Faulkner’s Curse

The federal holiday we celebrate in commemoration of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth is a good day to discuss America’s original sin―the curse of racism. Ugly and wrong as racism might be, an even more befitting subject for condemnation is racist enablers, and especially when they hold high positions in government.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Due to growing up in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, Faulkner was witness to full-blown racial intolerance, and he featured the “ineradicable curse” of racism in his novel Absalom, Absalom! In the novel, Faulkner used the demise of the once glorious plantation known as “Sutpen’s Hundred,” an overgrown wasteland commanded by a burnt out mansion to symbolize and expose the futility of the concept of racial superiority. Inevitably, when reducing the “ineradicable curse” to its natural conclusion, we are informed that only one cure for the racist attitude exists―it is called a grave.

There is no reason to quibble over a settled issue. Donald Trump is a racist. He proved as much in the last century by calling for the death penalty of the wrongly accused and convicted black and Hispanic members of the “Central Park Five.” He gave confirmation to that proof in the current century with his dogged pursuit of the so-called “birther issue.” Consequently, no one should have been surprised when Trump referred to Haitian and African nations as “shit hole” countries, and claimed during a White House conference on immigration that we should instead be only looking at countries like Norway for immigrants.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) reported the President’s comments and a media blitz followed. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) confirmed Durbin’s report and stated that he pushed back and directly confronted Trump for his use of degrading words. Nevertheless, Trump began calling friends on the Thursday following for feedback on his “shit hole” comment to find out how it would resonate with his base of followers. On the next day―a Friday―U.S. senators David Perdue (R-Ga) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark), both of whom attended the conference and sat at the same table, claimed they “didn’t  remember”  Trump using the language reported by Durbin and confirmed by Graham. During Sunday talk show appearances, Perdue and Cotton changed their story. Both men claimed that Trump never spoke such words, and stated that Durbin was an outright liar, and inferred likewise that Graham’s public statements were false.

The fallout from the latest White House episode is clear. Donald Trump continues to prove that he is unfit to hold any public office. Perdue and Cotton have been outed and exposed as racists. Condemnation of United States immigration policy under the current administration has poured in from nearly every country on the planet. And following Trump’s latest degrading and disintegrating venture into foreign policy, his ambassador to Panama, John Feely, has resigned. Feely stated:

“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the President and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”

Feeley is indeed a man of honor.  But Perdue and Cotton have lost all semblance of honor and deserve no respect.  As the Grim Reaper marks his recruits―one by one―an inescapable historical narrative is being formed, and fifty years from now, Perdue and Cotton will appear in the record as liars and racists.

The Identity of Shamelessness

Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from the limelight, but on September 5, 2017, he inexplicably appointed U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deliver the administration’s decision concerning the approximately 800,000 immigrants who retain residence status in the United States under DACA.

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an immigration policy instituted by the Obama administration in June 2012. The policy allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year deferment from deportation, along with eligibility for a work permit. These so-called “Dreamers,” who were forced to come into this country with their families, faced extreme vetting before achieving deferral, and by most accounts have become an integral part of American society. Deporting these individuals would bring disaster to American crop and dairy farmers, since most citizens are unwilling to perform the tasks necessary for farmers to turn a profit.  Furthermore, the Center for American Progress estimates that the loss of all DACA workers would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $433 billion over the next ten years.

Sessions came to the podium exuberant―looking like a blood-sucking weasel in a moment of ecstasy―as he envisioned deporting 800,000 mostly brown people. In keeping with a Trump administration propensity for dispensing lies, among other things, Sessions stated:

“We are rescinding DACA… These illegal aliens along our southern border…are taking jobs from hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

Fact checking demonstrates that these Dreamer students, members of the military and farm workers have not taken jobs from anyone.

Racism―Faulkner’s “ineradicable curse” ―and a sanctimonious, twisted  view of law are the animating features of the Sessions persona. Where this man comes from is a reliable touchstone in predicting his objectives.  Indeed, Alabama seems to be the epicenter of a population still bitter over the Civil War defeat of pro-slavery advocates. Thus, it should come as no surprise that people like George Wallace and Jeff Sessions rose through the ranks to leadership roles in Alabama politics.

Wallace, it will be recalled, stirred the pots of racial unrest to make a strong showing in presidential politics. He spent most of his adult life as an avowed racist, often attempting to block federal court orders of desegregation.  His star began to fade after an assassination attempt left him paralyzed and wheel chair-bound.  His political aspirations dashed, toward the end of his life Wallace orchestrated clumsy attempts to portray himself as a model for tolerance and cultural diversity.

With somewhat more success, Sessions likewise proceeds under a veil of false pretense. In 1986, a Senate committee denied Sessions a federal judgeship after colleagues testified that he used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoke marijuana.”

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 on October 3, 1965 at Liberty Island, New York.  He called out the repealed Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, which imposed a racist quota favoring Northern European whites,   as “a cruel and enduring wrong, a harsh injustice and un-American in the highest sense.”

In an October 2015 interview with former White House advisor Stephen Bannon, Sessions exposed his Aryan preference when he praised the outcast law and said that between 1924 and 1965 it had “created really the solid middle class of America , with assimilated immigrants (white, of course), and it was good for America.”

Sessions reeks of fascist ideology through his demand for mandatory prison terms and maximum periods of incarceration; all of this in the face of over-crowded prisons everywhere.  In a United Nations treatise entitled Prison Population: Facts, Trends and Solutions Roy Walmsley, a consultant to the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, stated:

“Prisons are universities of crime, and imprisonment is an expensive way of making bad people worse.”

It would be difficult to find an equally powerful opposing view.

Despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized in several of the states as a “medicinal remedy,”  Sessions nonetheless desires to arrest and incarcerate every pot smoker he can locate. Furthermore, health providers have been passing out opiates like candy at a Fourth of July parade, and too many citizens have become hopelessly addicted as a result. Sessions would like to incarcerate this unfortunate class of victims rather than pursue the licensed peddlers.

For anyone who doubts that law-and-order Sessions is a disciple of fascist ideology, it is suggested that you locate and read a copy of the 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951).  In Lewis’ cautionary tale about the rise of fascism, the President elected in 1936 used a law-and-order band of paramilitary storm troopers to install a totalitarian government. As an aside, the book convincingly and presciently provides a blueprint for how Donald Trump rode a populist wave into the White house.

Jeff Sessions is a racist and fascist. He will not abandon his twisted notion of law and order until every jaywalker is serving a lengthy prison term, and every person of color has been deported to places unknown; a fascist utopia.

It is a perilous day for democracy when such a person is also the top law enforcement officer in the United States.

 

RICO RISING

Mobster Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion and died in prison of syphilis. John Gotti, otherwise known as the “Teflon Don,” was convicted of five murders and also died in prison of throat cancer. Donald Trump shall soon be suffering a humiliation even more painful than incarceration or death, because the federal government will be using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico laws) to confiscate most of his money and property.

The hubris of Donald Trump is legendary. On its 2017 list of 400 wealthiest Americans, Forbes Magazine lists Trump’s net worth at 3.5 billion dollars, down from 3.7 billion in the year prior. Trump filed a personal financial disclosure form for the 2016 presidential election that listed his net worth at more than 10 billion dollars. Critics note that Trump has a history of inflating the true value of his wealth. More than once, Trump has called Forbes to complain about the magazine low-balling the reported estimate of his wealth. However, in sworn testimony during one of his lawsuit depositions, Trump admitted that he values assets at what they “may someday be worth.” This explains how the Trump Brand, which is valued by Forbes at 125 million dollars, in the mind of Donald Trump is valued at more than 3 billion dollars. Trump takes self-righteous insult to any estimate of his wealth that falls below his grossly inflated idea of self-worth.

Investigative reporter Craig Unger, in a revealing and explosive  article for the August-September, 2017 issue of New Republic entitled “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” exposed Donald Trump’s longstanding connection to Russian mob leaders, and among other things stated:

“How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.”

Also, It was stated that some 1.3 trillion dollars has been exported from Russia since Vladimir Putin took control of the Russian Federation.

The mastermind behind this exodus of rubles was college educated boss of Russian mobsters Semion Mogelivich. Along with trafficking in the usual mob-related ventures, Mogelivich hatched a massive and innovative  plan to launder ill-gotten Russian funds by paying exorbitant fees for condominiums located throughout the world. Donald Trump owns between 8,000 and 10,000 such properties.

Unger detailed how the scam unfolded. In 1977, Russian immigrant David Bogatin arrived in New York with three dollars in his pocket. Nevertheless, in 1984 the seemingly penniless Russian struck a direct deal with Donald Trump and pulled six million dollars out of thin air to buy five luxury condos. Thus were the seeds sown for a criminal financial enterprise.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin could be the richest man in the world. All of the money that left Russia under his watch is either in hidden bank accounts outside of Russia, or held by oligarchs who, as a matter of self-preservation, report directly to Putin.

A clandestinely exposed tax return for the year 1995 reveals that Trump mismanaged three Atlantic City casinos, lost money on an airline venture, and lost even more through an ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The sum of his misadventures totaled 916 million dollars. At that time, his business empire was under water; his liabilities far exceeded his assets. However, he had at his disposal a perfectly legal business carryover tax credit relevant to the reported massive loss for each of the next eighteen years, which in effect amounted to an annual grant of nearly 50 million dollars from the public treasury. But he could not use the credit unless he found a way to generate business income.

Trump took dirty Russian money because it was the only money he could get; he had shafted bankers, contractors, business partners and even his lawyers. Add in several bankruptcies, and U.S. lenders appropriately considered him a toxic and uninsurable risk.

Coincidentally, Donald Trump, Jr. admitted at a real estate conference in 2008 that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Under Title 18 of federal criminal code, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act punishes a “pattern (two or more prohibited acts) of criminal activity,” rather than single criminal acts. Thus, a defendant can be tried under the act for either ordering, or assisting in, a pattern of criminal acts. Money laundering is one of numerous specific acts prohibited by Section 1961 of the act. The crime is complete when any person, or group of persons,  uses an enterprise to commit two predicate acts (such as wire transfer of funds to a bank and wire or mail transfer of the deposited funds to another account).

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is methodically connecting the dots in relation to Trump’s acquisition of ill-gained assets. At this point, Trump is feeling like a cornered rat, and will most likely fire Mueller before the investigation is complete. But that will only delay the outcome.

Most of the states, including New York, have enacted mirror statutes of the federal RICO law. Thus, if Mueller is fired, it is a sure bet that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will seize the opportunity to prosecute Trump and his minions under New York state law. It should also be noted that the presidential pardon authority granted in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution applies only to violations of federal, and not state law.

Trump has steadfastly refused to join U.S. intelligence agencies in faulting Vladimir Putin and Russia for their interference in the 2016 American presidential election. Now we know why. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Most of Trump’s wealth came from selling over-priced condominium units to Putin’s Russian mob oligarchs. At the end of it all,  Russia will be the only safe haven for Trump and most of his family when creditors―which includes New York State and the U.S. government―come calling. Alas, when Trump joins fellow traitor Edward Snowden in Moscow, sixty per cent of American citizens can breathe a sigh of relief and say “good riddance.”

Opinion Editorial

Copyright ©2017

Truman Goodspeed