What Trump will do on his very first day

Donald Trump announced a series of executive actions that he will put in place on his very first day in office.

From Trump announces executive actions for Day One – POLITICO:

President-elect Donald Trump released a recorded video message to the nation Monday evening, in which he outlined several executive actions he plans to take on his first day in office.

“I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Trump began, vowing to withdraw from the trade agreement with 11 other countries that was pushed by President Barack Obama. Trump said he will instead negotiate bilateral trade deals that “bring jobs and industry” back to the country. [Read more…]

Leon Russell dies

Another icon of my youth, Leon Russell, passed away at age 74.  A piano player from Lawton, Oklahoma, Russell became a member of the “wrecking crew,” that set of session musicians who were responsible for most of the pop music coming out of L.A. in the early sixties, from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and the Papas and the Byrds.  From there, he started playing with British stars, of the magnitude of John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and Eric Clapton.  Also Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and. . .you name it.  The man knew everybody and his eclectic taste meant that he played just about everything.

He was also the main originator of the “Tulsa Sound,” with its country rock boogie-woogie shuffle that made a mark in the 1970s.  I grew up in the Tulsa area around then, and Leon was part of that silly teenaged scene on local late night TV with Mazeppa Pompazoidi (Gaylord Sartain) and Teddy Jack Eddy (Gary Busey).  I remember driving to Tulsa to hear a free concert in a park with Leon and B.B. King, one of the best concerts I’ve ever heard.

After the jump, a link to an informative obituary and a video of what he could do. [Read more…]

Putting together a Trump administration

There is running for office and then there is governing, two distinct tasks requiring two very different skill sets.  So now President-elect Trump has to put together a Cabinet, a team of advisors, a White House staff, and the rest of the Executive Branch.

Trump has promised that he would surround himself with the best and the smartest people who will help him get things done.  So now it remains to be seen who these folks will be.

A big problem is that virtually all of the Republican foreign affairs experts have repudiated Trump during the presidential campaign.  Would Trump hire some of them anyway?  Would they deign to serve in his administration?  True, one might say, these are mostly neo-cons who have kept getting us into wars and other harmful entanglements, so a fresh foreign policy would be better off without them.  But who would have the knowledge base to take their place?

In domestic policy, Trump has picked up some experienced allies–Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee–and he is likely to give roles to them.  And he has a Supreme Court appointment to make.  He has promised to pick someone from the list of 20 conservative jurists that he put together to reassure social conservatives.

After the jump, read some speculation about how the appointments might shape up. [Read more…]

Liveblogging the final debate

This is the last presidential debate, for which we can all be thankful.  I’ll give my commentary as it unfolds in the “comments.”  Please do the same.  I’d love to hear what you are thinking.  Just hit “comments.”

Let the debate begin.

The drama around Sunday’s debate

The second presidential debate will be held Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET, to be covered by all major networks.

This one will have a Town Hall format, with ordinary Americans who have been identified as uncommitted voters in close proximity and asking half the questions.  This can induce cringeworthy moments.  Candidates will also get to move around, which seldom goes well.  (Remember Al Gore trying to be the alpha male by invading George W. Bush’s personal space?  It was just embarrassingly awkwardwith Bush ruining the whole effect with his bemused expression, getting the audience to laugh at him.)

Trump has not done many Town Halls, preferring to speak at huge arenas with thousands of cheering fans.  A big test will be if he can restrain himself from unloading on an ordinary American who asks him a hostile question.

He can be sure that he will be asked about the video just released from 2005 of him making incredibly lewd and lecherous remarks about women, including bragging about an adultery attempt and how he gets to grope women sexually because he is a “star.”  (Some are saying this will doom his campaign.  Do you think it will?)

I don’t like to blog on Sundays, so I won’t be liveblogging this debate.  (You can comment on it as it unfolds here at this post, if you want.)  But I do intend to watch it, so we can discuss what happens on Monday. [Read more…]

Oberlin students demand end to grades below C

Students at Oberlin, which has the reputation as a good school, are demanding that the administration abolish any grades below C.  And while they are at it, they should abolish midterms and essay questions, replacing them with a conversation with a professor.  Their reasoning is that they have too much to do, what with their activism on top of their course loads.  Also, they are paying for their attendance and need to get what they want from it. [Read more…]