Hello 'Pussy' this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle:
Your Organization also famously may have benefited from illegal immigration: There is significant evidence that many of the Polish construction workers at the Trump Tower construction site in New York in 1980 were in the country illegally.
Should I remain in bed, leave my country or fight against the dragon?
( see also the story by Wolfgang Hampel,
' Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say ' )
Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood
Betty MacDonald fan club fans,
Congratulations dear Brian and Timothy and your teams from Canada and UK for organizing an outstanding Betty MacDonald fan club event in London.
Thank you so much.
We can't wait to see the DVD ' Betty MacDonald in London 2016/17 '.
We met a new Betty MacDonald fan club member who is going to share several letters by Betty MacDonald and her sister Mary Bard Jensen.
We'll never forget the magical fireworks in London.
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel thinks that Edinburgh would be ideal for one of the future Betty MacDonald fan club events.
We totally agree with Wolfgang.
Vita Magica by Wolfgang Hampel is really fascinating and very interesting.
We wish we could attend Vita Magica January 2017.
Wolfgang Hampel introduces life and work of Betty MacDonald.
Wolfgang Hampel and Friends of Vita Magica visited Minister of Science of Baden-Württemberg, Theresia Bauer in Stuttgart.
They visited Landtag and had a great time there.
Eartha Kitt II and I are working on a new updated Betty MacDonald story entitled 'Betty MacDonald in Carmel Valley'.
We hope you'll be able to read it soon.
We are looking for your favourite city for International Betty MacDonald fan club event 2017.
Send us your votes please.
Deadline: January 31, 2017
Our favourite is Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is the first UNESCO city of Literature.
Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications?
If so would you be so kind to share them?
Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.
If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.
Thank you so much in advance for your support.
Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.
You'll be able to read more info during January.
We are so glad that our beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is back.
New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many new interviews.
Alison Bard Burnett and other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will be included in Wolfgang Hampel's fascinating project Vita Magica.
Very exciting Betty MacDonald fan club news!
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel is going to present life and work of Betty MacDonald in Vita Magica January 2017.
You'll be able to read more info during January!
Vita Magica December was very successful.
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel invited a very famous author.
The visitors enjoyed Vita Magica very much.
A great event!
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel interviewed Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil and her husband Jerry Keil.
This interview will be published for the first time ever.
New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many interviews never published before.
We adore Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli
Thank you so much for sharing this witty memories with us.
Wolfgang Hampel's literary event Vita Magica is very fascinating because he is going to include Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.
It's simply great to read Wolfgang Hampel's new very well researched stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett, Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others.
Vita Magica was very witty and enjoyable.
We know the visitors had a great time there.
Congratulations dear Letizia Maninco, Wolfgang Hampel and Friedrich von Hoheneichen!
Linde Lund and many fans from all over the world adore this funny sketch by Wolfgang Hampel very much although our German isn't the best.
I won't ever forget the way Wolfgang Hampel is shouting ' Brexit '.
Don't miss it, please.
It's simply great!
You can hear that Wolfgang Hampel got an outstandig voice.
He presented one of Linde Lund's favourite songs ' Try to remember ' like a professional singer.
Thanks a million!
Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.
Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.
Letizia Mancino's magical Betty MacDonald Gallery is a special gift for Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world.
Don't miss Brad Craft's 'More friends', please.
Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island is one of my favourites.
I agree with Betty in this very witty Betty MacDonald story Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say by Wolfgang Hampel.
I can't imagine to live in a country with him as so-called elected President although there are very good reasons to remain there to fight against these brainless politics.
The Trump Organization also famously may have benefited from illegal immigration: There is significant evidence that many of the Polish construction workers at the Trump Tower construction site in New York in 1980 were in the country illegally. In other words, Trump’s track record includes not just taking advantage of the very visa process he claims to abhor but also actually subverting existing law for his own profit. Now, by applying for visas for his vineyard, Trump is signaling that he expects that his business will continue to be able to profit from one of the very immigration programs he continually denounces.
Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please.
My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Don't miss the very interesting articles below, please.
I think the future dinosaur flatulence will be the behaviour of 'Pussy' and his very strange government.
Poor World! Poor America!
The most difficult case in Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle's career
Hello 'Pussy', this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.
You took calls from foreign leaders on unsecured phone lines, without consultung the State Department. We have to change your silly behaviour with a new Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure. I know you are the most difficult case in my career - but we have to try everything.......................
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sent his brilliant thoughts. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang!
Hi Libi, nice to meet you. Can you feel it?
I'll be the most powerful leader in the world.
Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say
Copyright 2016 by Wolfgang Hampel
All rights reserved
Betty MacDonald was sitting on her egg-shaped cloud and listened to a rather strange guy.
He said to his friends: So sorry to keep you waiting. Very complicated business! Very complicated!
Betty said: Obviously much too complicated for you old toupee!
Besides him ( by the way the First Lady's place ) his 10 year old son was bored to death and listened to this 'exciting' victory speech.
The old man could be his great-grandfather.
The boy was very tired and thought: I don't know what this old guy is talking about. Come on and finish it, please. I'd like to go to bed.
Dear 'great-grandfather' continued and praised the Democratic candidate.
He congratulated her and her family for a very strong campaign although he wanted to put her in jail.
He always called her the most corrupt person ever and repeated it over and over again in the fashion of a Tibetan prayer wheel.
She is so corrupt. She is so corrupt. Do you know how corrupt she is?
Betty MacDonald couldn't believe it when he said: She has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.
Afterwards old toupee praised his parents, wife, children, siblings and friends.
He asked the same question like a parrot all the time:
Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
I know you are here!
Betty MacDonald answered: No Pussy they are not! They left the country.
They immigrated to Canada because they are very much afraid of the future in the U.S.A. with you as their leader like the majority of all so-called more or less normal citizens.
By the way keep your finger far away from the pussies and the Red Button, please.
I'm going to fly with my egg-shaped cloud to Canada within a minute too.
Away - away - there is nothing more to say!
I can understand the reason why Betty MacDonald, Barbara Streisand, other artists and several of my friends want to leave the United States of America.
I totally agree with these comments:
Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.
We hope you'll enjoy it very much.
I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions
Can you remember in which book you can find it?
If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner.
I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's new very well researched stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett, Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.
It' s such a pleasure to read them.
Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's Vashon Island.
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.
Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding Betty MacDonald biography.
I enjoy Bradley Craft's story very much.
Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please.
You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel.
This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum.
Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans.
Many Betty MacDonald - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.
We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.
Tell us the names of this mysterious couple please and you can win a very new Betty MacDonald documentary.
Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is beloved all over the World.
We are so happy that our 'Casanova' is back.
Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.
The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952.
Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.
Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.
I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.
Enjoy a great breakfast at the bookstore with Brad and Nick, please.
Best wishes and many greetings
Anita & Eartha Kitt II
Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German )
Betty MacDonald fan club
Betty MacDonald forum
Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I
Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - cyclopaedia.net ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia ( English / German )
Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )
Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French )
Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)
Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel
Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD
Betty MacDonald fan club items
Betty MacDonald fan club items - comments
Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I
Betty MacDonald fan club groups
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson
Betty MacDonald fan club fan Heiderose Teynor
Donald Trump's Interests vs. America's, Indonesia Edition
To begin with, through his Indonesian partner on the projects, the billionaire media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo (known in Indonesia as Hary Tanoe), Trump has forged relationships with several top Indonesian politicians. One such leader is Setya Novanto, the speaker of the country’s House of Representatives who temporarily lost his post for trying to extort $4 billion from the American mining company Freeport-McMoRan (a company which counts Carl Icahn, who will be serving as a special adviser in Trump’s administration, among its largest shareholders, and which has been frequently criticized by labor advocates and environmentalists). Trump had lunch with Novanto and several other Indonesian politicians during the campaign in September 2015 to discuss the Trump Organization’s planned expansion into Indonesia. At a post-luncheon press conference, Trump pulled Novanto in front of the cameras, calling him “an amazing man” and “one of the most powerful men” and asserting, “we will do great things for the United States.” (It is unclear exactly whom Trump meant when he used the word “we.”) Trump then asked Novanto to confirm that “they like me in Indonesia,” which Novanto did.
Both Trump’s question to Novanto and Zon’s presence at the meeting underscore another difficulty the president-elect introduces into the United States’ relations with Indonesia. Indonesia is both the largest predominantly Muslim country in the world and the nation with the largest population of Muslims. Novanto received significant blowback for his statement that, yes, Indonesians do like Trump, because it turns out that, no, many Indonesians don’t like Trump, in large part because of his on-again, off-again proposal to ban Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.; in fact, faced with mounting criticism, Novanto’s party apologized not only for Novanto’s statement but also for his mere attendance at the luncheon. Since Trump’s victory, both Novanto and Zon have stood up for the president-elect, arguing that Trump’s hardline stance toward Muslim immigration was merely campaign rhetoric and not actually reflective of the president-elect’s own beliefs, something Novanto claimed Trump personally assured him was the case. Regardless, it is clear that the Trump Organization’s planned expansion into Indonesia—which, again, is the reason Trump met with Novanto and Zon in the first place—could introduce major complications into the relationship between the president-elect and the political leaders of the world’s largest Muslim country, not to mention a significant trade partner and an important ally in the South China Sea region.
Since his election, an ever-increasing level of attention has been paid to the unprecedented conflicts of interest that President-elect Donald J. Trump seems likely to bring with him when he assumes office. His responses to the concerns have been varied and, at times, contradictory. His first statement on the subject, which came via Twitter, suggested that he would make little effort to avoid entangling his business and his office, and would instead attack those who point that out:
A few days later, in a conference with the editorial staff of The New York Times, he appeared similarly defiant, asserting, “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
So far, the only indication that Trump may actually be distancing himself from his financial holdings is that, on December 6, Trump and his spokesman Jason Miller announced that Trump had sold off his stocks in June. However, neither provided any evidence of the sale, and considering the president-elect’s history of questionable or downright false statements regarding his finances—see, for example, David Fahrenthold’s months-long, exhaustive debunking of Trump’s claims regarding his charitable giving and namesake foundation—the claim remains suspect. Until proof of the transaction has been established, such as by releasing broker records, this article will proceed based on his FEC filings, which remain the most recent documentation of his financial holdings.
At any rate, legality does not imply propriety. Unless Trump acts to put appropriate distance between himself and his business ventures, these questions are likely to continue throughout his time in the Oval Office. Below is an attempt to catalogue the more clear-cut examples of conflicts of interest that have emerged so far; the most recent entries appear at the top.
- That Emirati Businessman
- That Virginia Vineyard
- That Las Vegas Labor Dispute
- That Kuwaiti Event
- Those Certificates of Divestiture
- That Carrier Deal
- That Blind-Trust Issue
- Those Fannie and Freddie Investments
- That Phone Call With Taiwan
- That Deutsche Bank Debt
- That Secret Service Detail
- That Property in Georgia (the Country)
- That Phone Call With Erdogan
- That Hotel in Washington, D.C.
- That Argentinian Office Building
- Those Companies in Saudi Arabia
- That British Wind Farm
- Those Indian Business Partners
- That Envoy From the Philippines
That Emirati Businessman
Whether or not Hicks’s statement was true, Trump’s commendation of Sajwani is part of a pattern in which the president-elect praises his business partners in ways that suggest he has little interest in extricating himself from his company’s interests. Previously, he has name-dropped business partners in Turkey and Argentina while on official calls with the countries’ leaders; he also met, and took photos, with associates from India shortly after the election. Moreover, as with several of the countries in which Trump-branded buildings are located, the United Arab Emirates has a questionable record on human rights; Human Rights Watch specifically states that the nation “uses its affluence to mask the government’s human-rights problems.”
That Virginia Vineyard
Among the dozens of properties President-elect Donald Trump owns is Trump Vineyard Estates and Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia, the source of his namesake wine. Since Trump was elected, the property has requested temporary H-2A visas for six foreign workers, according to The Washington Post. The visas, which are administered by the Citizenship and Immigration Services wing of the Department of Homeland Security, allow businesses to temporarily hire foreign, unskilled workers provided that the employer proves that there are not enough domestic candidates to fulfill a one-time or seasonal shortage and that the hiring will not depress wages for U.S.-born employees. Trump, of course, will be in charge of appointing a new Secretary of Homeland Security once he assumes the presidency, which gives Trump authority over the very department responsible for deciding whether to grant the visas that the vineyard has requested. His current nominee, retired general John Kelly, has a relatively scant track record when it comes to immigration, leaving open the question of how much influence Trump himself will have over the DHS’s policy on the matter.
On top of the fact that Trump will soon be able to influence the outcome of the request, that his organization has continued to request visas after his election underscores a tension in the president-elect’s stance on immigration. From the moment that he announced that he would be running for president, Trump made antagonism toward immigration the central aspect of his campaign, arguing that both legal and illegal immigrants are taking jobs that should be filled by native-born Americans and depressing wages for others. Though he did not specifically single out the H-2B visa, the president-elect has on multiple occasions spoken critically about the H-1B program, which enables employers to temporarily hire foreign workers for skilled jobs like those in the tech industry.
That Las Vegas Labor Dispute
On top of owning various properties and enterprises, Trump and his company employ roughly 34,000 people, according to an analysis by CNN. On December 21, several hundred of those workers resolved a labor dispute against the president-elect—one in which, had it continued for even a few weeks more, Trump would have had the unprecedented power to make appointments to affect its outcome.
On December 21, more than a year after the hotel’s workers first voted to join the union, the workers announced that they arrived at their first first collectively-bargained contract, achieved, according to an employee quoted in ThinkProgress, despite significant pressure from ownership that attempting to unionize would cost workers their jobs. According to the union, the new agreement “will provide the employees with annual wage increases, a pension, family health care, and job security” comparable to that of other Las Vegas hotels. Moreover, the Culinary Workers Union’s parent organization, UNITE HERE, has reached an agreement to represent workers at Trump’s recently-opened hotel in Washington, D.C..
That Kuwaiti Event
According to an anonymous source and documents obtained by ThinkProgress, representatives from the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador of Kuwait to hold its embassy’s annual celebration of the country’s independence at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event, held annually on February 25, was originally scheduled to take place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown; the location was allegedly changed after members of the Trump Organization contacted the country’s ambassador. ThinkProgress’s source “described the decision as political,” suggesting that the embassy chose to relocate the event in an effort to curry favor with the president-elect. The Kuwaiti ambassador has since disputed the report, telling The Washington Post that he had not been contacted by the Trump Organization and that the move “was solely done with the intention of providing our guests with a new venue.”
Those Certificates of Divestiture
In addition to the many possibilities for President-elect Trump to pursue his financial interests in office, the unique makeup of his cabinet also creates a new set of financial motivations. While Trump’s own fortune automatically makes his administration the wealthiest in history, he has also surrounded himself with an unprecedented collection of billionaires and multi-millionaires whose investments are likely to also come under scrutiny.
That Carrier Deal
One of President-elect Donald Trump’s first major economic moves as president-elect was the deal that he and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck with the air-conditioner manufacturer Carrier, which had planned to move 2,100 jobs from its Indiana plant to Mexico. Finalized on November 29, the compromise kept 730 of the plant’s jobs in Indiana in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks over 10 years. The deal immediately attracted praise and criticism on both sides of the aisle, with much of the scrutiny going toward the tradeoff between jobs and tax breaks and Trump’s idiosyncratic, ad-hoc negotiation techniques.
The paucity of information in the FEC filings makes it difficult to ascertain why his holdings appear to have decreased; regardless, the investment is not only one of several hundred but also a relatively minor one among Trump’s many holdings, some of which are worth over $5,000,000. As a result, it’s difficult to know how much, if at all, Trump may have considered the stock, particularly considering that he didn’t appear to remember his initial promise to save the Carrier plant. Additionally, Trump does not have stock in the next company he called out on Twitter, Rexnord Corporation (which is also based in Indiana), or its parent company, The Carlyle Group. Still, Trump’s deal with Carrier demonstrates the unprecedented challenge the president-elect’s conflicts of interest create: Unless he either puts his holdings in a truly blind trust or divests completely, a significant number of the decisions he makes will involve some level of financial incentive for himself as well as for the country.
Over the past few months, a number of experts have called for President-elect Donald Trump to either sell off his business holdings or, if the illiquidity of his assets prevents him from doing so, to put as much as possible into a blind trust managed by a lawyer or other trustee with whom he will have no contact. Pursuing one of these two options is seen by many as an important step to distancing himself from even the appearance that he will be considering his own financial prospects in addition to those of the nation while in office. In response, Trump repeatedly said during the campaign that he intends to cede control of his business to his three adult children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, although, as has been previously noted, doing so would barely even create the appearance of a blind trust given how his children are close advisers, members of his transition team, and, well, his children. (Trump has also alluded on Twitter to an upcoming press conference in which he intends to more fully explain his plans, although doubts remain that the arrangement he proposes will actually create the necessary barriers between Trump and his business.)
Moreover, even if one does take take the president-elect at his word that his children will be entirely separate from his administration, events since his election strongly suggest otherwise. All three have been seen in contexts that significantly diminish the appearance of separation Roughly two weeks before the election, Donald Jr. met with a pro-Russian group in Paris to discuss his father’s policy toward Syria and, according to Politico, was involved in his father’s search for a Secretary of the Interior; he was also spotted hunting in Turkey shortly after his father’s phone call with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in which the president-elect praised a Turkish business partner. Eric, meanwhile, appeared in photos with his father and a group of Indian businessmen mere days after the election. Officials within the State Department have begun to express frustration with the optics of the Trump family’s current system.
Those Fannie and Freddie Investments
After railing against elites during the campaign, Trump has so far stocked his prospective cabinet with an array of billionaires whose policy positions seem likely to significantly benefit those who are also doing very well. Trump’s putative treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is no exception: His resume includes stints as a banker at Goldman Sachs, a Hollywood producer, and the operator of a bank that has been described as a “foreclosure machine” and once foreclosed on a homeowner over a 27-cent discrepancy.
Doing so would be broadly compatible with Trump’s general antipathy toward regulation of the banking industry. However, The Wall Street Journal identified an additional wrinkle to the story: When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s stocks rose, one major beneficiary was John Paulson, an adviser to the Trump campaign and a business partner of Mnuchin’s. Paulson’s hedge funds include significant investments in both Fannie and Freddie. Trump himself has invested between $3 million and $5 million across three of Paulson’s funds, according to his filings with the Federal Election Commission (which remain the only available window into the president-elect’s financial holdings). In other words, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s stock prices increase—and they have so far more than doubled since the election on the expectation that the incoming Trump administration will be more lenient toward the financial sector than Obama—Trump’s portfolio benefits.
That Phone Call With Taiwan
When news first emerged that the president-elect spoke on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on December 2, the immediate reaction was uproar over his apparently impetuous breach of decades of U.S. protocol toward China and Taiwan. As my colleague David Graham explained, since 1979, the United States has participated in the “artful diplomatic fiction” of officially recognizing the mainland People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate Chinese government while maintaining loose, unofficial recognition of—and significant economic and military ties to—Taiwan. That Trump would speak to the president of Taiwan, especially before doing the same with Xi Jinping, the president of the PRC, flies in the face of a diplomatic tradition that has undergirded almost 40 years of U.S.-China relations.
The phone call, and the many statements that have followed, are of particular interest because of the extent to which they dovetail with some of the biggest concerns about Trump’s approach toward governance. In the ensuing 48 hours, Republican officials offered several, sometimes entirely contradictory, explanations of what initially appeared to be an impulsive move by Trump; depending on who was speaking, the phone call was actually initiated by Ing-wen (which, if technically true, ignores that it was Trump’s staff who arranged the conversation), was just “a courtesy,” or manifested a policy shift weeks in the making—although, regardless, it was made without first consulting the White House or State Department. The defense of the move, and the questions it creates regarding conflicts of interest, have largely hinged on the belief that, since voters apparently don’t mind, the reaction was overblown.
That Deutsche Bank Debt
Though he often brags about leveraging corporate-finance law to become “The King of Debt,” Trump’s numerous bankruptcy filings have left most large Wall Street banks reticent to lend to him, according to The Wall Street Journal. Among the few exceptions is Deutsche Bank, which “has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion” to the president-elect since 1996, with at least another $1 billion in loan commitments to Trump-affiliated companies; more than $300 million of those loans have come since 2012.
The president-elect’s indebtedness does not itself pose a conflict of interest, but Deutsche Bank’s ongoing legal troubles very well might. The Justice Department is currently negotiating with Deutsche Bank regarding a preliminary settlement of $14 billion to resolve probes into allegedly misleading predatory lending practices in the leadup to the 2008 financial crisis; while it is believed that Deutsche Bank will push back against the sum, there has been no public news regarding negotiations since the initial figure was reported in September. Trump will soon be naming many of the officials with jurisdiction over this and other deals, prompting several House Democrats to send a letter to federal financial agencies calling for close scrutiny of how Trump may seek to influence the settlement through his appointments—although doing so would be just as in keeping with his general stance toward financial regulation as with active protection of his pocketbook. Other Democrats have called for the proactive appointment of independent prosecutors to avoid any appearance of conflict if the case is not resolved before Trump takes office.
Fears that Trump may unduly consider his indebtedness to Deutsche Bank in deciding his administration’s policy toward the financial sector go beyond general anxiety about deregulation. Deutsche Bank is undergoing a period of struggle that may have it on the verge of failure already. Its stock valuation has dropped by more than half since July 2015; in January, it posted its first full-year loss since 2008; and one of its many tranches of bonds—one specifically designed to be a high-risk, high-reward safety valve in times of trouble—has recently begun to crash. In June, the International Monetary Fund called Deutsche Bank “the most important net contributor to systemic risks” among globally important financial institutions. If the bank were to fail, it could have major consequences for not only Trump’s businesses, which would lose their sole remaining lender, but for the global economy as well.
Arguably, the $14 billion fine the Justice Department is seeking to impose has exacerbated rather than alleviated these struggles. Based the company’s market capitalization—the number of shares multiplied by their price— of roughly $16 billion, the sum would leave Deutsche Bank critically low in liquid assets with which to absorb future troubles. although the institution’s own self-valuation of $68 billion argues otherwise. But given the complexity and potential volatility of the situation, it is important for any decision to be free from outside influence, something Trump’s outstanding debt threatens to jeopardize.
That Secret Service Detail
During the election, the Trump campaign put no small portion of its funds toward paying for use of the candidate’s own properties; perhaps the most notable of these expenditures was the nearly $170,000 the campaign spent in July on rent for its headquarters in Trump Tower. These expenses raised the possibility that, as Trump predicted in 2000, he “could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” Now that he will be president, he may be able to profit off of the Secret Service by virtue of the fact that he and his family will live in Trump Tower and fly in his private jets—which requires the agents tasked with guarding them to pay him rent and airfare.
The first way Trump could monetize his own protective detail is by having family members travel in his two planes and three helicopters. This is not so much speculative as foregone: Over the course of the campaign, the Secret Service, which traditionally pays for its own travel during elections, spent $2.74 million to fly on a plane owned by one of Trump’s own companies. Once Trump takes office, he will fly exclusively on Air Force One, while Mike Pence will be riding Air Force Two. However, their families may still be flying on Trump’s private planes—along with their protective details, which would effectively direct even more money to Trump. (Previous first families have flown with a detail, whose legal purview covers “the immediate family members,” but none have done so on planes they themselves own.)
A bigger question regards Trump Tower in New York, where the president-elect appears likely to spend a significant amount of time. For the past few decades, it has been common practice for the Secret Service to provide protection for the president and vice president’s non-White House residences, which sometimes entails paying rent to the officeholder. (Joe Biden, for example, received $2,200 per month when the agency rented a cottage he owned near his home in Delaware.)
But Trump Tower is a unique case, as it’s not in Delaware but the middle of Manhattan. Already, pedestrians and tourists are chafing at the increased security around the building, Trump’s frequent use of which has required closing a block of 56th Street and multiple lanes of Fifth Avenue; with multiple outlets reporting that Trump’s wife Melania and 10-year-old son Barron are expected to stay at Trump Tower for at least part of his term, it appears that the consternation will continue, with an enormous price tag for taxpayers: According to the New York Post, it could cost as much as $3 million a year to rent out two of the building’s vacant floors, meaning that Trump will be making money off of his own security detail. Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that the city of New York is calling for federal funds to reimburse the costs of keeping up a security detail around Trump Tower.
This system creates an unusual set of conflicting interests for Trump regarding his own travel and residences. Though presidents as disparate as Dwight Eisenhower and Barack Obama have evoked partisan ire over time spent away from the White House, whether on the golf course or on vacation in Hawaii, only Donald Trump will actually have gained from his and his family’s travels. And if, while in office, Trump visits properties he owns other than Trump Tower—his buildings in other U.S. cities like Chicago and Miami, for example, or his golf course and resort in Scotland, or one of the many international hotels bearing his name—he stands to gain from the stays for which his security detail (and, by extension, taxpayers) may be paying. Moreover, the more his family members fly on his planes, whether they are running his business on his behalf or running interference with foreign leaders, the more the Secret Service will end up paying for seats alongside them.
In fact, there are already signs that the Trump Organization has no qualms about making money off of the New York tower’s new security arrangements in more ways than one. According to Politico, just five days after the election, a prominent New York real-estate firm invoked Trump Tower’s new secret-service detail as a selling point for a $2.1 million condominium, which it described as “The Best Value in the Most Secure Building in Manhattan.” Though the flier was issued by an outside agency, the president-elect’s corporation still stands to benefit from increased traffic through processing and other service fees, making the advertisement a clear example of how Trump stands to benefit off of his new position.
That Property in Georgia (the Country)
Trump’s election has had the effect of speeding up development on a number of his branded properties, even when the president-elect appears not to be pulling any strings himself. As occurred with Trump Tower Buenos Aires, the completion of an embattled Trump-branded building in the former Soviet republic of Georgia is no longer on hold now that Trump has won. The project, which has been in the works in the seaside resort city of Batumi since 2010, was initially scheduled to break ground in 2013, but has been in stasis for several reasons, possibly including the 2013 electoral defeat of President Mikheil Saakashvili, a friend of Trump’s and a supporter of the deal.
According to a report in The Washington Post, the green-lighting of the Trump property in Batumi has not been linked to a specific conversation with Georgian leaders, and a U.S.-based partner on the project has suggested that it has moved forward without any nudging from the government. However, numerous public statements in the days since suggest that Trump’s election was a major factor, including an interview with a real-estate entrepreneur who said, “Cutting the ribbon on a new Trump Tower in Georgia will be a symbol of victory for all of the free world.”
That the property seems to be moving forward solely because Trump was elected suggests his various business interests around the world may play a role not only in his foreign policy but in how other countries seek to deal with the U.S. as well. America’s relationship with Georgia is largely shaped by concerns about Russian influence and potential aggression in the region, most recently manifested in Russia’s 2008 seizure of two regions of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With controversy already swirling over Trump’s admiration for Putin and Russia’s alleged role in the U.S. election, some in the foreign-policy community have expressed trepidation that Trump’s potential deferential attitude toward Russia would prove deleterious for the continued independence of former satellite nations like Georgia. So, if Georgia has an ulterior motive behind the approval of Trump’s property in Batumi, it would be to keep Russia at bay and maintain the status quo in the region. It’s alarming that a country like Georgia may be giving Trump’s businesses favorable treatment (whether he asked for it or not) in an attempt to influence his foreign policy.
That Phone Call With Erdogan
One of the worries regarding Trump’s many conflicts of interest is that they may influence policy towards countries whose relationships with the U.S. are currently strained. Such is the case with Turkey, whose president, Recep Erdogan, has been cracking down significantly on civil liberties and democratic institutions within the country after a failed coup last summer. Though Turkey has in the past been a vital U.S. ally as a bulwark against Islamic terror, Erdogan’s authoritarian turn and combative stance toward Europe have led to some reevaluation of that relationship.
Thus, it was troubling news that when Erdogan phoned Trump earlier this month—it was one of the first calls Trump received after his victory—Trump used the opportunity to plug his business partners in Istanbul. According to the Huffington Post, while on the line with Erdogan, Trump relayed praise for the leader from Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, whose father-in-law, Aydin Dogan, owns the holding company that operates the Trump Towers in Istanbul. Dogan has previously drawn Erdogan’s ire by criticizing the leader; in recent years, however, Dogan’s companies, most notably CNN Turk, have shown support for Erdogan’s regime, including broadcasting his first message after the uprising in July.
Trump’s conversation with Erdogan is also worth noting because of a number of Trump’s previous statements regarding the Turkish president. Though Erdogan briefly called for Trump’s name to be removed from the Istanbul property due to his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, Erdogan dropped the demand when, after the overthrow attempt, Trump praised Erdogan for “turning it around” and essentially dismissed concerns over Erdogan’s crackdown on civil liberties by bringing up domestic problems. Michael Flynn, who was recently named Trump’s national security adviser, wrote an election-day op-ed in The Hill arguing against offering asylum to a Muslim cleric whom Erdogan has accused of orchestrating the uprising, which some have interpreted as a diplomatic overture. Erdogan has also bristled at post-election protests in the U.S. and the description of both himself and Trump as part of a “ring of autocrats.” That the two are now talking about their countries’ relationship as in the same conversation as Trump’s business interests further complicates Trump’s strangely effusive comments about Erdogan.
It’s worth noting that Trump himself considers his hotel in Istanbul a potential conflict of interest. In a December 2015 interview with Stephen Bannon, at the time the chairman of Breitbart News, Trump said as much, telling Bannon, “I have a little conflict of interest ‘cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul. It’s a tremendously successful job." That he chose to discuss the towers with Erdogan, albeit obliquely, through his references to his business partners when he has already acknowledged the impropriety of doing so simply reinforces the perception that he may prove unable to separate his business from his official duties once he assumes office.
Those Companies in Saudi Arabia
Even as Trump was running for president, his company was continuing to operate and open new properties. While the most memorable openings may have been that of his hotel in Washington, D.C., and his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, the Trump Organization was continuing to work on projects in other countries, including, according to a report the Washington Post, registering eight new companies in Saudi Arabia during the 16-month campaign.
That British Wind Farm
As he indicated when he stopped there during the campaign, President-elect Trump takes enormous pride in his recently opened golf course in Turnberry, Scotland. The day after the British public voted for Brexit—over intense Scottish opposition—Trump spoke at the property’s opening, proudly touting how the decision’s deflationary effect on the pound would benefit his business.
However, Trump also has a second golf course in Aberdeen, where it appears Trump has attempted to intercede in the interest of his own pocketbook.* According to The New York Times, Trump had a post-election meeting with Nigel Farage in which he “encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses.” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the president-elect, denied that the two had discussed the subject, only for Trump to later confirm that the topic had, in fact, come up in their conversation.
* This entry originally misstated that Trump intervened at Turnberry, his other golf course in Scotland. We regret the error.
Those Indian Business Partners
It didn’t take long after the election for President-elect Trump to be seen in public with international business partners. According to a November 19 article in The New York Times, Trump took a break from his transition schedule to meet with three Indian real-estate executives who are currently building a Trump-branded apartment complex in Mumbai. According to both Trump and the Indian businessmen, the meeting was essentially congratulatory in nature; a picture posted by one of the executives on Twitter shows the four men smiling broadly and giving a thumbs-up to the camera. However, that the meeting happened in the first place suggests that Trump does not currently have any qualms about forestalling official state business for personal business.
On top of that, the meeting raises questions in the blind-trust realm as well. The president-elect himself was not the only member of his family there; two Facebook photos show that Ivanka and Eric Trump both attended the meeting as well. Their presence serves as a reminder that their father seems so far uninterested in maintaining even the nominal separation between himself and his assets that he repeatedly said he would create during the campaign.
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That Envoy From the Philippines
One leader with whom Trump already has an advantage over President Obama is Rodrigo Duterte, the similarly brash president of the Philippines. Duterte, who has threatened to “break up with America,” told Obama to “go to hell,” and called the president a “son of a whore,” expressed admiration for Trump, noting that, among other similarities, they both enjoy swearing.
Duterte’s affinity for Trump apparently goes beyond vulgar word choice. Late in October, Duterte appointed a longtime business associate of Trump’s as a special envoy to the United States, an announcement that became public shortly after the election. This appointment in particular raises questions because it is just as open to exploitation by Duterte as it is to Trump, as the Filipino president could intend to use his new envoy’s relationship with Trump to strengthen the Philippines’ hand. Whichever side the appointment does eventually benefit, however, the situation is nevertheless fraught with conflicts between the three men’s personal and political interests.
Trump Says He'll Tell All on Hacking
Trump, who has refused to acknowledge U.S. intelligence assessments that determined the hacking was directed by the highest levels in the Russian government, said he's been skeptical because he wants U.S. intelligence officials to be 100 percent sure.
"I just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge," Trump told reporters in an impromptu New Year's Eve press conference.
"If you look at weapons of mass destruction, it was a disaster, and they were wrong," he said. "So I want them to be sure. I think it's unfortunate if they don't know. I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else."
"I also know things other people don't know," Trump added. "So they cannot be sure of this situation."
When a reporter asked Trump what he knew about the hacking situation, Trump said: "You'll find out Tuesday or Wednesday," with no explanation for the delay. His comments were made at Trump's Palm Beach estate.
The president-elect has said he plans to meet with intelligence officials in coming days to learn more about the allegations.
Trump, who says "no computer is safe" when it comes to keeping information private, said, "if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way."
President Obama ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies last week, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the U.S. said were really spies. The Russian government has denied the allegations.
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China’s State Media Has Been Mocking Donald Trump’s ‘Unpresidented’ Tweet
"Trump is not behaving as a President who will become master of the White House in a month"
He took again to Twitter to add: “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!”
Both Washington and Beijing have sought to downplay the spat in official channels. On Saturday, China agreed to return the device, which was taken 57 miles northwest of the Philippine port of Subic Bay. China says the unmanned reconnaissance vehicle, which was apparently collecting unclassified scientific data, was seized to maintain the safety of passing vessels.
“China resolutely opposes these [reconnaissance] activities,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said, according to Chinese state newswire Xinhua.
On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party–linked Global Times newspaper questioned Trump’s response in an editorial and highlighted his misspelling in the headline: “‘Unpresidented’ Trump adds fuel to fire.”
“He seemed emotionally upset, but no one knows what he wanted to say,” read the article. “Trump is not behaving as a President who will become master of the White House in a month.”
During his campaign, Trump repeated accused China of currency manipulation and stealing American jobs, and vowed to slap 45% tariffs of Chinese imports. Since his election victory, Trump has further infuriated the Beijing leadership by accepting a phone call from the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen — breaking almost four decades of diplomatic protocol that saw no direct contact between American and Taiwanese leaders.
Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-governing island of 23 million and has vowed to retake it by force should Taipei ever declare independence. When Beijing lodged a formal complaint about Trump’s phone conversation, Trump said that American acknowledgement of China’s position that Taiwan is part of “one China” was up for negotiation.
“Since [Trump] has not taken office, China has kept a calm attitude toward his provocative remarks,” read the Global Times editorial. “But if he treats China after assuming office in the same way as in his tweets, China will not exercise restraint.”
Ordinary Chinese, however, are seeing the funny side of Trump’s spelling error. “Dude, you would have failed the Chinese college English exam,” posted one user on China’s Twitter-like microblog Weibo.
“What if Trump just is pretending to be stupid?” posted another. “Businessmen shouldn’t be this dumb, and Trump is successful in business.”
— With reporting by Zhang Chi / Beijing
Trump’s Press Secretary Begs The American People To Stop Mocking Donald Trump
Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer went on national television to complain that the American people are mocking Donald Trump and called on every American to support the president-elect instead of mocking him.
Video of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos
Spicer was talking about Trump trying to take credit for jobs that were already announced when he claimed that the American people are mocking and undermining the president-elect:
So the idea is everyone wants to talk about the tweets he sent. But I would actually focus on the action he’s getting. Donald Trump is not president yet and he’s getting action, successes and wins, both abroad and here at home.
Everything he does right now, he gets — he speaks for the head of Sprint, gets 5,000 jobs moved from abroad. And everyone starts to mock him. Oh, those jobs were already announced. They weren’t. The sales jobs have been a previous announce. These jobs were coming from abroad to America.
And instead of trying to mock him or undermine him, it’s time that people started to give him credit for actually getting things done.
Trump is mocked because he isn’t getting anything done. The president-elect is taking credit for things that already happened, or the accomplishments of others. For example, Trump took credit for the good economic numbers in November despite the fact that the growing economy has nothing to do with him because he is not yet the president. Trump took credit for the horrible Carrier deal that Mike Pence negotiated, and Trump is trying to pass off the Sprint job announcement, which he had nothing to do with, as an accomplishment.”
President-elect Donald Trump’s Press Secretary was practically begging America to stop making fun of the incoming president. Trump isn’t going to find much popular support for his presidency because the majority of voters did not support him.
If Trump continues to act like a narcissistic and petty reality television star instead of a president, he is going to mocked.
One can only imagine the howls of laughter from Republicans if Obama’s press secretary would have gone on national television and complained about the American people making fun of him.
Trump isn’t even in office yet, but his team is demanding credit for things that they have not done, which is exactly why the American people will continue to mock the president-elect.
Trump’s Press Secretary Begs The American People To Stop Mocking Donald Trump added by Jason Easley on
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Joy Drewfs Keep mocking, he doesn't like it, too bad. Not my president.😡
In a piece of high diplomatic theatre, the Russian president defied expectations of a Cold War-style mutual expulsion and instead met the Obama administration's sanctions with a show of magnanimity.
Earlier Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, publically recommend that Russia expel 35 US diplomats and close down two US diplomatic compounds.
The move would have amounted to a tit-for-tat response to American sanctions.
The announcement provoked fury in Moscow, where many officials attacked Mr Obama personally for the move.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, wrote on Twitter that the current administration was "ending its term in anti-Russian agony."
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry wrote on Facebook: "Today America and the American people have been humiliated as their own President."
The Russian Embassy in London called it "Cold War deja vu", and said the US "wanted to destroy" ties with Moscow.
Mr Obama said the 35 expelled diplomats were "intelligence operatives".
He also announced it was closing two compounds owned by the Russian government, and used for intelligence operations, in New York and Maryland, from noon on Friday.
At the same time he ordered sanctions against Russia's GRU and FSB intelligence agencies, and six named Russian individuals.
They included Lt Gen Korobov, head of the GRU, and three of his deputies. The other two were Alexei Belan and Yevgeny Bogachev, two Russians wanted by the FBI for cyber crimes for years.
Also sanctioned were three computer companies alleged to have provided "material support" to the GRU.
Mr Obama accused Russia of "aggressive harassment" and said "all Americans should be alarmed by Russia's actions". He said hacking "could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government".
Mr Obama said: "These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm US interests in violation of established international norms of behaviour. Such activities have consequences."
A US official added: "By imposing costs on the Russian diplomats in the United States, by denying them access to the two facilities, we hope the Russian government reevaluates its own actions."
It was understood that Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, will not be one of those expelled.
It comes after the the CIA and FBI concluded that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democratic Party and releasing embarrassing emails with the intention of helping Mr Trump to win the White House.
Mr Trump said he would meet intelligence officials next week to hear evidence of the Russian hacking.
He said: "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.
"Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."
The US State Department said the expelled diplomats had been "acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status".
The Russian Embassy in London added in its 'lame duck' memed tweet: "Everybody, including the American people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless administration."
According to one US official there are a total of about 100 Russian spies in the US, so about one third of them are being ejected.
The Kremlin accused the US of an "aggressive foreign policy" and behaving "like a bull in a china shop".
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said: "There is no alternative here to the principle of reciprocity. We will deliver significant discomfort to the US side in the same areas.
"We consider this decision and these sanctions unjustified and illegal under international law."
Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry's spokeswoman, denied reports about the school closure on Friday morning.
Lisa Monaco, Mr Obama's homeland security adviser, said: "These 35 individuals were basically collecting intelligence. They were intelligence officers operating here and using these compounds for intelligence collection.
"We are expelling those 35 intelligence officers and their families and shutting down that intelligence collection activity."
She added: "We are prepared for retaliatory steps the Russian government may take."
The Russian Embassy in Washington said a plane was being sent from Moscow to pick up those who had been expelled.
How could Russia respond?
Vladimir Putin has ruled out direct retaliation for now, but he also says Russia "reserves the right" to respond. Here are a number of options he and his advisers could be considering.
- Expel US diplomats. Sending American officials home would be a traditional tit-for-tat response more or less in line with the rules of international diplomacy. The Russians could up the ante by kicking out Ambassador John Tefft (the US has said it is not expelling Russia's ambassador), which would leave a key post for Donald Trump to fill when he takes power on January 20.
- Shut down US diplomatic compounds. The foreign ministry has denied plans to close the American School in Moscow, which is popular with expat families. However, it could close the Embassy holiday dacha at Serebryany Bor on the Moscow outskirts.
- Something else. Previous "asymmetric" responses to American moves have included banning US citizens from adopting Russian orphans and banning food imports from countries that sanctioned Russia over its annexation of Crimea.
- Do nothing. With Donald Trump entering the White House on January 20, the Kremlin could decide it is worth refraining from countermeasures as a goodwill gesture to the new president. Instead it may confine itself to insulting Tweets about Barack Obama.
The Opinion Pages | Letters
Obama, Trump and Russian Hacking
Donald Trump: The Russian Poodle - by Nicholas KristofQuicklink submitted By Susan Lee Schwartz Permalink
Trump Is Not the Problem
For at least the last half century, we have lived in a culture not of self-awareness, but of self absorption — a culture in which concern for the greater good has been replaced by a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. Racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are ingrained in our culture. We have just covered it over with political correctness so we can deny how extensive an issue it really is. But just like an alcoholic, we can’t begin to recover unless we admit we have a problem.
Just try to hint that the US is not the greatest country in the world and you’ll be labeled a traitor, despite the fact that we are number 1 in some of the worst statistics possible. We are first in rates of obesity, divorce, incarceration, gun deaths per capita, infant mortality, rape, murder, and student loan debt, to name just a few. Meanwhile, we are last in paid sick days, paid maternity leave, income equality, and programs that reflect a society that cares for its people.
Far too often, the poor, working-class white population votes against their best interests. It’s easier for them to believe that an immigrant or a person of color is stealing their livelihood than to accept that a wealthy white billionaire doesn’t have their best interests in mind, and that there is no such thing as The American Dream.
The reality is that the system is set up to ensure there will always be a huge gap between the rich and the poor because the elites want it that way and most people don’t care enough to do anything about it. We are a country that does not like to take personal responsibility for anything, particularly if it requires effort. We would rather have someone else take care of everything so we can go back to watching Monday Night Football.
The average American barely gives a passing thought to the suffering we are causing to innocent civilians around the world in the 7 countries on which we are currently dropping bombs. Unless it’s in their own backyard, they just don’t care. Imagine just a single one of those bombs suddenly dropping on your home while you are in the middle of dinner, killing your children, husband, wife. What is unimaginable for us is daily life for some.
For centuries, Western culture has been dominated by white men obsessed with empire-building. They feel it is their God-given right to invade less developed countries, steal their resources at will, and then expect the conquered to be grateful to us for “liberating” them from their backward ways. We commit mass murder around the world and don’t think twice about it. The hubris is astounding, and like Rome, it will ultimately be the instrument of our downfall.
Fears of Trump becoming the next Hitler are unnecessary because we’re already there. Hitler may have gathered the Jews into extermination camps to systematically murder them, but we have been systematically murdering Muslims in their own countries for at least the past 26 years. An estimated 4 million Muslims have been killed due to our wars. The genocide is the same, just under a different façade.
The very founding of our country is a prime example. White Europeans arrived here in the 17th century and began to commit genocide against the indigenous Americans practically from day one. Those atrocities continue to this day in the form of government-approved militarized mercenaries violently attacking peacefully protesting Native Americans with rubber bullets, pepper spray, sound cannons and concussion grenades.
We seem to have forgotten that we were once the immigrants here. Every US citizen, unless they are from one of the many indigenous tribes that were here far before the first pilgrims, has an immigrant ancestor. Yet it’s amazing how many people say it’s the immigrants who are hurting our country. Like your own great-grandparents once did, most immigrants work hard to establish their lives here. A long-term study has shown that immigrants do far more good for the economy than harm; however, the oligarchy wants to distract you from knowing who the real welfare queens are: the banks and our corporate-owned government.
Congress doesn’t want you to know that they are the reason why you have unaffordable health care. They are the reason our youth are drowning in student debt, and could never dream of making nearly as much money as their parents did — all while they find money to bail out the banks. Congress never has a problem funding more than 50% of the annual budget for the benefit of the military industrial complex, and never have to worry about losing their 100% government-paid health insurance.
As Noam Chomsky and Martin Luther King said, America is socialist for the rich and capitalist for the poor. We allow our government to bail out the banks while working people lose their homes. The wealthy like to maintain a comfortable gap between themselves and everyone else. If everyone is wealthy, nobody is. How could they continue to feel superior? The far-right white supremacists (often oddly called alt-right) have massive fears of immigrants and minorities, believing they are the ones responsible for the disappearance of what they always believed to be their racially guaranteed upward mobility.
Our educational system is a joke; the oligarchy does not want an educated population. If Americans were actually taught to think for themselves, they might begin to question government policies. For example, I’ll bet you didn’t know that our income taxes do not fund federal spending. So any government official claiming there is not enough tax money to fund universal health care, higher education, etc. is either ignorant or flat-out lying.
But even if it’s not your “hard-earned dollars” that would pay for these vital programs, what type of person thinks that any human being does not have the right to decent health care? Universal health care is not even a question in every other Western country, all of which have some form of it. People in these countries almost universally state that health care is an inalienable human right.
It’s no wonder the Kardashians and reality TV shows like The X Factor and American Idol are so popular, not to mention Trump’s own show, The Apprentice. We glorify unbridled wealth, cutthroat competition, and cruelty. The meaner and more demeaning, the better. We shore up our huge insecurities by belittling others, whether they are TV contestants, women, or minorities.
None of this will change until we make significant changes to our ethical code. We need to learn from the Native Americans and adopt a different way of looking at our existence on this planet. Much can be learned from what’s happened at Standing Rock. The indigenous peoples of this country understand that everyone is their relative. What harms one of us harms all of us. They have respect for the earth upon which we all must live and which provides us with food and water. They have astoundingly met brutal violence with only love and compassion.
Privatization must end. The earth’s natural resources should be owned by all of humanity collectively. Nobody should have the ability to make a profit on a natural resource. Along with a minimum wage, there also needs to be a maximum wage. No more allowing a small handful of people to hoard money in amounts so large they could never possibly spend it all, when meanwhile their fellow citizens are struggling to feed their children.
We seem to have lost our sense of compassion for other human beings. Yet we wonder how Donald Trump won the presidency? We need to take a serious look in the mirror and see the ways in which Trump is simply a reflection of the darkest parts of ourselves and examine where it comes from, rather than running from it. At that point, we can make conscious changes and become a better people.
A striking example of this is the stirring ceremony that occurred at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in early December, in which US military veterans asked forgiveness from the Native Americans for the numerous crimes the military had committed against them. Recognizing and admitting our part in these atrocities allows for a beginning in healing the world instead of harming it.
We must always try to remember that we are all members of the same human race living on the same fragile planet. When we make significant changes to our outlook on others and on the world around us, we will finally stop getting leaders like Trump.
SundayReview | Op-Ed Columnist
Donald Trump: The Russian Poodle
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Mr. Tigerli in China
Copyright 2016 by Letizia Mancino
translation by Mary Holmes
All rights reserved
Is this Mr. Tigerli?
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