The behind-the-scenes complicity of Ivanka Trump

Ivanka and daddy Donald.

Until Ivanka Trump’s interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning which aired this past Wednesday, it was unclear what Ms. Trump’s role in the White House actually involves, other than possession of a top-level security clearance, attendance at multiple high-level meetings and the occupation of a coveted West Wing office.

Now, at least we know that a large part of Ms. Trump’s position is, as she presents it, the White House’s “Oh, Dad!”-er In Chief.

“I speak up frequently. And my father agrees with me on so many issues. And where he doesn’t, he knows where I stand,” Ms. Trump assured Ms. King.

“Can you give us – ” Ms. King said.

“It’s not my administration,” Ms. Trump responded, all but adding an “I just work here.”

Specifics, it seems, are for little people.

Ms. King’s curiosity in this matter is understandable. Throughout the election and beyond, Ivanka Trump was bandied about as Team Trump’s token-but-highly-influential moderate, a lady moderate, no less. Ms. Trump was, we were to understand, the modern young woman who made it okay to vote for the guy who boasted of being able to “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

It was insinuated, often by Ivanka herself, that she would, in some behind-the-scenes old-fashioned daughterly way, keep her dad in line, at least as far as it came to issues such as women’s health care.

“Do not be alarmed by Mr. Trump’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood and his apparent openness to penalizing women who choose to have an abortion,” Americans were essentially told. “This man is not American Ceausescu. For he has a girl-child! A New York girl-child!” But, months in, it is difficult – in all the actions, failed actions and in the stated agenda of Donald Trump’s team – to find a shred of a policy that might conceivably have been influenced by the kind of character Ivanka Trump has been attempting to play.

What is increasingly clear about most of the Trump family members is that even though they are collectively attempting to run the United States now, they seem to share an expectation that the media will continue to write the same kind of puff-piece, brand-promoting, semi-fawning stories about them as they have mostly seen go to print – only now there should be more of them.

The assumption seems to have been that, having achieved office, an entire library of in-flight magazine prose should be devoted to the Trumps. Even remotely hardball questions are characterized by the family and their supporters as way out of bounds.

“I put it into trust. I have independent trustees,” Ms. Trump said waspishly when asked the should-have-seen-it-coming-like-a big-soft-beach-ball question about the current status of her business.

That would be the same business that issued an e-mail Style Alert drawing reporters’ attention to the sight of “Ivanka Trump wearing her favourite bangle from the Metropolis Collection on 60 Minutes,” brazenly hawking a $10,800 (U.S.) diamond bracelet.

“But the trustees are family members, right? Your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law?” said Ms. King, on behalf of sentient life everywhere.

“They are,” Ms. Trump said, “But they’re completely independent. And I’m transparent about that.”

Well, thanks, Ms. Trump, that didn’t even attempt the smell test.

Is Ivanka trying to tell us that she acknowledges that her family members are in fact members of her family? Are we meant to be impressed by this remarkable display of honesty? (Although, to be fair, I’m not sure I’d cop to Eric.)

“I’d like the perks of power, hold the accountability,” is the gist of all Trump family communications.

Read the other half of the complete article by Tabatha Southey on the Globe and Mail newspaper web site.

Wit and Wisdom of Donald J Trump. Free pdf

Biographies of famous people always include some of the subject’s wise and witty sayings. Donald J. Trump is no exception. Here within are the up-to-this-date collection of sayings by Donald J. Trump which have earned him a top spot in the annals of American Presidents.

Download your free copy in PDF format…. Wit & Wisdom of Donald J Trump

Judge rejects Trump defense against claim he incited violence at rally

A federal judge has rejected President Donald Trump’s free speech defense in a lawsuit in which he is accused of inciting violence against protesters during his campaign.

Trump’s lawyers sought to dismiss the lawsuit by three protesters who say they were roughed up by Trump supporters at a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville.

Trump’s lawyers contend that when the candidate said “Get ’em out of here”, he didn’t intend for his supporters to use force.

Two women and a man say they were shoved and punched by audience members as Trump directed them from the podium. Much of the scuffle was captured on video and widely broadcast during the presidential campaign.

Judge David J Hale in Louisville ruled on Friday that the suit against Trump, his campaign and three of his supporters can proceed.

Hale found that there were ample facts supporting the allegation that the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions.

“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote.

Two of the Trump supporters are named in the suit. They are Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA) from Ohio, and Matthew Heimbach, a leader of the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network from Paoli, Indiana.

Bamberger reportedly expressed regret over having been “caught up in the frenzy” at the rally, in a statement to the KWVA last year.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, says Heimbach is “considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists”.

Source: The Guardian newspaper web site.

Republican infighting is part of being Republican


‘Working together, this unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare,’ Paul Ryan said despite health advocates’ criticism of bill. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Trumpcare failed to pass but the real problem is that the Republican Party is plagued by partisan infighting. Mr. Trump was able to use the ideological differences between factions in the party to his advantage during the election campaign. Not only did he overthrow the party’s traditional leadership, he united many of the other competing interests in the party.

But the campaign is over now. The factions in Congress are starting to make the President’s life much more difficult. What’s the basis of Republican disunity? Aren’t Republicans, whether elites or voters, all staunch conservatives who oppose the Democrats?

Jon MacKay is an affiliate researcher of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation. William Bendix is assistant professor of political science at Keene State College, in New Hampshire. Together they examined how several hundred interest groups have rated congressional Republicans since 2001. They found three distinct factions that were stable over time. Each represented different sets of ideological interests. The party leaders reside in what we call the corporate-establishment faction – a group that advances pro-business policies. The difficulty is that two other Republican factions also compete for power: a lunch-pail faction, whose members focus on working-class issues, and an ethno-radical faction, whose members support a mix of nativist and fiscally regressive policies. You can read their research here…. 2016 08 18 Bendix & MacKay Partisan Republican Infighting

What’s become clear is that any policy decision Donald Trump makes is now likely to produce as many losers as winners within their party’s coalition.

After the health-care defeat, Mr. Trump has said he’ll next turn to tax cuts, dramatically lowering taxes across the board. His plan, estimated to reduce federal revenues by $6-trillion (U.S.) over ten years, will provide much greater tax relief to the affluent than it will to middle- and working-class voters. This makes it, in many respects, a mainstream Republican proposal.

But that’s the problem. Massive revenue cuts need to be offset by large spending cuts, otherwise the national debt will balloon. Mr. Trump wants to boost military spending, cut taxes and slash industry oversight and entitlement programs. That likely suits the corporate establishment and the ethno-radicals of the party, but it will outrage most everyone else – including lunch-pail voters. True, Trump could cut taxes and increase spending without totally blowing up the budget by issuing 100-year bonds. But it’s hard to imagine the ethno-radicals supporting this big-government, big-debt strategy.

Trade protectionism, another pillar of Mr. Trump’s election campaign, is the most important issue for Canada. Although famously inconsistent on many issues, Trump has been unwavering on trade. He has already abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership and has said that he wants to reopen NAFTA, impose tariffs on individual firms, and possibly withdraw the U.S. from the World Trade Organization.

These promises are aimed at lunch-pail Republicans, who have seen manufacturing jobs disappear over the last three decades. But this anti-trade agenda is at odds with the corporate establishment of the party – which has, since at least Ronald Reagan, advocated trade liberalization.

You may read the complete article on the Globe and Mail newspaper web site.

‘Turkish Trump,’ a Hotel Plan and a Tangle of Foreign Ties

Mukemmel Sarimsakci, a real estate executive who goes by Mike, or “Turkish Trump.” Credit Jake Dean

Before taking office, Donald J. Trump pledged that his business empire would forgo new deals abroad while he was president. But as the Trump Organization unveils a new brand of hotels, that promise is not preventing the company from bringing foreign deals home.

The company, now largely run by Mr. Trump’s eldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., has been pursuing a downtown Dallas hotel project with a real estate firm that has deep Turkish roots. The hotel, if built, would fall under the Trump Organization’s Scion chain, a more affordable alternative to its five-star luxury line.

An examination by The New York Times of records including corporation registrations, private emails and archived websites found that Alterra Worldwide, the real estate firm that would own the hotel and be partners with the Trumps, has business ties in Russia, Kazakhstan and at least two dozen other countries. Ordinarily, such international experience would be a selling point for the firm, but it is a complicating factor when dealing with Mr. Trump’s company, where concerns already have been raised internally about some of Alterra’s foreign connections.

Alterra’s president, Mukemmel Sarimsakci, is a familiar face in Dallas, where he has recruited foreign investment to other developments that earned praise from city officials. Mr. Sarimsakci — who goes by Mike, or, alternatively, the “Turkish Trump” — is also listed on an expert consultant website charging $465 an hour for advice on doing business in such countries as Iran, Mexico and Nigeria. And he has counseled the governments of Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Sudan and Georgia, among others, on renewable energy, he acknowledged to The Times.

In January, then President-elect Trump and his lawyers announced his ethics plan, which included putting his business in a trust managed by his two eldest sons and an executive, while also appointing an outside ethics adviser and a chief compliance counsel to review potential deals.

In drafting his presidential ethics policy, Mr. Trump gave extra consideration to international dealings, given the emoluments clause of the Constitution banning federal employees from accepting gifts from foreign leaders or governments. He pledged that profits made from foreign governments at existing Trump hotels would be donated to the United States Treasury.

Projects in the United States, even those funded with foreign money, arguably pose less of a reputational and ethical threat to the company and the president because they would be subject to local laws and regulations. Even so, once foreign money is involved, it can be difficult to trace its origins.

Read the complete article on the New York Times web site.

What would a city look like without undocumented immigrants? – video

Charlotte, North Carolina is a ‘gateway city’ for immigrants, who prop up its construction, health and food industries – not to mention its tax base. If all undocumented workers were to be deported, as the Trump administration is threatening, the consequences could be dire.

‘Trump lies all the time’: Bernie Sanders

has launched a withering attack on Donald Trump, accusing him of being a pathological liar who is driving America towards authoritarianism.

In an interview with the Guardian, the independent senator from Vermont, who waged a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, gave a bleak appraisal of the new White House and its intentions.

He warned that Trump’s most contentious outbursts against the media, judiciary and other pillars of American public life amounted to a conscious assault on democracy.

“Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.”

Bernie Sanders on the resistance movement in Trump’s America – video

Sanders’ warning comes 50 days into the Trump presidency at a time when the country is still reeling from the shock elevation of a real estate businessman and reality TV star to the world’s most powerful office. In that brief period, the new incumbent of the White House has launched attacks on former president Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy; on visitors from majority-Muslim countries, refugees and undocumented immigrants; and on trade agreements and environmental protection programs.

Speaking to the Guardian in his Senate office in Washington DC, Sanders said that he was concerned about what he called Trump’s “reactionary economic program of tax breaks to billionaires and devastating cuts to programs that impact the middle class”. But he reserved his most excoriating language for what he believes are the president’s authoritarian tendencies.

He charged Trump with devising a conscious strategy of lies denigrating key public institutions, from the mainstream media to judges and even the electoral process itself, so that he could present himself as the sole savior of the nation. The aim was to put out the message that “the only person in America who stands for the American people, the only person in America who is telling the truth, the only person in America who gets it right is the president of the United States, Donald Trump”.

Trump’s fragile relationship with the truth has been one of the distinguishing features of his fledgling administration. He astonished observers by calling a judge who issued a legal ruling blocking his travel ban a “so-called judge”, accused Obama without producing any evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower, and claimed falsely that up to 5 million votes had been cast illegally in the November election.

Read the complete article in The Guardian newspaper web site.