I'm just putting this out there for the record. As Nate Silver points out here, a handful of votes in across several states are what made the difference in this last election and the reason it happened was because of James Comey.
Clinton "should have" won by 20 points, just to be sure, and should have been a different person and should not have tempted fate by even running in the first place when she knew the media was determined to take her down at long last. She should have known that she could not win. All of those things are true and in retrospect she probably wishes she hadn't bothered and had let Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders face that odious homunculus handed freak from outer space.
Nonetheless, she came close to winning with almost three million more people, voters, choosing her over said odious, homunculus handed freak from outer space and there's no evidence that failing to campaign more in certain states would have made the difference. What made the difference was the most powerful lawman in the nation smearing her in the last week of the election. There are many reasons we can point to, but that is the one that nobody can dispute because the polling in both campaigns showed the drop.
I guess we all know why Trump had that satanic look on his face now, don't we? He never had any intention of nominating him. He just wanted to make him grovel before him. Then he stuck the shiv in and twisted it.
Any rival or opposition who tries to co-opt him is going to meet the same fate. He's not "someone we can work with." He'll use you, but you will be his lackey.
I hope Democrats pin this picture on their wall and look it every morning.
Josh Marshall wrote this last week and I think he might just be right. He's talking about Trump's massive conflicts of interest and his outright refusal to divest. And he surmises something that makes sense to me:
Maybe he can't divest because he's too underwater to do so or more likely he's too dependent on current and expanding cash flow to divest or even turn the reins over to someone else.
Late this afternoon we got news that Trump will remain as executive producer of The Apprentice, now starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. That is, quite simply, weird. The presidency is time consuming and complicated, even for the lazier presidents. Does Trump really need to do this? Can he do it, just in terms of hours in the day? Of course, it may simply be a title that entitles him to draw a check. But does he need the check that bad?
The idea that Trump is heavily leveraged and reliant on on-going cash flow to keep his business empire from coming apart and collapsing into bankruptcy was frequently discussed during the campaign. But it's gotten pretty little attention since he was elected.
Here's something else.
After Trump got into that scuffle with Boeing, reporters asked about his ownership of Boeing stock. Trump replied that he'd already sold that stock. So there was no problem. But there's a bit more to it than that.
According to his spokesman, Trump sold all of his stock back in June, a portfolio which his disclosures suggest was worth as much as $38 million. Trump told Matt Lauer that he sold the stock because he was confident he'd win and "would have a tremendous ... conflict of interest owning all of these different companies" while serving as President.
Now, c'mon. Donald Trump sold off all his equities more than six months before he could become president because he was concerned about conflicts of interest? Please. That doesn't pass the laugh test.
But consider this. During the primaries Donald Trump loaned his campaign roughly $50 million. Over the course of the spring, as it became increasingly likely he'd be the nominee, that loan became increasingly conspicuous. Donors were wary of donating big money because they didn't want him to use it to pay himself back for that loan. Many suggested that he might not actually be able to part with that money. It became a big issue and Trump refused to forgive the loans.
It was only in June that Trump finally gave in and forgave the loan; this was confirmed in the June FEC disclosure that came out in late July. Who knows why Trump sold off all his stock holdings? Maybe he just had a feeling. Maybe he thought the market was too hot. Maybe he just had a spasm of prospective ethical concern. But let's be honest. The most obvious explanation is that forgiving that debt from his campaign required him - through whatever mix of contingencies - to free up more cash, either for the campaign or personal expenses or perhaps to have a certain amount of cash on hand because of terms of other debts. It does not seem plausible at all that the timing is coincidental.
Since we don't have Trump's tax returns, there's just a huge amount we don't know about his businesses. What we do know is that Trump appears to wildly exaggerate the scale of his wealth and exhibit a stinginess that is very hard to square with a man of the kinds of means he claims. A heavily leveraged business, one that is indebted and dependent on cash flow to keep everything moving forward, can be kind of like a shark. It has to keep moving forward or it dies.
Perhaps Trump simply doesn't feel like he can trust anyone else to keep the whole shambling enterprise afloat. More plausibly, and consistent with Trump's history over the last couple decades, Trump's business is dependent on an ever expanding number of deals not just to grow but to stay afloat at all. It is certainly plausible that if Trump simply sold off his company in toto, he'd be in debt. Maybe there wouldn't be anything left to put in a blind trust.
I don't actually believe he sold his stock back in June. But if he did, this is the most plausible reason he did it.
It's entirely possible that the whole thing is a sham and that he actually needs the boys to sell "the President Brand" in order to keep his alleged empire afloat. It always stuck me a suspicious that any billionaire would need to sell steaks and an airport conference room scam like Trump University. It doesn't make sense. A billion dollars works for itself. You don't have to do anything to become richer. Why would you get involved in a penny ante scheme like that --- or any of the penny ante real estate "branding" deals he's been involved in over the past few years if you didn't need the money?
Kakistocracy is a term meaning a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was first coined by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but was rarely used until the 21st century.
The word comes from the Greek words kakistos (κάκιστος; worst) and kratos (κράτος; rule), with a literal meaning of government by the worst people. Despite its Greek roots, the word was first used in English, but has been adapted into other languages. Its Greek equivalent is kakistokratia (κακιστοκρατία), Spanish kakistocracia, French kakistocracie, and Russian kakistokratiya (какистократия).
English author Thomas Love Peacock first coined the term in his 1829 novel The Misfortunes of Elphin, with kakistocracy meaning the opposite of aristocracy (aristos in Greek (ἄριστος) means "excellent"). In his 1838 Memoir on Slavery, U.S. Senator and slavery proponent William Harper compared kakistocracy to anarchy, and said it had seldom occurred due to the "honor" of human nature
"Anarchy is not so much the absence of government as the government of the worst — not aristocracy but kakistocracy — a state of things, which to the honor of our nature, has seldom obtained amongst men, and which perhaps was only fully exemplified during the worst times of the French revolution, when that horrid hell burnt with its most horrid flame.
In such a state of things, to be accused is to be condemned—to protect the innocent is to be guilty; and what perhaps is the worst effect, even men of better nature, to whom their own deeds are abhorrent, are goaded by terror to be forward and emulous in deeds of guilt and violence."
American poet James Russell Lowell used the term in 1876, in a letter to Joel Benton, writing, "What fills me with doubt and dismay is the degradation of the moral tone. Is it or is it not a result of Democracy? Is ours a 'government of the people by the people for the people,' or a Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?"
Usage of the word was rare in the early part of the 20th century, but regained popularity in 1981. Since then it has been employed to negatively describe various governments around the world. It was frequently used by conservative commentator Glenn Beck to describe the Obama Administration.
The word returned to usage during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In February 2016, writer David Clay Johnston wrote that the United States was in danger of becoming a kakistocracy, "America is moving away from the high ideals of President Kennedy's inaugural address — 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.' Instead we see politicians who say they love America, but hate the American government."
In May 2016, academic and blogger Amro Ali argued that kakistocracy was a word that needed to be revived, as the word had long fallen out of circulation and there was a pressing case to rehabilitate it as "stupidity in governance needs to be treated as a political problem, and kakistocracy can best capture this problem." After an analysis of the word, the author concluded that "either kakistocracy gets used and thoroughly examined or a Trump presidency will force us to do so."
In August 2016, Dan Leger of Canadian newspaper The Chronicle Herald predicted that a Trump victory in the U.S. presidential election would require renewed usage of the term "kakistocracy," writing: "The kind of government he offers are so off the wall that words fail, or at least modern words do. So one from the Greek past has been revived to describe what the Trump presidency would mean, in the unlikely event he should be elected." Leger compared the 2016 election with that of 1968, which featured two unpopular candidates. He wrote that after Richard Nixon won, he "established a kakistocracy of corruption, misuse of power and scandal lasting until he was driven from office in 1974."
I have no idea what's true and what isn't on this story. Tom does a nice job of laying it out in the post below. I will just say that there have been a couple of elements that have always struck me as very strange in all this. The first is the involvement of Paul Manafort in the campaign which never made a lot of sense. He was known at the time of hire to be a guy who was involved with some very nefarious international figures, most recently in Ukraine and going all the way back to Ferdinand Marcos. He worked for free so it wasn't about the money and he wasn't a great friend of Donald Trump, although they had been acquaintances. His reputation was ... not good.
He is said to still be advising the campaign, although not officially. He was asked about that yesterday and he said he wasn't "active in the transition" whatever that means.
While the original version of the Republican Party platform is not public and unavailable, news outlets reported that it contained language that included arming Ukraine in its fight against Russia. The version that passed, however, softened the language, saying America will provide "appropriate assistance" to Ukraine and "greater coordination with NATO defense planning."
When Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort about how much influence Trump in changing the platform, Manafort denied any involvement. (Read about Manafort’s connections to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians here).
Todd then asked where the idea came from, and added, "Everybody on the platform committee had said it came from the Trump campaign. If not you, who?"
Finally, Todd pressed the matter, asking if anyone on the Trump campaign wanted that change, to which Manafort answered: "No one, zero."
So did Trump and his campaign influence the change? It’s hard to know for sure, and that’s why we’re avoiding putting this question on the Truth-O-Meter. But the evidence does suggest that Trump’s campaign was involved.
Trump said in an interview on ABC that he personally had nothing to do with the change, but did not give a clear answer to whether or not his campaign was involved.
George Stephanopoulos: "Then why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?"
Trump: "I wasn't involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved."
Stephanopoulos: "Your people were."
Trump: "Yeah. I was not involved in that. I'd like to -- I'd have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in that."
Stephanopoulos: "Do you know what they did?"
Trump: "They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved."
As you can see, Trump says, "Yeah," in response to a query that his campaign was involved. But it’s not clear if that’s the answer to a question, or just Trump filling space.
After these questions, Trump hints at why the platform may have changed .
"The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were," Trump said.
Independent reporting does seem to undercut Manafort’s denial of any involvement.
"The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington," reported Josh Rogin in the Washington Post.
The column relies largely on the account of Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas and former Ted Cruz supporter, who proposed an amendment during a national security platform meeting to arm Ukraine against Russia. (Attempts to contact those at the meeting were unsuccessful.)
The article says that amendment was tabled after pro-Trump delegates were urged by Trump staffers to water down the provision. On Aug. 1, 2016, Rogin reiterated his point after Manafort and Trump both denied that they were involved.
In another article by Rogin, Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis weighed the costs of providing assistance to other nation states while speaking to European diplomats at the International Republican Institute.
"It’s okay to go out here and load your mouth up and say stuff and say, ‘Yeah we are going to come to your aid, we’re going to provide you arms, we’re going to come out and do all these things. But nobody has taken the time to think this through to its logical conclusion," Clovis said. "What are the costs going to be to the United States, not just in Ukraine but also in NATO and also around the world?"
Other reports from people involved in the platform process say the Trump campaign was involved.
Maine delegate Eric Brakey told the Daily Beast he supported the change, which was pushed in part by the Trump campaign.
"Some staff from the Trump campaign came in and… came back with some language that softened the platform," Brakey told the Daily Beast. "They didn’t intervene in the platform in most cases. But in that case they had some wisdom to say that maybe we don’t want to be calling… for very, very clear aggressive acts of war against Russia."
Another delegate, Rachel Hoff of Washington, D.C., told the Daily Beast that it was "my understanding that it was Trump staff," behind the change in language.
Steve Pifer, a foreign policy senior fellow and the Brookings Institute, said the United States has been directly involved with Ukraine by providing a fair amount of assistance to the country.
A Los Angeles Times article also said Trump "surrogates" intervened during the platform meeting. The other news articles about this situation site the Washington Post as evidence that Trump was involved, but it’s hard to use those news reports as evidence in this fact-check.
There were numerous stories about unnamed Trump observers --- not representative delegates, which would be normal --- at the platform committee intervening in this process, demanding changes and being on the phone the whole time getting guidance from afar. Perhaps this wouldn't have been unusual except it's reported that this is the only reported time this happened.
It struck me as weird at the time. It's true Trump was running on an anti-NATO platform and was pretty clearly seeking to completely change the world global order with a new tilt toward an American Russian alliance against Western Europe and China, with a particular anti-Muslim focus. He is so inarticulate and stupid that it was hard to sort out what he was talking about at any particular moment but when you look at the whole of his campaign it was pretty clear that this is where it was going.
But this was a very specific move to tell someone that a Trump administration would lift the economic sanctions that are biting the Russian oligarchs hard at the moment. I don't know who they were trying to tell but it wasn't the American people.
Anyway, this story isn't going away. Trump's damaged goods in so many respects it's hard to see how he's going to function. He's grotesquely corrupt and unqualified. But we knew that already. This story, as Tom illustrates below, implicates the entire Republican Party.
And it certainly raises questions about James Comey's actions in the 10 days before the election when he chose to drop his letter about the Anthony Weiner laptop so close to the election that the Clinton campaign did not have time to recover. When Comey did that he was sitting on this much bigger bombshell and chose to do something that would damage the Clinton effort. That says everything.
The possibility of Russian government interference in the election is a huge deal. If they did it with the intention of electing Trump --- and we only know this from unnamed CIA officials saying they know that the Russians also hacked the RNC and other GOP officials and those emails were never released --- I'm not sure how Trump ever recovers whatever small shred of credibility he had. This political crisis is becoming overwhelming and I'm unsure where it's going to end up.
But personally, as a civil libertarian, I remain most offended by the actions of the FBI and James Comey. He is the most powerful law enforcement officer in the country, and unlike Russians, he's sworn to uphold the constitution and be an unbiased actor in our political system. What he did was unconscionable on every level. This Russian story just adds another layer to the historic ignominy of his behavior.
Lots of Twitter buzz last night over news of a secret CIA report that concludes Russian hacking ahead of the election intended not only to undermine confidence in America's election process, but also to help Donald Trump win the presidency. The CIA briefed "key senators" in a closed-door meeting this week, the Washington Post reports:
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
The report comes on the heels of news that Obama ordered a "full review" of Russian interference with the 2016 elections. Please read the entire report, but carefully. The Post continues:
The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.
Somebody(s) in those briefings wanted this information leaked. Or the briefers gave their briefings expecting this information would be leaked. So before everyone rushes out to check for Russians hacking their woodpiles, Marcy Wheeler urges some caution:
Remember: we went to war against Iraq, which turned out to have no WMD, in part because no one read the “minor disagreements” from a few agencies about some aluminum tubes. What we’re being told is there are some aluminum tube type disagreements.
Let’s hear about those disagreements this time, shall we?
The New York Times added that the intelligence assessment that Russia has trying to help Trump came with "high confidence" despite the unspecified "minor disagreements" noted above. The Times reports:
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.
According to the Post, the actors who transmitted the hacked documents were not Russian government officials, but middlemen. "Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability."
One other key item to note: Seeking to craft a bipartisan public response to “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process,” the White House first brought this information to Congress in mid-September where it went to die.
One thing you can always count on, though: Mitch McConnell acted like Mitch McConnell.
Trump cultists will of course ignore this story (unless they threaten the reporters). Because Make America Great Again for kleptocrats. Not that I've seen anything to provoke the following tweet, but give them time.
Why are the same angry young men who tweet the most about revolution now telling us to shrug & get over a foreign power deciding presidency?
Privately, House Republicans complain that Trump’s infrastructure plan reeks of Obama’s stimulus package (though some argue that Trump, unlike Obama, is likely to rely on public-private partnerships, not just federal dollars, and is likely to be paid for). . . .
Many are afraid to publicly oppose Trump because of his fondness for retribution and use of Twitter to publicly shame his critics. So now, they’re left crossing their fingers that his rhetoric doesn’t translate into actual policy proposals next year.
I used to call the congressional Republicans the Eunuch Caucus during the Bush years. Looks like they're reverting to type.
Republican Representative Jim Buchy was a strong proponent for the bill, which he said would “encourage personal responsibility.” “What we have here is really the need to give people the incentive to be more responsible so we reduce unwanted pregnancies, and by the way, the vast majority of abortions are performed on women who were not raped,” he told Ohio Public Radio.
Buchy is a longtime proponent of restricting women’s access to abortion — in 2012, he told Al Jazeera that his ultimate goal is to ban abortion completely in the state of Ohio. Then, the reporter asked him an interesting question: “What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?”
He pauses. Then he says, “Well, there’s probably a lot of reas— I’m not a woman.” He laughs. “I’m thinking now if I’m a woman why would I want to get … Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know. It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”
And he doesn't care what the reasons are because he believes this is all a matter of making women take "personal responsibility." If the ladies insist on having sex they have to pay the price: childbearing. It's the only way to keep 'em in line.
Trump has said that his picks for he Supreme Court will be anti-abortion --- he's not even trying to pretend there is no litmus test. This may be about to get very real.
Actually, it's MONEY through family but whatevs ..
I have noted this before but it's worth looking at again. Trump is a eugenicist who believes that he and his family have superior genes and his wealth proves it. Remember this?
Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio explains that Trump was raised to believe that success is genetic, and that some people are just more superior than others:
"The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."
Huffington Post also took the liberty of compiling a whole bunch of times Trump suggested that genes are the main factor behind brains and superiority. Here are just a few choice quotes from good ol' Trump:
"All men are created equal. Well, it's not true. 'Cause some are smart, some aren't."
"When you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse."
"Secretariat doesn't produce slow horses."
"Do we believe in the gene thing? I mean, I do."
"I have great genes and all that stuff which, I'm a believer in."
We’re in an era of the cult of the entrepreneur. We analyze the Tory Burches and Evan Spiegels of the world looking for a magic formula or set of personality traits that lead to success. Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and more students coming out of business schools are choosing startup life over Wall Street.
But what often gets lost in these conversations is that the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability. While it seems that entrepreneurs tend to have an admirable penchant for risk, it’s usually that access to money which allows them to take risks.
And this is a key advantage: When basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks. “Many other researchers have replicated the finding that entrepreneurship is more about cash than dash,” University of Warwick professor Andrew Oswald tells Quartz. “Genes probably matter, as in most things in life, but not much.”
Trump has certainly been creative ... in covering his ass. He managed to get bankers to keep loaning to him when he was clearly totally inept and repeatedly going bankrupts. It took them decades to catch on. He appears not to have federal income taxes for decades. And he just duped a large minority of Americans that he was going to turn back the clock and make them all billionaires. So, he creative alright. The way the best con artists are creative.
But he couldn't have done that without daddy's money. Not in a million years.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's pick to be his national security adviser, claimed in an August radio interview that Arabic signs were present along the United States border with Mexico to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and "radicalized Muslims" into the United States.
Flynn further said in the interview he had personally seen photos of such signs in Texas.
A CNN KFile review of available information about the terror threat along the US-Mexico border could not corroborate Flynn's claim. CNN's KFile asked Flynn for clarification about the Arabic signs, but received no reply. A Trump transition spokesman declined to comment. A spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "respectfully" declined to comment.
"I know from my friends in the Border Patrol in CBP that there are countries -- radical Islamist countries, state-sponsored -- that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the 'lanes of entry' into our country," Flynn said in an interview with Breitbart News on SiriusXM radio. "And I have personally seen the photos of the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They're like way points along that path as you come in. Primarily, in this case the one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that say, in Arabic, 'this way, move to this point.' It's unbelievable."
"This rise of Muslims and radicalized Muslims coming into our country illegally is something that we should pay very, very close attention to," he added.
This is the kind of crap he's talking about. And it came from that highly respected organization Judicial Watch, the same group the mainstream media breathlessly followed and reported their every dispatch on the "Clinton email" saga as if they'd discovered a new Dead Sea Scroll:
ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.
The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.
During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.
Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations.
According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.
Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.
That was from 2015 and it is 100% prime grade bullshit.
Over the course of the campaign we found there was a cult like aspect to Trump's support, where any idea he put forth a substantial share of his supporters would go along with. We see that trend continuing post election. 60% of Trump voters think that Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes to only 18% who disagree with that concept and 22% who aren't sure either way.
A couple other findings related to the vote in this year's election:
-40% of Trump voters insist that he won the national popular vote to only 49% who grant that Clinton won it and 11% who aren't sure.
-Only 53% of Trump voters think that California's votes should be allowed to count in the national popular vote. 29% don't think they should be allowed to count, and another 18% are unsure.
There's been a lot of attention to the way fake news has spread and been believed especially by Trump supporters and that's borne out in our polling:
-73% of Trump voters think that George Soros is paying protesters against Trump to only 6% who think that's not true, and 21% who aren't sure one way or the other. (I personally had to explain to my Grandmother that this wasn't true a few weeks ag0 after someone sent her an e-mail about it.)
-14% of Trump supporters think Hillary Clinton is connected to a child sex ring run out of a Washington DC pizzeria. Another 32% aren't sure one way or another, much as the North Carolinian who went to Washington to check it out last weekend said was the case for him. Only 54% of Trump voters expressly say they don't think #Pizzagate is real.
There's also been a lot of discussion recently about how we might be in a post-fact world and we see some evidence of that coming through in our polling:
-67% of Trump voters say that unemployment increased during the Obama administration, to only 20% who say it decreased.
-Only 41% of Trump voters say that the stock market went up during the Obama administration. 39% say it went down, and another 19% say they're not sure.
And the Trump voters strong desire for more populist policies as opposed to Clinton's smug elitists is reflected here:
There's 76% support nationally for increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, including support from 95% of Clinton voters and 54% of Trump voters.
Curiouser and curiouser, said pretty much everybody. Donald J. Trump, president-elect of the United States of America, may not have time between lies for more than one intelligence briefing a week, but he has time for this:
The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC declined to comment.
The former reality-show star's presidency hasn't even premiered yet and it is officially a reality show. The cast includes a slew of colorful characters:
It's got a retired general bordering on "demented" as a National Security Advisor who tweets conspiracy theories. Has the general been mixing Infowars with his grain alcohol and branch water again?
U decide - NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc...MUST READ! https://t.co/O0bVJT3QDr
“If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce,” Donald Trump’s son told The Opie and Anthony Show in a 2013 interview that BuzzFeed just unearthed.
"It's like Fox News. I report, you decide if it's true or not."
Last night, Rachel Maddow examined a PPP poll that reveals just how much of an alternate reality Trump voters live in, concluding, "In terms of what happens next in our country, it seems important to know this incoming president basically created this fantasy life for his supporters.”
Doing your own thing, believing your own way, students inviting professors to teach what they felt was true: these were ideas characters in Trump's America thought pinko and subversive back when bead-wearing, flower-power types rejected The Establishment. That's how far down the rabbit hole Trump's unreality show has already gone.
Have they stopped laughing at us yet, Mr. President-elect?
Jesus…my blog is starting to read like an obituary column today.
Not that it is 100% shocking to hear that a 95 year-old astronaut has gone into his final trajectory…but this is John flippin’ Glenn, one of the true icons of America’s original NASA Mercury space program.
The passing of Walter Cronkite, just several days shy of this upcoming Monday’s 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, has added a bittersweet poignancy to the occasion that is hard for me to put into words. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories of being plunked in front of the TV are of being transfixed by the reassuring visage of Uncle Walter, with the familiar backdrop of the Cape Canaveral launch pad behind him. Remember when the coverage of NASA spaceflights were an exciting, all-day news event, as opposed to a perfunctory sound bite sandwiched in between wall-to-wall minutiae about the latest celebrity death?
Good times, indeed. Progressive times for science, and America. That’s what John Glenn and his cohorts will forever stand for.
This is one good reason why you don't want career military brass in charge of domestic intelligence and police functions. Their experience often gives them a perspective that leads to a certain amount of confusion about domestic issues.
Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security, a post that will have great consequence in a Trump administration, given Trump’s vow of a much tougher approach to combating illegal immigration and internal terrorist threats, both areas that DHS oversees.
In that context, there is a quote that Kelly delivered in 2010 that libertarians and civil liberties experts see as troubling, and in need of further clarification. The Post account describes it this way:
Kelly learned firsthand the pain and loss suffered by many military families. His son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, died in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban in 2010. Four days later, the general delivered a passionate and at times angry speech about the military’s sacrifices and its troops’ growing sense of isolation from society.
“Their struggle is your struggle,” he told a crowd of former Marines and business people in St. Louis. “If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight — our country — these people are lying to themselves. … More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”
That quote, which was about members of the military fighting against the terrorist enemy, seems to suggest that one cannot criticize a war without being seen as anti-troops. That said, it could also mean that one cannot criticize the broader act of defending this nation without being anti-troops.
A full transcript of the speech, which was linked to in a Post article in 2011, provides a slightly different rendition of the quote:
“I know it doesn’t apply to those of us here tonight but if anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight — America’s survival — then they are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”
Civil liberties experts are calling for him to "clarify" what he meant by that in his confirmation hearing. And if he's smart he'll prepare something that papers over the remark. Maybe he was just emotional in the moment. But the fact is that his boss, the president-elect, is a full on enemy of civil liberties who has made it quite clear that he doesn't have a clue about the constitution and if, god forbid, we have a terrorist attack or some other kind of crisis, he will give the go-ahead for just about anything. The hope was that he would have people around him who would keep a cooler head. There's no indication that this is a guy who would do that.
I actually think it's a little unfair to criticize them for naming him Person of the Year. He clearly was, whether we like it or not. And if you read the profile, it's not flattering. And the picture isn't that great either. (As Colbert says, it looks like they sneaked up on him from behind and startled him.) It will be an important document for the historical record. If we survive him.
President-elect Donald Trump had a good day on Wednesday. After having been embarrassingly overlooked as Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2015, which galled him to no end, he finally got the nod this year. Trump was thrilled. He even submitted himself to a rare (these days) interview in which he declared, “It’s a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine.”
Evidently he failed to read the editor’s explanation or he would have noted that it wasn’t quite the honor he thought it was:
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time’s 2016 person of the year.
Time’s profile and interview made it quite clear what that editorial was talking about, even if the president-elect didn’t understand it. He made many fatuous statements along the lines of his “analysis” of world affairs, in which he explained that the European Union is “other people are being forced into countries and some people are unhappy about it” because “a lot of bad things are happening.” He also explained that working people don’t want to see their president carrying his own luggage and “that’s pretty much the way it is” and named New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as an example of good leadership.
There was more in that vein, but what illustrated the editor’s note most vividly was his response to reporter Michael Scherer quoting President Obama urging his fellow citizens to rediscover the “better angels” of human nature. Trump abruptly interrupted him and excused himself for a moment to retrieve a copy of a tabloid newspaper with the front-page headline “’EXTREMELY VIOLENT’ GANG FACTION.” The article was about a surge in local crime in Long Island allegedly committed by immigrants. Trump says, “They come from Central America. They’re tougher than any people you’ve ever met. They’re killing and raping everybody out there. They’re illegal. And they are finished.”
When Scherer observed that this is the kind of rhetoric one hears from Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, a man responsible for the wanton killing of thousands of his own citizens, Trump replied, “Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff. They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, OK. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?”
This should not be terribly surprising since he spent the last year and a half on the campaign trail bellowing about ISIS, saying he loves waterboarding and wants to do “more than that,” and even hinting at times that he would consider “chopping off heads.” Trump has said he believes that the families of terrorist suspects should be tortured or “taken out.” He has delighted in regaling his followers with lurid stories about war crimes, such as the apocryphal tale he loved to tell about Gen. Jack Pershing in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War:
They took 50 [Muslim insurgents], they lined them up. They took a pig and then took a second pig and they cut the pig open and they took the bullets from the rifles. And they dumped the bullets into the pigs and they swashed it around. Then they took the bullets and they shot 49 of the 50 people. The fiftieth person, they said, ‘Take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem’ and tell ‘em what happened tonight. And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks, OK believe me.
These violent anecdotes are all in the context of war and terrorism, not that it makes them legal or acceptable. But his comments in TIME were about dealing with criminal matters, which makes it even more disturbing in light of the fact that Trump actually spoke with Duterte last week and invited him to the White House. According to the Philippine government he also endorsed Duterte’s extrajudicial campaign against alleged drug dealers and users, saying he’s doing it “the right way.”
We know Trump follows the New York Times since he complains so much about it. One hopes that he saw yesterday’s grisly array of photographs by Daniel Berehulak showing assassinations at the hands of Philippine police and vigilantes, making clear the horror that Duterte has brought to his country. The idea that the American president-elect would find Duterte’s methods anything but morally outrageous is disturbing indeed.
An article by Adrian Chen in the New Yorker about Duterte’s short tenure, called “When A Populist Demagogue Takes Power” will send chills down your spine. The Philippine leader is crude, impulsive, blasphemous and violent, explaining his propensity to offend by saying, “I am testing the élite in this country” (which is funny because he comes from a very prominent political family.) Aside from his domestic crackdown on drug users and drug sellers, Duterte is blowing up relationships with other nations on what seems to be an ad hoc basis. He famously referred to President Obama as “son of whore,” and has made moves to extricate his nation from its long and close relationship with the U.S.
According to people who know him, Duterte is hypersensitive to criticism and will “snap” if he feels someone is talking down to him. Chen describes him as a person who “thinks out loud, in long, rambling monologues, laced with inscrutable jokes and wild exaggeration” and points out that while his manner is part of his populist image, it inevitably leads to misunderstandings. Duterte is also a conspiracy theorist who has always been fascinated by police and military men. He even shot a classmate in the leg when he was in college. Luckily it was only a flesh wound.
Any normal person who knew anything about the world would be repulsed at being compared to such a man, much less compliment him on his “get tough” policy. But this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. No, he isn’t quite Rodrigo Duterte but let’s just say they share certain traits. Remember that nearly 30 years ago Trump is the man who took out a full-page ad entitled “Bring Back the Death Penalty” which said, “CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” Clearly, his beliefs haven’t evolved much.
In case you were wondering, Duterte has an 86 percent approval rating. Right now, Trump’s is at 50 percent and rising.
You knew this would happen didn't you? Did you think the Republicans would win an election without the Religious Right claiming that it's their victory? Of course you didn't.
The presidential election was so close that many factors were “but-for” causes of Donald Trump’s victory. One that’s been mostly overlooked is Trump’s surprising success with religious voters. According to exit polls, Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote, and Hillary Clinton only 16 percent. Trump did significantly better than the overtly religious Mitt Romney and the overtly evangelical George W. Bush. He likely over-performed among other theologically conservative voters, such as traditionalist Catholics, as well. Not bad for a thrice-married adulterer of no discernible faith.
To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump. AsSean Trende of RealClear Politics noted, since 2012:
Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.
Megan McArdle of Bloomberg similarly pointed out, “Over the last few years, as controversies have erupted over the rights of cake bakers and pizza places to refuse to cater gay weddings, the rights of nuns to refuse to provide insurance that covers birth control, the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to perform abortions, and the rights of Christian schools to teach (and require students and teachers to practice) traditional Christian morality, some Christians have begun to feel that their communities are under existential threat.”
And you just wait and see. The Democrats will soon decide they need to "soften" their stances on the culture war issues so they can win with Real Americans. Sure, it's about the economy, but solidarity on that front is very hard to convey. This culture war issues are much more accessible signifiers.
This is a good piece in today's Washington Post pointing out that the right has political correctness too. In fact, they are far more rigid than the left:
Blaming the liberal or mainstream media and “media bias” is the patriotically correct version of blaming the corporations or capitalism. The patriotically correct notion that they “would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University” because the former have “common sense” and the “intellectual elites” don’t know anything, despite all the evidence to the contrary, can be sustained only in a total bubble. Poor white Americans are the victims of economic dislocation and globalization beyond their control, while poor blacks and Hispanics are poor because of their failed cultures. The patriotically correct are triggered when they hear strangers speaking in a language other than English. Does that remind you of the PC duty to publicly shame those who use unacceptable language to describe race, gender or whatever other identity is the victim du jour?
The patriotically correct rightly ridicule PC “safe spaces” but promptly retreat to Breitbart or talk radio, where they can have mutually reinforcing homogeneous temper tantrums while complaining about the lack of intellectual diversity on the left. There is no such thing as too much national security, but it’s liberals who want to coddle Americans with a “nanny state.” Those who disagree with the patriotically correct are animated by anti-Americanism, are post-American, or deserve any other of a long list of clunky and vague labels that signal virtue to other members of the patriotic in-group.
Every group has implicit rules against certain opinions, actions and language as well as enforcement mechanisms — and the patriotically correct are no exception. But they are different because they are near-uniformly unaware of how they are hewing to a code of speech and conduct similar to the PC lefties they claim to oppose. The modern form of political correctness on college campuses and the media is social tyranny with manners, while patriotic correctness is tyranny without the manners, and its adherents do not hesitate to use the law to advance their goals. If we have a term to describe this new phenomenon — I nominate patriotic correctness.
But the larger point he makes is correct. Everyone has certain ideas about what is and isn't acceptable and it's a constantly evolving set of rules. The right, however, believes they are alone in being taken to task for saying certain things. Ask Colin Kaepernick about this. He probably has some ideas.
Progressive politics is not a zero-sum game where if your issue gets attention, mine gets kicked to the curb. In the face of an extremist state legislature, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, built the Forward Together movement on inclusion and cooperation that got progressive groups out of their silos to work together. Against efforts to divide them, that model held together a diverse coalition of activists that succeeded in turning out Gov. Pat McCrory in a sweep year for Republicans. Yesterday at The Nation Barber proposed that this tested model could work under a Trump administration:
In the spring of 2013, when the voter-suppression bill was still making its way through the legislature, Moral Mondays emerged as the direct action of concerned citizens against the unconstitutional takeover of our state. Over a thousand North Carolinians were arrested in the largest state government–focused civil-disobedience campaign in US history (arrests that would later be thrown out by a state superior court judge). We took our stand in public, and we exposed the vulnerability of divide-and-conquer tactics to cross-racial, cross-class fusion coalition building.
We fought back hard, organized all over the state, hosted more than 200 Moral Monday events, went to court to prove race-based voter suppression, and defeated one of the worst voter-suppression bills in the country since Jim Crow. We proved that we do not have to concede the battle in the South.
And so "workers stood with preachers and LGBTQ activists stood with the business community" in opposing McCrory, the legislature, and HB2. Barber concludes, "This moral, fusion organizing convinced a majority of North Carolinians to make McCrory the first governor in our state’s history to lose a reelection bid." Perhaps what's in order for progressives now is a little less focus on what went wrong in 2016 and more on the bright spots (Dan Heath) where things went right.
Barber's model has applicability to more than just the South. And we need it to. Because to borrow from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, it's not the economy, it's the math. As I argued earlier:
... if Democrats expect to be a national party, they are going to need to make inroads again in the red states, whatever urbanites feel about fellow citizens in the vast stretches of red on the map that supported Trump. Those states cannot be wished away or written off. This is not sympathy for the devil, real or imagined. It's math.
To be sure, a lot of friends on the left are still processing November's painful losses. But in a lot of places we are more comfortable ignoring there are congressional seats and state House and Senate seats, and they matter. Martin Longman writes at Political Animal, the problem going forward is not that Democrats don't have widespread support, it's how that support is spread:
The challenge is not just to sustain and hopefully grow their plurality base of voters, but to change the demographic nature of their supporters. This is why you’ll hear people like me say that the Democrats absolutely cannot ignore that they lost 75%-80% of the white vote in county after county in Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest. This is the kind of racial voting we’ve seen in the South for years, and if it becomes the norm in the North it will make it impossible for the Democrats to win control of state legislatures in that region, make it nearly impossible to win back the U.S. House of Representatives, and give the Republicans a narrow opening to win the Electoral College with a minority of the popular vote, again.
A lot of people do not like the sound of that. But I don’t care how it sounds. It isn’t a value statement or an assessment of worth. It’s just a diagnosis of a problem. How you solve it, if it can be solved, is what ought to be controversial. The fact that it needs to be solved should not.
Longman argues, as I do, that building progressive strength in heartland states is "not about selling anyone out." (Rev. Barber's Forward Together model does not.) There are a lot of people in red states who do not share progressive values, but abandoning wholesale those who do is not the way to win back the House, the Senate, and state legislatures.* As DNC chair, Howard Dean got that. When Obama and the national Democratic leadership abandoned the 50-state plan, they abandoned their own voters with it. And here we are.
Some years back, I worked a winning congressional race in one of our majority-Democrat districts that consistently votes Republican in federal races. (Yes, lots of conservadems.) We won, in part, by shaving the margins in Republican strongholds. Years later, I am still high-fiving our organizer in the most Republican large county in the district. She lost there, but by only 3,000 votes. That. Was. Huge. And not in a Donald Trump way.
We've got to do that again, and in many more places. Because if we don't show up to play, we forfeit.
* In North Carolina, for example, 2,128,255 people (45%) voted for former ACLU attorney, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross who was supported by Democracy for America and EMILY's List.
... the editor of TIME Magazine in her note about why they picked Donald Trump for "Person of the Year:"
“For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time’s 2016 person of the year.”
I think Trump may have only looked at the pictures because he said this this morning:
“It’s a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine.”
I really wish they;'d have picked "The Trump Voter" because it would have made him soooo mad but he couldn't have said anything about it like he did last year:
Yes, he's probably going to do something like this and yes, it will be a huge ratings grabber:
At a breakfast fund-raiser at Manhattan’s Cipriani 42nd Street, Mr. Trump on Wednesday gave a tantalizing hint at the inaugural festivities to come for a reality TV star-turned-president: The helicopter grand entrance.
The president-elect said he was paid a visit a day earlier by Mark Burnett, the executive producer of “The Apprentice,” the reality show that helped make the president-elect a household name. Mr. Trump told the crowd that Mr. Burnett proposed reinventing the inauguration with a helicopter taking off from New York City, according to an attendee.
Mr. Burnett, who is known for producing shows like “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “Shark Tank” as well, also told Mr. Trump that he should consider a parade up Fifth Avenue.
If it's as flat as his RNC pageant, I'm not sure it's worth the 65 millions they plan to spend on the silly thing but that's chump change for the billionaires who are funding it so they probably think it's worth it to curry favor with Dear Leader.
Honestly, I cannot think of anything more cruel than pushing this despicable conspiracy theory that the Sandyhook parents who lost tiny 6 year old children in that massacre are part of a hoax perpetrated to confiscate guns. It's just plain evil.
A Florida woman who believes the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting is a hoax was arrested Monday on charges she threatened the parent of a child killed in the 2012 school shooting.
Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa, Fla., was indicted on four counts of transmitting threats, according to a statement from the United States Attorney Southern District of Florida.
The Sandy Hook shooting is approaching its fourth anniversary. On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six school staffers were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. By Adam Lanza, 20. Lanza later fatally shot himself.
According to authorities, Richards made a series of death threats against the parent of a child who was killed in the shooting. The parent now lives in South Florida was identified in a statement as Len Pozner.
Richards is accused of telling the parent “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon," according to federal court documents. The statements were made in January. She also wrote, "Look behind you it's death," according to the documents.
While it may seem unfathomable to some that Richards believed the shooting was a hoax, she is far from alone. A small movement of “Sandy Hook Truthers” promote conspiracy theories that allege the shooting was staged.
Pozner addressed Richards' arrest in a statement.
"We are comforted to know that the system is working to protect the victims of violent crime from re-victimization by potentially violent Hoaxers," Pozner said.
If convicted of all four counts, Richards could face up to 20 years in prison. She is scheduled to appear in a Fort Lauderdale court on Dec. 19.
This is a result of our twisted, pathological gun culture. And it's only going to get worse now.
For some reason this anniversary of Peal Harbor feels just a little bit more relevant than usual this year. I can't imagine why.
This piece by the Columbia Journalism Review talks about the press and its performance after the attack:
NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING at first. The attack happened far out in the Pacific, on a small remote island. And the long shadow of time has erased much collective memory about the first few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 75 years ago today on December 7, 1941.
For the American media, that’s a good thing.
With very limited access to verifiable information, newspaper and radio reporters acted irresponsibly. Wild speculation flooded the public sphere when radio transmissions from Hawaii were severely constricted and Washington authorities deemed the full scope and extent of the attack a state secret. The opportunity for accurate, verified and responsible journalism evaporated.
A look back at the reporting on Pearl Harbor shows how little has changed in the way media covers—or doesn’t cover—major events, from a tendency for errors in the early days of a crisis to its use of analysts and outside experts to fill the void created by the lack of actual reporting. This void of information catalyzes speculation and conjecture, and it’s here that journalism starts to crumble. Close examination of any epochal breaking news story - Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 - reveals the same pattern.
But American broadcasting was just two decades old when the Pearl Harbor attack happened, making it the first instance of a shocking national news report to be transmitted directly, in real time, to a mass audience. America’s radio networks faced an anxious public dialing in throughout that Sunday. With little news to report as the hours passed, they turned to pundits, who largely did a terrible job.
Across CBS, NBC, and Mutual, the “experts” offered odd theories for how, and why, the attack happened. Perhaps the nuttiest was the assertion—by several commentators—that the Japanese were incapable of such a ferocious assault. Numerous radio newscasters asserted that only one nation on earth could have pulled off such a brilliant blitzkrieg: Nazi Germany.
“It is possible, my friends, that this is a coup engineered by German influence and with the aid of German vessels in the Pacific,” said NBC News commentator Upton Close—a specialist on the Far East—just 10 minutes after the last wave of bombing ended on Oahu. “And again it is possible that this is a coup engineered by a small portion of the Japanese navy that has gone fanatic,” he continued. A third idea he proffered was that the attack was staged by the anti-war faction in the Japanese government to discredit the pro-war faction by presumably provoking the United States into destroying the Japanese military. “All these things are possible,” he concluded. But none of them, of course, were true.
A few hours later, CBS aired the commentary of Major George Fielding Elliot, a syndicated columnist and military expert, who assured listeners that the Pearl Harbor attack spelled doom for the Japanese Empire. “Japan is cornered, surrounded by forces which she cannot hope to overcome and to which in the end she must succumb,” he informed the listening public.
As the day wore on, real reporting receded, giving way to more speculation. Right-wing commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. told an audience five hours after the attack that he shared the doubts of many American authorities that the Japanese were truly responsible. He “reported” that US military officials weren’t convinced Japanese pilots had the skills to carry out such an impressive raid. The War Department, he said, is “concerned to find out who the pilots of these planes are—whether they are Japanese pilots. There is some doubt as to that, some skepticism whether they may be pilots of some other nationality, perhaps Germans, perhaps Italians,” he explained. The rumor that Germans bombed Pearl Harbor lingered on the airwaves, with NBC reporting, on December 8, that eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Nazi swastikas painted on some of the bombers.
Twenty years later, scholar Ernest D. Rose carefully evaluated the first radio reports about Pearl Harbor. His assessment was brutal. “One can not escape the conclusion that in the overall pattern of radio news communication that day something was drastically wrong,” he concluded. “The bulk of radio news time was consumed by commentators and analysts trying to explain the meaning of situations without access to reliable first-hand information,” he explained. All the inaccurate speculation failed to reassure or properly inform the public during a time of national distress. The commentary, Rose said, seemed more intended to prop up the credibility of the pundits than offer reliable information or helpful context.
The inaccurate news analysis would have a lasting impact. The rumor that the Germans collaborated on—or even masterminded—the attack on Pearl Harbor carried into early 1942. It was bolstered by conspiratorial talk in the aftermath of Hitler’s unprovoked declaration of war on the United States on December 11, 1941. The following year, best-selling books by reporters who knew Nazi Germany well (such as Harry Flannery’s Assignment to Berlin, and Pierre Huss’s The Foe We Face) emphasized the complicity of Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler’s friend and the German Consul General in San Francisco, until his expulsion in 1941, in the attack. Wiedemann, a shadowy figure, had been Corporal Hitler’s superior in World War I, and they remained lifelong trusted confidants. When he left San Francisco, Wiedemann traveled to Japan and then China in the weeks before Pearl Harbor, stoking suspicion. Even after the war ended, when the Joint Congressional Committee investigating the attack on Pearl Harbor held its hearings, suspicion about Wiedemann’s role reemerged.
The American media did not distinguish itself in the immediate aftermath of December 7, 1941. But time has let it off the hook. All the commentators mentioned above went on to increased visibility and impressive careers during the war. Americans then—and now—tend to be very forgiving of terrible punditry, inaccurate reporting, and ridiculous commentary.