Unfiltered Political News

Millions join Trump protest marches around the globe

Demonstrators flooded into Washington on Saturday to express opposition to President Donald Trump in numbers exceeding the crowd that turned out for his inauguration, cheering for unity but also vowing to press elected Democrats on progressive causes.

Crowds for the Women’s March on Washington, as the rally is known, stretched more than 14 blocks down Independence Avenue near the National Mall by midday Saturday—a turnout so large that some pockets of attendees began marching in place. Originally intended to stop at the Washington Monument, organizers urged the crowd to head to the Ellipse in front of the White House.

Protesters also marched in cities across the U.S. and abroad, including Chicago, London, and Los Angeles. Marchers in New York went past Trump Tower.

Ridership on D.C.’s metropolitan area transit reached 275,000 as of 11 a.m. Saturday, according to Washington’s WMATA agency, compared with 193,000 rides as of 11 a.m. on Friday and 513,000 at the same time on former President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration Day.

Linda Keller, 41, from Chicago, wielded a sign quoting her 9-year-old daughter, Nora, as she marched amid the sea of men and women. “Mommy,” it read, “what does it mean to build a wall?”

Keller lamented the fact that she’d had to explain to her fourth-grade daughter that the new president wants to barricade the southern U.S. border to keep immigrants out. “I did not know what to say to her,” she explained, recalling the encounter. “I was fumbling for words because I didn’t want her to feel completely insecure. She’s only 9 years old. But she knows I’m here today and she knows I’m here to fight for her and all Americans, whether you’re black, white, Latino, Muslim, gay.”

Despite a pre-march controversy over organizers’ decision to exclude Hillary Clinton from the event’s official honorees, her presence was acknowledged and celebrated by multiple attendees and speakers who supported her presidential bid. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem name-checked both Clinton and Bernie Sanders—whose female supporters Steinem apologized for criticizing during his bitter 2016 Democratic primary battle with Clinton—in her remarks, while pro-Clinton actress and immigrant-rights activist America Ferrera was among the march’s first speakers.

Apparel and signs praising Clinton were visible among the hordes of marchers, but less so than those supporting liberal priorities such as abortion rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and Black Lives Matter. Most common of all by midday were anti-Trump signs, including many savaging his friendliness towards Vladimir Putin and his 2005 remarks that he can grab women “by the pussy” because of his fame.

Indeed, although organizers and early materials downplayed the march’s status as a rebuke of Trump, its slaps at the combative new president were often personal. Steinem portrayed Trump as untrustworthy at best and mentally ill at worst, telling attendees that the president’s “Twitter finger cannot become a trigger finger.”

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who initially backed Sanders in the primary and drew widespread attention with his pre-election prediction of Trump’s victory, suggested that the new president would serve “let’s just say, months” rather than four years in office.

Krista Suh, 29, traveled to the march from Los Angeles after campaigning in the swing state of Ohio for Clinton. But she said she would have joined the march “no matter what” happened on Election Day. “I think I would want to be here if Hillary Clinton was sworn in,” Suh said while handing out free pink hats with cat ears to marchers—a ubiquitous item on the Mall, intended as a dig at Trump over his claims, caught on a video released in October, to have grabbed women by the genitals.

Suh said, “to have someone male who was so unqualified in office” after beating the experienced Clinton “further spurred me to action.”

Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally who took pictures with attendees and vowed to protect women’s rights in his state, was one of several elected officials in attendance. Among congressional Democrats joining the marchers were Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, and Michigan Rep. Sander Levin.

Charlie Brotman, a beloved 60-veteran announcer of inaugural parades whom Trump did not ask to work on Friday, made an early appearance at the pre-march microphones and drew loud cheers. Brotman told demonstrators that their turnout was “much larger” than that for Trump’s parade, adding that he is “tickled to have a new job.”

In the hours before Trump’s inauguration, the push to formally recognize Clinton on the march’s list of honorees sparked a kerfluffle that turned #AddHerName into a trending Twitter topic. Some Clinton backers aired frustrations on social media that event organizers were motivated to exclude her because of their support for Sanders, threatening to turn the march into yet another venue for airing the Clinton-Sanders dispute, which continues to fracture Democrats.

“Thousands of March participants organized and have been inspired to fight back, some for the first time in their lives because of her historic presidential campaign,” Clinton supporters noted in a petition asking march organizers to formally recognize her. On Saturday morning, Clinton tweeted: “Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values.”

But little primary-season acrimony was visible, even far on the sidelines of Saturday’s event.

Protesters from Florida gathered before the march for a breakfast on the sixth floor of the Library of Congress’ Madison Building, hosted by Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation. The breakfast was full—dozens of people waited in line outside because the event was at capacity—and mostly women. Many wore the pink cat-ear hats; others wore t-shirts and buttons showcasing Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, took the podium and urged the protesters to resist the incoming administration, which she described as a threat to women’s rights.
Leading the crowd in chants of “We will not go back,” she cheered policies favored by Democrats, like the right to abortion and Barack Obama’s health care law, and then addressed Trump, describing his comments about women as “out of bounds.”

Most women at the Florida breakfast were there with the clear goal of opposing the president. Natalia Armstrong, 58, flew to Washington from Naples to attend, and she said she came to speak out against Trump policies that affect women, but also against the way he has spoken publicly about black people and his rhetoric about closing the country off from the world. A Clinton supporter, she was wearing a “Nasty women vote” button with the campaign’s signature “H.”

Another Clinton voter, Finis Troupe, 60, came in from Michigan and said she made the trip for her granddaughters. “I just had to speak for them,” she said. On Trump, she added: “I don’t think he cares about women.”

Nolan McCaskill contributed reporting.

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Will the women’s march be another Occupy, or a Democratic Tea Party?

They want to be the Tea Party, but they’re worried they’ll be Occupy Wall Street.

Millions of people—hundreds of thousands in Washington alone—flooded cities across the country on Saturday, completely overwhelming expectations and planned routes for the Women’s March. With the stands behind them at the Capitol still in place from President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, they covered the Mall well beyond the crowd that showed for him.

Now they have to figure out what to do next to channel the raw energy of the marches into political action. And what is it that they’re about: Women’s equality? Reproductive Rights? Race? Climate change? Stopping Trump from putting someone they don’t want on the Supreme Court? Making him release his taxes? All of the above? Signs (and costumes) for all of that and more were all over the place on Saturday.

“What we have to do is make sure it becomes an activist, everyday movement that keeps politicians accountable. The key is to turn it into work that leads to elections,” said former Secretary of State John Kerry, making a brief surprise walk through the Washington rally, his dog in tow, on his first day since leaving the State Department. “A lot of people are going to be working on that.”

Among the liberal advocacy groups using the march as a platform to mobilize new supporters were Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Sierra Club. Organizers drew applause for promising to release a list of targeted political actions that attendees could take during Trump’s first 100 days in office, but aside from repeated requests that people in the crowd share their phone numbers with organizers by texting “women,” there was no clearly coordinated effort on site in Washington to collect email addresses or other information to build out a network of activists.

The marches tapped into intense opposition to Trump, who embraced a divisive campaign that gave license to hate and attacks, then picked fights through his transition and called people who didn’t back him “enemies,” and capped it Friday with an inaugural address heavy on provocative language and light on outreach.

Saturday afternoon, he kept at it, using a visit to the CIA headquarters mostly to talk about how great his victory was, and how the “dishonest media” didn’t accurately report the size of a crowd for his inauguration that he estimated at 1-1.5 million, but was closer by official estimates to 200-250,000.

What the people who still can’t process that Trump is president want is to be a movement that can do what Trump did in his presidential campaign, crowds turned into action and votes, beyond what anyone thought possible. What they’ve got for now is a sense of passionate aimlessness, leftover tensions from 2016 and a search for a sense of direction.

“This outpouring today is extraordinary and inspiring. But if all this energy isn’t channeled into sustained pol action, it will mean little,” tweeted David Axelrod, the chief strategist behind Barack Obama’s winning campaigns.

As for what to do next, “it’s too early to tell,” said Sarah Jaffe, a 28-year-old who works in book publishing and came to Washington for the march there. “Immediate outrage and sustained outrage are two different things. I’m gearing up to be mad as hell for a long time.”

Jaffe, who was carrying a blue “Facts Not Fascism” sign, said that her next stop will be going to her state legislature in Albany to help lobby for more Planned Parenthood funding. Beyond that, she’s “taking it day by day. It’s going to be a long four years.”

“Other than lobbying and making phone calls, I don’t know. One person feels so small,” said Kristi Orr, 40, who came from nearby in Maryland with nine friends, and along the way made a multi-colored sign reading “Super Callous Fascist Extra Braggadocious.”

Orr said she tried to get involved with some online groups, but none of them panned out. She’s looking for more ways to get involved, but for now, is just donating money.

Vivi Mata, 56, came from Los Angeles with a sign that read just “Traitor.” She said she stopped her job selling antiques starting on Nov. 9, and has committed herself fully to the resistance—“it needs to be every day, in every way, not just marches.” What that’s entailed for her, she said, is getting active on Twitter.

A devoted Hillary Clinton supporter, she said she was involved with Occupy Wall Street in its early days, but they disappointed her, and she still hasn’t forgiven the Bernie Sanders supporters. Those are the people that seem to be doing much of the organizing, and she said that’s kept her from getting involved beyond keeping up a network of other Clinton supporters.

“My worry is, I’m hearing that it’s all Berners,” Mata said. “I’m not going to help them. They’re not my tribe.”

She wasn’t the only one nursing the old divisions. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, an initial Sanders backer, made a sharp plea for a more organized opposition.

“The old guard of the Democratic Party has got to go,” Moore told a crowd that included many Democratic members of Congress. He urged marchers to call their elected representatives “every single day” to speak up against Trump’s policies, and expressed support for Rep. Keith Ellison, one of six candidates to be the new Democratic National Committee chair.

Actress and immigrant-rights activist America Ferrera, who campaigned for Clinton, warned marchers not to “fall into the trap of separating ourselves by our causes and our labels,” lest progressives’ unity be at risk.

People have been coming up with their own tactics. Katie Gell, originally from Omaha, but currently living in Queens, says she’s taken it upon herself to call the two Republican senators from Nebraska and “closing down their phone lines.” She’s signed a few petitions. She’s connected with people at work and elsewhere whom she’s now seen since the election feel the same disappointment with Trump’s win.

Several unions, including the Service Employees International Union, organized buses of supporters from around the northeast to come to Washington. A group called We Rise handed out flyers for a “teach-in” at a church in northwest D.C. The American Civil Liberties Union set up shop near the rally and gave out pamphlets and other promotional materials like signs and sashes before running out, said Kendrick Holley, the community engagement manager of its D.C. office.

Asked how organizers should turn the enthusiasm around the march into future action, Holley said it’s key for protesters to stay engaged, and he said the ACLU encouraged people who came by to donate or become members—and that they’ve seen a surge of interest since Trump won the election.

Andrew Bogrand, is one of the people who expressed that interest.

“The big concern is that this will be all that happens,” said the 30-year-old who works at a non-governmental organization in Washington.

He said he’s thinking about trying to volunteer for local candidates, but also how to get involved with the redistricting reform effort that Obama and his former attorney general, Eric Holder, are leading for Democrats.

Amber Walsh, 41, who came to Washington from Connecticut for the march, said she plans to be more active locally, says she’s contacted her representatives more in the past two months than she has in the past 10 years.
“I really hope that this is not a one-day event but really that this becomes a movement, and I love that it’s something that grew very organically,” Walsh said.

Laurie Steinke, 59, who came from Charleston, S.C. said that Trump’s election has brought out more active Democrats than any of them ever assumed were around. She has 140 people signed up for the Drinking Liberally chapter she’s started—she didn’t know what the group was before November—and she and small groups she’s been talking to have started focusing on making a bigger splash in local politics.

Locally, “a lot of Republicans have been running unopposed,” Steinke said. “We’ve all decided that’s unacceptable, and we’re not going to let that happen anymore.”

Madeline Conway and Nolan McCaskill contributed to this report.

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At CIA headquarters, Trump boasts about himself, denies feud

President Donald Trump, in his first speech in his first full day as commander in chief, visited the Central Intelligence Agency on a mission to reassure the intelligence community that they have his full support but he soon veered off course to attack the “dishonest media” in an unusually political speech in front of national-security professionals.

Standing on hallowed ground at the Langley headquarters, in front of the wall of stars carved into marble to represent each of the 117 CIA agents who have died in service to the country, Trump lashed out at his critics, boasted of his appearances on magazine covers and exaggerated about the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

He also hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama, promised to wipe “radical Islamic terrorism… off the face of the earth” and pledged his full backing to the CIA.

“I am so behind you,“ Trump said, adding, “You’re gonna get so much backing. Maybe you’re gonna say, please, don’t give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.”

Trump’s comments, delivered without the aid of a teleprompter, oscillated jarringly between wanting to entertain, reassure, brag and attack.

Roughly 400 CIA employees attended the speech, for which there had been an open invitation. The self-selected crowd repeatedly interrupted Trump cheering and clapping.

But the appearance rubbed some in the intelligence community the wrong way.

“The proper way to do it was wait for [incoming CIA director Mike] Pompeo to get confirmed, to do it on a weekday, to do it for the larger CIA population but to make it private and answer questions,” one former CIA officer said. “This was a waste of time.”

“Former CIA Dir Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Brennan’s former deputy chief of staff, Nick Shapiro, said on Twitter.

Trump, who also met briefly with senior agency leaders before his remarks, reveled in the friendly crowd before him. “Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me,” he claimed at one point. “But I will not ask you to raise your hands.”

I can only say that I am with you 1,000 percent. And the reason you’re my first stop—” Trump said before dramatically changing direction, “— is that as you know I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. Right? And they sort of made it sound like I have this feud with the intelligence community.”

The feud was not the media’s creation. Trump had compared the intelligence community’s leaks about him to “Nazi Germany” on Twitter, and then repeated that charge in a news conference 10 days ago. He also used so-called scare quotes to cite the “intelligence” agencies on Twitter.

On Saturday, Trump made sure to praise the incoming director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, who is expected to be confirmed to the position on Monday, saying he was the top graduating student at his class at West Point and “essentially number one at Harvard Law School.”

Trump, who endorsed bringing back torture during the campaign, also said at the CIA that he would destroy the Islamic State. “We have not used the abilities that we have,” he said. “We’ve been restrained.”

Trump repeated another campaign line — about how the United States should have taken the oil when it invaded Iraq — and said, “maybe you’ll have another chance,“ without further explanation.

Trump drew laughs from the crowd when he described reporters as “the most dishonest human beings” and claimed he’d drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces. A few miles away, at the White House, Trump aides were soon setting up pictures of the crowd inside the press briefing room.

Trump went on to boast about how many covers of Time magazine he has appeared on. And then he singled out a Time magazine reporter, by name, for making a reporting error about a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., being removed from the Oval Office on Friday, for which the reporter has already publicly apologized.

Trump also touted his intellect in a brief aside. “Is Donald Trump an intellectual? Trust me, I’m like a smart person,” he said.

Trump’s unusual appearance earned the quick rebuke of Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “He will need to do more than use the agency memorial as a backdrop if he wants to earn the respect of the men and women who provide the best intelligence in the world,” Schiff said.

— with reporting by Michael Crowley and Nahal Toosi

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Trump’s Cast of Characters Takes a Bow

WASHINGTON — Former Indiana Hoosiers basketball coach Bobby Knight stepped up to a lectern in a half-full conference room to insult President Obama’s “pretty poor” golf game and work ethic. Former “Apprentice” contestant and incoming White House staffer Omarosa spoke at a press conference about urban street violence. Hall of Fame fullback Jim Brown, who raised eyebrows by paying an unexpected call to Trump Tower last month, sat on an office chair clutching a Cleveland Browns-themed cane as a pianist serenaded him with jazz standards.

Trump’s lieutenant Michael Cohen — who first shot to national attention in 2015 for threatening a journalist for reporting on a since-recanted rape allegation made against Trump by his first wife — shaking hands with well-wishers, told POLITICO he had not had a chance to try a “Putin’s Moscow Hacking Mule,” the featured cocktail at a nearby open bar.

“They should have a drink for me called ‘Not in Moscow,’” said Cohen, who recently denied unsubstantiated allegations made by a former British intelligence official that he met with Russian officials in Prague last summer on behalf of Trump. “It’s a Moscow Mule without the vodka.”

Scottie Nell Hughes, an early defender of Trump on cable news, where she famously proclaimed, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts,” weighed the pros and cons of entering the administration. Pastor Darrell Scott, the organizer of Trump’s summits with black faith leaders, proclaimed joyously, “We won, God-dungit!”

And that was just one party on Thursday afternoon.

Every presidential campaign has its Joe the Plumbers and its Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, the minor characters who fill out the ranks of the country’s quadrennial drama. But no cast has been quite so sprawling or colorful as the one that strutted and fretted upon the national stage alongside Trump during his frenetic rise to power. This week, they convened in Washington from their disparate roosts to toast the figure whose campaign united them by catapulting them into, or back into, a strange sort of shared prominence. Their celebrations ushered the madcap atmosphere of the campaign into the capital, touching off an era in which old-school celebrity, social media prodigiousness and vocal loyalty to Trump could carry as much currency as Washington’s traditional markers of credibility.

“This is a combination family reunion, church convention and coming-out party,” said Scott at Thursday afternoon’s $1,000-a-head fundraiser for Brown’s Amer-I-Can foundation, co-hosted by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Lewis, who pleaded down a 2000 murder charge to obstruction of justice, at the K Street offices of K&L Gates.

It was a reunion befitting the sort of free-wheeling, do-it-yourself campaign in which the line between enthusiastic bikers and official campaign security sometimes grew blurry and a pair of North Carolina sisters who drank and rhapsodized about Trump on YouTube became top trail surrogates after staffers showed their videos to the boss.

As if to hammer home the point, Scott, the 58-year-old pastor from Cleveland, recounted his experiences wandering freely around Trump’s office and campaign headquarters on November 7 and 8, chatting with Melania Trump about his grandchildren and grilling Brad Parscale about early voting numbers as the campaign’s digital director sat on his desk, breezily tossing around a Nerf football.

“Donald Trump was able, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, to walk with kings and to keep the common touch. He kept the grassroots around him. He took us and made us national figures,” Scott said. “Rather than the elites and the snobs and the upper crust.”

Indeed, what the week’s festivities lacked in size — the Financial Times estimated a paltry inauguration showing of 250,000 — they made up for in the sheer improbability of the newly minted bold-faced names that did show up.

On Thursday night, many of these campaign-famous figures made their way through tight security at the National Press Club to attend Deploraball. There, attendees were directed to a side door and asked by police to produce identification before they could slip behind a barrier separating the building from F Street, where protesters, some with faces covered, held aloft a giant balloon elephant with the word “racism” written on it.

Inside, headshots of the press club’s usual staid denizens — like Bill Weld — lined the hallowed halls, gazing out at the white boys in red hats and black tuxedoes who had taken the building over. Ball-goers munched on finger food and made eyes at Lauren Southern, the 21-year-old Canadian activist known for being attractive and opposing feminism and immigration, who wore a blue gown.

Chants of “Lock her up” and “U-S-A” went up during speeches from blogger Mike Cernovich, prominent pusher of the #Pizzagate and #HillarysHealth hashtags, and Jim Hoft, publisher of Gateway Pundit, a site known for claiming that photos of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship parade were throngs coming out for a Trump town hall in Maine and for spreading the false claim that an Asian woman taking pictures of Rex Tillerson’s notes at his confirmation hearing was a Washington Post editor.

Hoft, resplendent in a rich burgundy jacket, announced that the Trump administration had promised Gateway Pundit a seat in the White House briefing room. Then he introduced Lucian Wintrich — the artist behind the erotic “Twinks for Trump” photography that decorated the Republican National Convention’s surreal “Gays for Trump” party — as the site’s White House correspondent, prompting chants of “real news” from the Deploraball attendees.

Gavin McInnis, the Vice co-founder and creator of the pro-Trump, “Western chauvinist” fraternal organization the Proud Boys, greeted Trump’s election as a moment of male liberation. Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke, in a tuxedo and formal cowboy hat, said of Democrats, “The only reason I’ll be reaching across the aisle is to grab one of them by the throats.”

Undercover video activist James O’Keefe, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to entering a federal building under false pretenses, received a hero’s welcome after publishing a video on Monday that apparently exposed protesters’ plans to drop stink bombs at the ball. O’Keefe announced that the next target of his undercover videos would be the mainstream media. “We are inside their newsrooms,” he said.

Pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, currently under indictment for securities fraud, camped out by a buffet table and responded to a question about how he felt about the inauguration by ordering me to “leave the premises,” to no avail. Then he picked up some cheese and told a New York Magazine photographer, “I don’t find you lovely at all.”

Dirty trickster Roger Stone was slated to attend, though as news broke in the New York Times that a joint federal investigation into his possible ties to Russian interests included reviews of intercepted communications and financial records, he was nowhere to be found, apparently due to a dispute over ticketing his entourage. A table stacked high with copies of Stone’s latest book stood outside the main ballroom, where an aide hawked them to partygoers.

North Carolina consultant Bill Mitchell, who abandoned his career during the campaign to devote himself full-time to tweeting his support of Trump and hosting a homemade radio show about the New York billionaire, also attended Deploraball, before making his way Shelly’s Back Room, a cigar bar near the White House, where he got into a heated confrontation with white nationalist alt-right leader Richard Spencer, in which Mitchell maintains Spencer’s friends shoved him and in which Spencer says only heated words were exchanged.

Spencer, who had been banned from Deploraball lest his racist views taint the event, lamented that Shkreli was permitted to attend. “Someone who up-sells AIDS medication is welcome,” he said. “I care about my race and civilization and yet I’m verboten.” The next day, while he gave an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation near the site of anti-Trump street protests, Spencer was punched in the face on camera by a demonstrator.

Down on the waterfront at Fiola Mare, usually the haunt of Georgetown sophisticates, Willie Robertson, the “Duck Dynasty” star who spoke at the RNC, donned a white bandana atop his tuxedo and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Rand Paul. British nationalist Nigel Farage, who rode the tailwinds of Brexit across the Atlantic to soak up the limelight in debate spin rooms, the RNC and an August Trump rally in Mississippi, hosted a party at the Hay-Adams. Earlier on Thursday, Farage huddled with West Coast donors in the Benjamin Franklin room of the St. Regis Hotel to plot what some backers are calling “Calexit,” according to people familiar with the meeting. One backer of the initiative described it as a plan to “spread liberty to California” by breaking it up into multiple states.

While Trump stewed over the lack of A-list talent at the inauguration, he also touted the participation of the Bikers for Trump, grassroots supporters who offered volunteer security at campaign rallies and scored tickets from the campaign to debates and the RNC. On Friday, the group put on a concert featuring bagpipes along the parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

As he set up the concert, the group’s leader, Chris Cox, wearing a crocodile skin hat with crocodile teeth around the brim, chomped on a cigar, and in true Trump fashion, expressed his displeasure with the wording of a POLITICO headline from April (“Meet the vigilantes who patrol Trump’s rallies”).

Earlier in the week, Cox made what might end up being a more enduring linguistic contribution to Trump’s inauguration than the president’s own inaugural address when he vowed on Fox News that the bikers would form a “wall of meat” to protect well-wishers from protesters during the festivities.

After the house band for Easyriders magazine played, Al Baldasaro — a friend of original campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s from New Hampshire who became a regular warm-up speaker at Trump rallies and made headlines in August when he said that Hillary Clinton “should be shot in a firing squad for treason” — addressed the bikers, some of whom shouted profanities at student protesters, but who were not involved in any major incidents on Friday.

After making a video about packing for Washington, sisters Diamond and Silk, YouTube vloggers-turned-campaign trail fixtures, dinned on croissants at Trump Hotel, donned gowns for the balls and even filmed an inauguration video mid-oath from the Capitol lawn. “Yes, yes, I feel these showers are blessings,” one said when raindrops begin to fall during the oath, spinning in real time.

At the Washington Hilton north of DuPont circle, boxer Floyd Mayweather, who has called Trump a “friend” and also recently praised Obama as a “good president,” hosted a benefit for the Moblze Foundation, which works on urban revitalization (the name is pronounced “mobilize”). Trump’s pick for Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, stopped in for a brief photo opportunity. With campaign manager Armstrong Williams in tow, Carson expressed the belief that if Trump’s inauguration could bring together such a diverse cast of characters, then the country could heal its divisions. “I hope it means we can start thinking about the fact that we are not each other’s enemies,” he said.

After the official festivities wrapped on Friday night, Trump’s sons, Hope Hicks and several Fox News personalities gathered at a private party at the Trump Hotel, according to an attendee.

And for those partying into the night, Paolo Zampolli, the Italian-playboy-cum-modeling-agent-cum-U.N.-ambassador-from-Domenica who takes credit for introducing Trump and Melania in the ’90s, rented out the Living Room off McPherson Square. The party, co-hosted by two-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes, brought New York’s nightclub scene to Washington, with the usual old men in tuxedoes supplemented by an unusual number of fashion models – including Zampolli’s towering wife Amanda, a former Brazilian model turned U.N. ambassador from Grenada — dancing to the beats of a house DJ in the dimly lit underground space.

Zampolli — who once embarked on a business venture with Trump over dinner at Manhattan’s Cipriani Downtown in the presence of magician David Copperfield — arrived after midnight and delivered a warm message to the television channel Fashion One 4k, which had dispatched a camera crew.

The American carnage of nearby anti-Trump riots that had rocked the surrounding blocks all day was nowhere to be seen, and Zampolli, who came to campaign prominence last summer as questions emerged about Melania Trump’s immigration history, saw only smiling faces. “Today,” he said, “everybody is happy.”

Katie Glueck and Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.

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White House doubles down on Trump crowd claims, media complaints

The White House refused to address the nationwide protests against his presidency on Saturday while doubling down on President Donald Trump’s claims that his Inauguration drew far more people than was reported and that “the media” is deliberately sowing divisions.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer took to the White House podium in the press briefing room to castigate reporters Saturday and tell them the White House would hold the media “accountable.”

“Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world watched the peaceful transition of power — and as the president said, the transfer and balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer said.

He cited a tweet that incorrectly stated the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office — which was quickly corrected by the reporter — and photographs that showed Trump’s Inauguration crowd was far smaller than Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Trump also brought up both episodes in a speech to the CIA earlier Saturday.

Spicer blamed “floor coverings” used to protect the grass for highlighting areas that were empty, and blamed heightened security for limiting the amount of people on the Mall.

“Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted,” Spicer said. “No one had numbers. … By the way this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protesters today in the same fashion.”

Spicer went on to say that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”

He did not provide any evidence to back up that claim.

In fact, available data and photographs indicate the crowd was smaller than at past inaugurations. Metro ridership as of 11 a.m., for example, was higher at inauguration ceremonies in 2005, 2009 and 2013 — and at Saturday’s Women’s March — than for Trump’s inauguration.

Spicer left the lectern without taking any questions.

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The West Wing Idolizes “Whiteness,” Or So Some Are Claiming

In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, columnist Michael Darer, contended that the beloved political drama, The West Wing, was a near perfect encapsulation of “contemporary white liberalism” – and that this was a bad thing. The reason Mr. Darer gives as to why are two-fold.



  • One: He Really Hate Aaron Sorkin
  • Two: All of Sorkin’s Main Characters Are Smart White Guys



You might very well be thinking that this is a oversimplification, but I assure you it is not. Don’t believe me, read the piece here and see for yourself.


Now, what to make of all of this? Well, firstly, it should be noted that Mr. Darer is certainly a very talented, if overly self conscious, writer. Secondly, he tackles his subjects with great seriousness and ambition, rightly noting that many of his sticking points as a progressive liberal, are championed by Sorkin’s “Terminally white” heroes in The West Wing. I believe that he, rightly, notes that one of the principal problems with many mainstream liberals when talking about subjects such as racism or homophobia, is that they tend only ever to discuss such issues in the abstract (e.g. this country has a serious problem with [X]) instead of tying their claims to more pragmatic heuristics.


Where I believe the article goes awry is when he starts hammering on and on about “whiteness.” What, exactly, does that even mean? Paleness of skin color alone? Surely he means more than that by it – but what? It has been popular among anti-racists (such as Tim Wise and Noel Ignatiev) to speak at great length about “whiteness” without ever really defining it, even in the most nominal of terms. It is ever some kind of terrifying phantom, powerful and imposing, but ever beyond one’s reach – indefinable as the shaded khefts of Egyptian folklore. As such it would seem that the central pillar of the article – the claim that modern liberalism is plagued by an excess of “whiteness” – has crumbled before even the roof has been raised.


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Hillary: The Face of the Vanquished

She arrived at the East Front of the Capitol at not quite 20 minutes past 10 a.m. in a pantsuit of the softest cream, smiling gamely and waving to onlookers. She ignored a reporter’s shouted question about how it felt to be there, but off camera, some among the panelists and anchors on CNN could be heard chuckling at the excruciating obviousness of the query.

And just a half hour later, Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared at the top of the passageway leading to the inaugural platform, a mute witness to a moment of history she had prayed would never happen. As she and her husband made their way through the VIP crowd to their seats, still smiling, someone called out, “We’re here for you!”

If it was Clinton’s unhappy task to sit just behind and to the left of Donald Trump as he took the oath of office as the 45th president, she bore it with her usual stoicism and cast-iron discipline, despite a smattering of boos when her name was announced. “I am here today to honor our democracy and its enduring values,” her Twitter account declared. “I will never stop believing in our country & its future.”

Clinton may have been relegated to the mere status of “The Honorable” former secretary of state and senator, while Trump took what she had hoped would be her place as the leader of the free world. But she was far from the only loser in presidential history forced to stand by as the winner was sworn in. Just 24 years ago today, George H.W. Bush surrendered his office to Bill Clinton, who had won only a plurality of the vote after a hard-fought and often bitter campaign.

It was a measure of the cycles of history, and of the strange bedfellows that politics can make, that the friendliest faces on the platform for Bill and Hillary Clinton on Friday may well have been their seatmates: George and Laura Bush, the two couples united not only by the mystic bonds of the former presidents’ club but by their families’ mutual and well-established disdain for Trump. The affection between them was visible in small gestures: Bill Clinton’s hand on Laura’s shoulder as they walked through the Capitol, Hillary’s arm around George’s back.

As rain spattered the platform, Hillary Clinton joined the comparatively small and sad ranks of vanquished candidates in open presidential races in modern times who have been compelled to stand by as their rivals took power: Richard Nixon in 1961, Hubert Humphrey in 1969, Al Gore in 2001. Nixon alone had experienced both sides of the equation, watching John F. Kennedy take the oath in 1961, and taking the job that Humphrey wanted eight years later.

“I think maybe you should deliver my address today, Hubert,” Nixon told Humphrey as he arrived at the White House for the ceremonial ride to Capitol Hill with Lyndon Johnson, trying to “keep the mood light,” he remembered.

“That’s what I had planned to do, Dick,” Humphrey replied.

In his memoirs, Nixon would recall, “I remembered from 1961 how painful this ceremony could be for a man who had lost a close election, and I was touched by Humphrey’s graceful show of good humor.”

Graceful good humor was not always the order of business on Friday. At least one stray shout of “Lock her up!” could be heard on television after Vice President Mike Pence took the oath.

But by the standards of history, the ceremonial ritual was civil enough. After all, John Adams and Andrew Johnson boycotted their successors’ inaugurals altogether. In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower refused even to get out of his car as he met Harry Truman at the White House, and in 1981, the younger Ron Reagan told reporters he would refuse to shake Jimmy Carter’s hand because the outgoing president had “the morals of a snake.”

If the look on Clinton’s face sometimes suggested she might rather be taking a walk in the woods in Chappaqua, she endured the scrutiny of the pool cameras with resolute dignity all the same. If Trump did not take a page from such past winners as Carter and George W. Bush by paying tribute to his vanquished opponent in his inaugural address, Clinton was at least spared the inevitable reaction shot, which could have forced her to look grateful, whether she felt so or not.

In advance of the ceremony, Clinton loyalists made no secret of the discomfort and sense of dislocation she still feels at her loss. Some wondered whether they should live-Tweet critical commentary of Trump’s speech. In the end, they settled for silence, which itself spoke volumes.

As the ceremony ended, and Trump made his way down the front row of the platform, shaking hands with Barack Obama and justices of the Supreme Court, he came within inches of Clinton herself. But they never made contact or shook hands; a massive Secret Service agent stood guard between them. It seemed a missed opportunity, but perhaps a fitting image for a deeply divided day.

But later, at the congressional luncheon in Statuary Hall, Trump could be seen vigorously pumping Clinton’s hand, and mouthing the words, “Thank you,” repeatedly. It was surely the least he could do.

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Trump paints a dark America only he can save

In an unabashedly populist inaugural address, President Donald Trump hammered the established Washington order and sold himself as the voice of the “forgotten men and women,” and a redeemer to a country he described in strikingly dark tones.

His promise: “This American carnage stops right here and right now.”

As he stood among members of Congress, past presidents and Supreme Court justices, Trump differentiated himself from his new peers. The first man to become president without previously holding elected office or high military rank, Trump said his inauguration would be remembered as “the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

It was a scorching 16-minute speech that offered a distilled vision of the radical departure from tradition that he promised voters. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country,” Trump said. “Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes, starting right here and right now.”

There were brief moments of rhetorical flourish—“a new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions”—but more common throughout was Trump using the red-hot rhetoric he was known for on the campaign trail. He even ended it the same way he concluded nearly all of his rallies, with a crescendo that led to his slogan, “We will ‘Make America Great Again.’”

Trump, who at times struggled during the campaign to stick to prepared text scrolling on teleprompters, hewed closely to a script on Friday that described a struggling country in almost apocalyptic terms. He delivered the speech slowly and with deliberate hand gestures.

Trump spoke of “mothers and children trapped in poverty,” “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones,” “the crime and the gangs and the drugs” and a state of infrastructure in “disrepair and decay.” “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world,” he said.

The ominous descriptions of the state of the union don’t line up with the reality lived by many Americans after years of steady, if slow, economic growth and a low unemployment rate that has dipped below 5 percent. But those same words helped Trump tap into the unease and anxiety of working-class voters that propelled him to a surprise victory in November.

With Trump’s swearing-in, Republicans now control both the legislative and executive branches of government. But his opening speech was notably short on promises of traditional small-government conservatism.

Trump spoke of few policy specifics—he left unmentioned entirely President Obama’s signature health care law that he has vowed to unravel in his first months—and he was particularly impassioned about investing in infrastructure.

“We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels, and railways, all across our wonderful nation,” Trump said, a Democratic priority more than a Republican one. “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people,” Trump said.

The speech was unapologetically anti-globalist and inward-looking, another break from the GOP tradition of a more muscular and international vision of American power. And it had the fingerprints of Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and Steven Miller, his top speechwriter and senior policy adviser, all over it.

“We will follow two simple rules: buy American, and hire American,” Trump said at one point. “We’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said at another.

“This day forward it’s going to be America First,” he said, repeating another campaign-trail slogan. “America First.”

Democrats girded to form a resistance to Trump from the very start, as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) delivered a quasi-prebuttal to Trump’s inaugural from the same microphone. “Every day we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution—the rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the fredom of speech, press, religion. The things that make America America.”

At the stroke of noon, as Trump finished the oath of office, sworn with his hand on two Bibles—one from his childhood and one from Abraham Lincoln—Trump’s team took control of the federal government. Trump, fittingly, had kicked off Inauguration Day with an all-caps tweet, “THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES – THE WORK BEGINS!”

In his speech, Trump did not directly address constructing a wall along America’s southern border—the linchpin promise of his nationalist campaign—but he did say the days when America “defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own” were now over.

And he sought to define the border in terms of both immigration and the economy.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” Trump said. “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

Trump, who has record-low approval ratings for a new president, tied himself to some non-ideological and more broadly shared goals: “Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.”

But he also used some violent language that is unusual for such a national address. He cited “radical Islamic terrorism,” which he declared “we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.” And he said, “We all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”

After his speech, Trump retreated for the West front of the Capitol inside to formally sign the paperwork to nominate his Cabinet—which will be filled with more billionaires and multi-millionaires than any before it. But in his speech, Trump promised his government would be all about those struggling and left behind. “We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you the people,” Trump declared.

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Full text: 2017 Donald Trump inauguration speech transcript

President Donald Trump’s full inaugural address remarks.

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world, thank you. We the citizens of America are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes, starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment — it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today, and everyone watching, all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country, will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens a different reality exists. Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories, scattered like tombstones across the across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office, I take today, is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuddered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today our issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power, from this day forward: a new vision will govern our land, from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels, and railways, all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: buy American, and hire American. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and you unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same, great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love, will forever guide us along the way. Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again We will make America safe again, And yes, together, we will make we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless America. Thank you. God bless America.

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