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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Al Franken Cross-Examines Jeff Sessions On Lying About Russian Meeting

White House staff drafted Niger sympathy statement for Trump that was never released - POLITICO

 

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"Staffers at the National Security Council drafted and circulated a statement of condolence for President Donald Trump to make almost immediately after a deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month.

But Trump never publicly issued the statement, and, some two weeks later, is now in hot water over his initial silence on the soldiers’ deaths and alleged controversial comments he made to a widow of one of the dead.

The draft statement, a copy of which was seen by POLITICO on Wednesday, was put together on Oct. 5 and reads as follows:

‘Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

'We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.

'The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.’

The statement was circulated among NSC officials as well as Defense Department officials. But it was never released, and it was not immediately clear why."

(Via.)  White House staff drafted Niger sympathy statement for Trump that was never released - POLITICO:

Fallen Sgt. La David Johnson, caught in Trump call controversy, was ‘a family-oriented soldier’ - The Washington Post

Fallen Sgt. La David Johnson, caught in Trump call controversy, was ‘a family-oriented soldier’ - The Washington Post: ""

(Via.)

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Trump disputes account of his call with La David Johnson's widow. But congresswoman who heard exchange says it was ‘horrible.’ - The Washington Post

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"President Trump's response to the deaths of four soldiers in Niger is causing an uproar after Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla) said he told Sgt. La David Johnson's widow that her husband 'knew what he was signing up for.' (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump ‘did disrespect my son’ with remarks in a condolence telephone call.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. She also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband ‘must have known what he signed up for.’

‘President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,’ Jones-Johnson said."

(Via.). Trump disputes account of his call with La David Johnson's widow. But congresswoman who heard exchange says it was ‘horrible.’ - The Washington

The enablers of Trump’s dangerous presidency - The Washington Post

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"...Many of Trump’s lies are hideously personal. His false charge that President Barack Obama failed to phone or speak to the families of members of the armed services killed in the line of duty was particularly sordid.

And Trump’s track record with the truth and his monumental insensitivity to others make it hard to believe his tweeted denial that he told a grieving soldier’s widow that her husband knew “what he signed up for.” The credibility of the denial was further undercut when Cowanda Jones-Johnson, the mother of the late Sgt. La David T. Johnson, told The Post that Trump had spoken to the family as had been reported and “did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
It has become a dreary Washington game to ask at what point Republican politicians (besides Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John McCain (Ariz.) and a few others) will stand up for basic decency by telling Trump: Enough. Up to now, most have cravenly absorbed all manner of insults, accepted unspeakable unseemliness, and sat by with wan smiles as Trump left them hanging by shifting his positions moment to moment..."

The enablers of Trump’s dangerous presidency - The Washington Post: ""

Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a phone call and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.- The Washington Post

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(Via.). Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a phone call - The Washington Post

The Trump Doctrine - Well, it took almost a year, but we now have the “Trump Doctrine.” It’s very simple. And, as you’d expect, it fits neatly into a tweet. On nearly every major issue, President Trump’s position is: “Obama built it. I broke it. You fix it.”-The New York Times





By Thomas Friedman



"Well, it took almost a year, but we now have the “Trump Doctrine.” It’s very simple. And, as you’d expect, it fits neatly into a tweet. On nearly every major issue, President Trump’s position is: “Obama built it. I broke it. You fix it.”



And that cuts right to the core of what is the most frightening thing about the Trump presidency. It’s not the president’s juvenile tweeting or all the aides who’ve been pushed out of his clown car at high speed or his industrial-strength lying.



It’s Trump’s willingness to unravel so many longstanding policies and institutions at once — from Nafta to Obamacare to the global climate accord to the domestic clean power initiative to the Pacific trade deal to the Iran nuclear deal — without any real preparation either on the day before or for the morning after.



Indeed, Trump has made most of his climate, health, energy and economic decisions without consulting any scientists, without inviting into the White House a broad range of experts, without putting forth his own clear-cut alternatives to the systems he’s unraveling, without having at the ready a team of aides or a political coalition able to implement any alternatives and without a strategic framework that connects all of his dots.



In short, we’re simply supposed to take the president’s word that this or that deal “is the worst deal ever” — backed up by no serious argument or plan about how he will produce a better one.



I’m open to improving any of these accords or institutions. I’m even open to the possibility that by just tipping over all these accords at once, and throwing away his steering wheel, Trump will get people to improve the Iran deal or Obamacare out of sheer panic at the chaos that might ensue if they don’t.



But I am equally open to the possibility that unraveling all of these big systems at once — health, energy, geopolitics — without a clear plan or a capable team will set in motion chain reactions, some of them long term, that Trump has not thought through in the least. Moreover, when you break big systems, which, albeit imperfectly, have stabilized regions, environments or industries for decades, it can be very difficult to restore them.



Question: We’re told by our secretary of state that he’s been engaged in some secret contacts with North Korea, exploring the possibility of a diplomatic solution that might dramatically reduce North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in return for U.S. promises of regime security. If, at the same time, Trump unilaterally pulls out of the deal we’ve already signed with Iran to prevent it from developing nukes — and Trump moves to reimpose sanctions — how does that not send only one message to the North Koreans: No deal with the U.S. is worth the paper it’s written on, so you’d be wise to hold on to all your nukes?



Question: Iran controls tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen in Iraq and Syria who were our tacit allies in defeating ISIS. Tehran also has huge influence over Iraq’s government and over certain regions of Afghanistan as well. Can we stabilize Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan — post-ISIS — and keep our troop presence low and safe, without Iran’s help — and will that help be coming after Trump rips up the nuclear deal? If you think so, please raise your hand.



And since our European allies as well as Russia and China have indicated that they will not follow us in backing out of the Iran deal or reimposing sanctions, Iran would have all the moral high ground and money it needs, and the U.S. would be isolated. Are we going to sanction E.U. banks if they deal with Iran?



Trump came into office vowing to end the trade imbalance with China — a worthy goal. And what was his first move? To tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal that would have put the U.S. at the helm of a 12-nation trading bloc built around U.S. interests and values, potentially eliminating some 18,000 tariffs on U.S. goods and controlling 40 percent of global G.D.P. And China was not in the group. That’s called leverage.



Trump just ripped up the TPP to “satisfy the base” and is now left begging China for trade crumbs, with little leverage. And because he needs China’s help in dealing with North Korea, he has even less leverage on trade.



Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and, at the same time, restricted U.S. government funding for birth control both at home and abroad. Question: What is driving so many immigrants and refugees in Africa, the Middle East and Central America to try to get out of their world of disorder and into America and Europe and the world order?



Answer: It is a cocktail of climate change, environmental degradation, population explosions and misgovernance in these countries. So Trump’s policy is to throw away every tool we have to mitigate climate change and population growth and try to build a wall instead, while also trying to bully Mexico’s unpopular president into trade concessions, which could help elect a radical populist in next year’s Mexican election — a successor who would be anti-American — and destabilize its economy as well.



At a time when China has decided to go full-bore into clean tech and electric cars, at a time when all of the tech giants are building data centers that they want powered by clean energy, at a time when solar and wind power are growing increasingly competitive with fossil fuels (and America still has a technological lead in many of these areas), at a time when climate change may be stimulating bigger hurricanes and forest fires that are costing us hundreds of billions of dollars, Trump’s central energy initiative is to reverse Obama’s and bring back coal-fired power.



None of these dots connect. And we will pay for that. “Whiplash” was a great movie. But it’s a terrible organizing principle for our foreign or domestic policy."

The Trump Doctrine - The New York Times

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Demagogue - a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument. #LiarInChief


Trump hits 'rock bottom' discussing fallen troops | MSNBC

Trump hits 'rock bottom' discussing fallen troops | MSNBC: ""

Once again serial liar and President Donald Trump falsely claims President Obama and other Presidents didn't call the family of soldiers who died in combat. When will Americans march on Washington and demand that this unfit and dishonest man be removed from office.


ALVIN QUEEN QUINTET...Seven Steps To Heaven

Jazz great, former Oscar Peterson drummer Alvin Queen, denied entry into USA.





"Mr. Queen, who has held a Swiss passport for thirty years, was informed this week that, due to a run-in with the law as a youth, a half century ago, while a minor, he would have to apply for a Waiver from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, despite the fact he was born in the USA. This would take months, making it virtually impossible to participate, barring Presidential decree, and we know that’s unlikely. But this is not “fake news.”

“Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me one bit,” comments Mr. Queen, 67, from his home in Geneva. “I’ve spent months preparing for this concert. Dozens of others are also implicated in its planning. Funny thing, I gave up my U.S. passport to make life simpler at tax time. I never dreamed I would one day be denied entry, and with such ridiculous reasoning. I am frankly disgusted to be disrespected in this way, after a half century devoted to music.”

Mr. Queen, who until 2016 held dual citizenship with the United States and Switzerland, has previously worked numerous times for the US State Department as a Cultural Ambassador, and participated in numerous tours of Brazil, Africa and Japan. Queen also performed at the American International Jazz Day in Paris several years ago.

Mr. Queen has held a U.S. passport, and regularly worked under the auspices of the American government, for over fifty years of his life. Like many citizens, he’s had brushes with the law, but these have never impeded his ability to enter and exit his native country. A one-time DWI charge and a minor drug offense both resulted in not guilty charges.

For this occasion, the US State Dept had only to apply for an “O1B Work Visa” in order for Mr Queen to enter in the United States. This was done correctly, but after the process was completed, fingerprints matching a 1967 FBI file were dredged up and presented as a reason to prevent him from entering the USA. So now we can see that the infamous “travel ban” is not limited to citizens of Sudan, Syria, and Iran. It extends to a then 16-year-old drummer who once sat in with John Coltrane.

How can you process someone fifty years later for charges that occurred when they were a youth, a mere child? And why punish this now acclaimed adult, a leading light on the international jazz scene, who is now 67 years old? He obviously forged a path and created a fabulous life for himself. Adds Queen, “I feel this is more about racial profiling than anything. It’s all about trying to control everyone. I am not a criminal and in fact never was. When I became a Swiss citizen, I “became a criminal” again in the eyes of US law enforcement. If I was undesirable fifty years ago, why have I been issued a fresh passport every ten years for the past six decades?” Indeed, this is the question."



Jazz great, former Oscar Peterson drummer Alvin Queen, denied entry into USA.

No Surprise Former Wharton Professor: "Donald Trump Was the Dumbest Goddam Student I Ever Had."

Trump dunce cap



"Late Professor William T. Kelley taught Marketing at Wharton School of Business and Finance, University of Pennsylvania, for 31 years, ending with his retirement in 1982.  Dr. Kelley, who also had vast experience as a business consultant, was the author of a then-widely used textbook called Marketing Intelligence -- The Management of Marketing Information (originally published by P. Staples, London, 1968).  Dr. Kelley taught marketing management to both undergraduate and graduate students at Wharton. www.upenn.edu/…  Dr. Bill was one of my closest friends for 47 years when we lost him at 94 about six years ago.  Bill would have been 100 this year.



Donald J. Trump was an undergraduate student at Wharton for the latter two of his college years, having been graduated in 1968. www.thedp.com/… 



Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.”  I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this — “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.”  Dr. Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity but long before he was considered a political figure.  Dr. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told of this — that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.



This has relevance now because as recently as this week, President Trump has challenged the Secretary of State of the United States to an I.Q. contest.  www.washingtonpost.com/…  This came within two days after NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the President a “moron” www.nbcnews.com/… or a “fucking moron” www.slate.com/…  The President has frequently bragged that he was a great student at a great school (Wharton). time.com/…  Thus, the public is entitled to a contrary view from somebody who was there (Dr. Kelley), and I faithfully report it here. 



Bill Kelley was one smart cookie.  His text book cited above — published in the late 1960s — was standard in his time in the then-new field of “marketing intelligence” and the necessity of using computers and data bases to manage it.  See onlinelibrary.wiley.com/... which credits Bill for coining the quoted phrase.



Dr. Kelley’s view seems to be shared by other University of Pennsylvanians.  Please see www.thedp.com/…, from the Daily Pennsylvanian, stating:



Another biographer, Gwenda Blair, wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer. The officer had known Trump’s older brother, Freddy.



Trump’s classmates doubt that the real estate mogul was an academic powerhouse.



“He was not in any kind of leadership. I certainly doubt he was the smartest guy in the class,” said Steve Perelman, a 1968 Wharton classmate and a former Daily Pennsylvanian news editor.



Some classmates speculated that Trump skipped class, others that he commuted to New York on weekends. . . .



* * *



1968 Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris recalled that “Don ... was loath to really study much.”



Calomaris said Trump would come to study groups unprepared and did not “seem to care about being prepared.”



Thanks and R.I.P., Bill Kelley!  The words ring in my ears: “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.”



Former Wharton Professor: "Donald Trump Was the Dumbest Goddam Student I Ever Had."

High Schoolers Protest After Teacher Tells Student To Speak 'American' | HuffPost



High Schoolers Protest After Teacher Tells Student To Speak 'American' | HuffPost

San Juan Mayor: It May Be Easy To Disregard Puerto Rico Because We’re A US Colony | HuffPost





San Juan Mayor: It May Be Easy To Disregard Puerto Rico Because We’re A US Colony | HuffPost

McCain: ‘Spurious Nationalism’ Is Unpatriotic - The Daily Beast





"In a speech Monday night, Sen. John McCain accused U.S. leadership of promoting “spurious nationalism” over international obligations. “To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” McCain, who delivered the speech while accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.” McCain also condemned a neo-Nazi rallying cry, stating that “we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”



McCain: ‘Spurious Nationalism’ Is Unpatriotic - The Daily Beast

The Danger of President Pence | The New Yorker





"... Pence, who has dutifully stood by the President, mustering a devotional gaze rarely seen since the days of Nancy Reagan, serves as a daily reminder that the Constitution offers an alternative to Trump. The worse the President looks, the more desirable his understudy seems. The more Trump is mired in scandal, the more likely Pence’s elevation to the Oval Office becomes, unless he ends up legally entangled as well.

Pence’s odds of becoming President are long but not prohibitive. Of his forty-seven predecessors, nine eventually assumed the Presidency, because of a death or a resignation. After Lyndon Johnson decided to join the ticket with John F. Kennedy, he calculated his odds of ascension to be approximately one in four, and is said to have told Clare Boothe Luce, “I’m a gambling man, darling, and this is the only chance I’ve got.”
If the job is a gamble for Pence, he himself is something of a gamble for the country. During the tumultuous 2016 Presidential campaign, relatively little attention was paid to how Pence was chosen, or to his political record. And, with all the infighting in the new Administration, few have focussed on Pence’s power within the White House. Newt Gingrich told me recently that the three people with the most policy influence in the Administration are Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Pence. Gingrich went on, “Others have some influence, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. But look at the schedule. Pence has lunches with the President. He’s in the national-security briefings.” Moreover, and crucially, Pence is the only official in the White House who can’t be fired.

Pence, who declined requests for an interview, is also one of the few with whom Trump hasn’t overtly feuded. “The President considers him one of his best decisions,” Tony Fabrizio, a pollster for Trump, told me. Even so, they are almost comically mismatched. “You end up with an odd pair of throwbacks from fifties casting,” the former White House strategist Stephen Bannon joked, comparing them to Dean Martin, the bad boy of the Rat Pack, and “the dad on ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ ”
Trump and Pence are misaligned politically, too. Trump campaigned as an unorthodox outsider, but Pence is a doctrinaire ideologue. Kellyanne Conway, the White House counsellor, who became a pollster for Pence in 2009, describes him as “a full-spectrum conservative” on social, moral, economic, and defense issues. Pence leans so far to the right that he has occasionally echoed A.C.L.U. arguments against government overreach; he has, for instance, supported a federal shield law that would protect journalists from having to identify whistle-blowers. According to Bannon, Pence is “the outreach guy, the connective tissue” between the Trump Administration and the most conservative wing of the Republican establishment. “Trump’s got the populist nationalists,” Bannon said. “But Pence is the base. Without Pence, you don’t win.”
Pence has taken care to appear extraordinarily loyal to Trump, so much so that Joel K. Goldstein, a historian and an expert on Vice-Presidents who teaches law at St. Louis University, refers to him as the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” But Pence has the political experience, the connections, the discipline, and the ideological mooring that Trump lacks. He also has a close relationship with the conservative billionaire donors who have captured the Republican Party’s agenda in recent years.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump characterized the Republican Party’s big spenders as “highly sophisticated killers” whose donations allowed them to control politicians. When he declared his candidacy, he claimed that, because of his real-estate fortune, he did not need support from “rich donors,” and he denounced super pacs, their depositories of unlimited campaign contributions, as “corrupt.” Pence’s political career, though, has been sponsored at almost every turn by the donors whom Trump has assailed. Pence is the inside man of the conservative money machine.

On Election Night, the dissonance between Trump’s populist supporters and Pence’s billionaire sponsors was quietly evident. When Trump gave his acceptance speech, in the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, he vowed to serve “the forgotten men and women of our country,” and promised to “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, and hospitals.” Upstairs, in a room reserved for Party élites, several of the richest and most conservative donors, all of whom support drastic reductions in government spending, were celebrating. Doug Deason, a Texas businessman and a political donor, recalled to me, “It was amazing. In the V.I.P. reception area, there was an even more V.I.P. room, and I counted at least eight or nine billionaires...”


The Danger of President Pence | The New Yorker

Monday, October 16, 2017

What America Taught the Nazis in the 1930s - The Atlantic

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"In the 1930s, the Germans were fascinated by the global leader in codified racism—the United States.
There was no more extravagant site for Third Reich political theater than the spectacular parade grounds, two large stadiums, and congress hall in Nuremberg, a project masterminded by Albert Speer. From 1933 to 1938, he choreographed massive rallies associated with the annual conference of the Nazi Party, assemblies made famous by Leni Riefenstahl’s stunning documentaries of 1933 and 1935, The Victory of Faith and Triumph of the Will. Nuremberg was the setting for the September 1935 “Party Rally of Freedom,” at which a special session of the Reichstag passed, by acclamation, legislation that disqualified Jews as Reich citizens with political rights, forbade them to marry or have sex with persons identified as racial Germans, and prohibited any display by Jews of national colors or the new national flag, a banner with a swastika.
Just eight days after the Reich Citizenship Law, the Law on the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, and the Reich Flag Law were formally proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, 45 Nazi lawyers sailed for New York under the auspices of the Association of National Socialist German Jurists. The trip was a reward for the lawyers, who had codified the Reich’s race-based legal philosophy. The announced purpose of the visit was to gain “special insight into the workings of American legal and economic life through study and lectures,” and the leader of the group was Ludwig Fischer. As the governor of the Warsaw District half a decade later, he would preside over the brutal order of the ghetto.

Every day brings fresh reminders that liberal and illiberal democracy can entwine uncomfortably, a timely context for James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model, which examines how the Third Reich found sustenance for its race-based initiatives in American law. Upon docking, the Germans attended a reception organized by the New York City Bar Association. Everyone in the room would have known about the recent events in Nuremberg, yet the quest by leading Nazi jurists to learn from America’s legal and economic systems was warmly welcomed.
Whitman, a professor at Yale Law School, wanted to know how the United States, a country grounded in such liberal principles as individual rights and the rule of law, could have produced legal ideas and practices “that seemed intriguing and attractive to Nazis.” In exploring this apparent incongruity, his short book raises important questions about law, about political decisions that affect the scope of civic membership, and about the malleability of Enlightenment values.


Pushing back against scholarship that downplays the impact in Nazi Germany of the U.S. model of legal racism, Whitman marshals an array of evidence to support the likelihood “that the Nuremberg Laws themselves reflect direct American influence.” As race law’s global leader, Whitman stresses, America provided the most obvious point of reference for the September 1933 Preußische Denkschrift, the Prussian Memorandum, written by a legal team that included Roland Freisler, soon to emerge as the remarkably cruel president of the Nazi People’s Court. American precedents also informed other crucial Nazi texts, including the National Socialist Handbook for Law and Legislation of 1934–35, edited by the future governor-general of Poland, Hans Frank, who was later hung at Nuremberg. A pivotal essay in that volume, Herbert Kier’s recommendations for race legislation, devoted a quarter of its pages to U.S. legislation—which went beyond segregation to include rules governing American Indians, citizenship criteria for Filipinos and Puerto Ricans as well as African Americans, immigration regulations, and prohibitions against miscegenation in some 30 states. No other country, not even South Africa, possessed a comparably developed set of relevant laws.


Especially significant were the writings of the German lawyer Heinrich Krieger, “the single most important figure in the Nazi assimilation of American race law,” who spent the 1933–34 academic year in Fayetteville as an exchange student at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Seeking to deploy historical and legal knowledge in the service of Aryan racial purity, Krieger studied a range of overseas race regimes, including contemporary South Africa, but discovered his foundation in American law. His deeply researched writings about the United States began with articles in 1934, some concerning American Indians and others pursuing an overarching assessment of U.S. race legislation—each a precursor to his landmark 1936 book, Das Rassenrecht in den Vereingten Staaten (“Race Law in the United States”).


Whitman’s “smoking gun” is the transcript of a June 5, 1934, conference of leading German lawyers gathered to exchange ideas about how best to operationalize a racist regime. The record reflects how the most extreme among them, who relied on Krieger’s synoptic scholarship, were especially drawn to American legal codes based on white supremacy. The main conceptual idea was Freisler’s. Race, he argued, is a political construction. In both America and Germany, the importance and meaning of race for the most part had been determined less by scientific realities or social conventions than by political decisions enshrined in law.


But even indisputable evidence of the Germans’ intense interest in American models doesn’t clinch a formative role for U.S. racial law, as Whitman himself is careful to acknowledge. After all, Nazism’s intellectual and political leaders may well have utilized American examples merely to make more legitimate the grotesque designs they already planned to pursue. In any case, answering the question of cross-national influence is ultimately less important than Whitman’s other goal, which is to examine the status of racial hierarchy in the United States through Nazi eyes. “What the history presented in this book demands that we confront,” he writes, “are questions not about the genesis of Nazism, but about the character of America.”
His disturbing report thus takes its place within the larger history of the United States as a polity founded on principles of human equality, Enlightenment reason, and constitutional limits on state power, yet molded by the prodigious evil and long-term consequences of chattel slavery based on race. To read Hitler’s American Model is to be forced to engage with the stubborn fact that during the 1933–45 period of the Third Reich, roughly half of the Democratic Party’s members in Congress represented Jim Crow states, and neither major party sought to curtail the race laws so admired by German lawyers and judges.


How to understand the relationship between race and democracy has been a pressing question ever since the United States was founded. The deep tension between the two—summed up in the irony of a plantation named Equality in Port Tobacco, Maryland, filled with slaves and owned by Michael Jenifer Stone, one of the six members of that state’s delegation to the House of Representatives in the First Federal Congress—puzzled the great student of American equality Alexis de Tocqueville. In Democracy in America, published precisely a century before the Nuremberg Laws, he began a discussion of “the three races that inhabit the territory of the United States” by announcing that these topics “are like tangents to my subject, being American, but not democratic, and my main business has been to describe democracy.”


Whitman invokes the work of political scientists who, in the separate-spheres spirit of Tocqueville, distinguish what they call a white-supremacist order from a liberal and egalitarian order. But his own book shows that such a division is too clear-cut. We must come to terms with race in America in tandem with considerations of democracy. Whitman’s history does not expose the liberal tradition in the United States as merely a sham, as many of the Third Reich’s legal theorists intimated when they highlighted patterns of black and American Indian subordination. Rather, he implicitly challenges readers to consider when and how, under what conditions and in which domains, the ugly features of racism have come most saliently to the fore in America’s liberal democracy. Conversely, we might ask, when and why have those features been repressed, leading to more-equal access for racial minorities to physical space, cultural regard, material life, and civic membership?


Liberal-democratic ideas and institutions in America, unlike in Hitler’s regime, have always been both vulnerable and resistant to racist exclusions. Although the United States entered the 1930s as the globe’s most established racialized order, the pathways from Nuremberg and Jim Crow unfolded very differently, one culminating in mass genocide, the other, after much struggle, in civil-rights achievements. Yet none of these gains, not even the presidency of an African American, has taken issues of race and citizenship off the political agenda. Current debates over both sharply remind us that positive outcomes are not guaranteed. The very rules of the democratic game—elections, open media, and political representation—create persisting possibilities for racial demagoguery, fear, and exclusion. As Freisler and other Third Reich jurists understood all too well, racial ideas and racist policies are profound products of political decisions."

What America Taught the Nazis in the 1930s - The Atlantic

The neuroscience of inequality: does poverty show up in children's brains? | Inequality | The Guardian

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The neuroscience of inequality: does poverty show up in children's brains? | Inequality | The Guardian: ""

Velázquez Questions HUD Secretary Ben Carson

Maxine Waters Grills Ben Carson On Trump's Puerto Rico Tweets. Ben Carson is a fool.

Equifax: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Colin Kaepernick files grievance against NFL owners alleging collusion - The Washington Post


Colin Kaepernick files grievance against NFL owners alleging collusion - The Washington Post

Steve Bannon totally undercuts Trump’s claim about canceling Obamacare payments - The Washington Post



"The White House said it was acting on the recommendation of the Justice Department — that it was canceling illegal federal subsidies that helped sustain the Affordable Care Act. President Trump said what he was doing would hurt the insurance companies only: “That's not going to people; that's making insurance companies rich,” he said, adding: “That money is going to insurance companies to prop up their stock price.”



But former top Trump White House aide Stephen K. Bannon told a very different tale this weekend. And it will confirm what every opponent of the move already suspected: that Trump was trying to cause Obamacare to fail.



In the midst of playing up Trump's accomplishments Saturday at the “Values Voters Summit” in Washington, Bannon turned to Trump's controversial Obamacare executive order the day before.



“Then you had Obamacare,” Bannon said. Trump is “not gonna make the [cost-sharing reduction] payments. Gonna blow that thing up. Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?”



If the underside of the bus outside the White House weren't already so conspicuously crowded, you might say Bannon was tossing his old boss under it."



Steve Bannon totally undercuts Trump’s claim about canceling Obamacare payments - The Washington Post

Wake up America, Trump is the Chieftain of Spite - The New York Times

When will liberal and main stream news commentators admit that Trump's election was imply a White backlash to the first Black President.  Surely future historians will see it this way. So many White Americans wear blinders when it comes to the issue of race.  Most Black Americans see and think clearly about it.   - John H Armwood



"It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.



This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.



In fact, if there is a defining feature of Trump as “president,” it is that he is in all ways the anti-Obama — not only on policy but also on matters of propriety and polish. While Obama was erudite, Trump is ignorant. Obama was civil, Trump is churlish. Obama was tactful, Trump is tacky.



There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste."  -Charles Blow



Trump, Chieftain of Spite - The New York Times

Trump, Chieftain of Spite - The New York Times





"By Charles M. Blow Oct. 15, 2017, www.nytimes.comView Original October 15th, 2017



Donald Trump and Barack Obama after Mr. Trump’s inauguration on January 20. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Photo by: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times



It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.



This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.



In fact, if there is a defining feature of Trump as “president,” it is that he is in all ways the anti-Obama — not only on policy but also on matters of propriety and polish. While Obama was erudite, Trump is ignorant. Obama was civil, Trump is churlish. Obama was tactful, Trump is tacky.



There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste.



The example Obama set makes the big man with the big mouth look smaller by the day. But I believe that this nonadjustable imbalance is part of what has always fueled Trump’s rage against Obama. Trump, who sees character as just another malleable thing that can be marketed and made salable, chafes at the black man who operated above the coarseness of commercial interests and whose character appeared unassailable.



America — even many of the people who were staunch opponents of Obama’s policies — admired and even adored the sense of honor and decency he brought to the office. Trump, on the other hand, is historically unpopular, and not just in America. As The Pew Research Center pointed out in June: “Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.” Trump is reviled around the globe and America’s reputation is going down with its captain.



All of this feeds Trump’s consuming obsession with undoing everything Obama did. It is his personal crusade, but he also carries the flag for the millions of Americans — mostly all Republicans — who were reflexively repulsed by Obama and the coalition that elected him.



Trump has done nearly everything in his power to roll back Obama’s policies, but none are as tempting a target as the one named after him: Obamacare.



Republicans — including Trump — campaigned for years on a lie. They knew it was a lie, but it was an enraging one that excited their base: Obama was destroying America’s health care system, but Republicans could undo the damage and replace it with their own, better bill.





First, Obama wasn’t destroying America’s health care system. To the contrary, he simply sought to make it cover more people. He moved to take American health care in a more humane, modern and civilized direction, to make it more universally accessible, even by the sick and poor who often took its absence as a given.



Second, the Republicans had no replacement plan that would cost less and cover as many or more people. That could not be done. So, their repeal-and-replace efforts failed. But that also meant that Trump’s promise was proven a lie. Trump has no problem lying, but in the end he wants his lies to look plausible.



Trump makes assertions for which there is no evidence — either knowingly lying, recklessly boasting or wishfully thinking — then seeks support for those statements, support that is often lacking because the statements are baseless.



He violates a basic protocol of human communication: Be sure of it before you say it. His way is to say something wrong, then bend reality to make it appear right. This is why the age of Trump is so maddening and stupefying: He is warping reality.



Last week he took more swipes at undermining the A.C.A.: Asking his administration to find ways to increase competition among insurers (a move many worry will move younger, healthier people out of the marketplace) and stopping the so-called “cost-sharing reduction” (CSR) payments — federal subsidies paid to insurance companies to help finance coverage for low-income Americans (a move many believe will send premiums soaring for those people).



Trump is doing this even though it will likely wreak havoc on countless lives. He is doing this even though a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released Friday found that most Americans want Trump and Congress to stop trying to repeal the law, and instead work on legislation to stabilize the marketplaces and guarantee health care to Americans.



Furthermore, six in 10 Americans believe Congress should guarantee cost-sharing reduction payments, as opposed to only a third who view these payments as a “bailout of insurance companies,” as Trump has called them. There is no real reason to cut these payments, other than to save face and conceal the farce.



Trump isn’t governing with a vision, he’s governing out of spite. Obama’s effectiveness highlights Trump’s ineptitude, and this incenses Trump."



Trump, Chieftain of Spite - The New York Times

The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More. - The New York Times





A military officer who teaches computer science at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School, on the outskirts of Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press

Photo by: Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press



When North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them. They were digitally looting an account of the Bangladesh Central Bank, when bankers grew suspicious about a withdrawal request that had misspelled “foundation” as “fandation.”



Even so, Kim Jong-un’s minions still got away with $81 million in that heist.



Then only sheer luck enabled a 22-year-old British hacker to defuse the biggest North Korean cyberattack to date, a ransomware attack last May that failed to generate much cash but brought down hundreds of thousands of computers across dozens of countries — and briefly crippled Britain’s National Health Service.



Their track record is mixed, but North Korea’s army of more than 6,000 hackers is undeniably persistent, and undeniably improving, according to American and British security officials who have traced these attacks and others back to the North.



Amid all the attention on Pyongyang’s progress in developing a nuclear weapon capable of striking the continental United States, the North Koreans have also quietly developed a cyberprogram that is stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and proving capable of unleashing global havoc.



The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More. - The New York Times

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood’s Oldest Horror Story - The New York Times





"By Maureen Dowd, www.nytimes.comView OriginalOctober 15th, 2017



Louis B. Mayer spirited away Gertrude Temple. The curly-haired superstar — hailed by F.D.R. for helping America get through the Depression — was taken to the office of Arthur Freed, an associate producer on “The Wizard of Oz.”



After telling her that she would have to get rid of her baby fat, Freed abruptly stood up and pulled out his penis. The 11-year-old had never even seen one before. She gave a nervous laugh, which offended the producer.



“Get out!” he shouted.



When she rejoined her mother, an affronted Gertrude told Shirley that she had had to back out of Mayer’s office when he lunged at her.



“Not for nothing was the M.G.M. lot known as the ‘factory,’ a studio perfumed with sultry, busty creatures with long legs and tight haunches,” Temple wrote, “and more than its quota of lecherous older men.”



Nearly 80 years later, that aroma of perversion and maladroit du seigneur clings to Hollywood. Now we are inundated with grotesque tales of Harvey Weinstein pulling out his penis to show to appalled and frightened young women, enlisting the pimping help of agents and assistants to have actresses delivered to his hotel rooms, where he pestered the women to watch him shower or give him a massage or engage in intimate acts.



“The ill will towards him for getting away with it all for so long has unleashed something so primitive,” a prominent male Hollywood producer told me. “If people could rip him apart, they would. Literally everyone in Hollywood is taking marshmallows to roast at his burning corpse.”



Dana Calvo, the creator of “Good Girls Revolt,” noted: “We have been saying, just get us in the room. But we meant the pitch room or the editing room or the boardroom. Not Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room.



“I do know I will never look at bathrobes the same way. It’s the bathrobes versus the pussyhats.”



While not a victim of Weinstein’s, Calvo worked for Amazon Studios, which was headed by Roy Price until he was suspended on Thursday for sexual harassment allegations. He had already come under scrutiny for being culturally tone deaf, passing on two of the biggest hits of the year, “Big Little Lies” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” both of which swept the Emmys for their storytelling about women. And he canceled the popular “Good Girls Revolt” after one season, admitting he had never watched it.



Weinstein, 65, was the opposite, one of the rare men in Hollywood who didn’t care about pursuing an audience of 15-year-old boys with comic book movies. He was someone with taste who was trying to make movies with great roles for women of all ages, a top Democratic fund-raiser who was pushing to make Hillary Clinton the first woman president, a man trusted by the Obamas to have their daughter intern at his company.



But he had a diabolical side. He would tantalize actresses with dreams of stardom — in that dewy, fleeting window such hothouse orchids have to take Hollywood by storm. Often the actresses scrambled, trying to figure out how to get out of the room without having their futures shredded by the vindictive satyr, who also threatened to destroy actresses who balked at wearing dresses designed by his wife Georgina Chapman’s fashion label on the red carpet.



He relished the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands,” given to him by filmmakers who did not like his domination in the editing room. But the nickname could work just as well for his octopus ways with women, which resulted in lots of hush money being paid out.



And some of his own assistants say they were assailed. One ran out of the room, crying and distraught, after Weinstein pressed her into giving him a massage.



Some who were importuned or pawed, like Angelina Jolie, stalked away and told studio executives that she would never work with the pestilent mogul. Others whom Weinstein asked to give him a massage in his hotel suite refused but continued to collaborate, like Gwyneth Paltrow, who put aside qualms to become “the first lady of Miramax.”



When David Carr wrote about “The Emperor Miramaximus” in 2001 for New York magazine — several years after the unpleasant experience Paltrow described for the first time this past week to The Times — he quoted her saying: “I think that for every bad story you hear about Harvey, there are three great ones. People are complicated, and nobody’s all good or all bad.”



Other victims, like Rose McGowan, took settlements from the mogul to stay quiet but continued to seethe, until her rage spilled over Thursday when she tweeted — after getting back on Twitter after an absurd banishment by the company — that Weinstein had raped her.



Once more we are in a searing national seminar on sexual misbehavior by men, just like the Hill-Thomas hearings, the Clinton impeachment hearings, the Bill Cosby trial, the downfalls of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and other harassing big shots at Fox News, and Donald Trump and the fallout from the “Access Hollywood” tape.



How many times do we have to go through this before things really change?



“If you look at The Hollywood Reporter’s powerful women list,” said Janice Min, the former editor of that publication, “every single one of those women still reports to a man.” (By some estimates, there are only six women who have first-look overhead producing deals at the studios.)



Min recalled attending the $400,000 speech Barack Obama made as an ex-president to an A&E Networks advertising upfront at the Pierre hotel in New York in April.



“Afterwards, amid rapturous applause, he walks right over to Harvey Weinstein and gives Harvey a hug,” Min said. “You can see the optics of it all. It makes your head explode if you think of the inability to explode the male network.”



Min said that although The Hollywood Reporter tried to get the goods on “that looming, ominous, bellicose force” named Harvey for many years — “we had white boards full of names of women” — he was a master at protecting himself, just as Hugh Hefner was, by the veneer of power he cultivated, by giving to liberal causes and cultivating friends in the media and politics.



“There probably needs to be some introspection about how certain people who engage in horrendous mistreatment of women can co-opt the media,” she mused. “The fundamental predatory nature of Hollywood is young, attractive people — largely females — putting themselves in front of men to be judged and appraised and chosen.



“It is a dark equation. From the moment the proverbial girl gets off the bus, the odds are stacked against her. In Hollywood, unlike at other Fortune 500 companies, the one-on-one meetings take place in hotel suites and bars. It’s an exploitative and oddly personal process.”



Young actresses (and surely actors, too, with other powerful predators), Min said, knew that “Hollywood is built on nothing but the pursuit of Oscar and Emmy. Harvey had proven time and again he could get you the Oscar that could make your career. It’s the difference between being in the reboot of ‘Saved by the Bell’ or getting 15 million for your next role.”



Hollywood is a culture that runs on fear. And it is not like other professions, one top entertainment executive said, because “no one comes with a résumé. It’s about what you look like and who sent you.”



There was resentment against Weinstein in Hollywood, not only for the stories bubbling around about women, but the way he humiliated men who worked with him. He even berated a 15-year-old girl at a screening because her parents supported a political candidate he opposed.



Like Trump, that other self-professed predator, there were complaints that in business deals he stiffed people on bills (advertising and public relations payments), and he had a reputation for lying, cheating, taking advantage, acting like a thug. Many in the film community felt he besmirched the Oscars by turning it into a marketing race rather than a contest of quality.



I asked Tim Robbins, who had some unpleasant business dealings with Weinstein, what the moral of this foul, revolting story should be.



“It’s not just in show business, it’s every business,” he said. “It’s about men who use power to get an advantage over women. It’s gross, it’s unacceptable, but unfortunately, it’s pretty persistent.”



Women in Hollywood say social media, plus the anger about Trump getting into the Oval Office instead of Hillary, were propelling forces in the fire raining down on Weinstein.



“I hope it’s a witch hunt,” said a top Hollywood woman. “I hope it’s a purge. There are people we have to get rid of in our business. Everyone knows them.”



Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood’s Oldest Horror Story - The New York Times

Too poor to vote: how Alabama’s ‘new poll tax’ bars thousands of people from voting. In Alabama, money keeps thousands of people away from the ballot box – and the state’s felon disenfranchisement policies are probably unconstitutional. | US news | The Guardian





Randi Lynn Williams: her debt, known as legal financial obligations, total more than $11,500.Too poor to vote: how Alabama’s ‘new poll tax’ bars thousands of people from voting | US news | The Guardian

Donald Trump's misleading linkage between stock gains, debt reduction


The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency | The New Yorker

"...Several people who have worked with Mercer believe that, despite his oddities, he has had surprising success in aligning the Republican Party, and consequently America, with his personal beliefs, and is now uniquely positioned to exert influence over the Trump Administration. In February, David Magerman, a senior employee at Renaissance, spoke out about what he regards as Mercer’s worrisome influence. Magerman, a Democrat who is a strong supporter of Jewish causes, took particular issue with Mercer’s empowerment of the alt-right, which has included anti-Semitic and white-supremacist voices. Magerman shared his concerns with Mercer, and the conversation escalated into an argument. Magerman told colleagues about it, and, according to an account in the Wall Street Journal, Mercer called Magerman and said, “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist. That’s ridiculous.” Magerman insisted to Mercer that he hadn’t used those words, but added, “If what you’re doing is harming the country, then you have to stop.” After the Journal story appeared, Magerman, who has worked at Renaissance for twenty years, was suspended for thirty days. Undaunted, he published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, accusing Mercer of “effectively buying shares in the candidate.” He warned, “Robert Mercer now owns a sizeable share of the United States Presidency.”

Nick Patterson, a former senior Renaissance employee who is now a computational biologist at the Broad Institute, agrees that Mercer’s influence has been huge. “Bob has used his money very effectively,” he said. “He’s not the first person in history to use money in politics, but in my view Trump wouldn’t be President if not for Bob. It doesn’t get much more effective than that.”



Patterson said that his relationship with Mercer has always been collegial. In 1993, Patterson, at that time a Renaissance executive, recruited Mercer from I.B.M., and they worked together for the next eight years. But Patterson doesn’t share Mercer’s libertarian views, or what he regards as his susceptibility to conspiracy theories about Bill and Hillary Clinton. During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, Patterson recalled, Mercer insisted at a staff luncheon that Clinton had participated in a secret drug-running scheme with the C.I.A. The plot supposedly operated out of an airport in Mena, Arkansas. “Bob told me he believed that the Clintons were involved in murders connected to it,” Patterson said. Two other sources told me that, in recent years, they had heard Mercer claim that the Clintons have had opponents murdered.

The Mena story is one of several dark fantasies put forth in the nineties by The American Spectator, an archconservative magazine. According to Patterson, Mercer read the publication at the time. David Brock, a former Spectator writer who is now a liberal activist, told me that the alleged Mena conspiracy was based on a single dubious source, and was easily disproved by flight records. “It’s extremely telling that Mercer would believe that,” Brock said. “It says something about his conspiratorial frame of mind, and the fringe circle he was in. We at the Spectator called them Clinton Crazies.”

Patterson also recalled Mercer arguing that, during the Gulf War, the U.S. should simply have taken Iraq’s oil, “since it was there.” Trump, too, has said that the U.S. should have “kept the oil.” Expropriating another country’s natural resources is a violation of international law. Another onetime senior employee at Renaissance recalls hearing Mercer downplay the dangers posed by nuclear war. Mercer, speaking of the atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, argued that, outside of the immediate blast zones, the radiation actually made Japanese citizens healthier. The National Academy of Sciences has found no evidence to support this notion. Nevertheless, according to the onetime employee, Mercer, who is a proponent of nuclear power, “was very excited about the idea, and felt that it meant nuclear accidents weren’t such a big deal.”

Mercer strongly supported the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Trump’s Attorney General. Many civil-rights groups opposed the nomination, pointing out that Sessions has in the past expressed racist views. Mercer, for his part, has argued that the Civil Rights Act, in 1964, was a major mistake. According to the onetime Renaissance employee, Mercer has asserted repeatedly that African-Americans were better off economically before the civil-rights movement. (Few scholars agree.) He has also said that the problem of racism in America is exaggerated. The source said that, not long ago, he heard Mercer proclaim that there are no white racists in America today, only black racists. (Mercer, meanwhile, has supported a super pac, Black Americans for a Better Future, whose goal is to “get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party.”)

“Most people at Renaissance didn’t challenge him” about politics, Patterson said. But Patterson clashed with him over climate change; Mercer said that concerns about it were overblown. After Patterson shared with him a scientific paper on the subject, Mercer and his brother, Randall, who also worked at the hedge fund, sent him a paper by a scientist named Arthur Robinson, who is a biochemist, not a climate expert. “It looked like a scientific paper, but it was completely loaded with selective and biased information,” Patterson recalled. The paper argued that, if climate change were real, future generations would “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life.” Robinson owns a sheep ranch in Cave Junction, Oregon, and on the property he runs a laboratory that he calls the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Mercer helps subsidize Robinson’s various projects, which include an effort to forestall aging.

Patterson sent Mercer a note calling Robinson’s arguments “completely false.” He never heard back. “I think if you studied Bob’s views of what the ideal state would look like, you’d find that, basically, he wants a system where the state just gets out of the way,” Patterson said. “Climate change poses a problem for that world view, because markets can’t solve it on their own.”

Magerman told the Wall Street Journal that Mercer’s political opinions “show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do.” He also said that Mercer wants the U.S. government to be “shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.” Several former colleagues of Mercer’s said that his views are akin to Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Magerman told me, “Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make. A cat has value, he’s said, because it provides pleasure to humans. But if someone is on welfare they have negative value. If he earns a thousand times more than a schoolteacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable.” Magerman added, “He thinks society is upside down—that government helps the weak people get strong, and makes the strong people weak by taking their money away, through taxes.” He said that this mind-set was typical of “instant billionaires” in finance, who “have no stake in society,” unlike the industrialists of the past, who “built real things...”


The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency | The New Yorker

Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream

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 A cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals the truth about Steve Bannon’s alt-right “killing machine.”

Posted on October 5, 2017, at 4:28 p.m.

"In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that 'there's no room in American society' for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be ‘the platform for the alt-right.’

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley, on September 24. The Breitbart employee closest to the alt-right was Milo Yiannopoulos, the site’s former tech editor known best for his outrageous public provocations, such as last year’s Dangerous Faggot speaking tour and September’s canceled Free Speech Week in Berkeley. For more than a year, Yiannopoulos led the site in a coy dance around the movement’s nastier edges, writing stories that minimized the role of neo-Nazis and white nationalists while giving its politer voices ‘a fair hearing.’ In March, Breitbart editor Alex Marlow insisted ‘we’re not a hate site.’ Breitbart’s media relations staff repeatedly threatened to sue outlets that described Yiannopoulos as racist. And after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Breitbart published an article explaining that when Bannon said the site welcomed the alt-right, he was merely referring to ‘computer gamers and blue-collar voters who hated the GOP brand.’

These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.

It’s a relationship illustrated most starkly by a previously unreleased April 2016 video in which Yiannopoulos sings ‘America the Beautiful’ in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.

These documents chart the Breitbart alt-right universe. They reveal how the website — and, in particular, Yiannopoulos — links the Mercer family, the billionaires who fund Breitbart, to underpaid trolls who fill it with provocative content, and to extremists striving to create a white ethnostate.

They capture what Bannon calls his ‘killing machine’ in action, as it dredges up the resentments of people around the world, sifts through these grievances for ideas and content, and propels them from the unsavory parts of the internet up to TrumpWorld, collecting advertisers’ checks all along the way.

And the cache of emails — some of the most newsworthy of which BuzzFeed News is now making public — expose the extent to which this machine depended on Yiannopoulos, who channeled voices both inside and outside the establishment into a clear narrative about the threat liberal discourse posed to America. The emails tell the story of Steve Bannon’s grand plan for Yiannopoulos, whom the Breitbart executive chairman transformed from a charismatic young editor into a conservative media star capable of magnetizing a new generation of reactionary anger. Often, the documents reveal, this anger came from a legion of secret sympathizers in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, academia, suburbia, and everywhere in between.

'I have said in the past that I find humor in breaking taboos and laughing at things that people tell me are forbidden to joke about,' Yiannopoulos wrote in a statement to BuzzFeed News. 'But everyone who knows me also knows I'm not a racist. As someone of Jewish ancestry, I of course condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. I have stopped making jokes on these matters because I do not want any confusion on this subject. I disavow Richard Spencer and his entire sorry band of idiots. I have been and am a steadfast supporter of Jews and Israel. I disavow white nationalism and I disavow racism and I always have.’

He added that during his karaoke performance, his 'severe myopia' made it impossible for him to see the Hitler salutes a few feet away.

Steve Bannon, the other Breitbart employees named in the story, and the Mercer family did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Like all the new media success stories, Breitbart’s alt-right platform depends on the participation of its audience. It combusts the often secret fury of those who reject liberal norms into news, and it doesn’t burn clean.

Now Bannon is back at the controls of the machine, which he has said he is ‘revving up.’ The Mercers have funded Yiannopoulos's post-Breitbart venture. And these documents present the clearest look at what these people may have in store for America..."

(Via.).  Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled White Nationalism Into The Mainstream:

Timing of White House actions unrolling parts of ACA ‘couldn’t be worse,’ states say - The Washington Post

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"By Amy Goldstein October 14 at 7:46 PM After threatening for months to end billions of dollars in payments promised to health insurers, President Trump finally dropped the ax with timing that could inflict maximal disruption on the Affordable Care Act enrollment season scheduled to begin in two weeks.

The most immediate upheaval is playing out in a set of states where regulators had ignored the risk that the president might carry out his threat and told insurers not to include any cushion in their 2018 rates for ACA health plans. Officials in at least three states are now debating whether to delay the Nov. 1 start of enrollment as they rush to consider higher premiums to make up for the abrupt loss of federal money.

But even in states that prepared for a possible cutoff of the ‘cost-sharing reduction’ payments, Trump’s action so close to the fifth year’s sign-up period is sowing widespread confusion among consumers, according to leaders of insurance exchanges and enrollment-assistance organizations around the country. Along with other steps the White House has taken since late summer to undercut the ACA marketplaces, they predict this latest move is almost certain to suppress the number of Americans insured under the law next year."

(Via.). Timing of White House actions unrolling parts of ACA ‘couldn’t be worse,’ states say - The Washington Post:

After Harvey, Texas Inmates Were Left in Flooded Prisons Without Adequate Water or Food | The Nation

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“During and after Hurricane Harvey’s slow and catastrophic crawl over the Gulf states at the end of August, inmates in multiple prisons in Texas were left to suffer in horrifying, inhumane conditions in ravaged facilities across the state, according to nearly 100 inmate accounts obtained by the National Lawyers Guild.

The accounts collected by the NLG report power outages and insufficient access to food, water, and medicine. Inmates described cells flooded knee-high with water contaminated by urine and feces, as well as the inability to flush toilets, take showers, or change clothes for two weeks. The United States Penitentiary, Beaumont, operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was inaccessible to visitors for up to a month after the hurricane. In the Texas prisons affected by the storm, officials have either declined to comment on conditions or denied all inmate claims about the conditions.

As the wettest storm on record in US history bore down in the last days of August—dropping five feet of rain in some areas—completely inundating Houston, killing more than 70 people, and damaging almost 200,000 homes, at least five prisons on the east coast of Texas were evacuated. The logistically intricate process involved moving around 6,000 inmates, including transferring approximately 600 inmates into beds in the Wallace Pack Unit—a facility that had been emptied only weeks earlier after a judge called the conditions at the unit unconstitutionally hot. The Texas prison population, one of the largest of any state, counting inmates in both state and federal custody (not including Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees), is around 160,000 inmates. But while five prisons were evacuated, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) decided not to evacuate the Gist, Leblanc, and Stiles units, and the BOP opted not to evacuate their Beaumont facility. There are over 8,000 combined inmates in those four prisons.

After news of inmates stranded inside the prisons began to leak out, the Prison Legal Advocacy Network of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), filed notices to both TDCJ and the BOP, noting the ‘persistently unconstitutional conditions of confinement.’ The notice to the BOP claims the agency had ‘adequate foreknowledge of the flood risk’ and ‘ample notice of the widespread concerns’ about constitutional rights violations during previous hurricanes, and yet, according to allegations, the BOP did not sufficiently warn the inmates about the coming hurricane, evacuate them, or provide them with needed food, water, or access to medical care or bathrooms.

(Via.).  After Harvey, Texas Inmates Were Left in Flooded Prisons Without Adequate Water or Food | The Nation:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Trump's Tax Plan Will Help Truckers. . . .About 30 Of Them

When 20,000 American Nazis rallied in New York City in 1939. This is what "America First" means. - The Atlantic

"In 1939, the German American Bund organized a rally of 20,000 Nazi supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the event in historical archives, he was flabbergasted. Together with Field of Vision, he decided to present the footage as a cautionary tale to Americans. The short film, A Night at the Garden, premieres on The Atlantic today."

(Via.) Footage of German American Bund Nazi Rally in Madison Square Garden in 1939 - The Atlantic - The Atlantic:

Trump’s Obamacare attack heralds new health-care battles on Capitol Hill - The Washington Post



"President Trump’s decision Thursday to cut off crucial health-care subsidies has once again revived the long-running debate over the Affordable Care Act, increasing the potential for a government shutdown in December and making the issue central in next year’s midterm elections.



The move to end insurer subsidies could propel premiums an average of 20 percent higher next year for those who purchase insurance on the individual market, according to a nonpartisan congressional analysis.



Trump and Republican allies defended the move as removing a giveaway for insurance companies, and they blame rising premiums on fundamental flaws in then-President Barack Obama’s signature health-care reform law. But Democrats called it an act of sabotage against the ACA for which the GOP will be held responsible at the polls.



The dispute sets the stage for another wave of political battles over the nation’s health-care system, as Republican lawmakers will need to decide whether to authorize the subsidies through legislation as well as whether to once again attempt a broader repeal of the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare. Democrats could also use a Dec. 8 appropriations deadline to threaten a government shutdown if the subsidies are not restored.





The party’s leaders stopped short of such a threat Friday. But Democrats warned more broadly that escalating Republican efforts to undermine the ACA — which also included an order by Trump on Thursday loosening insurance requirements — would be used against the GOP in the 2018 elections...



Trump’s Obamacare attack heralds new health-care battles on Capitol Hill - The Washington Post

Friday, October 13, 2017

Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With a Russian Oligarch - NBC News

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"LONDON — Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.



An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.



The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.



Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia..."



Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With a Russian Oligarch - NBC News

Trump's tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge | Joe McLean | Opinion | The Guardian

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani





"Tuesday 10 October 2017 09.19 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 10 October 2017 12.12 EDT

Trump’s recent threat to decertify the Iran nuclear deal is the latest and most dangerous Trumpian gambit yet, and it has emerged that the US is working to designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group. Just about the only person in his administration who believes abrogating the agreement isn’t dangerously foolish is Trump himself. But he promised his loyal base, Fox News and Steve Bannon, he would dump the accord. How can Trump keep his base happy, assuage his fragile ego and not blow up the world?..."



Trump's tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge | Joe McLean | Opinion | The Guardian

Donald Trump’s Terrible Executive Order on Health Care | The New Yorker





"President Donald Trump is now trying to break the health-care system all by himself, although he has more help than he might acknowledge. On Thursday, Trump launched an assault on Obamacare from two angles. First, the White House staged a signing ceremony for an executive order designed to push people into what are known, accurately, as “junk” insurance plans—the kind, common before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, that never seem to cover people when they are actually sick and that extort and abandon those with preëxisting conditions. Trump, in his remarks at the ceremony, referred to this choice as “fleeing the failing Obamacare plans.” And then, a few hours later, he did more to make Obamacare fail, by saying that he would withhold the cost-sharing subsidies that the government currently pays insurance companies in order to reduce deductibles and co-pays for many low-income people. Companies will undoubtedly respond by leaving the Obamacare exchanges, where such plans are now sold. Both moves had one thing in common: they recklessly target vulnerable Americans. But in doing so, they will, as with so many of Trump’s moves, increase risks for everyone.

Although Trump used the executive-order signing to goad his fellow Republicans—“We’re going to also pressure Congress very strongly to finish the repeal and the replace”—they did much to make this day possible. Trump claimed that he had no choice but to defund the subsidies because paying them went against the will of Congress. This is the argument in a lawsuit, instigated by House Republicans, that is making its way through the federal courts. Basically, those Republicans argue that, although the plain language of the A.C.A. describes and authorizes the payment of subsidies, Congress should be allowed to vote on actually releasing the money every year. In effect, Congress promised the money when it passed the A.C.A., but now it wants the right to hold that money hostage on a regular basis. The case relies on a highly technical reading of the legislative fine print; nevertheless, the congressional challengers won a round in the lower courts, though that had been stayed pending an appeal—one that, on Thursday, the Trump Administration apparently decided to drop. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions had earlier said that he agreed with the House Republicans.) More than that, it is, at best, a technical ambiguity that any congressional majority interested in something other than utter chaos in the insurance markets could easily fix. Such a majority does not exist right now.



Indeed, the opposite is the case: the false stories that congressional Republicans drew of Obamacare—a system that, whatever its flaws, has increased the number of Americans with insurance by some twenty million, and made that coverage more reliable for many times that number— fed partisan demands for Trump to savage it. The Republican Party made a destructive promise that Trump, as its candidate, has been eager to keep. It may be the only thing that the Party can rely on him for, and, although some individual Republicans, such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida—who, not incidentally, is retiring at the end of this term—worried about the effect on their constituents, Party leaders were quick with their gratitude. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, “As #obamacare continues to fail Americans, I’m pleased @POTUS is promoting affordable policies to better meet the needs of families.” And the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said that Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing subsidies was a “monumental affirmation of Congress’s authority.” That may seem like an odd way to describe a move that was also framed as a response to Congress’s failure to repeal the A.C.A., and which was a flanking attempt to undermine a major piece of legislation. But, as a shorthand for the affirmation of the congressional Republicans’ ideological authority, it was not far wrong.

These two moves are not the only sabotage attempts that the Trump Administration has been engaged in. It has rewritten rules to allow plans to stop covering many forms of birth control. It has made disabling cuts to programs that help people sign up for Obamacare, and made enrollment, across the board, harder—more of a labyrinth. Information about plans that people might be able to afford has been, effectively, hidden. Perhaps this is, finally, an example of Trump bringing his business expertise to Washington: the knowledge that bad marketing can cripple a good project.



But the most Trumpian aspect of the executive order is that it makes life easier for con men. It does so by allowing the sale of insurance plans that do not meet basic standards through “associations,” which might be made up of employers, interest groups, or just entrepreneurial opportunists—the exact rules still have to be written. Obamacare plans offer certain defined essential services, such as preventive and obstetric care and hospitalization, that an insurance plan has to cover, and cover substantially, to call itself an insurance plan. In other words, the A.C.A. made it harder for employers or insurers to claim that they were covering people if, when it counted, they really weren’t. (Such a bait and switch was common in the pre-Obamacare days; many people who went bankrupt after a medical emergency actually had insurance plans.) The executive order would create a sham market alongside the real one. One concern is that young, healthy people will be drawn to association plans because they don’t “need” comprehensive coverage, and are making what they believe is a rational calculation, albeit one that will drive up premiums in the Obamacare market, by making that pool of people, on average, sicker and older. (Paul Ryan, who has complained that it is unfair that healthy people help pay for sick people—the premise of insurance—is an association-plan enthusiast.)



But health-care needs have a way of changing quickly—we might each be separated from one category or the other by a single accident, diagnosis, or pregnancy. And some people and businesses won’t so much be making a choice as settling for what that they can afford in the short term: the plan, good or not, with the lowest sticker price. And, again depending on the specific rules that the Administration comes up with, people with preëxisting conditions will likely be more exposed to rate hikes—indeed, their co-workers might be, too, since an association would be able to set higher rates for a single business with a large number of people regarded as risks, whether because they are older or more likely to have children. (This means that, as a bonus, the executive order may encourage employment discrimination.) Another disorienting aspect is that an association would be able to sell its plans across state lines, in a way that would disregard the insurance regulations in the state in which the insured person lives. This would set up, effectively, a cross-country race to the bottom.



Another aspect of the executive order that is a setup for an insurance con is its expanded definition of “temporary” plans. Basically, these are policies, exempt from many regulations (someone can be dropped upon becoming sick, for example, or denied coverage for preëxisting conditions) that are designed for people who are between other plans—perhaps because of a job change—to buy in a pinch. But they also represent a loophole, which the Obama Administration tried to close, by defining “temporary” as no more than three months. Trump’s order extends it to a year. This is in keeping with an economy in which every little foothold that working families have seems temporary—it helps to make flimsiness a permanent state.

In presenting the plan at the executive-order signing, Trump did his best impression of a flim-flam man—that is to say, he was entirely in character. The guests included members of his Administration, some small-business representatives, and Senator Rand Paul, who believed that the Senate’s last attempt to break Obamacare was not radical enough. Trump didn’t have many details other than the promise that a “nightmare” was over, that millions of people would be “very happy,” and that the whole thing would produce better plans at no expense whatsoever to the government. “That’s not too bad, right?” he said.



As Trump started to walk out of the room, though, Vice-President Mike Pence suddenly looked anxious. He hurried after his departing boss with an outstretched arm. “Mr. President, you need to sign it!” Pence said. “Oh,” Trump said, to laughter, and then added, “I’m only signing it because it costs nothing.” Not for him, maybe, unless our political marketplace comes up with some way to measure the cost, to a President and his Party, of presiding over a disaster.



Amy Davidson Sorkin is a New Yorker staff writer. She is a regular Comment contributor for the magazine and writes a Web column, in which she covers war, sports, and everything in between..."




Donald Trump’s Terrible Executive Order on Health Care | The New Yorker