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Archive for August 10th, 2018

The Las Vegas Massacre Report and the Rise of Second Amendment Nihilism

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Adam Gopnik writes in the New Yorker:

A document, recently released—“LVMPD Criminal Investigative Report of the 1 October Mass Casualty Shooting,” to give it its official name—offering the local-police-department summary of the Las Vegas gun massacreof last year, makes for reading that is both hallucinatory and tragic, and in another way absurd. The tragic part comes from the earnest police effort to quantify, tabulate, and graph the actual, horrific effects of machine-gun bullets ripping apart human bodies. We know that each name on the map of casualties—fifty-eight deaths, alongside more than eight hundred wounded, victims left helpless as an invisible storm of death rained down on them during a country-music concert—is a center point from which an unimaginable arc of suffering and grief radiates. But what are the investigators to do but dutifully mark them down? Drawing lines around bodies is what police are supposed to do, in domestic homicides and mob murders. What else is there to do here?

At the same time, it’s hallucinatory to see how little all of the admirable and well-understood procedures that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department—like those of every police department in the country, evolved to deal with violent crime, including mass shooters—could do to halt the massacre before so much damage had been done. In the report, the language of “crime scene analysts,” “lock interrogation documents,” and “key witnesses” is intact even in describing how Hell opened a portal on a happy country-music crowd. This sergeant reached out to that security expert, who spoke to this member of the swat team, and decisions were made to force entry—but was that “service cart” in front of the door perhaps an improvised explosive device?—and, meanwhile, a man with incredibly powerful weapons was killing helpless people. The massacre ended when the murderer put a gun in his own mouth and pulled the trigger. (“Entrance: roof of mouth with abundant soot”—the autopsy of Stephen Paddock, the killer, explains.) The many obscene weapons of mass death he had collected are photographed as they were found in his hotel room, with their specifications delicately included in the captions: “AR-10 .308/7.62 with a bipod and red dot scope. No magazine.”

And it’s absurd, in a mad way, because the premise of the killings was one that no other civilized country would have tolerated for a moment. Paddock bought fifty-five guns, mostly rifles, in the space of a year—most of them the kind of lethal weapons properly called assault rifles or military-style weapons, several augmented with an accessory known as a bump stock, which allowed for even more rapid firing. There is no reason on earth why any citizen of a democracy would ever need even one of these weapons, let alone fifty-five. Not to mention that the simple act of buying that many weapons of murder might be a sign that murder was being planned—an alert missed.

The report takes on the supposedly baffling question of Paddock’s motive, and what comes through is that—unless some astonishing new connection or fact appears in the future—his intention appears to have been purely nihilistic. Paddock wanted to kill a lot of people because he wanted to kill a lot of people. Feelings of frustration and insufficient power, the frequent ignition of such killings, may have moved him, too, and yet they seem to have been more unrooted than such feelings usually are among mass killers. He came from a troubled family, but had managed to acquire money, a girlfriend, an occupation. Basically, it seems to have been an item on his bucket list. He knew that the one thing he could do before he died was murder a lot of people. Why did he want to kill a lot of people? Because he wanted to kill a lot of people. So, he Googled any number of cheerful outdoor concerts, in California and Chicago and also in Las Vegas, and made reservations at hotels looking down on them, and kept buying weapons of mass murder, and finally, there he was, a little god of death.

It’s hard for us to accept that it was as inconsequential as this, but all the evidence suggests that it was. And it reminds us that the attempt to attach a motive to mass killing—as with many individual murders—is, as often as not, a mistake. Killings, whether their perpetrators are fairly called “mentally ill,” can be motiveless in significant ways. Many of the most famous assassinations in our history were so strangely under-motivated that there’s still an odd imbalance between the reason and the act, including Lee Harvey Oswald’s killing of John F. Kennedy. Pure opportunism seems to count for a lot for a man with a weapon.

But then it is in the nature of human violence that there can be a very tenuous connection between the decision to take the act and the desire to perform the act. The motive of the act, the desire, can be in wild disproportion with its effects—or not in any logical way connected at all. That’s what Dostoyevsky and Camus struggled to show to us in art: that the logic of murder was almost always an illogic. One doesn’t have to be grounded in a motive as large as a human life in order to take a human life, much less fifty-eight.

In a horrific way, that side of mass violence is familiar; what makes the American epidemic so appalling is that the nihilism at the heart of Paddock’s acts has now communicated itself to those who attempt to defend it in his right to own fifty-five guns, designed only to kill as many people as possible, in the name of some distorted idea of American liberty. We have entered a new phase in the American horror—that of Second Amendment nihilism. No effort will be made to stop gun massacres. This is, in practical terms, indistinguishable from arriving at a state where the point of having lethal weapons in private hands is to have massacres become ritual sacrifices to be greeted, as all ritual sacrifices are, with prayers. The massacres have become essential to the demonstration of the power of guns, a kind of tribute to the Moloch of absolute autonomy, to a fantasy view of “liberty” that involves the destruction of another person.

Nor can the fight between gun sanity and gun fetishism rationally be called a “culture war” any more than the Civil War was a culture war, rather than, as it really was, one in which human compassion met traditionalized cruelty. One side wants to end the American plague of gun massacres; the other side does not want to end the American plague of gun massacres. Culture wars do exist; people do fight ferociously over symbols. But, if words are to have any sense at all, the phrase “culture war” needs to refer to things that are indeed cultural. The argument over kneeling at N.F.L. games is of that kind: one side believes that the assertion of patriotism overwhelms the demands to appeal for justice, the other that an appeal for justice is what patriotism is all about. Culture wars rightly refer to disputes in which the symbolic or public show of something is what’s at stake. Fights over the legality of crèches on Christmas lawns are culture wars. The right to burn the flag, pro and con, is a culture war.

But mass murder is not a symbolic problem. If you are burning the flag with someone wrapped inside it, then you are no longer making a cultural statement. If, while kneeling on the field, you have your knee on someone else’s neck, it is no longer a symbolic protest. You are attempting a criminal act. What people who talk about gun violence as a “culture war” in which both sides deserve respect really mean is that their right to a fetishized object of power has become so fanatical that they are prepared to ask other people to allow their children to be murdered at concerts rather than interfere with it.

Fantasy and fetishism, as any psychiatrist knows, are intimately linked. . .

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Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 3:24 pm

Why the Space Force Is Just Like Trump University

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David Graham writes in the Atlantic:

Late Thursday morning, after playing a round of golf and firing off an angry missive about the Russia investigation, Donald Trump wrote this:

The tweet is a perfect synecdoche for the program in question: short, punchy, and memorable, but ultimately substance-free. The Space Force and the White House’s rollout for it are the most focused exercises in Trumpian branding the nation has seen since the president took office, a project reminiscent of Trump University. Trump is selling the public one idea—a glitzy, pathbreaking new wing of government—and giving it instead a potentially kludgy reorganization of existing government functions.

[Trump has called for the creation of a new military branch. So far, Congress is ignoring him.]

Trump first announced the Space Force, which he says will be a sixth, co-equal branch of the military, in June, when he signed a space-policy directive. But that directive didn’t even mention the Space Force, nor was it totally clear how it would work. As my colleague Marina Koren has reported, many top commanders in the military (including Secretary of Defense James Mattis) opposed the plan, arguing that the Pentagon already had the right infrastructure in place to achieve what Trump wanted: the ability to defend American interests in space. There’s even an existing Air Force Space Command.

Of course, bureaucratic maneuvering isn’t as sexy as the first new branch of the military since 1947. The actual function of the Space Force isn’t nearly as sexy as its name implies, either. As Vice President Mike Pence outlined in a speech Thursday announcing a new Pentagon report on the project, the Space Force is not so much about sending battalions of armed astronauts into the atmosphere as it is about satellites and space-based defense systems. Those functions are potentially important, and American adversaries are interested in making plays for space weapons, but the Defense Department is already working on them.

When Pence complained Thursday that “while our adversaries have been busy weaponizing space, too often we have bureaucratized it,” he was protesting too much. Even though what Trump is proposing is basically a reorganization of existing systems, he has treated it as if he is launching something unprecedented. (The Space Force also can’t go forward unless Congress authorizes it.)

Later on Thursday, the Trump reelection campaign sent an email inviting supporters to vote on a logo for the Space Force. Here are the options: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 3:20 pm

Tasty and filling 3-point lunch

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I am hitting hard the cold-water fish, and I bought a little can of mackerel in olive oil, which (when drained) is 3 points, assuming it’s the same as sardines in olive oil. (Weight Watchers doesn’t have canned mackerel in their food list). If I had used sardines packed in water, the lunch would have been 0 points.

I dumped the mackerel into a fairly large bowl, broke it up with a fork, and then added:

1/2 white onion, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 Persian cucumber (like an English cucumber—thin-skinned, minimal seeds—but smaller), diced
juice of 1 lemon
large dash of pepper sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
Maldon sea salt
ground black pepper

I stirred that well to mix, and it was very tasty indeed. Zero points for everything except the 3 points for the mackerel.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 1:52 pm

5 doctors and surgeons tell us what they really think about Medicare-for-all

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Dylan Scott reports at Vox:

The muscle of the health industry lobby — pharma, health plans, doctors, and hospitals — is gathering to stop single payer.

The Hill’s Peter Sullivan had the report on Friday morning. The industry’s influence can’t be underestimated: It stopped Clintoncare. And, for better or worse, it was a boon for passing Obamacare that the industry mostly supported the legislation.

The industry’s disparate interests fight over a lot of issues, but Medicare-for-all unites them. That is going to be a factor if we get to 2021 with a Democratic Congress and president, and they decide to pursue single-payer health care.

That moment really might come. A sign times are changing: A Republican health care lobbyist called me recently to ask whether all-payer rate setting would be a better alternative to single payer, by causing less disruption. (I quibbled that you would need some kind of coverage component, given the moral urgency that is animating the left on health care.)

Still, a Republican almost endorsing price controls. That is a pretty strong indicator of where our health care debate seems to be heading.

Payment cuts for health care providers, if we eliminate private insurance and move everybody to Medicare rates, are going to come up a lot in this debate.

Those cuts are an easy thing for industry lobbyists to target and for Republicans to run ads on. Cuts could be overstated, depending on how much legitimate waste single payer can actually eliminate by consolidating the administration of health care, but the projections for Medicare for All plans are going to anticipate big cuts.

That explains the industry’s lobbying position. But reality on the ground is more complicated than that. There are absolutely health care providers who support single payer. Quite a few of them sent me emails after I asked for their thoughts last week.

Here are some of the most interesting responses. From a registered Republican working at a next-gen gene sequencing company:

Medicare is, without question, the most reliable, most predictable payer that we deal with. And for somebody like me it would be a dream to only have to deal with them. Yes, they are pretty heavily regulated. And yes, they have pretty strict guidelines for who to cover. But unlike other payers, who make life virtually impossible for smaller providers because they’re in the for-profit game (the not paying for care game), Medicare at least adheres to a clear set of rules. Other payers put up an endless set of traps against reimbursement, contracting, and other parts of the revenue life cycle that add substantial cost to services and thus increase cost to the consumer. I can say with near certainty that parties in my industry would provide services at a materially lower price and with more predictable out of pocket costs if every payer was as reliable and consistent as Medicare.

As such, I’m now, despite growing up a conservative afraid of such government largesse as “Medicare for all,” convinced that a single public payer, either as rate setter or as a true single payer, is needed. In contrast, I remain a staunch defender of private medical care, where companies such as my own and our competition do battle to increase quality and lower patient cost.

So I guess you could count me as pro-Medicare for all, a sentence I never thought I’d write 15 years ago.

From a retired neurosurgeon, who had also thought of himself as a Republican:

I practiced neurosurgery in Texas and retired 20 years ago. I started out as a pretty solid, but non-thinking, Republican, opposing perceived intrusions of Medicare into my practice. I read Himmelstein and Woolhandler’s NEJM articles and thought they were Harvard hippie Communists. Over time, I came to see that they were right, that we really need a universal health care system, as so many of my patients weren’t getting needed care. I was a bit embarrassed making as much money as I did, and would have done it for half of that.

From a radiation oncologist of more than 20 years, in Chicago and for the military:

I left full-time medicine a few years ago after getting fed up with continuously fighting insurance companies for pre-authorization and for the right to practice medicine the way I was trained within the standard published guidelines. I now work part-time seeing primarily uninsured and Medicaid patients.

A 2011 Health Affairs study found that the average US physician spends nearly $83,000 a year interacting with insurance plans. And a 2010 American Medical Association Study found the average doctor spent 20 hours a week on pre-authorization activities. This has only gotten more expensive and much worse. Under a single payer plan, this would be much easier and far less expensive.

In addition, we know that the major cost of malpractice coverage is for the continued medical care of the patient that was harmed. A single payer system would insure that any such patient would be covered for the rest of their lives and as a result, malpractice coverage would also be dramatically lower.

While reimbursement under a single payer plan most likely would be less, so would the headaches and administrative hassles and costs. And I would be able to see far more patients instead of being on the phone fighting with a case manager, while my office and malpractice coverage costs would be far less.

From a Texas oncologist:

My general view of Medicare-for-all is that it would moderately contribute to remedying our health care spending problem, but by no means fix it.

My understanding is that the biggest savings would come from getting rid of the huge administrative dead weight in our private insurance system. However, that in and of itself would not fix the fact that billing rates are through the roof here in the US. Saving a few percent on overhead would be great, but MRIs and appendectomies are still going to cost 2x-4x here than in other OECD countries.

I am definitely heterodox among physicians in believing that our salaries (mainly among specialists such as myself) ought to be significantly lower. The greater bargaining power that a single, government payer might have could potentially rein in some of that.

On the other side, from an anesthesiologist intern in Chicago, fiscally liberal but socially conservative, who has some concerns about how single payer would handle Catholic hospitals:

The one part of a more single-payer system that worries me relates to the socially conservative opinions I have. I’m sure you have seen the series FiveThirtyEight has had the past week on the effects of Catholic hospitals coming to predominate more rural areas and even some cities. (As someone who grew up in a small town, I can say the main health care provider in the area is a Catholic hospital.) I don’t fear a single-payer system would result in individual providers being required to provide services they individually oppose for religious beliefs.

However, I do worry about whether or not there would be requirements for Catholic hospitals to provide services contrary to Catholic teaching, generally surrounding abortion or end of life care, in order to be eligible for billing Medicare. I do presume a Medicare-for-All system would pass on a party-line vote with only Democrat support and could see them trying to expand abortion coverage–either directly in a law or through regulation like many abortion coverage issues have been changed–at the same time since that issue has also grown much more partisan in the past decade.

I perhaps mentioned earlier that one of the noticeable differences in how healthcare works here in Canada is that the pre-authorization struggles/fights are non-existent. If the doctor thinks you need some hospital test (a CAT scan, in this case), you just go to the hospital and get the test. There are no pre-authorization waits or arguments: the doctor orders it, you get it, and there is not an insurance representative in the mix. Quite refreshing, particularly since the insurance people who decide whether or not to authorize such a test (a) have not seen you and (b) have no medical training. Their sole job is to stand in the way of the insurance company having to pay out money.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 1:23 pm

What the US has become under President Trump

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James Hohmann writes in the Washington Post:

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump is the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do president. For years, he ripped Barack Obama for taking summer vacations to Martha’s Vineyard and told voters he’d be too busy governing to golf if he got elected. On Thursday, Trump hit the links again on his 11-day summer vacation in New Jersey.

As he did so, his Slovenian in-laws attended a naturalization ceremony in Manhattan. Viktor and Amalija Knavs were able to become U.S. citizens because their daughter, Melania, sponsored them. Trump decries this form of family reunification and has moved aggressively to block other parents from following their children to America.

It’s part of the president’s campaign to reduce the flow of illegal and legalimmigrants, even though three of his son Barron’s four grandparents came to this country via what he denigrates as “chain migration.

The White House declined to answer questions about whether this is hypocritical. “They are not part of the administration,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, said of the Knavses.

But the Trump team has also declined to answer specific questions about Melania’s pathway to citizenship. She got a green card in 2001, five years after arriving in the states to model and one year after she started dating the celebrity billionaire, through a program that was intended to help academic geniuses, corporate executives, Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors. “The year she got her legal residency, only five people from Slovenia received green cards under the EB-1 program,” David Nakamura notes.

In August 2016, The Donald announced to great fanfare that his wife would hold a news conference “over the next couple of weeks” to reply to accusations that she violated immigration laws when she first arrived. Melania, he promised, would offer proof that “she came in totally legally.”

Like the tax returns Trump also pledged to release, it never materialized.

There’s nothing wrong with golfing, vacationing or entering the U.S. through legal channels, but yesterday brought another blow to Trump’s credibility as a messenger on the immigration issue.

— Bigger blows have come recently in courts of law: A federal judge here in Washington threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt yesterday after learning that the Trump administration was in the process of deporting a woman and her daughter back to El Salvador before her appeal could be heard in court. “This is pretty outrageous,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said of the removal. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.”

“The woman, known in court papers as Carmen, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union,” Arelis R. Hernández reports. “It challenges a recent policy change by the Justice Department that aims to expedite the removal of asylum seekers … After being informed of the situation, Sullivan … ordered the government to ‘turn the plane around.’

The DOJ attorney said she didn’t know the deportation was happening and didn’t know the whereabouts of the mother or daughter. The government eventually tracked them down on a plane that was bound for El Salvador, and they were put on a return flight back to the United States last night.

Sessions has changed government policy so that women can no longer qualify for asylum even if they prove that they’ve been victims of domestic violence or that they’re at risk of being targeted and murdered by gangs. “Carmen fled El Salvador with her daughter in June, according to court records, fearing they would be killed by gang members who had demanded she pay them each month or suffer consequences,” Arelis reports. “Several co-workers at the factory where Carmen worked had been murdered, and her husband is also abusive, the records state.”

Nevertheless, Sessions and Trump want to send her back — even if it means almost certain death. The Justice Department declined to comment, and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement did not respond to questions.

— We’re hearing stories like Carmen’s almost every day now. Bloomberg News’s Jennifer Epstein reports from San Antonio this morning on another case: “The day [Trump] ordered his administration to stop separating migrant children from parents caught illegally crossing the Mexican border, a Salvadoran woman named Raquel arrived in Texas with her two sons. She had fled her country in fear of a police officer who had harassed her for years, she said in an interview.

She hoped to claim asylum in the U.S. and make a better life for herself and her children. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement took them from her, despite Trump’s order. The agency asserted that she’s in MS-13, the violent gang whose members the president has called ‘animals,’ and so a danger to her children. Raquel and her lawyers vehemently deny that she’s a gang member, and an immigration court concluded that she doesn’t pose a danger to the public; she was released from U.S. detention on bond while her asylum claim is processed.

“‘I left my country because I had suffered and here, also, I’m suffering,’ Raquel, 33, said in Spanish in the living room of the San Antonio home where she’s been staying since her release from an immigration detention center a week ago. … Bloomberg News is identifying her only by her first name because she says local police in her hometown have threatened to kill her … ICE refused to provide any substantiation to Bloomberg or to Raquel’s lawyers … for its assertion that she is a gang member.

How exactly does this Kafkaesque situation constitute due process?

— As of last Wednesday, 572 children who were taken from their parents or guardians remain in government custody and have not been reunited with their families as the result of Trump’s family separation policy. “The reality is, for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, who was appointed by George W. Bush, told a government lawyer during a hearing last Friday.

— Moreover, data released by the government on Wednesday shows that the intentionally cruel policy of taking kids away from their parents failed to achieve its desired effect of deterring illegal immigrants. Yearning to live the American Dream, they keep coming.

— On a host of other measures, Americans are becoming more supportive of immigration and immigrants as part of a backlash to Trump’s nativism — especially the family separations. (I wrote a whole Big Idea about this in June.)

— The AP reported last night that public controversy has also prompted the U.S. Army to stop discharging immigrant recruits who enlisted seeking a path to citizenship — at least temporarily. Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke obtained a memo that spells out orders to high-ranking Army officials to stop processing discharges of men and women who enlisted in a special program for immigrants that was created by Bush: “The disclosure comes one month after the AP reported that dozens of immigrant enlistees were being discharged or had their contracts canceled. Some said they were given no reason for their discharge. Others said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them. In a statement Thursday, Army Lt. Col. Nina L. Hill said they were stopping the discharges in order to review the administrative separation process. The decision could impact hundreds of enlistees.

The Army has reversed one discharge, for Brazilian reservist Lucas Calixto, 28, who had sued. Nonetheless, discharges of other immigrant enlistees continued. Attorneys sought to bring a class action lawsuit last week to offer protections to a broader group of reservists and recruits in the program, demanding that prior discharges be revoked and that further separations be halted. One Pakistani man caught by surprise by his discharge said he was filing for asylum. He asked that his name be withheld because he fears he might be forced to return to Pakistan, where he could face danger as a former U.S. Army enlistee.”

— Meanwhile, the White House has lost another of its most prominent Latino staffers. Helen Aguirre Ferre, who is of Nicaraguan descent, has left her job as director of media affairs at the White House. She plans to start a much lower profile and less important job in public affairs at the National Endowment for the Arts later this month when she returns from a vacation with her family. It will not involve answering questions about the president’s immigration policies. She came to the White House last year from the Republican National Committee, where she was director of Hispanic communications. Before that, as an aide to Jeb Bush, she blasted Trump for his nasty remarks about minorities and women.

Aguirre’s departure follows that of another high-profile Latino, Carlos Diaz-Rosillo, who in June left his job at the White House as deputy assistant to the president and director of policy and interagency coordination to become a senior deputy chairman at the National Endowment for the Humanities,” the AP’s Luis Alonso Lugo reports.

In its Spanish-language story on these high-profile departures, Univision notesthat the White House still does not offer a Spanish version of its website — even 18 months after Trump took office. That’s a break with both Bush and Obama.

— Meanwhile, Fox News host Laura Ingraham is under fire for comments she made on her show Wednesday night about immigrants. “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham said over b-roll of farmworkers. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.”

George W. Bush’s former deputy White House press secretary accused Ingraham of “startling racism”:

Outside the context of the moment, Ingraham’s comments are shocking. In context, though, the surprising part is that it took her so long to be so explicit,” Philip Bump writes on The Fix. “Two hours before her show, Tucker Carlson hosts ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight,’ where he’s repeatedly made comments that are even more pointed toward protecting the interests of white America. In January, conservative media institution Bill Kristol — at one point Carlson’s colleague — described Carlson’s frequent forays into the realm as ‘close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it.’”

— Ingraham opened her show Thursday night with a monologue aimed at cleaning up the controversy. “A message to those who are distorting my views, including all white nationalists and especially one racist freak whose name I will not even mention: You do not have my support, you don’t represent my views and you are antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear,” the host said to camera. Ingraham stressed that she supports legal immigration. “I made explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity,” she added.

— As Ingraham made those comments on television, Trump was eating dinner at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., with a group of business executives. Multiple attendees told CNN afterward that the corporate titans pressed him to ease restrictions on hiring “talented” foreign workers. “The President said he would consider taking action to assuage their concerns via executive order,” Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak report. “But reached the next morning about the President’s comments, a White House official said ‘no imminent action’ is planned to address the CEOs concerns.”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 12:38 pm

Ex-aide says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist

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Josh Dawsey reports in the Washington Post:

Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly last December, according to a forthcoming book by Manigault Newman and people familiar with the proposal.
 But she refused, according to the incendiary new book, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” which also depicts Trump as unqualified, narcissistic and racist. Excerpts of the book were obtained by The Washington Post.
After she was fired, Manigault Newman wrote, she received a call from Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a job and the monthly contract in exchange for her silence.
The proposed nondisclosure agreement allegedly said Manigault Newman could not make any comments about President Trump or his family; Vice President Pence or his family; or any comments that could damage the president. It said she would do “diversity outreach,” among other things, for the campaign, according to her account.
 “The NDA attached to the email was as harsh and restrictive as any I’d seen in all my years of television,” Manigault Newman writes in the book.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the book “is riddled with lies and false accusations. It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration.”
The allegations threaten to become another political headache for the administration akin to another controversial book earlier this year by journalist Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which detailed a wayward White House and prompted broad denunciations from Trump and his aides. The White House had initially planned on trying to avoid commenting on Manigault Newman’s book to keep it from getting more attention, White House aides said.
Manigault Newman is expected to appear on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning and will then go on a longer publicity tour. It comes at the first anniversary of deadly white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, where Trump was criticized for saying there are fine people “on both sides.”
Her book is the first insider account from a White House aide that is not largely flattering toward the president. Manigault Newman, who was the highest-ranking black employee in the White House, calls Trump a “racist, misogynist and bigot.” She alleges in the book that there is a tanning bed in the White House residence and says the president fought with the now-departed chief usher over the installation of the bed; other aides say they have not seen a tanning bed in the White House.
Manigault Newman also writes that Trump told her he was unaware of her firing by Kelly. “No! No one even told me,” she quotes Trump as saying. “I didn’t know that. Damn it.”
Whether the book paints an accurate depiction of Trump’s conduct or amounts primarily to a disgruntled tome from a reality TV star-turned-White House aide is in dispute. Manigault Newman has known Trump for more than a decade and held one of the highest-paid positions in the West Wing for a year, securing the job as an “assistant to the president” after starring as a famed villain in his TV show, “The Apprentice,” and working for the Trump Organization.
Manigault Newman does not offer evidence for some of her most explosive charges but also extensively taped her conversations in the White House, according to people familiar with the tapes, who requested anonymity to describe the recordings. The existence of some tapes was first reported Wednesday by the Daily Beast.
Manigault Newman litters the book with specific quotes from White House aides. She describes many scenes inside the White House vividly — explaining who was in the room, and exactly what was said.
She questions Trump’s mental state, describes him as unstable and portrays him as unable to control his impulses while describing the extensive lengths that staff members have gone to in attempts to keep him in line.
“All we need to remember is that Trump loves the hate,” she writes in the book. “He thrives on criticism and insults. He delights in chaos and confusion. Taking to Twitter to call him names only fuels him and riles his base. To disarm him, starve his ego; don’t feed into it.”
 White House aides have long described Manigault Newman as a problematic employee who tried to stage a wedding photo shoot at the White House, exploded at other West Wing aides and left shoes strewn around the West Wing. For months, they accurately feared that she was taping conversations inside the building. In the eyes of many around Trump, the book is another publicity-grabbing stunt from a reality TV star known for them.
Even as aides warned him against it, Trump often spoke to Manigault Newman and invited her to come by the Oval Office, a practice that Kelly eventually curtailed. She served as Trump’s chief liaison to the African American community and often vouched for him.
The book is a mix of unverified accusations and vivid, quote-filled exchanges from her time with Trump on the campaign trail and in the White House. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 10:29 am

Rooney Victorian, The Dead Sea, Gillette 1940s Aristocrat, and Gratiot League Square

with 7 comments

The Dead Sea (shaving soap) doesn’t like water very much, so I’m careful to shake the brush well before loading. I then work in a dribble of water as I work up the lather on my stubble. I do like the fragrance of this soap, and it does quite a nice job.

Three passes with the Aristocrat to perfect smoothness, then a splash of Chatillon Lux’s Gratiot League Square aftershave.

And now for a walk.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 10:25 am

Posted in Shaving

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