Late Night Open Thread: But Who Was the Target Audience?

Could we cynics have been wrong in assuming that Trump’s support of A$AP Rocky was nothing but a cheap ploy to reassure his white Base that he was Not A Racist? Well, with so many grifters inveterate self-promoters each telling a different story, it’s hard to be sure:

According to new details provided by sources involved, Trump’s role in pushing for Rocky’s release started with a reality television megastar calling the West Wing, a mysterious entertainment industry “fixer” and two Trump supporters. The president’s allies who connected Rocky’s team with the White House hoped to facilitate a scene that would bolster Trump’s image among African-Americans. Instead, they say they were left angry when Rocky failed to thank Trump or those around him…

Darrell Scott and Kareem Lanier entered the picture a few days after Rocky was detained. Scott, an Ohio pastor, was one of Trump’s highest-profile African-American surrogates during the 2016 campaign and went on to serve on his transition team. Lanier is the co-chairman of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, a nonprofit led by Scott dedicated to promoting elements of the Trump agenda to the black community. The two men, who were hardly household names, have become a regular presence at the White House at events focused on addressing African-American issues.

Scott and Lanier said they became involved after hearing from a man named Hassan Muhammad, who describes himself as a “fixer” for high-profile figures in the entertainment industry. In a pair of phone conversations this week, Muhammad, who has no web presence and was unwilling to name any of his contacts, said an associate of Rocky’s reached out to him about the rapper’s situation…

TL, DR: These two high-profile surrogates seem to have convinced Jared Kushner that the Oval Office Occupant making a huge public fuss (always one of Trump’s favorite things) would improve his status with The Blacks. And Jared, publicity expert, jumped at the possibility! It’s not as though guys like this might’ve had ulterior motives, right?…

… Both Lanier and Scott were upset that Rocky never acknowledged the assistance he had gotten. Lanier attributed this to the potential blowback that an African-American celebrity like Rocky could face for embracing Trump.

“One of the problems that we have as a culture — and I’m talking about black Americans — is herd mentality,” Lanier said. “Right now it’s popular for those guys to bash President Trump.”

The two men said they were left disappointed that Rocky didn’t thank the White House — even behind the scenes.

“All he had to do was do a two-minute call to say thank you,” said Scott. “Rocky hasn’t even called us and said, ‘Hey, man, thank you guys. I appreciate it,’ in private. Just in private.”








Open Thread: This Is An Age of Miracles & Wonders

No, seriously: Cooling vests are excellent tech (I’m tempted to get one for working in the garden, assuming I can find one in my size). And also I’m glad that furries can feel comfortable enough to be interviewed by the Daily Beast:

Tired of overheating in his own fursuit, Pepeyn Langedijk adapted a military cooling vest to his own ends to create the EZ Cooldown vest. Langedijk, a resident of the Netherlands, goes by “EZ Wolf” in lupine costume and named his invention after his character.

Langedijk and his husband Tom live in Amsterdam and run the EZ Cooldown business together full-time. They met during Elfia, a medieval fantasy reenactment fair, and their hobbies led them to test their product on themselves. The team told The Daily Beast that they sold more than a thousand vests in 2018, which each retail for $215, packs included. Roughly 80 percent of the company’s sales are to U.S. customers.

The pair don’t have official military contracts, but they told The Daily Beast that a small group of U.S. Navy troops in Japan reached out to EZ Cooldown three years ago to ask if the company could ship to military bases. The service members ended up buying 10 vests, then their friends bought 20, then 30, Langedijk said. He still doesn’t know how they heard of his product…

The Dutch innovator decided to create his own slimmer cooling vest targeted to people in costume, placing cooling packs in the small of the back and high up on the chest to complement the owner’s body. On the way, he worked with partners to concoct a proprietary chemical blend that fills the packs of his vests. He released the product at “Eurofurence,” a furry convention, in 2013. Langedijk’s cosplaying friends quickly told him the design was a “game changer.”…








Late Night Open Thread: He’s A Trendsetter, Dude!…

Trump will be citing this as a positive no later than Wednesday, because isn’t all publicity good publicity?

A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.

But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”

Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.
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Late Night Open Thread: Not What They Were Expecting

The one attendee, actually, was A DEMOCRAT, per the Iowa Starting Line:

It was early Saturday morning, and Jessica Birch didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Hungover and tired, the 21-year-old University of Northern Iowa student could easily have turned off her alarm.

But the night before, she saw a Facebook event for Congressman Steve King’s town hall forum in Grundy County come across her feed, and she felt a civic duty to attend. So, Birch forced herself out of bed and headed 17 miles down the road to the Grundy Center Community Center.

She arrived to peculiar scene: out of the over 12,000 people that live in Grundy County, Birch was the only one to show up to King’s forum.

“It was just odd, because I don’t know what the record was for the world’s smallest town hall is, but one person I think has to be it,” Birch told Starting Line in an interview this morning.

A photo of the near-empty room by a Reuters photographer quickly went viral Saturday afternoon, showing only two people in a room of mostly-empty chairs. However, as Birch explained, the other woman on the left in the photo was an intern for King. Birch, who lives in Dike, Iowa, was the only constituent of King’s not required to attend to show up.

“I was the only person who was not paid to be there,” she said…

King’s trained his constituents out of expecting town halls — or, presumably, any other normal constituent services. Murphy the Trickster God willing, perhaps they will reward him by failing to show up at the polls, if they can’t bring themselves to vote for a not-Republican.








Late-Night Mobius Nest of Vipers: Jeffrey Epstein, Keyser Söze

Since life is not as neatly plotted as a movie, we can be (reasonably) sure that Jeffrey Epstein actually existed, even if almost every detail of his adult life seems to be open to (mis)interpretation. Whether any of those details will be believable to future historians — assuming there are such — may depend on the survival of the term ‘Rashomon effect’


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