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August 2022

The Teflon Donald

The Teflon Donald

            Robert A. Levine  8-29-22

The Mafia mastermind John Gotti was labeled by the media as the Teflon Don years ago because of his ability to evade punishment for his criminal activities. His abilities to find a way to make criminal charges and illegal activities not stick to him appears to have been transferred to our previous president Donald Trump. When you think about it, it seems amazing how many illegal or unethical situations he has wiggled his way out of over the years. Not only that, he has managed to accumulate tens of millions of followers who accept his false statements as truth had worship his corrupt persona. Is he coated with some sort of invisible material that forces the truth to bounce off him but allows his lies to escape?

Prior to entering the political arena Trump was considered a successful businessman by large numbers of Americans, even though many of his businesses were abject failures. Though he claimed to be a billionaire real estate mogul, four of his real estate ventures filed for bankruptcy in the past. These include the Trump Taj Mahal in 1991, the Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in 2004, and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. In some of these restructurings, billions of dollars of debt had been accumulated with Trump having personal liability and loss of some of his stake, as well of those of his investors. The Trump Airline Shuttle was never a profitable business and defaulted on its debt in 1990. The Trump University, aka the Trump Wealth Institute functioned from 2005-2010, supposedly teaching students how to make money in real estate and other investments. It was not an accredited institution and used high pressure tactics to recruits students, though it was actually a scam. There were several lawsuits against Trump and the company which he settled by paying $25 million in 2016, post-election. Successful businessman? Give me a break. Yet millions of Americans still see him in that light.

Since his election to the presidency in 2016, there have been multiple questions about illegitimate activity, many of them not yet resolved. The Mueller investigation regarding Trump’s involvement with Russian officials for help in his 2016 election campaign concluded there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy. However, the investigation noted that Trump accepted Russian assistance and believed it would benefit him. He was impeached twice in the House because of his questionable actions but not convicted because of Republican support in the Senate. The first impeachments in 2019 were initiated with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The second impeachment was on charges of incitement of insurrection relating to the Jan 6 raid on the Capitol.

In addition, after the 2020 presidential election, Trump claimed and continues to claim that the election was stolen from him, though there has been no evidence of fraud and the courts have turned down his suits multiple times. Notwithstanding, Trump still denies that he lost and has encouraged his followers to change election laws and place supporters in positions at state and local levels to decide any future elections.

Currently, a grand jury in Georgia is investigating whether Trump tried to influence officials to change the vote totals to favor him, an obviously criminal act of election interference. The DOJ and FBI have taken boxes of classified and top secret documents in a search of Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago that Tromp brought with him illegally when he left the White House. The taking of these documents which were left in various parts of his home may have compromised national security. This may open him to a number of criminal charges if the DOJ pursues it further including obstruction and violation of the Espionage Act.

Alan Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, recently pleaded guilty to 15 criminal charges involving tax evasion and has agreed to testify against the Trump Organization. Whether this will include Trump himself is uncertain, but it does appear that Trump valued his holdings differently for tax purposes and to acquire bank loans. It could lead to charges against him for tax evasion. In a deposition regarding this, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment multiple times.

In addition to the above possible criminal actions, Trump also faces a host of civil lawsuits for various actions. However, the bottom line is with all the charges and lawsuits that are pending, Trump has not been found guilty on any of them yet, has not spent a day in jail and has not paid a dollar in any of the suits against him. So far! He also has the backing of his Republican base and the vast majority of Republican politicians. Teflon perhaps?

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Trump and Authority Figures

Trump and Authority Figures

                        Robert A. Levine 8-22-22

The conflict occurring between Donald Trump and the Justice Department should not be surprising to anyone who has followed The Donald over the years. This narcissistic behemoth has had difficulty with authority figures all of his life, especially those who disagree with him or contest his authenticity or beliefs. Perhaps it can be traced back to his relationship with his father who provided the funds to start The Donald on his quest for success, and bailed him out at times when he failed. Like his father, Trump has never had any compunctions about bending the rules or ignoring them completely in actions that favor him financially or politically. His father Fred lied about his German heritage after WW II, claiming that he was Swedish. In his real estate dealings he was manipulative and deceptive, paying off politicians at times to get his way. He saw life as being continuous combat and his son followed in his footsteps. People were either successful or losers and both father and son never wanted the latter identification.

As a child, Trump was a disciplinary problem and loved to fight, getting into trouble with school authority figures. To bring him under control, his father sent him to the New York Military Academy, hoping to instill discipline in The Donald. He spent his first year of college at Fordham then transferred to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where it is rumored that he was admitted because of a donation from his father. Subsequently, he went into the real estate business with seed money from his father with a number of his projects going bankrupt. The same is true of his airline and online university, though he claims to have been a successful businessman.  

His ability to spout various claims and lies, and overt actions that conflict with the norms of society have frequently placed him in confrontations with various authority figures whom he tends to dismiss as lying or being beneath him. But while he may call these people names and label them in vicious and terrible ways, he has been unwilling to substantiate many of his claims in areas where they called him to task. Why has he never released his tax returns unlike every other presidential candidate? Trump says he’s a billionaire and it may be true but he’s never presented evidence of it. He calls himself a genius but has threatened to sue any institution that releases his grades or SAT scores. Of what is this “genius” afraid? Trump did not even know that Finland was not part of Russia according to some of his national security advisors.

He claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. However, aside from speaking in ambiguities, he and his minions have offered no proof of any significant fraud that could have altered the election. He continues to harp on the contention that he won the election because he doesn’t want to be labeled a loser and can use election denial to raise funds. But in multiple cases where he has gone to the courts for redress, he has been turned down for lack of any evidence. Even so, the majority of his base believes the lie that the election was stolen.

In the past when dealing with federal officials regarding violations and housing discrimination in the buildings owned by his firm, he has called them Gestapo agents. Similarly, he has labeled the FBI as Gestapo for searching his home in Mar-a-Lago for classified documents under court order. In keeping these documents, he did not believe that the rules applied to him. He constantly taunts the authority of the mainstream media, describing their information as fake news when it places him in a bad light. He dismisses the actions of the courts when they rule against him.

Trump is a malignant narcissist who believes he is above the law, can say and do what he wants and no authority can touch him. The sad thing is that the vast majority of Republicans believe him.

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America Needs Immigrants

America Needs Immigrants

                        Robert A. Levine

If America is going to continue to be an economic colossus, we need more workers. The “great resignation,” Covid retirements and low birth rates have all contributed to a need to fill open jobs. That can only be accomplished by increasing immigration. Throughout American history, immigrants have always played a large role in America's workforce.

Population growth has been declining in America as birth rates have become lower, a trend that will only be exacerbated in the future. In the 1970s and 1980s, population growth of people in their prime working years-25-54, in the United States was over 2 percent, fostered by both elevated birth rates and immigration. Currently, population growth in these prime working years has slipped to 0.2 percent. With birth rates continuing to decrease and immigration being restricted, a further dearth of prime age workers can be expected in the future. Recent surveys have noted that over 20 percent of young women want to remain childless and never have children.

Even in this age of automation and increased use of robotics, our economy cannot continue to operate efficiently and grow without the availability of more workers. This includes both unskilled laborers and highly skilled and educated high tech workers. The most recent unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, an extremely low level. And job openings are going unfilled as there are not enough workers to take these positions.

It is true that the pandemic of Covid 19 has played a role in the increased number of job openings, with large numbers of workers resigning from their jobs, looking for higher pay, better working conditions, or just retiring. But an insufficient number of workers are returning to work and there are not enough men and women stepping into the work force to replace them. And this will only get worse given the nation’s low birth rate. It is not only the United States that is having lower birth rates in recent years. This trend has been present in virtually every advanced nation.

Reasons for lower birth rates include more women who are career oriented and people marrying at later ages. In addition, America does not provide enough affordable child day care options for mothers who want to work and does not sufficiently subsidize the cost of raising children. This includes the costs of education, particularly for parents who expect their children to pursue higher education.

While it is possible that the nation’s birth rate could increase if government provided a sufficient supporting role for parents and children, those who were born in the next few years would not be ready to enter the work force for at least two decades. We need workers now. The only way to immediately augment the number of workers would be through allowing more legal immigration.

Lower skilled workers are needed for agricultural jobs, butchering and meat packing work, construction jobs, positions in the hospitality industry which is now growing again, truck driving and so forth. High-tech workers are also required. And workers in health care are in great demand. This includes physicians, nurses, and health aides. Shortages of primary care physicians and nurses are particularly acute in many areas of the country.

It should be remembered that high-tech immigrants are responsible for large numbers of America’s patents as well as producing start-up companies. The latter provide jobs for many American workers and help the growth of our economy.

Though there are white nationalists who would like to restrict the number of non-white immigrants and worry about changing demographics, a strong economy is what makes America exceptional and allows it to play an important role on the international stage. In addition to raising immigration quotas, the government should also do whatever is possible to increase domestic birth rates by putting better child care and financial subsidies in place.

Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble