What Really Happened Between Donald Trump, the Hosts of Morning Joe, and the National Enquirer

Though I have been away for several days due to some family matters I probably need not have to write that what Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarboroug had to endure this week was truly incomprehensible.  Not for the first time do I write that there is something most flawed, troubling, and diseased about Donald Trump.   He is seriously sick, mentally unsound, and a true threat to this nation.  And I am 100% sure I will be able to say in time “I told you so” after the three-thumb crowd in the nation have finally come to see what the majority already know.

To fill in some of the background on the mess that is now this nation’s politics I offer this article from New York Magazine.

This morning in a Washington Post op-ed, Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski disclosed that White House officials offered to spike an Enquirer story about their romance if the pair apologized to Trump for the show’s critical coverage. In recent months, Scarborough and Brzezinski have questioned Trump’s mental state and fitness for office. They elaborated on the op-ed on MSNBC this morning. Morning Joe regular Donny Deutsch said it was “blackmail” for Trump to use a hit-piece in the Enquirer to extract an apology from media critics. Trump then tweeted a quasi-confirmation of the behind-the-scenes conversations, saying that Scarborough called to enlist his help to kill the story. Scarborough called Trump’s version a “lie,” tweeting that he never spoke to the president.

According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. “This presidency is fake and failed,” Brzezinski said on March 6, for example. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together.

n mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirerowner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment). Scarborough says he refused, and the Enquirerpublished the story in print on June 5, headlined “Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!”

The Morning Joe co-hosts decided to talk about the episode a day after Trump inaccurately tweeted that Brzezinski attended a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” (A photo from that evening backs up Scarborough and Brzezinski’s denial of this.) While the Enquirer denies that Trump encouraged Pecker to investigate the MSNBC hosts, Trump himself has pushed the story publicly. Last August, he tweeted, “Some day, when things calm down, I’ll tell the real story of@JoeNBC and his very insecure long-time girlfriend, @morningmika. Two clowns!”

Donald Trump And The Fourth Of July

Perfect read.

Donald Trump, who, in fairness, has noted that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job,” represents an entirely different tradition. He has no interest in the wholeness of reality. He descends from the lineage of the Know-Nothings, the doomsayers and the fabulists, the nativists and the hucksters. The thematic shift from Obama to Trump has been from “lifting as we climb” to “raising the drawbridge and bolting the door.” Trump may operate a twenty-first-century Twitter machine, but he is still a frontier-era drummer peddling snake oil, juniper tar, and Dr. Tabler’s Buckeye Pile Cure for profit from the back of a dusty wagon.

As a candidate, Trump told his followers that he would fulfill “every dream you ever dreamed for your country.” But he is a plutocrat. His loyalty is to the interests of the plutocracy. Trump’s vows of solidarity with the struggling working class, with the victims of globalization and deindustrialization, are a fraud. He made coal miners a symbol of his campaign, but he has always held them in contempt. To him, they are luckless schmoes who fail to possess his ineffable talents. “The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son,” Trump once told Playboy. “If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination—or whatever—to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’ ”

Frederick Douglass ended his Independence Day jeremiad in Rochester with steadfast optimism (“I do not despair of this country”). Read his closing lines, and what despair you might feel when listening to a President who abets ignorance, isolation, and cynicism is eased, at least somewhat. The “mental darkness” of earlier times is done, Douglass reminded his audience. “Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.” There is yet hope for the “great principles” of the Declaration of Independence and “the genius of American Institutions.” There was reason for optimism then, as there is now. Donald Trump is not forever. Sometimes it just seems that way. 

SHOCKER (Not): Women Earn Less Then Men In Trump White House

One more story that does not speak well for Trump and women this week.

Ivanka Trump’s voluntary $0 salary at the White House has been widely reported, but she’s not the only woman making less than her male colleagues there.

The annual report to Congress from the Executive Office of the President, released Friday, shows that women earn an average of $84,500, compared to $105,000 for men, according a Roll Call analysis of the salary data. That means female office staffers at the White House are making, on average, 80 percent of what their male colleagues make.

When calculating the averages, Roll Call omitted the three employees who are taking no salary, including the president’s daughter, her husband Jared Kushner, and a former Baltimore real estate developer.

That gap between women and men in the White House Office lines up closely with the Pew Research Center’s most recent statistics on gender pay disparity in the American workforce, where women earn 83 percent of men’s median hourly earnings.

There are, of course, women making high salaries at the Trump White House Office. Six of the top earners — those making the maximum salary of $179,700 — are women. They include well-known aides such as special counselor Kellyanne Conway, director of strategic communications Hope Hicks and reality television star turned presidential staffer Omarosa Manigault.

The Next Watergate Is Now Happening

Love the comparisons to Watergate but I do not wish to place Richard Nixon down at the gutter-level of Donald Trump.

Watergate didn’t become Watergate overnight, either”: “[A]mong those of us who want Donald Trump gone from Washington yesterday, there’s a fair amount of fear that he, too, could hang on until the end of a four-year term that stank of corruption from the start. Even if his White House scandals turn out to exceed his predecessor’s – as the former director of national intelligence James Clapper posited in early June – impeachment is a political, not a legal, matter, and his political lock on the presidency would seem secure. Unlike Nixon, who had to contend with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Trump has the shield of a Republican Congress led by craven enablers terrified of crossing their Dear Leader’s fiercely loyal base. That distinction alone is enough to make anti-Trumpers abandon all hope.

“I’m here to say don’t do so just yet. There’s a handy antidote to despair: a thorough wallow in Watergate, the actual story as it unfolded, not the expedited highlight reel that most Americans know from a textbook précis or cultural artifacts like the film version of All the President’s Men. If you look through a sharp Nixonian lens at Trump’s trajectory in office to date, short as it has been, you will discover more of an overlap than you might expect.”

Support For Same-Sex Marriage Grows

Not even Justice Gorsuch can stop the movement.

Pew Research Center: “Two years after the Supreme Court decision that required states to recognize same-sex marriages nationwide, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is at its highest point in over 20 years of Pew Research Center polling on the issue. By a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed. …

For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Currently, 56% of Boomers favor same-sex marriage. … Blacks have long been less supportive of same-sex marriage when compared with whites, but the share of African Americans who favor same-sex marriage has risen 12 percentage points since 2015, from 39% to 51%. … For the first time, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents do not oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Today, 48% of Republicans and Republican leaners oppose same-sex marriage, while 47% favor this. … Overall, white evangelical Protestants continue to stand out for their opposition to same-sex-marriage: 35% of white evangelical Protestants favor same-sex marriage, compared with a 59% majority who are opposed.”

You Just Know Someone Named David Pecker Is a Friend To President Trump

Knowing the slimy side of politics is required these days.

“As the meeting wound down … Someone suggested a story about a video from Donald and Melania Trump’s first overseas trip. … When Donald reached for Melania’s hand, she slapped it away with a sharp flick of her wrist. ‘I didn’t see that,’ Pecker said, on the speakerphone. The half-dozen or so men in the room exchanged looks. One then noted that the footage of Melania’s slap had received a good deal of attention. ‘I didn’t see that,’ Pecker repeated, and the subject was dropped. 

It was a telling moment. Even if the leader of a celebrity-news empire had missed the viral video from the President’s trip, Pecker’s decision to ignore the awkward moment for the First Family was not surprising. The Enquirer is defined by its predatory spirit—its dedication to revealing that celebrities, far from leading ideal lives, endure the same plagues of disease, weight gain, and family dysfunction that afflict everyone else. For much of the tabloid’s history, it has specialized in investigations into the foibles of public personalities, including politicians. In 1987, the Enquirer published a photograph of Senator Gary Hart with his mistress Donna Rice, in front of a boat called the Monkey Business, which doomed Hart’s Presidential candidacy. Two decades later, the magazine broke the news that John Edwards had fathered a child out of wedlock during his Presidential race. When Donald Trump decided to run for President, some people at the Enquirer assumed that the magazine would apply the same scrutiny to the candidate’s colorful personal history. “We used to go after newsmakers no matter what side they were on,” a former Enquirer staffer told me. “And Trump is a guy who is running for President with a closet full of baggage. He’s the ultimate target-rich environment. The Enquirer had a golden opportunity, and they completely looked the other way.”

Smarmy Bo Dietl As Mayor Of New York? Yick.

One of those reads you need so to get some needed background.

“When Stephen K. Bannon got into a dispute with an ex-wife who accused him of domestic violence, he hired a private investigator with a history of digging up embarrassing information about people claiming to have been wronged. When the Fox News chairman Roger E. Ailes was accused in lawsuits of sexually harassing the network personalities Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros, lawyers for the company hired the same detective to spy on the women. … Mr. Dietl confirmed his involvement in each case described in this article, including the investigations for Mr. Bannon and Mr. Imus and into Ms. Tantaros, none of which had been disclosed previously. … The only divorce at that time was Mr. Bannon’s 1997 split from his second wife, who had accused him of attacking her. Former members of Mr. Dietl’s staff confirmed that the firm had been hired to investigate Mr. Bannon’s wife during a legal dispute related to the case. In the case, Mr. Bannon was charged with committing domestic violence and battery and dissuading a witness, his wife, from reporting a crime. But the case was dismissed when his wife did not attend a court hearing, records show. She later said in divorce papers that she had not gone because Mr. Bannon told her that ‘if I went to court, he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty.’ Afterward, Mr. Dietl continued to do a variety of work for Mr. Bannon for years, according to former members of Mr. Dietl’s staff. One investigator said he had talked to Mr. Bannon ‘hundreds of times’ over the years.”

Madison Alder Sara Eskrich Has $8,000 Legal Bill Paid For By Madison Taxpayers

Without a whimper or even a bat of the eye from the Madison City Council, Alderwomen Sara Eskrich had $8,524 of legal bills paid for during their most recent meeting.  The issue causing Eskrich to need the services of Quarles and Brady at the cost of $400 per hour was due to a claim that she inappropriately used her city position to assist her husband’s company in securing city approval to open a beer garden in Olbrich Park.

Janet Etnier filed the complaint against Eskrich.  The alderwoman’s husband, Erik Kesting, is a co-owner of a group who was central to the beer garden.  The proposal passed the city council in February.  Madison’s Ethics Board dismissed the complaint.

Why this makes for an interesting blog post is that the same council only weeks before gnashed teeth and almost did head-stands in trying to find any avenue possible to not pay the legal bills for Police Chief Mike Koval.  Hours of talking and pulling of hair late into the night for those bills, but a simple consent agenda was the only requirement when it came to one of their own who needed bills paid.

Adding to the irksome factor is the name of Alder Marsha Rummel being second in line for sponsorship of the Eskrich matter.  In the Finance Committee Rummel made the motion for paying the bills and moving the matter to the full council.  Though Rummel supported the final vote for paying the legal bills for Koval, she was also attempting to find ways to not have to make the vote to aid the Chief.

As for Eskrich one does have to wonder why she sought out the best legal team which will then be paid for by taxpayers?  I do not ask this as a snarky comment about what she did, or did not do, in regards to the beer garden. No, dear readers, I simply ask the question based on her past actions that she claimed were for the benefit of those who pay the bills in the city.

Last November Eskrich landed a punch to common-sense when she proposed during the budget process an amendment to undo the Downtown infrastructure projects such as surveillance cameras, streetscaping, and street repaving.   Those projects would have been paid from TIF district funding.    She tried to make it sound as if tax payers were coming out on the short end of the deal by having TIF dollars used for those needed projects.

I wish Eskrich had been as thrifty-minded when thinking about lawyers as when she was thinking about surveillance cameras for public safety.  

I trust when she had consultations with her lawyers they at least offered her a coffee. Or should that have been a beer?