One year into Donald Trump’s presidency and one thing is clear, we know Donald John Trump a lot better now. As a nation, we didn’t quite understand how much of a ‘winner’ Donald Trump really could be. Now we know that the President of the United States is a habitual liar about all that ‘winning,’ but of course that’s just more liberal Fake News according to The Donald. We knew that the president wanted to improve relations with Russia, we just didn’t fully understand that he wanted better relations with Russia because Vladimir Putin has video of him with hookers at the Ritz Moscow. Melania Trump may be a very interesting story line in the ongoing American Apprentice reality show, and at tonight’s State of the Union speech, the President may invite up to 24 guests to attend with the First Lady, so let’s see who shows up! Instead of wasting my time watching Trump lie for another hour, I’ll be watching the Jimmy Kimmel show tonight instead. I should’ve figured The Donald would be sunk by something as trivial as a tryst with a porn star, “who are ya goin’ to believe, me or the lyin’ eyes of the Wall Street Journal?” Donald begs Melania on her (separate) bedroom phone in the White House before she hangs up on him. BDSM with a porn star – while your wife is recovering from childbirth – is just modern presidential, Melania. Get used to it, there’s a LOT more where that came from. As Stormy put it, “Ugh. Here We Go…”
Outside the boudoir, Trump hasn’t fared much better. After his success with the low hanging fruit of a (typical) Republican tax cut, The Donald has petulantly looked for someone else to pick on, while his equal on the world stage, Kim Jong Un, (Do we think of Trump as equal to Putin, Macron, Merkel, Trudeau, Xi, any serious world leader?) outwitted Trump and brought North Korea to the Olympic Games, scuttling Trump’s crazy plan to attack North Korea (holding off the until just after the Olympics, Hitler-style). Trump said recently that he ‘gets along well’ with the man who called him a ‘dotard’ just a few months ago, another nutcase world leader, Un (along with Trump pal and President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, currently topping the wacko world-leader charts) clearly bested our dumb president by uniting with the South for the 2018 Games in PeongChang. How dare South Koreans make The Donald look like a dotard! Double dotards! In the meantime, Trump’s stupid swagger surrounding the budget debate has awakened Democratic ‘lions’ Charlie Schumer and Nancy Pelosi back to national prominence, if only for a long weekend, in the ridiculous budget drama, scheduled for reruns in one week, where Trump keeps the audience tuned in for another episode of chaos and dysfunction in Washington.
During the run-up to the election last year, three locals stood out as Trump supporters: my (then) barber, a Rotarian named ‘Peter’ and another guy who’s the son of a contractor who painted TRUMP onto the entire roof of his house. The barber yakked nonstop about Trump during my haircuts and proudly displayed all Trump’s books for his patrons to peruse while enduring their interminably long waits. I haven’t been back to his shop since election day (God forbid I have a MAGA red-hat with a razor in his hand that close to my neck). The Rotarian who voted for Trump is 80-years old and the last time I saw him, I asked him about Trump’s latest outrage and all he had to say was that Trump appointee, football great Jim Brown, was working tirelessly in Chicago to reduce crime in the ‘black community.’ I looked for some evidence of this claim, yet all I found was this:
“I fell in love with [Donald Trump] because he really talks about helping African American, black people and that’s why I’m here,” Brown said at the time. “The graciousness, the intelligence, the reception we got was fantastic.”
Enough said about ‘Peter.’ The last time I heard about the contractor’s kid, he flipped his truck into a ditch at 3AM, according to local court reports. I knew of only one other Trump voter, a woman by the name of ‘Gretchen’ who runs a house-sitting business. After a Facebook spat with a common friend (about Trump’s victory) she’s no longer in our circle of friends. SAD! Honest to God, I personally know of no other American citizen who supports Trump. I come across hundreds of ’Never Trump’ people every week, (Welcome to Massachusetts!) yet as a libertarian-liberal (huh?) ready to weigh the facts, I’ve never seen so few Republicans willing to speak up and support their party’s standard bearer. The standard bearer of the Democratic Party is former president Barack Obama, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, former U.S. Senator and a man capable of speaking in complete sentences – and who doesn’t blurt out hate speech like he’s suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome. Obama traces his roots through Kenya, in Africa, a place that Donald Trump thinks is a ‘shithole.’ Whether Jim Brown admits it or not, our president is a racist in word and deed, just last week, Trump quietly revoked all H2B and J1 visas from Haiti, backing up Trump’s overtly racist policies toward ‘shithole’ countries such as Kenya and Haiti. Over 300 Haitian-Americans walked on Boston City Hall this week to protest the president’s remarks, with protest organizers calling on the Trump administration to re-examine the decision to end Temporary Protected Status for tens of thousands of Haitians, effective this July, 2019.
I went to the same high school as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, yet I went to an entirely different high school altogether. Matt and Ben were enrolled in the so-called ‘Pilot’ school located on the top floor of the main school building. It was a new program designed for parents who went to PTA meetings and blamed teachers for all their kid’s problems. It was a faddish approach to learning where students referred to their teachers by their first names and sat in desks arranged in circles instead of rows. I was placed in ‘House D’ on the bottom floor of the school – in the basement – where in post-busing Boston, liberal yearning to mix races and cultures meant that this white boy was going to school with far more Haitian boys and girls than Norwegian ones. Boston has one of the largest contingents of Haitian-Americans in America and today, between one to two million people of Haitian descent live in the United States, 60% of whom are American-born.
We had a joke about Haitian kids in Cambridge – all of them had three jobs. All of their parents had three jobs and so did all of their brothers and sisters. Their grandparents only had two jobs because they were old. That Haitians are too hard working was the worst insult that we could hurl (and we were very creative insulting different races and religions, I assure you) was an indication to me that these are good people, by and large. Full disclosure, we also said that Haitians smelled like lotion and they were so black that they were they were actually purple – or ‘blurple.’ If black is beautiful, then Haitians and Africans are the most beautiful people in the world. Massachusetts-born (and Haitian-American) W.E.B. Du Bois:
From my childhood I have been impressed with the beauty of Negro skin-color and astonished at the blindness of whites who cannot see it.
After the Brownsville Affair and the Atlanta Riots of 1906 where 25 blacks were killed by an angry mob of 10,000 whites, Du Bois urged blacks to withdraw their support from the Republican Party because Teddy Roosevelt didn’t support black folks in the aftermath. African-Americans had been loyal to the Republican Party since the time of Abraham Lincoln, for reasons even the stupidest GOP hack would know, and African-Americans were lost to the Republicans ever since Du Bois’ passionate argument. I’d bet that Donald Trump’s grandaddy was a Booker T. Washington man in the famous Atlanta Compromise debate – pitting Du Bois against Washington in the most important question for black Americans of the day – teach oneself to fish versus letting others fish for them. Du Bois wanted to bring the black race up with the leadership of the top 10% of the black American population, educated as an elite corps to guide the race, envisioned through his co-founding of the NAACP in 1901. The dream Du Bois put forward in his great 1903 book, the Souls of Black Folk, would be that the black race, if educated and nurtured, would send out into the world 10% of the very best in every field – from the sciences, politics, education and the arts. Based on the last one hundred years of American history, in positions of influence and power possessed by African-Americans across the nation, it speaks to the overwhelming success of the argument won by Du Bois at the Atlanta Compromise. The next guiding vision for the NAACP, leading the organization from 1917 until 1930, was author, educator, lawyer, diplomat and civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson, another great man to trace his origins through ‘shithole’ Haiti.
Haiti was born of a slave rebellion, the second oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere. After the French got their asses kicked for first time in 1802, they finally figured out these black people were not to be fucked around with and in 1805, they banned slavery and left Haiti for the Haitians. A great location, just two hours by plane from Florida, insured that Haiti would suffer for decades as a satellite dependency to the United States. From Benjamin Harrison and Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, US-led military incursions were more often viewed as signs of colonialism than friendly neighbor policy. It’s no wonder, as Native Americans had before, that the Haitians would be suspicious of of the motivations and intentions of white people. It all fell apart for the dream of a black republic, with slavery shortly taking hold even among Haitians, and the yawning chasm that lies between the Dominican Republic and Haiti as a cultural wall has never come down.
The Haitians I went to high school with were the children of those who escaped from their homeland, a country that had become untenable, and although described as a ‘shithole’ by our president, most of the Haitians that I met and got to know were educated, enterprising Catholics. The Tonton Macoute, the paramilitary organization born under dictator ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier (who was fully supported by the U.S. government) laid the groundwork for a Haiti today that is at once a paradise and a hell. In the war weary years of the past century: Haitian President Leconte was blown up by a bomb in 1912; in 1913, President Auguste was poisoned; in 1915, while returning from a massacre of his political enemies, President Sam was impaled on an iron fence in front of the French Embassy and his body was torn to pieces by an angry mob. With this rich backstory, ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier was also known to enjoy watching torture through a peephole behind his desk and was an adherent of the religion of Voodoo, and strangely, his son and successor as President of Haiti, Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ (isn’t that cute?) Duvalier bought his ‘getaway condo’ from – you guessed it – Donald Trump when he was deposed and expelled from Haiti in 1983.
I visited the island of Haiti last year, or ‘Hispaniola’ as Christopher Columbus called it when he landed on the ‘New World’ in 1492. The other side of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic, has also been a pawn of U.S. interests, most notably the brutal military dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, which was a direct result of policies beginning under the racist, empirial Roosevelt Corollary and ‘Good Neighbor’ Policies. I stayed in a five-star resort in the DR last year, where the air-conditioned courtesy van whisked us past the abject poverty and street crime to our gated resort, staffed with a beefy security team that would rival any American small town police force. Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been pulled by the orbit of the United States for almost three hundred years and Western democracy is itself as much to blame for Haiti and the DR being such a ‘shithouse’ (as Tom Cotton and David Perdue vaguely, politely remembered the president uttering in the so-called ‘conference’ that Trump’s staff made certain would go off the rails).
Trump’s unfitness for office – especially his disturbing lack of knowledge about American history and democracy – lead many to believe that he’s a complete and total moron. His recent mental exam, which he insisted on taking, (who the fuck does that?) not only gave him ‘cover’ to prove that he’s the smartest U.S. President ever, according to him, it also gave him the ‘certificate’ he needs of his famously stated genius. The test administered by his ‘doctor,’ the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, is about as worthless as a degree from Trump University. It’s usually given to first-year high school students to determine which ones need to go on the occupational education track. Further full disclosure here, I once took the WISK-R test as a favor to a (very cute) young Harvard Graduate School of Education Ph.D. candidate many years ago. During her opening intro to the exam, she told me to relax and not to worry about the test and that no one will ever see the results. She thanked me and said that it was helping her a lot by taking the time to submit to the session. She then said that she would be asking me about a hundred questions and that I should give her the answers verbally, “For example, when I say that the sun rises in the…” I stared at her in bewilderment, unable to figure out what the hell to say. She continued, hesitatingly “So, when I say the sun rises in the blank, and sets in the blank, you say…” That, amazingly, didn’t help me. After an agonizing few ticks on the wall clock, in the interest of simply moving things along, I said, “West?” She looked at me as if I said “I pissed myself.” “Obviously, you’re nervous,” she offered and politely moved on to the first question. At least I didn’t guess North.
Donald Trump’s weird Tweets that he’s a genius have been roundly ridiculed by most regular intelligence people, yet perhaps he’s revealed his true genius for all the nation to enjoy. In the early Roman Republic, military leaders often consulted the many genii deity (latin base word for the English word genius, meaning overflowing, bountiful, lucky, WINNING) that would then be offered to lower class men, families and local communities in their legions. Italian crossroads ‘churches’ – where these genii were venerated in Rome and the suburbs – were primarily administered by freedman and slaves, and what is known today as ‘May Day,’ the celebration of the fruits of labor on the first of May every year, is a direct descendant of the very first Western festival celebrated to idolize the genii at all the little crossroads churches across the Roman Empire. Of course, the architecture of what we think of today as parish or congregational churches was born in these pre-Christian ‘churches’ as well. There’s been a lot of kibbitzing about The Donald channeling Caligula, Nero or even Augustus lately and I have to throw another Roman leader into the mix: Tarquin The Proud.
Titus Livius or ‘Livy’ was a Roman historian born of the same generation as Jesus Christ. His life’s calling was to “Preserve the memory of the deeds of the world’s preeminent nation,” which stood as the only Western superpower after the decline of Greece in 146 BC. The history of the Roman Empire stretches back some 800 years before Livy’s time, where mythical brothers Romulus and Remus, after arriving in the area of the seven hills, disagreed about which hill upon which to build the great City of Rome. Romulus preferred the Palatine Hill and Remus the Aventine Hill – and when they couldn’t resolve the dispute through dialogue – they sought the gods’ approval through a contest of augury, or divination. Romulus later killed Remus and went on to found Rome, its government, institutions, military and religious traditions – and reigned as the first King of Rome. The ancient history of Western Civilization is the history of Greek and Roman Civilization, so an understanding of the underpinnings of liberal democracy demand a reading of the great, epic histories – yet famed historians such as Herotodus, Thucidides and Livy didn’t have Google and Wikipedia to access on their research into the foundations of ancient Western history, and their accounts are weakened by inaccuracies of described events recounted in other historian’s work. The writing of Livy, however, stands as a first-hand account of Augustinian Roman history – yet also serves as a road map to the true, empirical history of the Roman Empire.
As Geoffrey of England, Livy dedicated his life to the singular work of preserving the history of his people as his vocation. Geoffrey was a Christian abbot, author of the The History of the Kings of Britain in 1136, where Livy – a contemporary of the charismatic man in Jerusalem – was a disciple of Jupiter and the many domestic ‘genii’ or spiritual guides which were central to Roman life and culture. The first Roman Consul, Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic after he betrayed his tyrannical uncle King Tarquin, was a possible founder of the Roman Republic. Brutus undertook the mission of convincing the king’s legion of bodyguards, the king’s Secret Service if you will, to apprehend Tarquin and banish him to prison. Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar, where ‘Et tu, Brute?’ put meaning to the word ‘brute’ by his participation in the most famous knife fight in history, was a direct descendant of the original Brutus. Livy’s account provides the original ‘modis operandi’ for the murder of Caesar: the rape of Lucretia, and Shakespeare’s 1593 narrative poem, The Rape of Lucrece, explores the mythical theme of the birth of Rome, directly quoting from Livy’s accounts. British fascination with the last King of Rome, Tarquin, has persisted to this day, with the Urban Dictionary describing a Tarquin as:
Used for a pompous little posh boy who strolls around ‘uni’ with wavy hair and wearing a Jack Wills shirt and [driving] a Gillet. Daddy has obviously sent this little weasel to private school and has spoilt him throughout his life. Looks down to the ‘dregs’ of society (basically everyone not dressed in Jack Wills clothing) and turns his nose up at them whilst laughing at what their probable and less unfortunate upbringing was like.
Sounds like someone we all know. Anyway, King Tarquin was an ass-wipe because he killed his mom (in the long tradition of royal matricide, or regicide) as well as killing a bunch of the leading opposition Senators. He didn’t even have the tyrannical energy to replace them – leaving their seats vacant – relegating the earliest Roman Senate weakened and neutered. But this wasn’t enough to incite the Roman people (and his ambitious, surly nephew Brutus) to revolt against him and the Tarzian monarchy, after all, King Tarquin began building the first sewers for the greater good of Rome! No, it was the infamous Rape of Lucrecia, also described in Ovid’s narrative poem Fasti, where the son of Roman King Lucius Tarquinus (or Tarquin), also known as Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud). His son, Sextus Tarquinius, heir to the throne and the infamous rapist of the story, because in 509 BC, Sextus drew his sword against Lucretia’s neck and forced himself upon her. The wife of Collatinus, one of the king’s rich and powerful benefactors, Lucretia revealed the evil deed to her husband and promptly killed herself. In his maniacal rage, King Tarquin had her body paraded through the Roman Forum – and this irrational act incited a full-scale revolt against the royal family – led by one of their own, Lucius Junius Brutus. The First Consul of Rome, Brutus banished the royal family forever in Italy, ushering in the foundation of the great and powerful Roman Republic. From the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
The Etruscan cities of Caere, Veii, and Tarquinii were defeated by Rome at the Battle of Silva Arsia. Tarquin, whose family was of Etruscan (Northern Italian) origin, finally allied with Lars Porsenna, also an Etruscan who retook Rome. This led to a Roman defeat, but not to Tarquin’s restoration. Finally he roused his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, dictator of the Latin League, to fight Rome at Lake Regillus. After the defeat of the Latins there, Tarquin fled to the Greek tyrant Aristodemus of Cumae.
The text of a treaty between Tarquinius Superbus and the city of Gabii, just outside Rome, was preserved in the First Temple of Sancus in Rome until at least the time of Christ. If Tarquin did exist, his genii must have all been deranged. So perhaps Donald Trump really is a true genius, represented by the Roman genius Mania (or Lares), with Trump embodying this deranged, erratic genii – figuring out a way to get elected Consul in Chief of the great American Empire – all by deceit and guile. The bombshell report that Trump was ready, willing and able to sack Bob Mueller (of the ongoing Robert Swan Mueller III Investigation) should indicate to all that the president has finally gone mad. He’s even admitted that he’s affected by some sort of ‘genius’ that can only be described as a ‘mania.’ If Bill Clinton had fired Investigator (and hypocritical asshole) Ken Starr back in 1998, I’d have supported his impeachment.
January 29, 2018
N.B. Furthest disclosure, I dropped out my high school because I thought it was a shithole. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck went on to become A-list celebrities, loved by millions of adoring fans. The moral of the story? Parents, make sure you attend all those PTA meetings!