Waivering

Person of the Year; Huffington Post reporter under investigation by the FBI for a joke he made on Twitter; and more.


  • President-elect Donald Trump made one of his “thank-you” tour speeches at a rally in the heavily military community of Fayetteville, North Carolina, last night, and used the occasion to introduce Gen. James Mattis as his pick for defense secretary, as Michael Shear reports for the New York Times. For the nomination to go through, the Senate will have to vote to give Mattis a waiver of the seven-year waiting period for retired military serving in government. Democrats starting with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are insisting on a vote on that issue, and in that context listen to Trump’s words after he introduced Mattis to the roaring crowd. “You’ll get that waiver, right? If you don’t get that waiver, there will be such a lot of angry people.”

  • Speaking to the editors of Time magazine on the occasion of their making him “Person of the Year,” Trump said, “I represent the workers of the world. And they love me and I love them. But when I was in Brooklyn I worked for my father on construction sites where he built houses or what he built, a building in Brooklyn. And I got to understand the construction workers and the police. These are great people. These are the people that built the country.”

  • Construction workers and the police.

  • Also, despite the determination by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia attempted to interfere in the election, Trump told Time “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.’ Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart. It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

  • Notably, deep in Time’s story, is this anecdote demonstrating again Trump’s admiration for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently overseeing the extrajudicial killing of thousands of alleged drug dealers and users. As Time’s Michael Scherer recounts, “The President-elect offers no objection to the comparison. ‘Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff,’ he says. ‘They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, O.K. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?’”

  • With the news that Trump will be meeting next week with a group of tech industry leaders, Tony Room of Politico takes a hard look at Peter Thiel, one of the president-elect’s few backers from Silicon Valley, and all of the conflicts of interest he brings as a member of the transition. Thiel has at least 129 active investments, including in Palantir (a major defense contractor), Space X (which competes for NASA contracts), Stripe, SoFi (a student loan company), Airbnb, Lyft, and Oscar Health (which was founded by the brother of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner).

  • Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, is likely to head a new pro-Trump group that will work on engaging the president-elect’s base in support of his policies, Matea Gold and Ed O’Keefe report for the Washington Post.

  • Calling George Orwell: “Turkey Condemns State of Press Freedom in Europe and the U.S.

  • What’s up with the New York Times’ headline writers? “Trump’s Meeting with Al Gore Gives Environmental Activists Hope.” That’s the headline of Coral Davenport’s story in the New York Times, but there’s literally no environmental activists quoted in her story making any statements suggesting anything of the sort.

  • Trump’s claim that Japan’s Masa (SoftBank) has agreed to invest $50 billion to create 50,000 “new jobs” in the U.S. is false, as New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi points out: the money is coming from a previously announced $100 billion investment fund.

  • Also, there’s something really wrong with Trump’s math. According to the National Priorities Project, a job with supports created in a high probity community costs $100,000 a year. So with $50 billion you could create 500,000 high-paying jobs.

  • Today in gaslighting: The New York Observer, owned by Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, published this piece by a retired Army Reserve colonel named Austin Bay calling for the FBI “to conduct a detailed investigation into the violence and political thuggery that continue to mar the presidential election’s aftermath.” He urges “a thorough probe of the protests—to include possible ties to organizations demanding vote recounts” and “quick and systematic attention” to so-called “elector intimidation.”

  • Not joking: The FBI is investigating some snarky Twitter jokes about destroying Trump ballots (in Washington, D.C.!) made by Nick Baumann, a Huffington Post journalist. The investigation is ongoing, Baumann writes.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Changes made by Facebook and Google to enable publishers to make their content load faster on mobile platforms may be having the unintended consequence of flattening design choices and enable fake news publishers to make their sites look legitimate, writes Kyle Chayka for The Verge.

  • Rick Webb points out that solving the so-called “fake news” problem isn’t hard, no matter what tech platforms say, noting that the press beat back the “yellow journalism” problem a century ago.

  • This is civic tech: “Changes in administrations create uncertainty, but one thing is certain—there is and will be a pressing need for innovation within the Federal government, and you can have a significant impact on the future of America.” That’s from the call for applications for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which is seeking people for its Spring 2017 call. December 11 is the deadline.

  • Your moment of zen: On Sunday at Standing Rock, Native Americans conducted a forgiveness ceremony with U.S. Army veterans, including Wes Clark Jr., the son of General Wesley Clark Sr, the former supreme NATO commander. What Clark said in asking for forgiveness: “Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.”