1. Last night, the president-elect, having nothing better to do with his time, took to Twitter to announce that he had personally intervened to dissuade Ford from relocating a plant from Kentucky to Mexico. One problem with that:
Ford, however, said it neither planned to close the Louisville plant nor reduce jobs there. The company said it had considered moving Lincoln production to Mexico to increase production of the Ford Escape in Louisville. …
Meanwhile Ford said in a statement to NPR, “Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky. We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States.”
“The auto industry is scared,” says Paul Eisenstein, publisher of The Detroit Bureau, on online newspaper that covers the industry. “[It] is very seriously scared about the possibility of seeing barriers and trade wars like before the Great Depression.”
If you want to know why this seemingly innocuous Trump boast is actually a BFD, take a quick through this tweetstorm. In short: Trump knows he’s lying, but he doesn’t care. And it will probably work to his advantage.
In other headlines:
2. Trump picks Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general and General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
Both of these guys are … let’s go with problematic.
I’ll begin with Sessions—or, rather, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III—a man whose appointment to a federal judgeship by Ronald Reagan didn’t even make it out of committee on account of him being too racist.
Senate Democrats tracked down a career Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as “un-American” when “they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions” in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to “pop off” on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions acknowledged making many of the statements attributed to him but claimed that most of the time he had been joking, saying he was sometimes “loose with [his] tongue.” He further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation,” a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings.
It got worse. Another damaging witness—a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures—testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest. Figures didn’t see it that way. Sessions, he said, had called him “boy” and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Figures echoed Hebert’s claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “un-American.” Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.
And, Flynn, who was fired from his previous job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency:
General Flynn, 57, a registered Democrat, was Mr. Trump’s main national security adviser during his campaign. If he accepts Mr. Trump’s offer, as expected, he will be a critical gatekeeper for a president with little experience in military or foreign policy issues.
Mr. Trump and General Flynn both see themselves as brash outsiders who hustled their way to the big time. They both post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.
They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them “Flynn facts.”
Peas in a pod!
But, like Mr. Trump, he would enter the White House with significant baggage. The Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm he founded after he was fired by President Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has hazy business ties to Middle Eastern countries and has appeared to lobby for the Turkish government. General Flynn also took a paid speaking engagement last year with Russia Today, a television network funded by the Kremlin, and attended the network’s lavish anniversary party in Moscow, where he sat at Mr. Putin’s elbow.
Those potential conflicts of interest had led Mr. Trump’s transition team to worry that General Flynn might have difficulty winning confirmation for any post that, unlike the national security adviser role, requires congressional approval, such as director of the C.I.A. But for Mr. Trump, he has one overriding virtue: He was an early and ardent supporter in a campaign during which most of the Washington national security establishment openly called Mr. Trump unfit to lead.
But wait, there’s more:
General Flynn did not respond to repeated interview requests. Yet in numerous speeches and interviews before the election, and in a book published in August, he laid out a view of the world that sees the United States as facing a singular, overarching threat that can be described in only one way: “radical Islamic terrorism.”
All else is secondary for General Flynn, and any other description of the threat is “the worst kind of political correctness,” he said in an interview three weeks before the election.
Islamist militancy poses an existential threat on a global scale, and the Muslim faith itself is the source of the problem, he said, describing it as a political ideology, not a religion. He has even at times gone so far as to call it a cancer.
To recap: a racist running the Department of Justice—including its Civil Rights Division and the FBI—and an Islamophobic conspiracy theorist who believes we need to bomb the Middle East into the Stone Age advising the president on national defense. Oh, and lest we forget, alt-right honcho Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist.
This is normal.
3.Governor McCrory files ballot complaints in fifty-two counties.
Desperate times, desperate measures; this time, trotting out the VOTER FRAUD! chestnut:
Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign announced late Thursday that 50 more election complaints have been filed – bringing the total number of counties with contested election results to 52 of the state’s 100 counties.
The latest complaints say that ballots were cast by people who were dead, were convicted felons or had already voted.
“With each passing day, we discover more and more cases of voting fraud and irregularities,” McCrory campaign manager Russell Peck said in a news release. “We intend to make sure that every vote is properly counted and serious voter fraud concerns are addressed before the results of the election can be determined.”
Worth noting: the board of elections in all one hundred counties have Republican majorities.
The new allegations are in addition to 12 election complaints the campaign said would be filed Thursday about absentee ballots.
Those complaints – at least five of which hadn’t been filed by Thursday evening – involve groups that received funding from the N.C. Democratic Party and assisted voters with filling out absentee ballots. Counties now must hold hearings on the complaints, and some counties have multiple complaints to review.
The expanded number of complaints will likely further delay the process of certifying election results, which have Democrat Roy Cooper leading McCrory by about 5,000 votes. Counties can’t finalize their election results until all complaints are resolved, according to a memo from the State Board of Elections.
4. Those earlier twelve election complaints targeted organizations that help black people vote. Weird.
African-American organizations are the subject of many of the 12 absentee ballot complaints Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign announced this week.
Those complaints – at least five of which hadn’t been filed by Thursday evening – involve groups that received funding from the N.C. Democratic Party and assisted voters with filling out absentee ballots.
The first complaint was filed in Bladen County, where the elections board is expected to meet Friday to review concerns about hundreds of absentee ballots there. Those ballots appear to be filled out with assistance from the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC, which received $2,500 from the N.C. Democratic Party for get-out-the-vote efforts.
It’s legal to help someone fill out their absentee ballot, but the person assisting must sign a disclosure on the ballot form. Several Improvement Association workers didn’t sign the disclosure even though they wrote the name of a write-in candidate on behalf of the voter.
The North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, a nonprofit with ties to labor groups, said Thursday that the complaints appear to be racially motivated.
“The election challenges that have been filed are in areas where we have strong African-American political organizations,” executive director Melvin Montford said in a news release. “Calling these votes into question is an obvious effort to cast doubt on election results with no good reason to do so and disenfranchise black voters.”
Asked about Montford’s claim, McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said that “we didn’t pick the places the Democrats seem to have chosen to commit voter fraud.”
5. WRAL explains why it bleeped Dave Chapelle on SNL.
Saturday’s episode, the first after an especially contentious presidential election, was hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle, who used a racial slur and other profanities several times in his monologue and in three sketches, including a digital short spoofing the AMC TV series “The Walking Dead.” NBC bleeped one use of the “f-word” by Chappelle in that short.
Beyond that one network decision, WRAL on several other occasions muted 8-second portions of dialogue containing the words. The length of the muted portions left many viewers confused and angry. Some criticized the station over Twitter for being the “moral police” of a show that airs after 11:30 p.m., and others went after WRAL for what they saw as censorship of Chappelle’s political viewpoints.
The local NBC affiliate has emphasized that it never intended to censor Chappelle’s opinions. In a statement released Sunday and again in an interview Wednesday, Steven D. Hammel, vice president and general manager at WRAL, said the station was trying to silence two words on their list of 10 unacceptable words. They say Chappelle used the words – a racial slur and a more profane version of gosh-darn – nine times over the course of the program.
That’s all for today. Have a good weekend, and we’ll see you Monday.