Wiretap the throwdown edition: Romney vs. Giuliani, populism vs. austerity, and the electoral college vs. the popular vote

Gage Skidmore

It’s the unlikeliest of heavyweight showdowns -— Mitt Romney vs. Rudy Giuliani for Donald Trump’s pick as secretary of state. You couldn’t have two contenders less alike in either policy or temperament. And you could definitely not find two candidates who would create more division in today’s Trumpist Republican Party. Yet somehow the favorite seems to be the guy who repeated called Trump a “phony.” Via the New York Times.

And then there’s that other likely intraparty point of dissension: When Trump’s apparent populism collides with Paul Ryan’s austerity. Via the New Republic.

America suffered its first combat fatality in Syria, where there are more than 300 Special Ops forces on the ground. The service member was killed by an IED. Via the New York Times.

The Washington Post is reporting that Russian propaganda played a significant role in the dissemination of so-called “fake news” during the 2016 campaign. In other words, the Russians were playing a role. So now we must ask ourselves: Could this be fake news?

Apparently the election is not quite over yet. For some reason, people are sending millions of dollars to Green Party candidate Jill Stein to conduct recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Rust Belt states that Trump barely won on his way to an Electoral College victory. The strange thing, of course, is that Stein campaigned saying that Clinton was more dangerous than Trump. Via the Washington Post.

Even though the Clinton campaign apparently accepts the fact that Clinton lost, that does not mean she didn’t have a significant victory in the popular vote. In fact, no one has ever lost a presidential election with a two-point popular-vote lead. She’s winning by greater numbers than four men who actually became president, and that number may grow to six by the time all the votes are counted. Democracy, huh? Via the Atlantic.

Expect to hear more about the National Popular Vote Compact, which is a way around the Electoral College’s little problem with turning a losing presidential candidate into a winner. And then, despite what you read, expect nothing to change. Via the Daily Beast.

If you’re wondering how far Trump is willing to go in his populist movement? Let’s just say not all the way to selecting his cabinet. He has just named two billionaires — Wilbur “King of Bankruptcy” Ross for Commerce and Betsy Devos for Education — to cabinet positions. Meanwhile Politico puts the net worth of a likely Trump cabinet at something like $35 billion.

From the National Review, the editors are very happy with Trump’s choice of DeVos, a strong proponent of vouchers, for education secretary. They think she’ll be an effective counter to what the Review calls the “thuggish” teachers’ unions, so there’s that.

Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons, Flickr.

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