Badass

Bannon's long-held belief in the genetic superiority of some; fake news about fake news; and more.


  • Trump watch: President-elect Donald Trump thinks he won the popular vote, “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” as he tweeted Sunday afternoon. That is, he thinks the election was illegitimate?

  • The claim that three million people voted illegally comes from rightwing websites like Infowars and MiloYioannopoulos.net, all parroting an unsourced claim made by one Gregg Phillips of VoteStand, as fact-checking organization Snopes points out. Phillips was managing director of Newt Gingrich’s Winning Our Future superPac in 2012.

  • Scott Lemieux of the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog explains why the vote recount under way in Wisconsin and possibly additional states will likely just end up legitimizing Donald Trump’s presidency. It is very unlikely that a recount will shift more than a few hundred or thousand votes, if history is any guide. And given that voting software systems are notoriously insecure, if there was deliberate hacking of voting in particular precincts, a sophisticated malware program would hide its own tracks.

  • Former independent president candidate Evan McMullin tweets that “It should not go unrecognized that ‪@realDonaldTrump’s effort to inflate his election performance without cause is typical of autocrats.”

  • Annals of Normalization: Remember the big meeting that President-elect Trump had with the New York Times top editors and reporters last Tuesday, and how it was headlined as showing that he was “moderating” his views on topics ranging from torture to prosecuting Hillary Clinton? My own close reading of Trump’s 15 minutes of opening remarks leaves a different impression, of a man who can’t string three coherent, factual sentences together. Alas, no one at the Times, on their own home turf, had the gumption to say so.

  • Annals of Normalization: Reading the same meeting transcript, Rebecca Leber of Grist shows that Trump in no way moderated his climate change denials.

  • “A handful of friends have been asked to join the Trump transition team / White House. They’ve all decided against it,” tweets Waldo Jacquith, an 18F staffer. He adds, “Here’s the calculus: On the one hand, they could do some good. On the other hand, *actual Nazis*. (Every person has volunteered that point.).”

  • Related: Masha Gessen reflects on the choices her ancestors made—one great-grandfather served in the Judennat under Nazi occupation, and one grandmother worked as a censor in Stalin’s Russia—as she and we wrestle with what we will do as Trump enters the presidency.

  • On the other hand, someone I respect enormously, Susan Crawford, writes in Medium that she sees “reason to hope” that Trump will translate his stated commitment to upgrading America’s decaying infrastructure to include investments in high-speed, open-access broadband. She writes that Jared Kushner, Trump’s influential son-in-law understands connectivity issues based on conversations she’s had with him about New York City’s uncompetitive broadband marketplace.

  • Related? Shawn Boburg of the Washington Post reports that back in December 2013, as New Jersey’s Bridgegate scandal was blowing up, Kushner emailed David Wildstein, one of the Port Authority officials involved in causing the traffic jams aimed at punishing a Chris Christie political enemy, to say that “I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.” Wildstein had previously worked for Kushner, who bought his PolitickerNJ.com gossip blog as he was building up his own publishing empire.

  • Here’s a telling discovering buried deep inside Scott Shane’s long profile of Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon: [Julia] Jones, [Bannon’s] film colleague [on several documentaries], said that in their years working together, Mr. Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.”I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Ms. Jones recalled. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’ I said, ‘But what about Wendy?’” referring to Mr. Bannon’s executive assistant. “He said, ‘She’s different. She’s family.’”

  • Mother Jones’ Josh Harkinson, who has done some of the best reporting on the rise of the “alt-right,” gives us some new words to learn, like “neoreactionaries” and “manosphere” in this comprehensive look at the white nationalist forces in Trump’s orbit.

  • Writing for Think Progress, Ned Resnikoff says that if you want to understand what Bannon is after, you should look at the work of Vladislav Surkov, a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has masterminded the creation of a “managed democracy” there where nothing is as it appears.

  • The Electoral College should reject Trump if he refuses to sell his far-flung business empire, say former ethics counsels for Presidents Bush and Obama, as Judd Legum reports for Think Progress. “The founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period,” one of them, Norman Eisen, tells Legum.

  • NARAL President Ilyse Hogue, former campaign director for MoveOn and a longtime friend of Personal Democracy Media, offers ten ideas for Democrats facing the wreckage of this election as she considers running for DNC chair.

  • Tech and politics: Data-mining psychographic-targeting vendor Cambridge Analytica is in talks to work for the Trump Administration on policy messaging and also to assist the Trump Organization with sales, Peter Stone reports for The Guardian. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is on the company’s board, and billionaire Trump back Robert Mercer is a key investor, he notes.

  • Now that people are paying attention to the problem of “fake news” sites taking advantage of Facebook’s news algorithms, the mainstream media appears to be over-correcting, as in this Washington Post story by Craig Timberg that touted a weakly-sourced report from a shadowy new group called PropOrNot that claimed to find evidence of a massive Russian disinformation campaign aimed at influencing the election. Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald take apart Timberg’s article here.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter, CEO of Medium, tweaks Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the two fake news sites that popped up on the same page as Zuck’s post announcing that he wanted to do more to address fake news.