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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
December 31, 2021

Donald Trump and his family fleeced America: Why aren't they being held accountable?

Donald Trump and his family fleeced America: Why aren’t they being held accountable?
Pulitzer-winning reporter David Cay Johnston on the criminal Trump regime: "This was thievery, plain and simple"


(Salon) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston is not giving up on exposing how Donald Trump and his family fleeced America while he was in the White House. To that end, the bestselling author is back with a meticulously researched new book, "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family."

I recently spoke to Johnston about his new book for "Salon Talks" and one thing is clear: His enthusiasm to see Trump held accountable has not waned just because the Trump presidency is over. In "The Big Cheat," he uncovers details on Trump's scams that began with his inaugural committee and ran straight through his "Stop the Steal" fundraising grift. In between, Johnston notes a range of corruption by Trump, such as stopping in front of his Washington hotel during the inaugural parade in 2017 to send a clear message: "If you want something from the Trump administration, you will first pay tribute to Donald." As Johnston writes, spending money at Trump's hotel was one way to do just that.


Your book has granular details about Trump, some I knew and some I had no idea about. Let's start at the beginning: You go into great detail about the inaugural committee. Trump raised double the amount Obama did, and there are questions about where that money is. The D.C. attorney general is suing the Trump campaign right now about this very thing. Tell us more.

Well, Donald Trump raised $107 million for his inaugural, that we know of. The previous record was Obama in his first inaugural: $53 million. The inaugural for Obama had eight or nine balls. It had lots of events. They had numerous headline musical acts whose expenses had to be paid. Donald Trump had the skimpiest, cheapest possible thing you can imagine. Two balls, with almost nobody around, and yet all that extra money: $107 million. One of the key stories I tell is about Stephanie Wolkoff, who was Melania's best friend, and who is someone who puts on events. She's the person who puts on the biggest social event for the American elite each year, the Met gala in New York. And she was pulled aside and asked by Rick Gates, the corrupt deputy to the corrupt Paul Manafort, to take money off the books because they didn't want to report it, meaning foreign money.


Not only that, Trump used the inaugural parade to do a commercial for his hotel. I think people have forgotten it, but it was right in our face all the time.

None of the TV networks explained when this happened what was going on. I was astonished by that. When Obama was elected, the crowds lining the road to the White House were curb to building, packed thick as sardines. When Trump came, in many places there were more law enforcement and military guards than there were cheers. But when they got to a place about five blocks from the White House, the motorcade stopped and everybody got out, Melania in that beautiful ice blue dress that she was wearing. The family took a two-minute turn on the pavement.

What every lobbyist, every foreign agent, knew was they did it in front of the Trump Washington Hotel, the old post office. And Trump, by law, should not have had that lease. It should have been taken away from him. And I explained this, how the bureaucrats avoided this in the book and were later taken to task for it, though nothing happened to their careers. ..............(more)


December 29, 2021

Tennessee woman charged after alleged assault and running to cabin door on Spirit flight

(CNN) A Tennessee woman turned herself into the FBI on Tuesday after she was accused of assaulting two flight attendants during a Spirit Airlines flight last month, the Justice Department announced.

Amanda Renee Henry was charged in a criminal complaint with interfering with a flight crew, after an incident on a November 27 flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Nashville.

During the flight, Henry allegedly consumed so many alcoholic drinks that one of the crewmembers decided to cut her off, according to the criminal complaint. She allegedly became disruptive, appeared to be intoxicated and was witnessed by other passengers vaping during the flight. Henry, 43, also allegedly made other male passengers uncomfortable when she placed her hands on one of them and made lewd sexual advances, according to the complaint. ............................(more)


December 29, 2021

A year of dubious characters and dark drama: Salon's best News & Politics stories of 2021

A year of dubious characters and dark drama: Salon's best News & Politics stories of 2021
Maybe you think you just dreamed Mike Lindell and Lauren Boebert: You didn't. And they were the fun parts of 2021


This long, long year began with high hopes that it would be better than the tumultuous election year of 2020, which also saw a summer of hopeful but traumatic protests and the onset of the most significant global pandemic in a century. We awaited the arrival of a new president, believing — oh, so innocently! It hurts to remember — that politics might become "normal" again. The idea that American life could be boring in 2021 was seen as a positive, am I right?

Well, so much for that. Was this year exhausting, soul-draining, mind-boggling and sometimes terrifying? I'd check all those boxes. But boring? Not so much. Five days into the year, Democrats won an unexpected double victory in the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia, giving them a tenuous congressional majority after the puzzling and disappointing election results of November 2020. But you may recall what happened the day after that, on the 6th of January, when a joint session of Congress was to certify the electoral votes and declare Joe Biden the next president. It was a formality! Sometimes the opposition party squawks about it — as Democrats had done in 2001 and 2005 — but the business gets done and the country moves on. That's just how it is!

OK, so much for that too. It seems unnecessary to point out that that day — and its as-yet-unfinished aftermath — was the biggest news story of the year. And then things really got weird. We began to realize, gradually and uncertainly, that the Philip K. Dick alternate-universe dream state of the Trump years wasn't done with us yet. It was like Neo realizing that what he takes to be the real world is still inside the Matrix — or, more to the point, it was like when the characters in a "Nightmare on Elm Street" sequel realize they're still asleep and there's no escape from the guy with the long spiky fingers.


Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

It's always gratifying, as an editor, when you publish a story you know is important but you suspect very few people will read — and you're totally wrong. That happened in June, when Salon contributor Phil Torres, an academic philosopher who writes for us a few times a year, made his decisive rift with the "New Atheism" movement associated with intellectual luminaries like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker. Phil was once a true unbeliever, you might say, and wrote that when New Atheism emerged in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as a counterweight to fundamentalism of all sorts, it appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity.


Why did Lauren Boebert lead a late-night Capitol tour three weeks before Jan. 6?

Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo spent much of the year trying to untangle the puzzling personal, professional and political stories of Rep. Lauren Boebert, the newly-elected Colorado Republican with a passion for guns and a number of connections to QAnon, the MAGA movement and the conspiratorial far right. But of all Zach's essays in Boebert-ology, nothing went deeper than the intriguing tale of a late-night U.S. Capitol tour she took with several family members on Dec. 12, 2020 — which was the same day as the big "Stop the Steal" pro-Trump rally in Washington, and roughly three weeks before she was sworn in as a member of Congress. ...........(more)


December 28, 2021

'People fear what they don't understand': Rachel Levine, pioneering trans official, on protecting...

(Guardian UK) This year has been excruciating for many Americans who have been battered by Covid, extreme weather disasters and political discord, but for one individual 2021 will be remembered for having propelled her into national prominence.

Rachel Levine has shattered not one but two major glass ceilings this year. In March, she became the first openly transgender person to win confirmation in the US Senate after Joe Biden nominated her as assistant secretary of health.

Then in October she was sworn in as the first openly transgender four-star officer as an admiral and head of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. At that exalted rank she gets to wear the blue uniform of the corps, which though non-military is one of eight uniformed services.

It’s been a heady 12 months, having been plucked from relative obscurity as health secretary for Pennsylvania on to the national stage. Levine’s meteoric rise is all the more impressive given how few openly trans federal officials there are in American public life. ..........(more)


December 28, 2021

Wealthy Florida Man Murdered During Luxury Hotel Orgy

Two men have been arrested in Madrid, tied to the fatal poisoning of a 42-year-old American tycoon and former CEO of a Spanish shipyard, whose lifeless body was found at the top-end Westin Palace Hotel in central Madrid last October.

The victim, identified as New Jersey-born José Rosado, had returned to his hotel room with “two or three” men on the night of October 29, according to hotel surveillance footage.

When his partner in Miami lost touch with him, hotel workers at the luxury palace, which was built by Spanish King Alfonso XIII in 1912, opened his door and found him dead.

Police did not immediately suspect foul play as there was no apparent violence or signs of suffocation. They told local media that Rosado had died of natural causes. .........(more)


December 28, 2021

Fascism in America: It's nowhere near as new as you might think

Fascism in America: It's nowhere near as new as you might think
As America draws near the tipping point into fascism, it's important to remember that it's happened before


When my siblings and I were growing up and we did something untoward that got us into trouble my mother would say, "Let that be a lesson to you!" I've remembered that line whenever someone thinks I'm overreacting when I say the Trump administration has opened the way to a functioning autocracy, rapidly morphing into full-blown fascism.

I think about the truism that "history is prologue." We should be taking that truth more seriously.

A chilling December article in the Guardian by Jason Stanley revealed why. "America is now in fascism's legal phase," Stanley posits.

His article begins with a 1995 quote from the Nobel-winning novelist Toni Morrison. "Let us be reminded," she said, "that before there is a Final Solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a Final Solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another."


Sound familiar? We've already heard talk of book burning, people spying on each other, and Jewish people (and members of other marginalized groups) altering their behavior as precautionary measures. We've witnessed racist violence, attacks on peaceful protesters and acts of white supremacy grounded in the claim that we are a "Christian nation." Congress has its share of pro-autocracy politicians, and our local and state governments have all been infiltrated. Vigilante groups prowl the streets, often armed with both guns and hate.

What more do we need to wake up?

This is not the first fascist threat to American democracy. The pro-Nazi movement of the 1930s and early 1940s was perhaps the most frightening to date. It culminated in an infamous 1939 rally at Madison Square Garden, when 22,000 members of the German American Bund delivered Nazi-style salutes before large banners — which depicted George Washington surrounded by swastikas. .............(more)


December 27, 2021

Will Congress use its unused 232-year-old power -- just in time to save our republic?

Will Congress use its unused 232-year-old power — just in time to save our republic?
The Constitution gives Congress the power to overturn restrictive voting laws — and now is the time to use it


The founders of this nation, and the framers who wrote our Constitution, created (as Ben Franklin famously said) a constitutional republic: a government "deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed" through citizens' (then white men) right to vote.

They referred to this as "republicanism" because it was based on the Greek and Roman republics (then thousands of years in the past but still remembered and idealized), and when put into law they called it "a Republican Form of Government."

Today that form of government is in crisis in America, as that core right to vote that defines republicanism is under attack by Republican legislators in red states across our nation.

"In emergency, break glass" is the almost-never-used option available should a building catch fire or otherwise be in crisis. There's a similar alarm and safety valve built into the U.S. Constitution that, like that glass in so many buildings, has never before been used to protect our republic.


The Freedom to Vote Act is more urgently needed with every passing day, as multiple Republican-controlled states openly (and ironically) tear down actual "republican principles" of representative government by continuing to pass laws that pre-rig election outcomes. ................(more)


December 25, 2021

Alleged Crumbley warning signs: Bird head in jar, mom's affair, troubling drawings

(Detroit News) Rochester Hills — In the weeks leading up to the Oxford school shooting, suspect Ethan Crumbley's dog died, his only friend moved and he carried a baby bird's head in a jar to school, prosecutors said.

Despite signs of sadness and disturbing text messages, his mom engaged in an extramarital affair and both parents spent hours each week tending to the family's horses, prosecutors claim.

"Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun," Oakland County prosecutors wrote in a court filing Thursday.

Prosecutors filed a pointed rebuke of James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are seeking to have their $500,000 bond lowered at a Jan. 7 hearing. They remain jailed on charges of involuntary manslaughter after their son was accused of killing four classmates at Oxford High School on Nov. 30.

Prosecutors also for the first time released troubling drawings that officials say caused teachers to remove Ethan from class hours before the shooting. ............(more)


December 25, 2021

Surfer killed in shark attack at California beach, officials say

(CNN) A male surfer was killed in a shark attack in Morro Bay, California, on Christmas Eve, the Morro Bay Harbor Department confirmed to CNN.

"Harbor, Police and Fire Departments responded to a report of a male victim unresponsive on the beach after he was pulled from the water suffering from an apparent shark attack," the Harbor Department said in a statement.

Officials located the male surfer at 10:48 a.m. PT off Morro Bay State Park beach, according to Harbor Director Eric Endersby. Morro Bay is 15 miles west of San Luis Obispo.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The San Luis Obispo County Coroner's Office has identified the victim and is working to notify the next of kin before releasing the victim's name, Endersby said. .............(more)


December 25, 2021

Omicron: Good news, bad news and what it all means

(BBC News) Restrictions are tightening in parts of the UK and other European countries in order to tackle the new variant.

There's a constant stream of new information - some worrying, some positive. So where do we stand?

This is not last winter

It is easy to forget, but we are in a much brighter place than this time last year when many of us could not meet family on Christmas Day.

The "Christmas bubble" rules meant in parts of the country you could spend the day only with those you lived with. But there were limits on the size of gatherings across the UK.

The rise of the Alpha variant in late 2020 led to lockdowns in November and a long one in the New Year as the vaccination programme was only just getting going. .......(more)


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