Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A 16-year-old steps up

“One lesson that I have learned working with Chris is that in most communities the young people probably aren't getting heard. And it's taught me not to discount the youth in this community.” — BJ Murphy, mayor of Kinston, North Carolina 

I THOUGHT it might be nice to hear something positive for a change. We all can make a difference if we decide to. This story is from ABC News.

Christopher Suggs Takes Action Against Gun Violence in Kinston, North Carolina

By Adam Rivera
August 31, 2016

Kinston, North Carolina, is a “great small town” according to 16-year-old Chris Suggs. It has been that way as long as he can remember.

“Everybody knows everybody. Everybody loves and supports each other,” he said.

But in 2014, the city was on edge. A spree of gun violence played out on the streets, at times involving local youth. Organized gang activity was a major factor and residents were afraid of getting caught in the crossfire.

Tired of the seemingly relentless shootings, Suggs wanted to figure out how to curb the violence.

“Since young people are affected by these issues, we also need to be at the table when it comes to developing solutions,” Suggs said. That’s when he came up with the idea of starting Kinston Teens. “I've always been passionate about my community and trying to make a difference. So when it came to trying to start an organization focused around those things it was really easy for me.”

In Oct. 2014, Suggs held a press conference at the local library and invited community officials, young people and the school administrators to hear a clear message: Kinston youth has a voice too. “Immediately young people started getting on board and adults started supporting us,” said Suggs. “We started making the news and to make a difference.”

From street cleaning to creating mentor programs and a youth leadership summit, Kinston Teens is focusing on short-term goals with immediate visible impact while planting the seeds for Kinston’s younger generation to be inspired and reach their potential.

Since it began, the organization has had more than 1,000 youths participate and get involved in the Kinston community. “One thing I've learned is that a lot of people don't volunteer because they've really never been asked to,” said Suggs. “But once I ask them, that lights a spark in their head and they want to join the movement.”

Suggs has also developed strong relationships with Kinston leaders and the Kinston Police Department. “Chris came to us as a young boy. He wasn't even a teenager then. But he had unbelievable outside-thinking strategies. As a police chief, you want that connection with the youth.” said Chief Greg Thompson.

“One lesson that I have learned working with Chris,” said Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy, “is that in most communities the young people probably aren't getting heard. And it's taught me not to discount the youth in this community.”

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons from the garden

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

YOU MAY recall that Paul planted a birthday garden for me. A beautiful, loving gift from a beautiful, loving man. The garden has prospered and grown. 

Originally, however, we'd put some of the plants in the wrong place. We planted impatiens in an area that was too sunny and hot for them. After watching them struggle to hardly live, we moved them all, every last one, to a bed in the back of the yard that doesn't get as much sun, and there they've thrived.

We put in vincas and zinnias where the impatiens started out, and the vincas and zinnias loved the hot sun and laughed at dry days. The zinnias have become bushes and the vincas mounds of flowers. 

Paul and I had a rare day entirely free of obligation this past Sunday, and we spent it doing small, household nesting chores together, but mostly we puttered in the garden. Paul pulled weeds in a bed we've yet to resurrect, as I made my way through the vincas. 

One of the flower-tending tasks I perform as often as I can is removing spent blooms. It's especially consequential to pick dropped vinca blossoms because the tissue of the old blooms decomposes, desiccates and forms a thin but tenacious film over whatever is beneath — leaf, flower or bud.

This dead-petal coating proves particularly destructive to buds. If a spent bloom lands on one, it forms a shroud over the bud, effectively sealing it shut and preventing it from opening. When I pull off the remnant of the old bloom, sometimes the bud will expand and open right before my eyes. It's life-affirming to watch. Those that don't open immediately, will by morning.

As I watched one bud unfurl, I thought about how we're sometimes like shrouded buds. There can be people around us who keep us from opening up and blooming as nature intended. Acquaintance, supposed-friend or relative, whether they mean to or not, they bind us within ourselves, and we miss the opportunity to flourish.

Or maybe we're like the impatiens that were planted in the wrong place, somewhere we intrinsically aren't suited to grow . . . and we never will . . . until we're situated somewhere else offering favorable growing conditions. 

We often blame ourselves for it, telling ourselves that we 'shouldn't' let that person make us feel inadequate or incapable or less-than, or if we just 'try harder' we can somehow rearrange our DNA and be able to survive inhospitable surroundings.

But you know what I think? You and I should be what and how and who we were built to be, and in the absence of a gardener who will transplant us to where we belong or gently and carefully remove our shroud (how lucky Paul and I are that we've been able to do that for each other) — we have to do it for ourselves. 

Stop worrying about why someone always makes you feel bad. Stop analyzing what you're doing 'wrong' and exit yourself as much as you possibly can from ever being around them. And if you really look at your choices, you have way more opportunities to put them in the rear view mirror than you think you do. 

Stop turning yourself inside out to fit someone else and just be YOU — beautiful, blooming you.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Following in his father's footsteps

“I asked him what to do and he says, ‘Take the application and put it in a drawer and leave it there,’” — Stanley Leibowitz

I HAVE a friend who was accused of saying that anyone who supports Donald Trump is a racist, and vigorously defended himself against the accusation. He says he didn't say it and isn't implying it. 

I, on the other hand, have no such scruples. 

I take that back. I will allow that there is one other possibility. If you're a Trump supporter you're either A) a racist or B) ignorant as all hell. If you don't know the man's well-documented history, it's option B. If you do, the only other possible explanation is option A. 

This article from The New York Times is for anyone in category B.

Donald Trump standing, Fred C. Trump seated in 1973. The New York Times

‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias

By Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder

August 27, 2016

She seemed like the model tenant. A 33-year-old nurse who was living at the Y.W.C.A. in Harlem, she had come to rent a one-bedroom at the still-unfinished Wilshire Apartments in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. She filled out what the rental agent remembers as a “beautiful application.” She did not even want to look at the unit.

There was just one hitch: Maxine Brown was black.

Stanley Leibowitz, the rental agent, talked to his boss, Fred C. Trump.

“I asked him what to do and he says, ‘Take the application and put it in a drawer and leave it there,’” Mr. Leibowitz, now 88, recalled in an interview.

It was late 1963 — just months before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act — and the tall, mustachioed Fred Trump was approaching the apex of his building career. He was about to complete the jewel in the crown of his middle-class housing empire: seven 23-story towers, called Trump Village, spread across nearly 40 acres in Coney Island.

He was also grooming his heir. His son Donald, 17, would soon enroll at Fordham University in the Bronx, living at his parents’ home in Queens and spending much of his free time touring construction sites in his father’s Cadillac, driven by a black chauffeur.

“His father was his idol,” Mr. Leibowitz recalled. “Anytime he would come into the building, Donald would be by his side.”

Over the next decade, as Donald J. Trump assumed an increasingly prominent role in the business, the company’s practice of turning away potential black tenants was painstakingly documented by activists and organizations that viewed equal housing as the next frontier in the civil rights struggle.

The Justice Department undertook its own investigation and, in 1973, sued Trump Management for discriminating against blacks. Both Fred Trump, the company’s chairman, and Donald Trump, its president, were named as defendants. It was front-page news, and for Donald, amounted to his debut in the public eye.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying of the government’s allegations.

Looking back, Mr. Trump’s response to the lawsuit can be seen as presaging his handling of subsequent challenges, in business and in politics. Rather than quietly trying to settle — as another New York developer had done a couple of years earlier — he turned the lawsuit into a protracted battle, complete with angry denials, character assassination, charges that the government was trying to force him to rent to “welfare recipients” and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation.

When it was over, Mr. Trump declared victory, emphasizing that the consent decree he ultimately signed did not include an admission of guilt.

But an investigation by The New York Times — drawing on decades-old files from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, internal Justice Department records, court documents and interviews with tenants, civil rights activists and prosecutors — uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties, in New York and beyond.

That history has taken on fresh relevance with Mr. Trump arguing that black voters should support him over Hillary Clinton, whom he has called a bigot.

While there is no evidence that Mr. Trump personally set the rental policies at his father’s properties, he was on hand while they were in place, working out of a cubicle in Trump Management’s Brooklyn offices as early as the summer of 1968.

Then and now, Mr. Trump has steadfastly denied any awareness of any discrimination at Trump properties. While Mr. Trump declined to be interviewed for this article, his general counsel, Alan Garten, said in a statement that there was “no merit to the allegations.” And there has been no suggestion of racial bias toward prospective residents in the luxury housing that Mr. Trump focused on as his career took off in Manhattan in the 1980s.

In the past, Mr. Trump has treated the case as a footnote in the narrative of his career. In his memoir “The Art of the Deal,” he dispensed with it in five paragraphs. And while stumping in Ohio, he even singled out his work at one of his father’s properties in Cincinnati, omitting that, at the time, the development was the subject of a separate discrimination lawsuit — one that included claims of racial slurs uttered by a manager whom Mr. Trump had personally praised.

As eager as he was to leave behind the working-class precincts of New York City where Fred Trump had made his fortune, Donald Trump often speaks admiringly of him, recalling what he learned at his father’s side when the Trump name was synonymous with utilitarian housing, not yet with luxury, celebrity, or a polarizing brand of politics.

“My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy,” he said last year.

Coming Under Scrutiny

Fred Trump got into the housing business when he was in his early 20s, building a single-family home for a neighbor in Queens. During World War II, he constructed housing for shipyard workers and Navy personnel in Norfolk, Va. After the war, he returned to New York, setting his sights on bigger, more ambitious projects, realized with the help of federal government loans.

His establishment as one of the city’s biggest developers was hardly free of controversy: The Senate Banking Committee subpoenaed him in 1954 during an investigation into profiteering off federal housing loans. Under oath, he acknowledged that he had wildly overstated the costs of a development to obtain a larger mortgage from the government.

In 1966, as the investigative journalist Wayne Barrett detailed in “Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth,” a New York legislative committee accused Fred Trump of using state money earmarked for middle-income housing to build a shopping center instead. One lawmaker called Mr. Trump “greedy and grasping.”

By this point, the Trump organization’s business practices were beginning to come under scrutiny from civil rights groups that had received complaints from prospective African-American tenants.

People like Maxine Brown.

Mr. Leibowitz, the rental agent at the Wilshire, remembered Ms. Brown repeatedly inquiring about the apartment. “Finally, she realized what it was all about,” he said.

Ms. Brown’s first instinct was to let the matter go; she was happy enough at the Y.W.C.A. “I had a big room and two meals a day for five dollars a week,” she said in an interview.

But a friend, Mae Wiggins, who had also been denied an apartment at the Wilshire, told her that she ought to have her own place, with a private bathroom and a kitchen. She encouraged Ms. Brown to file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, as she was doing.

“We knew there was prejudice in renting,” Ms. Wiggins recalled. “It was rampant in New York. It made me feel really bad, and I wanted to do something to right the wrong.”

Mr. Leibowitz was called to testify at the commission’s hearing on Ms. Brown’s case. Asked to estimate how many blacks lived in Mr. Trump’s various properties, he remembered replying: “To the best of my knowledge, none.”

After the hearing, Ms. Brown was offered an apartment in the Wilshire, and in the spring of 1964, she moved in. For 10 years, she said, she was the only African-American in the building.

Complaints about the Trump organization’s rental policies continued to mount: By 1967, state investigators found that out of some 3,700 apartments in Trump Village, seven were occupied by African-American families.

Like Ms. Brown, the few minorities who did live in Trump-owned buildings often had to force their way in.

A black woman named Agnes Bunn recalled hearing in early 1970 about a vacant Trump apartment in another part of Queens, from a white friend who lived in the building. But when she went by, she was told there were no vacancies.

“The super came out and stood there until I left the property,” Ms. Bunn said.

Ms. Bunn testified about the experience at a meeting with the New York City Commission on Human Rights in 1970. According to a summary, recovered from the New York City Municipal Archives, she told a Trump lawyer that it was known that no “colored” people were wanted as tenants in the building.

The lawyer concluded that the episode was “all a misunderstanding.” Ms. Bunn and her husband, a Manhattan accountant, soon became the building’s first black tenants.

Unlike the public schools, the housing market could not be desegregated simply by court order. Even after passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited racial discrimination in housing, developments in white neighborhoods continued to rebuff blacks.

For years, it fell largely to local civil rights groups to highlight the problem by sending white “testers” into apartment complexes after blacks had been turned away.

“Everything was sort of whispers and innuendo and you wanted to try to bring it out into the open,” recalled Phyllis Kirschenbaum, who volunteered for Operation Open City, a housing rights advocacy organization. “I’d walk in with my freckles and red hair and Jewish name and get an apartment immediately.”

The complaints of discrimination were not limited to New York.

In 1969, a young black couple, Haywood and Rennell Cash, sued after being denied a home in Cincinnati at one of the first projects in which Donald Trump, fresh out of college, played an active role.

Mr. Cash was repeatedly rejected by the Trumps’ rental agent, according to court records and notes kept by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Cincinnati, which sent in white testers posing as a young couple while Mr. Cash waited in the car.

After the agent, Irving Wolper, offered the testers an apartment, they brought in Mr. Cash. Mr. Wolper grew furious, shoving them out of the office and calling the young female tester, Maggie Durham, a “nigger-lover,” according to court records.

“To this day I have not forgotten the fury in his voice and in his face,” Ms. Durham recalled recently, adding that she also remembered him calling her a “traitor to the race.”

The Cashes were ultimately offered an apartment.

At a campaign stop in Ohio recently, Mr. Trump shared warm memories of his time in Cincinnati, calling it one of the early successes of his career. And in “The Art of the Deal,” he praised Mr. Wolper, without using his surname, calling him a “fabulous man” and “an amazing manager.”

“Irving was a classic,” Mr. Trump wrote.

The young Mr. Trump also spent time in Norfolk, helping manage the housing complexes his father built there in the 1940s. Similar complaints of discrimination surfaced at those properties beginning in the mid-1960s, and were documented by Ellis James, an equal housing activist.

“The managers on site were usually not very sophisticated,” Mr. James, now 78, recalled. “Some were dedicated segregationists, but most of them were more concerned with following the policies they were directed to keep.”

Battling the Government

Donald Trump said he had first heard about the lawsuit, which was filed in the fall of 1973, on his car radio.

The government had charged him, his father and their company, Trump Management Inc., with violating the Fair Housing Act.

Another major New York developer, the LeFrak Organization, had been hit with a similar suit a few years earlier. Its founder, Samuel LeFrak, had appeared at a news conference alongside the United States attorney, trumpeting a consent agreement to prohibit discrimination in his buildings by saying it would “make open housing in our cities a reality.” The LeFrak company even offered the equivalent of one month’s rent to help 50 black families move into predominantly white buildings.

Donald Trump took a different approach. He retained Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting counsel, Roy Cohn, to defend him. Mr. Trump soon called his own news conference — to announce his countersuit against the government.

The government’s lawyers took as their starting point the years of research conducted by civil rights groups at Trump properties.

“We did our own investigation and enlarged the case,” said Elyse Goldweber, who as a young assistant United States attorney worked on the lawsuit, U.S.A. v. Trump.

A former Trump superintendent named Thomas Miranda testified that multiple Trump Management employees had instructed him to attach a separate piece of paper with a big letter “C” on it — for “colored” — to any application filed by a black apartment-seeker.

The Trumps went on the offensive, filing a contempt-of-court charge against one of the prosecutors, accusing her of turning the investigation into a “Gestapo-like interrogation.” The Trumps derided the lawsuit as a pressure tactic to get them to sign a consent decree like the one agreed to by Mr. LeFrak.

The judge dismissed both the countersuit and the contempt-of-court charge. After nearly two years of legal wrangling, the Trumps gave up and signed a consent decree.

As is customary, it did not include an admission of guilt. But it did include pages of stipulations intended to ensure the desegregation of Trump properties.

Equal housing activists celebrated the agreement as more robust than the one signed by Mr. LeFrak. It required that Trump Management provide the New York Urban League with a weekly list of all its vacancies.

This did not stop Mr. Trump from declaring victory. “In the end the government couldn’t prove its case, and we ended up making a minor settlement without admitting any guilt,” he wrote in “The Art of the Deal.”

Only this was not quite the end.

A few years later, the government accused the Trumps of violating the consent decree. “We believe that an underlying pattern of discrimination continues to exist in the Trump Management organization,” a Justice Department lawyer wrote to Mr. Cohn in 1978.

Once again, the government marshaled numerous examples of blacks being denied Trump apartments. But this time, it also identified a pattern of racial steering.

While more black families were now renting in Trump-owned buildings, the government said, many had been confined to a small number of complexes. And tenants in some of these buildings had complained about the conditions, from falling plaster to rusty light fixtures to bloodstained floors.

The Trumps effectively wore the government down. The original consent decree expired before the Justice Department had accumulated enough evidence to press its new case.

The issue was becoming academic, anyway. New York’s white working-class population was shrinking. Shifting demographics would soon make it impractical to turn away black tenants.

By the spring of 1982, when the case was officially closed, Donald Trump’s prized project, Trump Tower, was just months from completion. The rebranding of the Trump name was well underway.

As for Ms. Brown, she still lives in the same apartment in the Wilshire.

Over the years, she has watched the building’s complexion begin to change — along with some of her neighbors’ attitudes toward her. During the 1990s, one man who used to step off the elevator whenever she stepped on suddenly started greeting her warmly.

On a recent afternoon, she reminisced about the unlikely role she played in breaking the color barrier of the Trump real estate empire.

“I just wanted a decent place to live,” she said.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Black swan (not the movie)

“Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.” — Dennis Leary

MY ESTIMABLE friend, Jack Jernigan, shared this US News & World Report article on Facebook. It worth reading and sharing. The author, Justin Hienz, is an expert on counterterrorism and religious extremism for the Safe Communities Institute at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy

A White Supremacist Black Swan?

Why Donald Trump's fringe white nationalist supporters matter.

By Justin Hienz

Aug. 19, 2016

The United States could see an increase in violent extremism in 2017 – but not because of Muslim extremism.

The September 11 attacks were a "black swan," a high-impact, low-probability event that is almost impossible to see coming. One of the 9/11 Commission's conclusions was that the 2001 attacks succeeded, in part, because of a failure of imagination. Who could have guessed that terrorists would use airplanes as weapons of mass destruction in a suicidal attack? No one, evidently.

Since then, U.S. homeland security efforts have attempted to imagine it all, from biological attacks in subways to EMP attacks on the electric grid (neither of which we're ready for, by the way). Yet, I fret we have slipped into another malaise of imagination. A significant, even outsized portion of law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts are focused on the threat from Muslim extremists. It dominates security policy and American politics. That threat is valid, but in all our angst over the Islamic State group and those it inspires, we may be missing some terrible dark wings flapping over the horizon.

There is plenty of solid reporting and opinion writing on how Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be parroting white supremacist views and ideas, for reasons debatable. I'm less concerned with whether Trump is a racist and more concerned with the number of racists who believe he is. He is the chosen leader for right-wing extremists, regardless of whether he means to be.

A former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan likes and supports Trump. Some of the people who show up at his rallies are part of racist right-wing groups. All manner of white supremacists on social media regularly chime in to voice their endorsement, as do users of the widely read white supremacist online forum Stormfront. And on Tuesday, a violent extremist in Olympia, Washington attacked an African-American and his girlfriend outside of a restaurant, citing hatred of the Black Lives Matter movement and, according to court documents, saying he would head over to a Trump rally next to "stomp out" more members of the movement.

As you read this, there are KKK recruitment flyers being distributed around the country, tossed into front lawns, left on sidewalks; they're everywhere, from North Carolina to San Francisco, offering a phone number and an email address, encouraging people to get in touch. This active recruitment is just the latest example of a long-running trend in extremist right-wing recruitment. Just last year, the number of hate groups in the United States rose 14 percent (a portion of which owed to growth in Black Separatist groups), and the number of KKK chapters more than doubled to 190, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bottom line: There is a growing white supremacist movement in the country that views Trump as an advocate.

So while the political right is vowing to defeat "radical Islamic terrorism," the Islamic State group is committing atrocities and homegrown attacks are occurring in Europe and the United States, we have a fast-growing, highly motivated group of right-wing extremists who are quite openly saying that their day has come.

What happens if Trump wins? What happens if he loses?

We can speculate. If he wins, it gives political and moral top-cover to thousands of people who see non-Anglo-Saxon Protestants as inferior. The fact that Trump is seen as a champion for white supremacy means a political victory is also an ideological victory in the eyes of his supporters. A Trump win in November, in part, legitimizes the supremacist argument, which can only lead to conflict and violence.

And if Trump loses, are all these people going to praise democracy and accept that they just didn't get out the vote? The Republican candidate has already said that if he loses in Pennsylvania it will be because of cheating. And his political failure will indicate to at least some white supremacists that where democracy fails them, perhaps violence will not.

It seems like no matter how this election shakes out, we will see turmoil. I hope I'm wrong, but we should all be using our imaginations. If we do, the black swan of white supremacy might not catch us with our guard down.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain

MAYBE, just maybe, you're sick and tired of hearing about the current Republican candidate for president. 

In that case, there's nothing like a dose of those who are completely without guile. If we can't have faith in humans, we can still always count on animals to be nothing more nor less than themselves.

The video (below the still) is worth watching, I promise.

Still from the below movie. Click on the expands arrows to make the video big enough to properly watch it. It's restorative.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Running for president: a money-making proposition

"Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it's all part of his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway." — Michael Moore, American documentary filmmaker

SIX YEARS ago almost exactly I sat next to Morry Taylor at Rotary. Remember him? He's president and CEO of Titan International, a $1.39 billion tire and wheel manufacturing company. He also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.

We talked politics. I was interested in what lessons Morry had learned about the process and the system based on his own unsuccessful run. 

It was obvious at the time of course who the Democratic presidential contender would be for 2012, but a plethora of Republicans were beginning to elevate their profiles and test the waters for their side of the ballot, and we remarked upon the sizable number of candidates who were acting interested. (Oh, how innocent we were back then! Little did we know just how many, many Republican candidates we'd be forced to contemplate and consider for 2016.)

Morry said to me, "You do know that lots of them run to make money." 

I was incredulous. I thought most candidates go into debt when they run unsuccessfully for office. 

Ah yes. The campaign might, but apparently not necessarily the candidate. According to Mr. Taylor, it's a major money-making proposition for some of them, and that's why they do it — because there are plenty of legal ways to funnel that left over campaign war chest into their own pockets. 

He named three or four candidates specifically, but the only one I remember for sure was Newt Gingrich.

Before you cite laws preventing such an outcome, think back to when Stephen Colbert 'ran' for president. According to the Federal Election Commission, his Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super PAC and its sibling 501(c)(4) “Colbert Super PAC Shhh” raised $1,237,220. 

And do you remember that when he suspended his 'campaign', he had his super pac lawyer, Trevor Potter who is president of the Campaign Legal Center and a former FEC Chairman, come on the show and explain all the loopholes (or “loop-chasms” as Stephen called them) in the laws designed to regulate coordination between candidates and supposedly 'independent' groups, which essentially let Stephen dispose of the money (or keep it) however he wanted.

I share with you now a story from the New York Post about Donald Trump's self-enriching use of campaign funds.

Below that is an interesting analysis of Trump's motivation for running for president offered by Michael Moore published by CNBC

Trump hikes rent on his own campaign office in Trump Tower

By Daniel Halper 

August 23, 2016 

Running for president is good for Donald Trump’s bottom line.

The real estate mogul jacked up the rent on his own presidential campaign, billing it more than four times the previous cost for its use of Trump Tower, once the dough wasn’t coming out of his own pocket, according to a new report.

In March, the campaign shelled out $35,458, but by July, the rent ballooned to $169,758, according to the Huffington Post.

The reason for the difference, the site claims, is that in March the mogul was mainly self-funding his primary presidential campaign.

But in July, the Trump campaign transitioned to using outside funds to finance the campaign.

And during that period, employees and consultants on the Trump campaign declined — going from 197 in March to 172 in July, according to the report.

“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” a Republican National Committee member told the Huffington Post. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”

In 2000, Trump boasted that he would find a way to make an Oval Office bid profitable.

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” he said in 2000.

According to one estimate, 9 percent of Trump campaign spending ends up in companies owned by the Trump family, with the largest expenditure being $5.6 million to pay for the tycoon’s private jet.

Is Trump purposely sabotaging his campaign?

By Michael Moore 

August 18, 2016 


Donald Trump never actually wanted to be President of the United States. I know this for a fact. I'm not going to say how I know it. I'm not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything. And I'm certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.

Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, "The Apprentice" (and "The Celebrity Apprentice"). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you're going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.

Trump had begun talking to other networks about moving his show. This was another way to get leverage — the fear of losing him to someone else — and when he "quietly" met with the head of one of those networks, and word got around, his hand was strengthened. He knew then that it was time to play his Big Card.

He decided to run for President.

Of course he wouldn't really have to RUN for President — just make the announcement, hold a few mega-rallies that would be packed with tens of thousands of fans, and wait for the first opinion polls to come in showing him — what else! — in first place! And then he would get whatever deal he wanted, worth millions more than what he was currently being paid.

So, on June 16th of last year, he rode down his golden escalator and opened his mouth. With no campaign staff, no 50-state campaign infrastructure — neither of which he needed because, remember, this wasn't going to be a real campaign — and with no prepared script, he went off the rails at his kick-off press conference, calling Mexicans "rapists" and "drug dealers" and pledging to build a wall to keep them all out. Jaws in the room were agape. His comments were so offensive, NBC, far from offering him a bigger paycheck, immediately fired him with this terse statement: "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump." NBC said it was also canceling the beauty pageants owned by Trump: Miss USA and Miss Universe. BOOM.

Trump was stunned. So much for the art of the deal. He never expected this, but he stuck to his plan anyway to increase his "value" in the eyes of the other networks by showing them how many millions of Americans wanted Him to be their Leader. He knew, of course (and the people he trusted also told him) that there was no way he was actually going to win many (if any) of the primaries, and he certainly would not become the Republican nominee, and NEVER would he EVER be the President of the United States. Of course not! Nor would he want to be! The job of being President is WORK and BORING and you have to live in the GHETTO of Washington, DC, in a SMALL 200-yr. old house that's damp and dreary and has only TWO floors! A "second floor" is not a penthouse! But none of this was a worry, as "Trump for President" was only a ruse that was going to last a few months.

And then something happened. And to be honest, if it happened to you, you might have reacted the same way. Trump, to his own surprise, ignited the country, especially among people who were the opposite of billionaires. He went straight to #1 in the polls of Republican voters. Up to 30,000 boisterous supporters started showing up to his rallies. TV ate it up. He became the first American celebrity to be able to book himself on any show he wanted to be on — and then NOT show up to the studio! From "Face the Nation" to "The Today Show" to Anderson Cooper, he was able to simply phone in and they'd put him on the air live. He could've been sitting on his golden toilet in Trump Tower for all we knew –and the media had no problem with any of that. In fact, CBS head Les Moonves famously admitted that Trump was very good for TV ratings and selling ads — music to the ears of the NBC-spurned narcissist.

Trump fell in love with himself all over again, and he soon forgot his mission to get a good deal for a TV show. A TV show? Are you kidding – that's for losers like Chris Harrison, whoever that is (host of "The Bachelorette"). He was no longer king of the dealmakers — he was King of the World! His tiniest musings would be discussed and dissected everywhere by everybody for days, weeks, months! THAT never happened on "The Apprentice"! Host a TV show? He was the star of EVERY TV SHOW — and, soon, winning nearly every primary!

And then… you can see the moment it finally dawned on him… that "Oh sh-t!" revelation: "I'm actually going to be the Republican nominee — and my rich beautiful life is f#*@ing over!" It was the night he won the New Jersey primary. The headline on was, "Donald Trump's Subdued Victory Speech After Winning New Jersey." Instead of it being one of his loud, brash speeches, it was downright depressing. No energy, no happiness, just the realization that now he was going to have to go through with this stunt that he started. It was no longer going to be performance art. He was going to have to go to work.

Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans "rapists" should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn't born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — "I hate this! I want my show back!" But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.

But, let me throw out another theory, one that assumes that Trump isn't as dumb or crazy as he looks. Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it's all part of his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway. Because, unless he is just "crazy," the only explanation for the unusual ramping up, day after day, of one disgustingly reckless statement after another is that he's doing it consciously (or subconsciously) so that he'll have to bow out or blame "others" for forcing him out. Many now are sensing the end game here because they know Trump seriously doesn't want to do the actual job — and, most importantly, he cannot and WILL NOT suffer through being officially and legally declared a loser — LOSER! — on the night of November 8th.

Trust me, I've met the guy. Spent an afternoon with him. He would rather invite the Clintons AND the Obamas to his next wedding than have that scarlet letter ("L") branded on his forehead seconds after the last polls have closed on that night, the evening of the final episode of the permanently cancelled Donald Trump Sh-t-Show.


Michael Moore


Don, if you're reading this, do it soon. Give your pathetic party a chance to pick up the pieces and nominate Ryan or Romney so they can be the ones to lose the White House, the Senate, the House and yes, praise Jesus and the Notorious RBG, the Supreme Court. Don't be too hard on yourself. You're only the logical conclusion to a party that has lived off the currency of racism and bigotry and fellating the 1% for decades, and now their Trump has come home to roost. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trump: worth less and owing more than he says

"Donald likes to say his bankruptcy filings were just a tool he's been using for his businesses. He's had a string of failures. And you're not just talking about big investors. You're also taking about bond holders, not big banks — people who invested their retirements.” — Mike D'Antonio, author of the book "Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

IF YOU know anyone who thinks she should vote for Donald Trump because he’s “good at business”, please disabuse her (or him) of that notion. According to Money Talks News, Trump is worth $10 billion less than if he’d simply invested in index funds. 

Even Forbes conservatively estimates that Trump is worth $6 billion less that he says he is.

The New York Times has conducted a detailed investigation which reveals that instead of being the skilled business man he purports to be, he’s a master of the shell game. I’m sharing with you the first 500 words or so of the investigative report with a link to the rest of the story.

The letters coming down at the closed Trump Plaza Casino in October 2014. 
Photo: Mark Makela/Reuters (from The New York Times)

Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties

By Susanne Craig

August. 20, 2016

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.

But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.

For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Real estate projects often involve complex ownership and mortgage structures. And given Mr. Trump’s long real estate career in the United States and abroad, as well as his claim that his personal wealth exceeds $10 billion, it is safe to say that no previous major party presidential nominee has had finances nearly as complicated.

As president, Mr. Trump would have substantial sway over monetary and tax policy, as well as the power to make appointments that would directly affect his own financial empire. He would also wield influence over legislative issues that could have a significant impact on his net worth, and would have official dealings with countries in which he has business interests.

Yet The Times’s examination underscored how much of Mr. Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery. He has declined to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets.

Earlier in the campaign, Mr. Trump submitted a 104-page federal financial disclosure form. It said his businesses owed at least $315 million to a relatively small group of lenders and listed ties to more than 500 limited liability companies. Though he answered the questions, the form appears to have been designed for candidates with simpler finances than his, and did not require disclosure of portions of his business activities.

Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building. If those loans were to go into default, Mr. Trump would not be held liable, the Trump Organization said. The value of his investments, however, would certainly sink.

Mr. Trump has said that if he were elected president, his children would be likely to run his company. Many presidents, to avoid any appearance of a conflict, have placed their holdings in blind trusts, which typically involves selling the original asset, and replacing it with different assets unknown to the seller.

Mr. Trump’s children seem unlikely to pursue that option.

Richard W. Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and, from 2005 to 2007, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, compared Mr. Trump to Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs whom Mr. Bush appointed as Treasury secretary.

Professor Painter advised Mr. Paulson on his decision to sell his Goldman Sachs shares, saying it was clear that Mr. Paulson could not simply have placed that stock in trust and pretended it did not exist.

If Mr. Trump were to use a blind trust, the professor said, it would be “like putting a gold watch in a box and pretending you don’t know it is in there.”

Read the whole story here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Temptations — first-hand

“The Temptations still stand today, not in spite of those who left us, but because of them.” — Otis Williams

WHEN I discovered R&B music in college, I knew I'd found my groove — and The Temptations were a powerful throb of that sound's beating heart. They were one of the most iconic and popular music groups of the 1960s and 70s, and in fact, in the entire panoply of rock and roll.

Rolling Stone agrees. It lists them at #68 of the 100 most influential artists of the rock and roll era, and Billboard ranks them as #28 on its list of The Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Artists. They've won seven Grammy Awards, had four Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, fourteen R&B number-one singles, and three of their classic songs, My Girl, Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) and Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

And Paul, lucky Paul, got to play with them Friday night, August 12, in Cedar Rapids and the next night in Des Moines at the Iowa State Fair. I got to tag along. 

Above: Cedar Rapids rehearsal was in the historic and gorgeous Paramount Theater. Below: Sound check a few hours later. Left to right: Allen Cordingley, lead alto; Paul, lead trombone, Dave Sharp, tenor sax; Ken Kilian, bari sax; Mike Chesher, 2nd alto; Joel Nagel, 2nd trombone. Lynn Hart booked the horn section in Cedar Rapids.

In the break between sound check and performance, Paul took a nap in the car, and I walked around the Lindale Mall so that I wouldn't disturb him. Paul finished napping, found me, and we were walking along in the mall when I saw the SAME GUY (photo below) I had taken a picture of in Des Moines two weeks before! I stopped him and asked if he'd been at Jason's Deli on such and such a date. 

I knew he had been (you have to admit he has a rather indelible face), but I wanted to know if he was from Cedar Rapids visiting Des Moines, or vice versa (so I'd know where to avoid). Answer: Cedar Rapids. He weirded me out the first time I saw him and it really, really, REALLY weirded me out to see him a second time. I mean what are the odds of the only time I've ever been in the Lindale Mall in my life to be walking along and see this guy — AGAIN. I kept telling Paul that his picture didn't do him justice, and when Paul saw him in person, he said, "I get it now."

The concert was a doubleheader with The Temptations, followed by The Beach Boys. Some audience members arrived dressed to party like it was 1968.

It poured buckets on the drive from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids. By rehearsal it had quit. It began looking stormy again, but it didn't rain until at sound check when — as god is my witness, not to mention the entire horn section — they ran through I Wish It Would Rain, whereupon it did! 

It quit again, then began looking increasingly worse, but miraculously (wait a minute, wrong group) it didn't rain again, and the concert went ahead as planned. Well almost as planned, except for missing Ron Tyson whose plane was delayed.

Above: Mark Lieberman, The Temptations' production manager who travels everywhere with them, was like some kind of ninja — everywhere at once, while at the same time almost invisible. The show literally would not go on without him.

The show in Des Moines was part of the Iowa State Fair lineup. Above, The Temptations' musical director, McKinley Jackson, leads the rehearsal. In addition to being an excellent director, he's a gentleman through and through. Back row left to right: Derek Stratton, Andy Classen, Greg Warthen, Paul, Richard Early. Front row: Wayne PageClarence PadillaRobert EspeDan Stevenson, who's president of the Des Moines Musicians's Union and booked the horns, and John Morgan.

Left to right: Adrian Williams on guitar, Otis Williams (the one remaining ORIGINAL member), Larry BraggsTheron Derrick on drums, Kerry Truman on bass, Terry Weeks and Ron Tyson

Temptations member Ron Tyson on the left, McKinley Jackson on the right, and Paul in the middle.
Musical director McKinley Jackson with left to right: Paul, John Morgan and Richard Early.

Left to right: Don Wyatt on keyboards, bass singer Willie Green, who has recorded and performing with Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, John Fogerty and George Harrison, Adrian Williams on guitar and Otis Williams.

Left: Terry Weeks has been with The Temptations for 19 years. Right: Two-time, Grammy-nominated singer Larry Braggs was the lead singer with the Tower of Power for 13 years. Theron Derrick on drums.

Kerry Truman on bass and Terry Weeks. 

Tenor and falsetto singer Ron Tyson has been with The Temptations for more than 30 years.
He took over for Eddie Kendricks who helped take the group to fame in the 1960s.

Left to right: Willie Green, guitarist Adrian Williams, Otis Williams and Ron Tyson
Their performance at the Iowa State Fair was over-flowing full. It was an outdoor show, but people packed onto the grounds so densely till they ran up against another (distant) building.

And just in case you've forgotten how completely iconic The Temptations are,  below is a list of the Grammy Awards they won and some of their uber-famous songs and that heavily influenced the course of rock and roll.

Grammy Awards

1969  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Cloud Nine

1973  Best R&B Instrumental Performance – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1973  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1998  Hall of Fame Award – My Girl

1999  Hall of Fame Award – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

2001  Best Traditional R&B Performance – Ear-Resistible

2013  Lifetime Achievement Award

From Wikipedia: The following singles reached the Top Ten of the United States pop singles chart or the United Kingdom pop singles chart or No. 1 on the US R&B chart.

1965:  My Girl 
1966:  Get Ready 
1966:  Ain't Too Proud to Beg 
1966:  Beauty Is Only Skin Deep 
1966:  (I Know) I'm Losing You 
1967:  All I Need 
1967:  You're My Everything 
1967:  I Wish It Would Rain 
1968:  I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) 
1968:  Cloud Nine 
1968:  I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (Diana Ross & The Supremes and The          Temptations) 
1969:  Run Away Child, Running Wild
1969:  I Can't Get Next to You
1970:  Psychedelic Shack
1970:  Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) 
1971:  Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
1972:  Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
1973:  Masterpiece
1973:  Let Your Hair Down
1974:  Happy People
1975:  Shakey Ground
1991:  The Motown Song (Rod Stewart featuring The Temptations) 
1992:  My Girl