Donald Trump summons Silicon Valley executives to New York

The New York Times summarizes Trump’s demand for a meeting with tech companies.

However, one prominent venture investor, Chris Sacca, seems to have the best approach to Trump:

If an attendee wants to maintain their integrity and preserve their company’s ability to recruit the best talent, then there is only one purpose for a trip to Trump Tower: to deliver the message that our industry will not be complicit in the systematic disgrace of our democratic institutions, the establishment of an authoritarian kleptocracy nor the oppression of citizens, including the minority of Americans who elected him.

Seems like a terrific approach to me.

Andrew Ross Sorkin on Elon Musk (and Trump)

Andrew Ross Sorkin, writing in the New York Times:

Donald Trump: Please think about calling Elon Musk.

President-elect Trump has spent a lot of time talking about how he plans to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector, repeatedly telling the public on the campaign trail, “We are going to bring back jobs that have been stolen from you.”

And yet the group of business luminaries he named on Friday to advise him on “job creation” — which included Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Robert Iger of Disney and Mary Barra of General Motors — was missing a key name: Mr. Musk, the real-life Tony Stark behind Tesla, the electric car company; SolarCity, the solar power provider; and SpaceX, the rocket company.

Mr. Musk, 45, is arguably the one person in the nation more responsible than anyone else for generating a vision for the re-emergence of manufacturing in the United States en masse. And he is revered among most of his peers here in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

In the last decade, Mr. Musk has created nearly 35,000 jobs among his various enterprises — and most of those jobs are classic manufacturing ones. His Tesla Gigafactory, a 5.5-million-square-foot battery factory under construction outside Reno, Nev., is expected to employ 6,500 people in manufacturing jobs by 2020.

After the factory is complete, 95 percent of the parts contained in Tesla vehicles will be made in the United States. His company’s leading-edge advances have pushed the entire auto industry to innovate, with rivals seeking to copy many of Tesla’s best features.This is the future of manufacturing — much more so than the 1,000 jobs saved at the Carrier plant in Indiana last week.

And Tesla’s challenges are a microcosm of the trade issues that confound so many American manufacturers: To sell its cars in China, Tesla faces tariffs and other disincentives that make its vehicles 40 percent more expensive than locally produced electric cars, according to Mr. Musk. If you flip it around, China faces only a nominal tax to sell electric cars and parts in the United States. The situation is fairly similar in much of Europe.

Still, conservative groups and individuals have taken to the internet with a litany of real and fake stories attacking Mr. Musk for the government subsidies Tesla receives, and for his vocal warnings on climate change.

* * *

. . . while Mr. Musk gets painted as a benefactor of crony capitalism and the Obama administration’s efforts to promote green energy, he is — perhaps counterintuitively — a prime example of everything we want our business leaders to be.

What other chief executive do you know who takes only $1 a year in salary and has never sold a share of Tesla except to pay taxes? Yes, he pays taxes — to the tune of some $600 million in just the past year. He has about as much skin in the game as any C.E.O. in the country. (If you’re asking how he pays to live, he has taken out a series of loans from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, using his shares as collateral. For some, that raises its own corporate governance concerns. However, the loans represent only about 5 percent of his net worth, so unless shares of Tesla fall precipitously, he should be able to cover the loan amounts.)

And when questions arose about whether Tesla would be able to pay off SolarCity’s debt after the two companies merged, Mr. Musk declared, “I would pay it personally if need be.” That’s putting your money where your mouth is.

Much more here.

Bernie Sanders on Trump’s Carrier campaign

This is way too good.

Bernie Sanders, writing in the Washington Post:

Today, about 1,000 Carrier workers and their families should be rejoicing. But the rest of our nation’s workers should be very nervous.

President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly announce a deal with United Technologies, the corporation that owns Carrier, that keeps less than 1,000 of the 2,100 jobs in America that were previously scheduled to be transferred to Mexico. Let’s be clear: It is not good enough to save some of these jobs. Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs, and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed.

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.  

Let’s be clear. United Technologies is not going broke. Last year, it made a profit of $7.6 billion and received more than $6 billion in defense contracts. It has also received more than $50 million from the Export-Import Bank and very generous tax breaks. In 2014, United Technologies gave its former chief executive Louis Chenevert a golden parachute worth more than $172 million. Last year, the company’s five highest-paid executives made more than $50 million. The firm also spent $12 billion to inflate its stock price instead of using that money to invest in new plants and workers.

More here.

Media cannot ignore Trump’s instability

Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Washington Post:

Commentators such as Jack Shafer argue the media should ignore President-elect Donald Trump’s outlandish tweets — because they are outlandish and because they distract us from things Trump wants us to ignore. Shafer has things exactly backward.

The Post’s Aaron Blake writes, The job comes with the so-called bully pulpit, and what he says matters and will be the subject of debate no matter what the mainstream media does. Everything he says reverberates. It doesn’t matter if he says it on Twitter or at a news conference; either way it’s going to be consumed by tens of millions of people, and the media has an important role to play when it comes to fact-checking and providing context.” We find that logic compelling and would add a few additional points.

* * *

. . . we would argue that there is no more important story than the continuous stream of evidence of the president-elect’s irrationality and instability. Hillary Clinton certainly thought that was relevant to the campaign (it was); the mental and intellectual status of the man we elected should be of even greater concern. We can hardly think of more important topics than these:

  • How are we to trust the decision-making of a president so easily waylaid by nonsense?
  • Does Trump’s lack of attention span and refusal to read make him susceptible to conspiracy theories?
  • Can he continue his willful indifference to reality and still govern?
  • Do his personal grievances interfere with his ability to function as president?
  • Who, if anyone, can reason with a man this irrational?

* * *

In sum, no one can assess at this stage whether Trump tweets strategically or compulsively, whether he means what he tweets or simply tweets to blow off steam, and whether he understands the importance of a president’s words. Perhaps clarity will come with time. For now, however, his utterances on Twitter and elsewhere give critical insight into the mind-set of the least prepared man ever to win the presidency. The media’s central task now and in the months ahead is to explain to the American people precisely who it is they elected — his shortcomings, his blind-spots, his emotional state and his decision-making process. Turning a blind eye to his unfiltered outbursts would be journalistic malpractice. Worse, it would shield the public from the unpleasant reality, the consequences of their electoral decision, which they must now endure for four (if not eight) years.

Trump calls for revoking citizenship of flag burning Americans

Via the New York Times:

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, politicians have periodically announced with fanfare that they would introduce a bill to strip the citizenship of Americans accused of terrorism. The idea tends to attract brief attention, but fades away, in part because the Supreme Court long ago ruled that the Constitution does not permit the government to take a person’s citizenship against his or her will.

But on Tuesday, President-elect Donald J. Trump revived the idea and took it much further than the extreme case of a suspected terrorist. He proposed that Americans who protest government policies by burning the flag could lose their citizenship — meaning, among other things, their right to vote — as punishment.

Mr. Trump wrote the post shortly after Fox News aired a segment about a dispute at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, which removed the American flag from its campus flagpole after protests over his election victory; during one demonstration, someone burned a flag.

Even if Mr. Trump were to persuade Congress to enact a criminal statute, a dramatic shift in the balance between government power and individual freedom, anyone convicted and sentenced could point to clear Supreme Court precedents to make the case for a constitutional violation.

The obstacles include the precedent that the Constitution does not allow the government to expatriate Americans against their will, through a landmark 1967 case, Afroyim v. Rusk. They also include a 1989 decision, Texas v. Johnson, in which the court struck down criminal laws banning flag burning, ruling that the act was a form of political expression protected by the First Amendment.

David D. Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who co-wrote the Supreme Court briefs in the flag-burning case and who is about to become national legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he wondered if Mr. Trump’s strategy was to goad people into burning flags in order to “marginalize” the protests against him. But he also called Mr. Trump’s proposal “beyond the pale.”

“To me it is deeply troubling that the person who is going to become the most powerful government official in the United States doesn’t understand the first thing about the First Amendment — which is you can’t punish people for expressing dissent — and also doesn’t seem to understand that citizenship is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away, period, under any circumstances,” he said.

Much more here.

The law is clear that the First Amendment protects the right to dissent, and flag burning is a method of dissent. US citizens are citizens for life.

Borowitz: Trump picks El Chapo to run D.E.A.

Via The New Yorker:

Just days after picking Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped another wealthy outsider by naming Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In an official statement, Trump said that El Chapo’s “tremendous success in the private sector” showed that he has what it takes to “shake things up” at the D.E.A.

Trump’s appointment of the former drug lord surprised many in Washington, in no small part because acrimony between the two allegedly prompted El Chapo, in 2015, to put a hundred-million-dollar bounty on Trump’s head.

But, appearing on CNN, the Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway said that the selection of El Chapo should surprise no one. “Mr. Trump always said that he would surround himself with the best people,” she said.

When asked why Trump had readily offered a job to El Chapo while still mulling the fate of another former adversary, Mitt Romney, Conway said, “El Chapo might not have voted for Mr. Trump, but that’s because he’s Mexican and in jail, and Mitt Romney is neither.”

The appointment of the former drug kingpin is far from a done deal, however, as associates of El Chapo report that he is “concerned” that being a member of the Trump Administration would be bad for his brand.

Bush, Obama ethics lawyers demand Electoral College block Trump unless he sells his businesses

Via Think Progress:

Members of the Electoral College should not make Donald Trump the next president unless his sells his companies and puts the proceeds in a blind trust, according to the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents.

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

Debates and other proceedings of the Convention of Virginia : convened at Richmond, on Monday the second day of June, 1788, for the purpose of deliberating on the Constitution

This provision was specifically created to prevent the President, most of all, from being corrupted by foreign influences.

Virginia Governor Edmund Jennings Randolph addressed the issue directly during a Constitutional debate in June 1788, noting that a violation of the provision by the President would be grounds for impeachment. (Randolph was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.)

There is another provision against the danger mentioned by the honorable member, of the president receiving emoluments from foreign powers. If discovered he may be impeached. If he be not impeached he may be displaced at the end of the four years. By the ninth section, of the first article, “No person holding an office of profit or trust, shall accept of any present or emolument whatever, from any foreign power, without the consent of the representatives of the people” … I consider, therefore, that he is restrained from receiving any present or emoluments whatever. It is impossible to guard better against corruption.”

Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are receiving a stream of such payments.” A prime example is Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC which, according to Eisen, is “actively seeking emoluments to Trump: payments from foreign governments for use of the hotel.”

“The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable,” Eisen added.

This problem will be repeated “over and over” again with Trump’s other properties and business interests. The only way to cure this Constitutional violation is for Trump to sell his companies and set up a blind trust before he takes office.

Electors should insist that Trump set up a blind trust as a condition of their vote, Eisen said.

Another option, however unlikely, is for “Republicans in Congress [to] admit that they endorse Trump’s exploitation of public office for private gain and authorize his emoluments as the Constitution allows.”

Eisen’s conclusions are shared by Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional scholars. Tribe told ThinkProgress that, after extensive research, he concluded that “Trump’s ongoing business dealings around the world would make him the recipient of constitutionally prohibited ‘Emoluments’ from ‘any King, Prince, or foreign State’ — in the original sense of payments and not necessarily presents or gifts — from the very moment he takes the oath.”

Much more here.