Fun with Protest Signs

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Given that we in the United States live at the time of the Trump administration which threaten many Americans’ fundamental rights, values, and prestige around the world, there have been more mass protests than ever before. There’s the Women’s March, the March for Science, the March for Our Lives, and many more. Sometimes they may happen spontaneously or wherever Donald Trump may be like that mass demonstration in the UK during the summer. At any rate, you’ll find plenty of signs with clever sayings on them just to get to the point. A lot of these were made on cardboard with markers in block letters. Many of these have been featured on various sites like Buzzfeed or Pinterest. So for your reading pleasure, I give you a treasury of protest signs to entertain you on these dark days of Trump. Some of these may not be safe for work, by the way.

  1. At least IKEA cabinets are much more useful.
Well, I could definitely say the same about the Trump cabinet. Though you have to assemble the IKEA cabinets yourself.

2. This woman gives no apologies.

Because she’s a woman who stands up for herself. From the Women’s March, by the way.

3. Some people don’t always know what they’re protesting about.

Yes, yes, “Down with this sort of thing.” From a protest in Britain, I think.

4. Well, I hope Donald Trump did Nazi this sign coming.

Sure, Donald Trump isn’t Hitler. But he doesn’t see anything wrong with hiring white nationalists at the White House.

5. Seems like these protestors don’t get on.

Either that, or they’re having too much fun with each other. Still, the signs are funny.

6. Apparently, she thinks pot solves everything.

You have to wonder whether she’s totally high right now. Cause I don’t think legalized marijuana will solve all our problems.

7. Someone wants to feed Donald Trump to the dogs.

Yes, feed Trump to the corgies. Since Queen Elizabeth II famously owns them.

8. Gandalf gives the Picard facepalm.

I’m sure Sir Patrick Stewart would get a kick out of this. Since they’re friends and have been on X-Men together.

9. On any cardboard sign, you can only write so much.

Yes, there’s so much to be upset about. And so little space to adress your grievances.

10. Apparently, you don’t see these signs every day.

One wasn’t busy. One has a sign from the times. And one is mad as hell but is taking a deep breath and counting to 10.

11. Kids should be more worried about grades in school.

This is from the March for Our Lives protest. This arose after the Parkland shooting in February.

12. Donald Trump is an American Psycho.

Well, that’s quite appropriate. For Donald Trump is a sociopath who abuses his power to enrich himself.

13. This boy laid off the video games for this.

Apparently, he likes playing dystopian video games like Fortnite. Guess this is from the March for Our Lives.

14. So George Soros did pay protestors to be there.

Actually, I think this is a joke. Since George Soros has been a major focus of right-wing conspiracy theories, particularly on Fox News and InfoWars.

15. Bombing for peace solves nothing.

Yes, it’s basically like that. Mostly since violence only breeds more violence.

16. She was angry so she did embroidery.

After all, doing embroidery whas her way to relieve stress. As she inscribed on her sampler.

17.  Go ahead, tell them how you really feel.

Well, of course we’re really not happy about this. Because Donald Trump is president and he’s a total disaster.

18. Don’t tell this woman to smile.

Because women are told to smile all the time. Even when we’re mad as hell and can’t take it anymore.

19. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here.

Yes, everything is okay. Despite that Donald Trump is in the White House and is destroying the United States from within.

20. British people always try to be polite.

Wish I could tell Donald Trump to fuck off. Since he’s a complete monster.

21. Someone is a Star Wars fan.

These people are public employees protesting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Becuase he tried to take away their collective bargaining rights.

22. Even Voldemort didn’t kill that many people all at once.

Guess this has to pertain to the Middle East. Does it concern Israel and Palestine? I’m not sure.

23. Seems like the Star Trek and Star Wars rivalry is quite fierce.

This is from a Trekkie. Still, most sci-fi fans usually like both. Since both Star Wars and Star Trek are good in their own way.

24. This guy hates crowds. But hates Trump more.

Yes, crowds are terrible since they’re so noisy. But having Trump as president is even worse.

25. There’s only one orange thing Scottish people are okay with.

Guess this is a beer in Scotland. Still, the Scots really hate his guts. Condolences for those who live near his Scottish golf course.

26. A Trump is better out than in.

Because a “trump” is British slang for fart, apparently. Still, this is hilarious.

27. Someone went out of their way to bash Donald Trump.

This Brit took off work and hired a babysitter. All to call Trump a “wanker.”

28. I’m sure that’s an understatement.

Indeed, Donald Trump likes going golfing on the weekends. Though I don’t think he’s any good either.

29. Dear Queen, don’t give him the good cookies.

They refer cookies as “biscuits” in Britain. not exactly sure why. Still, Trump treated the Queen like shit during his UK visit.

30. Melania, if you want us to save you, show us a sign.

However, I think that Melania is actually complicit in all this. Since she’s just Trump’s trophy wife.

31. This tennis fan is missing Wimbledon for this.

Though I do like how she called Trump a “tangerine wankmaggot.” Brits are so great with insults.

32. I’m sure protests can be civil affairs.

I think this is from The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Comedy Central in 2009. Nonetheless, this is hilarious.

33. There is only one baby who should be caged.

Well, I can agree with that. With all Trump has done, we should put his ass in prison.

34. Don’t worry, these guys are from the internet.

I think these guys are from Anonymous. Since they’re wearing Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta.

35. Beware, alt-right, for the witches are coming.

This is from a counter protest in Boston after Charlottesville. The sheer crowd size scared the white supremacists away.

36. When you don’t have science, you have no Death Star.

Indeed, this Stormtrooper is right. But is that a point you want to make? I mean it can blow up a planet.

37. As we can see, Trump is a prick with no wall.

Because Trump’s wall at the US-Mexican boder is a phenomenonally stupid idea. Also, Trump’s a complete prick.

38. Donald Trump is not our Cheeto.

Considering how orange Trump is, this is appropriate. Because his stan is cheeto color.

39. It’s very bad when a librarian has to show up at a protest.

Since librarians don’t go out much. For they prefer books over people.

40. Barack Obama really doesn’t fit the holy description.

Well, that’s one way to piss off a conservative Christian. Indeed, a lot of them decried Obama a lot of things during his presidency. Miss the guy.

41. These women could’ve had brunch instead of turn out.

This is from the Women’s March. And yes, hell hath no fury like millions of women scorned.

42. We only have to fear fear and zombies.

Because the zombies will kill us all in the apocalypse. So it’s best we all stay out of cemeteries.

43. After all, Liza Minnelli married 2 gay men.

This is a pro-gay marriage sign. Yet, I’m sure Liza didn’t find out until after she married those guys.

44. This guy’s been gay for 82 years.

Because gay isn’t a choice or a phase. And yes, old gay people do exist.

45. Hurt education, kids won’t learn how to spell.

I guess this was for a teacher’s strike. And yes, teachers don’t get the respect they deserve in many states.

46. Didn’t know there were Smashing Pumpkins fans here.

Oh, it has Trump’s face on it. Okay, I get the joke.

47. Looks like Deadpool and Wolverine are having a feud.

Then again, Deadpool might just be trolling Wolverine. Still, the sign is funny.

48. For some people, everything always sounds sinister in Arabic.

Don’t worry, they’ve translated it to English so you wouldn’t get scared. Sad how Islamophobia infects the nation.

49. Guess this a sign of what’s to come.

Well, most of us knew that a Trump presidency was bad news. But this woman went with a reusable sign since she has a lot to protest about.

50. It’s always customary to have a sign at a protest.

Kind of a generic sign if you ask me. Not really original.

51. This guy must be a real Belieber.

Guess this was during a protest when Justin Bieber was popular. Apparently, he attracted a lot notoriety since.

52. Now’s not the time to be turned on right now.

Hope he wasn’t at a women’s march. Then again, better a women’s march than a Trump rally.

53. Get a load of this strong American bitch.

She does happen to be a dog. Though her bark is worse than her bite. Yet, she will bite that cheeto orange man in the White House.

54. These banksters on Wall Street need to go to jail.

I think this is from an Occupy protest. Nonetheless, the art is spot on.

55. Canadians will always support their American sisters.

I know those words aren’t appropriate in polite conversation. But it certainly fits in the protest context.

56. Very strong opinions can’t always be put into a sign.

This is from a Women’s March. But at least the sign gets straight to the point.

57.  Apparently, this guy doesn’t understand.

What does he mean by somewhat irritated? In Trump times, a lot of things can cause extreme outrage.

58. Protest signs accomplish nothing.

At least this person seems honest. Though this kind of cracks me up.

59. Someone seems rather scared.

This person is afraid of people with signs at rallies. Though the ones at Trump rallies are understandable.

60. She takes run like a girl to a whole new level.

That’s how you show them, kiddo. She’ll grow up to be a fine woman some day.

61. Don’t like gay marriage? Blame straight people.

Well, it has a valid point. It’s the straight people making gay babies. Since most gay people have straight parents.

62. Some guy’s keeping score in Trump’s golf game.

This is another British anti-Trump protestor. Though he decided to troll the Pussygrabber-in-chief in the most epic way possible.

63. Swamp creatures never drain the swamp.

I can agree with that. You should see the people in Trump’s cabinet.

64. Oh, God, Trump’s got the queen.

This is King Kong takeoff is brilliant. Though I’d exclude the cross of gold. I know the Religious Right backs him. But Trump never goes to church.

65. Not even Melania likes Trump, according to this sign.

Melania may not love Trump. But she loves his money. So she’s not going anywhere.

66. When talking about Donald Trump’s crimes, it’s difficult where to begin.

Yes, I get that feeling all the time. Since Donald Trump is an all-around wretched human being with practically no redeeming qualities. Other than not being a cannibal or murderer.

67. Just let that case do the talking.

Indeed, that describes Trump so perfectly. Got to love the Brits.

68. This woman has a public cervix announcement for Trump.

Indeed, we should all tell Trump to “fuck you.” Yet, Stormy Daniels doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

69. This light up sign has a very valid point.

Yeah, I think we took it too far with Trump. Since he’s totally not qualified for the job at all.

70. After all, there’s no marriage bans for assholes.

I mean Trump’s been married 3 times. So has Giuliani and Gingrich. So she has a valid point.

71. Seems to be a Daily Show fan to me.

Her comedy central is Fox News. Her news channel is Comedy Central.

72. Corporations are people when Texas executes one.

I can get behind this one. Since corporations aren’t people and shouldn’t have the same rights either.

73. Capitalism, you got serious problems.

After all, unrestricted capitalism is how many of us got in this financial mess. Yet, no Wall Street banker has been jailed for causing the 2008 recession.

74. Don’t believe in government? Don’t run for office.

Yet, libertarians and Republicans don’t seem to listen. And that’s why we have men like Trump in the White House.

75. Someone doesn’t seem to understand healthcare policy.

Uh, Medicare is socialized medicine. That’s why Democrats like me want Medicare for all.

76. There’s no excuse not to be civil at a protest.

Well, doesn’t hurt to disagree respectfully. Might be from Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

77.  Down with those rich corporate CEOs!

This is pretty clever if you ask me. Rich CEOs are a bunch of greedy bastards who want to hold onto their power.

78. You should always try to see others’ perspectives.

Well, it always help to understand different points of view. Though sometimes, it can prove difficult.

79. This gay guy just wants one marriage.

I mean Newt Gingrich treats women like some people treat cars. If something’s wrong with the one he has, he casts her aside for a newer model.

80. When Twitter’s down, one must use other ways of communication.

Not sure if signage is the way to go. There’s always blogging though.

81. Stop the tyrannical automatic renewals!

Guess people are upset with automatic renewals. Not sure why.

82. If there’s something conservatives should like about gay people…

You have to hand that to them. Since gay unions don’t result in unintended pregnancies.

83. We all know this is bound to happen.

Indeed, because Fox News is a conservative propaganda machine. Now it’s basically Trump TV.

84. Don’t think a protest is a place for a gang bang.

Yet, he holds such sign in colorful letters. Guy must be mad.

85. Some people are so angry they’d go do something about it.

Though not enough peope were angry enough to vote in 2016. And that’s why we got Lord Cheetohead in the White House.

86. These people don’t know what they’re protesting about.

They seem to be there for the beer. Though I don’t think there is any.

87. Indeed, our country has a grave case of electile dysfunction.

You got that right. Yet, that’s a close representation of the Capitol.

88. Islamophobes assume the worst with Arabic script.

Don’t worry, it just says, “McDonald’s.” Nothing to fret about.

89. Now here’s a cause we all can get behind.

Since some people start decorating for Christmas before it’s Halloween. Can’t they just wait until after Thanksgiving.

90. We all have our limits.

He’s using a straw to hold up his protest sign. Where he got it, I have no idea.

91. I believe someone must disagree.

Indeed, she begs to differ. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

92. Let this be clear: most Muslims aren’t terrorists. 

His wife may not be a terrorist. But he’s still scared of her anyway.

93. Best we be cool about everything here.

This one has the Dude from The Big Lebowski. Love this.

94. If God hates gays, why are they so cute?

Guess they’re making fun of Westboro Baptist Church. Still, it’s pretty funny.

95. How they protest in Canada.

She is a bit upset. That’s Canadian for “super pissed.”

96. We all may need Jesus during these dark times.

I’m sure anti-Trump Christians like me are all praying right now. Because we really can’t do much else.

97. Someone’s xenophobic.

Has a picture of Xenia, Warrior Princess. And I can see why this person might be afraid of her.

98. We should all pay our taxes.

Love the snake sign that says, “Slytherin.” Definitely says a lot about those who fly the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

99. We only get a certain amount of time.

Someone doesn’t have time for all this. Well, don’t we all?

100. Circus clown needs a job.

He wants to be in Congress where he belongs. Can’t really argue with that.
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Et Tu, Paul Manafort?

On Friday, September 14, 2018, the moment special counsel Robert Mueller had been waiting for so long had finally happened. That day, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort appeared in a Washington DC court and pleaded guilty to a reduced set of charges. As part of his plea deal with Mueller’s team, Manafort agreed to cooperate with the investigation. The new deal will stave off a second trial for Manafort in a DC court which was supposed to begin this month as well as dismissing 10 mistrial counts from his trial in Virginia from August. Much of Manafort’s money and property will also be subject to forfeiture. In advance to Manafort’s fateful court appearance, Mueller’s team filed a new document that drops some charges and lays out what Manafort will admit to. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States (related to his foreign lobbying work in Ukraine and his finances), and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice (related to attempted witness tampering early this year).

Paul Manfort’s flip is enormously important for the Russia investigation since this deal marks the end of one phase in the Mueller investigation. Since his appointment in the summer of 2017, Robert Mueller has focused more on his office’s activity on Manafort than any other individual and was its most visible activity so far. He indicted the former Trump campaign chair on 25 charges in 3 separate batches and across 2 venues. In the first trial stemming from his probe, Mueller’s team got Manafort convicted on 8 counts and facing a years-long prison sentence. While investigating Russian interference with the 2016 campaign is Mueller’s main task with the Russia probe, the charges were mainly about Manafort’s past unregistered foreign lobbying work and his finances. Mueller hasn’t publicly explained his strategy. But many have long speculated that the special counsel’s main aim with charging Manafort with financial and lobbying crimes was to pressure him to “flip” so he’d agree to provide information related to their true concern of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.

Robert Mueller’s team initially indicted Paul Manafort in October 2017 alongside his longtime right-hand man Rick Gates on conspiracy, undeclared foreign lobbying, financial, and other crimes. Though we know Mueller had investigated Manafort’s involvement in Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, the indictment was about years’ worth of lobbying work the pair did for Ukranian politicians and government leaders prior to the campaign and what they did with their money afterward. At first, both pleaded not guilty. Then in February 2018, Mueller filed a new set of charges against the pair, again related to the Ukranian money. This spurred the younger and less wealthy Gates to strike a deal agreeing to cooperate against Manafort and pleading guilty to a reduced set of charges. But Manafort held out. 4 months later, Mueller’s team added a new allegation against him that he and a Russian associate named Konstatin Kilimnik encouraged a likely witness in his upcoming trial to stick to a false story. The new charges led Judge Amy Berman Jackson fining that Manafort had violated his conditions of release and ordering him jailed (as he has been since). During the Virginia trial, Gates testified against his former boss along with an array of other witnesses. And while Manafort’s team managed to get one holdout juror to vote against conviction of 10 charges, Mueller won a unanimous conviction on 8 others. Now with a conviction in the books and Manafort set to face a likely prison sentence, he was still facing another trial in Washington and potentially a second if Mueller retried the Virginia mistrial counts, Manafort eventually came to the table and agreed to cooperate.

Now that Paul Manafort has flipped, what does he know about the collusion or conspiracy between the Trump team and the Russian government during the 2016 campaign? Previously, Manafort has said nothing, stating that no collusion happened so he’d naturally have no information to provide. But given his intense focus on the former Trump campaign chair, Robert Mueller has long believed otherwise. And there are 2 suspicious circumstances during the 2016 campaign that we know Manafort was involved in.

The Trump Tower Meeting: Remember the infamous Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. set up in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer and other Russia-tied figures? Well, the 3 Trump figures in attendance were Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Until Manafort’s flip, no attendee has become a cooperator for Mueller. Perhaps the special counsel thinks more remains to be learned about the meeting and hopes Manafort will tell them about it.

As far as we know, Paul Manafort is the first person who attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting in July 2016 who’s agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s probe. We all know it arose after British publicist Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr. to say that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton and that he could arrange a meeting to discuss its transfer with the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. infamously replied, “If it’s what you I say I love it.” Aside from Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner, other attendees included a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, real estate developer Ike Kaveladze, and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, all of whom have Kremlin ties to varying degrees. Given that Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager at the time while Kushner was a significant Trump campaign figure sat in, it’s suggested the meeting was a high-level thing.

So far all of the attendees who’ve publicly spoken about it have insisted that nothing of note happened at the meeting. However, while there isn’t enough information one way or another, Goldstone’s emails setting up the meeting suggest collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign is possible. And that the Trump campaign was at least open to the idea.

Robert Mueller is keenly interested in the Trump Tower meeting since his team has requested documents about it and quizzed witnesses on what actually happened. Now he has access to someone who has no incentive to stick to the party line. Since Paul Manafort has agreed to fully cooperate, he could officially tell us whether the official story about the meeting is true. Or whether it’s a cover for a much more significant interaction that might prove that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia after all. Another question Manafort could help answer is who knew about the meeting such as Donald Trump and the Russia government. Manafort knows what went on at the meeting and what it was for as well as possibly the cover-up afterward.

Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik: Even more suspicious are Paul Manafort’s surreptitious contacts with 2 Russian nationals during the campaign. One is his former client Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch to whom Manafort was heavily indebted. The other is Manafort’s longtime business associate Konstantin Kilmnik, who Mueller’s team has said is tied to Russian intelligence. Just weeks after joining the Trump campaign, Manafort appeared to see an opportunity. In early April, he emailed Kilimnik about his newly high media profile, writing “How do we use to get whole,” and “Has OVD operation seen?” (OVD is Deripaska’s initials). In July 2016, Manafort and Kilimnik exchanged emails about Deripaska again. Kilimnik wrote, “I am carefully optimistic on the issue of our biggest interest. He will be most likely looking for ways to reach out to you pretty soon.” Manafort replied that if Deripaska, “needs private briefings we can accommodate.” As the summer wore on, the pair’s emails on the topic grew vaguer. In late July, Kilimnik wrote to Manafort, “I met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago. We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you.” Again, this is believed to be about Deripaska with “caviar” meaning money. Kilimnik and Manafort arranged to meet in New York City on August 2 for Kilimnik had “long caviar story” to tell and “several important messages.” Days after the meeting, Deripaska took a yacht trip with Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko who’s focused on foreign policy. All this occurred while Manafort chaired the Trump campaign before his mid-August 2016 firing. Since he’s based in Moscow, Kilimnik is unlikely to face charges.

Nonetheless, we still don’t know what happened between Manafort, Kilimnik, and Deripaska during the campaign. Maybe this is where the Trump/Russia collusion happened. Maybe Manafort was just freelancing and trying to get himself paid and it doesn’t involve Donald Trump personally. Yet, it’s one of the biggest loose ends about what happened in 2016. But whatever the case, Manafort has committed to tell Mueller the truth.

Paul Manafort’s guilty plea doesn’t say anything about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia military intelligence officials who’ve allegedly attacked the 2016 election for Donald Trump’s benefit. But the plea agreement’s implications point to many ways Manafort’s decision could legal and politically damage Trump. Trump’s constant assertion that the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt” has only sought to bring down “innocent” men keeps weakening when each “innocent” man confesses to federal felonies. While Trump claims the investigation is a money pit, Manafort’s asset surrender of accounts and properties worth millions of dollars shows that the Mueller probe has basically paid for itself. Furthermore, Manafort’s guilty plea virtually blocks any avenue Trump can obstruct the investigation by pardoning him. Now that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller and Trump has no apparent way to learn what his former campaign chair has told prosecutors or a grand jury, there’s no way Trump can benefit with a pardon attempt. Finally, after months of painting Manafort as a “good guy” who’s been treated “unfairly,” Trump’s spin doctors will have to reverse course on a potential witness against their guy. Rudy Giuliani seemed confused about this fact, releasing a statement saying, “the president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth,” before retracting the part about Manafort.

Furthermore, what Paul Manafort knows is important for several threads of the Russia investigation like the hack on the DNC, any communication between the Trump campaign and Russian interests, and most importantly, the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Before striking the plea deal with the former campaign chair, prosecutors sat down with Manafort for a proffer session where a defendant answers from investigators, including details about their own case and other criminal activity they might’ve witnessed. Ultimately, prosecutors will only agree to a cooperation deal with a defendant if the latter gives them information that other witnesses and documents can verify. So Mueller’s team feels that what Manafort knows is really critical evidence about that Trump Tower meeting, who knew about it and when, and what other contacts took place between the campaign and people around Donald Trump.

The Dollhouse World of Miniatures

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When many of us are kids, we may have dollhouses we’d play with from time to time. They may be part of a set or homemade. Yet most will come with a family along with all kinds of furniture and accessories which are sometimes sold separately. However, while dollhouses have primarily been a domain for children, their collection and crafting can also be a hobby for many adults. Think Lester Freamon in The Wire who likes making dollhouse furniture. Nonetheless, today’s dollhouses trace their history back 400 years to the European baby house display cases that showed idealized interiors, which first appeared in the 16th century. These displays mostly consisted of cabinet display cases consisting of individual rooms.  Yet, unlike most dollhouses you’d find at Wal Mart today, these were handmade with architectural details and filled with miniature household items that weren’t made to a uniform scale even within an individual house. These were solely made for adults. And no, the reasons had nothing to do with safety concerns since child labor was rampant back then. But more because these early dollhouses were often status symbols of rich people who could afford them in England, Germany, and the Netherlands. Not to mention, they often cost as much as a house. Smaller houses with more realistic exteriors appeared in Europe during the 18th century. As you’d expect, early dollhouses were all handmade until the Industrial Revolution when they began mass producing toys. Of course, while many of us played with dollhouses as kids, the miniatures I will show on this post are more the work of adult hobbyists. So enjoy for your reading pleasure.

  1. You’d be pressed not to peek into the Palace of Versailles.
Okay, it’s a miniature display. But the detail is quite extraordinary.

2. Perhaps you might want to look in the pantry.

Looks much cleaner than a typical pantry. Yet, contains all the provisions your heat desires.

3. How about we kick back and relax in the music room?

This room even includes a large painting of a woman in a purple dress within a gold frame. Also includes a piano in the corner.

4. Best to put your bookshelves above your bathroom door.

Well, it seems more like an old-fashioned set up. Even includes a spitoon in the corner.

5. Treat yourself to some fine dining.

You’d even see a chandelier on the ceiling. Not sure if it really lights up. Also, love the miniature china.

6. A blue room should always come with considerable taste.

The furniture even matches the wallpaper. Includes painting and a gold chandelier that really lights up.

7. A floral divider always brightens a room.

The dividing wall even contains a bookshelf. Love the windows and chair.

8. Sometimes a small one room trailer is all you need.

This is more of a colorful display you’d find in a Wes Anderson movie. Still, it’s quite quaint.

9. Anyone would want to have this gorgeous kitchen.

This one has pots and pans dangling at the ceiling. Yet, you won’t find a dishwasher, sink, or refrigerator here.

10. This print shop seems quite busy.

You’d almost think Benjamin Franklin would work in such a place. Though there doesn’t seem to be a printing press in sight.

11. Sometimes it helps if the wallpaper matches the floor.

Consists of 2 striped chairs with a painting and chest of drawers between them. The chairs even match the lamps as well.

12. This bakeshop is open for business.

Includes a staircase with open air dining. Tables even have flowers on them.

13. Perhaps a more modern style may suit you.

As you can see, most of these dollhouse styles seem to date before the 1920s. Though this one has zebra rug and antique bust.

14. In a palace, you’ll find plenty of rooms with outrageous extravagance.

I’m sure this room is part of a palace. Includes a chandelier and other lavish decorations.

15. A garden can always bring beauty into a sitting room.

Seems like someone’s having a tea party in here. Yet, the pug has to grab a present.

16. I guess important business is conducted in this palace room.

Apparently, it’s quite gilded from ceiling to floor. Though you’d find fruit on the central table.

17. A white living room doesn’t need to be plain.

This room has a lot of fancy decorations. Guess this was in some lavish mansion.

18. Nobody has been to this laundromat for quite some time.

Seems like this place was built in the 1960s from what I could tell from the furniture. And the machines are all defunct.

19. We all need to relax in a calm room from time to time.

Seems like almost everything in here had to match the china. Though the chaise lounge seems quite comfy.

20. This swanky diner is always a happening place.

Indeed, this place seems straight from the 1950s. And yes, it’s made from a metal box.

21. A sultan would love to have a room like this.

This one has nice pillow seats around the table. Hope the wall is tiled with real mosaic, too.

22. The furniture must always match the wallpaper.

This one even has the curtains match as well. Got to love the pillows though.

23. A lavish throne room is always fit for a king.

This is part of a palace. Indeed, it’s quite lavish. Though I’m not sure about the color.

24. You’ll find all kinds of trinkets in this white room.

I guess the trees are photos for the background. Yet, you have to admire those Greek columns.

25. A Grecian living room should always carry a marble statue.

It’s even lit by a small chandelier. Still, got to love the fireplace.

26. Perhaps you want to lie on a flowery bed.

The floral wallpaper is pretty. Not sure how I feel about the covers.

27. You might prefer to lounge around in a more modern home.

You can see the living room on the bottom floor. And you can peek in the bedroom at the top.

28. You can’t go wrong with blue walls and white furniture.

Well, a couple of chairs aren’t white. But they go well with the white fireplace and shelf.

29. Every girl has to sleep in a pink bedroom once in awhile.

This room is in a little case. And yes, it has pink wallpaper and shelves.

30. Wonder what dresses are in store in this room.

After all, this room has plenty of dress pictures. So it’s not hard to assume it’s a dressing room.

31. A Christmas tree should always brighten a room around the holidays.

This one even includes candles which is a critical fire hazard. Though this display is supposed to reflect the 18th century.

32.  You should do your laundry in this room.

Since the whole laundry room is in a bottle of detergent. Still, got to love the clothesline.

33. Got to put some wood in the stove.

This is an old-fashioned stove with copper crockery. Thank God, we have electric.

34. A desk should have as many of compartments as you desire.

This one keeps books and papers inside the top shelves. Though the green color isn’t for me.

35. A bathroom should have a modern touch.

Sure it only has red walls and a mosaic floor. But are posters necessary?

36. A design studio should have plenty of light.

This one has rather simple and wide windows. Though seems like a great place for crafts.

37. Perhaps you’d like a room with some Asian flair.

Consists of pillow seats and a low table. Yet, they also match the red cushioned sofa.

38. A white bedroom always looks clean.

Includes a shelf for white and floral blankets. Love the flowers though.

39. Any little girl would love a bedroom like this. 

Has floral wallpaper and dolls on the bed. Also, you’ll find some on a shelf.

40. A 21st century kitchen should have some modern flair.

This one has a checkered floor with flowers on the tables. Includes a sleek new fridge, too.

41. Feel free to take the tea you want.

And it seems to be quite a tea party. Judging by how many teapots there are in this dining room.

42. An opulent couch can never have too many cushions.

Indeed, all these pillows come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns. Love the drapes.

43. Perhaps you’d want to sit back to a roaring fire in this rustic cabin.

I bet a fire is fake. Yet, the room seems to have a rather cozy atmosphere.

44. You can spend hours in this cozy living room.

Has a bookshelf beside the couch. While the coffee table contains cacti and a starfish.

45. Seems like there’s a special occasion going on.

This room is in a modern design. Love the fancy Chinese dragon rug.

46. When greeting guests, always make a grand entrance.

Contains a fancy green door with a fancy green ceiling. Oh, and there’s some gold railing.

47. A bathtub should always match the wallpaper.

Looks like an old bathroom given the bowl and pitcher. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a toilet.

48. Blue cabinets will surely brighten a kitchen.

Even has a fireplace next to the stove. Though you’ll find plenty of blue and white dishes.

49. You’d swear the bed was attached to the wardrobe.

This seems like something you’d find in a Renaissance castle. Yet, the woodwork is quite ornate.

50. You’d swear that you’ve been transported into an old-timey garage.

The cars are definitely Volkswagens. And some will need tires replaced.

51. Hope your kitchen is well tiled.

This is a more old-fashioned kitchen with a wooden ice box in the background. Also, note the blue and white porcelain.

52. Doesn’t hurt to gild your living room if you can afford it.

Indeed, it’s quite an extravagant parlor with flora chairs. Even includes a famous painting or 2.

53.  Want to hear a song in the music room?

You should look inside the piano. It’s quite an ornate work of art.

54. Perhaps you’d like a living room with an extravagant mural.

This mural features imagery from Greek mythology. Also includes exquisite gold columns to match.

55. A luxurious home should have luxurious furniture.

And I see this furniture set includes a bed for the dog. Not sure what to think about that.

56. A royal study should be fit for a king.

Includes a chandelier and a roll-top desk in gold trim. Even has gilded walls and mirror.

57. Sometimes simplicity is best.

Though this one hardly counts as simplicity. And yes, it has a fancy dog bed, too.

58. Guess this an empty theater long after the show is done.

Seems like it’s been abandoned. Yet, the light remains on for you to see the seats.

59. You’ll find whatever you need in this pantry.

Contains all kinds of food and preserves for all your desires. Though I don’t think I’d try the milk.

60. Sometimes a quality kitchen is a fancy kitchen.

This kitchen even contains paintings. Not sure if it belongs in a room where you cook food.

61. With high columns, your home can look like a palace.

Though I think they were actually going for the Roman palace look. And yes, there’s plenty of gild to go around.

62. You’ll have plenty of counter space in this sleek modern kitchen.

Includes an oven and plenty of shelving. Could easily see this in an IKEA catalog.

63. A pantry should have everything well stored.

You’ll find all sorts of things in here. Even a Canadian goose on the table.

64. The scullery will take care of your dirty dishes.

And I see there’s a washboard and tub on the other side. Definitely not a room I’d want to be in.

65. Hope you enjoy a walk down the halls.

And yes, there’s an ornate archway. But feel free to look at the pretty paintings.

66. A stately room should have fine lavender curtains.

Has a big chandelier with fine paintings. The chairs are rather ornate, too.

67. A grand entrance must always impress.

Gas 2 grand staircases coming down the middle. But take a peek at the paintings.

68. In a Tudor room, you always rely on the window light.

Don’t see a lot of furniture here. Yet, I do find a chandelier.

69. If you can’t have cabinets, curtains work just as well.

Counter is filled with food. Yet, you’d always come to a sunny kitchen with that kind of light from the windows.

70. You will always enjoy fine dining in a green room.

You have to admire the fine wooden furnishings. While the chandelier has candles to light up the room.

71. Perhaps you might prefer to dine in a large white room.

Wonder if this is a palace room. Since it sure looks like it. Though I do love the large painting.

72. A blue bedroom can always make you relax.

Has a nice mural on the ceiling to look at. Includes white furniture with blue drapes and cushions.

73. Care to dine in a fancy room?

Has a lot of wooden furniture with a white fireplace. Includes a table filled with culinary delights.

74. Enjoy a recital in this gilded music room.

Even the piano is gilt with gold. And it has a big chandelier from the ceiling.

75. Mirror walls make for a luxurious bathroom.

Has a lovely marble bathtub with sink. Not sure how I feel about the mirrors though.

76. A living room should always have a fine mix of wooden and floral furniture.

The floral couches have gold upholstery. While a large painting sits above the fireplace.

77. You’ll find plenty of tables in this hallway.

Well, it’s more of a social hall. Contains plenty of palm trees near the table areas.

78. At this apothecary, you’ll find a cure for whatever ails you.

Has plenty of jars and boxes in fine packaging. There’s even a witch’s picture near the window.

79. An Art Deco kitchen will always give what you need.

The cabinets are in black and white. While the ice box is in a separate room.

80.  Get all the produce you want from this market stand.

You can see all the fruit and vegetables to your heart’s delight. Wonder what each item costs.

81. Sometimes all you need is a nice, cozy dining room.

Even has a couple of dogs sleeping off from the table. Also has a green fireplace and archway.

82. A quaint entrance always leaves room for flowers.

Sure it’s not extravagant. Yet, seems like a rather quaint front entrance you’d find almost anywhere.

83. Now I would definitely get myself ready in this dressing room.

Mostly because the walls and furniture are purple, which is my favorite color. Love this room.

84. “Grandma, what big teeth  you have?”

This is a miniature rendition of Little Red Riding Hood. And yes, the wolf is up to no good here.

85. This living room is fit for any Renaissance man or woman.

Has high columns with a globe and harp. Even has a wooden ship model.

86. Guess this bedroom belongs to an artist type.

You can see a couple of paintings near the bed. And yes, it’s in a modern design.

87. A bright cyan bedroom will always lift one’s spirits.

Has a white bed inside. While the upholstery is in gold. Yes, lavish indeed.

88. Sometimes a simple kitchen is all you need.

You’d think this was an old kitchen. Until you see a small package of Ritz crackers.

89.  You’ll find plenty of dishes in this cabinet.

The dishes consist of fine china and jugs. Perfect for any old American kitchen.

90. Care to take a holiday reservation?

This seems like a rather swanky restaurant or hotel. Still, love the Christmas tree in the next room.

91. Gold furniture never goes out of style.

Once again, the set includes a luxurious dog bed. Like the gold divider though.

92. Kick back and relax in this rustic bedroom.

Has a deer head aboce the bed. And plaid curtains on each side to match. Great for a weary traveler.

93. A fancy room should always have some fancy furniture.

The walls are quite elaborate with Greek columns and wide windows. Love the chandelier.

94. Perhaps a small house may suit your fancy.

Even has a piano outside for serenades. But where’s the bathroom and the kitchen?

95. Perhaps you might go for a fancy bathroom with an ornate sink.

Comes with a chandelier and a shelf above the tub. Has a stained glass window on the tub ceiling.

96. There’s nothing like a hard day in the garden.

Contains birdhouses and pots. Even includes a rusty wagon.

97. A lovely living room should always give way to large windows.

Has a floral mural above the fireplace. Nonetheless, the pets seem to enjoy this room.

98. Wooden walls always make for a fine dining room.

The woodwork on this dining room is amazing. Love the chairs, too.

99. Blue walls will always make a room more elegant.

Here the dog sits by the wicker chair and ottoman. Love the curtain on the right.

100. A dining room should always look its best to entice guests.

Here the table is all set up and surrounded by paintings. Guess it’s a state dinner at a palace.

How Donald Trump Makes Money Off the Presidency

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Among the barrage of Donald Trump’s scandals, legislative failings, and Twitter tantrums, that appear in the news with constant regularity, there are plenty that seem to fall through the cracks. One of these concerns Trump’s businesses and his holding power as president. Despite promising to divest himself from his businesses while in office (he hasn’t), Trump is actively profiting from the presidency, which the founders never intended. While we still don’t have his tax returns to shed light on whether his behavior benefits his business’ ledgers, we know taxpayer money has been flowing to some of his businesses like Mar-a-Lago. However, despite the public seeing their tax dollars flow directly to the Trump Organization every time he goes golfing at his resorts and the rules being laid out in the Constitution, nobody has tried to stop this.

Previous presidents have disclosed and divested, so this hasn’t been a problem. After all, the Founding Fathers wrote protections into the US Constitution with emoluments clauses making it illegal for presidents to receive gifts from foreign governments or federal and state governments. Now Donald Trump did promise to release his tax returns during the campaign, and divest himself from his business while in office to avoid conflict of interests. After all, he promised to “drain the swamp” which his supporters think it meant that he’d stop corruption in Washington DC like limiting access to lobbyists, curbing deals with foreign governments, and refusing to profit from the White House. Yet, unlike his predecessors, he’s does nothing more than the legal minimum required.

However, we must understand that corruption and egregious abuses of power makes Donald Trump who he is. In fact, since he came to Washington DC, the United States has seen an unprecedented attack on presidential ethics. Trump campaign donors have gotten cushy White House jobs. Goldman Sacks bankers wrote the GOP tax plan. But most importantly, Trump hasn’t divested and most likely had no intention to in the first place. He doesn’t care about conflicts of interest. So he’s still making money.

First of all, the Trump Organization is huge private company with properties and business interests all over the world. But we don’t have a clear picture of exactly how big and valuable it is. According to a February 2018 Forbes report, Donald Trump rakes in at least $175 million a year from commercial tenants like the state-owned Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. But it’s impossible to say which companies pay him and how much because federal disclosure laws don’t require an accounting of where his businesses get their money. So we don’t know where the money’s coming from and how much he’s getting. Since he hasn’t released his tax returns either. And that’s a big problem since Trump probably has many conflicts of interest that could influence public policy. As Forbes noted, “Take any hot-button issue of the past year, and there’s a good chance Trump’s tenants lobbied the federal government on it, either in support of or in opposition to the administration’s position.” In fact, according to Forbes, at least 3 dozen Trump tenants have “meaningful relationships with the federal government, from contractors to lobbying firms to regulatory targets.”

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Here’s a CREW timeline of Trump trademark approval actions by governments overseas. Not the ones coming from China.

In addition, foreign governments have been quick to figure out how to get on Donald Trump’s good side. According to a January McClatchy article, they’ve “donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.” The Chinese government has granted Trump at least 39 trademarks since he took office while his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka has received 7 since she joined the administration.

Then there’s the fact the Trump Organization still sells real estate. Last summer, a USA Today investigation found that during the last year Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, “70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.” According to the paper, overall in 2017, Trump’s companies, “sold more than $35 million in real estate … mostly to secretive shell companies that obscure buyers’ identities.” So since Trump became the Republican nominee and later president, mysterious investors have poured millions of dollars into his coffers.

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Since Donald Trump became president, the Trump International Hotel has become the go-to place for foreign visitors and anyone else wanting to curry favor with the White House. Not to mention, the GOP holds a lot of activities there. The lighting above the arch is by an anti-Trump protester.

Of course, the most obvious Donald Trump uses his position as president to promote his own business interest is through mixing and matching his presidential activities with his own properties while charging Secret Service and transportation costs to taxpayers. As Washington University professor Kathleen Clark told ProPublica, “Trump appears to be commandeering federal resources in order to maximize revenues at Trump properties, and he does this by visiting properties close to the White House. And when he travels to the golf courses in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey, other agencies that are involved in supporting the president end up spending money.” In fact, he spent 1/3 of his first year in office visiting his own commercial properties. Every Trump appearance at his properties is a marketing event. According to financial disclosures, Trump hotel revenue soared over the past few years. In 2015, records show just $16.7 million in hotel and resort revenues. In 2016, that income more than doubled to $33.8 million. Since Trump moved into the White House, Trump hotel income jumped about 80%, reaching $60.8 million in 2017. Sure in late 2016, Trump opened the Old Post Office Hotel in Washington DC despite the clear guideline that, “No elected official of the Government of the United States…shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease.” Since then, it’s become the go-to hotel for any foreign visitor looking to win favors from the Trumps as well as headquarters to GOP activity in DC.

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TIME magazine has a good cover for Donald Trump’s DC hotel. Funny how they call it “The Swamp Hotel” since Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” Though I think he might’ve meant the Everglades than Washington.

But what the public doesn’t know is that Donald Trump wasn’t the only political and/or business figure to visit his properties. According to a January 2018 report by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, during Trump’s first year in office, his properties hosted more than 100 executive branch officials, 30 members of Congress, and more than a dozen state officials. Trump’s properties also hosted events held by at least 40 special interest groups. At least 11 foreign governments and 6 foreign officials have appeared on Trump properties since 2017. The Kuwaiti Embassy held a National Day celebration in 2017 and 2018 at Trump’s D.C. hotel. While one Asian diplomat told the Washington Post shortly after Trump’s election that going to his D.C. hotel makes perfect sense, “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?'” In the business sector, USA Today found that executives from 50 government contractors and 21 lobbyists hold Trump club memberships.

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This is a CREW graph on top campaign spenders at Trump properties. You can see Trump’s top the list. But Republican governors and politicians aren’t far behind.

The Center of Responsive politics sorted the spending of political committees at Trump properties with Donald Trump’s own campaign events topping the list. In 2017 alone, Trump’s 2020 campaign spent $760,064 at buildings he owns. And since Trump still owns these properties, he and his family make extra money every time he holds a fundraiser. Since Trump’s DC Hotel is only a block away from the Justice Department and close to the White House, anyone who wants to make a contribution to Trump’s pockets simply books events there. Same goes for New York’s Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago. In 2016, the RNC spent $146,521 at Trump properties and $173,416 in 2017.

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Here’s a CREW map of members of Congress who’ve visited a Trump property. Kind of surprised to see Ted Cruz on there given what Donald Trump put him through. Yet, I don’t see Devin Nunes for some reason since he was on Trump’s transition team.

Before assuming office, Donald Trump vowed to donate his DC hotel profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury. However, to no one’s surprise months later, the Trump Organization admitted that tracking all foreign government money was “impractical.” But it promised to donate profits from guests self-identifying as foreign government representatives. Yet, in early 2018 the Trump Organization announced that it had donated profits from “foreign government patronage” after all but declined to disclose specifics like as the Washington Post speculated, “How much was donated? Which Trump properties were included in this accounting? Which foreign entities had paid money to Trump’s businesses?”

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Here’s a CREW map of foreign governments that have paid a Trump-owned entity since the inauguration. Includes China, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Turkey, and Malaysia.

Furthermore, neither Donald Trump nor his team have shied away from promoting his brand. After the 2016 election, Trump signaled he’d spend a great deal of time at his Mar-a-Lago in Florida. In turn, the club doubled its membership fees to $200,000 before taxes and charged $175 more to $600-$750 for its New Year’s Eve party. From January to August 2017, 2/3 of the 50 executives and lobbyist club members played golf on days Trump was. White House spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway promoted Ivanka brands on Fox News for God’s sake. During his first year in office, Trump mentioned his private businesses at least 35 times according to CREW estimates. Overall, their report found that political groups spent over $1.2 billion at Trump properties during his first year in office, after never having spent more than $100,000 “in any given year going back to at least 2002.” CREW chair and former Obama ethics czar Noah Eisen tweeted that the group’s report described Trump as “the most unethical presidency,” adding, “Year two has been even worse—& it’s just getting started.” In the fall of 2017, the Trump Organization debuted Trumpstore.com where you can buy all other-than-made-in-the-USA #MAGA gear, which is just another Trump family cash grab.

Nor is Donald Trump the only one in his family profiting from the presidency. In June 2018, the Washington Post reported: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to new financial disclosure forms released Monday. Ivanka Trump earned $3.9 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, while Kushner reported over $5 million in income from Quail Ridge, a Kushner Cos. apartment complex acquired last year in Plainsboro, New Jersey. The filings show how the couple are collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests.” Allowing Ivanka and Kushner retain their outside income sources is remarkable since Cabinet officials are required to divest themselves from their holdings or abide by strict rules imposed by a blind trust. Shortly after the inauguration, the State Department’s web page promoted Melania’s jewelry line. The Secret Service has even provided protection for Trump’s family as they go on business trips as well, with their expenses being paid on the taxpayer dime.

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Here’s a small snapshot of Donald Trump’s and his administration’s over 500 conflicts of interest. You many not be able to read everything on here. But it’s truly staggering.

So why is all this a problem? Because it’s against the rules at a constitutional scale. The presidency shouldn’t be a get-rich-quick scheme. No president or First Family member should use the Oval Office to enhance their wealth. With his business interests on his mind, Donald Trump is making decisions as a country’s leader and under the guise of what’s best for the nation. But since he won’t be in office forever, he’s possibly putting Trump Organization interest before public interest. As CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder put it, “Every decision President Trump makes in the course of his job is followed by the specter of corruption. Because of his steady stream of conflicts, we have to question whether each decision he makes was made in the best interest of the American people or the best interest of his bottom line.” CREW estimates that Trump has over 500 conflicts of interest, which a clear picture of a presidency being used to turn a profit and his businesses serving as access points to corridors of power. Bookbinder adds, “Just as we feared, President Trump is not only making money in spite of his official position, in many cases, he’s making money because of it.”

Of course, the courts need to hash out this though with Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court almost a done deal, does this harm the public? (Absolutely). Is there any proof Trump’s violating the Constitution? (Yes, the Emoluments Clause which forbids the president from accepting money from foreign governments). Fortunately, the apparent Emoluments Clause violations haven’t gone unnoticed as several lawsuits work their way through the courts. It appears quite serious as Trump businesses are subpoenaed and ordered to preserve documents. 3-4 suits have been filed so far. Naturally, the Trump administration asked that they’d be thrown out. Again, a judge will decide if Donald Trump’s broken the law. As of March 2018, one suit has been thrown out in December while the others endure and may be gaining traction.

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Donald Trump doesn’t see anything wrong with profiting from the presidency. Since he sees himself having the right to the spoils. Nonetheless, making the presidency for sale greatly undermines our democracy.

So how is Donald Trump’s legal team defending profiting off the presidency? For one, despite how rich he is, we taxpayers are paying for lawyers to argue that Trump has a right to profit from his presidency. And according to a USA Today article, it all boils down to this: “The taxpayer-funded lawyers are making the case that it is not unconstitutional for the president’s private companies to earn profits from foreign governments and officials while he’s in office.” Further, “The government lawyers and Trump’s private attorneys are making the same arguments — that the Constitution’s ban on a president taking gifts from foreign interests in exchange for official actions does not apply to foreign government customers buying things from Trump’s companies. The plaintiffs, including ethics groups and competing businesses, argue the payments pose an unconstitutional conflict of interest.” Or to quote Trump before he took office, “The president can’t have a conflict of interest.” However, we must keep in mind that Donald Trump doesn’t see himself as constrained to any norm, rules, or even laws. He was born into wealth and privilege and sees himself exempt from certain restraints that get in his way that would land the average person in jail. Profiting off the presidency is political corruption at its finest and not at all normal. Yet, like any con artist businessman, Trump sees profit as natural and immediate spoils of office.

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This is a map of where Donald Trump owns property outside the United States. You can see that Russia is in bright yellow since it interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.

Whether you can agree or disagree with Donald Trump’s actions, it’s very obvious he’s at least violating the spirit of the law. After all, he promised to step away from his interests but didn’t, implying he knew he should’ve before taking office. But it’s still hard to say whether or not a court will throw the book at him since there’s not much legal precedent here. However, since presidential ethics laws never foresaw a businessman president who wouldn’t follow political norms of divesting himself from his businesses, disclosing his taxes, and generally trying to avoid conflicts of interests, much of this may be legal.

Nonetheless, it’s more than just making sure that a president acts in good faith while in office. The real issue here is establishing precedent moving forward. While Capitol Hill seems fine letting Donald Trump get away with anything he wants including Emoluments violations, what can we expect from future presidents? While it’s a test for the courts, it’s also one for how much the public is willing to put up with from our elected officials. If we don’t put our foot down now, what happens when another more competent president goes out of bounds?

But what’s certain is that each day he occupies the White House, Donald Trump continues to profit from the presidency and possibly because he’s the man in the Oval Office. By promoting his business in an official capacity without shame and by offering access and influence to his businesses’ patrons, Trump sends a message to special interests and foreign government that his administration is for sale. This is no message an American president should send to the world since it shows that Trump’s support can be bought with patronage. While most Americans can’t even afford to stay at any of his resorts or visit his golf courses. This isn’t how American democracy should function. Nonetheless, the remaining years of the Trump administration are unlikely to be any different unless the American people and their Congressional representatives demand better.

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How Donald Trump Tried to Evict Rent-Controlled Tenants

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This is 100 Central Park South, which Donald Trump bought in 1981. During the 1980s, he had plans to demolish it for a tower of luxury condos. Unfortunately for him,, a group of rent controlled tenants lived there.

Donald Trump may be elected president thanks to receiving about 60 million votes, the Electoral College, and help from the Russians back in 2016. But in his hometown in New York City, he is almost universally loathed. The city may be a haven for liberals and elites but remember it’s the same place who elected Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Yet, Trump has been disliked in NYC for decades that Sesame Street parodied him as a sleazy villain since the late 1980s. Since he and his dad were indicted by the Justice for housing discrimination in the 1970s, the people of New York City have witnessed Trump concoct his dastardly and often at their expense. Over the years, Trump has preyed on them with false promises, exploited them, scammed them, and abused them for his own enrichment. He’s even inflamed racial tensions for his own benefit like his page long ad calling for the executions of the Central Park Five. At best, New Yorkers see him as a sleazy con artist who’s not to be trusted. At worst, they see him as a nightmare. If the people of New York City despise Trump, it’s not because the politics. It’s because they know exactly who he is and why he should’ve never become president.

At 35 years old, Donald Trump was the epitome of American business bravado. He had cut multi-million land deals, saved a blighted midtown Manhattan subway hub by overhauling a building near Grand Central Station that would become the Grand Hyatt New York, and was in the process of erecting the black-framed glass behemoth, the 68-story Trump Tower. After he destroyed the old Bonwit Teller Building including the Art Deco sculptures he promised not to. And with the labor of undocumented Polish workers who were paid less than $5 an hour and lived in squalid conditions.

In 1981, Donald Trump bought the Barbizon Plaza Hotel and a neighboring 14-story apartment building on prime real estate facing New York City’s Central Park. Addressed at 100 Central Park South he paid $13 million for, he had plans to tear down the buildings and replace them with luxury condos. It would be an audacious project and on one of New York City’s most desirable blocks. Two months later, he applied for a demolition permit to blow it up.

But there was one problem. In 60 of 100 Central Park South’s 80 apartments, rent-stabilized tenants already lived Central Park South building. Donald Trump describes renters as privileged, rich “yuppies” who unfairly benefitted from rent-control, claiming the rent he collected barely covered expenses. That’s why he installed cheaper lightbulbs to cut back. As he claimed, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the rich, it’s that they have a very low threshold for even the mildest discomfort.” To be fair, a low rent home a short walk away from Broadway theaters and Carnegie Hall is a pretty sweet deal. Dentist Dr. Michael Richman paid $700 a month for his apartment. Fashion designer Arnold Scaasi paid $985 for his mind-blowing, 6-bedroom with killer views of Central Park. B-movie actress and original Rockette Suzanne Blackmer paid $203.59 month for her 2-bedroom unit which wasn’t her primary residence. A 3-room apartment in the building overlooking the part could be as low as $436 a month. In New York City this was the stuff of legend.

In reality, while rich people did inhabit a share of these apartments, most of the tenants were either working people or middle class retirees living on fixed incomes and Social Security who’ve resided there for over 20 years. None epitomizes this like B-movie Suzanne Blackmer who’d many would think was living quite extravagantly. But that wasn’t the case for she was only living on $10,000 a year from Social Security, occasional acting gigs, and a pension from the Screen Actors Guild she earned by appearing in
over 60 films. Sure she may have had multiple residences, but she kept that apartment as a place to stay for her job.

Donald Trump often demonized the tenants as freeloading millionaires as a way to justify his harassment against the tenants at 100 Central Park South. It didn’t matter who they were. It was about getting the New York City public on his side. After all, New Yorkers would hate rich people getting very good deals on prime real estate given how expensive the city rents are. And it helped that a noted fashion designer, an architect, and a B-movie actress had units there for cheap rents. As Trump stated in The Art of the Deal, “Rent control is a disaster for all but the privileged minority who are protected by it. As much as any other single factor, rent control is responsible for the desperate housing crisis that has plagued NYC for the past 20 years.” Ironically, we should keep in mind that Trump has amassed his fortune thanks in large part to government handouts.
So in order to get his luxury condos, Donald Trump wanted to get them out. After applying for the demolition permit, he fired the building manager and replaced him with Citadel Management. According to The Art of the Deal, Trump claimed he chose a company that “specialized in relocating tenants.” While most landlords commonly try buying tenants out, Trump and Citadel Management tried to get the job done for free. At first, Citadel hired agents to constantly call tenants constantly, asking to show them other properties and convincing them that they’d have to move regardless. Most tenants refused for obvious reasons.

In the meantime, they did the bare minimum one could legally get away with in terms of upkeep. These included things like removing light covers, not cleaning up the lobby, ignoring repairs and maintenance, barring doormen from carrying up packages, and putting up aluminum foil on windows facing Central Park to give the building a run down appearance. Garbage filled the hallways and elevators as rats began to swarm. And tenants weren’t even allowed to erect a Christmas tree in the lobby. According to their 1982 lawsuit, tenants claimed that Donald Trump had cut their hot water and heat during New York’s freezing winters and stopped all building repairs. One said he allowed “a rodent infestation of the premises.” Another stated he imposed burdensome new rules in an attempt to force them out. However, building superintendent Anthony Ramirez, swore in court that Trump’s building managers gave him explicit instructions. “They didn’t want any repairs done. No cleaning. No accepting of packages.” As a result of the lack of maintenance, fashion designer Arnold Scaasi’s luxurious apartment was plagued by water leaks. One imperiled his art collection that included a 1926 Picasso and works of art by Claud Monet. And he wasn’t the only one. A 10 month water leak in Apartment 14B got so nasty that 2 brothers who grew up there saw brown and white mushrooms sprouting from their bedroom carpet. One told CNN Money, “It felt like we were under attack. Trump did his best not to repair anything.” Yet, Donald Trump refused to do anything about it.

On one occasion, when Donald Trump’s new building manager reported a burglary, dentists with apartment offices were ordered to send patients to a garbage-filled service elevator. Dr. Michael Richman refused to comply, complaining in court documents that Trump “mounted a campaign of harassment.” He then added, “Mr. Trump is willing to resort to any device or tactic to drive out the tenants from the building.” Trump’s lawyers fought back, questioning whether the dentist’s office even qualified for rent control.

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This is what the eviction threat from Donald Trump looks like. And he sent this to an elderly couple, by the way.

On New Year’s Eve, several tenants received “lease violation” warning letters. The previous owners had permitted renters to knock down walls and renovate their apartment units at least 10 to 20 years prior. He reversed the exception and gave renters only 12 days to rebuild the walls or face eviction. Another time, Donald Trump sued tenant Andersen Clipper for not paying rent despite that he actually did. New York City Judge Jay Dankberg dismissed the case as “spurious and unnecessary,” as well as blasted Trump for trying to “harass” Clipper and forced the huckster to refund 5% of his rent. He then wrote, “To most landlords happiness is having tenants who pay the rent each month without prodding or litigation. However, [Trump] is apparently searching for double happiness.” According to his estranged wife Nancy who remembers the lawsuits and the refusal to fix things, “It was really a horrible experience.” She then described Trump as “insensitive, rude, and just a generally nasty man. I would never have considered him presidential.”

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This is real estate lawyer David Rozenholc who represented the tenants at 100 Central Park South. Due to his aggressive litigation nature, he’s kind of like a Michael Avenatti in the real estate world. Also, Donald Trump sued his firm in retaliation for $150 million on corruption charges.

The renters weren’t going anywhere. After all, most of them were senior citizens on rent-control and with no other place to go. In response, they hired a particularly aggressive real estate lawyer named David Rozenholc and sued Donald Trump and his company, Park South Associates. New York state judges stepped in to put Trump’s lease violation notices on hold on at least 2 occasions. Since Rozenholc took advantage of a legal flaw to block Trump’s application to begin construction. He also sued Trump for harassing his clients and having management instruct the superintendent to spy on them. In return, Trump sued Rozenholc’s firm in a federal suit for racketeering and sought $105 million in damages, which was later dismissed since it was stupid.

In 1982 and 1983, Donald Trump put out newspaper advertisements offering to shelter homeless people offering them a dozen or so free apartments with “beautiful views.” But seeing how Trump often does seemingly charitable things on selfish motives, tenants saw the move as a ruthless attempt to drive them out. Trump denied it, telling the New York Times, “Some people think I’m just doing a number on the people in the building. That’s not true. I just want to help with the homeless problem. It’ll take two or three years to get everybody out, and in the meantime I’ll have more and more vacant apartments for the indigent.” He even offered to pay for nurses and medical supplies to treat the homeless. But New York’s Human Resources deputy administrator Robert Trobe told the Times that Trump’s offer did “not seem appropriate.” In end the city declined, questioning the wisdom of moving homeless people into a building headed for demolition. Though not without a refugee charity suggesting he house Polish refugees which Trump balked at saying his offer was only for those “live in America now, not refugees.”

Alleged spying took place, too. According to superintendent Anthony Ramirez, Donald Trump’s building manager told him monitor, “the personal habits of the tenants” and “keep a list on the tenants’ activities.” While Ramirez defend Trump on maintenance issues, spying went too far. He told the manager, “Sir, I have too many things on my conscience at this late stage in life, and I don’t need anymore headaches. I’m here to do my job and to do repairs to the building.” Apparently, Trump wanted to spy on the tenants in an attempt to dig dirt on them to use as blackmail or get them evicted. Trump denied this in a sworn 1985 affidavit. First, he claimed he didn’t directly run building owner Park South Associates (despite that corporate documents show he owned 60% of the company and was the only listed officer). Second, he swore he kept the building in tip-top shape with a previous New York housing agency inspection to back it up, finding that “all public areas were clean.”

However, the same state agency, the New York’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal went after Donald Trump, too. They sued, charging him of harassing tenants after the tenants sent a barrage of complaints alleging harassment, “drastic decreases in essential services,” and “persistent delay in repairing defective conditions with life-threatening potential.” Several even went on a rent strike. The New York City filed a similar suit months later, mentioning daily harassment, “wrongful acts and
omissions”, bogus nonpayment notices, and utilities that were turned off, by Trump’s agents. The city lost the injunction in September 1985 with the state Supreme Court justice stating, The danger of irreparable harm to the tenants seems to be minimal now that the challenged activities of the defendants are under the scrutiny of the various departments of the City of New York.

Yet, there was a glimmer of peace in 1985. According to court documents, Donald Trump and the tenants’ association leader discussed a potential deal. The renters planned to team up and buy the building for $15 million to free themselves from their dreaded landlord. You’d think Trump would accept this deal and everyone would live happily ever after. But no. Instead, he used that opportunity to accuse the tenants shady behavior like using harassment lawsuits to cover their real motivations. As his attorneys claimed, tenants were “waging a ceaseless guerrilla-type war… to coerce a bargain sale of the building,” He then sued them for $150 million, escalating the legal battle. In a 1985 New York Times editorial, Sydney Schanberg called Trump a “slumlord.” Trump’s lawyers responded in an op-ed attacking Schanberg, Rozenholc, New York City, and called it a “political maneuver in a mayoral election year.”

By 1986, Trump had spent over $1 million fighting the tenants and only $160,000 on repairs. Thankfully, he finally settled with the tenants’ association that year. He then cut his attorneys a $550,000 check and agreed to let the housing agency monitor repairs for 5 years. The tenants could stay in their apartments paying their preexisting rents. As Tony Schwartz detailed in a 1985 New York Times article, “how a bunch of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants in an old building… have managed to do what city agencies, courts, colleagues, competitors, and the National Football League have never been able to do: successfully stand in the way of something Donald Trump wants.” He described Trump as “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.”

However, the harassment still didn’t stop. Donald Trump may have gave up demolition, but he decided to renovate and later convert the building into condos instead. Elderly couple Alvin and Catalina Meyer, the wife plagued with emphysema and dying of cancer. So it was a particularly rude awakening when Trump’s construction workers woke Catalina up at 7 a.m. by drilling holes in the ceiling above her bed. The construction crew also set up a workstation in the apartment next door. Mrs. Meyer complained about the dust in the air. According to court papers, she claimed, “I am a very sick woman battling for my life. I have begged for reasonableness. The landlord will not be reasonable.” After nearly a decade of nonstop fighting, tenants started turning on one another. Trump told them he couldn’t fix the building’s heating system because Mrs. Meyer didn’t give construction workers access to their apartment. Fellow tenants told Meyer to back down while her lawsuit fizzled out when her own attorney left her.

The fighting died down in the 1990s, only to pop up again in 2000 when 72-year-old Carmel Rheingold sued Donald Trump in a New York State court for overcharging her $40,000 in rent over 4 years. He paid that money back. In 1998, Trump struck a deal with the building’s remaining inhabitants allowing them to either buy their apartments at a markdown or keep renting without further pressure to leave.

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A 1988 Sesame Street episode when Oscar the Grouch signs on with Ronald Grump is said to be based on this 1980s tenant dispute.

In the end, no judge ever ruled that tenants were being harassed. After all, Donald Trump settled but he didn’t get his way. The building remains in place to this day. According to city records, Trump’s company owns 18 units and his son Eric has an apartment on the top floor. At least 2 renters actually bought their apartments. But most died or moved away. Nonetheless, as of 2016, there are still tenants who still pay rent-control rates. Meanwhile the 106 Central Park South next door offers a glimpse of what Trump would’ve built at 100 Central Park South if he had the chance: largely luxury developments sitting mostly vacant accruing value for their super wealthy owners.
Donald Trump’s dispute with the tenants of 100 Central Park South remains a defining moment that shows his character in the minds of many New Yorkers. As New York journalist and author of Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Wayne Barrett told CNN Money, “This was a concrete choice he made, knowing he would disrupt the lives of many middle income, elderly people. He has absolutely no excuse.” In 1987, Suzanne Blackmer said of Trump, “He has such an ego. He wants to be Jesus. He wants to be Hitler. He wants to be the most powerful thing in the world.”

Looking back, you can see Trump waging a different sort of campaign but with many of the same tactics he deployed during the 2016 campaign and his presidency like the threats, theatrics, and penchant for hyperbole. David Rozenholc said of Trump in 2016, “He knows how to negotiate, he knows how to use leverage and he’s very perceptive about his opponent’s vulnerabilities. It didn’t work against me, but when you deal with Putin and Iran, these could be useful qualities.” In The Art of the Deal, Trump acknowledged that he deliberately tried driving out tenants, but claimed most of them were exploiting undeserved government subsidies. He recalled getting rid of free telephone in the building’s lobby which he claimed tenants were using, “to call their friends in Gstaad and St. Moritz.” Yet, tenant Madelyn Rubenstein and 2 other residents at the time could only remember a pay phone in the building. Nor has Trump admitted defeat as he told The New York Times, “It was a long battle, but it was a successful battle. As usual, I came out on top.” Some may think that Trump’s slumlord past has little to do with his presidency, but the episode reveals Trump’s character as a man who sees dollars and cents over people’s lives. While his callous attitude has made him a marketplace success drawing fans from all walks of life, he’s profoundly unsuited for a very humanistic job of holding the American people’s best interests.

But more importantly, Donald Trump’s clash with the 100 Central Park South tenants shows that he’s not invincible. And he can be stopped. The rent-controlled tenants at 100 Central Park South fought hard to keep their homes for years and won. They hired attorneys. They took their cause to the media. They went on rent strikes. They applied pressure to state institutions into taking action. In the end, Trump had give up his plans to demolish the building and settle with them. If we band together in solidarity and resist Trump’s monstrous presidency and his unpopular, repressive policies. We may not be able to remove him from office, but we don’t have to let him get his way. In the name of freedom and democracy, let us all unite as Americans and stop this unrespectable man. once and for all.

A Profile in Courage or Cowardice

On Wednesday, September 5, 2018, The New York Times published an op-ed by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration under the headline “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump White House.” The official writes that they’re one of many “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [President Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.” To put it in other words, “don’t worry because we Trump appointees are working from the inside to stop Trump from fulfilling parts of his agenda we disagree with.” The author’s motives were immediately questioned and reasonably so. But you have to wonder why this person just doesn’t quit. Is it good for people aware of Donald Trump’s dangers to stay inside the administration in an attempt to undermine it from within?

The op-ed’s major problem is with its lack of accountability. The “senior official in the Trump administration” raises a serious question on whether Donald Trump is fit to be president (oh, hell no) before slipping past any follow-up responsibility. Instead of leading a public debate of possible 25th Amendment invocation to remove Trump from office, the writer encourages Americans to trust the administration officials in the background. The author claims, “it’s okay, we got this.” For they‘ll thwart his “misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

But how much credibility should Americans give to someone who takes shots from a secret hideaway? The alleged presence of secret saviors shouldn’t surprise anyone. Every White House adviser should see it as part of their job to smother bad ideas and save the president from misguided impulses. But anonymously bashing one’s boss is disloyal and more likely makes everyone in the organization paranoid than fix anything. Though knowing the kind of boss Donald Trump is, I can hardly blame the writer for bashing him. Yet, unlike what Donald Trump states in his outbursts, it’s not treason in the slightest. Apparently, this Trump official wants a paper trail to show the world in case things go south.

The op-ed tells us nothing that we already know. It’s already established that Donald Trump is morally bankrupt, has no coherent worldview outside the primacy of his own ego and interests, and moves from objective to objective. How many times a week do news outlets and comedians broadcast his tweets? The op-ed depicts Donald Trump as anti-trade and anti-democratic while characterizing his leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” According to the writer, Trump goes on long, repetitive rants and makes “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions.” Yet, you can easily see this whenever you tune on the news. But don’t worry, these “unsung heroes” will protect America from Trump’s “erratic behavior.” If they really feel the need to subvert Trump to protect the country, why not go all the way and get that fucking piece of shit out of the White House.

The piece suggests that the United States is currently under a “two-tier” presidency. If Donald Trump wants to do something his underlings like, they go along with it. If he wants to do something they don’t, they find ways around it. This is consistent with Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear where he describes senior officials taking things off Trump’s desk to prevent him from seeing them. However, make no mistake that those working for the Trump administration and carrying out any part of his agenda are enabling him for their own benefit, not undermining him. If Trump is so incompetent that his most trusted advisers have to play peekaboo for national security’s sake, they should work to get him out of office. Not sparing us from his cruelest instincts isn’t enough, especially if they involve sabotaging Obamacare, separating families at the border, pandering to white supremacists, being way too friendly to authoritarian dictators like Vladimir Putin, getting rid of essential regulations to satisfy major corporations, and neglecting Puerto Rico and Flint. Furthermore, Trump believes that the Justice Department should allow his allies get way with crimes but prosecute his enemies maliciously for whatever’s under the sun. Like any dictator, he thinks it should be illegal to criticize or read any criticism of him. And he believes that ethnic and religious minorities he’s bound to respect. Not to mention, Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the US Supreme Court and will very well be confirmed. Yet, Kavanaugh could bring Trump’s authoritarian agenda to fruition. More importantly, Kavanaugh believes that Republican presidents are above the law and won’ answer basic questions about conversations he’s had regarding the special counsel investigation. While the Kavanaugh nomination may be less fun and dramatic than the anonymous op-ed from the White House, it will have a far greater impact on American life.

Alas, these Trump officials are cowards too afraid of facing the consequences. While they hand-wave the notion, thus: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.” How is utilizing the 25th Amendment cause a constitutional crisis while admitting to subvert a so-called democratically elected president wouldn’t? The truth is Republicans like the “two-track” arrangement and don’t want Trump out of office. Because they’re advancing a right-wing economic agenda that any other batshit Republican president would’ve championed while preserving the popularity of Trump’s base. Everyone who works for Trump and his Republican allies knows he’s dangerously unfit for to be president. Yet, they’re willing to abdicate their constitutional responsibilities, sacrifice democratic principles, sell their souls, and leave their conscience at the door in a Faustian exchange for upper-income tax cuts, starving the social safety net, or solidifying a right-wing federal judiciary. Furthermore, the fact the author defends Trump’s policy agenda of “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more,” illustrating their conservative leanings. The writer even notes in the beginning that “ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.” That’s not a voice of a resister, that’s an enabler. A resister like myself wants the Trump administration to go down in flames.

Nonetheless, the anonymous op-ed allows the author to have it both ways. If the Trump administration goes down in flames, they can claim to have heroically resisted the orange tyrant. If Donald Trump and his swamp toadies from the Washington cesspit triumph, they can claim to being a loyal caretaker to the conservative agenda Trump was “elected” to implement. Either way, while this self-serving cowardice might get the op-ed author off the hook, history will remember the Trump administration as a dumpster fire disaster. 2 years in, the Trump administration has led to has led to displacement and death of thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico, systematic abuse of children as immigration policy, arbitrary status revocation for black and Latino immigrants posing no threat to public safety, abdication of the federal government’s responsibility to defend the civil rights of racial and ethnic minorities, attempted subversion of federal law enforcement, and the enrichment of Trump and his affluent allies at taxpayers’ expense.
On the other hand, given the stakes up to including a literal nuclear war, there needs to be some people quietly working backstage to prevent the worst from happening. Perhaps, in the future, they will be in a position to do more when Republicans are willing to do something about Donald Trump. Of course, you can do something about that by voting straight Democrat at the polls come November. Also, you might want to call out your relatives and community for abandoning their souls to hateful and banal Trumpism and Fox News. But for now, a little resistance is better than no resistance at all.

Make no mistake that the root cause of this clusterfuck is that the Republicans chose to back an unfit and dangerous president for selfish and crass political reasons. After all, since they’re getting the policies they want, they see no reason to challenge him. Unless the Democrats sweep the 2018 midterms, there’s no reason to believe that one or several officials coming out and condemning the unrespectable Donald Trump as a threat to democracy will ever change the minds of any Republican who knows of Trump’s worst habits full well. This forces well-meaning Trump officials into a terrible choice. On one hand, they can stay and do their best to undermine him where they can. On the other hand, they could quit and potentially let Trump staff the White House with cronies and ass kissers. Choosing the latter could cause irreparable damage to American democracy, a major war, a global economic crisis, or all 3 at once.

Indeed, these Trump officials may be enablers but they’re not helping their boss implement terrible policies while trying to make them better on the margins. In fact, they’re actually blocking some of these policies from coming into existence, especially the worst ones. Not to mention, the United States is an advanced democracy with Donald Trump up for reelection within 2 years and may lose his congressional majority in 2 months. White House officials aren’t indefinitely helping an occupying power but holding the line until the legitimate political process has a chance to curb Trump’s excesses. Sure they haven’t always succeeded. And we’re not sure if the author or anyone else has even tried or wanted to try to do anything to help immigrants, refugees, Puerto Ricans, Obamacare enrollees, or any other groups of people whose lives the Trump and his administration has imperiled significantly.

Nonetheless, the vast swath of bureaucracy appears to be on the dissenting officials’ side. Since they have a real opportunity to the contain the last election’s consequences until they can be reversed. Yet, given the nearly unimaginable stakes here, it’s too dangerous for anyone of goodwill to quit. We need utilitarians around to mitigate the risks of a true disaster. Remember when Donald Trump spent the latter half of 2017 threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury?” Well, Trump’s antics undercut then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts. While the Defense Department had quietly ramped up preparations for war while Trump constantly brought up the idea of attacking North Korea in tweets and in meetings. It’s certainly apparent that a war between North Korea and the US would’ve cost millions of lives. Thankfully, we didn’t get that. Instead of a globally destructive conflict, we got a summit in Singapore and a sham deal between Trump and Kim Jong Un which seems to have moved us of the war footing for now. Sure, the summit was utterly embarrassing, but at least nobody got killed. Still, there are few practical checks to the executive branch’s ability to initiate force. If Trump decided to follow through with his “fire and fury” threats, he could’ve ordered a strike on North Korea’s nukes. But somehow, he changed his mind.

The op-ed author doesn’t go into detail on how they can assert various claims in their piece as well as they’ve personally stopped some of Donald Trump’s horrendous ideas. But a couple years of concrete reporting has uncovered concrete examples of Trump’s staff “thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses.” Last June, White House Counsel Don McGahn refused a direct order to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as well as cooperated with the Mueller investigation and sometimes didn’t tell his boss what he was doing. Then there’s White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly controlled the flow of information to Trump, blocking conspiracy theorists like Infowars’ Alex Jones or right-wing trolls like Chuck Johnson from getting into Trump’s ear. According to Bob Woodward, Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to convince Trump that trying to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad was a bad idea. Since the move would’ve been arguably illegal and possibly set off a dangerous confrontation with Russia.

Another incident has National Economic Council chair Gary Cohn stopped Trump from withdrawing from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement by stealing the letter that would’ve ordered withdrawal from his desk. Since withdrawing from that agreement would’ve wreaked havoc on the alliance and American businesses. If Trump had gotten his way in these cases, we would’ve had a constitutional crisis, war, and economic pain. If it weren’t for people who understood the potential consequences, everything could’ve been much worse. Of course, this doesn’t mean Trump’s staff doesn’t always succeed nor that Donald Trump’s worst policies have all been stopped. We still got the travel ban, family separations, withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, and pointless and dangerous undercutting of Obamacare, all of which has caused real pain. But as bad as things are, it’s easy to imagine them being much worse.

Some may argue that the anonymous op-ed writer identify, resign, and present evidence justifying an invocation of the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or the first necessary step toward either outcome or a Democratic Congress after the November elections. This might be noble in theory, there’s no evidence that congressional Republicans would go along with checking Donald Trump’s power. Since they went along with him knowing full well who he is. For one invoking the 25th Amendment is far more difficult than it sounds since it would require the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to decide whether Trump is fully incapacitated. But Trump could simply refuse to accept the outcome, which kicks the issue to the GOP-controlled Congress with 2/3 voting to agree to remove Trump from office. That’s not going to happen as long as Republicans dominate Capitol Hill. Then there’s the idea of a Mike Pence presidency which Democrats really don’t want at this point.

However, regardless of what some may think, what Trump officials are doing isn’t a coup but an extension of bureaucratic politics to extraordinary times. As political scientist Naunihal Singh told Vox, “This is an extreme form of things we see often, when cabinet secretaries or military officers attempt to steer policy ‘from below’ by limiting information flow to the President.” Besides, we’ve seen this before but mainly when presidents are incapacitated or physically ill. Since it can only be pulled off only when the center’s so weak that everyone grabs power. What different is that the United States is currently governed by a man so unfit for the office that his White House functions as if he’s in a hospital. But unlike previous presidents, Donald Trump isn’t going to die or get better. The constitutional remedies for such situation like the 25th Amendment or impeachment aren’t plausible options right now. So Trump aides recognizing the reality are stuck with a quiet resistance.

If anything, the most persuasive criticism of the op-ed isn’t the author doing something wrong in the White House. But rather going public in an op-ed endangers the quiet anti-Trump insurgency back stage. As Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez tweeted, “If you were really concerned about protecting the country from an erratic Trump — rather than, say, trying to pre-salvage your post-administration reputation — you probably wouldn’t write something like this given its predictable consequences. I can pretty much guarantee that this: (1) Triggers an epic tantrum and makes Trump even more paranoid than he already is, & (2) Sets off a mole-hunt that results in suspiciously competent persons being purged & replaced with loyalist nuts and/or Trump family members.” So writing it in a newspaper probably wasn’t a wise move. But since it has, we must hope that the author manages to rally other “resistance” members or even inspire other Trump officials to join. Sure it’s naïve and these quiet resistors aren’t the most reliable since they might sometimes enable their monstrous boss enact terrible policies they agree with. But in dark times, it makes sense to cling to whatever shred of hope we got.

A Strike Behind Bars

Amid the press coverage of Donald Trump, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Catholic Church sexual abuse, John McCain’s funeral, the 2018 midterms, football season, back to school, and whatever else is going on with the world, there are plenty of news stories that fall through the cracks. One of these is a 3 week nationwide strike behind bars of which most will never see. Demonstrations began on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 and are scheduled to last until September 9, which marks the anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. During this time, inmates in 17 states have taken part in sit-ins, hunger strikes, and work strikes in an attempt to draw attention to poor prison conditions and what many view as exploitative labor in American correctional facilities. In addition, they’re calling for boycotts against agencies and companies benefitting from prisons and prison labor. As protest spokesperson Amani Sawari told Vox, “The main leverage that an inmate has is their own body. If they choose not to go to work and just sit in in the main area or the eating area, and all the prisoners choose to sit there and not go to the kitchen for lunchtime or dinnertime, if they choose not to clean or do the yardwork, this is the leverage that they have. Prisons cannot run without prisoners’ work.”

The demonstrations come 2 years after what was then viewed as the largest prison strike in United States history with protests breaking out in 12 states in 2016. While the 2016 protests were largely planned on September 9, they ended up taking part over weeks or months as prison officials tried tamping down on prison demonstrations and mitigate the protests’ effects. These current demonstrations can be even larger than those previous protests since they’re spread over 3 weeks to make it more difficult for prison officials to crack down. The inmates have outlined 10 national demands. These include “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons” and “an immediate end to prison slavery.” They also target federal laws that boosted mass incarceration and have made it harder for inmates to sue officials for potential rights violations. In addition, they call for an end to racial disparities in the criminal justice system and an increase to rehabilitation prison programs. These demands are on top of specific local and regional requests the prisoners are making. I will get to more of these list items later, explaining what these mean.

These prison strikes are a part response to the prison riot at South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution in April, which state officials described as a “mass casualty” event. According to the Associated Press, 7 inmates were killed while at least 17 were seriously injured. An inmate told the AP that bodies were “literally stacked on top of each other,” claiming that prison guards did little to stop the violence between inmates. Most of the fatal injuries appeared to be due slashing and stabbing, although some inmates may have been beaten to death. No prison guards were hurt. The riot was the worst in a US prison in a quarter-century.

Based on reports following the riot, it seems some of the major causes besides personal and potentially gang-related disputes, were poor prison conditions and understaffing. So there weren’t enough guards to stop the fighting. This is part of a growing problem. According to an investigation by South Carolina’s The State, the number of inmates killed in the state’s prisons, “more than doubled in 2017 from the year before and quadrupled from two years ago.” And it wasn’t the first time Lee experienced violence that year either. Three weeks before the riot, inmates overpowered a guard, held him hostage, and took control of part of a dorm for an hour and a half before releasing him unharmed. In February one inmate fatally stabbed another. Nor is its problems with violent unique. For in Columbia’s Kirkland Correctional Institution, 4 inmates were strangled in 2017.
Obviously, violence is generally a huge problem in US prisons. According to a 2009 study, during a 6-month period, about 21% of male prison inmates are physically assaulted while 2-5% are sexually assaulted. But the problem seems particularly acute in South Carolina’s correctional facilities in recent years. One reason is understaffing for South Carolina prisons have struggled to find enough workers, making it difficult to keep these places under control. Another cause is poor prison conditions like underfunding, overcrowding, and lack of rehabilitative interventions. A strike spokesperson told Vox, “Prisoners were placed in some really aggravated conditions. They were placed on lockdown all day. They weren’t allowed to eat or use the bathroom. They were placed in units with rival gang members. And then their lockers were taken away, so they didn’t have any safe place to put their personal belongings, which really aggravated and caused tensions among prisoners — to the point where fights broke out, inevitably.”
However, for prisons, fixing the problem these demonstrations raise will require money, which cash-strapped state governments may not want to put up. This raises real questions on whether the inmates’ demands can or will be heard. Hiring more guards and paying them more money to make the job attractive to more people costs money. So does improving prison conditions in general. All of that cash could be spent elsewhere.
Nonetheless, I should give you all a rundown on the demands the prisoners have made in the strike.

1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.– in the United States, there’s a tendency for society to throw people behind bars, completely dehumanize them, and forget about them. As history shows, we tend to forget that convicts are human beings with rights and some say over their lives. Being behind bars doesn’t throw all that away. As a Jailhouse Lawyers Speak statement read, “Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. We know that our conditions are causing physical harm and deaths that could be avoided if prison policy makers actually gave a damn. Prisons in America are a war zone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?”

2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.– this is a major issue and affects you more than you think. If there is an issue you should care about and what unites prisoners, it’s prison labor. In many states, prisoners are forced to work for cents an hour or even for free. Though according to The Marshall Project, the average prisoner pay is 20 cents an hour. This was permitted after the 13th Amendment’s passage which banned slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Across the US, hundreds of thousands of inmates have jobs. While California inmates have been recruited to fight the state’s record wildfires for $1 an hour and $2 per day, American prisoners also do more typical jobs like kitchen work, cleaning, and GED tutoring. Sometimes the jobs take inmates outside of prison, although more often they mimic real-world jobs or involve menial chores that need done around the prison. They also make a vast array of consumer goods like lingerie, blue jeans, toys, military equipment, and car parts. They’ve harvest Florida oranges and shoveled snow in Boston after a blizzard. Like the protestors in the 2016 prison strike, the 2018 demonstrators characterize this practice as modern slavery. And since black people are disproportionately likely to become incarcerated, there are racial disparities in this often forced, low-wage labor. In addition, companies also take advantage of prison labor. which generates over $1 billion a year for the private sector. Now both prison officials and advocates agree that prison labor helps inmates gain much-needed real-world working experience. But even if it does, that doesn’t justify paying pennies or nothing at all. In fact, if prison work programs are beneficial, spending on them should be increased so everyone can participate and get more pay for their work. Furthermore, these inmates are still often the primary breadwinners for their families and are expected to meet some financial obligations even before their release. As Sawari told Vox, “Prisoners do like having the opportunity to earn, because they do have to support themselves financially in a lot of ways. Prisoners have to provide for their health care, their dental care. They have to buy food if they want to eat outside the three times a day most prisons serve. … They have to buy clothes like jackets and boots, hygiene products, cosmetics, books, study materials, paper, tape, scissors. Any little thing they need, they have to buy that. So they want to be able to.” At the same time, they’re often subject to exorbitant markups on personal products at prison commissaries and often grossly overcharges on the ability to communicate by phone or internet with family and friends on the outside.

3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.– called the PLRA, this law makes it much harder for prisoners to file and win civil rights lawsuits in federal court. To file a lawsuit, inmates must exhaust all administrative grievance processes available to them within the correctional facility before taking their case to court. Working through these avenues can be complicated, have difficult deadlines, and often be fruitless. While suits about physical injury are allowed, those alleging mental or emotional harm are restricted. Courts can no longer waive court fees for incarcerated people but require installment payments instead. While an incarcerated plaintiff who’s had 3 lawsuits dismissed will have to pay in advance. Should a lawsuit succeed, there are limits to litigation costs the court can order the prison to pay to the prisoner’s attorney. This reduces the number of lawyers willing to take good winnable cases on behalf of incarcerated people with only 5% of prisoner civil rights cases having legal representation in 2012. In addition, the law limits the courts’ ability to change prison policy.

4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human
shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.- in the United States, Truth in Sentencing refers to policies and legislation aiming to abolish or curb parole so that convicts serve out the period to which they’ve been sentenced. In some cases, truth in sentencing is linked to movements like mandatory sentencing (in which particular crimes yield automatic sentences regardless of extenuating circumstances) and habitual offender or “three strikes” laws in which state law requires courts to hand down mandatory and extended periods of incarceration to those convicted of a criminal offense on multiple occasions. The US has the Violent Offender and Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Program which awards grants to states so long as they pass laws requiring Part 1 violent offenders must serve at least 85% of their sentence to qualify for parole eligibility. As of 2008, the District of Columbia and 35 states qualify for this additional funding. As part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Sentencing Reform Act is a US statute in federal intended to increase consistency in federal sentencing. In addition to establishing the US Sentencing Commission, it abolished federal parole save for those convicted of federal crimes before 1987, those convicted under DC law, those who violated military law held in federal civilian prisons, “transfer treaty” inmates, and defendants in state cases and in witness protection. Nonetheless, both policies have contributed to mass incarceration and prison overcrowding. Many also believe that the death penalty is a stupid idea while life without parole offers no chance of a release.

5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.– this refers to the racial disparities in sentencing practices which is rampant across the United States. Nonwhite inmates are subject to harsher charges, longer sentences, and more parole denials than their white counterparts. This especially goes when the victim is white.

6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.– another addressing racial disparities in law enforcement which pertain to gangs. Gang enhancements are measures to ensure that anyone who commits a felony for a gang’s benefit, which results in a mandatory prison sentence in addition and consecutive to the penalty they receive for the underlying crime.

7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.-the film Birdman of Alcatraz offers a compelling case for this argument since Robert Stroud was indeed a violent offender. Though the real Stroud wasn’t a particularly nice guy.

8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.– in the United States, funding rehabilitation services for prisoners isn’t a high priority. Yet, the lack of rehabilitation programs for prisoners has contributed to high recidivism rates and prison overcrowding. Many released prisoners find themselves unable to adjust to outside life. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67.8% of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years.

9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.– in most of the US, prisoners are denied the same opportunities and ways to get ahead and secure a job, which often leads to recidivism. And it doesn’t help that many of these inmates come from poverty either. For inmates seeking a college education which helps reduce their chance of recidivism, many are denied the grants and aid most college students on the outside enjoy. Nonetheless, if the drug gang members in The Wire had access to the same opportunities from the inside or out, most of them would not be selling crack on the street.

10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.– in most of the United States, convicts and ex-felons are frequently denied the right the vote. Felony disenfranchisement laws depend on each state. In Pennsylvania and 13 other states, felony disenfranchisement only lasts as long as the convict is behind bars and are restored upon release. But other states are much harsher. In 4 states including New York, felony disenfranchisement ends only after parole. In 19 states, felony disenfranchisement ends not only after incarceration or parole, but also after probation. In 7 states, restoration of voting rights after sentence completion and depending on circumstances of the crime. While 4 states like Florida require restoration to voting rights to convicts after all offenses through individual petition. In Florida, this petition must be made 5-7 years after completion of incarceration, parole, and probation. It’s said that Florida’s felony disenfranchisement laws are so harsh that in 2014 more than 1 in 10 Florida residents and 1 in 4 African Americans in the state were shut out of the polls. Nonetheless, while proponents often argue that loss of suffrage is only fair to deny political decision making to known criminals, felony disenfranchisement can create dangerous political incentives to skew criminal law in favor of disproportionally targeting groups who politically oppose those who hold power. And many of these felony disenfranchisement laws were made during segregation to keep African Americans from voting and continue to keep many blacks from the polls in several southern states. Not to mention, many states have often used prisoners’ disenfranchised status to exercise prison gerrymandering.

Despite the strike’s limited scope and difficulty corroborating the organizers’ claims, national and local media have covered the strike in earnest, some calling it, “the largest national prison strike in US history.” On the strike’s first day, news of the strike and goals have been reported on NPR, Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, Vox, Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Mother Jones, and other many other outlets. However, history shows that political actions by prisoners often have mixed results. Some prison reform advocates say that fear of reprisals coupled with the difficulty communicating between prisons makes widespread action unlikely. But some media attention is a small victory in that it has brought the issue of inhumane prison conditions to a wider audience in a way that Stephen King hasn’t. Yet, the number of prisoners striking is unknown and won’t be confirmed. So there’s no hint that the strike will be larger and more robust than past efforts. Some outlets reposted unchecked information put out by outside strike organizers, including details on how many prisons are participating. Others balanced the organizers’ accounts with official statements by state corrections departments. Nevertheless, generating media attention is the strike’s main goal since it’s very difficult to get any. Mostly because it’s hard enough to know what’s going on in prisons across the country since there’s little information available. Hopefully, this 2018 prison strike could mark turning point in meaningful criminal justice reform in the future.