“To the best of my ability, which is terrific by the way”

December 10, 2016



1. Trump’s attentive interview style
2. Fearing the Donald
3. Inconsistent standards
4. In favor of free speech and tolerance only when it suits you
5. The Guardian: there is fake news on the left too
6. Fake news and Israel
7. Denzel Washington: the choice is between being uninformed and misinformed
8. Time magazine: Anti-Semitic bullies on the alt-left
9. The rights of the disabled
10. “The World Fears Trump’s America. That’s a Good Thing” (By Mark Moyar, NY Times, Dec. 9, 2016)
11. “What It’s Like to Apply for a Job in Donald Trump’s White House” (By Julie Hirschfeld Davis, NY Times, Dec. 8, 2016)
12. “Opposite Day in Dems’ world: Post-election flip-flops abound” (By Howie Carr, Boston Herald, Dec. 9, 2016)



[Notes below by Tom Gross]

I attach below three new pieces on Donald Trump.

The first is an interesting account from the New York Times about the manner and style in which Trump has been interviewing those he may give jobs to in his administration. “Trump has been more hands-on in the interviews than his predecessors were,” notes the New York Times.

This piece comes against the background of discussions in the media about so-called fake news, and the claims made in some mainstream media that Donald Trump has been particularly slow to put together a cabinet, when in fact he has generally been quicker than many of his recent presidential predecessors in making appointments.



The second piece is an op-ed in the New York Times claiming it is “a good thing” if the world fears Trump.

The author writes: “During the last eight years, President Obama showed what happens when the world’s greatest power tries strenuously to avoid giving fright. He began his presidency with lofty vows to conciliate adversaries, defer to the opinions of other countries and reduce America’s military commitments. Consequently, he received rapturous applause in European capitals and a Nobel Peace Prize. In the real world of geopolitics, however, the results have been catastrophic.”



The third piece (which many of you may not agree with) is from yesterday’s Boston Herald and highlights the double standards at play regarding Trump:

“Penny Pritzker, Obama’s secretary of commerce – great pick. She knows business. She’s worth $2.5 billion, you know. Trump picks Wilbur Ross as his secretary of commerce – how dare he? Ross is worth … $2.5 billion.” And so on.



As someone who supports liberal positions on many issues, from gun control to women’s rights to universal healthcare, I find it upsetting that many liberals appear to only favor free speech when it suits them.

For example, the co-host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC (the most liberal of the major American news channels) revealed yesterday that the Clinton campaign tried to force her off air during the election for daring to suggest that Trump might win if the Clinton “campaign did not understand that perhaps there was an arrogance, that they needed to sort of get off their high horse and understand that this isn’t over.”



This piece in The Guardian, the influential British and international newspaper, discusses the whole phenomenon of “fake news” and the attempts to control the internet, reminding us that there is plenty of so-called “fake news” on the left as well as on the right.



Indeed regarding fake, or (the equally dangerous phenomenon of) deliberately distorted news, one of the key reasons that I started this dispatch and email service is that, having worked as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East and elsewhere, I frequently observed respected journalists from respected news outlets, deliberately distorting news to suit their political agenda, usually to Israel’s detriment.



It’s the mainstream media that’s selling “BS,” the actor and director Denzel Washington pointed out on Tuesday in a talk at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

He said: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed.”



As we know from many cases around the world, anti-Semitism comes from the left (for example, among some Labour party politicians in Britain) as well as the right, even though many in the mainstream American media prefer to pretend it only comes from the right.

In a rare example of a mainstream publication allowing attention to be drawn to “alt-left” anti-Semitism, Time magazine this week provided a platform for Canadian professor Gil Troy (a subscriber to this list) to explain how Bernie Sanders’ supporters bombarded him with messages after he appeared to be sympathetic to Hillary Clinton, calling him a “kyke” (their spelling), a “greedy Jew” and asking how he could help this Jewish politician?” [Clinton] and so on.

Gil Troy is far from the only American or Canadian professor or student to suffer anti-Semitism on campus in recent years – from the left, as much as, if not more so, than from the right.



It is not just fake news that can be problematic. It is the question of what journalists choose to leave out of a story.

For example, USA Today has run a piece claiming that many are angry about Trump’s expected nomination of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington to be his secretary of Interior. But the paper didn’t mention that campaigners for the rights of the disabled are thrilled with her prospective appointment since McMorris Rodgers (who is raising a Down’s Syndrome child) has, they say, been at the forefront of highlighting the rights of the disabled.

(One can recall how in 2008, Sarah Palin, who also has a Down’s syndrome child, was ridiculed by some on the left for being “stupid enough” not to abort her Down’s syndrome child.)

In any case, Trump has not assumed office yet so we need to reserve judgment on whether he will prove to be a good or a poor president.

-- Tom Gross



What It’s Like to Apply for a Job in Donald Trump’s White House
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
New York Times (news page)
December 8, 2016

WASHINGTON – When former Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia stepped off the elevator on the 26th floor of Trump Tower last week for his interview with Donald J. Trump, he expected a grilling by the president-elect and a phalanx of associates, something along the lines of the confrontational boardroom scenes at the sleek conference table in the television show “The Apprentice.”

What he found instead was Mr. Trump, calm and solicitous behind a desk cluttered with papers and periodicals, in a large corner office with a hodgepodge of memorabilia and décor that appeared little changed from the 1980s. Nick Ayers, an aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Stephen K. Bannon, who will serve as Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, listened from the sidelines. Mr. Trump, who offered Mr. Perdue a seat across from his desk, was in charge.

“He was approaching this from a deal standpoint, and he wanted to know if he was on the right track,” said Mr. Perdue, who is being considered for secretary of agriculture and wore a tie adorned with tractors to the meeting. “He believes that we in the United States have been sort of patsies over the years in the way we’ve dealt with our foreign competitors and international trade – and I agree with him – and he wanted to know what I would do about it.”

For more than a decade, millions of Americans tuned in to watch Mr. Trump interrogate prospective employees on “The Apprentice” with a mix of arrogance and disdain. But in private over the past few weeks, a less theatrical spinoff of the spectacle has unfolded in Mr. Trump’s office in Manhattan, and occasionally at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., or at Mar-a-Lago, his getaway in Palm Beach, Fla.

Mr. Trump’s interview style in the real world is direct but conversational, according to people who have sat opposite him. He did not take notes or appear to refer to a set list of questions, but he did have dossiers on his visitors and often displayed intricate knowledge of their backgrounds and experience. He rarely drank or ate. He kept his suit jacket on. In New York, he liked to show off the sweeping views of Central Park visible over his shoulder.

Job seekers, who must parade before the news media in the marble and bronze lobby of Trump Tower – “It was almost like walking the red carpet in Hollywood,” said Representative Lou Barletta, Republican of Pennsylvania, who has offered himself up as a secretary of transportation or labor – said that the president-elect often asked open-ended questions and had little patience for meandering answers.

“If you filibuster, he’ll cut you off,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who was initially in the running to be Mr. Trump’s secretary of state but has since said he is not interested in a cabinet post. “He wants to know what you can do for him.”

Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Trump’s approach to putting together his administration was the same one he has used with his multibillion-dollar business. “He’s used to defining jobs, measuring capability and making a judgment: ‘Do I think you can run my golf course? Do I think you can run my hotel? Do I want your restaurant in my building?’” Mr. Gingrich said.

Mr. Trump has been more hands-on in the interviews than his predecessors were. George W. Bush rarely spoke in person to more than one finalist for each cabinet post, said Clay Johnson III, who directed his transition effort in 2000. President Obama also interviewed a single finalist for each post in most cases, usually in a one-on-one discussion meant to confirm an already well-established conclusion that the candidate would be right for the job, said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior transition official in 2008.

“In some cases, he knew who he wanted and it was a question of convincing them to do it,” Mr. Pfeiffer said, citing examples like Hillary Clinton, who became Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, and Robert M. Gates, whom he persuaded to stay on as defense secretary.

Mr. Obama was also adamant that the deliberations not spill out into the open, but that has not been the case with Mr. Trump.

Members of Congress, generals, business executives and others mingle outside his office, waiting for an audience with the president-elect. Mr. Barletta waited more than 45 minutes for his meeting, passing the time chatting with his Republican colleague Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, who was waiting for his turn to audition for secretary of homeland security.

“It was like a green room, a waiting room of people you know or you know of, all waiting their turn,” said Robert L. Johnson, the founder of the television network BET, who visited Mr. Trump at Bedminster to discuss ways the incoming president could reach out to African-Americans. As Mr. Johnson was coming in, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York whom Mr. Trump is considering for secretary of state, was going out.

Mr. Trump wants a gut sense for a potential hire, people close to him said, prizing personal chemistry and an entrepreneurial spirit. But he also leans on the judgment of trusted advisers – particularly Mr. Pence and his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump – when assessing a candidate.

It was Ms. Trump who reached out to Mr. Johnson, the businessman and BET founder, after she saw a statement he issued the week after her father’s victory. In it, Mr. Johnson urged black voters to participate in elections and insist that both political parties address their concerns in order to earn their support.

Days later, Mr. Johnson was being led into a room at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster to meet with Mr. Trump, along with Reince Priebus, whom Mr. Trump has named chief of staff, Mr. Bannon and Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner. Mr. Trump asked what jobs he might consider taking in the administration, but Mr. Johnson said he quickly made it known he was not seeking a post.

“I told him as we sat down in the room that, ‘President-elect Trump, you shouldn’t ask African-American voters what they have to lose, as you did in your campaign; what you should have said, and what you should be talking about now is, this is what you have to gain from a Trump administration,’” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Trump seemed to take the advice. He said, “ ‘So I should focus on the aspirational aspects,’ “ Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Trump has taken advice from other job seekers as well. During his interview with James N. Mattis, who was selected last week to be the secretary of defense, Mr. Trump questioned the retired general about whether torture works as a tool for extracting vital information from terrorism suspects. General Mattis told him it did not, a view Mr. Trump later said surprised him and gave him reason to reconsider his position on the matter.

Mr. Trump, who prizes loyalty, also wanted to know precisely what the job seekers did to propel him into the White House.

“He asked about what I had done to help in Georgia,” said Mr. Perdue, who told the president-elect that he and his cousin, Senator David Perdue, had repeatedly reassured campaign officials about Mr. Trump’s prospects there and encouraged them to focus their energies elsewhere.

Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who met with Mr. Trump last month about becoming his secretary of veterans affairs, said that Mr. Trump asked how he could help him deliver on his campaign pledges and how to ensure a “good value” for veterans receiving services from the agency or private contractors.

“He made it clear that he’s a businessman and he’s going to delegate to people like me, potentially, and others,” Mr. Brown said. “He’s going to say, ‘Do your job, and do it well, and otherwise – you’re fired.’”



The World Fears Trump’s America. That’s a Good Thing.
By Mark Moyar
New York Times (opinion page)
December 9, 2016

Among global elites, Donald J. Trump’s recent phone call with Taiwan’s president has induced fear on a scale seldom matched since Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech. The Sydney Morning Herald warned that the phone call “risks provoking a cold war between the United States and China with potentially catastrophic economic and security implications.” The fright appears to confirm the narrative formed earlier this year by headlines like “Donald Trump Terrifies World Leaders.”

The fear is real. Mr. Trump has indeed terrified foreign leaders with his “America first” mantra, his promises to enlarge the American military and his tough talk on everything from the Islamic State to Air Force One. The good news is that his administration can turn this fear to the benefit of the United States.

During the last eight years, President Obama showed what happens when the world’s greatest power tries strenuously to avoid giving fright. He began his presidency with lofty vows to conciliate adversaries, defer to the opinions of other countries and reduce America’s military commitments. Consequently, he received rapturous applause in European capitals and a Nobel Peace Prize. In the real world of geopolitics, however, the results have been catastrophic.

Mr. Obama’s passivity in the face of provocations and his failure to enforce the “red line” in Syria led Russia, China and other adversaries to seek new gains at America’s expense. His promises to “end the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan satisfied the cosmopolitan chatterers of Stockholm, Paris and New York, but they deflated American allies in Baghdad and Kabul, and emboldened adversaries in Iran and Pakistan. So severe was the damage that he had to send troops back to Iraq in 2014, and had to abort his plans to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan before leaving office.

The Obama presidency is but the latest chapter in a post-1945 saga that has been dominated by international fear of the United States, or lack thereof. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea because Harry S. Truman’s exclusion of South Korea from America’s “defense perimeter” removed fears of intervention. By contrast, Dwight D. Eisenhower employed rhetorical threats and high military spending to fill the Communist powers with fear of nuclear Armageddon, an approach that kept the Communists from launching further invasions.

Lyndon B. Johnson tried to avert a major war in Vietnam by showing restraint, in expectation of North Vietnamese reciprocation. Hanoi responded by pouring troops into South Vietnam. Richard M. Nixon revived fears of the United States with his “madman theory,” whereby he took seemingly reckless actions to convince America’s enemies that he just might be crazy enough to do it. Those fears, and the caution they instilled in the Communist powers, dissipated when the Watergate Congress kicked the legs out from under South Vietnam. The world continued to live without fear of a strong America under Jimmy Carter, whose timidity caused nations to fall to Communism and the United States Embassy in Iran to fall to anti-American extremists.

In 1980, as in 2016, Americans elected someone who made clear his intent to put fear back in the nation’s enemies. Nowadays, even liberal Democrats applaud Reagan for bringing the Soviet Union to its knees. Back in 1980, however, Reagan’s tough, nationalist stances on foreign policy aroused the same condemnation of “fearmongering” currently emanating from the world’s enlightened critics of Mr. Trump.

The trembling of the rest of the world does not ensure that American foreign policy will be successful. Like any other strategic advantage, it works only when properly exploited through sound strategic decisions. Tough talk must be used judiciously. As the Syrian red line debacle demonstrated, the White House should issue specific threats only when it is prepared to follow through on them.

In its diplomacy, the new administration must seek the proper balance between fear and more positive motivations like respect and admiration. Under Mr. Obama, and his like-minded predecessors, American foreign policy created plenty of fear among some of America’s allies – fear that the United States would let them down. The Trump administration will need to reverse those expectations, so that fear of the United States is once again stronger among enemies than friends.

At times, nevertheless, even allies ought to have cause to worry about White House decisions. They must know that the world’s most powerful nation is prepared to practice tough love if they take actions inconsistent with the strength of the United States or the stability of the international system. Without such worries, they are liable to keep doing as they have often done in recent years – skimping on military spending and international commitments in expectation that the Americans will reflexively pick up the slack.

As the world’s most powerful country, and the only one whose leadership can safeguard the world order, the United States must care more about whether it commands international respect than whether it is loved by international elites. The incoming administration appears poised to return the United States to this precept after an eight-year drought. Americans and America’s allies should be relieved. America’s enemies are right to be afraid.



Opposite Day in Dems’ world: Post-election flip-flops abound
By Howie Carr
The Boston Herald
December 9, 2016


Up is down and down is up since Nov. 8.

Have you noticed? Everything the left once lauded is now bad, and all the stuff they once despised is now great.

Complaining that the election is rigged was a threat to democracy when Donald Trump brought it up. Then Hill and Jill wanted their phony-baloney recounts – wow, what a great idea!

Remember the Al Smith dinner in October, when Hillary made a joke about how Trump wasn’t really a billionaire? Now – how can Trump relate to the working man when his “sprawling” business empire is worth so many billions of dollars?

Time magazine (who knew they were still in business?) names Trump Person of the Year. If Hillary had gotten the nod, it would have been about breaking another glass ceiling blah-blah-blah. But when Trump gets it – big deal, Hitler and Stalin got it too, you know?

Penny Pritzker, Obama’s secretary of commerce – great pick. She knows business. She’s worth $2.5 billion, you know. Trump picks Wilbur Ross as his secretary of commerce – how dare he? Ross is worth … $2.5 billion.

Fake news under Obama – Benghazi caused by video, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”, Gruber and Obama lying about Obamacare, Obama aide bragging about misleading reporters on Iran nuke deal – nothing to see here, folks, move along. Pizzagate fake news – OMG, it’s the end of the world!

Stock market hits new high under Obama – happy days are here again. Stock market hits new high under Trump – big deal, it’s a bubble, everybody knows that.

Michelle Obama – most wonderful first lady ever. Melania Trump – Why are we squandering money on a budget for the office of the first lady?

Texas wants to secede to escape Obama authoritarianism – those Confederate racist nullifiers. California talks secession – yeah, let’s show those deplorables!

Obama flushes $500 million down a black hole for his bundlers at Solyndra – yawn. Trump gets Carrier $7 million to save 1,100 real jobs at a real factory in Indiana – crony capitalism at its worst.

Obama appoints generals – wow, what a brilliant concept from a New Democrat. Trump appoints generals – scary, the DOD is supposed to be under civilian control.

Millions upon millions spent on Obama vacations – how dare you even bring that up, you racist. Many fewer millions spent on security at Trump Tower – what a terrible waste of money.

When Dems control Senate and do away with the 60-vote threshold for stopping filibusters – about time we got rid of these archaic rules and put the GOP in its place.

When Senate Republicans plan to use the exact same rules the Democrats rammed through in 2013 – hey, wait a second, what about the wishes of the Founding Fathers?

I wish I’d said it first, but it’s worth repeating. The last time the Democrats were this mad at Republicans was when the Republicans took their slaves away from them.


Because of a technical fault, the last 19 dispatches on this list were not posted on my website until two days ago. For those interested, you can now read them here, including:

(1) Concerns about the Alt-Right (and Alt-Left)
(2) East Aleppo’s last clown, RIP (& Arabs donate wood to rebuild burned synagogue)
(3) Abbas orders Palestinian flags be flown at half-mast for Castro (& CNN apologizes)
(4) Sheikh Qaradawi retracts Fatwa encouraging Palestinian suicide attacks
(5) Hamas leader says Trump may be a Jew
(6) Pakistan birther theory: Trump was born Muslim
(7) I’m a Muslim, female immigrant and voted for Trump
(8) Trump’s Israel advisors likely to usher in era of improved US-Israel ties
(9) British MP: Parliament needs to apologize to Israel and the Jews
(10) Bystanders to Genocide (& Why some wars get more attention than others)


You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.