Questions surround Team Trump’s pre-election talks with Russia

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.| Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The MaddowBlog

White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s alleged talks with Russia in December are the basis for an important ongoing scandal. But the latest revelations also shed light on a separate, parallel controversy that may end up being every bit as important.
As part of its reporting on Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the Washington Post noted on Friday:
The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said. [Emphasis added]
A New York Times report added:
[C]urrent and former American officials said that conversation – which took place the day before the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia over accusations that it used cyberattacks to help sway the election in Mr. Trump’s favor – ranged far beyond the logistics of a post-inauguration phone call. And they said it was only one in a series of contacts between the two men that began before the election and also included talk of cooperating in the fight against the Islamic State, along with other issues. [Emphasis added]
It’s hard to overstate the significance of this detail, which risks doing real harm to Donald Trump’s White House.

Let’s back up a minute to provide some context.

Practically everyone in both parties now agrees that Russian officials, acting on Vladimir Putin’s orders, launched an espionage operation to undermine the U.S. presidential election in 2016, at least in part to help put Trump in the White House. What’s unclear is whether Team Trump colluded with Moscow during the election crimes.

On Nov. 10, just two days after the U.S. election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “there were contacts” between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign team before the U.S. presidential election. In fact, Ryabkov said “quite a few” members of Trump’s team had been “staying in touch with Russian representatives” before Americans cast their ballots.

Trump World have long insisted the opposite was true. Kellyanne Conway, asked if there were pre-election communications between the Republican campaign and Putin’s government, said, “Absolutely not.” She added the conversations “never happened” and any suggestions to the contrary “undermine our democracy.”

Though it’s unclear why the Russian deputy foreign minister would lie about this, Conway wasn’t the only member of Team Trump who emphatically denied the talks. At a pre-inaugural press conference, the president himself said no one from the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia during the campaign.

Those denials are apparently in conflict with the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Why is this so important? Because we’re faced with the very real possibility that a foreign adversary attacked America’s democracy to help put Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and while those attacks were under way, Trump aides were in communications with Putin’s government and then Team Trump repeatedly misled the American public about what transpired.

Based on what’s been reported thus far, that’s precisely what happened.

Postscript: The idea that no one on Team Trump spoke to Putin’s government before the election was already suspect. One of the people Trump singled out as a top foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, had repeated contacts with Moscow during the campaign – right up until Team Trump decided to disown Page and pretend he had no role in the operation.

That said, Michael Flynn is a far more prominent, more powerful, and more influential figure in the president’s orbit. If the White House national security advisor was also engaged in pre-election talks with Putin’s government during the campaign, it’s a qualitatively more important revelation.

Second Postscript: The list of questions for the White House isn’t short, but I’d start with, “What did Trump know about Flynn’s pre-election communications with Russia? When did the president first learn of the back-channel messages? If Trump didn’t know what his top national security advisor was up to for months, what does that say about the president’s ability to lead? And if he did know, why did the president lie to the public?”

Both Donald Trump and Sean Spicer seem to think Frederick Douglass is alive

Both Donald Trump and Sean Spicer seem to think Frederick Douglass is alive

Image Credit: Getty Images

A couple of things:  In defense of Spicer and Trump, culturally, they have never had a reason to learn or research anything about Black History prior to holding their respective office.  I would imagine that Black Culture is far from their priorities.


President Donald Trump, while attending a roundtable of black leaders to commemorate Black History Month on Wednesday, appeared very unclear on who famed black orator and slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass was.

In fact, the president’s choice of present tense seemed to indicate he had only a vague understanding of what historical era Douglass lived in or what he had done: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I noticed.”

“Big impact,” he added a few seconds later.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, far from reversing Trump’s gaffe, steamed full speed ahead at a press conference on Wednesday.

Spicer found himself at a loss to name a single one of Douglass’ accomplishments, and seemed to draw a blank on the subject of whether Douglass is still alive and accomplishing things.

“Today [Trump] made the comment about Frederick Douglass being recognized more and more, do you have any idea what specifically he was referring to?” a reporter asked Spicer.

“Well I think there was contributions,” Spicer responded. “I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made and I think that through a lot of the actions and statements that he is going to make, I think that the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”

For the record, Douglass was well known for escaping slavery in Maryland, journeying north, and becoming one of the most famous leaders of the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the scourge of slavery across the U.S.

Douglass wrote three best-selling autobiographies of his experience as a black man in 1800s America, promoted the rights of all people regardless of race, sex or nationality, and was a brilliant speaker whose words are remembered to this day and served as a living testament to black equality.

He will contribute no future “actions and statements” to U.S. history, because he died in 1895, some 122 years ago. (Emphasis are mine – ks)

Tom McKay

Obama on presidency: ‘Anything you say can move markets or start wars’


“You have to be careful because anything you say can move markets or start wars,” President Barack Obama said. | Getty


President Barack Obama warned against the dangers that lie in the power of the presidency during a wide-ranging TV interview Friday.

In a thinly veiled comment aimed at the incoming administration, Obama told NBC’s Lester Holt that, “You have to be careful because anything you say can move markets or start wars.”

The outgoing president also discussed at length the various highs and lows of his presidency, naming the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as his lowest point in office.

“My worst day as president was hearing that 20 six-year-olds had been shot in the most brutal way,” he said.

The president also spoke of the challenges of lifting up his party while in office.

“I had trouble transferring my personal popularity or support to the broader cause of the Democratic Party,” he said. “And I think that’s a legitimate criticism.

Obama, the first African-American president, also elaborated on how his journey didn’t spell the end of racial challenges facing the country.

“I think any talk of the post-racial America before my election was never realistic,” he said. “I think that talk was not only naive but it created some problems down the road.”

Obama, however, said he remained optimistic about the changes he made while in office, and that even though the country was seemingly moving in an opposing direction, “his spirit was unchanged.”

“You get the baton and hopefully you’ve either advanced a lead or closed the gap when you pass the baton to the next person,” he said.

Koch-Republicans Want the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary to Be Its Last

Koch-Republicans Want the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary to Be Its Last

Mt. Rushmore with Koch logo super-imposed on photo


The federal government’s landholdings and control of water could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

In normal circumstances when an anniversary arrives the farthest thing from anyone’s mind is that it may be the last, unless it is a ninety-third wedding anniversary of a couple not expected to survive another year due to a terminal disease. When a nation celebrates an anniversary, unless the country is in its death throes due to being on the brink of being overrun and conquered by a vastly superior force, one expects to continue the yearly anniversary celebrations into perpetuity. However, America is now celebrating a notable anniversary and if the Koch brothers have their way, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t, it is highly unlikely that Republicans will ever allow the nation to celebrate again.

The White House sent out a reminder this weekend that this year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and besides acknowledging the work of its employees, it encouraged Americans to “get outside and explore.” What the White House didn’t say, and the media has woefully ignored, is that Republicans in service to the Koch brothers, fossil fuel industry, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Utah Mormons are actively attempting to put an end to not only America’s national parks, wilderness areas, and monuments, but the concept of government-owned public lands.

The Koch brothers, and Utah Mormons, were long-time crusaders pushing Republicans to force the federal government to hand over all public lands to private enterprise to rape and pillage at their pleasure, and public lands was an all-inclusive term that included national parks, wilderness areas and protected environs. That greedy intent gained some publicity and only came to the fore after a Mormon rancher summoned armed militias to Nevada to wage war on federal officials doing their jobs of protecting Americans’ public lands from greedy interlopers.

The story gained a little more attention when that same Nevada Mormon rancher’s son seized federal property in another state and dared federal officials to intervene and take back the people’s land. Throughout both instances, while Republicans were resolutely defending the Mormons’ actions, they were also busy crafting legislation in Mormon Utah and Koch’s Congress to force the government to hand over ownership of public lands to the mining, oil, and logging industry to denude forests, gouge out the land, and drill for oil.

This attempt by the Kochs and Mormons to seize control of even more American land is no longer just a “Western states” issue; it is a major plank in the official Republican Party platform and very few Americans seem to care, if they are aware it’s happening at all. If any Americans didn’t think Republicans, driven by the Kochs and using ALEC template legislation, would make eliminating national parks and seizing all public lands the official position of the Republican Party at the state and federal level, the official Republican Party platform should be informative, if not infuriating. The Koch-Republican official position is:

Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey [hand over] certain federally controlled public lands to the states, call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified. The federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.”

In calling for an “immediate full-scale disposal” of “certain” public lands, the Koch-GOP was clever in not explicitly defining exactly which lands it would apply to so they can take all public land and hand it over to private enterprises with impunity. Obviously, the Kochs and their dirty cohort want to seize national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and national forests for their own use and profit and Republicans are ferociously doing their bidding.

If any American thinks that any and all national parks and protected areas are off limits, consider that there are already Republican attempts to force uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, and have cut National Park Service funding drastically to force corporatesponsorship” as a means of fulfilling budget requirements. However, now that transferring public lands to private ownership is “officially” a Republican policy with pending legislation waiting for a Republican president to sign, the idea of Americans visiting national parks, like recreating on public lands and waterways, is in jeopardy of vanishing.

As an aside, there was some reporting on the GOP’s Koch-driven land grab, including Americans’ national parks, but there was also a “certain” website claiming it just wasn’t true. The website is popular for debunking myths and claimed that the GOP platform did not mention eliminating national parks unambiguously so the reports were fraudulent. That may be technically true, but it is also being extremely pedantic, embarrassingly naïve and just ignorant on its face. Anyone with an ounce of intellect knows that the GOP will never alert the public to their true intent and in this case there is more than enough evidence that when the GOP says “certain lands,” they mean any and all lands the Koch brothers and Mormons believe they can profit from.

This repulsive official position of the Koch-Republicans should be an issue Democrats seize upon to beat Republicans up and down ballot to within an inch of their pathetic political lives. Many Americans could not possibly care less that Republicans embrace Donald Trump’s bigoted and racist beliefs like a cherished religion, or that Trump is enamored with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, or that a presidential aspirant is notorious for bankrupting anything he touches, but none of those “issues” affect them personally. But what they will care about is that Republicans are taking yet another asset away from them for the sake of the wealthy few.

National Parks and wilderness areas are wildly popular among Republican and Democratic voters alike and the idea of being denied access to “their own public land” and “their own National Parks” because Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers need more wealth is a serious issue for Democratic candidates at the state, national, and local level, but only if they are savvy enough to use it. Based on not hearing a whisper about the Koch-GOP’s official intent to seize public lands, including National Parks, it is questionable if Democrats even know Americans care about and want to preserve their National Parks. Happy 100th Anniversary National Parks Service! The Koch-Republicans and Utah Mormons are working furiously to make sure it’s your last.


Haters Flip Out Over This Video Of The Obamas Singing Happy Birthday To Usher (VIDEO)


“Lynch mob mentality” comes to mind here…(read below).


The typical right-winger has incredible double standards when it comes to Presidents. Dubyah spent almost as much time at his ranch in Texas as he did in DC, and he loved to fish. He flew Air Force One around like it was his personal mode of transportation — because it was. Conservatives don’t seem to have a problem with that and truthfully, neither should liberals. No matter where a sitting president is, he is working.

Conservatives expect…more…from President Obama for some reason. Their vision of what his day should be like differs from previous presidents, who were allowed to fish, play golf, or in the case of their hero Saint Ronny, take six naps a day without scrutiny. Not Obama. He should be waking up at the crack of dawn to walk the streets of DC, finding homeless vets to shake hands with and cracking down on crime.

By the time he’s briefed at 8 AM, the President should have already thwarted whatever plans ISIS had for the day, called Putin to congratulate him for being so magnificent, and sent Netanyahu a basket of mini muffins and an apology for allowing Iran to become the undisputed champion of all world superpowers.

Most importantly — and this can’t be stressed enough — the President can NEVER have any contact whatsoever with another black person. It’s racist. He can’t comment on anything that has to do with black people. It’s racist. If a black man is murdered in cold blood on camera and the President has an opinion, he’s stirring up racial tensions and setting “his people” back 150 years.

This became the issue when the President and First Lady took a few minutes to sing happy birthday to Usher, who was at the White House filming a musical special for PBS in the East Room. If you look around at the numerous articles about the event, you’ll see that what was actually 38 seconds and a cupcake has been escalated to a dignitary event honoring Usher for being black, costing the taxpayers millions.

Millions. That’s one expensive cupcake.

Here are some of the pleasantries the black man living in the White House has grown used to. First there’s the racism:





Then there’s the racism thinly veiled by concern for social injustice:



Then there’s the racism cleverly hidden by concerns for our economy…because cupcake:


And then there are just plain stupid people:


These are but a drop in the bucket of the hate spewed over this ever-important issue. The President walked through the foyer of his home, gave a man a cupcake and sang happy birthday. Clearly he should be impeached.

Watch the President and First Lady destroy the economy, disrespect veterans, ignore ISIS and stir racial tensions with a cupcake and a song below:

Watch Re-play: President Obama and the First Lady Host “In Performance at the White House”

Video starts at 43:00


The President and First Lady will invite music legends and top contemporary artists to the White House as part of its “In Performance at the White House” series. This event, “A Celebration of American Creativity,” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act and include performances by Buddy Guy, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Audra McDonald, Keb’ Mo’, Smokey Robinson, Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Taylor and Usher, with special readings and remarks from Carol Burnett.


Obama shuts down White House heckler: ‘You’re in my house!’

President Barack Obama responds to a heckler as he speaks during a reception to celebrate LGBT Pride Month in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, | June 24, 2015, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP Photo


President Barack Obama is used to hecklers stopping him during speeches — but he draws the line when the audience interrupts him in his own house.

As Obama was speaking at a White House event honoring LGBT Pride Month on Wednesday, an accented voice rang out from the crowd. Obama wasn’t amused.

“Shame on you,” he told his heckler, who was protesting deportations under the Obama administration.

Obama responded, “Listen you’re in my house … it’s not respectful.”

The interruption persisted, however, and Obama asked for the heckler to be removed from the East Room.

“As a general rule I am just fine with a few hecklers. But not when I’m up here in the house,” he said, as Vice President Joe Biden clapped him on the back.

Obama said later if guests are “eating the hors d’oeuvres and drinking the booze,” they’re typically expected to listen respectfully.

Shortly after the incident, an immigration group claimed the protestor was an undocumented immigrant named Jennicet Gutiérrez, who is transgender. According to a press release, Gutiérrez was a founding member of FAMILIA TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants who the group says are often excluded in the immigration debate.


Immigration activists often interrupt Obama when he’s delivering speeches on the road — examples have included remarks he delivered in San Francisco in 2013, and speeches he delivered in Chicago and Las Vegas last November.

Interruptions are more rare at the White House, where guests are typically invited and pre-screened. One previous example came in June 2012, when Obama was announcing a change in immigration policy.

A reporter from the Daily Caller website called out a query in the middle of Obama’s remarks, leading the President to retort that it wasn’t the time for questions.

The reporter later said he miscalculated the ending of Obama’s speech.

Kevin Liptak

Secret Service Solves Fence Problem by Adding Spikes



Last year was the summer of White House Fence Breaches, when at least three people (including one baby) managed to climb over the fence that separates the people from the leader of the free world.

Congressional hearings and firings ensued, and the Secret Service promised to find ways to beef up security. So far, the solutions are: 1) higher fence, and 2) spikes. Lots of spikes.

(Seriously, look at this dinky fence to the left of this paragraph. You know what it needs? Say it with me: MORE. SPIKES. MORE. SPIKES. MORE. SPIKES.)

The AP reports that the new fence will have “steel ‘pencil point’ spikes…snapped into place at the top of the fence and protrude outward,” and was clearly inspired by a nine-year-old pretending that he’s Wolverine by holding pencils between his fingers, or by the cars from Mad Max.

The final design has yet to be approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, who want to ensure that the White House doesn’t look inaccessible and surrounded by a fence of sharp, unwelcoming spikes. To which we chant: More spikes! More! More, I say! It’s better and easier than reforming an organization, marked by scandal and poor training, charged with protecting the President! #TEAMSPIKES

The spikes will be no problem for a drone.

~Tina Nguyen

10 things you need to know today: May 6, 2015

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


1.The U.S. investigates ISIS claims it staged Texas attack
Skeptical U.S. investigators are looking into the Islamic State’s claim that it wasbehind the attack at a Texas cartoon contest featuring images mocking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The White House said it was too early to say whether ISIS really was involved in what would be its first strike in the U.S. Police shot and killed two men — Elton Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi — after they allegedly opened fire, wounding a security guard. A federal law enforcement agent said Simpson was under investigation before the attack.

Source: Reuters, Fox News

2.Mike Huckabee launches second White House bid
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday became the latest in a flurry of candidates to jump into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee, a former president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, made a strong showing in his first White House bid, in 2008. On Tuesday, he jabbed at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and GOP rivals such as Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, saying he would be “funded and fueled not by the billionaires but by working people across America.”

Source: Bloomberg

3.Hillary Clinton backs citizenship path for undocumented immigrants
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday publicly backed establishing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. “We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship,” she said at a Las Vegas high school. Seeking to draw a contrast between her view and that of rivals in the Republican party, the Democratic frontrunner said, “When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status.”

Source: USA Today

4.Investigators say Germanwings co-pilot rehearsed crash
French investigators reported Wednesday that the Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing his airliner in the French Alps had entered crash settings on the plane’s previous flight in what appeared to be a rehearsal for the tragic fatal dive. Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the altitude dial to 100 feet on a flight to Barcelona that ended normally, French safety agency BEA reported Wednesday. On the return flight to Dusseldorf, he allegedly locked the captain out of the cockpit and crashed, killing himself and 149 others.

Source: NBC News

5.Baltimore officer challenges prosecutor claim that Freddie Gray’s arrest was illegal
One of the six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death has filed court papers challenging prosecutors’ claim that Gray was falsely arrested. A lawyer for Officer Edward Nero, who has been charged with assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment, said Gray had an illegal knife, and challenged prosecutors to produce it. Baltimore City’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed the charges last week after receiving a police investigative report. She said the knife was legal under state law.

Source: Baltimore Sun

6.French lawmakers back bill likened to U.S. Patriot Act
The lower house of French parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would broaden the government’s spy powers. The bill, which is expected to easily pass in the Senate, was drafted days after gunmen killed 17 people in separate attacks — including one on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The so-called French Patriot Act would let intelligence agencies tap phones and monitor email accounts without a judge’s permission. Critics say it it is an unnecessary encroachment on liberty.

Source: The New York Times, AFP

7.Four sentenced to death for mob killing in Afghanistan
An Afghan court on Wednesday sentenced four men to death for participating in the March mob killing of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda who was wrongly suspected of burning a copy of the Koran. Forty-nine people, including 19 police officers, were tried for their alleged roles in the fatal beating, which caused widespread anger and spurred calls for greater women’s rights in Afghanistan. Eight others were convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Charges were dropped against 18, and the rest will be sentenced Sunday.

Source: The Associated Press

8.California water regulators adopt mandatory conservation rules
California’s State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday approved the state’s first rules for mandatory water conservation as the state struggles with an historic drought that is entering its fourth year. The emergency regulations require communities to slash water use by as much as 36 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ordered the cutbacks, which hit urban users hardest while giving broad exemptions to the state’s giant agricultural sector, even though it accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water use.

Source: Reuters

9. Loretta Lynch meets with Freddie Gray’s family and police in Baltimore
Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore on Tuesday, saying she was considering a request from City Council President Jack Young for a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department after the death of Freddie Gray. He suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. Lynch met with Gray’s family, protesters, city officials, police, and religious leaders. Calm has returned to the city following protests and riots, but Lynch said tensions between residents and police remain.

Source: Politico, The Associated Press

10.Federal government approves ferry service to Cuba
The Obama administration on Tuesday granted licenses to at least four companies to offer ferry service between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. “I’m very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Leonard Moecklin Sr., managing partner of one of the companies, Havana Ferry. The move is part of an effort, announced by President Obama in December, to restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and its former Cold War antagonist.

Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wall Street Journal

Does Obama’s New York trip offer a glimpse into his post-White House life?

President Obama will be headed to Lehman College in New York to launch the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new nonprofit that could keep him busy when he leaves the White House. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)


He still has almost two years left in office, but the outlines of President Obama’s post-White House life might be starting to take shape.

On Monday, the president will speak at the New York City launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit that is spinning off a White House initiative that his administration began in 2014. The trip to Lehman College in the Bronx is the latest in a series of hints from the White House about the president’s future plans. Last week, word leaked that Obama’s  presidential library is headed for the South Side of Chicago. In recent months there have been signs that his elder daughter, Malia, is looking at colleges in New York City.

The president and first lady still have a while to figure out where they will settle post-presidency; although in the past, they’ve suggested that they may stay in Washington long enough to let their daughter Sasha graduate from Sidwell Friends School.

Regardless of where they land, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance seems certain to play a large part in Obama’s post-White House life. The program began as a public-private partnership designed to help men of color who are struggling to finish high school or develop the skills to find jobs. The effort sprang, in part, from the frustration that followed the 2012  shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, lethal interactions between police and black men and boys in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Cleveland and North Charleston have sparked demonstrations, outrage and riots.

The latest riots in Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, prompted the president to call last week for some collective“soul searching” on the part of the country.

“If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could,” Obama said. “It’s just it would require everybody saying, ‘This is important, this is significant,’ and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is one element of the president’s long-term solution to the problem’s faced by minority youth and urban communities struggling with poverty and a lack of jobs. The program has attracted $300 million in funding for an effort that the president has said will continue long after he has left the White House. The alliance is similar in its broad outlines to the Clinton Global Initiative, started by former president Bill Clinton in 2005, in that it serve as a magnet for corporate and individual donations.

The alliance will focus on everything from preparations for preschool to job-training and employment programs. “Persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation,” wrote Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.

According the White House, closing the gap between young men of color and their peers could boost the U.S.  gross domestic product by as much as $2.1 trillion.

Greg Jaffe