Point of View Columns

Trump – The Eternal Minor League Player

As the avalanche of indictments, resignations and revelations threaten to wash away the Trump presidency like a bug on a windshield in a car wash; it is becoming clear to the entire world that Donald Trump was never ready for prime time. As long as he could live in the minor league universe of pretense, lies, fraud and more pretenses, he could escape the kind of scrutiny that he now encounters. If he were anyone else, he would be the subject of pity. But not this time. And it is time for The Donald to find out what it means to move from the minor leagues to the major leagues.

A bit of history – until 2009, most Americans had only known Donald Trump, if they knew him at all, as the raucous host of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show. Because he lived in the media capital of the world, Trump garnered more attention than most mid-level legacy real estate developers and failed hotel casino owners might have received. And so Trump always received points for self-promotion if not for stunning insight or superior intelligence.

And so, whether as an indifferent college student at Fordham University and then at the University of Pennsylvania, or as a headline chasing New York City businessman who employed questionable practices, he could hide in the herd of men and women who hustle and outrageously self promote that make up a significant part of the population of New York City. But not satisfied with being the impresario of the Miss Universe contest (a bit of business that seemed tailor-made for a self-proclaimed misogynist and groper) and not being satisfied with a stint as a torch and pitchfork leader of a would-be lynch mob that would have, if given the chance, wrongfully executed the innocent Central Park Five, Trump decided that he actually had something to offer to the American people aside from his “You’re Fired” tagline.

He began by being the self-proclaimed leader of the proto-racist “birther” movement, claiming that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States. His fruitless efforts to delegitimize the first black President of the United States obviously made Trump feel that he could be president. The fact that President Obama absolutely barbequed him over the birther issue at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner was almost certainly a motivating factor for America’s Supreme Megalomaniac.

Running a haphazard, seat of the pants campaign with, it appears, the assistance of the Russian government, Donald Trump became president. And that is when reality started to enter his fantasy world. Indeed, Trump is reminiscent of one of those cartoon characters who runs off a cliff and keeps on running and running…..until he looks down.

And now Trump finds himself and his enablers and minions the subject of multiple Congressional and criminal investigations. He is finding out that it is one thing to set up a bogus college (see “Trump University”), or a bogus foundation (see “Trump Foundation”) or failed hotels and casinos. The lesson that he is learning the hard way is that money laundering, collusion with the Russians and playing fast and loose with federal campaign laws as President of the United States can end up with him wearing a federally issued orange jumpsuit that will quite poetically almost match his hair.

If Trump had just stayed in his lane as an ignorant, blowhard huckster, he probably would have escaped any significant law enforcement scrutiny. His desire to move from the minor leagues to the big leagues clearly has consequences that never occurred to him. And now he is learning that lesson the hard way.

It is said that pride goes before the fall. And in the case of Donald J. Trump, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Point of View Columns

A Return to Asylum Politics

Donald Trump’s recent and brief embrace of the truth – stating that he now believes that President Obama was born in the United States cannot begin to drain the swamp of hatred, bigotry and racism that he created by leading the birther movement for almost half a decade. But Trump is counting on the contagious amnesia that seems to affect much of the American public. So this would be a good time to take a quick time trip to 2009 when this column on the birther movement was originally published and to remember how vile and transparently racist the birther movement has always been.

Asylum Politics
As we observe the political landscape it is clear that what passes for reasonable discourse must have been birthed in some unknown asylum. A useful term, “birthed”, in that the continuing madness of the so-called “birther” movement continues its presence on the national stage like an embarrassing gate crasher who does not have the grace, or good sense, to finally go away.

For those who have been living in the Carlsbad Caverns for the last 18 month, the “birther” movement is founded on the basic concept that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and since he is not a natural born citizen, the Constitution dictates that he cannot be President of the United States. It is this Constitutional precept that keeps Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arianna Huffington, Sting, Henry Kissinger and Pope Benedict from ever being candidates for the presidency, while any of the Jonas Brothers, Britney Spears, Sarah Palin and Paris Hilton are all pre-qualified for the White House.

Article 2 of the United States Constitution is clear on this point… Without an amendment to that hallowed document, one has to have been born within the 50 states to ever be elected President of the United States.

History reveals that Barry Goldwater was the Republican Party candidate for President in 1964. He was born in Arizona, the 48th state admitted to the Union. However, it was not a state when he was born in 1909. Indeed, Arizona was not admitted to the Union until 1912. So, obviously, Barry Goldwater was not born in the United States. Yet, amazingly, there was never an issue raised during his ill-fated candidacy or campaign. It appears that there is a “grandfather” clause in the Constitution that was written in invisible ink. But there’s more.

George Romney, another Republican Party icon and the father of current Republican luminary Mitt Romney, was born in the (now controversial) Mormon colonies in Mexico in 1907. While he moved to Utah as a child, it is clear that he was not born in the United States of America. And clearly, there is another invisible ink exception for the children of Mormon missionaries because at no time was his Mexican birthplace a major issue during his presidential candidacy in 1968. He ultimately lost to Richard Nixon, but his birthplace was not the pivot point, it was his political vision and perspective.

And now we fast forward to the present day. Since he announced his candidacy for President in 2007, Barack Obama has been beset by opponents whose basic opposition to his candidacy, and his very existence, is born of the dumbfounded and bizarre notion that he is defying the Laws of Nature. No one named Barack Hussein Obama could ever be President of the United States. No black man (even one with a white mother and white grandparents) could ever sully the seal of the presidency by actually getting elected.

And so we find the seeds of the so-called “birther movement” being sown. In trying to find some way, some mechanism, some means of stopping this violation of all that is holy and sacred in America, some genius with a double digit I.Q. came upon the idea that since Obama’s father was Kenyan and not an American citizen, he might not be a “native-born” American, and therefore he would be ineligible to be President of the United States.

A few details got in the way of this brilliant bit of strategy however. First, Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961, one year after it became a state. Second, there is a certified birth certificate on file in Honolulu, attesting to his birth in August 1961 in Honolulu. And then, there are not one, but two, Honolulu newspapers, which featured announcements of the birth of one Barack Hussein Obama.  And last, but not least, Barack Obama’s mother was a natural born American citizen, Kansas being her birthplace. One would think that all of these rather compelling facts would sound the death knell for this misbegotten bit of race-based strategy.

Think again. The “birthers” have continued their contemptuous campaign for more than two years (!!!!!). Claims have been raised that the referenced birth certificate was forged (the Republican governor of Hawaii debunked this particular urban myth). Some Einstein has posited the theory that, when he was born in Kenya, Obama’s parents managed to call (??), e-mail (???), and teletransport (!!!!) the birth announcement to the referenced Honolulu newspapers.

All of this would be sadly laughable were it not for the fact that this chimera of a wisp of a thought of a theory has been the subject of several lawsuits and has been seriously discussed on the floor of the United States Congress. It would be nothing more than a rejected “Saturday Night Live” skit except that 11 Members of Congress felt it was necessary to bring this issue to the floor of the House of Representatives. It would all be sadly laughable except that the proponents of this strategy are elected representatives of the American people not refugee clowns from the Ringling Brothers Circus.

The reality is that this campaign is a head fake, a feint. It is part of a much more insidious strategy that entails eroding the legitimacy of the Obama presidency in the United States and abroad. If a discussion about the legitimacy of an Obama presidency continues, at least 20% of the American population will give it credence. That is 60 million people. That is more than the total population of Italy, South Africa, South Korea, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia or Australia. Imagine if the entire population of Italy or Australia or South Korea believed that the head of state of their country was illegitimate and you start to get the idea. There is a real danger in the United States, a subtle, barely noticeable virus that could present itself as a real danger to the body politic.

To make matters worse, true and certified geniuses like Glen Beck and Lou Dobbs and those madcap, merrymaking Members of Congress, have taken to giving legitimacy to this madness. And that is a problem which we ignore at our own peril. Madness sometimes disguises more malicious motives – like corroding the legitimacy of the presidency. And that is simply treasonous.

And it seems to me, that sometimes it is necessary to fight madness with madness. If the diverse forces in the public realm wish to persist in promulgating this dastardly and vicious strategy of impugning the citizenship of the President then perhaps they should be charged with treason. The basis of the charge being an intent to diminish and defame the President of the United States and thereby impeding his ability to govern at home and represent this country abroad.

While this charge of treason has as much chance of succeeding as the denial of President Obama’s natural born American citizenship, it might give some of the “birthers” pause and make them think about what the hell they are doing to this country. And that new experience might be worth all of the madness after all.

What was true in 2009 is certainly true now.

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Point of View Columns

The Plague Called Trump

No history of humanity is complete without the history of plagues and epidemics. The Black Plague in Europe killed almost a third of the population. The Flu Epidemic at the end of World War I killed millions worldwide. The AIDS epidemic continues to afflict millions around the world. And then there is the Plague called Trump for which there is no known cure.

Donald Trump, aka “The Donald” and aka “the defendant”, has announced that he will announce on June 16th whether or not he is going to run for President. Clearly, humility, self-assessment and common sense do not exist on the Planet Trump. The fact that the news media from all over the world will flock to what most certainly will be a non-announcement, is a testimony to his undeniable powers for self-promotion as well as the critical damage that the Plague called Trump has visited upon society.

There is no doubt that the presidential election of 2016 will be as important as the 2012 election due to the ever deepening political divide regarding the role of government in the lives of Americans. Given the high stakes that are involved next year, one would hope that there would be a higher level of thought and intelligent insight from anyone who would presume to present themselves as a candidate for President of the United States.

There is no dictionary in which you will see a photograph of Donald Trump next to the word “thought” or the word “insight”. However, in some dictionary there is an entire chapter devoted to Donald Trump along with the the words “braggart”, “birther” and “shameless”.

Donald Trump’s dog whistle racist leadership of the totally bogus “birther” movement should have disqualified him from the public stage for eternity. But of course, that is where the word “shameless” comes in. Along with his fallacious claims that nobody ever saw Barack Obama as a student at Columbia University or at Harvard Law School, Trump has hurled mud packed lies at President Obama – all without consequence.

He continues to sell the Trump “brand” to developers of resorts and condominium projects that, as often as not, become the subject of law suits by disenchanted investors. There are trainloads of bondholders and busloads of contractors associated with his various hotel and casino projects that will see their next nickel from Trump the day after the day after Hell freezes over.

And then there is Trump University. Trump University is to a university like cotton candy is to cotton. You wouldn’t make a pair of pants out of cotton candy and you certainly don’t want to use what you “learn” at Trump University to earn a living. Yet thousands of otherwise rational men and women have paid thousands of dollars to find out Donald Trump’s secret to wealth and success – and they are still waiting to find out.

Americans have been plagued by Donald Trump for over three decades. And if it is true that the good die young, then we will be seeing Donald Trump for at least another three decades. And even though he doesn’t even have the decency to wear a gossamer fig leaf of respect for the truth to cover the nakedness of his lies and bombast, we are supposed to believe that Donald Trump actually has something of importance or value to say on June 16th.

You can be assured that the Point of View column will henceforth be a No Trump Zone and we can only hope that the rest of America will join in cleansing the national stage of the Plague called Trump.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 6, 2011

The week began with the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Amidst the jubilation there was reflection on the true import of the event. And within moments the G.O.Tea Party chose finally link George W. Bush to current events in America thereby raising the question, what about everything else? This being America, even the death of a certified villain is a cause for controversy – should the photographs of his shattered corpse be released? Once again, President Obama had the right answer.

The Death of Osama bin Laden – cont’d

The death of Osama bin Laden is full of ironies, both large and small. Having French fried and barbequed Doubting Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents dinner, President Obama managed to time his announcement of bin Laden’s demise in such a way that it preempted the showing of Doubting Donald’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show/sham.

On a much more serious note, President Obama’s decision to kill the mastermind of 9/11 revealed an iron will that many of his critics doubted existed. These critics were then required to eat a heaping portion of crow as they lauded Obama’s actions.

Predictably, some members of the G.O.Tea Party could not resist sipping from the cup of partisanship and promptly announced that the killing of Osama bin Laden was the direct result of former President George W. Bush’s so-called war on terror, in the process trying to minimize the leadership role of President Obama.

It is fair to state that the apparatus that ultimately killed bin Laden had its beginnings during the Bush Administration. But if we are going to dredge Bush 43 out of the dustbin of history the G.O.Tea Party needs to also recognize that nearly 10 years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars were wasted fighting bogeymen in Iraq while Osama bin Laden lived in relative safety and comfort in Pakistan.

We will never know if bin Laden would have been captured or killed sooner if the United States hadn’t spent almost a decade trying to exorcise George W. Bush’s oedipal demons in Iraq. What we do know is that enormous amounts of resources were focused away from bin Laden and that the focus on the al Qaeda leader became an American priority from the very first days of the Obama Administration.

The results of this change in policy are there for all who care to see. Now the question arises as to whether the event of bin Laden’s death will occasion a further change of policy that will get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan on a more accelerated basis than originally planned.

It would be shames to see over 100,000 American troops continue to be mired in the muck of needless, pointless war without end.

To See or not to See

This being the second decade of the century of connectivity and communications, within 24 hours of the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden there was a clamor for the White House to release the presumably gory images of the dead villain. Some calls for the release were based on prurient motives to be sure.

Some sought the release of the photos to “prove” that bin Laden was truly dead. This motive was accompanied by the musty odor of the recently deceased birther controversy.

Opponents of the release reasonably argued that it was, in the first place, inappropriate and unnecessary to display images of this dead man. Further, and also reasonably, there is a real concern that the release of the photographs by the White House will inflame many in the Muslim world, not only al Qaeda supporters and operatives.

President Obama made the decision to withhold the release of the photographs. His statement that “there is no need to spike the ball” says it all.

This should remind us that George W. Bush proudly made his decisions with his famous “gut”. President Obama clearly thinks before he acts. The difference in results could not be clearer.

Mother’s Day

Sunday marks Mother’s Day and I would like to send a special greeting to all the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, foster mothers and caregiver. It is wonderful to celebrate this day. Of course, we should honor and celebrate mothers every day of their lives and ours. A special blessing to them all.

Have a great weekend!

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