We are all members of the same tribe, connected to each other no less than tributaries that have branched off from the same river.
We are all born to a single family but raised in a world that believes in false divisions and the primacy of material wealth. Through lies passed from one generation to the next we believe in our own superiority and deny the innate worth and kinship of anyone we see as different.
We are all children of the same God. A God who, like any good parent, loves all Her children equally, denying none, blessing them all, embracing them equally as they return from their earthly battles to find eternal rest and solace.
We are all war’s victims. Though we stand as soldiers, or mothers and fathers of soldiers, we are as much diminished by the death of an unknown enemy as we are by one of our own. Remove the uniform of a dead soldier and there is no more enemy to be seen. Only a son who will never return to his family, a father who will never see his own children grow up, a brother to all the others who have been slain in uniforms but buried in tears.
We are all traveling together. We have come to this lifetime, to this planet, to our separate places in the world to discover our oneness — and our uniqueness. And to live out our lives as best we can in fullness and peace. War plays no favorites. It kills those we love and those we’ll never have a chance to love with equal ferocity.
We are all casualties of war. There has never been a single bullet fired that hasn’t killed a part of ourselves as it takes a life. Or a death that hasn’t left a void in the spirit of humankind.
We are all longing for peace. We may be called to war for many reasons, good or bad, right or wrong, but we can never escape the fact we are all members of the same family, and we are killing each other.
We are all one people. And we are all victims of war.
There’s a pattern I’ve detected in the behavior of Donald J. Trump, whether as a mega-rich real estate developer, a sex-crazed libertine, or the holder of the highest office in our land.
As undeniable as his serial bankruptcies, is Trump’s serial tendency to swoop down on a coveted prize, be it a beautiful woman or the presidency of the United States, and take it for his own. No matter what obstacles stand in the way. Once in his possession, the prize is claimed and to the fullest extent possible consumed by Trump to satiate his unquenchable thirst.
With women, Trump uses his charm (amply magnified by the allure of his self-publicized wealth) and his snake-oil sales pitch to wear down or tear down any resistance. When those fail, he is not above using force. Or so say at least 23 women who have accused Trump of everything from peeping tom behavior to groping, rape and sexual assault.
E. Jean Carroll, a New York City journalist, recently recounted her rape by Trump 23 years ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. Trump’s denial: she wasn’t pretty enough to qualify for his attentions.
As the final act in his sexual peccadillos, Trump usually dumps his accusers, calls them liars, reviles them, then threatens to sue.
This pattern of behavior, which I term “Trumped, Thumped and Dumped,” applies as well to his behavior towards the Republican party, though it is still too early to tell how irreparably damaged republicans will be once Trump sucks the marrow from their bones and dumps them. As he certainly will.
Trump has already bullied the Republicans into abandoning their principles in service to his. Honesty, integrity and fiscal prudence have been thrown out the window. A political party that once stood resolutely against the Russian threat is now reduced to repeating Russian-sourced propaganda, and turning a blind eye to presidential behavior that puts Russia’s interests ahead of ours. And Trump’s interests in front of the country’s.
And lastly—frightening as it is—we must look to Trump’s corrosive impact on the United States, once held as democracy’s future and the world’s hope for the week, the dispossessed and the downtrodden. The pride we once felt as a melting pot nation has been abandoned and reviled. Brown-skinned immigrants are no longer welcome. Nor are Muslims, people with accents, or anyone from Trump-labeled “shithole” countries.
And what a thumping we are taking. Our electoral system has been violated, our constitution is under relentless assault, our deficit has ballooned to untold trillions, and the leader of our country tells more lies than his Russian puppet-masters. We’ve become a nation divided, a country so committed to the primacy of corporate interests and military excess, we cannot afford to ensure the health or welfare of our people. A second Trump term, with a Republican majority in the Senate, would usher in the biggest assault on Social Security ever seen. Medicare, too!
The only question left to answer is whether the man who promised to make America great again, will dump America before he—and the pandemic his ignorance, incompetence and distrust of science gave free rein— kills off every trace of its greatness.
A slight updating and recreation of a blog post that mysteriously disappeared from my blog.
Wealth is finite. There’s only so much to go around.
When a nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, the rest of its citizens are left with little more than long days of struggle, painful progress and unattainable dreams. We see it in the Middle East, in Africa and Asia, and in Third World countries where rulers and their cliques soak up all the wealth like so much gravy.
And we are seeing it today in America.
It won’t be long before we reach the tipping point, when students won’t have money for college, cities won’t have money for schools and libraries, governments won’t have money for basic services, and the poor won’t have anywhere to turn.
It seems as if we’re living in a Charles Dickens novel where the same Dickensian actors—greed, hard-heartedness, self-righteousness and moral vacuity—have once again stepped center stage to suggest, by their actions if not their words, that it might be better for the poor to die and decrease the surplus population.
No matter that those actions are thinly disguised behind Big Lies repeated over and over by agents and tools of the wealthy—by newspapers and TV stations owned by the rich, by a political process controlled by the rich, by sound bites and legislation pushed by rich politicians—that taxes are unfair, that the wealthiest among us have no obligation to assist the poorest, that government exists to protect wealth rather than its citizens, and that the surest way to help the poor is to advance the purpose and cause of the wealthy.
How can we still be talking about trickle down economics when so little wealth ever actually trickles down?
If you accept one basic premise—that wealth is finite—then all the financial, economic and social upheaval in our country starts to make sense. There isn’t enough to go around when one sector gets a lock-tight grip on the purse and the purse strings. Once that happens, with so little left on the table, those of us who aren’t rich find ourselves battling each other for an ever-dwindling share of the pie. Programs compete against programs. The needy compete with the needy. Infants battle the elderly and the poor for nutrition allocations. Recovering alcoholics challenge the homeless and the disabled for shelter dollars. Sesame Street’s producers scrap and claw for funds also needed to regulate Wall Street. All the while, the public sector continues to implode.
What’s happening in America today—with tax reform that funnels more money to the monied class, and a payroll protection plan that protects large corporations’ bankrolls before their employees’ payroll— is merely the edge of the scythe as it begins to mow down the social contract we grew up with and came to expect from a civilized society. Collective bankruptcy is the problem, not collective bargaining!
The recent extension of tax breaks for the wealthy was beyond obscene, as are the bone-deep cuts to government programs always being proposed by Republicans and right-wing pundits. By protecting their excessive assets, the wealthy among us are endangering the lives and livelihoods of so many others. Children will go hungry; students will forego college; retirees will see their pensions cut; people will lose their jobs and homes; many will go without winter heating fuel; cities will lay off police, teachers and firemen; while the health of our poorest citizens will dramatically decline—all so that a small group of wealthy individuals can amass and accumulate ever more and more money.
Tax the rich or kill the poor? What would Charles Dickens have done?
“Welcome, welcome! We are pleased to welcome you to the Best Presidential Library in the United States of America. Inside these glorious gilded walls you will find mementoes and exhibits relating to the singularly illustrious presidential term of Donald J. Trump, one of the few presidents with an asterisk after his name in the history books.
“An asterisk after a president’s name, as President Trump has frequently stated, denotes a presidency of exceptional accomplishment and stratospheric Nielson ratings. Those who argue the asterisk has other, less laudatory meanings, have been proven liars or placed under indictment by Mr. Trump’s official consigliere, William Barr.
“As you move into the library, in the room on your left, you will notice a diorama depicting a bare-chested Vladamir Putin hunting Siberian tigers on horseback, with President Trump walking behind carrying broom and shovel. This is the library’s famous “Hunting Buddies” room.
“Just next door is President Trump’s “My Funny Valentine” room featuring photos of North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un, also on horseback, and also followed by the president carrying broom and shovel. And, yes, that is a cupid shown hovering above the two men.
“Next, also on your left, is The Miss Universe Pageant room, to celebrate an earlier period in the President’s long and varied career. Note the racks of beautiful gowns and bathing suits, as well as dressing rooms for pageant contestants. As this is an interactive library, all attractive women visitors between the ages of 22 and 38 are encouraged to try on one of the beauty queen outfits in the dressing rooms, and to ignore the closed circuit cameras they’ll find in each. Those cameras are solely to prevent theft. Every day, one lucky visitor will be chosen to have President Trump walk in while she is dressing, a sign of favor often shown to pageant contestants through the years.
Moving along, we come to the library’s most controversial exhibit, The Jungle Room (occasionally called “Liars, Sluts, Bimbos and Litigants” by the president). Those 23 life-size animated statues represent the malicious women who have falsely charged President Trump with improper sexual advances ranging from peeping tom-ism to groping to, yes, even rape. In addition to suing each of his accusers for slander, President Trump has offered to pay a small sum towards their survivor’s therapy.
“That darkened room on the right, ladies and gentlemen, is filled with flags from every nation the President has humorously termed a “shithole” country. In addition to most African nations, excluding South Africa, you will find the flags of Mexico, Ukraine and Puerto Rico. We obviously realize Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, but President Trump insisted they be included. On the movie screen in the back you can see a continuous loop of President Trump tossing paper towels to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Maria.
“Next on the right, as we turn this corner, is the most controversial room in the library, “The Rogues Gallery,” in which you will find animated statues of the President’s most strident and ardent enemies. Inside you will find life-sized statues of Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and many others who trampled on President Trump’s constitutionally-authorized right to do whatever-the-hell he wants as president. Also featured, suspended over dunk tanks, are Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. For a modest $20 fee, visitors can toss rocks at both statues, with a chance to win a jackpot should they knock either statue off its perch. All monies collected, as with the $50 library admittance fee, will be donated to President Trump’s favorite charity.
“You ask about that Doomsday clock on the wall near the Fox News Room display…? President Trump personally commissioned that clock to keep track of the many millions spent on security details for his golfing vacations at Mar-A-Lago. Once the sum rose above $100 million, there was some concern the expenses would unknowingly drain the United States Treasury, but the president wasn’t so much worried about the treasury as curious how much the Secret Service was spending at his resort.
“Now, watch your step as you enter the last room in our library and museum, the “Obama Room.” Filled with photos of President Barack Obama pasted on gun range targets, dart boards and punching bags, this is the room most visited and utilized by the president himself. Notice the papers in the fireplace. They consist of every executive order and bill signed by President Obama during his term, as well as hundreds of birth certificates from Kenya that prove Obama’s foreign birth.
“Please be careful as you leave the library, folks! There is a U.S. military drone circling the library in the upper atmosphere. Any sudden move by an individual of color or someone wearing Muslim dress could trigger an unwarranted attack similar to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani of Iran.
“If you wish to purchase insurance to avoid such an attack, pay Rudy Giuliani or Vice President Mike Pence $1000 as you leave. As with the other fees, all monies collected will go directly to the President’s favorite charity.
(being a never-delivered Donald Trump commencement speech at Trump University)
Dear Graduates of Trump University:
Today is a proud day for all of you. I offer my congratulations and best wishes, along with a treasure trove of advice that should put you one step ahead of the competition—and the law—as you pursue your journey towards untold wealth and public admiration.
Most of what I am about to say was taught to me by my mentor, Roy Cohn, a man of prodigious talent and wisdom who was almost single-handedly responsible for America’s internecine chaos under McCarthyism.
Roy always told me there were five essential rules to success, no matter what endeavor you take on. As the cherry on your cupcake here at Trump University, I am about to reveal Roy’s five essential rules for success.
Rule Number One has three parts: Cheat, Cheat and CheatYet Again. Not just cheating your adversaries, Roy advised me, but friends, family, employees, vendors and virtually anyone dumb enough to trust you or take what you say on faith.
If you are pursuing a billionaire’s career in real estate, like we train you for at Trump University, always cheat on the square footage you are selling or buying. If selling, add a 10% increase to the square footage. If buying, protest that you’re being cheated by a 10% overcharge on the footage. Either way no one will usually bother to check.
Rule number One applies in any field you can think of. In politics, for example, if you’re running for office, steal ballots, falsify results, and blame your opponent for every crime you can think of. When you’re desperate, claim he’s a pedophile, then doctor photographs so he’s shown hanging around schoolyards with his hands in his pockets.
Basically you have to use your imagination. One of my favorite cheats was to build my Trump towers two stories higher than the building permits would allow. Most times nobody checks on that sort of thing, but when they did I pleaded ignorance and threatened to sue them if they bothered me any further. If they still persisted, I would grudgingly agree, express my regrets, then reduce the building by a single story.
It’s worth noting that nothing works better or more efficiently than the threat of a lawsuit, especially from someone with enough wealth to drain all one’s savings in lawyer’s fees.
In order to deal with the aftermath of Rule Number One, you must then employ Rule Number Two, which is simply Lie, Lie, And Lie Again.
As you can easily see,Rule Number Two works hand in glove with Rule Number One.When anyone accuses you of cheating, immediately accuse them of slander. And even if they have proof of your cheating, double down on your denials and once again threaten to sue.
Rule Number Three is a two-parter, as well as an outgrowth of Rules Number One and Two: Never Admit To Your Crime and Never, Never, Never Apologize. If they catch you with your hand in the cookie jar, admit to nothing except perhaps conducting a cookie jar inventory. If you have cookie crumbs around your mouth, insist you are being framed. If they catch you actually chewing cookies, deny it adamantly and try not to spit crumbs into anyone’s face as you do it.
Rule Number Four only makes sense when you’re in a position of power or higher leverage. Put simply, Rule Number Four requires you to Scare The Living Shit Out Of Your Adversaries. And for this exercise, assume everyone in the world is an adversary. It’s a simple fact that the more successful you become, the more adversaries you will accumulate. Scaring The Living Shit Out Of Your Adversaries requires you to throw tantrums, physically intimidate lowly employees, sue people at the drop of a hat and fire anyone who resists your orders or calls out your bad behavior. And, as a last resort, use force or the threat of force to coerce your adversary so he understands your absolute rights in any situation.
Roy’s last rule is built on the assumption you are ready to employ Rules Number One through Four. Put in its simplest terms, Rule Number Five insists that you Take Whatever You Want. Ifyou want something bad enough, be it real estate, a romantic partner or a business deal, once you find that it isn’t nailed down, locked up or beyond your grasp, take it, and take it for keeps.
And so you have my—and Roy Cohn’s—Five Rules For Success. As with most of what you’ve been offered at Trump University there is no charge for the offering, only an enormous service fee to cover my expenses and any class action suits that may arise from your involvement with Trump University.
As my final words, I close with a postscript usually included at the bottom of most of my subpoenas, legal filings, unwarranted invoices and letters to adversaries. Please take it as a sign of my respect and appreciation for all you’ve donated during your attendance at Trump University.