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FTR #932 The Making of Donald Trump (Top Banana Republic), Part 1

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

making-of-trumpIntroduction: In the aftermath of the ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency, we are doing something unprecedented in the long history of For The Record. Earlier in 2016, award-winning journalist David Cay Johnston published a very well-written and researched, yet relatively short and compact biography of Donald Trump–The Making of Donald Trump (Melville House [HC]; copyright 2016 by David Cay Johnston; ISBN 978-1-61219-632-9.)

For some weeks, we will be reading most of the book into the record, to provide people with a measure against which to evaluate not just “The Donald,” as his first wife Ivana called him, but our society, its institutions and its citizens. We can’t recommend strongly enough that listeners buy this book, read it and use whatever means available to spread the word about it. (We note that neither Mr. Emory nor any of the stations that air this program get money from this book, its publisher or author.)

This first installment of the series commences with the reading of a poem by Robinson Jeffers, “Be Angry at the Sun,” which encompasses Mr. Emory’s feelings about the recent election, as well as the people and institutions that have precipitated this event–one that figures to be devastating in its manifestations.

Following presentation of the Jeffers poem, we examine an article that embodies the enormous and fundamental flaw in our political and civic process: a poll shortly before the election found that most of the prospective voters polled felt that Trump was more honest and trustworthy than Hillary Clinton. As our reading of Johnston’s excellent book unfolds, the grotesque, spectacularly fallacious character of this perception will become uncomfortably clear. Donald Trump is currently tracking as the more honest of the two presidential candidates in a poll, although fact-checking of his statements during the campaign have shown he’s lied several times. The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll reports that 46 percent of likely voters believe he is the more honest and trustworthy candidate, while 38 percent believed it was Hillary Clinton. This marks the biggest gap between the two candidates in five ABC News/Washington Post polls that asked the question, beginning in May.”

We begin by noting that Trump’s father networked with an organized crime figure named Willie Tomasello, anticipating Trump’s own use of organized crime figures to further his commercial undertakings. And Hillary Clinton is viewed as less honest than Trump!

Next, we note Trump’s rambling, ignorant and inarticulate response to a question from conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt about which element of the nuclear triad he felt was most important. (The nuclear triad consists of the three vehicles for delivering nuclear weapons: bombing aircraft, seaborne nuclear missiles–primarily submarine-launched weapons–and land-based nuclear missiles.) Trump clearly had no idea what the nuclear triad was, and couldn’t come close to doing justice to the topic. “. . . . Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust. . . the power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that fifty years ago or seventy-five years ago we wouldn’t care [about]. It was hand-to-hand combat. . . I think–I think, for me, nuclear is just the power; the devastation is very important to me. . . . I think one of the most important things that we have to worry about is nuclear generally speaking. . . . The power of nuclear, the power of the weapons that we have today–and that is, by the way, the deal with Iran–the concept of it is so important that you have to make a good deal and what they should have done is that they should have doubled up and tripled up the sanctions. . . . “

thinkbignkickassWe then note Trump’s fundamental ignorance of business theory, his pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding. ” ‘Are you familiar with the concept of net present value?’ lawyer Andrew Ceresney asked. [This is a basic tenet of business, as familiar to graduate students of business as 2 + 2, as Johnson says] ‘The concept of net present value to me,’ Trump replied, ‘would be the value of the land currently after debt. Well, to me, the word ‘net’ is an interesting word. It’s really–the word ‘value’ is the important word. If you have an asset that you can do other things with but you choose to do them–I haven’t chosen to do that. . . .”

Entering into the meat of Johnston’s formidable text, the broadcast highlights a rambling, vulgar, disorganized motivational talk he gave in Colorado, in the company of a “convicted felon and swindler” named Felix Sater. In addition to the inadequate nature of the presentation itself, the values Trump expressed are not to be overlooked.

Trump underscored how much he disrespected “losers” and his belief in vengeance. Of primary significance in this context is his anecdote about a former employee who was fired because she wouldn’t do something she felt was unethical.

Attacking actress/comedian Rosie O’Donnell, he highlighted his distaste for her physical appearance in crude, vulgar and fundamentally adolescent language.

Author Johnston notes that Trump stressed during his campaign that he was a devout Christian, and yet his belief in “vengeance uber alles” is in fundamental conflict with Biblical teaching.

In the next chapter of the book, David Cay Johnston illustrates how Trump practices what he preaches. When his nephew Fred Trump III filed suit after having been all but excluded from Fred Jr.’s will, Donald Trump saw to it that Fred’s son William, who had been borne with serious health problems, was prevented from obtaining badly needed medical care under the family medical program.

This placed young William’s life in jeopardy.

In the last excerpt read into the record in this broadcast, David Cay Johnston relates the genesis of Trump’s relationship with Senator Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man Roy Cohn. Having been sued by the Justice Department because of his discrimination against people of color when renting apartments in his properties, Trump turned to Cohn. It was the beginning of a long relationship between the long-time red-baiter and organized crime apologist and “The Donald.” Trump and Cohn lost the case.

1. The program begins with the reading of a poem by Robinson Jeffers, that sums up Mr. Emory’s feelings on what Trump’s election says about this country, its citizens and its institutions.

“Be Angry at the Sun” by Robinson Jeffers

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

2. There could be no more telling point about the state of American political awareness than a poll taken shortly before the election that found more Americans felt Donald Trump was more honest than Hillary Clinton.

This is a signature point of entry into our reading of the David Cay Johnston text.

“Why an Honesty Poll Shows an Advantage to Trump, Disadvantage to Clinton” by Meghan Keneally; ABC News; 11/2/2016.

Donald Trump is currently tracking as the more honest of the two presidential candidates in a poll, although fact-checking of his statements during the campaign have shown he’s lied several times.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll reports that 46 percent of likely voters believe he is the more honest and trustworthy candidate, while 38 percent believed it was Hillary Clinton.

This marks the biggest gap between the two candidates in five ABC News/Washington Post polls that asked the question, beginning in May.

3. The bulk of this program consists of a reading of excerpts from an excellent and very compact biography of Donald Trump–The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston. We can’t recommend strongly enough that listeners buy this book, read it and use whatever means available to spread the word about it. (We note that neither Mr. Emory nor any of the stations that air this program get money from this book, its publisher or author.)

4. We begin by noting that Trump’s father networked with an organized crime figure named Willie Tomasello, anticipating Trump’s own use of organized crime figures to further his commercial undertakings. And Hillary Clinton is viewed as less honest than Trump! (The Making of Donald Trump, pp. 14-15.)

5. Next, we note Trump’s rambling, ignorant and inarticulate response to a question from conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt about which element of the nuclear triad he felt was most important. (The nuclear triad consists of the three vehicles for delivering nuclear weapons: bombing aircraft, seaborne nuclear missiles–primarily submarine-launched weapons–and land-based nuclear missiles.) Trump clearly had no idea what the nuclear triad was, and couldn’t come close to doing justice to the topic. “. . . . Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust. . . the power is so massive that we can’t just leave areas that fifty years ago or seventy-five years ago we wouldn’t care [about]. It was hand-to-hand combat. . . I think–I think, for me, nuclear is just the power; the devastation is very important to me. . . . I think one of the most important things that we have to worry about is nuclear generally speaking. . . . The power of nuclear, the power of the weapons that we have today–and that is, by the way, the deal with Iran–the concept of it is so important that you have to make a good deal and what they should have done is that they should have doubled up and tripled up the sanctions. . . . ” (The Making of Donald Trump, pp. xiv–xv.)

6. We then note Trump’s fundamental ignorance of business theory, his pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding. ” ‘Are you familiar with the concept of net present value?’ lawyer Andrew Ceresney asked. [This is a basic tenet of business, as familiar to graduate students of business as 2 + 2, as Johnson says] ‘The concept of net present value to me,’ Trump replied, ‘would be the value of the land currently after debt. Well, to me, the word ‘net’ is an interesting word. It’s really–the word ‘value’ is the important word. If you have an asset that you can do other things with but you choose to do them–I haven’t chosen to do that. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump, pp.18-19.)

7. Entering into the meat of Johnston’s formidable text, the broadcast highlights a rambling, vulgar, disorganized motivational talk he gave in Colorado, in the company of a “convicted felon and swindler” named Felix Sater. In addition to the inadequate nature of the presentation itself, the values Trump expressed are not to be overlooked.

Trump underscored how much he disrespected “losers”and his belief in vengeance. Of primary significance in this context is his anecdote about a former employee who was fired because she wouldn’t do something she felt was unethical.

Attacking actress/comedian Rosie O’Donnell, he highlighted his distaste for her physical appearance in crude, vulgar and fundamentally adolescent language.

Author Johnston notes that Trump stressed during his campaign that he was a devout Christian, and yet his belief in “vengeance uber alles” is in fundamental conflict with Biblical teaching. (The Making of Donald Trump, pp.21-26.)

8. In the next chapter of the book, David Cay Johnston illustrates how Trump practices what he preaches. When his nephew Fred Trump III filed suit after having been all but excluded from Fred Jr.’s will, Donald Trump saw to it that Fred’s son William, who had been borne with serious health problems, was prevented from obtaining badly needed medical care under the family medical program.

This placed young William’s life in jeopardy. (The Making of Donald Trump, pp.27-32.)

9. In the last excerpt read into the record in this broadcast, David Cay Johnston relates the genesis of Trump’s relationship with Senator Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man Roy Cohn. Having been sued by the Justice Department because of his discrimination against people of color when renting apartments in his properties, Trump turned to Cohn. It was the beginning of a long relationship between the long-time red-baiter and organized crime apologist and “The Donald.” Trump and Cohn lost the case. (The Making of Donald Trump, pp.33-37.)

 

 

 

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #932 The Making of Donald Trump (Top Banana Republic), Part 1”

  1. Here’s a story that would have been thematically perfect for the anniversary of Nixon’s resignation but instead we it’s hitting on the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of JFK. But considering that we appear to be watching a four to eight year slow death of the US, it’s still kind of works thematically:

    The Huffington Post

    Donald Trump Basically Says Conflicts Of Interest Aren’t Illegal If The President Has Them
    “The law’s totally on my side,” he said.

    Paul Blumenthal
    11/22/2016 03:38 pm ET | Updated

    WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump told The New York Times Tuesday that laws around conflicts of interest don’t apply to him, and he can simply keep running his businesses from the White House.

    “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly,” Trump said, according to tweets from New York Times reporters interviewing the president-elect Tuesday. “There’s never been a case like this.”

    He is technically correct on both counts.

    Federal conflict of interest laws do not apply to the president of the United States, and the obvious conflicts of interest created from his ownership of a global real estate empire are unprecedented in the nation’s history. Just because the federal laws mandating other federal officials to place their assets into a true blind trust run by an independent trustee do not apply to the president, does not mean that Trump’s conflicts of interest are not real.

    Trump seems to think otherwise: “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

    To take Trump seriously, and not literally, as his defenders like to do, he is saying: If the president does it, it’s not illegal.

    The comments come just hours after Trump tweeted Monday night that people knew about his glaring conflicts of interest when they voted for him when they voted for him. It is therefore supposedly the media’s fault for reporting on them.

    The list of the president-elect’s conflict of interest problems has grown over the two weeks since he won election.

    Trump has claimed to place his three adult children, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, in charge of his business, but also appointed them to the executive committee of his presidential transition, thusnullifying any separation between company and government.

    He met with three of his Indian business partners one week after winning election. Trump is involved in at least five real estate deals in India.

    His Argentinian business partners celebrated with him at his victory party and helped President Mauricio Macri get in touch with the president-elect after the election. Trump hopes to build an office tower in Buenos Aires.

    Ivanka Trump, supposedly leading the Trump business independent of politics, also spoke with Macri on that call. She also appeared in a photograph with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he met with the president-elect.

    Laws against bribery most certainly apply to the president. Another thing that does is the emoluments clause of the Constitution. It states that no government official shall receive favorable payment from a foreign government, foreign government-owned company or foreign official without the consent of Congress. Trump owes millions in debt to the Bank of China, which is owned by the government of China.

    He also owes hundreds of millions in debt to Deutsche Bank, a private German bank that is currently in settlement talks with the Department of Justice over its illegal mortgage abuses. He operates a hotel in Las Vegas currently in a labor dispute.

    He owns a government lease for his Washington, D.C., hotel even though the lease states that it could not be held by a government official. The D.C. hotel held an event the week after his election to sell foreign diplomats and dignitaries on staying at its expensive luxury rooms to curry favor with the president-elect.

    In the New York Times interview, Trump stated that the D.C. hotel is “probably a more valuable asset than it was before.” He bragged that his brand is “hotter” now that he is president.

    On Monday, the Times reported that Trump spoke to British political figure Nigel Farage, the former head of the right-wing UK Independence Party, about opposing the construction of offshore wind farms in the UK. Trump has long protested the construction of offshore wind farms near his golf course in Scotland. He claims they would sully the view and lower his property value. Farage appears to have gone ahead and denounced those offshore wind farms.

    “I might have brought it up,” Trump sheepishly admitted in the Times interview.

    He added, though, “My company’s so unimportant to me relative to what I’m doing.”

    “I don’t want to influence anything.”

    “To take Trump seriously, and not literally, as his defenders like to do, he is saying: If the president does it, it’s not illegal.”

    Yep, President-elect Trump is already channeling post-impeachment Nixon. That’s a bad sign, right? Who knows these days. And in this case, Trump might be technically correct! He really can legally act like a complete self-serving sleaze bag and there’s no explicit law preemptively declaring that to be illegal behavior:


    “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly,” Trump said, according to tweets from New York Times reporters interviewing the president-elect Tuesday. “There’s never been a case like this.”

    He is technically correct on both counts.

    Federal conflict of interest laws do not apply to the president of the United States, and the obvious conflicts of interest created from his ownership of a global real estate empire are unprecedented in the nation’s history. Just because the federal laws mandating other federal officials to place their assets into a true blind trust run by an independent trustee do not apply to the president, does not mean that Trump’s conflicts of interest are not real.

    Trump seems to think otherwise: “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

    So that’s pretty disturbing. But keep in mind that the legality of Trump’s conflicts of interest don’t shield him from public opinion. And that’s just might be the most significant aspect of Trump’s public assertions that he can’t have a conflict of interest. Because if his base supporters continue to support him after publicly taking this stand, the big message that’s going to send to Trump’s psyche is that he can get away with ANYTHING. No holds barred. No consequences. In other words, while it might seem like we all got to see ‘Trump Unleashed’ on the campaign trail, we ain’t nothing yet! He’s just getting started.

    In other news, the folks over at Breitbart are really pissed that Trump backed away from his campaign pledge to jail Hillary Clinton over their fantasy allegations today. And while the obvious explanation for backing out of this major campaign pledge is that there’s no actual case to prosecute, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the President-elect just asserted that he can’t have conflicts of interest in the face of questions about all his conflicts of interest.

    As we can see, the 53rd anniversary of JFK’s assassination was quite a doozy for the devolution of the office of the President of the United States.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 22, 2016, 4:09 pm

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