Quick Takes: Serving As a Check on Both the Government and the Media

* I’d like to affirm what Paul Glastris wrote today.

…more than ever before, America needs the kind of tough-minded, independent, non-corporate progressive journalism that the Washington Monthly provides. With your support – as readers and donors – we’ll do what no one else can: help keep not just the government, but the press itself, in check.

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* Reuters is reporting:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to settle lawsuits relating to his Trump University series of real estate seminars for $25 million, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

I’m sure (?) some enterprising reporter will find a way to ask the president-elect if this settlement signifies the same thing his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said about Bill Clinton.

“He settled a sexual harassment case for $850,000 with Paula Jones in 1998 dollars. The last time I didn’t sexually harass someone, I didn’t pay him $850,000,” she said.

* Steve Bannon may have grown up in a working class family, but after going into the military, he got a degree at Harvard Business school, made a fortune working at Goldman Sachs and then became a Hollywood producer. Much of his work at the Government Accountability Institute is now funded by the uber wealthy hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer. But according to this interview he recently did with Michael Wolff, all of that gives Bannon the ability to look down his nose at the ignorance of those who live in the “metrosexual bubble.”

To say that he sees this donor class — which in his telling is also “ascendant America,” e.g. the elites, as well as “the metrosexual bubble” that encompasses cosmopolitan sensibilities to be found as far and wide as Shanghai, London’s Chelsea, Hollywood and the Upper West Side — as a world apart, is an understatement. In his view, there’s hardly a connection between this world and its opposite — fly-over America, left-behind America, downwardly mobile America — hardly a common language. This is partly why he regards the liberal characterization of himself as socially vile, as the politically incorrect devil incarnate, as laughable — and why he is stoutly unapologetic. They —liberals and media — don’t understand what he is saying, or why, or to whom.

Interesting, huh? He thinks we don’t understand what he’s saying.

* It’s not only climate change activists who will be advocating that Trump maintain this country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

Hundreds of American companies, including Mars, Nike, Levi Strauss and Starbucks, have urged President-elect Donald J. Trump not to abandon the Paris climate deal, saying a failure by the United States to build a clean economy endangers American prosperity.

In a plea addressed to Mr. Trump — as well as President Obama and members of Congress — 365 companies and major investors emphasized their “deep commitment to addressing climate change,” and demanded that he leave in place low-emissions policies in the United States.

“Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk,” the companies said in a joint letter announced on Wednesday in Marrakesh, Morocco, where global leaders are determining the next steps for the Paris deal. “But the right action now will create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness.”

* The Obama administration hasn’t let the election results change their tune.

The Obama administration on Friday banned offshore drilling in the Arctic, setting a likely collision course with President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to “unleash” new energy production in the United States by rolling back restrictions on oil and gas companies.

The move by the Interior Department, part of a new five-year plan for energy development in federal waters, would put a temporary end to exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the Alaskan coast. It also dropped plans to allow companies to drill for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean off of four southeastern states, including Virginia.

* Finally, you’ll want to be sure to read David Remnick’s article covering several interviews he had with President Obama immediately before and after the election. A couple of points stood out to me. First of all, what he has planned for his post-presidency.

“I’ll be fifty-five when I leave”—he knocked on a wooden end table—“assuming that I get a couple more decades of good health, at least, then I think both Michelle and I are interested in creating platforms that train, empower, network, boost the next generation of leadership. And I think that, whatever shape my Presidential center takes, I’m less interested in a building and campaign posters and Michelle’s dresses, although I think it’s fair to say that Michelle’s dresses will be the biggest draw by a huge margin. But what we’ll be most interested in is programming that helps the next Michelle Obama or the next Barack Obama, who right now is sitting out there and has no idea how to make their ideals live, isn’t quite sure what to do—to give them resources and ways to think about social change.”

Once a community organizer…always a community organizer.

Secondly, here is what Obama said to his daughters Malia and Sasha after the election:

“What I say to them is that people are complicated,” Obama told me. “Societies and cultures are really complicated. . . . This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop. . . . You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.