Quick Takes: Russian Ambassador Killed in Turkey

* We have begun our annual holiday fundraising drive here at the Washington Monthly. If you value a place where facts still matter and independent journalism is an operating principle, please consider making a tax deductible contribution today. Thank you!

* There is no direct link to Trump’s election, but it sure does seem like things around the globe have gotten more tense since Nov. 9th.

A gunman in Turkey wearing a suit and tie opened fire Monday on Russia’s ambassador, killing the diplomat and wounding several others in an attack possibly linked to Russia’s military involvement in Syria.

The gunman was killed as panicked people scattered for cover at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where the ambassador was a guest speaker.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But video posted on social media purported to show the Turkish-speaking attacker decrying violence in Syria, where Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…

“Allah Akbar! Do not forget Aleppo!” said the gunman, according to the widely circulated video. “Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! As long as our lands are not safe, you will not be safe!

* I found this exploration of President Obama’s alternatives for action against Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election to be very informative.

Over the past four months, American intelligence agencies and aides to President Obama assembled a menu of options to respond to Russia’s hacking during the election, ranging from the obvious — exposing President Vladimir V. Putin’s financial ties to oligarchs — to the innovative, including manipulating the computer code that Russia uses in designing its cyberweapons.

But while Mr. Obama vowed on Friday to “send a clear message to Russia” as both a punishment and a deterrent, some of the options were rejected as ineffective, others as too risky. If the choices had been better, one of the aides involved in the debate noted recently, the president would have acted by now…

The president has reached two conclusions, senior officials report: The only thing worse than not using a weapon is using it ineffectively. And if he does choose to retaliate, he has insisted on maintaining what is known as “escalation dominance,” the ability to ensure you can end a conflict on your terms.

* Dante Chinni reports something that doesn’t surprise anyone.

When he campaigned for president, Donald Trump made repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act a signature issue. Polling suggests that such a move would have the biggest impacts on communities that gave Mr. Trump some of his highest levels of support, potentially complicating the politics of a repeal effort.

More than 20 million Americans now depend on the ACA, also known as Obamacare, for health insurance. Data from Gallup indicate that a lot of those people live in counties that favored Mr. Trump.

* Donald Trump billed these rallies as a “thank you” tour. Steve Benen notes who they are really meant to congratulate.

It was a tour unlike anything Americans have ever seen from a president-elect. Donald Trump traveled to Alabama on Saturday for yet another self-indulgent rally, his ninth since launching the tour on Dec. 1. As we talked about the other day, the Republican is the first president-elect in American history to interrupt his own transition period to hit the campaign trail for a multi-stop series of events and speak at length to his followers about how impressed Trump is with his own success.

Trump, apparently uninterested in reaching out to voters who didn’t support him, limited the rallies to states that voted for him in November (though in several instances, he hosted events in cities that heavily backed Hillary Clinton)…

Trump reflected on his exit polls, his contempt for his critics, his favorite moments from the campaign, his disgust for journalists, how many counties he won, how hard he worked. “I don’t think anybody has ever worked harder in the last month of a presidential campaign than I did,” he told his Mobile audience. “Nobody.”

This event, like the previous eight, was a rally organized by Trump, for Trump, about Trump.

* The Clemency Initiative continues.

Today, President Obama granted clemency to 231 deserving individuals — the most individual acts of clemency granted in a single day by any president in this nation’s history. With today’s 153 commutations, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,176 individuals, including 395 life sentences. The President also granted pardons to 78 individuals, bringing his total number of pardons to 148. Today’s acts of clemency — and the mercy the President has shown his 1,324 clemency recipients — exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances…

The President continues to review clemency applications on an individualized basis to determine whether a particular applicant has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance, and I expect that the President will issue more grants of both commutations and pardons before he leaves office.

Ryan Reilly adds this:

Separately, the United States Sentencing Commission issued a report on Monday showing a 5 percent drop in the number of federal offenders sentenced in the 2016 fiscal year from the year earlier. There are currently about 190,000 federal inmates, the fewest since 2005.

* I was reminded of this song over the weekend and, while it was designed to express millennial angst, it captures this old-timer’s mood quite well.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.