Thursday Reads: Trump’s “Social Media Summit” and Jeffrey Epstein Updates

“Hello gryphon, you are half-bird and so big,” by Erin Kelso

Good Afternoon!!

The illustrations in this post are by fantasy artist Erin Kelso, AKA bluefooted.

Jeffrey Epstein is still all over the news, although Trump is trying to distract the media by inviting a bunch of Nazis and right wing conspiracy theorists to visit the White House today  for a “social media summit” and sending out deranged tweets, in one of which he claimed to be “so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!” followed by the suggestion that he might be in office for 14 more years.

Trump’s “social media” summit

The Washington Post: ‘We will not let them get away with it’: Trump threatens social media ahead of White House summit.

President Trump plans to gather Republican lawmakers, campaign strategists and online provocateurs for a “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday, rallying his political allies and escalating his attacks on Facebook, Google and Twitter ahead of the 2020 election.

Harpy, by Erin Kelso

For Trump, the conference represents his highest profile broadside against Silicon Valley after months of accusing tech companies of censoring conservative users and websites. Facebook, Google and Twitter each has denied the president’s allegations of political bias, though none of them has been invited to the White House for Trump’s summit.

Hours before the event, Trump tweeted that the focus of the conversation “will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” though he didn’t mention any by name. “We will not let them get away with it much longer,” he added.

Trump has assailed Facebook, Google and Twitter for months, even accusing them of trying to rig the election. In March, for example, he said the companies had engaged in “collusion” and work in opposition to a “certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.”

At times, though, Trump’s attacks have come in response to efforts by Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove hate speech, threats of violence and other troubling content from their platforms.

Because Trump just loves hate speech.

Vox’s Recode reveals some of the nuts who will be at Trump’s “summit.”

…the gathering in Washington this week will bring together conservative media outlets and Donald Trump supporters who accuse Big Tech of anti-conservative bias despite a lack of evidence supporting their claims.

Canyon Maker, by Erin Kelso

Who will actually be there: The leaders of several conservative groups, like Turning Point USA, YourVoice Inc, right-wing YouTube channel Prager University, conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, and a right-wing meme maker known as Carpe Donktum have all confirmed they are attending Thursday’s meeting.

What’s it’s really about: Trump has suggested the government might sue social media companies over accusations of political bias, but he hasn’t taken concrete action so far. In May, Recode reported on a tool the White House launched for people to flag claims of social media censorship — but the tool is essentially a ploy to gather voter data. According to the Journal, today’s summit “is a way to rally Trump’s base” and will offer a “preview of a likely theme in Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.” [Ryan Tracy / The Wall Street Journal]

More information on the attendees from CNN:

The White House has repeatedly declined to release a list people it expects to attend, but some of the recipients have turned to social media to boast about being invited.

By ErinKelso

Among them are Bill Mitchell, a radio host who has promoted the extremist QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter; Carpe Donktum, an anonymous troll who won a contest put on by the fringe media organization InfoWars for an anti-media meme; and Ali Alexander, an activist who attempted to smear Sen. Kamala Harris by saying she is not an “American black” following the first Democratic presidential debates.

Other eyebrow raising attendees include James O’Keefe, the guerrilla journalist whose group Project Veritas tried to trick reporters at the Washington Post by planting a source who told the paper that she had been impregnated as a teenager by failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore; Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA who sometimes posts misleading information on social media; and Benny Johnson, the journalist-turned-activist who was fired for plagiarism by BuzzFeed and demoted at the Independent Journal Review for violating company standards.

From Vice: Trump Invites Fringe Social Media Company Popular With Nazis to the White House.

[Today] President Donald Trump is meeting with a series of right wing figures at the White House to discuss social media issues. But Facebook and Twitter won’t be there. In fact, the only social media network that has publicly said it’s attending is Minds—billed as the crypto “anti-Facebook” and once home to several neo-Nazi extremist groups.

Pulp, a public relations firm that counts Minds among its client list, sent Motherboard a photo of the invitation the fringe social media site received to the White House for the summit.

By Erin Kelso

“Minds.com is the only social media network invited to the White House’s social media summit!” wrote the Pulp representative in an email to Motherboard. Facebook and Twitter, social media companies with an astronomically larger number of users than Minds, were excluded from the summit.

A previous Motherboard investigation found that miliant neo-Nazi groups connected to Atomwaffen Division—a violent American hate group connected to several murders—was using Minds as a platform for recruiting and spreading propaganda. Minds eventually banned the accounts when Motherboard showed them to the platform, but the company’s lax content moderation allowed them to proliferate unchecked for months.

One more from The Daily Beast: Trump’s Social Media Summit Mortifies White House, Enrages Far-Right Allies.

Donald Trump has invited personalities from across the right-wing internet to the White House on Thursday for a “Social Media Summit,” but the event is causing his administration headaches even before it begins.

So far, the summit has stirred up resentments among pro-Trump personalities who were never invited to the party, and one invitee has been disinvited over an anti-Semitic cartoon—raising questions for the White House about why he was invited in the first place….

The Devil, by Erin Kelso

Notably, the group so far doesn’t appear to include anyone who has actually been banned from major social platforms, even though those bans have played a significant role in driving accusations on the right that the social giants are biased. Pro-Trump figures like anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Proud Boys men’s group founder Gavin McInnes, for example, don’t appear to have been invited.

That fact hasn’t been lost on fringe Trump supporters. In a livestream from Washington, D.C., InfoWars reporter and Jones lieutenant Owen Shroyer raged that no one from InfoWars was invited to the event, while people who hadn’t been banned were.

Shroyer declared that the event was an “abortion of truth” and compared the invitees to dogs getting a bone and a pat on the head.

Read much more at the link.

Jeffrey Epstein News

Last night The New York Times published a very interesting story on Epstein’s financial history: Jeffrey Epstein’s Fortune May Be More Illusion Than Fact.

Mr. Epstein is routinely described as a billionaire and brilliant financier, and he rubbed elbows with the powerful, including former and future presidents. Even after his 2008 guilty plea in a prostitution case in Florida, he promoted himself as a financial wizard who used arcane mathematical models, and he often dropped the names of Nobel Prize-winning friends. He told potential clients that they had to invest a minimum of $1 billion. At his peak in the early 2000s, a magazine profile said he employed 150 people, some working out of the historic Villard Houses on Madison Avenue.

Much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire.

Wicked and the Unicorn, by Erin Kelso

Mr. Epstein’s wealth may have depended less on his math acumen than his connections to two men — Steven J. Hoffenberg, a onetime owner of The New York Post and a notorious fraudster later convicted of running a $460 million Ponzi scheme, and Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of retail chains including The Limited and the chief executive of the company that owns Victoria’s Secret.

Mr. Hoffenberg was Mr. Epstein’s partner in two ill-fated takeover bids in the 1980s, including one of Pan American World Airways, and would later claim that Mr. Epstein had been part of the scheme that landed him in jail — although Mr. Epstein was never charged. With Mr. Wexner, Mr. Epstein formed a financial and personal bond that baffled longtime associates of the wealthy retail magnate, who was his only publicly disclosed investor.

You’ll need to read the whole thing, but one fascinating revelation is that Epstein was aided by the same private section of Deutsche Bank that lent millions to Donald Trump.

In recent years, Mr. Epstein was a client of Deutsche Bank’s private-banking division, which caters to ultrawealthy individuals and families. The bank provided Mr. Epstein with loans and wealth-management accounts, as well as trading services through its investment banking arm, according to two people familiar with the relationship. At one point, compliance officers at Deutsche Bank raised concerns about transactions by Mr. Epstein’s company, because he posed reputational risk to the bank, the people said.

Deutsche Bank managers overruled their concerns, the people said. They noted that there was nothing illegal about the transactions and that Mr. Epstein was a lucrative client.

Earlier this year, the bank ended its relationship with Mr. Epstein.

Queen Titania, by Erin Kelso

AP: Whispers, suspicion about Epstein on Caribbean island.

Ask about Jeffrey Epstein on St. Thomas and rooms go quiet. Some people leave. Those who share stories speak in barely audible tones.

The 66-year-old billionaire bought Little St. James Island off this U.S. Caribbean territory more than two decades ago and began to transform it — clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm trees and planting two massive U.S. flags on either end. When guides took scuba divers to spots near the island, security guards would walk to the water’s edge.

It was off-putting to residents of St. Thomas — a lush tropical island east of Puerto Rico with winding roads through mountains dotted with dainty Danish colonial-era homes. Then, when Epstein pleaded guilty in a 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, his need for privacy began to appear more sinister.

“Everybody called it ‘Pedophile Island,’” said Kevin Goodrich, who is from St. Thomas and operates boat charters. “It’s our dark corner.”

Many people who worked for Epstein told The Associated Press this week that they had signed long non-disclosure agreements, and refused to talk. One former employee who declined to be identified said Epstein once had five boats, including a large ferry in which he transported up to 200 workers from St. Thomas to his island every day for construction work.

Click on the link to read more details.

The Bitter End, by Erin Kelso

Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair: “He Was Living In Peace, Like Dr. Mengele In Paraguay”: Manhattan Media Remember Jeffrey Epstein, The Monster Hiding In Plain Sight.

In late 2009, as civil complaints alleging Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls were mounting, George Rush, the long-running Daily News gossip columnist, was preparing a story on one of the latest Jane Doe lawsuits filed against the billionaire financier. The legal documents contained allegations that hadn’t yet been reported, and Rush was keen on nudging them into the public domain. He drew up a list of questions and sent them to Howard Rubenstein, who was Epstein’s publicist at the time. Rush’s reporting resulted in a call from Epstein himself to Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who had been a business partner of Epstein’s a few years earlier. The enigmatic and press-shy tycoon was offering Zuckerman something rare: an interview for the Daily News. But when Epstein got on the phone with Rush, Epstein said he could only speak off the record, on the advice of his lawyers. The whole 22-minute conversation sounded to Rush like a bunch of spin.

“It was just kind of this self-serving rationale for how he had been tormented by the lawyers for these girls, whom he characterized as these preexisting prostitutes and strippers who’d already been indoctrinated into the sex world,” Rush told me, describing the interview only in general terms because, even 10 years later, it’s still off the record. “You got the sense that he could adopt many masks. He played up his working-class roots on Coney Island, and how he understood that this was a good story that sold newspapers, and how everybody hates a rich guy. He basically said, I get why this is a good story for you, but I think a better story would be how these con artist lawyers are abusing the legal system.”

Rush said his Epstein chat was “almost useless,” though it “did give me a window into him. He briefly acknowledged getting himself into this mess. But he showed little remorse and no pity for his victims. He was mostly concerned with keeping Ghislaine Maxwell, his alleged henchwoman, out of the story.”

This is a long but interesting story, but check it out. Along the way, Epstein’s behavior has been enabled by so many rich and powerful allies.

Two more:

The New York Times: Cyrus Vance’s Office Sought Reduced Sex-Offender Status for Epstein.

The New York Post: NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Happy Valentine’s Day

Les Pivoines 1907 par Henri Matisse

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sky Dancers!!

Andrew McCabe’s book The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump will be released on Tuesday, and he will be interviewed on 60 Minutes on Sunday night. This might be one 60 Minutes I decide to watch.

McCabe was deputy director of the FBI under James Comey and he became acting director after Trump fired Comey. Trump attacked McCabe repeatedly, and eventually succeeded in driving him out of office. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe one day before he could have retired with his full pension.

Today The Atlantic published an article adapted from McCabe’s book: Every Day Is a New Low in Trump’s White House.

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, my first full day on the job as acting director of the FBI, I sat down with senior staff involved in the Russia case—the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. As the meeting began, my secretary relayed a message that the White House was calling. The president himself was on the line. I had spoken with him the night before, in the Oval Office, when he told me he had fired James Comey.

Bouquet on a Bamboo Table (1903) Henri Matisse

A call like this was highly unusual. Presidents do not, typically, call FBI directors. There should be no direct contact between the president and the director, except for national-security purposes. The reason is simple. Investigations and prosecutions need to be pursued without a hint of suspicion that someone who wields power has put a thumb on the scale.

The Russia team was in my office. I took the call on an unclassified line. That was another strange thing—the president was calling on a phone that was not secure. The voice on the other end said, It’s Don Trump calling. I said, Hello, Mr. President, how are you? Apart from my surprise that he was calling at all, I was surprised that he referred to himself as “Don.”

The president said, I’m good. You know—boy, it’s incredible, it’s such a great thing, people are really happy about the fact that the director’s gone, and it’s just remarkable what people are saying. Have you seen that? Are you seeing that, too?

He went on: I received hundreds of messages from FBI people—how happy they are that I fired him. There are people saying things on the media, have you seen that? What’s it like there in the building?

McCabe describes the reaction of FBI employees as one of shock and dismay. Trump then said he wanted to come to the FBI and “show all my FBI people how much I love them.” McCabe thought that was a terrible idea, but agreed to meet with Trump about it. Next, Trump:

Flowers and Fruit by Henri Matisse

…began to talk about how upset he was that Comey had flown home on his government plane from Los Angeles—Comey had been giving a speech there when he learned he was fired. The president wanted to know how that had happened.

I told him that bureau lawyers had assured me there was no legal issue with Comey coming home on the plane. I decided that he should do so. The existing threat assessment indicated he was still at risk, so he needed a protection detail. Since the members of the protection detail would all be coming home, it made sense to bring everybody back on the same plane they had used to fly out there. It was coming back anyway. The president flew off the handle: That’s not right! I don’t approve of that! That’s wrong! He reiterated his point five or seven times.

I said, I’m sorry that you disagree, sir. But it was my decision, and that’s how I decided. The president said, I want you to look into that! I thought to myself: What am I going to look into? I just told you I made that decision.

The ranting against Comey spiraled. I waited until he had talked himself out.

After that Trump taunted McCabe about his wife’s losing campaign for the Virginia Senate, asking McCabe, “How did she handle losing? Is it tough to lose?” and later saying “Yeah, that must’ve been really tough. To lose. To be a loser.”

I once had a boss who was a monstrous whack job like Trump. It was crazy-making. The entire department under this man functioned like an alcoholic family with an unpredictable, out-of-control father. You never knew what horrible thing would happen next. It was total chaos, as the White House seems to be. I’m glad McCabe is telling the truth about what he experienced.

Two more articles based on the McCabe book:

CBS News 60 Minutes: McCabe Says He Ordered the Obstruction of Justice Probe of President Trump.

The New York Times: McCabe Says Justice Officials Discussed Recruiting Cabinet Members to Push Trump Out of Office.

Bouquet of Flowers in a White Vase, 1909, by Henri Matisse

I expect Trump will be ranting about McCabe on Twitter and in the Oval Office, but he can’t do anything to shut McCabe up anymore.

Soon we’ll have a new U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, and already the corruption surrounding him has a very bad odor. CNN reports that Barr’s daughter and son-in-law are leaving the Justice Department for new jobs at FinCEN and the White House Counsel’s office respectively.

Mary Daly, Barr’s oldest daughter and the director of Opioid Enforcement and Prevention Efforts in the deputy attorney general’s office, is leaving for a position at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit, a Justice official said.

Tyler McGaughey, the husband of Barr’s youngest daughter, has been detailed from the powerful US attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, to the White House counsel’s office, two officials said.

It’s not clear if McGaughey’s switch is a result of Barr’s pending new role, and the kind of work he’ll be handling at the White House is not public knowledge.
Daly’s husband will remain in his position in the Justice Department’s National Security Division for now.

Henri Matisse: Les Anemones

The moves were by choice and are not required under federal nepotism laws, but Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, called them “a good idea” to “avoid the bad optics that could come from the appearance of them working for him.”
However, Shaub added that McGaughey’s detail to the White House counsel’s office was “concerning.”

“That’s troubling because it raises further questions about Barr’s independence,” Shaub said.

Read more at the CNN link.

If you listened to Rachel Maddow’s podcast about Spiro Agnew (or even if you didn’t) you should read this op-ed at The Washington Post by three attorneys who were involved in that corruption case: We should demand high standards from William Barr. Spiro Agnew’s case shows why, by Barnet D. Skolnik, Russell T. Baker Jr., and Ronald S. Liebman.

In the winter of 1973, 46 years ago, the three of us were assistant U.S. attorneys in Baltimore starting a federal grand jury investigation of a corrupt Democratic county chief executive in Maryland. That investigation ultimately led to the prosecution of his corrupt Republican predecessor — the man who went on to become the state’s governor and then President Richard M. Nixon’s vice president, Spiro T. Agnew.

On Oct. 10, 1973, Agnew entered a plea to a criminal tax felony for failure to report the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’d received in bribes and kickbacks as county executive, governor and even vice president. All paid in cash, $100 bills delivered in white envelopes.

And he resigned.

Henri Matisse. Vase of Irises. 1912

From the beginning of our investigation, months before we had seen any indication that he had taken kickbacks, Agnew, along with top White House and administration officials and even Nixon himself, repeatedly tried to impede, obstruct and terminate the investigation in nefarious ways. Some of those efforts were unknown to us then and have come to light only now thanks to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her “Bagman” podcast.

When newspapers began to report that he was under criminal investigation in the summer of 1973, Agnew aroused his base by screaming “witch hunt” and launching a vicious assault on the “lying” press, the “partisan” Justice Department, and the “biased” and “liberal Democrat” prosecutors in Baltimore.

If Agnew and Nixon had succeeded in derailing our investigation, the most corrupt man ever to sit a heartbeat away might have become the president of our country when Nixon was forced to resign less than a year later. But our investigation was protected — first, by our staunch and courageous boss, the late George Beall, the U.S. attorney for Maryland and a prominent Maryland Republican, and second, by the man who had become the new U.S. attorney general that spring, Elliot L. Richardson.

The authors then go on to explain why Barr should not be confirmed unless he commits to releasing Robert Mueller’s findings to the public. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

There is so much more news! Here are some links to check out:

Flowers by Henri Matisse

Just Security: Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe. (This is an incredibly important story. Corruption is all around us.)

NBC News: ‘Whistleblower’ seeks protection after sounding alarm over White House security clearances.

Politico: Judge rules Manafort lied to Mueller about contacts with Russian.

The New York Times: House Votes to Halt Aid for Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen.

Gulf News: Trump backer Tom Barrack defends Saudi Arabia.

The Washington Post: Trump confidant Thomas Barrack apologizes for saying U.S. has committed ‘equal or worse’ atrocities to killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The New York Times: Maria Ressa, Philippine Journalist Critical of Rodrigo Duterte, Is Released After Arrest.

HuffPost: I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter. (Trigger warning for rape description)

Vice: Being Raised by Two Narcissists Taught Me How to Deal with Trump.

The New York Times: Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid a Price.

Contemptor: Fox News Rejects Commercial for Documentary that Says Nazis are Bad.

So . . . what stories have you been following?


Lazy Saturday Reads: A News Dump From Hell As Monster Hurricane Hits

Edgar Degas (French artist, 1834–1917)

Good Morning!!

I’m getting the feeling that Trump realizes his days as “president” are numbered, and he has decided to do as much evil as he possibly can while he’s still in power.

Last night, while the decent people in the country were focused on the devastating hurricane approaching Texas, Trump overwhelmed our concern for our fellow Americans with a Friday news dump from hell.

He signed an order to prevent transgender people from serving in the military and ordered that any medical care being provided to transgender individuals already serving be stopped.

The New York Times: Trump Gives Mattis Wide Discretion Over Transgender Ban.

President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.

Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns, a senior White House official said in briefing reporters.

1927 Jane Rogers Interior Scene

Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military.

Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Mr. Mattis had received the guidance but did not indicate how he would proceed.

From Twitter:

Soon after that news broke, the White House announced that Trump had pardoned evil racist former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Slate: Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is a Clear and Ugly Message to Hispanic Americans.

On Friday night, minutes before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Donald Trump issued the first presidential pardon of his administration to Joe Arpaio, the longtime Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff whose record of proudly tough, sometimes brutal, and ultimately illegal policing of Latino immigrants made him among the nation’s most admired and reviled lawmen.

In 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop targeting Latino drivers. He refused. In July, a judge found he had willingly resisted that order, and could serve up to six months in jail for criminal contempt. He had yet to be sentenced, and the pardon ends the possibility that the 85-year-old Arpaio will see jail time.

Herbert Badham (Australian artist, 1899-1961) Breakfast Piece

In a tightly worded two-paragraph statement, Trump praised Arpaio’s “admirable service to our nation.” The statement doesn’t mention his conviction, or the various human rights scandals that plagued his 24-year tenure as the sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county, which includes Phoenix. The county spent tens of millions defending Arpaio in court from various charges and settling cases resulting from inhumane jail conditions.

“Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wrote on Friday night. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio targeted and terrorized Latino families because of the color of their skin. He was ordered by a federal judge to stop and he refused. He received a fair trial and a justifiable conviction, and there’s nothing the President can do to change that awful legacy and the stain he had left on our community.”

I also highly recommend reading this Slate piece on Trump’s suggestion he would pardon Arpaio by Mark Joseph Stern, written Aug. 15: White Nationalist Rule Is Already Here.

As a number of people have pointed out, Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is also a further attack on the judiciary by a lawless “president.” He went ahead with the pardon without even consulting the Justice Department. Others have noted that this action by Trump sends a message to all his criminal cronies that they can lie to the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller and in return he will pardon them.

The news dump also included the “resignation” of White House Nazi Sebastian Gorka.

CNN: Sebastian Gorka gone from White House.

Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken and combative defender of President Donald Trump’s national security agenda, has left his position as a White House counterterrorism adviser, two administration officials told CNN.

1938 Sandra Bierman (American artist)

The news, which came late Friday evening, was widely expected in the West Wing, which has now seen high-profile departures on successive Fridays for several weeks.
Gorka was one of Trump’s most prominent cheerleaders, frequently hitting the airwaves to defend the President’s policies and public statements.
But his role outside of television hits was unclear. He did not play a major policymaking role, according to administration officials, and was not a member of the National Security Council.

Two White House Nazis down (Bannon and Gorka), two more to go–Stephen Miller and Trump.

It looks like Trump also plans to end Obama’s program to help immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. 

NBC News: Trump Likely to End DACA Immigrant Program.

President Donald Trump appears likely to pull the plug on DACA, the Obama-era program allowing young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here, several government officials said Friday.

Administration officials said Friday that the Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed the program with senior officials Thursday during a meeting at the White House. Sessions has been a consistent opponent of the program.

As many as 1 million immigrants could be affected.

Trump is said to be weighing whether to let DACA gradually expire or end it immediately, but the officials said it is not yet clear which option Trump may choose.

Fuck everyone who voted for this cruel monster and everyone who voted third party.

Hurricane Harvey so far

The LA Times last night: Collapsed roofs and downed trees as Hurricane Harvey brutalizes its way across Texas.

The storm slammed onto shore Friday evening as a powerful Category 4 hurricane and powered its way north of Corpus Christi.

Carl Larsson, Lady Reading Newspaper

Shortly after midnight, the storm made a second landfall along the northeastern shore of Copano Bay and downgraded once again to a Category 3 storm, the National Weather Service reported.

Initial reports suggested the staggering strength of the storm.

At least 10 people were treated for injuries at a local jail in the town of Rockport, about 31 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, after the roof of a senior citizens’ complex collapsed, local media reported.

Part of a local high school also collapsed, and a portion of the exterior of a hotel peeled off in the heavy winds, KXAN reported.

“People are trapped inside at least one collapsed building. We can’t get rescue teams to them right now,” Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth told KIII News.

Emergency officials reported large numbers of downed trees and more than 86,000 people around the state without power.

The Atlantic this morning: ‘The Rainfall Threat Is Only Beginning.

Harvey arrived near Corpus Christi as a Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in a dozen years. A few hours later, the hurricane made a second landfall near Copano Bay as a Category 3 hurricane. Harvey lost strength as it moved inland over south Texas, and was downgraded to Category 1 early Saturday morning, sustaining winds at 90 miles per hour. The hurricane will likely keep slowing down and become a tropical storm later Saturday, the center said.

But the danger is far from over. Even as it weakens steadily, Harvey’s slow-motion churn is expected to create life-threatening conditions for the next several days as torrential rain continues until Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Harvey is predicted to dump 15 inches to 30 inches of rain on southern Texas, with some parts getting as much as 40 inches, leading to “catastrophic” flooding. Storm-surge flooding may reach nine to 13 feet above ground along parts of the Texas coast between Port Aransas and Port O’Conner.

“Even though #Harvey has made landfall, the rainfall threat is only beginning,” the National Hurricane Center said in a tweet Friday night.

The flooding could leave neighborhoods underwater for days and, as previous hurricanes have done, surface sewage, coffins, and even alligators seeking safety on higher ground.

Here’s a lovely prayer that Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes posted on Facebook (h/t Delphyne on Twitter).

Laurie Kersey, Woman Reading

Dear Brave Souls, Please join me in strong prayer for the people at the coastline of Texas, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston and all surrounds.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated in the devastation of wind and flood of a hurricane that made landfall earlier tonight, putting out electricity, flooding the land and homes, washing away so much, fouling the water in many places.C

Please especially prayer for the poor who often have little to no resource to evacuate [no car or stores of food to take with.]

Please pray for all pregnant women and those trying to help them who are scared.

Please pray for all the old and frail in hospital and nursing homes and those who care for them with great heart.

Please pray for all children and inocentes

Please pray for all the horses, dogs and cats and other companions of feathers and fur, as well as wild birds and the fourleggeds

Please pray for help to come, shelter to come, clean water to come, food to come as quickly as possible.

Please help those without papers not be afraid to evacuate, to safeguard their lives utterly.

I send love and my tears to bless this prayer… Texas being Mexico long ago, and the land still loved as well as its people who are often farmers and fisherpeople, small business people, many often in the villages surrounding the larger towns listed above, living often in many of the old ways of our ancestors still.

May all be kept safe, may all be fed and watered that is, the human beings and the animals,

may the storm’s 130 mph wind exhaust itself as it walks screeching overland,

may the winds die,

may the flood waters that have reached over 6′ tall at this writing, recede in ways least damaging to all creatures, humans and structures.

And may the foundations and pillars of fundaments be secure,

may the guardian trees whose roots and earth have been soaked with the rains and thereby softened, drive their roots even deeper, and remain standing in these winds.

May all be held close and know that strangers pray every health onto them now, and in coming days…

This we ask in the name of all that is Holy and of Source without source.

And with love beyond love,
dr.e

The good news is that the Russia investigation is progressing.

Vox: Robert Mueller is looking into Michael Flynn’s potential ties to Russian hackers.

At issue is an effort by Peter Smith, a Trump-supporting GOP operative and private equity executive, to track down Hillary Clinton’s infamous 30,000 or so deleted emails during the fall of 2016.

Paul Cezanne, The artist’s father reading his newspaper

The effort, described on the record to Harris by Smith (the 81-year-old man died a week and a half after their interview), entailed outreach to several hacker groups, including at least two that Smith believed to be Russian-tied, to see if they had hacked the emails and could release them.

The emails — which Clinton said she deleted because they were personal and unrelated to her work as secretary of state — never surfaced. And Smith didn’t work for the Trump campaign.

But there is a potential connection to the campaign — through Flynn. Smith repeatedly claimed that he was in contact with Flynn about the effort to find Clinton’s emails, per Harris’s sources…

NBC News: Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury — a significant milestone in an inquiry that is examining the conduct of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, among others.

It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy.

According to one executive whose firm received a subpoena, Mueller’s team is closely examining the lobbying campaign, which ran between 2012 and 2014. Some of the firms involved in the campaign received subpoenas for documents weeks ago, the executive said, and now the Mueller team is seeking testimony.

That’s all I have for today. What stories are you following? If you are in the path of the hurricane, please stay safe. 


Sunday Reads: A Brutal Slap Run Down

I should have started this post last night 12 hours ago, when we were eating dinner together as a family and my daughter told us the news that a white nationalist terrorist ran down some anti-protesters at the KKK/NeoNazi rally in Charlottesville…killing one. There was video of the terrorist act…obviously deliberate, my daughter said…and the tRump still had not made a statement condemning the killing.

I couldn’t start this post around midnight, when the migraine that started at dinner was in full force. I could feel the blood pumping into my brain and seemingly out each hair follicle. It was the most painful migraine I’ve had in a long time…

I started to write this post at 6:30 on Sunday morning, I still have not been able to view any news, tweets, Facebook post or videos of the vehicle being driven into a group of anti-hate protesters. Fear, disgust and something I cannot even describe in words is keeping me from reading about what happened in Charlottesville. I’m sure there is a # hashtag now trending. I don’t want to know what it is…

The display on Friday night with Nazis sans hoods carrying tiki torches was enough to make me realize that the white nationalist rally on Saturday would be dangerous. I think when my daughter told us that one of those hateful bastards…actually just one of tRump’s base, killed and injured people so violently…it only validated my feelings that the situation is far more out of control than many claim.

I didn’t live through the war for Civil Rights and the freedoms that never came to many people of color in places of the United States. (Even though the majority of SCOTUS believes/believed that it has…) I know things will get worse. But I am concerned that this time it will become more obnoxious and over-saturated in its violence. Like filters on Instagram used to enhance pictures so people are ale to get a Gramblast, only people won’t be using apps to manipulate the images of their hatred. The audacity of the violent terrorist acts will speak for themselves.

Now here we are, on the verge of a literal nuclear catastrophe on one side of the globe….as well as, government sanctioned racism/bigotry/sexism and a war of hate on nuclear proportions here on our own soil…with the most explosive and incendiary president in this country’s history.

Well…it is almost 7:30, and I should read the news and find links to share with you all. Let’s do it in a link dump, of updates and tweets. It may not be much, don’t know if my mental capacity will be able to withstand the onslaught of “ultra violence” this morning.

Here we go:

“Criminal Homicide?” Uh…terrorist act? Hate crime?

This is the letter I received from Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center last night, many of you probably got the same message, but I thought it would be a good starting point:

After the deadly clash between hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters today in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump called for Americans to “come together.”

 

He used similar words in his victory speech in the wee hours of Nov. 9, even as white supremacists began to celebrate.

 

The problem is that Trump’s words are hollow.

 

His calls for the country to unite will continue to be meaningless as long he fails to take responsibility for his role in dividing it – something he conspicuously avoided again during his press conference today.

 

“It’s been going on for a long time,” Trump said. “Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama.”

 

It’s true. America has had racial strife since its founding.

 

But from the day he came down the escalator in the tower that bears his name, Trump consciously poured fuel on the fire. He ran a racist, xenophobic campaign that energized the radical right – that “unearthed some demons,” as U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford put it.

 

The day after Trump was elected, hate incidents soared. Many of them were carried out in his name.

 

Neo-Nazi David Duke, the former Klan leader who endorsed Trump during his campaign, had this to say about the deadly violence in Charlottesville:

 

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

 

Duke’s words reflect the views of a white nationalist movement that sees Trump as its champion.

 

Let there be no mistake: This is a fascist movement that threatens not only extremist violence but our democracy as well.

 

All the while, Trump continues to employ as his chief strategist the former head of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, who has proudly boasted that he provided “the platform for the alt-right” – a fancy term for white supremacy in the digital age.

 

All the while, the Trump administration continues to play down the threat of white supremacist violence.

 

Trump calls for the country to unite. But he is still ducking responsibility for his role in dividing it.

 

Until he apologizes and takes responsibility for the damage he has caused and enacts policies to mend the wounds in our country, his words will continue to ring hollow.

The article below has been updated this morning at 8:30 EDT:

Pictured: Woman killed at anti-white supremacist protest | Daily Mail Online

  • Heyer, a paralegal with the Miller Law Group PC in Virginia, was a native of Greene County and graduated from William Monroe High School.
  • Heather Heyer, 32, was protesting hate-fueled white supremacist march in Charlottesville on Saturday when James Alex Fields Jr, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly plowed his vehicle into the crowd, killing her
  • ‘She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her,’ Heyer’s mother said
  • Heyer, a paralegal and native of Greene County was passionate about social justice and her final public Facebook post, dated from 2016, read: ‘If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention’
  • Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said a total of 35 people had been treated for injuries after incident  
  • Police arrested Fields Jr, 20, who was charged with second-degree murder Saturday night 
  • The Dodge Challenger was filmed ramming into a line of people, then reversing quickly away from the scene 
  • FBI and federal prosecutors announced that they have opened up a civil rights investigation into incident 
  • The Unite the Right rally was held at Emancipation Park and hundreds were seen stomping through the city
  • A local state of emergency was declared around 11am and the rally was determined an unlawful assembly 
  • State police helicopter covering the rally crashed near a golf course within city limits, killing two officers  

The woman who was mowed down and killed at an anti-fascist rally in Virginia has been identified as Heather Heyer.

Heyer, 32, was protesting hate-fueled white supremacist march in Charlottesville on Saturday when James Alex Fields Jr, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly plowed his vehicle into the crowd, killing her and injuring 19 others.

Fields Jr, who is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, has since been charged with second-degree murder.

[…]

Video of the Dodge Challenger, which is registered to Fields, showed the driver accelerating into the crowd throwing bodies into the air as people scream before reversing at high speed.

According to the jail’s superintendent, Martin Kumer, Fields was also booked on suspicion of malicious wounding, failure to stop for an accident involving a death, and hit and run. Kumer said Fields is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Three additional arrests have also been made related to the rally; Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

The deadly crash came after violent clashes erupted as hundreds of white supremacists including armed militias marched into Charlottesville sparking violent confrontations with counter-protesters.

Police cleared the scene with tear gas but the violence continued. Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said a total of 35 people had been treated for injuries, 14 of those were from individual engagements on the streets.

Horrifying video from the scene of the attack showed the silver muscle car speeding towards a group of fleeing anti-fascist protesters.

Another clip showed the vehicle ramming into the crowd at high speed and victims crying out in pain as they desperately sought medical help.

Witnesses said the car was traveling up to 40mph when it hit and reversed before ramming into the crowd again and speeding off with someone’s shoe attached to its bumper.

[…]

In addition to the dozens of people hurt in the accident, at least 15 people were already being treated for their injures during other destructive clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters at Emancipation Park before the controversial Unite the Right rally.

The day was met with more tragedy, when a Virginia State Police helicopter, carrying two officers, crashed inside city limits and thick black smoke was seen rising from behind the trees.

Lieutenant H Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, was piloting the aircraft. The other occupant was Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia. Police confirmed that they both died at the scene.

There were no other injuries and the cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the FFA and NTSB.

 

I urge you to go to the link and look at the pictures and read the rest of the article, especially the disgusting quotes by Richard Spencer.

 

Some Twitter Reactions:

 

 

 

I am just seeing these responses…and I feel like I want to throw up.

This is the tweet that @bluegal is referring to:

That link above goes to this: run over car protesters meme – Google Search

 

 

The AP is finally using the term “White Supremacist” :

Disturbing stuff there….and here:

Check out that thread of tweets…supposedly from the murderers Facebook page.

 

And I will end with this little nugget of shit:

No word yet as to just which turd fuck senior White House Official said that…stay tuned.

This is an open thread…


Wednesday Reads: Just what exactly are the Republicans Nominating?

Steve Bell, UK The Guardian

Steve Bell, UK, The Guardian

Good Afternoon!

I’ve watched the Republican Party go straight down the drain from about the time they nominated and beatified a senile old B movie Actor for President.  I really thought that was about the worst they could do after Richard Nixon. Then came Dubya Bush.  That had to be the worst, right? Well, I was wrong.  They’re in the process of nominating a reality show celebrity with longstanding ties to the Mafia and the White Supremacy movement whose lies more than 90% of the time and has absolutely no understanding of the world beyond his penis and phony persona.  He’s a huckster with so many failed businesses–seeded by his inheritance and tax incentives–that it’s even difficult to take him seriously  when he touts his special deal-making talent.

Yes, don’t we all wish we had a rich father who co-signed every deal and whose death ended the dealing because there was no longer a co-signer?  Any one could do business on those terms.   The laundry list above is basically what the media buries below the free advertising it bestows on a man that should be a pariah.

The other thing, too, that I think the media has to hold his feet to the fire on is he’s gotten away with this notion that he’s a superior deal-maker, and a very successful businessman. I thought about it after he went after the Iran deal. He said, “Obama negotiated this horrible deal with Iran. It’s a bad deal, and when I get to Washington, there won’t be bad deals anymore. I’m a great deal-maker.” And then the reality, the objective reality, is that he’s been a horrible deal-maker. His career is littered with bad deals. And yet, he’s essentially now a human shingle. He’s not someone who’s a particularly adept deal-maker, if you look at his whole career.

Donald Trump Biographer Timothy O’Brien

Why are the Republicans doing this to our nation?  How much do they despise our country?

29eutrump-web3-master675

“This is too unreal. Can we watch something more realistic like Star Wars?” Philip Ytournel, Denmark’s Politiken

The consolidation that is now occurring within the Republican Party around this horrible human being who is widely recognized as being essentially morally and intellectually bankrupt is beyond horrifying.  It is the stuff that makes the most cynical of us start applying the Godwin Frame.  What kind of candidate is praised by the pariah state of North Korea? 

Writing in DPRK Today, a self-described Chinese North Korean scholar named Han Yong Mook called the presumptive Republican nominee “wise” and a “far-sighted presidential candidate.”
“The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea,” he wrote.

I cannot understand how many people do not see the appalling lack of character in this man. He is not fit for any level of public service and should’ve been cut off from any use of public funds years ago. It’s amazing to me that he’s not run afoul of the law before however, I am very aware that getting a rich white man into jail for stealing public treasure and racketeering is not an easily accomplished task given they can run amok in the justice system for some time.  The Trump “University” scam should have landed the man in jail.

Fernando Liera, Mexico

Fernando Liera, Mexico

I’ve taught university for some time both in for-profit Universities and state run Universities and community colleges.  The stories coming out of  the failed Trump “University” are horrifying.  An article in The Atlantic written by Matt Ford refers to it as “The Art of the Swindle.”  That’s very aptly put.

Predators, by and large, do not attack the strongest prey in the wild. They instead target the vulnerable, the very young, and the very old—the prey that is least able to defend itself.

Trump University, the defunct real-estate education program created by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, pursued a similar approach, according to its former employees in legal documents unsealed Tuesday.

“Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money,” said Ronald Schnackenberg, a sales manager at Trump University in 2006 and 2007.

Those declarations and other internal Trump University documents depict an aggressive, ethically dubious business model that targeted potential customers’ financial fears and socioeconomic anxieties and offered Trump’s personal brand as the solution—a strategy later echoed in his presidential campaign.

The model of registering students in for-profit Universities is frequently to line up Sales People that have innocuous names like Student Adviser or Recruiter to apply the screws. Many of these For-Profits have either failed or reformed under lawsuit, threat of losing any accreditation they may have achieved or under threat of losing the ability to provide Student Loans.  Trump “University” was never accredited and therefore never regulated under Federal laws.  So, it operated outside even the worst of these models.   Completely false information was provided to students as part of a heavy-handed sales pitch.  This article from HuffPo has some extremely interesting documents that were released by Judge Curiel via a decision related to Art Cohen v. Donald J. Trump.

Since he launched his presidential bid last year, Trump has offered conflicting accounts of his involvement with Trump University. In March, Trump defended the company during a debate, saying that its salespeople “did a good job” and that the program had an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau. (The truth is a little more complicated.) Trump has also claimed in promotional videos that he hand-picked the instructors at Trump U.

The playbooks instruct salespeople to mention Trump by name in order to intimidate potential customers who are hesitant to spend thousands of dollars on a Trump University product. “Mr. Trump will not listen to excuses,” the playbook tells salespeople to say, “and neither will we.”

In another scenario, salespeople are instructed to berate potential customers, telling them, “You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals… and you’re not even close to where you need to be.”

TRUMP UNIVERSITY

But according to more than 5,000 former Trump University customers, it wasn’t their plans that were flawed — it was the Trump U. business model itself. Many of the former students now suing Trump say they were pressured into spending money they didn’t have on Trump University products.

The playbook instructed Trump University employees on how to target potential customers with bad credit. “What most people do,” reads one prompt, “is handle the tuition by putting it on their credit cards because it gives them the ability to make very small monthly payments and maintain a low overhead to run their real estate project.” Later on, it says, they can “use their success in real estate to pay off the banks in a couple of months or so.”

“However, you don’t seem to have the advantage of having that kind of leveraging power,” the pitch continues. “Do you have any other seed capital or savings set aside to further invest into your real estate projects?”

TRUMP UNIVERSITY

The playbook also emphasizes the need to collect key financial information from potential customers. Salespeople were instructed to find out if clients were single parents who “had three children that may need money for food,” for example, or if they were a “middle-aged commuter.”

2397

Steve Bell, UK. The Guardian

This is an equally horrifying lede from NY Magazine : “Trump University Told Recruiters to Target Single Parents With Hungry Kids.” The analysis is provided by Eric Levitz.

It’s worth remembering that even before Donald Trump launched his pseudo-fascist campaign for the presidency, he was already among the most loathsome humans our great nation has ever produced. On Tuesday, U.S. district court judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered the public release of Trump University’s “playbooks” — guides the (bait-and-switch scheme masquerading as a) real-estate school used to recruit (or con) its enrollees. The playbooks show that prospective students were encouraged to pay for the program, which could cost up to $35,000, by going into credit-card debt.

“We teach the technique of using OPM … other people’s money,” reads one sales script that was obtained by The Hill. “Most students who are invited to this program use established lines of credit, like a credit card, utilizing the bank’s money, OPM, to handle their tuition. I’m not talking about tens of thousands of dollars, but on the other hand, not a couple of hundred dollars either.”

In practice, Trump University staff delivered this message a bit more crudely, according to newly released written testimony obtained by the New York Times. “It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,” Corrine Sommer, an event manager at the school, recalled her colleagues telling prospective students.

If a cash-strapped applicant said, “I don’t like using my credit cards and going into debt,” the playbook instructed recruiters to respond, “[D]o you like living paycheck to paycheck? … Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.”

Most charmingly, the playbooks suggest recruiters exploit the desperation of a single parent with hungry children in order to convince said parent to take on massive credit-card debt.

The Republican Party is well known for its massive and nasty Opposition Research and character smear blitzes.  Roger Stone is with Trump so he obviously was not on the job working against his friend.  However, where were the people behind Jeb Bush?  This massive amount of information has been out there. The Politico link which leads to the first quote is an interview with five Trump Biographers who all basically find him to be an appalling person with pages of examples and citations.

Both the press and the Republican party have not done due diligence with Trump.  Are they that obsessed about Hillary Clinton that they’ll let a fascist in the White House with less morality than any sentient being slithering, crawling, or slinking in the deepest, darkest nether regions of our planet?

So, the Mafia connections are pretty brazen also. You can read my friend Peter’s take on them here at First Draft.  Peter excerpts a particularly horrifying article from David Cay Johnston.

David Rowe, Australia, The Australian Financial Review

David Rowe, Australia, The Australian Financial Review

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figuresnot only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.

Tom Robbins writing for Vice also has some very telling information.

Actually, there’s an old FBI memo that puts a different spin on Trump’s attitude about the mob. It is a classic example of a young but already shrewd Trump hard at work. It was written in 1981 by a veteran FBI agent, reflecting meetings that he and a fellow FBI official were having with the 35-year-old developer from Queens, then a rising star in New York’s business firmament. The topic of the meetings was Trump’s pending plunge into the Atlantic City casino industry. And while the memo was written in the stilted language of FBI-bureaucratese, Trump’s wide-eyed comments were recorded with what seems like barely suppressed amusement. “Trump advised agents that he had read in the press and media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City,” the memo states.

Then, there are the ties to white supremacist groups. This recent Forbes article is on his propensity to retweet NAZIs.  Okay, I finally Godwinned.

Trump is “giving us the old wink-wink,” wrote Andrew Anglin, editor of a white supremacist website called The Daily Stormer, after Trump retweeted two other “white genocide” theorists within a single minute. “Whereas the odd White genocide tweet could be a random occurrence, it isn’t statistically possible that two of them back to back could be a random occurrence. It could only be deliberate…Today in America the air is cold and it tastes like victory.”

It is possible that Trump ― who, according to the campaign, does almost all of his own tweeting ― is unfamiliar with the term “white genocide” and doesn’t do even basic vetting of those whose tweets he amplifies to his seven million followers. But the reality is that there are dozens of tweets mentioning @realDonaldTrump each minute, and he has an uncanny ability to surface ones that come from accounts that proudly proclaim their white supremacist leanings.

There’s this article from The Atlantic which diagram’s Trump’s language to the KKK of the 1920s which would indicate his father’s influence. Where was the sunlight on this last fall?  The analysis is by Kelly J. Baker.

Making America great required exclusion, intolerance, and vitriol. Unfortunately for the Klan, their message of 100 percent Americanism started losing ground by the end of the 1920s. Public scandals involving Klan leaders and convictions of Klansmen for murder made white Americans reconsider their allegiance to the order and its increasingly tarnished ideals. The Klan started to appear too extreme and dangerous for even the slightest association. Their steep rise was tempered by an equally steep fall. Moreover, the Klan developed an image problem: their persistent association with racism—which continues to plague the modern Klans despite efforts to rebrand their image to reflect the love of the white race, not racism per se.

The Klan’s message of 100 percent Americanism and restrictive immigration resonated in the 1920s, and their message gains traction again and again every time white Americans encounter social change and shifting demographics. With a black president, LGBT equality, an enormous Hispanic community, and predictions that America will soon be a majority minority country, their message resonates now, too. That’s why a former Klan leader is encouraging other white supremacists to vote for Trump and why The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos found that extremist white-rights groups also plan to vote for him. Maybe Trump doesn’t know better. Or maybe the echoes are less like echoes and more like the purposeful conjuring of a racialized message—one that too many white voters still want to hear.

You can follow any of these links to Trump’s sordid past, present, and undoubtedly our conjoined future.  Perhaps both the Republican Party and the media are so caught up in their own frames that they’ve failed to take Trump seriously. We’re beginning to see more standard vetting now.  However, it’s nearly too late.  Phillip Bump of WAPO analyzes the consolidation of the party around Trump.

What’s changed, though, is that Republicans have warmed up to the guy. As the Times writes, “[U]nfavorable views toward Mr. Trump among Republican voters have plummeted 15 percentage points since last month; 21 percent now express an unfavorable view of him, down from 36 percent in April.” We pointed out last week that consolidating the Republican base would make Trump’s favorability numbers look more like Clinton’s, and voila.

The subtext to that is this: With their nominee settled, Republicans are rallying around him. There’s more evidence to this effect than is worth delineating, but this is not uncommon for presidential races.

There will be undoubtedly be much white washing.  He’s still getting more free press than any one ever has before.  Just this week as Clinton was introducing major policy initiatives on the military and veterans, the  cable TV cameras were focused on an empty podium waiting the wildly-coiffed one.  Corporate news chases profits and this man needs to be stopped at all costs.  The two countries in the world that welcome Trump are Putin’s Russia and North Korea. The rest are horrified.  We all should be horrified.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Villager Gossip, A Priceless Art Discovery, The Troubled NFL, And The Psychopathic One Percent

reclining-woman-reading-1960

Good Morning!!

All the villagers are talking about the gossipy new book about the 2012 presidential campaign by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down. I can’t bring myself to read it, but Pat J. said she is reading it, so maybe she can give us more detail on the story of Romney adviser Stuart Stevens vomiting backstage after Clint Eastwood’s embarrassing performance at the Republican National Convention.

Lawrence O’Donnell had Heilemann on his MSNBC show last night. O’Donnell “loved” book and was especially joyful about the anecdote about Stevens. I have to admit, it’s pretty funny. The Washington Post has a lengthy review of the book with some more interesting bits.

On Chris Christie:

According to the authors, Romney and his team were shaken by what they discovered about Christie during “Project Goldfish,” as the hush-hush veep search process was known. His “disturbing” research file is littered with “garish controversies,” the authors write: a Justice Department investigation into his free-spending ways as U.S. attorney, his habit of steering government contracts to friends and political allies, a defamation lawsuit that emerged during a 1994 run for local office, a politically problematic lobbying career that included work on behalf of a financial firm that employed Bernie Madoff. And that’s not to mention the Romney team’s anxiety about the governor’s girth.

For Christie, who is coasting to reelection on Tuesday and already laying behind-the-scenes groundwork for a 2016 presidential bid, the book’s revelations are a Drudge-ready public relations nightmare that will send his advisers scrambling to explain awkward aspects of his record and his personal life just as he is stepping onto the national stage.

Mitt Romney is apparently obsessed with fat people, and even criticized men on his staff if they went out with women that Romney deemed to be too “fat.” You can just imagine what he thought of Chris Christie. From an earlier WaPo article:

Romney initially crossed Christie off his short list. The governor’s vetting file was incomplete, and Romney had been bothered by Christie’s propensity to show up late at campaign events and by his lack of physical fitness, the book says.

“Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus,” the authors write. “Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, ‘Guys! Look at that!’”

It brings back memories of the tales about Romney bullying classmates in high school. What a horrible man he is! There’s much more gossip in the Post review if you’re interested.

woman-with-book-1932

Corporate media and talking heads have been busy trying to interpret Tuesday’s election results as helpful for Republicans.  Supposedly the only reason Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia and Chris Christie is now on the fast track to the White House–sorry Hillary.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal: Tell Me Again Who Won in Virginia?

Before we get into any more election analysis, I have to make a preliminary objection to what we are hearing this morning about the Virginia governor’s race. Yes, we all play the expectations game, and Terry McAuliffe only won by two-and-a-half percent, which is less than most of the late polls anticipated. But to read this morning’s spin, you’d think he (and the Democratic Party) actually lost. The results are being widely read exactly as Ken Cuccinelli wanted them to be read: a negative “referendum on Obamacare.” Politico’s James Hohmann, in a piece entitled “Why Terry McAuliffe barely won,” draws bright red arrows pointing to an exit poll showing that 53% of voters said they opposed Obamacare. That’s entirely in line with about three years of polling about the Affordable Care Act, and doesn’t indicate any last minute “surge” against the law.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: The Wrong Election Takeaways From Christie’s Win, Virginia, and More:

The conventional wisdom on New Jersey: Huge Chris Christie win sets him up to steamroll his way to the Republican nomination in 2016, proving that a more mainstream conservative can win in a blue state. The conventional wisdom on Virginia: Ken Cuccinelli’s stinging loss in a purple state in an off-off-year election against Terry McAuliffe, a flawed Democratic candidate, shows not only that he was too extreme but also that Virginia is inching its way into the Democratic column. As the Times put it in its headline, “McAuliffe Win Points to Virginia Changes.”

Well, God invented conventional wisdom so people like me could beat it down. In New Jersey, Christie doesn’t emerge from his victory nearly as strong as he appears to. And the Virginia outcome isn’t really very strong for Democrats, especially down the ballot. No, I’m not buying into the right-wing spin that Cuccinelli’s narrow margin of defeat really represents some kind of loss for Obamacare. It does not.

Read the rest at the link.

Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast: Chris Christie Is No George W. Bush, and 2016 Is Definitely Not 2000:

In the wake of Chris Christie’s reelection romp on Tuesday, the press is filled withcomparisons between the New Jersey governor and a pre-presidency George W. Bush. They’re both Republican governors who appear moderate and bipartisan compared to their party’s zealots in Washington. They’re both beloved by big donors. Each has made inroads among the Democratic-leaning constituencies with whom Republicans must do better. But there’s a problem with the analogy. It’s unlikely Christie can “win” the presidency by running as a second Bush, in part [because] America still remembers the first one.

Lots more at the link.

picasso3-womanreading

In other news…

Did you hear about the priceless art works stolen by the Nazis that were found in a dirty, run-down apartment in Munich, Germany? From NPR:

The revelation Monday that more than 1,000 paintings and prints seized by the Nazis during World War II were found in a Munich apartment has set off excitement in the art world and spurred anger among Jewish groups that German officials didn’t publicize the discovery when it was first made.

With a potential value of $1.35 billion, the trove of art contains previously unknown works by Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall; other artists represented include Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

The stash of art was reported by Germany’s Focus magazine Monday, under the headline “The Nazi Treasure” (Der Nazi-Schatz). Tax officials discovered the cache when they visited the cluttered Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, a descendant of a man who was an official in wartime Germany.

Of nearly 1,400 oil paintings, prints and other works, 1,285 had been stacked in a drawer, unframed. They include work by German expressionists such as Franz Marc and Max Beckmann, in addition to a previously unknown self-portrait by Otto Dix. The trove also includes Albrecht Dürer and Canaletto, who worked in earlier centuries — a detail that could make the collection’s origins even more difficult to explain.

The paintings were found in 2011, but the stunning and unprecedented discovery was just announced this week. A couple more links:

Max Fisher at WaPo: Why Nazi-seized art is only now resurfacing – and how it will change the art world.

Bloomberg: Nazi Art Trove Surprises Family Searching for 70 Years.

This will be a story to watch for anyone who is interested in fine art. We still don’t know for sure which paintings were found.

picasso-woman-reading4

The NFL is back in the news, and, again, it’s not in a good way. It’s a story of racially charged bullying and hazing at the Miami Dolphins. Reportedly, a veteran player, Richie Incognito was told by someone at the team to “toughen up” rookie Jonathan Martin. Even the GM may have been involved. Incognito, who is white, chose to do so by leaving messages containing racial slurs on Martin’s voicemail. Martin, who is African American, ended up in the hospital for emotional distress and eventually left the team. If you can believe it, other Dolphins players and veterans of the team are supporting Incognito.

Here are a couple of interesting reactions to the story.

Valerie Strauss at the WaPo: If a 6’5, 312-pound Miami Dolphin can be bullied…

Jonathan Martin, the  6-foot-5-inch, 312-pound Miami Dolphin offensive lineman who left the NFL team because he was being bullied by at least one other player, has done a  favor for school kids everywhere.

How can such a big guy get bullied? Because bullying behavior isn’t about physical intimidation. It’s about mind control and creating fear — and no one, not even very large professional athletes — are immune. That’s a useful message for kids and adults working to create safe climates at their schools.

So is the way Martin ultimately handled his problem. After many months of being a victim, he got up, walked away and later accused the Dolphins of creating and allowing an unsafe work environment. He is forcing the powers that be to take a look at the problem. As my Post colleague Sally Jenkins wrote in this column:

Turns out the real tough guy is Martin, whose decision to rebel against a vicious culture in the Dolphins’ locker room has triggered a league-level investigation of [suspended Dolphin Richie] Incognito, and, if reports are true, needs to extend to other veteran players and management as well.

In schools, the programs that work best in combating bullying are those that teach kids that they can’t stand by and watch bullies go after other students. Bystanders have to get help — and everybody in the school, adults included — have to be on the same page. That didn’t happen in Miami.

Veteran WaPo sportswriter Tom Boswell: Richie Incognito bullying allegations are the latest in long list of NFL problems.

Where are we? Where is pro football? The NFL doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a reality problem. And it may be a grave one. Every month — and it seems every few days — the NFL is inundated by new, barely suspected revelations. What has the NFL become? Or is this what it has been for some time? Is the truth coming out of the shadows?

The list is stunning. Its cumulative effect, not any one particular item, is the true confidence-shaking shock.

The NFL is now the league of murder charges against Aaron Hernandez — gang execution style. The NFL is the league of murder, then suicide, with Jovan Belcher killing his girlfriend and then shooting himself in the head in a parking lot by his stadium as his coach and general manager watched….

The NFL is the league where future Hall of Famer Junior Seau, barely retired, shot himself in the heart so his brain could be studied by science to help prove that chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a core part of football, with risk of brain damage down to the smallest kids who play it….

The NFL is the league of thug bullies such as suspended Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, who allegedly extorted money, texted racist insults and made death threats to a younger teammate. It’s the league of $15,000 stripper parties in Las Vegas, paid for by intimidated, hazed rookies who don’t make the trip but pay the check even if it busts them.

The article is well worth a read even if you don’t follow sports.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the studies that show that rich people are more narcissistic, less empathetic, more likely to be dishonest, rude, and thoughtless than other people. Here a long read at Alternet about the top 1% as functioning psychopaths: Inside the Psyche of the 1% — Many Actually Believe Their Ideology of Greed Makes for a Better World.

Do the rich and super-rich tend to be psychopaths, devoid of guilt or shame? Are the 1% lacking in compassion? Does their endless accumulation of possessions actually bring them little to no happiness? To each of these, the answer is “yes”—but a very qualified “yes” with lots of subtleties. Even more important is what these issues suggest for building a society which does not ravage the last remnants of wilderness and rush headlong into a climate change tipping point.

Check out the article to get all the details.

Those are my offerings for today; now what are you reading and blogging about? Please share your links in the comment thread.