Sunday, January 22, 2017

How Dangerous Is Trump's Mental Illness For The Country?


First everyone was mocking the size of his small... hands. Now they're mocking the size of the small turnout for his bleak inauguration. And this morning, on day two of the Age of Trump, Meet The Press viewers sat around pondering the relationship between "alternative facts" and lies. Trump and his sad-sack paid propagandists can claim there were a million or a million and a half people at his inauguration all they want but that won't make the pictures go away. Glaslighting generally doesn't work as well on people with 3 digit IQs as it does on Trump voters. And, as David Frum put it this morning, "the alt-right administration brings you the alt-fact."

At least Kellyanne Con-Man admitted on ABC's This Week this morning that presidents are not judged by "the crowd sizes at their inauguration; they're judged by their accomplishments." Trump's very first accomplishment, as we noted in real time, was to go immediately from reading Bannon's nice little phrase how "Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families" to signing an order to cancel a fee cut on mortgage costs for first-time and low-income home buyers, a move the National Association of Realtors predicted would result in pricing 40,000 would-be homebuyers out of the market in 2017 alone-- 40,000 families that won't be buying furniture made in North Carolina, carpets made Pennsylvania, refrigerators made in Ohio or the grills, toasters, griddles, popcorn makers and convection ovens made by Star Manufacturing mad in Missouri. All those Trumpanzee voters...

Made in Missouri

This morning's NY Times tried helping its readers decals with the fact that the White House is now the country's biggest source of Fake News. Four more years to go.
President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where Mr. Spicer scolded reporters and made a series of false statements.

He said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account.

The statements from the new president and his spokesman came as hundreds of thousands of people protested against Mr. Trump, a crowd that appeared to dwarf the one that gathered the day before when he was sworn in. It was a striking display of invective and grievance at the dawn of a presidency, usually a time when the White House works to set a tone of national unity and to build confidence in a new leader.

Instead, the president and his team appeared embattled and defensive, signaling that the pugnacious style Mr. Trump employed as a candidate will persist now that he has ascended to the nation’s highest office.

...Trump also took issue with news reports about the number of people who attended his inauguration, complaining that the news media used photographs of “an empty field” to make it seem as if his inauguration did not draw many people.

“We caught them in a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of the news media, “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

Mr. Spicer said that Mr. Trump had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,” a statement that photographs clearly show to be false. Mr. Spicer said photographs of the inaugural ceremonies were deliberately framed “to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” although he provided no proof of either assertion.

Photographs of Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and of Mr. Trump’s plainly showed that the crowd on Friday was significantly smaller, but Mr. Spicer attributed that disparity to new white ground coverings he said had caused empty areas to stand out and to security measures that had blocked people from entering the Mall.

...And he incorrectly claimed that ridership on Washington’s subway system was higher than on Inauguration Day in 2013. In reality, there were 782,000 riders that year, compared with 571,000 riders this year, according to figures from the Washington-area transit authority.

Mr. Spicer also said that security measures had been extended farther down the National Mall this year, preventing “hundreds of thousands of people” from viewing the ceremony. But the Secret Service said the measures were largely unchanged this year, and there were few reports of long lines or delays.

Commentary about the size of his inauguration crowd made Mr. Trump increasingly angry on Friday, according to several people familiar with his thinking.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump told his advisers that he wanted to push back hard on “dishonest media” coverage-- mostly referring to a Twitter post from a New York Times reporter showing side-by-side frames of Mr. Trump’s crowd and Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But most of Mr. Trump’s advisers urged him to focus on the responsibilities of his office during his first full day as president.

However, in his remarks at the C.I.A., he wandered off topic several times, at various points telling the crowd he felt no older than 39 (he is 70); reassuring anyone who questioned his intelligence by saying, “I’m, like, a smart person”; and musing out loud about how many intelligence workers backed his candidacy.

...“He has left the strong impression that he doesn’t trust the intelligence community and that he doesn’t have tremendous regard for their work,” Mark M. Lowenthal, a retired C.I.A. analyst, said of Mr. Trump. “The obvious thing to do is to counter that by saying, ‘I value you. I look forward to working with you.’”

“He called them Nazis,” Mr. Lowenthal added, referring to Mr. Trump’s characterization of the intelligence community. Mr. Lowenthal said Saturday’s visit should have been “a stroking expedition.”

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"Gays For Pence"... It Has A Ring To It, Don't You Think?


Yesterday, Señor Trumpanzee took the circus to Langley, where he made a fool out of himself addressing 400 CIA employees-- and a cheering squad of his own that he brought along to applaud for him, which the CIA employees sat looking uncomfortable. Did you know that "there is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump? There's nobody, nobody." He told them "you're going to get so much backing... maybe you're going to say, 'please don't give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don't need that much backing.'" He quickly returned to talking about himself and how much support he got, vote-wise, from the military and told the CIA employees that they voted for him as well. "I know a lot about West Point," he babbled to them... "Trust me, I'm like a smart person." And he is like a smart person. Both Donald J. Trumpanzee and a smart person eat and go to the toilet; I'm not sure if there are any other ways he's like a smart person though-- and many of these CIA employees really are smart people and they must have been aghast at hearing this clown in their midst yesterday. He told them, in regard to Mike Pompeo, their new director, "You're going to be getting a total star, a gem... I feel like I'm 30, 35, 39." I wonder how many resignations there will be this week. Former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro noted that "Former CIA director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself."

I doubt many of the CIA employees were at the DeploraBall Friday night in Potomac, Maryland, sponsored by an actual neo-Nazi group called Gays for Trump. Peter Boykin, who was the host and master of ceremonies, said that "they try to throw Gays for Trump in the Alt-Right [category] but I think we are the Alt-Alt-Right."
At the door to the event Keith McLeod from Georgia was wearing a mask of Pepe the Frog, the fictional character that’s become a popular symbol of defiance among some people who self identify as “Deplorable,” a term used by Hillary Clinton to criticize some of Trump’s supporters.

McLeod, who made it clear that he wasn’t gay, had such a good time at the Gays for Trump event at the last RNC that he decided to join them again last night. “I’m so fed up with liberals you have no idea,” he told Time. “I’m so glad they took a hit today. No one respects us anymore. Trump will make them respect us again.”

Andy Barr, another man who identified as a gay ally from Seattle and who donned a gold Lamé suit, met most of the people attending the event through Twitter. When asked about Vice President Mike Pence’s history on speaking out against gay marriage his response echoed a sentiment that many of the attendees throughout the night repeated: “He will not be the executive. Let’s give Mr. Pence the benefit of the doubt. We saw Mr. Trump holding the LGBT flag. Let’s see how it goes in the future.”

Boykin agreed. “People can grow,” he said, before adding that he had already registered the “Gays for Pence” trademark. For the master of ceremonies, the priority today is “to fight against the notion of the LGBT liberal.” During a late-night speech, he pushed his point. “I want to balance the LGBT community, not try to destroy the liberal LGBT community,” he said. “We need everybody out there together but we have to have a seat at the table.”
Members of the Indiana LGBT community must be laughing their asses off. In case you're not familiar with the most homophobic federal politician in history, here are Mike Pence’s top seven most homophobic moments (out of many).

1. Supporting a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality

In 2006, then-Rep. Pence told 100 of his fellow Republicans that he supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex weddings. Or as Pence put it, supported “God’s plan” in the face of the destruction of civilization. “Societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” Pence complained.

2. Signed a bill to jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license

In an effort to make a bad idea even worse, as governor Pence signed a bill in 2013 that would jail same-sex couples in Indiana who applied for a marriage license. To prove that he wasn’t singling gay people out, Pence was also willing to jail marriage clerks who supplied a license or clergy who performed the wedding.

3. Wanted to divert funding from HIV prevention to conversion therapy

This one’s a two-fer: as a Congressional candidate in 2000, Pence wrapped two awful ideas into a single dreadful proposal. He wanted to ensure that “federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” So where should the money go? “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” In other words, conversion therapy.

4. Opposed repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Longing for the good old days of complete invisibility for gay people, Pence predictably ignored the preponderance of evidence in support of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Instead, Pence put himself out there as a leading opponent of the policy change. “There’s no question to mainstream homosexuality within active duty military would have an impact on unit cohesion,” Pence argued, dismissing the repeal as “some liberal domestic social agenda.”

5. Complained about the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill

In Pence’s ideal world, there would be zero protections. So it’s no surprise that he groused when the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes bill was signed into law in 2009. Pence didn’t cite legal objections. Instead, he complained that it advanced a “radical social agenda” and would have “a chilling effect on religious expression, from the pulpits, in our temples, in our mosques and in our churches.”

6. Served on the board of an antigay group

Pence has had a close relationship with the antigay leadership in his state. He served on the board of the Indiana Family Institute, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, which has been in the forefront of attacks on LGBT rights in the state, including a state constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Thanks to its connections to Pence and other Republicans, IFI has been the recipient of funding for the state’s “Health Marriage” program. The former head of IFI has served as an aide to Pence both in Congress and the state house and as a campaign consultant.

7. Argued that passing ENDA would ban Bibles from the workplace

Of course, in Congress Pence voted against federal workplace protections. What was unique was his reasoning, which was that ENDA would discriminate against Christians. To comply with the law, Pence claimed, “the employer has to ban employees from having a Bible at the workplace for their break time, or displaying Bible verses.” Foreshadowing the Indiana religious liberty law, he went on: “We must stand for the right of every American to practice their faith according to the dictates of their conscience, whether it be in the public square or in the workplace.”
People can grow? Can't wait to see Pence grow out of his sick obsession but if I had to guess... I'd venture that he will grow sick and sicker with old age.

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TrumpWorld shows its true military colors: Let them eat (copycat) styrofoam cake


Or, when is what looks like a cake not a cake?

WaPo caption: President Trump, left, and Vice President Pence are helped by Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Babot as they cut a cake at the armed services ball. A slightly more accurate caption: This poor petty officer has been suckered into pretending to help cut a cake that isn't a cake, for the greater glory of a pair of raging sociopaths who may never in their entire miserable existences have told the truth about anything.

by Ken

This is such a grubby story that you know it must have to do with the brand-new Trump administration, which even as it's birthing is radiating out waves of grubbiness -- Making America Great Trump-style seems to require folks to soil themselves.

Given the particular electoral math of the 2016 presidential election, it's possible to look at a dozen or more contributing factors and declare any one of them "the one" that (circle one) hoisted-The-Donald-over-the-top-slash-sank-Hillary. And one of those, surely, is the attitude of the American military community,, which has gotten it into its collective head that Obama was anti-military and Trump is a military person's wet dream. In this story, though, a segment of the Trump "brain" trust unwittingly provided a far truer perspective on the new administration's likely attitude toward the military. (The "unwittingly" part may not be so accidental. By and large the only way we find out what's really on these people's minds is when they're being "unwitting.")

Which brings us to the story of "The Rip-Off of Duff's Cake."

Now Duff subsequently walked his pique back (see below), but in my book he was right (and then some) the first time: He should have been seriously ticked off by the blithe rip-off of his 2013 cake -- and maybe all the more so considering that the alleged Trumpcake isn't in fact a cake. As you can see from the photo up top, the inaugural fraudsters were pretending it was a cake, even suckering that poor Coast Guard petty officer into playing "cake"-cutter with our new president and vice president, two princes of phonyworld.

At this point, let's let the Washington Post's Amy B Wang and Tim Carman tell the story.
Amid the glitz of President Trump’s inaugural festivities, one item stood out in particular late Friday night: a spectacular nine-tier cake that the new president and Vice President Pence cut into with a sword.

To pastry chef Duff Goldman, the cake seemed a little too familiar — because it looked almost exactly like one he had made years earlier for Barack Obama’s second inauguration as president.

Just after midnight, the Food Network personality posted a side-by-side comparison of two cakes on his Twitter account.

On the left, Goldman wrote in the caption, was the cake he had created for the “Commander-in-Chief” inaugural ball in 2013. The one on the right was the cake that had just appeared at Trump’s “Salute to Our Armed Services” ball.

It appeared nearly identical to Goldman’s cake from four years ago, right down to the colors, the patriotic bunting, and the placement of several small silver stars and seals.

“I didn’t make it,” Goldman wrote about Trump’s cake, adding a suspicious thinking-face emoji at the end.
This is followed by a journalistically obligatory note: "Neither Goldman nor representatives from Trump’s transition and inauguration teams responded to requests for comment Saturday morning."

However, someone else was available for comment.
Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Washington’s Buttercream Bakeshop, stepped forward to say she had been the one to create the much-talked-about cake.

She said that the order came in while she was out of town, and that the client had brought in a photo of the cake from Obama’s inauguration asking her to re-create it.

“They came to us a couple of weeks ago, which is pretty last minute, and said ‘We have a photo that we would like to replicate,’ ” MacIsaac told The Washington Post by phone. Her bakery tried to encourage the client to use the photo as “inspiration,” as they do with many others, she said.

“They said, ‘Nope, they want this exact cake. It’s perfect.’ And we said, great,” MacIsaac said. Neither she nor her spokeswoman revealed who placed the order. The “Salute to Our Troops” ball was one of three official presidential inaugural balls held Friday and open by invitation only to members of the military, veterans, first responders and their families.
Now you or I might wonder about the propriety of a cake-maker replicating somebody else's cake -- a cake that has been declared so "perfect" that the cake being asked for must be an "exact" replica. We'll come back to this in a moment. Let's note first that Tiffany MacIsaac views herself here as a businessperson of principle.
MacIsaac did not want to state her political affiliation, but said her bakery began planning how it would donate its proceeds from the Trump inaugural cake to charity. The baker and her staff chose the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit group that advocates for equal treatment of the LGBT community — and that has declared Trump “unfit for the presidency.”

“I’m a small-business owner and one of the things I’m very, very proud about is that I don’t discriminate,” MacIsaac said. “I would never turn someone away based on their age, their sex, their sexual orientation, their political views. It’s just not the way we operate.”
Well sure, why should the political affiliation of the cake-ripper-offers affect one's willingness to perform this commercial transaction? If, that is, one is a truly equal-opportunity fraudster.

Now comes the wrinkle, though:
MacIsaac said the attention caught her by surprise partly because, per the order, the Trump cake was intended to be more of a prop: All but a three-inch slice at the bottom was inedible. [Emphasis added. -- Ed.]

“It’s just a Stryofoam cake. It’s not for eating,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be seen on TV.”
Ooh, oh my. Well, I suppose this explains why Ms. MacIsaac was willing to replicate somebody else's cake. She was thinking, I guess, that it's not really a cake. So it's not really cake theft, I guess. And it's above Ms. MacIsaac's pay grade, I guess, to worry about whether the replica cake is going to be properly identified as what it is: an inedible replica of a cake designed and created as an actual cake by Duff Goldman and Charm City Cakes for the 2013 Obama inaugural festivities. No, she's just sticking to her principle of "never turn[ing] someone away based on their age, their sex, their sexual orientation, their political views." Because that's "just not the way we operate."
“Obviously, my intention was definitely not to upset him in any way,” MacIsaac said of Goldman, whom she does not know personally. “I just wish that it had not been presented the way that it was.”
At this point, for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with Duff, let's continue with the Post-ies' gloss:
Goldman, who founded Charm City Cakes in Baltimore and Los Angeles, is known for his showstopping cake creations. From 2006 to 2011, the Food Network reality show “Ace of Cakes” followed Goldman as he ran his bakery and pulled out all the stops to construct elaborate cakes. These days, the celebrity pastry chef is better known to pint-size bakers as “Chef Duff” as one of the judges on the network’s “Kids Baking Championship.”
Now, as noted above, Duff subsequently walked his pique back, presumably once he realized that the ripped-off cake wasn't actually a cake.

Except, again, that while Duff's cake was appreciated enough to be required to be duplicated exactly, except for, you know, the cake aspect, it wasn't appreciated enough to be credited as what it was: a photo-op rip-off of his cake created for an administration that showed a good deal more respect for the military than these new fraudsters.

Happily, the journalistic ethos of the Post-ies prompts them to dig into the archives, a dig that's made easier by the fact that half of our 2017 Post team was on the job in 2013.
In 2013, Goldman told The Post’s Tim Carman he wanted Obama’s inaugural cake to be perfect.

“When you’re doing a cake like this, you know that everybody is going to be looking at it,” Goldman said. “It’s a lot of pressure. The more recognition you get for something that you do, the greater the pressure becomes, because more people are looking for a mistake. So you really gotta make sure your work is top-notch.”

Goldman described his cake for Obama to The Post in great detail then: The 5-foot-tall, 50-pound cake was meant to pay special homage to the nation’s armed forces, with seals of the five branches military. The different tiers would each be of different flavors, from red velvet to pumpkin-chocolate chip.

Though he expressed some anxiety about pulling off the cake in 2013, Goldman ultimately delivered on his vision.

“It was our honor to create this cake for last night’s Commander-in-Chief Ball — an experience we will never forget,” the Charm City Cakes Facebook page noted with a picture of the cake the day after Obama’s 2013 inauguration. (For the record, Obama has said he is more of a pie person.)
The 2017 Post-ies proceed with a riff on the theme: "Allegations of plagiarism are not new in Trump's nascent administration." No indeed, and if you're not instantly filling in the blank for yourself, by all means take this stroll down Recent Memory Lane with Amy and Tim.

However, it occurs to me that "plagiarism" isn't the operation being performed by the Trumpsters. In TrumpUniverse, after all, everything in the universe exists above all for its potential to contribute to The Donald's (a) enrichment and (b) glorification. Why, therefore, shouldn't Duff's 2013 cake be pressed into service? There's probably some extra chuckleworthiness in the fact that the actual cake was actually ordered and created to carry the message of the Obama administration's solidarity with our armed forces.

Hey, fuck those fuckers!

And I expect that the military people who imagine that the new president is their guy are also on the long list of fuckers to be fucked. Oh, it's looking like they're going to get their military buildup, meaning that while our scam-fighting, cutting-costs-to-the-bone president will actually target some unlucky recipients of U.S. military graft, in the process of making the country not one whit safer, lots of money will be pouring from taxpayers' pockets into fat-cat contractor coffers, it will be done POTUS's way -- with money flowing to the right people, the ones who know how to play this business president's game.

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There's Only One Way To Stop-- Or At Least Slow Down-- Trump: Win Back The House In 2018


Thanks to the basic map of seats up and to the gross and venal incompetence of Chuck Schumer, the Senate is a lost cause until, at least, 2020. Democrats will be playing defense-- not just trying to reelect progressives like Bernie Sanders (VT), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Mazie Hirono (HI) Sherrod Brown (OH) and Tammy Baldwin (WI), but also defending the seats of undeserving conservative collaborators like Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Jon Tester (MT), Claire McCaskill (MO) and Tim Kaine (VA). The only plausible Democratic pickup opportunity is in Nevada, where Dean Heller sill be up for reelection. The best the Democrats could do-- in the unlikely event that the Republicans are so hated by then that the Democrats can win all their tough races in red state and win Nevada is a 51-49 split... with the GOP still ahead. And even that outcome is so unlikely as to be nearly impossible.

The House is an entirely different matter. The Democrats need a net of 24 seats. Traditional voter patterns would predict a sharp turn away from even a normal Republican president in his first midterm. And Trump is far from normal. Add to that mix the already demonstrated overreach of Republicans hell-bent on turning around the gains for working Americans from the Great Society and New Deal eras.

Goal Thermometer In George W. Bush's 2006 midterm, the Republicans lost 30 seats-- and Nancy Pelosi replaced Denny Hastert (currently residing in a federal penitentiary) as Speaker. Two years later, the Republicans, still paying for the disgust voters felt towards Bush, defeated 21 more Republicans-- that's 30 + 21. Can that be replicated in 2018/2020. Absolutely. Start here. And let's spend the next 20 months standing up to Ryan and Trump and recruiting solid progressives to run against weak right-wing sociopaths like Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Steve Knight (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Mike Bost (R-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Rod Blum (R-IA), David Long (R-IA), Steve King (R-IA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Fred Upton (R-MI), Mike Bishop (R-MI), Tim Walberg (R-MI), David Trott (R-MI), Jason Lewis (R-MN), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Steve Pearce (R-NM), John Katko (R-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Dan Donovan (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), John Faso (R-NY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Mike Turner (R-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), John Culberson (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Mike McCaul (R-TX), Will Hurd (R-TX), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Tom Garrett (R-VA), Scott Taylor (R-VA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and last and far from least, Paul Ryan (R-WI).

That should be the 2 year goal-- at least 30 in 2018 and the rest in 2020. Can it be done? Absolutely, although the DCCC will make it much harder. Yesterday, writing for The Guardian, Molly Crabapple set the table-- with a cake. "Trump," she wrote, "is now our president, and no savior will stand between America and its mess. Best case scenario, the most powerful man in the world is a New York Berlusconi. At worst? Picture an elderly, vindictive trust fund brat, surrounded by kleptocrats, racists and pucker-faced spawnlings, his toy box stuffed with spy tools and death machines, the likes of which prior despots could never have imagined. It takes both skill and luck to bake a FailCake as bad as this, and you’ve got to do the prep work for years. Start with a racist celebrity liar. Soak him in media attention. Plunk him into the electoral college, a system engineered to empower slave states at the expense of densely populated cities, then subtract section four of the Voting Rights Act and add in a dash of discriminatory voter ID laws in crucial states. Next, bake upon the ashes of neoliberalism. Shred in Hillary Clinton, victim of misogyny and her husband’s scandals, who also represents everything cowardly, venal and bland about the old order. Smother the whole mess in resentment-- some economic woe, some racism, some hatred of women, some deserved loathing for our political class. Sprinkle with 'oh fuck it.'... In the new world, Hillary Clinton, the realistic, electable candidate, is neither, and institutions meant to keep populists out of power collapse like old soufflés."
Trump may have lost by nearly 3m votes, but this election is a verdict on the status quo. To win, politicians must offer more radical dreams. These can be Trumpian con-jobs, or the humane democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders.

In four years, if the Democrats become an actual party for the working class, one that campaigns in all 50 states, fights voter suppression, doesn’t court a mythical White Working Class by kicking the brown, black and queer people who still have its back, if it runs candidates who talk in real words, not Goldman Sachs platitudes, and if it fights Trump till the bloody dawn … maybe it has a shot.

To do this, Democrats must learn from their prior sins. The party will be fighting a president they themselves empowered. The Democratic Clinton built mass incarceration, and the Democratic Obama administration championed assassination by drone. The deportations, the torture, the surveillance, the crony capitalism are all part of a system created by Democrats as much as Republicans, all reinforced by adult, bipartisan voices in respectable, badly cut suits.

Trump’s promise? Things will get harrowingly, epically worse. Instead of merely rendering Muslims to secret prisons, he’ll do something “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” to them beneath a gold Trump marquee. You thought mass surveillance was bad? Wait until he dips into the NSA server farms, then tweets out his critics’ sex tapes. Or cheers on hate crimes before rallies of capped fanboys. Or classes protesters as terrorists. He’ll be yuge. But the man couldn’t do it without the infrastructure bequeathed to him by past administrations. Trump is not a builder. Not of skyscrapers, and not of gulags. He just makes money licensing his name.

If you want real resistance, look to the people who fought, and are still fighting, this infrastructure. Indigenous activists. Radical lawyers. Prison solidarity networks. Abortion funds. Churches converted into sanctuary spaces. Anarchists who hold noise demonstrations outside of jails in the freezing January night, so humans inside know they are not forgotten.

These groups are even more vital because Trump is not alone. His presidency is the showiest example of a global love affair with fascism; soft rich boy he may be, but he’s a bloated pea in the Duterte, Erdoğan, Putin, Modi pod.

In a chaotic world, many people want two things-- identity and Daddy. They long for a leader who promises not just to keep them safe, fed and emotionally validated, but to accomplish these things by punishing an imagined Other-- the impure, foreign, unreal source of all the homeland’s humiliations.

Depending on the country, this Other may be black, Kurdish, Mexican, gay; dancing at a nightclub, doing drugs or wearing a hijab. She may be an impoverished refugee or a decadent urbanite, but she is always looking down her nose at the decent, demagogue-supporting majority. She’s always laughing.

Of course, that silent majority doesn’t exist, and neither does that Other. They’re stock figures in an authoritarian’s playbook, substitutes for solutions in our complex, impure, interwoven world. Economic justice is just the first step to beating fascists, orange-colored or otherwise.

We need to fight for each other, every last one of us. Not to “tolerate,” like one tolerates painful shoes, but to proudly say that this world belongs to all of us, and that we’re not going anywhere. Ethno-nationalists are escaping from neoliberalism’s cracks, just as they crawled forth from the rot of 19th century empires, singing the same false and bloody tune. On the page, and in the streets, we must write a better story.

We have four years.
She's right, except for one thing: we have two years, not four, not if there's going to be anything left in four.

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Stock Tip: Buy Shares In Fact Checking Companies-- Outlook Is Very Bullish For The Next 4 Years


Hours before Trump's sparsely-attended inauguration, Fox News-- which Señor Trumpanzee doesn't call Fake News (but which usually is) released a new poll showing that 37% of Americans approve of the new president, while 54% do not. It's not likely the bleak inaugural address neo-Nazi Steve Bannon wrote for Trump to read, bolstered those numbers. The speech wasn't just dark and-- sorry Kellyanne-- inelegant; it was filled with distortions and outright lies. It was, predictably, more Trump gaslighting. PolitiFact bore witness to Trump/Bannon's serial lies in real time and Glenn Kessler fact-checked the speech for Washington Post readers. It was filled with lies, lies that immediately became... Fake News. Overall, Bannon's dystopian vision, delivered by Trump, presented "a portrait of the United States that often was at variance with reality." It was exactly what Russia would have liked to see presented.
“You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
No matter how you measure it, the “movement” was not as historic as Trump proclaims it to be.

Trump is a minority president, in terms of the popular vote. He lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes to Hillary Clinton. Clinton had the largest popular vote margin of any losing presidential candidate, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

Trump’s electoral college win, meanwhile, was a squeaker. Trump had narrow victories in three key states (and narrow losses in two others). He won Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 22,177 votes and Pennsylvania by 46,435 votes. So if 39,659 voters in those states had switched their votes, 46 electoral votes would have flipped to Clinton-- and she would have won 278-260.

Overall, according to a tally by John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, Trump ranks 46th out of 58 electoral college results.
“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities … and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Trump repeats a problematic talking point about crime and poverty in “inner cities.” It’s unclear what he means by “inner cities,” which is not a category by which crime or poverty is measured.

In 2015, 13 percent of people lived below poverty level inside metropolitan statistical areas, according to census data. That is on par with the national poverty rate in 2015, which was 13.5 percent. Overall, the poverty rate has remained relatively flat under Obama.

As we have repeatedly pointed out, violent and property crimes overall have been declining for about two decades, and are far below rates seen one or two decades ago. Homicides have spiked in major cities in 2015 and 2016, but the rates remain far below their peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.”
Trump mixes up several things here. He seems to be referring to free-trade agreements in the first part of his sentence, though he ignores the fact that many U.S. industries also benefit and grow when they are able to sell products overseas.

As for subsidizing the armies of other countries, Trump appears to be referring to military bases that the United States has overseas. A 2013 Senate report found that the United States spent $10 billion a year on bases abroad, with 70 percent focused on three countries-- Germany, South Korea and Japan. Germany is the center of European defense obligations, while the troops in Japan are the core of U.S. projection of power in Asia. The troops in Korea deter an attack by North Korea. Given a defense budget of more than $500 billion, the cost of maintaining these bases is a mere pittance.

The United States doles out about $6 billion a year in foreign military financing, with most of it going to just two countries: Israel and Egypt. But this money comes with a catch-- most of it must be spent on U.S. hardware, creating jobs for Americans.

As for the “very sad depletion” of the U.S. military, this is hyper-exaggeration. One can argue about whether the military budget should be boosted, but there is no question that the U.S. military is stronger and more capable than any other nation’s. The website ranks countries based on 45 factors, and the United States tops the charts. Here’s one small statistic: The United States has 19 aircraft carriers, as of the end of last year; no other country has more than four.
“[We’ve] spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”
Trump appears to be referring to U.S. involvement in military adventures, such as the 2003 Iraq invasion he supported, and possibly foreign aid.

Foreign aid amounts to less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget, with about $18 billion going to economic and development aid and $8 billion for security assistance. Even the Marshall Plan advanced by President Harry S. Truman, designed to stabilize Europe after World War II, was only a little over $100 billion in today’s dollars.

So Trump only gets to “trillions and trillions of dollars” by including wars. The Iraq war is estimated to have cost $1.7 trillion through 2013, though one estimate says that the cost will rise to $6 trillion through 2053, primarily from paying the interest on the debt incurred to wage the war because the Bush administration chose not to raise the taxes to pay for it. But we doubt Iraqis would say the war made the country “rich.”

Contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, the United States is far wealthier than other nations. According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States has a gross domestic product of $18 trillion, one-third larger than that of China, the nearest rival and a frequent target of Trump’s attacks.

A Pew Research Center analysis found that the vast majority of Americans are either upper-middle income or high income; many Americans who are classified as “poor” by the U.S. government would be middle income globally.

“One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”
Trump again engages in hyperbole, attributing all of the decline in manufacturing to foreign trade.

The number of U.S. workers engaged in manufacturing is now about 12.3 million, up from 11.5 million in 2010, after the Great Recession hurt many manufacturers. But that’s still a decline from about 17 million in the 1990s.

Some analysts calculate that between 1 million and 2 million U.S. jobs were lost after China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2000. But economists believe the biggest factor in the decline in manufacturing is automation, not jobs going overseas. Another factor is decreased consumer spending on manufactured goods. A new report by the Congressional Research Service notes that “employment in manufacturing has fallen in most major manufacturing countries over the past quarter-century,” so the U.S. experience is not unusual.

Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, down from a high of 10 percent in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Jobs have been added for a record 75 months.
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”
Trump continues to attack companies that ship jobs overseas, and has promised to keep jobs in the United States. But Trump has had a long history of outsourcing a variety of his products as a businessman, and he has acknowledged doing so.

We know of at least 12 countries where Trump products were manufactured. Further, Trump products transited other countries through the packaging and shipping process-- meaning that workers in more than 12 countries contributed to getting many of Trump’s products made, packaged and delivered to the United States.

Here’s our inventory of Trump’s products made overseas.
“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”
“Welfare” is a broad term and can apply to people who are working but receiving some government assistance. If someone is receiving means-tested assistance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not working.

Not all people eligible for welfare collect benefits. When they do, many of the benefits are contingent on the recipients working or actively searching for jobs, as a result of an overhaul of welfare signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. And even low-income families receive some level of public assistance.

According to the 2012 U.S. Census, about 23 percent of U.S. households with at least one person with a job received means-tested benefits.

Meanwhile, Trump is apparently unaware that participation has declined in means-tested programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).

Caseloads in the TANF program have declined over the past 15 years, from about 2.4 million families to 1.6 million families. After its post-recession peak in 2013, the number of people receiving food stamps has declined. In October 2016, there were 43.2 million people participating in the program, compared to 47 million in October 2013.
Señor Trumpanzee claims the sad and worst-attended inauguration ever, had a million and a half people, part of his gaslighting strategy to drive America insane

Meanwhile, "the Interior Department was ordered Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts-- indefinitely-- after the National Park Service shared two unsympathetic tweets during President Trump’s inauguration. The first noted the new president’s relatively small inaugural crowd compared to the number of people former president Barack Obama drew to the National Mall when he was sworn into office in 2009. The second tweet noted several omissions of policy areas on the new White House website. A Park Service employee retweeted both missives on Friday."
“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to Park Service employees Friday afternoon.

No news, but Fake News, is tolerated by a tyranny. Recently a movie company contacted me about a song my small indie label, 415 Records, released in 1981, "Teenage Underground" by the Red Rockers, from the New Orleans based band's debut album, Condition Red. Films and TV shows have used some of the band's later, more commercial songs, especially their big hit China, as well as Good As Gold, Blood From A Stone and their cover of the classic :Eve of Destruction" (embedded up top). But this film, Pitching Tents, which should be out in the next few months, was looking for a different sound and a different message, one that fits the newly Trumpified America. Take a listen to what they chose (first film use of the 26-year old song ever):

UPDATE: New York Times Weighs In On Trumpanzee Lies

The women’s march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump’s inauguration, crowd counting experts said Saturday.

Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, analyzed photographs and video taken of the National Mall and vicinity and estimated that there were about 160,000 people in those areas in the hour leading up to Mr. Trump’s speech Friday.

They estimated that at least 470,000 people were at the women’s march in Washington in the areas on and near the mall at about 2 p.m. Saturday.

The two images below show the crowds when they were at their peak density at the two events.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Don't Be Surprised That The Resistance Is Musical Too-- Green Day, Moby, Arcade Fire, Gorillaz...


I haven't really kept up with the music business since retiring from Reprise. But I'm still a music fan and I was excited, about a month before the election, to hear the new Green Day album, Revolution Radio. The first single was the anti-gun nut song, Bang Bang and when they performed it at the American Music Awards a couple weeks after Trump won the election, Billie Joe inserted the lyric/chant, "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." The response was electric and downloads went crazy immediately. It's a funny thing about downloads... after the first single on an album comes out, the trend these days is for bands and record companies to decide about a second single based on downloads and spins. I'm not sure why they picked "Troubled Times," (video up top) but a friend of mine told me it was getting the most online attention, more than other contenders like Ordinary World, the upbeat title track or the very commercial-sounding "Still Breathing" (for which a video had already been made). It was a good decision. The album shot to #1 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Italy and Ireland-- and #2 in Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Korea and Greece. The band is letting the song and video speak for themselves but their only statement about it that I could find was "Today we celebrate Love and Compassion more than ever."

Of course, Green Day isn't the only band letting their fans know what they think about Trump. The Gorillaz, who haven't been around this decade, put out Hallelujah Money,which takes a little getting used to, but certainly makes the point. Arcade Fire teamed up with Mavis Staples on a song called "I Give You Power."

I'm sure Moby fans, who had already heard him calling Trump a "sociopath," were just waiting to see how he'd react musically to Trump. No one's going to be disappointed when they watch the new video for "Erupt and Matter" from last year's These Systems Are Failing. Don't miss this powerful statement on the rise of fascism:

And now check out another piece of the resistance: OurFirst100Days, which is very explicitly advocating action to protect threatened communities and causes.
Our First 100 Days seeks to aid in that protection. Joining together with artists and labels we will be releasing one rare, unreleased or exclusive song per day to you via Bandcamp.

For a minimum contribution of $30, supporters will be able to access all 100 songs in the project, including new music from Angel Olsen, How To Dress Well, Toro Y Moi, The Range and many more.

All profits raised from Our First 100 Days will go directly to organizations working on the front lines of climate, women's rights, immigration and fairness.

The project was started in conjunction with Secretly Group and 30 Songs, 30 Days, and aims to raise funds and awareness for organizations supporting causes that are under threat by the proposed policies of a Trump administration. This project is produced with the help of Revolutions Per Minute, an organization that provides strategy and support for artists making change.

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The Positive Energy And Love Of The Bernie Sanders Rallies Swept America Today


This isn't going to surprise any Richard Florida followers but Brookings' Mark Muro observed, soon after the election, that "[t]he less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015.  By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output-- just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity." It's also completely unprecedented for a losing presidential candidate to have won so large a share of the nation's productive base. No election in decades has revealed as sharp a political divide between the densest economic centers and the rest of the country-- "high-output" and "low-output" America.

[W]ith the exceptions of the Phoenix and Fort Worth areas and a big chunk of Long Island, Clinton won every large-sized county economy in the country. Her base of 493 counties was heavily metropolitan.  By contrast, Trumpland consists of hundreds and hundreds of tiny low-output locations that comprise the non-metropolitan hinterland of America, along with some suburban and exurban metro counties.
Not exactly: Clinton lost Maricopa County (49-46%) but won Phoenix, lost Tarrant County (52-44%) but won Fort Worth and won more urbanized Nassau County on Long Island, 51-46%, while losing more rural Suffolk County 52-44%. But why quibble. Muro makes the point that there are multiple problems suggested by all of this: "Most broadly," he wrote, "the stark political divide underscores the likelihood of the two parties talking entirely past each other on the most important issues of economic policy.  Given the election map we revealed, the Trump administration will likely feel pressure to respond most to the desires and frustrations of the nation’s struggling hinterland, and discount the priorities and needs of the nation’s high-output economic base."

He's wrong there. Well, maybe they'll feel pressure, but they have no intention of responding to that pressure, other than in completely hollow speeches. As we mentioned yesterday, moments after Trumpanzee read Bannon's inaugural speech asserting, falsely, that "every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families," he signed an executive order that, in effect, raised the mortgage payments for every low-income and first-time homebuyer in the country. Bannon and Trump apparently plan to create Fake News as the main function of POTUS... while Pence, Ryan and McConnell pass a standard, garden variety GOP policy agenda that screws the life out of the working class voters who backed Trumpanzee's election. But Moro is naively hopeful.
On one hand, more attention to the economic and health challenges of rural and small-city Rustbelt America could be welcome, especially if it focuses on the right things: realism about current economic trends, adjustment to change, improving rural education and skills training, and enhancing linkages to nearby metropolitan centers. However, Trump’s promises to “bring back” the coal economy and “bring back” millions of manufacturing jobs (that now don’t exist thanks to automation) don’t speak wisely to real-world trends in low-output America. They look backwards and speak instead to local frustrations.

On the other hand... [there are] doubts that the nation’s core metropolitan economic base will easily secure the investments it needs-- investments that has been shown to drive broader prosperity that benefits the entire nation.  Without a doubt, the mostly metropolitan counties of high-output America will need now to make more of their own arrangements, by establishing their own applied R&D centers, developing their own industry-relevant skills pipelines, and deepening local industry clusters. “Bottom up” will now be mandatory.  Yet with that said, big issues loom given the fact that no county can flourish entirely on its own.  How, for example, will high-output America secure the critical, historically federal innovation investments it requires to fuel the dynamism of its local advanced industries and the long supply chains that they support?  How will the heavily federal safety net be maintained?  And will necessary federal infrastructure investments be made in a targeted, efficient way that maximizes return on investment?

...[M]etropolitan areas are going to need to demand what they need, while taking matters into their own hands as best they can.

In the end, our data makes plain that while cultural resentments played a huge role in this month’s election, so too did a massive economic divide between relatively prosperous high-output counties and struggling lower-out rural ones.  Hashing out a serviceable politics and policy mix to serve that bifurcated reality is going to be a huge challenge.
This was reflected in the marches today. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, there were massive turnouts for anti-Trump demonstrations, dwarfing his thinly-attended Mourning in American Inauguration celebration Friday (despite Sean Spicer's laughable lie today that more people were at the Trumpanzee inauguration than at any other inauguration, blah, blah, blah... false, false, false. It's the White House Fake News Machine). This was an aerial view of Chicago, where over 250,000 people were marching against Trumpism:

Turnout's outpaced all estimates. At the main march in DC, over half a million people turned out, more than double what the organizers had been predicting all week. Hundreds of "sister rallies" took place over the country. Between 2 and 3 million people turned out to protest Trump worldwide today. Here were a few of them:
NYC- 500,000
Los Angeles- 750,000
Cincinnati- 10,000
St. Paul- 60,000
Denver- 100,000
Philadelphia- 50,000
Boston- 175,000
Cleveland- 15,000
St. Louis- 20,000
San Francisco- 150,000
Seattle- 170,000
Nashville- 20,000
Indianapolis- 15,000
Austin- 40,000
Charlotte- 10,000
Ashville- 10,000
Little Rock- 7,000
Memphis- 9,000
Atlanta- 60,000
Montpellier- 20,000
Lexington- 5,000
Portland, ME- 10,000
Portland, OR- 100,000
Miami- 10,000
Ithaca- 10,000
Oklahoma City- 12,000
El Paso- 1,000
Houston- 22,000
Dallas- 8,000
Detroit- 4,000
Lansing- 9,000
Phoenix- 20,000
Trenton- 3,000
Orlando- 3,000
Pittsburgh- 25,000
Boise- 5,000
• Helena, MT- 10,000
• Des Moines- 26,000
• Oakland- 100,000
Kansas City- 10,000
• Omaha- 14,000
• Tallahassee- 18,000
• Albuquerque- 20,000
• Hartford- 10,000
• Madison- 100,000
• Birmingham, AL- 10,000
• Raleigh- 20,000
• Las Vegas- 15,000
• San Diego- 40,000
• Moscow (the one in Idaho)- 2,500
Honolulu- 8,000
Pat Benatar, with co-writer Linda Perry, created a new song, "Shine," as a tribute to today's massive marches and rallies. Here's the video of the recording session:

There were also anti-Trump marches in London (100,000 people), Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Toronto (60,000), Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, in New Zealand, Bangkok, Yangon, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, Belgrade, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Athens, Capetown, Singapore, Warsaw, Shanghai, Delhi, Ottawa, Rome, Reykjavik, Madrid, Barcelona, Stockholm, Oslo, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Accra, Lima, Bogota and Mexico City. And in Antarctica.

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Another Trump Fraud Case Dismissed-- Though Not Because He Wasn't Guilty


The horrible campaign to install a grossly incompetent and severely narcissistic Putin puppet in the White House-- and replacing American democracy with a form of kakistocracy-cum-kleptocracy-- by animating the stupidest and most ignorant people in the country, all began back on June 16, 2015. Señor Trumpanzee, with his mail order bride from Slovenia or Slovakia at his side, came riding down the escalator of Trumpanzee Tower to puke out his hateful demagoguery to an audience of paid actors. The day before his inauguration, the FEC dismissed the complaint and law suit, noting that the amount of money was too small for them to pursue. Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter, which was the originator of the exposé about how Trump paid out-of-work actors to pretend to be Trump fans, explained the FEC's action. "At the time, Trump's then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski denied paying anyone to attend the event and said that he had never heard of Extra Mile or Gotham Government Relations, the two companies that THR reported were involved in putting out a casting call for people to attend the event."
A few months later, with no disclosures related to this, the American Democracy Legal Fund filed a complaint, alleging that Trump's campaign violated the reporting provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., then admitted paying Gotham $12,000 on Oct. 8, 2015. Gotham reported to the FCC it hired Extra Mile as a subcontractor to provide support at Trump's announcement. Still, this doesn't settle the issue because of the allegation that Trump may have accepted prohibited or excessive contributions from the two companies involved with hiring the actors.

According to a FEC general counsel's report in March 2016, made public on Thursday, it was "clear" that Trump's campaign "did not pay Gotham for its services for almost four months after the event, and did not report the transaction for more than seven months after the event. Thus, Gotham's apparent extension of credit to the Committee for the services rendered at the June candidacy announcement may constitute an excessive or prohibited contribution, and the Committee failed to report the amount it owed Gotham as a debt."

"However," the report continued, "because of the seemingly modest amount at issue, we recommend that the Commission exercise its prosecutorial discretion and dismiss the allegation..." 

That's just what the FEC has done, quietly announcing its decision to close the file on the complaint on the eve of Trump's inauguration.
It started badly; it will likely end far worse.

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