Today: How Donald Trump would have handled Pearl Harbor, fake news haunts Trump

Today: How Donald Trump would have handled Pearl Harbor, fake news haunts Trump
Source: AP
Source: AP

This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you.

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Key stat: 

— 3,581, the number of Americans killed or wounded at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today. More at pearlharbor.us.

Highlights: 

— Today: Trump's team fires Michael G. Flynn, the son of Trump's incoming national security adviser. The younger Flynn pushed dangerous conspiracy theories online.

More: Imagine Trump, not FDR, as president on Dec. 7, 1941.

Even more: All sides are beginning to weigh in on any repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And it's ugly.

One more thing: Trump's secretary of homeland security will reportedly be Gen. James Kelly.

Where's Trump? Trump Tower in New York City. The "Thank You" tour returns tomorrow.

—Hillary Clinton's lead over Trump in the popular vote:  2.67 million votes, 2 percentage points greater than Trump. (Cook Political Report)

We elected Trump — and Michael Flynn's son?

Throughout the 2016 campaign, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn sometimes tweeted links to fake news stories. But the Twitter feed of Michael G. Flynn, the general's son, reads like a staunch Trump supporter uninterested in facts. CNN reported on the conspiracy theories Flynn Jr. pushes online more than two weeks before Sunday's "pizzagate"-driven attack in Washington, D.C. But it was that event — a man firing an AR-15 rifle in a D.C. restaurant as he investigated an anti-Hillary Clinton fake news story — that turned the ire of the establishment on Flynn Jr.

His response? Perpetuate a lie. The son of Trump's national security adviser, who was also his father's close adviser and chief of staff, tweeting, "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story." Flynn Jr. also retweeted claims of Trump supporters with a questionable basis in reality.

On Tuesday, Flynn Jr. was cut loose from Trump's transition team. (New York Times) But reports also emerged saying Trump's staff had requested security clearance for Flynn Jr., even when red flags about him peddling conspiracy theories were already apparent. (CNN) Vice President-elect Mike Pence would not address this directly on CNN, calling questions about giving security clearance to a conspiracy theorist a "distraction."

Even if Flynn Jr. will not have high-level access in the White House — a likelihood until Tuesday — the dangers of fake news continue to dominate the discourse. BuzzFeed found three-quarters of Americans who see fake news online view it as accurate, according to a poll. At Trump's Tuesday night rally in North Carolina, a woman held up a sign that said, "Expose pizzagate." And the president-elect himself, of course, is not exempt from criticism over his sharing of false information on social media. (If you need a refresher on pizzagate or how it led to the Sunday shooting, Mic has that.)

The takeaway: When you consistently pass off lies for truth, people cannot distinguish between the two. And that can lead to unwarranted confusion, anger and even violence. What you can do: Verify what you're reading comes from a legitimate news source. Check the facts. Check the URL to make sure it does not end in ".com.co" or ".co," and watch for sites that end with "lo." See if the website is on this list. And know that Alex Jones, fake news peddler from InfoWars, is not a journalist.

Source: GIPHY/GIPHY

Trumponomics

Trump made two unsubstantiated financial claims on Tuesday, one from his Twitter account and one through a spokesman.

Trump scared some in corporate America when he tweeted Boeing's "costs are out of control" as the Chicago-based company works to design a new pair of Air Force One jets. Trump said the cost was $4 billion. The actual cost — which won't be settled until the Pentagon, the White House and the Secret Service agree on what features it needs — is estimated closer to $3 billion, and potentially even less than that. (Wall Street Journal) But Trump's tweet may have been driven more by anger than financial facts: His proclamation to "cancel order!" came shortly after a Chicago Tribune column quoted Boeing's CEO saying Trump needed to back off "anti-trade rhetoric." Some business leaders worry they cannot speak freely for fear of drawing Trump's fury. (Washington Post)

Later in the day, Trump's spokesman said Trump sold all of his stocks in June — but provided no proof of this divestment. The president-elect's last financial disclosure was in May, making it difficult to verify Trump's assertion. (CNN Money) In an apparent effort to show he has fewer conflicts of interest, Trump raised questions about whether we can trust his statement that he no longer has millions of dollars invested in the market.

How Trump's Tuesday speech connects to Pearl Harbor

Around 7 a.m. Hawaii time on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes zoomed over the Pacific Ocean and, without warning, killed or injured thousands of Americans, sank several ships and destroyed hundreds of aircraft. The memory of what drew the U.S. into World War II is respected 75 years later, including with a Japanese prime minister visiting the site for the first time today. (He will not apologize.)

The attack began a period of American history that may end with Trump. As the U.S. became a dominant global power during and after the second world war, it built economic relationships that powered a boom in the nation's industry. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt envisioned an ascendant country that could be an economic power with military might sufficient to keep peace.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor day, Trump introduced retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, his pick for secretary of defense, at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, "Thank You" rally. The president-elect described a worldview that would keep the U.S. from rushing to the aid of its allies. (New York Times) Trump said he will "engage the use of military forces when it's in the vital national security interests of the United States. ... This destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally come to an end." Trump's "America First" campaign slogan ties into another divergent view from the WWII era, co-opting the name of the isolationist, anti-Semitic organization that pressured the American government to appease Adolf Hitler. (CNN) Trump campaigned on suspicion of free trade, globalization and other nations, classic isolationist positions that have accompanied a rise of economic dissatisfaction in Western countries and a loathing of establishment politics.

2016 and 1941 have their differences, though. Wars are not fought by millions of individual soldiers in trenches. Drones and hackers, not airplanes or artillery, strike for the world powers. Nuclear weapons deter global conflict. And no ramp-up in arms production today could jumpstart American industry like it did in the 1940s. We will learn whether Trump's approach, different than that of the president on the first Pearl Harbor day, is the right one.

Source: GIPHY/GIPHY

News and insight you cannot miss:

Trump has reportedly chosen retired Marine Gen. James Kelly to run Homeland Security. Kelly was a commander in Iraq and until earlier this year oversaw U.S. military operations in South and Central America. While Kelly will be the third general placed in Trump's inner circle, Kelly is more moderate than other candidates Trump considered for the job. (Mic)

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act is now open. What does that mean? Mic breaks it down.

But wait, will Obamacare even exist in a few months? Who knows. Hospitals warned Trump that a repeal of the law would cause "an unprecedented public health crisis" due to a surge of uninsured patients. (Washington Post) Health insurance companies want government incentives for young people and subsidies for poor people to remain. (New York Times) Mike Pence's view: "We're going to repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel" — but we'll make sure there is an "orderly transition." (RealClearPolitics) Our advice: Go ahead and get your health insurance — this repeal could take a while.

Longtime Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad will reportedly be Trump's ambassador to China. In the wake of Trump's antagonization of the Chinese via his call with the president of Taiwan, the world's second-largest economy called Branstad an "old friend." (Bloomberg)

ICYMI: How Donald Trump's HUD secretary pick, Ben Carson, lost black America. (Mic)

— At his Tuesday night "Thank You" rally, Trump did not attack the media — at least not as much as he normally does. In the wake of criticism over Flynn Jr. and fake news, Trump said "no, no" to his supporters as they booed journalists, adding, "Hopefully, they're going to write the truth." (Business Insider)

"He got up there and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off," said a union president who represents workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where Trump said he saved "over 1,100" jobs. The union president questioned why Trump said that when the actual number was 730. (Mic)

— Ohio is about to pass the strictest abortion law in the country — and a state Republican leader credits Trump's election with making it possible. (Cleveland.com)

A view from Trump country: A Trump cabinet break down

Today, we review Trump's cabinet. Tomorrow, we'll check in on how Trump's supporters have judged his picks.

To date, the president-elect has made eight selections for his cabinet, filling several key positions and leaving a few top spots open. Ever the former Apprentice host, "Trump remains a showman," wrote Mic's Stefan Becket in his description of the president-elect's cabinet process to date. Trump has rolled out his cabinet picks in campaign-style rallies, and kept the media guessing about other selections, especially secretary of state. Overall, Trump's picks so far have largely been from among his band of loyalists. Read all of Becket's takeaways at Mic.

The placement of three former generals high in the Trump administration is unusual, especially given Trump's criticism of military leadership during the campaign. (NPR) Trump has argued Mattis, Flynn and Kelly were outspoken critics of Obama's foreign policy tactics and will bring needed military expertise to jobs normally filled by civilians. But critics worry Americans place too much faith in the military, and too little in the government, setting up a scenario where aggressive militarism from D.C. is allowed to grow unchecked by public opinion. (Washington Post)

Trump's cabinet picks, including deputy secretaries, have a combined wealth of $11 billion. (NBC News) Some believe the financial success of Trump's cabinet shows he has appointed savvy administrators to oversee the country, but others worry this vast concentration of wealth will put Trump's advisers out of touch with most of the country.

For a breakdown on the role and importance of each cabinet position, check out the explainer from Eric Lutz at Mic.

Same subject, two views: How to fix inequality

A Dilemma for Humanity: Stark Inequality or Total War, Walter Schiedel from a book review in the New York Times: "Only all-out thermonuclear war might fundamentally reset the existing distribution of resources. ... If history is anything to go by, peaceful policy reform may well prove unequal to the growing challenges ahead." (New York Times)

10 Solutions to Fight Economic Inequality, multiple writers in Talk Poverty, arguing there are various actions the government can take — some of which are not controversial — to reverse the concentration of wealth among a few Americans without a revolution. (Talk Poverty)

The loyal opposition: The Democratic bench

Across the country, Democrats are looking to rebuild from major 2016 election losses. Republicans entirely control state legislatures in 32 states, while Democrats have full control in only 13. There are 31 Republican governors and only 18 Democratic ones. "The majority of Americans live in states in which there are Republican trifectas (GOP controls legislature and governor's office) or veto-proof legislative majorities," the conservative National Review wrote after the election.

As the Democratic establishment argues over who should lead the Democratic National Committee, with Muslim African-American progressive Keith Ellison being the frontrunner, some in the party are looking to rebuild the "blue wall" of states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — states that put Trump over the top in the Electoral College. "In counties decimated by trade deals, decades of talking points don't pay the bills," the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders' Michigan primary victory told the Associated Press.

But given the level of GOP control, there are few Democrats in positions to run competitive races in these "blue wall" states. And the party's voters in these states are whiter and more focused on economic issues than some Democrats argue Clinton was or Ellison will be. Meanwhile, the party has spent years grooming a bench of potential Democratic leaders at the state level in California — one of the most progressive states in the country. (New York Times) This contrast has positioned Democrats for a clash over whether to pursue former union and working-class voters or seek a more diverse coalition. 2016 demonstrated they may not be able to do both.

Snippets

Time: Trump is person of the year. (Time)

— All of Trump's comments alleging voter fraud in the election he won, compiled. (Mic)

— Trump will meet with victims of the Ohio State University attack on Thursday. After last week's knife attack, Trump tweeted that the Somali-born student attacker, a legal immigrant, should not have been in the U.S. (The Hill)

New York City has seen a 35% increase in hate crimes since the election. Mic's Sarah Harvard details some of these attacks and what is driving them. (Mic)

— A quick read on how the "Trump effect" has simultaneously swept through Europe. (Mic)

— Trump says he will name his secretary of state next week. (Politico)

— Biden talks 2020 with Stephen Colbert. (Mic)

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This newsletter is produced by Will Drabold at Mic.