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From Russia, with love [now with Team Trump update]

[ 130 ] December 9, 2016 |
Pucker up America!

Pucker up America!

Oh Russia, you shouldn’t have! Really.

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

Update – Team Trump responds.

Speaking as an uppity person and liberal, I certainly hope Trump’s Orange Shirts don’t try to break into Langley. That would put me right off my kale chai soy latte.


Revive Regional Economic Planning

[ 38 ] December 9, 2016 |


One of the takeaways from the election disaster for me is (of course) that the economic problems of deindustrialized communities are a very real thing that neither Democrats nor Republicans have taken seriously during the half-century of globalization, automation, and capital mobility that has decimated the American working class. The fact that we saw significant shifts in critical Rust Belt states to a white supremacist candidate talking a bunch of huge lies about keeping jobs in America is in part a sign about failed economic planning for these regions. In comments earlier today, SolidCitizen noted that it makes sense for workers to believe in Trump’s lies since their own union leaders have been feeding them false optimism for a couple of decades now. And he’s right about that. Workers don’t trust their union leaders at this point either, not to hold on to their jobs. That’s not really the fault of the unions–fighting against huge economic shifts is pretty well impossible at the union level.

One of the failures of policymakers is to engage in regional economic planning over the past four or five decades. One of the brilliant moves of the New Deal era was to specifically target regions of the country for economic development. This happened in two ways. First was the massive dam building projects to bring electricity and thus industry to impoverished regions of the country. This was done most notably through the Tennessee Valley Authority but while the TVA could not be replicated in other parts of the country due to the outrage of private power, huge government investment in the Missouri, Columbia, Colorado, Red, and Arkansas River basins brought major job growth to previously rural America. This led to the second major set of economic plans–shifting America’s industrial base, especially around the defense industry, outside of the traditional industrial zone we know today as the Rust Belt (itself a telltale sign of government regional economic planning failures). Some of this was explicitly about efficient planning for World War II and building up industrial capacity in port cities like Mobile or Los Angeles and some of it was using the excess energy capacity of the dams to shift the aluminum industry to the Northwest or place major nuclear facilities in rural east Tennessee. All of this had major long-term implications for American development and still does today.

But after the 1960s or so, visionary economic regional planning largely stopped. The defense industry still very much shapes where things are built, such as the huge naval presence in Rhode Island that led to our lovely governor forcing an institute making the university working for the defense industry down the throats of the state’s voters last month. But for the most part, government has let private industry make these decisions themselves. So globalization has had enormous benefits for the economies of the West Coast states and to a lesser extent in the South. But it’s been utterly disastrous for the old industrial states who never really benefited from mid-century regional planning. This is a real problem and we need government to once again take the lead in fixing entrenched poverty in declining states.

I thought of this again when Yglesias published this very interesting piece that I largely agree with. Basically, he says that many government agencies should leave overcrowded and overpriced Washington for the cities of the Midwest. This makes sense on a number of levels. Midwestern cities already have sizable infrastructure investments that could be easily converted, as well as surplus housing stock. This would even out the economy, make Washington an easier place to live, and bring economic benefits to states that really need them like Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.

America’s post-industrial Midwest is far from being the country’s poorest region. To find the direst economic conditions in the United States, one generally has to look toward Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta region, the Rio Grande Valley, and a smattering of heavily Native American counties in the Southwest and Great Plains. What the Midwest’s recent economic struggles bring, however, is not just large-scale political salience but a particular kind of fixability.

The poorest places in the United States have been poor for a very long time and lack the basic infrastructure of prosperity. But that’s not true in the Midwest, where cities were thriving two generations ago and where an enormous amount of infrastructure is in place. Midwestern states have acclaimed public university systems, airports that are large enough to serve as major hubs, and cities whose cultural legacies include major league pro sports teams, acclaimed museums, symphonies, theaters, and other amenities of big-city living.
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But industrial decline has left these cities overbuilt, with shrunken populations that struggle to support the legacy infrastructure, and the infrastructure’s decline tends to only beget further regional decline.

At the same time, America’s major coastal cities are overcrowded. They suffer from endemic housing scarcity, massive traffic congestion, and a profound small-c political conservatism that prevents them from making the kind of regulatory changes that would allow them to build the new housing and infrastructure they need. Excess population that can’t be absorbed by the coasts tends to bounce to the growth-friendly cities of the Sunbelt that need to build anew what Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cleveland already have in terms of infrastructure and amenities.

A sensible approach would be for the federal government to take the lead in rebalancing America’s allocation of population and resources by taking a good hard look at whether so much federal activity needs to be concentrated in Washington, DC, and its suburbs. Moving agencies out of the DC area to the Midwest would obviously cause some short-term disruptions. But in the long run, relocated agencies’ employees would enjoy cheaper houses, shorter commutes, and a higher standard of living, while Midwestern communities would see their population and tax base stabilized and gain new opportunities for complementary industries to grow.

This is a really great idea, although those who would have to move may well not be happy about it. Government can’t really force private industry to move where it wants them to move, but it can create the conditions for regional economic planning by investing its own resources. It did that in the 1930s and in the 1950s and it can do it again in the 2010s. And whether this fixes the Democratic decline in those states is basically irrelevant. Hopefully it would, but this is solid policy regardless and electoral calculations should at best be a secondary consideration in policy.

Happy birthday Kirk Douglas

[ 23 ] December 9, 2016 |

Born 100 years ago today.


In his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas notes the hardships that he, along with six sisters and his parents, endured during their early years in Amsterdam, New York:

“My father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes. … Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman’s son.[3]”

College graduation, 1939

Growing up, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread to help his family. Later, he delivered newspapers and during his youth worked at more than forty different jobs before getting a job acting.[11] He found living in a family with six sisters to be stifling: “I was dying to get out. In a sense, it lit a fire under me.”[12] In high school, after acting in plays, he then knew he wanted to become a professional actor.[12] Unable to afford tuition, Douglas talked his way into the Dean’s office at the St. Lawrence University and showed him a list of his high school honors. He received a loan which he paid back by working part-time as a gardener and a janitor. He was a standout on the wrestling team, and wrestled one summer in a carnival to make money


Douglas played the lead with an all-star cast in Spartacus (1960). He was the executive producer as well, raising the $12 million production cost, making it one of the most expensive films made up to that time.[54] Douglas initially selected Anthony Mann to direct, but replaced him early on with Stanley Kubrick, with whom he previously collaborated in Paths of Glory.[55]

When the film was released, Douglas gave full credit to its screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was on the Hollywood blacklist, and thereby effectively ended it.[9]:81 About that event, he said, “I’ve made over 85 pictures, but the thing I’m most proud of is breaking the blacklist.”[56]At the time, his career was at risk, with Hollywood people claiming Douglas would never get work again. “I was scared to death, but I insisted on doing it,” he said.[56] George Clooney has said that “in the history books, it’s marked as the moment that the Hollywood blacklist ended.”[57]

Donald Trump: Republican

[ 36 ] December 9, 2016 |


Once again, it’s worth noting that while there are some things about Donald Trump that are uniquely horrible, most of his appointments are just bog-standard right-wing choices any Republican president would make. He just named Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Secretary of the Interior, a completely expected and utterly horrendous choice to administer the nation’s public lands. Government by Goldman Sachs is exactly what we would have seen with Mitt Romney as president. No real difference with Trump.

Never mind that these cabinet members should be negotiating for you and not with you. Trump was supposed to be an unorthodox Republican, a champion of the (white) working class. Instead his cabinet picks represent mainstays of the Republican elite: neoconservative hawks, Wall Street bankers, climate change deniers, a guy literally nicknamed the “foreclosure king.” His pick for Labor, Andrew Puzder, is even pro-immigration, a classic GOP elite position.

If voters were hoping to express their disgust at both Republicans and Democrats in electing Trump, too bad.

This Year Has Been Shit. So We Might As Well Talk About Some Shit.

[ 18 ] December 9, 2016 |


Guano, that is. Here’s a podcast on U.S imperialism and guano, a critical product in the rise of global imperialism. Much of this area also makes up the new marine national monument first created by George W. Bush and then vastly expanded by President Obama. Ultimately, our national monuments are part of our imperialist legacy. From the accompanying text:

Guano was a great fertilizer and many believed it would revolutionize farming, which traditionally involved cycling crops or simply depleting soil nutrients and moving to new land.

While novel to Americans and Europeans, using bird poop as fertilizer was nothing new to the Quechua people of Peru who had long mined it from the Chincha Islands off the southwest coast of Peru. For centuries, seabirds nesting on the islands had piled up guano, sometimes close to a 100 feet deep, making it a rich and ready source of the stuff.

Europeans hadn’t shown any interest in guano until the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt visited the Peruvian coast in 1804, and saw laborers unloading ships filled with seabird poop. Von Humboldt took a sample and brought it back to Europe. A German chemist named Justus Von Liebig subsequently began promoting a theory that soil fertility came down to a few critical nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Peruvian guano was rich in all three.

It was the agricultural analogue to discovering gold.

The Peruvians began to mine guano on a commercial scale. Their operations relied on an abusive labor system, first with locally coerced laborers and then with imported Chinese workers. Miners lived on the islands in tents and shacks, working up to 17 hours a day. The ages were low, and the conditions were awful; guano is acrid, and caustic when inhaled.


The U.S., of course, already had its own approach to imperialism, having taken over much of North America by stealing territory from indigenous people. But political leaders didn’t think of this as imperialism, since these lands were incorporated into the country, first as territories and then as states.

Ultimately, a compromise was reached: the guano islands would not be considered as subject to the sovereignty of the U.S. but rather as “appertaining” to the United States. While few knew what this meant from a legal perspective, it was softer than claiming full ownership.

In 1856, the Congress passed the Guano Islands Act. Over the next several years U.S. companies claimed more than 70 islands throughout the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Pretty interesting stuff. And better than modern politics.

As Bad As It Is, the Electoral College Could Get Even Worse

[ 88 ] December 9, 2016 |

Chief-Justice-John-Roberts“I applaud the brave bipartisan idea that the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes is unconstitutional”


Larry Lessig proposes ONE MAGIC TRICK that could reform the Electoral College and possibly keep Trump out of the White House. The beginning is a trademark misreading of the political landscape:

In 2000, Republican lawyers, desperately seeking a way to stop the recount in Florida, crafted a brilliant Equal Protection argument against the method by which the Florida courts were recounting votes. Before that election, no sane student of the Constitution would have thought that there was such a claim.

Let’s stop here. The idea that the equal protection argument cooked up by Republican lawyers to stop the recounts was “brilliant” is absurd. Leaving aside the lack of precedent supporting the argument, the obvious problem with the theory that the 14th Amendment requires recounts with uniform statewide standards is that the counts that would result in Bush winning were as or more constitutionally defective. The argument could succeed, in other words, only if the a majority of the Supreme Court were such completely in the tank partisan hacks that they would selectively apply an innovative equal protection argument to the narrow issue at hand while providing a remedy that was flagrantly inconsistent with the holding. Fortunately for Bush and his lawyers, they were!

But, of course, given the “partisan hacks willing to be utterly lawless” condition the quality of your argument is irrelevant. Rehnquist’s Article II argument was, if anything, even worse, but if O’Connor and Kennedy had to choose between signing on to it or risk Gore winning a recount, they would have gone along with it. Another implication, which is often forgotten by people who have for sixteen years insisted there must have been some magic legal and/or political strategy that could have allowed Gore to prevail, is that Gore was drawing dead. Given Republican control of the Florida legislature and executive branch, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives — that is, all of the relevant decision-making bodies — as soon as Bush finished the initial count ahead he was going to become president and the only question was how. We’ll be coming back to this point.

When the claim was actually made, every sane lawyer (on Gore’s side at least) thought it was a sure loser. But by a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court recognized the claim


I’ve been struck in this election cycle by just how timid Democrats have been about thinking in the same way. I’m not (yet) saying they necessarily should. But it is striking to see how committed they are to allowing this train wreck to occur. And more surprisingly, how little careful attention has been given (at the top at least) to just how vulnerable—given Bush v. Gore—the current (system for counting votes in the) electoral college is.

With unusual candor, the per curiam opinion in Bush v. Gore told you it would have no precedential value: “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.” It doesn’t make anything “vulnerable,” let alone the Electoral College.

Anyway, this whole argument that the Democrats could stop Trump from becoming president but are just being “timid” is at least as silly as the idea that Al Gore could have made Jeb Bush, Antonin Scalia, and/or Tom DeLay put him the White House if he had just made a clever enough argument. No federal judge is going to take this challenge to the Electoral College seriously, and even if you could somehow stop the Electoral College from picking Trump there is zero chance a Republican House will certify anybody but Donald Trump as the winner of the election anyway.

So as a practical strategy, Lessig’s theory isn’t even worth discussing, but perhaps we can think about it as a longer-range approach. So what’s the theory?

But the real inequality of the electoral college is created by the “winner take all” (WTA) rule for allocating electoral votes. WTA says that the person who wins the popular votes gets all the electoral college votes for that state. Every state (except Maine and Nebraska) allocates its electors based on WTA. But that system for allocating electoral votes is not mandated by the Constitution. It is created by the states. And so that raises what should be an obvious and much more fiercely contested question—why isn’t WTA being challenged by the Democrats in this election?

Ummmm…maybe because every state using Maine and Nebraska’s allocation of electoral votes would be an anti-democratic catastrophe that would also give the Republican Party an essentially unbreakable lock on the White House for the foreseeable future? Why on Earth would Democrats want winner-take-all allocation unconstitutional?

It’s perfectly clear that the Attorney General of New York or California could walk into the Supreme Court tomorrow, and ask the Court to hear the case. Delaware tried to do this exactly fifty years ago, but the Court ducked the question. But based on that complaint, were I a citizen of California, I’d ask my current AG (and future Senator) why hasn’t CA done the same thing? And were I a citizen of New York, I’d ask my AG the same. Why are these big states standing by quietly as their voters are essentially silenced by the unconstitutional inequality?

It is certainly mysterious that the Attorneys General of New York and California have not demanded that the Supreme Court here a frivolous argument that would result in essentially ensuring that the Republican Party would permanently occupy the White House irrespective of the popular vote.

Meanwhile, as I’ve tried to get people to consider the question, I can almost feel the dynamic of their resistance. “This is beneath us,” they seem to sneer. “It’s the sort of thing only ‘they’ do.” To which the only fair response is — right, but that’s what they do, and because they did it in Bush v. Gore, that case gives Democrats the hook they need to do it now. And when people say “there would be a revolution if the Court decided this election,” why isn’t the response, “why wasn’t there a revolution when the Court effectively mandated the loser of the popular vote (Bush) had to be President?”

I like this. “If people disagree with my argument, it can’t be because they think it’s silly and unworkable. It’s because they’re scared.”

Lessig then presents an argument from Jerry Sims that defends the proposition that “the allocation of State presidential Electors on a winner-take-all basis is an unconstitutional denial of the equal protection of the law and the principle of one man one vote.” It expends many words before addressing this rather critical objection. And here, the writing is very muddy and confusing:

15. I think it is important that the argument be made that either proportional selection of Electors be allowed on the State level or winner-take-all selection of Electors be allowed based on the national vote. The winner-take-all method on the national vote level could serve as a backstop to use in the event a political party moves to gerrymandered district voting for Electors. That methodology would also provide some insurance against the increased risk of elections being thrown into the House of Representatives due to some Electors being allocated to third-party candidates. This is a greater risk of having elections thrown into the house of Representatives using proportional selection of Electors even if a minimum cutoff of 10% of the vote if required for a candidate to be eligible for allocation of Electors. Finally both options would encourage voters to turn out because under both methods all votes are count and are equally important. Under current methodology democratic votes in heavily Red States play no role in the outcome of the election and the same is true of Republican votes in heavily Blue States.

Allowing “winner-take-all” allocation if it’s based on the national popular vote strikes me as completely incoherent — aren’t voters of the party in the states that didn’t win the popular vote still being “disenfranchised?” Even stranger is the “backstop” language. Even if? Many state legislatures are already gerrymandered, and even just ordinary redistricting would have Republicans a major advantage. Democratic legislatures in big states might be able to counteract this by using selective winner-take-all, but this would be a complete mess that’s even worse than the current system.

And, of course, this argument ignores the fact that the Supreme Court is about to have a Republican majority. Were the Court to accept an argument that winner-take-all allocation was unconstitutional, they would almost certainly just rule say that and leave it there, which would have utterly catastrophic results. As bad as the Electoral College is, the possibility that a state like Michigan might move to allocating electoral votes by congressional district could make it far worse than it is. The idea that liberals should be legitimizing this argument by suggesting that winner-take-all allocation was forbidden by the Constitution — even if the precise form of the argument might mitigate the damage — is frankly crazy.

The Cold War Reimagined

[ 92 ] December 9, 2016 |
Dwight Eisenhower Nikita Khrushchev and their wives at state dinner 1959.png

1959 State Dinner with Khrushchevs and Eisenhowers.

Thought experiment: What would have had to change to enable the USSR to “win” the Cold War?

Could the Soviets have won the Cold War? In retrospect, Soviet defeat seems overdetermined.  The USSR suffered from a backwards economy, an unappealing political system, and unfortunate geography. But even into the 1980s, many Cold Warriors in the West worried that Red Victory was imminent.

We can think of Red Victory in two ways; first, if the fundamental rules of the competition between the United States and the USSR had operated differently, and second if Moscow and Washington had made different strategic decisions along the way.

Draining the Swamp!

[ 75 ] December 9, 2016 |
OR Book Going Rouge

OR Book Going Rouge

Just be thankful that the NEOLIBERAL Hillary Clinton was kept out of the White House:

President-elect Donald Trump has asked Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn to head his White House National Economic Council, a group tasked with coordinating economic policy across agencies, NBC News reported on Friday.

Cohn, president and chief operating officer at the Wall Street firm, had been widely considered the heir apparent to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

A reminder that the risible idea that Donald Trump was any kind of opponent of Wall Street was brought to you in substantial measure by the media’s indefatigable refusal to discuss policy.

Trump’s Lies to Workers

[ 120 ] December 9, 2016 |


Donald Trump’s absurd attacks on USW Local 1999 president Chuck Jones gives him the opportunity to respond and note Trump’s lies to working-class Americans, as well as why Trump appealed to union members through those lies.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Trump got involved. He sat down with Carrier leaders. Afterward, he announced that 1,100 jobs would be saved. When I first heard the news, I was optimistic. But I began to get nervous when we couldn’t get any details on the deal. I urged caution, but our members got their hopes up. They thought their jobs had been saved.

When I met with Carrier officials last Thursday, I realized that that wouldn’t be the case. Though Trump said he’d saved 1,100 jobs, he hadn’t. Carrier told us that 550 people would get laid off.

Trump didn’t tell people that, though. When he spoke at our plant, he acted like no one was going to lose their job. People went crazy for him. They thought, because of Trump, I’m going to be able to provide for my family.

All the while, I’m sitting there, thinking that’s not what the damn numbers say. Trump let people believe that they were going to have a livelihood in that facility. He let people breathe easy. When I told our members the next day, they were devastated.

I was angry, too. So I told a Washington Post reporter the truth — that Trump’s 1,100 number was wrong. When Trump read my comments, he got angry. Last night, he tweeted:

And we know what Trump tweeted.

Jones concludes:

What I can’t abide, however, is a president who misleads workers, who gives them false hope. We’re not asking for anything besides opportunity, for jobs that let people provide for their families. These plants are profitable, and the workers produced a good-quality product. Because of corporate greed, though, company leaders are racing to the bottom, to find places where they can pay the least. It’s a system that exploits everyone.

Of course, the media’s response to this has been terrible, as outlets like Politico and CNN and others are referring to Jones as a “union boss.” This pejorative is inaccurate. Jones is an elected union leader with accountability to his members. This is the equivalent of Trump attacking Frank Sobotka and national media outlets then calling him a union boss.

I do think Jones really gets at why Trump’s lies are so appealing to wide segments of the white working class. Not only does he make them feel good for being white, he tells them what they want to hear when it comes to their jobs. It doesn’t much matter that these are lies later. If someone tells you that they will allow you to feed your family through a dignified job, that is an incredibly appealing message. And everyone who says that economic anxiety wasn’t an issue for white working class Trump voters in the Midwest has to reckon with that fact. Of course, it wouldn’t work for black and Latino working class voters because Trump’s message is racist. But the economic anxiety felt by all members of the working class is very, very real.

How Fascism Rises

[ 159 ] December 9, 2016 |


Michigan Republicans are attempting to make protest illegal.

Republicans in the Michigan House voted late Wednesday to make it easier for courts to shut down “mass picketing” demonstrations and fine protesters who block entrances to businesses, private residences or roadways.

Under the legislation, which Democrats decried as unconstitutional prior to the 57-50 vote, individuals who return to a disruptive demonstration already blocked by a court could face fines of up to $1,000 a day. Unions or other organizing groups could be fined up to $10,000 each day.

Michigan law already prohibits certain forms of mass picketing, but sponsoring Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said a spate of recent incidents make it apparent that “the current penalties are not sufficient to deter already-illegal activity.”

He noted reports that 39 people were arrested last month outside a Detroit McDonald’s “for blocking the entrance and preventing them from being able to conduct their business” during a protest against low wages. Glenn also cited an environmental protest outside the Midland home of Attorney General Bill Schuette in July.

Expect this on the national agenda for Republicans in the next year. In the pre-New Deal era, conservatives relied upon injunctions and anti-protest laws to sweep away pesky opposition to their total control over the state. As the New Gilded Age sets in, it’s hardly surprising that conservatives would use similar tools to a century ago. The extent to which we will resist this is going to say a lot as to how effective such laws will be. I am not overly confident, unless each of you pledges to be on the front lines of resistance in the next 4 years.

OK this is all just a reality TV show right?

[ 144 ] December 8, 2016 |

I don’t think I ever really appreciated the psychological concept of denial until the last 30 days.  On some level, I’m still in denial that all this is actually happening.

Donald Trump will remain as an executive producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” even while serving as president of the United States.

That agreement, first reported by Variety and confirmed by sources at NBC and the Trump campaign, means the president will have an interest in a show aired by a media company that also reports on his presidency — a major conflict of interest for the network.

 “The Apprentice,” which Trump hosted for 14 seasons, was created by Mark Burnett and is owned and produced by MGM. The 15th season, hosted by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, will air on NBC starting January 2.

NBC Entertainment, NBC News and MGM all did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the decision to keep Trump as an executive producer.

It is unclear how much Trump will be paid per episode.

I’ve never seen The Apprentice in any of its forms.  Until the middle of last year Donald Trump was, for me, a bit of trivia from the 1980s, like an MTV veejay who I hadn’t thought about in a couple of decades.  I mean I still saw his name here and there, but I also still heard a Cyndi Lauper song once in awhile.  (No offense intended to Ms. Lauper, who I would in all seriousness much prefer as POTUS to Trump.)

2016 is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.


More Wacky Locker Room Hi-Jinx In Trump Administration-Elect

[ 71 ] December 8, 2016 |


This seems overdetermined:

Andrew Puzder, the St. Louis attorney who rose to become CEO of Carl’s Jr. and now stands as Donald Trump’s pick to be Secretary of Labor, was accused of abuse by his first wife in the 1980s — with police twice summoned to the couple’s home.

The allegations were first aired in the couple’s 1989 divorce. The abuse allegations in the divorce filings then became the subject of a July 26, 1989, Riverfront Times cover story.

Puzder denied the abuse both in a deposition for his divorce and in the RFT’s story, calling his ex-wife Lisa Henning’s allegations “baseless.”

“There was no physical abuse at any point in time,” he told the RFT.

In her divorce filing, Henning alleged that Puzder hit her, threw her to the floor and unplugged the phone after she tried to call the police for her help. Puzder would later acknowledge in a deposition that he “grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back,” but said he did it to stop her from hurting herself.

The divorce filing also detailed two other incidents: One in the late ’70s in which the neighbors called the police after a shouting match turned into a plate-throwing fight, and one in which Lisa Henning alleged that Puzder punched her in 1985 while they were driving in a car. Questioned about the incident in a deposition for the divorce case, Puzder said that he had not punched his wife, but acknowledged driving onto the curb: “I think it had to do with the liquid refreshment we had with our dinner more than anything else.

This question is whether the Trump administration is doing no vetting at all, or they knew and just didn’t give a damn. I wouldn’t say either answer is very reassuring.

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