Monday Reads: There must be No New NormalPosted: November 21, 2016
We must fight all efforts to normalize a Trumpified America and a press that tries to normalize right wing hate groups and the behavior of a leader with a Personality Disorder. There are too many people in this country whose lives will be getting appreciably worse. There is already an explosion in the number of hate crimes. If you cannot be a fighter then be an active witness to all of this and maintain the position that this is unique and in no way normal then speak your mind and values.
Driving for Uber in Murfreesboro and got a call for a pick up at MTSU. Once I got there, I saw 3 guys hovering threateningly over a young woman wearing a hijab. I called my rider and saw the woman check her phone and answer it, and through the phone and my window I heard one of the guys yell, “Don’t answer your phone when we’re trying to talk to you, didn’t anyone teach you manners over there?”
I was instantly filled with some crazy, angry adrenaline and thought, “I need to get her home safely.” I turned off the car, and got out, clutching the can of mace on my keychain tightly. I used the woman’s name to greet her. She looked up as I asked how she was, making a joke about how she seemed to be hanging out with the wrong crowd. One of the guys stepped forward and started to say I should turn around – I continued to walk towards the young woman and talk to her while raising my hand with the can of mace and very deliberately turned off the safety. The guy stepped away from me, and I put my arm around the woman and walked with her towards the car. I helped her in and then got in and drove down the road a ways where I pulled over to ask the young woman if she needed anything, and to allow myself to stop shaking.
The young woman was speechless most of the ride home but she got there safely, and I gave her my card in case she felt unsafe calling an Uber again some evening. I’m overwhelmed that I witnessed that happening and handled it that well… but I’m done with racism in this country. I will never not speak up.
We still haven not seen the President Elect’s taxes. What sort’ve fresh hell do they contain? We also know that he has not stopped conducting his personal business and that he is actively meeting with people that are funneling money to him from foreign countries. Don the Con is continuing to enrich himself with taxpayer money.
President-elect Donald Trump reportedly met this week at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners, raising fresh questions about a separation between the Trump’s business and future work in the White House.
Trump’s children, who are part of his presidential transition team, also attended the meeting with Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta, according to India’s Economic Times.
The business partners are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai. A picture of Trump standing alongside the men while giving a thumbs up was posted on Twitter earlier this week.
The meeting comes as Trump vowed to hand off his business to his three adult children in a blind trust to avoid potential conflicts of interest while serving in the Oval Office.
A spokeswoman for Trump told The New York Times that the three Indian real estate executives flew from India to congratulate Trump.
“It was not a formal meeting of any kind,” said Breanna Butler, a Trump Organization spokeswoman.
Butler and Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, declined to comment when asked by the Times if the meeting included any discussion of Trump businesses in India or expanding that business.
But Donald Trump Jr. showed interest in expanding the business further in India, Mehta told the Economic Times.
A former deputy editor at GQ India told the Times that he hosted an event at Sagar Chordia’s hotel during the presidential campaign, saying the Indian businessman expressed “elation” about the opportunities Trump’s candidacy could bring.
This meeting with real estate developers from India is most definitely a conflict of interest.
According to a report from The New York Times on Saturday, Trump met with Sagar Chordia, Atul Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta on Tuesday in Trump Tower. The three men have said in the past that they wished to expand their business relationship with the Trump Organization now that Trump has been elected run the country. Sagar Chordia confirmed by text message with The New York Times the accuracy of an Indian newspaper report saying the meeting had indeed been about expanding deals with Trump’s businesses.
Breanna Butler, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, has defended the incident on the grounds that “it was not a formal meeting of any kind.”
If the meeting had been legitimate, of course, one must question why it wasn’t formally announced by the Trump transition team at the time that it happened — especially considering the flak Trump has received for inefficiency in arranging meetings with foreign leaders.
This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of cultivating his business relationships in inappropriate ways since being elected. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday, Trump has business operations in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of other countries, and has refused to either sell his business interests or give them to a so-called “blind trust” during his administration, as other presidents have done with their business ties in the past.
We face a presidency with enormous consequences for every one of us. The conflict of interests between Trump’s businesses and the public interest of the USA is enormous. We cannot ignore this. We can not let the press or any one else normalize this.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that foreign diplomats are booking rooms at Trump’s hotel in D.C., hoping to curry favor with the president-elect. The same paper reports today on the dangers associated with Trump’s “vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies,” creating conditions that “could open him to foreign influence and tilt his decision-making as America’s executive in chief.”
The Post added that some of the potentially problematic deals are relatively new: during his presidential candidacy, Trump launched eight business deals “that appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Arab kingdom that Trump has said he ‘would want to protect.’”
And remember, Trump has no intention, at least not yet, of creating a blind trust for his investments and private-sector enterprises.
The Huffington Post had a good summary on the scope of the problem.
No president has ever held a fortune that spans the globe. He has licensed his name to buildings in far-flung countries, including Azerbaijan, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Turkey. Some are allies, some are ruled by autocratic dictatorships and some are at odds with American interests. Further, he owes hundreds of millions of dollars each to the government-owned Bank of China and the privately owned Deutsche Bank. The Trump Organization has plans to continue to expand the company around the globe during its namesake’s presidential administration.
Not only do these foreign holdings, debts and future deals present imminent conflicts of interest for American foreign policy, but they also create an immediate constitutional concern. The U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause states that no government official shall receive favorable payment from a foreign government, foreign government-owned company or foreign official without the consent of Congress. It is, in essence, an anti-bribery clause preventing foreign corruption.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who’ll serve as Trump’s chief of staff, insisted yesterday that the White House counsel’s office will “make sure” everything’s kosher. It wasn’t reassuring: Priebus didn’t explain exactly what steps the counsel’s office would/could take, and it doesn’t help address some of the ongoing questions arising now, during the transition process.
There’s no indication that Republicans are going to deal with this dangerous situation.
This morning, The Post published an ambitious effort to gauge the full scope of that business empire and the potential for conflicts it creates. The story concludes: “At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East.” Included in this are deals that were launched during Trump’s candidacy that are tied to a hotel project in Saudi Arabia, which Trump has vowed to protect militarily.
Governmental ethics experts believe all of this creates the potential for a variety of conflicts of interest. Trump has said he is turning his empire over to his children. But this doesn’t eliminate the potential problems here. Government policies, both domestic and foreign, could still impact his family’s holdings. Foreign governments or foreign companies controlled by foreign governments could still do business with Trump entities on terms favorable to the latter in an effort to curry favor with the new administration. One can even envision domestic businesses doing the same, in an effort to ensure against policies that run counter to their interests.
TPM documents that Don the Con is cashing in hugely in Argentina.
For a number of years, Trump and his Argentine partners have been trying to build a major office building in Buenos Aires. The project has been held up by a series of complications tied to financing, importation of building materials and various permitting requirements.
According to a report out of Argentina, when Argentine President Mauricio Macri called President-Elect Trump to congratulate him on his election, Trump asked Macri to deal with the permitting issues that are currently holding up the project.
This comes from one of Argentina’s most prominent journalists, Jorge Lanata, in a recent TV appearance. Lanata is quoted here in La Nacion, one of Argentina’s most prestigious dailies. Said Lanata: “Macri called him. This still hasn’t emerged but Trump asked for them to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t just a geopolitical chat.”
(For Spanish speakers, here’s the original Spanish we’ve translated: “Macri llo llamó. Todavía no se contó pero Trump le pidió que autorizaran un edificio que él está construyendo en Buenos Aires, no fue solo una charla geo política.”)
Separately, Trump’s business partner on the project, Felipe Yaryura, was there on election night at the Trump celebration in New York City.
Why aren’t we hearing about this in the American press?
Indeed, why not? We’re too busy picking on the cast of Hamilton. Top network execs and anchors will be meeting with Don the Con on Monday. This was arranged by the harpy of lies, campaign mommy.
Meanwhile, the real support of the Trump movement met in a neo-Nazi, KKK extravaganza. The press are conveniently calling the Heil Victory folks their preferred label of Alt-right. This is another thing we cannot normalize. We cannot normalize the Trump Reality.
What if the push against “normalizing” the potential horrors of a Trump administration ends up making the actual administration seem better by comparison?
In the 10 days since Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, critics — liberal and conservative alike — of Donald Trump and his inner circle have warned that his presidency will violate, undermine, and permanently weaken democratic norms. Comparisons have been made to the rise of Putinist autocracy in Russia (here at Vox and elsewhere), to the slow descent of Turkey into authoritarianism under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Nazi Germany.
People fret that the Trump administration will crack down on a free press; that it will only serve to enrich itself; that it will try to keep itself in power indefinitely. You’ve probably seen warnings that we shouldn’t even assume there will be another presidential election in 2020, because President Trump might have found a way to suspend or amend the Constitution by then.
Given everything that’s happened this year — including what the past two weeks have revealed about the Trump administration-in-waiting — it’s hard to say that planning for the worst-case scenario is irrational. The people most alarmist have, generally, been the most correct. (One notable exception: There was violence at neither the Republican National Convention nor on Election Day.)
But what if the reality of the Trump administration turns out to be not quite the worst-case scenario? What if it is simply very bad in less unprecedented ways? Won’t that seem, by comparison, normal?
This is the real danger of a fight against “normalization” that assumes that the country is being drawn inevitably down the road to authoritarianism: The Trump administration could take another path and go unnoticed.
Donald Trump probably won’t cancel elections, but he could — and is relatively likely to — oversee a sweeping rollback of voting rights. His administration may not throw journalists in jail, but it could easily step up surveillance of domestic protesters. His appointees may not entrench a permanent oligarchy, but it could still — for millions of people in America — reduce the willingness and ability to participate in public life to zero.
I have no doubt that I will be upset, depressed, angry, and despondent for quite some time. I will not accept this as the new normal me. None of this is normal. It’s what happens with something very dark takes over your country.
Meanwhile, the taxpayer will be footing a tremendous bill for the first family’s refusal to act like the first family. Melania will not move to the White House. Don the Con will spend most of his time in the Mount Doom which will have to be up-armored and blockaded a lot. There have been rumors that Baron is autistic and this might be the reason she doesn’t want him moved from his home in the Tower of Sauron.
The decision to remain in their Midtown home will increase the security presence around Trump Tower — an effort that will involve both Secret Service and the NYPD, an expert familiar with high-level security told The Post.
“That building is going to become the White House of New York,” said Jim Reese, a former Delta Force commander and president of TigerSwan, a global security company based in North Carolina.
Here’s a rumor mill if you’re interested in the speculation which is just speculation. It would be somewhat interesting that Trump felt so free to mock disabled people while having a son that could, himself, be disabled. It would also explain some of Don the Con’s fascination with the Anti-Vaxxers but that’s probably another thing that wouldn’t be disclosed. Just add to the pile of things that we’ll never know about the person who will be in the position to strip us of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I will resist. I will witness. I will fight.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?