Point of View Columns

Stop in the Name of the Law

By now we have been bludgeoned by reality and accept that there is no rule, law or moral norm that means anything to Donald Trump. Whether its discriminating against black men and women trying to rent apartments in Cincinnati, or buying the silence of former lovers and porn stars (in Trump’s case they are the same), or not paying hundreds of workers and contractors doing work on his failed casinos, or simply swindling thousands of aspiring dreamers who thought they could learn something from attending Trump University (spoiler alert – they learned that Donald Trump cannot be trusted), Donald Trump has found that he can get away with anything if he is willing to pay some money. But there are limits – even for Trump.

Ever since the Trump-induced government shutdown ended, Trump has loudly hinted that he might declare a national emergency and siphon funds from various federal agencies to build his hallowed wall if Congress won’t give him what he wants. Somehow his bullet head advisors like Steven Miller and John Bolton have Trump believing that all he has to do is to say “emergency powers” like some sort of magical incantation and presto – he will have the power to build his wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. But Trump and his enablers are making a huge misstep because (a) they don’t read or (b) they can’t read or (c) they don’t care what the laws and the Constitution say. For those keeping score at home (c) is the correct answer.

Clearly Trump and his minions haven’t read, can’t read and don’t care about the National Emergencies Act of 1976. If they did they would know that it was enacted for the specific purpose of limiting the use of emergency powers by the President of the United States. If they were willing to peruse modern history, they would see that national emergencies have been declared by presidents as the result of hurricanes, tornadoes, 9/11, earthquakes and the like.

The National Emergencies Act in its language and in its application was never meant to give the President an option if he/she could not reach an agreement with Congress. As they roast slowly in Hell, true fascist dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin must watch Trump with some admiration as he tries to be a dictator in a government with a Constitution that was specifically designed to block dictators. Trump’s dilemma probably makes them chuckle as they are basted by Satan.

A bit of history – when the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1787 there were some basic concerns that needed to be addressed. First, since the Articles of Confederation had resulted in near total governmental chaos, it was important to establish a government structure that could work.

A close second however, was the almost universal belief of the delegates (Alexander Hamilton notwithstanding) that the power to govern could not and would not reside in one person or even one branch of government. And that is how three co-equal branches of government – executive, judicial and legislative – were established with a system of checks and balances so that no one person could control or direct the government. It turns out that the delegates were really serious about sovereign power resting with the people.

And now Trump threatens Congress with his supposed emergency powers somehow believing that the legislative branch (Congress) and the judicial branch (Supreme Court) will simply go along with this unprecedented grab for power. Trump will meet Nancy in Court and my money is on Nancy and the Court.

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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 could be the subject of pity. But not this time, 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 as the raucous host of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show, if they knew Donald Trump at all. 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 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 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 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 White House Correspondents Dinner was probably 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 an orange jumpsuit that quite poetically will 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

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 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 and 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 busloads of bondholders and contractors associated with his various hotel and casino projects that will see their next nickel from Trump 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 – December 6, 2013

It appears that there is a new crime in Rochester, New York – Living While Black. Meanwhile there is a hope among comedy fans that Donald Trump will actually run for the office of governor of the State of New York. And finally, in a dramatic intersection of stupidity and power, a Teapublican congressman has seriously advocated the nuclear bombing of Iran.

Living While Black

In Rochester, New York you can find the grave of Frederick Douglass. It is also the birthplace of the Eastman Kodak Company. Now it turns out is also the place where racism and law enforcement have engaged in a noxious embrace.

Just before Thanksgiving three African American teenagers were waiting for a bus in Rochester, a bus that would take them to basketball practice. As far as anyone knows, there is nothing else remarkable about three high school youngsters going to practice. They weren’t stealing, assaulting, menacing, threatening or harassing anyone.

Nevertheless an enterprising representative of the Rochester Police Department seems to have set aside his white hood long enough to arrest these three young men on the charges of disturbing the peace. And this would have been just another classic illustration of the jailification of young black men if singer/actress Audra McDonald and MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell didn’t bring this miscarriage of justice to the attention of this nation.

Finally the charges were dropped although the young men and their parents are still waiting for an apology. Meanwhile, we can be sure that they are not the only, or last, young black men to be stopped and arrested on the charge of Living While Black.

Send in the Real Clowns

The leaders of the New York State Republican Party are reported to have journeyed to the lofty perch of Donald Trump to persuade him to run for governor of the State of New York in 2014. Presumably, these scions of the Republican Party actually believe that Donald Trump gives them the best chance of unseating the current incumbent, Andrew Cuomo.

We can also assume that they are not aware that the New York State Attorney General is bringing a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Donald Trump for running a fake school that was called “Trump University” – a university that was not accredited anywhere on this planet and conferred no degrees.

We can also assume that these leaders of the Republican Party missed Donald Trump making a total fool of himself as the temporary leader of America’s Birthers during the 2012 presidential campaign. And they probably missed the fact that his multiple corporate bankruptcies have left bondholders and contractors holding the bag – a bag worth millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, in some dark secluded place Governor Andrew Cuomo is praying that Donald Trump will be his opponent.

Power + Stupidity = Danger

Earlier this week, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R.CA), a senior Teapublican member of the House Armed Services Committee actually advocated a presumptive nuclear attack on Iran. Aside from the sheer, blunt headed stupidity of such a proposal, Congressman Hunter’s statement is also dangerous.

Imagine what would be going on in the United States if a senior mullah in Iran started speaking publicly about attacking this country. There would be more than a few chicken hawks who would feel they had all the justification for a preemptive strike – right now!

But somehow the Iranian government is supposed to be persuaded than an elected senior member of a key congressional committee “didn’t really mean it” and was just speculating out loud.

When power meets ignorance the result is always very dangerous.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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