Saturday, June 23, 2018

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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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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Time For New Congressional Leaders? Sure, But Better Ones, Not Worse Ones

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Years of targeting by right-wing media have made Nancy Pelosi one of the most unpopular politicians in America. Democrats like her though-- and especially her own constituents, Her congressional district had the biggest primary turnout of any congressional district in California... by far. In some cases turnout was double that of other districts! And she won in a landslide. But the Republican attacks actually have penetrated one group: Democratic politicians-- both congressional incumbents and especially candidates. Incumbents are so ready to throw her overboard that many are pledging to support former New Dem chieftain, Joe Crowley, the single most corrupt Democrat in the House, completely a creature of Wall Street, who may lose his primary to a 28 year old political novice, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. If you've been reading DWT for the last decade you know I'm not a big Pelosi fan-- but she's far better than Crowley any day of the week.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that a boatload of Democratic challengers have publicly rejected her on the campaign trail, some viewing to vote against her. "If Democrats win the House by a narrow margin, the 78-year-old leader could lose only a handful of lawmakers' support and still secure the 218 votes needed to clinch the speakership in a floor vote. In that scenario, Pelosi would face a freshman class with a significant bloc of Democrats who are on record promising to oppose her or calling for new leadership. Of the more than a dozen Democratic candidates who have survived their primaries and rejected Pelosi, most are in districts that top the list of targeted 2018 seats. Whether those statements translate into ‘no’ votes against Pelosi-- when she’ll have enormous sway over new lawmakers’ committee assignments and other perks, and a presumably fierce whip effort on her behalf-- is impossible to know."
Clarke Tucker’s first general election ad [above] for an Arkansas-based House race tries to defuse one of the GOP’s most potent attacks: “I’ve said from Day One,” the Democrat declares, “that I won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi.”

Tucker, an Arkansas legislator who’s running against Rep. French Hill (R-AR), is one of at least 20 House Democratic challengers who’ve publicly rejected the minority leader on the campaign trail.

A trend that started in earnest with Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who won a special election deep in Trump country, has spread rapidly to encompass a growing cadre of candidates-- many in must-win districts for Democrats-- that threatens Pelosi’s nearly sixteen-year grip on the party’s leadership.

The Democrats disavowing Pelosi cross ideological and geographical lines, hailing from districts that the party must win in 2018 to eliminate its 23-seat deficit in the House. Eleven of the candidates already are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, a list of top-tier candidates in highly targeted races.

Gil Cisneros got a $2 million boost from the national Democratic Party in his Southern California primary but told Politico that he won’t be voting for Pelosi because “new leadership is needed.” Danny O’Connor is airing ads in a House special election in Ohio declaring that he won’t support the leader. Max Rose, who’s running for a coveted Staten Island-based seat, also said he wouldn't back her.
Cisneros is a worthless Republican pretending to be a Democrat. He bought the Democratic nomination with money he won in the lottery and was actually pushed by Pelosi's DCCC over far better candidates. He's a stinking pile of crap and if he provides the final vote to take her down, she'll probably deserve it-- though the country won't, not if we wind up with Hoyer or Crowley. Danny O'Connor is another conservative who is unlikely to win his race and Max Rose is an outright, admitted Blue Dog who will probably be as bad a member of Congress --if he manages to beat progressive Michael DeVito on Tuesday-- as Dan Donovan, the Republican incumbent. Rose, who doesn't have a single qualification to hold political office: "If the Democratic Party is going to earn back the trust of the American people then we need to show them that we are serious about changing our politics-- and that means we need a change in leadership." O'Connor's ad:



I dread the idea of seeing a coward like this in Congress. He's the kind of crap that has ruined the Democratic brand and made the Ohio Party absolutely worthless.
So far, there’s been no retribution for the candidates who’ve snubbed Pelosi. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan said that the committee “trusts our candidates” on how to address Pelosi in their districts. The DCCC has reserved millions in TV ads for candidates who don’t support her.

Pelosi is one of the biggest-- if not the biggest-- drag on Democrats running for the House, according to some Democratic pollsters. Republicans have happily exploited that weakness, raining down Pelosi-themed TV ads on special election candidates in Georgia, Montana and Pennsylvania.

“With very few exceptions, the biggest hurdle, the biggest vulnerability for Democratic candidates is Nancy Pelosi, and the strongest card the Republicans can play is attaching a candidate to Pelosi,” said a Democratic pollster, who works with some House candidates who have disavowed Pelosi. The pollster, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal strategy, added: “Most of this is about mitigating and diluting the effectiveness of that attack.”

But the public polling on Pelosi’s effect on candidates is mixed. An ABC News/Washington Post poll in April found that 60 percent of voters don’t think a position on Pelosi is important to their congressional candidate choice, while an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found that 45 percent of voters said they were less likely to support a House candidate if they backed the leader.

Democrats often point to Lamb, who won a special election in southwestern Pennsylvania in March, as the blueprint for addressing the Pelosi problem. Lamb weathered $10 million in Republican attack ads casting him as a stooge of the Democratic leader. Lamb responded with a TV ad of him speaking directly into the camera and calling the attacks “a big lie. I’ve already said on the front page of the newspaper that I don’t support Nancy Pelosi.”

...Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) last week joined a small group of House Democrats who have publicly said they would not support her in November.

“I have members who have come up to me since [the story broke] and said, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ By me taking a kind of aggressive approach, I create some space, I guess, for those members,” Higgins said in an interview. “I have one vote and I have one voice but so does everybody else.”
A message to idiot Democrats in the House: by all means, dump Pelosi, but not for someone worse. Get a better leader, not a worse one. Joe Crowley is worse, much, much worse.

By the way, this probably with party leaders who have worn out their welcomes is not just a Democratic Party. Mitch McConnell has afar worse favorable rating from the public than Pelosi does. He's hated by Democrats and Republicans. And not off the hook from his own base in Kentucky. He may have more problems from Kentucky votes than from Senate Republicans. In an interview with the Lexington Herald Leader crackpot Governor Matt Bevin (R) said he does not rule out a bid against against him. He was whining that McConnell hasn't repealed ObamaCare.
Bevin said he had heard that Republicans were worried that re-visiting the failed effort would "put a tempest in the teapot" and dampen voter enthusiasm in November.

"Trust me, they will if we don't address this," he said.

Senate Republicans turned to taxes after the collapse last year of their effort to repeal Obamacare. McConnell has said he wants the Senate to spend this summer working on spending bills and presidential nominees. 
...He warned that the Affordable Care Act will only get harder to repeal as time goes on.
Bevin put $1,239,648 of his own money into a primary challenge against McConnell in 2014. He riled about right-wing extremists and was able to spend $4,485,900 in the primary-- and had his ass handed to him:
McConnnell- 213,753 (60.2%)
Bevin- 125,787 (35.4%)
Of course Bevin is much better known now than he was in 2014... and McConnell is much more disliked than was back then. It would be a wonderful race to watch-- at least for Democrats.

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Disappointing News For Señor Trumpanzee: Racist Presidents Are Not Eligible For Nobel Prizes

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Trump grew up in a racist family. His father, who he has always emulated, was arrested as KKK street brawler and Trump was taught at an early age to discriminate against blacks and Latinos in their real estate business. "Throughout his public life," asserted the Washington Post [NOT FAKE NEWS] yesterday, "Trump has pitted one group of Americans against another and inserted himself in racial controversies… As he leads his party into the potentially perilous midterm election five months from now, Trump is trying to make cultural identity a central theme of the Republican pitch to voters. His messages have been amplified by his surrogates as well as by friendly broadcasters on Fox News Channel and elsewhere in the conservative media... Trump is calculating that by playing to people’s fears and anxieties he can maximize turnout among hard-core supporters to counterbalance evident enthusiasm on the Democratic side. Fueling Trump’s approach, advisers say, is an unremitting fear of his own: that his base could abandon him if he is deemed too weak on immigration, which was a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign."

I hope you took a look at our post yesterday on white evangelicals and racial anxiety. James Hohmann gave Post readers a comprehensive look at how Trump and Stephen Miller-- his in house neo-Nazi-- have outraged the county with their racist, xenophobic policies and how they have made a tactical retreat-- for now. "Young boys," he wrote, "who were forcibly taken away from their parents are waking up this morning at an old Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that’s been converted into a shelter called Casa Padre. Painted on the wall is a mural of President Trump and a quote from The Art of the Deal, his 1987 book. 'Sometimes by losing a battle,' it reads, 'you find a new way to win the war.' Make no mistake: The executive order Trump signed Wednesday to end his own policy of separating families who are caught crossing the border illegally was a tactical retreat. It was not a surrender. The president’s war on immigration-- both illegal and legal-- rages on.
Trump made clear during a campaign-style rally last night in Minnesota that he hopes the order will let him shift the immigration debate back toward terrain he’s more confident he can win on. Speaking to 9,000 supporters at a hockey arena in Duluth, the president leaned into the us-against-them language that propelled his 2016 bid.

“I signed an executive order (so) we’re going to keep families together, but the border is going to be just as tough as it’s been,” Trump said. “Democrats don’t care about the impact of uncontrolled migration on your communities, your schools, your hospitals, your jobs or your safety. Democrats put illegal immigrants before American citizens. What the hell is going on?

“The media never talks about the American victims of illegal immigration,” he added. “What's happened to their children? What's happened to their husbands? What's happened to their wives? The media doesn't talk about American families permanently separated from their loved ones.”

As the crowd chanted “build that wall,” Trump attacked the caliber of Mexican immigrants to the United States: “They’re not sending their finest,” he said. “And we’re sending them the hell back!”




To wit, the Border Patrol says Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach will continue, which means any adult caught crossing the border will be prosecuted with a misdemeanor and families will now be held together in federal custody pending the trial. There’s a great deal of uncertainty among experts about whether this can pass legal muster, but immigrant advocates worry that Trump is laying the groundwork for indefinite detention.

“And senior administration officials said the order did not stipulate that the more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents would be immediately reunited with them … Top officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their supervision, were unable to say when the families would be reunited,” David Nakamura, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey report. “One senior DHS official acknowledged that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has almost no ability to add detention capacity for families because its jails are already full. … The DHS official said ICE is not planning to put children in adult detention centers as prohibited under the 1997 court settlement in Flores v. Reno, which stipulated immigrant children must be placed in the least restricted environment possible while awaiting immigration court proceedings.”

Trump reiterated that Congress must come up with a solution. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen even told lawmakers during a private briefing that the family separations could resume if they fail to act.




...White House Counsel Donald McGahn pushed back internally when the president ordered an end to the separations yesterday morning, arguing that an order could not be written to comply with the existing legal limits on child detentions. “Many aides, though, including Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, urged the president to end the separations. Eventually, after a number of meetings, ideas and drafts, McGahn said the final product could be legal,” David, Nick and Josh report.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has formally requested the Defense Department's help in prosecuting the surge of new immigration cases, and the Pentagon has agreed to deploy active-duty military officers to the border in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to serve as special assistant U.S. attorneys. These judge advocate generals, known as JAGs, are being told to expect six-month tours of duty, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports.

ICE is also ramping up raids in the heartland: While we were watching the Southern border this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 146 workers at a meatpacking plant in rural Ohio. It was one of the largest workplace raids carried out so far by the Trump administration. Agents lined up dozens of workers, in white helmets and smocks. Two weeks ago, ICE arrested 114 workers at a gardening company’s two Ohio locations. In April, the feds raided a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee and arrested 97 immigrants. In January, ICE agents blitzed dozens of 7-Eleven stores-- but made only 21 arrests.

These raids, too, are tearing families apart. “One father said to me, ‘I feel like my heart is being pulled out.’ His wife was taken, and he has two children under the age of 2,” Sister Rene Weeks, director of the Hispanic ministry at St. Paul Church in Salem, Ohio, told Kristine Phillips after this week’s raid.

Trump remains keen on displaying resolve against illegal immigration and may look for other ways to do so. The president used the word “strong” nine times in rapid succession to describe himself during a meeting with conservative lawmakers in the Roosevelt Room, where he announced the order was being drafted. “We are very strong,” he said. “If you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people, and if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma. Perhaps, I’d rather be strong.”

The president has no intention of rebranding himself as “a compassionate conservative” a la George W. Bush. He made that clear a few hours later when reporters gathered in the Oval Office to watch him sign the order. Before Trump signed it, Vice President Pence announced that doing so showed “compassion and … heart … and respect for families.”

“But it’s still equally as tough,” the president clarified, “if not tougher.”

“Stoking racial tensions is a feature of Trump’s presidency,” White House bureau chief Phil Rucker reports: “Echoing the words and images of the white nationalist movement to dehumanize immigrants and inflame racial tensions has become a defining feature of Donald Trump’s presidency and of the Republican Party’s brand. Trump has stirred supporters at rallies by reading ‘The Snake,’ a parable about a tenderhearted woman who takes in an ailing snake but is later killed when the revived creature bites her. It should be heard as a metaphor for immigration, he says. The president referred to some African nations as ‘shithole countries.’ He posited that ‘both sides’ were to blame for last summer’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And, again and again, he has accused black football players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police discrimination of being un-American.

...The Trump administration changed its story on family separation no fewer than 14 times before ending the policy. JM Rieger tracks the evolving messages: “First it was a deterrent. Then it wasn’t. It was a new Justice Department policy. Then it wasn’t. The Trump administration was simply following the law. Then it said separations weren’t required by law. It could not be reversed by executive order. Then it was.”

...A Nobel Committee member says Trump is “no longer the moral leader of his country or the world.” Thorbjorn Jagland, one of the five members of the Norwegian committee which picks the winner of the peace prize, said: “Everything he does excludes him from the role American presidents have always had. He can not speak on behalf of the so-called free world.” Jagland is the head of the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based international human rights organization with 47 signatory states.

Melania Trump made increasingly clear to her husband in recent days that he should use his power to fix the mess he made. The Slovenian-born first lady’s own lawyer says the family separation policy evoked the internment of the Japanese during World War II and the inhumanity of detention in Nazi Germany. “It reminds us of past mistakes. It’s a big disappointment,” Michael Wildes told Mary Jordan. He also represents Melania’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, and her sister Ines, also from Slovenia. (Wildes declined to say what Ines’s immigration status is at this point…)

Theresa May condemned Trump's immigration policy, even as the British prime minister reiterated the importance of keeping open the lines of communication with the United States: “On what we have seen in the United States, pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing,” she said. “I clearly, wholly and unequivocally said it is wrong.” But she dismissed calls to cancel Trump’s upcoming U.K. visit., adding that when “we disagree with what they’re doing, we will tell them so.”

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