Remember when people used talk about the “Bush crime family?” Well, the Trump crime family makes the Bushes look like pikers.
Just a couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published a stunning 18-month report on Trump’s “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.” Of course that story has been buried in the rubble of the Kavanaugh hearings and more Trump criminal behavior, including his current efforts to cover up a murder perpetrated by the Saudis.
Now Trump, Inc. (at ProPublica) has released the results of an 8-month study of the Trump Organization’s business model, Pump and Trump.
Since Donald Trump’s fortunes came surging back with the success of “The Apprentice” 14 years ago, his deals have often been scrutinized for the large number of his partners who have ventured to the very edges of the law, and sometimes beyond. Those associates have included accused money launderers, alleged funders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and a felon who slashed someone in the face with a broken margarita glass.
Trump and his company have typically countered by saying they were merely licensing his name on these real estate projects in exchange for a fee. They weren’t the developers or in any way responsible.
But an eight-month investigation by ProPublica and WNYC reveals that the post-millennium Trump business model is different from what has been previously reported. The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.
Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated. One common pattern, visible in more than half of those transactions, was a tendency to misstate key sales numbers.
In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California ; Panama City, Panama ; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood . These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.
Another pattern: Donald Trump repeatedly misled buyers about the amount (or existence) of his ownership in projects in Tampa, Florida; Panama; Baja and elsewhere. For a tower planned in Tampa, for example, Trump told a local paper in 2005 that his ownership would be less than 50 percent: “But it’s a substantial stake. I recently said I’d like to increase my stake but when they’re selling that well they don’t let you do that.” In reality, Trump had no ownership stake in the project.
The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away.
Read the rest and listen to the Trump, Inc. episode at the link.
At The New Yorker, Adam Davison summarizes the findings of the two studies and asks: Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model?
It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools, the Trump Organization’s core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud. There are many ways to make money in real estate. The normal way is to identify a need in the market, raise money by convincing lenders or investors that your plan is sound, build the structure, then either profit through ongoing rent or by selling units. The key variables in such a business are what is known as product-market fit—the accuracy with which a developer understands the housing or commercial needs of a place—and the ability to execute well by keeping costs down without sacrificing the right level of quality. Perhaps more than anything, practitioners of a successful real-estate business obsessively focus on maintaining the ability to borrow money cheaply. The profit on many real-estate projects often comes down to simple math: the cheaper you can borrow money to build, the more money you make. The more trustworthy you are, through a long period of successful projects, the less interest banks will demand on their loans, so the more profit you can make, and the more successful you will be.
Rather famously, Trump overinvested in luxury housing, spent too much on his casinos, and completely blew his brief foray into a regional airline. Far worse, Trump did the very opposite of insuring a long record of fiscal prudence that would allow him to borrow money cheaply. Despite the company’s mixed record, it has survived and grown. It’s doing something well, so what is it?
This month, two incredible investigative stories have given us an opportunity to lift the hood of the Trump Organization, look inside, and begin to understand what the business of this unusual company actually is. It is not a happy picture. The Times published a remarkable report, on October 2nd, that showed that much of the profit the Trump Organization made came not from successful real-estate investment but from defrauding state and federal governments through tax fraud. This week, ProPublica and WNYC co-published a stunning story and a “Trump, Inc.” podcast that can be seen as the international companion to the Times piece. They show that many of the Trump Organization’s international deals also bore the hallmarks of financial fraud, including money laundering, deceptive borrowing, outright lying to investors, and other potential crimes.
It’s still difficult to believe that the thug who head’s this crime family is currently the “president.”
We know that with Trump, everything is about his personal money and power, not the nation he supposedly leads. So what is this all about?
The Washington Post: Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to U.S. amid crisis over Khashoggi.
The United States received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeoarrived in Riyadh to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a State Department official confirmed Wednesday amid global calls for answers in the case.
Saudi Arabia publicly pledged the payment to support U.S. stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria in August, but questions persisted about when and if Saudi officials would come through with the money.
The timing of the transfer, first reported by the New York Times, raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh seeks to manage the blowback over allegations that Saudi agents were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance. The State Department denied any connection between the payment and Pompeo’s discussions with Saudi officials about Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist.
Could there be a more obvious bribe? Yet the Trump thugs expect us to believe it’s just a coincidence.
“We always expected the contribution to be finalized in the fall time frame,” Brett McGurk, the State Department’s envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, said in a statement. “The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit.”
But, the WaPo continues,
Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich monarchy and staunch U.S. ally, has long relied on its financial largesse to persuade partners to support its foreign policy objectives. Western diplomats suspect that the kingdom will also compensate Turkey for its willingness to launch a joint investigation on Khashoggi’s disappearance — a payback that could come in the form of large-scale debt relief, strategic buyouts or other arrangements that boost Turkey’s ailing economy.
We’re most likely never going to get that audiotape from Turkey, folks.
Trump won’t even let Republicans in Congress know what’s happening with the murder cover up.
The Hill: Corker: Trump administration ‘clamped down’ on Saudi intel, canceled briefing.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that the Trump administration is restricting access to information about a missing Saudi journalist, a move that comes as President Trump has publicly echoed denials of wrongdoing from top Saudi officials.
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Washington Post that the administration had “clamped down” on sharing intelligence about Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who has been missing for more than two weeks.
“I can only surmise that probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to Saudi Arabia,” Corker told the Post.Corker added that the administration canceled an intelligence briefing scheduled for Tuesday and that he was told additional information would not be shared with the Senate at this time, a development he described as “disappointing.”
According to Shane Harris at The Washington Post, the Trump administration is openly working with the Saudi’s to come up with a plausible cover story:
The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.
But it will be difficult for the young ruler to escape scrutiny, as mounting evidence points not only to the Saudi government’s knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but also to a connection by Mohammed to his disappearance.
U.S. intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi’s friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed’s desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.
The analysts and officials said it was inconceivable that such a brazen operation as the one alleged by Turkish officials, involving a team of 15 agents sent to Istanbul, who then killed and dismembered Khashoggi, could have been pulled off by a group of “rogue killers,” as President Trump speculated this week, moments after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
Even one of the president’s closest advisers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said many senior members of the administration concluded more than a week ago that the Saudis had killed Khashoggi.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
More stories on the Kashoggi murder:
NYT: U.S. Spy Agencies Are Increasingly Convinced of Saudi Prince’s Ties to Journalist’s Disappearance.
The Washington Post: Secret recordings give insight into Saudi attempt to silence critics.
Nicholas Kristof at the NYT: A President Kowtowing to a Mad Prince.
One more Trump crime story before I call it quits for today, this time about the stolen election.
The Guardian: Revealed: Russian billionaire set up US company before Trump Tower meeting.
A Russian billionaire who orchestrated the June 2016 Trump Tower meetingformed a new American shell company a month beforehand with an accountant who has had clients accused of money laundering and embezzlement.
The billionaire, Aras Agalarov, created the US company anonymously while preparing to move almost $20m into the country during the time of the presidential election campaign, according to interviews and corporate filings.
The company was set up for him in May 2016 by his Russian-born accountant, who has also managed the US finances of compatriots accused of mishandling millions of dollars. One of those clients has its own connectionto the Trump Tower meeting.
In June 2016, Agalarov allegedly offered Trump’s team damaging information from the Kremlin about Hillary Clinton, their Democratic opponent. The offer led Trump’s eldest son to hold a meeting at their Manhattan offices that is now a focus of the inquiry into Moscow’s election interference by Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
Agalarov’s previously unreported shell company is another example of intriguing financial activity around the time of the Trump Tower meeting.
Read the rest at the Guardian.
Now, what stories are you following today?
Banjoville…home of the Booger Hollow gas station. Yes, that is a real location in this tRump nation…Kemptown, USA. The whole town is filled to the brim with 30%-ters. I would guess that when the totals for the county come in…the votes for Stacey Abrams will be under 100.
This town is full of tRumps. Assholes who have been married over three times…yeah, they screw around on each other with each other constantly. It is disgusting when you know who is fucking who…and everyone knows, because the dirt spreads like some reality TV show via local gossip or the Banjoville Topix. (Not to mention the swingers that seem to creep around everywhere.) I am no prude but Chlamydia runs rampant in this “God fearing, Christian” town.
Like tRump, the town folk are racist as shit. Bigoted, misogynist, homophobic, genuine KKK members…you get what I am saying. They are full of hate, but damn if they aren’t fanatic about “Jeezus!”
And if tRump is pro-life, well fuckitall! That thar’s jesta bownuss!
Here is some cartoons:
Only, voter suppression is not a fucking made up monster!
I think I will end it there with Luckovich…this is an open thread.
I am completely burned out on politics today. I can’t handle any more Trump madness. It makes me feel sick even to type his last name. I can’t stand anymore Hillary bashing. I don’t really care that much for Elizabeth Warren, but I’m fed up with the attacks on her family stories. I can’t stand the media focusing on these meaningless stories and ignoring the administration’s failures to help hurricane victims and it’s torture of immigrant children and their families.
Ever since the Kavanaugh confirmation, I can barely stand to watch cable TV. Reading about politics makes me angry and depressed. I really think this state of mind is going to be with me until election day at least. I wonder if there is any chance that we as a country can come out of this dark tunnel into the light of democracy?
Here’s what’s happening. A New York Times financial reporter posted this tweet:
So far the tweet has received 1.4K replies and only 33 retweets and 116 likes. At least this ratio shows that lots of people thought the tweet was offensive and ridiculous. But why are people still relitigating something that happened 20 years ago, and why are they blaming Hillary, who was actually the victim in the events? Why is it strange that a woman would refuse to attack the husband she obviously loves?
Here’s another one–also from a woman in the media:
Sigh . . . I can’t stand any more of this. When I finish this post, I’m going to read novel and pretend everything is OK, just for today.
From The Daily Beast: Trump Hangs ‘Tacky’ Fantasy Painting of Himself With GOP Presidents in White House.
President Trump’s latest addition to White House decor is a kitschy fantasy painting that shows him relaxing with Republican presidents of the past—an update to a best-selling image commonly found in tourist gift shops and online galleries.
The print, “The Republican Club” by Andy Thomas, could be seen in the background of a photo tweeted by 60 Minutes, which aired an interview with Trump on Sunday night.
It shows a slimmed-down Trump sandwiched between Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, directly across from Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes are also in the imaginary scene.
Amateur art critics sneered on social media that the artwork was “tacky,” “a travesty,” or “blasphemy.” Some said it looked like the political version of the famous “dogs playing poker” painting.
Here’s the painting:
Trump also has a framed map of his electoral college win hanging in the White House. He’s so embarrassing.
In more serious news, Trump is still defending the Saudis for murdering a Washington Post journalist. CNN: Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ behind Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.
President Donald Trump suggested Monday that “rogue killers” could be behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about the case.
Trump told White House reporters that Salman offered him a “flat denial” in relation to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2.
Later Monday, the Saudis were preparing to admit that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Washington for Riyadh at around midday to meet with the Saudi King on Trump’s orders.
Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained that Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but have provided no evidence to support the claim. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge.
Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia right now, and judging by the photos I’ve seen and reports of his meetings with King Salmon and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo didn’t even give the Saudi rulers a stern talking to. In fact, they are both grinning ear-to-ear in all the pictures.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with top Saudi leaders Tuesday as sources told CNN that the Kingdom is preparing to acknowledge that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Pompeo had a short discussion with King Salman before a longer meeting with the King’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo “thanked the King for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” of the Khashoggi case and expressed “concern” about the case to the foreign minister.
Nauert described the meetings as “direct and candid.”
CNN’s sources say Saudi Arabia plans to contend that the Washington Post columnist died when an interrogation went awry, but there was no public mention on Tuesday of any new Saudi explanation of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Meanwhile, back in Turkey:
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish officials, who searched the consulate for nine hours on Monday, are looking into “toxic” and “painted over material” as part of their investigation. “My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters.
Kashoggi’s family wants and international investigation. I doubt if Trump and Pompeo will support that.
The Saudi government is preparing to a release a report claiming that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed as a result of a botched interrogation, CNN reported on Monday, citing two sources.
The interrogation was reportedly supposed to lead to Khashoggi’s abduction from Turkey. CNN described one source as saying the report is likely to claim that the interrogation was conducted without clearance or transparency.
In other words, he was tortured to death by “rogue” operators. Yeah, right.
The Washington Post Editorial Board points out that the U.S. really doesn’t need Saudi Arabia for anything –although Trump and Jared Kushner may be concerned about personal losses to their businesses interests.
…it’s worth considering just how much the United States might have to lose if its relationship with Saudi Arabia ruptured. What about that oil, and the $110 billion in arms purchases Mr. Trump keeps talking about? What about the war on terrorism?
Start with the oil. Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, supplied 9 percent of U.S. petroleum imports in 2017, or about 960,000 barrels a day. But thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is essentially energy independent: It, not Saudi Arabia, is now the world’s largest crude-oil producer. Last year, U.S. daily oil exports averaged 6.38 million barrels, or nearly seven times the Saudi imports. If the Saudis cut back production or boycotted the United States, they could temporarily drive up prices, but the beneficiaries would be U.S. shale companies, which over time would fill the gap — and deal a devastating blow to the Saudi oil industry.
As for arms sales, someone needs to brief Mr. Trump on the actual results of the promises made to him when he visited Riyadh last year. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution sums it up, “The Saudis have not concluded a single major arms deal with Washington on Trump’s watch.” Moreover, an end to supplies of U.S. spare parts and technical support, something Russia cannot provide, would quickly ground the Saudi air force. That would have the welcome effect of ending a bloody bombing campaign in Yemen that a U.N. investigation concluded was probably responsible for war crimes.
Saudi Arabia does supply the United States with counterterrorism intelligence. But as Andrew Miller of the Project on Middle East Democracy points out, stopping it “would be a colossal error . . . when there’s already a strong perception in Congress and with Americans that Saudi Arabia has fueled extremism.” Mr. Miller notes that a law passed by Congress in 2016 opens the way for civil suits against the Saudi government for any terrorist acts it enables.
The reality is that Saudi Arabia, which, as Mr. Trump himself has crudely pointed out, would not survive without U.S. security support, has everything to lose from a break in relations, while the United States no longer needs the kingdom as much as it once did. Mr. Trump has overvalued the relationship and encouraged Saudi leaders to believe they can behave recklessly and even criminally without consequence.
So all the concern from the administration must be about Trump’s and Kushner’s private finances. That is just sickening.
One more story before I escape into my book.
If the Nov. 6 midterm elections turn into what many Democrats hope will be a “blue wave,” swamping Republican majorities from Congress to state legislatures nationwide, it will have been powered in part by a new and sprawling network of activists on the left who, like Wilburn, have leaped into action over the past two years — energized by their deep desire to thwart the rise of Trump and his agenda.
Like the conservative tea party groups that rose up after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and that helped Republicans retake the House and gain power in state legislatures in 2010, this new liberal movement has emerged largely outside the traditional party structure.
It is led by hundreds of thousands of mostly white, college-educated, middle-aged women who trace their inspiration to the inaugural women’s marches in January 2017 and whose ambitions have only grown amid a succession of disagreements with Trump, including over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Read the rest at the link. If anyone saves this country from Trump it will be women.
What stories are you following today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I’d like to continue to ignore the absolute breakdown of rule of law and sanity brought on by a group of outraged wypipo that just want their football and lives to be mired in some perverse black and white 50s sitcom, but it’s hard with headlines reading like an Orwellian Dystopia.
While Floridians and other survivors of hurricanes the last 2 seasons struggle to find water, food, and access to the things of basic civilization, T-Rump continues to golf at his various properties and travel to provide Hate Fest opportunities for aggrieved wypipo with random women leaders being targeted for the shouts of “lock her up”. This kind of behavior would shame any sane person. The word sane is the key idea here.
I’d like to say who are these people, but then it’s pretty obvious that I went to high school and university with a lot of them and used to sit in church pews surrounded by them. I’m not sure what wiring got crossed in their brains, but I don’t want to understand them, I want them to slink back under their rocks.
That pretty much sums it up. KKKremlin Caligula just keeps showing himself to the world and about 20% of the population keeps acting like this is great and normal. But then, most of them also believe in a literal garden of Eden and zombie Jesus born of a virgin when there’s absolutely no proof of any of that. It seems like everything done by Republicans encourages their psychotic breaks so the donor class gets to pillage the country of treasure and resources. The VOX op ed piece is written by Matthew Yglesias.
President Trump trusts Kim Jong Un but not American climate scientists. He knows more about NATO than Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. He thinks the European Union was created to take advantage of America on trade. And he isn’t sure whether or not Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations.
In short, his sit-down interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl revealed the president of the United States to be grossly dishonest, woefully ill-informed, and congenitally incapable of admitting error or demonstrating any kind of moral or intellectual growth.
He is, in other words, totally unfit for high office and fairly obviously so. Even more amazingly, despite Stahl covering an incredibly wide range of issues, she broke essentially no new ground. Every terrible, disqualifying thing he said was something he’s said before.
Donald Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true
That doesn’t include what’s going on with Saudi Arabia which is acting like an entitled Trump Voter with the actual ability to blackmail the country and its Placeholder in the Oval Office. Trump basically said that the murdered Saudi Journalists might have been killed by “rogue” killers and that the King said they didn’t do it. Oh, great! It’s the believe a crazed dictator over all the evidence SNL skit redux!
For 45 years, it’s been considered out of bounds for Saudi Arabia. But all of a sudden, Riyadh made what many read as a veiled threat to use the kingdom’s oil wealth as a political weapon — something unheard of since the 1973 Arab embargo that triggered the first oil crisis.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, said on Sunday it would retaliate against any punitive measures linked to the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi with even “stronger ones.” In an implicit reference to the kingdom’s petroleum wealth, the statement noted the Saudi economy “has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”
Roger Diwan, a longstanding OPEC watcher at consultant IHS Markit Ltd., said the Saudi comments broke “an essential oil market taboo.”
While few think that Saudi Arabia is prepared to follow through, even the suggestion of using oil as a weapon undermines Riyadh’s long-standing effort to project itself as a force for economic stability. Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Inc., said Middle East tensions impacting the oil market have now “broadened to include Saudi Arabia.”
The images today should remind the older among us of the 1970s gas crisis.
In October 1972, a year before the U.S. oil crisis began, Atlantic author Steward Udall issued a warning, predicting a looming fuel shortage. Udall, a former Secretary of the Interior for the Kennedy Administration, believed the auto industry was in an unsustainable growth pattern based on the folly that cheap gas prices would persist indefinitely. He saw American oil production reaching a plateau and worried about the stability of the Middle Eastern market:
President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that “rogue killers” may be responsible for the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while also dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “With that being said, the king firmly denied any knowledge of it. … I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’ll try getting to the bottom of it very soon. His was a flat denial.”
In case any one needs to be reminded, the Saudi Royal Family are not nice people and the attacks on 9/11 were instigated by Saudis. And, why do we continually kiss up to brutal regimes? Are we really still in bed with craven dictatorships? Of course, we are!!!!
So there was Crown Prince Mohammad at an April soirée at Mr. Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, Calif. Guests included the Walt Disney Company’s chairman, Robert A. Iger; the studio chief at Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara; and the actors Morgan Freeman and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who overshared on Instagram that he was “blown away to be told about the level of love the Saudi people have for me.”
As the guest of honor at a Page Six-worthy dinner at the producer Brian Grazer’s Santa Monica home, the crown prince discussed Snapchat’s popularity in his kingdom with the Snap chief Evan Spiegel;Vice’s Shane Smith; Amazon’s chief — and Washington Post owner — Jeff Bezos and the agent-turned-mogul Ari Emanuel.
Mr. Emanuel, an organizer of the evening, had reason to celebrate: the Saudis planned a $400 million investment in Endeavor, his entertainment holding company. (In light of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, Endeavor is reassessing the deal, according to a person with knowledge of Mr. Emanuel’s thinking, who shared it only on condition of anonymity.)
Vanity Fair noted at the time that the festivities were not marred by talk of civilian deaths in Yemen from Saudi-led airstrikes; the crown prince’s “anti-corruption” move to imprison scores of Saudi businessmen, including the owners of Saudi television networks and key rivals, at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton; or the five-year prison sentence the Saudi royal court handed the journalist Saleh al-Shehi for criticizing the government.
The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.
With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.
So much for that little fairy tale happy ending. But one still wonders why the Bible Belt continues to lose its license to smug righteousness with its unholy alliance with D’oh Hair Furor? I don’t usually quote Maggie Habberman because I think she’s basically an overpaid gossip columnist but here we go. Why don’t the unhinged hatefests that are happening quite a few times a week turn off people who say they believe in the biblical Jesus? I mean really? Where in the bible does Jesus say “lock her up”?
Sharon Hurd didn’t know that President Trump had used the phrase “dumb Southerner” to describe his attorney general, but hearing it didn’t bother her.
“We’re ready for somebody to be that outspoken, because he seems to be getting the job done,” said Ms. Hurd, 73, a retiree who once owned a restaurant and a gift shop, standing on a street corner about an hour after Mr. Trump’s rally ended here this month. “He doesn’t try to take his words and make them please everybody, and I think that Southern people are noticing that.”
Few things have appeared to test the bond between Mr. Trump and the South, a political coupling of a thrice-married New Yorker and voters in the Bible Belt that seemed unlikely from the start. The president’s swing this month through deep-red Tennessee and Mississippi, where he basked in the warmth of supporters at political rallies, confirmed that despite the scandals and chaos that have churned out of the White House, their relationship endures.
“It is ironic that the warrior that they have found is a billionaire from New York, but he really speaks their language fluidly,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member and party strategist based in Mississippi.
“I don’t think it’s about any specific set of policy positions, but it’s about somebody being a warrior for folks,” he said.
The relationship offers Mr. Trump benefits as well. In Johnson City, Tenn., and in Southaven, Miss., this month, Mr. Trump was far removed from bruising headlines about the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia, his personal finances or allegations of affairs.
And although Mr. Trump often paints a rosy, and sometimes distorted, picture of his support, his descriptions of mutual love with his voters match reality in parts of the South — particularly outside cities and suburbs. In his 2016 victory, he won every Southern state but Virginia. In Tennessee, public polling shows his approval rating is close to 60 percent, far greater than his national average.
I don’t get it and I’m not sure why continually writing about these people does much good for any of us other warn us that there are zombies living among us. Oh, and then there’s this little shit show coming to my streets this week. These walking specimens of human excrement have already terrorized the streets of NYC and Portland this week. We’re not happy to be hosting them.
Newly released video reportedly shows the moment members of the far-right group the “Proud Boys” attacked anti-fascist protesters.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Metropolitan Republican Club on New York City’s Upper East Side Friday night, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was scheduled to give a speech.
As the event was letting out, some of the attendees allegedly assaulted some of the so-called “Antifa” protesters.
Here’s from the Portland event.
Patriot Prayer, an Oregon-based group, was holding a rally in downtown Portland yesterday; after several hours of clashes, video footage shows, an antifa protester sprays one of the far-right group members with pepper spray, setting off further violence.
The incident appears to have taken place outside Kelly’s Olympian bar and follows similar violence at the hands of Proud Boys on Friday night in New York City. According to Twitter user @itsmikebivins, the violence in Portland was “way worse” than the violence in New York.
“Right-wingers were clubbing people with clubs,” @itsmikebivins continued. Portland police confirmed that the incident was part of violence that occurred between the groups throughout the day, and involved “hard-knuckled gloves, firearms, batons and knives.”
These idiots are like a cross between Clock Work Orange’s “droogies” and freaking NAZI Brownshirts with a dash of KKK thrown in, but hey, it’s liberals that are angry mobs!
Anyway, I will stay home and away from the TV news as much as possible. My safe zone is the actual horror movies being shown on SYFY this month instead of the horror reality show that has overtaken our country.
Be excellent to each other. Oh, and Elizabeth Warren does have Native American Heritage but I don’t want to play in to the all the American Indian Lore that’s floating around this story. The only question to me is will Trump pony up the million to her chosen charity and will every one just go out and vote already!!!!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
This is the most current NHC forecast for Hurricane Michael.
You can find more alert information here: HURRICANE MICHAEL
This is a GIF image from last night:
From the reports, it looks like the panhandle of Florida is gonna get the shit kicked out of ’em….and according to the MSNBC dude on Brian Williams show…”towns will no longer be recognizable.”
Ever since last years Irma, and the aftermath of that tree making our house into something of a taco shaped ruin…any breeze over 15 mph gets me nervous.
Here are your cartoons, starting with some from Facebook…
That one was from a few days ago….
I know this one was in the comments yesterday…
I will end with that one.
This is an open thread.
Can’t we ever have a day without Trump drama? Axios: Scoop: Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation.
President Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as UN Ambassador, according to two sources briefed on their conversation. The timing of her departure is still unclear, the president promised a “big announcement” with her at 10:30 a.m.
What we’re hearing: Haley discussed her resignation with Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, these sources said. Her news shocked a number of senior foreign policy officials in the Trump administration.
The “big announcement” will come while I’m working on this post. Is he going to move her to another post? Surely it can’t be for corruption. Trump doesn’t care about that does he?
Charleston Post and Courier: Watchdog wants investigation of Nikki Haley’s private jet flights to SC.
COLUMBIA — A federal government watchdog asked the State Department on Monday to investigate whether U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley broke any regulations by accepting seven flights on private jets from three South Carolina executives last year.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, also questioned how Haley values the flights on “luxury private aircraft,” most of which also included her husband, Michael.
The former South Carolina governor based the cost on first-class commercial airline tickets for the flights from New York to three South Carolina cities. Her total was $3,219.
But the four flights Haley took on a plane belonging to Jimmy Gibbs, chief executive of Gibbs International in Spartanburg, were alone worth up to $24,000 based on publicly reported operating costs of a private jet, CREW said.
“Ambassador Haley should have been conscious of the appearance concerns surrounding her acceptance of gifts of private luxury air travel at a time when her colleagues in the administration were making news with their own lavish air travel,” CREW wrote.
Commentators on MSNBC are saying she could be out because of conflicts with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Hey, maybe she plans to primary Lindsey Graham. Graham has announced that he’s running in 2020 and has “zero interest” in being Attorney General.
So after the spectacle of Rod Rosenstein flying to Florida on Air Force One yesterday, and after the fake FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, and Rosenstein’s presence at the political rally Trump held for Kavanaugh last night, some of us are getting nervous about which side Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray are really on in terms of the Russia investigation. Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa wants us to calm down.
The New York Times: The Mueller Investigation Is Bigger Than Rod Rosenstein.
On Monday, President Trump said he has no plans to fire [Rosenstein], and many Americans may have breathed a sigh of relief. But while it’s true that his departure would have been cause for worry for those who seek to protect the independence and integrity of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, at this stage of the inquiry, even a replacement dead set on shutting it down would find such a maneuver nearly impossible to accomplish — and with each day that goes by, it becomes even harder.
To begin with, there is no such thing as a single “Russia investigation.” The F.B.I. pursues cases against individuals and organizations, not topics — this allows each case to have the flexibility to go in the direction the evidence leads, regardless of what happens with other, related cases. After the Sept. 11 attacks, for example, “Pentbomb” was the umbrella name for hundreds of discrete cases on the hijackers, their networks and Al Qaeda.
Further, existing cases spawn new cases. This is especially true of counterintelligence and conspiracy investigations, where every newly discovered contact or association of a subject already under investigation could form the basis of a new case. That’s why the current Russia investigation, originally referred to in the F.B.I. as “Crossfire Hurricane,” isn’t just a single case on Russian election meddling. Rather, at this stage it is a spider web of tens or dozens of cases on intelligence officers, their agents and individuals and organizations helping Russia that are investigated independently, cross-referencing pertinent information to other cases as necessary.
Nor is an investigation of this magnitude limited to a single office. Each case generates leads — threads of inquiry, like an interview or surveillance of an intelligence officer who might be traveling to another state — that span the country. When this happens, F.B.I. agents don’t hop on a plane. Rather, the “home” office for the case (called the “office of origin”) will send a lead to the field office with jurisdiction over that area.
Mr. Mueller’s investigation is more closely held than most, but its tentacles have already clearly spread to other field offices — consider the investigation against President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, run out of the Southern District of New York office, or the plea deal of a California man, Richard Pinedo, who assisted Russia in executing its disinformation campaign on social media. Field offices are evaluated in part based on their success in following through on leads and making cases that result in arrests and convictions. No case agent worth their salt would remain quiet if their cases were closed in the face of a continuing threat. To “shut down” the investigation at this point would require not just a face-off with Mr. Mueller but also with special agents in charge of multiple field offices with a vested interest in seeing their responsibilities through, and possibly even a battle with the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Well that nasty old Hillary Clinton has dared to speak up again, and the menfolks are in an uproar. This morning Lawrence Tribe tweeted that Clinton should “button it up” for the next month, and was surprised to get a backlash from people who love Hillary–didn’t he notice that she won the popular vote in 2016? I can’t post the tweet, because Tribe has now deleted it and others that criticized Clinton.
The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says Trump turned Kavanaugh ceremony into a ‘political rally.’
“What was done last night in the White House was a political rally,” the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “It further undermined the image and the integrity of the court, and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”
Clinton’s comments referred to a boisterous event in the East Room on Monday night that began with Trump apologizing to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” he said they were forced to endure during a chaotic confirmation process.
Trump later praised Kavanaugh’s fortitude while facing allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct and profusely thanked Republican senators who advocated for him, culminating in a 50-to-48 confirmation vote largely along party lines on Saturday.
Among those Trump recognized was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who received resounding applause after the president asked him to stand up.
It was a disgusting partisan display, and Kavanaugh himself joined in with an embarrassing speech in which he thanked specific Republicans for putting him on the Court.
At the Guardian, Ian Samuel recommends fighting back by packing the Court: Kavanaugh will be on the US supreme court for life. Here’s how we fight back.
Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed, and he will serve as a justice on the supreme court for the rest of his life. This event assures rightwing dominance of the court for a generation – or so we are told. After all, at 53, he is not even the youngest conservative: Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51. The chief justice, who has been there for more than a decade, is only 63. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by contrast, is 85, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 80. We are in, it seems, for decades of misery for labor unions, voting rights, regulation of businesses and all the rest….
The ray of hope, if there is one, lies in contradiction of the first of those premises. Nothing in the constitution fixes the number of supreme court seats at nine. The size of the court is set by legislation, and has varied over time. We started with six. We’ve gone as high as 10 (when Abraham Lincoln was president, and Congress worried about a reactionary supreme court invalidating his wartime measures). Only recently, Republicans held the court to eight members for a year in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death.
So, then, the next time the left has some political power, why not just expand the size of the supreme court and add another handful of justices? Make Brett Kavanaugh a gifted and energetic member of a 10-to-5 minority. Don’t get mad, in other words: get even.
This is called “court-packing”. And although it enjoys a long and distinguished history in America, anyone who suggests it today will be met – swiftly – by serious and sober realists, all of whom who are eager to explain the reasons that this cannot possibly work.
Read the rest at The Guardian.
As Daknikat wrote yesterday, we’ve been seeing human rights violations increasing around the world lately, and the Trump administration seems unconcerned. Most recently, Saudi Arabia disappeared a journalist in Turkey and reportedly murdered him and dismembered the body; and China arrested the head of Interpol. Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: Trump Gives Dictators the Green Light.
In September 2017, the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had gone into exile, wrote a column in The Washington Post headlined, “Saudi Arabia Wasn’t Always This Repressive. Now It’s Unbearable.”
As of this writing, Khashoggi is thought to be dead. Last Tuesday, he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a document certifying his divorce so that he could remarry. He hasn’t been seen since. The Turkish government claims he was murdered inside.
“If the reports of Khashoggi’s murder are true, it’s so brazen, it’s so outlandish,” Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told me. Saudi Arabia has killed people before, and put dissidents and bloggers in prison. “But this is at a whole different level,” she said.
It’s not surprising, however, that the Saudi government would think it could get away with it. The United States has long maintained a close strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s abysmal human rights record, and tacit American support for its brutal war in Yemen began during Barack Obama’s administration. But there’s never been an American president as enthusiastically pro-Saudi as Trump.
Sure, he sees the country as an ally against Iran. But it’s more than that: Trump seems to feel a real affinity for the gaudy kleptocratic opulence of the country’s leaders. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, appears to view M.B.S. as a kindred spirit; both, after all, are rich millennials making world-altering decisions thanks to extreme nepotism.
Read the rest at the link. Be warned though, Goldberg sees Bernie Sanders as part of the solution.
One more before I turn the floor over to you: a mom tries to support Trump/Kavanaugh and in the process humiliates her son before the world. The Washington Post: ‘This is MY son’: Navy vet horrified as mom’s tweet miscasts him as #HimToo poster boy — and goes viral.
Pieter Hanson was in the middle of a marketing exam when his phone started blowing up, buzzing and buzzing until he was convinced something terrible had happened. Too anxious to focus, he whizzed through the rest of his test, handed it in to his University of Central Florida professor and bolted into the hallway to pull out his cellphone and find out what was going on.
Sure enough, something terrible had happened indeed: His mom accidentally turned him into a viral Twitter meme.
“This is MY son,” began his mom’s viral post, which featured a photograph of Hanson posing in his Navy uniform. “He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an axe to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.”
“Hey, Pieter, we want you to know that this is going on,” one friend texted him.
“We know this isn’t you,” said another.
It was all rather disorienting. The tweet, since deleted, had been widely shared, immediately casting Hanson as the poster boy for the #HimToo movement. The movement has more recently been seen by some as the antithesis of the #MeToo movement, suggesting in the wake of the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings that men are frequently victims of false sexual assault accusations and that many accusers are liars.
The problem: Hanson, a 32-year-old Navy veteran, doesn’t support this movement, considering himself an ally of the #MeToo movement, he told The Washington Post. Nor is he fearful of “solo dates.”
Wow. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner will be like in that family?
So . . . what stories are you following today?
I have no words today.
Thanks to Delphyne for this article at The Guardian: More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil.
Two women are holding a man down on a bed. One presses her fist against his head, so he can’t raise it from the mattress, while her companion pins his torso in place. They are well-built with powerful arms but even so it takes their combined strength to keep their victim immobilised as one of them cuts through his throat with a gleaming sword. Blood spurts from deep red geysers as she saws. She won’t stop until his head is fully severed. Her victim’s eyes are wide open. He knows exactly what is happening to him.
The dying man is Holofernes, an enemy of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and the young woman beheading him is Judith, his divinely appointed assassin. Yet at the same time he is also an Italian painter called Agostino Tassi, while the woman with the sword is Artemisia Gentileschi, who painted this. It is, effectively, a self-portrait.
Two big, blood-drenched paintings of Judith and Holofernes by Gentileschi survive, one in the Capodimonte in Naples, the other in the Uffizi in Florence. They are almost identical except for small details – in Naples Judith’s dress is blue, in Florence yellow – as if this image was a nightmare she kept having, the final act to a tragedy endlessly replaying in her head.
“This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises!” yelled Gentileschi as she was tortured in a Rome courtroom in 1612. Ropes were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tight. The judge had advised moderate use of the sibille, as this torture was called, for she was after all 18. Across the court sat the man who had raped her. No one thought of torturing him. Defiantly, Gentileschi told him her thumbscrews were the wedding ring he’d promised. Again and again, she repeated that her testimony about the rape was reliable: “It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true.
Tassi was hired by Gentileschi’s father to give her painting lessons.
Tassi tricked his way into her room and started making unwanted offers of sex, she testified. “He then threw me on to the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, he placed a hand with a handkerchief on my mouth to keep me from screaming.”
She fought back. “I scratched his face,” she told the court, “and pulled his hair and, before he penetrated me again, I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh.” But she couldn’t stop him. Afterwards, she rushed to a drawer and got out a knife. “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonoured me,” she shouted. He opened his coat and said: “Here I am.” Gentileschi threw the knife but he shielded himself. “Otherwise,” she said, “I might have killed him.”
Read the rest at The Guardian. It’s a story that still rings true today. Gentileschi’s rapist was found guilty but wasn’t punished, and she was tortured. It’s a story as old as time and as modern as today when a Senate dominated by old, white Republican will elevate an attempted rapist, sexual abuser, and right wing political activist to the highest court in the land.
Centuries after Gentileschi was tortured by the legal system of her day, women are still routinely raped, sexually abused, and even murdered in the name of male supremacy. And when they dare to speak about what was done to them, they are abused again by the “justice” system and betrayed by colluding women like Maine Senator Susan Collins.
What is wrong with these men, beginning with Donald Trump, pretender to the presidency? Because I’m feeling mean, I’m going to post this Twitter thread.
I’m not sure I agree with this analysis, but I have always seen Trump as effeminate. His vanity, his hair, his odd hand gestures, he’s so far from masculine. Is that why he hates and abuses women? Because he feels weak and inadequate? That’s what I suspect.
Here’s piece by Jaco at The St. Louis American: Brett Kavanaugh and Republican white maledom.
Like most 68-year-old white males, I’m disgusted that an ideologue and perjurer accused of sexual assault is about to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
That sentence, of course is a lie. And the lie is in the first seven words. Most 68-year-old white males want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The respected Quinnipiac University poll shows 48 percent of Americans polled oppose Kavanaugh, while 42 percent support him. But 59 percent of white men want Kavanaugh, along with 45 percent of white women.
African Americans oppose Kavanaugh by 81 percent, while Hispanics dislike him by a 65 percent margin. In fact, the poll finds Kavanaugh is unpopular among every demographic group except white people over age 50, where the majority support him. Not co-incidentally, white people over age 50 vote in huge numbers and control the big money donations to the GOP.
The entire Kavanaugh process has been one of the most blatant examples of minority rule since apartheid fell. Kavanaugh raged in self-pity during testimony. The White House limited the FBI “investigation” into sexual assault charges. Trump mocked Kavanaugh’s accuser. Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell sniffed that the GOP “won’t be intimidated” by sexual assault survivors. In every case, conservative white men snarled about how they, not Prof. Christine Blasey Ford or the rule of law, were the victims.
Charlie Cook, founder of the often-indispensable Cook Political Report, crunched the numbers and found that conservative Republican white males make up 18 percent of the American population. And yet they make up 100 percent of the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 100 percent of Republican leadership in the Senate, and 84 percent of the GOP Senate majority.
They’re determined to put a man with the judicial temperament of Bart Simpson on the bench for one simple reason. They want him as the fifth Supreme Court vote to erase every “liberal” decision of the last 60 years that has given expanded rights to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, consumers, workers, and anyone else not part of conservative white maledom.
Click on the link to read the rest.
More recommended reads:
The New York Times Editorial Board: The High Court Brought Low. Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.
Michael Tomasky at The New York Times: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis.
Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews: Investigation at Yale Law School.
The New York Times: House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control.
The New Yorker: The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh.
That’s all I have for now. Please take care of yourselves this weekend.