The Daily 202: Democrats struggling to activate black voters in the Alabama Senate race

The Daily 202: Democrats struggling to activate black voters in the Alabama Senate race

THE BIG IDEA:

MONROEVILLE, Ala.—For Democrats to win a Senate race in a state as red as Alabama, which President Trump carried by 28 points last year, everything needs to break their way. Doug Jones must persuade significant numbers of Republicans to back him in next week’s special election over Roy Moore, but victory also requires a level of black turnout not seen since Barack Obama’s 2008 election. Even with so much working in his favor, that remains a very tall order.

Two dozen interviews with African Americans on Thursday in this rural town of 6,500 showed that Jones still has his work cut out for him. The conversations revealed deep distaste for Trump but also disillusionment with the political process.

Paulette Williams, 62, will vote for Jones, but she lamented that most people she knows are apathetic and predicted that he will not win. She said Republicans are going to pull the lever for Moore despite allegations of sexual misconduct against him, but too many Democrats can’t be bothered.

“People died to have the right to vote. Now that people have the privilege, they waste it,” said Williams, who retired after 33 years as a technical inspector at a pulp and paper mill. “People talk more about the Alabama-Auburn game than politics. Everything President Obama implemented, Trump is trying to reverse: civil rights, equal rights, helping the poor, all of it. But they’re more interested in Alabama versus Auburn than what’s going wrong in the country.”

Monroeville was Harper Lee’s hometown, and she used it as the model for Maycomb in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” her classic novel about racial injustice in the South during the Jim Crow era. Midway between the port in Mobile and the capital in Montgomery, the city is part of what’s known as the Black Belt. The region was originally named for its dark top soil but is now known for heavy concentrations of African Americans and persistent poverty. Turnout in this region historically lags the rest of the state.

African Americans account for 27 percent of Alabama’s population. Trump carried Monroe County last year with 57 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent. Reflecting deep polarization along racial lines, the county’s population is 55 percent white and 42 percent black. Each of the 10 whites I talked with here yesterday said they plan to vote for Moore.

The  Washington Post-Schar School poll, which gave Jones a narrow lead that is within the margin of error, found that he has the support of 93 percent of blacks and 33 percent of whites statewide. The open question, though, isn’t whether African Americans will support the Democrat. It’s whether they’ll go to the polls.

Charles Robbins Kidd, 77, said he thinks both Trump and Moore try to capitalize on racial division for political advantage, which makes him bearish on Jones’s odds. “He might win. I hope he wins. I’m going to vote for him. … But I know it’ll be hard,” said Kidd. “It’ll be so hard for Doug Jones to win because there are so many white folks against black folks. I don’t know why, but they are.”

Kidd operated a dye machine at a textile mill. But he quit to paint houses, he said, when he realized that he was getting paid less than white men for the same work. “I don’t know why white folks are so against black folks. Black folks never did anything but work hard,” said Kidd, who wore an elegant gray hat with a feather and has two gold front teeth. “They’re tough around here on black folks.”

Most of the folks I talked with in the Monroeville town square, directly across the street from the old courthouse described vividly in “Mockingbird,” said they are depressed about the direction of the country but feel powerless to do anything about it. For the first time in a long time, their votes could have a real impact on national politics. But they don’t see it that way.

John Dewayne Richardson is an unemployed construction worker with three kids. His dad drove him to the post office yesterday in a red pick-up truck so that he could check on his claim for jobless benefits. It got rejected, he complained, because his last employer didn’t fill out required paperwork. Richardson said he keeps hearing on TV that the economy is doing well. “But I haven’t seen a change,” he said. Now he’s thinking about moving out of state to find work.

The 35-year-old hasn’t paid close attention to the election but says he’d still like to vote next week. He believes George W. Bush stole the 2000 election with shenanigans in Florida, and he thinks Republicans will probably steal this election if Moore doesn’t get the most votes. “Do you get where I’m coming from?” he asked. “People don’t vote because they don’t feel their votes matter because nothing is going to change. What difference is it going to make?”

Jessica Nettles, 28, voted for the first time in 2008, so that she could support Obama, but she stayed home in 2012 because she felt he had been coopted by Wall Street. She didn’t vote in 2016 either because she did not see any meaningful difference between Trump and Clinton. If she had been forced to vote, she said, she would have written in Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t vote because I don’t feel like there’s a purpose,” she said on her lunch break. “I feel like Republicans and Democrats all work together. I just feel like it’s all one big set-up. … Nothing changes. It’s the same thing no matter who is in power. … All hope goes out the window when you realize what’s really going on. At the end of the day, the real players in this country are not going to let the people make changes.”

— Jones is working hard to galvanize the African American community in the final days. As a U.S. attorney, he successfully prosecuted two Ku Klux Klan members for their role in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls. For his closing argument, Jones has contrasted his work on that case with the allegations that Moore improperly pursued teenage girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. One woman has said she was 14 when Moore touched her sexually. “Men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not the United States Senate,” Jones, 63, said in a speech Tuesday. (Moore, now 70, has denied any wrongdoing.)

In mailers to black households, the Jones campaign has highlighted the allegations and suggested that an African American man would not be treated the same way if he was accused of similar sexual misconduct.

Without prompting, several black voters I interviewed praised Jones for going after the KKK. “I pray that we get some Christian people that just do what’s right and vote for Doug Jones,” said Edith Ruffin, 66, who recently retired from a plant in Monroeville that manufactures bras. “It’s not that I dislike the other candidate, but I like what he did for the little black girls in Birmingham. He got justice for them.”

There are other important contrasts between the candidates. An African American man asked Moore during a campaign event when he thought America was last “great.” “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another,” he said in September, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.”

Moore has twice been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to respect the judicial process. He once opposed removing segregationist language from the state constitution, he says Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, and he is a birther. Trump has now conceded, at least publicly, that Obama was a natural-born citizen, but Moore has continued to say – even after the 2016 election – that he still doesn’t think so.

Jones spoke last Friday in a black church to mark the anniversary of Rosa Parks’s 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Then he marched Saturday in Selma’s Christmas parade and visited nine predominantly African American churches in Tuscaloosa on Sunday. He’s held several rallies at historically black colleges, including Tuskegee University, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M. He’s been a regular guest on radio programs popular with African Americans.

This weekend, surrogates are mobilizing across the black belt and in urban areas like Birmingham to make the case for voting. Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) has been organizing a slate of Sunday campaign events that will feature Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.).

“Our campaign is running the largest, most active get-out-the-vote program Alabama has seen in a generation,” said Jones campaign spokesman Sebastian Kitchen.

— Why Jones still has a shot: Moore has routinely under-performed compared to other Republicans. As part of an excellent deep dive into the political geography of Alabama, our Darla Cameron, Dan Keating and Kim Soffen discovered that lots of Republicans are accustomed to not voting for him. Moore won his 2012 race for chief justice of the state Supreme Court by just four points, for example, on the same day Mitt Romney won by 22 points.

MORE ON AMERICA, DIVIDED:

— Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said they will skip celebrating the opening of a Mississippi civil rights museum this weekend because Trump plans to attend, saying the president’s “attendance and hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed” in the museum. “After careful consideration and conversations with church leaders, elected officials, civil rights activists, and many citizens of our congressional districts, we have decided not to attend or participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” the two said in a statement. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called their cancellations “unfortunate”: Trump “hopes others will join him in recognizing that the movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”

— Many black residents in the state say Trump’s presidency has revived troubles of the past. Marc Fisher reports: “Three miles from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, over rutted roads, past littered lots, abandoned houses, and shuttered plants and warehouses … [black residents] of this struggling capital city say that after nearly a year of the Trump presidency, they have a definitive answer to the question candidate Trump posed when he spoke at a rally in Jackson in August last year. ‘What do you have to lose?’ Trump asked, making a quixotic and ultimately failed bid for black votes to a nearly all-white crowd.” Now, their answers here are resounding:

  • “We’re losing a lot,” said auto shop owner Pete McElroy. “Losing Obamacare. Losing money. … Mostly, we’re losing respect. No way you can evade that. The way he speaks, the racists feel like they can say anything they want to us.”
  • “It’s getting worse, not better, not just for black Americans but for poor whites, too,” said taxi driver Burrell Brooks said. “You see the Confederate banner back up, the whole Confederate monuments thing. This country is going back to more segregation, and a museum makes people think that’s all history, that’s all fixed.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— The latest jobs report showed that the unemployment rate stayed at a strong 4.1 percent. U.S. employers added 228,000 jobs last month, slightly outpacing Wall Street’s expectations. But some of the industries producing the most jobs also offer some of the lowest wages. The home health aide industry, where workers are paid only $22,000 a year on average, will create an estimated 425,600 jobs by 2026. (Danielle Paquette)

— Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), one of the most socially conservative members of Congress, announced his resignation after asking two female staffers if they would bear his children as surrogates. Mike DeBonis reports: “Franks’s announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it would create a special subcommittee to investigate Franks for conduct ‘that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.’ His resignation, which Franks said is effective Jan. 31, will end the ethics investigation. Franks said in his statement that the investigation concerns his ‘discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.’ He denied ever having ‘physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.’” He added: “I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.”

— Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released a statement saying he asked Franks to resign.

— Britain and the E.U. reached an agreement on their divorce proceedings. Michael Birnbaum reports: “The bargain came as May compromised on the biggest challenges facing Britain during its split. A disagreement over borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland nearly derailed the deal this week. British factions have also tangled over the amount of money they will have to pay as they leave the [E.U.] as well as who will guarantee the rights of E.U. citizens after the divorce. On those issues and a host of others, Britain has been forced to capitulate to the European Union after saying earlier this year that it held the upper hand in the negotiations.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Wildfires continued to ravage Southern California for a fourth day, tearing across Ventura to San Diego at dizzying speeds leaving scenes of destruction in their wake. Meanwhile, new mandatory evacuations were ordered; major roadways were shut down, and authorities warned dangers could continue through the week’s end. “We are a long way from being out of this weather event,” the director of Cal Fire said. “In some cases, the worst could be yet to come.” (Scott Wilson, Mark Berman and Eli Rosenberg)
  2. Russia’s foreign minister claimed North Korea is prepared to open direct talks with the United States about their nuclear standoff. Sergei Lavrov said he passed the message on to Rex Tillerson when the two met this week in Vienna. (The Guardian)

  3. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparked violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, leaving at least 51 Palestinians injured as U.S. missions in the region braced for more conflict. The violence comes one day before Hamas is expected to hold a “day of rage.” (Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash)
  4. Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Trump would undergo a full physical early next year and release the results. The day before, Trump’s slurred speech during his Jerusalem announcement spurred concern and conspiracy theories about his health. (Philip Rucker)

  5. The former South Carolina police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Scott, a black man, was unarmed when officer Michael Slager pulled him over in a traffic stop in 2015. (Mark Berman)
  6. Two students were killed after a gunman opened fire at a high school in Aztec, N.M. Authorities have said little about the shooting, but confirmed the gunman is dead and that none of the school’s other 1,000 students were injured. (Moriah Balingit)
  7. Meanwhile, a new study found that a surge in gun sales following the Sandy Hook shooting — prompted by fears of stricter gun laws — caused a “significant” jump in accidental firearm deaths. Researchers estimate the 3 million firearms sold after the elementary school massacre caused 60 more accidental gun deaths than would not have occurred otherwise. One-third of the victims were children. (William Wan)
  8. Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen (D) officially launched his Senate campaign, offering his party a path (albeit an extremely narrow one) to the Senate majority next year. But some doubt his chances of victory given Tennessee’s increasingly Republican leanings since Bredesen last held office. (New York Times)
  9. Joe Arpaio is “seriously, seriously, seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate.” The former sheriff, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court and then pardoned by Trump, said he has been eyeing Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat. (The Daily Beast)

  10. Amazon has launched a new $250 door lock that connects to the Internet and allows its deliverers to drop off packages directly inside your home. But is it genius or just plain creepy? Reviews so far are mixed. (Geoffrey A. Fowler gave it a trial run.)
  11. A team of scientists have just discovered the oldest, most distant black hole known to man. It’s 13 billion light-years away, 800 million times more massive than the sun and could offer clues to the enigmatic early years of the universe. (Sarah Kaplan)
  12. And speaking of discoveries: A record-setting, 17-foot Burmese python was killed last week in the Florida Everglades. The terrifying creature boasted rows of razor-sharp teeth, weighed in at more than 130 pounds and was roughly the size of three human adults. (Lindsey Bever)

MEN BEHAVING BADLY:

— Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced he will resign from the Senate in the “coming weeks,” yielding to pressure from his Democratic colleagues after multiple women accused him of inappropriate touching. Franken has continued to deny the allegations. Ed O’Keefe, Elise Viebeck and Karen Tumulty report: “The former rising Democratic star used his resignation speech to take aim at [Trump and Moore], who have not been forced aside despite facing arguably more serious allegations of sexual misconduct. ‘There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,’ Franken said in a speech on the Senate floor. … Franken called the reckoning an ‘important moment’ that is ‘long overdue,’ but he denied engaging in behavior that disrespected or took advantage of women. ‘I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am,’ he said. ‘I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution.’”

— Some of Franken’s accusers were not satisfied with his remarks. “His speech was about his experience, his grief, his embarrassment and his pain and had nothing to do with the female experience of what he did against his accusers,” said Tina Dupuy, a former Democratic Hill staffer who accused Franken of groping her in 2009. “It was a very un-empathetic speech to the women who told him and the public that it was not okay. There was no apology.” (Kimberly Kindy)

— “Franken’s departure [comes at an] inflection point for Democrats,” Karen Tumulty writes in a smart analysis. “Shut out of power completely, they are looking for a way out of the wilderness. Toward that end, getting rid of Franken was both a moral and political calculation. It was the Democrats’ strongest declaration yet that they — unlike the Republicans — are willing to sacrifice their own in the interest of staking out the high ground. … On the other hand, Trump’s reaction to allegations against him has been to brand as liars the women who have made them. It worked, as evidenced by the outcome of the election. In Alabama, Moore has taken the same approach.”

Avi Selk explains how Franken’s Senate career began with a controversy in which he was accused of misogyny: “[I]n late May of [2008] — less than two weeks before a state convention in which he hoped Minnesota Democrats would choose him as their Senate nominee — Republicans began publicizing an article he had written for Playboy magazine in 2000. It was called ‘Porn-O-Rama!’ — a sci-fi story in which Franken visited a fictional university to have sex with a doctor in some sort of virtual reality machine. The doctor was an ‘extremely attractive blonde’ with ‘legs that won’t quit and firm but ample breasts,’ he wrote. ‘She seemed to be coming on to me.’ … As the state convention approached, more and more women demanded that he apologize — and not only Republicans.” Franken finally did apologize, but he wrote years later that he never actually felt sorry for having written the article.

— The Minnesota senator found some unlikely defenders on Fox News, where Newt Gingrich described the Democratic push for Franken to resign as a “lynch mob.” Callum Borchers writes: “The former House speaker argued that Democrats’ mind-set is, ‘Let’s just lynch him because when we are done, we will be so pure.’ Gingrich’s point about purity is at the center of Fox News’s commentary on Franken. The contention is that Democrats are not acting nobly but are merely trying to claim the moral high ground on the issue of sexual misconduct so that they will have standing to denounce Republicans such as Roy Moore and President Trump, who face accusations of their own.”

  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Franken “didn’t have to resign.” “There’s no due process for Franken,” Cassidy said. “[Franken] decided to accept being drummed out. … I’m not defending him. You just can’t help but observe what I’m saying is true.” Cassidy added, in the case of Moore, “I, among others, have withdrawn my endorsement for Mr. Moore. … But it’s up to him to decide whether or not to accept that.”

— Senators are stepping up their scrutiny of sexual harassment complaints and taxpayer-funded settlements. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Thursday joined two Senate committees in seeking records of complaints and settlements from the Office of Compliance, which carries out the required counseling and mediation process for legislative employees filing workplace claims. Kaine said he would publicly release any data he receives. In the past week, the House started releasing limited data on claims and settlements, without identifying any accusers or the lawmakers said to be involved. Even less is known about the number of workplace complaints involving Senate offices and how much public money was used to resolve them[.] … It’s unclear whether the Office of Compliance will provide any information in response to Kaine’s request.”

— The House Ethics Committee formed a subcommittee to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations against Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.). Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “The committee initially launched an investigation into Farenthold in September 2015, but it was ‘significantly delayed’ because the committee could not get ‘key witnesses other than Representative Farenthold’ to testify, according to the committee’s statement. His former communications director, Lauren Greene, in 2014 accused Farenthold of making sexually charged comments designed to gauge whether she was interested in a sexual relationship. … The House Ethics Committee has requested Greene to cooperate with the investigation and appear before the panel. Prior to coming forward, Greene had declined, wanting to move on from the matter. But she has now agreed to cooperate with the investigation[.]”

— Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) called on Farenthold to resign, becoming one of the first House Republicans to do so. “I don’t think he thinks he’s done anything wrong, but the fact is, someone was paid off,” Love said. “Where he may not feel like his behavior was inappropriate, obviously somebody did. Obviously people felt uncomfortable.” (CNN)

— Former congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) was fired by Morgan Stanley following an HR investigation into accusations of misconduct. One woman who was interviewed as part of the HR probe separately told HuffPost that Ford harassed her and “forcibly grabbed” her during an event in Manhattan several years ago, leading her to seek aid from a building security guard.

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— A top Russian social media company made several overtures to Trump’s campaign in 2016, urging it to create a page on the website as an effort to appeal to Russian-Americans. Rosalind S. Helderman, Anton Troianovski and Tom Hamburger report: “The executive at Vkontakte, or VK, Russia’s equivalent to Facebook, emailed Donald Trump Jr. and social media director Dan Scavino in January and again in November of last year, offering to help promote Trump’s campaign to its nearly 100 million users[.] … ‘It will be the top news in Russia,’ Konstantin Sidorkov, who serves as VK’s director of partnership marketing, wrote on Nov. 5, 2016. While Scavino expressed interest in learning more at one point, it is unclear whether the campaign pursued the idea. An attorney for Trump Jr. said his client forwarded a pitch about the concept to Scavino early in the year and could not recall any further discussion about it.” 

— The overture with VK was brokered by British music producer Rob Goldstone, who also helped arrange the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. Goldstone is slated to meet with both the Senate and House intelligence panels for closed-door meetings as early as next week. (CNN)

— The emails also show Goldstone sent follow-up messages after the meeting with Don Jr. at Trump Tower. Don Jr. had previously denied there was any follow-up to the meeting. CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report: The emails “were discovered by congressional investigators and raised at Wednesday’s classified hearing with Trump Jr., who said he could not recall the interactions, several sources said. None of the newly disclosed emails were sent directly to Trump Jr. They are bound to be a subject during Goldstone’s closed-door meetings with the House and Senate intelligence panels[.] … In one email dated June 14, 2016, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on Russia’s hacking of DNC emails to his client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting along with Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Manafort, describing the news as ‘eerily weird’ given what they had discussed at Trump Tower five days earlier.”

— During a House hearing, Republicans repeatedly accused the FBI of harboring anti-Trump bias. Devlin Barrett and Ellen Nakashima report: “[FBI Director Christopher] Wray spent the morning being grilled at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee about how FBI personnel — particularly a senior counterintelligence agent now the subject of an internal ethics investigation — handled sensitive probes of Trump and his former political rival, Hillary Clinton. … Republicans at the hearing said Wray needed to prove to them that the FBI was proceeding without picking political favorites. … In a remarkable moment, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) read aloud from a list of FBI officials, asking Wray after each name whether that person had shown political bias in their work. After every name, Wray vouched for the person’s character, though he acknowledged he did not know everyone Gohmert named.”

— Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee ended its investigation of Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), clearing him of any wrongdoing and potentially allowing him to retake control of his committee’s Russia probe. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The Ethics Committee said Thursday that ‘classification experts in the intelligence community’ determined that when Nunes suggested to the press in March that Trump transition-team members’ identities may have been improperly revealed in foreign surveillance reports, he was not disclosing classified information. … Nunes welcomed the news but criticized the committee in a statement for taking eight months to clear him of allegations that he argued ‘were obviously frivolous and were rooted in politically motivated complaints filed against me by left-wing activist groups.’” He would not say whether he intended to resume his full duties as chairman of the panel’s Russia investigation.

— Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is calling for tighter restrictions on “unmasking” Americans in intelligence reports, a practice criticized by Trump and his allies after campaign officials – including Michael Flynn – were unmasked by Obama administration officials. Reuters’s Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay report: “In a Nov. 30 letter sent to [Devin Nunes] and other top lawmakers, [Coats] said the new unmasking policy is due by Jan. 15. … Coats wrote that the new policy will reinforce existing procedures that ‘make clear that IC (intelligence community) elements may not engage in political activity, including dissemination of U.S. person identities to the White House, for the purpose of affecting the political process of the United States.’”

— Paul Manafort’s attorneys acknowledged his role in editing an op-ed for a Ukrainian newspaper but sidestepped the question of whether he drafted it with an associate known to have Kremlin ties. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Manafort’s defense argued in a court filing to a federal judge in Washington that Manafort’s work on the op-ed piece for an English-language newspaper in Kiev defending himself did not violate a court gag order because it would not likely bias potential jurors in any U.S. trial.”

— Opinions on the Russia investigation are deeply divided along party lines, a new Pew Research Center poll finds. Pew reports: “While just 30% of Americans think senior Trump officials definitely had improper contacts with Russia during the campaign, a majority (59%) thinks such contacts definitely or probably occurred; 30% think they definitely or probably did not happen. In views of Mueller’s investigation, 56% are very or somewhat confident he will conduct the probe fairly.

The divide: “Only about a quarter of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (26%) say Trump officials definitely or probably had improper contacts with Russia during the campaign; 82% of Democrats and Democratic leaners think there were improper contacts – with 49% saying they definitely took place. About two-thirds of Democrats (68%) and 44% Republicans say they are at least somewhat confident Mueller’s investigation will be conducted fairly.”

— But a reporter for McClatchy pointed this out about the poll:

SHUTDOWN AVERTED . . . FOR NOW:

— Congress passed a short-term spending deal — temporarily staving off a government shutdown even as lawmakers are bracing for a more heated fight in the weeks ahead. Mike DeBonis reports: “Trump has indicated that he will sign the deal, preventing a government stoppage that had been set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The deal does not resolve numerous debates over domestic spending, immigration and funding for the military that brought the government to the brink of partial closure, leaving party leaders with a new Dec. 22 deadline to keep the government open. … [Earlier Thursday] congressional leaders of both parties went to the White House [to] begin talks with Trump on a long-term spending pact. But there are clear obstacles to any deal.”

  • Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows warned that any long-term deal risked Republican revolt. “It takes two bodies to put something into law, and the president’s agreement to a caps deal does not mean that it is fiscally the best thing for the country,” Meadows said. “I want to avoid a headline that says [Trump’s] administration just passed the highest spending levels in U.S. history.”
  • Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) laid out a list of Democratic demands, including funding for veterans and the opioid crisis, and a bill to grant permanent legal status for “dreamers.” She sent mixed signals on how far Democrats would go to secure their priorities, arguing “Democrats are not willing to shut government down” but they “will not leave” Washington for the holidays without a “dreamers” fix.

TRUMP’S AGENDA:

— The Justice Department is reportedly moving toward an investigation of Planned Parenthood. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “The head of Justice’s office of legislative affairs has sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for documents from its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices. The Daily Beast reviewed the letter, which says the requested documents are ‘for investigative use.’ … The Justice Department’s request refers to a report that the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans released last December, called ‘Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy.’ That report discusses how biomedical research corporations contracted with Planned Parenthood affiliates for fetal tissue. … It called for the Justice Department to investigate the matter. At the time, Planned Parenthood said [the] report did not demonstrate any wrongdoing.”

— Only 21 of the country’s 34 Republican governors signed a letter calling on Congress to pass tax cuts. John Wagner reports: Of the 13 GOP governors who didn’t sign on, “[a]t least a handful object on policy grounds to parts of the legislation, while others appear to be sensitive to home-state politics — or some combination of both. Several, for instance, preside over traditionally Democratic states, where the Republican tax legislation is particularly unpopular and where many residents could take a hit from provisions that curb the current practice of allowing state and local taxes to be deducted on federal filings.”

— BuzzFeed News published Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s pitch to the administration on privatizing the war in Afghanistan. BuzzFeed’s Aram Roston reports: “One surprising element is the commercial promise Prince envisions: that the US will get access to Afghanistan’s rich deposits of minerals such as lithium, used in batteries; uranium; magnesite; and ‘rare earth elements,’ critical metals used in high technology from defense to electronics. One slide estimates the value of mineral deposits in Helmand province alone at $1 trillion. … The presentation makes it plain that Prince intends to fund the effort through these rich deposits. His plan, one slide says, is ‘a strategic mineral resource extraction funded effort that breaks the negative security economic cycle.’ The slides also say that mining could provide jobs to Afghans.”

— Former Census officials and statisticians are airing concerns over Trump’s reported pick to serve as deputy director of the bureau. Tara Bahrampour writes: “Reports had surfaced saying the White House planned to install as the bureau’s deputy director Thomas Brunell, a political science professor with scant managerial experience who is best known for his testimony as an expert witness on behalf of Republican redistricting plans and a book that argues against competitive electoral districts. … The appointment would ‘undermine the credibility’ of the traditionally nonpartisan bureau, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement. Brunell ‘appears to lack the necessary management and statistical agency experience, and may be viewed by many to have a very political perspective,’ the president of the American Statistical Association wrote.”

LIFE IN TRUMP’S WASHINGTON:

— Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 on government helicopters to attend D.C. events this summer to accommodate a congressional swearing-in ceremony and a horseback ride with Mike Pence, according to travel logs. Politico’s Ben Lefebvre reports: “In a case detailed in the new documents, Zinke ordered a U.S. Park Police helicopter to take him and his [chief of staff] to an emergency management exercise in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, on June 21. Zinke’s staff justified the $8,000 flight by saying official business would prevent him leaving Washington before 2 p.m. … The event that prevented Zinke from leaving before 2 p.m. was the swearing-in ceremony for Rep. Greg Gianforte [R-Mont.] … Zinke also ordered a Park Police helicopter to fly him and another Interior official to and from Yorktown, Virginia, on July 7 in order to be back in Washington in time for a 4 p.m. horseback ride with Pence. The trip cost about $6,250, according to the documents.”

Josh Dawsey has an inside look at a $100,000-per-person Trump fundraiser in New York last weekend: “When Trump returned to his home city, he zipped up Park Avenue to huddle with a number of former business associates and friends at the triplex of Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman. About two dozen of them paid $100,000 each to hear Trump talk for about 20 minutes — or about $5,000 a minute. … Trump seemed, several people familiar with the event said, in his element. Many of the donors praised his performance in office, and he soaked in the adulation.”

The best anecdote from the event: “The president told the donors — which included gas magnate John Hess, billionaire Richard Lauder, sugar magnate Pepe Fanjul and casino executive Steve Wynn — all about his tax plan and how it would help the middle class. The crowd was filled with hedge fund managers and other titans that will see their taxes cut. It was ‘a little ironic,’ one person with direct knowledge of the event said.”

— But, but, but: Attendees attempted to convince Trump to make last-minute changes to the tax bill to benefit New York. Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey report: “At the fundraiser, [real estate magnate Richard] LeFrak asked Trump about changes in the tax bill that could help wealthier New Yorkers, people familiar with the exchange said. At least one other donor jumped in to echo the concerns, the people said. In response, Trump told the group he was aware of the concerns among his old friends and business associates — and that he understood them. ‘The president was a little vague in his response on that,’ an attendee at the fundraiser said, saying Trump said, ‘Well, we’ve got to see what happens. Maybe there are ways to try to be helpful.’

— Democratic lawmakers were excluded from the White House Hanukkah reception, breaking with a tradition of bipartisanship. Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Katie Rogers report: “He also did not invite Reform Jewish leaders who have been critical of him or progressive Jewish activists who have differed with him publicly on policy issues. The move injected a partisan tinge into a normally bipartisan celebration at the White House, where on Thursday Mr. Trump spoke to a crowd standing amid Christmas trees.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Obama’s former chief strategist lamented Franken’s resignation:

From Vox’s editorial director:

From a Post reporter:

The editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight made this suggestion:

From an NPR reporter:

From Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

From former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin:

Rep. Trent Franks’s resignation sparked shock, criticism and a few jokes. From a Post correspondent:

From the Nevada Independent’s editor:

From a Post opinions editor:

From a writer for Media Matters:

A HuffPost reporter parodied Franks’s statement on his resignation:

Hillary Clinton encouraged her supporters to channel their frustrations with politics into the CHIP fight:

A Time columnist shared this photo of the California wildfires:

A reporter for The Fix noticed these errors:

A Post reporter mocked the White House response to John Lewis’s decision not to attend the civil rights museum opening:

A writer for Tablet magazine pointed out this about the White House’s Hanukkah reception:

Here’s the Trump tweet in question:

The Pences mourned the loss of a family pet:

And Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) shared this very 90s throwback from the recently demolished Silverdome:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Politico Magazine, “Kirsten Gillibrand’s Moment Has Arrived,” by David Freedlander: “The 51-year-old Gillibrand has come to represent a rising generation of Democratic leaders, one who came of age in an era when equality of the sexes was something almost taken for granted. And the buzz about her presidential ambitions has only grown. For years, the issues that Gillibrand has made her name on—aid for 9/11 workers, ending ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ in the military, transgender rights—were important but distinct, touching on segments of American life that most people never interact with. And now, at a moment when the cover has been ripped off toxic workplaces from Hollywood to Wall Street, Gillibrand is finding that the rest of the world has caught up with her crusades.”

— AP, “Trust no one: Scholar risked all to document Islamic State,” by Lori Hinnant and Maggie Michael: “The weight of months and years of anonymity were crushing him. … He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger. [But as ISIS] turned the city he loved into a fundamentalist bastion, he decided he would show the world how the extremists had distorted its true nature, how they were trying to rewrite the past and forge a brutal Sunni-only future for a city that had once welcomed many faiths. … He called himself Mosul Eye [and] made a promise to himself in those first few days: Trust no one, document everything. And now, he was running for his life.”

— The New York Times, “James O’Keefe, Practitioner of the Sting, Has an Ally in Trump,” by Kenneth P. Vogel: “[T]hese should be good times for Mr. O’Keefe. He has an ally in the Oval Office who shares his views. The nonprofit group he started in 2010, Project Veritas, and an affiliated political arm called Project Veritas Action Fund have raised nearly $16 million, according to tax filings, and last year the group paid him $317,000. After years of criticism from across the political spectrum — including from a conservative establishment that has viewed him with suspicion — Mr. O’Keefe would seem well positioned to be more broadly embraced by the right, and feared by the left. Yet Mr. O’Keefe cannot seem to get out of his own way.”

— The New Yorker, “Why Russia Will See Its Olympic Ban as a Declaration of War,” by Masha Gessen: “Since resuming the duties of President for the third time … [Putin] has restored many of the habits and cultural institutions of Soviet society. The lived experience of a Russian citizen is that of the subject of a totalitarian society, one in which everything is political: genuinely private space shrinks into nonexistence. In this disposition, the choice that the I.O.C. has posed to the athletes is one between self and country. Kremlin shills have already started bandying about the word ‘treason.’ The word suggests that Russia is at war with the world, and that is exactly how it sees itself: a country under attack, surrounded by hostile forces. This pervading sense of life in a fortress under siege is what makes today’s Russia, for all its visible superficial differences, so fundamentally similar to the Soviet Union.”

— The New York Times, “The Adopted Black Baby, and the White One Who Replaced Her,” by John Eligon: “It was around 1970 in Deerfield, Ill., and Ms. Sandberg told her youngest child a closely guarded secret about a choice the family had made, one fueled by the racial tensions of the era, that sent a black girl and the white girl that took her place on diverging paths. Decades later, the journeys of the two women tell a nuanced story of race in America, one that complicates easy assumptions about white privilege and black hardship. Lives take unexpected twists and turns, this family story suggests, no matter the race of those involved. And years later, it is not easy to figure out the role of race when looking for lessons learned.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“The odd episode of Sam Seder’s firing — and rehiring — by MSNBC,” from Paul Farhi: “First, MSNBC fired a left-wing commentator over an eight-year-old tweet the pundit said was a joke but which a far-right activist said showed insensitivity about rape. Then a small ruckus ensued: Over the firing. Over the tweet. Over MSNBC’s caving to the right-wing guy’s complaint about the tweet. On Thursday, the saga took another sharp turn: MSNBC reversed itself and hired back the lefty guy, Sam Seder, whom it had dismissed earlier in the week amid a pressure campaign from conservative conspiracy theorist and gadfly Mike Cernovich.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Lindsey Vonn: I won’t be representing US President at Winter Olympics,” from CNN: “Targeting Olympic gold at February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Vonn is in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where she spoke passionately about what it means to compete for the US ski team. ‘Well I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,’ Vonn told CNN’s Alpine Edge. … And Vonn revealed she wouldn’t accept an invitation to the White House if she were to win gold at Pyeongchang. ‘Absolutely not,’ said Vonn. ‘No. But I have to win to be invited. No actually I think every US team member is invited so no I won’t go.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a lunch with Pence and a meeting with Jim Mattis. He will then leave for his rally in Pensacola, Fla., after which he’s flying to West Palm Beach.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

While recognizing the heroic actions veteran George Blake took during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Trump said, “Thank you, George. It was a pretty wild scene. You’ll never forget that, right?”

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— D.C. will see cloudy skies and temperatures in the 40s today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It’s more cloudy than not, with high temperatures staying muted and chilly. We may be stuck around 40 to as high as the mid-40s if we’re lucky. Other than a stray flake or two, we should remain dry[.]”

— The Wizards beat the Suns 109-99. (Candace Buckner)

— National GOP leadership is searching for another Republican to run against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) next year, dreading the idea of supporting a Corey Stewart bid. Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella report: “Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently summoned former governor James S. Gilmore III to Washington to ask him to run, while Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) met with Del. Nick Freitas (Culpeper) to advise him on a likely campaign. Stewart dismissed national Republicans working against him as ‘Mitch McConnell’s bozos.”

— Virginia Democrats filed an amended complaint in federal court to seek a new election for a House of Delegates race affected by voter assignment errors. Laura Vozzella reports: “Republican Robert Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes on Nov. 7 in [the] contest[.] … But the outcome, which could affect which party leads the chamber, is in dispute because of errors that led 147 voters to cast ballots in the wrong race.”

— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) proposed legislation to allow virtually D.C. student to use public funds to cover private school tuition. Parents who opt out of public schools for their children would be given money directly to use on private schools or even home-schooling costs. Similar bills introduced last year didn’t receive hearing; the measure is unlikely to pass this year either. (Moriah Balingit)

— The New York restaurant Sushi Nakazawa, which is preparing to open a second location in Trump’s D.C. hotel, was accused of wage theft in a class-action lawsuit. (Maura Judkis)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Seth Meyers tackled Al Franken’s resignation:

Stephen Colbert made fun of Donald Trump Jr. following his testimony on Capitol Hill:

Jeff Sessions argued with Justice Department interns during an event this summer, according to newly obtained footage:

A CNN reporter found this old video of Roy Moore:

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who lost the GOP primary to Moore, delivered his farewell address in the Senate:

And this moment gave Californians hope amid the wildfires:

Click to Read more news from the respected source

The Daily 202: Peter Navarro gets his 15 minutes of fame as the salesman for the Trump tariffs

The Daily 202: Peter Navarro gets his 15 minutes of fame as the salesman for the Trump tariffs

THE BIG IDEA: After being marginalized inside the White House over the past year, Peter K. Navarro has been taking a public victory lap to celebrate his success at persuading President Trump to announce tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

As rivals in the West Wing maneuver to defuse a looming trade war, thus far to no avail, Trump’s most protectionist adviser is celebrating what he sees as his greatest achievement.

Navarro, the director of the White House’s Trade and Manufacturing Policy office, has become ubiquitous on television since last Thursday, in appearances that have been at turns triumphal and testy. His outspoken bluntness has quickly turned him into one of the biggest lightning rods in Washington.

Navarro, 68, is a professor emeritus at the University of California at Irvine business school. After getting sidelined and effectively demoted by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly last fall, many advisers might have looked for other jobs. But Navarro had nowhere else he wanted to go. So he stuck it out. Now he’s back in the room where it happens.

Conservative economists, business executives and Republican elites who support free trade hate him for that, and they now speak of Navarro like he is a bogeyman.

In a signal of just how much juice Navarro now has, several GOP leaders on Capitol Hill attacked him by name yesterday. “[Trump] has got a few days to think this through. And I think he will. But I totally disagreed with that one staffer down there who is, in my opinion, misleading the president,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee, told reporters. “Navarro should know better.”

For conservatives who have embraced Trump, it’s politically safer to blame Navarro than Trump for the tariffs they hate. They risk less backlash from the president that way. These tariffs are  completely consistent with everything Trump said on the campaign trail, but many Republicans who know better have been pretending the last few days as if this is something the president just dreamed up after talking to Navarro.

In that way, Navarro is now playing the role on trade that Stephen Miller did on immigration: the hardliner who is seen by outsiders as enabling and egging on Trump’s most nativist and nationalistic instincts. Miller took much of the blame last month when Trump decided to torpedo a bipartisan compromise that could have saved the “dreamers” and secured funding for a border wall because it didn’t reduce the levels of legal immigration.

Guests on CNBC speculate in alarmed tones about Navarro’s influence over Trump and what it might mean for the stock market.

Canada’s most widely-read newspaper, the Globe and Mail, called Navarro “Ottawa’s worst nightmare”: “In the stiff-headed Navarro world view, free-trade talk is globaloney. Canadian officials have long shuddered at the nativist creed of the wiry and abrasive 68-year-old. And with good reason.”

Stateside, prominent economic voices on the right suggest that he may be up to something even more sinister. “Navarro may well want to undermine the entire global trading system — including the World Trade Organization and global supply chains — that has led to postwar peace and prosperity, and brought hundreds of millions of our fellow humans out of deep poverty,” writes James Pethokoukis, an economic policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. “They are nationalists who may be willing to tolerate a poorer, more insular America in the name of greater sovereignty and less economic disruption.”

“It’s easy to cry ‘MAGA!’ and let slip the dogs of trade war; much harder to put them back into the kennel before a lot of people get mauled,” conservative columnist Max Boot writes in today’s newspaper.

Others have been even harsher. From the former Republican congressman who now co-hosts “Morning Joe”: 

Just as he’s become a villain in the eyes of the establishment, Navarro has also earned hero status among some of the president’s core loyalists. Breitbart News has portrayed him as a heroic figure who is helping Trump keep his promises. Appearing on Breitbart’s satellite radio show over the weekend, Navarro attacked the “hair on fire” reaction to the tariffs as the “biggest bunch of horse-puckey that you can imagine.”

“We can’t really have a country without a solid steel industry and without a solid aluminum industry, and right now, those industries are under siege,” Navarro told Breitbart.

— Senior White House aides like Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council and the former president of Goldman Sachs, have not given up trying to convince the president to reconsider, even as their colleagues labor over the legal work needed to implement the import taxes. “White House officials still have not decided precisely how the tariffs will be applied,” David Lynch, Erica Werner and Damian Paletta report. “There is still a debate over whether Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom should be exempt from the measures, with some aides arguing that these long-time U.S. allies do not pose a national security risk.”

Trump hasn’t been swayed by these counterarguments – at least not yet. “No, we’re not backing down,” he told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, adding that the U.S. has been “ripped off by virtually every country in the world.”

While other advisers are trying to get Trump to change his mind, it’s seemed at times like Navarro is trying to box him in with various public comments that present the decisions as essentially finalized. He said on Sunday that Trump won’t exclude even close allies from the levies. “As soon as he starts exempting countries, he has to raise the tariff on everybody else,” Navarro said on Fox News. “As soon as he exempts one country, his phone starts ringing from the heads of state of other countries.”

But there are signs the persuasion campaign will persist until the final details are unveiled. Cohn has summoned executives from top American companies that depend on aluminum and steel to meet with Trump at the White House on Thursday. Bloomberg reports that representatives will attend from beverage-can manufacturers, automakers and the oil industry. “Trump advisers who favor the tariffs want him to sign the paperwork while in Pennsylvania steel country on Saturday, but the signing location has not yet been decided,” per Jennifer Jacobs, Margaret Talev and Justin Sink.

Republicans leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan are also pushing the president to reconsider and even floating legislative action to block the tariffs. “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

— Navarro’s reemergence is a testament to the value of longevity and staying power in Trump’s orbit. The survivors who can stick it out long enough often wind up near the top of the pile. During the chaotic first few weeks of the administration, Navarro was often seen at Trump’s side. He stood behind the president as he signed the executive orders withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and blocking federal funds for groups that provide abortions. But he was marginalized over time as the globalists, corporatists and more traditional conservatives in the West Wing found their footing and worked together to sideline him.

Navarro suffered several public humiliations last fall when Kelly reorganized the White House economics team to place him under Cohn. “Mr. Navarro was required to copy Mr. Cohn, his new superior, on all emails. He was absent from some high-level strategy meetings on trade, as well as the president’s trip to China,” the New York Times’s Ana Swanson reported.

Trump decided three weeks ago to reverse these moves. “On Feb. 12, Trump called Navarro into the Oval Office and asked him why his administration’s trade policy wasn’t more aggressive,” Josh Rogin reported last Tuesday. “Trump told Navarro that this was the year he wants to move the trade policy forward. He then called in Kelly and told him to move Navarro and his office out of the NEC and restore the office’s independence.”

As staff secretary, insiders say Rob Porter controlled the paper flow and limited how much of Navarro’s work got through to the Oval Office. His departure last month, after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic violence, removed that barrier. (Porter denies wrongdoing.)

Navarro is now in the process of being formally promoted from “deputy assistant” to “assistant to the president,” which will put him at the same rank as Cohn. A White House spokeswoman on economic issues did not respond to questions about Navarro’s role.

Navarro clearly relishes his rising star and didn’t mind taking a little poke at his rival on CNN. “Gary and I basically have very differing opinions,” Navarro said Sunday. “The president loves that. He wants to hear all sides of the argument. So he’s a valued member of the team. And it’s up to Gary whether he goes or stays.”

— Several of Navarro’s TV appearances have become contentious, and he’s appeared to enjoy mixing it up with his interlocutors. On Sunday, Navarro criticized the media for saying the president was launching a trade war. “I think what we need to do here is keep the rhetoric down,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about threats of retaliation. “It would be helpful if the media didn’t have all these crazy headlines about trade wars.”

Host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

“The talk of trade wars is not an invention of the media,” said Wallace.

“You guys are fanning flames here,” Navarro said.

“I’m fanning the flames?” Wallace replied. “I didn’t write the presidential tweet!”

Navarro then argued that “downstream effects” of these tariffs will be “insignificant.

“Navarro has earned a reputation for stalking the halls of the West Wing at night and on the weekends to find a moment to slip into the Oval Office to privately discuss trade with the president,” Politico reported last summer. “White House aides said Navarro has clashed with most of Trump’s senior staff at one time or another. Though he is often philosophically aligned with [Steve] Bannon … aides said they have sometimes groused about his no-holds-barred tactics, which one aide compared to ‘guerilla warfare.’”

When Wallace asked if he used “guerilla warfare” to push through the tariffs, Navarro shot back: “I would say that sitting here on a Sunday with you, that’s a bit of a cheap shot, that there’s no facts and evidence to support that,” he said.

Navarro has had other testy interviews on Trump’s favorite cable channel. On Friday, he was asked for reaction to the Wall Street Journal editorial board calling the tariffs “the biggest policy blunder of [Trump’s] presidency.”

“We will take the heat,” he said, adding that the economy is booming.

When anchor Sandra Smith pressed him, he replied: “Do you want to push back, or are you just going to read that editorial? … Let me ask you a question. If you put a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, how much do you think that increase will impact a six pack of beer?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “You tell me.”

“One cent!” Navarro replied.

Smith asked why the auto manufacturers are so strongly against the tariffs if the impacts will be so minimal on their costs. “Look, they don’t like this,” Navarro said. “Of course they don’t. What do they do? They spin. They put out fake news. They put all this hyperbole out.”

— One reason Navarro might enjoy being on TV is that most of his peers in the economics field do not take him seriously. “Navarro’s views on trade and China are so radical … that, even with his assistance, I was unable to find another economist who fully agrees with them,” the New Yorker’s Adam Davidson wrote in a 2016 profile.

Former Ronald Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer, of Laffer Curve fame, said on Fox Business yesterday afternoon he hopes Trump doesn’t mean what he says and is only talking tough to extract concessions in negotiations. Asked for reaction to Navarro’s insistence on the network earlier in the day that tariffs are good for American workers, Laffer replied firmly: “I don’t agree with him on that.”

— Navarro wound up in this spot partly because of serendipity. “At one point during the campaign, when Trump wanted to speak more substantively about China, he gave [Jared] Kushner a summary of his views and then asked him to do some research,” Washington Post reporter Sarah Ellison wrote for Vanity Fair last year. “Kushner simply went on Amazon, where he was struck by the title of one book, ‘Death by China,’ co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro … who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser. (When he joined, Navarro was in fact the campaign’s only economic adviser.)”

The book was turned into a movie the following year. “The best jobs program is trade reform with China,” Navarro says in the film, which was narrated by Martin Sheen (aka President Josiah Bartlet).

It is one of more than a dozen books Navarro has published. Another, from 2001, was titled: “If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks: The Investor’s Guide to Profiting From News and Other Market-Moving Events.”

— “Navarro got his start in politics at the local level — as a Democrat,” Steven Mufson wrote in a great profile last year. “He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of San Diego in 1992, city council in 1993, county supervisor in 1994 and Congress in 1996. … His opponent [in the mayor’s race], Susan Golding, launched three negative ads and he responded with an ad attacking Golding, whose ex-husband was convicted of laundering illegal drug money. Ahead in the polls going into the last weekend of the race, Navarro attacked her again in a televised debate. In tears, she called the attacks on her family unfair; Navarro accused her of rehearsing the response and came off as dismissive. He lost. Years later, he wrote that he still thought about ‘the one that got away.’

“‘He was almost the mayor,’ said Larry Remer, a political consultant who worked on three of Navarro’s campaigns after that one. ‘He flubbed it, is what really happened.’ Remer said … what undid Navarro as a candidate was his personality. ‘He would just burn through volunteers,’ Remer said. ‘He’s not quite as prickly as Trump, but he has the same ego issues.’

“In 1996, Navarro took on then-U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), hoping that the backlash to the Newt Gingrich revolution would sweep a Democrat into the House. … Discouraged, divorced and in debt, he moved on.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— North Korea is willing to sit down with the United States to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons, according to South Korean envoys who met with Kim Jong Un. Brian Murphy reports: “There was no immediate word from Washington on the prospects for such outreach with the North. But the offer, apparently endorsed by Kim himself, would mark a significant turnabout after years of nuclear tests and advances in missile technology that apparently puts the U.S. mainland within range. … The North would also agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests during the possible talks with the United States[.]”

— Kim made the remarks while hosting landmark meetings between the two Koreas. Anna Fifield reports: “[Moon] dispatched a delegation led by Chung Eui-yong, his national security adviser, and including Suh Hoon, chief of the South’s National Intelligence Service. Chung, who speaks fluent English and regularly talks to his American counterpart, H.R. McMaster, was specifically chosen to lead the delegation because he would be viewed in Washington as a credible and trustworthy messenger … After returning to Seoul on Tuesday and briefing the president, Chung will immediately travel to Washington to tell Trump administration officials about the meeting.”

— Hours after vowing to refuse Robert Mueller’s grand jury subpoena order in a string of surreal media interviews, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg appeared to back off his defiant stance. He told the Associated Press and a handful of other reporters late Monday night that he’s likely “going to end up cooperating” with the special counsel.

From a writer for the Atlantic:

— But Nunberg spent most of the afternoon telling every journalist he could that he would not comply with Mueller’s subpoena. Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report: “’Let him arrest me,’ Nunberg told The Washington Post[.] ‘Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday.’ He also shared [a] copy of what appears to be a two-page attachment to his grand jury subpoena seeking documents related to Trump and nine other [current and former aides], including emails, correspondence, invoices, telephone logs … and ‘records of any kind.’” Among those on the list: Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Corey Lewandowski, and Roger Stone. “I’m not spending 80 hours going over my emails with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon and producing them,” Nunberg said.

After first speaking with The Post, Nunberg called into MSNBC and CNN for an all-out media blitz, detailing what he said he learned about the Russia investigation based on his private interview with Mueller’s team last month.

  • In one surreal exchange, Nunberg told MSNBC’s Katy Tur that he suspects Mueller has concluded that Trump “may have done something,” based on the questions he was asked by prosecutors. He echoed this later on CNN, saying Trump “may very well have done something during the election with the Russians.” “The way they asked about his business dealings, the way they asked if you had heard anything even while I was fired … it just made me think that they suspected something about him.” 
  • He also believes Trump had prior knowledge of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. “You know he knew about it,” Nunberg told Jake Tapper. “He was talking about it a week before. … I don’t know why he went around trying to hide it.” (Bannon has also suggested Trump knew about the meeting, telling “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff: “The chance that Don. Jr did not walk these [people] up to his father’s office on the 26th floor is zero.”)
  • Nunberg said prosecutors had sought to convince him to testify against longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, but he said he refused because Stone has “been a friend and mentor.”

— “‘By admitting that Trump ‘may have done something’ and that he may have specific knowledge about that something, Nunberg may have provided a probable cause tipping point that would allow Mueller to obtain a search warrant for all the information — i.e. email content — that Nunberg is presently refusing to provide,’” former FBI agent and cyber expert Dave Gomez told The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer. “[John Barrett, a former associate counsel in the Iran-contra investigation] said there may be an ulterior motive behind his appearance. Nunberg might be attempting to put his continuing loyalty to Trump on display, or encourage other potential witnesses to defy Mueller. He could be trying to goad the president into firing the special counsel by publicly announcing Mueller’s interest in Trump’s business practices. Or he may be auditioning for immunity, by convincing Mueller that he may possess information that the special counsel would find useful.”

— The last person to serve jail time for rebuffing a grand jury subpoena is Susan McDougal, a former business partner of Bill Clinton. In 1996, she was ordered jailed for 18 months after refusing to testify in the Whitewater investigation. She told Matt Zapotosky that her advice to Nunberg would be: “Retroactively, if you don’t want to testify, don’t go on television and do these teaser interviews.” And if Nunberg thinks he is going to stop Mueller and his team from doing something, “they’ll do it anyway,” she added. “You’re not going to save anybody,” McDougal said. “If they have done something, you’re not going to save them.”

— “It is an understatement to say that Sam Nunberg is playing with fire,” write Lawfare Blog’s Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes. “And before proceeding further on this jag, Nunberg might pause to reflect on the case of McDougal … Federal prosecutors have robust powers to deal with recalcitrant witnesses, and special prosecutors in high-stakes matters involving the president of the United States have particular incentives not to tolerate contumacious conduct on the part of witnesses they subpoena.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Police arrested a man for allegedly attempting to steal Best Actress winner Frances McDormand’s Oscar. Terry Bryant is said to have grabbed the statuette at the Governors Ball following the awards ceremony. He posted a video of himself kissing an Oscar and telling people he won for music (“best producer”). (Elahe Izadi)
  2. Fox News didn’t like Jimmy Kimmel’s joke during his Sunday monologue. The comedian noted that the Oscars are 90 years old, which he said means Oscar is “probably at home right now watching Fox News.” A spokeswoman for the cable giant emailed over Nielsen ratings to point out that the median age of MSNBC’s viewers in primetime during the first two months of the year was 66, and Fox’s is 65.
  3. Oklahoma teachers are considering a strike next month after the state legislature voted down a pay raise. The action comes on the heels of West Virginia’s teachers strike, which will stretch into a ninth day today. (CNN)
  4. Fights broke out at Michigan State as white nationalist Richard Spencer delivered a speech on campus. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the venue where Spencer spoke, shouting at attendees, “Nazis go home!” (Simon D. Schuster and Susan Svrluga)
  5. A major Trump fundraiser accused Qatari agents of hacking into his email to plant negative news stories about him. The fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, owns a company that has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to the United Arab Emirates. Qatar dismissed the allegations as a “diversionary tactic to distract from the serious allegations against himself and his client, the United Arab Emirates.” (New York Times)
  6. Huge waves emanating from this weekend’s nor’easter have arrived in Puerto Rico. A meteorologist raised on the island called it “one of the worst ocean swell events in recent decades.” (Angela Fritz)
  7. Down syndrome is front-and-center in the states’ latest abortion battles. Utah’s legislature is debating a bill making it illegal for a woman to seek an abortion “solely” because the fetus has Down syndrome. The bill’s supporters argue it will prevent discrimination against those who have the condition, while opponents (including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood) say such bills are unconstitutional. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
  8. Toronto police released a photo of a dead man they believe to be the latest victim of a serial killer. Authorities hope a member of the public will be able to identify the man. He is suspected to be a victim of Bruce McArthur, who has already been charged with the suspected deaths of six others. (Eli Rosenberg and Alan Freeman)
  9. Three 911 calls were made over the course of three days after people walked into glass walls at Apple’s new corporate headquarters. The tech giant’s “spaceship” campus has since placed additional rectangular stickers on the walls to prevent more accidents. (Hamza Shaban)
  10. A judge ruled convicted fraudster and “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli must forfeit $7.36 million to the federal government as part of his sentence. Shkreli must give up, among other things, the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album “Once Upon on a Time in Shaolin.” (CNBC)

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

— Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels was flagged as suspicious by his bank and reported to the Treasury Department. From the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld: “[Cohen] wired the money to a lawyer for [Daniels] from an account at First Republic Bank … The money was received on Oct. 27, 2016, 12 days before the presidential election, another person familiar with the matter said. It isn’t clear when First Republic reported it to the government as suspicious. Mr. Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to make the $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford because he couldn’t reach Mr. Trump in the hectic final days of the presidential campaign, the person said. … After Mr. Trump’s victory, Mr. Cohen complained to friends that he had yet to be reimbursed for the payment to [Daniels] …

MORE STONEWALLING:

— The House Intelligence Committee appears unlikely to issue a contempt citation against Steve Bannon as the panel’s Republicans try to wrap up their Russia probe as quickly as possible. Karoun Demirjian reports: “[T]here has been zero urgency to pursue further action against Bannon or even discuss the matter with [Paul Ryan], whose buy-in is critical to issuing such a citation. On Monday, K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), the top Republican on the House’s Russia probe, said he would ‘maybe’ meet with Ryan to discuss contempt, but offered no timeline about when that conversation might take place. But with committee Republicans pushing for a fast close to the Russia probe, many panel members doubt that Ryan and Conaway will actually deliver on a contempt citation for Bannon.” (Read my Big Idea from last week about how administration witnesses are refusing to cooperate with Congress. They’re doing so because they know Republicans don’t have the stomach to hold them in contempt. This will only bolster that.)

— Senate investigators are planning to question Reddit and Tumblr on Russian interference following new reports their platforms may have been used as a means to spread and amplify disinformation during 2016. Tony Romm reports: “Staffers for lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a briefing with Tumblr soon, and they’re seeking more information from Reddit after it acknowledged Monday it shuttered hundreds of suspicious accounts in 2015 and 2016[.] Reddit and Tumblr are the latest tech giants to field questions from congressional investigators. … Triggering the Senate’s new interest is a trove of documents [that] found least 21 accounts on Tumblr had ties to the [Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency].”

— The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) said the new reports highlight the need for other tech companies to study their own platforms for vulnerabilities. “We have continually seen that the IRA’s sophisticated and extensive use of social media … shows a keen understanding of the power of social media in shaping public discourse,” he said in a statement. “I would encourage all of the social media companies to take a much closer look at how their platforms and services could be used to manipulate their users’ trust and attention.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— A jailed Belarusian escort with close ties to Oleg Deripaska — the Putin-linked billionaire and former patron of Paul Manafort — is offering to share with the United States “hours” of audio recordings that allegedly shed light on Russia’s election interference in exchange for asylum. The New York Times’s Richard C. Paddock reports:[Anastasia Vashukevich] faces criminal charges and deportation to Belarus after coming under suspicion of working in Thailand without a visa at a sex-training seminar in the city of Pattaya. ‘If America gives me protection, I will tell everything I know,’ Ms. Vashukevich said … ‘I am afraid to go back to Russia. Some strange things can happen.’ … She said a Thai official had asked her to sign a paper saying that she believed she would be safe in Russia, but that she had refused.”

“In the interview at the immigration center on Monday, Ms. Vashukevich said that she had often recorded conversations between Mr. Deripaska and his associates, and that she had 16 to 18 hours of recordings, including conversations about the United States presidential election. ‘They were discussing elections,’ she said. ‘Deripaska had a plan about elections.’ … Some of the conversations were with three people who spoke English fluently and who she thought were Americans, she said.” “It is not only about me,” she said. “It concerns a lot of people in America and other countries.”

— The Russians don’t mess around: A former Russian national convicted of being a spy for MI6 is in critical condition in Britain after he was exposed to an “unknown substance.” He and another woman were found this weekend in Salisbury, slumped and unconscious, on the bench of a local shopping center. Authorities said Monday they both remain in the intensive care unit despite a lack of visible injuries. The incident is being investigated by multiple agencies. (BBC)

THE MAN BEHIND THE DOSSIER:

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer dove deep on Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 officer and longtime Russia expert who tried — perhaps to his own detriment — to warn America about Trump’s ties to Russia: “For nearly thirty years, Steele had worked as a close ally of the United States [and] was stunned to learn that U.S. politicians were calling him a criminal. Steele compared it to the disorientation that he had felt in 2009, when his first wife, Laura, had died, after a long illness, leaving him to care for their three young children. … Because Steele is a former intelligence officer, much of his life must remain secret. His accusers know this and [used] secret evidence to malign Steele while providing no means for his defenders to respond But interviews with Steele’s friends, colleagues, and business associates tell a very different story about how a British citizen became enmeshed in one of America’s most consequential political battles.”

  • “Republican claims to the contrary, Steele’s interest in Trump did not spring from his work for the Clinton campaign. He ran across Trump’s name almost as soon as he went into private business, many years before the 2016 election. Two of his earliest cases at Orbis involved investigating international crime rings whose leaders, coincidentally, were based in New York’s Trump Tower … ‘It was as if all criminal roads led to Trump Tower,’ Steele told friends.”
  • In September, Steele talked “at length” with Mueller’s team of investigators: “It isn’t known what they discussed, but, given the seriousness with which Steele views the subject, those who know him suspect that he shared many of his sources, and much else, with the Mueller team.”
  • One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo he wrote in November 2016, based on a source described only as a “senior Russian official”: “The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. …. The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would cooperate on security issues of interest to Russia.”

THAD COCHRAN TO RESIGN:

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), 80, announced that he will retire April 1 because of his deteriorating health, ending a congressional career spanning four decades and that earned him the chairmanship of the chamber’s powerful appropriations panel. Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane report: “Beyond shaking up the Senate, Cochran’s exit will affect the battle for the Senate majority. It gives Republicans another seat to defend at a moment of great uncertainty about the midterms. … There will be two Senate races in Mississippi this year because of Cochran’s departure. A special election for his seat will be held on the same day as the regularly scheduled Nov. 6 midterms. In the meantime, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will be in charge of appointing a replacement for Cochran. [Mitch McConnell] has asked Bryant to consider appointing himself to the seat, according to people familiar with their conversations. But Bryant has shown no signs he is gearing up to do that.”

— “Cochran’s health, mental acuity and future in the Senate have been a subject of intense speculation for months in Washington and back home,” note Politico’s Burgess Everett, John Bresnahan and Kevin Robillard. “[I]n recent days he’s been voting under the close supervision of aides on the Senate floor. GOP senators and party leaders had privately [assumed] that he would leave after work is completed on a massive year-end omnibus spending bill this month. … Cochran’s ability to run the committee was clearly in doubt, as his staff handled nearly all aspects of the work without much visible input by Cochran. [He] has not chaired an Appropriations Committee meeting since last year, and he has not made a speech on the Senate floor during this entire Congress.”

— Republican leadership is now waiting to see if conservative insurgent Chris McDaniel, who recently announced a primary bid against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), will now target Cochran’s seat. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin report: “Mr. McDaniel, a hard-line conservative with a history of making inflammatory statements, had remained silent about his 2018 intentions for months, waiting to see whether Mr. Cochran would resign. By waiting until Monday to reveal his intention to step down, Mr. Cochran effectively forced Mr. McDaniel to enter the race against Mr. Wicker. Yet even as he formally declared his bid last week, Mr. McDaniel did not rule out changing races.”

Setting McDaniel aside, “the governor is expected to consider [appointing] Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is also thought to want to run for governor when Mr. Bryant becomes term-limited in 2019, and Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman. Other possibilities include the State House speaker, Philip Gun, and the state auditor, Stacey Pickering.”

— On the Democratic side, former congressman Mike Espy announced his “strong intention to run.” From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s Geoff Pender: “Espy said that since he left Washington, he has ‘witnessed with dismay the continuing dysfunction.’ ‘I have proven that I can work with everyone as long as the goal is a better Mississippi,’ Espy said. Espy served as a Democrat in the U.S. House representing the 2nd District from 1987 to 1993 — the first African-American to hold a Mississippi congressional seat since Reconstruction, then served as secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, the first African-American to hold that post.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— Trump requested options last week for punishing the Syrian government following reports of chlorine gas attacks — raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on the Assad regime in less than a year. Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report: “The president discussed potential actions early last week at a White House meeting that included [John Kelly, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis]. One official … said the president did not endorse any military action and that officials decided to continue monitoring the situation. One senior administration official said that Mattis was ‘adamantly’ against acting militarily … and that McMaster ‘was for it.’ The prospect of renewed military action, even if tabled for now, underscores the explosiveness of a conflict that has become a battlefield for rivalries between Russia and Iran on one side and the United States and its allies on the other.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House sidestepped any mention of the corruption inquiry faced by Bibi back home. From Ruth Eglash and Anne Gearan: “Netanyahu arrived at the White House early Monday afternoon, just hours after reports from Israel said a former media adviser and confidant has turned state’s witness in a far-reaching bribery case. In what appeared to be a sign of the political importance of the session to Netanyahu, the White House changed plans Monday morning and announced that reporters and cameras would be allowed into what had been an Oval Office meeting closed to the media. Netanyahu’s praise of Trump and his upending of U.S. policy on Jerusalem was meant as a sign of political strength at home — it aired during the much-watched evening news period in Israel — and it hinted at the stakes for the veteran leader.”

  • Addressing AIPAC last night, Mike Pence told attendees, “If both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.” He added, “While any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, know this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel.”

— A U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in Vietnam for the first time in nearly five decades. The four-day port call comes as part of the Pentagon’s effort to bolster relationships and alliances in key regions across the globe, including Southeast Asia. (Alex Horton)   

— An ISIS video showing U.S. soldiers under attack in Niger may explain something about North Africa’s current terrorism landscape. Amanda Erickson explains: “Months [after the ambush], a group affiliated with the Islamic State claimed credit for the Oct. 4 attack, confirming a suspicion of U.S. officials.”

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST WATCH:

— The owner of Trump International Hotel Panama claimed victory in a legal battle over control of the hotel and had the president’s name removed from the property. Ana Cerrud and David A. Fahrenthold report: “On Monday, a Panamanian legal official visited the hotel with an escort of 15 police officers. After a long session in a back room, the legal official left without comment. … But, after meeting with her, [majority owner Orestes] Fintiklis was definitive. He said he had won. … The Trump Organization, however, disputed that it had been defeated. It issued a statement saying that the legal official had only shifted control of the hotel to a third-party administrator, while Fintiklis and the Trump Organization are still embroiled in court fights in the United States and in international arbitration. … Then, as reporters watched, a worker with a hammer and a crowbar removed the Trump name from the large sign outside the hotel’s entrance.

— The Trump Organization ordered new tee markers for golf courses emblazoned with the presidential seal, potentially violating ethics law. Katherine Sullivan reports for ProPublica: “Eagle Sign and Design, a metalworking and sign company with offices in New Albany, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, said it had received an order to manufacture dozens of round, 12-inch replicas of the presidential seal to be placed next to the tee boxes at Trump golf course holes. … An order form for the tee markers reviewed by ProPublica and WNYC says the customer was ‘Trump International.’”

THE DECONSTRUCTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE:

— The Trump administration granted Arkansas permission to impose Medicaid work requirements. Amy Goldstein reports: “ One of the few Southern states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, [Arkansas] told federal officials that it wanted to partly retreat. Instead of including people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, as designed in the ACA, Arkansas wanted to set its expansion limit at 100 percent of poverty — a change that would jettison an estimated 60,000 people from the program. In their joint announcement in Little Rock, the governor and [CMS head Seema Verma] said that part of the request was being denied. ‘We are continuing to work through the issues on that,’ Verma said[.]”

— Two EPA political appointees received permission to collect outside income. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “ … EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s special assistant Patrick Davis and the deputy associate administrator for the Office of Public Affairs, John Konkus, sought permission to work for private clients even as they occupied full-time federal jobs. Davis asked to work ‘as the sales director of Telephone Town Hall Meeting,’ according to a Feb. 3 letter from Justina Fugh, the EPA’s alternate designated agency ethics official, while the clients Konkus is consulting for were not made publicly available.”

— Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke withdrew 26 parcels of land in Montana, his home state, from an upcoming oil and natural gas lease auction. Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin report: “A cadre of local and national environmental groups had filed formal protests against the sale, contending that drilling would adversely impact the Yellowstone River and other areas. Interior will proceed starting next Monday with the auction of the remaining 83 parcels, which encompass nearly 46,200 acres. Zinke initially tweeted his decision before issuing a more detailed statement that said further study was needed before part of the sale could take place.”

THE PRIMARY SEASON KICKS OFF TODAY:

— Texas will hold its primaries today, and the results could yield lessons for energized Democrats. David Weigel and Sean Sullivan report: “Emboldened by widespread anger with President Trump and wins in gubernatorial and Senate races last year, record numbers of Democrats are running for Congress … These uncomfortable developments have raised questions about the party’s preparedness for the next stage of the campaign. It has also put new hurdles between Democrats and a top goal in November: winning back the House majority. ‘The good news is that energy is not a problem,’ said former congressman Steve Israel of New York, who chaired the House Democratic campaign arm. ‘The bad news is you’re trying to manage the energy of a nuclear weapon — there’s so much of it.’”

— Young gun-control activists, who feel called to action after the Parkland shooting, are focusing on the midterms. From Tal Abbady and Michael Scherer: “[T]he students are appearing at candidate events, mounting voter registration drives and threatening to haunt politicians who stand in the way of their demands. And well-funded professional organizations that have long focused on curbing gun violence are rushing to find ways to harness their energy for the fall election. … [Gun-control groups] have announced funds to encourage young voters’ mobilization around guns, including a $1 million donation from Democratic financier Tom Steyer, bankrolls for student protest groups and shifts in their own policy priorities regarding gun control to better align with the demands of the teenagers.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump blamed Democrats for the DACA impasse:

He also accused the Obama administration of investigating Russian election interference to aid Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, an allegation that runs counter to The Post’s reporting:

But most of Twitter was buzzing about Sam Nunberg’s many television interviews. 

From a New York Times reporter:

From a former U.S. attorney:

From George W. Bush’s former communications director:

From the Ohio newspaper columnist and wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

From an SNL writer:

From an NPR host:

From a HuffPost reporter:

A funny parody from a “Comedy Central” show:

Another major player in the Mueller investigation tied the knot, per an ABC News host:

A Post congressional reporter added this detail about the Cochran resignation:

From C-SPAN’s communications director:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) marked a personal achievement: 

A beer company warned against Trump’s proposed tariffs: 

A Fox contributor spent time with the president’s family:

Rivera later added this:

CNN’s White House correspondent got into a Twitter spat with Trump’s press secretary:

The Post’s David Fahrenthold found an unusual real estate listing:

This graphic, shared by a New York Times book review editor, made the rounds on Twitter:

And Merriam-Webster caught up with the times:

A take from The Post’s White House editor:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— BuzzFeed News, “Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs,” by Kendall Taggart and Mike Hayes: “Secret files obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that from 2011 to 2015 at least 319 New York Police Department employees who committed offenses serious enough to merit firing were allowed to keep their jobs. Many of the officers lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents. At least fifty employees lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer, Jarrett Dill, threatened to kill someone. Another, Roberson Tunis, sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer.”

— New York Times, A Famed Doctor, a Troubled Prosecutor and an Untried Case,” by Julie Bosman and Monica Davey: “Before Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar was imprisoned for abusing gymnasts, a prosecutor’s office in Michigan opted not to pursue charges. The prosecutor was busy keeping secrets of his own.”

— Columbia Journalism Review, “The source: How hacked emails and a yacht in Monaco ended my career at The Wall Street Journal,” by Jay Solomon: “[H]aving now thought about this for months, I think I understand that I made serious mistakes in managing my source relationship with [businessman Farhad] Azima during my pursuit of the Iran story. I also blundered my initial conversations with the Journal, when the paper first started to grill me about my relationship with the businessman. I was scared and defensive, and lost my job as a result. The paper, from my perspective, was never straightforward in explaining who was targeting me, nor did it seem to want to help me defend myself. My hope is that walking through these errors will help other journalists avoid making the same mistakes.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“A middle school teacher led a double life as a white nationalist podcaster,” from Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: “For more than a year, [Dayanna] Volitich has been leading a double life. She is a popular white-nationalist podcaster known as Tiana Dalichov who espouses anti-Semitic conspiracy theories … believes that Muslims should be eradicated from the earth [and] believes that science has proven that certain races are simply smarter than others[.] And she is also a social studies teacher at [at a middle school near Tampa] — one who has said it’s her duty to expose her students to her version of the truth. By her own admission, she was a subversive presence who sought to not-so-subtly indoctrinate students assigned to her classes with her world view. And she bragged about her ability to do so without her employers or colleagues finding out.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“The ‘anti-Trump’ Oscars were a ratings disaster. Conservatives are delighted,” from Marwa Eltagouri: “The 90th Academy Awards on Sunday was two things: an evening of pointed political statements and one with record-low viewership. And many on the right have been quick to claim that those things went hand in hand. On Monday, the awards show’s low ratings were a hot topic on Fox News, discussed at the top of the hour on both Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows. Piers Morgan’s column for The Daily Mail was a 10-point plan to save the Oscars. A headline on The Daily Caller’s website read, ‘The Ratings For Jimmy Kimmel’s Trump Hate-Fest Oscars Crater Towards All-Time Low.’ … Just 26.5 million people tuned in for Hollywood’s biggest night, a 20 percent drop from the 33 million who watched the 2017 awards show[.]”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will meet with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and hold a joint news conference with the Scandinavian leader. He will also sit down with Swedish business representatives.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Echoing Trump’s comments over the weekend praising China for abandoning presidential term limits, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) described a sketch Stephen Colbert produced mocking Nunes’s controversial FISA memo as a “danger we have in this country.” He added to Fox News host Neil Cavuto, “The left controls the universities in this country, Hollywood and the mainstream media, so conservatives in this country are under attack, and I think this is great example of it.” (Amber Phillips)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— District residents could see precipitation in the afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly sunny in the morning turns mostly cloudy by the afternoon, with scattered light showers. Sleet or snow could mix with the rain, especially north and west of the city, but temperatures are too warm for accumulation.”

— Washington has multiple opportunities for snowfall over the next 10 days. But accumulation is unlikely. (Jason Samenow)

— Amazon officials toured sites across the D.C. region last week in its search for the company’s second headquarters. Jonathan O’Connell reports: “There are at least nine sites in the D.C. area proposed for the tech giant’s expansion, dubbed HQ2. Officials from the firm toured sites in Northern Virginia early in the week, Washington, in the middle and Montgomery County at the end, according to the officials[.]”

— Ousted D.C. Public Schools chancellor Antwan Wilson claimed Mayor Muriel Bowser knew about his daughter’s high school transfer months before it came to light. From Perry Stein and Peter Jamison: “Wilson’s account is at odds with statements by the mayor and her top aides that they didn’t know his daughter had been given a coveted seat at Woodrow Wilson High School, a campus in Northwest Washington with a waiting list of more than 600 students. That transfer bypassed the lottery used to award scarce seats in the District’s top public schools and violated a policy that bans preferential treatment for the children of government officials.”

— The Virginia Democratic Party has decided to change the name of its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to the Blue Commonwealth Gala. (Laura Vozzella)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert spent more than 10 minutes of his show last night recapping Sam Nunberg’s interviews:

Trevor Noah broke down Trump’s tariff proposals:

In his AIPAC speech, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer accused participants in the boycott movement against Israel of anti-Semitism:

New videos highlighted how much damage this weekend’s nor’easter inflicted upon the East Coast:

And a California restaurant installed a robot to cook its meat:

Click to Read more news from the respected source

Chadwick Boseman says T’Challa is the enemy in Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman says T’Challa is the enemy in Black Panther

Major spoilers ahead for Black Panther.

Cultural critics have had a lot to say about how Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger is a sympathetic villain, and how black viewers can identify with his point of view. He’s a casual murderer with a lengthy kill list literally carved into his own body, but Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) isn’t just fighting for personal reasons. He’s avenging his father and his lost childhood, but he identifies with other black people who’ve grown up in poverty, and he wants to use Wakanda’s advanced technology to liberate people of color who’ve been oppressed by Western imperialism. His goals have real political weight, and they’re more interesting than those of a lot of superhero-movie villains, who are often motivated more by that generic, vague standby sentiment, “I am evil and I want to destroy the world.”

There have been media takes discussing how Black Panther protagonist T’Challa sends a bleak message to black viewers by killing his rival. The message, some critics say, is that black liberation is only a dream, and only obedient, peaceful folks can expect tolerance and survival. In this reading of the film, that makes T’Challa the enemy. And Chadwick Boseman, the actor who plays T’Challa, agrees.

“I actually am the enemy,” he says during a discussion with castmate Lupita Nyong’o and Marvel comics writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on Tuesday. (The comments were transcribed and reported by The Atlantic and Rolling Stone.) “It’s the enemy I’ve always known. It’s power. It’s having privilege.” He characterizes T’Challa as “born with a vibranium spoon in my mouth.”

This reading of T’Challa as born into a higher caste, while Killmonger and his father are considered outsiders, is significant. Killmonger and his father N’Jobu (played with an eye-watering performance from Sterling K. Brown), are essentially shut out from Wakanda’s Afrofuturistic utopia because they want to share it and extend its freedoms to other people of color around the globe, instead of hiding the country’s prosperity from the world.

Boseman, who hails from South Carolina and graduated from Howard University, says that like Killmonger, he’s felt the same sense of not fully connecting with African culture and history. He had to search for his own heritage like Killmonger did, and going to Africa for the film had been a chance for him to “reconnect to what I lost.”

Boseman also says Killmonger has elements drawn from Ryan Coogler’s personality. The writer-director researched the film in part by traveling to London to visit African museum exhibits, just as Killmonger does in his first scene in the film.

In the scene, Killmonger strolls into an African museum exhibit, poisons a museum guide, and steals back a Wakandan treasure, declaring, “Don’t trip. Imma take it off your hands for you.” When the guide says severely, “These items are not for sale,” he responds, to audience cheers during the initial French premiere, “How do you think your ancestors got these? You think they paid a fair price for it? Or did they take them like they took everything else?”

The scene plays more like a heroic heist than a theft, and it would have been, if the film wasn’t based in such a good-and-evil-focused comic book world. To many commenters, the sides in Black Panther aren’t so clear cut. Both Killmonger and T’Challa are simultaneously heroes and villains. But Boseman’s acknowledgement that he sympathizes more with his character’s adversary is still a startling admission for a leading man in a superhero movie.

“I don’t know if we as African-Americans would accept T’Challa as our hero if he didn’t go through Killmonger,” he says at the event. “Because Killmonger has been through our struggle, and [T’Challa hasn’t].”

Nyong’o and Coates also speak about the representation and the complicated politics Black Panther tackles, according to Rolling Stone. Nyong’o says the film’s main characters paint a picture of Africans and African-Americans together as a family, in a way that feels “healing.”

Nyong’o, who identifies as Kenyan-Mexican, grew up listening to The Sound of Music and watching Elizabeth Taylor on screen. “We, too, have been plagued with these unfortunate images that diminish us and paint us as only needy,” she says, describing Africans’ experience with their representation.

Coates, who has written Black Panther comics and his own spinoffs, agrees, saying, “I didn’t realize how much I needed the film, a hunger for a myth that [addressed] feeling separated and feeling reconnected” to the African continent.

Click to Read more news from the respected source

‘Black Panther’ Was Great Because of Women, But Its Soundtrack Sidelined Them

‘Black Panther’ Was Great Because of Women, But Its Soundtrack Sidelined Them

Director Ryan Coogler was tasked with creating a sense of home in Wakanda. The fictional East African nation is a third-world country to foreigners, but buried beneath its borders is an innovative homeland to warriors whose livelihood depends on vibranium, an abundant resource that powers their economy. In this mythical land, women are spies like Nakia, visionaries in technology like his little sister Shuri, or the general of an all-female militia like Okoye. With the women as his backbone, T’Challa hunts Klaue after a failed deal to sell an ancient Wakandan artifact made of vibranium. In their pursuit of Klaue, Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, rides atop of a speeding car driven by Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, drives T’Challa’s getaway car, and the women use their wit and sharpness to hold off the men. The music synced with this scene, on the other hand, told a different story. “Opps,” a bass-heavy track mixed with futuristic 808s seems as if it were coming out of their vibranium powered vehicles. The album cut features high powered verses from Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, and South African artist Yugen Blakrok, but only Lamar’s verse makes it to the film. In this moment and throughout the film, Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri, are not only quick-thinkers but action stars as well. Seeing their energy paired with Kendrick Lamar’s voice feels misplaced – considering Yugen Blakrok is the only woman present on “Opps.”

Black Panther was deemed “revolutionary” for its all-black leading cast, but most importantly one that didn’t view blackness through the lens of white storytellers. What the conversation often excludes is that Coogler does a damn good job of displaying the strength of women without the lens of a distorted male gaze. From the moment their cover is blown in the casino, Okoye and Nakia are fighting as aggressively as men traditionally do on screen, but still completely poised in their delivery. In heels and evening dresses, the women use wigs, stilettos, and spears as weapons, shattering notions that women can’t be tough, while debunking the stereotype of savagery, a comment Klaue even makes in the film. Since Hattie McDaniels’ role in Gone With the Wind, black women have pervasively been subjected to supporting characters, using eyerolls and sass as a racial identifier. It’s understood going to see Black Panther that Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa, will defy the limitations placed on black actors, but it’s the women of Wakanda who truly save the day. It’s unfortunate that the soundtrack’s inclusivity didn’t mean women.

Throughout his career Lamar has stretched himself on albums like To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN, putting black life under a lens in the same way Coogler has done with Black Panther. With Lamar’s ability to capture the duality of the black experience, it made sense for him to spearhead the music for Black Panther, a movie that was tagged as a trailblazing moment on screen. The misstep here was Lamar and TDE only chose to curate a sound for the king and his enemy, but failed to look beyond the men. The collaborative heavy album definitely seemed like it wanted to portray a wide spectrum of what TDE interpreted as international, but their definition of that skewed largely male. Last week, Noisey took notice of the limited range of artists represented from the African diaspora, but after seeing the movie, the lack of representation of women the film’s music is even more glaring. With over 20 guests spread across 14 tracks, it fell short of mirroring the blatant power dynamic of the women throughout the film. Only four women are tucked away in its tracking, with UK artist Jorja Smith as the only one to snag a solo song. As beautiful as Smith’s “I Am” sounds, it feels melancholy, with themes of quieting fear. On its own, it’s a solid song along the tracklist, but the women of Wakanda were the definition of heroic in a way that makes this feel completely wrong. The film offered black women a chance to see themselves as something other than ornamental, an equal to men, even if only in a fictional nation. The album did the opposite of that, with women sprinkled throughout its sequence as decor.

The women of Black Panther are truly living in a dream world, one devoid of not only gender and racial biases, but the way those intersections affect women on a large scale every day. Wakanda still leans heavily on patriarchy, but the fictitious land gender roles are more equal with Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia free to dominate their respective fields, a skill that enables them to rescue T’Challa at multiple points during the film. It’s in the dedication to their respective fields that they’re able to rescue T’Challa at multiple points during the film. “They’re allowed to be all these things and that is something that society embraces and is excited by… It’s just an amazing model for us to all look at, like can we all just be like Wakanda,” says Gurira in an interview with Huffington Post. Instead of a soundtrack that toggles between the point of view of the two male leads, it would have been impressive to hear the music in Okoye’s head before war. Nakia embeds herself in covert operations across the world, but what would she play if you passed her the aux cord? Shuri is youthful, but still finds time to develop technology that is keeping an entire country afloat. Nyong’o and Wright have already proved they have freestyling chops, so just imagine their playlists. Black Panther did live up to its hype, and the women surpassed that expectation and the music didn’t give them their due diligence.

One of the better reflections where the women on screen matched the tone of the music was in the chants used of a group of women from Senegal, similar to Wakanda’s Dora Milaje army, during fighting scenes led by Okoye. While women and international acts were omitted from much of the music, the score wasn’t incongruent, unlike the soundtrack. The score itself was produced by a Swedish composer, Ludwig Göransson, who worked alongside Coogler for his last film, Creed. Göransson spent a month in Senegal, traveling with local artists like Baaba Maal to get a better understanding of how he could make Wakanda sound like it belonged in Africa. “It was important to me to make music that fit in culturally with each scene,” said Göransson in an interview with Pitchfork. Throughout the film, the music that followed T’Challa and his rival Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, complemented the ancestry of each man. The opening scene and music for T’Challa throughout the film was inspired by the ceremonial style drumming Maal used throughout his tour. In an interview with Genius, Göransson revealed the sound of the talking drum for T’Challa’s scenes was achieved by layering six talking drums over 808s, with horns added to signify royalty. A part of Göransson’s job was to layer authentic African sounds over the work of TDE’s curation, which transformed what felt like a Californian’s take on Wakanda. Fula flutes floated behind Killmonger, which provided more of a West Coast flare, appropriate for the antagonist’s roots in Oakland.

Male dominated soundtrack aside, I was intrigued for all 134 minutes of Black Panther. The notion of an African-American directing a film about an African nation was enough to encite diasporic debates across black communities, but I didn’t share that sentiment. Coogler’s work with Black Panther gives African-Americans a gateway to a culture they may otherwise feel detached from. In the same way safe spaces were created at historically black colleges, and Black Twitter revealed we’d all lived the same childhood but in separate households; Wakanda was ours. It was welcoming, never otherising, and defied the trope that black history began with slavery. It took a royal black family seriously, unlike Eddie Murphy in Coming to America’s fictional nation of Zamunda. With Black Panther having Marvel’s best-selling opening weekend in over $218 million [~£155 million] in sales, it’s safe to say the world is tired of seeing the same old stories.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

Click to Read more news from the respected source

‘Black Panther’ Was Great Because of Women, But Its Soundtrack Sidelined Them

‘Black Panther’ Was Great Because of Women, But Its Soundtrack Sidelined Them

Director Ryan Coogler was tasked with creating a sense of home in Wakanda. The fictional East African nation is a third-world country to foreigners, but buried beneath its borders is an innovative homeland to warriors whose livelihood depends on vibranium, an abundant resource that powers their economy. In this mythical land, women are spies like Nakia, visionaries in technology like his little sister Shuri, or the general of an all-female militia like Okoye. With the women as his backbone, T’Challa hunts Klaue after a failed deal to sell an ancient Wakandan artifact made of vibranium. In their pursuit of Klaue, Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, rides atop of a speeding car driven by Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, drives T’Challa’s getaway car, and the women use their wit and sharpness to hold off the men. The music synced with this scene, on the other hand, told a different story. “Opps,” a bass-heavy track mixed with futuristic 808s seems as if it were coming out of their vibranium powered vehicles. The album cut features high powered verses from Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, and South African artist Yugen Blakrok, but only Lamar’s verse makes it to the film. In this moment and throughout the film, Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri, are not only quick-thinkers but action stars as well. Seeing their energy paired with Kendrick Lamar’s voice feels misplaced – considering Yugen Blakrok is the only woman present on “Opps.”

Black Panther was deemed “revolutionary” for its all-black leading cast, but most importantly one that didn’t view blackness through the lens of white storytellers. What the conversation often excludes is that Coogler does a damn good job of displaying the strength of women without the lens of a distorted male gaze. From the moment their cover is blown in the casino, Okoye and Nakia are fighting as aggressively as men traditionally do on screen, but still completely poised in their delivery. In heels and evening dresses, the women use wigs, stilettos, and spears as weapons, shattering notions that women can’t be tough, while debunking the stereotype of savagery, a comment Klaue even makes in the film. Since Hattie McDaniels’ role in Gone With the Wind, black women have pervasively been subjected to supporting characters, using eyerolls and sass as a racial identifier. It’s understood going to see Black Panther that Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa, will defy the limitations placed on black actors, but it’s the women of Wakanda who truly save the day. It’s unfortunate that the soundtrack’s inclusivity didn’t mean women.

Throughout his career Lamar has stretched himself on albums like To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN, putting black life under a lens in the same way Coogler has done with Black Panther. With Lamar’s ability to capture the duality of the black experience, it made sense for him to spearhead the music for Black Panther, a movie that was tagged as a trailblazing moment on screen. The misstep here was Lamar and TDE only chose to curate a sound for the king and his enemy, but failed to look beyond the men. The collaborative heavy album definitely seemed like it wanted to portray a wide spectrum of what TDE interpreted as international, but their definition of that skewed largely male. Last week, Noisey took notice of the limited range of artists represented from the African diaspora, but after seeing the movie, the lack of representation of women the film’s music is even more glaring. With over 20 guests spread across 14 tracks, it fell short of mirroring the blatant power dynamic of the women throughout the film. Only four women are tucked away in its tracking, with UK artist Jorja Smith as the only one to snag a solo song. As beautiful as Smith’s “I Am” sounds, it feels melancholy, with themes of quieting fear. On its own, it’s a solid song along the tracklist, but the women of Wakanda were the definition of heroic in a way that makes this feel completely wrong. The film offered black women a chance to see themselves as something other than ornamental, an equal to men, even if only in a fictional nation. The album did the opposite of that, with women sprinkled throughout its sequence as decor.

The women of Black Panther are truly living in a dream world, one devoid of not only gender and racial biases, but the way those intersections affect women on a large scale every day. Wakanda still leans heavily on patriarchy, but the fictitious land gender roles are more equal with Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia free to dominate their respective fields, a skill that enables them to rescue T’Challa at multiple points during the film. It’s in the dedication to their respective fields that they’re able to rescue T’Challa at multiple points during the film. “They’re allowed to be all these things and that is something that society embraces and is excited by… It’s just an amazing model for us to all look at, like can we all just be like Wakanda,” says Gurira in an interview with Huffington Post. Instead of a soundtrack that toggles between the point of view of the two male leads, it would have been impressive to hear the music in Okoye’s head before war. Nakia embeds herself in covert operations across the world, but what would she play if you passed her the aux cord? Shuri is youthful, but still finds time to develop technology that is keeping an entire country afloat. Nyong’o and Wright have already proved they have freestyling chops, so just imagine their playlists. Black Panther did live up to its hype, and the women surpassed that expectation and the music didn’t give them their due diligence.

One of the better reflections where the women on screen matched the tone of the music was in the chants used of a group of women from Senegal, similar to Wakanda’s Dora Milaje army, during fighting scenes led by Okoye. While women and international acts were omitted from much of the music, the score wasn’t incongruent, unlike the soundtrack. The score itself was produced by a Swedish composer, Ludwig Göransson, who worked alongside Coogler for his last film, Creed. Göransson spent a month in Senegal, traveling with local artists like Baaba Maal to get a better understanding of how he could make Wakanda sound like it belonged in Africa. “It was important to me to make music that fit in culturally with each scene,” said Göransson in an interview with Pitchfork. Throughout the film, the music that followed T’Challa and his rival Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, complemented the ancestry of each man. The opening scene and music for T’Challa throughout the film was inspired by the ceremonial style drumming Maal used throughout his tour. In an interview with Genius, Göransson revealed the sound of the talking drum for T’Challa’s scenes was achieved by layering six talking drums over 808s, with horns added to signify royalty. A part of Göransson’s job was to layer authentic African sounds over the work of TDE’s curation, which transformed what felt like a Californian’s take on Wakanda. Fula flutes floated behind Killmonger, which provided more of a West Coast flare, appropriate for the antagonist’s roots in Oakland.

Male dominated soundtrack aside, I was intrigued for all 134 minutes of Black Panther. The notion of an African-American directing a film about an African nation was enough to encite diasporic debates across black communities, but I didn’t share that sentiment. Coogler’s work with Black Panther gives African-Americans a gateway to a culture they may otherwise feel detached from. In the same way safe spaces were created at historically black colleges, and Black Twitter revealed we’d all lived the same childhood but in separate households; Wakanda was ours. It was welcoming, never otherising, and defied the trope that black history began with slavery. It took a royal black family seriously, unlike Eddie Murphy in Coming to America’s fictional nation of Zamunda. With Black Panther having Marvel’s best-selling opening weekend in over $218 million [~£155 million] in sales, it’s safe to say the world is tired of seeing the same old stories.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Noisey US.

Click to Read more news from the respected source

“Black Panther” and “Early Man”

“Black Panther” and “Early Man”

If you start in the center of Africa and head southeast, you arrive at Wakanda. According to one map, it lies somewhere near Uganda—below South Sudan, above Rwanda, and abutting the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unlike those nations, however, which have been scalded by strife, Wakanda is a model of serenity. It is a kingdom, wisely ruled, and rich in a precious natural resource, vibranium, which is used for hyper-technology. Foreign marauders have never pillaged that wealth, because they know nothing about it. In short, Wakanda is blessed among nations, and there’s only one thing wrong with the place. It doesn’t exist.

The map appears in “Black Panther,” most of which is set in present-day Wakanda, at a pivotal point. The old king is dead; long live the new king, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a princely sort who comes with many advantages. His mother is played by Angela Bassett, who rocks a ruff better than any queen since Elizabeth I. His most trusted combatant, should trouble loom, is the shaven-headed Okoye (Danai Gurira), who can fell an aircraft with the toss of a spear. He has a thing going with the wondrous Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Oh, and I almost forgot: he’s a superhero. Unlike Peter Parker, whose teasing, could-it-be-me act has worn thin, T’Challa is super and proud, turning at will into Black Panther. His suit, at once bulletproof and clingy, makes Tony Stark’s outfit look like a deep-sea diver’s. Sure, Bruce Wayne has the Batmobile, but T’Challa has a whole country to drive. The king is the man.

We have already met him, in “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), but there he was merely a part of the Avengers gang, and he made no more impact, to be honest, than the one with the bow and arrow whose name I can never remember. Hence the pressing need for this new film. There have been black superheroes before, and Will Smith’s character in “Hancock” (2008) was an unusual blend of potency and dysfunction, but none have been given dominion over a blockbuster. (The one who merits it best is Frozone, from “The Incredibles,” who has to miss dinner to save the world. “We are talking about the greater good!” he cries. Back comes the reply: “Greater good? I am your wife. I’m the greatest good you are ever going to get.”) Nor has the genre, until now, allowed black identity to be the ground bass of a single tale. There are white actors in “Black Panther,” including Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman, but their roles are minor ones—the types of role, that is, to which black performers, in this patch of the movie business, have grown wearily accustomed.

The director is Ryan Coogler, and those of us who admire his work will be stirred to find that “Black Panther” is bracketed by short scenes in Oakland, California. That is where his début feature, “Fruitvale Station” (2013), began, with genuine cell-phone footage from an incident in 2009, when an unarmed African-American, Oscar Grant, was shot and killed by police. The rest of the movie traced the arc of Oscar’s final day, and what struck you was how normal and how plotless it felt—a mild domestic tiff, a trip to the store to buy shrimp, phone calls to his mom. The only special thing about that day was how it ended, and the tension in “Black Panther” springs from Coogler’s instinctive urge to relay the rough textures of non-heroic experience while also striving to meet the demands of Marvel, by offering a gadget-packed dogfight in the skies, say, or a ride on an armored rhino.

The fact that he mainly succeeds is no surprise, since his previous movie, “Creed” (2015), a late but meaty addition to the “Rocky” saga, with Sylvester Stallone as a coach, proved that Coogler could hold his nerve in a franchise. On the one hand, “Creed,” like “Black Panther,” keeps reminding us that a major studio has money in the game; the musical score, in both cases, is grimly insistent, as if to insure that the emotional content of each scene is packaged and delivered on cue. On the other hand, every Coogler movie features Michael B. Jordan, who is hardly someone to be hemmed in. He ought to have won an Oscar for his Oscar, in “Fruitvale Station”; he was the bullish young boxer in “Creed”; and now, in the latest film, he shows up as T’Challa’s nemesis, Killmonger, who believes that he has a claim to the Wakandan throne. While Boseman does what he can with the ever-noble hero, Jordan is so relaxed and so unstiff that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wind up rooting for the baddie when the two of them battle it out. Jordan has swagger to spare, with those rolling shoulders, but there’s a breath of charm, too, all the more seductive in the overblown atmosphere of Marvel. He’s twice as pantherish as the Panther.

Few recent movies have been more keenly anticipated than this one, in regard both to its box-office potential and to the force of its mythmaking. With its vision of an unplundered homeland, blooming from liberty rather than from bondage, “Black Panther” is, in the fullest sense, an African-American work, and Carvell Wallace was rightly moved to ask, in a Times essay, “Can films like these significantly change things for black people in America?” We shall see. My only qualm concerns not so much the mission of Coogler’s movie as its form; I wonder what weight of political responsibility can, or should, be laid upon anything that is accompanied by buttered popcorn. Vibranium is no more real than the philosopher’s stone. More Americans will presumably watch “Black Panther” than have ever read “Black Boy” or “Invisible Man,” but do numbers alone make the difference? Are 3-D spectacles any more reliable than rose-tinted ones, when we seek to imagine an ideal society?

The opportunity to see a warthog playing the harp doesn’t come along nearly as often as it should. All the more reason, then, to welcome “Early Man,” although whether the harpist in question is technically a warthog is open to dispute. He’s piggy enough in snout and trotter, and lavishly tusked, and he answers to the name of Hognob, yet he barks and bays like a wolf. Hognob is the sidekick of Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne), and Dug, being in possession of a bucktoothed grin and oodles of true grit, is the hero.

“Early Man” is the latest film from Aardman Animations, and the director is Nick Park, the sultan of stop-motion, to whom we are eternally indebted for Wallace, Gromit, and other gems of superpliability. As the title suggests, the setting is prehistory. (No date is given, although we are helpfully told that the opening sequence occurs “around lunchtime.”) Dug belongs to a minor tribe, dwelling peaceably in the lush glades of an extinct volcano. This demi-paradise is invaded by a more advanced people, brought there by a lust for metal ore, and led—or bossed around—by the vainglorious Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). “The age of stone is over,” he declares, speaking in a heavy but unexplained French accent. “Long live the age of bronze.”

Dug, as dauntless as ever, travels to the stronghold of his foes. The entrance is shielded by one gate after another, each shunting into position with a mighty clang, and finally, in the movie’s best gag, by a little sliding bolt, such as you might find on a garden shed. Such attention not just to detail but to the unforeseen and deliciously unnecessary detail is an Aardman hallmark; in “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005), the climactic chase had to pause while the villain, a beefy mutt, produced a tiny flowered purse, took out a coin, and fed it into the slot of a fairground ride. As a rule, Aardman scripts are unabashed by puns—“You haven’t eaten your primordial soup!” somebody exclaims in “Early Man”—but it’s the visual treats, too homely for surrealism but too wacky to be cute, that anchor the films and transfigure the whole world, ancient and modern, into a potential joke shop. Why not use mini-crocodiles as clothespins, when you need to clip your washing to the line?

If “Early Man” slips below the studio’s highest standards, that may be due to its length. In “A Grand Day Out” (1989), Park managed to rocket Wallace and Gromit—one man and his dog—to the moon and back in twenty-three minutes, whereas the new movie takes more than an hour longer to tell a plainer tale, topped with a lighter scattering of laughs. Dug and company confront the enemy in a soccer match; should they win, they will return to their beloved woods. The whole thing feels challengingly British, right down to the sports commentators and the munificent arrival of a queen (Miriam Margolyes), and it’s also too Gromitless for comfort. Aardman is a haven for the humanish: for creatures that hail from other species but match us or even, in Gromit’s case, outstrip us in proficiency and grace. The stage of “Early Man,” though, is stuffed with men and women—on the Neanderthal spectrum, it’s true, but propelled by needs and greeds much like our own—whereas the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are reduced to the role of extras. It pains me to say so, but Hognob is not enough. ♦

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on ‘Black Panther’: All This Fuss Over a Superhero Movie?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on ‘Black Panther’: All This Fuss Over a Superhero Movie?

Director Ryan Coogler sits down with the NBA legend and cultural critic to assess the film’s significance: “It’s a little like witnessing the unveiling of an enormous statue on the public square — with the public square being the world — of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela dressed in bright dashikis,” writes Abdul-Jabbar.

At its Hollywood premiere, Black Panther received a rousing standing ovation. What’s impressive is that this ovation occurred before the movie was shown. Equally significant is that presales for tickets have broken Fandango’s record for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, in the weeks before the film was set to open Feb. 16, more than 200 grassroots campaigns in black communities from Denver to Toronto to Ghana were arranging screenings in order to commemorate the movie event. This is an unprecedented global rallying for something that doesn’t include Beyonce. All this fuss over a superhero movie?

Black Panther is not just another comic-book film but a cultural spearhead disguised as a thrilling action adventure. You may go for the hard-core action and hard-muscled bodies, but, if you’re white, you’ll leave with an anti-“shithole” appreciation for Africa and African-American cultural origins. If you’re black, you’ll leave with a straighter walk, a gratitude for your African heritage and a superhero whom black children can relate to.

When I asked director and co-writer Ryan Coogler recently why he thought there was so much anticipation for his film, he said, “The concept of an African story, with actors of African descent at the forefront, combined with the scale of modern franchise filmmaking, is something that hasn’t really been seen before. You feel like you’re getting the opportunity of seeing something fresh, being a part of something new, which I think all audiences want to experience regardless of whether they are of African descent or not.”

It’s not that we don’t have worthy black superheroes right now. Luke Cage (Netflix) and Black Lightning (The CW) are as relevant as Black Panther to today’s social and racial climate and as admirable as cultural heroes. Each valiantly fights to preserve the values and safety of his community. Ironically, Luke Cage’s black skin — which once made him a victim and now makes him invulnerable to most weapons — is a bold metaphor for African-American empowerment. Black Lightning is Jefferson Pierce, a high school principal with the power to control electricity. But his real heroics are when he battles to give his students a decent education, his family a loving father and his community an unwavering leader. About 2 million people watch the show, but with Black Panther, a global audience, many of whom aren’t white, will see it. It’s a little like witnessing the unveiling of an enormous statue on the public square — with the public square being the world — of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela dressed in bright dashikis. It’s an homage to who we were, a celebration of who we are and an inspiration for what we hope to become.

Yet the film is never preachy or strident. Throughout our conversation, Coogler emphasized that Black Panther aims to please people of all ethnicities and nationalities — a fun time for all moviegoers. Coogler, though, hopes they’ll get a little bit more. “I hope they take out of it a sense of enjoyment [but also] something that is not disposable, you know? From my perspective, things that are associated with the continent of Africa are often things that are associated with triggering the feeling of shame inside of me when I see them.” That insight, that African-Americans have been subliminally programmed to feel shame about Africa — in part because we learn so little about it in public schools and in part because politicians like President Trump openly degrade it — motivated Coogler to visit Africa in preparation for the film. The trip enlightened him in a way that he hopes shows up in the movie: “If this film can give people who are of African descent a feeling of pride, even in the theater, that’s a bonus I wouldn’t even be able to comprehend as an artist.”

Paul Simon once sang that “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.” It’s the same with black action heroes, each reflecting their time period: Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night was a genteel, well-mannered but forceful detective demanding respect — a perfect role model for the heart of the civil rights movement, when blacks had to be firm but not scary to white audiences. Then, in frustrated reaction to the stalled civil rights movement, arrived the grittier street-smart films of the ’70s: Shaft, Super Fly, Foxy Brown and the parade of blaxploitation characters who spoke street jargon and swaggered in campy outfits. They proclaimed the Good Negro was retired, and the in-your-face black hero — who made no apologies, asked for nothing and expected nothing — had arrived. Then, with the political backlash against black advancement in the ’80s and ’90s came a lull in black action heroes, with most appearing as buddies to white cops (48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, Running Scared), suggesting racial tensions were more for comic relief than an urgent problem. Today, with the Trump administration systematically undermining all marginalized groups, with the rise of Black Lives Matter and with the spread of athletes taking a knee during the national anthem, is Black Panther an action hero for our times?

“Right now, superhero stories are kind of the modern myth-making,” says Coogler of T’Challa, his African protagonist. “He has a timeless quality to him because he is a king.” What makes him a hero for our times is his Hamlet-like intensity about what kind of king he should be: one who blindly follows in his ancestors’ traditions, which have kept his country of Wakanda prosperous and safe but isolated, or one who will risk all that to embrace a larger concept of community. As so magnificently played by Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa doesn’t have the stern indignation of Mister Tibbs, nor the righteous certainty of Shaft, nor the smirky aggressiveness of various Will Smith heroes. Instead, he is humble and conflicted about his own identity, which makes this basically a millennial coming-of-age story about finding his voice and using that to lead his people out of hiding and into a rich, diverse global community. In an era of “America First,” that’s a hero for our times.

One misstep is the hand-to-hand combat that anoints T’Challa the Black Panther and king of Wakanda. While physical prowess is necessary for an action hero, it is not the main attribute of a king. I would have preferred to see a challenge that involved a combination of intelligence, wisdom and athleticism over just brawling. The fights undercut the logic of Wakanda being so technologically advanced.

Coogler also saw T’Challa as a timely reflection of today because “even though he is incredibly powerful, he has so many incredible women around him who are empowered to do what they are able to do in the film”: Be brave, smart and just as ass-kicking. This aspect is even more powerful because there is never any discussion about “strong women”; they are accepted as equals as if there had never been any doubt about it in Wakanda’s history. That’s what true equality looks like. Another rewarding distinction is the film’s sympathy for its villain, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan). Rather than the typical crazed megalomaniac, Stevens is the embodiment of justified black rage at being treated like the White Man’s Burden as well as being betrayed by his own people.

The MacGuffin that Stevens is after is vibranium, an ore from a meteor that allowed Wakanda to prosper technologically beyond the rest of the world. Vibranium seems like a symbol for everything taken from Africa, from natural resources to cultural identity to actual people. “I couldn’t agree more,” says Coogler. “Because of what has happened to the continent over time, it’s been systematically stripped of those things. And the people there on the continent tend to not have financial control over the things that could potentially bring them value. So I think that Wakanda is the ultimate African fantasy, a place that was able to maintain dominion over their natural resource, able to control it, able to use it to grow, scientifically and culturally, and able to defend it from people who want to take it.”

For many, Black Panther is an ethno-sensitive weather balloon being released in the pop cultural atmosphere to test which way the financial winds are blowing. Can a movie that costs $200 million to make and another $150 million to market with a mostly black cast and set in Africa be as successful as movies featuring white superheroes?

The answer is important, because it determines if black artists will have the opportunity to tell their truths and stories to a mass audience. Not just the conventionally accepted stories about slavery, racism and social oppression. In general, marginalized groups — people of color, women, LGBTQ, immigrants — are relegated to telling stories of being victimized. And while that is an essential element of our lives, it does not define who we are. We also have our coming-of-age Lady Birds, our guilt-and-redemption Three Billboards, our steely-and-sexy James Bonds as well as other stories of daily trials and tribulations that all people share.

So while we gather to celebrate Black Panther, we also are waiting to exhale — to see if this is a phenomenon that, whether successful or not, catapults us ahead or pushes us back to square one. Black audiences have been here before, feeling we are on the edge of being asked to sit at the big house table to tell our stories, only to be told that, despite all the box-office evidence to the contrary, not that many people want to hear our stories.

In the meantime, to borrow from Shaft: “Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?” Black Panther. Right on.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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Portraits or Politics? Both Presidential Likenesses Blend Fact and Fiction

Portraits or Politics? Both Presidential Likenesses Blend Fact and Fiction

Photo

Kehinde Wiley has set Mr. Obama against greenery, with flowers that have symbolic meaning: African blue lilies for Kenya, his father’s birthplace; jasmine for Hawaii, where Mr. Obama was born; chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, for the city where his political career began.

Credit
Kehinde Wiley

WASHINGTON — With the unveiling here Monday at the National Portrait Gallery of the official presidential likenesses of Barack Obama and the former first lady, Michelle Obama, this city of myriad monuments gets a couple of new ones, each radiating, in its different way, gravitas (his) and glam (hers).

Ordinarily, the event would pass barely noticed in the worlds of politics and art. Yes, the Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution, owns the only readily accessible complete collection of presidential likenesses. But recently commissioned additions to the collection have been so undistinguished that the tradition of installing a new portrait after a leader has left office is now little more than ceremonial routine.

The present debut is strikingly different. Not only are the Obamas the first presidential couple claiming African descent to be enshrined in the collection. The painters they’ve picked to portray them — Kehinde Wiley, for Mr. Obama’s portrait; Amy Sherald, for Mrs. Obama — are African-American as well. Both artists have addressed the politics of race consistently in their past work, and both have done so in subtly savvy ways in these new commissions. Mr. Wiley depicts Mr. Obama not as a self-assured, standard-issue bureaucrat, but as an alert and troubled thinker. Ms. Sherald’s image of Mrs. Obama overemphasizes an element of couturial spectacle, but also projects a rock-solid cool.

It doesn’t take #Black Lives Matter consciousness to see the significance of this racial lineup within the national story as told by the Portrait Gallery. Some of the earliest presidents represented — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson — were slaveholders; Mrs. Obama’s great-great grandparents were slaves. And today we’re seeing more and more evidence that the social gains of the Civil Rights, and Black Power, and Obama eras are, with a vengeance, being rolled back.

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On several levels, then, the Obama portraits stand out in this institutional context, though given the tone of bland propriety that prevails in the museum’s long-term “America’s Presidents” display — where Mr. Obama’s (though not Mrs. Obama’s) portrait hangs — standing out is not all that hard to do.

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Amy Sherald’s take on Mrs. Obama emphasizes an element of couturial spectacle (with a dress designed by Michelle Smith) and rock-solid cool.

Credit
Kehinde Wiley

The National Portrait Gallery collection isn’t old. It was created by an Act of Congress in 1962 and opened to the public in 1968. (The Obama unveiling is billed as part of its 50th birthday celebrations.) By the time it began collecting, many chief executive portraits of note were already housed elsewhere. (The collection of first lady portraits is still incomplete; commissioning new ones started only in 2006.)

There are, for sure, outstanding things, one being Gilbert Stuart’s so-called “Landsdowne” Portrait” of George Washington from 1796, a full-length likeness packed with executive paraphernalia: papers to be signed, multiple quill pens, a sword, and an Imperial Roman-style chair. Even the clothes are an 18th-century version of current POTUS style: basic black suit and fat tie. As for Washington, he stands blank-faced, one arm extended, like a tenor taking a dignified bow.

Uninflected dignity was the attitude of choice for well over a century, with a few breaks. In an 1836 portrait, Andrew Jackson, a demonstrative bully, sports a floor-length, red-silk-lined Dracula cloak and a kind of topiary bouffant. (A picture of Jackson, one of President Trump’s populist heroes, hangs in the Oval Office.) Abraham Lincoln, seen in several likenesses, is exceptional for looking as if he may actually have weighty matters on his mind. Most of the portraits that precede and follow his are pure P.R.

This continues well into the 20th century. In a 1980 painting Jimmy Carter trades a beige suit for a black one. How revolutionary is that? And there’s a Casual Fridays vogue: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both go tieless for it. Under the circumstances, Elaine de Kooning’s 1963 portrait of John F. Kennedy, a fanfare of green and blue strokes, hits like a boost of adrenaline. Rousing too, though not in a good way, is a big head shot image of Bill Clinton by the artist Chuck Close. Using his signature mosaic-like painting technique, Mr. Close turns the 42nd president into a pixelated clown.

Mr. Obama has much better luck with his similarly high-profile portraitist. Mr. Wiley, born in Los Angeles in 1977, gained a following in the early 2000s with his crisp, glossy, life-size paintings of young African-American men dressed in hip-hop styles, but depicted in the old-master manner of European royal portraits. More recently he has expanded his repertoire to include female subjects, as well as models from Brazil, India, Nigeria and Senegal, creating the collective image of a global black aristocracy.

In an imposingly scaled painting — just over seven feet tall — the artist presents Mr. Obama dressed in the regulation black suit and an open-necked white shirt, and seated on a vaguely thronelike chair not so different from the one seen in Stuart’s Washington portrait. But art historical references stop there. So do tonal echoes of past portraits. Whereas Mr. Obama’s predecessors are, to the man, shown expressionless and composed, Mr. Obama sits tensely forward, frowning, elbows on his knees, arms crossed, as if listening hard. No smiles, no Mr. Nice Guy. He’s still troubleshooting, still in the game.

His engaged and assertive demeanor contradicts — and cosmetically corrects — the impression he often made in office of being philosophically detached from what was going on around him. At some level, all portraits are propaganda, political or personal. And what makes this one distinctive is the personal part. Mr. Wiley has set Mr. Obama against — really embedded him in — a bower of what looks like ground cover. From the greenery sprout flowers that have symbolic meaning for the sitter. African blue lilies represent Kenya, his father’s birthplace; jasmine stands for Hawaii, where Mr. Obama himself was born; chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, reference the city where his political career began, and where he met his wife.

Mrs. Obama’s choice of Ms. Sherald as an artist was an enterprising one. Ms. Sherald, who was born in Columbus, Ga., in 1973 and lives in Baltimore, is just beginning to move into the national spotlight after putting her career on hold for some years to deal with a family health crisis, and one of her own. (She had a heart transplant at 39.) Production-wise, she and Mr. Wiley operate quite differently. He runs the equivalent of a multinational art factory, with assistants churning out work. Ms. Sherald, who until a few years ago made her living waiting tables, oversees a studio staff of one, herself.

At the same time, they have much in common. Both focused early on African-American portraiture precisely because it is so little represented in Western art history. And both tend to blend fact and fiction. Mr. Wiley, with photo-realistic precision, casts actual people in fantastically heroic roles. (He modifies his heroizing in the case of Mr. Obama, but it’s still there.) Ms. Sherald also starts with realism, but softens and abstracts it. She gives all her figures gray-toned skin — a color with ambiguous racial associations — and reduces bodies to geometric forms silhouetted against single-color fields.

She shows Mrs. Obama sitting against a field of light blue, wearing a spreading gown. The dress design, by Michelle Smith, is eye-teasingly complicated: mostly white interrupted by black Op Art-ish blips and patches of striped color suggestive of African textiles. The shape of the dress, rising pyramidally upward, mountain-like, feels as if it were the real subject of the portrait. Mrs. Obama’s face forms the composition’s peak, but could be almost anyone’s face, like a model’s face in a fashion spread. To be honest, I was anticipating — hoping for — a bolder, more incisive image of the strong-voiced person I imagine this former first lady to be, one for whom I could easily envision a continuing political future.

And while I’m wishing, let me mention something more. Mr. Obama’s portrait will be installed, long-term, among those of his presidential peers, in a dedicated space on the second floor. Mrs. Obama’s will hang in a corridor reserved for temporary displays of new acquisitions — on the first floor. It will stay there until November, after which there’s no set-aside place for it to land.

If first men have an acknowledged showcase, first women — ladies or not — should too. Better, they should all be together, sharing space, offering a welcoming environment to, among others, a future first female president, and creating a lasting monument to #MeToo.

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