• ZipDialog Roundup for Columbus Day, Monday, October 9

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

     

    Deal on “Dreamers”? Only with other tough provisions on immigration, says White House (New York Times)

    Before agreeing to provide legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought here illegally as children, Mr. Trump will insist on the construction of a wall across the southern border, the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents, tougher laws for those seeking asylum and denial of federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” officials said. –NYT

    Comment: Time for Democrats to do some polling.

    Saturday Night Live: Great spoof of OJ Simpson on a post-prison date, but radio silence about Harvey Weinstein (Fox News)

    Lorne Michaels offered a lame, non-explanation.

    Comment: My hunch is that they will have plenty next week, now that they know Harvey is not protected by their media friends.

    Another interesting–and disturbing–story is how many publications knew about the harassment and never printed it.

    Some brave Russian journalists are risking their lives to investigate the Russian “troll farm” involved in the US election (Washington Post)

    It’s the same troll farm that Mueller and the US Congress are investigating.

    Comment: Right now, it’s a human-interest story. Let’s hope the Kremlin doesn’t make it a former-human interest story.

    Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones says players who don’t stand will be benched for that game (New York Post)

    Jones also defended VP Mike Pence’s decision to leave the Indianapolis Colts’ game after some SF 49er players knelt for the national anthem.

    Here’s the Dallas Morning News report on Jones’ decision.

    Ireland is issuing a new stamp

    Comment: Be the first on your block to collect all the heroes in Ireland’s new “Honoring Murderers” Series.

    The Red Brigades are the most collectible.

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, September 20

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Pres. Trump’s speech to the UN was blunt and aimed squarely at North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela 

    It combined two main elements:

    1. A traditional Republican assertion of US military strength and global engagements
    2. Trump’s own nationalist, anti-globalist agenda, praising “strong sovereign nations” (not international institutions) as the basis of global order

    The blunt language attracted a lot of attention. Conservatives (including many who don’t support Trump) were positive. Liberals cringed, longing for Obama’s soft tone, soft policies, and strategic patient.

    He called the nuclear deal with Iran “an embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.”  He spoke of Iran’s aggressive support of terror and expansion in the Middle East. He specifically spoke about the threat from “Radical Islamic Terror,” words his predecessor never used (and that Trump himself has used less often in recent months).

    He said nothing about “democracy promotion,” a centerpiece of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

    His comment on Venezuela was equally blunt, saying they had turned a rich country into an impoverished failure and done so not because it misapplied socialist policies but because it applied them exactly as they were intended.

    Without using the term “axis of evil,” his speech clearly echoed those themes from Pres. Bush’s War on Terror.

    As CNN put it, “No American President has ever spoken to the world like this,” calling terrorists and some nations “evil.”

    The best comment about the speech came from

     

    Rich Lowery in the National Review Online:

    As someone said on Twitter, never before has been there so much murmuring of “holy sh**” in so many different languages.

     Two natural disasters: 

    1. Cat 5 Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico with 175 mph winds, the second major hurricane within a month
    2. Mexico suffers a 7.1 magnitude quake.

    Numerous casualties and fatalities from both, unfortunately.

    Comment: The best way to keep up with news about each is with your favorite breaking-news site online. The cable channels will show you the gritty aftermath but take hours to give you the hard news you can get in a few minutes reading.

    Republicans on the hill embrace big tax cuts, even if they increase the deficit (New York Times)

    Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.

    The Republican lawmakers, under mounting pressure to score a legislative win on taxes, say a tax cut of this magnitude will stimulate economic growth enough to offset any deficit impact.

    Yet critics say a deficit-financed tax cut is at odds with longstanding Republican calls for fiscal discipline, including that tax cuts not add to the ballooning federal deficit.

    Comment: Tax bills must originate in the House, which is dribbling out some information but not the key details. Those should come in the next week or so.

    Former Chicago cop, wanted for shaking down drug dealers, has been arrested in Detroit after 15 years on the run (Chicago Tribune)

    He and his gang of corrupt officers were tripped up in 2001 when they tried one ripoff while the dealer happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend. She mistakenly thought another drug dealer was the robber and called the cops. Honest cops showed up, saw what was happening, and that was the beginning of the end.

    Turkey increasingly uses its thuggish, dictatorial tactics in Western democracies. It did it again this week

    They did it in May, 2017, when Turkish security officers assaulted peaceful demonstrators in Washington, DC. (New York Times report here.)

    This week, they tried to stop a speaker at a conference in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by the Middle East Forum (MEF) for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, known as NATO-PA.

    NATO PA organizers asked that MEF remove a speaker, Emre Çelik, from the program in response to a demand issued by the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. MEF removed the speaker from the program, but invited him to address the gathering anyway.

    When Çelik rose to speak, the Turkish delegation grew visibly agitated and acted quickly to shut down the event. –Middle East Forum

    Daniel Pipes, who heads the Middle East Forum, spoke plainly about the incident, which was captured on video:

    President Erdoğan’s attempt to stifle free speech at a Middle East Forum event today was despicable. We did not accept it. –Daniel Pipes

    The MEF report on the incident is here.

    Paul Manafort wants investigations of leaks, which may have come from Special Counsel Mueller’s office, which is trying to rachet up the pressure on Manafort (Reuters)

    “If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” [Manafort’s spokesman said].

    “The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” he said.

    The special counsel’s office and the FBI both declined to comment on Maloni’s statement. They also did not comment on CNN’s original report about surveillance of Manafort. –Reuters

    Comment: There are several disturbing aspects of this story, all requiring serious investigation. Manafort’s role is obviously one. So is the apparent release of secret information, the presence of a government wiretap on the manager of a political campaign, the possibility President Trump was picked up on the surveillance, and the statements by several Obama administration intelligence officials that they knew of no such surveillance. It is unclear if those officials made false statements under oath.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • Not this year: The Clintons cancel their annual gala for world leaders

     For more than a decade, Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative—his annual meeting/gala/fundraiser–has been staged to coincide with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

    Not this year.

    CGI has other events listed on its website, but not the main event that attracted the biggest names in the world–prime ministers, presidents, secretaries of state, CEOs movie stars, etc.

    That was the genius of staging CGI during the UN meeting. People of huge international stature were gathered in New York. The top contributors were, by custom, summoned to the stage for a hug from Bill. Hillary was almost always there, and, of course, Chelsea.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Quietly Ditched, at least for 2017

    It occurred to me a couple of days ago that I haven’t heard any of the usual promotion and media buzz about CGI 2017. It might have been scrapped on purpose because of the sense of certainty in the Clinton camp, in the media, and almost everywhere else, that Hillary would win.

    If she were POTUS and Bill were First Gentleman, then it would, by any standard, seem inappropriate. We should probably expect that it’ll reappear during the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2018.

    Here’s the CGI meetings link for 2016 which suddenly feels so out of date (link here)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Will the CGI Gala Resume in 2018?

     I, for one, hope it does, because, as usual with the Clintons, the suspicions and allegations of impropriety overtake the fact that CGI does much good work.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

    Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. She has written extensively about CGI in her book on Bill: Clinton in Exile: a President Out of the White House

    Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:

    • Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant,
    • Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story,
    • Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and

    She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website, Chicagomag.com.

    She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.

  • Hillary says “It’s time to abolish the Electoral College,” calls it “Godforsaken”

    Says it in her book (p. 388). Repeats it in CNN interview with Anderson Cooper. (CNN)

    Oh, drat! Those pesky Constitutional limitations.

    But has anybody asked what the Electoral College thinks of Hillary?

    No, sir!!

    Until ZipDialog.

    ZD has asked and discovered the Electoral College has strong views.

  • The Onion Nails It: Hillary’s New Book Assesses Who Is to Blame

    0 No tags Permalink 0

    According to the Onion, Mrs. Clinton said American voters were clearly to blame.

    “I’m not suggesting it’s entirely your fault, but, let’s be frank, 99 percent of it is,” read one passage from the chapter entitled “Seriously, What Were You Thinking?” in which the former candidate conceded missteps she had made over the course of her campaign while also clarifying that none of them should have produced the final election outcome, which she characterized as “squarely on you fucking people.”

    “Indeed, fake news and Russian meddling played a part, and I’ve acknowledged I wasn’t the perfect candidate, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the majority of the blame—all but the tiniest sliver—lies with you, the idiot voters.

    You really blew it, dumbasses. Bravo!

    –Hillary Clinton, as quoted in The Onion

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, September 11

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Remembering those who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

    Those in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the airplanes, and the selfless first responders.

    As the prayer says, “May their memory be for a blessing.”

    Florida’s massive cleanup begins

    Miami Airport closed Monday because of “significant water damage.” Fears for Florida Keys and southwest FL

    Updated coverage in Miami Herald

    Gangs loot in Ft Lauderdale. Smash windows, grab boxes of shoes and clothes from stores (NBC Miami)

    Comment: They will claim to be victims, not the perps, in 3, 2, 1 . . .

    Btw, Houston and south Texas maintained law and order after their disaster. Let’s hope other cities in Florida can, too.

    Speaking of crime, the creator of McGruff, the Crime-Fighting Dog, dies. Jack Keil was 94. (New York Times)

    Comment: He was 650 in dog years.

     Yawn: Hillary criticizes Donald as she rolls out her book. Upset about identity politics . . . when used by others.

    That’s a shocker. She says Trump “used race to win the election” (Washington Post)

    She adds that his inaugural speech was a white-nationalist cry from the gut.

    Comment: Mrs. Clinton is shocked, shocked to discover identity politics is being practiced in America.

    She plans to search high and low to find the political party that relies on it and on divisive ethnic- and racial-mobilization.

    We wish her the best of luck.

    China pushing for lots more electric cars. Global manufacturers rush in, despite risks (New York Times)

    Comment: The main risk is to intellectual property.

    To gain access to their market, the Chinese demand outsiders give away their proprietary technology to local firms.

    First, robot vacuum cleaners. Now, lawnmowers.

    The best ones, by Husqvarna, currently run $2,000 to $3,500. They rely on GPS and advanced electronics, mow 1.25 acres, and have anti-theft devices. (Link to story here)

    Comment: As with all electronics, expect the prices to drop steadily.

    Once manufactures produce really heavy-duty machines, the robots should save enormous $$$ maintaining highways and parks.

    Expect autonomous snow-plows and more over the next few years.

    Equifax: Still neck-deep in trouble after the hack. Their site to see if you have been hacked is returning random results (Slashdot TechCrunch)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Hat Tip to

    Michael Lipson for the Equifax story

    ◆ Ed Vidal for Ft. Lauderdale

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, Sept. 10

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Everyone is awaiting the damage from Hurricane Irma as it moves up the Florida coast. 

    The advance preparation seems well handled, especially because the eye of the hurricane drifted further west than initial forecasts.

    Now we wait to see

    1. The scale of the devastation and the breadth of storm
    2. The help given in the immediate aftermath, and
    3. The long-term recovery effort

    Comment: Both short-term and long-term relief will have to be done in the presence of similar damage in Texas from Harvey.

    Since we all criticize the government when things go badly, we need to praise them when things go well, as they have (so far) in these two storm-response efforts.

    Half-right: NYT headline is “Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule

    The reference is to Pres. Trump’s three-month deal with “Chuck and Nancy” (Schumer and Pelosi) to extend the US debt ceiling and provide relief funds for Hurricane Harvey. Republican lawmakers wanted a longer extension and are furious.

    Comment: The headline is partly right when it says Trump is “bound to no party.” He is not bound to the R’s ideologically. But he is bound to them practically since the D’s don’t agree with him on most big issues, aside from infrastructure spending and trade protection.

    Hillary, surprisingly, says she didn’t expect to lose. Ya think? Says the loss left her “gobsmacked” (Fox News)

    Comment: The inauthenticity of that word–gobsmacked???–hints atone reason she lost.

    Does anybody really think that would have been her genuine feeling? 

     Immigration: Harvard Law prof. Noah Feldman: “Trump’s Right: Immigration is Congress’s Mess” (Bloomberg)

    Liberals should keep in mind an important constitutional principle: Immigration is supposed to be the province of Congress, not the executive. The belief that the president has ultimate immigration power can lead to terrible results — like Trump’s travel ban against six majority-Muslim countries, also powered by the mistaken idea that immigration policy should be set by executive order.

    The Framers of the Constitution thought about immigration, and wanted Congress in charge. Article I, Section 8, which enumerates Congress’s authorities, confers the power “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” –Noah Feldman

    Comment: Feldman is absolutely right. Trump’s threat to act if Congress does not is as lawless as Obama’s DACA action, which Obama himself had said would be unconstitutional before he did it anyway.

    It is depressing to see people on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to get policy outcomes they desire that they ignore well-established constitutional safeguards.

    Those safeguards are there for good reasons.

    Media bias: National survey of senior cities shows a stunning 99.2% “believe the media wants President Trump to fail.” (Washington Examiner)

    Comment: The media is reaping what it has sown–and sown for decades.

    The only difference today is that, thanks to the WWW, there are sites to call them out on it.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • UPDATE on Michael Cohen, Trump’s Hatchet Man

    UPDATE:

    Michael Cohen, a lawyer close to the Trump Organization, was the subject of an in-depth post this summer.

    It’s time for an update since Cohen’s name just surfaced in newly-released emails about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow.

    The project was not pursued beyond preliminary discussions and was not built.

    This post covers the latest news, followed by the profile of Cohen.

    What’s New in the Story about Michael Cohen, Trump, and Moscow?

    As Trump, in late 2015,  revved up to run for President, his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and an associate, Russian immigrant/American businessman Felix Sater,  worked to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow.  They failed, but the lines from an email Sater sent Cohen are the stuff of David Mamet. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”   Or, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”

    Cohen later followed up, sort of,  by attempting to re-rev up the flagging deal,  writing to Trump’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov,  using a general email inbox because he didn’t have Peskov’s address.  Nothing came of the project—In a statement released on Monday, Cohen said that Sater was given to “salesmanship”—but Cohen comes off looking like a clueless, contactless rube.  Nonetheless,  it has dropped the Russia collusion story back in the headlines just as Trump is trying to make headlines about his no-one-has-ever-done-it-better performance as the Harvey-Houston-hurricane consoler in chief.

    The killer line in the New York Times story (link here) is Sater admitting what he really wanted out of the attempt to put a gleaming Trump Tower in midtown Moscow—“the home run,” in Sater’s words— to be appointed ambassador to the Bahamas. (That makes him no different from rich people—all those Obama bundlers, for example—who buy their glamorous (no war zones or poverty that can’t be hidden) ambassadorships.

    I spent many hours earlier this year researching Cohen whose biography is so zany, so colorful that it would make a wonderful novel or screenplay; only problem being that an editor would say, “You can’t use that plot line,  that anecdote, that incident; no one would believe it.”

    Here’s my look at Cohen who remains in the clutches of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, which, last May, subpoenaed  his “information and testimony.”

    The Bully’s Bully

    Roy Cohn? Tom Hagen?

     Michael Cohen made headlines big time, as his boss, Donald Trump, might say, when he was falsely accused in the infamous “dossier,” complied by a former British spy who was paid by Trump’s opponents. Major media outlets reported tales of Cohen, then Trump’s special counsel and executive VP of the Trump Organization, meeting in August, 2016 in Prague with Kremlin representatives to deliver a peace plan for Ukraine that would somehow allow the Trump administration to ease sanctions against Russia.

    The story, reported widely in major media outlets, was totally discredited, on many fronts, one of which was Cohen showing that he was in Los Angeles on those dates visiting colleges with his son. Cohen tweeted a photograph of his passport with the hashtag #fakenews and wrote that never in his whole life had he ever been to Prague.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Some Background

     Cohen, 50, occupied the office beside Donald Trump on the 26th floor of Manhattan’s Trump Tower. Nicknamed Trump’s “pit bull,” he has served as the Donald’s lawyer, top enforcer, and the concocter of the most absurd, outlandish arguments in defense of his boss.

    He is, in some ways, the reincarnated Roy Cohn; the disgraced lawyer/bully, who was once chief counsel to Joe McCarthy and later represented the young Donald Trump. (Cohn died of AIDS in 1986, abandoned at the end by the germophobe Trump who had once considered Cohn his closest personal and legal advisor and his “greatest” friend.)

    During the campaign, any complaints from political opponents were met with the response that Michael Cohen had nothing to do with the campaign. “I’m not part of the campaign,” Cohen said to every cable host who would have him, and they all had him because he was correctly perceived to be thisclose to Trump.  Politico, last summer, quoted a “Trump insider” as describing Cohen as “….in the room for everything …without exception.”

    He left the Trump Organization last January but continues as the President’s personal attorney based in New York.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    From Backstage to Center Stage

     In the last few days, he has taken center stage as the House Intelligence Committee– part of its investigation in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election–subpoenaed Cohen’s testimony, personal documents and business records. After first saying he would not cooperate, Cohen changed his mind, texting a New York Times reporter, “To date, there has not been a single witness, document or piece of evidence linking me to this fake Russian conspiracy. This is not surprising to me because there is none!” (The NYT story is here.)

    A kind of all-purpose consigliere—reporters like to compare him to Tom Hagen, Vito Corleone’s adviser in “The Godfather”–Cohen has been taking on Trump’s enemies since 2006. That was the year he gave up his partnership in a personal injury law firm that had represented Trump and joined the Trump Organization.

    During the campaign, he remained Trump’s most reliable surrogate in sparring with cable hosts—CNN’s Chris Cuomo, in particular, couldn’t seem to get enough of Cohen.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Putting Out Fires, Lots of Them

    He does not kill them with kindness

     Last summer, when a reporter described a charge of rape that Trump’s first wife and the mother of three of his children lodged against him in 1993, Cohen hit back hard and mean, threatening a Daily Beast writer with not only a $500 million lawsuit, but also: “… Tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting….And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse….. And there’s very clear case law.” (In fact, all 50 states have laws that consider nonconsensual sex with a spouse to constitute rape. Cohen later apologized.)

    Again, complaints were answered with the convenient disclaimer that Cohen is Trump’s business, not political, counsel.

    In reality, Cohen had been up to the knot in his Hermes tie with Trump’s frequent flirtations with running for office.

    Cohen relished recalling highlights of past fledging, exploratory campaigns. In 2012, for instance, when he led a “draft Trump” movement, did advance work for Trump, scoped out New Hampshire and Iowa, and created a “Should Trump Run?” website. “I already mapped out everything that has to be done to be an effective candidate,” he boasted, “and what we’d have to do to get on the ballot on all 50 states.” When Trump threatened to mount a third-party run in 2012 to “make American great again,” Cohen, described as Trump’s “counsel and spokesman,” was at the boss’s side.

    This cycle, Cohen created the “National Diversity Coalition” to boost Trump’s numbers with minorities. He described the group of mostly African-American pastors as his “vision” and boasted to Chris Cuomo: “We have an enormous amount of African-Americans, Hispanics. He won in New York amongst Hispanics, male and female in New York. This notion that let’s keep knocking Donald Trump. He’s a racist. He’s misogynist. He’s sexist. None of them are true.”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Tackling Trump’s Critics Head On

     If Trump seems intemperate in confronting his critics, Cohen is, figuratively speaking, foaming at the mouth.

    In 2011 Cohen told ABC News, “If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit…..If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck, and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.” In 2013, when New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a fraud suit against Trump University, Cohen responded: “The damage to the attorney general is going to be very significant,” he told The New Yorker. “So significant that he will possibly have to resign.” Earlier this month, Cohen told CNN’s Erin Burnett that “Trump University had a 98 percent approval rating…..Why don’t you ask [about]…. the 14-year-old boy who went with his mom and ended up making a million dollars?”

    The Daily Mail described Cohen more recently as he “gleefully reminisced about ruining the reputation of former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin after she suggested Miss USA had been rigged.”

    During the campaign, the artist who drew a nude portrait of Trump sporting a tiny penis—relevant only because of the loony Rubio/Trump exchange over hand/penis size—was threatened by Cohen with a law suit. Same for the New York Times, after it ran last month’s story on Trump’s treatment of women.  (Cohen later said he’d settle for a retraction and an apology; he got neither.) Before RNC head Reince Priebus accepted that the GOP was stuck with Trump as its party’s nominee, Cohen blasted Priebus for doing a “terrible” job and meekly implementing the establishment’s plan to prevent his boss from becoming the nominee. Either Trump gets treated fairly,” Cohen blustered, or “this will be a very, very bad thing for the Republican Party….. Woe be on them.”

    In June 2016, Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton with the concocted message that she had “murdered an ambassador,” referring to American ambassador Christopher Stevens slaughtered in a 2012 attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.  (The Washington Post headlined the story as “Trump Lawyer Tweets Image Saying Hillary Clinton ‘Murdered’ Ambassador“)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Fiercely Loyal to “The Patriarch”

     Like Trump—always “Mr. Trump” to Cohen—the American University-educated (college and law school) Cohen will say anything to boost the boss–“an entrepreneur extraordinaire,…insanely bright,” Cohen told CNN’s Jake Tapper. The “best [negotiator] in the history of this world,” Cohen told Chris Cuomo. In January 2013, when CNN reported that Trump was considering buying the New York Times. Cohen weighed in: “Mr. Trump is so smart and so rich that if he wants it, he will get it. ….There is nothing he can’t buy.” (One could argue that Cohen, in making this boast, had the presidency in mind as well.)

    For those close to him, Cohen told The Jewish Chronicle’s Sandy Rashty, Mr. Trump” is “… more than our boss. He is our patriarch.”

    Cohen was at the ready during this campaign with public defenses of anything Trump might say or do. The boss’s wild gesticulation as he mimicked New York Times reporter Serge Kovalski’s physical disability: “Mr. Trump donates millions and millions of dollars, each and every year in order to combat disabilities.”

    Trump’s evidence-free claim that thousands of Muslims celebrated in Jersey City on 9/11 when the Twin Towers came down:  “I can tell you that Mr. Trump’s memory is fantastic, and I’ve never [witnessed] a situation where Mr. Trump has said something that is not accurate.” To bolster Trump’s charge, during an exchange with Jake Tapper, Cohen added that he has heard that the cheers were coming not only from Jersey City, but also from Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

    Oh, and Trump’s comments about Mexicans—rapists, drug dealers, etc.—his boss “never made any derogatory or disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.”

    Not only that, he “has a great relationship with Latinos.”

    If elected president, Trump, would “go down in history as the Great Unifier,” Cohen told The Jewish Chronicle’s Sandy Rashty,

    Another candidate for his party’s nomination might fire an underling who made, for example, the rape remark. Cohen kept his job. In 2011 The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis quoted Cohen as explaining Trump’s indecision about running for president and his shifting views on abortion: “People change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives.”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Michael Cohen at Home

     Cohen, married and the father of two—see below–is the son of a Holocaust survivor. Raised on Long Island and educated in a Yeshiva there, he calls himself an “agnostic Jew.”

    Last month, he tweeted to his 218,000 twitter followers a photo of his “Ivy League” daughter Samantha wearing black stockings and a lacy bra. “So proud…brains and beauty…”

    “Jealous?” Cohen responded when one twitter user suggested that the photo was pornographic. (The Washington Post report on that incident is here.)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Like Trump, A Democrat for Many Years

     Like two of Trump’s children, Cohen was a registered democrat and so couldn’t vote for the boss in New York’s GOP primary. (He registered as a republican last March and joined the RNC’s finance leadership team.)

    His democratic roots run deep—once an intern for Massachusetts democratic Rep. Joe Moakley, he also volunteered for Michael Dukakis’s presidential run in 1988, and voted for Obama in 2008. He now calls that vote a mistake, explaining, in true Trumpian terms, that he quickly grew disillusioned. Under Obama, he told ABC News, America has become a “third-world nation.”

    Cohen has himself given a whirl to elective politics. In 2003 he ran for a New York City Council seat, losing badly to Success Academy founder/charter school maven Eva Moskovitz. In 2009, he lasted only a few weeks in a run for a New York state senate seat.

    Cohen owns several apartments in Trump buildings and mixes with, in Cohen’s words in an ABC interview, “super high net worth people.” He favors Dolce & Gabbana suits and, as mentioned, Hermes ties. (Apparently the loyalty to Trump goes far, but not so far as to wear Trump’s made-in-China ties.)

    After severing ties with Trump’s company, Cohen, in typically hyperbolic terms, told the Washington Post, “This is a very unusual president, because there’s never been a president of the United States worth $10 billion, with 600 or 700 corporations that have national and international relations.”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Cohen’s Loyalty to Trump Runs Deep, and His Role Should Continue to Grow

     As Cohen’s behavior becomes more outlandish—why mention Trump’s hundreds of business ties when he has promised to leave them in the hands of his sons?– his stature in Trump world will likely continue to grow.

    Should be both entertaining and alarming to watch.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦


    Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:

    • Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant,
    • Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story,
    • Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and
    • Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, a look at Bill Clinton’s post presidency

    She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website, Chicagomag.com.

    She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, July 12: All Donald Jr.

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump, Jr.’s troubles  The news is important, and we need to know more. The front page of the Washington Post captures the range of issues.

    Comments:

    What does the email chain mean?

    It means that

    • Trump Jr. knew (or thought he did) that the Russian government was trying to aid his father’s campaign by providing information on Hillary.
    • He wanted to cooperate with them if they had information
    • All his prior statements and those of the campaign that they were not having any meetings with the Russians were false, and they knew they were false
    • He, Kushner, and Manafort, who, as an experienced pol, should have known better, were effectively  drawn into an “information honey trap”
    • They didn’t already have good ties to the Kremlin, which means they had probably not been colluding (but sure looks like they wanted to do so)
    • They apparently still do not  grasp that this is far over the line of appropriate conduct in a US presidential race since it involves collaborating with a foreign adversary; that is true, whether or not the transaction violated any laws

    What else do we need to know? 

    Lots.

    We need to understand, among other things

    • Who was behind this, both in the US and in Russia?
    • What was their goal? Entrapment or future collaboration? Something else?
    • What links does the Russian lawyer have, in Russia and in the US?
    • What internal communications got Kushner and Manafort into the room for this meeting?
    • What other meetings did any high-level Trump staffers have with Russian operatives?
    • Where were the campaign’s legal team during this fiasco?
    • Did the Clinton campaign team have any similar meetings with foreign powers?

    One more thing: it is now obvious (at least to me) that the Russians have succeeded far beyond what they hoped for–and it is damaging to them because it blocks any conceivable glide path to better relations with the US in the near future.

    The domestic political implications are serious, even if this doesn’t go much further.

    Trump is weakened and his policy agenda is impeded as a result. Independently elected officials will edge away from him unless he squashes these legitimate questions with real answers.

    If there is more to the attempted collaboration, then the implications are far more serious.

    If it turns out to be a honey trap that somehow involved the Democrats, they will suffer, too.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦