Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trump’s Secret?/ Clown Car ’18 Version / You Blew It, Blue States / The Colossus of Sports Betting

Trump’s Big Worry – Donald Trump’s modus operandi now, if readers examine it, is identical to his methods prior to his Presidency. He obfuscates, he prevaricates, he confuses, he bullies, he cheats, he denigrates, and he doesn’t hold fixed positions on anything. Plus, he’s ruthless. 

It’s hard to get a ‘fix’ on exactly what his strategy is regarding Robert Mueller’s investigation. We only know that he’s dead set on closing it down.

One of the obvious questions I would pose to Mr. Trump is if he, as he claims, did not collude with the Russians during the 2016 race, why doesn’t he just let the investigation run its course to the end, at which point he’d be exonerated of any Russian collusion, and be judged innocent?  He’s much too vehement about stopping it for Mr. Gripes to believe that there’s ‘nothing there’, as Mr. Trump asserts. 

Mr. Gripes has a different take on Trump’s strenuous opposition to the investigation. Collusion will be very difficult to prove: unless there are ‘smoking guns’ out there – on paper or on e-mails – criminality will be virtually impossible to prove. Witnesses asserting his guilt will be countered by witnesses saying he’s innocent, and the whole matter will devolve into a ‘he-said-she-said’ situation, and produce nothing but a muddled confusion.  Without hard evidence, nothing will stick.

So, it’s not collusion that is the principal focus of Mr. Trump these days; he’s most worried about something else: those tax returns. The further Mr. Mueller’s investigations delve into Mr. Trump’s rather spotty and sordid past, the more likely the concealed – and probably criminal – business deals come into play. I’d bet that what keeps our President up at night.

Let’s not forget that Trump thought right up to Election Day he had no chance to be elected; he figured he’d lose to Hillary, and then no one would care enough to pick through his earlier business deals. So, he probably didn’t cover his tracks particularly well. Whatever it was, Mr. Trump acts like he’s guilty of some very bad behavior, actions that could send him to jail.

I’ll leave my readers with a hunch guess as to what he was involved in: financial entanglements   in selling arms to enemies of the United States [perhaps laundering tons of cash]. The arms business, which can involve very rich sovereign countries and some murderous rivals of ours, i.e., Syria, Iran, China, Russia, might have proven just too alluring for a money-grubbing monster like Mr. Trump.

* * *

Clown Car, Revisited….Remember the Republican candidates’ ‘Clown Car’ of 2016? Sure you do…Hucklebee, Perry, Carson, Cain, Jeb Bush, etc., as well as the driver of the bus, Donald J. Trump. We laughed at the spectacle, but couldn’t take our eyes off of them. Well, the Democratic Party, not to be undone, now possesses its own clown car, 2018 version; alas, there’s nothing remotely interesting about this crew -- they’re just ancient, like the barnacles Mr. Gripes, in his young summers, used to chisel off the bottoms of imperious rich guys’ boats at the end of Long Island. 

Just look at some of them: that perennial race horse Joe Biden, who incidentally would be a shoo-in in any gleaming-white-teeth competition, reminds Mr. Gripes of the pet hamster who scurries feverishly around his wheel, going nowhere; Joe never stops running as he bides his time for another election; the annoying Nancy Pelosi [not running, but part of the menagerie], who’s seemingly been around DC since the James Polk Administration --  I have a single piece of advice, Ms. Pelosi:  do an Amelia Earhart and disappear; Elizabeth Warren, no longer Pocahontas, but now the female Sitting Bull of the Senate; Bernie Sanders is in the hunt again, although he’ll be 100 before we know it. He thinks the country is moving in his direction – Bernie, don’t delude yourself; you really have no shot. [He’ll be tarred and feathered as a Communist stooge, and the Republicans will find all kinds of lethal Commie dirt on him, most likely with Russian assistance.] 

And, in a stunning development, the vehicle just took on another passenger: John Kerry announced last week he’s considering a run in 2020. Is he kidding? John, your campaign in 2004 was a complete fiasco, and I’ll bet there’s not one Democrat out there who’d vote for you again. Please take a personal inventory, and stop embarrassing yourself – a plush Nantucket retirement with Mrs. Heinz57 awaits you.

If this meager bunch is representative of what the Democrats will be offering in 2020, Mr. Trump must be grinning from ear to ear.

* * *

A headline from ‘Slate’ a few weeks back: ‘The official who ordered 147 trees cut down so a well-heeled contributor would have a ‘better view out his front window’ is named National Parks Commissioner by the Trump Administration.’ Just beautiful. Three, maybe seven, long, long years of this car wreck to go, folks.

* * *

The real life stories are so heartless, so cruel. Just recently, a man who’s lived in this country for 39 years, and who has four daughters, is deported back to Mexico. Why? No reason that makes sense.  Pure vindictiveness.  And, let’s face it, as the Trump people place more and more of their supporters into positions of authority, these tragedies will occur more and more frequently.

Mr. Gripes’ suspicion is that during the Obama years, immigration officials and police were foaming at the bit, infuriated by Barack Obama’s benevolent approach to essentially harmless [and tax-paying] immigrants. Now that Trump and Sessions have given carte blanche permission to arrest and deport, the law is out for blood.  Immigration enforcement increasingly isn’t differentiating between criminals and perfectly honest, law-abiding individuals – they’re arresting anyone without the proper documentation. This is just so stupid:  besides, the courts and jails are currently completely overwhelmed.  It’s a bureaucratic morass. Why at this time, with so many critical problems this country faces, create one more enormous, unnecessary headache, and heartache? These Trump operatives show no mercy.

* * *
‘A Day Late, A Dollar Short’ – Blue State Governors and Mayors, you blew it: you had eight years of a supportive Democratic President in the White House sympathetic to your burdens: he’d at least listen to your concerns about the crumbling urban areas: he was your hope and opportunity to obtain the financing you desperately need to repair transit systems, railroads, buildings, bridges, schools, roads, basically the entire crumbling infrastructure of this country. That’s right: you had two terms of a benevolent White House. But virtually nothing was accomplished, as you did nothing but fall into petty, divisive, inter-party and intra-party disputes, and  the inevitable happened: A Republican President came into office, and you’re today staring at the implacable countenance of an undeniably hostile Republican President and Congress. You’ll end up getting crumbs.
If it were all up to Donald Trump, he wouldn’t fork over a nickel. ‘Sh_t,’ he roars, ‘Those a__holes didn’t vote for me, and now they come begging? That ain’t happening’. The slashing of funding for urban areas is only just beginning. So what if De Blasio in New York City needs billions for transit repair and upgrade?   Trump will stump him on his progressive throat. All of you fat-cat urban politicians who never have to contend with any real opposition in your elections:  you dawdled, you bitched, you whined, you got nothing done, and now you’re in real big trouble. The Republicans play very hard ball – it’s all ‘vote for me or face the harsh consequences‘. 

And here’s a double whammy: have you noticed that interest rates are going up, after a long period of dormancy? For years, we had low interest rates attached to municipal bonds, lessening the debt obligations – from now on, with the deficit exploding, the new debt service is going to be much more expensive. Shame on all of you for wasting a golden opportunity. From here on you’re going to pay dearly for your interminable turf wars.

* * * 

Soon to be Legal: Sports Bets…The National Football League, as a lot of you know, has suffered some setbacks in the last couple of years: its TV ratings, which allowed the league to grow exponentially over the past 60 years, have faltered a bit lately: a drop of 16%, which is significant. Why? There was a national anthem kerfuffle; severe player injuries on the field, which sidelined many of its stars; recognition by the public that life-altering concussions occur all too frequently, and attendant to that, a prohibition by many mothers in allowing their sons to play football. All these factors at least chipped away at the NFL’s massive popularity.

Well, Mr. Gripes has a solution, and it’s staring right in the face of the sport’s grandees: betting on games. And this goes for every other sport out there.

Up to now, the various professional sports leagues have pushed mightily to not allow the public to bet on games of any kind [only one sport, horse racing, is generally permitted to take wagering in a public setting, and has been for centuries. Why is that sport exempted from the ban? Maybe because it’s forever been a pastime of rich and powerful men, but that’s just a guess.]

Why has virtually every professional sports league fought so vehemently against betting on competitive games across the board? Perhaps because gambling is considered a ‘sin’ in many quarters, including organized religion, and the politicians, who hold the hammer on this issue, don’t want to have to tangle with opposition generated by their more devout constituents? Or, the unproven fear that as gambling takes hold in a community, the moral fabric of that community will start to fray? 

In any event, the leagues now are beginning to change their tunes. Finally, it’s dawning on these rather slow-on-the-draw officials that the revenues the leagues could generate from legalized gambling would be absolutely huge. If they’re worried about television ratings, gambling will insure a much bigger audience, and consequently, much larger fees for the rights to televise these games.

And, they’d be entitled on some level to a percentage of the revenues generated by the betting.  Ten percent, let’s say, of the ‘take’ would mean a ‘gusher’ of cash for teams.

Its appeal to the public is assured. Here’s why: suppose the football New York Jets are playing the Indianapolis Colts. Mr. Gripes, who roots for the Jets, would like nothing more than to walk over to a betting establishment, lay $20 on the Jets to cover the point spread, and then settle down in front of an enormous TV to enjoy the game, over a huge hoagie, fries and pint of beer –ah, heaven on earth. And he’d probably make another bet on the second televised game as well.  A game is so much more interesting when there’s a wager involved. It’s a captive audience. Ask any sports fan.

Think of that $20 bet multiplied by a portion of the average 14,000,000 football viewers who watch a game on any given Sunday. If half of them bet $20, we’re talking revenues of $140,000,000!  And that’s just for that one Sunday afternoon.

If the politicians can get out of the way, this is a guaranteed bonanza. No need to brand, or expend millions on advertising. We all know how to bet. If it were permitted, many, many fans would love to gamble a little on games. When it’s legal, it can’t miss. And everyone wins: the states, cities and municipalities, which are desperate for cash, get a piece of the action [without raising taxes]; the leagues make a fortune as television ratings skyrocket…..and the public will love it.

It’s coming….in a decade, legalized sports gambling will be entrenched in this country.

Count on it.

Jim Israel, aka Mr Gripes
February 12, 2018

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pitt KO’s Weinstein/ A Rotting Democracy/ Trump Always Wins…

Harvey Gets It Caught in the Wringer --They were so certain of it: no matter how outrageous and criminal their behavior was regarding their treatment of women, the grandees of Hollywood – studio heads, directors, producers, really virtually anyone in the movie business who controlled the careers of women – were confident they had not a thing to worry about: as the big bosses, they could inflict any kind of sexual depredation upon their subjects, who wouldn’t dare say a word about it because ‘no one would believe them.’ The moguls were too rich, too famous, too powerful, too connected to ever be accused by some low-on-the-totem-pole starlet. They were untouchable.

Well, thank God, that’s over. Aggrieved women are coming out of the woodwork with their accounts of sexual misconduct. We have Harvey Weinstein to thank for that. He, and many others as well, after decades of untrammeled, incomprehensible criminal behavior, are finished [for the foreseeable future]. If criminal charges are not forthcoming, and they may not be, Mr. Weinstein is essentially ruined anyway – fired from his own studio, a wife and two young kids leaving him, unemployable, essentially a pariah among his peers, who will be essentially broke, once all the lawsuits and lawyer fees tumble forward.

Mr. Gripes, who in the best of times, is not the most empathetic character, asserts, “Too bad, Harvey. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. You’re a crude and egotistical pig. You deserve everything that’s happening to you.’

With all the tumult spewing forth these days, Mr. Gripes is puzzled by a few aspects of this scandal: why, for one, were there so little venom and outrage directed at Weinstein and the other predators by the victims’ boyfriends, husbands or significant males in their lives? In fact, it appears that there was virtually blanket silence and inaction on the part of these men. For a week, maybe, after Weinstein’s behavior was exposed, everyone in fact seemed to toe a party line: ‘I didn’t know a thing about this kind of behavior in Hollywood.’ Even the friends of the victims asserted this. 

Then suddenly everything shifted: it turned out, evidently, everyone knew of the Weinstein crimes, as well as a thousand others, and they’ve known for a long time. Ignorance was no longer thrown out there as a defense. A lot of people just kept their mouths shut.

So, I ask again: where were the men who lived with these women, who had serious relationships with them? Why, for decades, did we hear absolutely nothing from them? 

It turns out there is one gallant knight, perhaps, in this, although he basically didn’t do what was really called for either. Gwyneth Paltrow in a meeting was accosted in an ‘uncomfortable’ manner by Weinstein, escaped, went home, and told her boyfriend Brad Pitt about the incident.  Mr. Pitt subsequently accosted Weinstein at a gathering, and told him, I’m guessing, to ‘knock it off’. And that was the extent of it. Nothing more from any other male in Hollywood. Ms. Paltrow in fact continued to work with Weinstein afterwards. Is it all about careers, and no courage, out there?

What kind of man would ever allow a monster like Weinstein to put his hands on a woman, let alone someone whom you care about? Mr. Gripes shakes his head; I just don’t get it.

I’ll end this piece with a Gripes fantasy of an alternate ‘take’ on the Weinstein-Brad Pitt confrontation: Brad Pitt goes up to Weinstein at the party, after the incident, and yells, ‘Who do you think you are, you fat creep! Gynneth came home very scared after meeting with you the other day. You think you can just go up to any woman and put your slimy hands on her?’ 

At that point, in my fantasy, Mr. Pitt unloads his best impersonation of a Sonny Liston right cross-left hook combination, landing thunderous punches into the far-more-than-ample gut and solar plexus of Weinstein. Weinstein collapses on the floor, gasping, pleading with Brad to stop. ‘You’re despicable, Harvey, and if I hear of any other women whom you mess around with, and whom you hurt in any way, I will find you and beat you to a pulp. I promise you.’

Deeply enmeshed in his fantasy now, Mr. Gripes can almost hear the late announcer Howard Cosell intoning, ‘Down goes Weinstein! Down goes Weinstein! 1…2…3…4… The count is going to hit 10, and the bastard is out cold.’

An American Democracy? No More….As an innocent, patriotic kid growing up in the United States, Mr. Gripes just assumed – felt in his gut actually – that American governance had no peer in the world : a robust, prosperous, confident, indomitable democracy, a free people, an example for all nations. I thought it would go on forever. All of us growing up in the 1950’s believed that 1,000%.

And now look: in 2017, our government is 100% dysfunctional. That’s the sad truth.

No longer are elections ‘free’ and ‘open’. Not by a long shot. Instead of welcoming challengers, and looking forward to a fair fight, incumbents have ‘locked up’ the system, by either raising so much money that newcomers don’t have the stomach or the cash to even enter legislative contests, or incumbents are protected by the egregious, pernicious gerrymandering that gives every electoral advantage to those already in power.

Perfect example of ‘no-contest’: Governor Andrew Cuomo, who runs again, next year in New York, has already raised $25 million [!] for that campaign even though, at this point, he has no viable opponent to run against.  No one else will be able to raise money of that scale. That kind of money is overkill to the max; if the governor had only $15 in his re-election coffers, he’d still win. This is what incumbents do: raise so much money early, to scare off challengers.  And this is democracy? Give me a break. Incumbents are petrified of even token opposition. They’re cowards. And they’re re-elected 90% of the time, over and over again. [The lethargic, uninformed voting public is at fault too; as the cartoon character Pogo says, ‘I have met the enemy, and it is us.’]

It’s taken Mr. Gripes a long, long time to acknowledge a political epiphany – Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, from the South or the West or the East, politicians  do not believe in an equitable system; if they can – and they work ‘the angles’ very efficiently – eliminate the opposition in any quasi-legal way, they’ll do it. The sitting politicians mouth beautiful words about the strength of our democratic system, but work to eviscerate it at every turn. These gutless wonders are frightened to death of real democracy, real competition. American democracy is rotting at its core.

Trump, Trump, Trump? Well, He Wins, Wins, Wins…A couple of days ago, it was all about Senate candidate Roy Moore 24 hours of the day…then it was 24/7 on Pocahontas…tomorrow, maybe Jared Kushner, or Ivanka, or the fake drama of the tax bill. And it just goes on and on. For cable news, and to a lesser extent, network news, the beat-down on Trump never relents.  Mika Brzezinski, sighing and grimacing all the way to the bank, fretting about Donald the Gremlin; the monotonic Rachel Meadow smirking for a full hour [a couple of words of advice to Ms. Meadow:  just chill out and relax for a couple of minutes, and let your fans exhale, OK?]; CNN shuffling its countless panels of commentators on and off camera, whirling them back and forth, as if they were the teacups at the Disneyland ride, or Chris Cuomo dramatizing every tiny news item to death [His hurricane coverage was priceless]. Mr. Gripes watches less and less of the farce that is present-day American broadcast news. It’s simply insufferable.

And guess what? I don’t miss it one bit. Balanced coverage just doesn’t exist anymore. These days it’s a pitched battle between two sides which never agree on anything, and television ends up serving up biased pabulum to myopic viewers who already have made up their minds, and do not listen to any arguments to the contrary.

Television, in its usual cowardly fashion, has fundamentally given up trying to bridge the chasm between the two factions; Mr. Gripes thinks television news has probably always hyped the drama inherent in news events, but now, the hype has a bias attached to it to retain loyalty among viewers.

What is driving the anti-Trump brigades [of which there are millions and millions] especially crazy is that despite the constant Trump bashing, as well-deserved as it is most of the time, Trump is winning virtually all the fights. Congressional seats? The Republicans have netted four additional seats since January 20 over the Democrats; Obama’s health plan is being eviscerated bit by bit, and will disappear in a couple of years; a tax bill which will add $1.5 trillion to our debt, is a foregone winner now, and Trump’s support in electoral districts he won in 2016 has not diminished at all [it turns out the lower Trump poll numbers simply reflect higher Democratic support in urban blue states, the vast majority of which are solidly Democratic to begin with.] It looks like Trump will begin his next Presidential run with his supporters firmly in his back pocket.

What’s ahead? The Big One…Mr. Gripes is 100% certain Donald Trump is hiding something very damaging to him vis-à-vis his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. How do I know? I see with my own eyes: Trump’s actions and words are the giveaway: in dealing with everyone else, Trump is a bully, a sadist, a blowhard, a liar [Wow, what a liar], a bombast, an ignoramus, an egotist, and very likely a crook. With Putin, though, Donald Trump acts like the contented, fat house cat, purring away on his master Vladimir’s lap. Trump is guilty of something very, very serious. I have a feeling the answer lies in those undisclosed tax returns of his, which will be revealed someday. When that occurs, Trump could very well finally meet his Waterloo.

Jim Israel
Mr. Gripes
November 29, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trump's Still Around / Venezuela's Plight / Our Disastrous Mayor

Not So Fast, Democrats -- On several occasions, with the all-too-obvious backing of much of the ‘independent’ press, the Democrats were going to ‘stick it’ to Donald Trump, and ‘swipe’ a Congressional seat away from the Republicans, paving the way for a Democratic sweep in the 2018 House of Representatives general election.

Four times this year, the Democratic candidate, gleefully riding a palpable anti-Trump sentiment among American voters, was presumed to be a favorite to win the race.

Guess what? Never happened. Republicans: 4 for 4 – Democrats:0 -4- a big fat zero.

The Democrats act shocked that this could have occurred. How is it possible a villain of the proportions of Donald Trump can possibly win and win and win? Don’t voters see through the act?

No, they don’t. And Democrats – that means you Nancy Pelosi and the never-reticent Chuck Schumer – better find superior candidates and offer real substance to voters. Forget all the noise about which bathrooms to use, women’s pay, or immigrant reform; these issues don’t mean anything to people who are surviving from paycheck to paycheck and have been beaten up by the business and political classes for decades – of which, incidentally, both parties are guilty . Nancy, you need to come up with solutions, not more impossible-dream scenarios.

At least, Trump supporters will say, he’s yelling and screaming, and shaking things up. Obama didn’t do any of that: he solicitously took possession of a 425 page policy book, and retired to peruse it quietly in his study until midnight. Too damn quiet for a lot of people.

Mr. Gripes is absolutely not a fan of Donald Trump, not one bit. He’s everything that I abhor in a President: he’s got no intellectual curiosity, he’s a mean, dishonest son-of-a-bitch, he doesn’t care about his American constituency one whit, except as to how it feeds his excessive ego, and, let’s be honest about this, his pocket book and net worth. We’ll never know to what extent while he’s in office, but just imagine how much his family is amassing in terms of his fortune. We all know if we looked under the rock, the picture would be horrific.

Despite all the baggage, the lying, the duplicity, and the blatant incompetency, Donald Trump, unless he resigns, will be with us a long time.

Mr. Gripes has a couple of theories as to why Donald Trump remains in a strong position, despite the predictions of his doom:

Barack Obama : the ex-President appeared for a couple of months to be on permanent vacation, jumping off yachts, snorkeling among the Midway Islands, golfing at St. Andrews in Scotland. I hope you enjoyed yourself, Mr. Obama, because on your return home, you must have realized just getting off the plane you have zero power and influence. Your sycophantic fans think you still have clout, but in the real world, you don’t have any. It was a great run, but it’s really over.
To the Trump backers, Barack Obama has been the devil incarnate for a long time, a detested and reviled individual. A Trump supporter might say, ‘Donald Trump beat Hillary, and accomplishing that huge feat, managed to eviscerate and obliterate the Obama-Hillary conspiracy.’ And readers, have you noticed the ‘scorched earth’, anti-Obama policies since January 20? President Trump, like his voters, simply wants all traces of Obama and his eight years of liberal thinking and legislation eliminated.

For that one overriding achievement, the Trump supporters are willing to give the President a huge hug, no matter his outsized faults. ‘We will be eternally grateful,’ is the screed of the Trump crowd. Whatever President Trump does or does not do from now on, he’s done that.

There’s another less obvious possibility why Mr. Trump will probably not face his moment of truth any time soon: the ‘Trump bump’ on Wall Street. Since Mr. Trump’s triumph in November, the stock market has rocketed up. The affluent class in this country – Let’s put it at 25% of the population – has been significantly enriched since November. The upper classes, who were not Trump voters and certainly are still worried about his steadiness, feel less anguish and fear now that their IRAs are fattening up. People feel pretty good right now: as heavyweight Joe Lewis said regarding the check handed to him after one of his successful title fights, “One thing about money: it sure settles the nerves.”

It’s never mentioned by the big-mouths on network television, but Mr. Gripes senses this feeling of enhanced financial well-being among certain Americans mitigates against persistent Trump protests. The one demographic sector -- the upper middle class --that could effectuate regime change remains quiet. That sector was the driving force of Richard Nixon’s ignominious exit; Watergate was the excuse. When that class finally moved against Mr. Nixon en masse, he was finished. We’re a long, long way from that happening this time.

Venezuela --In my mid-teens, for one week during a summer, I accompanied my father to a medical conference in Caracas, Venezuela. My dad enjoyed the company, and both my parents must have figured a short trip to a foreign country might be a ‘learning experience’ for me, instead of wasting my time at home obsessing about Mickey Mantle and his home runs.
Well, I did sit in on a cardiology lecture for 45 minutes, observing one enlarged, blood-engorged heart after another. I decided on the spot that my activity for the next three days would be exploring Caracas on my own.

Despite the opulence of the hotel swimming pool, I chose to obtain some ‘carry-around’ money from my dad, and with the admonition not to ‘go too far’ from the hotel, I began to ‘tour’ the city. Caracas, from what I recall, was not a picturesque city, in the tradition of, say, Barcelona or Paris. In fact, it was a drab place, dominated by oil derricks in those days, and resembling New York City somewhat in its grittiness. Sightseeing was not one of its strengths.

But, I discovered, in my sojourns, that the Venezuelans themselves were helpful, kind, generous and very pleasant to a 15-year-old, sheltered boy. [On multiple occasions, shopkeepers would step out into the street, and present to me -- I offered to pay, but was refused – some kind of meat pie that must have been a national dish. I ate a ton of them.]

I always remember with fondness how friendly the people of Caracas were to me, with no ostensible animosity at all. I felt at ease with them immediately.

So, when I read these days of the apparent complete breakdown of the Venezuelan state, the political arrests and shootings, the dissolution of its institutions [judicial, economic], the ‘stolen’ elections, I react with two emotions: a profound sadness for those kind people and utter rage at – once again as has been the case since 1917 – the goddamn Communists who run the country.

It’s always been the same story, beginning with Nikolai Lenin taking a train to St Petersburg and starting the Bolshevik Revolution, the monster Josef Stalin, the murderous Mao killing tens of millions of his own citizens, or the psychopathic Fidel Castro, within two months of his ascension to power, executing hundreds of his own citizens and expropriating private property: these criminals  will cruelly treat anyone who may challenge the one-man dictatorship, and then dispose of them quickly via a noose or firing squad or imprisonment.

What’s absolutely stunning about Communists is that the story has been and always is the same: they usurp control with ‘power-to-the-people’ promises, and obliterate the one class that could do wonders for the country: the intelligentsia and the small business owners. Within a short time, without the assistance of the people who actually have the ability to run a country successfully, the Communists manage to destroy the economy, impoverish the citizens, and rule without mercy. They become homicidal psychopaths; holding on to power using any means available becomes the ultimate goal. And, of course, the United States becomes the universal scapegoat for these bastards.

The baboon Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, elected in a free election in 1998, and his successor Maduro are no different: they devastate the national economy [inflation the last time I looked was running at 720% annually!], to the point now citizens can’t get enough food, and Maduro and his henchmen hold on to power through only one means: the gun.
Final portrait of Mussolini
I just hope that Maduro, when he is finally overthrown, is treated just like Benito Mussolini was at the end of World War II: the former dictator of Italy was executed, then hung up, naked, by his ankles, at a public gas station, so his fellow Italians could confirm that he was dead, and then enjoy spitting on him. That would be entirely fitting for Mr. Maduro.

Our Incompetent Mayor – Mr. Gripes, once a card-carrying liberal, has been disenchanted with them for a long time: Conservatives, i.e., Republicans, invariably govern utilizing ill-conceived, cruel and economy-destroying policies alongside hollow promises, but Liberal ones, i.e., Democrats, go one better: they promise the world – balanced budgets, an ‘even playing field’ for all, ‘progressive’ actions without moneyed influence – but they lie, connive and cheat exactly like their Republican colleagues.
EVERY politician alive is interested in three things: raising tons of money, destroying his opponents, and getting re-elected. Nothing else, especially sound and responsible policy, matters.

Let’s look at the case of the present mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. A pleasant enough man whom I know from our local YMCA, he’s sadly turned out to be nothing more than another grubby, low-life city pol who’s looking for money virtually every waking moment. Oh, sure, he invariably talks up his ‘progressive’ stances, but it’s a bunch of baloney.

An example: early in his term, a couple of years ago, he advocated, very strongly I might add, replacing the work horses which lead tourist carriages around Central Park, with automobiles [!!]. These electric-run autos would be built along the designs of vintage antique cars, i.e., the Ford Model T. Why the hell, Mr. Gripes wondered at the time, would our mayor look to replace one of the signature city tourist attractions with a car? [Or, as a friend of mine asserted, ‘Like New York needs more cars?’]

My father, long before Watergate, taught his children that ‘if things don’t really make a lot of sense, follow the money streams….’

It turns out that the chief backer of the plan to eliminate the horses and replace with automobiles had donated $300,000 to Mr. de Blasio’s Democratic primary campaign.  The donor was and is a very wealthy real estate developer in the city. That money was subsequently used to buy TV advertising spots which attacked the mayor’s chief primary rival, Christine Quinn. Later, Ms. Quinn was beaten badly in the primary. It turns out that these horses are housed in stables located midtown on the West Side [52nd Street], a property that has long been coveted by real estate developers. Mr. de Blasio’s contributor, whose group ultimately donated $1 million to the full campaign, it seems, wanted very badly to eliminate the Central Park horse-carriage business and empty out the stables. Then builders would bid on the now-unoccupied space, with the winner putting up a high-rise apartment building on the site, netting presumably hundreds of millions in the current red-hot New York real estate market. The way New York City bidding works, guess who’s most likely to ‘win’? 

I don’t think for a moment the developer cared about the welfare of those animals, which was his justification for pushing to eliminate horses in Central Park. Real estate moguls – look at Trump’s sordid history – don’t fret over a matter of a horse’s work load for a second. These guys would run over the horses with their limousines if it meant getting their hands on that valuable piece of property.

Another facet of this plan actually made Mr. Gripes even angrier: the Mayor proposed building a $25 million stable to house the retired horses in Central Park -- public land by the way. $25 million to be paid out of the city budget [NYC taxpayers] for a building that’s to hold maybe 80 horses! This is not a Frank Lloyd Wright design we’re talking about. It’s a horse stable, for God’s sake, a simple, inexpensive construction of some wooden walls and roof; an oil by Cezanne is not required. The entire deal reeks of pure larceny and corruption, and yet the legislation almost passed.

Through divine intervention, perhaps, on the eve of the vote to approve in the City Council – usually a lap-dog organization for de Blasio, akin to Khrushchev’s Politburo --the project was killed. It was even too toxic for our typically brain-dead municipal representatives. Alas, our fine Mayor promises to revisit the entire issue after he’s re-elected. In New York City, big donors ultimately get paid.

Jim Israel, aka Mr. Gripes
July 12, 2017