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Lend Me Your Eyes
I’ll give the former president* some credit, he has serious people comparing him to Julius Caesar after he was impeached (again), which is really quite a feat, so you have to hand it to this former president* — he actually tried to pull off a coup d’état, kicking off 2021 with a bang! The Julian calendar is very close to the (Gregorian) calendar we use today, part of Caesar’s reforms to mark the annual naming of the new consul (president) every year, because following the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Lepidus, Julius Caesar decreed that the next year his new calendar would begin with a new month called January, back-ending all the leap days that had built up since the beginning of the old Roman calendar and in doing so, created the longest year in recorded history.
Impeach The Witch!
After 20 people had been brutally put to death in 1692 (one pressed!) for the crime of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, merchant Thomas Brattle, Jr. wrote a letter to a cleric associate that was widely circulated among the citizens of a fearful and angry Salem. His thoughtful, reasonable answers to the religious and legal questions at hand were a carefully worded argument against the ghastly trials. His letter could be considered a founding document of the United States, a forceful rebuff to the judges and accusers in the ‘oyer and terminer‘ court of the time. The ultimate proof of power was that the trials ended less than a month after it’s circulation and opinion shifted virtually overnight. No one has ever been convicted of witchcraft in America since. That, of course, until the sad case of United States v. Donald Trump – as he has continuously tweeted, the Russia investigation is nothing but a ‘WITCHHUNT.’
Brattle attended Harvard College in 1676, after graduating from the Boston Latin School, where classmate Cotton Mather (son of Harvard President Increase Mather) would go on to become one of the leading prosecutors of the Salem Witch Trials. Donald Trump is such a blithering moron that his cries of ‘WITCHHUNT’ have little meaning when Twittered to his 30 million Celebrity Apprentice fans. The red hats will probably confuse the reference with Frankenstein anyway and carry torches to Congress in some midnight, Roger Stone-led ‘protest’ when he finally gets impeached.
The 1692 trials have spawned eternal clichés about witch hunts since the servant and sassy enslaved girl got devilish in the forest. Their acts and words have had reverberations throughout American history, lately verbed by our President, Donald J. Trump. He claims he’s the worst treated president ever! The Russia investigation is fake news cooked up by the Democrats! The case against him for obstruction of justice (real or not) is a WITCHHUNT! What’s lost in much of the discussion, as per usual with Don John, is what actually happened. Playwright Arthur Miller struck back in the same way Thomas Brattle struck back at the original time of the trials, only in his medium, drama. The Crucible stands as a powerful indictment of lying and manipulation, highlighted by the powerlessness, fear and humiliation associated with an aggressive and unjust prosecution. Cotton Mather, stung the most by Thomas Brattle’s even-handed indictment, never recovered his reputation and was denied the presidency of Harvard College. He is remembered today as the personification of pompous and brutal judgement.
The Most Hated Man in America
Now that the sky has fallen and Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Grand Old Party (is there any doubt Trump will win the dumb-ass Florida-take-all primary?), The Democratic National Committee couldn’t have scripted the nomination process better: Donald Trump is the Republican nominee!
Opposition research will remind us that other than George Washington and a few other U.S. generals (and war heroes), no candidate has ever won the U.S. Presidency without having held elected office before. Also, no candidate (including Newt Gingrich) has ever been married three times before they accepted the keys to the highest office in the land. Speaking of which, Melania Trump, the presumptive first lady, would be the first foreign-born first lady since Louisa Adams, John Quincy Adams’ wife. Louisa Adams also played the harp, wrote satirical plays and raised silkworms. Melania Trump, on the other hand, would be one of the few first ladies to have been a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Oh, and Donald Trump would be the oldest U.S. President ever. That’s right, and yes, that includes Ronald Reagan (and Hillary Clinton by a hair, for that matter).
Many articles have been written during Trump’s long march through the American political process comparing him to Benito Mussolini, and less convincingly, Adolph Hitler (Donald Drumpf!). While ‘The Donald’ does equal Mussolini’s arrogance and clown-like demeanor, as the late, great Lloyd Bentsen might have said, “I knew Benito Mussolini, and you, sir, are no Benito Mussolini.” Donald Trump may be a great dealmaker and self-promoter, but he’s no politician – in fact he’s a political lightweight. He thinks that he’s the first politician to understand that voters don’t want the bullshit that the Washington political class has refined into an art form. He tells it like it is, representing the views of millions of dissatisfied, conservative voters that have been hoodwinked by a rigged system. Wading into this national reality show, this vulgar, crass, loudmouthed New York billionaire seems an odd choice.
That evangelicals voted in such large numbers for Trump lay bare their utterly phony, faithless ideals. These are the real Family Research Council-type moralists, co-opted by billionaires who reveal how they got rich, (and now you can too!). It’s Prosperity Gospel gone off the deep end. So we now have Donald Trump, who made most of his money off the backs of suckers and wannabes like the voters who now support him, giving voice to the lowest common denominations in American cultural life. It eerily shadows the plot line from the very funny film Idiocracy (2006) where the President of the United States is a former professional wrestler.
Trump’s businesses have declared bankruptcy (hugely successful!) four times or more, and other than reality television, Donald Trump has largely made his money by duping individual investors and municipalities out of millions of dollars in development deals, over and over again. “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on ‘The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in 2009.
That the Trump Brand is successful is beyond dispute. In this he is like Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical who jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 700% to increase ‘shareholder value.’ Shkreli (and Trump) argue that taking advantage of market imbalance is just good business sense. “Here’s a guy (Trump) who’s failed so miserably so many times and it’s not as though he had to claw his way back after seven years in credit hell. He just said. ‘OK, this isn’t my problem anymore.’ For him, it’s just been a platform to the next money-making scheme,” said Dough Heller, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog at the time.
Trump would have us believe that other rich hypocrites take advantage of the system all the time, while average Americans get screwed. With this logic Trump is somehow better than those limousine-liberal billionaires working in arbitrage and derivative markets for Goldman Sachs, bleeding the American economy dry behind closed doors. But Trump, too, takes advantage of America’s rigged laws, especially bankruptcy laws, to line his own pockets. In his latest bankruptcy, Trump’s Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, S.E., appeared in court in San Juan where they listed assets of $9.2 million against debt of $80 million. So in his latest bust, Trump interests – representing creditors here instead of shareholders – took nearly $70 million dollars out of the already bankrupt Puerto Rican economy. Go Donald! Screw the suckers from Puerto Rico (and Atlantic City and New York City and perhaps, the World). His bottom-feeder tactics should surprise no one. He and Shkreli are just brothers from another mother. One man’s Capitalist Superman is another man’s ‘Most Hated Man in America.’ Bring on the general election!
March 9, 2016