least five elementary school students dead was arrested and charged on multiple counts of vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment. Arrest documents say the 24-year-old was driving “well above” the speed limit when the bus careened off-road and slammed into a tree. (Sarah Larimer, Samantha Schmidt and Amy B Wang)
- At least four people were killed, and hundreds of others sickened, by an asthma-triggering thunderstorm that roared through Australia on Monday. The deadly storm more than doubled levels of pollen concentration in the air, unleashing an hours-long respiratory blitzkrieg that left medical personnel scrambling. (Ben Guarino)
- NASA successfully tested “impossible” engine propulsion technology that defies the fundamental laws of physics – and hints at a potential future for rocket engines that don't burn fuel. (Sarah Kaplan)
- The Secret Service announced its largest-ever seizure of counterfeit currency, recovering $30 million in fake U.S. bills and some 50,000 euros in Lima. Officials said the massive effort – known as Operation Sunset – involved more than 1,000 Peruvian police officers, and resulted in a total of 54 search warrants and 48 arrests. (Peter Holley)
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has filed for a recount after losing a close reelection bid. He currently trails Democratic challenger Roy Cooper by 8,500 votes, within the state’s 10,000-vote margin allowing for a recount. (Politico)
- The NCAA ordered Notre Dame to vacate all of its wins from 2012 and 2013 amid fallout over academic misconduct by a former student athletic trainer. The university said it plans to appeal the decision, arguing they “aggressively and thoroughly” investigated the incident when it was reported. (NPR)
- A 34-year-old Dallas woman who faked a pregnancy for months was arrested after reportedly murdering a new mother in Wichita – and then fleeing with her 7-day-old newborn. (Lindsey Bever)
- A Chicago politician who led complaints against “aggressive” urban squirrels was hospitalized with a skull fracture and broken nose after one of the toothy menaces jumped into his bike spokes. “I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” the alderman said, noting his full recovery is expected to take months. (Ben Guarino)
- Today’s technology-obsessed students may have the ability to flit between smartphone apps with ease – but a new study found that most were still duped by fake online news. Some 82 percent of middle-school students could not distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story, while nearly four in 10 high school students were duped by an unattributed photo presented as “evidence” for a false headline. (Wall Street Journal)
THE TRUMP TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE:
-- Mitt Romney is leading Trump’s list of contenders for Secretary of State, Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender and Damian Paletta report. “The New York businessman views Mr. Romney as the prototypical choice to be the nation’s top diplomat, and a group of advisers inside the transition are pushing him to select the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Two people said Mr. Trump is inclined to select Mr. Romney. …” Delaying his decision about the post is an “internal tug of war” between Romney supporters and those urging the selection of Rudy Giuliani. A third group is pressing the president-elect to keep searching for other candidates. CNN reports that Romney is “seriously” considering the posting, though any decisions will likely not come until after Thanksgiving.
-- Former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. is emerging as a possible pick for transportation secretary, Politico’s Annie Karni reports. The moderate Democrat has yet to meet with Trump, but sources said there have been some “preliminary feelers” put out about potential Cabinet-level posts, including transportation secretary.
-- Trump said former Republican presidential rival Ben Carson is under consideration for secretary of Housing and Urban Development: “I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD,” the president-elect said in a tweet. “I've gotten to know him well--he's a greatly talented person who loves people!” The news comes just days after Carson adviser Armstrong Williams said the retired neurosurgeon was not interested in serving in a White House post because he has never run a federal agency. (Elise Viebeck)
- “We have had offers, yes,” Carson confirmed in a Fox News interview on Tuesday, saying the HUD post is “one of the offers that’s on the table.” “It certainly is something that has been a long-term interest of mine … I’ll be thinking and praying about it seriously over the holiday.”
-- Trump national security appointee Michael Flynn called “Islamism” a “vicious cancer” that must be “excised” during a speech in August. From CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: "We are facing another 'ism,' just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism," the retired general said, during remarks to the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Massachusetts. "This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised." (In the same speech, he also falsely claimed that Florida Democrats voted to impose Islamic shariah law at the state and local level.)
-- Trump has spoken to President Obama on the phone “at least once” since their Oval Office meeting, press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday. “As President-elect Trump indicated in the Oval Office, he was hoping that he would have the opportunity to consult with President Obama over the course of this transition,” he told reporters. “President Obama has committed to a smooth transition, and as a result, they’ve spoken at least once since their Oval Office [meeting].” (Elise Viebeck)
-- Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee said she is not pursuing a position as Trump’s Education Secretary, quieting rumors of a potential appointment after she met with the president-elect this weekend. (Emma Brown)
-- Met Gala mastermind and ex-Vogue staffer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff has been tapped to help plan presidential inauguration events, Page Six reports. Wolkoff, a longtime friend of Melania Trump who reportedly has “all the designers on speed dial,” was spotted at the Trump Tower this week alongside inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack.
INSIDE TRUMP’S WASHINGTON:
-- Trump abruptly abandoned some of his most strident campaign promises on Tuesday, saying in an an interview with New York Times editors and staffers he does not plan to prosecute Clinton for her private email server, has an “open mind” about the Paris climate accord, and is “no longer certain” about torturing terrorism suspects, Karen Tumulty reports. Some highlights from the buzzy interview:
- Trump dismissed conflict of interest concerns of his businesses: “The law’s totally on my side. The president can’t have a conflict of interest,” he said. “In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.”
- He sought to distance himself from alt-right and white supremacist groups that have celebrated his election: "I don't want to energize the group, and I disavow the group,” Trump said, also defending campaign CEO Steve Bannon from association with the movement. “If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things … I wouldn’t even think about hiring him.”
- Asked whether he still planned to scrap the 2015 Paris climate accord, Trump said he is keeping “an open mind.” “I’m looking at it very closely,” he said, admitting there is "some connectivity" between human activity and rising global temperatures.
“In his meeting with the Times, Trump assumed a more cordial, magnanimous posture than he has in recent days,” Tumulty writes. “[But] the president-elect has a record of making statements that are inconsistent with his previous ones, which means it is uncertain whether any of the positions he espoused on Tuesday will hold in the days going forward … Some of Trump’s shifts also have the potential to spark a backlash from his most ardent supporters.”
- Matt Zapotosky and Ellen Nakashima point out that the president-elect “shutting down” Clinton investigations – or interfering at all – suggests a misunderstanding of how the Justice Department operates: “While the president does set broad policy goals of the Justice Department, it’s considered a serious breach of protocol for the president to get involved in individual criminal investigations," they note. "Trump would face intense criticism for trying to open or shut down such probes, particularly those involving political opponents ..."
-- “For Trump, bragging is like breathing: continuous, spontaneous. He wants nothing more than for his audience to be impressed,” New York Times’ columnist Frank Bruni wrote after the meeting. “And when his audience is a group of people, like us, who haven’t clapped the way he’d like? He sands down his edges. Modulates his voice. Bends. That was perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting, the one that makes his presidency such a question mark. Will he tilt in whatever direction, and toward whichever constituency, is the surest source of applause? Is our best hope for the best Trump to be so fantastically adulatory when he’s reasonable that he’s motivated to stay on that course, lest the adulation wane? The Trump who visited The Times was purged of any zeal to investigate Clinton’s emails … skeptical of waterboarding and unhesitant to disavow white nationalists. He never mentioned the border wall. There was a lesson here about his desire to be approved … There was another about the shockingly unformed, pliable nature of the clay that is our 70-year-old president-elect.”
-- “… It was interesting to observe the ways in which Trump did and didn’t try to ease tension [in the meeting], the places where he was conciliatory and the places where he dug in his heels …” NYT’s Ross Douthat writes. “The conciliation was most striking on public policy. … [But he] refused to yield much ground when faced with questions about the ethics of being a businessman-president whose beloved family plays both sides of the Trump Organization-Trump administration line. We didn’t need to worry, he promised, because he didn’t care about his business any more, only about America. … Whether or not you believe a politician when he panders, it’s wise to believe him when he doesn’t. So our hour with [Trump] left me persuaded that whether he governs effectively or incompetently, as a moderate or a conservative … his administration will be closer to a king’s court than any presidency before it — and it will be very, very good to be the king.”
-- “Welcome to Trump’s world, a never-ending drama in which the star lives in the moment and careens from controversy to controversy with a dizzying flood of tweets and seemingly off-the-cuff remarks to the media.” Philip Rucker and Marc Fisher write. “This could become Washington’s new normal, as a billionaire who thrives on impulse, defies protocol and lives to entertain prepares to move into the White House. [In a June interview with The Post], Trump explained that when he was speaking to large crowds at [campaign] rallies, he often looked not at the people down front but at the bank of TV cameras, checking to see if the red lights on the cameras were ablaze, indicating that his words were going out live on cable.” “I would say something new to keep the red light on,” he explained.
- “Every phase of Trump’s career has featured a roller-coaster ride of relations with the news media, from overheated praise and near-wonderment at his successes to searing and embarrassing reporting on his personal flaws and professional failures. And each chapter of his life has led to basic questions about who he really is underneath the bluster and showmanship. … In 1990, at the height of the tabloid frenzy over the dissolution of Trump’s first marriage, he said, ‘The show is Trump, and it is sold-out performances everywhere.’”
---- The Obama administration told Trump that a nuclear North Korea should be his top national security priority. From Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, Jay Solomon, and Carol E. Lee: “[President Obama], in a policy of ‘strategic patience,’ refused to engage his administration in high-level negotiations with North Korea, waiting for leader Kim Jong Un to show he was committed to abandoning his nuclear arsenal. [But] current and former administration officials now worry that the pace of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, particularly its steady march toward the ability to mount a weapon on a ballistic missile, demands a more aggressive strategy …” The report comes Pyongyang is estimated to have grown its nuclear arsenal to between 20 and 40 bombs in recent years.
TRUMP, THE BUSINESSMAN:
-- The Trump Foundation admitted to the IRS that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families. Dave Fahrenthold reports: “The admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were recently posted online … In one section of the form, the IRS asked whether the Trump Foundation had transferred ‘income or assets to a disqualified person.’ A disqualified person, in this context, might be Trump [himself] … or a member of his family or a Trump-owned business. The foundation checked yes. Another line on the form asked whether the Trump Foundation had engaged in any acts of self-dealing in prior years. The Trump Foundation checked yes again. Such violations can carry penalties including excise taxes, and the charity leaders can be required to repay money that the charity spent on their behalf.”
-- The Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation from Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk in exchange for a 2015 speech in Kiev. From Buzzfeed’s Paul McLeod: “The Victor Pinchuk Foundation confirmed Tuesday that the $150,000 payment to Trump’s foundation was for a 2015 speech Trump gave via video at a conference organized by the Pinchuk Foundation … ‘Victor I’ve known for a long time and he is a tremendous guy, tremendous guy,’ [Trump said during his remarks.] One of the richest men in Ukraine, Pinchuk is a pro-Western businessman whose father-in-law, Leonid Kuchma, was Ukraine’s second president. Hillary Clinton previously faced scrutiny for hosting a dinner with Pinchuk and other donors who had given money to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.”
-- Attempting to shore up support with the incoming administration, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte appointed the real estate developer building Trump Tower Manila as a special trade envoy to the U.S. NPR’s Michael Sullivan: “[Trump] himself is an icon of real estate," Antonio says on the website for the project. ‘He has been my reference for a lot of projects; he exudes luxury, he exudes quality …’” “As a brand, we're incredibly excited about this building,: says Trump's daughter Ivanka, whose jewelry is also for sale on the website. Meanwhile, the Trump Tower Manila is almost finished. According to the website, 94 percent of the units were presold. And that was before Trump was elected.”
THE WORLD REACTS:
-- The Dalai Lama said he has “no worries” about Trump’s election as president, saying in a Wednesday news conference that he expects the president-elect will align his future policies with global realities. The 81-year-old monk said he “looks forward to seeing Trump” at some point following the Jan. 20 inauguration, though it was not immediately clear if a meeting between the two has been planned. (AP)
-- “François Fillon, France’s conservative front-runner, promises the return of the traditional right,” by James McAuley: “They call him the French Margaret Thatcher, a staunch free-market advocate in a dogged crusade against economic stagnation. But François Fillon — the surprise victor in the first round of France’s center-right presidential primaries — is more than an economic conservative. When voters defied all poll predictions by picking Fillon over the other six contenders on the ballot, they backed a veteran politician and former prime minister with a strong social ideology that fits well in 2016’s global shift to the right. Like [Trump], Fillon has made no secret of his fondness for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, arguing in favor of a Western coalition with Russia to fight the Islamic State. Also like Trump, a central component of his campaign has been antagonism to Muslims, France’s largest minority group. And like Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, France’s own far-right populist party, Fillon appeals to those nostalgic for a white, Catholic France that they remember as devoid of immigrants and sexual minorities …”
-- Trump stunned British leaders after he backed Nigel Farage to become the British ambassador to the U.S., tossing diplomatic protocol aside as he tweeted that Farage would do a “great job!” as Britain’s top diplomat in Washington. It was an “extraordinary intervention” from the president-elect, Karla Adam writes, and British officials quickly pointed out that there is no vacancy available -- former national security adviser Kim Darroch took up the post in January.
-- Moscow’s chief rabbi said Trump’s election has provoked a “mixed reaction” among Jews in Europe. From Adam Taylor: [Pinchas] Goldschmidt … said there was a clear difference between Jews in Western Europe and Britain, who seemed worried about Trump, and those in Eastern Europe and Russia, who were more hopeful. The split was somewhat similar to one seen in the United States, he said. ‘I think most of the Jews in the United States had voted for Clinton, and there were two distinctive groups who voted for Trump, the Orthodox Jews and the Russian-speaking Jews,’ he said. And despite similarities with far right movements in Europe, he said he still thinks that European parties, such as France's National Front, had “key differences” compared with Trump's success. "’Those parties were founded by Nazi collaborators, to some extent,’ he said, noting that although some of them had now distanced themselves from anti-Semitism, they did not have close Jewish advisers or family such as Trump.”
-- Senate Democrats are planning to file legislation demanding that Trump sell off his business stakes and place assets in a blind trust — or they will treat all his business dealings as potential violations of the Constitution. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The resolution, which [Sen. Benjamin Cardin] plans to introduce next week, comes as Trump is facing fire for adding meetings with business partners to his presidential transition schedule, including his children … in meetings with foreign heads of state and allegedly encouraging foreign diplomats to stay at his new Washington hotel. It is effectively a warning shot from Democrats, who could use claims of constitutional impropriety to build a case against Trump, potentially even to the point of attempting impeachment proceedings. But Democrats will need the cooperation of Republicans to put such a measure on the floor — and it is unlikely that the GOP will be inclined to schedule such a vote during the few weeks remaining in the jam-packed “lame duck” session."
-- Nancy Pelosi is moving on several fronts to try to settle Democratic nerves after this month’s poor election results as she moves to secure another leadership term, Paul Kane reports. “[The House minority leader] is both looking backward at past successes for a blueprint to finally win back the majority and looking ahead by appeasing younger, ambitious lawmakers who feel left out of the 76-year-old leader’s close-knit circle of power. Her main strategy is based not on any new agenda item or tactical messaging shift, but on the hope and expectation that Republicans will try to radically reshape federal entitlement programs in the same manner that they did the last time they had unified control of the White House and Congress, in 2005. ‘At that time, we committed to each other that we would be unified and disciplined,” Pelosi recalled in an interview … ‘The opportunity that we have now is the equivalent of the opportunity we had in ’05.”
- In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi also outlined several proposals designed to give new leadership assignments to younger lawmakers, including creation of a “vice-ranking member” who has served four terms or less on the committee.
-- One of the biggest digital ad firms said it has barred Breitbart News for hate speech, Bloomberg’s Mark Bergen reports: A spokesman for the firm AppNexus said employees began scrutinizing the site after former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon was tapped as Trump’s chief White House strategist, and decided the conservative publication had breached a policy against content that incites violence. "We did a human audit of Breitbart and determined there were enough articles and headlines that cross that line, using either coded or overt language," the spokesman said.
--“‘Let’s party like it’s 1933’: Inside the alt-right world of Richard Spencer,” by John Woodrow Cox: “From a distance, almost everything about [Richard Spencer] appears as innocuous as the term ‘alt-right’ — and that’s by design. He dresses in three-piece Brooks Brothers suits, gold-coin cuff links and $5,000 Swiss watches … But to those who track hate groups, Spencer is dangerous because, when he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t look or sound or act dangerous. And last weekend, the articulate, highly educated 38-year-old hosted a conference in the nation’s capital that drew nearly 300 white nationalists. Spencer, who has degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago, dismisses such labels as Nazi, racist and white supremacist, preferring to describe himself as an ‘identitarian.’ How, he was asked, in a nation with more than 100 million blacks, Asians and Latinos, could a whites-only territory be created without overwhelming violence? ‘Look, maybe it will be horribly bloody and terrible,’ he said. ‘That’s a possibility with everything.’”
-- A Politico Magazine editor resigned after posting on Facebook several of Richard Spencer’s addresses and urging people to "exercise your rights as decent Americans."
-- Tila Tequila’s Twitter account was suspended this week, after the onetime reality television star and Vietnamese-born model posted a picture performing the Nazi salute at a white nationalist conference in D.C. (Emily Heil)
-- A Santa actor was removed from his post at a Florida mall after telling a young girl, unprompted, that Hillary Clinton was the only person on his “naughty list.” (Amy B Wang)
-- A Virginia appeals court upheld the conviction of a man who hung a life-size black doll by a noose in his front yard after the Charleston church shootings, finding constitutional a state law that bans displaying a noose “with the intent to intimidate.” (Justin Wm. Moyer)
-- “Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by [Trump],” New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports: “The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The academics presented findings [to Clinton campaign staffers last week] showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.”
-- Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to a star-studded list of 21 recipients on Tuesday, doling out the nation’s highest civilian honor to a group including Bruce Springsteen, Lorne Michaels, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ellen DeGeneres, among others. The honorees represented Obama’s particular view of the United States, Juliet Eilperin writes, “one where pioneering scientists, groundbreaking performers, crusading activists and unconventional artists chart America’s destiny.” Recipients included people involved in advocacy on climate change as well as on behalf of the LGBT community, Native Americans and Muslims. Everybody on stage “has touched me in a very powerful, personal way, in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine,” Obama said during the ceremony.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Breitbart was not pleased with Trump for saying his administration would not pursue criminal investigations of Hillary Clinton:
Wow, Breitbart is unhappy with Donald Trump: pic.twitter.com/YOolCTsDC9— Eliot Nelson (@eliotnelson) November 22, 2016
Here are the newsiest of Trump's quotes during his Times interview:
Trump on his businesses/conflict q's: "The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest."— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
"In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this,"he says of his tangles— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
"I might have brought it up," Trump says of Farage meeting and wind farms.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
"I think there is some connectivity" between humans and climate change, Trump says.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
Trump on alt-right supporters: "It's not a group I want to energize. And if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why."— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 22, 2016
Here's some of the Times staff waiting for Trump in the lobby:
The New York Times awaits Donald Trump pic.twitter.com/obmoA5M3oJ— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) November 22, 2016
Trump said he was considering Ben Carson for head of ... HUD?
I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I've gotten to know him well--he's a greatly talented person who loves people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Michelle Rhee withdrew her name from Cabinet speculation:
In light of the speculation about the Secretary of Education role, I wanted to clarify my position and what's best for America's students. pic.twitter.com/DXRZxdAZNX— Michelle Rhee (@MichelleRhee) November 22, 2016
Here are some great photos from the Medal of Freedom ceremony:
A note from White House photographer Pete Souza:
Just to confirm, it was NOT me who yelled BROOOOCE at the Medal of Freedom ceremony today (though I wanted to) @springsteen— petesouza (@petesouza) November 22, 2016
In case you missed it, Ellen almost did not get in:
Ted Cruz had this retort:
I thought Obama didn't believe in photo ID? https://t.co/iodmZjsjLz— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 22, 2016
Tom Hanks had, of course, been to the White House before:
President George H. W. Bush shared an update on Patrick, a young friend whose battle with leukemia prompted him to shave his head in solidarity:
Senate Republicans released a cooking video for Senate Bean Soup in honor of Thanksgiving (click to watch):
Here's what Chef Jose Andres had to say in response:
Andres then brought in Senate Democrats:
Pork Barrel Barbeque of Shark Tank fame replied as well:
Meet the turkeys who received federal pardons this year:
Speaking of turkey, President Bartlet of The West Wing is going back and forth with Butterball on Twitter (remember that episode?):
.@butterball If I cook stuffing inside the turkey is there a chance I could kill my guests? I'm not saying that's necessarily a deal-breaker— Josiah Bartlet (@Pres_Bartlet) November 22, 2016
@Pres_Bartlet You can stuff your turkey if you do it immediately before roasting, and use a thermometer to check the temp must be 165— Butterball (@butterball) November 22, 2016
.@butterball Ah! But The USDA calls for turkeys to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 to 185 degrees.— Josiah Bartlet (@Pres_Bartlet) November 22, 2016
@Pres_Bartlet The turkey should be 180 in the thigh, 170 in breast and 165 in stuffing. If it is 165 in stuffing, the turkey is done.— Butterball (@butterball) November 22, 2016
.@butterball Very good. Let me say, I think this is a wonderful service you provide.— Josiah Bartlet (@Pres_Bartlet) November 22, 2016
Steve Daines wished his wife a happy anniversary with this photo:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times Magazine, “Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump,” by Emily Bazelon: “In the week before the election, Seth Stevenson, a writer for Slate, followed the Trump campaign, which meant sitting in the pen where reporters were confined at rallies. He realized that the pen’s function was to turn the press into a prop. ‘Behold,’ he imagined Trump saying to his fans. ‘I’ve rounded up a passel of those elites you detest. And I’ve caged them for you!’ What’s new here are two forces squeezing journalism like pincers. The first is [wealthy figures] … willing to place bets on lawsuit after lawsuit until he hits on a winning combination of facts, judge and jury. The second is the public’s animosity toward the press, now fueled by the soon-to-be president. … It’s too early to say that the sky is falling on the press. But it’s darkening.
--Forbes, “How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House,” by Steven Bertoni: “A power vacuum awaited him at Trump Tower. When [reporters] visited the Trump campaign floor in the skyscraper a few weeks before Kushner’s Springfield epiphany, there was literally nothing there. No people–and no desks or chairs or computers awaiting the arrival of staffers. Just campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, spokesperson Hope Hicks and a strategy that centered on Trump making headline-grabbing statements … supplemented by a rally once or twice a week. … [But] Kushner’s role expanded as the Trump ticket gained traction–so did his enthusiasm. ‘People really saw hope in his message,’ he says. And so this Harvard-educated child of privilege put on a bright-red Make American Great Again hat and rolled up his sleeves.”
In Trump's world: Trump is at his home in Palm Beach, Fla.
At the White House: Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden and participates in a service event in Washington, D.C. with his family.
On Capitol Hill: Congress is out.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Some tranquil travel weather is in store today across the entire East Coast. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After a chilly early-morning start in the upper 20s to low 30s, we’ll see mostly sunny morning skies give way to increasing afternoon clouds, with a slight chance of a late-afternoon shower. Afternoon highs in the upper 40s to low 50s aren’t exactly warm, but with light and variable winds, we don’t have to deal with much of a wind-chill factor.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross and star of Blackish, got everyone at the White House to do the Mannequin Challenge (click to watch):
Obama's last medal of freedom ceremony was full of icons:
Here are some clips from the event:
Seth Meyers hung out with D.C.'s own Jose Andres and talked about America, The Wall and margaritas:
Meyers talked about the Hamilton feud and Trump's potential conflicts-of-interest:
Joe Biden greeted his D.C. neighbors who held signs thanking him for his service:
Baby echidnas, also known as puggles, were born at Sydney Zoo: