Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An expert explains why domestic extremists are a much bigger risk than foreign terrorists in America


Take America back from those who have stolen it.
Protect America from those who want to destroy it.
Restore the principles that these usurpers betrayed.

These are the messages that have defined the GOP presidential race. They have been used for the past eight years to justify obstruction of the Obama administration, and are now being used to paint the democratic candidates as dangerous. In the late stages of the GOP primary as the rhetoric became increasingly xenophobic, they were applied to increasingly broad swaths of the American population as well.
Years of constant repetition by members of the GOP have given them an appearance of legitimacy, now strengthened by Donald Trump’s victory in the GOP primary contest and the party’s growing embrace of him as their standard-bearer.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party isn’t alone in using these messages.
Right-wing extremist groups use them as well, and to very specific ends: to define the conditions under which antigovernment violence becomes legitimate in their worldview.
I have spent nearly 15 years studying how the risk of violence grows within societies around the world, and running programs designed to stem the tide. I have seen rhetoric like this used to mobilize violence in countries like Iraq and Kenya.
This same dynamic, I argue, is taking shape within American society now. If it continues, it represents a greater threat than anything we face from terrorist groups outside our own borders.

Turning a blind eye

Militia men surrounding the ranch of Cliven Bundy, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Fear and anger make for strong motivation.
The GOP has spent many years mobilizing both (sometimes tacitly and sometimes actively), in the form of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, racist and antigovernment sentiment. This strategy has secured them votes from the white, Christian, male and ideologically extreme demographic needed to offset the party’s growing distance from an increasingly diverse and progressive American society.
This has typically been done in code, a practice that’s come to be known as “dog whistle politics” – but this election has brought it into the open.
Few have emerged unscathed. For months, Republican candidates traded shots claiming that each other, liberals, immigrants and Black Lives Matter protesters – to name a few – are to blame for the picture they’ve painted of a degraded America that’s fallen into hostile hands.
Even the GOP itself has fallen into the cross-hairs. The divide between party leadership and the population it claims to represent is growing, and becoming septic. Trump has built his candidacy on the idea that America is sick, broken and misled, and “making it great again” depends on taking it back and cutting out the cancer.
His campaign rhetoric has a common thread with that of extremists. It emphasizes betrayal and theft. It tells Americans that things are bad because of it, and then points a finger and places blame.

The patriot paradox

Every violent group in history describes its own violence as the legitimate response to a threat that was forced on them. Groups survive in the long term when that description makes sense to enough of the population to buy them tolerance and safe space to operate, plan and grow. That’s true of terrorism and violent extremism – but because protesters and supporters alike view each other as enemies of the state and therefore legitimate targets, it also helps to explain the growing physical violence at Trump rallies. It should also provide a warning for what that as-yet-limited violence could grow into.
For examples, look at the websites of American extremist groups. Their reasoning usually orbits around the belief that they are defending the Constitution, stopping the theft of the political process from the people of the United States and resisting takeover by hostile powers. As such, they don’t consider themselves extremist at all, but defenders against it. It’s the same language we saw in 2014 at the Bundy Ranch standoff, and again in 2015 at the Malheur occupation.
The names these groups take – “Patriot Movement,” “Freemen,” “Sovereign Citizens“ – serve to legitimize them in American eyes, drawing on the narrative that true Americans are not only able – but expected – to throw off oppression themselves. Typically, each group insists it’s not violent – unless pushed, and then of course it stands ready to respond in kind.
Here, of course, is the rub. The constantly repeated themes of theft and betrayal from the GOP suggest to the patriot militias and to supporters who feel angry and alienated that the push has already happened. Trump has on many occasions claimed that America is “lost” to the American people. Given his hostility against immigrants and Black Lives Matter protesters and short-lived nomination of a white nationalist as a delegate in California, it seems clear he means white Americans. The “birther” argument, which Trump supported and other GOP officials failed to reject, at its heart is an argument that President Obama is the foreign agent that the patriot movement feared. Ted Cruz often repeated this idea that the nation is under threat of destruction and that the Obama government is law-breaking and unconstitutional.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was executed after being sentenced to death for the bombing of a federal building that took 168 lives. Reuters
We’ve seen the message from across the GOP that Hillary Clinton is in thrall of elite interests that stand opposed to those of everyday Americans. As for Sanders’ self-embraced “socialist” label, it has stood in for alien since before the Cold War.
Recent years and the 2016 race aren’t the first time we’ve heard this kind of language from Americans within the patriot movement.
The following words were spoken by Timothy McVeigh, in an interview explaining why he destroyed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
Those who betray or subvert the Constitution are guilty of sedition and/or treason, are domestic enemies and should and will be punished accordingly. It also stands to reason that anyone who sympathizes with the enemy or gives aid or comfort to said enemy is likewise guilty. I have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will.
David Lane, white supremacist, founder of The Order and convicted murderer, phrased the rationale for his violence thus:
cover-ups in the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam affair made it apparent that powers alien to America’s claimed role were running things.
We could rewrite Lane’s and McVeigh’s words alike using Trump’s birther argument or Ted Cruz’s accusation of elites without significantly changing the meaning. Indeed, although the United States remains fixed on foreign groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida when it defines terrorism, domestic violence already poses an equal or even greater threat. The foreign groups can certainly kill, but they have no power to divide our society; that additional and deeper threat is only our own.

The threat from inside

Consider this: individual acts of violence linked to racism and extremist politics are on the increase. The Washington Post reported in February 2015 that the number of Muslims killed in hate crimes is, on average, five times higher post-9/11 than before the attacks. Politics is increasingly divisive, and anger is the defining characteristic of American society.
The blame for these rifts and the likely consequences neither begin nor end with Donald Trump. He simply used an existing trend for his own gain. His praise of violence and embrace of racism and political extremism, however, goes past even what the GOP has already made commonplace.
Mainstream GOP rebuttals were too little too late. Paul Ryan rebuked Trump’s belated disavowal of David Duke, but the act rang hollow because the Washington Post reported that some of Cruz’s advisers were radically anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. Meanwhile, Pamela Geller, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and a host of other conservative commentators continue pandering to fear, prejudice, theft and betrayal unchallenged.
In an age defined by the fear of terrorism, “taking America back from people who betrayed her security” has real power at the polls, as Trump can attest. But this strategy for winning elections isn’t just divisive. It’s creating a risk of violence that has already outgrown the threat it’s supposed to be a shield against.
Trump’s emergence as the GOP candidate has added fuel to the fire, especially while the GOP dithers over whether or not to embrace him and his message. Trump himself is unlikely to stop or be convinced of the effect he’s really having on American security. It’s left to the GOP to decide whether American security or winning an election is more important to them.
The Conversation
David Alpher, Adjunct Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Trump Withheld Alimony From Marla Maples When She Threatened His Presidential Ambitions

Andrew Kaczynski BuzzFeed News Reporter

When Donald Trump publicly floated the idea of running for president in 1999, his ex-wife Marla Maples made it clear she would spill the beans on her ex-husband if he were to make it to the general election.
“If he is really serious about being president and runs in the general election next year, I will not be silent,” Maples told London Telegraph. “I will feel it is my duty as an American citizen to tell the people what he is really like.”

The reaction from Trump and his attorney was swift and brutal. They launched a full-court effort in the press to discredit Maples and withheld an alimony payment to “send a message.” The episode illustrates how Trump uses character assassination and threats to quash any opposition. Maples has largely remained silent on Trump’s 2016 candidacy.
“She’s pretty upset that she hasn’t been in the limelight,” Trump told reporters about Maples, according to the Associated Press. “But she got a little limelight today. I guess she wants her day in the sun.”

“It’s too bad the venom that she’s got, and I thought I was very nice to her,” Trump said of Maples to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “I’ve taken good care of her. But she’s got a lot of venom and it’s too bad. And it’s just not becoming of her, but I think she’ll probably be more responsible.”
“I mean you have a confidentiality agreement; you’re not allowed to talk,” continued Trump. “And she goes out and says, ‘I wouldn’t this, I wouldn’t that.’ So I say, ‘Why am I paying money to somebody that’s violated an agreement?’ But we’ll see what happens in the future and if in the future she continues I guess I`ll have to take very strong measures.”

Trump’s lawyer, Jay Goldberg, was even harsher in his criticism of Maples, saying, “The 15 minutes of glory ended when she left Donald’s side. So this is a perfect way to attract publicity. All of her actions stand for the proposition ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’”
Goldberg even took a shot at Maples’ intelligence, saying, “Ms. Maples didn’t have the capacity to understand, participate, or take a role in the business world. The public is quite aware of the difference in capacity, mental capacity, between Marla Maples and Ivana Trump.”

Then, Trump, who the Daily News reported was enraged by Maples’ comments, said he wouldn’t pay the remaining $1.5 million of his alimony, the balance of the pair’s divorce settlement which was due that week.
“We notified the court that we are not paying and that we are putting the check in an escrow account,” Trump’s lawyer said to the Daily News.
Maples’ lawyer, William Beslow, said the payment was overdue and that Maples “respects the privacy of her marriage.” They also hit back at Trump’s team for going after her.
“One has to ask, ‘Why now are Mr. Trump’s representatives maligning Ms. Maples?’ and the truth is clear,” Beslow stated. “They’re hoping to discredit Ms. Maples, so that if she chooses to say anything in the future, Mr. Trump can shrug it off as the words of an angry person whose intelligence should be questioned.”

The pair headed to court over the missed payment, but a Manhattan judge declined to consider Trump’s claims that Maples violated her prenuptial agreement.
“The interview reveals no details about the marriage,” Maples’ lawyer said. “In all other respects, she is as free as anyone to make statements about Mr. Trump.
Trump’s lawyer then claimed Trump had no intention of withholding alimony, but wanted to send a message.

“It was never our intention to withhold the $1.5 million check,” Goldberg said to the New York Post. “Our purpose was to send a message that she was playing close to the fire. That should slow her down.”
Goldberg took a parting shot at Maples, who he called a failure.
“She’s certainly a woman scorned,” he said. “She’s unhappy because she was a failure here in New York. She didn’t accomplish anything. She got no roles, except The Will Rogers Follies, which Donald got for her.”
Jennifer Bretan, a spokeswoman for Maples, blasted Trump to the Post.
“It’s the sign of real insecurity that Donald Trump feels the need to authorize his mouthpiece to strike out against an ex-wife who he has basically been holding financially hostage. ”
Meanwhile, Maples’ lawyer, Beslow, took a last shot at Trump.
“Ms. Maples left Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did not leave Ms. Maples,” Beslow said.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pic Of The Moment: Wingnuts Of The Week: Friday Roundup

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Energy Bill Now Full Of Horrible Environmental Provisions

Embattled pharma CEO endorses Trump

Trump 'Christian Policy' Adviser Is A 'Prophet' Who Stopped A Tsunami, Says AIDS Is Result Of 'Unnatural Sex'

Trump adviser: Trump wants a white male vice president to do all the presidenting he won't do

Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations Of White Nationalists

Louie Gohmert: No Gay Space Colonies!

Trump Hotel Bookings Plummet 60% as Global Boycott Escalates

Tom Cahill | May 26, 2016

Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination has come at a high cost to his hotel business.

Trump has run a campaign asking voters to have confidence in a potential presidency because of his business acumen. However, bookings at his line of hotels have declined dramatically since the blustery real estate heir launched his campaign for the presidency.

According to data from Hipmunk, Trump’s hotel bookings have dropped by an average of 59 percent compared to the last year, almost directly in line with when he entered the race and began attracting international attention for his racist and sexist remarks on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, other hotels saw a rise in sales compared to last year, showing this is not merely part of an industry-wide trend.

Trump’s luxury hotels, particularly in New York and Las Vegas, are seeing steep declines in reservations when comparing the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2015.


Hipmunk’s data showed that in the first quarter of 2015, Trump hotels held 1.7 percent of all hotel bookings in the cities that house them. But in the first quarter of 2016, that number dropped to just 0.7 percent of all hotel bookings. While that may not sound like much, the decline becomes much more apparent in the below graph:


In June, when Trump began his campaign with a simultaneous slight denigrating virtually all Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, Latino groups called for a boycott of all of Trump’s businesses, which continues today. While Trump boasts about the notoriety of his brand, many have come to view his brand as synonymous with racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and hatred.

As the billionaire continues his march as the Republican presidential nominee toward the November general election, his businesses may continue their sharp decline.

Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at tom.v.cahill@gmail.com.

This Wyoming Reporter Just Threw Cold Water On Trump's Coal Fantasy


During a press conference in advance of Donald Trump's energy speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference on May 26, Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson asked Donald Trump about his pledge to restore coal mining jobs: 


LEIGH PATERSON (Inside Energy reporter): Mr. Trump, you've said multiple times that you would bring coal mining jobs back. And I'm a reporter in Wyoming, the largest coal -- 

DONALD TRUMP: I know. I see it. By far. I was very impressed. 

PATERSON: So but, one of the main factors those jobs are going away and the mines are closing is because of low natural gas prices. Poor decision making by coal companies. 

TRUMP: And by government. 

PATERSON: And also because of slowing international demand. So do you believe you have power as the president to actually bring those jobs back? 

TRUMP: I do. Because I think ultimately coal will be very inexpensive and it's got to get -- you got to get rid of some of the regulations. I spoke to some of the mine owners, and they were surrounded by some of their miners. And they were showing me some of the regulations where it is on a daily basis going in checking, checking, checking. And they have people that do nothing but deal with regulators and it is out of control. It's gotten out of control. 

PATERSON: And what would you do about those market forces? 

TRUMP: Well, the market forces are going to be whatever they are. You know, all I can do is free up the coal which I'm going to totally do. Get the companies back to work, market forces, that's something I don't want to get involved in, that's a beautiful -- to me a market force is a beautiful force. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

GOPer's Op-ed On Meeting SCOTUS Nom Goes Up Before Actual Meeting


“Senator Hatch has made clear from the beginning that he intends to meet with Judge Garland out of respect for their longtime friendship,” the spokesperson, J.P. Freire, said. “He looks forward to their meeting and the opportunity to explain his position on the current Supreme Court vacancy.”

Paul Edwards, executive editor of the Deseret News, called the publication of the op-ed an "unfortunate error" in statement emailed to TPM.
"This morning, the Deseret News website mistakenly published a draft of an op-ed from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch explaining his position on the Supreme Court vacancy," Edwards said. "The electronic publication of this version, awaiting edits from the Senator following his meeting with Judge Garland, was inadvertent." 

Garland -- a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit -- has met with more than a dozen GOP senators, at least one of whom was willing to break with party line and say he deserved to go through the typical consideration process. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Hatch sits, have pledged to refuse to give any nominee of Obama's a hearing, because, they say, the successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia should be picked by the next president.

Coincidentally, days before Obama announced Garland as his selection, Hatch said the President wouldn't nominate a "moderate" like Garland, whom Hatch called a "fine man."
In the op-ed that was taken down Thursday, Hatch continued his praise for Garland, while reiterating his claim that the blockade was actually benefitting the appeals court judge.

"[H]olding the confirmation process amid the clamor and commotion of the current presidential election would thrust Judge Garland into a punishing political gauntlet that is below the dignity of a Supreme Court nominee," Hatch wrote. "Because I care for Judge Garland personally and want to maintain the integrity of the Supreme Court, I believe the Senate is right to fill the current vacancy after the political season has ended."

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Paul Edwards, the executive editor of the Deseret News.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The U.S. Is Running Part of Its Nuclear Forces on 8-Inch Floppy Drives


The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a startling report on the state of the government’s information technology infrastructure on Wednesday. According to the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) “coordinates the operational functions of the United States’ nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support aircrafts” with a 1970s computer system that uses 8-inch floppy disks.

The total amount that the government requested for information technology services in 2017 is $89 billion. The government plans to spend the vast majority of this IT budget on operations and maintenance, the report says.

Keeping up old systems, it seems, is getting more and more expensive. Even as the overall budget for IT systems in government is rising, the amount of money being spent on upgrading systems is declining, down $7.3 billion from 2010, according to the GAO report. The rest is being spent on ancient relics that still power important systems.

In some cases, agencies have been forced to hire retired employees to maintain systems that are decades out of date.

At the Department of the Treasury, for instance, the Individual Master File, the “authoritative data source for individual taxpayers where accounts are updated, taxes are assessed, and refunds are generated,” was programmed to run in assembly language, an expensive, hard to maintain programming language that runs on an IBM mainframe.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) tracks “claims filed by veterans for benefits, eligibility, and dates of death,” using COBOL, a computer language several decades beyond its prime.

While the DOD is planning to upgrade the system that uses floppy disks by the end of 2017, both the Treasury and the VA don’t have any plans to replace their systems, which means more maintenance costs in the long run, the report says.

The report recommends that Office of Budget Management call on individual agencies to identify and prioritize legacy information systems that are in need of replacement or modernization.

Monday, May 16, 2016

BREAKING: Trump Lied On Candidate Disclosure Form

Last Updated on May 16, 2016

There’s a reason Donald Trump is refusing to release his taxes, and it’s not just because of an ongoing audit at the IRS.
Recently it has just been discovered that Trump, in an effort to show the world how rich he is, valued one of his properties at “more than $50 million,” yet his attorneys, for tax purposes, tried to argue that it is really only worth $1.35 million. The property in question, The Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, is a sprawling 147-acre private club with manicured lawns, stone bridges, and has a 101-foot waterfall.

If Trump’s attorneys are legitimately trying to value the property correctly, then that means Trump lied on his candidate disclosure form.

But, here’s the thing: chances are what’s really happening is that Trump is drastically undervaluing the property in order to not pay his fair share of taxes on the property. Either way, he’s lying.
Here’s what we know: Trump bought the property for $8 million in a foreclosure sale and then immediately spent $45 million to build an 18-hole golf course, as well as a  75,000-square-foot clubhouse. Those improvements are quite substantial. That begs the question then, how on earth would Trump’s tax assessment decrease from the purchase price even with all of those upgrades?
That’s exactly what the town of Ossining is trying to figure out. Dana Levenberg, the town supervisor, says this is hurting their town’s revenues.
“Trump says he represents the little guy, but the little guy is going to have to pay his taxes for him here in Ossining.”
If Trump gets his way then that means he would be cutting his tax burden by 90 percent, dumping the burden on everyone else.
Further investigative research reveals that Trump’s lawyers are taking the same approach at Trump’s other properties around the country, in an attempt to limit how much taxes the billionaire actually pays.
Everyone is well aware of the loopholes that currently exist in the complicated environment of tax policy in the United States but this is something entirely different. On one hand, Trump is publicly boasting about how rich he is, and how much his properties are worth, but on the other hand, is trying to say they’re worth just a fraction of that when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam. And – it’s just wrong.
No wonder Trump is the only presidential candidate since 1976 to not release his tax returns. It all makes sense now.

What I learned analyzing 7 months of Donald Trump's tweets

Donald Trump's Twitter is a running stream of insults, slogans, and media commentary. But since this huge repository of rhetoric is operated by Trump himself, it also offers a glimpse into his unlikely rise.
So I decided to analyze it.
I sifted through more than seven and a half months' worth of @realDonaldTrump tweets posted between October 2015 and today. After filtering out retweets, quotes from other people, and article titles, I ended up with a list of 2,500 tweets. That's 44,231 words, or 263,624 characters, of unadulterated Trumpisms. Here’s what I found.

Trump’s Twitter is overwhelmingly negative in sentiment

The first thing I did was run a sentiment analysis on Trump’s tweets. This tool uses computational linguistics and natural language processing to determine if each tweet expresses a negative, neutral, or positive overall attitude.
Trump's statements break down as follows:
trum-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
Nearly half of the Donald's statements are negative in connotation — and the majority of them are outright insults. He especially likes to pester political consultant Karl Rove, whom he’s referred to, in at least 20 tweets, as a "dopey," "foolish," "dumb," and/or "moronic."
Trump seems to have a never-ending reserve of demeaning words. But exactly how sophisticated is his lexicon?
I compiled the 60 adjectives most frequently used by Trump on Twitter. Each is highlighted by its overall sentiment (green = positive; gray = neutral; red = negative).
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
Trump describes the things that please him with a a slew of monosyllabic adjectives: "great," "good," "nice." His word choice is repetitious and basic, bearing the enthusiasm of a bored teenage texter.
Trump's negative adjectives tell a different story. With people, places, or things he dislikes, his lexicon magically quadruples.
More than 65% of all adjectives Trump uses are negative in sentiment. Often, the presumptive Republican nominee's Twitter-sphere reads like a gloomy thesaurus: those who disagree with him are "phony," "fraudulent," "unethical," "worthless," or "hostile."

Trump uses more exclamation points than a kid on Christmas morning

In reinforcing his insults — as well as his excitement over things like puppets — Trump is extremely emphatic.
This is made clear by his rather aggressive use of exclamation marks.
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
Exclamation points can be found in 1,889 of his most recent 2,500 tweets — good for about 76% of everything he writes. Most typically, he uses them at the end of a sentence, in conjunction with an aforementioned demeaning adjective: "Sad!" "Pathetic!" "Stupid!"
Trump also displays his fervor by typing things in all-caps — otherwise known as "Internet yelling."
In the chart below, I’ve compiled Trump’s most frequently capitalized words. Omitted are abbreviations for time zones, countries and states, and naturally capitalized text (logos, news outlets, AM/PM, etc.).
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
Roughly 72% of the time Trump tweets his campaign slogan — "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" — he floors the caps-lock key.
We are also reminded here that Trump is a consummate salesman: his 20 uses of "CRIPPLED" are all pitches for his book, "Crippled America." Over the past seven months, he’s linked to this book no less than 15 times, pitching it as a "great holiday gift."

Trump tweets about the media WAY more than he tweets about his policies

When he's not busy tweeting exclamation-ridden jibes at Samuel L. Jackson, Cher, or Macy's department store, Trump uses his sizable platform to hound the media.
I did a keyword search of Trump’s tweets, looking for media-related terms like "news", "ratings", "interview", and "TV." Then, I compared these figures to the number of times he tweeted policy-related words like "immigration", "education" and "health care."
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
Trump devotes about 3.5 times more tweets to talking about the media than he does to discussing important, big-ticket policy issues.
In particular, he feels the need to aggrandize all of his television appearances. A look at his most commonly-used phrases (or strings of certain words) verifies this.
Not surprisingly, "Make America great again" comes out on top, with 90 instances (not including his 235 uses of the hashtag version, #makeamericagreatagain). But trailing not far behind, at 60 uses — more than "crooked Hillary Clinton" (16) and "I am self funding my campaign" (9) — is the phrase "I will be interviewed."
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
After each television appearance, Trump shares a link on Twitter, which is typically paired with a humble-brag about increased ratings, or a putdown of an interviewer he feels misrepresented him.
Oftentimes, Trump will reach out to said interviewer on Twitter and voice his complaint directly.
Lastly, I crawled through Trump’s "@" tweets to determine who he most frequently engages with. Astonishingly, 23 of the 25 people he interacts with the most on Twitter are members of the press. Jeb Bush and Karl Rove are lonely exceptions.
trump-twitter Zachary Crockett / Vox
At times, Trump's disdain for media seems to be more of a personal crusade than a matter of politics. He seems to show no real preference for conservative or liberal outlets, both of which heavily criticize him: on Trump's Twitter, Fox News and CNN are interchangeably referred to  as "great/nice/terrific" and "biased/overrated/unfair."

Shortly before announcing his bid last year, Trump told a political consultant of his plan to "walk away with [the election]." It largely had to do with commandeering the media.
"I’m going to suck all the oxygen out of the room," he reportedly said. "I know how to work the media in a way that they will never take the lights off of me."
Trump has engineered his Twitter to do just that — and it's worked.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Crossing the line: Trump's private conduct with women

By Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, New York Times

 Donald Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.

"Donald was having a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. There were about 50 models and 30 men. There were girls in the pools, splashing around. For some reason Donald seemed a little smitten with me. He just started talking to me and nobody else," Brewer Lane said.
She continued: "He suddenly took me by the hand, and he started to show me around the mansion. He asked me if I had a swimsuit with me. I said no. I hadn't intended to swim. He took me into a room and opened drawers and asked me to put on a swimsuit."
Brewer Lane, at the time a 26-year-old model, did as Trump asked. "I went into the bathroom and tried one on," she recalled. It was a bikini. "I came out, and he said, 'Wow.' "
Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach. "He brought me out to the pool and said, 'That is a stunning Trump girl, isn't it?' " Brewer Lane said.
Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults by the presumptive Republican nominee for president, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium.

But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters.
The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Trump over the past four decades and women who had dated him or interacted with him socially. In all, more than 50 interviews were conducted.

Their accounts reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections.
What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization.
Pressed on the women's claims, Trump disputed many of the details, such as asking Brewer Lane to put on a swimsuit. "A lot of things get made up over the years," he said. "I have always treated women with great respect. And women will tell you that."
But in many cases there was an unmistakable dynamic at play: Trump had the power, and the women did not.
For Brewer Lane, her introduction to Trump at Mar-a-Lago was the start of a whirlwind romance — a heady blur of helicopter rides and high-end hotel rooms and flashing cameras.
"It was intimidating," she said. "He was Donald Trump, obviously."

• • •

With his purchase of the Miss Universe Organization, Trump was in the business of young, beautiful women.
Temple Taggart, the 21-year-old Miss Utah, was startled by how forward he was with young contestants like her in 1997, his first year as the owner of Miss USA, a branch of the beauty pageant organization. As she recalls it, he introduced himself in an unusually intimate manner.
"He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, 'Oh my God, gross,' " Taggart said. "He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, 'Wow, that's inappropriate.' "

Trump disputes this, saying he is reluctant to kiss strangers on the lips.
His level of involvement in the pageants was unexpected, and his judgments, the contestants said, could be harsh. Carrie Prejean, who was 21 when she participated in the Miss USA contest in 2009 as Miss California, was surprised to find Trump personally evaluating the women at rehearsal.

"We were told to put on our opening number outfits — they were nearly as revealing as our swimsuits — and line up for him onstage," she wrote in her memoir, Still Standing.
"Donald Trump walked out with his entourage and inspected us closer than any general ever inspected a platoon. He would stop in front of a girl, look her up and down, and say, 'Hmmm.' Then he would go on and do the same thing to the next girl. He took notes on a little pad as he went along," Prejean wrote.
She continued: "It became clear that the point of the whole exercise was for him to divide the room between girls he personally found attractive and those he did not. Many of the girls found the exercise humiliating. Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after he left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began to impress 'The Donald.' "
Trump, in an interview, said he would "never do that." Such behavior, he said, would bruise egos and hurt feelings. "I wouldn't hurt people," he said. "That's hurtful to people."

• • •

Inside the Trump Organization, the company that manages his various businesses, Trump occasionally interrupted routine discussions of business to opine on women's figures. Barbara Res, Trump's former head of construction, remembered a meeting in which she and Trump interviewed an architect for a project in the Los Angeles area. Out of the blue, she said, Trump evaluated the fitness of women in Marina del Rey, Calif.
Years later, after she had gained a significant amount of weight, Res endured a stinging workplace observation about her own body from Trump. " 'You like your candy,' " she recalled him telling her. "It was him reminding me that I was overweight."
Her colleague Louise Sunshine experienced similar observations from Trump when she gained weight. But she saw it as friendly encouragement, not a cruel insult. "He thought I looked much better thin," she said. "He would remind me of how beautiful I was."

• • •

To build his business, Trump turned to women for a simple reason: They worked hard — often harder than men, he told them.
When Trump hired Res to oversee the construction of Trump Tower, he invited her to his apartment on Fifth Avenue and explained that he wanted her to be his "Donna Trump" on the project, she said. Few women had reached such stature in the industry.
"He said: 'I know you're a woman in a man's world. And while men tend to be better than women, a good woman is better than 10 good men,' " Res said. "He thought he was really complimenting me."
Trump entrusted several women in his company with enormous responsibility — once they had proved themselves worthy and loyal. Sunshine had little experience in real estate, but as a top campaign fundraiser for then-Gov. Hugh Carey of New York, she had fulfilled a lifelong wish for Trump: She secured him a vanity license plate with his initials, DJT, which adorned his limousine for years.

Sunshine worked for Trump for 15 years, becoming a major New York real estate figure in her own right. Res remained at the company for 12 years, left after a disagreement over a project and then returned as a consultant for six more years. Both expressed gratitude for the chances Trump had taken on them.
In a rough-and-tumble industry thoroughly dominated by men, Trump's office stood out for its diversity, recalled Alan Lapidus, an influential architect who designed the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City."

"He is a lot more complicated than the cartoon character. The top people in his company were women, like Barbara Res," Lapidus said. "For any company to hire a woman as chief of construction was actually startling. I don't know of a single other developer who had a woman in that position. The respect for women was always there. That's why, in spite of the comments he makes now — and God knows why he says these things — when he was building his empire, the backbone was women."

Trump says the world misunderstands his relationship with women.
He sees himself as a promoter of women — a man whose business deals have given them untold opportunities for employment and advancement. "Hundreds and hundreds of women, thousands of women, are the better for it," he said.

Trump Slams Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson for Favoring Rubio

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump Tuesday slammed Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson on Twitter for backing challenger Marco Rubio because "he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet."

Here is Trump's tweet:  

Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!

Adelson, 82, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has said that he likes the Florida senator, but officials have said that he has made no firm decision on who to support.

Republican hopefuls turned out in force in April to court Adelson's support during the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson's Venetian Hotel.

He has been seeking a pro-Israel candidate with broad enough appeal to win the White House next year. Adelson is the No. 12 on the Forbes list of the world's richest people.
In 2012 he spent at least $100 million backing Republican candidates. Adelson was attacked by the mainstream press for spending $15 million on former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the primary instead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the eventual nominee.

Trump is financing his primary bid. He has attacked both Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as "low energy."