Americans divide evenly on whether the incoming Trump administration is complying with ethics laws. And while a bare majority in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll accepts President-elect Donald Trump’s business ownership plan, three-quarters say he should release his tax returns.
Contrary to his comment that the American public doesn’t care about the issue, four in 10 of those polled say they care “a lot” about Trump releasing his tax records.
See PDF with full results and charts here.
This report is a first look at results of an extensive ABC/Post pre-inaugural poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Results on Trump’s handling of the transition, views on his policy proposals and expectations for his presidency will be released Tuesday morning, with results Wednesday morning on President Barack Obama’s final ratings as president.
In terms of ethics, the poll finds Americans are split on whether or not Trump, his family and his advisers are complying with federal ethics laws: Forty-three percent think so, while 44 percent think not.
Partisan and ideological gaps are wide: Seventy-nine percent of Republicans say Trump is complying with ethics laws, dropping to 44 percent among independents and just 16 percent of Democrats. Similarly, it’s 72 percent among strong conservatives, slipping to 56 percent among “somewhat” conservative Americans, then plummeting to 37 percent of moderates and 25 percent of liberals.
These divisions also are evident in another measure: Among Americans who say they wanted Trump to win the presidency -- 36 percent of the public -- a broad 85 percent think he’s in compliance ethically. That drops to just 11 percent of those who wanted Hillary Clinton to win (39 percent of all adults) and a third of those who preferred other candidates, or none of them.
Despite criticism by some ethics officials, 52 percent overall say Trump’s plan to continue owning his businesses while placing them in a trust managed by his sons is sufficient. Forty-two percent instead say he should sell his businesses, peaking at 71 percent of Clinton supporters, vs. just 10 percent of those who favored Trump for the office.
Over half the country thinks it's just fine if Trump runs his business out of the white house and basically sells the presidential seal as his "brand."
And when I think about the fits they threw over Al Gore doing a fundraiser at a Buddhist temple or the horror of Clinton losing money on a land deal years before he even ran for president it gives me a headache.
They do want him to show his tax returns. But obviously, if he does it half the country will say it's all good and that will be that.
He can do what he wants for the time being and his people will march behind him into hell. I don't know what it will take to get them to change course.
In an interview with German news magazine Bild published this weekend, Trump said that BMW should reconsider plans to build a $1 billion plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The automaker plans to begin building the BMW 3 Series sedan there in 2019.
BMW says that it will sell the cars it makes in Mexico all over the world, including in the United States, regardless of Trump's plan to impose a tarriff on any Mexican-built car that come into the U.S.
The new Mexican plant is meant to be a boost to the Series 3 production that's already underway in Germany and China -- BMW isn't relocating any jobs to Mexico.
BMW's largest plant in the world is in Spartanburg, S.C., that employs 8,800 workers. The facility assembled more than 400,000 X model crossover vehicles last year, 70% of which were shipped to other countries. In fact, BMW is the largest U.S. exporter of cars.
"The BMW Group is at home in the USA," said the company's statement.
BMW builds far more cars at its U.S. plant than it sells here. In 2016 it sold 288,000 in the U.S.
It's a multi-national company that both exports and imports cars, some of which are manufactured here and some of which are not. I know that's complicated for Trump and his voters to understand but if he wants to insure that Americans have high paying manufacturing jobs he might want to take exports into consideration before he spouts off like a fool on these subjects.
But hey, Trump's gonna Trump and apparently there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.
After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall overcome!
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally.
Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible - the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.
So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuli of South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man's inhumanity to man. You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will never make the headline and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvellous age in which we live - men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization - because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.
I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners - all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty - and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
The man who will be president next week at this time suggested that the head of the CIA leaked fake news about him on twitter yesterday:
Notice how fake news is capitalized. He's like an excited 13 year old girl.
The so-called fake news has been circulating for months. The leak was the fact that the president and the president-elect had been briefed on it. And that wasn't fake. And who knows who leaked that? It could have come from the White House.
It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for a president to go to war with the Intelligence Community. But Donald Trump is not that president. He isn't doing it because he understands they have too much power or because he doesn't think secrecy is appropriate in a democracy. He would happily use the power of these institutions for his own ends.
He's upset because of this Russian investigation of which he may or may not have had knowledge but for which he's responsible nonetheless. If he knew about it he's in big trouble. If he didn't he's being an absolute fool to let it fester like this. The smart move would be to disavow it and tell the country he wants a thorough investigation. Anyone with half a brain would take that route. The fact that he refuses is what's causing the suspicions to rise.
Of course, he is a cretinous moron so who knows why he's doing it? But it's crippling him before he even gets started. When I went through all the political cartoons yesterday to choose some for the Sunday Funnies, I was very surprised to see that the majority of them were about the Russian scandal. This thing is not going away.
This column is about what life will be like under Trump, based on discernible patterns in other countries where populists gained power, especially those with possible murky Russian ties. I write this not as the kind of airy opiner now ubiquitous via the internet – just one more shrill partisan voice in the noise – but as a professional with specific two-decades-long experience in the subject. Experience on the ground that is, as a reporter and commentator. I have now covered upwards of a dozen countries that have buckled under the emergent wave of populist leaders, from the Far East to the Mideast to Europe and the Americas. Many of the countries have done so quite democratically, at first. That emergent wave has crashed onto US shores in a fashion thoroughly precedented abroad.
Recently, I wrote about how I’d seen all the tricks in the Trump campaign before, actually in Tbilisi, Georgia, during the 2012 national elections when the pro-US candidate lost to a pro-Russian populist. At that time, no one was ready to believe the Russians capable of influencing Western style elections. Many still don’t, even after Trump. We now have enough experience of populists in power in the West and elsewhere to guess intelligently at what’s to come in the US; what life will feel like under Trump. Here is a checklist to compare against in the coming months and years. We will all be happier if none of this comes to pass but the weight of evidence suggests the worst. Equally, none of this implies that supporters of Trump don’t have legitimate issues on their side which, sadly, other politicians won’t address. Which is how populists come to power.
Already the intelligence services and Mr.Trump have squared off. Think about that for a long moment. Then think about what Trump will do. He will appoint new chiefs. They will fight with their rank and file. He will try to downsize and defund. There will be pushback. Imagine what that will look like in the media. Then there’s the ‘Emoluments Clause’ that, according to various experts, requires Trump resign from his businesses. He won’t fully. His kids certainly wont. His kids will also occupy indefinable White House positions with disproportionate power, raising all manner of nepotism questions. For a long while, Trump will ignore his more-or-less respectable cabinet chiefs and get things done via non-accredited unofficial advisors. Picking through the legal minefield, the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court will be very busy. So, think about vacancies on the Supreme Court. Watch Republicans in Congress divide endlessly over the issues. There will be incessant all-against-all confusion in America’s institutions – as there was in the very process of the election. All this chaos – cui bono? Confusion and uncertainty creates a yearning for strongman rule.
Democratic Institutions Will Save US
Here is a scary cri de ceour from a Hungarian intellectual with several years of living under populist rule. Published in the Washington Post, the op-ed warns us against putting faith in the rectifying force of statutes or institutions “Do not be distracted by a delusion of impending normalization. Do not ascribe a rectifying force to statutes, logic, necessities or fiascoes. Remember the frequently reset and always failed illusions attached to an eventual normalization of Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Orban.” In short, no ‘normalization’ happens under the corrective effect of institutions. Rather, institutions themselves get eroded.
Everything Is Equal And Opposite
At first it was Trump forecasting doubts on electoral fairness. After the election, it was Hillary’s side. First the FBI seemed to take Trump’s side. Then the CIA took the opposite side. Rightwingers went with Putin over their own national security agencies. Prog types unprecedentedly sided with national security. Suddenly Up is down, down is up. Everything can become its reverse, moral equivalency will reign. Trump’s conflicts of interest? Answer: What about the Clinton Foundation. Trump’s (and Kissinger’s) connections to Russia? Answer: What about the Clinton Foundation. Kremlinologists of recent years call this ‘whataboutism’ because the Kremlin’s various mouthpieces deployed the technique so exhaustively against the US. So Putin commits Georgia, Crimea, Donbass, MH17, Olympic doping, poisoning and killing of opponents, Assad, Allepo etc.? Answer: What about Iraq and Libya.
The suspicious similarity between Kremlin propaganda and Trump propaganda surely cannot mean that the Kremlin influences the Trump campaign? Surely not. Preposterous notion. But just in case the patterns don’t go away, remember: the Kremlin’s goal is not merely to create national bifurcation. The goal is to create confusion of allegiance, of trust, of truth, loss of faith in the open society, in the very epistemology of empirical fact. You’d think such a quasi-metaphysical inversion of all certainty couldn’t be deliberately achieved. You’d have to be paranoid to believe that.
I doubt things will unfold exactly they way it unfolded in other places. And Trump is very, very dumb so who knows how that would impact any scenario. But it's probably a good idea to take into account other peoples' experiences and perceptions of similar events.
On the other hand, the loss of trust, of faith in institutions and the epistomology of empirical fact started in this country before the Trump campaign. The American right has been on board with that for a while. Recall:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
*BTW: As I've written numerous times, it is not unprecedented for the left to be credulous of IC analyses (as opposed to covert activity) and the right to be skeptical of CIA analyses going back to the 1950s. Neither is it unprecedented for the right to be supportive of the FBI or the FBI to be supportive of the right. That part of this story isn't as surprising as the rest of it.
Last week, Republicans in Congress began the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act with no replacement in sight. Inside the Beltway, they are about to find out what wrath means.
In Maury County, Tennessee, Dee Dee Ward doesn't know how she'll pay for chemotherapy if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. "What do you do? Do you say, 'I can't afford it. I have no money'? And you just stay home and wait to die?" (Click through tweet for the video):
About 70 people got in to see Congressman Mike Coffman, according to 9News Denver. Police erected yellow crime scene tape around the rear door to help Coffman escape uncontaminated by contact with common constituents. Click here for video.
Trump is an imbecile and doesn't understand what he's saying. People around him, specifically Bannon and Flynn, do.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called NATO obsolete, predicted that other European Union members would follow the U.K. in leaving the bloc and threatened BMW with import duties over a planned plant in Mexico, according to an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper that will raise concerns in Berlin over trans-Atlantic relations.
Quoted in German from a conversation held in English, Trump predicted Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent whether the EU breaks up or stays together, according to Bild.
Trump’s reported comments leave little doubt that he will stick to campaign positions and may in some cases upend decades of U.S. foreign policy, putting him fundamentally at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues from free trade and refugees to security and the EU’s role in the world. On Russia, he suggested he might use economic sanctions imposed for Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine as leverage in nuclear-arms reduction talks, while NATO, he said, “has problems.”
“It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump was quoted as saying about the trans-Atlantic military alliance. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.”
While those comments expanded on doubts Trump raised about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during his campaign, he reserved some of his most dismissive remarks for the EU and Merkel, whose open-border refugee policy he called a “catastrophic mistake.”
In contrast, Trump praised Britons for voting last year to leave the EU. People and countries want their own identity and don’t want outsiders to come in and “destroy it.” The U.K. is smart to leave the bloc because the EU “is basically a means to an end for Germany,” Bild cited Trump as saying.
“If you ask me, more countries will leave,” he was quoted as saying.
While Trump blamed Brexit on an influx of refugees he said that Britain was forced to accept, the U.K.’s number of asylum applications in 2015 was a fraction of the 890,000 refugees who arrived in Germany that year at the peak of Europe’s migrant crisis.
With Merkel facing an unprecedented challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany as she seeks a fourth term this fall, Trump was asked whether he’d like to see her re-elected. He said he couldn’t say, adding that while he respects Merkel, who’s been in office for 11 years, he doesn’t know her and she has hurt Germany by letting “all these illegals” into the country.
In line with his threats against other automakers, Trump said Bayerische Motoren Werke AG would face a 35 percent import duty for foreign-built BMW cars sold in the U.S. BMW should scrap plans to open a new plant in Mexico and build the factory in the U.S. instead, he was quoted as saying. BMW plans to start building 3 Series sedans at San Luis Potosí in 2019.
Other Trump comments, according to Bild:
The Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq may have been the worst in U.S. history
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is a natural talent who will bring about an accord with Israel
Trump plans to keep using social media including Twitter once he’s in the White House to sidestep the press and communicate directly with his followers
People entering the U.S. will face “extreme” security checks, possibly including some European nationals
So he is pretty much telling all companies who want to sell their products in the US that they can't build plants anywhere but here in the future. It's not about sending jobs overseas.
This trade war's going to be a lot of fun. Fasten your seat belts exporters!
And the rest ... oof. It sure sounds like the far-right line being pushed by Russia and the likes of Nigel Farage and Marine LePen. Jettisoning NATO and slamming Merkel for Germany's immigration policies and basically just popping off without understanding the ramifications of these actions is very dangerous. This would be a wrenching change, ill-considered, without concern for the instability it will instantly create. Maybe those white working class folks who decided the election knew this was what they were voting for but I doubt it.
I wrote about Trump's worldview many times during the campaign. It's not as if we didn't see this coming. I guess I had hoped that he would sober up after he won. I was wrong.
Donald Trump will enter the White House next week as one of the most unpopular presidents in recent American history. And he will be pushing an agenda that most Americans don't support.
The latest numbers for Trump, beset this week by fresh reports of Russian efforts to boost his candidacy, are stark. A new poll from Gallup shows that just 44 percent of Americans approve of his presidential transition efforts while 51 percent disapprove. By contrast, 83 percent approved of President Barack Obama's transition in 2008. Even George W. Bush, who like Trump lost the popular vote, enjoyed a 61 percent approval rating of his transition as he prepared to enter the White House.
There is limited enthusiasm for Trump's Cabinet choices, with 52 percent saying they are average or better and 44 percent considering them below average or poor, according to Gallup. Only 10 percent viewed Obama's choices as average or poor.
A recent Pew survey found that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Trump has done to explain his plans while 39 percent approve. The Pew poll said just 41 percent approve of Trump's Cabinet picks while 49 percent disapprove.
Trump himself has also seen his approval ratings slide again after a brief uptick following his surprise Electoral College win. A Quinnipiac poll out this week showed that just 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president-elect to 51 percent who disapprove. The numbers are the reverse of Obama, who had a 55 percent approval rating in the poll.
Other readings for Trump in the poll also showed signs of serious trouble. A 53 percent majority said Trump is "not honest" and 62 percent that he is "not level-headed." On average, Trump has a 48.7 percent unfavorable rating among Americans to 42.7 percent favorable.
Trump's inauguration next Friday might improve these numbers if he can deliver a unifying speech and convince Americans that he has clear plans to spark economic growth and ease fears that he is a thin-skinned hot head prone to lashing out at even the slightest criticism. But major protests planned for the inaugural weekend could dampen some of these efforts and galvanize Trump's opposition.
Trump also faces a broader problem once he takes office. His priorities are not widely shared by the American public. A new poll conducted for Politico and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health found that the top three priorities for Trump voters are repealing and replacing Obamacare (85 percent), stopping future illegal immigration (78 percent) and major increases in defense spending (67 percent).
The numbers are much lower for the general public. Just 44 percent say repealing at replacing Obamacare should be a top priority while 38 percent say immigration and 43 percent say increased defense spending.
The most popularity priority for the general public at 49 percent — major government spending on infrastructure — is the least popular among Trump voters at 50 percent. There are also major differences on immigration in general. Fully 57 percent of Trump voters view undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. as a "very serious problem" compared with just 30 percent of the general public. The public at large is also much more inclined to support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants than are Trump voters.
On taxes, the poll found that "a majority of both the general public and Trump voters oppose lowering taxes on big businesses and upper-income Americans. … Only 39 percent of Trump voters and 22 percent of the general public believe corporate taxes should be lowered. Only 18 percent of Trump voters and 13 percent of the public think taxes on upper-income Americans should be lower." Trump's initial agenda includes major tax cuts for both individuals and corporations.
Trump and the Republican Congress will also be on very dangerous ground making repeal of the Affordable Care Act — without an immediate replacement that ensures people are not deprived of existing coverage — their first agenda item.
For the moment, Trump's deep unpopularity does not appear to be a problem for him with the Republican Congress. The president-elect remains popular with an aggressive base that delivered him an Electoral College win even as he lost the popular vote by 3 million. Most Republicans on Capitol Hill live in fear of crossing Trump and angering his supporters.
That last is important. His base is a bunch of uninformed, angry white men and the women who love them. Nothing he does matters except sticking it to the people they resent. And that's everyone but people like them. And they pretty much resent them too.
And anyway, this is nothing a good war won't fix, amirite? USA! USA! USA!
Politics and Reality Radio with Joshua Holland: The Crimes of Seal Team Six; Trump, Russia and the Left
Seal Team Six-- the highly trained "tip of the spear" widely hailed for killing Osama Bin Laden -- has taken on legendary status in the American imagination. But this week, Matthew Cole offered a painstakingly reported look at the darker side of the vaunted special operations group for The Intercept. We'll be joined by Cole to discuss the abuses he uncovered, and the failures of command that enabled them.
Then we'll speak with Yale political scientist John Stoehr about the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russians hacked the 2016 election, and how on the left the issue has become intertwined with hostility toward Hillary Clinton and resentments lingering from the Democratic primaries.
A well-known Greenwich Republican called a town worker "nothing but a bloodsucking lazy union employee" and later reached in from behind to place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area, according to the police arrest warrant.
Christopher von Keyserling...was arrested in Greenwich Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, police said. He posted $2,500 bond and was released to appear in court on Jan. 25.
The incident began at about noon Dec. 8 when the 57-year-old woman encountered von Keyserling in the hallway of an unnamed town facility, the warrant said.
The two briefly spoke about politics and the woman told him that "it was a new world politically" and he had to educate his fellow politicians, the warrant said. Von Keyserling is a member of Greenwich's Representative Town Meeting.
He allegedly replied: "I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct," according to the warrant.
She told him that if he was "proud of that I can't help you," after which he called her a lazy, bloodsucking union employee, the warrant said.
She uttered "(expletive deleted) you" and walked into her office, the warrant said. She said he followed her into the office and said he wanted to talk with her co-worker, the warrant said.
When that co-worker walked in, she said she didn't have time to speak with him and left the office, the warrant said. The 57-year-old woman decided to leave with her co-worker because she didn't want to be alone with him, the warrant said.
As she walked by, he allegedly pinched her in the groin area, according to the warrant. She threatened to punch him if he ever did that again, the warrant said.
She said he "looked back with a really evil look in his eyes and said, 'it would be your word against mine and nobody will believe you,'" according to the warrant.
On the following day, the woman accompanied by a friend and the town's Assistant Director of Human Resources went to the police department to report the incident, the warrant said. She said that she didn't want to have a criminal complaint laid against him.
A detective called von Keyserling at 6:35 p.m. and told him he was to not have any contact with the complainant and to stay away from the facility until he was contacted by the facility's executive director, the warrant said.
He told the detective that he understood and that it was all a misunderstanding, the warrant said. "He related that he was sorry he pinched her, and ... it has gotten this out of hand," according to the arrest warrant.
On Dec 16, the woman returned to police headquarters because she now wanted to move forward with the complaint, the warrant said. She said she had originally been reluctant to go forward due to a fear of retribution and the possible publicity that an investigation could bring, the warrant said.
She told the officer that she learned he had allegedly acted in a similar way with other employees and that he had told other individuals at Town Hall that the incident between the two of them was a joke, the warrant said. She said she was compelled to come forward to prevent similar acts from happening against other women, the warrant said.
Police also spoke with her about a meeting she had with von Keyserling on Dec. 9, the warrant said. He had been told to stay away from the facility and that if had concerns about that to speak with Human Resources. She had another employee sit in with her because she told police she wasn't comfortable with meeting him alone, the warrant said.
She declined to speak about the complaint, prompting him to say, "Was this about the little pinch I gave?" and further adding it was a joke and that he couldn't believe the 57-year-old woman could be offended, the warrant said. He said that he and the woman have "that kind" of a relationship. He added that "he is the kind of guy that like to embarrass his teenage daughter and he calls it a 'gig' and that's what this was 'a gig.'" He asked whether he could apologize but was told to not contact the victim and stay away from the facility.
Police said video footage from a surveillance camera on the day of the incident is consistent with the sequence of events described by the complainant.
It's no big deal. Women who complain about such behavior are just being politically correct whiners. And that "it would be your word against mine and nobody would believe you" is the way the world works. After all, millions of our fellow Americans thought Hillary Clinton was a lying witch than Donald Trump, a man who cannot speak he truth ever, was just exaggerating for effect.
Shepard Fairey's famous Obama HOPE poster became instantly iconic. He was less inspired by the presidential election results of November 8, 2016:
I watched the election results with disbelief and dismay. I feel disheartened to acknowledge that whether by ignorance or hate, or both, a majority of the American voters have embraced xenophobia, sexism, racism, and a candidate with unprecedented narcissism, zero experience as a public servant, and zero ability to relate to the struggles of average Americans. In effect, the voters have rewarded possibly the most uncivil and disgusting behavior from any candidate I can recall. I refuse to believe that the majority of Americans actually share the values of Donald Trump. I think as a people we are better than what Trump represents. However, the success of Trump’s tactics will only invite more movement in an uncivil direction. Creating and implementing policy in a democracy requires a degree of civility. I’m very concerned that we are eroding the civility that is necessary for our government to function for the common good. We have taken a very dark turn as a nation.
Fairey has taken to posters again to push back against that dark turn with the help of the Amplifier Foundation and artists Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena. Facing a toxic Trump administration, Fairey told PBS:
It’s hard to encapsulate the complexity of what we’re facing, going into this Trump presidency, in three images. But we chose three groups that are vulnerable. In the history of the U.S., there are a lot of people who fled persecution from Europe on the basis of religious identities. The idea of championing the ideals of our forefathers and then limiting the movement of Muslims — it’s so confounding that this is not riling more people up. And so it’s really time do some [work] that I think is a counterargument to that, and that’s not based on division but based on inclusion. We’ve seen where division has got us.
Much of Washington will be locked down on Inauguration Day, and in some areas there will be severe restrictions on signs and banners. But we've figured out a hack. It's called the newspaper! On January 20th, if this campaign succeeds, we're going to take out full-page ads in the Washington Post with these images, so that people across the capitol and across the country will be able to carry them into the streets, hang them in windows, or paste them on walls.
Every dollar you put into this campaign will buy six ads printed and distributed for us.
Amplifier will also distribute these images as large placards throughout DC at Metro stops, out the back of moving vans, at drop spots to be announced in the coming week via our social media feeds, and, on January 19, as free downloads for you to print and share as you like.
“We the People” posters by Shepard Fairey, Ernesto Yerena and Jessica Sabogal / Amplifier Foundation
Fairey told PBS:
SHEPARD FAIREY: The Obama poster was very sincere. I come from this rebellious subculture, where sincerity and earnestness are not always really welcome. I come from punk rock. But sometimes, [sincerity and earnestness] means you are going against the grain. When the status quo is fearful and scapegoating, then the most punk rock you can be is finding common ground with your fellow human beings.
“As much as I appreciate social media and the way it democratizes things….When people get out there and they hold something, it’s different.”
I’m also at this point in my life where I’m a really big believer in civility. There’s nothing wrong with disruption that’s ethically sound and well thought-out. Going to a town hall meeting and being uncivil is not something to be proud of.
The Clash are big role models of mine, and Rage Against the Machine. Even though these guys are angry, all their arguments are grounded in humanitarianism.… But sometimes I’m cautious to make sure that my style of my delivery doesn’t eclipse the content of my delivery.
I’m sort of doing this inside-outside strategy. Sometimes I’m very happy to do things pushing the envelope as an outsider. Other times it’s more constructive to infiltrate and make change within their own machinery and language, with subversive intent. Like in “We the People.”
The Amplifier Foundation is also printing and distributing artwork for the Women's March on Washington. Downloadable, in case you'd like to print some for your local event. The march is looking to be "one of America's biggest protests," the Guardian reports:
The Women’s March now has almost 200 progressive groups, large and small, signing on as supporting partners. The issues they represent are as varied as the environment, legal abortion, prisoners’ rights, voting rights, a free press, affordable healthcare, gun safety, racial and gender equality and a higher minimum wage. Men are invited.
More than 300 simultaneous local protests will also occur, across all 50 states, and support marches are planned in 30 other countries, organizer Linda Sarsour said.
“We have no choice. We need to stand up against an administration that threatens everything we believe in, in what we hope will become one of the largest grassroots, progressive movements ever seen,” said Sarsour.
The question is whether that many progressives can pull together and not in 200 different directions, and not devolve into a mishmash of interest groups. TBD, but it's doable.
In the meantime, it might be best to keep a sense of humor about the incoming Trump administration while we still can. It's funny, but it's not funny:
“To assess the ‘personality’ of the corporate ‘person’ a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social ‘personality’: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.” – from the official website for the film, The Corporation
I don’t know about you, but my jaw is getting pretty sore from repeatedly dropping to the floor with each successive cabinet nomination by our incoming CEO-in-chief of the United States of Blind Trust. It seems that candidate Trump, who ran on an oft-bleated promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C. bears little resemblance to President-elect Trump, who is currently hell-bent on loading the place up with even more alligators.
When I heard the name “Rex Tillerson” bandied about as Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, it rang a bell. I knew he was the former head of Exxon, so it wasn’t that. Then I remembered. Mr. Tillerson was one of the “stars” of a documentary I reviewed several years back, called Greedy Lying Bastards (conversely, if I hear the words “greedy lying bastards,” bandied about, “Trump’s cabinet picks” is the first phrase that comes to mind).
So with that in mind, and in keeping with my occasional unifying theme, “Hollywood saw this coming”, I was inspired to comb my review archives of the last 10 years to see if any bellwethers were emerging that may have been dropping hints that the planets were aligning in such a manner as to set up a path to the White House for an orange TV clown (the “self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful” kind of orange TV clown).
All 10 of these films were released within the last 10 years. I’ll let you be the judge:
The Big Short – Want the good news first? Writer-director Adam McKay and co-scripter Charles Randolph’s adaptation of Michael Lewis’ eponymous 2010 non-fiction book is an outstanding comedy-drama; an incisive parsing of what led to the crash of the global financial system in 2008. The bad news is…it made me pissed off about it all over again.
Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, this ever-maddening tale of how we stood by, blissfully unaware, as unchecked colonies of greedy, lying Wall Street investment bankers were eventually able to morph into the parasitic gestalt monster journalist Matt Taibbifamously compared to a “…great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Good times!
Capitalism: A Love Story – Back in 2009, Digby and I did a double post on this film, which was Michael Moore’s reaction to the 2008 crash. Here’s how I viewed his intent:
So how did we arrive to this sorry state of our Union, where the number of banks being robbed by desperate people is running neck and neck with the number of desperate banks ostensibly robbing We The People? What paved the way for the near-total collapse of our financial system and its subsequent government bailout, which Moore provocatively refers to as nothing less than a “financial coup d’etat”? The enabler, Moore suggests, may very well be our sacred capitalist system itself-and proceeds to build a case (in his inimitable fashion) that results in his most engaging and thought-provoking film since Roger and Me […] at the end of the day I didn’t really find his message to be so much “down with capitalism” as it is “up with people”.
Digby gleaned something else from the film that did a flyover on me at the time:
But this movie, as Dennis notes, isn't really about saviors or criminals, although it features some of both. It's a call for citizens to focus their minds on what's actually gone wrong and take to the streets or man the barricades or do whatever defines political engagement in this day and age and demand that the people who brought us to this place are identified and that the system is reformed. Indeed, I would guess that if it didn't feature the stuff about capitalism being evil he could have shown this to audiences of all political stripes and most of the latent teabaggers would have given him a standing ovation.
If the film manages to focus the citizenry on the most important story of our time then it will be tremendously important. If it gets lost in a cacophony of commie bashing and primitive tribalism then it will probably not be recognized for what it is until sometime later. As with all of his films, he's ahead of the zeitgeist, so I am hopeful that this epic call to leftwing populist engagement is at the very least a hopeful sign of things to come.
She called it. “Someone” did tap into that populist sentiment; but sadly, it wasn’t the Left.
The Corporation – While it’s not news to any thinking person that corporate greed and manipulation affects everyone’s life on this planet, co-directors Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott deliver the message in a unique and engrossing fashion. By applying a psychological profile to the rudiments of corporate think, Achbar and Abbott build a solid case; proving that if the “corporation” were corporeal, then “he” would be Norman Bates.
Mixing archival footage with observations from some of the expected talking heads (Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, etc.) the unexpected (CEOs actually sympathetic with the filmmakers’ point of view) along with the colorful (like a “corporate spy”), the film offers perspective not only from the watchdogs, but from the belly of the beast itself. Be warned: there are enough exposes trotted out here to keep conspiracy theorists, environmentalists and human rights activists tossing and turning in bed for nights on end.
The Forecaster – There’s a conspiracy nut axiom that “everything is rigged”. Turns out it’s not just paranoia…it’s a fact. At least that’s according to this absorbing documentary from German filmmaker Marcus Vetter, profiling economic “forecaster” Martin Armstrong. In the late 70s, Armstrong formulated a predictive algorithm (“The Economic Confidence Model”) that proved so accurate at prophesying global financial crashes and armed conflicts, that a shadowy cabal of everyone from his Wall Street competitors to the CIA made Wile E. Coyote-worthy attempts for years to get their hands on that formula.
And once Armstrong told the CIA to “fuck off”, he put himself on a path that culminated in serving a 12-year prison sentence for what the FBI called a “3 billion dollar Ponzi scheme”. Funny thing, no evidence was ever produced, nor was any judgement passed (most of the time he served was for “civil contempt”…for not giving up that coveted formula, which the FBI eventually snagged when they seized his assets). Another funny thing…Armstrong’s formula solidly backs up his contention that it’s the world’s governments running the biggest Ponzi schemes…again and again, all throughout history.
And something tells me that we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet…
Greedy Lying Bastards– I know it's cliché to quote Joseph Goebbels, but: "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." That's the theme of Craig Rosebraugh's 2013 documentary. As one interviewee offers: "On one side you have all the facts. On the other side, you have none. But the folks without the facts are far more effective at convincing the public that this is not a problem, than scientists are about convincing them that we need to do something about this." What is the debate in question here? Global warming.
Using simple but damning flow charts, Rosebraugh follows the money and connects dots between high-profile deniers ("career skeptics…in the business of selling doubt") and their special interest sugar daddies. Shills range from media pundits (with no background in hard science) to members of Congress, presidential candidates and Supreme Court justices. Think tanks and other organizations are exposed as mouthpieces for Big Money.
Sadly, the villains outnumber the heroes-which is not reassuring. What does reassure are suggested action steps in the film’s coda…which might come in handy after January 20th.
Inside Job – I have good news and bad news about documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s incisive parsing of what led to the crash of the global financial system in 2008. The good news is that I believe I finally grok what “derivatives” and “toxic loans” are. The bad news is…that doesn’t make me feel any better about how fucked we are.
Ferguson starts where the seeds were sown-rampant financial deregulation during the Reagan administration (“morning in America”-remember?). The film illustrates, point by point, how every subsequent administration, Democratic and Republican alike, did their “part” to enable the 2008 crisis- through political cronyism and legislative manipulation. The result of this decades long circle jerk involving Wall Street, the mortgage industry, Congress, the White House and lobbyists (with Ivy League professors as pivot men) is what we are still living with today…and I suspect it is about to get unimaginably worse.
The International – Get this. In the Bizarro World of Tom Tykwer’s conspiracy thriller, people don’t rob banks…. banks rob people. That’s crazy! And if you think that’s weird, check this out: at one point in the film, one of the characters puts forth the proposition that true power belongs to he who controls the debt. Are you swallowing this malarkey? The filmmakers even go so far as to suggest that some Third World military coups are seeded by powerful financial groups and directed from shadowy corporate boardrooms…
What a fantasy! (Not.)
The international bank in question is under investigation by an Interpol agent (Clive Owen), who is following a trail of shady arms deals all over Europe and the Near East that appear to be linked to the organization. Whenever anyone gets close to exposing the truth about the bank’s Machiavellian schemes, they die under mysterious circumstances. Once the agent teams up with an American D.A. (Naomi Watts), much more complexity ensues, with tastefully-attired assassins lurking behind every silver-tongued bank exec.
The timing of the film’s release (in 2010) was interesting, in light of the then-current banking crisis and plethora of financial scandals. Screenwriter Eric Singer (no relation to the KISS drummer) based certain elements of the story on the real-life B.C.C.I. scandal.
The Queen of Versailles -- In Lauren Greenfield’s 2012 doc, billionaire David Siegel shares an anecdote about his 52-story luxury timeshare complex in Vegas. In 2010, Donald Trump called him and said, “Congratulations on your new tower! I’ve got one problem with it. When I stay in my penthouse suite, I look out the window and all I see is ‘WESTGATE’. Could you turn your sign down a little bit?” (how he must have suffered).
While Greenfield’s portrait of Siegal, his wife Jackie, their eight kids, nanny, cook, maids, chauffeur and (unknown) quantity of yippy, prolifically turd-laying teacup dogs is chock full of wacky “you couldn’t make this shit up” reality TV moments, there is an elephant in the room…the family’s unfinished Orlando, Florida mansion, the infamous “largest home in America”, a 90,000 square foot behemoth inspired by the palace at Versailles. Drama arises when the bank threatens to foreclose on it, along with the PH Towers Westgate. So does the family end up living in cardboard boxes? I’m not telling.
However, there is a more chilling message, buried near the end of the film. When Siegel boasts he was “personally responsible” for the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the director asks him to elaborate. “I’d rather not say,” he replies, “…because it may not necessarily have been legal.” Any further thoughts? “Had I not stuck my big nose into it, there probably would not have been an Iraqi War, and maybe we would have been better off…I don’t know.” Gosh, imagine a billionaire having the power to “buy” the POTUS of their choice. Worse yet, imagine a similarly odious billionaire becoming the POTUS. Oh.
Welcome to New York -- While it is not a “action thriller” per se, Abel Ferrara’s film is likewise “ripped from the headlines”, involves an evil banker, and agog with backroom deals and secret handshakes. More specifically, the film is based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal. In case you need a refresher, he was the fine fellow who was accused and indicted for an alleged sexual assault and attempted rape of a maid employed by the ritzy NYC hotel he was staying at during a 2011 business trip. The case was dismissed after the maid’s credibility was brought into question (Strauss-Kahn later admitted in a TV interview that a liaison did occur, but denied any criminal wrongdoing). I’m sure that the fact that Strauss-Kahn was head of the International Monetary Fund at the time (and a front-runner in France’s 2012 presidential race) had absolutely nothing to do with him traipsing out from the sordid affair smelling like a rose (as of this writing, we don’t know the veracity of intelligence reports alleging shenanigans in a Russian hotel room that involve a “certain” President-elect, so I won’t draw any parallels…just sayin’).
It is interesting watching the hulking Gerard Depardieu wrestle with the motivations (and what passes as the “conscience”) of his Dostoevskian character. It doesn’t make this creep any more sympathetic, but it is a fearless late-career performance, as naked (literally and emotionally) as Brando was playing a similarly loathsome study in Last Tango in Paris. Jacqueline Bisset gives a good supporting turn as the long-suffering wife.
The Yes Men Fix the World – Anti-corporate activist/pranksters Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (aka “The Yes Men”) and co-director Kurt Engfehr come out swinging, vowing to do a take-down of a powerful nemesis…an Idea. If money makes the world go ‘round, then this particular Idea is the one that oils the crank on the money-go-round, regardless of the human cost. It is the free market cosmology of economist Milton Friedman, which the Yes Men posit as the root of much evil in the world. Once this springboard is established, the fun begins. Perhaps “fun” isn’t the right term, but there are hijinks afoot, and you’ll find yourself chuckling through most of the film (when you’re not crying). However, the filmmakers have a loftier goal than mining laughs: corporate accountability; and ideally, atonement. “Corporate accountability” is an oxymoron, but one has to admire the dogged determination (and boundless creativity) of the Yes Men and their co-conspirators, despite the odds. It’s a call to activism that is as timely as ever.