Saturday, April 30, 2011


I heard someone on a call-in radio show say, “Donald Trump’s business experience makes him far more qualified to get our country out of our financial difficulties than Obama.”


Trump financed the construction of his third casino, the $1 billion Taj Mahal, primarily with high-interest junk bonds.

In the August 21, 1990 edition of the Jersey Record, columnist Mike Kelly wrote “If we still had debtors’ prisons, Trump would be in the dungeon.”
Although he shored up his businesses with additional loans and postponed interest payments, by 1991 increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy and the brink of personal bankruptcy.

Banks and bond holders had lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but opted to restructure his debt to avoid the risk of losing more money in court.

The Taj Mahal re-emerged from bankruptcy on Oct 5, 1991, with Trump ceding 50% ownership in the casino to the original bondholders in exchange for
lowered interest rates on the debt and more time to pay it off.

By 1994, Trump had eliminated a large portion of his $900 million personal debt and reduced significantly his nearly $3.5 billion in business debt.

He was forced to relinquish the Trump Shuttle (which he had bought in 1989), but he managed to retain Trump Tower in New York City and control of his three casinos in Atlantic City.

Chase Manhattan Bank, which lent Trump the money to buy the West Side yards, his biggest Manhattan parcel, forced the sale of a parcel to Asian developers.

In 1995, he combined his casino holdings into the publicly held Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Wall Street drove its stock above $35 in 1996, but by 1998 it had fallen into single digits as the company remained profitless and struggled to pay just the interest on its nearly $2 billion in debt.

In a May 28, 2004, Wall Street Journal article, Trump said the specter of bankruptcy bothered him “from a psychological standpoint,” but added, “it really wouldn’t matter that much.”

A number of his bondholders disagreed. In the same article, Meyer Marvald, a Florida retiree who said he owned about $44,000 of the bonds, claimed “Trump has the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” On October 21, 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts announced a restructuring of its debt. The plan called for Trump’s individual ownership to be reduced from 56 percent to 27 percent, with bondholders receiving stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt. Since then,
Trump Hotels has been forced to seek voluntary bankruptcy protection. After the company applied for Chapter 11 Protection in November, 2004, Trump relinquished his CEO position but retained a role as Chairman of the Board. In May, 2005 the company re-emerged from bankruptcy as Trump Entertainment.

Trump’s ruthless dealings have ruined many lives. Anyone who thinks his business experience qualifies him to run our country would probably consider Sarah Palin an intellectual.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fun With Photoshop

Hoping to illustrate its diverse enrollment, the University of Wisconsin at Madison doctored a photograph on a brochure cover by digitally inserting a black student in a crowd of white football fans.

The original image, below, shows US President Barak Obama ahead of the group with Mubarak trailing at the very back, while the doctored Al-Ahram image shows the Egyptian leader in the front.

Left: Conservative candidate Ed Matts with Ann Widdecombe protesting in support of the Kacheps family, who were facing deportation.
Right: The same picture, doctored to support the party line, on Mr Matts' election leaflet.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is This a Game?

It seems our politicians will never get past whether their side will be perceived as winners or losers. The final negotiating points of this latest fight were over less than one-fifth of one percent of the federal budget.

Of course it was really over the symbolism of not funding Planned Parenthood. Less than 1 percent of the American public views abortion as their top priority issue.

Our leaders in Congress nearly brought government services to a halt. If one side wins a little ground, it’s seen as a victory and a mandate.

We need a functioning government not held hostage by extremists. At least avoiding a shutdown was a loss for the tea party, who seemed eager for a shutdown. I hope they’re at odds with public opinion.

We have bigger issues coming up with the debt ceiling and next year's budget. If it was this hard to settle the minor question of the remainder of the year's budget, the prospects of another shutdown or economic upheaval are much greater when actually important issues are on the way.

No one gets off without blame. Democrats should have passed a budget when they had majorities in both chambers and the White House. It was stupid to go into the fall 2010 elections without passing a single budget bill, when they knew they were going to lose their majority.

Republicans are incapable of bargaining coherently or effectively. Unfortunately, they fear the tea party in the primaries more than they fear the general electorate. There can’t be compromise in the House GOP.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More Bad Spin on Healthcare

In the official response to Obama’s January 25th State of the Union address Rep. Paul Ryan said, “What we already know about the president’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.”

According to insurance companies and state insurance commissions, rising medical costs are the primary driver of increasing premiums. The Congressional Budget Office has said the law won’t have much of an impact on premium costs for most Americans, compared with what premiums would have been without the law. Premiums had been rising well before the law, and were expected to rise without it. People who buy their own insurance will see an increase of 10 percent to 13 percent and more than half of those individuals will get subsidies that reduce their costs substantially. The increase in premiums will be due to an increase in benefits in those plans.

Health care spending is expected to rise by less than 1 percent over a decade because about 34 million more Americans will gain coverage, according to the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The CBO estimates that 8 million to 9 million people who would normally have employer-sponsored coverage won’t get such an offer from their employers. The reason is that these are mostly low-income workers who will get subsidies to go buy their own insurance in state-based exchanges. Whether the law had been enacted or not, employers would be free to drop coverage.

The CBO says the law would have a small impact on the labor supply, and that would be mostly due to workers retiring early or working less because they would have more secure health care options. It’s also expected to reduce the deficit over the next two decades and beyond.

The law does not create a government-run system. Studies on the quality of care worldwide have not put the U.S. at the top. A 2010 Commonwealth Fund study ranked the U.S. last among seven countries in health system performance. The U.S. ranks 49th in life expectancy, according to the CIA World Factbook, and many countries have lower rates of infant mortality.

The problem, of course, is the philosophical difference between the right and the left. The phrase Social Darwinism has been thrown around. These people believe in the survival of the fittest. Fee Market Capitalism will kill the weak and balance everything out. These folks have never read Darwin.

According to Darwin,“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Humans are a weak species, we need to work together to survive. We are SOCIAL animals, like it or not. Civilized people require social programs like health care and public education. Personally, I embrace our social nature.

A Republican friend of mine gave me a copy of On the Origin of Species. It’s a good read, I recommend it.