New York Times Writes About the Democratic Party Not Having a Leading Minority Voice as the Primary Races Take Shape
by Scott Mandel
The New York Times, this morning, questioning how the Democratic party can present itself as a party of inclusion if they do not have any minority candidates running for the top office.
I don’t know, in this system we live under, or should I say, live within, voters choose. Unfortunately, polling also chooses and money follows the polling. Until money gets taken out of the electoral system, minority super pacs and very wealthy scions of industry and entertainment will need to give their billions to minority candidates of their choice to keep the Democratic Party from failing, in the Times’ eyes, from being an equal opportunity political party.
There is nothing egalitarian about politics in this country, right now. It is not about who has the clearest messaging or what color a candidate’s skin is. It IS about, especially this year, who the most electable person is, no matter gender or race..
And, while the New York Times is at it, I’d like to see a piece about the Republican party’s equal opportunity system for diversity among their national candidates.
The other point, as the Times correctly points out, is that candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Tulsi Gabbard have not succeeded in garnering support from minority voters. That may be a more important piece of this equation to look at than Democratic party diversity issues.
We Should Stay off of Social Media and Stop Watching Partisan News Outlets
By Scott Mandel
I’ve been wondering just how “divided” the U.S. populace truly is and how much of that divisiveness is driven by media outlets and social media.
Admittedly, different outlets constantly pound away at us with different political messages, based on their leanings or agenda. But, for many of us, during our day to day activities, be it work or play with family and friends, I don’t believe most of us carry the weight of political meanderings on our shoulders.
It seems to me, it’s only when we get to our computers or television sets in the dark of night, after the dishes have been cleared and kitchens cleaned, that we fall into our nightly habit of exhibiting “which side” we’re on. Social media has become such a protective device to complain or yell about the “other side” without risking our life and limbs while allowing us to assimilate, socially, into like-thinking groups of people, most of whom are not really friends.
But then, we fall asleep (a little agitated, perhaps, from our self-inflicted political activism and side-taking).
When we wake in the morning, with a full schedule of activities or job to attend to, the couple of hours of political debate we invested in the previous night have mostly been forgotten. We live our lives, we laugh with our friends, we do our homework, we make our money, and we don’t really feel divisive from millions of Americans who are perceived to be on the “other side” during our day-to-days.
That is, until the dishes are put away and the kitchen is cleaned, once again.
Linda McMahon is stepping down as head of Small Business Administration to chair the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, according to three people familiar with the move.
Trump allies have spent weeks searching for someone to chair the super PAC, which officials view as a key plank in the president’s reelection campaign. The president’s top aides believe they will need to raise around $1 billion, and say the super PAC will be a major part of the effort. Brian Walsh, America First Action’s president, declined to comment.
The president is expected to huddle with major donors on Saturday evening at Mar-a-Lago, according to two people familiar with the plans. Trump is planning to speak to reporters at 4 p.m. McMahon is joining the president at his private club this weekend.
Trump administration officials had long seen McMahon as a leading contender to replace Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has repeatedly angered the president, when he eventually steps down. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has also been eyeing the Commerce job and McMahon’s exit better positions him to replace Ross.
White House and SBA spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A longtime professional wrestling executive and former Republican Senate candidate, McMahon is an original member of Trump’s Cabinet, having been confirmed for the job in February 2017. She’s also one of just five women in the president’s Cabinet.
McMahon and her husband Vince built the company that would go on to become World Wrestling Entertainment, a large multinational corporation best known for creating a universe of brand name professional wrestlers who face off in tightly scripted televised events.
McMahon, who has known Trump for years, has kept a relatively low profile at SBA. Unlike other Trump administration Cabinet officials, she has not been dogged by scandal. Inside the White House, she’s seen as a loyal foot soldier. She regularly travels around the country to promote the president’s agenda, including recent trips to promote the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
For the PAC job, senior Republicans had been looking for someone with deep connections to the world of GOP donors — a profile fit by McMahon, who raised millions as a two-time Connecticut Senate candidate.
McMahon is expected to fill the vacancy created when Tommy Hicks Jr., a businessman and close ally of the Trump family, left the super PAC to become Republican National Committee co-chairman.
It’s unclear who will replace McMahon at the SBA. One possible candidate, according to administration officials, is Pradeep Belur, the agency’s chief of staff, who has taken on a broader portfolio in recent months. One administration official said Belur has left the impression among some Trump aides that he’s interested in the job.
Trump has often praised McMahon’s business prowess, calling her “one of the country’s top female executives” when he announced her nomination to lead the Small Business Administration in December 2016.
McMahon stepped down as CEO of WWE in 2009 to run for Senate in Connecticut. She lost to Richard Blumenthal. She ran again in 2012, but was bested by Chris Murphy.
Federal prosecutors in New York and California have charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti with extortion and bank and wire fraud.
In the New York case, Avenatti was charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million in payments from Nike by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.ADVERTISEMENT
Avenatti, 48, had previously represented adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Nicholas Biase, spokesman for the Southern District of New York, told ESPN in a statement Monday that “the defendant was arrested earlier today and is in custody. He is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court [Monday] afternoon.” The Southern District tweeted that it would hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. ET to discuss the matter.
According to the New York complaint, Avenatti last week threatened to hold a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at which he would announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees.
“Avenatti stated that he would refrain from holding the press conference and harming Nike only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike … and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and [an unidentified co-conspirator] to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ — an investigation that Nike did not request, for which Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] demanded to be paid, at a minimum, between $15 [million] and $25 million,” the complaint said.
Federal prosecutors identified the co-conspirator as “an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California, and similarly known for representation of celebrity and public figure clients.”
The complaint says Avenatti’s client is a “coach of an amateur athletic union (‘AAU’) men’s basketball program based in California.”
“For a number of years, the AAU program coached by Client-1 had a sponsorship agreement with Nike pursuant to which Nike paid the AAU program approximately $72,000 annually,” the complaint says.
In the California case, Avenatti was accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm. The U.S. attorney’s office also said he defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.
Federal prosecutors announced the charges against Avenatti on Monday less than an hour after he tweeted that he was holding a news conference on Tuesday morning.
According to the complaint, the co-conspirator contacted Nike and stated that he wished to speak to representatives of the company and that the discussion should occur in person, not over the phone, as it pertained to a sensitive matter. During a meeting with Nike’s lawyers in New York on March 19, Avenatti stated that the AAU coach, whose contract Nike had recently decided not to renew, had evidence that “one or more Nike employees had authorized and funded payments to the families of top high school basketball players and/or their families and attempted to conceal those payments, similar to conduct involving a rival company [Adidas] that had recently been the subject of a criminal prosecution in this District. Avenatti identified three former high school players in particular, and indicated that his client was aware of payments to others as well.”
According to prosecutors, Avenatti demanded that Nike pay his client $1.5 million for any claims the coach might have regarding Nike’s decision not to renew his team’s contract, and that Nike must hire Avenatti and the co-conspirator to conduct an internal investigation, with the stipulation that if the company hired another firm to conduct the inquiry, it would still have to pay Avenatti and the co-conspirator “at least twice the fees of any other firm hired.”
“At the end of the meeting, Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] indicated that Nike would have to agree to accept those demands immediately or Avenatti would hold his press conference,” the complaint says.
Later that day, Nike’s attorneys contacted the co-conspirator to tell him that the company needed more time. Avenatti and the co-conspirator agreed to give Nike two days to consider the offer. Nike’s attorneys contacted the Southern District of New York and made prosecutors aware of Avenatti’s threats and extortion demands.
On March 20, one of Nike’s attorneys sent the co-conspirator a text message to schedule a telephone call later that day. The call was recorded and monitored by law enforcement. During a three-way call later that day, Avenatti reiterated that he expected to “get a million five for our guy” and be “hired to handle the internal investigation.”
“If you don’t wanna do that, we’re done here,” Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys.
“I’m not f—— around with this, and I’m not continuing to play games,” Avenatti said during the call, according to the complaint. “You guys know enough now to know you’ve got a serious problem. And it’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you. So if that’s what, if that’s what’s being contemplated, then let’s just say it was good to meet you, and we’re done. And I’ll proceed with my press conference tomorrow.
“I’m not f—— around with this thing anymore. So if you guys think that you know, we’re gonna negotiate a million five, and you’re gonna hire us to do an internal investigation, but it’s gonna be capped at 3 or 5 or 7 million dollars, like let’s just be done. … And I’ll go and I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap. But I’m not f—— around.”
During a meeting with Nike’s attorneys the next day, Avenatti said that he and his co-conspirator would require a $12 million retainer to be paid immediately and to be “deemed earned when paid,” with a minimum guarantee of $15 million in billing hours and a maximum of $25 million.
When one of Nike’s attorneys asked Avenatti if the sneaker company could pay one lump sum and not hire them to conduct the internal investigation, Avenatti said, “If [Nike] wants to have one confidential settlement and we’re done, they can buy that for twenty-two and a half million dollars and we’re done. … Full confidentiality, we ride off into the sunset.”
Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys: “I just wanna share with you what’s going to happen if we don’t reach a resolution. … As soon as this becomes public, I am going to receive calls from all over the country from parents and coaches and friends and all kinds of people. This is always what happens. And they are all going to say, ‘I’ve got an email or a text message.’ Now, 90 percent of that is going to be bullshit because it’s always bullshit 90 percent of the time, always, whether it’s R. Kelly or Trump. The list goes on and on. But 10 percent of it is actually going to be true, and then what’s going to happen is that this is going to snowball. That’s going to be the Washington Post, the New York Times, ESPN, a press conference, and the company will die — not die, but they are going to incur cut after cut after cut after cut, and that’s what’s going to happen as soon as this thing becomes public.
On March 21, Avenatti tweeted a link to a story about an Adidas employee being sentenced to nine months in prison for his role in a pay-for-play scheme to send high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored programs. Avenatti included the remark: “Something tells me that we have not reached the end of this scandal. It is likely far far broader than imagined …”
Cory Booker is running high on my list for POTUS…Any politician who played major college football and can make an inside cut along the sideline and add YAC’s (Yards After Catch) by making a future NFL star, Todd Lyght of Notre Dame look silly, gets my attention. He also found the seam on his second catch, a talent only future presidents and NFL tight ends, can develop.
Booker played football at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan (that’s the whole name) in New Jersey, where he saw reps at both defensive back and wide receiver/tight end. When Booker was there, he was a sought-after recruit.
If Booker were a recruit now, he’d probably be a four-star.
Booker didn’t play football until his freshman year of high school. As a senior in 1986, he was named the Gatorade New Jersey Football Player of the Year, and also earned a spot on theUSA Today All-USA high school team as a defensive back. That year, he caught 46 passes for 589 yards and six touchdowns, and he made 53 solo tackles and nine interceptions as a safety. He was an AP all-state DB in high school, too.
Booker ended up signing with Stanford, where he played tight end. His decision was mostly focused on academics instead of football.
“I’ll never forget that that year, U.S. News & World Report academically ranked the colleges and they ranked Stanford over Harvard and Yale as the number one academic school in the country,” Booker has said. “That sealed it for me. I was like, ‘If I have a chance to get a football scholarship to the top academic school, I’m going to take that opportunity,’ because even back then, I realized that football was going to be my ticket and not my destination.”
Before he signed, his recruiters included Duke’s Steve Spurrier, Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz, and even former president Gerald Ford, who wanted Booker to play at his alma mater, Michigan. Because he played defensive back, receiver, and tight end, it’s fair to guess Booker would have been listed as an athlete as a recruit. He appears to have had serious offers from Michigan and Notre Dame, and he racked up accolades in a state that now produces a good number of blue-chips. Four stars seems reasonable.