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Archive for the ‘Hypocrisy’ Category

I find it difficult to understand why Senate Democrats would block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination when they all know that it will just lead to the ‘nuclear option’ that will allow the man to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. This is just the child-like behavior that Republicans showed over the past eight years of the Obama administration. It seems to me that the two-party system in America has degenerated into a bunch of name-calling, infantile, assholedness that we often attribute to police state countries in other parts of the world. Perhaps the part that bothers me most is that the American public appears to be content to tolerate this behavior on the part of our national law makers…and that my friends is no less than absolutely frightening.

Are the Democrats so fearful the Justice Gorsuch will sway the balance of power that they have to use anything they have to prevent his nomination from passage? Yes, of course it’s true that he will be a voice of conservatism on the Court, just as Merrick Garland’s appointment would have made the Court one that would lean more to the liberal side of the aisle. However, I have to assume that the successful block of Garland’s nomination was nothing more than a cry-baby attempt by conservatives to further their agenda of diluting any kind of legacy that would be left by Obama. Certainly, Trump’s executive orders and the House’s idiotic attempt to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act seem to be designed to ensure that there is no Obama legacy to be undone.

Call me naïve or dumb or whatever you wish, but I find it absolutely ridiculous that 435 men and women, sent to Washington to do the very best for this country by composing, comparing, and enacting legislation that will benefit this nation as a whole, cannot do so. Sure, I understand that what the people in Maine want, the people in Mississippi want, and the people in Montana, Minnesota, and Massachusetts may want, but goddammit, somewhere along the line, there should be things that people in our 50 states can say, “Well, yeah, I’m not crazy about it, but I can live with it.” This is not the case today in the Houses of Congress. It’s “my way or the highway, and fuck you very much!” and that does not serve the best interests of anyone in any part of the country. Congress has become too self-absorbed with what it considers to be its own importance. To top it off, we now have a person in the White House who encourages this type of discord, although for what reasons, it’s hard to imagine. Congress can censure its own members, but the only way that America can benefit is if we throw some of these people out of office and let some new folks attempt to understand the word, “compromise.”

I can hear the politicians now…”Oh, you don’t understand how government works. You don’t realize the pressure we’re under from our constituents to stand our ground.” Perhaps not, but what I do realize is this: Too many of you have been in office too long, and you have turned government into your own political play thing, that does nothing for the nation, but that lines your pockets in ways that are unimaginable to the vast majority of your constituents. Do you think I’m joking? Time Magazine, in a January, 2014 story, wrote, “The Center for Responsive Politics analyzed the personal financial disclosure data from 2012 of the 534 current members of Congress and found that, for the first time, more than half had an average net worth of $1 million or more: 268 to be exact, up from 257 the year earlier. The median for congressional Democrats was $1.04 million and, for Republicans, $1 million even.” In that same year, the median income of Americans was $51,939. Doesn’t that make you stop and think that perhaps members of Congress cannot possibly understand what it’s like to be an average American citizen? They listen and nod their heads and commiserate with their folks back in East Bumfuck or wherever, and then they return to Washington, dining at Fiola Ware, Bourbon’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or The Source, usually at the expense of some lobbyist or other who will get them to vote for a bill that is actually at odds with what the interests of their constituents happen to be…but they tried…they were just overwhelmed by their fellow Congressional leaders or members of their party…and it’s all a bunch of bullshit…just so they can pocket a few more bucks or increase their portfolios.

Am I a cynic? No, that’s not cynicism, it’s realism. I’ve been on this earth for over eight decades, and in that time, I’ve learned one or two things about political leaders. The first of these things is that they are overly impressed with their own self-importance. A second thing is that they may have begun their political careers hoping to change things for the better, but that they soon become corrupted by those who were in office before them and took them under their wing, and if they refused to be taken “under a wing,” they were soon out of office and never even saw the bus that they had been thrown under by their ‘friends.’ Remember what Mark Twain said, “We have the best government that money can buy,” and by God, he was absolutely right.

My political ambition never carried me farther than being vice president of a Little League, and seeing the back-biting and chicanery that happened in something as low-level as that was enough to convince me that getting into the real political arena was somewhat akin to shoveling shit against the oncoming tide…you just won’t win.

I love America with all my heart and soul. It is the greatest country on earth. It’s a land where people are free to pursue their dreams, and whether they succeed or fall flat on their collective faces, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because they are free to get up and start their pursuit all over again. Yes, I love my country, but sometimes I wonder just how we ever came to this sorry impasse that we call the United States Congress.

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In the “as if we needed to hear any more bullshit from you,” category, Donny Trump tweeted that “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”

This is just another indication of why Trump is not a leader, just a thin-skinned child who, when he doesn’t get his way, takes his ball and goes crying home…in this case, to his daughter, not his wife…hmm. It was the perfect opportunity to admit that ‘his’ congressional leaders were unable to develop a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act {ACA}. He could have followed it up with, “Now is the ideal time for Republican and Democratic leaders to reach across the aisle and, together, develop a plan that will replace the flaws in ObamaCare and that will ensure that all Americans receive appropriate health coverage.” That is something that a leader would have done.

Consider the number of times that Republicans attempted to repeal the ACA over the eight-year term of Barack Obama. The number, by the way, is sixty. It seems to me that rather than spending all of that time attempting to repeal a law, they could have more productively spent their time developing a plan to replace the Act. If you, as a member of Congress, felt that ObamaCare was such a terrible piece of legislation, wouldn’t you first come up with a better, stronger, more viable plan rather than behaving like a bunch of spoiled children? I’m sorry, am I being too logical here? Was it, perhaps, a case of, “We don’t want anything that the ‘foreign-born,’ n-word, SOB got past us to ever show up as part of his legacy! Oh, naw, that could never be the case…or could it? Was it that this first national health plan, for all its flaws, managed to get enacted by Congress?

You see, I’m rather a cynic when it comes to killing something just for the sake of killing it. I don’t hunt, but I used to enjoy deep sea fishing enormously. We kept the bluefish and stripers that we caught because people would eat them. If we were having a better than average day, it was catch and release. The Republican Party had seven years to put together a better health plan. They-didn’t-do-that. They-wanted-to-kill-a-program-that-had-been-legally-enacted-without-having-the-faintest-fucking-idea-of-what-to-replace-it-with. Now, I don’t know about you, but I might just have wanted to ask my Republican Congress person what he or she was doing to develop a plan to replace ObamaCare during those seven years, and if they didn’t have an answer, I might just have voted his/her ass right out of that Congressional seat. Am I being too harsh for you here?

Now, unable to come up with something to replace the Affordable Care Act, instead of uniting Congress, this idiot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the “Greatest Deal Maker of All Time,” whines and moans and blames everyone without even considering the tremendous opportunity put before him, starts his surrender talk with, “Well, no Democrats were going to vote for anything the Congress came up with.” Note that please. It wasn’t “…anything we came up with,” it was, “…anything Congress came up with.” In other words, “It wasn’t my fault; it was the fault of those assholes in Congress.” It’s this lack of leadership qualities or even understanding the qualities of leadership that terrifies me about this man. He was a little king in a small village when he had his businesses that were being run by others. He was a television celebrity who could do as he damn well pleased when he was on air. He is now in a position that requires skills and qualities that he has never and probably will never possess, but because of his celebrity status and the bombast with which he conducted his campaign, he was the chosen one.

There is a need for our nation to have a health plan. There is a need for a health plan that covers the rich, middle, poor, and elderly classes. It can be done. Mitt Romney showed that it could be done in Massachusetts. Was his plan perfect? No, it, too, was flawed, but care was taken to correct many of those flaws. No plan, whoever, drafts it, is going to ever be 100 percent guaranteed to work for everyone. We are not a one-size-fits-all nation. Hell, we weren’t even a one-size-fits-all-state. From the hills of Holland to the tip of Provincetown and from Florida to Dracut and beyond, Massachusetts residents have different needs, but by God, Romney tried and did something no other governor had done. Now is the time for Ryan and McConnell, Schumer and Pelosi to sit down, shake hands, look at one another, and simultaneously ask one another, “How do we pull ourselves out of this deep shit,” for that’s what it is. Trump and his hooligans will do everything in their power to ensure that the ACA implodes, just to get back at Obama. It’s time for the adults in the room – those from both sides of the aisle – to come together and determine what is best for the country, for all 326,474,013 members of this country. Forget ‘Hairspray’ and his band of brothers, for he will attempt to sabotage your efforts. While sub rosa may be a term we don’t care to hear, it may be the only way that the nation will be able to make health care for all a reality. Demonstrate that you are true leaders even though we don’t have one sitting in the White House.

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We all know that there are inequities and inequalities in this world. Well, at least anyone with half a brain knows these things. I’m a big believer in this funny little thing called equal pay for equal work, which makes me just a wee bit pissed that women, on average, receive only eighty-two cents for every dollar that a man makes for doing the same job. When Mary Barra took over as head of General Motors, I’m told, she received a compensation package one million dollars lower than that of her predecessor. Her compensation package last year consisted of a $1,750,000 salary and other compensation that brought her package up to $28,576,651. Admittedly, this is probably one of the few cases where a CEO has earned every penny. Even within the male population, there is inequality. Tell me, if you can, why the head football coach at the Air Force Academy is making eight times more money than the Secretary of Defense of the United States? When one considers the international considerations of each position, it would appear reasonable to assume that the roles really ought to be reversed. Additionally, if the president of the University of Michigan is making $750,000, and the head football coach is making $9 million, how does one justify that inequality…and please, don’t tell me that old saw about the alumni fund depending on a winning season. It may be true in part but is it really true to the extent of such imbalance?

What does one have to do to earn millions of dollar each year? It certainly helps to have a history of achievement and demonstrated leadership qualities. According to Chief Executive Research, executive compensation is a “strategic tool.” “…having the right senior executives on the team and aligned are key drivers of business success, yet far too many companies don’t approach executive compensation strategically.” It seems to me that far too many companies hire more based on ‘old boy networks, school ties, or religious affiliations. After that the 300 multiple appears to take effect, that is, the CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker in his/her company earns. Is this fair and equitable? The answer is complex.

If you hire the very best person for the job as CEO, everyone benefits. The new ‘boss’ plans strategically for a five, ten, or longer period – one Japanese executive created a strategic plan 150 years out. If the plan works, the chief executive should certainly be compensated appropriately. Should the compensation be 300 times what the worker in the factory, on the floor, in the sales office or the secretarial pool? My answer to that is an unqualified, “No!” What if the chief executive increases the profits of the company by 300 percent of his/her strategic plan? The answer is still, “No.” We have allowed executive compensation to get out of control, according to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, but, “Corporate apologists say CEOs and other top executives are worth these amounts because their corporations have performed so well over the last three decades that CEOs are like star baseball players or movie stars.” This is nonsense. The economy has grown. The stock market has grown. People have either amped up their spending or gone into greater debt just to “keep up with the Joneses.” CEO’s aren’t any brighter today than they were in 1965 when that multiple we talked about earlier was 27:1. In addition, legislation – until Trump came along, but it still will – favored big companies that wished to outsource, either to other states with more favorable tax rulings and lower labor costs, or overseas where labor costs were markedly lower.

In 2015, “The SEC passed a new rule for large corporations: Starting in fiscal year 2017, they must disclose their “pay ratio,” the multiple by which the CEO’s pay exceeds that of the median worker’s.” In his article in Politico, Michael Dorff states, “The point of the rule is to both bring down CEO pay and to improve the compensation of rank-and-file workers. The theory is that CEOs and boards of directors will be so embarrassed when they have to admit just how much more they pay their chief executives than a normal worker—300 times is typical, though some companies’ ratios may stretch into the thousands—that, in their shame, they will simultaneously lower the CEO’s paycheck and grant their workers a raise.” Personally, I have strong doubts that CEOs and boards of directors that are currently paying outlandish compensation packages give two hoots in hell about their workers, are too narcissistic and self-centered, and it will not become effective until labor unions and workers themselves take action against those same CEO’s and boards of directors.

The idea that a CEO and his/her top four or five executives bear a responsibility only to their boards of directors is ludicrous, although it appears that many of the S&P 500 still adhere to such a belief. You figure it out. If the CEO reports to the board of directors, it figures that he/she also has some input regarding who sits on that board. In an article in The Atlantic, they cite, “…Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried, [who] in their 2004 book Pay Without Performance, argued that this procedure is a comforting fiction. They wrote that skyrocketing executive pay is the blatant result of CEOs’ power over decisions within U.S. firms, including compensation. Being on a corporate board is a great gig. It offers personal and professional connections, prestige, company perks, and, of course, money. In 2013, the average compensation for a board member at an S&P 500 company—usually a part-time position—was $251,000. It only stands to reason that board members don’t want to rock the CEO’s boat. While directors are elected by shareholders, the key is to be nominated to a directorship, because nominees to directorships are almost never voted down. Bebchuk and Fried showed that CEOs typically have considerable influence over the nominating process and can exert their power to block or put forward nominations, so directors have a sense that they were brought in by the CEO. Beyond elections, CEOs can use their control over the company’s resources to legally (and sometimes illegally) bribe board members with company perks, such as air travel, as well as monetary payment.

In other words, get your foot in the door as CEO of a major corporation via the old boy network, make the shareholders and your board of directors your primary concern, and you could well be set for life. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but I believe you get the general idea.

Truth to tell, CEOs and their organizations owe a far greater debt to a larger audience than their shareholders and boards. These stakeholders, as they are known, can also exercise some control over the pay of the CEO. Stakeholders include workers, product consumers if a product is involved, suppliers, creditors, and many others. R. Edward Freeman introduced the concept of stakeholders in business in 1984 in his book, Strategic Management. “The book proposed that effective management consists of balancing the interests of all [of] the corporation’s stakeholders – any individual or group who can affect, or is affected by, the achievement of a corporation’s purpose. The stakeholder concept provides a new way of thinking about strategic management – that is, how a corporation can and should set and implement direction.” Only by involving, completely involving, all stakeholders in the decision making processes, will CEO compensation, a major component of directing the organization be brought back into line. It seems to me that as long as CEO’s have any ability to influence who is on their board of directors or that the boards’ only interest is in lining their own pockets, this idea of multi-million dollar compensation will not be curbed, but will, in fact, flourish. The losers in this situation are too many to mention, and it only further grows the gap between the one percenters and the rest of the nation.

In the second part of this two-part series, I will take a look at the health care industry and the compensation of those in it.

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Our President-elect is now, formally, our President of these…, even though the transfer of power will not take place for about another month. Despite his nearly three million popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton, Trump says that his is a landslide victory…interesting, scary, but interesting. His “victory tour” of the United States once again highlighted his narcissistic tendencies, in that the way things are going would lead one to believe that he did the entire thing all by himself, even though, as he said, “The election was rigged.” Oh, wait a minute, that’s what he said before the election. I guess that means he was in close touch with James Comey and his buddy, Vlad, the Impaler.

What has really caused me some concern has been Trump’s choices for Cabinet positions. While I was somewhat irked by his choice of white supremacist, Steve Bannon. His “win at all costs” attitude is frightening and that’s being very mild about it. As the former head of Breitbart News, Bannon has not been above planting phony stories about ‘leftist’ Democrats and any others with whom he has a grievance. This is in keeping with the manner in which Mr. Trump tweets out half-truths and outright lies, as he did about the recent “swamping” of The Apprentice hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He failed to mention that the show was up against some pretty stiff competition in bowl games, nor did he mention that people are probably so fed up with him that anything to which his name is even vaguely attached – he’s still listed as an executive producer – is a turnoff for the majority of Americans.

Naming Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State is dangerous on at least two fronts. The first is that Tillerson has absolutely nothing to bring to the table. Granted, he has been at Exxon for 41 years and risen to the top of his company by effectively making deals which have given the company a notable position of achievement in the U.S. business world. I’m sorry, but the rest of the world (a) doesn’t give a damn about the manner in which U.S. companies are recognized on their own turf; (b) plays by an entirely different set of rules peculiar to their own country; and, (c) will be perfectly willing to lead this unwitting lamb to slaughter by deceit, lies, and unfulfillable promises. It’s just another example of letting one more of Mr. Trump’s millionaire buddies into the big boy’s playground.

Jeff Sessions is a wonderful choice for Attorney General. He’s been denied a federal judgeship because of his racist comments. He has twice voted against laws that would include sexual orientation as a hate crime, and he was a proponent of a Constitutional Amendment and would define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The Senate, in response to the outrage of the VA treatment of servicemen and women, voted on a bill to allocate resources for 26 new VA facilities in 18 states and $500 million to hire additional doctors and nurses. Sessions was one of only three senators to vote against the bill, citing excessive government spending as his reason. Sorry, Senator, that’s a wimp-out!

It seems to me that in any confirmation hearing any candidate can say anything that he or she wishes. Words are just that, words. Billionaire Tillerson, can ‘say’ that he has no greater interest in Russia than anyone else. He can ‘say’ whatever he has to say to be confirmed. The same is true of Jeff Sessions when it comes to his record on Civil Rights, Immigration, and LGBT issues. Betsy DeVos can deny that she is in favor of Common Core, but that doesn’t mean a damned thing if she is confirmed.

I look at Steven Mnuchin’s confirmation as putting the fox in the henhouse. Anyone who believes that he will do anything to straighten out Wall Street is a dreamer. He appears to me to be one of these multi-millionaire idlers who is supportive of whomever gets the top dog sea, and he has given money to both Republicans and Democrats alike. His trustworthiness meter registers just above zero for this writer. In addition, my only other experience with a former Goldman Sachs executive led me to take an early retirement rather than try to work with the son-of-a-bitch!

Wilbur Ross, the candidate for Secretary of Commerce, was quoted as saying, “I think the reason why the Trump phenomenon has become so important … is because middle-class and lower-middle-class America has not really benefited by the last 10 to 15 years of economic activity and they’re sick and tired of it and they want something different,” Excuse me, but I don’t believe billionaire Ross gives two hoots in hell about the American middle- or lower-middle classes. Keep a close eye on this one, folks, and see how he benefits those who are ‘below’ him in this economic class.

When it comes time to talk about General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, you have but to listen to one of his quotes: “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway,” said Mattis. “So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you — I like brawling.” Those are the words of our proposed next Secretary of Defense. While he later admitted that he should have chosen his words more carefully, the remarks give you some insight into the mind of a true militant who, I fear, would have no compunction about sending military wherever he thought that might “have some fun shooting some bad guys!” While he might stand on the tarmac at Andrews and salute, it wouldn’t do a hell of lot of good for those people in the caskets.

Granted, I have only touched on a few potential Trump Cabinet nominees. Hopefully, we’ll get around to more as the confirmation hearings move along. Just remember one thing…what is said in the hearings and what will actually take place if these people are confirmed and very well be two different things. After all, that’s the Washington way.

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One must give credit where credit is due. Donald Trump has picked up the political lingo of Washington much faster than I thought possible. For a long time, it was “Obama can’t be President because he wasn’t even born in America.” Even after the President showed a birth certificate, Trump questioned its authenticity. After Obama visited a mosque, Trump commented, “Maybe he feels comfortable there.” And, in a tweet on October 25th, Trump said, “Obama is a disaster.”

Ah, how things have changed following the “rigged” election that is now not rigged because Trump won the Electoral College vote. Trump now speaks of the President as “a good man.” Of course, Trump had to add that “the feeling is mutual.” For his part, When Obama was asked about Trump, he responded, “You know, he is somebody who I think is very engaging and gregarious.” Asked point blank, “Do you like him,” Obama said, “You know, I’ve enjoyed the conversations that we’ve had. He is somebody who I think is not lacking in confidence…” The President added, “…it’s probably a prerequisite for the job, or at least you have to have enough craziness to think that you can do the job….I think that he has not spent a lot of time sweating the details of, you know, all the policies…”

In Washington politics a “good man” is another way of saying, “This asshole couldn’t sell air conditioners in Florida in August.” A “good man” in Washington parlance is like calling someone a nebbish. For those not knowing the term, it’s akin to asking, “Did someone just leave,” when a “good man” or “nebbish” walks into a room. A “good man” is a nobody, a nothing. It’s about as backhanded a compliment as one can offer. Even Obama didn’t stoop to calling Trump a “good man.” However, his digs were, perhaps, deeper and more Washington—ese in their delivery. “He is somebody who I think is not lacking in confidence” can be taken in many ways. It might be interpreted as “You may think the ice is three feet thick, but two steps out and you’ll be up to your neck in muddy water.” Or, “not lacking in confidence” may be interpreted as, “Oh, you poor cocky son-of-a-bitch. If you only knew what awaits you over the next four years.”

You see, in Washington, “yes” when heard from a Representative or Senator, means, “No way in hell,” in part because those people never, under any circumstances, give a direct answer to any question. It’s just something that is not done, whether in polite company or not. “Well, that’s a good question, and our committee is looking into that right now.” This indicates that, “I don’t have a friggin’ clue to what you’re talking about, and how do I get the hell out of here…right now?” If caught a couple of weeks later by the same reporter with the same question, that reporter is likely to get, “Well, I’m glad you brought that up because I spoke with…and he or she will name some other sucker…and they’ve sent that back for review by…” some other committee you’ve never even heard of. Then, the reporter might ask about some freshman Senator or Representative who’s been attempting to make waves, and guess what the response will be. You got it, “Well,” this is the word that can be drawn out for close to ten minutes while the inquisitee gathers what are supposed to be his/her thoughts, and eventually comes out with, “He’s a good man.” Doesn’t really matter that you, as the reporter, were asking the question about a woman. It’s just the politically correct thing to say.

Now, I really should not castigate all Representatives or all Senators for the manner in which they respond to questions when on camera or in front of a print media person with a tape recorder in hand. [Whew, that’s a long sentence.] No, the old timers, those who have taken the course on “Correct Speaking in the Halls of Congress 101,” usually offered by any one of number of lobbyists, can come back at you and turn the tables faster than you can say “money under the table.” No, it’s always best to grab a ‘newbie’ who’s just gotten his or her feet wet with a few committee hearings, and then smack that person with a question about something completely foreign to what they are currently doing. With luck, you just might mine a nugget that you can either use as blackmail for getting something later on, or that you can take to the folks back in East Overshoe, or wherever you come from…but…first and foremost…you must know the lingo.

You may feel that Mr. Trump messed up when he called the President “a good man,” particularly after reading this primer, but you would be in error. The reason behind this is, quite simply, because Mr. Trump went on to say, “The feeling is mutual because it takes two to tango.” I have to tell you, Donald, that’s a bit limp. It’s weak because, as Trump may recall, when Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) was told by the President in A Clear and Present Danger that he now had “a chip in the big game” and could do the Washington two-step, Ryan replied, “I don’t dance.” Yeah, that was a bit weak too. However, President-elect Trump will learn quickly enough from those around him, that “No” means whatever the speaker wants it to mean; “Yes,” is always no way in hell; and “I’ll look into that right away Mr. President,” means “I hope to hell I can disappear for a couple of weeks so he’ll forget it.”

Anyway, you won, Donald…good luck, God speed, and if someday you are feeling weak and under the weather, have someone check your back for what might be one of the “thousand cuts” mentioned in Chinese torture books…I’ve been told.

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I must be going blind. This is not a literal statement, but in a figurative sense, there is no question that my vision has taken a bad turn somewhere. I cannot see why anyone in their right mind or with corrected vision would ever consider Donald J. Trump to be Presidential. Custodial perhaps, but Presidential? It’s not difficult to see why many Americans believe Trump to be a Messiah of some ilk. He boasts; he brags; he puts forth plans that, on the surface, appeal to those with little or no knowledge of how the plans would actually work. He’s a showman; a carnie man, a television personality, a failed businessman who bends the truth to meet his personal requirements.

Trump states that he inherited one million dollars from his family. History shows and Forbes Magazine confirms that the amount was closer to $40 million. With that money, he has amassed an enormous net worth of, according to him, $10 billion. Again, going back to Forbes, that net worth is closer to $4.7 billion. It’s still a lot of money but how it’s been garnered is open to question. In the 1980s, when Trump Plaza was being constructed, a sub-contract when to S&A Concrete, a company partially owned by the mafia. “Trump World Tower, supported by the Quadrozzi Concrete Company, is also tangentially related to La Cosa Nostra. The head of the company, John Quadrozzi Sr., was tied to the Lucchese crime family and indicted for making illegal payoffs to the mob in 1992.”1 The list goes on and on about Trump’s nefarious dealings with the mob. If one of the qualities of a President is assumed to be “A person of strong character,” Trump fails to meet the standard.

Let’s take a moment to look at some of Trump’s business failures: The Eastern Airlines Shuttle from Boston to New York and Washington ran for 27 years. Many was the time that I would hop a 6:30 am shuttle to head to either destination. It was a great convenience (plus free parking). In 1988, Trump purchased the service for a reported $365 million. He improved the look of the service by adding maple-wood veneer to the floors, chrome-plated seat belt clasps and gold bathroom fixtures. It didn’t work and the Trump Shuttle never turned a profit. The high debt accrued forced Trump to default on his loans, and the shuttle ceased to exist in 1992. In 2006, Trump introduced Trump Vodka, designed to compete with Grey Goose. If you happen to own a bottle of Trump’s vodka, hold onto it because it’s highly doubtful you’ll find it on liquor store shelves today…but you will find Grey Goose.

Claire Sudduth of Time Magazine noted in an article about Trump’s bankruptcies, “”I don’t like the B word,” Donald Trump said in 2010 while testifying in a New Jersey bankruptcy courtroom about his gambling company, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which had filed for bankruptcy for the third time. Given the number of times Trump has flirted with bankruptcy, you’d think he’d be used to that word by now.

“In 1990, the banking institutions that backed his real estate investments had to bail him out with a $65 million “rescue package” that contained new loans and credit. But it wasn’t enough, and nine months later the famous developer was nearly $4 billion in debt. He didn’t declare personal bankruptcy, although his famous Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., did have to file for it  Trump’s economic troubles continued through the early ’90s, while he was personally leveraged to nearly $1 billion. In 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts also filed for bankruptcy. The company was only a small portion of Trump’s real estate empire, but he did still have to personally cough up $72 million to keep it afloat. In 2009, the same company filed for bankruptcy again. Yet during all of this, no one ever told Trump, “You’re fired!” Probably because no one could.2 In case you weren’t counting, Trump has gone bankrupt four times. He later claimed that those were not his failures as a businessman but strategic decisions to help him make more money. In other words, he manipulated the system for personal gain. Gee, isn’t Bernie Madoff doing time for that, along with several other sleazebags?

Much more could be said about Mr. Trump and his potential candidacy for President of the United States. In truth, he’s a bully, a bigot, a racist, a sexist, a liar, and perhaps the worst individual ever to be considered for the highest office in the land. I never cared much for Mitt Romney when he was Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but you can bet your boots that should he run as a third party candidate, I will be checking his name off in the voting booth.

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  1. Politifact…a division of the Tampa Bay Times
  2. Claire Sudduth, Time Magazine, April 29, 2011

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I’m boorish. There, I’ve finally admitted to being a bore…or boor…or whatever you wish to call one who really doesn’t care all that much about convention. Sorry, Google and Yahoo don’t help much. Growing up, my knickers – not the British kind – had to be positioned just so; my shirt had to be tucked correctly, and my little clip-on necktie had to be worn correctly. Fortunately, the sixties brought a bit of sense to fashion and we could relax a bit. By the time college came along, sweaters and khakis found their niche but only until one graduated.

It seems to me that the only time I was without a necktie and coat jacket for the next forty years was either late on Saturday afternoon or when I changed into my pajamas at night. Obviously, my memory must be failing on that point, for in hindsight, I cannot conceive of wearing a potential noose around my neck six days a week nor of wearing some kind of suit or sport coat for any more than five or six hours a day. In the ‘office,’ the first thing to find its way to the back of my chair was my ‘uniform’ coat, except in the service where, for some strange reason, you had to wear the goddamn thing as part of the uniform…even on the parade ground. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I don’t like neckties…never have, never will. I don’t know if some women feel the same way about girdles as I feel about neckties, but anything that constrains me…and in the case of neckties, has the chance of killing me…does not rate at the top of my fashion scale. In addition, they’re a scam. ”Why?” you ask. Well, they go from wide to slim and back again, depending on the foibles of this year’s fashionistas and sartorialists. In addition, as time has passed, the old two dollar neckties has become the $150-designer special that one must own to be fashionable. What a bunch of baloney.

Would I have felt better about neckties if I was allowed to wear the clip-ons? No, of course not, because the top button of the shirt would still have to be fastened to the choking point. Should I have worn shirts with the collar a bit larger? Have you ever seen what that looks like? One’s neck appears to be sitting in a hole that’s too big and the Adam’s apple movement is much more apparent. I went from wearing a fourteen and a half shirt collar to wear a seventeen and a half by the time I retired. It was terrible.

What few people realize, I guess, is that the tie was originally a scarf worn by Croatian mercenaries hired by French King Louis XIII. The scarf was not only part of their uniform, but was also used as protection from the cold and as a handkerchief. I don’t know about other men my age or any age who would be caught dead blowing their collective noses into their neckties…just gauche!

For the first few years following retirement, an evening dinner with my spouse required a suit, collared shirt, and noose necktie. I find it idiotic that some restaurants actually require gentlemen to wear neckties and keep an ample supply on hand for those foolish enough to enter looking ‘unclothed.’ It would appear that you are not properly attired unless you are wearing a snot rag around your neck. One of the best things to happen in business was casual Friday, but then some idiots had to screw it up, and many businesses abandoned the idea. I really enjoy watching some of those Silicon Valley workers in their jeans and T’s doing wonderful things without the encumbrance of a suit jacket or necktie.

By the way, it is said that King Louis so like the scarves of his mercenaries that he insisted that neckwear be a part of all formal events at court. Things went downhill or around the neck from there. Yes, it’s true that neckties have gone through more than the width debate. Their popularity has ebbed and flowed with the various decades. Today, the necktie is still certainly a part of the uniform for the military; for many wait staff, and for businesses founded in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Hopefully, cultural changes will occur and the necktie will finally be recognized as the most dangerous item of clothing in a man’s wardrobe. After all, what did old time cowboys call a hanging? You got it…a necktie party!

My necktie days are over. Since my plans call for direct cremation, I won’t even have to wear one to the crematorium. Just take me as I am…T-shirt, sweatshirt, and sweatpants. With luck, I won’t even be wearing my sneakers!

Hallelujah!

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