Posted by Kumiko Oumae on Sunday, 19 February 2017 20:34.
Wow, such a breadth of choice
The Germans are non-ironically having an election in which Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz are the two front runners.
The choice seems to be quite simple.
Either you vote for Angela Merkel’s CDU and face the death by demographic replacement which will surely arrive by the year 2050 as things continue as they are, or alternately you vote for Martin Schulz’s SPD and face the death by demographic replacement which will surely arrive by the year 2050 as things continue as they are.
There are some policy disagreements that they have on other issues and usually I would actually go to the length of highlighting them and describing them, but when it comes to the issue of Germany it frankly doesn’t even matter anymore. After all, if Germany is going to seriously cease to exist as a nation then making projections about a nation which will not even be populated by the same people would be a pointless exercise from the perspective of ethno-nationalism. It is extremely sad.
In any case, let’s see how the situation looks in the polls at present, for this thoroughly pointless election:
Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) have slumped to second place in an opinion poll conducted by the Emnid institute, with the Social Democrats (SPD) in the top spot for the first time since 2006.
The SPD’s climb comes after the party picked the former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, as its candidate for chancellor.
Emnid’s poll of 1,885 voters found that the SPD would get 33 percent of the German vote, while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, would get 32 percent.
Schulz’s party has gained 12 points in the last four weeks, according to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The SPD’s surge in the polls will add more pressure on Merkel, as she seeks her fourth term as chancellor within an uneasy CDU/CSU alliance. Merkel has faced tough criticism from the sister party over the controversial decision to temporarily open Germany’s borders to refugees in 2015.
This the latest in a series of polls that shows SPD’s rapidly rising popularity among German voters. Emnid’s poll chimes with separate findings by Politbarometer, a long-standing German election poll from German broadcaster ZDF, which showed Friday that only 38 percent of voters would like to see Merkel carry on her job as chancellor and that 49 percent preferred Schulz.
But Germany hasn’t completely fallen out of love with Merkel. ZDF’s poll also found that 71 percent of Germans think that the current chancellor is doing a good job, despite her party’s drop in popularity.
German elections are scheduled for September.
Such vibrant campaigning
Meanwhile, the way that Martin Schulz is conducting his campaign has drawn criticism from Wolfgang Shaeuble, a very strange-looking criticism at first brush:
Martin Schulz, the German center-left’s candidate to be chancellor, is behaving like U.S. President Donald Trump, according to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
“If Schulz calls upon his supporters to chant ‘Make Europe great again‘ then that’s almost literally [like] Trump,” Schäuble told Der Spiegel in an interview published Friday.
He said Schulz, a former European Parliament president, was acting in a “populist way.”
Schäuble said Schulz needed to “think a little [bit more].” He warned that in times when there is a surge in populist movements, politicians should be careful with their language.
The SPD’s move to nominate Schulz as their candidate for chancellor in the September 24 federal election led to a surge in party membership applications. Opinion polls show that backing Schulz helped the party to its highest approval rating since 2013.
At first a person would think, “Hmm, something is very wrong here, in what important way does Martin Schulz resemble Donald Trump, aside from the use of a similar campaign slogan?”
Surely Schaeuble is just a ridiculous old man who is approaching senility, and he has begun to make even less sense than usual in his statement?
Nevertheless I decided to actually give Schaeuble’s statement some thought. Could I manage to find some unintended ‘sense’ in Schaeuble’s seemingly nonsensical statement?
After about twenty milliseconds of deep thought – which in neurological terms is basically ‘instantly’ – I arrived at the answer. First, take a look at this quote concerning Schulz:
[...] Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, is a close friend of mine. On most issues connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we disagree. He is closer to the Israeli mainstream, and his positions resemble those of Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog. He once told me, during a frank and stern conversation, “For me, the new Germany exists only in order to ensure the existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.” [...]
Secondly, take a look at this quote concerning Trump:
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday morning ripped the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel and pledged to end the “disdain and disrespect” for the country.
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets. [...]
If you look at it from that angle, then Schaeuble accidentally spoke a kind of truth in the midst of his babbling, somehow.
There indeed is a resemblance between Schulz and Trump. From the perspective of Jewish Zionists in the global sense, the two individuals are almost completely identical.
Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 14:47.
The Hill, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns”, 14 Feb 2017:
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned, after reports he misled senior Trump White House officials about his conversations with Russia. President Trump has named retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser. Kellogg previously served as Flynn’s chief of staff on the National Security Council.
The embattled Flynn blamed his resignation late Monday on the “fast pace of events” that led him to “inadvertently” give Vice President Mike Pence and others “incomplete information” about his phone conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
“I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter.
Politico, “Why Donald Trump let Michael Flynn go”, 14 Feb 2014:
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who has known Kellogg for decades, said early Tuesday that he is a “good man” who was among the earliest Trump loyalists.
But he doubted he will be a permanent replacement for Flynn.
“He won’t be the selection,” McCaffrey predicted, saying Flynn’s permanent replacement has to be “someone with the chops needed to deal with Bannon and Miller, references to two of the president’s top political advisers, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.
Flynn’s decision to resign came after it became clear to him that he had lost the president’s trust, officials said.
Posted by DanielS on Sunday, 12 February 2017 08:49.
TomDispatch: “Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?” All Options Are “On The Table” - Rajan Menon, 12 Feb 2017:
Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.
Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.) But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.
That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well . China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.
The then-secretary-of-state-designate — he’s since been confirmed, despite many negative votes — didn’t, however, stop there. Evidently, he wanted to communicate to the Chinese leadership in Beijing that the new administration was already irked beyond measure with them. So he added, “We’re going to have to send China’s leaders a clear signal: that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is not going to be allowed.” Functionally, that fell little short of being an announcement of a future act of war, since not allowing “access” to those islands would clearly involve military moves. In what amounted to a there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town warning, he then doubled down yet again, insisting, slightly incoherently (in the tradition of his new boss) that “the failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”
All right, so maybe a novice had a bad day. Maybe the secretary-of-state-to-be simply ad-libbed and misspoke… whatever. If so, you might have expected a later clarification from him or from someone on the Trump national security team anyway.
That didn’t happen; instead, that team stuck to its guns. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made no effort to add nuance to, let alone walk back, Tillerson’s remarks. During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”
And what of Trump’s own views on the island controversy? Never one to pass up an opportunity for hyperbole, during the presidential campaign he swore that, on those tiny islands, China was building “a military fortress the likes of which the world has not seen.” As it happened, he wasn’t speaking about, say, the forces that Hitler massed for the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941 with the aim of crushing the Red Army and the Soviet Union, or those deployed for the June 1944 Normandy landing, which sealed Nazi Germany’s fate. When applied to what China has been up to in the South China Sea, his statement fell instantly into the not-yet-named category of “alternative facts.”
Candidate Trump also let it be known that he wouldn’t allow Beijing to get away with such cheekiness on his watch. Why had the Chinese engaged in military construction on the islands? Trump had a simple answer (as he invariably does): China “has no respect for our president and no respect for our country.” The implication was evident. Things would be different once he settled into the White House and made America great again. Then — it was easy enough to conclude — China had better watch out.
Standard campaign bombast? Well, Trump hasn’t changed his tune a bit since being elected. On December 4th, using (of course!) his Twitter account, he blasted Beijing for having built “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.” And it’s safe to assume that he signed off on Spicer’s combative comments as well.
In short, his administration has already drawn a red line — but in the way a petulant child might with a crayon. During and after the campaign he made much of his determination to regain the respect he claims the U.S. has lost in the world, notably from adversaries like China. The danger here is that, in dealing with that country, Trump could, as is typical, make it all about himself, all about “winning,” one of his most beloved words, and disaster might follow.
A military clash between Trump-led America and a China led by President Xi Jinping? Understanding how it might happen requires a brief detour to the place where it’s most likely to occur: the South China Sea. Our first task: to understand China’s position on that body of water and the islands it contains, as well as the nature of Beijing’s military projects there. So brace yourself for some necessary detail.
As Marina Tsirbas, a former diplomat now at the Australian National University’s National Security College, explains, Beijing’s written and verbal statements on the South China Sea lend themselves to two different interpretations. The Chinese government’s position boils down to something like this: “We own everything — the waters, islands and reefs, marine resources, and energy and mineral deposits — within the Nine-Dash Line.” That demarcation line, which incidentally has had ten dashes, and sometimes eleven, originally appeared in 1947 maps of the Republic of China, the Nationalist government that would soon flee to the island of Taiwan leaving the Chinese Communists in charge of the mainland. When Mao Ze Dong and his associates established the People’s Republic, they retained that Nationalist map and the demarcation line that went with it, which just happened to enclose virtually all of the South China Sea, claiming sovereign rights.
This stance — think of it as Beijing’s hard line on the subject — raises instant questions about other countries’ navigation and overflight rights through that much-used region. In essence, do they have any and, if so, will Beijing alone be the one to define what those are? And will those definitions start to change as China becomes ever more powerful? These are hardly trivial concerns, given that about $5 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea annually.
Then there’s what might be called Beijing’s softer line, based on rights accorded by the legal concepts of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which took effect in 1994 and has been signed by 167 states (including China but not the United States), a country has sovereign control within 12 nautical miles of its coast as well as of land formations in that perimeter visible at high tide. But other countries have the right of “innocent passage.” The EEZ goes further. It provides a rightful claimant control over access to fishing, as well as seabed and subsoil natural resources , within “an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea” extending 200 nautical miles, while ensuring other states’ freedom of passage by air and sea. UNCLOS also gives a state with an EEZ control over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures” within that zone — an important provision at our present moment.
What makes all of this so much more complicated is that many of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea that provide the basis for defining China’s EEZ are also claimed by other countries under the terms of UNCLOS. That, of course, immediately raises questions about the legality of Beijing’s military construction projects in that watery expanse on islands, atolls, and strips of land it’s dredging into existence, as well as its claims to seabed energy resources, fishing rights, and land reclamation rights there — to say nothing about its willingness to seize some of them by force, rival claims be damned.
Subi Reef, being built into an artificial island-landing strip in 2015
Moreover, figuring out which of these two positions — hard or soft — China embraces at any moment is tricky indeed. Beijing, for instance, insists that it upholds freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Sea, but it has also said that these rights don’t apply to warships and military aircraft. In recent years its warplanes have intercepted, and at close quarters, American military aircraft flying outside Chinese territorial waters in the same region. Similarly, in 2015, Chinese aircraft and ships followed and issued warnings to an American warship off Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, which both China and Vietnam claim in their entirety. This past December, its Navy seized, but later returned, an underwater drone the American naval ship Bowditch had been operating near the coast of the Philippines.
There were similar incidents in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014. In the second of these episodes, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which had a crew of 24 on board, less than 70 miles off Hainan island, forcing it to make an emergency landing in China and creating a tense standoff between Beijing and Washington. The Chinese detained the crew for 11 days. They disassembled the EP-3, returning it three months later in pieces.
Such muscle flexing in the South China Sea isn’t new. China has long been tough on its weaker neighbors in those waters. Back in 1974, for instance, its forces ejected South Vietnamese troops from parts of the Paracel/Xisha islands that Beijing claimed but did not yet control. China has also backed up its claim to the Spratly/Nansha islands (which Taiwan, Vietnam, and other regional countries reject) with air and naval patrols, tough talk, and more. In 1988, it forcibly occupied the Vietnamese-controlled Johnson Reef, securing control over the first of what would eventually become seven possessions in the Spratlys.
Vietnam has not been the only Southeast Asian country to receive such rough treatment. China and the Philippines both claim ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal/Huangyang Island, located 124 nautical miles off Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 2012, Beijing simply seized it, having already ejected Manila from Panganiban Reef (aka Mischief Reef), about 129 nautical miles from the Philippines’ Palawan Island, in 1995. In 2016, when an international arbitration tribunal upheld Manila’s position on Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sniffed that “the decision is invalid and has no binding force.” Chinese president Xi Jinping added for good measure that China’s claims to the South China Sea stretched back to “ancient times.”
Then there’s China’s military construction work in the area, which includes the building of full-scale artificial islands, as well as harbors, military airfields, storage facilities, and hangars reinforced to protect military aircraft. In addition, the Chinese have installed radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-missile defense systems on some of these islands.
These , then, are the projects that the Trump administration says it will stop. But China’s conduct in the South China Sea leaves little doubt about its determination to hold onto what it has and continue its activities. The Chinese leadership has made this clear since Donald Trump’s election, and the state-run press has struck a similarly defiant note, drawing crude red lines of its own. For example, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, mocked Trump’s pretensions and issued a doomsday warning: “The U.S. has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”
Were the administration to follow its threatening talk with military action, the Global Times added ominously, “The two sides had better prepare for a military clash.” Although the Chinese leadership hasn’t been anywhere near as bombastic, top officials have made it clear that they won’t yield an inch on the South China Sea, that disputes over territories are matters for China and its neighbors to settle, and that Washington had best butt out.
Posted by DanielS on Friday, 27 January 2017 18:46.
TNO, “Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Located at Zionist Massacre Site”, 27 Jan 2017:
In an act of “chutzpah,” Israel’s formal holocaust memorial museum, Yad Vashem, is located at the site of a brutal mass murder massacre carried out against Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin, a holocaust scholar has pointed out.
Bodies after the massacre at Deir Yassin, April 10, 1948.
The massacre at Deir Yassin took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 Jewish terrorists from the Zionist terrorist groups, the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut, attacked the village without warning.
The attack was carried out not as part of some ongoing “war,” but merely because the Zionists were then currently busy with an ethnic cleansing program to drive the Palestinians out of all land which had been earmarked to become Israel.
As described on the official Deir Yassin remembrance site, the village of Deir Yassin lay outside of the area to be assigned by the United Nations to the Jewish State, and it had a peaceful reputation.
But, Deir Yassin’s “sin” was that it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Early in the morning of Friday, April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents
Most sources put the number of dead at 254, including 25 pregnant women who were bayoneted and 52 children who were maimed in front of their mothers before being beheaded and the mothers slain.
Today, the site of the massacre of Deir Yassin is contained within the grounds of the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center, a mental asylum—for Jews only, of course—in Givat Shaul.
What makes the site even more poignant is that it is located just 2,000 feet away from the front of Israel’s holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Visitors to Yad Vashem will look out directly at the massacre site from the front of [Israel’s] Holocaust Memorial.
Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 26 January 2017 05:47.
“Don’t be surprised if the money he used to buy-up American real estate came from U.S. foreign aid” - TT. Pictured, Trump signalng 181 dimensional chess with Pakistani-American real estate tycoon, Sajid Tarahas, founder of ‘Muslims for Trump.’
BBC, “Trump’s Hindu, Sikh and Muslim power brokers”, 24 Jan 2017:
When Indian-American industrialist Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar donated close to a million dollars to the Trump campaign, many in the community dismissed it as a poor investment.
But today, Mr Kumar is the go-to guy not just for Indian-Americans chasing opportunities in the new administration but apparently for the Indian officials seeking contacts with Trump aides.
A leading Indian TV channel NDTV introduced him as “the man with a direct line to Trump” on their show. Another top-ranking Diaspora website, The American Bazar, has called him “the most influential Indian-American power broker” in DC.
And Kumar isn’t complaining about this new celebrity status. “I would like to be the bridge between the two sides,” he told the BBC. “I have arranged two big meetings between Indian officials and leading figures in the Trump team.”
A majority in the Indian immigrant community have traditionally supported Democrats and Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric seemed to have further alienated many.
Kumar says he and his Republican Hindu Coalition mobilised Hindu Indian-Americans votes in swing states like Florida.
Their message? Trump was the anti-terrorism candidate, and would help India and US see greater collaboration in defence, energy and manufacturing.
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric did appeal to some Hindus, but whether that actually swayed the community at large is unclear.
Kumar is not the only one whose stock has soared with a Trump victory.
Pakistani-American Sajid Tarar, who is a Muslim, and Sikh-American Jesse Singh, sided with Mr Trump at the peak of his anti-Muslim barbs. They were pilloried by their own communities for doing so. One exit poll suggested more than three-quarters of Muslims voted for Clinton.
Mr Tarar’s Facebook inbox used to be swamped with negative messages, calling him a “disgrace to Pakistan and Islam”.
But on the morning of 9 November, his phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Mr Tarar had more than 80 messages congratulating him on Mr Trump’s victory and how he had made Pakistan proud.
He says the Pakistan embassy reached out to him to facilitate a call between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the President-elect.
“I sent out a few emails and the call happened,” says Mr Tarar, a real estate businessman.
Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 21 January 2017 12:56.
Heavy, “Donald Trump Cabinet Picks List: All of the President-Elect’s Appointments” *18 Nov 2016:
The following is a list of everyone who has been appointed to work with Trump in the White House thus far, including members of the cabinet and advisers to the president.
The list of nominees is in accordance with Politico and The New York Times. Some candidates are awaiting confirmation. Triple parentheses ((())) indicate Jewish ancestry but not the only ones likely to be serving Jewish and complicit interests thereof.
(CNN)— It had been 169 days since President-elect Donald Trump—then the newly minted Republican nominee—took questions at an open news conference. On Wednesday, Trump broke the streak by hosting reporters, along with top aides, family and applauding staffers, for a wide-ranging, at times chaotic question-and-answer session.
Here’s how it unfolded, minute-by-minute. All times eastern:
10:59 a.m.: Two-minute warning given for beginning of news conference.
11:13 a.m.: Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer comes to the podium, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at his hip, and begins speaking as Trump and three of his children, along with a group of high level staffers, look on from the wings.
11:14 a.m.: Spicer calls out and rejects the content of documents made public by Buzzfeed on Tuesday night, saying it is “outrageous and irresponsible for a left wing blog” to publish “highly salacious and flat-out false information on the internet just days before (Trump) takes the oath office.”
Spicer does not deny a CNN report that Trump and President Obama were presented classified documents that included, in a two-page synopsis, allegations that Russian operatives claim to have damaging information about Trump.
11:15 a.m.: Spicer says that Trump does not know a former campaign adviser named Carter Page. (Trump had mentioned Page by name during a March 2016 interview with the Washington Post.)
11:16 a.m.: Pence takes over from Spicer, says he is “honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a new president who will make America great again.” He praises Trump’s energy, twice, and touts the “caliber” of the nominees selected by the transition staff. He then attacks the press as “irresponsible” and introduces Trump.
11:19 a.m.: Trump says he “maybe” won the nomination because of his frequent news conferences.
“We stopped giving them,” he said, “because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news.”
11:21 a.m.: Trump speaks for four minutes about the industries (auto, pharmaceutical) he has pressured or plans to and again promises to be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.” He also talks about all the military bands that will be at the inauguration.
11:25 a.m.: “Speaking of veterans,” Trump announces that he will appoint David Shulkin to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin is currently the VA’s undersecretary for health.
11:28 a.m.: Trump takes his first question, refuses to confirm or deny that he was briefed on Russian claims to have embarrassing information about him. He calls the unsubstantiated, published details “crap” and the work of “sick people.”
11:32 a.m.: Asked if he would undo the actions taken against Russia put into place by the Obama administration in response to the hacks, Trump deflects and says: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.”
11:33 a.m.: After another question about his activities in Russia, Trump describes telling “many people” to beware of “cameras all over the place” during his visits.
He adds: “I’m also very much of a germaphobe. Believe me.”
11:35 a.m.: “I have no loans with Russia,” Trump says. Then claims he was, over the weekend, offered $2 billion to “do a deal in Dubai with a very, very very amazing man, a great, great developer,” but turned him down. Not because he had to, but because he doesn’t want “to take advantage.”
11:37 a.m.: Trump is asked if he will release his tax returns. He says they are under audit, so he will not.
“The only ones who cares about my tax returns are reporters,” Trump tells the questioner, a statement not backed up by recent polling.
11:38 a.m.: Sheri Dillon, an attorney for Trump, steps to the podium to explain why the President-elect will formally leave his businesses but not sell off his interests.
As CNN’s Jill Disis and Jeremy Diamond report: “All of Trump’s business and financial assets will be placed into the trust before he is inaugurated January 20, said Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for Trump. But she said he will still receive reports on the overall profit of the Trump Organization, his worldwide empire.”
11:53 a.m.: Trump returns to the mic, calls Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ performance on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing “brilliant.” What is he hearing from many people? That his cabinet will be “one of the great cabinets ever put together.”
11:55 a.m.: Questioned about the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump says he could have “waited and watched and criticized” and “let it implode” this year, but decided to act because it’s only fair to “the people.”
Of the timing of the replacement, Trump adds, it will happen “on the same day or the same week… could be the same hour.”
12:00 p.m.: On to jobs. Trump again touts the Carrier deal, calling his recent work to name and shame certain companies a statement of intent.
“The word is now out that when you want to move your plant to Mexico or some other place and you want to fire all of your workers from Michigan and Ohio and all these places that I won for good reason… not gonna happen that way anymore,” he says.
Trump adds: “We don’t have border” but “an open sieve,” and urges companies to shop state-to-state for better deals—“as long as it’s within the borders of the United States.”
12:02 p.m.: Asked how he will make Mexico pay for a “fence” on the Southern border, Trump corrects a reporter: “It’s not a fence, it’s a wall.”
He says negotiations with Mexico will begin shortly after he takes office. The country, he adds, will “in some form” reimburse the US for the cost of construction and says the “deal” will probably happen in less than 18 months.
12:05 p.m.: Trump pledges to name a Supreme Court nominee “within two weeks” of his inauguration.
12:06 p.m.: So what was Trump driving at with his Wednesday morning tweet that asked, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” a reporter inquires.
He says that recent intelligence leaks were like something the government in Nazi Germany “would have done and did do.”
12:07 p.m.: Trump refuses to answer a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta.
12:12 p.m.: Asked by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond why he spent weeks taking shots at US intelligence before having seen their work, Trump brushed past the question and says, “I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press. I think it’s pretty sad.”
12:13 p.m.: Another reporter, ABC’s Cecilia Vega steps up to ask the question that Trump refused to hear from CNN’s Jim Acosta—whether the president-elect could “stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?”
Trump dodges the question.
He speaks for 88 seconds—about the “respect” Russia will have for him; Chinese hackers; if his administration will “get along” with Putin (maybe); Hillary Clinton’s “reset” button—but does not say whether any of his campaign associates spoke regularly with Moscow during the election.
12:15 p.m.: And that’s a wrap.
On the way out, Trump explains that the stacks of papers and folders propped up on the table beside the podium are “all just a piece of the many, many companies that are being put into trust to be run by my two sons.”
12:16 p.m.: Trump exits stage right.
If this pathetic press conference is a sign of things to come over the next four years, then it may turn out to be more of a commentary on Trump’s supporters than on Trump himself.
It’s possible that in the history of the United States, never have so many lemmings lined up, to morosely tumble off so many terraced cliffs, into so many yawning valleys, at the prompting of so few, with so little persuasive power exerted.