Sunday, June 24, 2018

Señor Trumpanzee-- Losing Control Of The Narrative... Womp, Womp


Señor Trumpanzee isn't exactly being subtle in his campaign to gin up fear and loathing towards immigrants, even more so than normally. It looks like this is going to be a major campaign theme for the GOP this year-- more so than their failed tax scam. He feels it won him the White House-- maybe more so than Putin's exertions on his behalf-- and he seems to feel more racism and xenophobia is just what Republican congressional candidates need for the midterms. According to Susan Glasser's post for the New Yorker, "Trump has remained determined to talk about immigration, even when others in his party have resisted. Indeed, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were furious with Trump as the immigration controversy spiraled out of control this week-- a time they had planned to spend celebrating the G.O.P. tax cut, along with the general strength of the economy, which they hope to make the centerpiece of their fall campaign... On Monday, as the political pressure on Trump was escalating, I met with Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster who has advised G.O.P. leaders about this fall’s elections at a couple of recent retreats. Trump, she told me, had a 'freakishly stable' approval rating; in such a polarized moment, people know where they stand on the President. She said that, unlike in previous midterm elections in which the incumbent President’s party has done poorly, voter enthusiasm for Trump has remained strong among Republican voters, even as a blue wave of Trump-hating Democrats has been building. Said Anderson: 'The question is, if the blue wave is coming, have Republicans built a large enough wall to stop it?'"

On the far right, there's plenty of excitement about locking up brown children, who Trump and his most ardent backers equate with MS-13. This morning, Adam Raymond reported for New York Magazine that Fox and Friends were quick to back up Trump's assertion that these children in prisons are The Other. "Brian Kilmeade," he wrote, "came to the defense of President Trump on Friday for his policy of forced family separation at the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump ended the policy with an executive order Wednesday, but the horror for many separated families is not going to end soon. In his comments, Kilmeade defended Trump’s 'zero tolerance' immigration policy as a way to send a message to would-be migrants in other countries. As for the separation of families, which could do real and lasting damage to many parents and children, Kilmeade brushed it off because the children aren’t Americans. 'Like it or not, these aren’t our kids,' Kilmeade said... Trump has taken to talking about immigrants like they’re vermin." That was Hitler brainwashed Germans before he started exterminating Jews.

But Hitler Trump has, according to Vanity Fair's Peter Hamby lost control of the narrative. Trumpanzee has "rarely," he wrote, "been on his heels as he has over the past week. Even during the hottest-burning controversies and scandals of his administration, Trump is usually the stick-and-move president: provoke, evade, pivot to the next thing. The media has a hard time keeping up, and congressional Democrats are too busy holding limp-dick press conferences like it’s still 2006. They’re about as effective as those digital finger-waggers who tweet 'Sir!' at the president every time he burps."
But the wrenching story of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border has unfolded differently. Trump has been forced to play defense. It’s not just because the policy is cruel, inhumane, and an ugly stain on our country’s moral integrity. It is all of those things. But Trump has done plenty of ugly things. What’s different this time, and the handful of times Trump has found himself losing, is that there are pictures.

Think of the handful of moments when Trump has been subjected to a sustained drubbing that’s lasted more than just a day or two: the Access Hollywood tape. Sean Spicer’s lie about the size of the inauguration crowd. The massive airport protests around the travel ban. Trump’s “very fine people” comment about neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville. The Rob Porter domestic-abuse allegations fiasco. (Porter has denied the allegations.) And now the gross panorama of migrant children being separated from their desperate parents. All of these stories were accompanied by images-- pictures or video-- that either tilted public opinion against the president or blatantly contradicted the dubious claims of Trump and his allies.

As CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted on Wednesday, “It’s not an accident that the US government is making it so difficult for journalists, lawmakers, lawyers and others to bring you images and firsthand accounts from these separated parents and children. They are hiding the truth from you because they fear your reaction.”

The power of images is a simple concept, hardly new in politics... The media gatekeepers-- television news networks, print newspapers, radio-- used to determine how images reached the public. Thanks to Internet-connected smartphone cameras, images today are created and distributed by everyone. In the past, the written and spoken word, whether delivered by a newspaperman or a politician, had a kind of power that not longer exists. Even during Vietnam, as the culture wars were tearing us apart, there was some measure of public agreement on the credibility of news organizations and consensus around facts and the terms of debate.

Today, it’s exceedingly difficult to compete with Trump at the rhetorical level. This is in part because Trump has no shame, while most people do. But it’s also because Trump has so bent, damaged, and disfigured language to a point that we no longer have a shared vocabulary, especially in a world of open platforms and algorithm-fueled polarization. It’s easy for Trump to belittle the press and its reporting as “FAKE NEWS” because the press can’t usually provide contrary evidence other than “sources say.” But hard, concrete, visual evidence-- the pictures we see from the border—seems to be the most effective antidote to Trump and his ability to dominate our mindshare. As the migrant story took hold across every channel and platform, visual media came to feel like a cure, however temporary, for our political schizophrenia.

“Trump lives constantly in search of a positive feedback loop from cable news,” Republican strategist Kevin Madden told me. “When the optics of a news event or controversy turn on him, it causes him to freeze, uncharacteristically. When the images are out of his control or can’t be washed through the news cycle as easily as other controversies, they tend to endure and cause more of a problem.”

The usual Trump outrage cycles are fueled by policy decisions, the Russia investigation, or anonymously sourced stories about some White House drama. These stories are almost always conceptual rather than visual. They unfold in a certain noisy and unfulfilling way-- cable panels, Twitter fights, reporters jousting with Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the briefing room-- that makes them easy to tune out. It cannot be stressed enough: the vast majority of Americans do not watch cable news, do not have Twitter, and could not pick Ronna McDaniel (née Romney) out of a lineup. The controversies that usually consume Washington-- and the cable-viewer in chief-- are usually of little concern to the rest of the country.

But when media organizations deliver on their original value proposition-- showing the public something compelling and important-- Trump has a harder time creating his own reality. News today works best when it visualizes the stakes and victims and consequences of policy decisions, rather than just talking or writing about them. People don’t trust reporters. They do trust pictures.

The border story blew up in the last week, but it had been percolating in the print press for more than a month without much national attention. Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the Los Angeles Times, long on the border beat, filed a haunting dispatch from a McAllen, Texas, courtroom on May 18, describing tearful immigrant parents who had been separated from their children. But the story wasn’t roiling the national conversation, and it certainly wasn’t on television. That changed when cameras arrived and pictures emerged, much like the Rob Porter scandal grew once images came to light of his battered ex-wife.

Television journalists like MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff, CBS’s Gayle King, and CNN’s Nick Valencia showed viewers the detention centers, the cages, the tents, the obstinate officials who came off as cold-blooded and tone-deaf. Still photographers, often unsung these days, also led the charge. John Moore of Getty Images, who has covered immigration for a decade, captured the iconic image of a sobbing two-year-old Honduran girl alongside her mother while she was being searched in the Rio Grande Valley. Then there was the ProPublica audio clip that became a video, repeated over and over on television and social media, allowing us to hear the wails of detained, sobbing children.

All of these images and news packages flooded social media, snowballing into a giant content mill of awfulness. It was enough to drown out Trump’s side of the argument and make him feel smaller than usual, a rare thing indeed. “Trump views his ‘success’ as being what makes good TV, as with the North Korea summit. To become himself a media object, or best, to make media become him,” said the social-media theorist Nathan Jurgenson, one of my colleagues at Snapchat. “Given the centrality of media in all this, it makes sense that the things that rile him up the most are media objects, too. Ones that seemingly depict another narrative.”

Trump’s team, ever astute, contributed to the cause, optimizing their callousness for social media. Corey Lewandowski had his “womp womp” moment when responding to news of a disabled child being separated from her mother. Melania Trump smartly wore her “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket for the television cameras. And when Trump signed his executive order halting the family separations on Wednesday, the White House sycophants who had previously claimed the policy was out of his hands were now all memorialized on tape as liars forevermore.
Pictures... and audio. Here's Ted Lieu (D-CA) on the floor of the House with the inept Trump enabler Karen Handel R-GA):


Trump's Zero Tolerance Incarcerations-- Follow The Money


Ben Ray Lujan (right), Pelosi's DCCC chairman, takes blood money from the crooks building private immigrant detention facilities for Trump. Why won't he return the cash?

This week the organization In The Public Interest issued a report-- An examination of private financing for correctional and immigration detention facilities-- that examines the finances behind Trump's ramping up of the criminalization of immigration. The Department of Homeland Security has been instructed to "accelerate resource capacity." The report shows how private prison corporations CoreCivic and GEO Group are primed to provide additional immigration detention space by privately financing new facility construction, a new business frontier-- privately financing new facilities through "public-private partnerships." Providing financing to governments has become a central growth strategy as both companies became Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in 2013, requiring them to have significant real estate holdings.  REIT status allows the corporations to avoid corporate-level taxation. GEO Group received almost $44 million in tax benefits in 2017.
While governments have traditionally used municipal bonds to finance the construction of correctional facilities, there is evidence that the two major private prison companies, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) and GEO Group, are actively pushing governments to consider the use of private financing to build new facilities, and that governments are increasingly interested in the idea. This focus on building new prison and immigration detention facilities with private financing (known as “public-private partnerships”) represents a critical shift in these companies’ business model.
Friday, In These Times published an essay by David Dayen, These Private Prison Companies Are Already Profiting Off of Trump’s Order on Family Separation. "[T]he Trump administration," he wrote, "still has the goal, expressed in the order, of detaining families together indefinitely, until their immigration cases are complete. That goal is contingent on convincing a federal judge to rip up the Flores settlement, a 1997 agreement that says migrant children can only be kept up to 20 days in non-secure, licensed facilities. On June 21, Trump’s Department of Justice asked a judge to change the rules, but the Obama administration asked for the same changes in 2016 and was rebuked."

In the last few years, the private prison companies have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump, Republicans and Blue Dogs in exchange for their support.

Last cycle the dozen members of the House who took the biggest bribes from the GEO Group were:
Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)- $10,000
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $9,690
Scott Tipton (R-CO)- $7,500
Mike Bishop (R-MI)- $6,000
Steve Russell (R-OK)- $5,000
Michael McCaul (R-TX)- $5,000
Steve Knight (R-CA)- $5,000
Will Hurd (R-TX)- $5,000
John Culberson (R-TX)- $5,000
Don Bacon (R-NE)- $5,000
Rod Blum (R-IA)
Barbara Comstock (R-VA)
Tom Guild, the progressive Democrat whose Oklahoma primary is Tuesday noted that his far right Republican opponent, Steve Russell, is one of Congress' biggest supporters of the for-profit prison industry-- and, in return, the industry has funded his political career in a big way. "Public-private partnerships," Tom told us yesterday,"between elected officials creating 'demand' for additional detention facilities and private owners of such incarceration factories looking for a big pay day constitute old fashioned pay-for-play corruption. Steve Russell (R-OK) taking huge campaign gratuities from the private detention facilities industry earns him an honorary membership in the DC Swamp and is not a notable man bites dog storyline. Russell and Trump are two peas in a pod sharing the characteristics of avarice and greed while swimming in a putrid smelling self-dealing cesspool. It’s no wonder that Americans who currently approve of Congress' performance are limited to close friends and family members of those serving in Congress. Hopefully, the good folks in Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district will give Steve his walking papers soon. Then, he can go out into the 'real world' and earn an honest living for a change while chafing under the laws he created."

They also put mammoth amounts of cash into directed PACs-- $170,000 into Trump Victory, $50,000 into another Trump front group-- Rebuilding America Now and then $50,000 each to Republican Super PACs and Dark Money committees like Win In 2016, NRSC Targeted State Victory Committee and the Florida First Project and $25,000 each to House Majority 2016, Conservative Congress Now!, NRCC, Growing A Sustainable Future, and the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

So far this cycle they've ponied up big bucks for several shady groups like Kevin McCarthy's Victory Fund ($45,000), various GOP building funds (over $100,000), and $10,000 each for John Culberson's PAC, Rick Scott's PAC, Henry Cuellar's PAC Paul Ryan's PAC and, hold your nose, the DCCC. And this year's dozen biggest GEO Group bribe-takers so far:
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog, TX)- $10,000
John Culberson (R-TX)- $10,000
John Carter (R-TX)- $10,000
Scott Taylor (R-VA)- $6,000
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)- $5,000
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)- $5,000
Tom Graves (R-GA)- $5,000
David Pence (R-IN)- $5,000
 John Katko (R-NY)- $5,000 (returned)
Robert Aderholt (R-AL)- $3,500
Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX)- $2,500
Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)- $2,500
The other big private prison spender in Congress is CoreCivic. So who were the big bribe takers from these crooks? Last cycle's dozen worst-- you know with some of these congress crooks, a pattern emerges:
John Culberson (R-TX)- $11,500
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)- $11,200
Diane Black (R-TN)-$11,000
Will Hurd (R-TX)-$7,500
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)- $5,000
John Carter (R-TX)- $5,000
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $5,000
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)- $5,000
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)- $5,000
Tim Ryan (D-OH)- $4,500
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $4,000
Gregg Harper (R-MS)- $4,000
And so far this cycle... you can recognize some of the names that are constantly getting blood money from the private prison industry... repulsive characters like John Culberson of Texas for example-- always standing up and fighting for the private prison industry. Here are the 5 worst House members so far in 2018
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)- $19,100
John Culberson (R-TX)- $11,000
John Rose (R-TN)- $7,700
Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)- $5,500
Greg Pence (R-IN)- $3,500
Mike Siegel, the progressive Democrat running for the very gerrymandered Texas seat that Trump enabler Michael McCaul occupies mentioned to my yesterday that "McCaul is responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Trump Administration. As Homeland Security Chair, he has been an architect of the Travel Ban, a proponent of the Border Wall, and a defender of Family Separation. Not only are his actions immoral, but his acceptance of campaign contributions from the private prison industry-- and his advocacy to demand full occupancy of detention centers-- is downright corrupt. I am confident that the voters of the Texas 10th will not look kindly on his actions."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Say one thing for the goons in the White House: They've gone all in your face with their attitude. Other politicos put on a pretense of giving a damn. Other administrations have tried to cover their evil, knowing that you really can fool some of the people some of the time. Not the Trumpies. They want you to know their evil and they relish you living in its effects. They even have rallies for the occasion. This is the Republican Party. Whether it's the congressional hit squads of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell fighting for the forces of starvation and disease by taking away Medicare and Social Security, or stealing children from their parents, Republicans not only don't care, they will rub that fact that they don't care right in your face. It's not that this is all that new, but, Republicans have stepped up their game.

Just a few days ago we had Trump advisor Cory Lewandowski making fun of a 10 year old girl with Down Syndrome. Lewandowski is a former Trump campaign chaircretin. To be clear, he is not the one who is in jail but give it time and he might end up in a cell right next to Paul Manafort. Lewandowski has now been dropped by agencies who book people like him for speaking gigs at 6 figures a clip, so that's at least something. Losing such a lucrative income is more justice than he's likely to see from our aptly named criminal justice system. I wonder if it was his idea for his boss to make fun of a disabled reporter during the 2016 campaign. Nah, I bet Mr. Orange Spray Tan though of that one all by himself.

Also a few days ago, we saw Trump's Homeland Secretary, Kristjen Nielsen, denying that children were being stolen from their parents in the name of Trumpism, getting caught in her lies and making sick attempts to feign ignorance, followed predictably by her own in your face moment when she decided to shamelessly dine out in public, in a Mexican restaurant of all places. I'm surprised that she didn't go visit Wounded Knee, Belsen... or a North Korean gulag and have Mexican take-out delivered to her via Air Force One, at taxpayer expense of course.

Ah, but that wasn't enough for one week, certainly not enough to satisfy those who voted for Trump. To satisfy their cravings for more nihilism and downright evil, none other than the First Lady (Melania, not Ivanka) was dispatched to Texas for a pretend to care about the stolen children incarcerated in her husband's Kiddie Internment Camps. Except, she made it plain as day that she didn't care one iota. Melania had a message to send to anyone who is decent enough to actually really care and she wore it both to and from her photo-op. She dressed for the occasion by wearing her now famous jacket that sported the words "I really don't care. Do u?" Jeez. As if we needed corroboration. Yup. Another in you face moment, brought to us by the Republican Party. As to where she got the jacket, I'll just guess that it's just a jacket one gets when one registers as a Republican.

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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Republican Trump Enablers Getting Kicked Out Of Restaurants


Hitler thought it up but he could never have done it on his own. He needed enablers and rubber stamps. Same with Trump, of course. So far, as far as we know, only 3 of Trump's henchmen-- Stephen Miller, Kirstjen Nielsen and Sarah Huckabee Sanders-- have been publicly humiliated and thrown out of restaurants.

A couple of days ago, Ben Fearnow, writing for Newsweek reported that Trump's immigration policy architect Stephen Miller was "heckled and called a “fascist” by patrons at a Mexican restaurant in Washington."
Two days before Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was ridiculed by protestors at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, Miller was approached by customers asking if the “real-life fascist” would beg for money for “new cages.” The “zero tolerance” immigration hard-liner had the Espita Mezcaleria encounter Sunday amid intense backlash against a now-reversed policy to separate migrant children from their families. Both Nielsen and Miller’s Mexican restaurant incidents have prompted a deluge of self-proclaimed supporters of President Donald Trump to hit both D.C. establishments with one-star reviews and nasty comments.

...Miller, who was previously communications director for then-Senator Jeff Sessions, called the Trump administration’s policy to separate children from parents who illegally cross the U.S. border a “simple decision,” the New York Times reported. Miller’s vocal and unequivocal stance on immigration culminated with a Wednesday story from the Splinter News website that revealed his cell phone number that caused the publication to be banned briefly from Twitter.

DHS Secretary Nielsen’s Mexican restaurant run-in at DXDC Cocina Mexicana Tuesday evening saw patrons and protesters shouting “shame” and “end Texas concentration camps” as she dined at the D.C. establishment. A barrage of negative, one-star reviews have since littered DXDC Cocina Mexicana’s Google, Yelp and other online review pages for allowing the “leftist anarchists” to disrupt Nielsen’s dinner.
Huckabee's daughter tweeted early this morning that the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia kicked her out of his restaurant Friday night. According to the owner, she was kicked out on moral grounds (and after the staff voted to do so)-- the exact right reason she should have been! We need a lot more of that from courageous American patriots.

I remember years and years ago I was sitting and having dinner when an old friend and his friends walked in and sat down at a table near ours. In a few minutes he noticed another table with 3 gay guys and bigoted Republican hypocrite Ann Coulter. My friend started exploding at her, loudly and very pointedly. I can't remember if he left (I don't think so) or she left (I do think so). It was a gay restaurant in WEHO. He's a deputy mayor of Los Angeles now.

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Et Tu, George Will? Expect More


As I've mentioned before, there are plenty of voters who feel this way about that issue and that way about the other issue, but what's going to motivate them to vote for a candidate one way or the other in November. I was on the phone with a Democratic candidate just now and she was telling he that a new poll showed her up 5 points over the incumbent, her Republican opponent, in a pretty red district. excellent! But in the end it's going to come down to about the voters believing she will hold Trump in check. People know he's never read the Constitution and doesn't understand it. Republican enablers and rubber stamps in Congress are not what's called for right now. I never thought I'd hear George Will urging his readers to vote against all Republicans running for congressional seats, did you? Yesterday he did-- "no more presidential poodles," he wrote in his widely syndicated column. Most of the newspapers that carry his work preferred the less incendinary title, "This November, cast your vote against the GOP."
Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans-- these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively-- fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.

The principle is: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.

Consider the melancholy example of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who wagered his dignity on the patently false proposition that it is possible to have sustained transactions with today’s president, this Vesuvius of mendacities, without being degraded. In Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More, having angered Henry VIII, is on trial for his life. When Richard Rich, who More had once mentored, commits perjury against More in exchange for the office of attorney general for Wales. More says: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... But for Wales!” Ryan traded his political soul for ... a tax cut. He who formerly spoke truths about the accelerating crisis of the entitlement system lost everything in the service of a president pledged to preserve the unsustainable status quo.

Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it. As Madison explained it in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president. By leaving dormant the powers inherent in their institution, they vitiate the Constitution’s vital principle, the separation of powers.

Recently Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is retiring, became an exception that illuminates the depressing rule. He proposed a measure by which Congress could retrieve a small portion of the policymaking power that it has, over many decades and under both parties, improvidently delegated to presidents. Congress has done this out of sloth and timidity-- to duck hard work and risky choices. Corker’s measure would have required Congress to vote to approve any trade restrictions imposed in the name of “national security.” All Senate Republicans worthy of the conservative label that all Senate Republicans flaunt would privately admit that this is conducive to sound governance and true to the Constitution’s structure. But the Senate would not vote on it-- would not allow it to become just the second amendment voted on this year.

This is because the amendment would have peeved the easily peeved president. The Republican-controlled Congress, which waited for Trump to undo by unilateral decree the border folly they could have prevented by actually legislating, is an advertisement for the unimportance of Republican control.

The Trump whisperer regarding immigration is Stephen Miller, 32, whose ascent to eminence began when he became the Savonarola of Santa Monica High School. Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign official who fell from the king’s grace but is crawling back (he works for Mike Pence’s political action committee), recently responded on Fox News to the story of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome taken from her parents at the border. Lewandowski replied: “Wah, wah.” Meaningless noise is this administration’s appropriate libretto because, just as a magnet attracts iron filings, Trump attracts, and is attracted to, louts.

In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him. A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control, and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House. And to those who say, “But the judges, the judges!” the answer is: Article III institutions are not more important than those of Articles I and II combined.

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Joe Crowley Outed For Flipping Out Over Ro Khanna's Endorsement Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Kyle Kulinski should have a show on MSNBC or CNN. Believe me you're never going to hear any of this stuff from Rachel Maddow.

There are no other members of Congress who have endorsed Alexandria. Instead the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is whipping for Crowley. (No, I'm not talking about Raul Grijalva.) Ro has endorsed the most progressive candidates running for Congress, the ones who are going to help him pass Medicare-For-All and the whole Bernie platform. He's not the DCCC and he's not endorsing based on who can win. He's not endorsing Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. He was pushing Randy Bryce before the DCCC had ever heard of him. He's backing the best state legislator in the country who would be a superstar the first day he got to Congress, Kaniela Ing (D-HI). He endorsed Brent Welder and James Thompson in heartland districts the DCCC is igorninhg and two of the best gubernatorial candidate in the country, Ben Jealous (D-MD) and Abdul El Sayed (D-MI). Any other congressional Democrats stepping out on a limb that way. Tuesday is primary day in New York-- an opportunity to replace Crowley with Alexandria Ocasio. Have you helped?

Goal ThermometerEveryone makes a mistake. No one's perfect. But Ro moved quickly to correct his. He's freshman and didn't know about Crowley's disgraceful voting ecord before he (Ro) was elected nor about Crowley's corruption. I think he was misled by someone he had every reason in the world to trust. Watch that whole video by Kulinski up top. He's got most of the points right. If you want to contribute to Ro's campaign, you can do it by tapping on the Blue America 2018 best House incumbents thermometer on the right. Remember, ProgressivePunch's highest lifetime (99.14) shows two members tied for #1-- Ro Khanna (CA) and Jamie Raskin (MD). 100%? No... but better than anyone else. Barney Frank once told me that when someone runs for Congress they may think they're going to be perfect but after a few years they even stop agreeing with themselves on some votes. I don't remember a single sitting member of Congress endorsing Dave Brat when he ran-- and won-- against Eric Cantor. That isn't how DC works. It was extremely courageous for Khanna to do what he did-- and you're not going to find anyone else daring to do likewise-- not ONE. It is unprecedented, part of what is wrong with Congress.

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Private Prisons Want Trump's Zero Tolerance Agenda-- Can You Guess Why?


What a video! MJ Hegar is running for the Texas congressional seat that covers Williamson and Bell counties, TX-31, between Waco and Austin. It runs from Killeen in the north and Round Rock in the south. The PVI is a daunting R+10. Romney won it 59.6% to 38.3% and Trump won it 53.5% to 40.8%. Bell County includes part of Fort Hood, the largest American military base in the world. It's a traditionally Democratic district but Carter, can ultra-conservative Republican, has been in office since 2002. He never deviates from a hardline GOP approach. For example, on Thursday he voted for the extreme anti-immigration bill and for the far right Agriculture bill.

Carter is a backbencher you rarely hear about outside of his own district. He doesn't do anything except for for extreme right-wing proposals. His Trump adhesion score is 98.8%, the second highest in Congress after whip Steve Scalise. He's a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He's also a bit of a crook

On Thursday the Dallas Morning News revealed that Carter, along with John Culberson (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) have taken massive bribes from GEO and it's executives, the private prison company that stands to gain the most from Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that locks up huge numbers of border crossers and their children. GEO operates the private immigration detention facilities in Karnes City, Laredo, Pearsall and Conroe.
Culberson is facing a tough re-election race against Democrat Lizzie Fletcher. The race has been rated a ‘toss up’ by nonpartisan analyst Cook Political Report.

Culberson received the most funding from GEO out of Texas members of Congress, but GEO is also the top donor this cycle for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who received $32,400, and Round Rock Republican Rep. John Carter, who received $31,600.

Both Culberson and Cuellar serve on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, which funds private immigration detention centers. Culberson is also the chairman of and Carter serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice and science, which oversees funding for private prisons.

Cuellar’s campaign manager Colin Strother said that GEO is one of the largest employers in Cuellar’s district, and that Cuellar has not allowed campaign contributions to influence his decisions.

“If you live in a district in the state of Washington, you get boating money. If you live in a district in Nebraska, you get agriculture money. We have a district with lots of jail facilities that employ lots of people,” Strother said.

Culberson’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Henry Cuéllar and Vicente Gonzalez were 2 of the 3 Democrats-- the other was another Blue Dog, Fireman Vela-- who refused to sign a bipartisan discharge petition to allow a DACA debate, killing it. Now we know why.
Another one of the largest groups that runs private immigration detention centers in the United States is CoreCivic. The company runs facilities in Houston, Laredo, Dilley and Taylor.

CoreCivic PACs have given less money to candidates than GEO, but still contributed to three Texans, according to Culberson with $11,000, McCaul with $3,500 and Cuellar with $1,500.
Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported on the fate of the more than 2,400 children who are under 12 years old that the Trump regime separated from their parents and locked up in Texas.
“It’s chaos,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, a national advocacy group. “Everything is just moving really fast … I am not convinced they have a plan for reunifying those they have separated.”

...Under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, parents usually served just a few days of prison time for illegally crossing the border before going to immigration detention centers run by the Department of Homeland Security. From there, they can be quickly deported without their children. In one case, a Guatemalan father was deported and had no idea where his 18-month-old toddler was for five months until they were reunited in December.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement has said it is not routinely informed about how or when parents and children were separated and where the adults may be.

“You’re talking about 2,000-plus children scattered across America,” said U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat. “What a difficult challenge and our fear is that we lose one child.”

The sudden influx of so many very young children has overwhelmed the federal government, which has put out emergency calls for contractors across the nation to provide more bed space and recruit more foster parents. It has meant some children are not put in a foster home with a family, as has generally been the goal for “tender age” kids, but instead may stay for weeks and even months in a residential shelter intended for older children. Most child advocates believe this is not in the best interests of the children.

“Kids, particularly young kids, should be in a smaller, more community-based setting, as opposed to the larger scale institutional-like settings,” said Kathryn Kuennen, associate director of children's services with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which cares for unaccompanied minors.
I haven't talked to a Democratic congressional candidate who isn't concerned about this. Yesterday Randy Bryce, for one, was majorly pissed off. This is what he told his own supporters:
Yesterday, Melania Trump boarded a plane to visit the US-Mexico border, where over 2300 children have been separated from their parents, wearing a jacket that read on the back, "I really don't care. Do u?"

Yeah Melania, I really freaking care.

I care about everyday Americans. I care about hardworking families in Wisconsin and at the border. And millions of Americans, all across the country, stood up and showed that they care too.

But that isn't enough. While Trump may have signed an executive order, if you read the fine print, it doesn't solve the problem. All this order does is turn family separation into family incarceration. And to make matters worse, Donald Trump is still refusing to reunite the children the US has already separated from their parents under his watch.

We have to keep the pressure up because we have to make sure these families are released and reunited immediately. To do that, we need to demand an end to Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy.

Call your representatives now and demand they support an end to Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy. Dial (202) 224-3121 to reach the Capitol Switchboard and speak with your representative.

...We have to keep up the fight, because when we fight, we win.

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What Will Make People Decide Who To Vote For In November?


There are a bunch of run-of the-mill Democrats and semi-Democrats running in Michigan this year, including for the district in the southwest corner of the state (MI-06) held by Fred Upton. One-- sleazy lobbyist George Franklin-- is especially bad. He's been helping finance Upton against Democrats for years. And now he wants to run against him. What a joke! I can see the GOP ads now: "I was for him before I was against him." And he was. Why? What changed, Georgie?

Upton is real bad but but Franklin is-- at best-- the lesser of two evils. The best Democrat in the race is Paul Clements. This week he told his supporters that "despite hearing that we're in a prolonged economic recovery, over half of all Americans are economically insecure-- unable to maintain long-term savings, fearful of emergencies they can't afford, unable to relax even a little. Whether you're below or above the poverty line, economic insecurity is unhealthy, exhausting, and bad for our democracy. You can read my entire economic agenda here, but I want to focus on three things I will do in Congress to reduce economic insecurity in America.
1. Medicare for All

Canada's health care system has not only produced longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality than the United States; Canadians also know they won't go broke if they get sick. In Congress, I will push for, support, and vote for Medicare for all.

2. Increased Wages

Americans should be able to support their families by working one job. I will work to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour or, for now, half the regional median ($12 an hour in Michigan).

3. Postal Banking

Millions of Americans lack access to affordable banking and financial services, and that means it costs more money to be poor. In Congress I will support the revival of United States Post Office banking, facilitating basic banking services and low-interest loans that can help working class Americans.
There are 6 counties in MI-06. Obama won all 6 both times he ran. Then in 2016 Bernie beat Hillary in 5 counties. And then along comes Trumpanzee-- he won all the counties but one in the district too and beat Hillary district-wide 51.3% to 42.9%, a district Bernie won in the primaries and Obama won against McCain. Here was primary day, 2016
Allegan County:
Bernie- 5,545
Hillary- 3,489
Trump- 5,327
Berrien County:
Bernie- 5,942
Hillary- 6,546
Trump- 7,817
Cass County:
Bernie- 1,683
Hillary- 1,657
Trump- 2,859
Kalamazoo County:
Bernie- 20,146
Hillary- 12,593
Trump- 8,655
St. Joseph County:
Bernie- 2,219
Hillary- 1,382
Trump- 2,655
Van Buren County:
Bernie- 3,656
Hillary- 2,484
Trump- 3,287
Clements is the candidate running on a Bernie-like platform, but the Democratic Party establishment, of course, prefers the lobbyist, Franklin. As of March 31, Franklin had raised $534,743 (the source of $100,000 of it unaccounted for) while Clements had raised $257,757.

Meanwhile, as Clements pushes a cutting edge progressive economic message for working families, Trump and Ryan-- with Upton firmly in tow-- are still trying to chip away at the social safety net-- including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Remember the tax scam that lined the pockets of multimillionaires and billionaires, while doing nothing for the rest of us? They always had the idea of making the rest if us pay for it. Yesterday, the New York Times asserted that "Trump, spurred on by conservatives who want him to slash safety net programs, unveiled on Thursday a plan to overhaul the federal government that could have a profound effect on millions of poor and working-class Americans. Produced over the last year by Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, it would reshuffle social welfare programs in a way that would make them easier to cut, scale back or restructure. Among the most consequential ideas is a proposal to shift the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a subsistence benefit that provides aid to 42 million poor and working Americans, from the Agriculture Department to a new mega-agency that would have 'welfare' in its title-- a term Mr. Trump uses as a pejorative catchall for most government benefit programs." A couple of days ago, writing for the Washington Post, Erica Werner warned that the budget Trump and Ryan (and Upton) purposely exploded will be balanced on the backs on cuts to Medicare and other programs Trump vowed over and over to not touch while he was campaigning.
[T]he budget serves as an expression of Republicans’ priorities at a time of rapidly rising deficits and debt. Although the nation’s growing indebtedness has been exacerbated by the GOP’s own policy decisions-- including the new tax law, which most analyses say will add at least $1 trillion to the debt-- Republicans on the Budget Committee said they felt a responsibility to put the nation on a sounder fiscal trajectory.

“The time is now for our Congress to step up and confront the biggest challenge to our society,” said House Budget Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR). “There is not a bigger enemy on the domestic side than the debt and deficits.”

The Republican budget confronts this enemy by taking a whack at entitlement spending. Lawmakers of both parties agree that spending that is not subject to Congress’s annual appropriations process is becoming unsustainable. But Trump has largely taken it off the table by refusing to touch Medicare or Social Security, and Democrats have little interest in addressing it except as part of a larger deal including tax increases-- the sort of “Grand Bargain” that eluded President Barack Obama.

The House Republican budget, titled “A Brighter American Future,” would remake Medicare by giving seniors the option of enrolling in private plans that compete with traditional Medicare, a system of competition designed to keep costs down but dismissed by critics as an effort to privatize the program. Along with other changes, the budget proposes to squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare over the next decade.

The budget would transform Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor, by limiting per capita payments or allowing states to turn it into a block-grant program-- the same approach House Republicans took in their legislation that passed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the repeal effort died in the Senate, but the GOP budget assumes that the repeal takes place).  It also proposes adding work requirements for certain adults enrolled in Medicaid. Changes to Medicaid and other health programs would account for $1.5 trillion in savings.

Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.

The budget also proposes a number of other cost-saving measures, some of which could prove unpopular if implemented, such as adding more work requirements for food-stamp and welfare recipients and requiring federal employees-- including members of Congress-- to contribute more to their retirement plans. It assumes repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act that regulated banks after the financial crisis 10 years ago, something Congress recently rejected in passing a banking bill into law that softened some of the key provisions of Dodd-Frank but left its overall structures intact. And the budget proposes $230 billion in cuts from education and training programs, including consolidating student loan programs and reducing Pell Grant awards.

The budget also relies on rosy economic-growth projections and proposes using a budgetary mechanism to require other congressional committees to come up with a combined $302 billion in unspecified deficit reduction.

Overall, the partisan proposal is reminiscent of the budget released in 2011 by now-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who was then the Budget Committee chairman and advanced a bold proposal attacking entitlements, slashing spending-- and creating lines of attack for Democrats once Ryan became Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the GOP ticket the following year.

How is this going to go over with voters? Latest Monmouth poll shows the tax scam is losing more and more support: "34% of the public approve of the tax reform plan passed by Congress last December and 41% disapprove. Another 24% are not sure how they feel.  These results have shifted in the past six weeks. Approval is down 6 points from 40% in late April and disapproval is down 3 points from 44%. The number who give no opinion on the plan has risen 8 points from 16%.  Polls earlier this year had shown a more evenly divided public-- 41% approve to 42% disapprove in March and 44% approve to 44% disapprove in January-- with a smaller percentage of undecided opinion. Public opinion on the Republican lawmakers’ signature accomplishment has never been positive, but potentially growing uncertainty about how American taxpayers will be affected does not seem to be helping the GOP’s prospects for November,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute."

The chair of the House Budget Committee is Steve Womack (R-A). He's in a safe Republican seat that Trump won with 62%. The PVI is R+19, the worst and most backward district in Arkansas, so he doesn't care... but his local paper, the Arkansas Times castigated him for the betrayal. Commenting on his dishonest press conference touting the bonus "A Brighter Future," they reported that "He didn't mention that rising deficits were made worse by the tax cut for the rich he supported. Nor did he mention the pain his budget will cause millions of Americans.
With the nation's attention rightly fixated on President Donald Trump's horrific treatment of immigrant children, House Republicans on Tuesday quietly unveiled their 2019 budget proposal that calls for $537 billion in cuts to Medicare, $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, and four billion in cuts to Social Security over the next decade in an effort to pay for their deficit-exploding tax cuts for the wealthy.

"It's morally bankrupt, patently absurd, and grossly un-American," the advocacy group Patriotic Millionaires said of the GOP's budget proposal, which calls for $5.4 trillion in spending cuts from major domestic programs.

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), argued in a statement that the Republican proposal demonstrates clearly shows the "House majority's fiscal priorities haven't changed.

"It’s easy to become numb to the harshness of these budgets and to brush aside their policy implications based on the assumption (likely correct) that few, if any, of these policies will be enacted this year," Greenstein said. "But this budget reflects where many congressional leaders—and the president—would like to take the country if they get the opportunity to enact these measures in the years ahead. Rather than help more families have a shot at the American dream, it asks the most from those who have the least, and it would leave our nation less prepared for the economic and other challenges that lie ahead."

Progressives have been warning for months about the GOP's plan to axe crucial safety net programs following the passage of its deeply unpopular $1.5 trillion tax bill, which has sparked a boom of corporate stock buybacks while doing little to nothing for most American workers.

"Each GOP budget is more fraudulent than the last," Seth Hanlon, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote on Tuesday. "We know what they stand for: tax cuts paid for with healthcare cuts."

In addition to proposing devastating safety net cuts, the House GOP budget also calls for partial privatization of Medicare and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a move that would throw tens of millions off their health insurance.
Josh Mahony is the Democrat running against Womack this cycle. He noted that "Womack has forgotten the very people he represents. Cuts to these programs will seriously affect Arkansas families. With cuts to education, healthcare, and Social Security, this bill shows the true priorities of Republicans and it’s not to hard-working Arkansans."

My guess if that the good folks in Arkadelphia, Hope and Texarkana noticed that the person Trump was shooting on 5th Avenue was their kid, they'd vote for him anyway. (Yes indeed; these are the ones.) And they're the ones who were probably offended and totally pissed off yesterday when Ted Lieu played this on the floor of the House of Representatives:

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

62 Million Archie Bunkers voted for what you see here. 62 Million Trumpists. 62 Million fans of Trump's brand of extreme fascism. It was already bad enough the we've had decades of creeping, incremental fascism from our two major political parties but that just wasn't enough for those who voted for the man who, according to at least one of his ex-wives, keeps a book of Hitler's speeches by his bedside. 62 Million longed for a completely totalitarian regime of brutality and they're getting it. They hate those who protest against police who murder. They support those who steal children from the arms of their parents and lock those children in cages. It's the stuff of the original old nightmarish German and Russian fairytales. Republicans do all this while they falsely profess to be pro-family and chant that "every child deserves a mother and father." 62 Million republicans, fake independents and even some democrats looked at Trump, saw the obvious, and still said "that's my guy". For the majority of them, Trump was the hero they have been waiting for, and, still is.

The Trumpists twist Romans 13 from their bible using a quote that was once used to justify slavery and later used to justify Hitler's nazism. They twist the Bible for their own sick purposes just like sick Muslim terrorists twist the verses in the Koran. Trump supporters look at the little boy in tonight's meme and they see MS-13 because they have embraced and nurtured their hates and their fears and allowed themselves to be programmed to do so. They tweet things about the need to electro-shock this boy. They call him a "monkey". This is the result of decades of conservatism. It's not the end result, though. That's shaping up to be even worse. Republicans in Virginia have recently nominated an avowed and proud white supremacist as their candidate named Corey Stewart for the U.S. Senate. Sure, there are already white supremacists in the Senate but now they aren't even pretending to be something other than what they are. And the Trump-supporting Stewart is no outlier. Stewart was one of the organizers of the infamous Charlottesville nazi parade of Trump's "very fine people." In Illinois, republican voters have nominated Neo-Nazi and holocaust denier Arthur Jones for the House Of Representatives. Represent indeed.

On Monday, Trump's "very fine" Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen had so much contempt for lives and truth that she publicly stated, "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period." just like Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer stood before the media and told the nation that the crowd at his idol's inauguration was the biggest ever. Did Nielsen think we wouldn't find out? It's probably more of an issue of her not even caring if we found out. In any event, to the 62 Million, it's all "fake news." If the KKK's David Duke had Trump's money and corporate backing, he'd be in the White House instead of Trump, chanting "America First" and burning crosses on the White House lawn. Stay tuned. There's little doubt that the same 62 Million would have voted for him as well, and they may yet have the opportunity. Oh, happy day.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

America First? Polling Shows It's Trudeau First Over Trump


Want to drive Trumpanzee up a wall? Every poll should ask, who do you like more, Trump or Canadian Prime Minister JustinTrudeau? Trump is completely, obsessively jealous of Trump, because Trudeau is intelligent, well-spoken, handsome, with it, fashionable and vigorous, while Trump is... well, none of those things. (And rumors are that both Melania and Ivanka went completely "gah gah" over Trudeau.) The one poll that was done, by Ipsos shows that both Canadians and Americans prefer, as you can see above, Trudeau's approach to trade over Trump's approach.

Now a new poll by the Canadian polling firm, Campaign Research "revealed that 81% of Canadians “disapproved” of Donald Trump’s performance as the President of the U.S, a 5% increase from September 2017. Those who showed the highest level of disapproval were females (86%), as well as members of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) (91%) and the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (93%). A full 2/3rd’s of Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) supporters (66%) also expressed disapproval."
When asked if they believed that Donald Trump has helped or harmed the Canadian economy, 72% of Canadians believed Donald Trump has harmed the Canadian economy. This sentiment was consistent across all age groups and regions.

Over the last 9 months, members of NAFTA have engaged in discussions regarding re-negotiations to various terms of the agreement. A large majority of Canadians (87%) were aware of these discussions.  Millennial awareness of these discussions taking place were the lowest at 63%, while the topic was very well known among older Canadians aged 45+ with over 90% awareness. Men (92%) seemed to be more engaged with the issue than women (83%). Awareness levels were also consistently high across all regions in Canada.

Donald Trump recently imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports to the USA. In retaliation, Canada decided to implement its’ own tariffs on hundreds of U.S. products imported into Canada. The response from Canadians was positive, with 74% agreeing with the Canadian Government’s decision to implement these tariffs. Regionally, Atlantic Canada (76%) and Ontario (79%) had the strongest levels of support for the Canadian Governments decision to impose the tariffs.

61% of Canadians were concerned about the relationship between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump. This level of concern was consistent among all age groups. 68% of CPC supporters expressed the greatest level of those who were concerned.

“Donald Trump has not fared well with the people of Canada. His implementation of tariffs on Canadian resources and demands to renegotiate NAFTA and recent comments toward Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada have contributed to the belief among Canadians that he is harming the Canadian economy rather than helping it. Canadians are united in opposition to President Trump and Canadian retaliatory measures thus far.” said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research.

Come on, PPP, get with it! Just include it as a question in your surveys from now on.

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"What If He's A Loser?"-- The Sad Story Of Donald Trumpanzee, Jr.


Earlier today we mentioned that Trump grew up in a racist family and that he "inherited" the ugly bigotry from a father he always emulated and sought approval from. It's tragic-- for America, of course-- but for Trump and his family as well. And the July issue of GQ updates the saga into a horrifying story about Trump's first son, Donald, Jr., the Fredo Corleone of America First's First Family. Like his father before him, "All he ever wanted was to make his dad proud, but things have never turned out quite right for Donald Trump Jr. Even now, despite finding his purpose as a bombastic star of the far right, Junior’s personal life is in shambles and the specter of Robert Mueller looms large. As Julia Ioffe discovers in talking to old friends and Trump World insiders, it’s never been trickier to be the president’s son."

For much of Don junior's life, the hunter's camo he's worn has helped him not to disappear but to stand out, to differentiate himself from his father, the real estate tycoon who never understood his son's fascination with the outdoors. (“I am not a believer in hunting, and I'm surprised they like it,” Trump told TMZ of his two eldest sons.)

Only when he began campaigning for the White House did Donald Trump see some value in his son's bloody pastime. According to Sam Nunberg, a Trump adviser at the time, when an invitation arrived from the governor of Iowa to go hunting ahead of the state's crucial caucuses, Trump joked, “Don, you can finally do something for me-- you can go hunting.”

It's hard being Don. Struggling to make a mark. Living as the junior to Trump senior. Existing as the shy kid who takes solace in the outdoors. Growing into a man who desperately wants his father's love and pride yet is always mindful of the distance between them. His struggles are compounded by the perception that his life of privilege ought to be effortless. Though to understand the strange gantlet of duty and drama that has marked that life is to wonder how anything would be simple for Donald Trump Jr.

“I think Don gets it a lot. Everyone talks about Ivanka, but Don also has a lot of pressure on him,” says a former Trump adviser. “Everyone wants approval from the father, especially if the father is Trump. He has a special place in his heart for Ivanka. But Don is the eldest son, he's named after him, he's doing the nitty-gritty on the real estate, he's got a lot of responsibility, and Trump is tough on everybody. He's the alpha male. He sees his son as somebody he has to groom.”

When a Brazilian journalist asked Don in 2010 whether there was much pressure being Donald junior, he replied, “There probably shouldn't be. But there is for me, because you want to please someone like that, and he's a perfectionist. There's definitely always that shadow that follows you around, like how is this guy, the son of someone so good at what he does, going to act?”

According to his first wife, Ivana, Donald Trump was never keen on bequeathing his name to anybody. It was Ivana who wanted to call their newborn Donald junior. “You can't do that!” Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana's memoir, Raising Trump. “What if he's a loser?”

Don tells his own story about coming into the world on December 31, 1977. “I like to joke that my dad wanted to be able to claim me as a dependent on his taxes for 1977,” he once told Forbes, “so he told my mom she had to have me before midnight and, if she didn't, he'd make her take a cab home.” (Ivana wrote about her labor being induced by doctors.)

So began the difficult, defining struggle of Donald Trump Jr.'s life-- to make himself useful while carrying a name so beloved by the man who bestowed it that he put it in gold letters on buildings all over the world. When he was growing up, his dad called him Donny-- a moniker the elder Trump would never go by. “[It's] a name I hate,” he explained in The Art of the Deal.

Fraught though their relationship has sometimes been-- at one point Junior refused to speak to his father for a year-- Don has lately found improbable purpose and renown as a savage defender of his father. His once private desires to win his father's approval now come packaged as angry tweets and memes tearing down his dad's opponents as illogical, histrionic socialists. At age 40, he has become like every other angry white man raging on the Internet, exorcising his psychic traumas through ghastly rhetoric and febrile conspiracy theories, like when he retweeted Roseanne Barr's false claim that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, was actually a Nazi collaborator.

This sort of thing has endeared him not only to pro-Trump Republicans but also to the populist fringe that propelled Trump to power. “Don junior is royalty,” says Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist. “Don junior is loved by the base. He's accessible, he's in the trenches, he's sharing the memes, pushing out stories that other people aren't. It shows that he's reading what everybody else is reading. I know it's a really dumb litmus test for a politician, but he's the one you'd want to have a beer with.”

Don's bona fides as an outdoorsman have helped, too, and have earned him some sway in his father's administration. It was Don who recommended that former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke-- a fellow hunting enthusiast who once reportedly referred to Hillary Clinton as “the Antichrist”-- should be tapped as Trump's secretary of the interior.

To the president's most ardent supporters, Don is venerated as a natural incarnation of everything the MAGA brand stands for: transgressive and defiant white, rural masculinity. “He's a fighter,” says one Breitbart editor. “The stuff he's focused on is the stuff the conservative movement is focused on. It's not an act. With him, I think it's genuine.”

... Being noticed was always something of a struggle. That evening he was born, little Don was left by his parents to the care of the hospital's nursery. His father headed home to celebrate New Year's Eve, while Ivana put a boa and a mink over her hospital gown and went to visit a girlfriend recovering from back surgery on another floor of the hospital.

Don had little luck with the first of his nannies, under whose watch he both broke his leg and nearly drowned. From there, a succession of caregivers followed, though Ivana was also active in her three children's upbringing. In her telling, she instilled strict Eastern European discipline in the house. By several accounts, Don came in for the most punishment. “Don got in trouble with me more often than the other kids, probably because he was the oldest,” Ivana wrote in her memoir.

Largely absent from childhood tales is the father. “He would love them, but he did not know how to speak to them in the children's way of thinking,” Ivana said of her ex-husband on The Wendy Williams Show last year. “He was able to speak to them only when they came from university, when eventually he was able to speak business to them. Otherwise, he really did not know how to handle the kids.” The interactions were apparently alien in both directions. “The children,” Ivana wrote in her book, “didn't know how to relate to him, either.”

Nowadays, Don puts a happy gloss on his dad's parenting style-- which he believes, in hindsight, was career prep. “He's a business guy first and foremost, so we spent a lot of time with him, but it was always in a business environment,” Don told Oprah in 2011.

Some paternal lessons have stuck with Don, who tries still to parse the old fatherly instruction for the faintest wisdom. For instance, a key Trump mantra, according to both Ivana and Don, neither of whom agreed to be interviewed for this story, was “Don't trust anyone.” Trump would test his children on this maxim. “He'd say, ‘Do you trust me, your own father?’ ” Don once recalled. “We'd say, ‘Of course we do!’ And he'd say, ‘What did I just tell you? You didn't take the lesson!’ It was certainly an interesting Trump moment,” Don continued, talking at a pressured, sober clip, “because it's not something you'd see any conventional parent-child conversation go that way, especially not fully understanding what the concept of trust was.”

If the lessons didn't take, Don had his father's own example to demonstrate untrustworthiness. On the day before the boy's 12th birthday, Marla Maples-- who was then carrying on an affair with Donald Trump-- crossed paths with Ivana at Bonnie's in Aspen and uttered her nine infamous words: “I'm Marla, and I love your husband. Do you?” According to Ivana's book, Don witnessed the whole scene.

When divorce proceedings began and the paparazzi set up camp outside Trump Tower and Don's school, Ivana decided to explain the situation to her children. Ivanka, 8, and Eric, 6, got the sanitized version. Twelve-year-old Don, Ivana concluded, “could handle hearing the truth.” After being told about his father's mistress and the fact that his parents would never live together again, Don stopped speaking to his father.

Soon after that, as Trump engaged Ivana in an epic public feud, he dispatched a bodyguard to his triplex apartment with instructions to bring his elder boy down to his office. Don, still not talking to his father, descended with the bodyguard to the 28th floor, and a few minutes later, Ivana, who described all this in her book, got a phone call. It was Trump, looking for some leverage by announcing that he was going to keep Don and raise him alone.

“Okay, keep him,” Ivana said she told him. “I have two other kids to raise.”

A few minutes later-- his bluff out-bluffed-- Trump ordered his boy to be taken back upstairs. “Donald never had any intention of keeping his son,” Ivana wrote.

In his telling, Don was caught in that lonely isthmus of awareness where one doesn't understand everything but knows enough to be deeply wounded by it. “Listen, it's tough to be a 12-year-old,” he told New York magazine in 2004. “You're not quite a man, but you think you are. You think you know everything. Being driven to school every day and you see the front page and it's divorce! “Best Sex I Ever Had”! And you don't even know what that means. At that age, kids are naturally cruel. Your private life becomes very public, and I didn't have anything to do with it: My parents did.”

Don, Ivana noted, “expressed his pain with anger, and he was really angry.” Don's reprieve from the glare of Manhattan had always been the summers spent with his maternal grandparents in rural Czechoslovakia. But between the separation and divorce, his grandfather Milos died suddenly of a heart attack. It was yet another blow to Don, for whom Milos was a sort of father he never had. “Being in Czechoslovakia with my grandfather was the most memorable time in my life,” Don wrote in an aside in Ivana's book. “My grandpa would say, ‘There's the woods. See you at dark!’ He taught me how to fish, rock-climb, camp, shoot with a bow and an air rifle. Czechoslovakian summers were my introduction to ‘the great outdoors’ and an era that lives in me that I hand down to my children.… I miss him. I will always miss him.”

People close to Don say Milos is the key to understanding him. The imprint stamped on Don as a boy by his grandfather is still evident, says Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump ally who briefly served as White House communications chief: “He's a very down-to-earth, grounded guy, and I think a lot of that comes from his mom's parents, who he used to summer with. Spending several months in [Communist] Eastern Europe, seeing the difference between what was happening in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and his life in New York—it gives grounding and perspective.”

For a child raised in a gilded triplex, Don seems to have gotten a disproportionate share of what pain there was to go around. Shortly after his grandfather's death, Don found Bridget, one of his nannies, passed out from a heart attack in the basement of Ivana's Greenwich home. He called the ambulance and the adults, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital. When his mother remarried, her new husband's son roughed up and choked the then adolescent Don. On top of that, when Junior, at age 15, tried to take a girl on a date, it immediately made it into the tabloids: Ivana wanted the world to know that she had armed him with condoms.

“Poor Don. He really got the brunt of everything,” Ivana wrote. “No wonder Don likes to go in the woods and escape from everything.”

When Don headed off to college at the University of Pennsylvania, his father's alma mater, his relationship with his dad seemingly hadn't fully recovered. Mad as he was at Donald Trump, Don was also Donald Trump, but smaller, less accomplished, and more wounded. He assumed a posture of studied normalcy and stuck to being Don, rather than Donald Trump Jr. “He wasn't quick to volunteer his name or put it out there who he was or try to use that to his advantage,” says the college friend. “I remember thinking that if he used his name more, he probably could've gotten more girls.”

A freshman-year friend, Dan Friedman, remembers a strange conversation on that theme. Friedman says that one day, as he and Don sat in a dining hall, Friedman jokingly warned him to watch out for girls-- gold-digger types-- who would try to take advantage of him. “And he said, ‘What do you mean? I don't know what you're talking about,’ ” Friedman recalls. “I think he was playing dumb; he knew what I was talking about. He didn't go as far as denying his identity, but it was very clear that he wanted to downplay it.”

It wasn't just the Trump name that Don avoided; he apparently steered clear of his father, too. A former classmate recalls how “Don's dad came to campus to give a speech, and he refused to go because he was mad at his dad over divorcing his mom.” (The Trump camp disputes this classmate's recollection, claiming Don was seated in the front row.) Don's anger expressed itself in other ways, too. “He had a reputation as the kind of guy who would get to drinking and start fights,” says a college acquaintance. “He was a fall-down drunk.”

In June 1999, the summer before Don's senior year, Fred Trump, Donald's own overbearing and emotionally abusive father, passed away. Don didn't seem to feel the same private grief that he'd harbored after the death of Milos. He asked a few of his friends to go with him to the wake because he didn't seem comfortable being alone at the event. “A few of us went to the wake with him, and I just remember how peculiar the vibe was,” recalls Don's college friend. “It was the only time I met his dad. It just had a cocktail-party vibe. It was just odd.” (The Trump camp disputes this, claiming Don did not bring friends to his grandfather's wake.) After graduating, Don escaped to Aspen and spent a year and a half doing what he loves most, hunting and fishing-- and avoiding what he must have felt was inevitable: going to work for his father.

But in 2001, Don did just that. He succumbed to the centripetal force that is the Trump Organization-- “It's very hard to veer from that track,” Don has said—by joining the family firm. Very quickly his job became doing whatever chore was in the offing-- a sui generis job he's held for years. “Don, like most other people, gets assigned to a project and winds up overseeing all the various aspects, from construction, marketing, design,” says Sater. “Sometimes he works in tandem with Ivanka or Eric, and then reports to Trump. They share or split main responsibilities. He's worked on pretty much everything over the last ten years. Don has had his hands in just about every Trump project over the years.”

In those early days back in New York, the assiduously private Don also found that the tabloids, which had made his parents famous, were waiting for him. Just before his 25th birthday, Don went to see Chris Rock at Manhattan's Comedy Cellar. He got a little drunk. Sources later told the New York Post that “people at a neighboring table thought Trump was reacting too enthusiastically to [Rock's] ethnic humor.” Three couples said they asked Don to pipe down but that he refused. Finally, two young men his age took matters into their own hands—the matters being their beer steins, which they lobbed directly at Don's triangular brown mane. Don was taken to St. Vincent's to have his head stitched up, and according to the Post, the two barroom vigilantes were released on bail. (“I'm going to get those motherfuckers, that's for sure,” Trump senior told the New York Daily News.)

Eventually, Don stopped drinking and started dressing like his father, a cartoon of a Manhattan capitalist, all pinstripes and wide lapels and pastel satin ties. He mended things with his father, or at the very least gained some awareness of his dad's view of the divorce. By 2004, he was telling New York magazine that perhaps it wasn't just his father's fault: “But when you're living with your mother, it's easy to be manipulated. You get a one-sided perspective.” In 2006, he referred to himself as “a brat” for having once hung up on his dad. Somewhere along the line, outsiders could see why the two men had the same name. “Don also has a big personality,” Nunberg says. “He's got that larger-than-life persona, like his father; he has his big, nice office on the 25th floor; and you hear him beating the shit out of someone on the phone, like his father.” (Another source warned me about Don's “quick temper.”)

In interviews from this time, he is an eager carnival barker, selling his father's brand while also eagerly trying to demonstrate how much he has learned about business-- the business. Soon, he glimpsed the wisdom of lending his valuable name to other people's projects. In 2010, he signed on to help hawk Cambridge Who's Who, a self-billed “leading professional branding and networking organization.” In a promotional video for the firm, Don says over the soft tones of a keyboard that “Cambridge Who's Who is your exclusive, by-invitation-only, private PR firm.”

The company, headquartered “in Long Island's premier office building,” turned out to be less than premier. Its then president, Randy Narod, once owned a nightclub and a bagel store and had been barred from the securities industry after sending someone to sit for his exam. By the time Don came on as a spokesman, Cambridge Who's Who had amassed some 400 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, according to the New York Times.

Despite some successes, like overseeing the construction of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, Don continued to get his famous name caught up in the wrong deals. In 2006, he helped launch a mortgage brokerage called Trump Mortgage, bragging that it was the “only company in a $3 trillion industry that anyone has actually heard of.” Within months it was defunct, an early casualty of the housing crisis. In 2006, he was kicked off the condo board of the Trump apartment building at 220 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, amid board members' concerns that $80,000 of the condo's money had disappeared on account of nebulous “office expenses.”

(He was eventually reinstated.)

The setbacks seemed not to trouble Don, who never had the requisite hunger to be the true titan of commerce, the man he saw in his father. Don was happier hunting or sitting by the pool at Mar-a-Lago than closing deals. He enjoyed the fruits of his father's labors more than he liked laboring for more fruit. “He has a more balanced life,” a source close to Don told me. “It's harder to become a captain of industry if you don't make a lot of sacrifices.”

And so Don has seemed content to take direction from his father-- and not merely on matters professional. One night in 2003, while father and son were attending an event, Donald Trump spotted a blonde woman and pointed her out to his son. She was Vanessa Haydon, a young model who had made news dating Leonardo DiCaprio and a Saudi prince. “Vanessa walked in front of me at this big fashion show,” Donald Trump recalled on Oprah's show in 2011. “She looked so beautiful, I said, ‘Don, that's the person you should marry.’ ” According to Vanessa's own recollection, shared with the Times, the forgetful Trump accidentally introduced her to his son twice. Then, when she ran into Don several weeks later, she remembered him as “the one with the retarded dad.”

Despite his father's hand in their coupling, Don earned a scolding from his dad over the way he proposed-- a Trumpian publicity stunt in which he scored a free engagement ring by popping the question in a jewelry store at the Short Hills mall in New Jersey. “You have a name that is hot as a pistol,” Trump senior told Larry King, lamenting the situation. “You have to be very careful with things like this.”

By all appearances, the stylish Vanessa fit right in as the newest Trump. But she had her own complicated adolescence. Her wealthy father, Manhattan attorney Charles Haydon, was actually her stepfather. As newly minted Haydons, Vanessa and her sister were catapulted into a life of posh prep schools and a home on the Upper East Side.

Vanessa's rebellion, a friend from that time recalls, was very specific: She dated a young man named Valentin Rivera, who told people he was a foot soldier for the Latin Kings, a Hispanic gang. Rivera, who recently went public in an interview with the New York Post, was raised in an apartment atop the Yorkville branch of the New York Public Library, where his father was the caretaker. According to the article, Rivera delivered weed around the city. Vanessa apparently reveled in all this. “She talked with an urban, gangster accent,” the friend remembers. “She wore big hoop earrings, hair slicked back. She thought she was a gangster. She had a gangster boyfriend, and she acted like a gangster herself. She was somebody who went out of her way to intimidate people by having a scary boyfriend that could hurt people.”

Vanessa seemed very much in love with Rivera, as much as a teenager could be, and despite her family's disapproval, when Rivera found himself in Rikers Island for assault, she visited him there. The couple eventually went their separate ways, and in the years that followed, Rivera, who could not be reached for comment, was jailed several times for crimes ranging from weapons charges to negligent homicide.

Before Vanessa married his son, though, Donald Trump apparently did his due diligence and discovered that his future daughter-in-law had dated a Latino gangster-- a bad look for an image-obsessed family. Trump called Vanessa into his office and confronted her about her relationship with Rivera. Vanessa flatly denied it.

By the time his father ran for president, Don had cultivated a public image as a kind of prudent sidekick. He appeared on The Apprentice as an earnest good cop to his dad's bellicose “You're fired” character. As Don peddled his father's business ventures around the world, he came into plenty of contact with Russians. “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets, say, in Dubai and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” he said at an industry conference in 2008. (The Trump SoHo project, which he developed with Sater, ended up being sued for fraud, resulting in a settlement.) “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Don repeatedly tried to develop Trump properties in Russia, but despite the country's lucrative oil boom-- and the gilded dovetailing of Trump and Russian aesthetics-- he couldn't quite manage Moscow and its corruption. “It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who, et cetera,” he said after making half a dozen trips there in a year and a half. “It really is a scary place.”

The most infamous of his failed Russian deals-- the one that backfired monumentally and now may imperil his father's presidency-- had nothing to do with real estate. In June 2016, when a set of Russians with oblique ties to the Kremlin reached out to Don through an intermediary promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton that “would be very useful to your father,” Junior couldn't have been more curious. “If it's what you say,” Don infamously wrote back to them, “I love it.”

According to evidence and testimony released by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Don next made a few calls, a couple to Russia and a couple to a blocked number. (Investigators pointed out that Donald Trump Sr. uses a blocked number.) Don then set up a meeting at Trump Tower with the Russians, one of whom—lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya—was said to be connected to the Russian prosecutor general, an old ally of Vladimir Putin.

And so on June 9, 2016, Don-- along with his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort-- began a fateful confab in a conference room in Trump Tower. According to a person who was there, after some pleasantries about the view of Central Park, Don got straight to it.

“So I believe you have some information for us?” he asked. Veselnitskaya began reading from prepared remarks about DNC donors the Ziff brothers, their alleged tax evasion, and the connection she saw between them and Putin critic Bill Browder. According to testimony, Don tried to get the conversation back on track. “ ‘So can you show us how does this money go to Hillary?’ ” two of the participants recall him asking. Veselnitskaya shot back, “Why don't you do your own research on her? We gave you the idea.”

According to one of the participants in the meeting, Don began to realize he wasn't going to be handed what he was hoping for. “The light just went out in his eyes,” the participant told me recently. “He was totally disinterested.”

Veselnitskaya then went into a long, tangled exposition about the Magnitsky Act and the adoption of Russian children, but it seemed like the two sides were now talking past each other, says the participant. Manafort seemed to fall asleep. Kushner grew agitated, asked why they were talking about adoptions, and left. According to the meeting participant, Don recognized that things had turned futile-- but offered to stay in touch. The participant said Don had a parting message for the Russians: “ ‘When we win’-- he said when, not if-- ‘when we win, come back and see us again.’"

That meeting, which Don had hoped would prove useful, has since become as useful as a hole in the head. It is now a prime focus of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“I think he regrets taking the meeting,” a source close to Don told me. “Does he regret it because he thinks he did something wrong? No. He regrets it because it ended up causing a situation that wasted a lot of time and money.”

The New York Times recently reported that Don also met with an Israeli and an emissary from two Arab princes seeking to help his father win the election.

“Maybe he's not an intellectual, but he tried to be useful for his family,” the participant from the Russia meeting told me. “I feel bad for him, honestly.”

Last fall, when Don was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was investigating potential links between his father's campaign and the Russian government, he seemed oblivious to the gravity of the mess he'd created. “In the breaks between the questions, he was making dumb jokes about how absurd it was that he was even there,” says a source familiar with the investigation. “He had this sense of impunity at a time when it was dangerous, when it seemed like it was the Hill that would get them.”

Instead of being wary of his questioners, Don wanted to be helpful and calmly acknowledged that he had corresponded with WikiLeaks during the election. He then happily turned the correspondence over to congressional investigators, helpful as ever. “He wasn't embarrassed to be revealing that he had exchanged DMs with WikiLeaks,” says the source, even though it was by this point abundantly clear to the American officials that WikiLeaks had links to Russian intelligence. “He's too stupid to be malicious.”

The source's impression of Don was that he, like seemingly everyone else in Trump's orbit, was uselessly trying to impress a man who can only be impressed by himself. “He's hustling and trying to do what he can to contribute but without knowing where the lines are,” the source said of Don, adding ruefully, “He's a sad and tragic figure.”

Useful as Don has tried to be to his father, his blunt re-invention as a political warrior has perhaps been costly in surprisingly personal ways. In March, as Mueller's investigation gathered steam, Vanessa filed for divorce. The New York tabloids, descending on the carrion of yet another Trump marriage, speculated that Don's political transformation and volatile social-media presence were to blame. Rumors began to circulate in Trump World that Don had taken to drinking again.

When news of the divorce broke, the papers dug into Vanessa's past and reported on the marinara fortune she suddenly inherited—a windfall that seemed to free her from Don, who, the tabloids wrote, had kept her on a tight financial leash. (A rep for Vanessa denied the allegations of money problems between her and Don.) “Page Six” also unearthed an old affair Don allegedly had with flash-in-the-pan pop star Aubrey O'Day, whom he'd met on the set of Celebrity Apprentice. It had been Don's father, “Page Six” claimed, who'd ordered that illicit relationship to end in 2011. According to another report, Trump's fixer, Michael Cohen, had been called in to keep the story quiet. In Don's marriage and in its breach, it seems it was his father who called the shots.

For her part, O'Day has declined interview requests but continues to fuel conversation. It was revealed that after the illicit romance supposedly ended, O'Day recorded a hardly veiled ballad called “DJT.” And days after news broke this past spring that Don had moved on to date Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, O'Day wrote on Instagram, “He's still searching for me in every other woman.”

The perennial tabloid fascination with Trump-family drama might not surprise Don, but it apparently now stings him. After a childhood seared by the trauma of divorce, he's keenly aware that his five children are today in the same position he once was. His eldest, Donald Trump III, is now 9-- old enough to wonder why his family's struggles are in the papers, much like Don junior once had. “The way he looks at everything [written about him in the press] is ‘What will the kids think?’ ” says Don's friend, “and the answer here ain't a good one.”

And yet for all the tumult-- and for all the lingering legal woe the Mueller probe portends-- there's perhaps another way to glimpse these prismatic days of Donald Trump Jr.'s.

His father, by virtue of being in the Oval Office, is no longer in the one directly above him, which, by some accounts, has freed Don up to thrive-- to court attention or to settle scores on his own terms.

There's little doubt that as a political creature, Don has grown more sure-footed. Once reportedly derided by Trump campaign staffers as “Fredo,” the Corleone child who can't seem to do anything right except endanger his family legacy, Don has now become one of Trump's most useful spokesmen.

“It's not that he doesn't want the Trump Organization to succeed, but I think he's enjoying the challenge of his political efforts,” says the source close to Don. “And it's more exciting than what he's been doing for the last 20 years. This is something new in his life that he happens to be good at.”

Scaramucci told me about a night in Pittsburgh, just before the election, when he took notice of the effect Junior was starting to have. Don was scheduled to talk to a crowd that the local officials figured would be about 400. “Over 3,000 showed up to hear him speak,” Scaramucci said, noting that Don has clearly found a voice and tuned it to a frequency that resonates. And in the coming months, he'll be making a big push to campaign for Republicans ahead of this year's midterms-- firing up his father's base. “He's not really even a surrogate; he's a substitute,” Scaramucci told me. “You see the difference?”

Like Republican populists of the past decade, Don speaks of “real Americans,” people he defines as “the forgotten people between New York City and Malibu.” It's an improbable notion: that the billionaire's kid from 66 stories above Fifth Avenue is the one who speaks for the disaffected and the overlooked. But it's no less surprising than the faint rumors suggesting that he might someday run for office-- a way to finally, perhaps, make a name for himself.
Like Paris Hilton... famous for being famous. But will he, like Manafort, ever become a VIP resident of a federal prison?

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