Today in "Headline Watch," I have generally good news. With the notable exception of the Wall Street Journal, most outlets said right in their headlines that Donald Trump's allegation of illegal voting this afternoon was false. That's pretty good.

Now, for my money, the proper style is something like "Trump Lies Yet Again, Claims Millions of Illegal Votes." The deck should be "This is Trump's 187th absurd lie of 2016." But, you know, baby steps. I understand that mainstream copy desks aren't quite ready to adopt my Updated Style Guide for the Trump Era. But they will be soon.

A few days ago I mentioned that the Trump campaign1 was pretty dedicated to sending Hillary Clinton's popular vote win down the memory hole. To accomplish this, they began a gaslighting offensive to persuade the nation that Donald Trump was one of the biggest winners ever in presidential history. Kellyanne Conway kicked things off by telling Fox News, "This election was not close. It was not a squeaker." Two days later, Trump himself defended his loss of the popular vote: "If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily."

Then Corey Lewandowski upped the ante, claiming that Trump "won the election campaign by the largest majority since Ronald Reagan in 1984." I guess this was a little too raw even for Trumpland, so Reince Priebus beavered away and finally found something to justify Lewandowski's toadying: "Donald J. Trump won over 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Reagan in 1984." But that still wasn't enough. The whole popular vote thing is apparently a serious burr in Trump's saddle, and he wasn't happy with all this shilly-shallying. So today he decided to go for broke and insist that he just won, period:

So there you have it. It's twisting Trump's guts that more people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for him. And this whole recount thing in Wisconsin seems to have driven him bananas. The result is a tweet alleging that the Clinton campaign orchestrated millions of illegal votes in 2016.2 This message went out to all 16 million of his followers, who will surely pass it along to another 16 million or so—and then the media will pass it along to yet millions more.

This is an obvious lie, and it will probably take a few hours for Trump's TV shills to figure out how to defend it. That's how it worked with the "thousands of Muslims celebrating on 9/11" thing. In that case, his spear carriers eventually dug up a few internet factoids that provided them with a way to claim that Trump was right, and away they went. I'm sure the same thing will happen this time. I can't wait to see how many will join in and exactly what dreck they'll dredge up to justify it.

Alternatively, they could just admit that the Republican president-elect is an epically insecure liar who will say anything when his fragile ego is bruised. That's not a very appealing alternative, is it?

1As near as I can tell, Trump is still running a campaign.

2Trump says he would have won if not for these votes, so they must have all been for Hillary. And if they were all for Hillary, then Democrats must have been the ones who did the vote rigging. Right?

Oh boy:

This is terrifying on a number of levels. Not only does it further demonstrate that the soon-to-be leader of the free world has a skin as thin as tissue paper, but it highlights the fact that Trump will as president continue to trade in insane conspiracy theories just as he did as a candidate and as a reality show star before that. There is exactly no evidence that "millions of people voted illegally" in the election. None. Zilch. Zero. But Trump doesn't care.

We're screwed.

Update: This.

Here is what the chattering classes are chattering about today:

Top advisers to President-elect Donald Trump escalated their attacks on Mitt Romney on Sunday, catapulting their long-simmering frustrations onto cable news in an extraordinary public airing of grievances.

In a series of interviews on the Sunday political talk shows, Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, argued firmly against tapping Romney for secretary of state...“I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position,” Conway said in an interview with CNN. “We don’t even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump.”

....Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich...“I think there’s nothing that Mitt Romney can say that doesn’t sound phony and frankly pathetic...I think we would be enormously disappointed if he brought Mitt Romney into any position of authority.”

This is pretty remarkable. Presidential staffs always have plenty of infighting, and often that infighting becomes public via anonymous leaks. But I can't recall a transition team that literally went public in its bashing of a potential cabinet pick. So what's going on?

  1. Conway and Gingrich want to influence Trump, and they know the only real way to get his attention is via TV.
  2. This whole thing has been orchestrated by Trump as a way of publicly humiliating Romney.
  3. The Trump inner circle is truly an out-of-control freak show.

I dunno. In the meantime, Trump's cabinet-level appointees so far include a guy who created a platform for the alt-right; an ex-general with delusions of persecution; a deputy who thinks Hillary Clinton sent black helicopters after her; an attorney general who's basically opposed to all laws protecting minorities; a governor with no background for her job; a CIA director who supports more torture and more black sites; a billionaire who wants to destroy public education; and Reince Priebus.

Priebus is probably unqualified to be White House chief of staff, but that's about it. In Trump's world, that makes him a superstar.

I've written a post or two about the main reasons Hillary Clinton lost the election, and I always nod to the fact that there are other, smaller reasons too. One of these smaller reasons is that Clinton herself made mistakes, something that Harold Pollack noted a few days ago. So I asked him what he thought the campaign's three biggest miscues were. He wrote a long post about this, which you should read since it contains a lot of discussion and nuance. In normal bloggy fashion, however, I'm going to ignore all that. Instead, here are Pollack's answers, along with my comments:

Creating the email and speech problems, and being brittle and defensive about cleaning them up. No argument here. We both agree that these problems were wildly overblown by the press, but nonetheless they were problems that Clinton brought on herself. It's all part of her greatest character deficit: pushing rules to the boundaries and then being defensive and secretive about it when her actions come to light. The former is a bad habit, and the latter just makes the press even more ravenous than they'd ordinarily be. It's a toxic combination.

Final Polls on November 7

ABC/Post
NBC/WSJ
NBC/Survey Monkey
UPI/CVOTER
CBS/Times
IBD/TIPP
Fox
Monmouth
Bloomberg/Selzer

Clinton +4
Clinton +5
Clinton +7
Clinton +3
Clinton +4
Clinton +1
Clinton +4
Clinton +6
Clinton +3

Overconfidence and complacency across the political spectrum. In retrospect, this is obviously true. But even now, this hardly strikes me as a campaign problem per se. Clinton and her fellow Dems were confident because every poll showed them well ahead. I assume that all her internal polling showed the same thing. In the end, though, that polling was apparently off by about 3 points, and more than that in the famous trio of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. That's a big miss.

So what happened to the polls? Did Clinton's internal polling show her way ahead? If so, how did it fail so badly? That's what I'd like to know. I think anybody would have been overconfident if their polling showed them winning in a walk.

Signaling to older rural white voters that we didn’t want them, and indeed would leave them behind. This is hard to assess. There's no question that Democrats have steadily lost the support of the white working class over the past two decades. This is something that goes far beyond Hillary Clinton. But did the white working class leave because they thought Republicans were likely to bring their jobs back and make their lives better? That hardly seems likely, given that during this entire period Republicans have campaigned on a steady diet of corporate deregulation and tax cuts for the rich.

But if that's the case, we're back to optics and race—and Trump appealed explicitly to both. He loudly and persistently pretended to care about the white working class while offering nothing much that would actually affect them. And he was pretty plainly pro-white, which obviously appealed to at least some of them. Clinton's problem is that she isn't cynical enough to do the former and not loathsome enough to do the latter.

Could she still have done more? Of course. Politicians routinely use symbols to demonstrate respect for groups even if their platforms don't offer an awful lot of help at a concrete level. Clinton didn't do that, and it turned out to be a mistake. I can't bring myself to blame her too much for this, since it's all hindsight, but it was still a mistake—and an especially big one since she clearly failed to understand what was happening in three states that were so critical to her that they were called the "blue firewall."

Charles Krauthammer is excited that Mitt Romney and Rudy Giulani might not be the only men in the running for Secretary of State:

But I do think we should keep our eye on a third possibility....and that would be David Petraeus, who to the world represents America at its strongest and most decisive. He is the guy who saved the Iraq War, and is a man who has written and thought deeply about the new kind of warfare that we are involved in. And that, I think, would be a spectacular choice.

Krauthammer, of course, was part of the chorus claiming that Hillary Clinton had betrayed the republic as Secretary of State because she occasionally discussed the administration's drone program over unclassified email. The emails were all carefully worded; there weren't very many of them; everything in them had almost certainly been widely reported already; there's no evidence that anyone ever hacked them; and James Comey said clearly that it wasn't even a close call to determine that Clinton had done nothing illegal. Nonetheless, she had endangered the country and was obviously unfit to hold office.

But David Petraeus—that's a different story. Petraeus was head of the CIA; he got smitten by an attractive woman; he knowingly and deliberately passed along classified information to her; he tried to hide the email trail; and he was eventually convicted of mishandling classified information as part of a plea deal. For all I know, he may literally be unable to get a security clearance any longer.

But he would be a "spectacular" choice for Hillary Clinton's old job. Good God.

POSTSCRIPT: Of course, Krauthammer was also one of the conservatives who embraced the conspiracy theory that Obama used Petraeus's affair to blackmail Petraeus into giving favorable testimony on Benghazi. So who knows what really goes through that head of his.

Bernie Sanders has taken some heat recently for his remarks to a woman who said she hoped to someday become the second Latina senator and asked him for some tips about getting into politics. His reply, essentially, was that being Latina wasn't enough. She also needed to "stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry." Nancy LeTourneau was pretty critical of Sanders' answer:

It is true that in order to end racism and sexism we have to begin by giving women and people of color a seat at the table. But that accomplishes very little unless/until we listen to them and find a way to work with them in coalition. To the extent that Sanders wants to avoid doing that in order to foster division within the Democratic Party, he is merely defending white male supremacy.

I’m not suggesting that the senator’s agenda is necessarily white male supremacy.

I was listening in on a listserv conversation the other day, and someone asked how and when it became fashionable to use the term "white supremacy" as a substitute for ordinary racism. Good question. I don't know the answer, but my guess is that it started with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who began using it frequently a little while ago. Anyone have a better idea?

For what it's worth, this is a terrible fad. With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn't anyone in America who's trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos. Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism—or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status—in varying degrees.

This isn't just pedantic. It matters. It's bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it's far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus—big or small, accidental or deliberate—white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we're all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don't like as racist.

Petty theft is not the same as robbing a bank. A lewd comment is not the same as rape. A possible lack of sensitivity is not a sign of latent support for apartheid. Bernie Sanders is not a white male supremacist.

Likewise, using a faddish term is not a sign of wokeness, no matter who started it. Let's keep calling out real racism whenever we need to, but let's save "white supremacy" for the people and institutions that really deserve it.1

1For example, there's the faction of the alt-right that really is dedicated to white supremacism. You can read all about them here, here, and here.

POSTSCRIPT: I may be wrong about this, but I gather that some people use "white supremacy" because they want to avoid the R word as too antagonistic. Needless to say, this is also a bad idea. If something is racist, call it racist. If it's not, don't call it that.

Spike Lee converses with Bernie Sanders in the Guardian today:

Lee: Were you ever offered the VP position, sir?

Sanders: No. Absolutely not.

Lee: Would you have taken it?

Sanders: Er. Probably, yes. But that’s again looking through the rear-view mirror.

Huh. I don't think I've ever heard Sanders say that before. Or has he? In any case, can you imagine what the office of VP would be like after eight years of Biden and then eight years of Sanders?

More seriously, I wonder what kind of ticket that would have been? The upsides are obvious, but there are downsides too. I'm not sure what the ultimate effect would have been.

BTW, in the same interview Sanders agrees with Lee that "it would be hard to suggest that the people of this country were enthusiastic about the Clinton campaign." He's getting a lot of crap for this on social media, but come on. My issues with Sanders are on the record, but it's hard to deny that someone with unfavorables in the mid-50s didn't generate a ton of enthusiasm. This wasn't all Clinton's fault, but it is what it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump:

As many Americans are trying to figure out what kind of president they have just elected, the people of Balmedie, a small village outside the once oil-rich city of Aberdeen, say they have a pretty good idea....They say they watched him win public support for his golf course with grand promises, then watched him break them one by one.

A promised $1.25 billion investment has shrunk to what his opponents say is at most $50 million. Six thousand jobs have dwindled to 95. Two golf courses to one. An eight-story, 450-room luxury hotel never materialized, nor did 950 time-share apartments. Instead, an existing manor house was converted into a 16-room boutique hotel. Trump International Golf Links, which opened in 2012, lost $1.36 million last year, according to public accounts....Alex Salmond, a former first minister of Scotland whose government granted Mr. Trump planning permission in 2008, overruling local officials, now concedes the point, saying, “Balmedie got 10 cents on the dollar.”

Sarah Malone, who came to Mr. Trump’s attention after winning a local beauty pageant and is now a vice president of Trump International, disputed some of the figures publicly discussed about the project, saying that Mr. Trump invested about $125 million and that the golf course now employed 150 people.

Of course Malone got her job by winning a beauty pageant. If you're a woman, this is one of the few proven ways to get Trump's attention.

On the other hand, Trump did build a wall. It was built primarily as revenge against a few folks who refused to sell him some land he wanted, but still. A wall's a wall. If the anti-immigration crowd can just figure out someone for Trump to get really mad at, they might get their wall too.

Fidel Castro Died

Fidel Castro—not a very nice person!—is dead.

It is unclear at this time if he was killed by an exploding cigar lit by JFK's ghost. I'm going to assume he wasn't and that he probably died of natural causes. But you know what they say about assume-ing! "It makes asses out of you and me"…

Miami is going to be lit tomorrow.