THE BIG IDEA: The Republican National Committee declared in 2013 that racism was over.
More precisely, under the leadership of incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer, the organization celebrated “Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.”
Racism, of course, never “ended.” After Democrats hammered them for this, the party tweeted a clarification: Parks played a role “in fighting to end racism.” But the original tweet has never been deleted:
Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism. pic.twitter.com/uxIj1QmtkU— GOP (@GOP) December 1, 2013
Trump has often used racially-charged rhetoric, and his ill-informed attacks on beloved civil rights icon John Lewis this weekend underscored how unserious he is about redemption. But the incoming president is also surrounded by people who have, at times, been tone-deaf and tin-eared when race relations come up, raising questions about who will keep his darkest instincts in check.
Stephen Bannon, who will be the president’s chief strategist, has proudly called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right.” Under his leadership, that website ran stories with headlines like, “Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage” and “6 reasons Pamela Geller’s Muhammad cartoon contest is no different from Selma.”
A former colleague, Julia Jones, says that in their years making movies together, Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners. “I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Jones recalled recently to the New York Times. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’ I said, ‘But what about Wendy?’ (Bannon’s executive assistant). He said, ‘She’s different. She’s family.’”
Jeff Sessions claims that he was only joking when, as a U.S attorney in Alabama, he said he thought the KKK was OK until he learned they smoked pot. His nomination for a judgeship was rejected three decades ago by a Republican-controlled Judiciary committee, because of other racially-insensitive comments (which he denies making) and his role in prosecuting a flimsy voter fraud case against black civil rights activists. Now he’s poised to win confirmation as attorney general.
Mike Pence said this fall that anyone who points out that there is still “systemic racism” in law enforcement is using the “rhetoric of division.” Amidst rioting in Charlotte, he declared: “We ought to set aside this talk, this talk about institutional racism and institutional bias.”
On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Chris Wallace asked the vice president-elect how Trump could possibly accuse Lewis of being “all talk, talk, talk” and “no action,” as he did in one of his tweets: “Can he really say that about the man who got his head cracked open walking across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday?” Pence replied, “I think Donald Trump has the right to defend himself.”
-- Every member of Trump’s high command is hyper-sensitive to any suggestion that they are racially insensitive. The president-elect told The Post last June that he is “the least racist person you’ve ever encountered.” Bannon says he has “zero tolerance” for “racial and anti-Semitic” views. The autopsy that Priebus commissioned after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 included 10 recommendations for improving outreach. “The Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring,” the report said.
Spicer said this morning on NBC that the president-elect will meet this afternoon with Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower. The spokesman said they’ll “have a conversation about voting, about bringing more people into the system, the legacy of Dr. King and how we can continue to pursue that under a Trump administration.” Trump also promises to invest heavily in infrastructure projects that benefit heavily African-American areas.
-- On Friday, our first black president will be replaced by someone who spent years trying to delegitimize him by suggesting (with no evidence) that he might have been born in Africa. Every day of the transition has brought fresh reminders that racism is thriving in America. Recall these six WaPo stories from just the past week:
- Dash cam video shows police tackling and beating a black Northwestern doctoral student who they suspected of stealing a car. The problem: It was his vehicle.
- A federal investigation into the Chicago police found that the department routinely uses excessive force and violates the constitutional rights of residents, particularly those who are black and Latino. (Read the scathing 164-page report by the Justice Department.)
- A school board member in small-town Arkansas, who wore a blackface costume, refused to resign. Instead, he received an award for being “outstanding.” People from the community wore T-shirts that said “I stand with Ted.”
- “A Dairy Queen owner unleashed a racist tirade against a customer” (and her young children).
- Police in Rockville, Maryland, are investigating after a note containing Nazi imagery was left on a car belonging to a Jewish couple who had recently displayed a “Black Lives Matter” banner.
- A white supremacist petition that circulated at Anne Arundel High School in Maryland described African Americans as a “scourge,” said they “invented” rape, stealing and basketball, and spoke of “the supreme White race.” The petition was labeled Kool Kids Klan — its three K’s underlined in a thinly veiled reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
-- Other stories you might recall since the election: Carl Paladino, the former Republican nominee for governor of New York, included the death of President Obama and the “return” of first lady Michelle Obama to Africa on his list of things he wanted for 2017. He wrote that he would like to see FLOTUS “return to being male” and be “let loose” in Zimbabwe. The director of a government-funded nonprofit in West Virginia celebrated the idea of Melania Trump replacing Mrs. Obama, as well. “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House,” she wrote on Facebook. “I’m tired of seeing a (sic) Ape in heels.”
-- The Fourth Circuit lamented last summer how North Carolina’s legislature “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision.” Lawmakers literally requested data on racial differences in voter behavior and then made the only acceptable forms of voter identification the ones that they knew were disproportionately used by white people.
There’s not always a smoking gun like that. De facto racism, less blatant but just as corrosive, continues to systemically suppress millions of African Americans, preventing them from being able to participate in society on a level playing field. Drug sentencing laws, education funding formulas and a host of other public policies each perpetuate racial inequality. Not to mention, the soft bigotry of low expectations endures.
-- Trump’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend tweets demonstrated anew that he clings to outdated stereotypes of the black community. Trump assumed that John Lewis’s constituents are impoverished and struggling. In fact, the congressman’s district includes some of the choicest parts of metro Atlanta, including Buckhead and Emory University.
During the campaign, he often spoke as if all African Americans live in struggling “inner-cities.” “What do you have to lose?” he asked the community rhetorically during rallies, though he was speaking to overwhelmingly white crowds. (Our Simone Sebastain tabulated that more than half of the country’s black residents do not live in urban areas. “Using ‘inner city’ as a stand-in for ‘black’ is even less accurate than using ‘suburban’ as a stand-in for ‘white,’” she wrote.)
After the election, Trump publicly celebrated low black voter turnout. “The African American community was great to us,” he said during a stop on his “Thank You Tour” in Michigan. “They came through big league. And frankly, if they had any doubt, they didn’t vote. And that was almost as good. Because a bunch of people didn’t show up.” (He received 8 percent of the African American vote, according to exit polls.)
-- Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, calls Trump’s attack on Lewis “the essence of narcissism” in his column today: “Trump seems to have no feel for, no interest in, the American story he is about to enter. He will lead a nation that accommodated a cruel exception to its founding creed; that bled and nearly died to recover its ideals; and that was only fully redeemed by the courage and moral clarity of the very people it had oppressed. People like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. People like John Lewis. … Were John Lewis to call me every name in the book, I would still honor him.”
-- The latest episode dovetails with a decades-long pattern for Trump. The Justice Department sued him and his father in 1973 for discriminating against African Americans who wanted to rent in their buildings. Eventually the Trumps settled, but DOJ had to take them to court again in 1978, alleging that they had reneged on the agreement. Then a decade later Trump took out a full-page ad in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Hispanic teenagers accused of raping a woman in Central Park. The young men were exonerated, but Trump criticized the city for awarding them damages for the years they had been wrongly imprisoned.
-- To be sure, Trump makes plenty of time for photo ops. From Janell Ross and Vanessa Williams: “During the transition, Trump has been frequently photographed with black celebrities at his New York headquarters, including the rapper Kanye West, retired football great Ray Lewis and boxing promoter Don King. On Friday, he was visited by Steve Harvey, a comedian, game-show host and dating-advice guru. … D.L. Hughley, a comedian and political commentator, blasted Trump for ‘having a comedian and a rapper and a football player out to talk about the concerns of the community.’ ‘If Donald Trump cared about black people, he wouldn’t have denigrated the president with those claims of birtherism,’ he said. ‘You’d rather see us run the football than run the country.’”
-- Two dozen Democratic lawmakers, including at least nine African Americans, have now said they will boycott Trump’s inauguration. That number is expected to grow because of the continuing fallout of the president-elect’s attacks on Lewis. Among them is John Conyers Jr., the dean of the House, and Barbara Lee of California. “Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party,” Lee said in a statement. “On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”
-- A good oral history for MLK Day --> “‘We were soldiers’: The flesh and blood behind the new civil rights monument,’” by Rhonda Colvin: "Charles Person took a beating when he was 18 in Anniston, Ala., the youngest of the Freedom Riders for civil rights in 1961. He took a blow to the head a few days later in Birmingham. The buses finally were integrated, life went on, and it wasn’t until last year, in the middle of a conversation with a relative, that he suddenly passed out. Collateral damage, almost 56 years later, of that violent and committed summer. Hearing that President Obama, in one of his last days in the White House, designated that bus station as a national monument made Person 'almost speechless,' he said the other day. The history of the Freedom Riders often has been lost, Person said, and he is pleased that a new national monument will educate people, especially children."
John Lewis reminisced on the Freedom Rides during a sit-down with The Post. Watch it here:
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The president-elect tells The Post’s Robert Costa that he is “nearing completion” of an "all-but-finished" plan to replace Obamacare with the goal of “insurance for everybody." He declined to provide specifics but promised that there will be "much lower deductibles” and said he is ready to unveil it alongside Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. "It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon," Trump said. “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” People covered under the law “can expect to have great health care," he said. "It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better! ... I don’t want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people."
He said he is waiting for his nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, to be confirmed before rolling out details and said he expects Republicans in Congress to move quickly and in unison in the coming weeks: “I think we will get approval. I won’t tell you how, but we will get approval. You see what’s happened in the House in recent weeks,” Trump said, referencing his tweet during a House Republican move to gut their independent ethics office.
Trump vowed to force drug companies to negotiate “directly with the government” on prices in Medicare and Medicaid. “They’re politically protected, but not anymore,” he said of pharmaceutical companies.
When asked whether he intends to cut benefits for Medicare as part of his plan, Trump said “no."
He warned that, if the party splinters or slows his agenda, he is ready to use the power of the presidency — and Twitter — to usher his legislation to passage: “The Congress can’t get cold feet because the people will not let that happen."
On tax reform, Trump insisted that “we’re getting very close” to putting together legislation. “It’ll probably be 15 to 20 percent for corporations. For individuals, probably lower. Great middle-class tax cuts,” he said. On corporate tax rates, “We may negotiate a little, but we want to bring them down and get as close to 15 percent as we can so we can see a mushrooming of jobs moving back.”
-- Trump also sat down with the Times of London and the German tabloid Bild in his Manhattan office, where he again slammed NATO as "obsolete" and signaled an interest in lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. Some highlights:
- On Russia: “They have sanctions on Russia – let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” Trump said. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”
- On NATO: Trump said the organization has failed to stop terrorism and criticized countries that don't pay their fair share. But then he added in the next breath that, "NATO is very important to me."
- On Brexit: “I believe others will leave (the EU). I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think."
- Trump also attacked Angela Merkel for accepting Mideast refugees, who he described as “all of these illegals.” “I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from,” he said.
- The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was "possibly the worst decision ever made in American history," he added. “It’s like throwing rocks into a beehive.”
The former U.S. ambassador to NATO reacts:
Trump is more critical of NATO, EU, & Germany--all close allies--than he's ever been of Putin & Russia. We're entering an upside down world. https://t.co/XxUjxIztby— Ivo Daalder (@IvoHDaalder) January 15, 2017
-- President Obama, on “60 Minutes” last night, acknowledged that he was naïve when he took office and remains "surprised" by how difficult it is to change Washington: “I will confess that I didn’t fully appreciate the ways in which individual senators or members of Congress now are pushed to the extremes by their ... voter bases,” he said. “I did not expect, particularly in the midst of crisis, just how severe that partisanship would be.” Asked to name the most important quality in a commander-in-chief, he told Steve Kroft: “Stamina! There is a greater physical element to this job than you would think, just being able to grind it out. And I think your ability to not just mentally and emotionally but physically be able to say, ‘We got this. We're going to be okay.’”
The president warned the American people not to ‘‘underestimate the guy’’ (Trump) and urged congressional leaders in both parties to be sure ‘‘that as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place.’’ He acknowledged it’s been an ‘‘unusual’’ transition: ‘‘I suspect the president-elect would agree with that. … We are moving into an era where a lot of people get their information through tweets and soundbites and some headline that comes over their phone. There’s a power in that. There’s also a danger — what generates a headline or stirs up a controversy and gets attention isn’t the same as the process required to actually solve the problem.’’
GET SMART FAST:
- The Ringling Bros. circus is shutting down after 146 years. Circus executives announced the news this weekend, citing high operating costs, a decline in ticket sales, and high-profile battles with animal rights organizations. The final show will be held in May. (Amy B Wang)
- Special prosecutors in South Korea asked a court to issue a warrant for the arrest of the de facto head of Samsung, accusing him of bribery in the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Should judges decide to issue the warrant, he could be immediately detained and held while prosecutors carry out the rest of their investigation. (Anna Fifield)
- The British pound slid below $1.20 for the first time since October’s flash crash, following reports that Prime Minister Theresa May plans to seek a “hard Brexit” in E.U. negotiations. Many believe she will signal plans to quit the E.U. single market in a speech later this week. (BBC)
- A local politician in Greenwich, Connecticut, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual after allegedly pinching the “groin area” of a woman he had a political argument with. “I love this new world,” he allegedly told her. “I no longer have to be politically correct.” (Westport Daily Voice)
- Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham is eyeing a potential 2018 bid against Sen. Tim Kaine in Virginia. An associate has been buying up domain names, just in case. (Washington Examiner)
- A new book accuses Pope Francis of doing “next to nothing” to stop clerical sexual abuse during his papacy, arguing that despite Francis’s efforts – which included a special commission for the protection of minors and a declaration of “zero tolerance” of abuse – little has changed in the way the Catholic Church handles a continued trickle of abuse reports. (Anthony Faiola)
- The head of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is calling for a total ban on “fascistic Islam” and Muslim symbols, telling audiences that Islam poses an “existential threat” to Europe and could wipe out European society. (Amanda Erickson)
- Ten former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Oman for “humanitarian reasons” and temporary residence. (Paul Schemm)
- Facebook’s censoring policy was called into question after a 12-year-old live-streamed her own suicide – and footage remained on the site for nearly two weeks. The gruesome online video underscores the slippery slope of a real-time platform for users to share their lives. (Kristine Guerra)
- A Texas middle-school teacher who was impregnated by a 13-year-old student has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors said the teen and his father moved into her home, and she pretended that she was dating the father. During the trial, the woman testified that she and the boy were in love. (Kristine Guerra)
- Oops: A Southern California shoe company has recalled a line of work boots after customers noticed that their tread was leaving swastika imprints on the ground. (Lindsey Bever)
- Downton Abbey has fueled a “butler revolution” in China, where demand for the English-style domestic worker has spiked in the last several years. They’re trained in the ways of old-school British extravagance and are a coveted status symbol among the country’s wealthiest residents. (New York Times)
- A Norwegian preschool is under fire after taking its students on a field trip to a reindeer slaughterhouse. Photos from the event show children tossing reindeer parts into a dumpster, while others drag a still-bloody pelt across the snow. Parents were reassured that their children got used to the gruesome environment once they were told that “Rudolph” was not among those slaughtered. (Amy B Wang)
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:
-- When Trump takes office, he will assume control of a federal bureaucracy with enormous power to bolster “nearly every corner” of his business empire -- and enhance his own fortune. From Rosalind S. Helderman, Drew Harwell and Tom Hamburger: “Providing few specifics, he promised no new foreign deals and said the company would adopt new internal systems to scrutinize potentially problematic domestic transactions. But Trump and his lawyers did not address how his administration will approach the range of regulatory actions and other decisions that could directly touch the business, which in addition to Trump-branded properties around the world includes several dozen golf courses, office and condominium buildings, a winery, and his beachfront Mar-a-Lago club. … At a minimum, according to ethics experts, government officials tasked with making decisions affecting Trump businesses could feel pressure to keep the boss happy. At worse, experts say, Trump or his allies could abuse their power to sway decision-makers."
-- Waging war on the watchdogs: Priebus took a bellicose stance against Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, on the Sunday shows. Via Abby Phillip and Mike DeBonis: “Priebus said on ABC that Shaub ‘ought to be careful’ because he was ‘becoming extremely political.’ (Shaub has publicly criticized Trump’s transition team for rushing his nominees’ ethics reviews, and he called on Trump to divest his business assets to avoid conflicts.) Priebus claimed the ethics chief supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign, and he cited concerns about tweets the ethics office directed at Trump last month. ‘I’m not so sure what this person at government ethics, what sort of standing he has anymore in giving these opinions,’ he said. The comments and the prospect of a congressional investigation (raised by Jason Chaffetz) were taken as a thinly veiled threat to Shaub, a political appointee named by Obama in 2013 to a five-year term. ‘Why is Congressman Chaffetz investigating Walter Shaub for doing his job, George, for speaking so courageously?’ Norm Eisen, a former Obama ethics czar, said on ABC. Eisen on Twitter called Priebus’s comments ‘shocking, mafia-style THUGGERY.’”
-- Meanwhile, despite his lawyers insisting he would make "no foreign deals whatsoever," Trump is proceeding with a multimillion-dollar expansion of his Scottish golf resort. HuffPost’s Mary Papenfuss reports: “The Aberdeenshire Council has approved a second 18-hole golf course and more housing in the Trump International Golf Links Scotland operation. The expansion will substantially grow the complex and include a 450-room five-star hotel, timeshare complex and private housing estate … Changes are expected to significantly boost the value of the operation to the Trump Organization. Trump owns 100 percent of the Trump International Golf Links Scotland …” Still, his transition team is insisting that it does not constitute a “new” deal. “Implementing future phasing of existing properties does not constitute a new transaction so we intend to proceed,” a spokeswoman said.
INAUGURATION IS FOUR DAYS AWAY:
-- The chair of Trump’s inaugural committee said the president-elect is micro-managing “every detail” of the festivities. “He’s into every detail of everything,” Tom Barrack told the New York Post in an interview. “I beg him all the time to go back to running the free world and let me focus on setting the tables.”
-- The Presidential Inaugural Committee says that it has raised a record $90 million and expects more than 30,000 people to attend the three official balls. From Roxanne Roberts: “‘I’m feeling excitement, but it’s a nervous excitement,’ said chief executive Sara Armstrong in an interview ... ‘There are a lot of logistical items that we have to pull together during these last eight days.’ The official events conclude Saturday morning … just as the Women’s March in Washington is scheduled to begin. Armstrong said that she wasn’t worried about protesters. ‘There was a lot of concern at the convention, and it really didn’t turn out to be much,’ she said.”
-- Security measures related to the inauguration are already visible, in the form of Jersey barriers placed on the streets near Lafayette Square. From Peter Hermann: “Parking restrictions will begin Wednesday. Streets will start closing Thursday. By week’s end, the nation’s capital will have transformed into a virtual fortress of roadblocks, fences and armed police … Streets will be barricaded with trucks filled with sand. Five Metro stations will close Friday. Crossing Pennsylvania Avenue will be next to impossible. The peaceful transfer of power is made possible by overlaying a tight security grid using 28,000 security officials over 100 square blocks of prime downtown real estate ... To accomplish having a tranquil event amid worries of terrorist attacks and threats by some groups to disrupt the celebration requires bringing in 3,000 police officers from across the nation and 5,000 members of the National Guard, bolstering the already large law enforcement footprint imposed on everyday Washington. The numbers this year are the same as in years past.” (COMMUTER GUIDE: Will you be in town for Inauguration Day? Here’s how to get to – or around – Friday’s festivities.)
-- Stand-ins gathered for a dress rehearsal yesterday. Julie Zauzmer was there: “For a brief moment, a 53-year-old man named Greg stood on the balcony of the Capitol, being sworn in as president of the United States of America. Greg’s only qualification? He’s the same height as Donald Trump. Greg — Sgt. Maj. Greg Lowery, that is, a member of the U.S. Army Band — joined a cast of dozens who re-created the presidential inauguration as a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The dress rehearsal — a quadrennial spectacle that features stand-ins playing everyone from Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members to diplomats and former vice presidents to Trump’s and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s children — allows the staffers running the inauguration to work out kinks in the ceremony before Friday’s main event.”
-- Reversing course, the transition team is now trying to get the head of the D.C. National Guard to remain in command throughout the inaugural ceremonies. Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartzbe was told that he needs to step down one minute after Trump is sworn into office. Now he’s being pushed to stay on. But Schwartz says he turned down the transition team because, by then, he had begun packing up his office and notified his staff. He said he believes the offer to stay came only as a result of the negative attention his departure attracted. (Peter Hermann and Dan Lamothe)
-- Thousands came out for a Bernie Sanders rally in Michigan yesterday afternoon, aimed at showing support for the Affordable Care Act. From The Detroit Free Press: “Sanders called on the thousands at the rally to send a message that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act will not be tolerated. ‘If you want to improve the Affordable Care Act, let's work together. But if you think you're simply going to throw millions off of health insurance, you've got another guess coming,’ Sanders said outside Macomb Community College. ‘You're going to have to worry about millions of people who are standing up, who are fighting back and who demand the day when health care will be a right of all people, not just a privilege.’” There were similar events around the country.
-- A GOP congressman in Colorado left a community meeting after a large, angry crowd assembled. From The Denver Post: “A regularly scheduled meeting for U.S. representative Mike Coffman to meet one-on-one with constituents ended Saturday with many unhappy people who didn’t get a chance to meet him. The congressman … had booked a room at the main Aurora Public Library for 2 p.m. But according to many users posting on social media, Coffman limited the meeting to four people at a time. And two hours into the meeting around 4 p.m., Coffman left. ‘While more than 100 people were waiting to meet with him, Mike Coffman sneaks out early from his own community event,’ [a local reporter] tweeted.” (Watch a clip of his escape here.)
-- Liberal groups are launching a two-month, cross-country bus tour aimed at saving Obamacare. Juliet Eilperin reports: “The bus tour will feature several mayors and will highlight the stories of Americans who have been helped by the ACA. ... 'The intent of the tour is get beyond the talking points and sound bites to put the focus on the reality that millions of people rely on the Affordable Care Act to get health care, Doctors for America director Alice Chen said. ‘Doctors and medical students are joining stops throughout the bus tour to highlight our experiences and our fears for our patients.’”
-- A group of A-list celebrities will gather outside Trump Tower with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this Thursday night for a mass protest. Speakers will include chief SNL Trump impersonator Alex Baldwin, actors Mark Ruffalo and Rosie Perez, the Rev. Al Sharpton and documentarian Michael Moore. (Helena Andrews-Dyer)
-- Katy Perry has produced a chilling PSA against creating a database of Muslims in the country. From Kristine Guerra: "The video opens with the story of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya, a Japanese American who spent her childhood on a chicken farm in Riverside, Calif. Sitting on a chair, with a shawl covering her small frame, Kuromiya talks about that fateful day in 1942 when government officials took her father. She and the rest of her family were later given tags and numbers to wear, she said. Then they were placed on a train, and Kuromiya, who would have been in her teens, found herself living in an internment camp. ... About a minute and a half into the video, Kuromiya stops talking. For a few seconds, she stares directly at the camera. She takes off her glasses and her wig. Nothing can be heard except the sound of a piano. Then she slowly peels off her prosthetic mask, revealing a young woman with black hair and dark eyes. 'Don’t let history repeat itself,' she said. The young actress is Hina Khan, a Los Angeles-based Muslim actress of Pakistani heritage." Watch the #DontNormalizeHate video:
-- Grammy and Tony winner Jennifer Holliday canceled plans to perform at Trump’s inauguration, apologizing to her fans for even thinking about it. “I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country,” she wrote in an open letter to the LGBT community. “Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. …. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment.” (The Wrap)
-- Facing boycott threats, Toby Keith defended his decision to perform at a Thursday night concert at the Lincoln Memorial. “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” the country star said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “I performed at events for previous presidents Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.” Also scheduled to perform at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” are Three Doors Down and Lee Greenwood.
BRACING FOR THE TRUMP TAKEOVER:
-- Outgoing CIA director John Brennan ripped into Trump on Fox News Sunday, chastising him for lacking a “full appreciation and understanding” of the threat that Moscow poses to America. He suggested Trump focus on national security rather than protecting his personal reputation. “It’s more than just about Mr. Trump,” he said. “It’s about the United States of America … Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected.” (Vice)
-- A Trump transition official promises “the death of think tanks as we know them.” From Josh Rogin: "For decades, Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments and avenues of influence for sponsors of their research. The incoming administration is bent on breaking that model. Trump’s appointments so far have been heavy on business executives and former military leaders. Transition sources tell me the next series of nominations — deputy-level officials at top agencies — will also largely come from business. … Those close to Trump … see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors. ‘This is the death of think tanks as we know them in D.C.,’ one transition official [said]. ‘The people around Trump view think tanks as for sale for the highest bidder. They have empowered whole other centers of gravity for staffing this administration.’”
-- Diplomats from 70 countries issued a two-page statement urging Trump not to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Carol Morello and William Booth report: While the statement did not mention Trump by name, it was intended to send a message from the world powers – including Europe and the Arab states – to the incoming administration that the international community “wants to keep hope alive” for a two-state solution to the Holy Land conflict. “The joint communique incorporated references to previous blueprints for peace talks, including last month’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank and incitement and terrorism that Palestinians have been accused of fomenting. It also commended Kerry’s speech two weeks ago laying out principles for negotiations to resolve the seven-decade-old conflict."
-- Mexico's economic minister warned Trump that his country will “retaliate right away” if the U.S. hits them with a major border tax or a proposed 35 percent tariff, predicting on a weekend news show that such a move would have a wave of impacts that would result in a "global recession.” "It would be a problem for the entire world," said Ildefonso Guajardo. (CNN Money)
-- “What to Make of the ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era,” by the New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Every January, a glittering array of the cognoscenti descend on the Alps: from the tech-titan-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates … to George Soros, to Jack Ma, the founder of China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, to — until recently — Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. And the conversations tend to be dominated by issues like inequality, climate change and the economic challenges facing developed and emerging countries. [Trump] has never been invited here. Neither has Nigel Farage, the British politician who led the Brexit campaign. As the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting gets underway ... an annual gathering of global policy and business leaders, who come to debate the world’s great challenges — the shifting political trends toward nationalism and against a sense of globalism are raising renewed questions about the relevance of the elites known as the ‘Davos class.’ Indeed, it is this group of so-called plutocrats that largely failed to anticipate — and may have even unconsciously generated —the seeping anti-establishment movement across the globe.”
-- John McCain will propose a military buildup plan that adds nearly half a trillion dollars to the defense budget by 2022 and blows past current limits on Pentagon spending. Politico’s Connor O’Brien previews: “The proposal, which is set to be unveiled early this week, is the opening salvo of Republican hawks as they seek to leverage GOP majorities in the House and Senate … The 21-page plan advocates boosting the Pentagon budget as well as nuclear weapons spending in the Department of Energy by approximately $430 billion over budget projections between fiscal 2018 and 2022 — including to finance a bigger Army and significantly more new warships and fighter jets. ‘It is not cheap,’ the paper concedes of the price tag, but adds: ‘The cost of further inaction, however, is worse: We will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict.’”
TRUMP VS. THE FOURTH ESTATE:
-- Could the White House press corps be evicted under Trump? Esquire’s Peter J. Boyer reported that a plan to relocate reporters is under “serious consideration” by the president-elect. “If the plan goes through, [one official said], the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center—near Lafayette Square—or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House."
Transition officials tried to spin the possible location change as a logistical issue, not a power grab: “There's been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump," Spicer said. "A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That's something we're discussing." Priebus said that moving reporters from the current press briefing room to another location in the White House complex could "quadruple" the numbers of reporters with access. “It’s about more access,” he said, per Politico.
-- Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan says "a hellscape of lies and distorted reality” awaits journalists tasked with covering the incoming president: “To those who say let’s wait and see, or maybe it won’t be as bad as you think, or stay hopeful, I’m having none of it. Journalists are in for the fight of their lives. And they are going to have to be better than ever before, just to do their jobs. They will need to work together, be prepared for legal persecution, toughen up for punishing attacks and figure out new ways to uncover and present the truth. Even so — if the past really is prologue — that may not be enough.”
-- ICYMI: “Back on the Mekong Delta, John Kerry meets a man who once tried to kill him and finds exoneration,” by Carol Morello: “It could have been 1969 again as [John Kerry] stood on the bow of the small boat chugging up the Bay Hap River … Here, he earned a Silver Star for his heroics when he leapt ashore after an ambush to pursue a fleeing Viet Cong with a grenade launcher and shot him dead. Now, some 48 years later and with the rapid approach of sunset on a political career spanning almost four decades, Kerry was about to be yanked back to that time, and come face-to-face with a Viet Cong soldier who had taken part in the ambush. [Vo Ban Tam] at 70 is three years younger than Kerry. He was Viet Cong in the communist stronghold of Ca Mau, one of the enemy lying in the tall grasses waiting to entrap unprotected, thin-skinned river patrol boats like Kerry’s. [Now], Tam apparently had been tracked down by U.S. consulate officials and invited to meet the U.S. secretary of state he once tried to kill."
-- “Will Asian American band’s First Amendment argument resonate with Supreme Court?” by Robert Barnes: “The government doesn’t know what to make of the Slants, the all Asian American, Chinatown dance-rock band at the center of this term’s most vexing Supreme Court free-speech case. One branch of the federal government has for years fought the band’s effort to register a trademark for its cheeky name. In a case going before the justices this week, the Patent and Trademark Office argues that a decades-old law forbids official recognition of trademarks that ‘may disparage’ members of a particular ethnic group … But other parts of the government love the Slants. The White House is into them, too: The Slants were included in a compilation of Asian American artists that is part of an anti-bullying initiative — ‘deeply ironic,’ says band founder Simon Tam, because the song chosen is “an open letter to the trademark office.’ ‘One branch of government is celebrating us for our work … and the other area of government is calling us racist,’ he said. ‘But I’m kind of used to it at this point.’”
-- “There goes the neighborhood: Obamas, Ivanka Trump, Jeff Bezos moving in,” by Paul Schwartzman: “A majestic mix of mansions, townhouses, apartment buildings and embassies northwest of Dupont Circle, Kalorama is like any other neighborhood, residents insist — albeit one that requires a minimum of several million dollars to buy into. Or if you have $20,000 a month available for rent, that’ll work, too. Sure, the neighborhood’s residents may be a bit more prominent … but they want trash picked up and streets swept just like anyone else. Famous people have always lived here,’ said Penn Lupovich, 81, a retired doctor, as he stood outside his house on Tracy Place, defiantly nonchalant about living across the street from Ivanka Trump’s new address. No, Lupovich said, Kalorama’s residents are not holding meetings to prepare for the arrival of their new neighbors. No one, he insisted, is sweating the prospect of security checkpoints and hordes of gawkers.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
In honor of MLK Day, here's advice that King penned in 1956:
Martin Luther King's instructions to bus riders trying to integrate buses, 1956 — "observe rules of courtesy" pic.twitter.com/ZCiYekLpB6— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) January 14, 2017
First, have you heard of the Twitter account @MatureTrumpTwts? It posts "mature" versions of Trump's tweets. For example, here's the original:
For many years our country has been divided, angry and untrusting. Many say it will never change, the hatred is too deep. IT WILL CHANGE!!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
And here's a mature version from the parody account:
Our country may be divided, but the expanse isn't too wide. Let's narrow & close it together. Seek common ground/shared purpose 2 move 4ward https://t.co/5DIk4PqHVg— PresidentialTrump (@MatureTrumpTwts) January 15, 2017
.@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
.@FoxNews "Outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan, blasts Pres-Elect Trump on Russia threat. Does not fully understand." Oh really, couldn't do...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2017
I appreciate outgoing CIA Chief John Brennan's service & parting advice. I look forward to working w/all intel agencies to keep America safe https://t.co/JIuBXn6cmb— PresidentialTrump (@MatureTrumpTwts) January 16, 2017
The biggest story on social media was Trump's attack on John Lewis. @RepJohnLewis gained 60k new followers on Saturday, per Twitter. In the 48 hours after Trump’s tweet, there were 1.5 million tweets mentioning the congressman – including 3,000 per minute for a time on Saturday. #GoodTrouble has been one of the most popular hashtags among those Tweets.
If you missed them, here are Trump's posts:
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
The response was brutal. Here was the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
And some of the lawmakers who will no longer attend the inauguration after Trump's tweets:
I never ever contemplated attending the inauguration or any activities associated w/ @realDonaldTrump. I wouldn't waste my time.— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) January 15, 2017
After much thought, I have decided to #StandWithJohnLewis and not attend the inauguration.— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) January 15, 2017
It is with a heavy heart and deep personal conviction that I have decided not to attend the #TrumpInauguration on January 20, 2017.— Mark DeSaulnier (@RepDeSaulnier) January 14, 2017
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) went even a step further:
Rep. Jamie Raskin: "I want to say this for Donald Trump, who I may well be voting to impeach..." He's drowned out by applause.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 15, 2017
Lewis's 1961 mugshot circulated widely on Twitter:
the level of badassery it takes to smirk through this mug shot as a black civil rights activist in 1961... https://t.co/dJeZpcb4P9— Danny Gold (@DGisSERIOUS) January 13, 2017
Residents of Lewis's district posted photos and video to mock Trump's comments:
Just FYI this is in John Lewis's "crime infested" district in Buckhead pic.twitter.com/OnQmiZMP30— Olivia Messer (@OliviaMesser) January 14, 2017
An important perspective:
Notice how, again, Trump conflates majority black places with chaos and ruin, shouting ideas of black dysfunction into the mainstream.— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) January 14, 2017
Even professional athletes got in on the action. Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh ripped Trump:
I'm not "anti-trump", I'm just anti-bullying and pro-respect https://t.co/KqnjzBz8YE— Collin McHugh (@Collin_McHugh) January 14, 2017
And here are more responses from lawmakers:
Is this really happening? The incoming President is attacking an American civil rights icon during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend?— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 14, 2017
Mitch McConnell tweeted this photo to boost Sessions's credibility just last week:
Ben Sasse urged Lewis to change his mind while also gently chastising Trump:
After Lewis said he wouldn't attend the inauguration:
To John Lewis, one of my heroes:— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) January 14, 2017
Please come to the Inauguration. It isn't about a man. It is a celebration of peaceful transfer of power.
In reply to Trump's tweets:
All these are true:— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) January 14, 2017
*Adam's decision to vacate the White House for Jefferson without violence was a gift
*John Lewis is a hero
*Words matter https://t.co/f2AsuIcrnt
The only black Republican in the Senate also carefully thread the needle:
Off Capitol Hill, Martin O'Malley drew strong reactions for this comment:
Now is not the time for reconciliation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn't reconcile with the Nazis. MLK didn't reconcile with the KKK. Now we fight pic.twitter.com/BoQNl0on1N— Martin O'Malley (@MartinOMalley) January 15, 2017
This is actually insane. https://t.co/MP9X3XU5Ks— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) January 15, 2017
You are a total lunatic and I sincerely hope you get the help you need https://t.co/DRHa7l7Sh8— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) January 15, 2017
Cindy McCain happened upon this sight outside her door in Washington, D.C.:
Meanwhile, spotted at the RNC:
A recent moment from Trump Tower:
Finally, here's an A+ example of Trump trolling from Scotland's Sunday Herald:
The award for trolliest TV Guide listing ever goes to Scotland's Sunday Herald....brilliant!!! Unfortunately now Trump will invade Scotland pic.twitter.com/Msk9Wc659v— Scott Wryn (@scottwrynn) January 15, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE --> TWO GOOD READS ON THE OBAMAS:
-- The New Yorker, “President Obama’s memorable parting words,” by George Packer: “After eight years, few lines from Barack Obama’s Presidential speeches stay in mind. For all his literary and oratorical gifts, he didn’t coin the kinds of phrases that stick with repetition, as if his distaste for politics generally—the schmoozing, the fakery—extended to the fashioning of slogans. He rarely turned to figurative language, and he never stooped to ‘Read my lips,’ or even ‘Ask not what your country can do for you.’ His most memorable phrase, ‘Yes we can,’ spoke to the audacious odds of his own run for the Presidency, not a clear political vision. He sought to persuade by explaining and reasoning, not by simplifying or dramatizing—a form of respect that the citizenry didn’t always deserve. This aversion to rhetoric, like Obama’s aloofness from Congress, is a personal virtue that hurt him politically. It’s connected to his difficulty in sustaining public support for his program and his party."
-- New York Times, “What Michelle Obama Wore and Why It Mattered,” by Vanessa Friedman: “There have been a lot of words since the 2016 election devoted to how Mrs. Obama loved fashion and fashion loved her in return … That the first lady, a Princeton-and-Harvard-educated lawyer and hospital power player, was publicly able to enjoy clothes allowed a swath of smart women to stop being so neurotic about dress (as she said to Vogue in her third cover story, the most of any first lady, one of the factors in choosing a garment always has to be, ‘Is it cute?’). … [And like] first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Nancy Reagan, Mrs. Obama understood that fashion was a means to create an identity for an administration. But unlike any other first lady, instead of seeing it as part of a uniform to which she had to conform, with the attendant rules and strictures that implies, she saw it as a way to frame her own independence and points of difference, add to her portfolio and amplify her husband’s agenda."
-- Melania Trump will have her very own glam room in the White House, complete with studio lighting: "There will absolutely be a room designated for hair, makeup and wardrobe," longtime makeup artist Nicole Bryl told Us Weekly. "Melania wants a room with the most perfect lighting scenario, which will make our jobs as a creative team that much more efficient, since great lighting can make or break any look." It’s still unclear when the future first lady plans to move from the Trump Tower to the Pennsylvania Avenue digs.
HOT ON THE LEFT:
-- “Bill Maher Isn’t High on Trump: The State of Free Speech in a New Era,” from the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg: “It’s amazing how much anxiety Mr. Trump’s imminent inauguration is stirring in the free-speech business — but perhaps not surprising given his open hostility toward the press, his willingness to use his platform against any who cross him and his seemingly proud dismissal of the government and political norms that precede him. No one knows whether a year from now, we’ll see today’s fears as overblown, underblown, or on point. Maher has a unique perspective. He resides at that most treacherous intersection where free speech meets government power and political passion, dodging traffic from left and right. He also once accused Mr. Trump of being part orangutan by birth.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“'Liberal snowflake' Hollywood stars come under fire for 'pathetic' video,” from the Daily Mail: “[Trump's] supporters have hit out at Hollywood once again, this time over a video of some of the biggest celebrities defiantly singing before his inauguration. A new clip … the likes of Emma Stone, Natalie Portman and Amy Adams reciting the disco classic I Will Survive. The star-studded cast is seen participating in a 'lyrical improv' reading of the Gloria Gaynor song in the video, released just days before Trump will be sworn in. It's already racked up more than a million views, but many of Trump's most fervent fans found the video to be 'pathetic', 'out of touch' and even 'uncool …” “'Unbelievable. The liberal Hollywood snowflakes made ANOTHER pathetic video called, I Will Survive,' tweeted one user named Billy.”
At the White House: Obama welcomes the Chicago Cubs to celebrate their 2016 World Series victory, then participates in a service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Biden holds meetings in Kiev, Ukraine with Prime Minister Groysman and President Poroshenko. Later, he departs for Davos, Switzerland to deliver remarks on the future of the Cancer Moonshot.
On Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It's very hard to lose weight in the Trump era.” – Judd Apatow speaks about his stress during an interview with Maureen Dowd
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Bring your umbrella – a cloudy, somewhat rainy day is ahead. The Capital Weather Gang reports: “Early this morning some patchy light rain is possible, especially south of the Beltway. A few sleet pellets may mix in but temperatures should be safely above freezing. For most of the region for most of the day, it’s dry but cloudier-than-not. The clouds hold high temperatures in the 40s. Winds are very light.”
-- The Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Alec Baldwin reenacts Trump's press conference in the "SNL" cold open:
Here's John Lewis's full interview with NBC:
The Obamas answered questions from kids online:
Stephen Colbert imagined grilling Rex Tillerson:
Seth Meyers mocked debate over Trump's policies in this segment: