Monday, December 19, 2016

Wolfgang Hampel, Betty MacDonald, Betty MacDonald event, the poodle and the man who hates Christmas


mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_1957_hardcover_bookjacket(yellow)-cleaned_FRONT
Hello 'Pussy' this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: 
"Frankly, it’s mystifying that you continue to defend Russia and Putin, even as you excoriate everyone else, from C.I.A. officials to a local union leader in Indiana.plague_English_1994_paperback_FRONT
Should I remain in bed, leave my country or fight against the dragon?

( see also the story by Wolfgang Hampel
' Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say ' )

The Egg and I Film Illustration

Betty Bard MacDonald's photo. 

The Betty MacDonald Networks Foto.

Click images for alternate views
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Betty MacDonald's sister Alison Bard Burnett

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Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle author Betty MacDonald on Vashon Island
<p>Time Out of Mind (1947) - avec Betty et Don MacDonald et Phyllis Calvert</p>

Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood

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Wolfgang Hampel - and Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter December will be very interesting.

We are going to publish the new Betty MacDonald essay by Betty MacDonald fan club research team Anita and Eartha Kitt II.

The subject is ' Betty MacDonald's life on Vashon Island ' with several never published before interviews of Betty MacDonald's family, friends and neighbours.

We've already mentioned Betty MacDonald's homemade Christmas cards.

In which year did Betty MacDonald create this Christmas card?

If you know the answer you might be our Betty MacDonald fan club parcel winner today.

Good luck! 

We are so glad that our beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is back.
You can celebrate Christmas with Mr. Tigerli. 

New  Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many new interviews.

Alison Bard Burnett and other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will be included in Wolfgang Hampel's fascinating project Vita Magica.
Very exciting Betty MacDonald fan club news! 
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel is going to present life and work of Betty MacDonald in Vita Magica January 2017. 
More info will come soon! 

Vita Magica December was very successful.

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel invited a very famous author.

The visitors enjoyed Vita Magica very much.  

A great event! 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel interviewed Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil and her husband Jerry Keil.

This interview will be published for the first time ever.

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New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many interviews never published before.

We adore Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli 

Thank you so much for sharing this witty memories with us.

Wolfgang Hampel's literary event Vita Magica is very fascinating because he is going to include Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.

It's simply great to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others.

Vita Magica was very witty and enjoyable.

We know the visitors had a great time there.

Congratulations dear Letizia Maninco, Wolfgang Hampel and Friedrich von Hoheneichen!

Linde Lund and many fans from all over the world  adore this funny sketch by Wolfgang Hampel very much although our German isn't the best.

I won't ever forget the way Wolfgang Hampel is shouting ' Brexit '.

Don't miss it, please.

It's simply great!

You can hear that Wolfgang Hampel got an outstandig voice.

He presented one of Linde Lund's favourite songs ' Try to remember ' like a professional singer.

Thanks a million!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.

Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.

Letizia Mancino's  magical Betty MacDonald Gallery  is a special gift for Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world.

Don't miss Brad Craft's 'More friends', please. 

Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island is one of my favourites.

I agree with Betty in this very witty Betty MacDonald story  Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say by Wolfgang Hampel.

I can't imagine to live in a country with him as so-called elected President although there are very good reasons to remain there to fight against these brainless politics.

Just try to hint that the US is not the greatest country in the world and you’ll be labeled a traitor, despite the fact that we are number 1 in some of the worst statistics possible. We are first in rates of obesity, divorce, incarceration, gun deaths per capita, infant mortality, rape, murder, and student loan debt, to name just a few. Meanwhile, we are last in paid sick days, paid maternity leave, income equality, and programs that reflect a society that cares for its people.
Far too often, the poor, working-class white population votes against their best interests. It’s easier for them to believe that an immigrant or a person of color is stealing their livelihood than to accept that a wealthy white billionaire doesn’t have their best interests in mind, and that there is no such thing as The American Dream.
The reality is that the system is set up to ensure there will always be a huge gap between the rich and the poor because the elites want it that way and most people don’t care enough to do anything about it. We are a country that does not like to take personal responsibility for anything, particularly if it requires effort. We would rather have someone else take care of everything so we can go back to watching Monday Night Football.

Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please.

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Copyright 2016 Crooks and Liars

Electoral College: Make Hillary Clinton President.

Donald Trump has not been elected president. The real election takes place December 19, when the 538 Electoral College Electors cast their ballots – for anyone they want.
If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, in 14 of the states in Trump's column, they can vote for Hillary Clinton without any legal penalty if they choose.
We are calling on “Conscientious Electors” to protect the Constitution from Donald Trump, and to support the national popular vote winner.
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.
Learn more in the video above, then sign the petition to join the more than 4.7 million Americans who support this grassroots effort. Please also visit to see how you can get further involved in our movement.

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?

We don't know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows? - Dana Rohrabacher

Lately, it appears Trump has gone back into the field to drag in a whole new bunch of State contenders. 

My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Rohrabacher is also a surfer and former folk singer who once claimed global warming might be connected to “dinosaur flatulence.” 

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?

Don't miss the very interesting articles below, please.

I think the future dinosaur flatulence will be the behaviour of 'Pussy' and his very strange government.

Poor World!    Poor America! 

The most difficult case in Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle's career

mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT

Hello 'Pussy', this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 

You took calls from foreign leaders on unsecured phone lines, without consultung the State Department. We have to change your silly behaviour with a new Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure. I know you are the most difficult case in my career - but we have to try everything.......................

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sent his brilliant thoughts. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang! 
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Hi Libi, nice to meet you. Can you feel it?

I'll be the most powerful leader in the world.

Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say

Copyright 2016 by Wolfgang Hampel

All rights reserved 

Betty MacDonald was sitting on her egg-shaped cloud and listened to a rather strange guy.

He said to his friends: So sorry to keep you waiting. Very complicated business! Very complicated!

Betty said: Obviously much too complicated for you old toupee!

Besides him ( by the way the  First Lady's place ) his 10 year old son was bored to death and listened to this 'exciting' victory speech. 

The old man could be his great-grandfather.

The boy was very tired and thought: I don't know what this old guy is talking about. Come on and finish it, please. I'd like to go to bed.

Dear 'great-grandfather' continued  and praised the Democratic candidate.

He congratulated her and her family for a very strong campaign although he wanted to put her in jail.

He always called her the most corrupt person ever and repeated it over and over again in the fashion of a Tibetan prayer wheel.

She is so corrupt. She is so corrupt.  Do you know how corrupt she is? 

Betty MacDonald couldn't believe it when he said: She has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.

Afterwards old toupee praised his parents, wife, children, siblings and friends. 

He asked the same question like a parrot all the time:

Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
I know you are here!

Betty MacDonald answered: No Pussy they are not! They left the country.

They immigrated to Canada because they are very much afraid of the future in the U.S.A. with you as their leader like the majority of all so-called more or less normal citizens. 

By the way keep your finger far away from the pussies and the Red Button, please.

I'm going to fly with my egg-shaped cloud to Canada within a minute too.

Away - away - there is nothing more to say! 

Real vs. Ersatz

I can understand the reason why Betty MacDonald, Barbara Streisand, other artists and several of my friends want to leave the United States of America.

I totally agree with these comments:

This is incredible! I'll You get what you pay/vote for and Trump is the epitome of this ideology. America I won't feel bad for you because you don't need my sympathy for what's coming but I am genuinely scared for you. 'Forgive them lord for they know not who they do' or maybe they do but just don't care about their future generations who will suffer for this long after the culprits have passed away. 

Is the USA like North Korea where you can't trust other politicians?

That's it. 

Put Ivanka in! Put Ivanka in! Put my whole family and friends in! '

What about Putin? 

Or the leaders from China and North Korea?

Wouldn't it be a great idea to put them in too?

What about very intelligent and qualified Sarah Palin? 

André Maurice Dayans Foto.

I found this in Wikipedia about her:

In 2006, Palin obtained a passport[88] and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwait. There she visited the Khabari Alawazem Crossing at the Kuwait–Iraq border and met with members of the Alaska National Guard at several bases.[89] On her return journey she visited injured soldiers in Germany.[90]

That's the reason why very intelligent and brilliant Sarah Palin knows the World very well. 

Sarah and ' Pussygate '  will rule America and the World - what a couple. 

I am neither Christian enough nor charitable enough to like anybody just because he is alive and breathing. I want people to interest or amuse me. I want them fascinating and witty or so dul as to be different. I want them either intellectually stimulating or wonderfully corny; perfectly charming or hundred percent stinker. I like my chosen companions to be distinguishable from the undulating masses and I don't care how. - Betty MacDonald

Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.

We hope you'll enjoy it very much.

I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions

Can you remember in which book you can find it?

If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner. 

I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.

It' s such a pleasure to read them. 

Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's  Vashon Island.

Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.

Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding  Betty MacDonald biography.

I enjoy Bradley Craft's story very much.  

Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please. 

You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel. 

Good luck!  

This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum. 

Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications? 

If so would you be so kind to share them?

Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.

If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.

Thank you so much in advance for your support.








Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.

More info are coming soon.

Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans. 

Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.

We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.

Tell us the names of this mysterious couple please and you can win a very new Betty MacDonald documentary. 


Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerl is beloved all over the World.

We are so happy that our 'Casanova'  is back.

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to share very interesting info on ' Betty MacDonald and the movie The Egg and I '. 

Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.

The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952. 

Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.

Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.

I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.

Enjoy a great breakfast at the bookstore with Brad and Nick, please.

Don't miss this, please. You'll enjoy it very much.  

Excerpts from SVT and TV4 broadcasts from Lucia 2015.

Participating are students from music classes in Gothenburg and Växjö.

Berlin has expressed dismay that a German high school in İstanbul has canceled its traditional Christmas celebration, with teachers at the school even being forbidden to mention the topic of Christmas in their classrooms.

DPA reported that the Turkish administrators of the İstanbul Lisesi, established more than 100 years ago, announced that Christmas traditions and the singing of carols would no longer be part of the curriculum.

The move, which has angered German politicians and officials at the country’s foreign ministry, occurred a week after the school’s choir was prevented from singing at the German Consulate General in Istanbul.

Frank Josef Jung, a deputy from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in charge of religious affairs, called the situation “completely unacceptable” and said that since Germany finances teachers at the school, it should have input into what they teach.
The abrupt cancellation is seen by German politicians as part of a move away from secularism engineered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Die Welt newspaper in a photograph portrayed Erdoğan as the Grinch who stole Christmas, of the famous Dr. Seuss children’s story.

Let's enjoy Christmas time even dear Mr. Erdogan doesn't seem to like it. ( see article below )

By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today Despite some dissimilarities, the Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan share several similarities. Having lack of political wisdom, both the leaders are

Take care,

Don't miss this very special book, please.


Bildergebnis für Betty MacDonald Christmas

Vita Magica 

Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 

Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  

Betty MacDonald fan club and Heide Rose

Betty MacDonald fan club fan Greta Larson

Rita Knobel Ulrich - Islam in Germany - a very interesting ZDF  ( 2nd German Television ) documentary with English subtitles 

Donald Trump: The Russian Poodle - by Nicholas Kristof

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"Frankly, it’s mystifying that Trump continues to defend Russia and Putin, even as he excoriates everyone else, from C.I.A. officials to a local union leader in Indiana. Let’s be clear: This was an attack on America, less lethal than a missile but still profoundly damaging to our system. It’s not that Trump and Putin were colluding to steal an election. But if the C.I.A. is right, Russia apparently was trying to elect a president who would be not a puppet exactly but perhaps something of a lap dog — a Russian poodle.  Now we come to the most reckless step of all: This Russian poodle is acting in character by giving important government posts to friends of Moscow, in effect rewarding it for its attack on the United States.  "So it’s critical that the Senate, the news media and the public subject Tillerson to intense scrutiny.  We must be vigilant and recognize what is afoot!" WOOF!

Read the rest of the story HERE:


Trump Is Not the Problem

Donald Trump may be the ultimate con man, having convinced about 25% of the American public who voted for him that he was a populist interested in helping the working class. His recent cabinet appointments of banksters and corporate elites prove otherwise. Although the prospect of this man as president for the next 4 years is frightening to even contemplate, it’s not really Trump that’s the problem. He is just a symptom of the deeper problem we have in America: the fact that our country is morally and ethically bankrupt.
For at least the last half century, we have lived in a culture not of self-awareness, but of self absorption — a culture in which concern for the greater good has been replaced by a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. Racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are ingrained in our culture. We have just covered it over with political correctness so we can deny how extensive an issue it really is. But just like an alcoholic, we can’t begin to recover unless we admit we have a problem.
Just try to hint that the US is not the greatest country in the world and you’ll be labeled a traitor, despite the fact that we are number 1 in some of the worst statistics possible. We are first in rates of obesity, divorce, incarceration, gun deaths per capita, infant mortality, rape, murder, and student loan debt, to name just a few. Meanwhile, we are last in paid sick days, paid maternity leave, income equality, and programs that reflect a society that cares for its people.
Far too often, the poor, working-class white population votes against their best interests. It’s easier for them to believe that an immigrant or a person of color is stealing their livelihood than to accept that a wealthy white billionaire doesn’t have their best interests in mind, and that there is no such thing as The American Dream.
The reality is that the system is set up to ensure there will always be a huge gap between the rich and the poor because the elites want it that way and most people don’t care enough to do anything about it. We are a country that does not like to take personal responsibility for anything, particularly if it requires effort. We would rather have someone else take care of everything so we can go back to watching Monday Night Football.
The average American barely gives a passing thought to the suffering we are causing to innocent civilians around the world in the 7 countries on which we are currently dropping bombs. Unless it’s in their own backyard, they just don’t care. Imagine just a single one of those bombs suddenly dropping on your home while you are in the middle of dinner, killing your children, husband, wife. What is unimaginable for us is daily life for some.
For centuries, Western culture has been dominated by white men obsessed with empire-building. They feel it is their God-given right to invade less developed countries, steal their resources at will, and then expect the conquered to be grateful to us for “liberating” them from their backward ways. We commit mass murder around the world and don’t think twice about it. The hubris is astounding, and like Rome, it will ultimately be the instrument of our downfall.
Fears of Trump becoming the next Hitler are unnecessary because we’re already there. Hitler may have gathered the Jews into extermination camps to systematically murder them, but we have been systematically murdering Muslims in their own countries for at least the past 26 years. An estimated 4 million Muslims have been killed due to our wars. The genocide is the same, just under a different façade.
The very founding of our country is a prime example. White Europeans arrived here in the 17th century and began to commit genocide against the indigenous Americans practically from day one. Those atrocities continue to this day in the form of government-approved militarized mercenaries violently attacking peacefully protesting Native Americans with rubber bullets, pepper spray, sound cannons and concussion grenades.
We seem to have forgotten that we were once the immigrants here. Every US citizen, unless they are from one of the many indigenous tribes that were here far before the first pilgrims, has an immigrant ancestor. Yet it’s amazing how many people say it’s the immigrants who are hurting our country. Like your own great-grandparents once did, most immigrants work hard to establish their lives here. A long-term study has shown that immigrants do far more good for the economy than harm; however, the oligarchy wants to distract you from knowing who the real welfare queens are: the banks and our corporate-owned government.
Congress doesn’t want you to know that they are the reason why you have unaffordable health care. They are the reason our youth are drowning in student debt, and could never dream of making nearly as much money as their parents did — all while they find money to bail out the banks. Congress never has a problem funding more than 50% of the annual budget for the benefit of the military industrial complex, and never have to worry about losing their 100% government-paid health insurance.
As Noam Chomsky and Martin Luther King said, America is socialist for the rich and capitalist for the poor. We allow our government to bail out the banks while working people lose their homes. The wealthy like to maintain a comfortable gap between themselves and everyone else. If everyone is wealthy, nobody is. How could they continue to feel superior? The far-right white supremacists (often oddly called alt-right) have massive fears of immigrants and minorities, believing they are the ones responsible for the disappearance of what they always believed to be their racially guaranteed upward mobility.
Our educational system is a joke; the oligarchy does not want an educated population. If Americans were actually taught to think for themselves, they might begin to question government policies. For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that our income taxes do not fund federal spending. So any government official claiming there is not enough tax money to fund universal health care, higher education, etc. is either ignorant or flat-out lying.
But even if it’s not your “hard-earned dollars” that would pay for these vital programs, what type of person thinks that any human being does not have the right to decent health care? Universal health care is not even a question in every other Western country, all of which have some form of it. People in these countries almost universally state that health care is an inalienable human right.
It’s no wonder the Kardashians and reality TV shows like The X Factor and American Idol are so popular, not to mention Trump’s own show, The Apprentice. We glorify unbridled wealth, cutthroat competition, and cruelty. The meaner and more demeaning, the better. We shore up our huge insecurities by belittling others, whether they are TV contestants, women, or minorities.
None of this will change until we make significant changes to our ethical code. We need to learn from the Native Americans and adopt a different way of looking at our existence on this planet. Much can be learned from what’s happened at Standing Rock. The indigenous peoples of this country understand that everyone is their relative. What harms one of us harms all of us. They have respect for the earth upon which we all must live and which provides us with food and water. They have astoundingly met brutal violence with only love and compassion.
Privatization must end. The earth’s natural resources should be owned by all of humanity collectively. Nobody should have the ability to make a profit on a natural resource. Along with a minimum wage, there also needs to be a maximum wage. No more allowing a small handful of people to hoard money in amounts so large they could never possibly spend it all, when meanwhile their fellow citizens are struggling to feed their children.
We seem to have lost our sense of compassion for other human beings. Yet we wonder how Donald Trump won the presidency? We need to take a serious look in the mirror and see the ways in which Trump is simply a reflection of the darkest parts of ourselves and examine where it comes from, rather than running from it. At that point, we can make conscious changes and become a better people.
A striking example of this is the stirring ceremony that occurred at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in early December, in which US military veterans asked forgiveness from the Native Americans for the numerous crimes the military had committed against them. Recognizing and admitting our part in these atrocities allows for a beginning in healing the world instead of harming it.
We must always try to remember that we are all members of the same human race living on the same fragile planet. When we make significant changes to our outlook on others and on the world around us, we will finally stop getting leaders like Trump.

Donald Trump is Russia's 'Manchurian candidate' as 'Saturday Night Live' debuts John Goodman as oil mogul Rex Tillerson

Donald Trump may be America’s gift to Russia.
A shirtless Vladimir Putin shimmied into Trump Tower through a chimney to finally meet his President-elect on the holiday-themed episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
“We in Russia, we are so happy that you’re U.S. President. We think you are the best candidate, the smartest candidate — the Manchurian candidate," said SNL cast member Beck Bennett, as the Russian leader.
The sketch show brought actor Alec Baldwin back to the set to taunt Trump and the Russian hack job that may have played a part in Trump’s November election victory. Both FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. have agreed with a CIA assessment that Russia meddled in the close race, officials said Friday.
Chance celebrates Obama’s last Christmas in office on 'SNL'

Saturday Night Live's cold open saw John Goodman's Rex Tillerson plot with Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin as Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump looked on.

Saturday Night Live's cold open saw John Goodman's Rex Tillerson plot with Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin as Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump looked on.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the U.S. election.
SNL’s interpretation of the Russian strongman snuck into Trump’s Manhattan office like Santa Claus to deliver a Christmas present — an Elf on the Shelf.
“It’s fun, you just put it right here next to your internet router,” Putin said of the suspicious holiday toy, depicted in a children's book as a spy for Santa. 

An NBC report alleged Putin, a former KGB agent, personally oversaw the hacking operation to help Trump win, and as a result, regain its economic footing globally — possibly through oil dealings as depicted by SNL.
Alec Baldwin blasts Trump's misspellings ahead of 'SNL' return
Putin appeared to lose all eyes for Baldwin’s Trump when Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Rex Tillerson walked through the door.
The oil mogul, portrayed by actor John Goodman, shared a secret handshake with Putin and gushed over future oil plans during the cold open.

Bennett's Putin give Baldwin's Trump a suspicious gift.

Bennett's Putin give Baldwin's Trump a suspicious gift.

After all, Tillerson, the President-elect’s choice for secretary of state, was honored with Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013 after signing a deal with Russian oil company Rosneft to drill in the Arctic’s Kara Sea.
Trump was silent on Twitter following Baldwin’s appearance — in contrast to his previous reactions to the NBC show.
SNL jabs at President-elect Donald Trump's ego through his mind
Weekend Update co-anchor Colin Jost said Trump repeatedly shrugging off the former Cold War rival’s hacking allegations would be comparable to President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying “we don’t know it was Japan” after the Pearl Harbor attack.
“It could have been some fat guy on a couch somewhere,” Jost mused.
Although cast member Kate McKinnon has mostly resigned her portrayal of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, she returned to the role to lampoon “Love Actually.”
McKinnon, as Clinton, offered to buy off an electoral voter with a $1,000 check to protest Trump’s election win.
Trump calls Alec Baldwin’s ‘SNL’ impression 'mean-spirited'
“You don’t even have to vote for me. I’m coo,” Clinton said, fumbling through a stack of cue cards like Andrew Lincoln’s character in the 2003 Christmas flick. “Just vote for literally anyone else, like John Kasich, Tom Hanks, The Rock — a rock.”
The Electoral College — 538 men and women — is expected to vote for Trump on Monday. If they fail to confirm Trump’s electoral win, Jost’s co-host Michael Che predicts Trump will react like a chimpanzee with a machine gun — poorly.
“Enjoy your holiday but keep in mind, if Donald Trump becomes president, he will kill us all,” the faux Clinton added.
donald trump
saturday night live
alec baldwin
beck bennett
vladimir putin
kate mckinnon
rex tillerson
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SundayReview | Op-Ed Columnist

Donald Trump: The Russian Poodle

Russian hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington last year. Credit Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

In 1972, President Richard Nixon’s White House dispatched burglars to bug Democratic Party offices. That Watergate burglary and related “dirty tricks,” such as releasing mice at a Democratic press conference and paying a woman to strip naked and shout her love for a Democratic candidate, nauseated Americans — and impelled some of us kids at the time to pursue journalism.
Now in 2016 we have a political scandal that in some respects is even more staggering. Russian agents apparently broke into the Democrats’ digital offices and tried to change the election outcome. President Obama on Friday suggested that this was probably directed by Russia’s president, saying, “Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.”
In Watergate, the break-in didn’t affect the outcome of the election. In 2016, we don’t know for sure. There were other factors, but it’s possible that Russia’s theft and release of the emails provided the margin for Donald Trump’s victory.
The C.I.A. says it has “high confidence” that Russia was trying to get Trump elected, and, according to The Washington Post, the directors of the F.B.I. and national intelligence agree with that conclusion.
Both Nixon and Trump responded badly to the revelations, Nixon by ordering a cover-up and Trump by denouncing the C.I.A. and, incredibly, defending Russia from the charges that it tried to subvert our election. I never thought I would see a dispute between America’s intelligence community and a murderous foreign dictator in which an American leader sided with the dictator.

Let’s be clear: This was an attack on America, less lethal than a missile but still profoundly damaging to our system. It’s not that Trump and Putin were colluding to steal an election. But if the C.I.A. is right, Russia apparently was trying to elect a president who would be not a puppet exactly but perhaps something of a lap dog — a Russian poodle.
In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair was widely (and unfairly) mocked as President George W. Bush’s poodle, following him loyally into the Iraq war. The fear is that this time Putin may have interfered to acquire an ally who likewise will roll over for him.

Frankly, it’s mystifying that Trump continues to defend Russia and Putin, even as he excoriates everyone else, from C.I.A. officials to a local union leader in Indiana.
Now we come to the most reckless step of all: This Russian poodle is acting in character by giving important government posts to friends of Moscow, in effect rewarding it for its attack on the United States.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, is a smart and capable manager. Yet it’s notable that he is particularly close to Putin, who had decorated Tillerson with Russia’s “Order of Friendship.”
Whatever our personal politics, how can we possibly want to respond to Russia’s interference in our election by putting American foreign policy in the hands of a Putin friend?
Tillerson’s closeness to Putin is especially troubling because of Trump’s other Russia links. The incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, accepted Russian money to attend a dinner in Moscow and sat near Putin. A ledger shows $12.7 million in secret payments by a pro-Russia party in Ukraine to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. And the Trump family itself has business connections with Russia.
It’s true that there will be counterbalances, including Gen. James Mattis, the former Marine commander who has no illusions about Moscow and is expected to be confirmed as defense secretary. But over all it looks as if the Trump administration will be remarkably pro-Putin — astonishing considering Putin’s Russia has killed journalists, committed war crimes in Ukraine and Syria and threatened the peaceful order in Europe.

So it’s critical that the Senate, the news media and the public subject Tillerson to intense scrutiny. There are other issues to explore as well, including his role in enabling corruption in Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world. The same is true of his role in complicity with the government of Angola, where oil corruption turned the president’s daughter into a billionaire even as children died of poverty and disease at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world.

Maybe all this from Russia to Angola was just Tillerson trying to maximize his company’s revenue, and he will act differently as secretary of state. Maybe. But I’m skeptical that his ideology would change in fundamental ways.
This is not only about Tillerson just as the 1972 break-in was not only about the Watergate building complex. This is about the integrity of American democracy and whether a foreign dictator should be rewarded for attacking the United States. It is about whether we are led by a president or a poodle.

Ross Douthat and Maureen Dowd are off today.
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Berlin uneasy as Christmas celebration banned at German school in İstanbul

Berlin has expressed dismay that a German high school in İstanbul has canceled its traditional Christmas celebration, with teachers at the school even being forbidden to mention the topic of Christmas in their classrooms.
DPA reported that the Turkish administrators of the İstanbul Lisesi, established more than 100 years ago, announced that Christmas traditions and the singing of carols would no longer be part of the curriculum.
The move, which has angered German politicians and officials at the country’s foreign ministry, occurred a week after the school’s choir was prevented from singing at the German Consulate General in Istanbul.
“We do not understand the surprising decision of the leadership at İstanbul Lisesi,” said the foreign ministry.
“It is a great pity that the good tradition of the intercultural exchange in the pre-Christmas period was suspended at a school with a long history of German-Turkish” friendship, the government said, according to Deutsche Welle (DW).
The German Foreign Office called the decision “regrettable” and said it would seek dialogue with its Turkish partners over the incident, according to DPA, which also reported that the school itself denied on its website Sunday night that it had passed a Christmas ban.
Frank Josef Jung, a deputy from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in charge of religious affairs, called the situation “completely unacceptable” and said that since Germany finances teachers at the school, it should have input into what they teach.
The abrupt cancellation is seen by German politicians as part of a move away from secularism engineered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Die Welt newspaper in a photograph portrayed Erdoğan as the Grinch who stole Christmas, of the famous Dr. Seuss children’s story.

How a Putin Fan Overseas Pushed Pro-Trump Propaganda to Americans

James Dowson, a far-right political activist, ran a constellation of websites out of the United Kingdom. Credit Rex Features, via Associated Press

The Patriot News Agency website popped up in July, soon after it became clear that Donald J. Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination, bearing a logo of a red, white and blue eagle and the motto “Built by patriots, for patriots.”
Tucked away on a corner of the site, next to links for Twitter and YouTube, is a link to another social media platform that most Americans have never heard of: VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It is a clue that Patriot News, like many sites that appeared out of nowhere and pumped out pro-Trump hoaxes tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to Satanism, pedophilia and other conspiracies, is actually run by foreigners based overseas.
But while most of those others seem be the work of young, apolitical opportunists cashing in on a conservative appetite for viral nonsense, operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected.
Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. A vocal proponent of Christian nationalist, anti-immigrant movements in Europe, Mr. Dowson, 52, has spoken at a conference of far-right leaders in Russia and makes no secret of his hope that Mr. Trump will usher in an era of rapprochement with Mr. Putin.

His dabbling in the American presidential election adds an ideological element that has been largely missing from the still-emerging landscape of websites and Facebook pages that bombarded American voters with misinformation and propaganda. Far from the much-reported Macedonian teenagers running fake news factories solely for profit, Mr. Dowson made it his mission, according to messages posted on one of his sites, to “spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning.”

An image from one of Mr. Dowson’s websites. He said his mission was to “spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites.”

Together, people like us helped change the course of history,” one message said, adding in another: “Every single one of you who forwarded even just one of our posts on social media contributed to the stunning victory for Trump, America and God.”
In a recent email interview from Belgrade, where he has met with Serbian nationalists, Mr. Dowson explained how his decision to establish an American social media presence was similar to the move into European markets by Breitbart News, the conservative provocateur media operation run by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist.

“Simple truth is that after 40 years of the right having no voice because the media was owned by the enemy, we were FORCED to become incredibly good at alternative media in a way the left simply can’t grasp or handle,” Mr. Dowson said. “Bottom line is: BREXIT, TRUMP and much more to follow.”
While it is easy to overstate the influence of fringe elements whose overall numbers remain very small, the explosion of fake news and propaganda sites and their possible impact on the presidential election have ignited alarm across the American political spectrum. A recent study found that most people who read fabricated stories on Facebook — such as a widely circulated hoax about Pope Francis endorsing Mr. Trump — were inclined to believe them.
Then there is the added element of Russian meddling. The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Moscow put its thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump through the release of hacked Democratic emails, which provided fodder for many of the most pernicious false attacks on Mrs. Clinton on social media.
Some of those attacks found a home on Russian websites such as the one for Katehon, a right-wing Christian think tank aligned with Mr. Putin. Katehon recirculated anti-Clinton conspiracies under headlines like “Bloody Hillary: 5 Mysterious Murders Linked to Clinton.”
Another Russian site that urged support for Mr. Trump, called “Just Trump It,” is linked to the International Russian Conservative Forum, an annual gathering of far-right leaders in St. Petersburg that has featured Mr. Dowson, among others, as a speaker. The site, which seems mostly aimed at selling Trump T-shirts, was registered to an individual at a Russian company that trademarked a logo used to certify that merchandise was not made with migrant labor.
Some analysts see danger signs in the nexus of Russian interests and far-right agitators in Europe and the United States. Social media can amplify even the most obscure voices, giving them a stage from which to broadcast a distorted message to credulous audiences.
“These messages seep into the mainstream,” said Alina Polyakova, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan international affairs institute in Washington. “They may have been extreme or fringe at one point in time, but they have been incredibly influential in shaping people’s views about key geopolitical events in a very specific direction.”
Russia is particularly adept at playing this game, Ms. Polyakova said. “Moscow specifically encourages and facilitates” the spreading of propaganda through proxies, she said, as well as through events like the Russian conservative forum, which showcases views and narratives favored by the Putin government.

At the inaugural forum in March 2015, Mr. Dowson praised Mr. Putin as a strong defender of traditional values, while belittling President Obama and the United States itself as “feminized men.” In the email interview, Mr. Dowson said he was not supported by Russia in any way, and he accused critics of trying 

“I look on this rebirth of McCarthy-type anti-Russian hysteria by the LEFT as a hilarious reaction born out of the left’s inability to realize THEY elected Trump, not me, not the Russians, not even the right,” he said via email.
A colorful if somewhat enigmatic figure in Britain — The Times of London recently described him as “the invisible man of Britain’s far right” — Mr. Dowson, at first blush, would not be an obvious mouthpiece for Russia.
Formerly a church minister in Northern Ireland and the father of nine, he became involved in anti-abortion campaigns, joined the British National Party in the mid-2000s and, later, founded Britain First, a stridently anti-immigrant group opposed to what it called a creeping Islamic threat to traditional British values. He publicly split with the group in 2014 after some of its leaders started invading mosques and threatening Muslims, which he criticized as un-Christian and counterproductive.
While involved with Britain First, Mr. Dowson made deft use of social media and websites to promote its work and convey the impression of a mass following. A British watchdog group called Hope Not Hate, which has tracked Mr. Dowson’s online activities, concluded that he has “a rather canny knack for building up protest groups and movements on the basis that it was your Christian duty to follow his work.”
Mr. Dowson claims to have reached millions of Americans across all of his online platforms in the run-up to the November presidential election, a number that could not be verified, in part, because he would not confirm all of his sites. Online visits to Patriot News did not come close to that, although when combined with several other sites that appear to be connected to Mr. Dowson, the total number edges above a million; most viewers were in Britain.

Whatever the precise numbers, there is little question that postings on the sites and Facebook pages linked to him were viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times. Many of the postings appear to be lifted from other conspiracy websites, repackaged and launched back into the social media maelstrom. Another site that trafficked heavily in pro-Trump news was run by Knights Templar International, a militant religious group that Mr. Dowson is involved in, which has recently supported anti-immigrant militias patrolling border areas in Bulgaria and Hungary.
For Mr. Dowson, such activities are in keeping with his philosophy that traditional Christian values are under siege because of feckless leadership by America and European powers. The success of Mr. Trump, he said, is the logical result of voters’ rejection of the weakness of global elites.

Mr. Dowson has long been optimistic about the effectiveness of social media. During the 2015 conservative forum in Russia, he spoke presciently about the looming online battle for the attention of American voters.

“We have the ability to take a video from today and put it in half of every single household in the United States of America, where these people can for the first time learn the truth, because their own media tell lies, they tell lies about Russia,” Mr. Dowson said then.
“We have to use popular culture to reach into the living rooms of the youth of America, of Britain, France, Germany, and bring them in,” he said. “Then we can get them the message.”

Trump has been lying about the Russian hack. He just accidentally admitted it himself.


In recent days, Donald Trump has been spinning a new narrative about CIA charges of Russian interference in our election: The administration did not leak the news of this finding until after Trump won, which shows this is just an after-the-fact effort to undercut the significance of his victory over Hillary Clinton. As Trump tweeted Thursday: “If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?”
This is not some small offhand remark. It represents an effort by Trump — one that is going to continue — to construct an alternative narrative to replace the increasingly substantiated one in which Russia may have in fact tried to interfere in our election to help him, which would obviously carry enormous significance on many levels.
But Friday, Trump send out a new tweet that accidentally reveals that he knows this entire narrative is a lie:
Trump is referring here to news that broke in late October: That a hacked email showed that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile may have leaked a Democratic primary debate question to Clinton’s campaign in advance. Brazile publicly blamed this leak on Russian hackers who were out to divide Democrats by feeding the perception among Bernie Sanders supporters that the DNC was putting its thumb on the scales for her. This built on a formal statement that the intelligence community put out earlier in October declaring itself “confident” that Russia was trying to interfere in the elections by hacking into DNC emails.
And so, by referring to this episode, what Trump is inadvertently revealing here is that, yes, the complaint about Russian hacking to hurt Clinton did in fact precede the election, and this was widely and publicly known. Of course, there is ample other evidence that Trump is fully aware of this. The intel community had publicly declared it weeks before the election. Trump had reportedly been privately briefed on it by U.S. officials. Trump was confronted with evidence of the hack at a debate with Clinton that was watched by tens of millions of people. At the debate, he cast doubt on the notion that Russia had hacked the materials to hurt Clinton. And yet, as Mark Murray points out, Trump himself widely referenced the material dug up in the hacks at rallies, where he used that material to — wait for it — try to damage Clinton.
Obama says U.S. will take action against Russia for hacks
President Obama said in an interview with NPR on Dec. 15, that, "we need to take action and we will, at the time and place of our own choosing," against Russia for its involvement in cyberattacks during this year's election. (Reuters)
Trump’s latest efforts are extraordinarily ham-handed. In this new tweet, he thinks he’s muddying the waters by suggesting that the hackers tried to help Clinton (as if to say this shows they couldn’t have wanted to assist Trump), as part of a broader ongoing effort to build an alternative narrative to the emerging one about possible Russian interference to help him. But he’s just succeeded in revealing how preposterous that alternative narrative really is.
Once again, we do not know for sure that Russia interfered. But, should more evidence emerge, Trump’s position on this is very likely to grow unsustainable. Confronted with evidence that a foreign power may have tried to swing our election — something that’s being widely condemned by Republicans — Trump continues to refuse to take it seriously (even as his own advisers gamely try to pretend he does). Instead, Trump appears to harbor boundless confidence that he can spin any substitute story line he wants, and that, no matter how deeply absurd it is, his supporters will eagerly buy into the alternate reality he’s concocted for them.
How long can Trump maintain this posture? It’s possible that the intelligence community will leak more evidence of Russian interference in coming days. What’s more, there will soon be confirmation hearings for two retired generals Trump has picked for his Cabinet — James Mattis as defense secretary, and John Kelly as head of the department of homeland security. They will be asked about the intelligence community’s confidence that Russia did try to swing our election, and what should be done about it. One presumes they will treat the topic with the gravity it deserves. Meanwhile, Trump — and let me remind you, he will soon be doing this as president of the United States — will be dithering around with tweets designed to spin his own reality about what happened that everyone knows is straight out of la-la land, including (presumably) him.
That can’t go on for too much longer. Can it?
* GOP MAY TRY TO REPLACE OBAMACARE IN PIECES: CNN reports that GOP aides have settled on a process that involves repealing big chunks of the ACA through a simple majority “reconciliation” process, followed by replace:
Republican aides are saying there may not be one overarching “replace” bill. One senior Republican aide said the party will look for legislative opportunities to get “pieces” of Obamacare reform through — a process that could drag out for years.
Republicans will tell you that they have “leverage” to force Senate Democrats to support these “pieces” of “replace.” But Dems don’t have to play along with this.
* GOP REPLACE PLAN WILL LIKELY COVER FEWER PEOPLE: The New York Times reports that the American Medical Association is calling for the GOP replace plan to cover as many people as currently are covered on Obamacare. But:
House Republicans, preparing for a rapid legislative strike on the law next month, emphasize a different measure of success. “Our goal here is to make sure that everybody can buy coverage or find coverage if they choose to,” a House leadership aide told journalists on the condition of anonymity.
It’s likely, then, that the replace plan will cover far fewer people, and this is how it will be spun.
* VERY LITTLE SUPPORT FOR REPEAL: A new CBS News poll finds that only 25 percent of Americans support repealing Obamacare entirely, while 63 percent say it needs minor changes, and another 9 percent say leave it as it is. Support for repeal is down 10 points since January.
Of course, this doesn’t really count, because the public hasn’t yet seen the “terrific” replacement Republicans and Trump will put forth, and Americans are gonna love it big league.
* DEMS PLAN BIG FIGHT AGAINST TRUMP NOMINEES: The Associated Press reports that Senate Democrats plan to use the hearings into Trump’s nominees to position themselves for the 2018 elections by persuading working-class whites he’s not on their side:
To highlight what they say is the hypocrisy of Trump’s campaign promise to be a champion for the economically struggling little guy, they’ll focus on the nominees’ wealth, ties to Wall Street and willingness to privatize Medicare, among other issues. In some cases, they’ll seek to drag out the process by demanding more information and ensuring a full airing of potential conflicts of interest.
All those Goldman Sachs and oil and gas executives give Dems a lot to work with, but let’s face it, the 2018 map is awful for them.
* CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIR RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT FBI: Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta has written a new op-ed in The Post that asks why the FBI didn’t try harder to notify the DNC that it had been hacked:

I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” … at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.
This is a real escalation — it represents an effort to get the press to shine a brighter light on the FBI’s broader conduct throughout this whole election (see: Comey, James).
* YES, TRUMP IS A THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY: Two Harvard professors of government publish a must-read today that relies on a political scientist’s metric for determining whether a politician is “anti-democratic,” and delivers the bad news:

His indicators include a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments. Mr. Trump tests positive. … In the event of a war, a major terrorist attack or large-scale riots or protests — all of which are entirely possible — a president with authoritarian tendencies and institutions that have come unmoored could pose a serious threat to American democracy. … The warning signs are real.
And as I keep shouting at you, congressional Republicans really must be seen as a crucial part of this story.

The Post Recommends
Trump’s pro-Russian posture is neither unprecedented nor likely to last very long.

"If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

Donald Trump on Thursday, December 15th, 2016 in a tweet

Pants on Fire! Trump tweet about White House, Russian hacking probe

President-elect Donald Trump continues to question whether the Russian government tried to interfere in the U.S. election. Trump has said it could have been China who hacked emails of Democratic operatives and the Democratic National Committee. Or someone "sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds."

And if it is the Russians, why did the White House wait so long to act? Trump asked on Twitter.
"If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" Trump tweeted early Dec. 15.

Only that’s not true. The administration announced its findings a month before Election Day, and the White House’s announcement prompted a memorable exchange at the final presidential debate.
Who’s the puppet?
On Oct. 7 — a few months after WikiLeaks released a trove of DNC emails, but the same day WikiLeaks released emails of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta — President Barack Obama’s administration said it was confident Russia was behind the cyberattacks.
"The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations," read an Oct. 7 joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The U.S. Intelligence Community consists of 17 agencies and organizations within the executive branch, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence speaks on the group’s behalf.
Their statement said releases of alleged hacked emails on and Wikileaks and by the online persona Guccifer 2.0 were "consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts."
"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process," the statement said. "Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities."
Clinton used the statement as ammo when she referred to Trump as Putin’s preferred "puppet" in the Oct. 19 presidential debate. ("No puppet, you’re the puppet," Trump replied.) When Clinton brought up the intelligence community’s statement, Trump said, "She has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else."
Post-election doubts
After the election, Trump has been just as dismissive about Russian involvement.
Regarding Russia’s involvement in the DNC email hack, Trump told Time magazine (which named him Person of the Year), "I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered."
On Dec. 12, Trump also questioned the timing of concerns about election-related hacks, tweeting, "Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn't this brought up before election?"
Republican and Democratic leaders have raised concerns about Russia’s role in the election and have called for a congressional investigation.
According to a New York Times investigation, Obama warned Putin about the cyberhacking and potential U.S. retaliation in person at the G-20 summit in China.
The administration, however, chose to issue the joint written statement from Homeland Security and the national intelligence director rather than a more public rebuke from Obama. "It was far less dramatic than the president’s appearance in the press room two years before to directly accuse the North Koreans of attacking Sony," the New York Times noted.
Obama was aware of Russian hackers previously targeting the State Department, White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the New York Times reported, but he chose not to publicly call out Russians or issue sanctions out of "fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russia’s cooperation in negotiations over Syria."
Our ruling
Trump tweeted, "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"
About a month before the Nov. 8  election, the Obama administration accused Russia of interfering in the U.S. elections, directing the release of emails "from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations."
This didn’t happen under the radar. Trump was confronted with it at the final presidential debate.
For a ridiculously wrong statement, we rate it Pants on Fire!

"If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

John Podesta: Something is deeply broken at the FBI

John Podesta was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future.
As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.”
What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.

Seven reactions to CIA assessment of Russia’s role in presidential election 

President-elect Donald Trump as well as Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Dec. 11 reacted to the CIA’s assessment that Russia intervened to help Trump win the election. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call.
Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.
Comey justified his handling of the email case by citing “intense public interest.” He felt so strongly that he broke long-established precedent and disregarded strong guidance from the Justice Department with his infamous letter just 11 days before the election. Yet he refused to join the rest of the intelligence community in a statement about the Russian cyberattack because he reportedly didn’t want to appear “political.” And both before and after the election, the FBI has refused to say whether it is investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.
There are now reports that Vladimir Putin personally directed the covert campaign to elect Trump. So are teams of FBI agents busy looking into the reported meeting in Moscow this summer between Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser, and the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election? What about evidence that Roger Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks and knew in advance that my hacked emails were about to be leaked? Are thousands of FBI person-hours being devoted to uncovering Trump’s tangled web of debts and business deals with foreign entities in Russia and elsewhere?
Meanwhile, House Republicans who had an insatiable appetite for investigating Clinton have been resistant to probing deeply into Russia’s efforts to swing the election to Trump. The media, by gleefully publishing the gossipy fruits of Russian hacks, became what the Times itself calls “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.”
But the FBI’s role is particularly troubling because of its power and responsibility — and because this is part of a trend. The Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a damning report this summer about the FBI’s failure to prioritize cyberthreats more broadly.
The election is over and the damage is done, but the threat from Russia and other potential aggressors remains urgent and demands a serious and sustained response.

First, the Obama administration should quickly declassify as much as possible concerning what is known about the Russian hack, as requested by seven Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Second, the administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19, as requested by a bipartisan group of electors.

Third, Congress should authorize a far-reaching, bipartisan independent investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission. The public deserves to know exactly what happened, why and what can be done to prevent future attacks. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) have introduced legislation to authorize such an investigation.

Finally, Congress should more vigorously exercise its oversight to determine why the FBI responded overzealously in the Clinton case and insufficiently in the Russian case. The FBI should also clarify whether there is an ongoing investigation into Trump, his associates and their ties to Russia. If ever there were a case of “intense public interest,” this is it. What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly.
Read more here:
Eric Chenoweth: Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story
The Post’s View: ‘Lessons learned’ about Russia
Paul Musgrave: If you’re even asking if Russia hacked the election, Russia got what it wanted

White House: Trump 'obviously' knew Russia hacks were benefiting him

White House: Trump knew Russia hacked Clinton

White House: Trump knew Russia hacked Clinton 01:21

Story highlights

  • Russia's interference in the US election is coming into clearer focus
  • Earnest defended the White House against accusations they were slow to act
Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump was "obviously aware" that Russia meddled in the US election to benefit his own campaign, the White House said Wednesday.

Citing Trump's own suggestion over the summer that Moscow locate missing emails from Hillary Clinton's private server, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the beneficiary of Russia's cyberintrusions was clear.
"There was ample evidence that was known long before the election, and in most cases long before October, about the Trump campaign in Russia, everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent," Earnest said. "It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent's campaign."
Earnest was speaking as the extent of Russia's interference in the US election is coming into clearer focus. The CIA has told a group of top US senators that Russia's hacking was aimed at helping Trump, a finding that's caused angst among some Democrats, who believe the White House should have provided more details about the hacking ahead of the election.
The Obama administration, through a statement from the Director of National Intelligence, did identify Russia as the culprit in early October. But private assessments had pinned the blame on Moscow far earlier.
Earnest defended the White House and President Barack Obama against accusations they were slow to act, saying it was essential all 17 US intelligence agencies completed their reviews before making the information public.
He insisted the administration didn't want to appear politically motivated in naming Russia as the culprit in the election meddling.
"It would have been inappropriate for White House figures, including the President of the United States, to be rushing the intelligence community to expedite their analysis of this situation, because we were concerned about the negative impact it was having on the President's preferred candidate in the presidential election," Earnest said.
"That would have been all the more damaging in an environment where you have the Republican nominee without evidence suggesting the election was rigged," he continued.
Trump repeatedly made the claim the election was rigged against him, an allegation Obama said was harmful for democracy.

Helping Trump win isn’t a sign of Russian strength. It’s a sign of Russian weakness.

There’s a lot to parse when it comes to Russia’s role in the US election — both the overwhelming evidence that it interfered in the vote and the recently disclosed CIA conclusion that it did so in order to help get Donald Trump elected. But there’s an even more fundamental question that needs to be answered:

What the hell are the Russians thinking?

Interfering in a US election is a dangerous game. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had won — as virtually every pundit and statistical model was predicting at the time that Russia started leaking hacked emails of Clinton allies. The Russians would have infuriated the most powerful person in the world.

That didn’t happen, and the US instead elected the most Kremlin-friendly presidential candidate in recent American history. But it’s not clear that Russia will get off scot-free, with lawmakers from both parties calling for as-yet-unspecified punitive measures designed to retaliate for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 elections and to deter Russia from trying to meddle in elections to come.

So why take the risk? Part of the answer has to do solely with Trump’s jarringly positive views of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his willingness to embrace policies — like potentially pulling the US out of NATO — that have long been among the Russian strongman’s top strategic objectives. Compare this with Clinton’s long record of hawkishness on Russia, and Trump was (from the Kremlin’s perspective) a far better choice.

But there’s a deeper answer, according to several Russia experts: The Putin government is much weaker than it appears, and the hack comes from a position of weakness, not confidence.

Their argument is that Moscow is outclassed militarily by the US and its NATO allies and buckling economically under the weight of international sanctions and low oil prices. It’s a country that’s very far from reaching the heights of power that Putin wants for it.

The hack, on this analysis, is the clearest evidence yet of how far Putin is willing to go to weaken his rivals and thus raise Russia’s relative strength. He’s not trying to repair his own government; he’s trying to damage those of other countries. With a democracy like the US, the best way to do that is to use a large and sophisticated propaganda campaign to shake confidence in the election and elect a threat to the established Western order like Trump.

“The military balance is grim; the economic balance is grim. And so how do you deal with that?” asks Dan Nexon, a professor at Georgetown University who studies great power politics. “[Information warfare] is pretty much what the Russians have going for them.”

Trump’s instincts are a lot friendlier to Putin than Clinton’s

Final Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Held In Las Vegas  
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Nobody really knows what Donald Trump will do as president. But if his policy ideas voiced during the campaign were a good guide, the Kremlin will have reason to celebrate.

Trump has praised the Russian bombing campaign in Syria, supported moves like Brexit that destabilized Russia’s European rivals, and personally praised Putin. Most importantly, he has mused about weakening American commitment to NATO. Nothing Putin could do on his own would help Russia’s standing on the world stage and regional influence more than the collapse of the Cold War–era military alliance.

Now, we don’t know how exactly how seriously to take Trump’s musings about NATO. He could change his tune once in office, given the immense pressure that would come from lawmakers, allies, and the American security establishment. It’s hard to say, and uncertainty when it comes to America is definitely worrying to Russian security people.

What is clear, though, is that Putin and his allies really didn’t like Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary is the worst option [from the Russian point of view],” Fyodor Lukyanov, the chair of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and an influential voice in Russia’s security establishment, told Vox last year. “There is a widespread view that she personally hates Putin.”

The Kremlin saw her proposals for a no-fly zone in Syria and a history of aggressive criticism of Russian foreign policy as strong evidence that the US would be more confrontational toward Russia with President Clinton in the White House. Even if the Russians aren’t convinced that Trump would be good for them, they could very well think he’s better than the alternative.

“I was in Moscow just last week ... and my sense is they’re concerned and confused about what a Trump presidency means,” Alina Polyakova, the deputy director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, tells me. “Trump is absolutely a risk. [But] it was worth the risk, from the Kremlin’s point of view.”

The Putin regime is much weaker than you think

Merkel And Putin Honour World War II Gestapo Victims 
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

But the mere fact that the Russians preferred Trump to Clinton doesn’t explain why they’d be willing to actively support him. There were doubtless US elections during and after the Cold War where the Russians had a preferred candidate, but Moscow has never intervened as aggressively as it appears to have done in 2016.

“What’s new is how brazen and explicit it has been,” Polyakova says.

So why? Why would the Russians so boldly attempt to elect their preferred candidate, knowing that the intervention carried a serious risk of American retaliation?

Some experts argue that the key variable here is Russian weakness, not strength. To understand this, you need to understand Russia’s strategic situation a little bit better.

By any metric — defense spending, control of advanced military tech, you name it — the United States is by far the world’s most dominant military power. A recent book by Dartmouth’s Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth attempted to quantify the degree of American dominance in these terms. Their findings were unequivocal.

“Our investigation shows that the United States indisputably remains the sole superpower, and the gap between it and the other powers ... remains very large,” they write.

Russia, by contrast, fell into disrepair after the collapse of the Soviet Union — and modernization efforts under Putin have failed to come close to making up the gap. When you add America’s might to that of its NATO allies, some of which have increased defense spending in response to Russian military adventurism in Syria and Ukraine, the picture for the Kremlin looks quite bad — “much, much weaker,” as Nexon put it in our conversation.

The Russian economy, likewise, is in dismal shape. Russia has depended heavily on trade in natural resources, particularly oil and gas; the recent collapse in oil prices and spread of shale gas in the West has been painful for Russia. Western sanctions, punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, have made it much harder for Russian corporations in key sectors (including oil and banking) to do business abroad.

The result is an economy that has been in recession for two years. GDP has declined to roughly the level it was in the immediate wake of the 2008 financial collapse:

The result, then, is that you have a Russia that is extremely limited — at least, compared to what it once was. Russia can bully around a weaker non-NATO state, like Ukraine; it can help prop up an ally against ragtag rebels, as in Syria. But it cannot challenge the Western-led alliance for global supremacy in the way the Soviets could.

Putin can’t change this — he can’t rebuild the Russian military overnight, or solve its fundamental economic weakness relative to America. That means that accomplishing his ultimate goal of restoring Russian greatness means he needs to break the American-led alliance — somehow persuading these countries to abandon institutions like NATO and take a softer view of Moscow’s overseas meddling.

“Information operations” — like, say, hacking a political party’s emails and dumping them publicly — is a particularly effective tool for accomplishing this goal. Putin’s principal rivals are Western democracies, whose elections can theoretically be swayed by the release of damaging information. And the United States happened to be holding an election with a candidate who, at least on paper, seems likely to destabilize America’s commitment to its allies and cozy up to the Kremlin.

To analysts like Nexon and Polyakova, the takeaway is clear: Even though there was a chance the US might retaliate, Russian leaders likely concluded that intervening to help Trump was worth it.

“Putin is willing to take increasingly bigger risks to strategically place Russia as a [great] power in the world again,” Polyakova says. “I think it’s the Kremlin’s attempt to balance the security asymmetry that currently exists.”

If this analysis is correct, then don’t expect Russia to stop with the US election. Both France and Germany are holding national elections in 2017; both of them feature far-right candidates who support a less hostile stance to Russia than their opponents. If Russia’s information operation worked in America, there’s no reason to think the Russians wouldn’t try it with two of their other leading rivals — or, for that matter, in a future US election.

“If you can divide [Western countries], even in a half-assed way, that’s good,” Nexon says. “If you can get people elected who look like they might rip up [institutions like NATO] on their own, that’s even better.”

Franken, the second-term Democratic senator from Minnesota and, before that, a longtime writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” has studied this. He provided commentary for MSNBC at the Al Smith Dinner, the Catholic charity fund-raiser in October where presidential nominees engage in good-natured ribbing of themselves and each other (Trump mostly skipped the “good-natured” part and was booed). “I wanted to see if Trump laughed,” Franken said. “And he didn’t. He smiled, but didn’t laugh. I don’t know what it is.”
I went back and watched video of Trump, not just at the Smith dinner. He is, to say the least, a comic cash cow. No one has provided as much fodder for the political, media and celebrity axis that Franken has operated in for over four decades. But Franken is correct. It is extremely rare to see or hear the president-elect himself laughing. Franken offered no theory on this, just a contrast. “I happen to laugh an incredible amount,” he told me. He has a distinctive and rollicking cackle, which allows his staff to track his whereabouts on the Senate floor. Conan O’Brien, a longtime friend and fellow “S.N.L.” alumnus, told me that Franken’s laugh sounded like “a hydraulic seal” whose rhythmic and almost mechanical force “can clear your sinuses.”
But these were suddenly unfunny days. A shellshocked aura was cast over Capitol Hill, particularly among Democrats. I went to see Franken in his Senate office on a rainy Tuesday as lawmakers were trickling back to town after Thanksgiving. They convened in caucus meetings and hallway quorums that became commiseration sessions. Since Nov. 8, Washington has felt like a fortressed village bracing for a guerrilla invasion.
At 65, Franken retains the thick build of the high-school wrestler he once was. The resting pout of his mouth — the Baby Huey countenance to match his honking voice — has assumed more of a smirk. Franken is not good at masking emotions. He cries easily and can become impatient and never bothered much to disguise his contempt for adversaries, at least until he arrived in the Senate, whose hidebound traditions of decorum demanded at least an honest effort. Franken has been mostly successful at this, and has been strenuous in his attempts to leave his comic past behind, though he was once busted for making dismissive faces and hand gestures behind Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader gave a floor speech in 2010. “This isn’t ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Al,” McConnell said, admonishing Franken, who later wrote a note of apology.

One thing that made it safe to laugh was the ridiculousness of the conceit. People assumed that the normal checks and balances would kick in and never allow someone like Trump to be elected — the disapproval of the “establishment,” the outrage capacity of the electorate or even a candidate’s own code of ethics or ability to be shamed. Back in the spring of 2015, when few believed that Trump was serious or would mount a real campaign, comedians reacted to his entry into the race with ostentatious gratitude: Jon Stewart, whose final six weeks on Comedy Central coincided with the first stage of the campaign, thanked Trump for “putting me in some kind of comedy hospice.”
As Trump bloated into the campaign’s inescapable parade float, his supposed comic abundance became more of a crisis. Every stopgap failed in 2015 and 2016. So did every pundit assumption, and even the long-understood barriers between, say, real and fake news. Where does comedy even fit when the outrageous becomes the default? By October, the executive producer of HBO’s “Veep,” David Mandel, was complaining to The Los Angeles Times that Trump was “ruining comedy.” By December, it was revealed that Trump would remain the executive producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and the fusion between reality TV and the sobering reality of the presidency seemed complete. Political humor has faced similar moments in the past, but never such a reckoning. “People on ‘S.N.L.’ actually were saying eight years ago when Sarah Palin was running, We couldn’t have written this ourselves,” said Robert Smigel, a longtime writer for the show and friend of Franken’s who is best known as the voice behind the foul-mouthed puppet Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
Franken’s body of work has been oddly prescient. He was the subject of a 2006 documentary, “God Spoke,” which chronicled his journey to the Senate. A.O. Scott of The New York Times described it as “an investigation of the phenomenon of ideological celebrity, with Mr. Franken as a willing case study.” You could make the case that Trump himself might represent something of a next-phase case study himself — a nominally ideological celebrity that has grown into a political phenomenon.
More remarkable, Franken wrote a satirical novel called “Why Not Me?” which details his own fictitious celebrity run for president. His character is corrupt, clueless and unprepared, but a confluence of unlikely factors — and Franken’s wildly popular vow to eliminate A.T.M. fees — somehow propels him to the White House, where things quickly go off the rails. President Franken loses his mind (punching Nelson Mandela in the stomach during a meeting!). He is the subject of a special congressional inquiry — the Joint Committee on the President’s Mood Swings — and is forced to resign after five months. Franken published “Why Not Me?” in 1999.
Now, in his Senate office, Franken kept shaking his head. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully, trying to toe the opposition party line about Trump, in so much as there is one: “Where there are places we agree, I will try to work with this administration.” But his despair was obvious. “He’s very different,” Franken said of Trump. “And that’s as far as I’ll go in my conjecture of who he is.” He chortled. “That’s become kind of a cottage industry.” Psychoanalyzing Trump, he meant. I reminded Franken that he was qualified, having presented himself at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last summer as “a world-renowned expert on right-wing megalomaniacs.” He had received “a doctorate in megalomaniac studies from Trump University.” That was a few days after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, a remarkable development that — if you listened to the dismissive speeches and constant mockery across the spectrum of smug progressives and Never Trump conservatives — still felt at a safe remove.
I was curious whether Trump’s election would herald a change in Franken’s approach. He was always fierce in what he describes as “the heaping of scorn and ridicule,” first on “S.N.L.” and later as a liberal talk-radio host and author of political commentary with titles like “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot (And Other Observations).” He heaped abundant scorn and ridicule upon George W. Bush but was not in the Senate at the time. “I think this can be a moment that calls out for Al’s voice,” said Ben Wikler, the head of the Washington office of and producer of Franken’s show on the defunct progressive radio network Air America. Wikler, who helped Franken write his 2003 book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” said there is a great need for “fearless opposition fighters that can cut through the noise.” Franken has established himself as a legislator, he said, and it might be time for him to return to his insurgent comic roots. “Part of Al’s earlier approach to public life was swashbuckling and baiting antagonists into fights they could not win,” Wikler told me. “Humor can be a way of blasting through fear and anxiety and giving people backbone.”

Al Franken with staff members in his Senate office. Credit Mark Peterson/Redux, for The New York Times
I asked Franken about this. He nodded as if it had occurred to him but was otherwise noncommital. “We’ll see how he operates,” he said of Trump. “I don’t think anyone here has ever been a senator with this kind of person in the White House. This one is very different.” He coughed out a nervous laugh. “We’ll see how he evolves. And we’ll see how I evolve.”

You sometimes hear the expression “famous for Washington.” It describes someone well known within the staid and dorky confines of the Beltway. Someone like Senator Orrin Hatch, say, or maybe the election superlawyer Ben Ginsberg. It is a somewhat backhanded designation, which is not to say Washington does not love celebrities (to wit, the metastatic growth of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in recent years). Occasionally, celebrities from other realms cross over into politics. The Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, Steve Largent, was in Congress for a while, as was the guy who played Gopher on “The Love Boat” (Fred Grandy). Franken followed in this tradition and is unquestionably the only person ever to both serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and play a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Paul Simon of Illinois — in a “Saturday Night Live” skit.
Now comes probably the best-known celebrity ever to enter American politics — Trump — who cannonballed in at the highest level. His election made a case that celebrity itself may today be the most potent driver of American populism. Franken understands better than most the power of fame as a way to gain a political audience and scramble ideological paradigms. “One thing I’ve learned,” Franken told me, “is that celebrity trumps ideology. I have spent a lot of time over the years heaping scorn and ridicule upon Republicans. But then you meet them, and a lot of people are like, Hey, Al, love that satellite mobile-uplink guy” — one of his signature “S.N.L.” characters, a “Weekend Update” correspondent from the early 1990s who reported back to the studio via a “totally self-contained one-man mobile-uplink unit” (with a 1.3-meter parabolic antenna attached to his head).
Two weekends before Election Day, Franken went to Philadelphia to appear at get-out-the-vote events on behalf of Hillary Clinton and local Democrats. “You all have jobs and kids,” Franken would say to rooms full of volunteers. “Ignore them.” The rooms would erupt in laughter. “Kids love being left alone. Eight-year-olds are perfectly capable of operating microwave ovens.” These are Franken’s stock lines at such events. They always land. “Thank you for keeping your sense of humor through all of this,” one volunteer, Liz Martinez, told Franken after he spoke. Franken cocked his right eyebrow, John Belushi-style. “Who says I’m keeping my sense of humor?” he said.
Franken fell asleep at 2 a.m. on the night of the election and woke up with a migraine. For days, it was hard to think about anything besides Trump in the White House. “There was a week or so when sleeping literally was a great thing,” Franken said. “You go through a process of internalizing it.” In addition to the political shock, there was a broader despair over the cultural disconnect that the election laid bare. I kept thinking of an Onion headline that ran a few weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks: “A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid [Expletive] Again.” How long does it take a culture to forge a new sensibility, whether comedic or political? Franken seemed to be struggling with this a bit. There was similar confusion in the various liberal bubbles of Washington, New York and Hollywood, whose inhabitants were the supposed keepers of the American zeitgeist — the geniuses who so spectacularly dismissed the zeitgeist that elected Donald Trump.
“I really believe nobody knows anything right now,” Conan O’Brien told me over the phone from Los Angeles. O’Brien is among the less political TV comedians, particularly on cable (his show has run since 2010 on TBS). But Trump is an inescapable topic. “I really think the whole mantra that everyone must have, not just in this medium but in the world in general, is that no one knows anything.” O’Brien recalled that after Sept. 11, people were declaring the death of irony. It was not. There was like a three-week pause. But then irony regenerated itself in some altered, post-Sept. 11 form. Trump’s victory has landed a blow to the country’s notions of certainty. “I would say we’re not seeing the death of certainty,” O’Brien said. “But certainty has taken a holiday right now.” Plenty of certainty, now discarded, was generated in 2016. Our cozy silos of belief and customized group assumptions gave us our most brutal campaign in years. “Everyone has their own street corner,” O’Brien said.

‘I think this can be a moment that calls out for Al’s voice.’

While “Saturday Night Live” was always subversive and groundbreaking, it was also conceived before cable and the internet rewarded niche sensibilities. As a network show, it needed to reach a critical mass of the American middle. “We’ve actually tried to make ‘S.N.L.’ a safe space across the political spectrum,” Lorne Michaels, its creator, told me in his office near the “S.N.L.” studio on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It has never been a production that preaches to a choir, as contrasted with cable comedy shows hosted by the left-leaning likes of Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee and John Oliver. “Jon Stewart was giving voice to visions and ideas and doing it brilliantly, but in a way that almost everyone watching agreed with,” Michaels said with a bit of an edge. “It was 100 percent pure.”
The election was still a few weeks away, and our discussion — like most discussions during that stretch of ancient history — was predicated on the assumption that Clinton would win. Michaels caught some heat for inviting Trump to host the show in October 2015; critics accused him of helping to celebrate and “normalize” someone they viewed as a monster. But the fact that Trump would eventually wage a Twitter assault against “S.N.L.” — particularly over Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him as a menacing, bumbling imbecile — would itself suggest that the show struck the right balance. “Trump is the head writer of this whole thing,” Baldwin told me. “They could come up with something for us to do every week.” Baldwin, who said he had no Trump impersonation until he debuted the character on “S.N.L.” on Oct. 1, said he takes no special satisfaction in angering the president-elect, whom he calls “the first modern-day president who does not have thick skin.” He said that he, too, has been blamed by some people for making Trump appear more palatable than he is. “It’s kind of a Rorschach test,” Baldwin said, “for how people see the political world in general.”

Clinton’s cameo, playing Val the bartender consoling the distraught Kate McKinnon version of her, was arguably her most endearing moment in an otherwise dreary slog. By the time of the Trump and Clinton debates, the lines between parody and self-parody had blurred to a grainy haze; it was difficult to watch the candidates for two seconds without my mind jumping immediately to Baldwin and McKinnon.
Franken, who joined “S.N.L.” at its inception in 1975, never achieved the star status of the show’s first wave — John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase. “Al was relentless about being a performer,” Michaels said. Franken’s best-known creation at “S.N.L.” was probably Stuart Smalley, the mirror-staring host of the mock self-help show “Daily Affirmation With Stuart Smalley.” Smalley, who was also the subject of a movie, was inspired by Franken’s experience going through a 12-step recovery program with his wife, Franni, who battled alcoholism. “I was trying to explain recovery though a character,” Franken said. “He is a character that, at first blush, looks like kind of an idiot, but actually a lot of the stuff he’s trying to talk about is true.” There is, Franken said, a larger lesson embedded here. “I’m trying to express that you can learn things from people who you think aren’t smarter than you,” he said. “I’m embarrassed by how late in life I learned that.”
Franken left “Saturday Night Live” in 1995 and settled into a successful next act as a liberal satirist, author and radio host. He had no plan to seek any office. But then his friend and political idol, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, was killed in a plane crash along with seven others — including his wife and daughter — on the eve of his re-election campaign in 2002. “It was just this shattering thing,” said Norman Ornstein, an author and congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a close friend of Franken’s who grew up in the same hometown, St. Louis Park, Minn.
The Republican candidate, Norm Coleman, wound up defeating Walter Mondale, who replaced Wellstone on the ballot. Franken started thinking about running against Coleman, especially after Coleman said in an interview with Roll Call after a few months in office that he was a “99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone.”

Senator Al Franken in his office. Credit Mark Peterson/Redux, for The New York Times
Franken knew that running for Senate would uproot his life. Not only would he have to move back to Minnesota, but he would have to work brutally hard. “This was not someone who saw this as, Oh, I’ve been an entertainer, and now as a dilettante I’m going to run for office,” Ornstein said. Franken wound up defeating Coleman by 312 votes after months of recounts and court challenges. When he joined the Senate in 2009, Franken was determined to shed any hint that he was anything but a humble newcomer. He resisted national news coverage and tried for the most part to subvert his funnyman impulses to the solemn duties of his new role.
O’Brien said it was strange to watch Franken, such an instinctively funny person, “choose not to use one of his superpowers.” It took getting used to. “We had some serious conversations,” O’Brien said. “But clearly he was witnessing, every day in the Senate and in the government, the most absurd things. And he would have to control himself.” O’Brien said Franken told him that one of his aides gave him some advice early on: “Whenever you have an instinct to do something, just don’t do that.”
Franken’s rejection of type became his defining characteristic, at least in the Washington shorthand. The news media dutifully ground his determined seriousness into a cliché. Every publication that wrote about Franken seemed compelled to deploy some version of “No Joke” in its headlines. He keeps a framed collage in his office made up of a couple of dozen such examples (including a “Franken’s Campaign Against Comcast Is No Joke” headline from The New York Times).
Still, colleagues from both parties would seek Franken’s help in workshopping jokes for their speeches. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Franken’s close friend and fellow Democrat from Minnesota, was preparing a comedy act at the expense of Senator Ted Cruz for Washington’s annual Gridiron Dinner in 2013. This was around the time a Carnival Cruise ship ran aground in the Gulf of Mexico amid a four-day accumulation of human waste. That debacle inspired the following: In Washington, Klobuchar said, “when Democrats hear about a difficult cruise, we don’t know if it’s Carnival or Ted.” That was funny, kind of. Klobuchar ran the joke by Cruz beforehand on the Senate floor as a matter of collegial courtesy. Franken approached the pair and asked Klobuchar to repeat the joke, which she did. “Without missing a beat,” Klobuchar recalled, Franken offered this improvement: In Washington, went the Franken version, “when you hear about a cruise that’s full of [expletive], you don’t know if it’s Carnival or Ted.” That was funnier, Klobuchar conceded, though she opted for the tamer original.

Franken won re-election by more than 10 percentage points in 2014, a year in which several Democratic incumbents were defeated. He said he has felt more freedom in the Senate since his re-election. “I think the people of Minnesota get that I came here to be their senator and do the work and legislate,” he told me. I asked Franken, a longtime New Yorker until he moved back to Minnesota to run for Senate, whether he had met Donald Trump. They were in the same room on many occasions, in the way that famous New Yorkers often are. But their only interaction came at a screening of “The Sopranos” at Radio City Music Hall. Franken recognized Trump in front of him and was moved to yell out, “THAT IS THE WORST COMBOVER I HAVE EVER SEEN!” Trump spun around and saw it was Franken. He didn’t say anything, Franken said, but “sort of gave that look that said, Oh, that’s a comedian, O.K., I get it.” I asked Franken if he would have done the same if he were in elected office at the time. “Probably not,” he admitted.
Franken is fully aware that even the most thrown-off or nominally irreverent quip can become toxic after being put through what Franken calls the “de-humorizer” of partisan America. I witnessed this firsthand, and even participated, when I joined Franken in late August at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. As Franken made his rounds — pouring glasses of milk at a dairy stand, eating a pork chop on a stick — he paused for a minute to receive a distraught call from his son, Joe. Joe relayed the news that Teddy Bridgewater, the young quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, had just suffered a gruesome injury to his knee at practice that afternoon. “No!” said Franken, a lifelong Vikings fan. “This is so depressing,” he muttered after hanging up. “It’s like finding out Hillary’s having an affair with Anthony Weiner.”

‘One thing I’ve learned is that celebrity trumps ideology.’

Franken blurted this out with such matter-of-fact exasperation, which I happened to find hilarious. Later, I did something I probably should not have and shared Franken’s quip via Twitter, itself a kind of de-humorizer. This spelled trouble for the home-team senator. Audience reaction ran heavily against the remark, especially from Vikings fans (there are a few of these in Minnesota) and Franken nonfans (“Frankenstein is a liberal pinhead”). Franken wasted little time grabbing the cleanup mop. “Pretty insensitive and stupid of me,” he tweeted. “Regret it and sincerely apologize.”
The day before the presidential election, Trump dropped in for a quick rally in a hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He railed against the “disaster taking place in Minnesota,” with “large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge, without your support or approval.” He drew raucous applause and came within just 1.5 points of beating Clinton in the historically blue state. “You’ve suffered enough in Minnesota,” Trump said.
Franken was furious about Trump’s remarks. He had worked closely with the Somali communities of Minnesota and had made many friendships. A young Somali-American woman, Muna Abdulahi, whose family immigrated to Minnesota, went to work as a page in Franken’s office. He wound up speaking at her high school graduation in Willmar, Minn., last spring and ran into her on Election Day on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where she is now a freshman. She told him that her younger sister, Anisa, had just been named homecoming queen back in Willmar.
In the weeks after Trump was elected, Franken was asked to speak at a middle school in St. Paul that has a big population of Somali students. The students were terrified about the election. Tensions had run high after a September incident in St. Cloud in which a knife-wielding Somali man wounded 10 people in an attack at a mall (an off-duty police officer shot and killed him). A spate of harassment targeting Somalis ensued. “So I went to the school, and I talked to the kids,” Franken told me, “and I said: You’re Americans. You’re Americans.” Franken told me about a conversation he had in his office on Nov. 17 with a French diplomat. Franken asked the diplomat who could be considered a “Frenchman” in France. The diplomat explained that the designation was usually reserved for someone whose family went back a few hundred years in the same village. In other words, new arrivals are not “Frenchmen.”
“But in the United States, we make them homecoming queen,” Franken said with a catch of emotion. “Goddamn, it made me mad,” he said again, referring to Trump’s airport rally. “It’s literally sad, you know, that kind of thing.”
Before he entered the Senate, Franken was always more of satirist than a Henny Youngman jokester type. “You take a reality, and you exaggerate, and you show how ridiculous it is,” Ornstein told me. Take, for example, this scenario — a celebrity runs for president and does a bunch of bizarre and seemingly beyond-the-pale stuff, like boasting about the size of his penis on the debate stage, and winds up in the White House. “You look at a situation, you analyze it, and you see the weak points where you make something funny out of it,” Ornstein said. But what if no one notices the difference between the fact and the fiction, much less cares to recognize the absurdity of the details? What’s the use of satire, or straight-out ridicule, if your target can’t even be bothered to care?

“There are a lot of ironies in this election,” Franken said, folding himself into a crooked angle on his office couch. Franken kept pointing out ironies. There are different kinds of ironies. There are funny ones, like what you read in The Onion, or cruel ones that leave you bewildered. These seemed more like the cruel ones. He mentioned Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he saw thousands of Muslims somewhere in New Jersey cheering after the Sept. 11 attacks and his contention that the Clintons were behind the Obama “birther” conspiracy. “He’d say several things a day that would end anyone else’s race,” Franken said. The day before, the president-elect had tweeted with no evidence that millions of fraudulent votes were cast against him.

After the election, the Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as its word of the year for 2016 (defining it as a state “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”). “The big irony is that I made some of my living by writing books about people who lied,” Franken told me, naming Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and others. “It just seems adorable now that I could make a living doing that, fighting misstatements of fact. And people were like, Oh, that’s terrible, I can’t believe it. And now it just doesn’t matter.” He laughed, as Franken does, but with no sign of joy. This felt too visceral to be called humor, as if we were moving on to something else entirely.

Ein lyrisches Portrait von Hilde Domin
Anne MacDonald Canham



Beijing Airpot

Mr. Tigerli in China

Copyright 2016 by Letizia Mancino
translation by Mary Holmes
All rights reserved  

Yes Betty, either or it seems he wanted to fly only with Singapore Airways.

Boeing or Airbus, it’s just the same isn’t it? Aren’t they both just fat birds with 500 passengers?

Yes, but Singapore Airlines has the most beautiful airhostesses: delicate, fine, graceful…  Mr. Tigerli had looked forward to the flight so much!

So the little man was disappointed?

You just can’t imagine how disappointed he was.
 But thank God one of the hostesses was a pretty Chinese girl. Mr. Tigerli purred loudly but she didn’t hear him because the purring of the Airbus 380 was even louder.

The poor cat!

You’ve said it Betty. Mr. Tigerli was in a very bad mood and asked me for a loud speaker.

I’m sure you can get one in 1st Class.

“”Russian Girl” had even heard you over the roar of the Niagara Falls” I said to Mr. Tigerli. “You are a very unfaithful cat. You wanted to get to know Asiatic girls. That’s how it is when one leaves one’s first love”.

And what did he say to that?

“Men are hunters” was his answer.

Yes, my dear cat, a mouse hunter. And what else did he say?

Not another word. He behaved as if he hadn’t heard me.

The Airbus is very loud.

I told him shortly “Don’t trouble yourself about “Chinese Girl”. There will be enough even prettier girls in China. Wait till we land in Guilin”.

Did he understand you?

Naturally Mr. Tigerli understood me immediately. Yes, sweetheart, don’t worry. They will find you something sweet to eat.

And he?

He was so happy.

No problem going through the immigration control?

Naturally!  Lots of problems. How could I explain to customs that the cat had come as a tourist to China to buy shoes?

Fur in exchange for shoes…

Don’t be so cynical Betty!

Cat meat in exchange for shoes?

I said to the officials. He isn’t a cat, he is Casanova.

He came through the pass control with no trouble!

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Is this Mr. Tigerli?

Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald
Betty MacDonald ART Photos of ICONS Amazing Ladies Pinter Betty MacDonald Quotes Famous Quotes by Betty MacDonald Quoteswave 1950s showing Betty MacDonald descending a staircase and other images  betty macdonald betty bard macdonald wurde 1908 in boulder colorado  photos and graphics betty family betty and friend photos and graphics betty family betty grandchild photo of Betty MacDonald and two children in 1950 costumes Click images for alternate views BETTY MacDONALD PHOTOGRAPH SIGNED DOCUMENT 281143  photos and graphics betty family betty and don on vashon  

Betty MacDonald

Take an illustrated day trip through Washington state’s largest city with artist Candace Rose Rardon.

Linda White yes,if my health allows.I have a few problems but is something I have always wanted to do,especially as I reread her books.

Linde Lund

Linde Lund Dear Linda I'll keep you posted.

Bella Dillon

Bella Dillon · Friends with Darsie Beck
I still read Mrs Piggle Wiggle books to this day. I love her farm on vashon.

Lila Taylor

Lila Taylor Good morning...Linde Lund
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