Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trump Book Review

New Trump Book Highlights the Absurd
By Jim Vail 

The Trump billion dollar smirk!
Someone compared the US presidential elections to American Idol where the candidates have to perform their song and dance routine and the one who makes it to the final round is the nominee of one of the two political parties.

The judges are the donors, today’s one percent who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into various campaigns to determine who is allowed to enter the contest.

The winner this year is Mr. Donald Trump, who most of us did not expect to be a serious contender to represent the Republican Party. One of those who knew Trump was no joke and followed his antics for over 30 years was star investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. The former award-winning New York Times reporter wrote a fascinating book called The Making of Donald Trump, which covers everything from Trump mixing with the mob, impersonating himself, spreading lies and fighting lawsuits to become one of two people who will be our next president.

God help us!

You know you are reading a good book when the person living with you is worried about all the laughter and snickering coming out of you as you flip through the pages. I kept shaking my head and saying ‘no way’ repeatedly. Trump is one fascinating, if not brilliant and warped, egotistical con man, who proves the more you lie, the better your chances for success. This guy has got Mr. President written all over his smirk-filled face!

According to the book’s inside cover, Johnston has drawn on decades of interviews, financial records, court documents and public statements to give us “the most in-depth look yet at the man who would be president.”

The author reminds the reader in his introduction that Trump first ran on the Reform Party ticket in 2000 and told people he would be the first person to run for president and make a profit by giving ten speeches at motivational speaking events hosted by success profit Tony Robbins.

True to his brilliant investigatory skills, Johnston sticks to the facts and not the rhetoric that makes up most of the headlines and TV news reports covering today’s presidential race. He starts by mentioning what the word Trump means: a winning play by a card, to deceive or cheat or to forge, fabricate or invent. Yup – that’s our guy.

Johnston writes that Trump’s brilliance lies in how he manages public perception. “His wealth and public prominence are closely tied to his success in focusing the attention of journalists where he wants it and his skill in deflecting inquiries by law enforcement and people suing him for alleged civil fraud or failure to make payments.”

The beginning takes an interesting look at his father Fred, who Trump modeled himself after. His father cheated the government in building public housing for returning soldiers and hired bikini models to turn people’s attention away from his scandalous profit-driven activities.

His son’s clown-like antics never fail to amuse: “’I have to tell you about losers,’ he tells an audience. ‘I love losers because they make me feel so good about myself.’”
He recommends revenge as business policy and has been a party in more than 3,500 lawsuits. But amazingly no criminal convictions.

I would say that Trump’s dealings with the mafia and other criminal operators actually make him a qualified businessman because much of our economy is tied to both lawful and unlawful economic activities. For example, loan sharking was once the Italian mob’s domain, now it is a significant part of our major banks’ portfolios.

Trump made a lot of deals with the mob because those were the people you had to deal with in New York when it came to real estate and construction, or in Atlantic City when he opened his casinos. For example, Trump’s partner Roy Cohn, a notorious lawyer who worked with the mob and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, allowed his buildings to be built with secret deals to make sure there were no worker strikes despite hiring undocumented workers because the mob controlled the construction trade unions. In 1978 Trump hired mobbed-up construction firms to erect Trump Tower.

Trump’s foray into the casino business perfectly illustrates how corrupt our government regulators are. He persuaded the New Jersey attorney general to limit the investigation of his background, despite the promise to voters to do thorough criminal background checks so that Atlantic City would not become a mob-run Las Vegas East. His open association with the mafia should have disqualified him from running a casino. It did not.

Trump made an interesting run against the National Football League by filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL after he bought the New Jersey Generals in 1983 in the short-lived United States Football League. He charged, and rightly so, that the NFL had a monopoly on TV coverage of its games. (No different than the monopoly the Democrats and Republicans hold on our political system.) A jury agreed with Trump that the NFL engaged in criminal behavior that an appeals court said, “willfully acquired or maintained monopoly power in a market consisting of major-league professional football in the U.S.” They awarded the USFL damages of one dollar.

Even though Trump does business with drug dealers, he doesn’t smoke or drink, according to the book. Despite his flashy clothes and multi-million dollar real estate deals, he’s as cheap as hell. Amazingly, Trump could build skyscrapers in the middle of Manhattan, and hire undocumented workers, cheat them out of their pay and neglect basic safety precautions without attracting government job-safety inspectors. “Whenever Trump saw an opportunity to collect more money or to cut his costs by not paying people what they had earned, he did.”

The image of Mr. Trump takes front and center. At a time when Trump told journalists he was worth $3 billion, Johnston discovered he was actually in the red by almost $300 million. While he overstates his properties’ worth, he also understates or even hides debts, and underreports to the tax authorities the real value of assets. His disclosure report stated one of his properties was worth $50 million, but he told the tax authorities it was only worth $1 million. How good is Trump at the con game? He got Chase Manhattan – now JP Morgan Chase – to give him a mortgage on his Mar-a-Lago estate with no public record.

According to the book, Trump could not pay his casino bills in 1990. However, the Division of Game Enforcement (DGE), which should have gone after high-level offenders like Trump rather than little people stealing poker chips, stated the same argument our government made to bail out the big banks, a Trump bankruptcy would have resulted in a domino-effect chain of bankruptcies and destroyed the casino economy. Part of the deal was cutting Trump’s monthly allowance from $583,000 to only $450,000. Too big to fail or too full of it?

Eventually Trump filed for four bankruptcies that cost investors more than $1.5 billion.
“If government hadn’t saved him by taking his side against his bankers, we almost certainly would not be imagining the prospect of Donald Trump living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, he would have drowned in a sea of red ink.”

Because this book takes such an interesting look into the American world of business and all its ugliness, this book review be a two-part series. The second part will take a look at Trump’s fake women, tax scams and how to evade the sales tax that make this con artist the quintessential businessman turned Republican presidential candidate.   


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