How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Thoughts on Palin, Trump, & Christie

Some in the media have expressed the view that the emergence of Sarah Palin on the national scene foreshadowed the coming of Donald Trump – the lack of substance, her hostility to the media, her attacks on the "elites" and her bizarre cavalier respond to serious questions, e.g. what she knows about Russia?  Sarah Palin, "You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska" and Donald Trump, "I know Russia well, I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest." 

Sarah Palin was the grade "B" movie version of Ron Popeil, the television TV pitchman who made millions selling products like the Ronco Chop-O-Matic, Pocket Fisherman and Hair in a Can.  Popeil is responsible for such classic line like "But wait, there's more" and "operators are standing by."  He was a natural born salesperson who honed his skills at local flea markets.  In the mid-1950's the rising medium of television caught his eye and he quickly became a pop icon.

The Donald is the grade "A" movie version Ron Popeil.   He's an ego-driven super salesperson, who honed his pitch through years of "working the media" and his stint on "The Apprentice."   Trumps often used lines are in the Popeil tradition of "and set it and forget it."  "We're going to make America great again," build a wall," and "nobody does (fill in the blank better than me") are devoid of substance.  

It is interesting to note that while Popeil personally prospered, his company, Ronco, didn't do well and in 1987 the banks called all of its loans.  Popeil had to reach into his own funds to buy back his company.  In 2005, Popeil, who has had four wives, sold the company and continues on as sales consultant.  There are lots of similarities between "The Donald" and Ron.

Sarah and Ron can tell us about how Trump the political candidate operates.  If you want to get an idea of how he would govern, I think the best place to look is New Jersey, home of the chairman of his transition team, Chris Christie. 

Governor Christie, like Tump has acted like a bully throughout his tenure in office.  His targets have included average citizens, a Navy SEAL, judges, journalists, state legislators, students, teachers, union leaders and the head of the New Jersey League of Municipalities. His abusive vocabulary has included telling a Sandy activist, who had the audacity to hold up a sign imploring the Governor to finish the job leading the shore recovery to "sit down and shut up."  He has also resorted to characterizing those who disagree with him as "idiots,'" "jerks," "dopes," and "numbnuts."

Governor Christie is responsible for fostering a political culture in which two of the highest-ranking Port Authority officials appointed by him and his deputy chief of staff felt it was OK to use government resources to punish a local elected official who had the audacity not to endorse him.  He has been a nefarious wheeler deal who has worked behind the scenes with the omnipotent Democratic political boss of South Jersey and his North Jersey minions.  This unholy alliance sandbagged the Democratic Party's most recent candidate for Governor and forged a phony pension plan that the Governor subsequently reneged on. 

New Jersey under Chris Christie has been an economic disaster.  Poverty has risen to the highest level in has been in the last fifty years, especially among children.  Unemployment has remained high in spite of a robust national employment recovery and an increasing number of state residents struggling to make ends meet.  The Governor has not provided requisite funding to repair the state's failing infrastructure and our public employee pension systems is close to bankruptcy.  In addition, our state's general obligation bond rating has been adjusted downward a total of eight times by the three major rating agencies.       

Now with his poll number at an all time low, Governor Christie has decided in Trump-demagogic style, to curry favor with our well-too-do suburban communities by proposing a simplistic solution to one of our nation's most complex problems – the failure of urban schools to educate the children of our cities.  He proposes slashing funding to urban schools by two-thirds in violation of our constitution which call for the provision of a "thorough and efficient system of public education" for all the state's children (considering the unique circumstances and barriers faced by many poor economically disadvantaged youngsters).  The cuts that he is proposing would force urban schools to dramatically reduce classroom staff and enormously increase class size – one of the best predictors of education success. 

Trump's campaign has been based on simplistic divisive solutions to complex problems -- banning Muslims and building walls.  They are sophomoric and xenophobic.  Governor Christie's meat-cleaver proposal to dramatically cut inner-city school aid, to reduce our states over reliance on property taxes as means of funding government services, is insidious and racist.  

If what Governor Christie's has wrought on New Jersey is a foreshadowing of what a Trump presidency would do to our nation, we are all in for a very scary ride.