Talk Media News

 

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

 

Quick News

  • Ryan-Trump showdown today
  • Trump’s “total” Muslim ban? “Suggestion”…
  • What’s in Trump’s taxes?
  • FBI chief: Murders spiking, being ignored
  • Michael Ratner, heroic human rights lawyer, dies
  • Puerto Rico bill stalled again
  • Trayvon Martin’s killer to auction gun
Ryan-Trump Showdown Today (Politico, AP, NYT, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump is to meet House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and at least 10 other Republican leaders at Republican National Committee headquarters today. The private meetings represent his first tangible steps towards repairing his strained relationships with the nation’s most powerful elected Republicans. Trump sees the meetings as a win-win (naturally)
 
• They’d like to secure Ryan’s support, but believe that signs of continued opposition for congressional Republicans would simply reinforce his outsider appeal. Additionally, Trump’s team doesn’t believe Ryan or the GOP’s other congressional leaders, have any significant influence on the majority of general election voters who might “march behind my father,” as Eric Trump said
 
• Ryan’s immediate goals, his advisers say, are to advance his agenda and protect the GOP majority in the House – much of the agenda different from Trump’s. Ryan’s desire to overhaul immigration, rein in entitlement programs, promote vigorous free trade etc have been as welcome to Republican voters this year as carpenter ants at a home inspection (nativism is It)
 
• Members of Senate GOP leadership want Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), in his meeting, to draw out more details from Trump on his policy views (good luck), especially his understanding of the Constitution (bring postage stamp) and how he views the role of the federal govt (govt has one branch: Trump WH)
 
• One GOP senator said if Trump were to drop divisive subjects – like Mexican rapists – and focus exclusively on the economy, he’d have a better chance of winning in Nov. Lawmakers also want Trump to “knock off the gratuitous personal insults.” At the same time, a senator said, “I don’t know what you say if a guy keeps winning.” (to be a carpenter ant crawling inside the wall)

 

Trump’s “Total” Muslim Ban? – “Suggestion” (Politico, NYT, Think Progress, Fortune, me)
• Aaaand again with the weasel words. In a Fox News interview Wednesday, Donald Trump claimed his call last December for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims “hasn’t been called for yet. Nobody’s done it.” (you have, duh) “This is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.” (he’s clearly capable of saying, doing anything to “win” the big gig as president – pathological)
 
• Trump’s comments came one day after he (condescendingly) said he’d make an “exception” to the ban for London’s new Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan. Trump is “ignorant about Islam,” Khan said Wednesday. “Daesh, ISIS, all those guys, hate the fact that I am mayor of London. Why? Because it contradicts what they say, which is that Western liberal values are incompatible with Islam.”
 
• In December, Trump repeatedly – repeatedly – said the ban was necessary. “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” he said. “We have no choice…we have no choice.” (that was December, sillies, it’s May. Different month. Different year. Come onnn)
 
• Later on Fox News, Trump said he was “looking very strongly” at forming a commission to work on “radical Islam” with former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani at the head of it. Giuliani has (so far) said a ban on Muslims would be unconstitutional and there can be no religious test on who is allowed into the country
 
• Astonishingly, Trump said on Fox about the ban: “There is [sic] some pretty bad things going on, and I have Muslim friends, great Muslim friends who tell me you are so right.” (really? the idea that Trump had or has any Muslim friends left is fascinating, and the idea that they would want themselves – or their poorer cousins – to be banned from the U.S. is beyond belief)
 
What’s In Trump’s Taxes? (AP, me)
• Donald Trump told the AP “there’s nothing to learn” from all those income tax returns he won’t release until (what he claims is) an ongoing audit wraps up. And anyway, he said, people aren’t really interested. Really? Really? He claimed in an interview Wed evening on Fox he’d never said he wouldn’t release them (did too) and hoped to release before the election (uh huh)
 
How rich? his tax returns wouldn’t give a full picture of his wealth, since people don’t have to report assets. Trump has admitted he’s prone to “truthful hyperbole” (see story above) so we might want to see them. Returns could help determine whether Trump has been overstating – or understating (latter is sooo unlikely) – his income
 
Low-tax, no-tax? Trump, with trademark modesty, told the AP that “nobody knows more about taxes than I do – maybe in the history of the world.” He’s been clear that he tries to pay “as little as possible.” Tax experts say he might even have owed no income taxes in one or more recent years by certain methods (see AP article)

• Hillary Clinton on Wednesday mocked Donald Trump as evasive and secretive over his tax returns. A man at a rally shouted out: ” What about his tax returns?” Clinton smiled and said, “We’ll get to that.” She urged the audience to keep asking to see the returns. “You’ve got to ask yourself, why doesn’t he want to release them? Yeah, well, we’re going to find out.” (NYT)

 

Brand Trump: A big chunk of Trump’s personal wealth is tied up in the value of the Trump brand name, which he licenses far and wide. He estimated his personal brand and marketing deals at $3.3 billion last year, but Forbes magazine knocked that down to $125 million. (he was livid) Tax returns could offer info about licensing income = clues about the true value of his brand
 
Trump’s giving: Charitable donations can tell a lot. Trump told AP he does most of his philanthropic giving in his own name rather than through his foundation, but didn’t detail to whom or how much. Taxes would detail that. Trump says he has donated $102 million over the past five years – but a partial list from his campaign seemed to correspond to his foundation – not his pocket
 
Trump’s network: Trump reported in his financial disclosures last year that he has nearly 500 businesses, more than 90% of them owned entirely by him. Tax returns could tell how much income they made = info into the financial health of his organization. Trump, the Lifestyle: Taxes could tell a lot about how much of his high-flying lifestyle is written off as business expenses
 
Wild cards: “Disqualifying” not to release taxes and a “bombshell of unusual size” could be hidden, GOP 2012 nominee Mitt Romney wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “The potential for hidden inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore for someone who is seeking to become commander in chief.”
 
 

• In an edited – ie faked – video posted to Facebook by extreme right-wing (has-been) singer and Trump supporter Ted Nugent, Bernie Sanders shoots Hillary Clinton during a CNN debate while they’re having a back-and-forth over gun control. Nugent is also a board member of the NRA, which points out that he’s up for reelection (so?) (Hill, me)

 

FBI Chief: Murders Spiking, Being Ignored (NYT, Politico, me)

• FBI chief James Comey said Wednesday he was deeply concerned about a spike in murder rates in many American cities, including Chicago and Las Vegas: “Holy cow, do we have a problem,” he said. Comey said he believed the police may have backed off from aggressive tactics from fear of showing up in videos that are widely spread online (last time he said this he got pushback from WH)
 
• Murders are “again happening in certain parts of the cities and the people dying are almost entirely black and Latino men and we can’t drive around that problem,” Comey said. He gently prodded the national media. “It’s being reported on at local levels, but in my view it’s not getting the attention at the national level it deserves.” (point)
 
• Comey said that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a “viral video effect” – with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video – could well be at the heart” of a spike in violent crime in some cities
• Comey also said that he wouldn’t be rushed into finishing his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails on an election timetable. Also, while Clinton has characterized the probe as a “security inquiry,” Comey said he was “not familiar with the term.” (she’s tried to steer press away from idea that they’re looking at criminal wrongdoing)
 
• Of the inquiry, “We want to do it well, and we want to do it promptly, so I feel pressure to do both of those things,” Comey said. “I don’t tether to any particular external deadline so I do feel the pressure to do it well and promptly, but as between the two, I always choose well.”

 

• Brazil’s Senate has today voted to impeach and suspend President Dilma Rousseff from office. She will face trial. She’s accused of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing deficit ahead of reelection – denies (BBC)
 

 

Michael Ratner, Heroic Human Rights Lawyer, Dies (NYT, philly.com, me)
• Michael Ratner, a fearless civil liberties lawyer who successfully challenged the U.S. govt’s detention of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay without judicial review, died Wednesday in Manhattan of complications of cancer, aged 72. Ratner’s sister, Ellen Ratner, is bureau chief of Talk Media News (Michael Ratner was an extraordinary and heroic human being; a great loss to humanity)
 
• As head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner oversaw litigation that, in effect, voided New York City’s wholesale stop-and-frisk policing tactic. The center also accused the federal govt of complicity in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects and argued against the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance by the NSA, – – –
 
• – – – the waging of war in Iraq without consent of Congress, the encouragement of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war. Ratner also defended Julian Assange and Wikileaks for disseminating millions of secret American govt documents

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• Ratner, who majored in medieval history at Brandeis University in the 60s, was radicalized by the teachings of New Left philosopher Herbert Marcuse and the preachings of classmate Angela Davis. He moved further to the left as a law student at Columbia when he witnessed police brutality after students seized campus buildings in 1968
 
• In 2008, SCOTUS ruled 5-4 that prisoners at Guantanamo, where the court said the American govt exercised de facto sovereignty, had a constitutional right to habeas corpus, which they had been denied under Military Commissions Act. Ratner said it was a case about “fundamental principle, going back to the Magna Carta” to get “some kind of a hearing before you get tossed in jail”
 

• Ratner told NYT in 2002: “A permanent war abroad means permanent anger against the U.S. by those countries and people that will be devastated by U.S. military actions. Hate will increase, not lessen; and the terrible consequences of that hate will be used, in turn, as justification for more restrictions on civil liberties in the U.S.” (prescient)

 

Puerto Rico Bill Stalled Again (Hill, Reuters, me)

• Work on Puerto Rico legislation has stalled yet again in the House. Rep Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz) announced Wednesday that legislation due to be unveiled the same day wasn’t going to be forthcoming. Grijalva is the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, which is handling (or perhaps not) the measure
 

• “We are making progress, but we are not there yet. The situation in Puerto Rico is dire, but a bill that doesn’t solve the problem, or doesn’t pass, won’t help anyone,” he said in a statement. The delay comes just days after chair Rob Bishop (R-Utah) predicted a bill would be forthcoming Wednesday
 

• “We’re working through some technical stuff and minor refinements that will take us through today,” said Parrish Braden, a committee spox. However, he wouldn’t predict when a bill would actually be made public, or why Bishop’s prediction of a Wednesday release didn’t come true
 

• One source familiar with the delay said it was due to a need to refine language related to the minimum wage and land-use issues over the island of Vieques. “I’m hoping maybe by Friday, so that we can have something for next week,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said Wednesday
 

• Puerto Rico has already defaulted on some of its debt and faces an overall bill of $70 billion it cannot pay. A staggering 45% poverty rate and increased migration among its 3.5 million citizens to the U.S. mainland drains economic activity

 

• The WH on Wednesday blasted a lack of new funding in GOP legislation – 18 bills – in the House to address the national opioid addiction crisis. WH spox Josh Earnest noted President Obama proposed $1.1 billion in new funding to combat opioid addiction in his last budget – refused by GOP. The House Wed approved a bill to create a national task force on opioid policies (Hill)

 
Trayvon Martin’s Killer to Auction Gun (WaPo, Slate, WOGX, me)
• George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Feb 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The case sparked protests and debate of so-called “stand your ground” laws and race relations. Martin had been walking to a relative’s home after buying snacks
 
• Now, (in an utterly tasteless display) Zimmerman today is auctioning off the 9-mm pistol he used to – er – kill Martin on GunBroker.com. “I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon (Icon? excuse me while I throw up). “The pistol currently has the case number written on it in silver permanent marker.” Starting bid is $5,000
 
• Zimmerman wrote that the proceeds will be used to “fight [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement Officers” (no issues with black people, then, George), although he didn’t say how. “I recognize the purchaser’s ownership and right to do with the firearm as they wish.” (er – couple of ideas)
 
• The Martin family put out a statement to WOGX reading: “The Trayvon Martin Foundation is committed to its mission of ending senseless gun violence in the U.S. This election season, we are laser focused on furthering that mission. As such, the foundation has no comment on the actions of that person.”
 

• Zimmerman closed his description with si vis pacem para bellum, which means “if you want peace, prepare for war” in Latin (sounds a bit like that night in February 2012). “What I’ve decided to do is not cower,” Zimmerman told WOGX. “I’m a free American. I can do what I want with my possessions.” (hmm seems like maybe you already did that?)

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____________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

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