Monday, January 16, 2017

The Kind Of People They Are


Last week, in a report about the U.S. sinking into banana republic status, The Intercept reported that Jared Kushner "seems to be a Trump Mini-Me-- like his father-in-law born to real estate wealth and not particularly talented at anything, but with a family taste for power and personal vengeance... Just like Trump himself, Kushner has been a horrendous landlord, harassing rent-stabilized tenants so he could force them out and jack up the rent on their apartments."

When Trump flunked out of Fordham, his father bought him into a "special real estate program" at Wharton, which is connected to an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania. By all reports, Trump never really participated in being educated. That same Intercept article reported that Kushner's felonious father-- and longtime Trump crony-- Charlie "gave $2.5 million to Harvard in 1998 when Jared was looking at colleges. Shortly afterward, Harvard admitted him-- even though, as an official at Kushner’s high school put it, 'His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen.' After Harvard, Kushner was admitted to the law school at New York University. Coincidentally, his father had recently given NYU $3 million and rented the school office space at below-market rates."

Last week, in his Washington Post column, Greg Sargent seemed somehow surprised by the tenor and bizarro-quality of the Trumpanzee press conference, as the soon-to-be Idiot-in-Chief "confirmed the very worst fears of ethics experts, announcing a new arrangement for his business holdings that is designed to garner nice headlines but is unlikely to do much to reduce the possibility of conflicts of interest and, possibly, full blown corruption." Probably never enrolled in a business ethics course at Wharton.
We appear to be entering into truly uncharted territory. The vast extent of Trump’s global holdings, combined with their opacity, create both a level of potential for conflicts, and an inability for us to track those conflicts, that render all efforts to predict the consequences utterly hopeless.

It is hard to say what will happen now. The role of the press in trying to keep track of those conflicts will be crucial. But on that front, too, what we saw at today’s presser was cause for alarm. Trump tore into CNN as “fake news” for publishing a careful if provocative and envelope-pushing story on unverified claims that Russian intelligence gathered compromising information on him. Trump ferociously attacked Buzzfeed for publishing a dossier of those claims, pointedly noting that Buzzfeed would “suffer the consequences.”

That would be worrisome enough on its own. But combine it with Trump’s unprecedented dishonesty and his refusal to revise his claims when they are widely called out as false, and it all starts to smack of an effort to stamp out the very possibility of shared agreement on the legitimate institutional role of the news media or even on reality itself. It’s easy to imagine that, if and when a news organization uncovers potential conflicts, Trump will simply deny the reality of what’s been uncovered (“fake news”) and begin threatening “consequences” towards that organization.

One thing that remains clear: Congressional Republicans are not going to step up and try to mitigate this situation. Republicans are not going to take any of the steps they could be taking to try to prod Trump into showing more transparency about his holdings, which would make conflicts and corruption less likely. It’s hard to see that changing, unless, perhaps, intensified media scrutiny shakes loose enough scandalous stories to make the lack of congressional action untenable. That will also require public pressure-- of the sort that forced Republicans to reverse recently on their plan to gut an independent ethics oversight office, but probably a lot more.

Right now, serious pessimism appears to be a reasonable default setting. I could be entirely wrong about this-- maybe Trump really will surprise us. If not, our institutions are going to be tested in unforeseen ways, and it will be on us-- through vigilance, organizing, and political action-- to make sure they are up to the task.
And, sure enough, just a few days later the Trump Three Ring circus is floating Steven Bannon's idea of kicking the press corps out of the White House altogether, making the whole horrid mess even more opaque than it already is. Sunday Kellyanne Con-man was on Fox & Friends babbling about how the details of Trump's likely Russian treason investigation should be kept from the public. I guess she wants the public to get all their information about the Regime from late night/early morning, Adderall-fueled tweet storms. Peter Boyle, writing for Esquire over the weekend, says 3 senior Trumpanzee Transition Team (TTT) officials confirmed that a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the TTT. They are trying to paint it as a way of accommodating a press corps that is growing by leaps and bounds because more media want to cover Dear Leader Trumpanzee than any previous presidents.
If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center-- near Lafayette Square-- or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.

"There has been no decision," Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, said about the plan today. But Spicer acknowledged that "there has been some discussion about how to do it."

Spicer cast the possible relocation of the press corps as a matter, in part, of logistics. "There's been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump," he said. "A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That's something we're discussing."

Another senior official, however, suggested a more pointed motivation for the move. According to the official, the potential relocation reflected a view within the transition team that coverage of Trump has been so hostile as to indicate that the press has abandoned its role as neutral observer.

"They are the opposition party," a senior official says. "I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

Reporters have had some sort of workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt's time, but the current press room is an artifact of the Richard Nixon era, the dawn of the symbiosis of the press and the modern presidency. The "room" is actually a space containing work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area that is so familiar to viewers of presidential news conferences.

For the media, the White House press room-- situated on the first floor, in the space between the presidential residence and the West Wing-- is not only a convenience, with prime sources just steps away. It is also a symbol of the press' cherished role as representatives of the American people. In the midst of the George W. Bush presidency, when relations between reporters and the Administration were growing testy, the White House press corps was removed from the press room for nearly a year, while the facility was remodeled. The move prompted such concern that the president himself had to offer his assurance that it was only temporary. (As it happened, press conferences were held at the White House Conference Center during the renovation).

Trump himself, of course, is in many ways a creature of the press, and it remains to be seen whether he will sign off on a plan that puts more distance between him and the cameras whose attention he has long sought. But for some Trump officials, the media's presumption of entitlement all but requires a change. If there is a credo that reflects the culture inside the James Brady Briefing Room (named after President Ronald Reagan's first press secretary, who was wounded by a bullet meant for Reagan), it is that presidents come, and presidents go, but the White House press corps is forever. In that sentiment, some in the transition team discern precisely the attitude that led to the revolt that elected Trump president.
And there's more. The New York Post reported that some of the Trumpists on the transition team want to force journalists to pee into cups for President Golden Showers. "Journalists who are at the White House more than one day per week should be subject to drug screenings to occur no more than twice a year at random times," the memo states. "Refusal to comply should exclude them from credentialing entirely." I wonder if this was the idea of Trump's man behind the curtain, Long Island billionaire psychopath, predator and urine worshipper, Robert Mercer.

This helps explain the Trumpish milieu they've created which has more and more Democrats-- over 30 now-- boycotting the monster's inauguration this week. Last night Jerry Nadler (D-NY) further explained to his constituents in Manhattan and Brooklyn why he isn't going:
The rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump have been so far beyond the pale-- so disturbing and disheartening-- and his continued failure to address his conflicts of interest, to adequately divest or even to fully disclose his financial dealings, or to sufficiently separate himself from the ethical misconduct that legal experts on both side of the aisle have identified have been so offensive I cannot in good conscience participate in this honored and revered democratic tradition of the peaceful transfer of power.

We cannot normalize Donald Trump, and we certainly cannot turn our heads and ignore such a threat to the institutions and values of our democracy. His refusal to adequately address his business conflicts of interest, to show remorse for the inflammatory rhetoric in which he engaged during his campaign, his attempts to intimidate the press, and his continuing failure to demonstrate any interest in uniting Americans reveal a deep disrespect for the office of President.

I refuse to sit idly by as he flaunts his illicit behavior without regard for the American people’s interest. I refuse to abide any effort to undermine a free and independent press, which serves a pivotal role in any democratic system and whose rights are guaranteed by our Constitution. I refuse to applaud for a man with a history of offensive and abusive behavior to women and minorities. I refuse to treat January 20, 2017, as business as usual.

For these reasons, I have no interest in participating in the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump.
Blue America is giving our members an opportunity to express solidarity with Nadler and the rest of the congressional resisters here. Please consider joining. The Resistance is on. Sooner or later everyone will be forced to decide which side they're on.

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At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a logical progression and is supported by American imbeciles -- as their voting and lack of protesting attest.

cheney/bushbaby throttled free speech by restricting it to "zones" that were far away from the ruling tyrant(s). At least they were thoughtful enough to "protect" the free speakers from harm by surround the "zones" in razor wire and heavily armed brownshirts. I spent an afternoon in one such "zone".

obamanation was more sanguine about the press (he lied a little less often) but when it came to whistle-blowers exposing the evils of the deep state, he had no tolerance at all. More criminal indictments than anyone before.

So now there will be no tolerance for any of it. And the first step will be to restrict (then eliminate) access of the press to the admin's evil and lies about same.

Next steps? razor wired enclosures for the press? suppression? prison? death?

History shows us the vector. If only anyone in this dumbfucktard nation knew any history.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Global holdings & corporate opacity got you down, bubby?

The experiment in representative governance that lives by global predator capitalism soon dies by global predator capitalism.

This was all presaged by the Bush/Cheney "MBA administration." The Dems ran away from their only window of opportunity to do anything about it, not that they wanted to do anything about it. Game, set, match for fascism.

John Puma

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well what's the better headline? "Non-divestment of President-elects's business holdings to avoid conflicts of interest found unconstitutional" or "Sex tape of Trump Golden showering prostitutes held by Russians!?!" Go ahead and choose where your trained eyes go, as you wait in the checkout line. Trump could move the press corp into the Presidential bathroom & they would be reporting about the golden toilet seat, while the actual story passed by them each day. Our press can't handle unscripted journalism and Trump knows this.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not being a prude, I would rather see a dissection of how drumpf is fundamentally an unconstitutional unitary because of the emoluments clause; and then a challenge to congress to impeach the piece of shit could be made. This would force congress to either uphold the constitution, like they all vow, or publicly repudiate the "goddamn piece of paper" once and for all.

Maybe then we could do something about the odious (interpretation of the) 2nd amendment.

OTOH, I don't EVER want to see a video of muskrathead being peed on... though I wouldn't mind pissing all over the sonofabitch.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Burton said...

So, the media that not only exhibited favoritism for a particular candidate over her competition but was later revealed to have deliberately collaborated to achieve that end is now all pearl-clutchy about losing their special room? What, did they imagine they were earning brownie points giving Mr. Trump all that free publicity?

The mainstream media surrendered their position as representing the people decades ago, and I'm not going to waste a single moment weeping on their behalf that they might lose their chances to further mislead the public.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Exit 135 said...

"According to the official, the potential relocation reflected a view within the transition team that coverage of Trump has been so hostile as to indicate that the press has abandoned its role as neutral observer."

No, trump, and his 'people' - Kellyanne Conway - have been openly hostile to us, the public. They lie. They obfuscate. They turn truth on its head. They will openly pillage the assets of the country. Theft by government.

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once the Republicans make opposing parties illegal, they will vote the Congress out of existence and hand over total power to the Unitary Executive. Then the real offal makes contact with the orbital atmospheric accelerator.


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