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FTR #927 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 6: Locker Room Eclipse

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

thinkbignkickass

NB: This description contains material not included in the original broadcast

Introduction: In the second week of October, the Presidential campaign has been dominated by discussion of, and reaction to, Donald Trump’s vulgar comments about women, something he dismissed as “locker room banter.” This dynamic has eclipsed far more important issues about Trump, his associations, his heritage (past and future), his financial dealings, his economic policies (or lack thereof) and the future of the political forces he has conjured. This program attempts to deal with those considerations.

Among those considerations are:

  • Trump’s belief in eugenics, something he apparently inherited from his father Fred: “ . . . . In an interview for US TV channel PBS, the Republican presidential nominee’s biographer Michael D’Antonio claimed the candidate’s father, Fred Trump, had taught him that the family’s success was genetic. He said: ‘The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. ‘They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.’ The theory, known as eugenics, first emerged during the 19th century and was used as a pretext for the sterilization of disabled people until the practice was discredited after the Second World War. Adolf Hitler’s justification for the Holocaust – in which 11 million people were killed, 6 million of them Jewish – was based on a similar theory of racial hierarchy. . . .”
  • Trump’s belief in eugenics and the importance of heredity may manifest in the future of the movement over which he presides. His son Donald, Jr. is a bird of the same fascist feather. “ . . . . Donald Trump Jr. drew widespread condemnation for comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned candy — but his analogy isn’t a new one, and it’s based on two separate white supremacist memes with roots in Nazi propaganda. Trump — the Republican presidential candidate’s eldest son and a top campaign surrogate — tweeted the image Monday evening in an apparent response to the dumpster bombing over the weekend in New York City, which his dad inaptly linked to the refugee crisis. ‘This image says it all,’ reads the text. ‘Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first. #trump2016,’ accompanied by the official Donald Trump/Mike Pence campaign logo and slogan. The analogy isn’t new, and has been used for years by white supremacists to overgeneralize about various minority groups. ‘It is often deployed as a way to prop up indefensible stereotypes by taking advantage of human ignorance about base rates, risk assessment and criminology,’ wrote Emil Karlsson on the blog Debunking Denialism. . . . . . The analogy, which has been used on message boards and shared as social media memes, originally used M&Ms as the candy in question — but that changed after George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin while the unarmed black teen was walking home from buying a drink and some Skittles. . . . . A Google image search of “skittles trayvon meme” reveals a horrible bounty of captioned images mocking the slain teenager, whose killer was acquitted after claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. . . . But the poisoned candy analogy goes back even further, to an anti-Semitic children’s book published by Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer who was executed in 1946 as a war criminal. . . .”
  • Donald Jr.’s operational familiarity with “Alt-Right” memes and the tweeting and re-tweeting of those memes is not occasional. ” . . . . Riffing off of Hillary Clinton’s remark that some of Trump’s supporters are racists, misogynists, and xenophobes who belong in a “basket of deplorables,” the meme shared by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump ally Roger Stone showed key Trump allies photoshopped onto a poster from the move ‘The Expendables.’ In the edited poster for ‘The Deplorables,’ those armed staffers and Trump boosters are shown alongside Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that first cropped up on the 4chan website and has since become associated with the white supremacist movement online. . . .” 
  • ku klux klanDonald, Jr. is indeed bred from the same line of racehorses as his father: “ . . . . When Donald Jr spoke to a white supremacist radio host in March it set off a few alarm bells simply because his father’s extreme immigration policies had been so ecstatically received by white nationalist groups. But most chalked it up to inexperience and let it go. Surely Junior wasn’t as crudely racist as the old man who was reported to keep a book of Hitler speeches next to the bed. But just a few days later he retweeted a racist science fiction writer named Theodore Beale who goes by the handle of ‘Vox Day’ claiming that a famous picture of a Trump supporter giving a Nazi salute was actually a follower of Bernie Sanders. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree after all. . . . Right after the convention, however, he let out a deafening dogwhistle that left no doubt as to his personal affiliation with the far right. He went to the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia Mississippi, best remembered as the place where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. But it has special political significance as the site of Ronald Reagan’s famous ‘states’ rights’ speech in 1980 where he signaled his sympathy for white supremacy by delivering it at the scene of that horrendous racist crime. (The man who coined the term ‘welfare queen’ was always a champion dogwhistler.) Trump Jr went there to represent and represent he did. When asked what he thought about the confederate flag he said, ‘I believe in tradition. I don’t see a lot of the nonsense that’s been created about that.’ Since then it’s been revealed that he follows a number of white nationalists on twitter and he’s retweeted several including a a psychologist who believes Jews manipulate society. And in the last couple of weeks Junior has let his alt-right freak flag fly. . . .”
  • Donald, Jr. is poised to run for office, perhaps to perpetuate what his father has engendered.  The fundamental point to be understood here is this: As discussed in FTR #’s 920, 921 and 922, the Trumpenkampfverbande is the manifestation of the Underground Reich metamorphosing into an above-ground, mass-based political movement. It will not go away. Whether it is led by Donald Trump, Jr. (who does not appear to share his father’s inclination to sexual vulgarity and aggression) or someone else, it will not go away. “ . . . . After his questionable speech to the RNC, Trump Jr. said he “would consider” running once his kids finish school. Calling it ‘one of the most thrilling moments of my life,’ Donald Trump Jr. brushed aside burgeoning controversy surrounding the second Trump family speech at the RNC in as many days while speaking with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday morning. The oldest son of the Republican presidential nominee said that while he still has ‘a lot to do in my own career,’ he would seriously consider following in his father’s footsteps out of real estate and into political life. The 38-year-old New Yorker said that ‘maybe when the kids get out of school I would consider it.’ The father of five explained that he’d ‘love to be able to do it, as a patriot.’ . . .”
  • DeutscheBankIn past programs, we have noted that Donald Trump’s “go-to” lender of choice for his real estate projects has been Deutsche Bank, profoundly linked to the remarkable and deadly Bormann capital network. This places him in debt to a “too big to fail” institution that was deeply involved with the financial meltdown of 2008, has flouted U.S. regulators and has been implicated with criminal international operations. ” . . . . And this prompts a question that no other major American presidential candidate has had to face: What are the implications of the chief executive of the US government being in hock for $100 million (or more) to a foreign entity that has tried to evade laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans, that was recently caught manipulating markets around the world, and that attempts to influence the US government? . . . .”
  • While everyone is focusing on Donald Trump’s T & A comments, the world’s equities markets have experienced volatility, in part because of fears about Deutsche Bank’s financial health. “ . . . . Germany’s largest bank appears in danger, sending stock markets worldwide on a wild ride. Yet the biggest source of worry is less about its finances than a vast tangle of unknowns — not least, whether Europe can muster the will to mount a rescue in the event of an emergency. In short, fears that Europe lacks the cohesion to avoid a financial crisis may be enhancing the threat of one. The immediate source of alarm is the health of Deutsche Bank, whose vast and sprawling operations are entangled with the fates of investment houses from Tokyo to London to New York. Deutsche is staring at a multibillion-dollar fine from the Justice Department for its enthusiastic participation in Wall Street’s festival of toxic mortgage products in the years leading up to financial crisis of 2008. . . . . . . . The European Union has become a focus of populist anger, further constraining options. And Germany has opposed bailouts for lenders in other lands, making a Deutsche rescue politically radioactive. All of which adds to worries that Deutsche amounts to a fire burning, one that might yet become an inferno, while the fire department is consumed with existential arguments over its purpose. If the alarm sounds, no one can be sure what, if anything, will happen. . . . . . . . The biggest form of insurance against panic is confidence that larger players — in this case, European authorities — stand at the ready to mount a rescue, should one be required. But confidence is not something Europe has proved terribly skilled at instilling. Its abilities to marshal a bailout are dubious. New rules introduced to discourage reckless investments by large financial institutions bar taxpayer-financed bailouts. Germany has been adamant that these strictures be applied, rebuffing a recent attempt by the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, to secure an exemption allowing him to inject taxpayer money into the Italian banking system. The optics of Germany seeking a way around the rules for its largest lender would be especially problematic. . . .”
  • The dimensions of Deutsche Bank’s exposure to the kinds of derivatives that brought down the global economy in 2008 is mind-boggling. “ . . . . It has €220 billion, or $247 billion, in ready liquidity, compared with $45 billion for Lehman in 2007, and the bank can also tap central banks in the United States and in Europe for a financial lifeline if need be. That does not mean, however, that traders and regulators will stop fretting about, among other things, the €42 trillion worth of derivatives that sit on its books, an amount about 11 times the size of the German economy. . . .”
  • Investor confidence in Deutsche Bank cannot have been helped by news that the ECB had fudged the stress test on the German lender. “ . . . . Deutsche Bank was given special treatment in the summer EU stress tests that promised to restore faith in Europe’s banks by assessing all of their finances in the same way. Germany’s biggest lender, which has seen its share price fall as much as 22 per cent in recent weeks on fears that it could face a US fine of up to $14bn, has been using the results of the July stress tests as evidence of its healthy finances. But the Financial Times has learnt that Deutsche’s result was boosted by a special concession agreed by its supervisor, the European Central Bank. . . . . . . . ‘This [Deutsche’s treatment] is perplexing,’ said Chris Wheeler, an analyst at Atlantic Equities. ‘The circumstances mean that it is inevitable the market watchers will be suspicious and have some concern about the veracity of the results.’ . . . .’
  •  The enormous uncertainties about Deutsche Bank, the [im?]possibility of an EU bailout, the possibility of the Federal Reserve and other central banks helping to rescue Deutsche Bank are to be seen against the background of Donald Trump’s alarming flip-flops about Janet Yellen and the Fed and his advisors’ preoccupation with a return to the Gold Standard. After speaking gently about Yellen and low interest rates, he flip-flopped, attacking her, promising to replace her and advocating rate increases. Note that the “Alt-right” milieu embodied in the Trumpenkampfverbande is not concerned with economic prosperity, nor are they knowledgeable about how to bring it about.   ” . . . . Trump’s economic advisers can for the most part be placed in one of three groups. In the first are Larry Kudlow and Judy Shelton, the intellectuals of the bunch, and both advocates of a return to the gold standard. While it has become popular among some Republicans in the past few years, returning to the gold standard is dismissed as a discredited, fringe idea by nearly all economists and market participants. And, for their part, gold-standard supporters typically reject the very idea of a Federal Reserve, so if Trump were to appoint Kudlow, Shelton, or another gold-standard supporter to the Fed, it would be the most radical and potentially damaging economic move since the dawn of our modern economic system, after the Great Depression. . . . Finally, there’s the group represented by Stephen Bannon, the former Goldman Sachs banker and Breitbart News chief now heading Trump’s campaign. Bannon has not talked much publicly about his views of the Fed. But his deep association with the alt-right is worth examining: some on the alt-right have expressed contempt for the very idea of a healthy economy. . . . In reading stories on Breitbart and other sites connected to the awful alt-right movement that Trump has embraced, I found it impossible to identify any overarching view of how the economy should work. There were sloppy and occasional potshots at Obama or Yellen, and a general contempt for the many institutions of modern liberal society. But there were no coherent economics. Which brings us back to Trump’s own views. He has no coherent plan, no view that can be mapped onto the common range of established discussion, whether left, right, or center. On Thursday, Trump’s campaign released his “economic policy.” Amid the assertions that a dramatic cut in taxes and regulation will lead to more economic growth and higher employment, there is no mention of the Federal Reserve. Instead, Trump has offered the public a general, instinctive contempt for the Fed and its policies. . . .”

We will explore key points highlighted in this program at greater length in programs to come.

Program and Description Highlights Include: 

  • The Trumpenkampfverbande’s discrediting in advance of the electoral process, setting the stage for Trump’s supporters to manifest violence, either at the polls and/or after election day: ” . . . Quite simply, everybody needs to be paying close attention to what happens on November 9th. [The German “Day of Destiny”–D.E.] It now seems quite likely that Hillary Clinton will win the November election and become the next President of the United States. But Donald Trump has been for months pushing the idea that the election may be stolen from him by some mix of voter fraud (by racial and ethnic minorities) or more systemic election rigging by persons unknown. Polls show that large numbers of his supporters believe this. Now, here at TPM we’ve been writing and reporting about the GOP’s ‘vote fraud’ scam going back almost 15 years. It’s a hugely important issue. But to date it has mainly been used to heat up Republican voters and drive state-based voter suppression measures. After a decade-plus pushing the idea, Republicans passed various voter suppression measures in numerous states after the 2010 midterm election. But to date, the ‘voter fraud’ scam has never been fully weaponized as a way to delegitimize and even resist a specific election, certainly not a national election. As Rick Hasen explains here, Donald Trump is doing that now. And he is succeeding in as much as he’s convinced substantial numbers of his supporters that if he loses it will be because the election was stolen. . . .”
  • Review of Trump’s keeping of a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside.
  • Review of the distinct possibility that Trump’s father Fred may have been in the Ku Klux Klan. Trump’s father is credited with giving “The Donald” his belief in eugenics.
  • Trump was the grand marshal for the 1999 German-American Steuben parade: “. . . . Trump has said that he is proud of his German heritage; he served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City.[12][nb 1]. . . . .

1. No one should be surprised to learn that Trump is a believer in eugenics, apparently part of his heritage from his father Fred.

“Donald Trump Believes He Has Superior Genes, Biographer Claims” by Caroline Mortimer; The Independent; 9/30/2016.

Republican nominee follows ‘racehorse theory’ of genetics

Donald Trump has been accused of believing in the “racehorse theory” of genetics, which claims some people are genetically superior to others.

In an interview for US TV channel PBS, the Republican presidential nominee’s biographer Michael D’Antonio claimed the candidate’s father, Fred Trump, had taught him that the family’s success was genetic.

He said: “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development.

“They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

The theory, known as eugenics, first emerged during the 19th century and was used as a pretext for the sterilisation of disabled people until the practice was discredited after the Second World War.

Adolf Hitler’s justification for the Holocaust – in which 11 million people were killed, 6 million of them Jewish – was based on a similar theory of racial hierarchy.

The PBS documentary featured clips of Mr Trump on the campaign trial claiming that he “believes in the gene thing” and saying he had a “very high aptitude”.

It also ran footage of previous interviews from the real estate magnate’s time as a reality TV star in which he shared his thoughts on the subject, including a 2010 interview with CNN..

He said: “Well I think I was born with the drive for success because I have a certain gene.

“I’m a gene believer… Hey, when you connect two race horses, you usually end up with a fast horse.

“I had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that, so I was pretty much driven.”

Mr Trump has become notorious for his bravado on the campaign trail and claimed he could solve problems that have plagued policymakers for decades with ease because he is a “smart guy”.

At a rally in Washington, D.C. in September 2015, Mr Trump claimed that, if he became president, “we’ll win so much, you’ll get bored with winning”.

2a. In FTR #’s 918 and 919, we explored the Buerger Zeitung’s “Open Letter to Stalin,” a gambit that we feel corresponds well to Donald Trump’s relatively benign comments bout Putin/Ukraine/Crimea etc. In addition to the “all things Steuben” orientation of Trump advisor Joseph E. Schmitz, we note Donald Trump’s links to the Steuben Society milieu.

“Donald Trump;”  wikipedia.

. . . . Trump has said that he is proud of his German heritage; he served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City.[12][nb 1]. . . . .

2b. Trump has, in fact, digested Hitler’s rhetorical style, having acquired and read a book of Hitler’s speeches.

“After the Gold Rush” by Marie Brenner; Vanity Fair; 9/1990.

. . . . Donald Trump appears to take aspects of his German background seriously. John Walter works for the Trump Organization, and when he visits Donald in his office, Ivana told a friend, he clicks his heels and says, “Heil Hitler,” possibly as a family joke.

. . . . Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. . . . Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist. . . .

2c. Earlier this year, a controversy emerged when old newspaper articles about arrests at a 1927 Klan rally in Queens (New York City) mentioned a “Fred Trump” as among the “berobed marchers” arrested at the event.Although the identification of Trump’s father as one of the Klan participants has not been definitively established, The Donald lied when confronted with the address of the arrested Fred Trump.

” . . . . asked if his father had lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road—the address listed for the Fred Trump arrested at the 1927 Klan rally—Donald dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

“We lived on Wareham,” he told Horowitz. “The Devonshire—I know there is a road ‘Devonshire,’ but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.” Trump went on to deny everything else in the Times’ account of the 1927 rally: “It shouldn’t be written because it never happened, number one. And number two, there was nobody charged.”

Biographical records confirm that the Trump family did live on Wareham Place in Queens in the 1940s, when Donald was a kid. But according to at least one archived newspaper clip, Fred Trump also lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road: A wedding announcement in the January 22, 1936 issue of the Long Island Daily Press, places Fred Trump at that address, and refers to his wife as “Mary MacLeod,” which is Donald Trump’s mother’s maiden name. . . .”

It seems altogether probable that The Donald’s father was the “Fred Trump” arrested at the rally for “failing to disperse,” but Fred Trump’s specific activities at the Klan Rally have not been established.

In the context of assessing the deep politics surrounding Trump, the possibility of Klan participation by his father is interesting and possibly relevant. In Under Cover (available for download for free on this website), the extensive networking between dominant elements of the KKK and various Fifth Column organizations in this country is covered at length.

One of those Fifth Column organizations was America First–again, Trump has appropriated that name.

Also of interest in the context of the “Fred Trump” arrested at the Klan Rally is the fact that David Duke has been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump, who was altogether hesitant about disavowing Duke’s support.

All the Evidence We Could Find About Fred Trump’s Alleged Involvement with the KKK” by Mike Pearl; Vice News; 3/9/2016.

Late last month, in an interview with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, CNN host Jake Tapper asked the candidate whether he would disavow an endorsement from longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and white nationalist celebrity David Duke. Trump declined. “I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he said. Moments later, he added, “I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Trump has since walked back his comments, blaming his hesitance to condemn the Klan on a “bad earpiece.” The matter has now been filed away into the ever-growing archives of volatile statements Trump has made about race and ethnicity during the current election cycle—a list that includes kicking off his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, calling for the “‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and commenting that perhaps a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his rallies “should have been roughed up.”

But the particulars of the David Duke incident call to mind yet another news story, one that suggests that Trump’s father, the late New York real estate titan Fred Trump, once wore the robe and hood of a Klansman.

Versions of this story emerged last September when Boing Boing dug up an old New York Times article from May of 1927 that listed a Fred Trump among those arrested at a Klan rally in Jamaica, Queens, when “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all,” in the streets. Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 in 1927 and had spent most of his life in Queens.

As Boing Boing pointed out, the Times account simply names Fred Trump as one of the seven individuals arrested at the rally, and it states that he was released without charges, leaving room for the possibility that he “may have been an innocent bystander, falsely named, or otherwise the victim of mistaken identity during or following a chaotic event.”

A few weeks after Boing Boing unearthed that 88-year-old scoop, the New York Times asked Donald Trump about the possibility that his father had been arrested at a Klan event. The younger Trump denied it all, telling interviewer Jason Horowitz that “it never happened” four times. When Horowitz asked if his father had lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road—the address listed for the Fred Trump arrested at the 1927 Klan rally—Donald dismissed the claim as “totally false.”

“We lived on Wareham,” he told Horowitz. “The Devonshire—I know there is a road ‘Devonshire,’ but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.” Trump went on to deny everything else in the Times’ account of the 1927 rally: “It shouldn’t be written because it never happened, number one. And number two, there was nobody charged.”

Biographical records confirm that the Trump family did live on Wareham Place in Queens in the 1940s, when Donald was a kid. But according to at least one archived newspaper clip, Fred Trump also lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road: A wedding announcement in the January 22, 1936 issue of the Long Island Daily Press, places Fred Trump at that address, and refers to his wife as “Mary MacLeod,” which is Donald Trump’s mother’s maiden name.

Moreover, three additional newspaper clips unearthed by VICE contain separate accounts of Fred Trump’s arrest at the May 1927 KKK rally in Queens, each of which seems to confirm the Times account of the events that day. While the clips don’t confirm whether Fred Trump was actually a member of the Klan, they do suggest that the rally—and the subsequent arrests—did happen, and did involve Donald Trump’s father, contrary to the candidate’s denials. A fifth article mentions the seven arrestees without giving names, and claims that all of the individuals arrested—presumably including Trump—were wearing Klan attire.

The June 1, 1927, account of the May 31 Klan rally printed in a defunct Brooklyn paper called the Daily Star specifies that a Fred Trump “was dismissed on a charge of refusing to disperse.” That article lists seven total arrests, and states that four of those arrested were expected to go to court, and two were paroled. Fred Trump was the only one not held on charges.

The Klan’s reaction to the alleged police brutality at the rally was the subject of another article, published in the Queens County Evening News on June 2, 1927, and titled “Klan Placards Assail Police, As War Vets Seek Parade Control.” The piece is mainly about the Klan distributing leaflets about being “assaulted” by the “Roman Catholic police of New York City” at that same rally. The article mentions Fred Trump as having been “discharged” and gives the Devonshire Road address, along with the names and addresses of the other six men who faced charges.

Yet another account in another defunct local newspaper, the Richmond Hill Record, published on June 3, 1927, lists Fred Trump as one of the “Klan Arrests,” and also lists the Devonshire Road address.

Another article about the rally, published by the Long Island Daily Press on June 2, 1927, mentions that there were seven arrestees without listing names, and claims that all of the individuals arrested were wearing Klan attire. The story, titled “Meeting on Parade Is Called Off,” focuses on the police actions at the rally, noting criticism of the cops for brutally lashing out at the Klan supporters, who had assembled during a Memorial Day parade.

While the Long Island Daily Press doesn’t mention Fred Trump specifically, the number of arrestees cited in the report is consistent with the other accounts of the rally. Significantly, the article refers to all of the arrestees as “berobed marchers.” If Fred Trump, or another one of the attendees, wasn’t dressed in a robe at the time, that may have been a reporting error worth correcting.

According to Rory McVeigh, chairman of the sociology department at the University of Notre Dame, the version of the Klan that would have been active in Queens during the 1920s may not have necessarily participated in stereotypical KKK activities like fiery crosses and lynch mobs.

“The Klan that became very popular in the early 1920s did advocate white supremacy like the original Klan,” McVeigh told VICE in an email. “But in that respect, [its views were] not too much different from a lot of other white Americans of that time period.” In New York, McVeigh added, “the organization’s opposition to immigration and Catholics probably held the biggest appeal for most of the people who joined.”

None of the articles prove that Fred Trump was a member of the Klan, and it’s possible that he was, as Boing Boing suggested, just a bystander at the rally. But while Donald Trump is absolutely right to say that his father was not charged in the 1927 incident, the candidate’s other claims—that Fred Trump never lived at 175-24 Devonshire Road, and more importantly, that his involvement in a Klan rally “never happened”—appear to be untrue.

The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment. . . .

3. Apparently, Trump’s “superior” genes may be framing political debate for some time. We review discussion of Donald Trump, Jr.’s role in tweeting and re-tweeting Nazi dog-whistles.

“Trump Jr’s ‘Skittles’ Tweet Is Based on Two Different White Supremacist Memes — and Nazi Propaganda” by Travis Gettys; Raw Story ; 9/20/2016.

Donald Trump Jr. drew widespread condemnation for comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned candy — but his analogy isn’t a new one, and it’s based on two separate white supremacist memes with roots in Nazi propaganda.

Trump — the Republican presidential candidate’s eldest son and a top campaign surrogate — tweeted the image Monday evening in an apparent response to the dumpster bombing over the weekend in New York City, which his dad inaptly linked to the refugee crisis.

“This image says it all,” reads the text. “Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first. #trump2016,” accompanied by the official Donald Trump/Mike Pence campaign logo and slogan. The analogy isn’t new, and has been used for years by white supremacists to overgeneralize about various minority groups. “It is often deployed as a way to prop up indefensible stereotypes by taking advantage of human ignorance about base rates, risk assessment and criminology,” wrote Emil Karlsson on the blog Debunking Denialism. “In the end, it tries to divert attention from the inherent bigotry in making flawed generalizations.” A spokeswoman for Wrigley Americas, which makes Skittles, whacked Trump’s dehumanizing comparison. “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy,” said Denise Young, vice president of corporate affairs. “We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”

Joe Walsh, a single-term congressman from Illinois and now a right-wing talk radio host who’s been booted from the airwaves for using racial slurs, bragged that Trump’s meme was nearly identical to one he had tweeted a month earlier.

The analogy, which has been used on message boards and shared as social media memes, originally used M&Ms as the candy in question — but that changed after George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin while the unarmed black teen was walking home from buying a drink and some Skittles.

A Google image search of “skittles trayvon meme”reveals a horrible bounty of captioned images mocking the slain teenager, whose killer was acquitted after claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

But the poisoned candy analogy goes back even further, to an anti-Semitic children’s book published by Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer who was executed in 1946 as a war criminal.

The book tells the tale of “the poisonous mushroom,” and was used to indoctrinate children in hate.

“Just as poisonous mushrooms spring up everywhere, so the Jew is found in every country in the world,” the story’s mother explains to her son. “Just as poisonous mushrooms often lead to the most dreadful calamity, so the Jew is the cause of misery and distress, illness and death.”

So Trump’s appalling analogy isn’t just unoriginal and demeaning — it’s actually racist in four different ways.

4. Roger Stone and Trump, Jr. were portrayed in an Alt.right tweet endorsed by the Trumpenkampfverbande. Do not lose sight of the fact that Stone is now networking with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

“Trump Ally, Son Share Meme Featuring Symbol Of White Nationalist Alt-Right” by Allegra Kirkland; Talking Points Memo Livewire; 9/12/2016.

Two members of Donald Trump’s inner circle shared memes on social media over the weekend featuring a symbol popular with the white nationalist alt-right.

Riffing off of Hillary Clinton’s remark that some of Trump’s supporters are racists, misogynists, and xenophobes who belong in a “basket of deplorables,” the meme shared by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump ally Roger Stone showed key Trump allies photoshopped onto a poster from the move “The Expendables.” In the edited poster for “The Deplorables,” those armed staffers and Trump boosters are shown alongside Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that first cropped up on the 4chan website and has since become associated with the white supremacist movement online.

Trump, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Ben Carson, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos were among those in included in the image.

“Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables,” Trump Jr. wrote on Instagram in a caption accompanying the meme, saying he was “honored” to be grouped among Trump’s supporters.

Informal Trump advisor Roger Stone shared the same image on Twitter, saying he was “so proud to be one of the Deplorables.”

Pepe the Frog has emerged as an unofficial mascotof the alt-right, a loosely defined group of white nationalists who congregate online to debate IQ differences between the races and joke about burning Jewish journalists in ovens.

Last fall, Trump himself shared a meme featuring himself as president Pepe. He has retweeted users with handles like @WhiteGenocideTM on multiple occasions.

@codyave: @drudgereport@BreitbartNews@Writeintrump “You Can’t Stump the Trump”https://t.co/0xITB7XeJVpic.twitter.com/iF6S05se2w“— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015

Trump has disavowed support from the alt-right and white supremacists like former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, though he hired Steve Bannon, chairman of the alt-right promoting Breitbart News, as his campaign CEO in August.

5. Trump, Jr. has political aspirations. The gravitas that Snowden and WikiLeaks have with young Americans may bear very bitter fruit, indeed.

“A Chip off the Old Block” by Digby; Hullabaloo; 9/21/2016.

I wrote about Trump Jr for Salon this morning:In the beginning of the 2016 campaign the only one of Donald Trump’s five children with a high public profile was his daughter Ivanka who has her own celebrity brand just like her father’s. The two older sons were unknown to the general public but they made quite a good first impression when the whole family appeared on a CNN family special. They are all so attractive and glamorous that many people came to believe they were Donald Trump’s best feature. Indeed, it was said that the fact he’d raised such an admirable family spoke so well of him that it smoothed some of the rough edges of his own personality. Unfortunately, as people have gotten to know them better, they’ve revealed themselves to be as rough edged as dear old Dad, particularly his namesake, Donald Jr.

For most of the primaries Trump proudly evoke his two older sons when he talked about the 2nd amendment, touting their NRA membership and love of guns. It was a little bit shocking to see the ghastly pictures of their African big game kills including a horrific shot of Trump Jr holding a severed elephant tail, but they seemed to otherwise be pretty ordinary hard-working businessmen devoted to their family. For the most part they kept a low profile, serving as the usual family props in a political campaign.

When Donald Jr spoke to a white supremacist radio host in March it set off a few alarm bells simply because his father’s extreme immigration policies had been so ecstatically received by white nationalist groups. But most chalked it up to inexperience and let it go. Surely Junior wasn’t as crudely racist as the old man who was reported to keep a book of Hitler speeches next to the bed. But just a few days later he retweeted a racist science fiction writer named Theodore Beale who goes by the handle of “Vox Day” claiming that a famous picture of a Trump supporter giving a Nazi salute was actually a follower of Bernie Sanders. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree after all.

At the GOP convention in July, all four of the grown kids gave heartfelt speeches about their Dad, even as they made clear through their childhood anecdotes that the only time they ever spent with him was at the office and it seemed that Junior in particular had taken a more active role and was seen in a more serious light. people were talking about him as a moderating voice in the campaign.

Right after the convention, however, he let out a deafening dogwhistle that left no doubt as to his personal affiliation with the far right. He went to the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia Mississippi, best remembered as the place where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. But it has special political significance as the site of Ronald Reagan’s famous “states’ rights” speech in 1980 where he signaled his sympathy for white supremacy by delivering it at the scene of that horrendous racist crime. (The man who coined the term “welfare queen” was always a champion dogwhistler.) Trump Jr went there to represent and represent he did. When asked what he thought about the confederate flag he said, “I believe in tradition. I don’t see a lot of the nonsense that’s been created about that.”

Since then it’s been revealed that he follows a number of white nationalists on twitter and he’s retweeted several including a a psychologist who believes Jews manipulate society. And in the last couple of weeks Junior has let his alt-right freak flag fly. First he got excited about Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” comment and proudly retweeted a picture with the title “The Deplorables” that had been making the rounds featuring Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Eric Trump and Donald Jr along with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, right wing hit man Roger Stone, alt-right leader Milo Yianopolis and white supremacist symbol Pepe the Frog. There’s no indication that any of them had a problem with that but a lot of other people found it to be revealing, to say the least.

A couple of days later Trump Jr stepped in it again, saying the media would be “warming up the gas chamber” for Republicans if they lied and cheated the way Hillary Clinton does. He claimed he was talking about capital punishment but his association with virulent anti-Semites makes that claim ring a little bit hollow.

And then there was the Skittles incident. Donald Jr tweeted out a deeply offensive image of a bowl of skittles with the words “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you three would kill you would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” It’s a terrible metaphor, wrong in every way and Donald Jr took some heat for it. But it’s yet another window into his association with alt-right white nationalism. That bad metaphor has been around in various forms for a long time. In this country it was usually a bowl of M&Ms representing black people.. The people who traffic in this garbage fairly recently changed it to Skittles because that was the candy Trayvon Martin had bought on the night he was murdered by vigilante George Zimmerman. Yes, it’s that sick.

You hear pundits and commentators saying that Donald Trump is sui generis and his phenomenon won’t be recreated. They’re probably right. But perhaps they are not aware that his son also has political ambitions and he is simply a younger, better looking version of his father with much more hair. If alt-right white nationalism is going to be an ongoing feature of American political life, they have their leader. He is one of them.

6. More about Trump, Jr. and his political aspirations, is in the article below.

The fundamental point to be understood here is this: As discussed in FTR #’s 920, 921 and 922, the Trumpenkampfverbande is the manifestation of the Underground Reich metamorphosing into an above-ground, mass-based political movement. It will not go away. Whether it is led by Donald Trump, Jr. (who does not appear to share his father’s inclination to sexual vulgarity and aggression) or someone else, it will not go away.

“Yikes! Now Donald Trump Jr. Says He Would “Love” to Run for Office ‘as a Patriot’ ” by Sophia Tesfaye; Salon; 7/20/2016.

After his questionable speech to the RNC, Trump Jr. said he “would consider” running once his kids finish school

Calling it “one of the most thrilling moments of my life,” Donald Trump Jr. brushed aside burgeoning controversy surrounding the second Trump family speech at the RNC in as many days while speaking with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday morning.

The oldest son of the Republican presidential nominee said that while he still has “a lot to do in my own career,” he would seriously consider following in his father’s footsteps out of real estate and into political life.

The 38-year-old New Yorker said that “maybe when the kids get out of school I would consider it.” The father of five explained that he’d “love to be able to do it, as a patriot.”

His seemingly premature flirtation with political office comes hours after he delivered a major address to the RNC Tuesday evening — a speech that has already been flagged as a potential second case of Trump family plagiarism.

https://twitter.com/TheDailyShow/status/755601024908300288

While Trump Jr. told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that “We [the Trump kids] all took a lot of pride. We all wrote the speeches ourselves,” American Conservative columnist told Vox News that the apparently lifted portions can’t be considered plagiarism because he wrote both the original column and the Trump’s speech.

So while he may not be a plagiarizer in the new conservative definition of the word (my college professors always warned against recycling my own work for new courses) it looks like we may have another Donald Trump popping up on the political landscape very soon.

 

7. Donald Trump’s bank of choice: Deutsche Bank! As the article below points out, it’s a long relationship going back to the early 90’s, with at least $2.5 billion lent. Even when the 2008 crash strained Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, the company’s private banking arm continued to back “The Donald.”

“When Donald Trump Needs a Loan, He Chooses Deutsche Bank” by Anupreeta Das; The Wall Street Journal; 3/20/2016.

Despite some clashes, the Republican front-runner has been a regular client of the German lender

One of Donald Trump’s closest allies on Wall Street is a now-struggling German bank.

While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter.

That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities.

The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman.

But the relations at times have been rocky. Deutsche Bank’s giant investment-banking unit stopped working with Mr. Trump after an acrimonious legal spat, even as another arm of the company continued to loan him money.

Other Wall Street banks, after doing extensive business with Mr. Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, pulled back in part due to frustration with his business practices but also because he moved away from real-estate projects that required financing, according to bank officials. Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are among the banks that don’t currently work with him.

At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., bankers “know better than to pitch” a Trump-related deal, said a former Goldman executive. Goldman officials say there is little overlap between its core investment-banking group and Mr. Trump’s businesses.

Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump dates to the 1990s. The bank, eager to expand in the U.S. via commercial-real-estate lending, set out to woo big New York developers such as Mr. Trump and Harry Macklowe.

One of the bank’s first loans to Mr. Trump, in 1998, was $125 million to renovate the office building at 40 Wall Street. More deals soon followed, with the bank agreeing over the next few years to loan or help underwrite bonds worth a total of more than $1.3 billion for Trump entities.

By 2005, Deutsche Bank had emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s leading bankers. That year, the German bank and others lent a Trump entity $640 million to build the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Deutsche Bank officials badly wanted the deal because it came with a $12.5 million fee attached, said a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump charmed the bankers, flying them on his private Boeing 727 jet, according to people who traveled with him.

But when the housing bubble burst, the relationship frayed.

In 2008, Mr. Trump failed to pay $334 million he owed on the Chicago loan because of lackluster sales of the building’s units. He then sued Deutsche Bank. His argument was that the economic crisis constituted a “force majeure”—an unforeseen event such as war or natural disaster—that should excuse the repayment until conditions improved.

His lawyers were inspired to invoke the clause after hearing former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan describe the crisis as a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami,” according to a person who worked on the case for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump also attacked Deutsche Bank’s lending practices and said that as a big bank, it was partially responsible for causing the financial crisis. He sought $3 billion in damages.

Deutsche Bank in turn sued Mr. Trump, saying it was owed $40 million that the businessman had personally guaranteed in case his company was unable to repay the loan.

Deutsche Bank argued that Mr. Trump had a cavalier history toward banks, quoting from his 2007 book, “Think Big And Kick Ass In Business And Life.”

“I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine,” Mr. Trump wrote, according to the lawsuit. “What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, ‘I told you you shouldn’t have loaned me that money. I told you that goddamn deal was no good.’”

The court rejected Mr. Trump’s arguments but the suit forced Deutsche Bank to the negotiating table. The two sides agreed to settle their suits out of court in 2009. The following year, they extended the original loan by five years. It was paid off in 2012—with the help of a loan from the German firm’s private bank.

While Deutsche Bank didn’t lose money on the deal, the fracas soured its investment bankers on working with Mr. Trump. “He was persona non grata after that,” said a banker who worked on the deal.

But not everyone within Deutsche Bank wanted to sever the relationship. The company’s private-banking arm, which caters to ultrarich families and individuals, picked up the slack, lending well over $300 million to Trump entities in the following years. . . .

8. The fact that Donald Trump recently borrowed a large sum a money to one of the financial world’s biggest serial regulatory violators should become an issue in the 2016. So far, it hasn’t.

“Trump Has a Conflict-of-Interest Problem No Other White House Candidate Ever Had” by Russ Choma and David Corn; Mother Jones; 6/01/2016.

He owes at least $100 million to a foreign bank that’s battled with US regulators.

In his most recent financial disclosure statement, Donald Trump notes he has billions of dollars in assets. But the presumptive GOP nominee also has a tremendous load of debt that includes five loans each over $50 million. (The disclosure form, which presidential candidates must submit, does not compel candidates to reveal the specific amount of any loans that exceed $50 million, and Trump has chosen not to provide details.) Two of those megaloans are held by Deutsche Bank, which is based in Germany but has US subsidiaries. And this prompts a question that no other major American presidential candidate has had to face: What are the implications of the chief executive of the US government being in hock for $100 million (or more) to a foreign entity that has tried to evade laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans, that was recently caught manipulating markets around the world, and that attempts to influence the US government?

9. Equities markets have been wavering lately, in part because of worries about Deutsche Bank. It is interesting and significant that campaign analysis and discussion (with the exception of the Mother Jones article above) have not factored the Trump/Deutsche relationship into their evaluation.

“Deutsche Bank Troubles Raise Fears of Global Shock” by Peter S. Goodman; The New York Times; 9/30/2016.

Germany’s largest bank appears in danger, sending stock markets worldwide on a wild ride. Yet the biggest source of worry is less about its finances than a vast tangle of unknowns — not least, whether Europe can muster the will to mount a rescue in the event of an emergency.

In short, fears that Europe lacks the cohesion to avoid a financial crisis may be enhancing the threat of one.

The immediate source of alarm is the health of Deutsche Bank, whose vast and sprawling operations are entangled with the fates of investment houses from Tokyo to London to New York.

Deutsche is staring at a multibillion-dollar fine from the Justice Department for its enthusiastic participation in Wall Street’s festival of toxic mortgage products in the years leading up to financial crisis of 2008. Given Deutsche’s myriad other troubles — a role in the manipulation of a financial benchmark, claims of trades that violated Russian sanctions and a generalized sense of confusion about its mission — the American pursuit of a stiff penalty comes at an inopportune time. . . .

. . . . The European Union has become a focus of populist anger, further constraining options. And Germany has opposed bailouts for lenders in other lands, making a Deutsche rescue politically radioactive.

All of which adds to worries that Deutsche amounts to a fire burning, one that might yet become an inferno, while the fire department is consumed with existential arguments over its purpose. If the alarm sounds, no one can be sure what, if anything, will happen.

In the worst case — now highly unlikely — the bank could collapse, inciting a scramble to pull money from markets around the globe. Institutions that trade with Deutsche would feel an urge to collect their cash immediately. Given the scale of the bank’s balance sheet — 1.8 trillion euros, or more than $2 trillion — that inclination is likely to spread to every crevice of finance. Economies would grind to a halt. Jobs and fortunes would disappear. . . .

. . . . The biggest form of insurance against panic is confidence that larger players — in this case, European authorities — stand at the ready to mount a rescue, should one be required.

But confidence is not something Europe has proved terribly skilled at instilling. Its abilities to marshal a bailout are dubious. New rules introduced to discourage reckless investments by large financial institutions bar taxpayer-financed bailouts.

Germany has been adamant that these strictures be applied, rebuffing a recent attempt by the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, to secure an exemption allowing him to inject taxpayer money into the Italian banking system. The optics of Germany seeking a way around the rules for its largest lender would be especially problematic.

The Deutsche chief and the German government both shot down a report that the bank had asked that a bailout be prepared.

More broadly, Germany has been the most fervent voice that reckless economic pursuits should be punished, no matter the human toll.

As Athens has negotiated with European authorities and the International Monetary Fund for a series of bailouts, Germany has demanded deep cuts to Greek public spending, sharply cutting pension payments to retirees. The Greek government used much of the bailout money to pay back debts to German banks.

Against this backdrop, a German bailout of its largest bank would reinvigorate accusations that it uses the European Union as a cover to pursue its own national interests.

10. Amid reassurances that Deutsche Bank will weather the storm, we note: ” . . . . the €42 trillion worth of derivatives that sit on its books, an amount about 11 times the size of the German economy. . . .”

“Deutsche Bank’s Appetite for Risk Throws Off Its Balance” by Landon Thomas, Jr.; The New York Times; 10/02/2016.

The global banking giants — think of JPMorgan Chase or HSBC — make a nice return by capturing their share of the trillions of dollars that course through financial markets each day.

But few are as reliant on this business — be it swapping currencies, selling bonds or structuring derivatives — as Deutsche Bank, the giant lender that has made its name not as a home for German savers but as a place for hedge funds and other risk-loving investors to put on some of their boldest financial bets.

And that is why its swooning stock price last week set off alarm bells in finance ministries, central bank suites and trading floors from Hong Kong to New York.

More than eight years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent shock waves around the world, the fear is whether Deutsche Bank and its highly leveraged balance sheet of 1.6 trillion euros might teeter and set off another bout of financial contagion.

Those worries calmed down somewhat late last week as Deutsche Bank’s shares rose after reports that the bank may be close to cutting a deal with the United States Justice Department regarding the fine it must pay for selling toxic mortgages during the financial crisis.

There has also been a growing realization that Deutsche Bank, even with its thin cushion of cash, is in much better financial shape than Lehman Brothers was. In a letter to employees on Friday, Deutsche’s chief executive, John Cryan, highlighted the “strong fundamentals” of the bank.

It has €220 billion, or $247 billion, in ready liquidity, compared with $45 billion for Lehman in 2007, and the bank can also tap central banks in the United States and in Europe for a financial lifeline if need be.

That does not mean, however, that traders and regulators will stop fretting about, among other things, the €42 trillion worth of derivatives that sit on its books, an amount about 11 times the size of the German economy. . . .

11. It is also worth noting that precisely how healthy Deutsche Bank is or isn’t is, past a point, a matter of conjecture. The European Central Bank skewed Deutsche Bank’s stress test.

“Deutsche Received Special Treatment in EU Stress Tests Via ECB Concession” by Laura Noonan and Caroline Binham and James Shotter; Financial Times ; 10/11/2016; p. 1.

Deutsche Bank was given special treatment in the summer EU stress tests that promised to restore faith in Europe’s banks by assessing all of their finances in the same way.

Germany’s biggest lender, which has seen its share price fall as much as 22 per cent in recent weeks on fears that it could face a US fine of up to $14bn, has been using the results of the July stress tests as evidence of its healthy finances.

But the Financial Times has learnt that Deutsche’s result was boosted by a special concession agreed by its supervisor, the European Central Bank.

Deutsche’s results included the $4bn proceeds from selling its stake in Chinese lender Hua Xia even though the deal had not been done by the end of 2015, the official cut-off point for transactions to be included.

The Hua Xia sale was agreed in December 2015. It has still not been completed and now faces a delay after missing a regulatory deadline last month, though the bank is still confident of completion this year. . . .

. . . . “This [Deutsche’s treatment] is perplexing,” said Chris Wheeler, an analyst at Atlantic Equities. “The circumstances mean that it is inevitable the market watchers will be suspicious and have some concern about the veracity of the results.” . . . .

12. Donald Trump has flip-flopped about the Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen. After saying benign things about her, and appearing to endorse low interest rates, Trump has flip flopped, promising to replace her and exert pressure to raise interest rates. Note that Trump’s advisers advocate a return to the gold standard and are contemptuous of the Federal Reserve Bank, rather like Eddie the Friendly Spook (Snowden.) We will cover this at greater length next week.

” . . . . Trump’s economic advisers can for the most part be placed in one of three groups. In the first are Larry Kudlow and Judy Shelton, the intellectuals of the bunch, and both advocates of a return to the gold standard. While it has become popular among some Republicans in the past few years, returning to the gold standard is dismissed as a discredited, fringe idea by nearly all economists and market participants. And, for their part, gold-standard supporters typically reject the very idea of a Federal Reserve, so if Trump were to appoint Kudlow, Shelton, or another gold-standard supporter to the Fed, it would be the most radical and potentially damaging economic move since the dawn of our modern economic system, after the Great Depression. . . . Finally, there’s the group represented by Stephen Bannon, the former Goldman Sachs banker and Breitbart News chief now heading Trump’s campaign. Bannon has not talked much publicly about his views of the Fed. But his deep association with the alt-right is worth examining: some on the alt-right have expressed contempt for the very idea of a healthy economy. . . . In reading stories on Breitbart and other sites connected to the awful alt-right movement that Trump has embraced, I found it impossible to identify any overarching view of how the economy should work. There were sloppy and occasional potshots at Obama or Yellen, and a general contempt for the many institutions of modern liberal society. But there were no coherent economics. Which brings us back to Trump’s own views. He has no coherent plan, no view that can be mapped onto the common range of established discussion, whether left, right, or center. On Thursday, Trump’s campaign released his “economic policy.” Amid the assertions that a dramatic cut in taxes and regulation will lead to more economic growth and higher employment, there is no mention of the Federal Reserve. Instead, Trump has offered the public a general, instinctive contempt for the Fed and its policies. . . .”

“Trump and the Truth: The Interest-Rate Flip-Flop” by Adam Davidson; The New Yorker; 9/15/2016.

This essay is part of a series The New Yorker will be running through the election titled “Trump and the Truth.”

Over the past year, Donald Trump, who famously never backs down, has attacked, backed down, and then again attacked Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve. He has done it in his way, never acknowledging when he says precisely the opposite of what he has previously said. (Yellen, for her part, has ignored the whole thing.)

Trump’s Yellen cycle began in October, when, in an interview with The Hill, he accused Yellen of keeping down the Fed’s key interest rate, known as the Fed funds rate, because President Obama “doesn’t want to have a recession-slash-depression during his administration.” (This raised the question, of course, Who expects a President to want a recession-slash-depression?) By the spring of this year, Trump had revised his thinking about Yellen. “I have nothing against Janet Yellen whatsoever,” he told CNBC, on May 5th. “She’s a very capable person. People that I know have a very high regard for her.” Trump explained his newly rosy view by endorsing the very policy he had mocked a few months earlier. “She’s a low-interest-rate person; she’s always been a low-interest-rate person. And I must be honest, I’m a low-interest-rate person.” A couple of weeks later, Trump reiterated his happy view of the Fed chair. In an interview with Reuters, he said, “I’m not a person that thinks Janet Yellen is doing a bad job.”

This week, Trump was back on the attack. On Monday, he told CNBC that Yellen should be “ashamed” of the low-interest-rate policy that Trump himself endorsed so fully in May. “She is obviously political, and she’s doing what Obama wants her to do,” he said. Once again, Trump made the claim that there was a secret Obama-Yellen pact to keep rates low, rooted in their nefarious desire to prevent an economic crisis. They both knew, he said, that “as soon as [rates] go up, the stock market is going to go way down.” On Thursday, after giving a speech at the Economic Club of New York, Trump again took aim at the Fed. “The Fed has become very political,” he said. “Beyond anything I would have ever thought possible.”

It’s impossible to reconcile Trump’s conflicting statements on Yellen and the Fed’s interest-rate level. Low interest rates can’t be both smart policy and evidence of corruption, just like Yellen can’t be both “very capable” and a shameful Obama stooge. But beyond the contradictions, Trump has betrayed a basic misunderstanding of how central banks work. Take his statement that he and Yellen are both “low-interest-rate” people. Yellen, he said, has “always been a low-interest-rate person.” Central bankers like to say that the entire point of the Federal Reserve is to “lean against the wind,” meaning that, when the economy is growing so fast that it risks inflation, the Fed raises its interest rate, and, when economic growth is sluggish, the Fed lowers it. In the context of central banking, Yellen is often identified as a “dove,” which means that she is generally a bit more concerned about lowering unemployment than about the risks of inflation. But calling Yellen a “low-interest-rate person” is like calling a doctor concerned about a patient’s high fever a “low-temperature person.” Yellen, like all central bankers, is not a low-interest or high-interest person. She’s a person for whatever interest rate is appropriate, given economic conditions. In her two decades of votes as a senior Fed official, she has voted for higher rates plenty of times.

Where Trump is most clearly and dangerously wrong is in his accusation of political interference by the White House. Yellen doesn’t make decisions about the interest rate on her own. As chair, she has one vote on the Federal Reserve’s twelve-member Open Market Committee, which is currently made up of five members appointed by President Obama and seven members who come from regional Federal Reserve banks and who are chosen by their own boards, made up of bankers, businesspeople, and, in some cases, community representatives. It’s a diverse lot—several members of the committee have shown no particular loyalty to the President. What’s more, the board’s decision-making process about the interest rate is public. We know how each of the twelve members vote at each meeting of the committee. The Fed even releases a “dot plot,” which shows how the different members expect to vote over the coming years.

This publicness has been designed for good reason. The Fed funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend money to one another for overnight loans. In practice, this rate sets the tempo of the entire global economy, and changes to it ripple through every aspect of our economic lives. Sudden and unexplained moves would create panic. That the Fed hasn’t raised its rate since December cannot be explained as some nefarious plot jointly concocted by Obama and Yellen. It is fully explained by a board of technocrats studying the data and coming to pretty much the same conclusion that nearly everybody else who looks at the data reaches: our economy is still in a period of sluggish growth and, despite Tuesday’s cheery economic news, a Fed-induced tightening could send millions of Americans back into unemployment and generally wreak havoc on the economy—a point Trump himself endorsed in his brief pro-Yellen phase a few months back.

The Fed is far from perfect and has earned its share of fair criticism. But what makes Trump’s views on central-bank policy particularly troubling is that it is impossible to know where they are coming from. The next President will be able to select a Fed chair and several Federal Reserve governors. By this point in a Presidential election, the major-party candidates’ economic preferences are typically well established, and usually embodied by their economic advisers. Whether you embraced them or despised them as candidates, since the nineteen-seventies, the major-party candidates have made it relatively easy to know how they would approach the Fed if elected. Notably, candidates in recent decades have all shown enormous deference to the Fed as an independent, nonpartisan institution. Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama all reappointed the Fed chair of their cross-party predecessor. Trump has said he will not reappoint Yellen to a second term. So how would he pick her successor? What framework would he use?

Trump’s economic advisers can for the most part be placed in one of three groups. In the first are Larry Kudlow and Judy Shelton, the intellectuals of the bunch, and both advocates of a return to the gold standard. While it has become popular among some Republicans in the past few years, returning to the gold standard is dismissed as a discredited, fringe idea by nearly all economists and market participants. And, for their part, gold-standard supporters typically reject the very idea of a Federal Reserve, so if Trump were to appoint Kudlow, Shelton, or another gold-standard supporter to the Fed, it would be the most radical and potentially damaging economic move since the dawn of our modern economic system, after the Great Depression. (Just how awful an idea returning to the gold standard would be is difficult to convey in a short space, but it’s worth pointing out that, under the gold standard, recessions and deep depressions were frequent, and the central bank and government officials had no ability to respond.)

The second group of Trump advisers is, famously, made up of businesspeople: all those Steves—Feinberg, Mnuchin, Roth, Calk, and the others who come from real estate and finance. As a group, they, like Trump, have not expressed great knowledge of or interest in monetary policy.

Finally, there’s the group represented by Stephen Bannon, the former Goldman Sachs banker and Breitbart News chief now heading Trump’s campaign. Bannon has not talked much publicly about his views of the Fed. But his deep association with the alt-right is worth examining: some on the alt-right have expressed contempt for the very idea of a healthy economy. A guide to the alt-right, published by Breitbart in March, identified a subset of the movement, known as “natural conservatives.” For these people, the authors explained, a strong economy isn’t necessarily something to wish for. “Culture, not economic efficiency, is the paramount value,” the guide states. “More specifically, [natural conservatives] value the greatest cultural expressions of their tribe. Their perfect society does not necessarily produce a soaring GDP, but it does produce symphonies, basilicas and Old Masters.” This outlook was contrasted with the views of “an establishment Republican,” who has an “overriding belief in the glory of the free market, [who] might be moved to tear down a cathedral and replace it with a strip mall if it made economic sense.”

Reading these passages helped me understand something that I had found confusing. In reading stories on Breitbart and other sites connected to the awful alt-right movement that Trump has embraced, I found it impossible to identify any overarching view of how the economy should work. There were sloppy and occasional potshots at Obama or Yellen, and a general contempt for the many institutions of modern liberal society. But there were no coherent economics. Which brings us back to Trump’s own views. He has no coherent plan, no view that can be mapped onto the common range of established discussion, whether left, right, or center. On Thursday, Trump’s campaign released his “economic policy.” Amid the assertions that a dramatic cut in taxes and regulation will lead to more economic growth and higher employment, there is no mention of the Federal Reserve. Instead, Trump has offered the public a general, instinctive contempt for the Fed and its policies. . . .

13. The nature of Trump’s followers is to be gleaned from the following:

” ‘Virtually Every Alt-Right Nazi Is Volunteering for the Trump Campaign’ ” by Ed Mazza; Huffington Post; 9/30/2016.

It seems Donald Trump has united one group of voters: Neo-Nazis.

“Trump had me at ‘build a wall,’” Andrew Anglin, editor of the white supremacist website Daily Stormer, told the Los Angeles Times. “Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

The comments confirm reports from throughout the campaign season that white supremacists were mobilizing for the Republican presidential candidate and excited by his platform. Trump has picked up endorsements from leaders and publications in the neo-Nazi movement since early in his candidacy. Some members of the movement have even made robocalls on his behalf. . . .

14. There has been a considerable amount of coverage of Donald Trump’s thinly veiled exhortation for his pro-12nd Amendment followers to shoot Hillary Clinton. Trump is also encouraging his followers to show up at polling places to guard against the [fraudulent] prospect of voter fraud. Many see this as an exhortation to violently intimidate minority voters. If Trump loses, it will be interesting to see how those followers who have been regaled that the election is “rigged,” will act.

The betting money, here, is that we will see a significant uptick in rightwing terror and murder, much of it the “lone-wolf/leaderless resistance” variety for which Glenn Greenwald ran legal interference.

Again, the point is that the Trumpenkampfverbande is not going away. Whether led by a Donald Trump, Jr., who eschews his father’s locker-room banter, or someone else, the Underground Reich is moving above ground.

“Danger on November 9th” by Josh Marshall; Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog; 10/12/2016.

I’ve been wanting to discuss this. But so much has been happening it keeps getting pushed back to the next day or the next post. Quite simply, everybody needs to be paying close attention to what happens on November 9th.

It now seems quite likely that Hillary Clinton will win the November election and become the next President of the United States. But Donald Trump has been for months pushing the idea that the election may be stolen from him by some mix of voter fraud (by racial and ethnic minorities) or more systemic election rigging by persons unknown. Polls show that large numbers of his supporters believe this.

Now, here at TPM we’ve been writing and reporting about the GOP’s ‘vote fraud’ scam going back almost 15 years. It’s a hugely important issue. But to date it has mainly been used to heat up Republican voters and drive state-based voter suppression measures. After a decade-plus pushing the idea, Republicans passed various voter suppression measures in numerous states after the 2010 midterm election. But to date, the ‘voter fraud’ scam has never been fully weaponized as a way to delegitimize and even resist a specific election, certainly not a national election. As Rick Hasen explains here, Donald Trump is doing that now. And he is succeeding in as much as he’s convinced substantial numbers of his supporters that if he loses it will be because the election was stolen.

It is a very, very dangerous step when a presidential nominee openly threatens to jail his opponent if he wins. It’s no less dangerous when a candidate pushes the idea that an election will be stolen and lays the groundwork for resisting the result. That’s happening. It is difficult to overstate the societal benefit of being able to take it almost as an absolute given and assumption that no matter how intense and close-fought an election gets, virtually everyone will accept the result the day after. Undermining that assumption is of a piece with introducing into the political arena the idea that people who lose election might lose more than the election: loss of money, freedom, or worse etc.

I’ll put a pin in the discussion for now. But this is something to watch very closely as the next thirty days unfold. It is a very, very big deal. Trump has been making this argument explicitly for weeks. As I said, we’re had the voter fraud racket for years. It’s never been weaponized like this As the pressure on him grows and his own anger mounts there’s every reason to think he’ll keep upping the ante.

 

 

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #927 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 6: Locker Room Eclipse”

  1. Here’s an article about Trump’s “international bankers” speech that makes an important note given Trump’s propensity to do a lot of his neo-Nazi dog-whistling in the midst of some sort of stream-of-Trumpian-consciousness rant: The speech was read from a teleprompter:

    AlterNet

    In Nazi-Like Speech, Trump Responds to Sexual Assault Claims With Broad Conspiracy Theory Designed to Foment Mayhem
    Telegraphing anti-Semitism and disparaging the women who say he assaulted them, Trump delivered a piece of crafted propaganda via teleprompter.

    By Adele M. Stan / AlterNet
    October 13, 2016

    It would be tempting to label as “unhinged” the speech Donald Trump delivered in West Palm Beach on Thursday—a speech in which he dog-whistled a worldwide conspiracy against him (without actually uttering the word “Jews”) and disparaged the appearance of women who have accused him of sexual assault and transgressions.

    But it was not unhinged. The speech was hinged to the original purpose of his campaign: to trade on the resentments of a restive remnant of white America—angry white men and the women who love them—and set the stage for mayhem in the wake of his likely electoral defeat.

    This was not your standard, off-the-cuff Trump rant. This was a scripted speech, delivered with a teleprompter. It was crafted. It featured the key words of right-wing complaints: “sovereign,” “global bankers” and “slander.” Really, it came right out of a Nazi propaganda playbook. And when one considers the themes common between Nazi propaganda films and the films made by top Trump campaign staffers Stephen K. Bannon and David Bossie (as analyzed by AlterNet), we should hardly be surprised.

    Trump began with an attack on the New York Times (whose majority owners are a Jewish family), which he said was engaged in a conspiracy of global proportions with the Clintons, international bankers and major corporations, all to stop him from winning the presidency.

    “For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind. Our campaign represents a true existential threat, like they haven’t seen before. This is not simply another four-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not we, the people, reclaim control over our government,” Trump told a cheering crowd. A few beats later, he said, “We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”

    He then went on, at great length, describing what he alleged was coordination between the New York Times and the Clinton campaign, noting the newspaper’s Wednesday night report detailing allegations by two women who said Trump had sexually accosted them. Of course, he contended the women were liars. He also offered a disquisition on previous New York Times pieces about his behavior with women. It was all a grand conspiracy, he said, not just against him, but against the United States of America.

    The agenda of the “media establishment,” Trump said, was to elect “crooked” Hillary Clinton, in the service of “special global interests rigging the system.” There are a lot of ways in the land of Wingnuttia to telegraph that your target is Jews, and these are two of them. Remember them: You’ll be hearing a lot in coming days about the “media establishment,” “global special interests,” oh, and “bankers.”

    “Anyone who challenges their control,” Trump continued, “is deemed a sexist, rapist, xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that. They will do whatever is necessary. The Clintons are criminals. Remember that, they’re criminals.”

    When the crowd began chanting, “Lock her up!” Trump chimed in, “So true. Honestly, she should be locked up. She should be. Should be locked up.”

    Of his accusers, Trump told his audience to have a good look at them, implying they weren’t good-looking enough to have attracted his attention. Of the women interviewed by the New York Times, Trump said, “You take a look at these people. You study these people and you’ll understand also. The claims are preposterous, ludicrous, and defy truth, common sense and logic.”

    Speaking of Natasha Stoynoff, the People magazine writer who Wednesday night published an article detailing what she said was an assault by Trump against her at his Mar-a-Lago home, Trump said, “Take a look. You look at her. Look at her words,” he said. “You tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

    Trump went on to say he has evidence to refute the claims made against him in the New York Times report, evidence he would reveal “at an appropriate time.” He also promised to take down the Times—put it out of business—with a lawsuit he is preparing against the newspaper. It is telling that one of his big supporters is Peter Thiel, who took down Gawker by backing Hulk Hogan’s privacy-violation lawsuit against the website.

    Perhaps most chilling in all of the hate-stoking and conspiracy-mongering Trump demonstrated Thursday is his assertion that “this is war”—that the “media establishment” and the Clintons are engaged in a conspiracy that is making war on the American people “no matter how many lives they destroy.”

    “For them, it’s a war,” Trump said. “And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation.”

    Trump has learned well from his white nationalist friends. After all, the guy who likely wrote Thursday’s script—Trump campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon—is the one who boasted of providing “the platform for the alt-right,” that anti-Semitic, misogynist movement from which Trump has derived such succor.

    With Thursday’s speech, Trump has baldly laid out his true agenda: a post-election insurrection.

    “With Thursday’s speech, Trump has baldly laid out his true agenda: a post-election insurrection.”

    Yeah, Trumps speech on Thursday that was a prepared and carefully crafted ‘Protocols’-style dog-whistle probably isn’t the best sign for what we can expect from Trump post-election. Especially after his speech on Friday:

    The Washington Post

    Donald Trump is setting the stage to never concede the 2016 election

    By Chris Cillizza
    October 14, 2016

    Donald Trump never accepted losing in his business life. Even when he very clearly lost. He simply declared victory and moved on. (If you don’t believe me, watch PBS’s terrific “The Choice 2016.")

    His rhetoric over the last 10 days suggests he is preparing to follow that very blueprint in November. Over and over again of late, Trump has indulged in the idea of a broad-scale global conspiracy being organized to keep him from being elected. And he has repeatedly used language describing the election as “rigged” by a Democratic Party and complicit media playing dirty pool.

    At a rally on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., Trump leaned into his “rigged” premise.

    “This whole election is being rigged,” Trump told the roaring crowd. “The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.”

    Given that rhetoric, it’s difficult for me to imagine that in 25 days time, if he comes up short to Hillary Clinton, Trump will simply concede the election. He is actively fomenting the idea that the results on Nov. 8 will be invalid no matter what they say because of the “rigged” nature of the whole process. He is priming the pump among his supporters to never accept that he actually lost but instead had it stolen from him by the Democratic-media complex, which couldn’t deal with the truths he was telling.

    Trump, despite the hopes of many Republicans, isn’t going to simply disappear on Nov. 9. This is someone whose entire life has been in pursuit of an ever-bigger spotlight. Trump now has the biggest spotlight in the world on him. He isn’t the sort to willingly walk off the stage at the moment he has achieved what he’s always wanted. And so, whether or not Trump actually believes the election is rigged against him (it’s not!), he has several self-serving reasons to continue to push the idea to and through Election Day.

    Trump, I think, has two options for his future in politics, assuming he loses this fall. The first is that he works to keep his bloc of voters together post-election and forms some sort of conservative alternative third party that aims to bash Republicans and Democrats in roughly equal measure. The other is that he starts a conservative media/broadcasting company in an attempt to monetize the loyalty his supporters have for him and the anti-elites, anti-party message he has been pushing throughout the campaign.

    Neither of those options is served by acknowledging defeat at the hands of Clinton and shuffling off. Both are made more appealing — from a commercial perspective — by never conceding, by insisting that the race wasn’t lost, it was taken.

    Trump has shown that he is a master of grievance politics in this race. He now seems to be setting up the greatest grievance of all for the voters who support him: that their votes don’t matter because Hillary Clinton and all of her media enablers have already determined the outcome of this election.

    “This whole election is being rigged…The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.”

    As we can see, in the days following the tidal wave of sexual harassment allegations against Trump, he’s primary response has been to issues neo-Nazi dog-whistles about a global conspiracy against him and the American people and openly declaring the election totally rigged. So he’s consciously backing himself into a rhetorical corner where conceding defeat would be to viewed as allowing allowing the American sovereignty to be destroyed by a global conspiracy. This is where we are. And where Donald Trump wanted us to be just about four years ago:

    Yahoo! News

    Trump’s Twitter rant after Obama win: ‘We should march on Washington and stop this’

    Dylan Stableford
    November 6, 2012

    Donald Trump, the impossibly coiffed real estate mogul and de facto leader of the “birther” movement, had something of a Twitter meltdown in the wake of President Barack Obama’s projected victory in Tuesday’s election.

    “Well, back to the drawing board!” Trump tweeted shortly after several networks, including Fox News, called Ohio in the president’s favor, sealing the win. “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”

    Trump—who last month offered $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice in exchange for the release of the commander in chief’s college records and passport application—continued his post-election rant in 140-character chunks:

    Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.

    This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!

    Our nation is a once great nation divided!

    Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before.

    The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.

    “Barack Obama is the least transparent president in the history of this country,” Trump said in a widely mocked October video shot from his New York office and uploaded to YouTube. “I’m very honored to have gotten him to release his long-form birth certificate or whatever it may be.”

    “”Well, back to the drawing board!” Trump tweeted shortly after several networks, including Fox News, called Ohio in the president’s favor, sealing the win.”

    That was four years ago. “Back to the drawing board,” indeed.

    And in horribly related news, a Kansas militia was caught planning attacks on a local Somali community, and anyone supportive of that community, the attack for the day after election day:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Feds: Right Wing Militia Plotted Nov. 9 Attack On Somali Immigrants In Kansas

    By Tierney Sneed
    Published October 14, 2016, 4:50 PM EDT

    The feds arrested three members of a right wing militia for allegedly planning to detonate explosives at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, with Somali Muslims specifically the target, law enforcement announced at Friday.

    The men were Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and of Liberal, Kansas, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright, Kansas, according to a Department of Justice press release. Their arrests Friday morning were first reported by CBS News.

    The attack was allegedly planned for the day after Election Day, law enforcement said at a press conference.

    They are facing domestic terrorism charges, which, if they are convicted, could result in a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, law enforcement said.

    “These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” Tom Beall, the acting U.S. Attorney for Kansas, said. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I have that such things could happen here.”

    The investigation uncovered stockpiles of firearms and explosive materials, as well as a manifesto, Beall said.

    “One of them said, ‘The bombing would wake people up,'” Beall said.

    The suspects allegedly planned to attack the housing complex, where approximately 120 people live and where one of the apartments was used as a mosque, the officials said. They were part of a militia group that called itself The Crusaders, according to law enforcement.

    They also considered targeting churches and public officials who supported the Somali community, as well as the landlords that rented to the immigrants, the officials said.

    ““These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” Tom Beall, the acting U.S. Attorney for Kansas, said. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I have that such things could happen here.””

    Yes, many Kansans may find it startling that a group was planning on mass murdering one a local Somali community, along with anyone friendly with this community, the day after election day. It’s the kind of news that should startle.

    Just as many Americans might find it startling that the GOP’s nominee is an Alt-Right icon who is one verbal outburst away from calling for some sort of mass movement to get him installed as President because otherwise an international banker conspiracy will destroy American sovereignty. And only he can save us. A flirtation with shredding the social contract that keeps democracy operating (accepting the outcome of elections) is ‘on the drawing board’ right now.

    It’s a startling, yet still somewhat familiar situation. Like the remake of a horror movie you’ve seen before.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 15, 2016, 1:48 pm
  2. Here’s how Trump and his surrogates spent their Sunday: In case we didn’t already get the memo, the Trump campaign went on to all the various Sunday morning political shows and across the media to inform audiences that the media is rigging the election against Trump. Trump’s surrogates like Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani took pains to point out that they were just talking about the media teaming up on Trump and not asserting that polling places were getting rigged. Trump himself begged to differ. On Twitter, of course:

    MediaMatters

    Trump And His Surrogates Spent Sunday Claiming That The Media Are Rigging The Election

    Research ››› October 16, 2016 4:06 PM EDT ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Surrogates for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on Trump’s claim that the media is biased against him and that the “election is being rigged by the national media” in favor of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a series of interviews on the Sunday morning political talk shows.

    Donald Trump Claims The Media Is Rigging The Election

    Donald Trump Says The “Dishonest And Distorted Media” Are “Rigging The Election.” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted on October 16 that the “election is being rigged by the media, in a coordinated effort with the Clinton campaign” and that the “dishonest and distorted media” is “pushing Crooked Hillary”:

    Polls close, but can you believe I lost large numbers of women voters based on made up events THAT NEVER HAPPENED. Media rigging election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016

    Election is being rigged by the media, in a coordinated effort with the Clinton campaign, by putting stories that never happened into news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016

    The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016

    [Twitter, 10/16/16, 10/16/16, 10/16/16]

    On Sunday Political Shows, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, And Rudy Giuliani Push Trump’s Claim That The Election Is Being Rigged By The Media

    On Meet The Press, Mike Pence Said “The Obvious Bias In The National Media” Against Trump Is “Where The Sense Of A Rigged Election” Comes From. Republican vice presidential nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence claimed multiple times on NBC’s Meet the Press that “the national media” are covering “unsubstantiated claims” that his running mate, presidential nominee Donald Trump, sexually assaulted several women instead of “corruption and pay to play in the Clinton Foundation years.” Pence said that “the obvious bias in the national media” is “where the sense of a rigged election” comes from and that he and Trump will “work our hearts out against all odds, against most of you in the national media.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 10/16/16]

    On Face The Nation, Pence Claimed The Election Is A “Two-On-One Fight” With Many “In The National Media Doing Half Of Hillary Clinton’s Work For Her.” On CBS’ Face the Nation, Pence argued that when Trump talks about a “rigged election,” he’s referring to “the monolithic support of the national media for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Pence went on to call the election a “two-on-one fight with many of you in the national media doing half of Hillary Clinton’s work for her every day”:

    JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): Another thing [Trump] is saying is that the election is rigged. My question is: Is that a responsible thing for a candidate to say?

    MIKE PENCE: Well, I think what Donald Trump is talking about is, frankly, what appears to be the monolithic support of the national media for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Their willful ignorance about the avalanche of hard evidence, not allegations, John, but hard evidence now coming out in these emails of collusion and pay-for-play politics. And the American people are just tired of it. Look, we’ll respect the outcome of this election, John. Let me be very clear, Donald Trump said in the first debate that we’ll respect the will of the American people in this election, the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American history, and elections get really tough. But the American people are getting awful tired of this two-on-one fight with many of you in the national media doing half of Hillary Clinton’s work for her every day. All we’re asking for is whatever you want to report about our campaign, let’s get out there, let’s let the facts speak for themselves. But let’s get before the American people this avalanche of emails that is confirming pay-to-play politics and outright corruption during the Clinton years. [CBS, Face the Nation, 10/16/16]

    On This Week, Newt Gingrich Claimed “This Election Is Being Rigged By The National Media.” On ABC’s This Week, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that “it’s amazing that Trump is as close as he is right now considering the one-sidedness of the news media barrage,” and that “This election is being rigged by the national media who are doing everything they can to suppress bad news about Hillary, and everything they can to maximize bad news about Trump.” Gingrich also cited a blog to say that “this is a coup d’etat. … Fourteen million citizens in private ballots Donald Trump, 20 TV executives have decided to destroy him.” [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 10/16/16]

    On State Of The Union, Rudy Giuliani Said The Election Is Rigged Because “80 To 85 Percent Of The Media Is Against” Trump. On CNN’s State of the Union, Trump surrogate and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said that when Trump “talks about a rigged election, he’s not talking about the fact that it’s going to be rigged at the polls. What he’s talking about is that 80 to 85 percent of the media is against him.” Giuliani added that newspapers publish stories about Trump that are “totally baseless” and “silly,” specifically naming The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New York Daily News:

    RUDY GIULIANI: When [Trump] talks about a rigged election, he’s not talking about the fact that it’s going to be rigged at the polls. What he’s talking about is that 80 to 85 percent of the media is against him. That when you look at The New York Times and you pick it up every morning, on the top of the paper, there are three stories that are anti-Trump — some of them totally baseless, some of them silly — and then at the bottom you get a little something about WikiLeaks. Or same thing with The Washington Post, I mean they’re way out of control. The [New York] Daily News. [CNN, State of the Union, 10/16/16]

    “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016

    Huh, when Rudy Giuliani said, “When [Trump] talks about a rigged election, he’s not talking about the fact that it’s going to be rigged at the polls. What he’s talking about is that 80 to 85 percent of the media is against him,” and when Mike Pence argued that when Trump talks about a “rigged election,” he’s referring to “the monolithic support of the national media for Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” it appears these two key surrogates were pushing a very different message in the media from the one Trump himself was pushing. It sounds like the Trump campaign could use a little media conspiracy of its own otherwise known as message coordination.

    So the media is lying and the votes are going to be a lie. That’s Trump’s message to the public. And while the rest of his campaign may not be pushing the “votes are going to be rigged”-meme as aggressively as Trump, that doesn’t that message isn’t getting through to the intended audience:

    US News & World Report

    Poll: Voters Think Election Could Be ‘Stolen’

    A new survey shows 4 in 10 voters think the GOP nominee could have the election ‘stolen’ from him, even as party members work to walk back that claim.

    By Gabrielle Levy | Political Reporter
    Oct. 17, 2016, at 11:38 a.m.

    A wide swath of voters believes Donald Trump’s assertions that the election will be rigged against him, even as Republicans are pushing back against the claims.

    A new Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday found 41 percent of registered voters say they agree that widespread voter fraud could be used to steal the election from the GOP nominee, including 19 percent who say they “strongly agree.”

    And while just 17 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents say they believe the election is at risk of being stolen from Trump, a whopping 73 percent of Republicans say they hold such a fear.

    The same poll finds Trump would lose the election to Democrat Hillary Clinton, 41 percent to 46 percent.

    “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD,” Trump tweeted Sunday.

    As Trump’s standing in national and swing state polls has sunk over recent weeks, many analysts and even some party officials say a victory is all but out of reach for him.

    Perhaps in anticipation of a loss on Nov. 8, Trump has increasingly worked to undermine his supporters’ trust in the outcome, blaming Clinton, the media and the political establishment for conspiring to cheat him out of the presidency.

    Trump suggested the general election would be “rigged” against him for the first time in early August as his poll numbers tanked following some major blunders, including his extended attacks on a Gold Star family. He dialed back those accusations as his campaign stabilized in September, at one point nearly drawing even with Clinton.

    As the prediction of a stolen election has taken root among Trump’s supporters, leaders in his party have tried to counteract his efforts to sow doubt in the integrity of the democratic process.

    Trump’s own running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, attempted to clarify Trump’s complaint as one directed at “the obvious bias in the national media.”

    “We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The American people will speak, but [they] are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”

    Moreover, a number of the critical states likely to determine the election outcome – including Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan – have GOP governors, and officials in charge of counting ballots in such states have strongly denied allegations they would tip the election for anyone.

    “We have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Jon Husted, the Republican secretary of state of Ohio, where Trump has had an uneasy relationship with the GOP, told The New York Times. “We are going to run a good, clean election in Ohio, like we always do.”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has frequently found himself on the receiving end of Trump’s ire even as he has not withdrawn his endorsement of the candidate, said he was “fully confident” the election would be carried out fairly after Trump spoke of a conspiracy of “globalist elites” who have “rigged” the election against him at a Saturday rally in Maine.

    “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.

    On Monday, Trump called Republicans speaking out against him “naive.”

    “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day,” he wrote on Twitter. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

    “And while just 17 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents say they believe the election is at risk of being stolen from Trump, a whopping 73 percent of Republicans say they hold such a fear.

    Ok, so almost 3/4 of GOP voters feared the vote was going to be rigged against Trump. Now where did they get that idea? Of course, as the article noticed, the vast majority of the swing-states where vote-rigging might take place are states controlled by Republicans:


    Moreover, a number of the critical states likely to determine the election outcome – including Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan – have GOP governors, and officials in charge of counting ballots in such states have strongly denied allegations they would tip the election for anyone.

    So hopefully someone follows up with Trump as to whether or not he’s concerned about, say, Scott Walker, rigging the election against him in Wisconsin. After all, when Roger Stone was pushing the “all the polls are going to be rigged against Trump”-meme back in August, it was Scott Walker’s Wisconsin that Stone cited as the most prone to rigging, with RNC chairman Reince Priebus helping out:

    Wisconsin Public Radio

    Former Trump Advisor: Scott Walker Has ‘Rigged’ 5 Elections
    Roger Stone Accuses Gov. Walker, GOP Chair Priebus Of Election Fraud

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 4:40pm
    By Laurel White

    A former advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign accused Gov. Scott Walker and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus of rigging multiple elections in Wisconsin.

    The Washington, D.C.-based political newspaper The Hill published a column Tuesday written by former Trump advisor Roger Stone.

    “As someone with great sentimental attachment to the Republican Party, as I joined as the party of Goldwater, both parties have engaged in voting machine manipulation,” Stone wrote. Nowhere in the country has this been more true than Wisconsin, where there are strong indications that Scott Walker and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elections including the defeat of a Walker recall election.

    Mike Wagner, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said most campaigns would likely denounce such remarks, but Trump’s might not.

    “Donald Trump himself has already said, if I don’t win, it may be that this election was rigged,” Wagner said. “And so the column from Roger Stone, a former Trump associate, sure makes it sound like this is at least consistent with the Trump message, if not coordinated with the Trump message.”

    “As someone with great sentimental attachment to the Republican Party, as I joined as the party of Goldwater, both parties have engaged in voting machine manipulation…Nowhere in the country has this been more true than Wisconsin, where there are strong indications that Scott Walker and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elections including the defeat of a Walker recall election.

    So, is the media going to start asking the Trump campaign, or at least Roger Stone, if they’re still convinced that Republican governors are going to be rigging the vote in all those key swing states controlled by Republican governors? Especially Wisconsin, the home state of RNC-chairman Reince Priebus. Is Wisconsin going to rig the vote too? If so, who are they rigging it for? Are Scott Walker and Reince Priebus going to fix the polling stations for Hillary? Is that what Trump is suggesting? Would it be naive to believe otherwise? How about states like Ohio or Florida? These are the kinds of questions Trump is begging the media to ask. Of course, he’s also threatening to charge the media with being in on a giant conspiracy against him if they ask questions that make him look unhinged. Of course.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2016, 2:13 pm
  3. Big shocker: Large numbers of top Republican officials agree with something horribly irresponsible Donald Trump said:

    Politico

    RNC members agree with Trump: It’s rigged

    Many top GOP officials believe the fix is in.

    By Kyle Cheney

    10/18/16 01:09 PM EDT

    Donald Trump is spending the final weeks of his presidential bid declaring he’s the victim of an unprecedented vote-rigging conspiracy meant to elect Hillary Clinton.

    Many top Republican Party officials agree.

    Interviews with more than two dozen members of the Republican National Committee reveal abiding fears of Democratic voting fraud and widespread belief that at least part of the process or outcome is rigged.

    “I do believe that there are elements that will try to rig the election on varying degrees of scale and this will certainly affect the outcome in varying degrees,” said Peter Goldberg, an RNC committeeman from Alaska.

    “Should Hillary get ‘elected’ she is immediately delegitimized,” said California RNC Committeeman Shawn Steel in an email. “The 1% of Wall Street Bankers, Clinton Machine and [mainstream media] including your employer, Politico, is part of a massive Left Wing Conspiracy to rig this election.”

    Not all of the RNC members who spoke with POLITICO believe the election is rigged. Some contend he’s wrong about the scale of the conspiracy he describes and others believe he should be targeting his ire at media, which they believe is indeed conspiring against him.

    But rather than knock down Trump’s claims, most lauded his focus on ballot integrity and pointed to instances of what they say is fraudulent voter registration as proof that he may be onto something.

    “It is a grave concern on a number of fronts,” said Arizona RNC Committeewoman Lori Klein Corbin. “When you have Democrats using Obama’s federal forms to register voters who do not have to declare if they are citizens or not and often show no ID.”

    Party chairman Reince Priebus has not refuted the notion that the election is rigged; the RNC declined requests for comment.

    In some cases, RNC members defending Trump are at odds with Republican secretaries of state – several of whom publicly insisted this week that there’s no cause for concern. These GOP election administrators expressed varying degrees of concern that Trump’s so-far-unsubstantiated charges could cast doubt on the integrity of the November election results. (Recent national polls show him trailing Clinton by a significant margin).

    “First of all, I can reassure Donald Trump: I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they’re not going to be rigged. I’ll make sure of that,” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told CNN Monday. “Our institutions, like our election system, is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it. It works very well. In places like Ohio, we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

    Husted, who has called Trump’s claim “irresponsible,” has been joined by GOP secretaries of state in Iowa and Georgia in pushing back against the allegations. In recent days House Speaker Paul Ryan has insisted he is “fully confident” in the integrity of the election – prompting a backlash from Trump. And former RNC lawyers said Trump is way off base.

    “A national conspiracy to rig the election I find is ludicrous,” said Mark Braden, an RNC lawyer from 1979 to 1989. “There is no nationwide conspiracy because there’s no way of doing it.”

    “I believe in voter ID laws to ensure fair and free elections. Having said that, there is not and has not been any indication of systemic rigging of elections in America, and it’s extremely dangerous to make those unfounded claims,” said Charlie Spies, one of Braden’s successors as RNC counsel. “Donald Trump should be focused on running an effective campaign rather than making false excuses for losing.”

    But Corbin, the Arizona committeewoman, said she agreed with Trump’s warning earlier this month that Democrats may be intentionally allowing undocumented immigrants into the country to vote in the election – though they are no substantiated claims that this is occurring. “This is happening all over the U.S. and we don’t even know how many illegals are here presently that will take advantage of these loopholes,” she said.

    Close to 20 RNC members pointed to other forms of voter fraud or fraudulent voter registration – concerns that have helped fuel a drive by Republicans to implement voter identification requirements, measures they say will ensure the integrity of elections. Democrats reject those efforts as voter suppression tools, arguing that they predominantly disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

    When pressed for evidence of fraud occurring on a mass scale, RNC members pointed to smaller-scale issues that have erupted over the years. Some questioned why a large number of precincts in Philadelphia voted unanimously for Barack Obama in 2012. Others described dead people getting absentee ballot request forms in the mail or people registered to vote in multiple locations. Others still worried that hackers might attempt to manipulate electronic voting data.

    Montana GOP chair Jeff Essman pointed to a recent Billings Gazette story in which some voters in Missoula complained of people visiting their houses and offering to mail in ballots for them.

    “Here’s your voter fraud,” Essman said, though the secretary of state’s office indicated in the article that ballot drop-offs are legal.

    Other Republicans raised similar anecdotal concerns.

    “Yesterday, I saw a member of the Assembly post that one of their neighbors had received a ballot in the mail for her husband that was dead,” said California RNC committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon. “What we have here is a very poor – and behind the times – secretary of state’s department which does not purge the voter rolls, which does not do anything to police the integrity of the voting.”

    Dhillon, a lawyer who has been a poll monitor and plans to oversee a local election this year, emphasized that Republican election attorneys intend to fan out all over the country to monitor polling places to minimize instances of fraud. She added that she isn’t suggesting there’s “an organized effort by the Democratic Party to commit massive voter fraud” and she said she’s confident the results of the election will be “fair.”

    Charlie Copeland, chairman of Delaware’s Republican Party said Democrats lack incentive to commit fraud in his state because they vastly outnumber Republicans – but he pointed to reports showing tens of thousands of dead relatives remaining on voter rolls.

    “So, what is the true registration, and who is making sure that only ‘real’ voters are voting? This is the situation in Delaware and it is an environment that is ripe with the potential for fraud,” he said. “In other words, with voter rolls this bad and without enough Republicans to oversee the vote, citizen doubt about the validity of the vote of a close election is logical.”

    Only a handful of RNC members expressed confidence in their own states’ ability to police voter fraud or noted that overwhelming evidence suggests such fraud is rare and inconsequential.

    Oklahoma RNC Committeeman Steve Curry said he’s fully confident in Oklahoma’s policing of elections because of a robust voter ID law, but added he’s concerned about election integrity in states without such restrictions. Tennessee RNC Committeeman Oscar Brock, said he has “complete faith in the electoral process here in this state.” And a spokeswoman for Michigan state party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel told POLITICO she, too, was unconcerned.

    “We have very strong election day operations efforts to safeguard against any attempts to defraud our election results. We are confident that these efforts will help protect our state from voter fraud,” said the spokeswoman, Sarah Anderson.

    State party chairmen in a number of states have also expressed confidence in the oversight of their elections. Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges tweeted his support for his state’s election oversight.

    “The vast majority of battleground states have Republicans overseeing their election systems,” said South Carolina GOP chairman Matt Moore. “I think it’s safe to assume they’re not rigging the process either against Donald Trump or for anyone else.”

    One thing most RNC members could agree on was their belief that the national media are in league with Democrats in attempting to manipulate voters.

    “It depends on what you mean by ‘rigged.’ Our nominee is experiencing an unprecedented onslaught by most of the media in the country,” said Miriam Hellreich, an RNC committeewoman from Hawaii. “Fox News seems to be the only news outlet reporting on the cloud of deception, distraction and disregard for the truth when it comes to Hillary Clinton’s record and her fitness for the Presidency.”

    “Only a handful of RNC members expressed confidence in their own states’ ability to police voter fraud or noted that overwhelming evidence suggests such fraud is rare and inconsequential.”

    That sure sounds like the RNC largely agrees with Trump’s “It’s all rigged!” strategy. Yes, plenty of GOP secretaries are state in key swing states might refute Trump’s assertion that they personally are going to rig the election in favor of Hillary Clinton, but it’s pretty clear that Trump’s “It’s all rigged!” meme is really little more than a slight readaptation of the same old fear-mongering about dead voters and undocumented immigrants that the GOP has been using for years.

    It’s something to keep in mind because, should Trump lose and refuse to concede because “It’s all rigged!”, we probably shouldn’t assume that the rest of the GOP will play of the role of the adult. Especially after Mike Roman, Trump’s new head of “election protection” and the guy known for hyping the “New Black Panthers” hysteria back in 2008, finds some new fake outrages to get the GOP outrage-machine into high-gear. There are new reports that Roman has actually come up with a new fake scandal, but given his background he’s probably going to ‘find’ something:

    The Guardian

    Controversial Republican Mike Roman to run Donald Trump’s ‘election protection’

    Operative best known for promoting video of apparent voter intimidation by New Black Panthers will oversee poll-watching efforts

    Ben Jacobs in Washington
    Tuesday 18 October 2016 00.55 EDT

    Donald Trump’s “election protection” effort will be run by Mike Roman, a Republican operative best known for promoting a video of apparent voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers outside a polling place in 2008.

    Roman is to oversee poll-watching efforts as Trump undertakes an unprecedented effort by a major party nominee by calling into question the legitimacy of the popular vote weeks before election day.

    The Republican nominee has insisted, without evidence, that dead people and undocumented immigrants are voting in the United States.

    Trump has long claimed that the 2016 election is rigged but has amplified his claims of voter fraud in recent days. On Monday he tweeted: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!” In particular Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News that voter fraud was rampant in cities including Philadelphia, St Louis and Chicago after long warning vaguely about fraud in “certain communities”.

    Multiple sources have confirmed to the Guardian that Roman, who also previously ran the Koch network’s now defunct internal intelligence agency, will oversee the Trump campaign’s efforts to monitor polling places for any signs of voter fraud.

    Roman is best known for his role in promoting a video that showed two members of the New Black Panthers – a fringe group that claims descent from the 1960s radicals – standing outside a Philadelphia polling place dressed in uniforms, with one carrying a nightstick. Police are called and the two men leave.

    A justice department investigation into the incident – filed in the weeks before George W Bush left office – became a political football that divided career lawyers within the justice department. The incident was repeatedly cited as evidence of Democrats setting out to harm the election process.

    The case was eventually dropped but not before it became a conservative cause célèbre. As Rick Hasen, a election law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said: “It was one of the most retold stories on Fox News and the right for years and took on almost mythical status as evidence of thuggery by Democrats to harm the voting process.”

    Hasen, who viewed the case as a “complete tempest in teapot”, said of Roman that he was “somebody who has been more willing to put forth more outrageous statements about voter fraud and election process”. Hasen added: “I don’t consider him a very responsible voice among Republicans on this question and I’m not surprised that Trump would be using him for polling related efforts.”

    “Hasen, who viewed the case as a “complete tempest in teapot”, said of Roman that he was “somebody who has been more willing to put forth more outrageous statements about voter fraud and election process”. Hasen added: “I don’t consider him a very responsible voice among Republicans on this question and I’m not surprised that Trump would be using him for polling related efforts.””

    With Mike Roman hired to find (or ‘find’) instanced of voting irregularities, should we expect lots of reports about armed men intimidating the voting polls to be one of the main stories coming out of the Trump campaign on election day? That’s entirely possible, especially if you consider the high likelihood of armed Trump supporters watching out for threats to the integrity of the vote (non-ironically):

    Talking Points Memo DC

    Is Trump Urging His Gun-Toting Supporters To Break Voter Intimidation Laws?

    By Tierney Sneed
    PublishedOctober 18, 2016, 6:00 AM EDT

    Donald Trump is engaging in an unprecedented campaign of voter fraud fear-mongering. Not only is he putting Americans’ trust in the bedrock of U.S. democracy at risk, but what he has urged his supporters to do — in stump speeches across the country — would, if carried out, likely be a form of illegal voter intimidation.

    Civil rights groups are already gearing up for an especially tense Election Day. Meanwhile, the federal government has been hobbled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in its ability to monitor elections in places with histories of voter intimidation. Of particular concern are states with loose open carry laws, where already, some armed Trump supporters have shown an interest in making their presence known at voting sites.

    “The idea that people would be standing outside the polls with guns, or even inside the polls with guns, clearly has the potential to turn people away. There’s a long history of this,” said Deuel Ross, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is very active in voting rights litigation.

    His group plans to be observing elections in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina.

    “These are places with a history of voter intimidation and also very liberal gun laws,” Ross said.

    Trump has for months complained about the possibility of an election somehow “rigged” against him, but recently, the rhetoric has taken on a more ominous, and even racially-tinged tone, that specifically mentions voter fraud at the ballot box. Last week, he told a mostly white crowd in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.” He said at rally in Michigan late last month that his supporters, after they vote, should “pick some other place … and go sit there with your friends and make sure it’s on the up and up.”

    It appears that some of his supporters are prepared to heed his call. Steve Webb, a 61-year-old Trump supporter from Ohio, told the Boston Globe he planned to go “watch” from his precinct “for sure.”

    “I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

    Two Trump supporters in Virginia last week staged a 12-hour open carry “protest” outside a Democratic campaign office, though they denied they posed any kind of threat. If that sort of the activity is the harbinger of things to come at polling places on Election Day, it could be a violation of federal law.

    The Voting Rights Act includes a provision that prohibits any attempt to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce” a person trying to vote, and there’s a section of the federal criminal code banning voter intimidation as well. In theory, that could set up a confrontation between federal voter intimidation laws and state open-carry laws (federal law would generally trump state law). However, according to Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, federal laws are rarely ever used to address voter intimidation claims.

    “There’s not just much of a history of the federal government using them,” Clarke said, adding that her group, which monitors elections to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot, is more reliant on state and local systems to address instances of voter intimidation.

    Even though the legal language surrounding voter intimidation doesn’t specifically mention weapons, certain actions with firearms could certainly be interpreted as such, depending on the context, legal experts and voting rights advocates told TPM.

    “People going to the polls, and just bringing their guns with them, even it that’s not waving around threateningly, going to a polling place where you have a gun clearly can be intimidating for both black and white voters, because of the history of violence that we’ve seen,” the NAACP’s Ross said.

    An Alabama gun rights activist was prosecuted on state voter obstruction charges for bringing a holstered gun to a polling place in the 2014 election, though elsewhere in the state, open-carry has been allowed at election sites.

    Some states have rules specifically banning guns in and around polling places. In Georgia, for instance, gun owners are prohibited from carrying their firearms within 150 feet of a polling place. There are other states, however, with no such laws on the books, though guns might be banned in some polling sites by proxy, such as when the polling site is in a weapons-free zone like a school or courthouse.

    In many places, however, the law is murky, and it’s a matter, to a degree, of discretion whether someone brandishing a weapon crosses the line into intimidation.

    “For most states, the law doesn’t create a lot of specificity about what counts exactly as intimidation in the way that would allow you to know about when carrying a gun crosses the line. It will often depend on the behavior and what the result is,” said Adam Gitlin, a counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan public policy and law institute.

    According to Adam Winkler, a UCLA School of Law professor and author of “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” such a determination would be a “a fact-sensitive, context-based decision.”

    “Someone openly carrying a firearm into a polling place in rural Montana, where a lot of people may openly carry, might not be viewed as the same intimidation as an open-carry advocate in an urban area, where openly carried guns are rare, standing around the polling places,” Winkler said.

    The first line of defense is the poll workers at sites themselves who have the authority in most states to do what it takes to ensure an orderly election, voting right advocates told TPM.

    “If otherwise legal carrying of firearms and other weapons actually disrupts the order of the election or intimidates voters, then election officials have the power to stop that,” Gitlin said. “I am not aware of any state where a right-to-carry law explicitly trumps the power of election official to keep order.”

    But if they refuse to act, Ross suggested a voter who feels threatened should contact their state elections office or even the local U.S. attorney’s office.

    However, the Justice Department’s program to keep an eye on such activity has been hamstrung by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted a provision of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states needed to “preclear” any changes to their elections protocols based on their history of racially discriminatory voting practices. The DOJ interpreted the ruling to have also curtailed its ability deploy election observers to the 11 states previously covered by preclearance. This election, the DOJ will only have its elections monitoring program set up in five states — Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New York — where federal court decisions have authorized it do so, Reuters reported this summer.

    “That safeguard of having specially-trained individuals on behalf of the federal government inside the polls won’t be in place in many communities this November, creating a potentially toxic and vulnerable situation for some voters,” Clarke said.

    It’s worth noting that the Republican National Committee has been under a three-decade-old consent decree — that the Supreme Court in 2013 refused to lift — barring it from engaging in any sort of “ballot security” efforts targeting minorities. The decree is the result of RNC activity decades ago — including the hiring of off-duty cops to patrol around election sites — that Democrats alleged amounted to voter intimidation.

    At least one election law expert, UC-Irvine School of Law’s Rick Hasen, has argued that Trump may have violated the decree in his calls for vigilante poll watchers if one interpreted him to be an agent of the RNC. Clarke, meanwhile, called for the RNC case to serve as a guide for what can and cannot be done at the polls in November.

    “The spirit of that agreement should be guiding what happens now and the court there was very clear about intimidating impact these efforts to protect the so-called integrity of the process might have on voters, and minority voters in particular,” Clarke said.

    ““For most states, the law doesn’t create a lot of specificity about what counts exactly as intimidation in the way that would allow you to know about when carrying a gun crosses the line. It will often depend on the behavior and what the result is,” said Adam Gitlin, a counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan public policy and law institute.”

    That’s right, Trump is encouraging his supporters to “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us,” and there’s nothing stopping these supporters from bringing their guns along to assist in their ‘watching’ efforts. And determining whether or not this behavior constitutes a form of voter intimidation is a subjective call for most states. Great. Watch out for those ‘New Black Panthers’ on election day. Plus actual threats to the integrity of the vote.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 18, 2016, 3:10 pm
  4. Of all the questions raised by the wave of sexual harassment/assault allegations against Donald Trump, one of the more darkly fascinating questions is what on earth has former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes been advising Trump on this matter. Because it’s what only been a few months since Ailes was ousted for a very similar sounding wave of allegations and informally started advising the Trump campaign. So it seems impossible that Trump and Ailes haven’t discussed this topic as it’s exploded in recent weeks. Although maybe it’s possible if they’re no longer speaking:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trouble In Paradise? Ailes And Trump Reportedly No Longer Speaking

    By Esme Cribb
    Published October 19, 2016, 2:11 PM EDT

    Donald Trump has reportedly lost a key ally in former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who decided that advising the GOP presidential nominee was “a waste of time,” according to a Wednesday report.

    Ailes and Trump fell out after the former Fox boss learned “that Trump couldn’t focus—surprise, surprise,” New York Magazine editor Gabriel Sherman told attendees at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, according to a report by Vanity Fair. “These debate prep sessions weren’t going anywhere.”

    Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison reportedly offered an alternate explanation from the perspective of Trump’s campaign, saying that Ailes “kept going off on tangents and talking about his war stories” instead of helping Trump prepare.

    In August, the New York Times reported that Ailes was helping Trump with debate prep. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied that Ailes was playing any “formal or informal role” in the Trump campaign, saying that Ailes was “not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep.”

    According to a report by the Washington Post, Ailes was not involved in preparing Trump for the second debate.

    “Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison reportedly offered an alternate explanation from the perspective of Trump’s campaign, saying that Ailes “kept going off on tangents and talking about his war stories” instead of helping Trump prepare.”

    It sounds like we have a “he said/he said” story going on here. At least no one got groped.

    So that’s a pretty big if this report is accurate, less so for what it means for the Trump campaign and most for what it might mean for Trump’s post-election schemes assuming he loses. Who’s going to run “Trump TV”? Wasn’t Ailes the Trump TV dream CEO? Is Trump no longer talking about Trump TV too?

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Will There Really Be a Trump TV?

    By Josh Marshall
    Published October 17, 2016, 4:31 PM EDT

    The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza has a short piece out today throwing cold water on the idea that there’s really going to be a ‘Trump TV’ after the 2016 election. My take is that I largely agree with Ryan.

    Trump TV has always been a sort of Trump’s Razor test case or ultimate example. Could it really be so ridiculous as the whole campaign was just a vehicle to launch a low-information TV news and propaganda channel? Everything is ultimately a grift for Trump. So it’s totally plausible. Trump’s Razor suggests that Trump TV is not only possible but probable. Indeed, the news out today suggests that Trump’s mini-me and campaign general Jared Kusher (Ivanka’s husband) has been talking to possible financial backers.

    But here’s why it’s probably a dubious proposition.

    National cable news TV is mind-bogglingly capital intensive. You need to put hundreds of millions of dollars against it to have any shot in what is already in many ways a saturated market. Yes, the bloom may be off Fox to the extent that they’re losing key talent, have already lost their founder and guru Roger Ailes and may lack the full crazy potential of the emerging Trump/Breitbart right. But they still have a stranglehold on not just rightwing cable news junkies but a dominant position in cable news generally. What’s more they have the vast capital investment potential of News Corp. They’re likely more vulnerable to competition on the right than they have been in years. But unseating them will still be very, very hard.

    How have competitors done?

    Not well. Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has been dying. That’s the best analogue for a personality driven right wing media company with TV or video at its center. And it was a pretty big failure. Beyond The Blaze, the entirety media investment sector is in retreat. Big outfits like Buzzfeed and Huffpo aren’t going anywhere. But they’ve bee underperforming recently in financial terms. And that’s chilled potential VC and private equity investors on whether the big payoffs investors are looking for are really possible.

    But the biggest liability is likely Trump himself. As I said above, standing up a national cable news channel involves huge, huge amounts of capital. You need to hire a big work force, build the studio and reporting infrastructure of a cable news network and then you need carriage rights. You have to get a channel that actually ends up in a lot of households. Whatever Trump’s net worth in terms of assets, it is extremely clear that he doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of liquid assets to fund something like that. He also has a pretty bad record with his business ventures outside of core work in buildings, golf courses, hotels etc. If all that’s not enough, the campaign itself has shined a pretty bright and devastating light on his business practices in general and how many previous business partners have been left in the lurch.

    In other words, it seems questionable whether he’ll be able to find someone to fund the effort at the scale that makes the whole prospect feasible for a true national cable news or even cable talk network.

    But there’s another aspect of Trump and his managerial and business practices that may be an even bigger problem. It’s been striking, having watched Trump’s campaign operation and his business work over recent months, how threadbare and amateurish so much of it is. Trump has been surprisingly stingy with his own money thrtugh the final critical months of the fall. His digital ads mainly have the look of pump and dump con artist type outfits. Do you see them on Facebook? They’re comical. The production values of some of his TV spots have been significantly better. But only a few of them. Throughout the whole operation, we’ve seen the recurring patterns of operations on the cheap and just low-end production values that would make it very, very hard to get a news network off the ground with.

    For all of these reasons, I think if there’s a post-campaign Trump media vehicle it’s far more likely to be a bargain-basement but perhaps high traffic website on the model of Breitbart: garish, crazy but with a ready market of deplorables who come to TrumpNews.com for their news.

    “For all of these reasons, I think if there’s a post-campaign Trump media vehicle it’s far more likely to be a bargain-basement but perhaps high traffic website on the model of Breitbart: garish, crazy but with a ready market of deplorables who come to TrumpNews.com for their news.”

    TrumpNews.com?! Another crappy far-right ‘news’ outlet? Is that the big right-wing media scheme that Trump’s post-election plans have been reduced to? We’ll see. Maybe Trumnp is still thinking about Trump TV and is hoping to generate enough enthusiasm with conservative audience in the final weeks of the campaign to get the investors he’ll need. Maybe. But as Josh Marshall notes, if Trump’s campaign is any indication of what we can expect from a Trump TV effort, that effort is going to be cheap and half-assed. And it’s not going to be easy to make something as capital intensive as a tv news network function with cheap, half-assed management. Unless that becomes Trump TV’s theme: You’ll know it’s real and gritty because of the low production value. The cable news equivalent of right-wing chain mail. People seem to like that stuff so maybe low end Trump TV is a winning strategy.

    But if not, there’s going to be quite a few hurdles for Trump TV which makes the prospects of a TrumpNews.com crappy website all the more likely. Which raises the question: what do Steven Bannon and the rest of the Brietbart crowd thing about Trump making another crappy far-right ‘news’ outlet that’s competing for exactly the same market as Brietbart? Fusing with the Trump campaign was a great business move for Bannon and Brietbart, but not if Trump spends the election catering to the Brietbart audience only to wind up trying to steal that audience away for TrumpNews.com. People only have so much time in the day for right-wing ‘news’ and that’s already a saturated market. Wouldn’t it be something of Trump ends up cannibalizing Brietbart.

    Of course, it’s also possible that Trump ditches all his plans for a new media venture and simply spends the bulk of his post-election time fuming and tweeting about how the whole election was rigged and he should be president. It’s a possibility we can’t rule out, which raises another question: can someone run an entire news outlet exclusively from Twitter? Because that might be the new media solution Trump needs. And the best part of a TrumpTwitterNews is that almost no employees would be needed so Trump could feel safe hiring Roger Ailes (assuming they’re still talking) without having to worry about him bankrupting the company with future sexual harassment lawsuits. Sad! But practical.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 19, 2016, 6:36 pm
  5. Oh how cute: Donald Trump just gave a ‘first 100 days’ speech during which he pledged to be a Lincoln-like leader who would heal and unite a nation almost as divided as it was during the Civil War. He also further charged that the election is being rigged against him and promised to sue the 10 women 11 women charging him with sexual assault. It’s going to be a particularly busy first 100 days for President Trump. And where was the location of Trump’s “I’ll be a modern-day Lincoln” speech? Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

    The Washington Post

    In historic Gettysburg, Lincoln spoke of unity; Trump complained of a ‘totally rigged’ system

    By Jenna Johnson and Jose A. DelReal
    October 22 at 1:18 PM

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Donald Trump traveled Saturday to the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, where he suggested that the United States is nearly as divided now as it was then. But instead of laying out his vision for uniting the country, as President Abraham Lincoln once did here, Trump declared that the system is rigged against him, that election results cannot be trusted, that Hillary Clinton should have been barred from running for president, that the media is “corrupt” and that he will sue all of the women who have accused him of sexual assault.

    “It is my privilege to be here in Gettysburg, hallowed ground where so many lives were given in service to freedom — amazing place,” Trump said, soon after taking the stage more than an hour later than expected in a ballroom at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center. “President Lincoln served in a time of division like we’ve never seen before. It is my hope that we can look at his example to heal the divisions we are living through right now. We are a very divided nation.”

    Trump told the crowd of about 500 locals who are active in the Republican Party that he didn’t have to run for president, but he did so because the country is in trouble, and he can fix things because he’s an outsider who knows how the “very broken system” works. He described himself as being able to deliver “the kind of change that only arrives once in a lifetime.”

    Trump said the system is “totally rigged and broken” because Clinton has been allowed to run for president, even though he says that she broke “so many laws on so many different occasions.” Trump also implied that what he called rampant voter fraud could cost him the election and said the media was “dishonest.”

    “They’re corrupt. They lie and fabricate stories to make a candidate that is not their preferred choice look as bad, and even dangerous, as possible,” Trump said. “At my rallies, they never show or talk about the massive crowd size and try to diminish all of our events. On the other hand, they don’t show the small size of Hillary’s crowds but, in fact, talk about how people are there — very small crowds, you know it, they know it, everybody knows it.”

    Media outlets often provide crowd estimates for campaign events by both Clinton and Trump.

    Trump also accused media outlets of giving voice to women accusing him of improper behavior or sexual assault without fact-checking their claims, even though in many cases the women have provided the publications with the names of witnesse and others who have supported their accounts.

    “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump said, as the crowd cheered. “Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”.

    After spending more than 13 minutes listing his grievances, Trump read several numbered lists of things that he would do on his first day in office or during his first 100 days. Nearly all of the items were things that he has repeatedly promised to do, but this was the first time that he listed them in a speech.

    Late Friday night, a handful of campaign aides had a conference call with reporters to preview Trump’s speech. Though the call lasted more than 30 minutes, the aides — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — provided little information about what Trump would actually propose in the speech.

    When asked why Trump selected Gettysburg as the setting for his address, an aide said that Trump “has spoken before about Abraham Lincoln” and that “Abraham Lincoln is going to be an important figure in terms of Mr. Trump’s vision for the Republican Party.” But also: unity, military veterans and African American voters.

    “Gettysburg was the moment where the war turned,” the aide said. “It was a symbol of sacrifice. It’s obviously a very fitting location.”

    Trump was joined in Gettysburg by his top two campaign aides, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, along with former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg. As Trump spoke, Conway and Giuliani stood to the side of the stage and watched.

    After his speech, Trump visited the Gettysburg National Military Park, where a small crowd of onlookers had gathered to see him.

    ““Gettysburg was the moment where the war turned,” the aide said. “It was a symbol of sacrifice. It’s obviously a very fitting location.””

    Well, seeing as how Trump has now cast himself as some sort of Obverse Abraham Lincoln, it is kind of fitting, in a Bizarro World way, that Obverse Lincoln would give a speech intended to delegitimize an upcoming election at a place like Gettysburg. Divisive diversions for unity! How Lincolnesque.

    It was also a extra fitting location for such a speech after the Pennsylvania GOP just filed a lawsuit to allow for out-of-county GOP poll watchers who specifically want to watch the polls in counties with large minority populations:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Pennsylvania GOP Files Federal Lawsuit To Allow Out-Of-County Poll Watchers

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published October 22, 2016, 11:14 AM EDT

    The Pennsylvania Republican Party filed a complaint late Friday night asking a federal court to allow out-of-county poll watchers to monitor voting stations on Election Day.

    Filed on behalf of eight Keystone State voters, the suit alleges that state law restricting poll watchers to the county in which they’re registered violates the First Amendment and denies them their right to equal protection under the law.

    Donald Trump has raised unfounded fears that the Nov. 8 election will be “rigged” by illegitimate ballots cast by undocumented immigrants, people voting multiple times, and “dead people.” All of them, he claims, will vote for Hillary Clinton.

    He has called on his supporters to go “watch” voters in “certain areas” to ensure no fraud is committed, directing them to communities with large black populations like Philadelphia and Chicago.

    Elections experts and secretaries of state have condemned his comments as dangerous and untrue, noting that voter fraud is extraordinarily rare. Invalid voter registrations are typically the result of outdated record-keeping rather than willful fraud.

    Still, Republican Party of Pennsylvania GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney told the Morning Call that the state party’s federal suit was simple “a commonsense remedy to ensure the fairest election possible.”

    University of California law professor Rick Hasen, who runs the Election Law Blog, noted the “awfully late” date of the suit in a Friday post and said the U.S. Constitutional issues at hand seem “exceptionally weak.”

    “The argument is that the failure to allow some voters within the state to serve as poll watchers violates equal protection, due process and First Amendment speech rights,” Hasen wrote. “I have never seen such an argument not extended to the act of voting, but to the act of watching at the polls.”

    “I cannot see how this severely burdens voters’ rights,” Hasen continued, saying he doesn’t think the federal arguments “have much of a chance of going anywhere.”

    “”“The argument is that the failure to allow some voters within the state to serve as poll watchers violates equal protection, due process and First Amendment speech rights,” Hasen wrote. “I have never seen such an argument not extended to the act of voting, but to the act of watching at the polls.”””

    As you can imagine, election law expert Rick Hasen is having a busy year. And that’s not going to end with this election if GOP calls for vigilante hyper-partisan “poll watching” targeting minorities become the new norm.

    But note that even if the Pennsylvania GOP doesn’t win their out-of-county poll watching lawsuit, that doesn’t mean there won’t be an army of GOP poll watchers descending on inner city polling locations across the country on election day. Except they won’t be part of the GOP’s official efforts. Or the Trump campaign efforts. It will be Roger Stone’s army, so it’s totally independent and not at all associated with Trump or the GOP *wink*:

    The Guardian

    Trump loyalists plan own exit poll amid claims of ‘rigged’ election

    Effort led by Trump confidante and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone targets cities with large minority populations, a tactic experts say could intimidate voters

    Oliver Laughland and Sam Thielman in New York

    Thursday 20 October 2016 17.40 EDT

    Donald Trump loyalists will attempt to conduct their own crowd-funded exit polling on election day, ostensibly due to fears that electronic voting machines in certain areas may have been “rigged”, the Guardian has learned.

    But the effort, led by Trump’s notorious informal adviser Roger Stone, will focus on 600 different precincts in nine Democrat-leaning cities with large minority populations, a tactic branded highly irregular by experts, who suggested that organizers could potentially use the polling as a way to intimidate voters.

    Stone told the Guardian that around 1,300 volunteers from the controversial Citizens for Trump grassroots coalition would conduct exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Richmond and Fayetteville – all locations in pivotal swing states.

    Media organizations and political campaigns conduct exit polling for all major elections, but David Paleologos – a polling expert and director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center – said effective exit polling was done in bellwether precincts, not in areas likely to be dominated by a particular political party.

    “It doesn’t sound like that’s a traditional exit poll,” Paleologos said of Stone’s planned efforts. “It sounds like that’s just gathering data, in heavily Democratic areas for some purpose. It doesn’t sound like exit polling.”

    The Republican nominee said during Wednesday’s debate he would keep America “in suspense” over whether he would accept the outcome of the vote on 8 November, and on Thursday he said he would accept only “if I win” or if it is a “clear” result. He has frequently told his supporters that the election is being “rigged” against him, and since August his campaign has been recruiting election observers in anticipation of what he claims could be widespread voter fraud.

    On Thursday, Stone, a noted conspiracy theorist, argued that the campaign had focused their efforts to combat the so-called “rigged election” in the wrong area and should instead concentrate on “election theft” via hacked or compromised voting machines.

    “To those who say that it would be un-American to challenge the election on the basis that it was rigged, I would argue it would be un-American to have evidence of that rigging and not challenge the election,” Stone said.

    Experts have taken several steps to remedy the digital vulnerabilities in voting machines in recent years. Last year at least one voting machine system was found to be substantially insecure. Princeton researcher Jeremy Epstein, now of technology firm SRI, discovered that WinVote machines used in Virginia could be accessed comparatively easily over a Wi-Fi connection through simple passwords. Epstein successfully pushed to have the machines decertified.

    Epstein told the Guardian that exit polls in particular were a dangerously inaccurate way to gauge the legitimacy of an election. “There’s a lot of evidence that exit polls are not very accurate,” Epstein said. “People don’t tell the pollsters what they actually did. In this election, depending on the neighborhood, people might not want to admit that they voted for Clinton or that they voted for Trump.”

    The Department of Homeland Security is already taking precautions to make sure election results are not interfered with electronically. “To date, 33 state and 11 county or local election agencies have approached the Department of Homeland Security about our cybersecurity services,” the department said in a press release issued 10 October. DHS continues to offer “cyber-hygiene” services to other state or local boards looking for protection against hacking.

    Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, shared Epstein’s concerns over using exit polls as way of measuring the legitimacy of an election and warned: “It doesn’t sound like a scientific way to do things, nor do I think it’s a sound way to ferret out machine problems, it sounds much more like a Roger Stone dirty trick.”.

    Stone, who did not identify the particular precincts volunteers would be targeting, argued that the polling methodology, was “designed by professionals”, but was unable to identify who these professionals were. The former Richard Nixon adviser added that the effort was being run by the “Stop the Steal” organization, a group founded by Stone in the lead up to the Republican national convention in July, which organized protests aimed at preventing party delegates from taking the nomination away from Trump.

    The Citizens for Trump coalition, which will supply volunteers for the polling, was also present at the Republican convention and organized a large rally in Cleveland alongside a host of fringe organizations, including armed vigilantes group Bikers for Trump and the conspiracy theorist website Infowars.

    “It sounds like he’s organizing a goon squad that could potentially be intimidating voters in minority areas,” said Hasen. “It does raise the threat of violence on election day at polling places. People are going to have to be vigilant.”

    “Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, shared Epstein’s concerns over using exit polls as way of measuring the legitimacy of an election and warned: “It doesn’t sound like a scientific way to do things, nor do I think it’s a sound way to ferret out machine problems, it sounds much more like a Roger Stone dirty trick.”

    Might Roger Stone have a dirty trick in mind? No way. How could a plan like this be a dirty trick:

    Stone told the Guardian that around 1,300 volunteers from the controversial Citizens for Trump grassroots coalition would conduct exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Richmond and Fayetteville – all locations in pivotal swing states.

    Stone, who did not identify the particular precincts volunteers would be targeting, argued that the polling methodology, was “designed by professionals”, but was unable to identify who these professionals were. The former Richard Nixon adviser added that the effort was being run by the “Stop the Steal” organization, a group founded by Stone in the lead up to the Republican national convention in July, which organized protests aimed at preventing party delegates from taking the nomination away from Trump.

    The Citizens for Trump coalition, which will supply volunteers for the polling, was also present at the Republican convention and organized a large rally in Cleveland alongside a host of fringe organizations, including armed vigilantes group Bikers for Trump and the conspiracy theorist website Infowars.

    “It sounds like he’s organizing a goon squad that could potentially be intimidating voters in minority areas,” said Hasen. “It does raise the threat of violence on election day at polling places. People are going to have to be vigilant.”

    Yes, an army of 1,300 “Citizens for Trump” volunteers, including “Bikers for Trump and Infowars is going to conduct exit polls in Stone’s chosen cities (with high minority populations) using polling methodologies designed by professionals Stone refused to identify, and we’re all expected to compare the Stone/Infowars exit polls with the actual reported results as means of determining whether or not massive electronic voter fraud was taking place. That couldn’t be a Roger Stone dirty trick, could it?

    So here we are: Trump just assumed the role of Obverse Lincoln in Gettysburg, PA, and expanded on his arguments for why the whole election rigged while Roger Stone and Alex Jones plan on unleashing an army of poll watchers targeting minority communities as part of a plot convince the public after the election that the reason there’s going to be appalling low support for Trump in minority communities is due to massive electronic voting machine fraud and not because Trump is an Obverse Lincoln. That’s the plan to heal a divided nation, which totally makes sense but only because its Obverse Lincoln’s Bizarro plan.

    There’s no word yet on whether or not President Trump will declare the world is flat during is first 100 days, but based on what we’ve seen so far we definitely can’t rule it out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 22, 2016, 2:52 pm
  6. Here’s an interesting consequence of Donald Trump’s “enemies list”, a list that includes all the Republican “Never-Trumpers” who are either still refusing to work for a Trump administration or, by virtue of being on Trump’s enemies list, aren’t going to be welcome in a TRump administration: The Trump transition team can’t actually find enough people in the national security establishment willing to work for him:

    The Daily Beast

    Team Trump Struggling to Fill National-Security Jobs
    Turned down by top talent, Trump’s administration-in-waiting is trying to find someone to operate the agencies tasked with stopping hackers and terrorists.

    Kimberly Dozier
    Shane Harris
    11.09.16 3:24 PM ET

    President-elect Donald Trump is scrambling to line up senior officials to run the government’s sprawling intelligence and homeland security bureaucracy.

    Team Trump is struggling to fill numerous key slots or even attract many candidates because hundreds have either sworn they’d never work in a Trump administration or have directly turned down requests to join, multiple current and former U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the transition efforts told The Daily Beast.

    Team Trump didn’t expect to win until the campaign’s internal polling a month before the election signaled a possible victory. That’s when senior Trump officials went into overdrive, trying to build a bench of experienced national security candidates with top secret clearances willing to work for a Trump presidency—and they met resistance across the landscape of experienced GOP national security professionals.

    One person who met last month with Trump’s national security and homeland security transition team leader said that she confessed that many candidates had flatly rejected attempts to recruit them, believing that Trump was unfit to hold the office of commander in chief.

    “She said that it was going to be very difficult to fill positions in that space because everybody that had experience was a never-Trumper,” this person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

    “She wasn’t even sure that she was going to be able to fill a transition team,” much less find people to serve in government positions, this person said.

    “In theory, 20 people are supposed to parachute into the Department of Homeland Security [during the transition between administrations]. And I don’t think they have anybody to do it.”

    A second individual, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed this person’s account that there are a large number of vacancies to fill without a clear plan of how that will happen. Since Trump’s improbable win, Team Trump has been aggressively reaching out to possible candidates with a flurry of meetings in New York and Washington, D.C.

    Two career U.S. officials, currently serving in the government, also said they were unsure whether they would continue in their positions, which are slated to last into the next administration.

    On Monday morning, a group of officials working on a range of national security issues including the resettlement of refugees and methods for countering terrorists’ violent rhetoric met to discuss their progress. But it wasn’t at all clear whether a President Trump would even continue those initiatives, one participant said. Trump has promised to ban Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States and has claimed he knows better how to combat terrorists than military generals and intelligence officials.

    But before he can take the axe to Obama-era programs, Trump has to staff up his own administration. It won’t be easy.

    It was clear the Trump team would have trouble staffing their national security bench nine months ago, when more than 100 Republican national security leaders signed an open letter vowing not to support him as the GOP nominee and “working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.”

    “Everybody who has signed a never-Trump letter or indicated an anti-Trump attitude is not going to get a job. And that’s most of the Republican foreign policy, national security, intelligence, homeland security, and Department of Justice experience,” Paul Rosenzweig, who held a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security in the George W. Bush administration, told The Daily Beast. (Bush told reporters on Tuesday that neither he nor his wife, Laura, cast a vote for president.)

    Rosenzweig predicted that Trump would be able to fill positions at the Cabinet level, the secretaries and administrators who lead agencies and departments. But the people below them, from the deputy level on down, are the ones who actually run the government day-to-day, and there are few takers for those jobs, he said.

    “The problem is going to be finding the deputy secretary, and the head of customs, and the general counsel, which are the jobs that fundamentally matter,” Rosenzweig said.

    Since the public letter in March, more people who served in key positions in Republican administrations have stepped forward to disavow Trump and take themselves out of the running for jobs in his administration.

    Last week, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden went so far as to accuse Trump of being a tool of the Russian government.

    Trump had consistently refused to agree with the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that Russia was responsible for a campaign of cyber attacks and leaks against the Democratic Party, which officials said was intended to “interfere” with Tuesday’s election.

    “Rejecting a fact-based intelligence assessment—not because of compelling contrarian data, but because it is inconsistent with a preexisting worldview—that’s the stuff of ideological authoritarianism, not pragmatic democracy. And it is frightening,” Hayden wrote.

    The likely pool of Trump administration officials now will come from a second-tier of younger and less experienced people, Stewart Baker, the former general counsel of the National Security Agency, told The Daily Beast.

    Baker, who also served in a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, said these less-experienced candidates weren’t necessarily without talent, but he acknowledged that more seasoned people like himself were not likely to be joining the new administration.

    Trump will take over an intelligence community that is already in his cross-hairs, after he said in the third presidential debate that he doubted its assessment on the Russian hacks. Trump has also talked openly about information that was relayed to him in classified briefings given to him and Clinton, and current and former officials have said they worried that Trump wouldn’t be able to keep confidential information secret.

    “The intelligence community has had presidents before who were deeply skeptical about their role, their product, and their value,” Baker said. “The intelligence community, I predict, will work very hard to demonstrate its value to the new president. Because if they don’t have support from the White House, they don’t really have much influence in the interagency debate.”

    ““Everybody who has signed a never-Trump letter or indicated an anti-Trump attitude is not going to get a job. And that’s most of the Republican foreign policy, national security, intelligence, homeland security, and Department of Justice experience,” Paul Rosenzweig, who held a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security in the George W. Bush administration, told The Daily Beast. (Bush told reporters on Tuesday that neither he nor his wife, Laura, cast a vote for president.)”

    Ok, so the bulk of the GOP-leaning individuals that would normally be manning a new Republican administration’s national security team basically can’t (because they were Never-Trumpers and Trump “has a long memory”) or refuse to do so. Does this qualify as a national security threat? It’s hard to say since we’re talking about Republican national security experts here, which is not a great sign if we’re talking about warmongering neocons. But this could actually be a significant problem if we’re talking about career national security professionals without a particular warmonger agenda but instead those who understand the byzantine nuances of running the national security agencies, which is probably the case for the kinds of jobs the Trump administration is finding particularly hard to fill:


    Rosenzweig predicted that Trump would be able to fill positions at the Cabinet level, the secretaries and administrators who lead agencies and departments. But the people below them, from the deputy level on down, are the ones who actually run the government day-to-day, and there are few takers for those jobs, he said.

    That sure sounds like there could be an abundance of open slots in the Trump administration’s national security apparatus. Any takers? Anyone? Anyone who isn’t a neo-Nazi? Please?:

    Talking Points Memo Muckraker

    Trump’s White Nationalist Backers Train Their Eyes On Elected Office, Admin Posts

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published November 10, 2016, 3:31 PM EDT

    In the wake of Donald Trump’s upset presidential win, the small yet vocal cohort of white nationalists who supported his campaign are refocusing their efforts from trolling liberals online to running for elected office.

    Their reasoning: If a candidate who appealed to the tide of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiment surging on the country’s right could win over voters, why not one who is openly “pro-white”?

    “I have been very surprised that we have not seen attractive, well-spoken, racially aware candidates running for local office,” Jared Taylor, head of the white nationalist American Renaissance publication and annual conference, told TPM in a Wednesday phone call. “I think this will be inevitable, and I think that Trump will have encouraged this. That our people will run for school board, city council, mayor, all that I anticipate certainly.”

    Others are thinking in the short-term and training their eyes, perhaps more quixotically, on possible positions in a Trump administration.

    William Johnson arguably did the most to advocate for the real estate mogul’s campaign through traditional political channels. The Los Angeles-based lawyer and chair of the white nationalist American Freedom Party founded the pro-Trump American National super PAC, bankrolled robocalls on his behalf, and was listed to serve as a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention until media outcry forced the Trump campaign to remove his name and attribute his inclusion to a “data error.”

    Johnson told TPM his plan now is to “wheedle my way into a Trump administration.” He said he’d love a position as ambassador to Japan or the Philippines, countries home to many of his legal clients, or under secretary of Agriculture, as he runs a small persimmon farm. These likely remain pipe dreams, given that the Trump campaign has said in the past that it “strongly condemns” Johnson’s rhetoric.

    “Right now because the election is over and there’s going to be no election for another two years, we’re not focused on people running for office,” Johnson said. “We’re focused on getting people into the administration and working within the system. But in another year or so when elections start gearing up, we will put our candidates into place.”

    Meanwhile, civil rights groups are keeping a wary eye on the slow creep of white nationalists and the alt-right from marginalized conferences and online message boards into walking, waking political life. Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, believes that the “bigotry and anti-Semitism and hatred” that voters saw come out during the campaign was just the beginning. Trump’s extremist supporters, he told TPM, “feel rewarded for their bad behavior.”

    “The alt-right in particular which was this very loosely organized online movement, we’re going to see if it tries to become more of a real world movement,” he added.

    This normalization effort is already underway. The alt-right held what amounted to a press conference at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. in September, and Segal mentioned an upcoming National Policy Institute event with “known anti-Semites” like California State University professor Kevin MacDonald.

    These in-person meet-ups in conventional settings, Segal said, “speak to a development from an online phenomenon to a real-world one.”

    White nationalists aspired to office even before Trump launched his campaign. Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke served one term in the Louisiana House in the late 1980s and made several stabs at elected office in the following years. This year, he launched a failed bid for a Louisiana Senate seat and directly tied himself to a Trump ticket.

    The younger generation has been known to take the same tack. A recent Washington Post profile of Derek Black, son of the founder of the white nationalist Stormfront website and a darling of the movement until he publicly broke away from it, explained the strategy Black employed when he was still part of that inner circle.

    “The way ahead is through politics,” Black told attendees at a 2008 white nationalist conference, according to the Post. “We can infiltrate. We can take the country back.”

    He was 19 years old at the time and had already won a GOP committee seat in Palm Beach County, Florida.

    Peter Brimelow, the editor of anti-immigration site Virginia Dare, said Trump’s win would make mainstream politicians “see that these are winning issues.” Although Brimelow doubts that any self-described white nationalists will “be allowed into public life,” he pointed to politicians like Rep. David Brat (R-VA) as “breakthroughs” who he said share very similar views to those of the white nationalist community.

    Taylor, of American Renaissance, pointed to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former New York City Mayor Giuliani—all of whom are already working closely with the Trump team—as the kind of officials white nationalists would like to see in the next administration.

    Civil rights groups are closely monitoring which officials Trump names to key administration posts, and these are the kinds of names that give them pause.

    “When [Breitbart Chairman Steve] Bannon is the CEO of your campaign and also someone who has made a place for the alt-right, the prospects are scary,” said Richard Cohen, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “On the immigration front you’ve got people like Kobach, the architect of the country’s harshest immigration laws, SB1070 in Arizona and HB56 in Alabama, on his transition team for immigration. You have people connected to the Family Research Council, a hard-line anti-gay group, who are playing a role in his transition team.”

    “So far we haven’t seen any effort on his part to distance himself from the people who brought him to the party,” Cohen added. “He’s still dancing with them.”

    Johnson told TPM his plan now is to “wheedle my way into a Trump administration.” He said he’d love a position as ambassador to Japan or the Philippines, countries home to many of his legal clients, or under secretary of Agriculture, as he runs a small persimmon farm. These likely remain pipe dreams, given that the Trump campaign has said in the past that it “strongly condemns” Johnson’s rhetoric.”

    Awww…William Johnson would love to be part of the Trump administration, but it’s probably just a pipe dream since the Trump campaign strongly condemned his rhetoric. Except, of course, the condemnation only came after if was discovered by the media that Johnson was set to be a Trump delegate at the GOP convention. So while it might be a little difficult for Johnson himself to join the Trump administration at this point given his notoriety, maybe it’s not such a pipe dream for all the lesser known neo-Nazis trying to climb aboard the Trump train. After all…


    “When [Breitbart Chairman Steve] Bannon is the CEO of your campaign and also someone who has made a place for the alt-right, the prospects are scary,” said Richard Cohen, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “On the immigration front you’ve got people like Kobach, the architect of the country’s harshest immigration laws, SB1070 in Arizona and HB56 in Alabama, on his transition team for immigration. You have people connected to the Family Research Council, a hard-line anti-gay group, who are playing a role in his transition team.”

    When Steve Bannon is your campaign manager, it’s hard to see why exactly your administration would have any opposition to filling key roles with neo-Nazis. At least not easily identifiable neo-Nazis who can quietly wheedle their way into a position.

    And if that doesn’t happen and we’re lucky enough to not end up with crypto-Nazis filling up the Trump administration’s lower-level posts, the neo-Nazis will probably still be pretty satisfied:


    Taylor, of American Renaissance, pointed to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former New York City Mayor Giuliani—all of whom are already working closely with the Trump teamas the kind of officials white nationalists would like to see in the next administration.

    So there we go…the neo-Nazis might not actually need to bother trying to wheedle their way into the Trump administration. It would be redundant.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 10, 2016, 10:35 pm
  7. Oh boy, well, it looks like Donald Trump isn’t even going to bother trying to shed his Alt-Right/neo-Nazi image: Guess who Trump is reportedly strongly considering choosing to be his chief of staff. Steve Bannon! So the campaign that made its Alt-Right/neo-Nazi pedigree completely clear by choosing Steve Bannon to take over as the campaign COO is now going to make that very same point very clear about the actual administration (not that it wasn’t already obvious):

    CNN

    Trump strongly considering Steve Bannon for chief of staff

    By Jeremy Diamond, Dana Bash and Evan Perez, CNN

    Updated 8:41 AM ET, Fri November 11, 2016

    Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump is strongly considering naming his campaign CEO Steve Bannon to serve as his White House chief of staff, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Thursday.

    The White House chief of staff is typically tasked in large part with ensuring that all wheels are spinning in the complex White House organization, and the source said that some people in Trump’s orbit do not think Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News who joined Trump’s campaign in August, is the best fit for that position.

    Trump’s contemplation of Bannon as chief of staff comes as his presidential transition team is feverishly ramping up its efforts to build out an administration after his surprising win Tuesday.

    It also highlights how Trump is contending with competing impulses as to whether he should fill the ranks of his White House with the right-wing figures who energized his campaign or more establishment figures experienced in the ways of Washington.

    Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman who has become a close confidante of Trump’s in the final months of the campaign, is also reportedly in the running for the top White House post.

    Priebus is an experienced Washington politico with establishment credo who has also earned Trump’s trust as he put the weight of the RNC’s ground and data operation behind Trump’s candidacy, and stuck by Trump’s side through the controversies that dogged his campaign.

    Priebus and Trump have talked about the chief of staff position, according to a source with knowledge of the transition process who added that “I think he (Priebus) really wants it.”

    The New York Times first reported Thursday that Bannon was being considered for the post, though the has previously said he was not interested in joining the administration should Trump be elected.

    Both Priebus and Bannon have traveled with Trump in the final months of his campaign. Bannon in the final week of the campaign was frequently spotted in the wings at Trump rallies at the side of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who has helped manage the presidential campaign.

    Bannon has also been a major force behind some of Trump’s more controversial stunts, including when Trump held an impromptu press event with women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault and misconduct. Bannon was spotted in the back of the room smiling as reporters were led in for the debate night surprise.

    Scrambling to fill jobs; Trump to meet with transition team

    The President-elect’s transition team is rushing to fill top cabinet positions as well as the hundreds of posts that require a security clearance.

    A transition source told CNN on Thursday that Trump’s transition team will brief the newly-elected president on their planning for the transition to a new administration.

    As those staffers work to vet the individuals who will serve in the 15 executive departments, they are also finding themselves competing with lobbying firms, which are scrambling to hire Republicans in Washington who can do business with the new administration.

    Many of those K Street firms have spent months hiring more Democrats with the assumption in mind that Clinton would win the election.

    That adds to the Trump transition team’s already more limited pool of qualified contenders as they face a long list of Republicans who have rebuked Trump.

    A GOP official who is helping to find candidates for some of the 4,000 government jobs the transition will eventually have to fill said the work is made harder by the competition from K Street, which is also working to scoop up 30-something staffers on Capitol Hill who are a prime target for transition efforts.

    Adding to that, there are still some young staffers who appear to be resisting opportunities to work in a Trump administration for fear it will hurt their careers.

    “Bannon has also been a major force behind some of Trump’s more controversial stunts, including when Trump held an impromptu press event with women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault and misconduct. Bannon was spotted in the back of the room smiling as reporters were led in for the debate night surprise.”

    Considering that America’s political system basically operates in a kind of “permanent campaign” mode where the politics never, just take a moment to recollect Donald Trump’s over-the-top toxic Alt-Right campaign. Now imagine that that very same toxic Alt-Right campaign went on for four years. It’s coming.

    In other news, look who joined the Trump administration’s transition team. Here’s a hint: He has openly said he doesn’t think women should have gotten the right to vote. While that might not be a big enough clue given the Alt-Right nature of Trump’s circle of advisors, here’s another clue: He’s a fascist. Ok, that’s probably not a good enough clue either. Oh well, the answer is Peter Thiel

    Fortune

    Silicon Valley Investor Peter Thiel Will Join Trump’s Transition Team

    by Kia Kokalitcheva
    November 11, 2016, 4:10 PM EST

    The billionaire’s bet on Trump starts paying off.

    Silicon Valley billionaire investor Peter Thiel is joining President-elect Donald Trump’s team transition team.

    Trump’s camp confirmed the decision on Friday after news had leaked out the day before in a report by former Fortune editor Dan Primack.

    Thiel was a rare voice in Silicon Valley who publicly supported Trump during his presidential race, including speaking at the Republican National Convention and donating $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign. Many fellow technologists attacked Thiel for his Trump endorsement, which he later defended by saying he disagreed with Trump on some of his most inflammatory comments but agreed with his overall vision.

    Thiel, who will serve on the Trump transition executive committee alongside Trump’s children, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., stands to gain from possible policy decisions by the Trump administration. For example, he’s an investor in ride-hailing company Lyft, which is subject to regulatory scrutiny for its challenge to the taxi industry, and co-founder of data crunching company Palantir, which is a government contractor.

    Thiel originally made his mark in the technology industry by co-founding online payment giant PayPal and as an early investor in Facebook.

    In addition to Thiel, Trump also named several others to his transition team. Vice chairs of its executive committee include former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions will join the team’s Executive Committee as Vice Chairs.

    “Thiel, who will serve on the Trump transition executive committee alongside Trump’s children, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., stands to gain from possible policy decisions by the Trump administration. For example, he’s an investor in ride-hailing company Lyft, which is subject to regulatory scrutiny for its challenge to the taxi industry, and co-founder of data crunching company Palantir, which is a government contractor.”

    It sounds like the ‘gig economy’ is about to get completely deregulated. And while it’s unclear what kinds of regulations Palantir, a private NSA, is dealing with, you can bet that they are going out the window too.

    But let’s not forget one of Thiel’s other pet projects: Seasteading. So it will be interesting to see if the Seasteading movement experiences a sudden resurgence (there’s already plans for a floating city off the coast of French Polynesia) because if there was any the US government was doing to thwart Thiel’s Seasteading ambitions, you can bet that’s going to end. Ironically, despite all the deregulation Trump is promising – and it was regulations that Theil frequently cited as what he wanted to escape via a private floating city – Thiel might not actually have that much incentive to create his offshore private kingdom:

    Think Progress

    Trump’s potential SCOTUS appointee thinks America took a wrong turn when women got the vote
    But let’s keep talking about Hillary’s pneumonia instead.

    Ian Millhiser
    Justice Editor, ThinkProgress. Skeptic of the Supreme Court, hater of Samuel Alito, constitutional lawyer of ill repute.
    Sep 15, 2016

    Peter Thiel, a libertarian billionaire known for funding a lawsuit seeking to destroy the media company behind the website Gawker, is a leading candidate for the Supreme Court in a Trump administration, according to reporting by the Huffington Post’s Ben Walsh and Ryan Grim.

    Thiel, according to a source consulted by Walsh and Grim, told friends that Trump will nominate him to the Court if the GOP nominee is elected president. Another source confirms that members of Trump’s “inner circle” consider Thiel a potential justice. Spokespeople for both Trump and Thiel deny these claims.

    Though Thiel’s early career resembles that of a potential future justice—he graduated by Stanford Law School and clerked for a federal appeals court judge—Thiel abandoned the practice of law very early to pursue a career in business. Accordingly, he has very few of the qualifications typically held by a judicial nominee and is unlikely to have the same grasp on legal doctrine as a professional lawyer or judge.

    Indeed, in 2012, the conservative Federalist Society asked Thiel to deliver its annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture. It is one of the most prestigious and high-profile platforms offered by the influential legal group—past speakers include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Chief Justice John Roberts, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. And yet, speaking before a audience of many of the nation’s leading conservative lawyers and judges, Thiel barely discussed legal matters at all, and what he did say betrayed only a passing knowledge of the underlying doctrines.

    The bulk of Thiel’s speech outlined his pessimistic belief that economic and technological growth is slowing. He mentioned the law and the Supreme Court only a few times in the speech, and then only briefly. Those brief mentions, however, did suggest that Thiel would make radical changes if he had the power to reinterpret the Constitution.

    Thiel blames the alleged slowdown, at least in part, on “mischief that has happened on the legislative, left-wing legal side” which has permitted the rise of “environmentalism”—a statement which suggests that, as a justice, he would be very sympathetic to arguments raised by lawyers active within the Federalist Society, which seek to hobble the federal government’s ability to protect the environment. In an even more drastic departure from widely accepted legal and economic doctrine, Thiel attacked a series of decisions which enabled America to abandon the gold standard, claiming they destroyed money’s “link to something real.”

    Thiel’s belief that the gold standard was a good idea is not shared by, well, pretty much anyone who knows anything at all. As Matthew O’Brien explained in the Atlantic,

    Economics is often a contentious subject, but economists agree about the gold standard?—?it is a barbarous relic that belongs in the dustbin of history. As University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler points out, exactly zero economists endorsed the idea in a recent poll. What makes it such an idea non grata? It prevents the central bank from fighting recessions by outsourcing monetary policy decisions to how much gold we have?—?which, in turn, depends on our trade balance and on how much of the shiny rock we can dig up. When we peg the dollar to gold we have to raise interest rates when gold is scarce, regardless of the state of the economy. This policy inflexibility was the major cause of the Great Depression, as governments were forced to tighten policy at the worst possible moment.

    Indeed, as economist Brad DeLong notes, nations began to emerge from the Great Depression at about the same time that they abandoned the gold standard.

    So, while Thiel’s views on the law do not appear to be especially well developed, he also appears eager to upend fundamental assumptions that are widely shared by nearly everyone in the fields of law and economics, even though the consensus view is that overturning those assumptions would be catastrophic.

    Oh, and there’s one other thing.

    In an essay published by the Cato Institute, an influential libertarian think tank, Thiel questioned the very idea that the right to govern flows from the will of the governed. “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel claimed. He added that he thinks America made a serious wrong turn when it began extending basic human rights to women and poor people.

    “The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics,” Thiel claims about the decade that culminated in the single worst economic calamity in American history. “Since 1920,” he adds, “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women?—?two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians?—?have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

    In fairness, Thiel later attached additional remarks to his Cato essay, where he walked back his attack on women’s suffrage somewhat. “While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised,” Thiel said, “I have little hope that voting will make things better.”

    So what are we to make of Trump’s reported flirtation with a Justice Peter Thiel? After the Huffington Post’s piece went live, several journalists dismissed the risk of a Thiel appointment, suggesting that he would face widespread opposition.

    Caution: It's a one-source story. But right would go insane if this happened. https://t.co/vf13jL5nr2— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) September 15, 2016

    @BenjySarlin @mlcalderone I don't think he'd get more than 5 votes in the senate— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 15, 2016

    Maybe Sarlin and Hayes are right. But here’s the thing, Thiel is hardly treated as an unconfirmable pariah by the American right. To the contrary, the Federalist Society and the Cato Institute are two of the nation’s preeminent conservative organizations. The Federalist Society, in particular, played a major role in helping select President George W. Bush’s judicial appointments. And Trump has said that he will defer to the Federalist Society when he names judges in the past. (Though, in fairness, he’s also said that he would pick Supreme Court nominees from a much more conventional list of judges in the past as well.) If Cato and the Federalist Society are willing to vouch for Thiel, it is far from clear that Republican senators will rebel.

    Moreover, Thiel’s views, while out of place among mainstream thinkers, are increasingly common among right intellectuals. Consider his Cato essay, for example. The main thrust of that piece is not that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but that democratic values are the enemy of the libertarian society Thiel would prefer to live in. “The great task for libertarians,” according to Thiel, “is to find an escape from politics in all its forms—from the totalitarian and fundamentalist catastrophes to the unthinking demos that guides so-called ‘social democracy.’”

    Thiel claims that technology will effectively enable privileged libertarians such as himself to go Galt—among his more speculative ideas is “because the vast reaches of outer space represent a limitless frontier, they also represent a limitless possibility for escape from world politics.” But his general idea that democracy is the enemy is not limited to libertarians who believe they must shoot themselves into space in order to build their billionaires’ paradise.

    “In an essay published by the Cato Institute, an influential libertarian think tank, Thiel questioned the very idea that the right to govern flows from the will of the governed. “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel claimed. He added that he thinks America made a serious wrong turn when it began extending basic human rights to women and poor people.”

    Yep, Peter “democracy and capitalism are incompatible and everything went wrong because women and the poor get to vote” Thiel was reportedly under the impression that if Trump won he would nominate Thiel for the Supreme Court justice. And now Thiel is on Trumps transition team executive board. That’s a pretty big sign that Trump has something for Thiel in mind.

    Also keep in mind that should Thiel end up on the Supreme Court, he could be the for a long time. A VERY long time.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2016, 4:20 pm
  8. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-08/deutsche-bank-may-have-rigged-index-in-paschi-deal-audit-shows

    Deutsche Bank May Have Rigged Index in Paschi Deal, Audit Shows
    Bloomberg News by Vernon Silver•December 8, 2016 — 12:00 AM EST

    Deutsche Bank AG employees may have manipulated internal indexes as part of an allegedly fraudulent scheme to help Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA conceal losses, according to an audit commissioned by German regulators.

    The study, requested by watchdog Bafin and seen by Bloomberg, says an internal Deutsche Bank review described “abnormalities” in the values of proprietary indexes used to set the price for the Monte Paschi deal in December 2008. While investigators at the Frankfurt-based bank couldn’t “unequivocally” link that to manipulation or the deal’s outcome, Deutsche Bank didn’t have any guidelines for monitoring the indexes for potential rigging, according to the audit.

    The internal Deutsche Bank report has never been made public. Its findings are also cited in Italian court documents seen by Bloomberg.

    The audit shows banker abuse of benchmarks may have gone beyond the rigging of industry measures such as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that has already triggered probes and fines for global lenders. Deutsche Bank last year paid $2.5 billion to settle claims of interest-rate manipulation — more than any other lender — amid accusations of a widespread effort to rig rates for financial gain.

    “The Paschi deal is dependent on indexes, and then the indexes may have been manipulated to be more in favor of Deutsche Bank,” said Michael Dempster, founder of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Financial Research, who has consulted for clients suing banks over derivatives deals. “It is a subtle part of the structure that could be used to load it to the bank’s advantage.”

    Milan Trial

    The index trades also show the layers of complexity underpinning a deal Italian prosecutors say was an illicit scheme to mask losses at Monte Paschi, which is fighting for survival eight years after the ill-fated transactions. Deutsche Bank and six current and former managers were indicted in a Milan court Oct. 1 for allegedly helping falsify the Siena-based lender’s accounts through the deal, known as Santorini. The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 15.

    Michele Faissola, who oversaw global rates for Deutsche Bank at the time, and Ivor Dunbar, former co-head of global capital markets, are among those facing trial. Both were top deputies to former co-Chief Executive Officer Anshu Jain, and both have left the company. Faissola declined to comment, and Dunbar didn’t respond to messages. The audit doesn’t link any individuals to the trading that may have influenced the indexes.

    Charlie Olivier, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank in London, declined to comment beyond an October statement that said the lender intended to “put forward our defense in court.” Oliver Struck, a spokesman for Bafin in Bonn, said the regulator doesn’t discuss individual firms.

    Deutsche Bank in February said Bafin completed inquiries into multiple cases including Monte Paschi, crediting the firm for implementing changes and planning to take further measures. An overhaul of the management board and the departure of some senior executives contributed to the regulator’s assessment that the remedial actions taken by the company were sufficient, a person with knowledge of the matter said at the time.

    Masking Losses

    The Monte Paschi deal came to light in 2013, when Bloomberg revealed how the trades enabled the lender, the world’s oldest, to obscure hundreds of millions of euros of losses on a previous transaction with Deutsche Bank. The German firm reaped about 60 million euros ($64 million) in profit from the Santorini deal in the first two weeks of December 2008, according to documents outlining the transaction.

    Deutsche Bank conducted its internal probe from November 2013 to April 2014. Bafin commissioned accounting firm Peters Schoenberger & Partner in January 2014 to conduct the separate audit, which was completed that December. That probe examined Deutsche Bank’s role in the transaction and its subsequent internal inquiry. The outside auditors said they had nothing substantial to add to the bank’s findings regarding the index movements. Italian prosecutors submitted both documents to the judge in the Milan court case in August.

    Banks use benchmarks such as Libor to set borrowing costs for transactions. Some derivatives are linked to formulas developed internally known as proprietary indexes. For Deutsche Bank’s deal with Monte Paschi to have worked as planned, indexes tied to interest rates needed to hit certain levels at the transaction’s inception, according to the audit.

    They did. Deutsche Bank employees “appear to have traded in the futures contracts that determined the development of the indices,” the audit found, citing the bank’s own probe. The traders may have “deliberately” influenced the indexes and the outcome of the interest-rate bets, according to the internal probe. Milan prosecutors also mentioned the audit’s findings in an Aug. 30 filing, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg.

    Proprietary Indexes

    The Monte Paschi deal involved two Deutsche Bank proprietary indexes, the DB FRB EUR (2) Index and the DB Trends EUR Index. Both were tied to the value of derivative products wagering on the Euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor.

    The two-pronged Santorini trade had to be carefully calibrated so that at the outset one leg would be a winner and the other a loser, according to the audit. Monte Paschi used the winning leg to offset the old loss, and then retained the new, losing arm without immediately disclosing that it was carrying a growing loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The audit also raises the possibility that Deutsche Bank employees may have created a smokescreen for manipulation. Bank executives involved in the deal told auditors that one index chosen for the transaction was going to have heavy trading on the Santorini pricing day because it was the index’s roll date, when trading books are rebalanced.

    “A targeted impact on the indices due to an increased level of trading activity could be ‘concealed,’’’ the audit found, without concluding whether that was the case.

    Desired Target

    The trading that aroused suspicions had enough volume to move market prices and took place in a short period of time, according to the separate Italian court documents that summarized Deutsche Bank’s internal probe into the deal.

    The transactions led to an estimated jump of 7 basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, in the price of the securities that determined the indexes, the documents show. That move on Dec. 5, 2008, helped ensure that the interest-rate bets hit the desired target.

    Global banks use proprietary indexes for some complex financial products they sell to clients including hedge funds, corporations and retail customers. Deutsche Bank runs about 3,500 of them through a group called DB Index Quant, or DBIQ, according to its website. The indexes are linked to everything from corporate debt to the price of wheat.

    While regulators have fined the biggest banks about $9 billion since 2012 for their abuse of public indexes, watchdogs have just begun to pay attention to ones that banks develop in private. In Europe, lawmakers included proprietary indexes in a regulation approved this year monitoring the use of “benchmarks in financial instruments.”

    ‘Sometimes Obscene’

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year warned of the complexity and lack of transparency of some financial products sold by banks that use internal indexes. Bank of America Corp. paid $10 million in June to settle SEC claims it masked costs and misled retail investors when selling $150 million of securities tied to a proprietary index in 2010 and 2011, according to an agency statement. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Barclays Plc $1 million last year for using “materially inaccurate” information when publishing an in-house index.

    Your cheat sheet on life, in one weekly email.
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    UBS Group AG, the world’s biggest wealth manager, paid the SEC almost $20 million last year to settle claims the firm misled investors who bought $190 million of securities linked to a proprietary currency index in 2009 and 2010. UBS employees, some using “colorful and sometimes obscene language,” added unjustified costs to the deal while making their own trades in advance of transactions related to the index, according to an SEC statement. The Zurich-based lender lacked “meaningful controls” over such trading, the agency said.
    UBS, Bank of America and Barclays didn’t admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlements.

    “Those investors can’t understand the investments themselves, let alone the indexes,” said Craig McCann, an economist at Securities Litigation & Consulting Group who published a paper on proprietary indexes in October. “Fundamentally, such a product is great for investment bankers. Not investors.”

    Posted by RM | December 8, 2016, 6:20 pm
  9. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-08/deutsche-bank-records-alleged-to-show-banks-rigged-silver-prices

    Deutsche Bank Records Said to Show Silver Rigging at Other Banks
    Bloomberg News by David Glovin and Edvard Pettersson
    December 7, 2016 — 10:26 PM EST December 7, 2016 — 11:31 PM EST

    After German bank settled, it gave documents to plaintiffs

    UBS, Barclays, Bank of America joined scheme, suit says

    Deutsche Bank Records Said to Show Silver Rigging Scheme

    Deutsche Bank Records Said to Show Silver Rigging Scheme

    Eight months after Deutsche Bank AG settled a lawsuit claiming it manipulated gold and silver prices, documents it disclosed as part of the accord provide “smoking gun” proof that UBS Group AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Bank of Nova Scotia and other firms rigged the silver market, plaintiffs claim.

    The allegation came in a filing Wednesday in a Manhattan federal court lawsuit filed in 2014 by individuals and entities that bought or sold futures contracts.

    According to the plaintiffs, records surrendered by Deutsche Bank show traders and submitters coordinating trades in advance of a daily phone call, manipulating the spot market for silver, conspiring to fix the spread on silver offered to customers and using illegal strategies to rig prices.

    “Plaintiffs are now able to plead with direct, ‘smoking gun’ evidence,’ including secret electronic chats involving silver traders and submitters across a number of financial institutions, a multi-year, well-coordinated and wide-ranging conspiracy to rig the prices,” the plaintiffs said in their filing. The new scheme “far surpasses the conspiracy alleged earlier.”

    New Complaint

    The plaintiffs are seeking permission to file a new complaint with the additional allegations. Their proposed complaint broadens the case beyond the four banks initially sued to include claims against units of Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas Fortis SA, Standard Chartered Plc and Bank of America Corp.

    Representatives of UBS, BNP Paribas Fortis, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Scotiabank didn’t immediately respond to e-mails outside regular business hours seeking comment on the allegations. Barclays and Bank of America declined to immediately comment.

    A judge dismissed the lawsuit against UBS this year but allowed the plaintiffs to file a new complaint against the bank.

    The most important business stories of the day.
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    The Deutsche Bank documents show two UBS traders communicated directly with two Deutsche Bank traders and discussed ways to rig the market, the plaintiffs said. Among other things, the traders shared customer order-flow information, improperly triggered customer stop-loss orders, and engaged in practices such as spoofing. Spoofing entails submitting bids or offers with the intention of canceling them before they’re executed as a way to drive prices.

    “UBS was the third-largest market maker in the silver spot market and could directly influence the prices of silver financial instruments based on the sheer volume of silver it traded,” the plaintiffs allege. “Conspiring with other large market makers, like Deutsche Bank and HSBC, only increased UBS’s ability to influence the market.”

    The case is In re: London Silver Fixing Ltd. Antitrust Litigation, 1:14-md-02573 U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

    Posted by RM | December 8, 2016, 6:21 pm
  10. It sounds like Donald Trump found someone who shares his apparently very strong beliefs in genetic determinism: Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also has a strong belief in ‘superior genes’. More specifically, ‘perfect genes’. Even more specifically, Donald Trump’s ‘perfect genes’:

    Think Progress

    Secretary Mnuchin’s praise of Trump’s ‘perfect genes’ is an extremist dogwhistle
    Right out of the Stormfront playbook.

    Aaron Rupar
    Mar 24, 2017

    During an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin went above and beyond in praising his boss.

    “This guy’s got more stamina than anybody I’ve ever met,” Mnuchin said of Trump. “I mean, I thought I was in good shape. I traveled with him all the time… I mean, it’s unbelievable. He’ s constantly doing things.”

    Allen asked Mnuchin how that’s possible, given that the 70-year-old Trump is known to enjoy fast food and admits he doesn’t exercise.

    “He’s got perfect genes,” Mnuchin said of Trump. “He has incredible energy, and he’s unbelievably healthy.”

    Mnuchin doesn’t seem to have been joking. Watch for yourself.

    Steve Mnuchin: Trump has perfect genes pic.twitter.com/tMSvcxsjNZ— Axios (@axios) March 24, 2017

    Mnuchin’s over-the-top comments about Trump “perfect genes” echoes what Trump has repeatedly said about himself. During a CNN interview in 2010, for instance, Trump attributed his success to having “a certain gene.”

    “I’m a gene believer,” Trump said. “Hey, when you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse, and I really had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that.”

    A 2016 New Yorker piece detailed some of Trump’s many references to his genetics on the campaign trail:

    In South Carolina, earlier this year, he noted, “Dr. John Trump at M.I.T.; good genes, very good genes, O.K., very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart.” (Donald Trump was at Wharton as an undergraduate, after transferring from Fordham.) To the Boston Globe: “My father’s brother was a brilliant man . . . We have very good genetics.” And then on NBC, after telling Lester Holt that his uncle was a professor at M.I.T.: “I mean it’s a good gene pool right there”?—?he pointed to his head?—?“I have to do what I have to do.”

    This might seem like idle chatter. But as we covered last summer, the link Trump makes between his good genetics and his fitness to lead comes out of the white supremacist playbook. For instance, Stormfront’s mission statement claims that “a great deal (possibly 90% or more) of a person’s intelligence and character is determined by their DNA, which determines the structure of their brain before they are born. This is why Blacks, as a group, do the things they do.”

    Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone told ThinkProgress that Trump’s comments fit within that fringe worldview.

    “He constantly cites his own genetic background and argued that his brain is biologically better because of his genes,” Carusone said. “That could be Trump just being braggadocious, but it reinforces the idea that genetics are a legitimate qualification for leadership.”

    “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s physician of 25 years, said in a signed statement that was released to the media in late 2015.

    As CNN reported at the time, Bornstein made that statement despite having no record of ever treating another president.

    ““He’s got perfect genes,” Mnuchin said of Trump. “He has incredible energy, and he’s unbelievably healthy.””

    Yes, yes, that Trumpian energy with little need for sleep is perfection! And putting aside the actual problems with the science behind eugenics thought – like how genes tend to involve biological trade offs and the notion of genetic ‘perfection’ doesn’t really make sense – it’s certainly possible that there’s a genetic factor driving Trump’s sleep habits and energy levels since there have been genetic variants identified with that trait. Still, if Trump and his team are seriously going to be promoting his allegedly awesome genes as some sort of leadership quality, it’s worth noting that there’s more than just genetics that could be behind Trump’s energy levels and if Trump isn’t actually a short-sleeper but instead is just acclimated to being really, really sleep deprived the story about Trump’s ‘perfect genes’ might be masking a perfect storm of bad decision-making. And while that make public calls for Trump to release his DNA sequence so he can prove he’s a genetically driven short-sleeper tempting, we probably don’t want to encourage him in this area.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2017, 7:38 pm

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