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summer_in_TX's Journal
summer_in_TX's Journal
January 6, 2018

Securities & Exchange Commission investigating Kushner Cos.


The SEC is probing Kushner Companies over its use of the EB-5 program, which provides green cards to immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in certain U.S. businesses.

The commission subpoenaed the business for information about how it used the program in May, according to the [Wall Street]
Journal. The commission is working with a similar probe out of the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which has been investigating Kushner Companies projects that were partially financed through the visa program.



Jared Kushner's sister was running it then, after he resigned to join the WH staff.

December 31, 2017

I took my dad to his meeting of Yeller Dawg Democrats this morning.

They've been meeting every Saturday morning for well over 20 years. Dad is the moderator. Anyway today the group pressed one of the Yeller Dawg's who is a psychologist to talk about how she would diagnose Donald Trump. She named two categories (I think the first was narcissistic personality disorder, but I had a moment of distraction.) She focused on the next category: psychopath. She detailed the various traits seen in that diagnosis that Trump exhibits. I was struck by those and looked up more upon getting home.

He definitely exhibits almost every trait. There are some on the list that are about behaviors when young. I haven't read up on that but it certainly would not surprise me to learn that Trump showed traits of: delinquency when young; had revocation of conditional release; behavioral problems early in life; and maybe lack of realistic, long-term goals. Anybody know?

https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/psychopath/psychopathy-definition-symptoms-signs-and-causes/ had the intro and list below.
Signs and Symptoms of Psychopathy
The signs and symptoms of psychopathy are identified most commonly in scientific studies by Hare's 20-item Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. This checklist identifies the following as the symptoms and signs of psychopathy:

Superficial charm and glibness√
Inflated sense of self-worth√
Constant need for stimulation√
Lying pathologically√
Conning others; being manipulative√
Lack of remorse or guilt√
Shallow emotions√
Callousness; lack of empathy√
Using others (a parasitic lifestyle)√
Poor control over behavior√
Promiscuous sexual behavior√
Behavioral problems early in life?
Lack of realistic, long-term goals?
Being impulsive√
Being irresponsible√
Blaming others and refusing to accept responsibility√
Having several marital relationships√
Delinquency when young?
Revocation of conditional release?
Criminal acts in several realms (criminal versatility) - I think we will find this one is a definite √

Of course a bunch of traits are missing. Megalomania type symptoms, which I found is grouped as a narcissistic personality disorder. So here's what the Mayo Clinic has on that.
Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance√
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration√
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it√
Exaggerate achievements and talents√
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate√
Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people÷
Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior√
Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations√
Take advantage of others to get what they want√
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others√
Be envious of others and believe others envy them√
Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious√
Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office√
At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment√
Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted√
React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior√
Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior√
Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change√
Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection?
Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation√

I do think those who've pointed to dementia (or even Alzheimer's) setting in are likely correct. My dad, who's 91, has a fair amount of it. But he's still intelligent and knowledgeable in many ways and his personality and interests haven't changed, basic traits which the dementia hasn't erased. At least yet. He doesn't retain new or complicated information at all well though. And it's progressive. Same with DT, I strongly suspect. And with his mental illness and his position…

December 30, 2017

Does amicus brief from former intel chiefs risk justifying stifling of dissent?

Is this warning a valid caution, or…? I was pleased the intel chiefs spoke up, but took it at face value. Those in DU with an intel or legal background are better able to asses whether it's valid or overblown.


Of all the various twists and turns of the year-and-a-half-long national drama known as #Russiagate, the effort to marginalize and stigmatize dissent from the consensus Russia-Trump narrative, particularly by former intelligence and national-security officials and operatives, is among the more alarming.


In a new development, in early December, 14 former high-ranking US intelligence and national-security officials, including former deputy secretary of state William Burns; former CIA director John Brennan; former director of national intelligence James Clapper; and former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (a longtime proponent of democracy promotion, which presumably includes free speech), filed an amicus brief as part of the lawsuit.

…But where the briefers branch off into new territory is in their attempt to characterize journalism and political speech with which they disagree as acts of subversion on behalf of a foreign power.

According to the 14 former officials, Russia’s active-measure campaign relies “on intermediaries or ‘cut outs’ inside a country,” which are rather broadly defined as “political organizers and activists, academics, journalists, web operators, shell companies, nationalists and militant groups, and prominent pro-Russian businessmen.”


In other words, a Russian “cut out” (or fifth columnist) can be defined as those “activists, academics, journalists, [or] web operators” who dissent from the shared ideology of the 14 signatories of the amicus brief.

November 14, 2017

Even Alabama media report Roy Moore's known predilection

Roy Moore's penchant for flirting with teen girls was "common knowledge" and "not a big secret" around Gadsden, according to some area residents.



I wonder if the initial surge of support from those who assume the national media is just out to get Roy Moore will be able to continue as Alabama media dig their teeth into the truth of the allegations.

November 2, 2017

A frame that could give Democrats the unifying concept to WIN?

Conservatives often complain that they’ve been exiled from power, whether in the corridors of the Capitol or the pages of the New York Times. Yet conservative ideas have dominated American politics for thirty years. The centerpiece of that dominance is the notion that the market equals freedom and government is the threat to freedom. Despite the Great Recession and election of Barack Obama, the most progressive candidate to win the presidency since 1964, that idea retains its hold.


If there is to be a true realignment—not just of parties but of principles, not just of policy preferences or cognitive frames but of deep beliefs and ideas—we must confront conservatism’s political philosophy. That philosophy reflects more than a bloodless economics or narrow self-interest; it draws from and drives forward a distinctly moral vision of freedom, with deep roots in American political thought.


We must, in other words, change the argument from the abstractions of the free market to the very real power of the businessman. More than posing an impersonal threat to the deliberations of a democratic polity—as the progressive opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision would have it, or as liberals like Paul Krugman and Hendrik Hertzberg have suggested about the unionbusting in Wisconsin—the businessman imposes concrete and personal constraints on the freedom of individual citizens. What conservatives fear above all else—more than higher taxes or lower profits—is any challenge to that power, any inversion of the obligations of deference and command, any extension of freedom that would curtail their own.


We must also change the argument about government. Government need not be a source of constraint, as conservatives claim. Nor is it designed to protect citizens from the vagaries of the market, as many liberals claim—a formulation that depicts citizens as needy and passive and opens liberals to the charge of paternalism and condescension. When government is aligned with democratic movements on the ground, as Walter Reuther and Martin Luther King Jr. understood, it becomes the individual’s instrument for liberating herself from her rulers in the private sphere, a way to break the back of private autocracy.


The platform proposals I've heard so far from people like Chuck Schumer have seemed weak and lackluster so far. But this article strikes me as providing a powerful ideal to run and win on. I think it would have legs and be a powerful counter to right wing framing. Would love to have the community give it some thought and let me know if you think it resonates. I think a powerful frame has helped the conservatives' rise, but this one strikes me as the argument that could take hold and spread.
October 21, 2017

Former campus carry supporter has changed his mind

Shootings and college life change a student’s view on campus carry

The recent implementation of Texas’ campus carry law allows people with a concealed handgun license to carry their handguns on college campuses. I once supported this law, but now that I am spending every day on a college campus in Texas, I can no longer say the same thing.

My change of heart regarding campus carry was accelerated by the gruesome mass shooting in Las Vegas, which made me question whether gun ownership should be strictly regulated in general, and by the recent shooting at Texas Tech University. As I called my friends who attend the university to make sure they were out of harm’s way, I realized that guns on college campuses — carried legally or not — scare me.


A powerful guest column appeared in today's issue of the Austin-American Statesman, written by a college freshman at Stephen F. Austin College. Raised in a very conservative, pro-gun home, and previously a supporter of campus carry, now that he has experienced campus life and the immaturity of many of his fellow students, he now realizes that it's scary to be on campus with students who may have concealed weapons.

Well-written piece – and very encouraging to see a former supporter so articulately change his mind.
August 16, 2017

Non-violent tactics and moral high-ground

I've been imagining what the discussion after the tragedy in Charlottesville would have been like today if the counter-protestors had been only those committed to using the moral authority (satyagraha or soul-force) of non-violence.

The starkness of the contrast between good and evil would have had a shining clarity that would have overwhelmed the RW media's ability to twist what happened into the appearance of a false equivalency.

Would it have helped hasten the end of this monstrous regime?

I grew up in a family that held Martin Luther King in the highest reverence. We watched the news anytime he and the Civil Rights Movement were covered. He stirred my moral imagination as a teenager like none other. I read his writings and watched documentaries after his death, as well as biographies about his life.

He took nonviolent methods into the heart of the racist South and to pockets of racism in the North as well. He and his cohorts in the Civil Rights Movement were spit upon, beaten by police, pepper-sprayed, jailed. A bomb was thrown into the front window of his house (luckily he and the family were in the back of the house). King was stabbed and later assassinated. Others in the Civil Rights Movement suffered the same fate.

Some mistook the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement as weakness, especially those who didn't grow up observing it. They were wrong.

Those nonviolent protesters were warriors. They placed themselves constantly in the situations where the evil of violence and racism would be rained down on their heads and those of their children who sometimes protested with them.

As the nation watched the news night after night and witnessed the bravery, the peacefulness, and the innocence of the protesters, the tide of public opinion turned. What once was the status quo became disturbing and then anathema to large swathes of the country.

LBJ helped force the transformation by numerous pieces of legislation that he worked to get passed: legislation outlawing discrimination in public housing, denying federal funding for schools that refused to integrate, the Voting Rights Act, and more. If the Civil Rights Movement had been one of violence, those pieces of legislation would never have passed. Some of those members of Congress who had inherited racist views that they'd never questioned, came to question them because of the clear moral authority of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and many other civil rights leaders of the time.

The number of racists in the country were reduced, because many of them had never thought about what they were doing until their eyes were opened. They had enough decency in them that they were capable of conversion. It's possible some of these current racists and Trump supporters do too.

Violent tactics justify a violent response. Hate begets hate.

While I understand the very human emotions that might lead someone to participate in Antifa, I'm convinced it is counterproductive, a mistake that will create a backlash.

In 1968 after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, riots broke out. That summer the Democratic National Convention was marred by days of violence and rioting. Those who were not paying attention to the causes and did not understand the forces behind the violence were appalled and afraid. Fear suppressed rational thought and brought out the lizard part of the brain in many people and fueled the conservative backlash.

Bad behavior (can we agree that violence, vandalism, and threats are bad behavior?) does not inspire anyone or bring out the good in anyone else. There certainly was no conversion of hearts or minds, quite the opposite.

Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. And unfortunately those of us who do learn those lessons are not always able to prevail and we too have to live with the consequences.

July 27, 2017

Can healing come without listening to those we differ with?

My efficacy and usefulness as a pastor and caregiver (and as a decent member of humanity), is predicated on knowing how people’s hearts work, the way they think, how they respond to fear, what motivates and hurts them. Understanding human beings is my life’s work. It is the work of every one of us striving for empathy regardless of profession or placement.

There are times though, when people’s actions are so profoundly damaging to others, that asking why isn’t the most pressing question; moments when to belabor that question would be irresponsible to those at risk.


I get his point and it certainly resonates, and I agree that our first priority has to be those who are bullied. But how can we be "ambassadors of reconciliation" or turn our brothers and sisters from sin without also having conversations? After all the root word of conversation and conversion are the same.

July 3, 2017

Are we underestimating Boss Tweet?

Does anyone besides me find themselves getting sucked into the tweeting scandals and obsessively reading reactions? I've been down that rabbit hole for several days this week alone.

I ran across this article on Politico, and was shocked to find some of the many things I'd missed while distracted. politico.com/agenda/story/2017/06/30/trump-policy-change-labor-workers-000469

One Obama-era EPA rule is in the process of being repealed but has 30 days for public comment.

In May, 2015, the Obama administration issued the Waters of the United States rule—colloquially known as WOTUS—a far-reaching and long-awaited plan to limit pollution in America’s wetlands. The culmination of years of work, WOTUS was hailed by environmentalists as a marquee moment in America’s commitment to cleaning up its polluted waters.

But two years later, WOTUS is on the verge of defeat. Twenty seven states sued the Obama administration over the rule, arguing that the EPA exceeded its authority to regulate small streams and tributaries. A judge blocked the rule last year, so it hasn’t taken effect, and on Tuesday, the EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, took the first step towards killing it, issuing a 52-page proposed rule to repeal WOTUS. The agencies are accepting comments for 30 days. Soon after, they will issue a final rule.

What else are we overlooking - or at least not focusing on enough to take sustained, effective action on?

Twitler is a master distractor, even though a lot of times the distractions seem to be self-inflicted wounds - but then even that somehow gets me off track.

Do any of you have strategies that help you stay effective? I used to be on a number of political action lists, but my inbox blew up to the extent that it was hard to find personal email, and eventually I shut down that email address.

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Hometown: Austin, Texas
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About summer_in_TX

@WimberleySusan Good media policy is essential for democracy to thrive. Red Letter follower of Jesus' way of Love. Neighbor. Ally. ALL bear the image of God.

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