Monday, March 21, 2016

Is Donald Trump Broke?

To use Donald Trump's logic, just as he challenged President Obama's citizenship because he didn't present his full birth certificate, we must conclude that the reason he refuses to release his tax returns is because he's financially insolvent. Flat out broke. Why else would he so stubbornly be keeping the official IRS documents under lock and key?

Here's what we do know for certain: that Trump's a failed businessman on many levels, including the airline, steak, vodka and mortgage companies, Trump University and, of course, the bankrupt casinos.

Many believe that the "billionaire developer's" vast real estate "empire" is little more than the ubiquitous Trump brand slapped on other developers' buildings; that his real "wealth" consists mainly of a ginormous inheritance, estimated at between $40-$200-million from his uber-wealthy developer father Fred. Trump's detractors suspect that if not for his father's funding throughout his career, and the life-saving bailout by his bankers and creditors in 1990, his overall business would've gone bankrupt.

Trump's tax returns, unlike the voluntary financial disclosure forms he's filed, which consist of self-reported data, would show just how much he's worth, how much income he generates from his businesses, and just how "self-made" he is versus the "success" due to inheritance.  Since his entire cache rests on his status as a great businessman and deal-maker, the release of his returns could shatter decades of masterful brand-building.

The Republican front-runner claims he cannot release his tax returns because he's in the middle of an IRS audit. But the IRS disagrees, stating that it's up to the individual whether or not to share tax returns.

Which begs the question, just what the heck is he hiding? Is he afraid that when the economic curtain is pulled back it will reveal, in an unprecedented case of smoke and mirrors, someone very different than the financial wizard he's been shamelessly promoting since the 1970's? Will it prove that Trump's a financial fraud? If so, his "empire" would come crashing down like a house of cards.

Until Trump releases his tax returns for the last ten years there will be an ominous cloud of doubt hovering over his income, his net worth and his claim to be a self-made billionaire.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Open Letter From the Spirit of Ronald Reagan

My fellow Republicans:

What the heck has happened to our party!? I don't recognize us anymore, and haven't for many, many years. I can't believe what we've become. This is the party of Lincoln? Of me?

I've listened for years now as candidate after candidate invokes my name as the standard-bearer of the Republican Party. Of the conservative ideal. I'm the one they all want to be like. The one they compare themselves to every five seconds. My coattails are filthy from their footprints. But to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I know me, and none of these jokers are equipped to shine my shoes.

They should all be ashamed of themselves. Not just for destroying the party I loved so much, but for shaming America with their myopic, bigoted world view. And for their unprecedented obstructionism. And for creating such toxicity with Democrats that Washington has ground to a legislative standstill.

We've become not just the party of 'no' but the party of 'nothing.' We don't stand for anything anymore. We have not served those who voted for us. We are selfish, self-serving, petulant and angry. And that's the part I just don't get. Why all the vitriol? The hatred? The inability to talk with each other? Why has "compromise" become such a dirty word?

Back in the day, you disagreed with someone, found the middle ground, and moved onto the next subject. As I liked to say, if I could get 70-80% of what I wanted, that was considered a good day. Today we have leaders who vow never to agree to anything Democrats propose. Everything is summarily rejected, no matter how harmful this intransigence is to the country.

We can't even pretend to hold a hearing on a president's Supreme Court nomination. All this nonsense about "lame duck appointments." Shameful. Do they not remember that I nominated Anthony Kennedy in November of my 7th year, and that his hearing and confirmation took place in my last? Do these fellas not even respect the Constitution anymore? Is nothing sacred in their partisan war?        

And, who the heck is this Donald Trump character? What rock did he crawl out from? He's the best we've got? Have our voters gone mad? Must we pander to the lowest common denominator? We're talking about the nomination for president of the greatest nation in the world, for Pete's sake, not host of some pathetic reality show.

I watch as Trump mocks, denigrates and offends everyone from minorities to women, immigrants to people with disabilities and war heroes. I shudder at the language he uses at his rallies. Not just the curse words, but the racist rhetoric that's been inciting violence. My God, are we really going to nominate this dangerous, destructive, polarizing individual to head our party in the general election? 
Donald Trump has campaigned on the "Make America Great" theme. How ironic. He's turned the nation backward to its darkest, ugliest days. Remember the old "Keep America Beautiful" ad from '71? The one with the Native-American man crying as looks out onto a littered landscape? Well, when I see the political pollution that's destroying my beloved America today, the tears stream down my face.

My message was one of hope, strength, positivity and patriotism. Of taking an already great America and making it even greater. Trump's message is not my message. His ideals are not my ideals. And if I could vote in November, well, gosh darnit I'd be voting for Hillary Clinton. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Is Trump's Campaign the Altamont of Politics?

It was 1967. The Summer of Love. A defining moment in America's social history which symbolized the hippie counterculture movement. Over 100,000 young people descended upon San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district amid free love, awesome music and lots of hallucinogenic drugs. Just two years later the euphoria came crashing down just a few miles East at the Rollings Stones' free concert at the Altamont Speedway.

Only four months after the Woodstock festival's orgy of peace and love, Altamont has come to paradoxically symbolize the violent, abrupt conclusion of the Utopian hippie era. Mick Jagger and his band thought it was a great ideas to hire the Hells Angels motorcycle gang to provide security and keep stoned-out fans and groupies from rushing the stage. It wasn't. The night was marred by unprovoked brutality which ended in the stabbing death, by a gang member, of 18-year-old Meredith Hunter.

"Altamont became, whether fairly or not, a symbol for the death of the Woodstock Nation," music critic Robert Christgau wrote in 1972. 

What makes the phenomenon of Altamont fascinating 50 years later are the chilling parallels between the tragedy of that night and the tenor of the typical Donald Trump rally. Of most concern is that the 2016 political era will end in the same tragic manner.

While there may not be any hot-headed pool-cue-swinging Hells Angels at Trump's hate-fests, the overall mood is the same. There's the same palpable sense of imminent danger. Trump's playing with fire the same way Jagger had. The rocker thought it'd be cool to have the renegade bikers at his service, much in the same way the race-baiting billionaire thinks it's "exciting" to arouse the ire of his angry, white, blue-collar "fans," some of whom believe that a difference in political opinion is grounds for a beating. But as Jagger soon found out, the adrenaline rush of hangin' with the bad boys quickly turns to shock and horror the nanosecond someone takes the commitment too far.

As the primary season shifts into its third act, let's hope the name "Trump" doesn't become synonymous with "Altamont," symbolizing the violent, tragic end to the historic 2016 Republican clown show.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Will Someone Eventually Get Killed At a Trump Rally?

In the 1960's, mass-murderer Charles Manson believed that The Beatles were speaking to him through their song "Helter Skelter," whose message he interpreted as a warning of an impending race war.

In the 1970's, Travis Bickle, the fictional character in director Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver,"  attempted to assassinate a politician in a psychotic, delusional haze motivated by political disenchantment and racism.   

Also in the 70's, New York City serial killer David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam, claimed that a demon in the form of his neighbor's dog ordered him to kill innocent people.

Given the current, unprecedentedly volatile political landscape, it would be incredibly naive and irresponsible to believe that there's not one psycho out there right now who, in similar fashion to Manson, Bickle and Berkowitz, believes Donald Trump is speaking directly to him. That Trump's mantra to "make America great again," coupled with his incendiary, race-baiting rhetoric, is a direct call to take up arms, fight Trump's war, and be a 'hero.' Just one. That's all it will take to cause a horrific, bloody tragedy.

To be sure, there's a palpable level of toxicity and hatred that permeates Trump's events. And it's the direct result of the candidate himself. Of one protester in Las Vegas, he boasted that "I'd like to punch him right in the face." Of other protesters in Iowa, he urged the crowd to "Knock the crap out of them." He's also defended some of his "fans" for punching and kicking a #BlackLivesMatter protester saying, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."

As CNN's Michael Smerconish said Saturday, "Donald Trump has shouted 'fire' in a political theater."

At Trump's North Carolina rally last week one angry old white dude sucker-punched a black protester in the face as he was being removed by security. Afterwards, he chillingly threatened that"Next time we see him, we might have to kill him." Can someone, anyone, tell me how this sort of hate-speak is making America great?

There was more violence Friday at a Trump rally in St. Louis, and later that night his massive rally in Chicago was cancelled after violence erupted in the arena.

And over the weekend a protester charged the stage at Trump's rally in Ohio and was taken down by Secret Service before he reached Trump, who looked terrified as three agents bear-hugged him to prevent an attack.

So what happens next? Will Trump himself become more of a target? Will he ultimately get the message that he's the one inciting the violence and start to bring down the temperature in the room? Or will he continue to ratchet up the toxic rhetoric until it leads to an awful tragedy? Unfortunately, it appears Trump, in some very twisted way, is getting off on it all.

"Honestly can I be honest with you?" he said after the cancelled Chicago rally. "It adds to the flavor, it really does, makes it more exciting."

I bet it won't be so "exciting" if and when someone gets killed.

Friday, March 04, 2016

An Open Letter From Donald Trump's Penis

As Donald Trump's penis, I feel I must weigh in on the growing speculation as to just how big I am. At Thursday's GOP debate, the man whose flabby, out of shape body I am attached to boasted "I guarantee, there's no problem." This was in direct response to Marco Rubio's charge that I am small because Trump has small hands. Well, it's time to set the record straight.

Of course I'm small! Why else would Donny be such a bloated, egotistical, self-aggrandizing, insecure, over-compensating jerk!? The man's been dealing with small-penis syndrome his whole life. Unfortunately for him it's the one thing his money can't change, and it frustrates the hell out of him. Why do you think he spends so much time attacking the masculinity of Marco Rubio and other men (who I hear through the grapevine have really large weiners)?

And why do you think everything else to Trump is always so "YUUUUGE?!" He obsesses over size because I'm microscopic! I'm as flaccid as his policy proposals. Why do you think he wants to abolish the Board if ED? Because he thinks 'ED' stands for 'erectile dysfunction!' He's so insecure about me it's amazing he doesn't debate while sitting in a red Ferrari.

Look, think of me like his real estate deals, which are largely just licensing arrangements: Trump's not actually erecting anything! If he could slap his name on me he would. The trouble is, there's not a font size that small.