Bits and bobs from today’s news…. (More)

No, that photo isn’t me on my way to work. I do hop-and-stop on my way from Árbol Squirrel to the mail room at New Venerable Hall, because the erratic movement confuses predators. But I get here hours before dawn – Squirrel Standard Time – so a photo of me on my way to work would be kinda … dark.

Anyway, there’s no Really Big Story today so I’ll hop-and-stop around the news:


“It takes away some parts”

As part of their plan to Make America Great For Bankers Again – while howling about “financial elites” – President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans are taking aim at the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act:

Now, as his transition team asserts itself, an all-out repeal of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law – Trump called it a “disaster” and a “disgrace” – seems unlikely. But experts foresee a gradual but potentially significant chipping away of key parts of the law.

“I don’t think it eviscerates Dodd-Frank, but I think it takes away some parts,” James Cox, a Duke University expert on securities law, said of the Trump team’s approach.

The transition team’s stated goal is a stark one: “To dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with new policies to encourage economic growth and job creation.”

Among their first targets will be the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, set up to limit the predatory tactics of banks, mortgage brokers, credit card companies, and the like. They claim the CFPB is stifling lending that would boost job growth, and perhaps that’s true if you mean job growth for lending companies. Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote a stinging objection Tuesday:

“Quite frankly, the makeup of your transition team suggests that you will not only be ‘letting Wall Street get away with murder’ during your Presidency – you will be letting them write the rules that allow them to get away with it,” Warren wrote, quoting Trump’s January speech in Iowa. Back then, Trump said “I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder.”

The Trump team’s other targets include the Volker Rule that bars big banks from using customers’ deposits to make trades for the banks’ own profit, and gutting the Financial Stability Oversight Council that identifies and limits too-big-to-fail institutions. In other words, President-elect Trump and Republicans want to reignite the predatory, high-risk banking practices that created the 2008 meltdown. So much for Stephen Bannon’s “enlightened capitalism.”


“Right in the bull’s eye of the statute”

In other draining-the-swamp-of-elite-ness, President-elect Trump reportedly wants to give a White House job to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner:

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is likely to take a job at the White House, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sources tell the paper that both White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Stephen Bannon are urging Kushner to take a formal position, such as senior adviser or special counsel.

He could also continue advising his father-in-law in an unofficial capacity, but there’s reason to think there’s more to the report than other rumors coming out of Trump Tower. Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, speculated that if he took an official position the family would need to relocate to D.C., telling the paper that would indicate “Jared recognizes and is inspired by the incredible opportunity to make a positive impact for America.”

Yes, that would be illegal:

A 1967 law, which is seen as a response to President Kennedy making his brother attorney general, bans public officials from hiring their relatives. The Journal suggests there could be a simple work around:

It isn’t clear whether a federal anti-nepotism law that bans appointing a relative to a job in an “agency” applies to the White House, and Mr. Kushner has indicated he would avoid the issue by not taking pay for any White House work.

Ahh, so independently-wealthy relatives can work at the White House without pay. That’s really sticking it to those Elites….

And it’s probably still illegal:

Both Republican and Democratic attorneys told Politico that they believe the law prohibits Kushner from taking a White House job:

“We’re not talking about Kushner running a side task force here. We’re talking about a regular staff job. This falls right in the bull’s eye of the statute. I think it’s illegal,” said Norm Eisen, the former chief ethics lawyer in the Obama White House.

Added Richard Painter, who had a similar post in the George W. Bush White House, “He cannot take a take a job in the White House. Highly inappropriate … I don’t know why they think they can. Just read the language in the statute.”

I realize President-elect Trump thinks rules are for Those People, but my guess is Those People will figure out that “draining the swamp” was never really his agenda.


“We did it during World War II with Japanese”

Meanwhile, a Trump supporter is citing one of America’s darkest stains as legal precedent:

One extreme example: Carl Higbie, former Navy SEAL and spokesman for the pro-Trump Great American PAC, argued Wednesday night on Fox News that a registry of immigrants from Muslim countries would pass constitutional muster, citing the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Here’s part of his exchange with Megyn Kelly:

HIGBIE: Yeah, and to be perfectly honest, it is legal. They say it will hold constitutional muster. I know the ACLU is gonna challenge it, but I think it’ll pass, and we’ve done it with Iran back – back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will, maybe –

KELLY: Come on. You’re not – you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.

HIGBIE: No, no, no. I’m not proposing that at all, Megyn, but what I am saying is we need to protect America from –

KELLY: You know better than to suggest that. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.

HIGBIE: Right, but it’s – I’m just saying there is precedent for it, and I’m not saying I agree with it, but in this case I absolutely believe that a regional based –

KELLY: You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is gonna do.

HIGBIE: Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.

Okay, first, even the late Antonin Scalia disagreed with the Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision that upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans. Second, immigrants are indeed “protected under our Constitution,” by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

Third, and most importantly, Higbie was playing coy. Several Republicans have explicitly suggested internment camps for Muslims, and people like Higbie are trying to normalize that horrifying prospect.


“Democrats have ‘cried wolf’ so many times”

Meanwhile, a white guy explains why Trump’s support was absolutely not grounded in racism or sexism:

From last September, but gone viral only recently: Crying Wolf, Then Confronting Trump. It asks whether Democrats have “cried wolf” so many times that nobody believes them anymore. And so:

When “honorable and decent men” like McCain and Romney “are reflexively dubbed racists simply for opposing Democratic policies, the result is a G.O.P. electorate that doesn’t listen to admonitions when the genuine article is in their midst”.

I have a different perspective. Back in October 2015, I wrote that the media narrative of Trump as “the white power candidate” and “the first openly white supremacist candidate to have a shot at the Presidency in the modern era” were being fabricated out of thin air.

Said white guy then proceeds to dismiss every racist Trump statement, every racist endorsement of Trump, and every poll that linked Trump support to racism. He didn’t address sexism, but I’m sure he’d quibble away that too. It’s an 8000-word exercise in #NotAllTrumpSupporters.

All of this, he says, because he “works in mental health” and some of his patients are frightened by the looming Trump administration. He then poo-poos the over 300 hate incidents since the election, speculating that Clinton supporters have probably committed just as many and besides 300 incidents in a population of 300 million is still just a tiny percentage.

Which leaves me thinking his patients should find a doctor who is less invested in his own white-male-ness and more invested in their lived experience. Just sayin’….


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Good day and good nuts