Friday, September 2, 2016

Alas, The Olympics Again/ Money, Money, Mr. Trump/ A Rio Gas Station at 4 a.m.

The Olympics: Same Old, Same Old – Finally, the Olympic Games are over, concluding with a cliché-riddled speech by the head of the International Olympic Committee – ‘every four years, athletes from all countries come together in peace and harmony, blah, blah, blah’ – that kind of empty-headed bull crap.

Mr. Gripes, to his astonishment, watched the competitions much more than he envisioned: I did have ground rules, though, that probably tamped down a bit my incandescent anger at the whole concept of present-day Olympics: I watched no swimming events-- ‘splish-splash, I’m taking a bath’, to me, is monumentally tedious;  I tried to avoid events that were taped, only live events [online, everything was available live, thank God] and I generally avoided most of the star-spangled NBC coverage at night. 

Actually, to be honest, I’m in favor of abolishing this entire extravaganza: shut it down for good.

What do the Games actually accomplish? It forces the selected host countries to essentially bankrupt themselves erecting structures and stadiums that -- you can count on this – will never be utilized again. A colossal waste of money for a nation like Brazil, which is in the midst of an enormous recession, as well as simultaneously dealing with political unrest and scandal [the President of Brazil was impeached a month ago.] What will they get ultimately out of these Olympics? Nothing but huge financial debts that will plague them for decades.

And, the competition is, to use a very au currant word, ‘rigged’. No, races are not fixed per se, but the competition is invariably the ‘haves vs. have-nots.’ The ‘haves’ – and the United States is far and away the leader of the ‘have’ pack – can hire the best coaches, buy the latest equipment, erect state-of-the-art facilities to train individual sports, ‘pay’ the athletes with corporate marketing dollars allowing them to train full-time, and basically outspend by tens of millions what  the poorer countries can afford. Do my readers actually think the swimming competition, for instance, proves that Americans are inherently superior to other countries? Of course not. They just have far more resources at their disposal.

A couple additional comments and then I’ll tiptoe my way out of Rio: Mr. Gripes posited this identical question four years ago during the London games: why must America, the most powerful country ever on Earth, constantly be reassured that we’re the greatest? Is the national psyche that fragile? Can we ever show some humility towards our vanquished opponents? It was bad enough that announcers [especially on NBC at night] never let up on the ceaseless shilling for America. It seems we’re incapable of ever displaying real sportsmanship. We have to dominate and humiliate. For instance: the American women’s Olympic basketball team won all of its games by an average of 40+ points…40+ points! 

The players understood perfectly well that they faced essentially no competition in their games. Massapequa Junior High would have given them more of a contest. Yet, in the team photo taken after the gold medal game, every one of them is ‘vamping’ for the camera, making faces and gesturing for the picture. I found that image obscene. You observe the photograph, and one word comes to mind: bullies. Men, with their raging testosterone issues, can be counted on to act stupidly. You women don’t have to mimic the activities of those idiots. Just be humble and gracious to the opposition.

I’ll leave now with a few things I did like: the long-distance running races, from the 1500 meters to the marathon, were always entertaining [the Africans offered great competition against the big boys]. And, I had the privilege of watching perhaps the most exciting tennis match I’d ever seen: del Potro vs. Nadal in the semis. Great drama. Finally, and definitely not least: the rugby matches were sensational. Speed, power, toughness, and intelligence predominated: that’s rugby. The gold medal was won by Fiji, which had never won a medal of any kind prior to the Rio games. Hooray for the have-nots.

Money, Money Makes Donald’s Head Spin ‘Round ‘n Round…Of all his malevolent personality deficiencies – egomania, cruelty, lack of compassion, obsessive self-love – that would disqualify him for the Presidency in a more rational country, Mr. Trump’s insatiable lust for money stands out.

Money, money, money: I think, after all is said and done, that’s the end-all and be-all of the Trump overweening ambition. His pathological – and it is pathological – thirst for money is what propels him every waking moment. Even the power that would accrue with a Presidential victory is subsumed by his obsession for more and more money.  Everything about him – the pathological lying, the dissembling, an inability to focus for more than a few minutes, a disdain for anything not material to him – stems from a primal and insatiable need to amass as much as he can. And his history demonstrates he’ll do anything – legal or illegal – to achieve his goals.

I’ll give you an example: Mr. Trump establishes Trump University. I suspect everyone connected with the ‘university’ at its onset, including Trump, knew the concept was a scam: naïve and probably not particularly bright individuals, bedazzled by the apparent glamour and success of Trump, sign up for courses purportedly designed by Trump himself – he might say, ‘apply the lessons I impart to you, and you’ll be on your way to incredible wealth.’ Well, as you know, from the start, it was a total rip-off. The courses turned out to be worthless -- but the misery and deception didn’t stop there: there were additional, higher-level courses to enroll in, at increasing cost. 

In fact, ‘students’ of the university are encouraged to max out on credit card loans to take additional courses that cost up to $35,000! And most of these students were probably not in a position to carry that kind of debt. In a just environment, that fraud by itself is a criminal act perpetrated by Donald Trump, and he’d probably go to trial and jail ultimately. He knew his university was a total sham, but you can bet that he took tuition money from essentially ‘innocent’ students gleefully, with absolutely no regrets. He’s a thief, and a rotten bastard.

Let’s look at the bigger financial picture of Trump and his university. At its most profitable, what would it really yield in terms of profit for Mr. Trump? $25 million? $50 million? Why does someone with a net worth of billions bother with a puissant business like Trump University? It’s basically peanuts on his bottom line. But, that’s Donald Trump in a nutshell: a greedy, money-grubbing scoundrel, out to screw people out of every penny they possess.

One can only imagine how much he’s salivating over the donations coming into his campaign coffers now: during July for example, his campaign raised $64 million, which he will split 50/50 with the Republican National Committee – that’s $32 million under 100% control of Trump.. And we’ve got 3 more months to go:  $125 million total could enter the Trump coffers. Do any of my readers actually think that’s going for campaigning solely? No way. He’ll figure out a way to monetize a large part of that sum to his personal account. That’s the way he works. ‘Hand that money over – I raised it; it’s mine.’

He’s already doing it: Mr. Gripes read somewhere that the rates for the suites in Trump Tower that are being rented out to the campaign are much greater than a normal rental would cost. One can only imagine: 8x, 10x. Who knows? But Donald screwing somebody, that’s for certain. And what about his private plane that he jets around in to make campaign appearances? Donald Trump is paying himself an enormous fee to rent his own plane. Count on it.

A successful trip.
And, as a corollary to his money fixation, he’s cheap, too – that’s the other side of the coin. Mr. Gripes recalls when Mr. Trump chose not to appear for one of the Republican primaries, and instead asserts triumphantly that during the time of the debate he’ll raise money ‘for the vets.’ Afterwards, he insists he raised $6 million for the veterans, of which he’ll contribute $1 million dollars to the cause.

Well, after a month, veterans groups start complaining that they have not received the money that they were promised by Mr. Trump. The press gets hold of this, and all hell breaks loose. I doubt the $6 million Trump promised was ever raised, of course, and I suspect he hoped the whole debacle would simply disappear from public view. It didn’t, and he had to – very begrudgingly – finally contribute his million dollars to the vets.

The whole deal speaks so eloquently of the Trump personality: the grandiosity, the deceit, the ‘never will I be sorry’ attitude, and the naked selfishness. He had no intention of forking over that $1 million to the veterans. He didn’t give a damn about his promises. He’s thinking, ‘That money belongs to me, not to those losers.’

The Swimmers and Rio – For his last piece, Mr. Gripes would like to pivot back to Rio and the Olympics and discuss – briefly, I promise – the American swimmers and their 4 am ‘event’ at a Rio gas station.

I would imagine most of you know the basic details of what occurred: Ryan Lochte, the most well-known of the four – and three other team members had attended a party hosted by the French team, and were heading back to the Olympic Village very early in the morning. The taxi stopped at a gas station, where the four men, certainly inebriated, ‘vandalized’ the restroom a bit – broken mirror, kicked-in door, ripped-up wall poster, that kind of petty damage.

They then return to the cab to resume the ride to the Village. While in the car, getting ready to leave, still at the pumps, a ‘security guard’ runs out and sticks a gun through a front window, and makes everyone get out of the car. Apparently, the athletes were then coerced to hand over $70 to cover the damage. And back to the Olympic Village rooms they went.

Initially, Mr. Lochte reported that he and his friends were robbed at gunpoint, and their wallets emptied of cash. Wallets were returned, sans cash, but nothing else was taken. Never happened like that. The Rio police force and prosecutor’s office were absolutely incensed that the Americans besmirched the fine name of Rio – Ha! – with their false charges of robbery.

At first blush, yes, Mr. Gripes was angry with the Americans carrying on like louts – idiots, actually. It’s insane to be drunk, then damage an establishment in the middle of an extremely violent city, where you don’t know the language, and you don’t have the foggiest idea where you are. Besides it’s the middle of the night. They’re very fortunate they were not robbed and killed.

Not exactly.
But my sentiments eventually began to side with the swimmers. Perhaps that sounds incredibly hypocritical, considering my criticisms of American athletes at these Olympic Games – all the showboating and ‘we’re-the-greatest’ boorish behavior that was on display during the two weeks.

But, for this incident, I back the Americans. Oh, sure, the Brazilians make a big stink about the rumored ‘robbery.’ No, no, they insisted, there was no robbery. Nothing happened.

Well, Senor Police Chief, in the United States, where there are real laws, that absolutely was a robbery. You can’t, in Philadelphia, say, stick a gun in someone’s face, and force him to hand over money, for any reason. That’s armed robbery, Big Shot. Or, two days later, the last of the American swimmers still remaining in Brazil has to pay $11,000 to a ‘charity’ to pay his way out of the god-forsaken country. Where I come from, that’s extortion. ‘Charity,’ my ass.

Sorry, you boys from Brazil, despite all your protestations about how Brazil’s honor was defiled by the American athletes, and despite your hope that Rio will now be viewed as a safe city for tourists to visit, no one with half a brain who examines what occurred at 4 am at the gas station that morning is headed for Rio any time soon. It’s a very dangerous place. Cross Rio off Mr. Gripes’ bucket list.

By Jim Israel 
aka ‘Mr. Gripes’
September 1, 2016

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