Tag Archives: In the News

Taking Down the Robert E. Lee…

Everything about this afternoon’s presser was insane: the stagecraft—coming off the elevator to a waiting podium, the Cabinet Secretaries standing uncomfortably beside him (that animatronic Steven Mnuchin they trotted out needs work, though; he did not seem very lifelike at all), his snarling interactions with the press, his insistence that Saturday’s statement about Charlottesville was “fine” (the way he said it, he sounded like someone trying to convince the pawnbroker that the ring they’re selling is 24-caret gold), to his putting statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and George Washington on the same pedestal (I tweeted a short history lesson to him) and calling some Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists “nice people”), to his walk-off through the lobby was nuts. But for a man who claims he likes to wait before making a state so he knows it’s true told quite a few whoppers. One of them was about something I took personally at the time.

While introducing his new, streamlined process for approving large infrastructure projects (they’ll still have to be reviewed by the EPA, he assures us, although given this NYTimes story about Scott Pruitt, that doesn’t really count for much), he remarked that, as a builder, he knows from over-regulation. Why, he had to deal with regulations to build Tr**p Tower. And that’s the issue.

Before that platinum-plated memorial to one man’s bad taste was erected, the corner of Fifth and 57th was the home of Bonwit Teller, a department store that catered to the carriage trade. The store was built in the late 1920s, and the facade included lovely Art Deco bas reliefs. While I was growing up, my mother’s mother, Sylvia Rothenberg worked there in what was then called the “foundations” department (if you were a woman of a certain class and age, it was a good bet you were fitted for your bra by my Nana). We used to visit her there, and I was always fascinated by those reliefs (it didn’t hurt that they depicted scantily clad ladies).

When Il Douché bought the property, to get the various tax abatements and, yes, regulatory approvals, he agreed to preserve the reliefs, and the gilded latticework over the main entrance. The Museum of Modern Art wanted them for their collection. As did the New York Historical Society. But when it came time to demolish the building, the wrecking ball destroyed them. Asked why, John Barron (one of the aliases he used to speak to the press) said his people told him they were “without artistic merit.” The longer the story remained in the news, the cost to remove them went up. First it was $32,000, then $500,000, and finally, he gave up on the cost, and blamed it on safety issues.

It’s now a (sadly) too familiar story: Tr**p makes a promise, breaks it, using the excuse that some people  told him something, lying about the cost, then making up another excuse entirely. Anyone who really believes he’s going to make a “pivot” is simply lying to themselves. Being a conniving liar who makes promises without any intent to keep them is who he is, and is not going to change.


Obscene Paragraphs—Soot Bull Jeepers Edition

Now it gets scary.

Il Douché is now engaged in a nuclear game of chicken with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un,  possibly the only leader who matches him for impulsive lunacy. Their foreign policies can both be reduced to “There’s only room on this planet for one egomaniacal man-toddler with nuclear arms, and it’s me!”

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Up until now, most of what Il Douché did (or tried to do) could be reversed. We could rejoin the Paris Climate Accords when a saner person occupies the Oval Office; Obamacare remains the law of the land, and even if he allows it die of of a thousand cuts, a competent administrator could revive it; and he has shown precious little ability to get bills passed. About the only action he’s taken with lasting impact has been the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and he only was given that chance by Mitch McConnell’s willingness to stamp his feet and hold his breath until a GOP president could make the nomination.

But with North Korea’s brazen tests, we’ve entered into a world where even the slightest misstep or misreading of the often subtle diplomatic signal could plunge the world into nuclear war.

And how does Il Douché react. Just as you’d expect: like a spoiled child, with bluster and threats. From the New York Times

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Let’s unpack this for a second—North Korea has been making the kind of threats that normal states don’t. His response: make the kind of threats not made by a normal state. Our only hope is that the adults on both sides of the table (and there appear to be precious few in the White House) can get these two undisciplined  toddlers into a “time out” and deal with this before either one of them decides to show he can wear his big boy pants and hits the button. Otherwise, we’ll be looking for those old fallout shelter signs.


Obscene Paragraphs: Forty Loesches Edition

This is the face of evil.

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This is Dana Loesch, the NRA’s Spokes-virago.

They’ve  released a new ad that is jaw-droppingly awful, even considering the source. This rancid, bile-spewing harpy claiming to be the voice of “we the people,” goes on an unhinged minute-long rampage against the New York Times, putting the paper on notice that she will not stand for their “narratives” (one wonders how she expects it tell stories without narratives. I doubt she has much use for the  experimental novels of Ronald Sukenik or Robbe-Grillet. Is this now a coded term on the right, like “cosmopolitan“?).

“Narrative” is not the only odd locution in the ad. She sneers out her contempt for what she claims is The Times “protection of [its] Democrat overlords” and the paper’s “pretentious” assertion that is it “truth or fact-based journalism.” She also engages in a bit of protection, claiming that the Times “refuses to accept any truth that upsets the fragile construct that [it] considers ‘real life’,” which is odd, since “refusing to accept any truth that upsets a fragile construct” is practically the slogan of Sean Hannity: Presidential Proctologist, and other pro-Tr**p media.

She’s not done, though. Things really gets strange about 30 seconds in, where she promises to “fist” the paper. Some believe she actually says “Fisk,” as in a detailed analysis, but that’s tough to square with the her promise to find “just what deep, rich means” to the paper she calls an “old gray hag,” who, if that’s not bad enough, is a “dishonest, untrustworthy rag,”  before falling into a Randian swoon, claiming that it has “subsisted on the welfare of mediocrity” for “one, two, three more decades.” (Notwithstanding the sudden change of tense, what does this mean?). She promises lasers (maybe she’ll find polyps?) and more unpleasantness before getting to what, you have to think, is the meat of her message: “we’re coming for you.”

Plus the video is accompanied on the NRA site by the hastag #ClenchedFistOfTruth. (Then again, just about everything about Loesch could be described as “clenched.”

Is this what we have become after a little more than half -a-year of Tr**p? Where an  organization representing an armed populace feels comfortable enough to make public threats against the Free Press. When a group that believes not just gun possession but open carry should be legal calls on its membership to go after a newspaper, how soon before they rustle up an armed posse to visit Times bureaus across the country, to say nothing of its headquarters. Does the NRA really believe that the Second Amendment trumps the first?

If they do, were probably in more trouble than we think.

 

 

 


Obscene Paragraphs: Secure Is Worse Than The Lease Edition

You’d think that modern-day Presidents would do almost anything to keep the Secret Service nearby—these are the people pledged with protecting them; agents will quite literally take a bullet for the President. But other Presidents weren’t Il Douché.

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Since his election, the Secret Service has set up a command post in  Tr**p Tower,  one floor below the President’s residence. But no more. According to the Washington Post,  the agency and the president’s company were unable to reach an agreement on a lease,  and they’re treating the Secret Service the same way they treat a tenant who has leased a storefront that could get higher rent from a band or Duane Reade: demand a rent increase, and if they don’t ascede, evict them. In July, the post moved from the apartment into a trailer on the sidewalk in front the building, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street (which much have made the neighbors—carriage trade retailers such as Tiffany and Bergdorf Goodman—cringe).  As a spokesperson for the Tr**p Organization put it:

“After much consideration, it was mutually determined that it would be more cost effective and logistically practical for the Secret Service to lease space elsewhere,” spokeswoman Amanda Miller wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

You’d think, that with Robert Mueller’s office getting ready to empanel a Grand Jury that could look into their business dealings, the Tr**p Organization might have more pressing issues than squeezing every last dime out of the government Tr**p supposedly leads. You hear people making all kinds of sacrifices for what was once called the “privilege” of public service, but not our Douché. He’s determined to get as much cash from being holding office as he can, even at the cost of his (and his family’s) safety.

 


Obscene Paragraphs—Yes, the New Yorker Edition

The Mooch mooched his way into the a White House dinner last night. Most people wouldn’t think that’s something to hide, but in the Il Douché Administration, that’s not always the case. When the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reported on the seemingly innocuous meal (also getting only one scoop of ice cream while Il Douché enjoys two were the First Lady, Sean Hannity: Presidential Proctologist!, and former Fox executive Bill Shine) that, in a normal administration, would have been announced to public as part of the President’s calendar. But the Mooch saw something darker; he saw it as the work of that emptiest of empty suits, Reince Priebus. He even imagines Priebus’ scheming: “‘Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months’.”

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“I’m sorry Ma’am , but you’re not on my list. ” Anthony Scaramucci, trying to look tough working the VIP entrance at Mar-A-Lago (photo credit: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post / Getty)

Yes, America, it took only six months before Tr**p—who has been teasing the firing of Jeff Sessions like a season ending cliffhanger—turned the Federal Government into  The White Housewives of America.

Of course, the Mooch had to get to the bottom of the seemingly bottomless well of Douché palace intrigue. Who leaked his dinner plans?, he demanded, like Captain Queeg ranting about strawberries.

What’s truly stunning is when he tries to appeal to Lizza’s better angels:

You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”

Yes, this leak (and leak is really too strong a word for it. Idle gossip is probably closer to the truth) is a major catastrophe. Thank God that we don’t know how he ordered his steak.

 


Ja-Rent?

In his written statement to the Senate Committee investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election, Mr. Ivanka, fresh from his stint doubling Michael Sera and recording high-pitched birdcalls,  explained that he couldn’t possibly be expected to remember all this meetings with foreign governments, much less file the necessary papers.

According to today’s Forward (a paper who might be expected to go easy on the Orthodox First-Son-In-Law) not filing papers seems to be habit.

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In 2013, his company bought a 46-unit apartment complex in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Let us pause here, and consider this purchase for a moment. By 2013, Williamsburg had  long passed from an undiscovered, low-rent neighborhood into the Far-East Village, so he was buying at the top of the market. Not exactly the business savvy you’d hope to find in the man charged with “American Innovation.”) As part of the deal, he put the building under New York City’s rent stabilization law, which netted him a healthy $1.2 million tax break.

Just one problem. More than three years after the sale, the Kushner Co. has yet to register any of the units on the city’s rent stabilization roles. A spokesman claimed this was just an oversight, just like his forgetting to include those meetings with the Russian Ambassador in his security filings. But they haven’t jacked up the rents, promise. Like his letter to the Senate Committee, he thinks that should put the matter to rest.

The building’s address is 50 N. First Street; according to this real estate listing, the average rent is over $4,000. Does anyone know someone who lives there? Would love to hear from them….

 


Jared’s No Jewel…

While Jared Kushner, the Carlo Rizzi of the Tr**p family, spoke to investigators from the Senate committee looking into TrumpRussia today, and while that meeting was behind closed doors, his written statement was published by the Washington Post. He does not come off well. If there was collusion, the Russians are not getting their money’s worth. Like students at Trump University, we’re discovering what happens when you make a deal with Donald Tr**p: shoddy workmanship, passed off to underlings not trained to deliver the work promised.

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Mr. Bluth will see you now…

As you’d expect, the document is padded with Presidential venerations—how Donald Tr**p didn’t need any help from the Russians,  the campaign nimbly responded to new challenges, and that his father-in-law “had the right vision for America, and delivered his message perfectly.” All of which should let you know that either he has lost his short-term memory (because my memory was of a campaign that lurched from crisis to crisis, including getting into a shouting match with a Gold Star family) is lying, or is stupid enough to believe it.

After reading the eleven-page document, I’m going with the latter two. Because while President Father-In-Law was piling up the portfolios in Mr. Ivanka’s inbox (the Middle East! Innovation! ) he plodded along, a walking conformation of the Peter Principle.

With each new task, he told the Committee, he would “reach out to contacts…find the right person to manage the specific challenge, and work with that person to develop and execute a plan of action.” Sounds like Business 101, right? But even at that, Mr. Ivanka was overwhelmed. Why, he received nearly 200 emails a day during the campaign! From (approximately) 15 countries! How could he be expected to remember all the contacts he had with foreign representatives?

Not only that, he didn’t even know the Russian Ambassador’s name! How could he collude with someone if he didn’t know their name? Or know how to get in contact with them, even if he did.  That form he submitted about his foreign contacts? Well, he didn’t just leave off the Russians, he left off meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, “Bibi” Netanyahu, and Mexico’s foreign minister. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

And, as for the  June 2016 meeting the Junior Don set up with that Russian lawyer at Tr**p Tower….let’s just say he didn’t “love it!”  as much as his brother-in-law. He didn’t even read the email.  It was “calendared,” and if iCalendar says to be somewhere, Mr. Ivanka goes. How many people were there, who they were, what the agenda was…all blank spaces in Mr. I’s memory. The one thing he does remember was that he was bored, and eventually asked his assistant to call him, so he could get out of there. Nothing to see here…

At the end of this document, which should fear in the heart of anyone who thinks that, regardless of party affiliation, government requires competent, able individuals, he writes, in bold text to you know he’s serious:

I did not collude, nor know of anyone in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance  my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to filing my FS-86 form, above and beyond what is required .

He concludes by hoping this “puts the matter to rest.” Can’t imagine that will be the case.

 


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