Thursday Reads: Trump In Trouble?

Trump family and supporters watching Monday night's debate

Trump family and supporters watching Monday night’s debate

Good Afternoon!!

I just love that photo taken during Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They are all trying to claim their candidate won, but that’s how they looked while they were watching their candidate self-immolate in front of 80 million viewers.

And how did the Clinton side look? Check it out.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. Then there’s this one taken backstage after the debate.

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I love that one! Now for the news of the day.

Kurt Eichenwald has another big scoop on Trump’s dirty dealings: How Donald Trump’s Company Violated the United States Embargo against Cuba.

A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowedto maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.

He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.

At the time, Americans traveling to Cuba had to receive specific U.S. government permission, which was granted only for an extremely limited number of purposes, such as humanitarian efforts. Neither an American nor a company based in the United States could spend any cash in Cuba; instead, a foreign charity or similar sponsoring entity needed to pay all expenses, including travel. Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law, trade experts say.

Read the rest at the Newsweek link above. This story seems to be getting a lot more attention than Eichenwald’s previous ones. I think some reporters are finally waking up to the fact that while they were obsessing on Hillary Clinton’s emails a few real journalists like Eichenwald and David Fahrenthold were doing serious investigative work that is suddenly paying off for them and making others in the mainstream media look like lazy fools.

Yeah, not incredible at all. The media has acted like a pack of ravening wolves trying to tear Hillary apart for the past year while they laughed and joked about a thin-skinned authoritarian nationalist and white supremacist with a realistic chance of winning the U.S. presidency.

Trump’s misogyny and fat-shaming are getting a lot of attention after Hillary brought it up at the debate. I know there are plenty of men who think this is not a serious issue, but for women who have had to deal with men like Trump it certainly is one. Besides, misogyny and sexism obviously have real-life economic effects too.

The LA Times: Employees at Trump’s California golf course say he wanted to fire women who weren’t pretty enough.

After the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes opened for play in 2005, its world-famous owner didn’t stop by more than a few times a year to visit the course hugging the coast of the Pacific.

When Trump did visit, the club’s managers went on alert. They scheduled the young, thin, pretty women on staff to work the clubhouse restaurant  — because when Trump saw less-attractive women working at his club, according to court records, he wanted them fired.

“I had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were ‘not pretty enough’ and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women,” Hayley Strozier, who was director of catering at the club until 2008, said in a sworn declaration.

Initially, Trump gave this command “almost every time” he visited, Strozier said. Managers eventually changed employee schedules “so that the most attractive women were scheduled to work when Mr. Trump was scheduled to be at the club,” she said.

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Trump’s sexist behavior came out in a “labor relations lawsuit.”

The employees’ declarations in support of the lawsuit, which have not been reported in detail until now, show the extent to which they believed Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee, pressured subordinates at one of his businesses to create and enforce a culture of beauty, where female employees’ appearances were prized over their skills….

Employees said in their declarations that the apparent preference for attractive women came from the top.

“Donald Trump always wanted good looking women working at the club,” said Sue Kwiatkowski, a restaurant manager at the club until 2009, in a declaration. “I know this because one time he took me aside and said, ‘I want you to get some good looking hostesses here. People like to see good looking people when they come in.’ ”

As a result, Kwiatkowski said, “I and the other managers always tried to have our most attractive hostesses working when Mr. Trump was in town and going to be on the premises.”

Read more at the link.

Jennifer Lin, a former reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote at BillyPenn.com about a personal experience she had with Trump in 1988. She had written an article about how Trump tried to cheat shareholders in his casino company by buying them out for $15 per share. Lin wrote about Dale Scutti who realized the shares were worth a lot more than that and starting buying them. Merv Griffin, who wanted to get into the Atlantic City casino business got wind of Scutti’s activities and made a counteroffer.

The situation got ugly and after a month of fighting, the moguls made a deal: Trump would get the unfinished Taj Mahal, Griffin would get everything else, and investors would get $36 a share.

My story that morning made the point that if it wasn’t for this unknown investor from upstate New York, shareholders might not be earning more than twice what Trump originally offered. Scutti had told me he thought Trump was trying to scare shareholders into accepting his offer with threats of bankruptcy in San Diego and warnings that he was the only one capable of completing the over-budget Taj Mahal project.

Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe

Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe

She had tried and failed to reach Trump for comment, but when the story appeared he suddenly wanted to talk to her.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

Craig, a calm Iowan, asked Trump what was wrong with the story. He explained that The Inquirerwould run a correction if the paper had made an error.

Trump snapped that he didn’t read the story.

“No one reads the story,” the 41-year-old blustered. “I read the headline and I didn’t like it.”

Craig suggested that he read the story, then call him back if there were any problems.

He did not hear back from Trump.

So presidential.

If you haven’t read this remarkable review of a new biography of Adolf Hitler by Volker Ullrich: In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue. New York Time book reviewer Michiko Kakatani seems to have specifically written the piece to highlight resemblances between Hitler and Donald Trump–and she did it without ever mentioning Trump’s name. I’m not able to cut and paste from this amazing piece, but I hope you’ll go read it.

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I have quite few links for you today, so I’m going to just post headlines for the rest.

Washington Post: Trump’s method for the big fib: Defend, defend, then grasp at straws.

Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton Played Trump for a Fool.

Vox: The press thought Trump’s first 30 minutes were his best. They were his worst.

Politico: Trump accuses Google of ‘suppressing’ Clinton info. (Based on a story from a Russian propaganda site)

Gabe Ortiz at Medium: For All The “Miss Housekeepings” — Including My Mom.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Campaign Is Quietly Shouting About Clinton Sex Scandals.

Washington Post: Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers. (Because every wife should respond with kindness and empathy to women who have affairs with her husband, right?)

PBS Frontline: The FRONTLINE Interview: Tony Schwartz. (Trump’s ghostwriter)

STAT: How Trump was named ‘Grand Benefactor’ for a Dana-Farber gala without donating a penny.

Cosmopolitan: Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Won’t Be Defined by Donald Trump’s Fat-Shaming

Vanity Fair: Revisit the Time Donald Trump Said Kim Kardashian Had “Gotten a Bit Large” [Updated].

Huffington Post: Another Miss Universe Contestant Says She Was Fat-Shamed By Donald Trump.

Huffington Post: Megyn Kelly Goes After Kellyanne Conway On Trump’s Misogyny.

What stories are you following today?

 


Live Blog: Clinton and Trump Debate for the First Time Tonight

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Here we go folks, debate day has finally arrived. Dakinikat’s post offered plenty of background, so I’ll just focus on today’s interesting developments.

David Fahrendhold has another bombshell post today on the Trump Foundation: Trump directed $2.3 million owed to him to his charity instead.

Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has received approximately $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or one of his businesses but were instructed to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to people familiar with the transactions.

In cases where he diverted his own income to his foundation, tax experts said, Trump would still likely be required to pay taxes on the income. Trump has refused to release his personal tax returns. His campaign said he paid income tax on one of the donations, but did not respond to questions about the others.

That gift was a $400,000 payment from Comedy Central, which owed Trump an appearance fee for his 2011 “roast.”

Then there were payments totaling nearly $1.9 million from a man in New York City who sells sought-after tickets and one-of-a-kind experiences to wealthy clients.

That man, Richard Ebers, bought goods and services — including tickets — from Trump or his businesses, according to two people familiar with the transactions, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the payments. They said that Ebers was instructed to pay the Donald J. Trump Foundation instead. Ebers did not respond to requests for comment.

The gifts begin to answer one of the mysteries surrounding the foundation: Why would other people continue giving to Trump’s charity when Trump himself gave his last recorded donation in 2008?

The donations from Ebers and Comedy Central, which account for half the money given to the Trump Foundation since 2008, also provide new evidence of the Trump Foundation’s ties to Trump’s business empire.

Wow. This guy is nothing but a criminal.

“This is so bizarre, this laundry list of issues,” said Marc Owens, the longtime head of the Internal Revenue Service office that oversees nonprofit organizations who is now in private practice. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years in the IRS, and 40 years total.”

The laws governing the diversion of income into a foundation were written, in part, to stop charity leaders from funneling income that should be taxed into a charity and then using that money to benefit themselves. Such violations can bring monetary penalties, the loss of tax-exempt status, and even criminal charges in extreme cases.

Will Lester Holt ask Trump about this or the other revelations about Trump Foundation and Trump “University”?

Yeah, I doubt if Lester will bring it up….

From Bloomberg, Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien writes: How Trump Rides on Waves of Other People’s Money.

During a campaign stop in North Carolina last week, Donald Trumpdescribed the logic behind his plans for billing other countries for U.S. military support should he become president:

It’s called OPM. I do it all the time in business. It’s called other people’s money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money because it takes the risk — you get a good chunk out of it and it takes the risk.

By “takes the risk,” Trump means that using other people’s funds reduces his risk of losing any of his own money on deals. Trump has spent a lifetime using other people’s money – and losing piles of it along the way.

Trump’s MO around OPM in his early days was defined largely by his father, Fred, basically because Fred had a lot of M. While Trump frequently downplays the role his father played at the start of his business career, his dad was always there for him, wallet and Rolodex open.

“It has not been easy for me,” Trump said at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire almost a year ago. “And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.” In a subsequent interview, Trump described his father’s financial support as amounting to nothing more than a “very, very small loan.”

None of this is true, of course.

Read much more at the link.

Seven new national polls came out today, including this one from NBC News/Survey Monkey: Poll: Clinton Leads Trump Among Likely Voters Ahead of First Debate.

Just hours ahead of the first 2016 presidential debate, Hillary Clinton continues to lead Donald Trump by 5 points, 45 percent to 40 percent, unchanged from last week, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson trails behind with 10 percent support, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein has 3 percent support.

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As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, there is very little positive to read about Hillary Clinton in the mainstream media, but this has to be the headline of the day from Anita Terket at Huffington Post: Debate Bar So Low For Donald Trump That If He Doesn’t Vomit, He’s Exceeded Expectations.

Donald Trump is an arrogant slacker who wastes his time hanging out at greasy spoons when he should be spending his time studying ― not like that striving know-it-all Tracy Flick Hillary Clinton. Or at least, that’s what Trump’s campaign wants you to believe.

In the run-up to the first presidential debate Monday night, Trump’s team has been working to lower the bar so far for him that it’s basically just lying on the ground. Story after story talks about how Clinton is spending her time poring over wonky policy details in briefing books while Trump is just hanging out….

The two candidates’ differential treatment was clear during a Sept. 7 veterans forum, the first such event during the general election. The moderator, NBC News host Matt Lauer, challenged Clinton on the use of her private email server and repeatedly interrupted her to stop her from filibustering. But with Trump, Lauer lobbed softballs like, “What have you experienced in your personal life or your professional life that you believe prepares you to make the decisions that a commander-in-chief has to make?”

“Candidates should expect to be challenged. They’re applying for a challenging job. But where Mr. Lauer treated Mrs. Clinton like someone running for president, he treated Mr. Trump like someone running to figure out how to be president, eventually,” New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik wrote in a scathing review the following day.

Read more at HuffPo.

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No one in the MSM writes about reproductive rights either. It fell to Glamour Magazine to publish this: Why It’s Important That the Presidential Candidates Talk About Abortion at the First Debate.

Since at least 1984, debate moderators have asked presidential candidates about abortion, but have often focused on the theoretical or based them on extreme cases. It’s time we have a deeper discussion, beyond its legality and theory. We must discuss its accessibility and availability. During the Democratic primaries, NARAL Pro-Choice America and I called on debate moderators to #AskAboutAbortion, and it wasn’t until the last debate when Clinton addressed the issue head on. Since that debate, the Supreme Court has issued the biggest ruling on abortion in almost 20 years, baring the state of Texas from closing the majority of their abortion clinics. While this is a huge win for abortion advocates, it doesn’t mean that access will reappear overnight. In light of this, we’re calling on Holt, as the moderator, to ask about abortion.

Both Clinton and Trump have had a lot to say about abortion on the campaign trail. In a June speech to Planned Parenthood, Clinton said, “I believe we need to protect access to safe and legal abortion — not just in principle, but in practice. Any right that requires you to take extraordinary measures to access it is no right at all.” Clinton has also vowedto repeal the Hyde Amendment, a discriminatory policy that bars Medicaid recipients from using their health insurance to pay for an abortion. Similarly, for the first time in history, the Democratic Party has added the repeal of the Hyde Amendment to their platform. Trump has vowed to make the Hyde Amendment permanent and believesthere should be “some form of punishment” for people having an abortion. The Republican Party, in their platform, calls for a codification of the Hyde Amendment and refuses to fund healthcare services at providers like Planned Parenthood—instead, they want to fund crisis pregnancy centers, which are anti-abortion centers that scare patients with debunked and inaccurate medical information.

There are huge disparities in the candidates’ positions. Voters deserve to know how they plan to change access to abortion over the next four, possibly eight, years, which will impact our nation for decades to come.

As I commented earlier, if Holt doesn’t ask a question about abortion we need to demand answers from him about why he didn’t.

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One more interesting article I came across today–it’s a psychological analysis of Trump at Scientific American from July: .Donald Trump’s Real Ambition. Trump is driven by one thing and one thing only: the search for glory.

I normally stay clear of psychologically profiling public figures. But when the writing is so clearly on the wall, when the stakes are so high, and when the data is so consistent, I am inclined to comment. With Trump, what I see is so clearly a textbook case of a metaphorical computer program running amok, that I feel its my imperative to reveal the source code. Hopefully by making Trump’s ambition open-source, we can clearly see where it is headed, and we can take action to halt the program before it reaches its ultimate conclusion.

What is this program? There are many ways to frame it. Some therapists prefer to couch it in terms of “narcissism“. “Oh look at that Trump, he’s such a grandiose narcissist!” But I believe this is not a helpful description for several reasons. For one, it perpetuates an us vs. them mentality. After all, we are all narcissists in varying degrees. The computer program that Trump is running is a grossly exaggerated version of a program, but it’s still a variation on a potentiality that lies deep within all of us. The other reason why this is unsatisfactory is that it doesn’t actually explain anything. Trump obviously has extreme narcissistic tendencies (a high sense of superiority and entitlement). To say he is a “narcissist” is merely saying that he consistently displays an abundance of narcissistic behaviors: not all that revealing.

No, I believe we need to look deeper at the underlying motivation behind virtually everything Trump does, from his choice of teammates to his tweets to his private and public statements. In my estimation, Trump is driven by one thing and one thing only: the search for glory. Everything stems from this one simple fact, and everything falls into place in a predicable fashion once we fully understand the operation of this fundamentally human drive.

Please read it when you have time. It’s a fascinating article.

What are you hearing? How are you going to watch the debate? I think I’ll stick with C-Span. However you watch, I hope you’ll post your reactions below.