October 7, 2016
In a nationalized chocolate factory founded by a mysterious, enigmatic zeitgeist taking the form of Gene Wilder’s ghost, immigrated by naughty kids and feeding the fat, obnoxious ones their saccharine sweet poison; there rises an orange Oompa Loompa man frightening the children. The man has applied for a new position in the factory that happens to be nothing less than to become its new president and Chief Executive Officer. If the collective Charlie Buckets, Alt-Right Oompa Loompa’s and the other likeminded children in the factory give their winning tickets to the orange man, the man will become president. However, if this happens, the kids currently in the established positions of authority at the factory are afraid the man will look to them and say: “YOU’RE FIRED!”
Even though the political Charlies, Alt-Right Oompa’s and others may, indeed, have some questions of their own regarding the Orange Oompa Loompa man, they fear and despise the man’s opponent more: The Wicked Witch of the East. Furthermore, the man speaks directly and honestly regarding the specific problems currently manifesting in the factory and this causes the witch to continually shriek: “He’s a divisive misogynistic, xenophobic, bully! I’m melting! I’m melting!” But that’s another story entirely.
So who is this bombastic, bloviating, billionaire Oompa Loompa man?
Born on June 14, 1946 to parents living in the New York City Queens neighborhood known as Jamaica Estates, he is today known as one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires. He is the chairman of the Trump Organization, a multinational business consortium with holdings in real estate, hotels, casinos, resorts and golf courses. As an eponymous and privately held international brand, the organization also operates in various other forms of corporate commerce including: construction, hospitality, entertainment, publishing, media, model management, retail, financial services, board game development, food and beverages, business education, online travel, airlines, helicopter air services, beauty pageants, fashion apparel, jewelry and accessories, home furnishing, lighting products, bath textiles and accessories, bedding, home fragrance products, leather goods, barware, steaks, wine, bottled spring water and chocolate bars.
In addition, the man has authored, or coauthored, 16 books published via his own publishing company and he owns a television company based in New York that produces several television programs including his own reality based TV shows entitled the Apprentice and the Celebrity Apprentice. Both of these shows, in combination, have run a consecutive 14 seasons on the NBC network since January of 2004.
How did the man become so successful? Well, it all started in 1906 when the man’s grandfather moved to the New York City borough of Queens and began a career in real estate. In 1918, the man’s grandfather died from the flu and left an estate valued at $31,359, or $492,016 in 2016 dollars. The man’s grandmother then resurrected the family business under the name of Elizabeth Trump & Son in 1923 with her son Fred, the man’s father, who was just 18 years old at the time.
From 1927 to 1932, Elizabeth and Fred Trump built more than 300 residential homes in Queens, then moved on to build many other homes in Brooklyn with the assistance of financing obtained from the newly established Federal Housing Administration. From 1949 through 1965, Elizabeth Trump & Son built 1,300, 2,000 and 4,600 unit apartment complexes in Brooklyn, Beach Haven and Coney Island. The projects continued until Fred Trump was accused of misappropriating state funds. His reputation suffered and he soon he was unable acquire funding for further projects beyond 1965. In addition, according Fred Trump’s Wikipedia page, he had a 1927 Klu Klux Klan riot arrest because, after all, Wikipedia would not want us to forget about that.
Enter the Oompa Loompa man. Upon graduating the New York Military Academy followed by Fordham University, he then joined Elizabeth Trump & Son in 1968, while attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1971, he became president and later renamed the company The Trump Organization in 1974. In the early 1970’s the value of the Trump Empire was claimed to be $200 million by Fred Trump and between $40 to $100 million by other sources. In today’s dollars this would translate between $200 million to $1 billion. On another side note: In 1973, the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a civil rights suit against the Trump organization claiming that it refused to rent to black people.
Regardless, over the next two decades, the Trump Organization experienced exponential growth under the leadership of the orange, Oompa Loompa man. By 2003, the empire was valued at $8.5 billion and in the spring of 2016, the man claimed his net worth to be over $10 billion. Nevertheless, the man’s seemingly meteoric rise was not without its set-backs. Because the Trump Organization is a privately held company they are not required to reveal financial information. This makes it difficult to determine its exact overall value, but this did not stop the highly leveraged empire from imploding in 1990 when the U.S. economy fell into the recession.
According to Forbes magazine, the man was the nation’s 19th richest person in 1989 with a net worth of $1.7 billion. In just two short years, he became known as the world’s poorest man with a net worth valued at a negative $960 million. During this time the man entered into a bailout agreement allowing him to defer almost $1 billion in bank debt, but required him to make certain payments on more than $1 billion in additional bank debt. In return for being released from his personal guarantee on about $960 million of debt, the man was forced to relinquish ownership on several of his properties.
Nevertheless, within ten years the man had managed to completely place his prior financial problems into the proverbial rear view mirror. By the early the 2000’s the man claimed to have reacquired at least 50 percent of all the New York buildings with the Trump moniker and Time magazine, on April 12, 2004, acknowledged that the Trump logo added some $100 per square foot to the value of a building. In spite of the man’s comeback, there still remains controversy today regarding his past business dealings. On June 6, 2016 the New York Times reported the following:
After narrowly escaping financial ruin in the early 1990s by delaying payments on his debts, Mr. Trump avoided a second potential crisis by taking his casinos public and shifting the risk to stockholders. And he never was able to draw in enough gamblers to support all of the borrowing. During a decade when other casinos here thrived, Mr. Trump’s lagged, posting huge losses year after year. Stock and bondholders lost more than $1.5 billion. All the while, Mr. Trump received copious amounts for himself, with the help of a compliant board. In one instance, The Times found, Mr. Trump pulled more than $1 million from his failing public company, describing the transaction in securities filings in ways that may have been illegal, according to legal experts.
Although there are many in Atlantic City who recall with fondness the man’s chutzpah, flamboyance and the tax revenues he generated; others like Steven P. Perskie, who was New Jersey’s top casino regulator in the early 1990s, claim the man “put a number of local contractors and suppliers out of business when he didn’t pay them.”
So, is the Oompa Loompa man merely shrewd at business? Or, is he a greedy, money lusting empty suit full of pretentious pomposity and hot air? Or, perhaps most importantly, is he too cold-hearted to run a chocolate factory on behalf of the children? On the one hand he claims to love the factory and only wants to make it great again. On the other, he wants to build a wall around the factory and force the less fortunate, foreign kids to check in through the front door only. According to many, the man brags about his successes while minimizing his failures and he utilizes legal loopholes to his advantage. Moreover, others claim he speaks his mind too extemporaneously and many more find his personality to be immature, brash and offensive. He has also been known to speak derogatively of women and in deplorable ways.
In spite of all this, he announced his presidential run on June 16, 2015. According to a Wikipedia page solely dedicated to his campaign, we learn about his:
populist positions in opposition to illegal immigration and various free trade agreements such as his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership have earned him support especially among white blue-collar voters and voters without college degrees. Many of his remarks have been controversial and have helped his campaign garner extensive coverage by the mainstream media, trending topics, and social media.
And, how he:
has been endorsed by various white nationalist and white supremacist movements and leaders.
Those who oppose the man’s campaign claim his supporters “are angry, and anger is infectious” and that “we need the kind of leader that seeks to bring us together, not tear us apart.” In fact, there are entire articles posted online on how to talk your friends and loved ones out of supporting the man and if this doesn’t work, some of his opponents are even enlisting the help of cult deprogrammers in order to change the minds of the misguided children, Alt-Right Oompas and others who currently believe and trust in the man enough to give them their golden tickets.
So WHO do we believe? WHAT do we believe? Perhaps the only way to truly judge the man is to look to those who know the man best. Based upon what we saw during the 2016 Republican Convention and from what we read in the newspapers and online, it is obvious the man’s entire family remains 100% behind him. Even his divorced wives still respect and support him including one ex-wife who claims the man gave her the best sex she ever had.
But what about others who knew the man?
In an article published in the New Yorker Magazine on July 27, 2016, Tony Schwartz, the man’s co-author of the 1987 bestselling book, “The Art of the Deal”, recalls the times he spent with the man during the mid-nineteen eighties.
In 1985, Mr. Schwartz published a piece in New York about the man which:
portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South.
To Schwartz’s amazement, the man “loved the article” and even “hung the cover on a wall of his office” and this is how Schwartz become the ghostwriter for “The Art of the Deal”, which according to New Yorker Magazine, made America see the man “as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business.” Yet, Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says Schwartz “created” the man and, therefore, he (Schwartz) “is Dr. Frankenstein.”
In summary, Tony Schwartz’s main claims against the man are paraphrased as follows:
he (the man) is pathologically impulsive and self-centered. He has no attention span. His inability to concentrate is alarming in a Presidential candidate. If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time. He exhibits a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance and this is why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites and I seriously doubt that he has ever read a book straight through in his adult life. He plays people and on the phone with business associates, he would flatter, bully, and occasionally get mad, but always in a calculated way and before the discussion ended he would share the news of his latest success. Lying is second nature to him and he has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true and that his is also full of gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions with an absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.
Conversely, here is what the man had to say regarding what he views as a betrayal by Tony Schwartz:
He’s probably just doing it for the publicity. That’s great disloyalty, because I made Tony rich. He owes a lot to me. I helped him when he didn’t have two cents in his pocket. It’s great disloyalty. I guess he thinks it’s good for him—but he’ll find out it’s not good for him.
Furthermore, the man soon told Mr. Schwartz the following in a phone call:
I hear you’re not voting for me,” Trump said. “I just talked to The New Yorker—which, by the way, is a failing magazine that no one reads—and I heard you were critical of me. That’s your right, but then you should have just remained silent. I just want to tell you that I think you’re very disloyal. Without me, you wouldn’t be where you are now. I had a lot of choice of who to have write the book, and I chose you, and I was very generous with you. I know that you gave a lot of speeches and lectures using ‘The Art of the Deal.’ I could have sued you, but I didn’t.
But what do the man’s friends say about him?
One of the man’s classmates from New York Military Academy recalls the man, seemingly, as representative of a culture of hazing at the school. However, another former classmate, Peter Ticktin, who today runs a law firm, had this to say about the man in a Facebook post on March 4, 2016:
As a law firm, we at The Ticktin Law Group do not like to get involved in politics. As soon as we endorse one side, we risk alienating everyone on the other side. Also, our lawyers and staff are, themselves, on both sides. Politics is not our game. However, Justice is! If you saw a guy get publicly smeared, and you knew him well from the days you were friends and seniors together in high school, if you knew him to be a decent and honest man, would you want to say something? This is why I need to share what I know.
Mr. Ticktin goes on to write about the man as follows:
(He) was my captain, and I was his 1st Platoon Sergeant. I sometimes joke that I ran his first company for him, Company “A.” People don’t really change much from the ages of 17 and 18, and I know this guy. I know him to be a good decent guy. We lived and breathed an Honor Code in those years. It wasn’t just a rule. It was our way of life.
Of the 99 guys (no girls in those days) in our class, there is not one who I know who has a bad word to say about (him).
Other classmates have equally positive opinions of the man including one former classmate, George Beuttell, who played football with the orange Oompa Loompa one and described him as a “good man” who “had direction back then that a lot of us other kids didn’t.”
Others, like Arthur Schoenewaldt, had this to say about him:
He was intelligent, he presented himself well, he was athletic. I even heard from some of the coaches… he could have played professional baseball.
So what else can be said about the man? On November 8th, 2016, he will either become the president of the factory or he will return to Oompa Loompa land.
Even if he wins the election, never forget the board of directors will still retain the consolidated power to bankrupt the factory at their leisure. This could turn the man into the reincarnated spirit of Herbert Hoover faster than a high-frequency trader’s algorithm could process a sell-order. The man has to realize this. But, yet, it does not stop him from marching down the yellow brick road to expose the wizards behind the curtain. But, again, that is entirely another production and, perhaps, better suited to be elaborated more upon in another review.
Until then, many are praying the man’s TV show will not get preempted. And, if he does obtain enough golden tickets to win the factory, be sure to tune in next year.
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to make the world, there’s nothing to it
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination
Living there you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be.
Only time will tell if the zeitgeist of Willy Wonka smiles upon the political Charlies, the Alt-Right Ooompa Loompa’s and others who are giving the orange man their faith, their trust and their golden tickets. Perhaps it is possible. If so, they at least will have one more chance to hear the ghost of Gene Wilder say:
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”