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

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