American Elephants


Who Is Donald Trump? The Billionaire New York Businessman? by The Elephant's Child

static2.politico.com

John O’Sullivan is a prominent British conservative political journalist who was once speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, and is an editor for National Review. Can’t vote here, not a citizen, but a visitor. He remarked “But it’s obvious that this election cycle is about Trump rather than about the other candidates. He has come from nowhere and surged ahead of the pack. My suspicion is that he didn’t originally expect to be a contender for long and was surprised when he established a strong lead. But he overcame his surprise and began to do things candidates do – put out position papers, etc. – while sticking to his unique style of campaigning, namely riffing entertainingly on the day’s news, jabbing opponents with sharp verbal sticks, and treating his audiences like neighborhood friends.” I thought that a particularly sharp observation.

Holman Jenkins said “They say they like Mr. Trump because he tells it like it is, except he doesn’t. They say he is politically incorrect, but he is factually incorrect.”
“The Donald may be as surprised as anybody by the way his campaign has taken fire — his utterances certainly suggest so.”

He likes riding the wave and may be unable or unwilling to get off. He launched this adventure purely to accrue value in his lifelong personal brand-building pursuit.

That doesn’t mean he ever seriously thought about being president, having to do the job. And one way that might become apparent is when, after winning the nomination and celebrating his personal triumph, he turns to the GOP and its donor armies to see what they are willing to do to win him the presidency. If it’s not as much as he would like—if he would actually have to fulfill his promise to finance his own honest-to-goodness presidential campaign, which could cost $1 billion—that’s when things get hinky.

That’s a second observation that Trump was just fooling around with a campaign, and then people took him seriously, so he’s going to see how far it can go.

Have you ever known a real con-man? I have. He was, for a time a new manager in the department where I worked. Everybody liked him because he was so personable. They thought he was great, but one day one of his stories touched on something I actually knew about. It was a complete and deliberate lie, for no reason at all.  It wasn’t much longer before he departed, fired for some irregular problems with his expense accounts. That was my first hustler. It’s not comfortable to have been taken for a fool, even though I wasn’t alone.

From Bloomberg Business: 2/26/2016

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the casino operator founded by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, emerged from bankruptcy court protection on Friday and is now a subsidiary of billionaire Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP.
Trump opened the Taj Mahal in 1990. The parent company continually struggled with debt, and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy court protection in September 2014. The filing coincided with a protracted downturn in betting in Atlantic City that led four of the city’s 12 casinos to close. It was the Trump casino businesses’ fourth time in bankruptcy.

From Jim Geraghty at National Review: “What if Trump Doesn’t Have Billions?” “There’s a good chance we’ll never see his tax returns.

Trump told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show a year ago that he would release his tax return shortly, as soon as they were completed. A few years ago he refused to release “un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth after 80 interviews and many resources as less than half of what he claimed last year. Others with direct knowledge of his finances think his net worth is closer to $150 -$250 million. Still comfortably wealthy but not a billionaire.

Trump said that was a lie and sued, lost in court, appealed, and lost again. The case dragged on because he would not turn over the tax returns. So the likelihood that they will be released to the public is slim.

Bloomberg Politics, February 24, 2016 “A Look Inside Trump’s Global Deals Exposes Trouble in Many Spots” In Panama, condominium owners are trying to fire him.  In Canada and Turkey, his business partners want to cut him loose. In Scotland and Ireland, he claims to be making millions on his golf courses, but so far is losing money. In Toronto the Toronto Tower Owners want Trump out.

“Donald Trump says his organization is in talks on more than 100 deals, 85 percent of them outside the U.S., and that if elected president he will bring to international relations the savvy he has demonstrated as a global deal maker.”

The article suggests that an examination of his operations shows that while he has made millions selling his name, he has chosen inexperienced or questionable partners, and there are legal conflicts amid claims of broken promises and empty apartments. Trump disputes the claims.

Yahoo Finance 10/19/2014 “12 Donald Trump businesses that no longer exist:” Also see “Donald Trump’s Record of Business Failures and Bluster” 2/16/2016, PJ Media.

  1. Trump Mortgage (announced 2006, closed 2007)
  2. Trump Steaks (2007-?)
  3. Trump Vodka (2006-2011)
  4. Trump: The Game (1989-1990, 2005)
  5. Trump Ice (Shut down 2010)
  6. Go Trump.com (2006-2007)
  7. Trump Magazine
  8. The New Jersey Generals (1983-1985)
  9. Trump Airlines (1989-1992)
  10. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. 4 bankruptcies (1991, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  11. Trump Tower Tampa (2006-2007)
  12. Trump University (2005 -2011) Current lawsuit for fraud

“Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected” by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 2/25/2016

I don’t know. Donald Trump seems to me to be a hustler. Too many lies, too much Big talk. Everything is going to be Great!, Beautiful! He knows how to do that. He knows how to fix that. But he never tells us how, or who is going to pay for it and how. There are some really big problems in the world and we have no hint about how Trump might address them.



R.I.P. Mr. Spock by The Elephant's Child
February 27, 2015, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Movies, Pop Culture, Television | Tags: , ,

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Leonard Nimoy, who we knew and loved as Mr. Spock, pointy-eared and always logical, died today in his Los Angeles home. He was 83.



Happy Constitution Day! by American Elephant
September 17, 2014, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, History, Pop Culture, Television | Tags: , , ,

I’ve known the Preamble of the Constitution by heart since I was a little kid because of Schoolhouse Rocks, which used to come on in between Saturday Morning Cartoons–so they had a captive audience. Great Way to introduce your kids to our founding document. Can you recite the Preamble by heart? If not, you probably didn’t grow up with Schoolhouse rocks. Try learning the chorus. And teach it to your kids.



Who Was It Who Said Celebrities are Those Who are Famous Only for Being Famous? by The Elephant's Child

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I am not watching the Oscars. I am only grateful that it marks the end of the seemingly endless exercise of the glitterati congratulating themselves for the remarkable wonderfulness of their contributions to the world’s culture. Oscars and Emmys and endless awards, borrowed dresses and borrowed jewelery and borrowed makeup. I don’t care who wins what. I don’t care who wears what. I am not interested. There are more important things going on in the world. And it may be astonishing, but there are way more important people, more important ideas and more important events.



Super Bowl Sunday! by The Elephant's Child
February 1, 2014, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Entertainment, Pop Culture, Sports, Television | Tags: ,

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Had an appointment at the hospital yesterday, and it was fun to see all the receptionists in Seahawk tee shirts. There were some women, who clearly were not former cheerleaders, who seemed to be wearing extraordinarily large lime-green pompoms on their heads, and wearing a strange variety of homemade costumes. The grocery store was wall-to-wall appetizers, and beer of course.

Go Hawks!

43-8 !

 



Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns by The Elephant's Child

O.K. So how can he be still alive? You saw him fall off the building. You saw him dead.  A major tease from the BBC.



Movies, Violence, Hypocrisy and Real Life. by The Elephant's Child

In all the conversation about “assault weapons” most of the commentary has concerned the cosmetic appearance of guns, and the number of bullets in a magazine. Some small number of the comments have concerned violent video games but there have been no serious studies that show a connection to disturbed people committing mass shootings.

On the other hand, let’s admit that movies are violent, unnecessarily so.  Hollywood’s minor celebrities, always anxious to get their faces and names before the public rushed to make a commercial to advance the president’s efforts to ban gun violence and guns. Though he claims to appreciate the Second Amendment, Obama is on record saying that he does not believe that people should be allowed to own guns.

The Hollywood celebrity bunch made a forgettable commercial for Obama’s original campaign for the presidency, so this one was much in the same style — a little gag inducing. Conservatives re-did the commercial, inserting clips from each particular celebrity’s very own movie, celebrating the very kind of gun violence they were so pompously opposing. It’s fun to see hypocrisy exposed. Demand a plan. Heh.

The president, you will notice, said not a word about violence in movies. Hollywood people are major campaign supporters and celebrities flock to the White House. When the CDC studies the causes of gun violence, movies will probably not be included.

Commenters write about seeing World War II movies, which only demonstrates how superficial the thinking. Hollywood is in business to make money. When a movie is popular, they pay attention to what was different about the movie. It is not an accident that so many popular movies have been remade several times. (Think Superman or Robin Hood) Special effects have taken over. What was once a simple car crash, is now a major spectacle with dozens of flaming cars flung high over freeway overpasses. A real-life Volt bursting into flame isn’t really shocking any more.

There was a time when most gun violence was in cowboy movies, where the hero pointed his six-shooter in the general direction of the bad guy, sound-effects provided the necessary sounds, and the bad guy fell down dead. Gangster movies were about the 20s and bank robberies and prohibition and car chases. The gangsters were recognizable because they had tommy-guns, wore black and black hats and drove big black cars that had a back seat or trunk large enough to hold a body. But the story was about bravery and cowardice, honesty and dishonor.

Special effects have taken over, and each movie must top the last. Heads explode in pink mist, wounds rip bodies apart, limbs are amputated. Whole groups of people are torn to pieces. What make-up cannot create, technical wizards will create with their computers. The sad thing is that Hollywood has lost the art of storytelling. Movies are just not so appealing any more. More violence, more gore, more blood, more sex, more squalor, more evil, more vulgarity, more bad language.

Movies once concerned the human condition, not in its excesses, but in its ordinary foibles. People are very human and struggle to understand their own human failings. Good storytelling makes you laugh or cry as you recognize bits of yourself and your friends and realize that perhaps you’re normal after all. That’s what storytelling has always been about, from how to have courage, how to be a hero when you are frightened, how to cope with the death of a loved one, how to be a good person, how to survive.

Think of some of the great movies: High Noon, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, To Kill a Mockingbird, It’s a Wonderful Life, E.T., The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Singing In The Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, It Happened One Night. Shakespeare told stories, Homer told stories, Aesop told stories — all about being human.

People use movies as examples in conversation and thought. They justify ideas, not by history, but with movie scenes. Movie dialogue has become an integral part of conversation and speech. I notice because it is not natural to me, and I have been surprised by its prevalence. Often notions of history come from the movies rather than from historians’ evidence from the past.  The behavior of celebrities in real life is influential and imitated. So to assume that violence in movies has no effect on violence in society is absurd. Will that connection be investigated? Not by Obama’s Executive Orders.




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