DeNiro Unedited -Video

Here is the unedited video of Robert DeNiro at the Tony Awards last night, giving all of us a collective moment of catharsis with his “Fuck Trump” remarks.

Saved for prosperity.



 

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Favorite Hillary Portraits

TIME Magazine published a wonderful photo spread called The Hillary Clinton Sessions: The Stories Behind the Greatest Portraits, and it is a breath of fresh air for all of us who are forced to view the perverted images by her haters that populate Google searches.

I am reproducing my top five favorites.


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MY FAVORITE.  2011: Photo by Martin Schoeller in Washington for The New Yorker
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2000. Hillary Clinton in New York City for New York Magazine. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark.
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Marco Grob, portrait photographer, who shot Clinton in Washington for TIME on Oct. 26, 2009: “For me, being a European, Clinton looked like American royalty. She exuded opulence and power, with a posture and pose that reminded me of renaissance paintings.”
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Platon, photographer, who shot Clinton in New York for the New York Times Magazine on Sept. 12, 2005.
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Deborah Feingold, photographer, who shot Clinton in Little Rock, Ark. for Redbook in January 1993: “We were shooting her for a cover of Redbook. She was on her way (literally!) to the White House with Bill who was to begin serving as president. We were shooting in her home in Little Rock, Ark., where we had the pleasure of meeting Socks, their cat, who moved with them into the White House. What I love about these images is that she was one of the kindest, friendliest subjects I have ever photographed. Contrary to public opinion, I found her to be open, funny, kind and so easy to speak with. These pictures portray the woman that I met and a shoot I will always remember.”

 

Ten Days in April: Cohen to Giuliani

mc RGSurely, someone right this moment is compiling the ongoing drama of all-that-is-Trump into a future documentary with an unknown conclusion. It will have the rising tension of a comic book, a cast of literates, degenerates, traitors, patriots, and a stream of crises and resolutions. Its protagonist will have the overarching hubris of a good drama but none of the merits of a fallen hero. Bit players will be legion. And the villains – some will be memorable and others forgettable. The drawn-out chronology of this pending documentary would best fit into a series of chapbooks, perhaps with a Cliff Notes download for the impatient.

Ten days in April 2018 will appear in this docudrama. They will not mark a crescendo of events or the denouement of the saga. April 9 through 19, 2018 will act as bookmarks. Within that frame, the FBI struck at the personal attorney of Donald Trump with a search warrant, seizing materials from the home, office and hotel room of Michael Cohen. Ten days later, Trump added Rudy Giuliani to his legal team. His arrival signified a shift. Cohen was deposed as Donald Trump’s fixer and Giuliani appointed in his stead.

One loyal lawyer swapped for another.

Giuliani is more erudite than the foul-mouthed, barking Cohen. He has that Mayor of America standing. But what he lacks is significant in the mind of Trump. There is his dumpy-as-potatoes, wrinkled and doddery appearance. There is no exquisite suit or perfect necktie. His entertainment value is nil. Perhaps because of these shallow faults, he is Trump’s second choice. Perhaps this acknowledged fact motivates Giuliani to a frenetic media schedule and accounts for his unhinged legal claims.

These particulars make for juicy character development. But back to reality.

In those ten days, headlines stormed across the networks and newsprint. These included everything from the grim news in Syria to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Trump welcomed Prime Minister Abe of Japan, threatened NAFTA and TPP, cajoled and then pounced on China over trade, blamed Democrats for poor relations with Russia, threatened Russia, railed against Gov. Jerry Brown, noted the passing of Barbara Bush and trashed James Comey – often.

In those ten days, the noose tightened around Cohen and the threat drew closer to Trump.


Below is a capsule of what was churning on the Beltway just as Cohen was searched and Giuliani took over as Trump’s new fixer.

STORMYApril 9: The FBI execute a search warrant on the premises of Michael Cohen, searching three locations and seizing thousands of materials including electronic devices, thumb drives, phones, documents and shredded papers.

Michael Cohen files a motion to have the defamation claim made by Stormy Daniels dismissed.

April 10: News breaks that Stormy Daniels is cooperating with federal prosecutors in connection with the Cohen investigation.

Trump tweets:

and a few minutes later:

April 11: The FBI search warrant was specifically seeking information on the Access Hollywood tape as well as wire fraud and bank fraud.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announces he will effectively retire at the end of his current term.

April 12: Trump tweets that he has full confidence in his attorney Ty Cobb, who represents him in the Mueller investigation. Two weeks later, the White House announces that Cobb will resign at the end of May.

April 13: News breaks that Michael Cohen arranged a $1.6 million hush contract between Elliott Broidy, a national deputy chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and a former Playboy model. Broidy resigns the same day.DT arms folded 2

Trump hires a New York lawyer, Joanna Herndon, to represent him in the Michael Cohen case.

Trump lawyers retreat from negotiations to meet with Mueller reversing their previous openness.

Trump pardons Scooter Libby, convicted in 2007 for obstruction of justice and perjury.

Trump orders military strikes on Damascus following chemical attacks by Assad on his citizens. The U.S. is joined in the assault by the UK and France.

A Chinese delegation meets with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to advance relations between the two countries and work toward stability on the Korean peninsula.

April 14: Records from the Justice Department reveal that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months in matters related to his personal businesses.

April 15: Trump tweets:

April 16: Cohen makes his first court appearance before Judge Kimba Wood. Trump is represented by a pair of lawyers. Michael Avenatti, representing Stormy Daniels (also present), is in the courtroom.

The most significant news is that the motion by the Cohen and Trump lawyers to get a look at the seized material before the prosecutors is denied.

The most sensational news is revealed by Cohen attorney Stephen Ryan who identifies FOX News anchor Sean Hannity as the anonymous third client of Cohen. Hannity denies the relationship.

April 17: Stormy Daniels unveils an artist sketch of the man who threatened her in a Vegas parking garage. Trump tweets that the sketch is “about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

April 19: Cohen drops lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS. Both cases relate to the numerous instances of Michael Cohen appearing in the Christopher Steele intel dossier.

Rudy Giuliani comes on board as Trump’s attorney. There is no fanfare, not even a tweet welcoming him. Almost immediately, he begins a nonstop media campaign. Two weeks later, Emmett Flood arrives. Flood, says White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will “represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt.”


 

How to Build an Autocracy by David Frum

Reposting this article by David Frum from January 2017.

How to Build an Autocracy
The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

by David Frum

…What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country.

The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out. Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. The courts are packed, and forgiving of the regime’s allies. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. As one shrewd observer told me on a recent visit, “The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty.”…

Donald Trump will not set out to build an authoritarian state. His immediate priority seems likely to be to use the presidency to enrich himself. But as he does so, he will need to protect himself from legal risk. Being Trump, he will also inevitably wish to inflict payback on his critics. Construction of an apparatus of impunity and revenge will begin haphazardly and opportunistically. But it will accelerate. It will have to….


“Lying is the message. It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.” – Masha Gessen


Trump is poised to mingle business and government with an audacity and on a scale more reminiscent of a leader in a post-Soviet republic than anything ever before seen in the United States. Glimpses of his family’s wealth-seeking activities will likely emerge during his presidency, as they did during the transition. Trump’s Indian business partners dropped by Trump Tower and posted pictures with the then-president-elect on Facebook, alerting folks back home that they were now powers to be reckoned with. The Argentine media reported that Trump had discussed the progress of a Trump-branded building in Buenos Aires during a congratulatory phone call from the country’s president. (A spokesman for the Argentine president denied that the two men had discussed the building on their call.) Trump’s daughter Ivanka sat in on a meeting with the Japanese prime minister—a useful meeting for her, since a government-owned bank has a large ownership stake in the Japanese company with which she was negotiating a licensing deal…


… the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them.


It is essential to recognize that Trump will use his position not only to enrich himself; he will enrich plenty of other people too, both the powerful and—sometimes, for public consumption—the relatively powerless. Venezuela, a stable democracy from the late 1950s through the 1990s, was corrupted by a politics of personal favoritism, as Hugo Chávez used state resources to bestow gifts on supporters. Venezuelan state TV even aired a regular program to showcase weeping recipients of new houses and free appliances. Americans recently got a preview of their own version of that show as grateful Carrier employees thanked then-President-elect Trump for keeping their jobs in Indiana…

Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter. He will want to associate economic benefit with personal favor. He will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law. If the public cannot be induced to care, the power of the investigators serving at Trump’s pleasure will be diminished all the more…

Calculated outrage is an old political trick, but nobody in the history of American politics has deployed it as aggressively, as repeatedly, or with such success as Donald Trump…

…I’ve talked with well-funded Trump supporters who speak of recruiting a troll army explicitly modeled on those used by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s Putin to take control of the social-media space, intimidating some critics and overwhelming others through a blizzard of doubt-casting and misinformation…

…In an online article for The New York Review of Books, the Russian-born journalist Masha Gessen brilliantly noted a commonality between Donald Trump and the man Trump admires so much, Vladimir Putin. “Lying is the message,” she wrote. “It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.”…

“Populist-fueled democratic backsliding is difficult to counter,” wrote the political scientists Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz late last year. “Because it is subtle and incremental, there is no single moment that triggers widespread resistance or creates a focal point around which an opposition can coalesce … Piecemeal democratic erosion, therefore, typically provokes only fragmented resistance.” Their observation was rooted in the experiences of countries ranging from the Philippines to Hungary. It could apply here too…

By all early indications, the Trump presidency will corrode public integrity and the rule of law—and also do untold damage to American global leadership, the Western alliance, and democratic norms around the world. The damage has already begun, and it will not be soon or easily undone. Yet exactly how much damage is allowed to be done is an open question—the most important near-term question in American politics. It is also an intensely personal one, for its answer will be determined by the answer to another question: What will you do? And you? And you?…

Get into the habit of telephoning your senators and House member at their local offices, especially if you live in a red state. Press your senators to ensure that prosecutors and judges are chosen for their independence—and that their independence is protected. Support laws to require the Treasury to release presidential tax returns if the president fails to do so voluntarily. Urge new laws to clarify that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president’s immediate family, and that it refers not merely to direct gifts from governments but to payments from government-affiliated enterprises as well. Demand an independent investigation by qualified professionals of the role of foreign intelligence services in the 2016 election—and the contacts, if any, between those services and American citizens. Express your support and sympathy for journalists attacked by social-media trolls, especially women in journalism, so often the preferred targets. Honor civil servants who are fired or forced to resign because they defied improper orders. Keep close watch for signs of the rise of a culture of official impunity, in which friends and supporters of power-holders are allowed to flout rules that bind everyone else.

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.

*******************************************

Much more and audio version (56 min) also available at the website.

David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic and the chairman of Policy Exchange. In 2001–02, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.




 

Collecting History: The German Resistance

Claus von Stauffenberg
Lt. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his spouse Nina Baronesse von Lerchenfeld. Stauffenberg, a key actor in the German resistance, unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944 in Operation Valkyrie

My brother is a collector. Over the decades, he has collected everything from rock-n-roll records, unopened beer cans and refrigerator magnets to pirates and mermaids, palm trees and tropical plants, NASCAR die-cast cars, handguns, postage stamps, and coins.

This hidden activity was unknown to me for many years, and when the knowledge came in dollops here and there, it was a delightful surprise, as I am a collector as well. But there was one activity that I knew well.

While in high school, my brother became fascinated with Nazi Germany. His fascination no doubt was fed by a boyhood friend of a German family who joined him in this exploration of wartime Germany. I remember the shock of my mother. She had drilled into the nascent memory of both me and my brother a prohibition: we were forbidden to utter the word Nazi or the name of Hitler. Yet there he was in a makeshift uniform with a black SS armband, standing at attention, his friend at his side, giving the Nazi salute.

To say that his Nazi portrayal was disturbing was an understatement. It created an emotional rift between mother and son; it was a family secret; it upset the equilibrium of a middle class home in ways that went deep and endured.

Decades later, my brother recanted his Nazi obsession. He sold his collection of Nazi medals, tobacco cards, uniforms, weapons and books. But he kept his knowledge. You cannot manually delete brain data. And in these recent days of what I call The New America, his knowledge has value.

When we talk of Trump, my brother will nod in agreement. Trump is dangerous, I say. He agrees. Trump must be stopped. Yes, he nods. It will get worse. He listens while I detail the latest outrage or describe the newest nexus to the Kremlin or talk about my fears of nuclear bombs, alignment with our enemies, the neglect of our allies. My brother says quietly, succinctly: He reminds me of Hitler. He doesn’t elaborate, perhaps afraid the stigma of his teenage fascination will rebound. I want him to talk. I nudge. He answers. He talks of the shared megalomania. Hitlers demand for personal loyalty. The dissolution of political parties. The equation of state with personality. The thirst for world domination. The outside charm and the utter evil within. The division into pure and impure. That distorted reliance on genetics. Persecution of political enemies. Found scapegoats. Endless propaganda. Attacks on the independent press. The madness.

Each and all shared by Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump.

The resemblance of Trump to Hitler has resonance when one understands history. Actually, without the basic awareness of Hitler – his crawl to power, his ruthlessness, the slaughtered generations of Jews and Romany, the untold numbers of lesbians and gay males killed – then the parallels are hollow.

More and more often, I locate amazing similarities between the history of World War II and The New America. I talked recently of the French Resistance and the Vichy state. I recall that on the days immediately following the presidential election of 2016, the word Resistance entered the American vocabulary. Who initiated this? What was its origin? How did it take root so effortlessly and spread so quickly?

I know now that the genesis of the American Resistance was deliberate. And its originator is a student of history. Not some progressive group making it a cause célèbre or a haphazard confluence of social media players.

The birth of the American Resistance was a planned act. Or perhaps like the German resistance of Claus von Stauffenberg, it was an operation. The operation clicked into being the moment Donald Trump sabotaged the democratic process with the assistance of a foreign adversary. Without a doubt, the intelligence agencies, the still-powerful political players, and yes, our allies would have planned for such an event. Surrendering the most powerful nation without planned resistance would be unthinkable in this post-Hitler world.

As members of the Resistance, it is our duty to take ourselves seriously. We have been activated for a purpose: to keep sacrosanct the principles of our democracy. However we choose to act, it is imperative that we act before history repeats itself, before inhumanity becomes the norm and before we must choose the ultimate option – an operation like that enacted by Claus von Stauffenberg and members of the German resistance.

It is also incumbent upon us to know history.


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Below is a collection of videos from The History Channel detailing Operation Valkyrie, a plot by members of the German resistance to assassinate Hitler and retake control of the German state during WWII.


How an Explosion in Michigan Shutdown Domestic and Foreign Auto Makers

Meridian Magnesium Products
Auto makers served by Meridian Magnesium Products.

An explosion at Meridian Magnesium Products in Eaton Rapids, MI is backing up production for several auto makers and closing plants at various American locations.

The Chinese-owned plant is a major manufacturer of die cast components for cars. Its parent company – Wanfeng Auto Holding Company – aims to be the “unquestioned leader in magnesium die cast design, engineering and technology.”

The unexplained Meridian explosion on 2 May and subsequent plant shutdown shows in dramatic form how auto manufacturers are interdependently-linked. By extension, it also illustrates how a trade war between the US and China over aluminum and steel could affect American workers and products. Magnesium die cast auto components contain aluminum, and depending on quality, levels of aluminum can range from 5.5 to almost 10 percent. In other words, aluminum is an essential ingredient. Aluminum tariffs planned by Trump would have a deleterious affect on auto production in the US.

About 200 people are out of work while the Meridian plant is being rebuilt according to the Lansing State Journal. Ford announced that it will indefinitely suspend production of its F-150 trucks, America’s best-selling vehicle and top profit maker for the company. This stoppage is due to the Meridian explosion and will affect 7600 workers. The displaced employees are located at Ford’s Kansas City (Missouri) Assembly Plant and its Dearborn, Michigan Truck Plant.

To make matters worse, just a few days prior to the Meridian fire, Ford announced that it is halting production of many of its passenger cars and focusing on the F-150s, SUVs and commercial vehicles. The cost-cutting move is now complicated by the production halt at plants that make these vehicles.

In addition, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler are suffering a logjam because of the Meridian shutdown. The fire affected production at the Fiat Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ontario, says USA Today. That facility makes the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, the Pacifica Hybrid and the Dodge Grand Caravan.

The Detroit News reported that “BMW and Mercedes-Benz also have halted or adjusted production on some vehicles in the U.S. and Canada as a result of the May 2 explosion and fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Eaton Rapids.”

Did Trump-Cohen Collect Kompromat on Schneiderman?

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ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN

A report from Courthouse News Service points to a coordinated effort between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump in collecting compromising material (kompromat) against Eric Schneiderman, the former NY Attorney General. Continue reading “Did Trump-Cohen Collect Kompromat on Schneiderman?”