Quick Takes: Just In Case You Weren’t Worried Enough About a Trump Presidency

* I have no idea what prompted this, but if you weren’t worried about a Trump presidency before, this should do it:

In other words, Trump thinks that bullying the world by building up our nuclear capability will bring people like Kim Jong-un (or worse yet, groups like ISIS) to their senses. Of course, that makes him an idiot…but a very dangerous one.

* That is probably not what prompted this from Trump’s BFF Vladimir Putin, but it sure looks like we could be headed back to a nuclear arms race fueled by two narcissistic bullies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for the country to reinforce its military nuclear potential and praised the army’s performance in its Syria campaign.

In a speech that recapped military activities in 2016, Putin said the army’s preparedness has “considerably increased” and called for continued improvement that would ensure it can “neutralise any military threat”.

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defence systems,” the Kremlin strongman said.

* During the election, I did some research on the way Hillary Clinton had aligned the State Department’s goals with those that promoted the rights of women and girls around the globe. That makes this move by Trump’s transition team look pretty foreboding:

The Trump transition team instructed the State Department to turn over all information Wednesday about “gender-related staffing, programming, and funding,” setting off alarm bells among those who fear that the new administration is going to purge programs that promote women’s equality along with the people who work on them.

Only a week after being embroiled in a controversy over collecting information on Energy Department climate change officials, the Trump team seems to be at it again. On Wednesday morning, the State Department leadership sent out what’s called a “Flash Transition Tasker” to a long list of offices and bureaus. This official request mandated that all State Department offices provide to the Trump team by 5 p.m. Wednesday full reports on the positions and programs at the State Department dedicated to promoting a range of women’s and gender issues around the world…

…there have only been three “Flash Transition Taskers” issued by the State Department on policy areas: counterterrorism, countering violent extremism and now women’s issues. That reveals what the Trump team believes are its priorities in terms of changing policy upon taking office.

* I agree with this assessment from Gary Legum – and its not just because he linked to what I wrote yesterday 🙂

This has long been a problem for the media covering Trump — namely, that Donald Trump has no plans beyond vague generalities and no interest in the details of his job. As Nancy LeTourneau has reminded us, he has always seemed to be more interested in winning the presidency than in actually being the president. There will always be those of us who are convinced his entire campaign was just a publicity stunt that got out of hand.

This lack of coherence and ability to make reality whatever Trump says it is when he speaks helped handicap the opposition during the campaign. Now that he is about to take office as the president of the United States, this enhances the feeling that there is a vacuum at the top. No one is in charge; there is no real head of state, just a collection of neuroses and insecurities being steered in different directions by . . . well, who knows? His chief of staff, Reince Priebus? His senior adviser, Steve Bannon? His vice president-in-waiting, Mike Pence? His kids?

* I have no idea whether or not Newt Gingrich has Trump’s ear right now, but this kind of statement from him is disturbing.

Combined with the fact that Gingrich once tweeted this about Obama, that is a perfect example of his sociopathic tendencies.

* I worried that as Republicans continued to prioritize the repeal of Obamacare, that would discourage people from signing up on healthcare.gov. Obviously I was wrong.

About 6.4 million people have signed up for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Wednesday, as people rushed to purchase plans regardless of Republican promises that the law will be repealed within months.

The new sign-ups — an increase of 400,000 over a similar point last year — mean the health care coverage of millions of consumers could be imperiled by one of the first legislative actions of Donald J. Trump’s presidency. Hundreds of thousands of other people who took no action will be automatically re-enrolled by the federal government in the same or similar plans, officials said, and their coverage could be threatened as well. Consumers still have until the end of January to enroll.

* Regular readers here probably have some idea of how much I appreciated Samantha Bee during the 2016 election. That’s why I’m ready to sign on to Anna Silman’s suggestion that she will be the Jon Stewart of the Trump years.

Unlike the white, male writers rooms that dominate the rest of comedy, Bee’s staff is approximately 50 percent female and 30 percent nonwhite, and this inclusiveness informs the show’s coverage. Speaking last night about Paul Ryan’s myopia about the wave of hate crimes riling the nation, Bee noted that “everyone on my staff has experienced or witnessed disgusting harassment this week,” before contrasting her staff with Ryan’s own all-white intern team. There’s no question that having these marginalized voices on staff is one reason that Full Frontal’s Trump coverage has felt so urgent and essential…

After eight years of comedians struggling to make fun of Obama’s charismatic competence, we are about to enter a period where satire is going to matter, a lot. I remember how important The Daily Show was for me as a teenager, back when Jon Stewart was making a name for himself covering the mess of “Indecision 2000,” and lambasting Bush’s Iraq War with a regular segment called “Mess O’ Potamia.” Stewart helped me sharpen and focus my outrage, and served as a nightly dose of catharsis for myself and others who opposed the Bush administration and everything it stood for. Now, in my search for silver linings, I look to voices like Samantha Bee…who will serve as gadflies to a Trump administration.

* Finally, as you do your last-minute holiday shopping, I’d like to remind you that we are still in the midst of our annual fundraising drive here at Washington Monthly. We REALLY appreciate all of you who have already made a contribution. But if you haven’t yet, right now would be a great time to do so. Here’s my thank you gift.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.