Friday, September 04, 2015

Donald Trump, Bullying & the Very Very Rich


by Gaius Publius

This is a tale of three videos.

As you know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed recently in which he discussed Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Here's part of what he said (my occasional emphasis):
Ernest Hemingway once said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have recently tested this proposition. And how each man responded revealed the type of person he is and the type of president he would make: Trump authored his own doom, and Sanders opened immense new possibilities as a compassionate person and serious candidate for president.

Here’s where it went fatally wrong for Trump. During the GOP debate on Fox, when Megyn Kelly famously queried him about his attitude toward women (whom he has called “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “animals”) he hit back by threatening the questioner: “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”

Bad enough to alienate women in this way, but there’s even more insidious political crime here: attacking the First Amendment’s protection of a free press by menacing journalists. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said coyly. If you wouldn’t do it, why bring up that you could? For no other reason than to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions. If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged. Yet here it is. Right here. Right now.

Later, after Trump had blamed her attitude on her menstrual cycle, Kelly went on what Fox says was a planned vacation. Nevertheless, Trump suggested he may have been the cause. What kind of candidate takes credit for bullying the media? And last week, Trump allowed Univision reporter Jorge Ramos to be ejected from a press conference for asking questions about immigration without being called upon. Ramos was later readmitted and permitted to ask about immigration, during which he said Trump could still deport immigrants compassionately. “I have a bigger heart than you do,” Trump replied. Trump’s non-specific answer to the question ended with a personal insult directed at the reporter.
Trump’s vendetta against the press extended to the Des Moines Register. When the paper issued an editorial calling for Trump to withdraw from the campaign, he refused to give the paper’s reporters credentials to attend his campaign event in Iowa in July. He also called the paper “failing” and “very dishonest.” Other journalists he thinks have treated him harshly he refers to as “losers” or unintelligent, as if the definition of lack of intelligence is to not agree with him.

Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American.
Unlike Howie, who discussed this op-ed earlier, the part I want to focus on isn't the First Amendment, nor the press, nor Bernie Sanders, nor even Donald Trump as a person. It's the bullying.

Bullying in the World of the Wealthy

Play the clip at the top again (it's just over 40 seconds), and notice the sneering, the arrogance, the presumption of power. Notice also, at the 0:17 mark, how he uses just his lips to signal his — what, bodyguard? — to act like a goon squad and physically force Ramos out of the room. Trump sneers, smacks his lips to summon the goon, and the goon lays hands on the reporter.

This is exercise of power, presumption of power, and comfort with the presumption of power — all three — on Trump's part. It's a way of saying and showing, "I'm at the top, I deserve to be at the top, and I'm going to use all of the power that being at the top provides me."

At the tip of the pyramid, the very top of the U.S. (and international) food chain, this kind of sneering, bullying, and presumption of the right to bully, is almost the norm. This is really the way a surprising number of people in that position regularly act. The fact that we rarely see it, and therefore rarely associate them with this extreme arrogance, isn't a function of their not doing it. It's a function of their invisibility. Until Donald Trump.

The Hidden World of "Our Betters" ...

I wrote elsewhere, in a piece on Deep State and how the U.S. is controlled, that "You can vote for the puppets, but not the puppeteers."

That's obviously true, once you think about it. You can't vote for David Koch, just Scott Walker. You can't vote for Sheldon Adelson, just Marco Rubio. And so on.

It's also true that we almost never see the puppeteers, or their world. We don't see their homes (their gold, crystal and mahogany palaces really), their jets, their yachts, their servants, their private schools, their privileges. We imagine that they have estates. We don't imagine that they have dozens of them, each.

For example, Jeff Greene is a New York billionaire — literally billionaire — who made his money in real estate. This is how he lives, via New York magazine:
It’s incredible, right?” shouts Jeff Greene over the roar of the two-seater dune buggy’s motor. “It’s 55 acres!” Still in his whites from this morning’s tennis match, he’s giving a personal tour of his Sag Harbor estate, barreling at 30 miles per hour through the vast forest of scrubby pines and soft moss of its gated grounds. “Beautiful nature here!” A blur of deer goes by, and the trees break to reveal the summer sun glinting off a grassy lagoon. Greene slows by its shore. “This is our swan pond, and this is our private beach,” he says, gesturing toward a slip of white sand encircling the edge of the North Haven Peninsula. “It goes all the way to the ferry. Three thousand feet of beach,” he adds, a smile spreading across his tanned face.
The punch line?
[2009 is] when he picked up this property for around $40 million (half the 2007 listing price), which he and his wife have christened “Greene Haven.” “I wish we could spend more time here,” he says. “Honestly, we have so many great homes.”
When you imagine great wealth, do you imagine it on that scale? Likely not, because that world is invisible. Until Donald Trump.

... Is Being Revealed by Donald Trump

What's different about Donald Trump? He's not just the puppet, meaning the candidate — he's his own puppeteer. This means that for the second time in modern electoral history, a puppeteer has put himself on center stage. The first was Mitt Romney, he of the "47%" speech. Before him we've had just puppets, financed solely by others.

If it's true that you can't vote for Sheldon Adelson, say, only his puppet Mario Rubio, it's even more true that you can't even see Sheldon Adelson most of the time, or David Koch, or Jamie Dimon. (Do you know what any of their voices sound like, for example?  Do you know if Jamie Dimon is tall or short?)

But occasionally one of them makes an unwanted public appearance, and then we see who they are. This is Sheldon Adelson, courtesy of a must-read 2012 piece by Rick Perlstein in Rolling Stone:
Why GOP Mega-Donor Sheldon Adelson Is Mad, Bad and a Danger to the Republic

... Adelson's company Las Vegas Sands (LVS) spends more on security for him and his family than any other publicly held corporation, $2.5 million – two and a half times more than Dell, Oracle, and Amazon spend on their CEOs. He usually ambles around with an armed former agent of the Mossad, Israel's spy agency – for instance, into a deposition for a lawsuit filed by employees (including security guards!) claiming they hadn't been paid overtime. It was quite a scene – and one that you can see for yourself, because once Adelson tried to have the plaintiffs' lawyers cited for contempt after a TV station received and aired a videotape of the deposition, the publication Vegas Inc. ran the video as part of their coverage of this latest Adelson legal action. It reveals a creepy sourpuss who is a blatant liar: Adelson said he brought in the muscle because he felt threatened when the plaintiff lawyer "attempted to throw books at" him. See for yourself (at 2:40) if such a thing ever happened, then his astonishing petulance when a lawyer objects to continuing a legal proceeding with an armed janissary staring him down.
And here's that video. Feel free to focus on the fact that Adelson brought "muscle," armed muscle, into a deposition. But also focus just on his manner. How like Donald Trump is Sheldon Adelson?

If the above video does not appear or play in your browser, go here, or play this link in a media player. But please do watch; it's a doozy. It's also the second video in this three-video piece.

My point? Donald Trump is peeling the mask off the world of the mega-rich, the very very rich. And far too many of them are like what you see here. Bullies and proud of it.

Conan the Politician

It's almost like they've taken lessons from this man, isn't it?

And that's your third video. If you want the single reason your descendants may be hunter-gatherers, to take one consequence, you're looking at it.


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At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is just going to make a stupendous "first American dictator"!

John Puma

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok. good, if obvious points made.

H R Perot was the first contemporary mega-rich douchenozzle to run, allowing the disastrous Clinton admins to serve banking and telecom and rich interests with great fidelity.

Like Herr Trump, Perot did make many worthwhile points ("that giant sucking sound..."). Will Trump be eventually viewed as just too odd to elect? Perot was a paranoid neurotic. Trump is an uber-elitist bully. will American imbeciles see in Herr Trump what Germans saw in Hitler? Are americans **THAT** stupid? I'm thinking yes.

Wrt suppression of speech and media, Herr Trump is merely taking the completely predictable next steps after American imbecile sheep allowed cheney/bush to strangle speech.

I had personal experience being suppressed as I was escorted to a razor-wire enclosed "free speech zone" while protesting (I was one of a dozen or fewer) an appearance by the torture/murder preznit right after Abu Ghraib was exposed. The 3 black-shirted, heavily armed and armored goons that escorted me to the temporary gulag reminded me of what it must have been like for oppo parties during Hitler's rise as he sent his brown-shirts to commit acts of violence to suppress them.

Trump, then, is the logical successor along the vector we've allowed/mandated since Reagan started by repudiating the fairness and equal-time doctrines.

Whether Trump is our future Fuhrer or not, we'll find one eventually unless *WE THE PEOPLE* repudiate our vector.

And I don't see much indication that *WE* are going to do so. When society goes this badly along this vector, how long before it creates an opportunistic despot? Where one is demanded, one can always be found.

The vacuum is there. 35 years of burgeoning naziism from the right and total betrayals by the left have created the vacuum.

Bernie might be the left's last chance to even slow down the vector. If he loses, I really think we're lost forever.


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