Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Foreign regimes, others spend big at Trump properties to ‘curry favor’

The non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen report 'Presidency for Sale' reveals that numerous companies, entities associated with foreign governments, special interest groups, and Republican congressional campaign committees spent a great deal of money at Trump-branded properties during Donald J Trump’s first year in office. 

The report indicates that these groups clearly intended to win over the president by helping his business empire profit as he sat in the Oval Office.

And Trump personally profits “bigly” since he kept financial interest in the Trump Organization when he moved into the White House.

Berkeley’s Professor Robert Reich culled from the new report a list of guests in 2017 at Trump properties:

1) Representatives of 4 foreign governments -- Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The Saudi group spent over $270,000 for at Trump's Washington hotel during a lobbying visit.

2) More than 30 Republican candidates and committees fundraisers. Trump's re-election campaign has already spent $630,000 at his own properties.

3) 18 companies and special interest groups, including several with federal contracts. For example, the GEO Group, a for-profit prison conglomerate which has already benefited from the Trump administration's policy changes, held its annual conference at Trump National Doral in Florida.

Reich concludes that “All of these conflicts of interests are completely unacceptable. Indeed by continuing to accept payments from foreign governments, Trump is in violation of the Constitution's foreign bribery clause (or Emoluments Clause), an impeachable offense. Folks, as Trump approaches a full year in office, we cannot normalize this behavior. Under any other president, these blatant ethics violations would be a major scandal. If we become desensitized to them, faith in our democracy will continue to erode.

Here’s the story:

The Trump Organization

By Julia Ainsley And Rich Gardella

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

USA Today: Too old for DACA, man who spent 30 years of his life in U.S. is deported

This outrageous and inhumane report by USA Today is another indication that Donald J Trump is doing all he can to instill systemic injustice and inequality as a way of life in America, which, if he has his way, will be codified in law.

Inexplicably his actions and behaviors are supported by too many people (inexplicable because I find it difficult to qualify these people Americans), even by a majority of a Republican-led Congress who continue to support this grotesque and exceedingly disgusting man. Yes, you earned the moniker “Deplorable.”

Donald J Trump is turning our country into a place no one will want to visit or live: One of those "shithole" countries. Those people I previously mentioned will undoubtedly say: If you don't like it, leave and go to another country. But I've got news for you: If something's not done, there will be a revolution that is festering now, and on our doorstep, in opposition to the autocratic and totalitarian government Trump has promised (Trump and the Republicans say they are giving voters what was asked for) and in opposition to everything you and he ostensibly stand for.

That revolution, by the way, is known as “The Resistance.”

Here’s the story:

By Niraj Warikoo

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Truthdig: Martin Luther King’s Revolutionary Dream Deferred

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he argued that spiritually and morally modern man was “experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism.”

For King, the genocide that took place in Vietnam, combined with the ongoing racism and extreme poverty at home solidified the idea that the three evils were inextricably linked and part of the same fight for universal human rights.

On August 31st, 1967, Reverend Martin Luther King delivered “The Three Evils of Society” speech at the National Conference on New Politics, and he expounded on his previous pronouncement: I wish that I could say that this is just a passing phase in the cycles of our nation’s life; certainly times of war, times of reaction throughout the society but I suspect that we are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism. Not only is this our nation’s dilemma it is the plague of western civilization.

Army Major Danny Sjursen on remembering the actual Martin Luther King, writes, “We kill the most beautiful among us-- anyone, it seems, who reveals the nastier, brutish elements of American society and has the audacity to imagine, demand even, a better path: peace, unity, and tolerance. Abraham Lincoln, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and so many others.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of King’s tragic assassination, and though countless publications will brim with commemorations and retrospectives of this misunderstood icon, most will miss the mark. Long ago co-opted and sanitized by mainstream political figures, the King of memory bears little resemblance to the radical, complex man himself.

And now, “with the United States again locked in racial conflict, culture wars, gaping inequality and perpetual global war, now seems as good a time as any to take stock of the state of King’s “three evils”: racism, materialism and militarism.

“Republicans especially, but also centrist liberals, want us to believe King was one thing only: a narrow, nonviolent civil rights activist. That he gave only one speech: about a dream of his black daughters attending school with young white girls. They’ve sanitized him, castrated his message, omitted (through strikingly Orwellian “new speak”) his uncomfortable quotes. They’ve done so with nefarious intentions and political agenda: convince the masses that King’s revolution is over, completed, final. Stop complaining, stay out of the streets, there’s no reason to protest. Be thankful for what you have.

“Don’t fall for it. Read, study, unearth the real King, the radical King, and take up the torch of his fight -- a dream deferred -- against the three evils still alive and well in the United States: racism, materialism and militarism. The owners of this country are counting on your apathy. Prove them wrong.”

Here’s Major Sjursen’s story:

USA Today: Bannon's brutal ouster from Trump and Breitbart circles should frighten Americans

Everything about this man some call the President of the United States, Donald J Trump, should terrify every American. Everything about the people who advise and council this man should also terrify every American. Even though, disappointingly,  it does not.

Most terrifying of those who have advised and counseled Trump is Steve Bannon. He is a disgusting, deplorable man just like his former boss. He is the man behind Trump’s alt-right pronouncements, an adviser on how to make racist hate more acceptable by normalizing it, he is the man behind Breitbart News lie factory, and he is an enabler of misogynistic views.

There are no endearing qualities that can be associated with either man.

In the opinion of USA Today’s Cheri Jacobus, Bannon “has no business being in a position of power or having the ear of any lawmaker. But as deplorable as he may be, his destruction by Trump and the sycophantic army Bannon helped incubate should frighten every American. Why? Because it’s not why he was taken down and kicked to the curb.

Here’s Cheri’s story:

By Cheri Jacobus

USA Today: Trump Sold $35M in Real Estate in 2017, Mostly to Secretive Buyers

The Trump Organization sold 41 Las Vegas luxury hotels in 2017. The organization sold them to limited liability companies (LLC), making it able for them to buy property without revealing the identity of the buyer.

And, there has been a rapid increase in sales to LLC companies by Trump.

The buyers range from real estate investment funds, wealthy individuals seeking an investment and vacation property to some that were unreachable by reporters -- largely due to the secrecy associated with their shell company.

Moreover, “profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and he can withdraw cash at any time.

So, for all we know, anyone could have purchased a condo from Trump. And, remember: Because Trump hasn't fully separated himself from his business, every penny from these shady deals goes into his pocket.Professor Robert Reich

Trump has dozens of other real estate properties for sale, including his $16,900,000 11-bedroom, 12-bathroom mansion on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. 

Those findings add to the list of ethic violations associated with Donald J Trump. Every day that goes bye Trump brings the United States closer to an autocracy, in which a kleptocracy is one of its major elements. If that isn’t enough, it also involves potential national security risks.

A living room featuring gold curtains, 
a chandelier, and a pair of tiger-print armchairs.

By Nick Penzenstadle

Friday, January 12, 2018

WSJ: Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence

Trump and his attorneys deny a report alleging that a porn star had been paid to keep silent about sexual encounters with Trump.

However, in Michael Wolff's book “Fire and Fury,” former Trump strategist Steve Bannon said that Trump’s longtime attorney, Marc Kasowitz, "took care" of 100 women during the presidential campaign.

"Look, Kasowitz has known [Trump] for twenty-five years. Kasowitz has gotten him out of all kinds of jams. Kasowitz on the campaign -- what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them," Bannon reportedly said.

The remark takes on new significance in light of The Wall Street Journal report that porn star Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is “Stormy Daniels,” was paid $130,000 in hush money by Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen to keep her silent about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Haven’t we heard enough to know that Trump’s denials are lies. We know Trump has a problem with telling the truth. There are too many reports, including the “grab 'em by the pussy” remark, which can’t be denied, that tell us his denials just doesn’t hold up to critical examination.

© Provided by The Wall Street Journal.

Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star's Silence

By Michael Rothfeld, Joe Palazzolo

Dan Rather: Trump’s “shithole” remark diminishes America in the eyes of the world and of history

 It will be up to every decent person to make sure that this is not our destiny.
During a White House meeting of lawmakers gathered to discuss a plan to cut the number of people entering the United States through its visa lottery program, Donald J. Trump remarked that people from “shithole countries,” like those from Haiti and Africa, should not be allowed into the U.S. Suggesting we should only allow more people in from countries such as Norway.

As expected, the World reacted with condemnation.

Congressional Democrat and Republican called Trump’s remarks“divisive” and “unacceptable.” Interesting enough, not a peep from Republican leaders Mitchell McConnell and Paul Ryan.

Robert Colville, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called Trump’s remarks “shocking” and “shameful,” and inconsistent with“universal values.”

"I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes' whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome."

Dan Rather says “Trumps comments about immigrants from shithole countries is among the worst statements he has ever uttered. It might very well be the worst.

To have this outrage come as we approach the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is to cast in sharp relief the moral gulf between America as envisioned by the civil rights activist and our current President. It was Dr. King who said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." By all accounts, Mr. Trump does not now and has never believed in such an America.

This is undeniably and clearly outright racist. It simply cannot be allowed to continue by anyone who cares about the future of this country. This is sad. It is hurtful. It is dangerous. It is unpatriotic. Each elected official, each American, has a choice: where do you stand? Some may say this helps the President with his base. What about how it debases the values of our nation? This rhetoric has to be damned at every turn, at every time. That millions of hard-working men, women, and children have lives that hang in the balance at the whims of this President only makes this moment all the more tragic. Make no mistake, America is diminished today in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of history. It will be up to every decent person to make sure that this is not our destiny.

And from News and Guts: “Yesterday in Washington began with optimism and hope...and ended in a ....hole. Donald Trump tried to deny he said it, but this morning a Senator in the meeting confirmed it. But the damage has been done as progress on immigration stalls and the story once again become about Trump.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Coulter: It Turns Out Bannon Was Trump’s Brain

Here’s something you wouldn’t expect from conservative political commentator Ann Coulter, let alone agree with her.

A supporter of Donald Trump for President and author of the book “In Trump we Trust” is actually very critical of the man she endorsed for President.

In part, she writes,

In order to prove he doesn’t have dementia, as alleged in a recent book, President Trump called a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday -- and requested that it be televised.

He then proceeded to completely sell out the base and actually added to his problems by appearing senile.

In a half-dozen exchanges -- which, again, he wanted televised -- Trump responded to remarks as if he had no clue what the person was saying. One senator would talk --  he’d agree. Someone else would say the exact opposite -- he’d agree with that, too.

Trump was more than willing to sell out the base to solve a personal problem of his -- the Michael Wolff book -- but managed to not convince a single American that he’s articulate, bright or a good leader.

Here’s Coulter’s story:

By Ann Coulter

Guardian: Confusion Over Fate of DACA Leaves Dreamers in Limbo

On Thursday, Donald Trump pressed for action on immigration reform including a border wall.

However, in advocating for his campaign promise of an $18 million wall on the southern border, Trump said any legislation to address the residency status of Dreamers, which refers to the Dream Act Bill, or DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), must include funding for building the wall. "We’d love to take care of DACA, but we’re only going to do it under these conditions," he said.

(Approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and protection from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, since its creation five years ago. And nearly 690,000 of these immigrants are currently enrolled in the program, according to new data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as reported by the Pew Research Center.)

But, by employing a quid pro quo agreement, frequently used in business, Trump is in effect holding hostage the fate of almost 800,000 people who now face a very uncertain future, and their families. 

By putting the fate of children, many who arrived in the United States as infants, and young adults who in every way except on a piece of paper are Americans, as a condition for acquiring approval for a border wall is immoral. It’s what would be expected of a dictator. And that’s exactly what Trump would be by now “if it were not for the checks and balances contained within the U.S. political system.” Newsweek

Here's the story:


By Amanda Holpuch

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thom Hartmann: Time to Overthrow Our Rulers

Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States, or time to end one?

“. . . we already have an aristocracy here in the United States: rule by the rich. In fact, much of American history is the story of the battle between the interests of the ‘general welfare’ of our citizens, and the interests of the #MorbidlyRich,” writes Thom Hartmann.

That conflict brings Americas economic system under constant attack.

So, whether you live on Wall Street or Main Street the strive for more money will always be a source of aggravation.

Those Main Street folks who thought the economic system wasn’t working for them is why we have a Donald J. Trump sitting in the White House. He conned them into thinking he was on their side, and that he alone could solve their economic problems. But Trump is enabling an aristocracy and is causing greater economic problems for the folks who aren’t so rich.

The source of the conflict is when Wall Street blames government for interfering in the economic system -- capitalism’s free market and its regulations -- and Main Street blames government for not doing enough to make sure the economic system works for them. So, every American--rich or poor-- mercilessly attacks the system.

But the battle will never end until we address its cause--money--and change the system. Money is what politics is all about: politicians and political parties would not exist without monetary motivations. Social values and classes are formed based on how much money is earned. Sports, entertainment, and news programs are all brought to you based on profit-driven motivations. People select certain professions based on the amount of money they can earn as opposed to following their passions, which would greater benefit not only their well-being but society’s as well.

The more money that is amassed by individuals and corporations the more power, control, and market freedoms they have. As a consequence, Wall Street has the power to influence what Americans buy, they have the power to influence politicians to legislate in their favor, and the power to influence pretty much everything America and the world sees and hears.

However, Main Street folks have the greatest power, which is their collective voice. There are more who live on Main Street than live on Wall Street and collectively we can change the system that is responsible for so much misery in the world.

Capitalism is concerned solely with one's own desires, needs, or interests. It produces only winners, losers, and inequality. So if the interest of the general welfare of all Americans is to be addressed we must solve the problem of a distribution of resources without the need of using money.

Here’s Thom Hartmann’s story:

By Thom Hartmann