Thursday Reads: The Usual Insanity Reigns in Trump World

Good Afternoon!!

As usual, there’s way too much news out there this morning. In Trump world, there’s never an opportunity to catch your breath and focus on one important thing. I can’t cover everything, so here are some random stories that caught my interest.

Cecile Richards has a new book out–Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead: My Life Story–and she included some creepy revelations about Jared and Ivanka Kushner. People Magazine: Planned Parenthood CEO Says Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Offered ‘Bribe’ to Stop Abortions.

In a riveting passage from Cecile Richards’ new memoir, the Planned Parenthood chief says Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were, during Donald Trump’s 2016 transition as president-elect, so eager to be recognized as shrewd political dealmakers that the soon-to-be first daughter and her husband made an offer that felt like a “bribe”: an increase in federal funding for Planned Parenthood in exchange for its agreement to stop providing abortions.

Richards says she “reached out” to Ivanka at the suggestion of a friend, in hopes of finding an ally in the Trump White House. Ivanka insisted on bringing Jared, so Richards asked her husband Kirk Adams to come with her.

According to a statement from Planned Parenthood given to, the purpose of the meeting “was to make sure that Ivanka Trump fully understood the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of people and why it would be a disastrous idea to block people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood.”

After Richards explained this, she writes that Kushner told her Planned Parenthood “had made a big mistake by becoming ‘political.’ ”

“The main issue, he explained, was abortion,” Richards writes. “If Planned Parenthood wanted to keep our federal funding, we would have to stop providing abortions. He described his ideal outcome: a national headline reading ‘Planned Parenthood Discontinues Abortion Services.’”

According to Make Trouble, Kushner said that if Richards agreed to the plan then funding could increase, but he urged them to “move fast.”

“If it wasn’t crystal clear before, it was now. Jared and Ivanka were there for one reason: to deliver a political win,” she writes. “In their eyes, if they could stop Planned Parenthood from providing abortions, it would confirm their reputation as savvy dealmakers. It was surreal, essentially being asked to barter away women’s rights for more money. It takes a lot to get Kirk mad, but it looked like his head was about to explode.”

Richards explained that there was “no way” Kushner’s proposal would work and that they’d continue to fight for funding.

“‘Our mission is to care for women who need us, and that means caring for all of their reproductive needs — including safe and legal abortion,’” she recalls saying.

Can you imagine the nerve? In Trump world, everything is about money. These people can’t even begin to conceive of the notion that there are people with personal values that are non-negotiable.

There’s another new book about Trump world–this time by Trump booster Ronald Kessler. Still, a few embarrassing tidbits are coming out in advice of its release date.

The Cut: Trump Reportedly Called Jared Kushner a ‘Little Boy.’

According to journalist Ronald Kessler in his new bookThe Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game, when Kushner addressed reporters during a live television appearance, President Trump told the aides watching with him, “Look at Jared, he looks like a little boy, like a child.”

Kessler also claims that Trump once told Kushner and his daughter, Ivanka, that “they never should have left New York,” and he “made it clear to them that he would not mind if they gave up their White House roles.” [….]

Trump calling Jared “a child” seems rather unfair. Not only has president given his son-in-law a set of absurdly stratospheric, decidedly adult responsibilities, Kushner clearly looks more like a haunted doll than a little boy.

Kessler writes that Kellyanne Conway is the “number one leaker” in the White House except for Trump himself, who leaks as as an “anonymous source” to specific reporters in hopes of positive coverage. According to Kessler, Melania Trump is an important adviser to her husband, and she once “walked out on” Trump in 1998 when she found out he was cheating on her. Now you don’t have to read the book, which reported is filled with Trump boosterism.

Luke Harding, who wrote the terrific book Collusion, has a new piece on Paul Manafort’s machinations at The Guardian: Former Trump aide approved ‘black ops’ to help Ukraine president.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort authorised a secret media operation on behalf of Ukraine’s former president, featuring “black ops”, “placed” articles in the Wall Street Journal and US websites, and anonymous briefings against Hillary Clinton.

The project was designed to boost the reputation of Ukraine’s then leader, Viktor Yanukovych. It was part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort carried out by Manafort on behalf of Yanukovych’s embattled government, emails and documents reveal.

The strategies included:

 Proposing to rewrite Wikipedia entries to smear a key opponent of the then Ukrainian president.

 Setting up a fake “thinktank” in Vienna to disseminate viewpoints supporting Yanukovych.

 A social media blitz “aimed at targeted audiences in Europe and the US”.

 Briefing journalists from the rightwing website Breitbart to attack Clinton, when she was US secretary of state.

Manafort’s Ukraine strategy anticipates later efforts by the Kremlin and its troll factory to use Twitter and Facebook to discredit Clinton and to help Trump win the 2016 US election. The material seen by the Guardian dates from 2011 to 2013.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Another interesting long read from The Guardian by Donna Ladd: Dangerous, growing, yet unnoticed: the rise of America’s white gangs. It’s a portrait of one man–Benny Ivy–who as a kid joined “one of the oldest and largest white gangs in the US, the Simon City Royals.”

The Royals’ roots date to Chicago’s North Side in 1952, when two violent white “greaser” gangs – the Ashland Royals and Simon City – guarded Simon Park turf as Puerto Ricans moved in.

Early greasers were immigrants, often Italian, maligned by wealthier whites for greasing machines in blue-collar jobs. In 1968, the greasers united as the Simon City Royals, often rumbling with the nearby Latin Kings as well as the white supremacist Gaylords. (Their rhetoric is familiar: a Gaylords nostalgia websitecalled Latino gangs “storage bins for illegal immigrants”.)

The Royals were one of the biggest and most violent street gangs in Chicago by the 1970s, when they joined the Folk Nation alliance with the Black Gangster Disciples, began admitting Hispanics and, later, women and black members.

But by the 1980s, the gang had weakened after its leadership got locked up or killed.

Strength shifted to prisons, and the brand spread to midwestern and southern states like Mississippi, where the Royals are now one of the largest and most violent gangs in the state.

Surveys of young Americans have shown that 40% identifying as gang members are white, but police tend to undercount them at 10% to 14% and overcount black and Hispanic members, says Babe Howell, a criminal law professor at City University of New York who focuses on crime and race.

“Police see groups of young white people as individuals, each responsible for his or her own conduct, and hold young people of color in street gangs criminally liable for the conduct of their peers,” she says.

Much more at the link.

Trump is insisting on sending National Guard troops to the southern border because he heard about a so-called “caravan” of migrants marching across Mexico. We now have a “president” who uses to executive ordered to deal with fake crises. Trump probably doesn’t know that U.S. troops can’t take any actions against people to enforce domestic laws because of the Posse Commitatus Act. So he’s sending the troops down there anyway instead of just letting them train to do their real jobs. So what about this “caravan?”

The New York Times: ‘You Hate America!’: How the ‘Caravan’ Story Exploded on the Right.

It was the kind of story destined to take a dark turn through the conservative news media and grab President Trump’s attention: A vast horde of migrants was making its way through Mexico toward the United States, and no one was stopping them.

A Central American woman gives water to a baby as a large group of immigrants sets up camp for a few days at a sports center in Matias Romero in Mexico’s Oaxaca state late Monday. (Felix Marquez / Associated Press)

“Mysterious group deploys ‘caravan’ of illegal aliens headed for U.S. border,” warned Frontpage Mag, a site run by David Horowitz, a conservative commentator.

The Gateway Pundit, a website that was most recently in the news for spreading conspiracies about the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., suggested the real reason the migrants were trying to enter the United States was to collect social welfare benefits.

And as the president often does when immigration is at issue, he saw a reason for Americans to be afraid. “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming,” a Twitter post from Mr. Trump read.

The story of “the caravan” followed an arc similar to many events — whether real, embellished or entirely imagined — involving refugees and migrants that have roused intense suspicion and outrage on the right. The coverage tends to play on the fears that hiding among mass groups of immigrants are many criminals, vectors of disease and agents of terror. And often the president, who announced his candidacy by blaming Mexico for sending rapists and drug dealers into the United States, acts as an accelerant to the hysteria.

That’s the fake story, now for the real story.

The New York Times: Inside an Immigrant Caravan: Women and Children, Fleeing Violence.

MATÍAS ROMERO, Mexico — With a sarcastic half-smile, Nikolle Contreras, 27, surveyed her fellow members of the Central American caravan, which President Trump has called dangerous and has used as a justification to send troops to the border.

More than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, waited patiently on Wednesday in the shade of trees and makeshift shelters in a rundown sports complex in this Mexican town, about 600 miles south of the border. They were tired, having slept and eaten poorly for more than a week. All were facing an uncertain future.

“Imagine that!” said Ms. Contreras, a Honduran factory worker hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. “So many problems he has to solve and he gets involved with this caravan!”

The migrants, most of them Hondurans, left the southern Mexican border city of Tapachula on March 25 and for days traveled north en masse — by foot, hitchhiking and on the tops of trains — as they fled violence and poverty in their homelands and sought a better life elsewhere.

This sort of collective migration has become something of an annual event around Easter week, and a way for advocates to draw more attention to the plight of migrants.

But this particular caravan caught the attention of Mr. Trump, apparently after he heard about it on Fox News. In a Twitter tirade that began Sunday, he conjured up hordes of dangerous migrants surging toward the border. He demanded that Mexican officials halt the group, suggesting that otherwise he would make them pay dearly in trade negotiations or aid cuts.

Mr. Trump even boasted that his threat had forced Mexico’s government to halt and disperse the caravan participants. But there was no evidence of that on Wednesday.

Read the rest at the NYT.

What stories are you following today? 

30 Comments on “Thursday Reads: The Usual Insanity Reigns in Trump World”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s some good news from The Tennessean:

    Phil Bredesen holds double-digit lead over Marsha Blackburn in US Senate race, new MTSU poll shows

    Former Gov. Phil Bredesen has a 10-point lead over U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, according to a new poll from Middle Tennessee State University.

    The poll, released Thursday, found 45 percent of 600 registered Tennessee voters said they would choose Bredesen, a Democrat and former Nashville mayor, if the election were immediately held.

    Blackburn, a Brentwood Republican, netted 35 percent, with another 17 percent of respondents saying they were not sure.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Scott Pruitt could be the next Trump cabinet member to get the boot.

    The Daily Beast: John Kelly to Scott Pruitt: The Scandals Need to Stop

    • NW Luna says:

      But he’s not resisting privatization of our national parks, so he’s not fired. Yet.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    On a daily basis I feel like I am mired in sludge.

    Scandal after scandal pours forth on such a regular basis that it is almost impossible to keep up.

    Our nation is being lead – if that is the word – by total idiots. Jared? What in hell is he doing there? I think only as an excuse to have Ivanka around so give him a few duties to make it look official and we are all set.

    The cabinet is made up of grifters and imbeciles: people who have no business in the roles he has assigned them but just as dangerous because of what they don’t know or understand.

    We can’t trust Kelly. The WH staff consists of hard core ideologues and the GOP congressional leadership is AWOL. Those still floating around the West Wing are incompetents and inexperienced. Lies are delivered day by day and a sense of utter frustration covers the land.

    A lunatic sits in the Oval Office,swiping at his enemies and denigrating our institutions. This bromance with Putin is beyond troubling. He has achieved noting but has achieved a lot.

    The poisoning of our environment. The shoveling upward of monies to the wealthy, The cost of affordable healthcare is always at risk. The freedom of the press is slowly being warped. Our allies sit back in confusion never knowing where this fool will lead us.

    Corruption no longer hides itself. Incompetence and stupidity is rewarded. Our enemies have scaled the gate and sit within feet of power. Our sensibilities are under assault. Our anxieties are driven higher by this mad man.

    Where, oh where, is Mueller??

    • quixote says:

      I was crushed to learn recently that all Mueller can really do is provide Rosenstein with a report.

      You have got to be kidding me, I screamed. HIGH TREASON and the only remedy is a report???!! To this Congress? Who will do nothing!

      If we even find out what’s in it, which will be up to Feinstein or Schiff.

      So it all comes down to the midterms, either way, and the midterms are not the sure thing they would be in a sane world.

      Preet Bharara said long ago, don’t wait for Mueller. I guess he was right. Not because Mueller isn’t someone who would save us if he could. Because he can’t.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s not all Mueller can do. He can indict Trump if he wants to test it in the courts. But he can also indict other Trump people like Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Ivanka, Don Jr., Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, and anyone else who committed crimes during the campaign, transition, or administration. Don’t forget, there are others who were involved in the Comey firing and can be charged with obstruction if they lied.

        • quixote says:

          Yes indeed. Plus he already is indicting co-conspirators, see Manafort, Flynn, Gates, etc. What sent me up a tree was the article I saw somewhere saying that Mueller wasn’t going to indict him because that’s not up to him /:shock: :horror: etc./ it’s up to Congress.

          I wonder how, in an ideal Constitution, you’d remedy a takeover of government like what we’re seeing. They’re using the levers of democracy to cheat, so how do you stop that? You need the levers, such as freedom of speech, and you need to be sure the President can’t be harassed by the opposition (although the Repubs did what they could against Bill Clinton and even more so against Obama).

          Somehow, you need an incorruptible fallback for when everything else goes to hell in a handbasket. But what?

  4. dakinikat says:

    Just read the white gang piece …

  5. dakinikat says:

    Trump’s Most Influential White Nationalist Troll Is A Middlebury Grad Who Lives In Manhattan
    Twitter troll “Ricky Vaughn” had a bigger influence on the 2016 election than NBC News and the Drudge Report. Here’s who he really is.

    There was no mistaking Ricky Vaughn’s influence. He had tens of thousands of followers, and his talent for blending far-right propaganda with conservative messages on Twitter made him a key disseminator of extremist views to Republican voters and a central figure in the “alt-right” white supremacist movement that attached itself to Trump’s coattails. The MIT Media Lab named him to its list of top 150 influencers on the election, based on news appearances and social media impact. He finished ahead of NBC News, Drudge Report and Stephen Colbert. Mainstream conservatives didn’t know they were retweeting an avowed racist and anti-Semite, but they liked what Ricky Vaughn had to say.

    “He did this thing that people connected to organized white nationalism have not been able to do ― walk both sides of the extremist line in the sand,” said Keegan Hankes, a data intelligence expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Ricky Vaughn also played an important role in amplifying disinformation injected into American politics by the Russian government. HuffPost and a team of data scientists known as Susan Bourbaki Anthony that tracks online propaganda analyzed who was retweeting the now infamous Kremlin-controlled Twitter account @TEN_GOP, which consistently praised Trump, attacked Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and churned out a vile medley of racism, Islamophobia and “fake news.”

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    bb – e-mail me.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Pat, I hope you’re watching the Red Sox game. They just won in dramatic fashion.

  7. dakinikat says:

    “In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and displaced 600,000 households. In the following years, as locals struggled to return to their city, Airbnb was invented at just the wrong time.

    New Orleans’s status as a tourist destination has made Airbnb popular with tourists visiting the city. As a result, for almost a decade, New Orleans’s famous shotgun houses have been getting bought up and turned into amateur hotels, often by out-of-state, absentee (white) landlords, damaging the fabric of neighborhoods and forcing residents to deal with tourists literally in their backyards.

    Landrieu and his administration have seemed mostly oblivious to how bad Airbnb has been for New Orleans’s tender post-K housing market, not to mention its (black) culture. Following years of inaction on the issue, the City Council voted in 2017 to legalize Airbnb’s fauxtel scam and create a permitting process, but that hasn’t solved the problem. Locals have been evicted from their homes in droves by greedy landlords who can make more money off nightly rentals than yearly leases. As the value of homes used as hotels spikes, that raises the assessed value—and thus property taxes—for locals around them. And because the Landrieu administration hasn’t improved the city’s bleak poverty rate, many New Orleanians can no longer afford homes in their own neighborhoods.”

    Democrats, Please Don’t Nominate My Mayor for President via @vice

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. teele says:

    Can I ask a question, because I truly don’t understand how this works. I know that you may not have control over what ads appear on this blog, but who does decide that only right-wing nutball ads appear? That doesn’t seem like an algorithm to me, it feels very intentional. Are right wingers the only people who engage in this kind of advertising? I ask because this is not the only liberal site I visit and have seen this. Honest inquiry, not being sarcastic. Would like to be enlightened.

    • quixote says:

      Not an answer, but I didn’t even know that was happening, here or elsewhere, through the wonders of Adblock. The web is unusable without it. There’s different ones for different browsers. Search for Ad blockers.

    • dakinikat says:

      You won’t see the ads at all on this site if you have a wordpress log in because we all chip in for that feature. We have no control over ads for non word press accounts. We could choose to turn ads on and we can choose if we would go that route. If you want to disappear the ads, you need to get a wordpress login.

  11. RonStill4Hills says:

    I have noticed it too….it feels downright trolly.

    • dakinikat says:

      We’ve turned the ads off for what we have control over. Unfortunately, non word press log ins get ads and we have no control over their content. I can’t even see them to complain about them actually.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        Somebody, somewhere, at some levels of the process seems to have a targeting algorithm of some sort because I get way too much in your face wingnuttery…unless they are just investing that disproportionally in on line ads.

        Not a big deal. I am immune to the R1 U1 Idiot Virus.