By Simple Citizen
Since 2017, I have been aware of issues within the Department of Interior under President Trump’s administration. These issues struck me as interesting considering that the Department of Interior (DOI) has subdivisions that directly deal with nation’s federal land. Both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) operate under the direction of the DOI. As many of us are aware, one financial sector that has been linked to Mr. Donald Trump (citizen) and his overall business acumen is real estate. Therefore, one might question why a federal executive department such as the DOI, under a president who has openly expressed a level of expertise in line with their specific mission, would experience any difficulty.
Through the use of media stories, which by and large occupied the minds of American citizens during the majority of his presidency, Mr. Trump took actions that will impact future generations of U.S. citizens for years to come and may even have ramifications that could exceed the lives of his own grandchildren. Could these actions have actually stemmed from reactions to a hostile presidency that was under constant duress brought about by an unforgiving media focused on his every word, or did this attention form a cover of distraction that allowed the delivery of promises to his some of his biggest contributors and most ardent constituents from such business sectors as energy, logging and mining.
Distraction is the key method for masking true intention in this confidence man’s game. The public’s perception of Mr. Trump is often obfuscated by numerous distractions created and fostered in a purposeful manner. This allows the game master to deceive, distract and mislead any observer who is seeking the truth about this man and his actions.
‘People think I’m a gambler. I’ve never gambled in my life. To me a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It’s a very good business being the house.’ — ‘Trump: The Art of the Deal’ by Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz, 2nd ed., Random House Business, 2016, p. 48
Many of us have heard the association of President Trump and the game chess or, more accurately, four-dimensional chess. I can state that I have in fact played three-dimensional chess, which is a fun twist to this time-honored game. The fourth dimension implies “time” as an element to this game. To my knowledge, there is no actual way to play chess by incorporating a fourth dimension. Therefore, the use of this concept and its resulting incorporation into marketing and/or memes is rather empty, as one couldn’t be a master of a non-existent game.
LiNGUAHOLIC.COM: If someone is described as playing 4D chess, that means they are incredibly smart and making political moves that cannot be understood by ordinary people.
Interesting description that also could very well find attribution in another game that I believe President Trump may actually have based his managerial style in the course of his career. This game is known as three-card monte, and I would suggest that it is probably the game that would best express the management style and operations of Mr. Donald John Trump from his days working for his father (Fredrick Christ Trump, Senior) through to his tenure as President of the United States of America.
For those of you who may not have a familiarity with the game, I would like to provide this description from “Howard Hickson’s Histories,” regarding Battle Mountain Nevada 1875:
This is the way three-card monte works. After showing the victim the cards, the dealer spread two aces and a queen face down. He bet the player he couldn’t pick out the queen. The victim knew where the queen was — he watched carefully while the dealer manipulated the three cards. He pointed to a card with confidence only to find he had picked one of the aces.
Often of key importance to the game three-card monte is the concept of a “confidence man,” which Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines as “a person who tricks other people in order to get their money” and a “con artist.”
Okay, perhaps it is time for a little quiz to see how well we know this business mogul and former president. How many of us have heard of or know who the Trump organization executive Mr. John Baron is? Okay, time for our answer: John Baron is also known as Donald Trump. This sets up our first example of the confidence man utilized in a game of three-card monte, which furthered the goals of Mr. Trump while diminishing the objectives of concerned citizens.
The retailer Bonwit Teller, which had existed on Fifth Avenue and West Fifty-Sixth Street in New York City since 1929, was experiencing financial difficulties in the 1970s. By the early ’80s, it was in a very difficult situation. As Bonwit Teller began to close its business, Mr. Trump acquired its headquarters building for $15 million.
This landmark building had several Art Deco elements that were of historical significance. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was prepared to take the bas-relief and a nickel-plated grill that was hung above the entrance doors to the store. Mr. Trump had promised to deliver these items to the museum for historical preservation to placate many citizens and historic preservation societies. However, in the end, he decided to destroy the entire property and preserved none of it.
Where our confidence man, Mr. John Baron, comes into the fold is in The New York Daily News. Mr. Baron provided to the newspaper an explanation for the destruction of these historical elements from the perspective of the Trump organization.
FORBES: Trump initially avoided any comment about the Bonwit Teller artwork. But John Baron, a spokesperson with the Trump Organization, contacted the New York Daily News to discuss the situation. Baron informed the Daily News that ‘the merit of the stones was not great enough to justify the effort to save them.’ Baron stated that the removal process could have set back Trump Tower’s construction timeline by two weeks. Baron also told The New York Times that he had no idea what happened to the ornate grillwork.
Long after Baron’s initial contact, the New York Daily News learned that John Baron was actually Donald Trump in disguise.
Board and staff members at the Met were furious and confused about Mr. Baron’s claims that the sculptures lacked merit.
“Can you imagine the [Met] accepting them if they were not of artistic merit?” asked Ashton Hawkins, a Met board member.
The day after “Baron” called the Daily News, Donald Trump released a statement claiming that the sculptures had to be reduced to stones.
“My biggest concern was the safety of people on the street below,” Trump’s statement read. “People could have been killed. To me, it would not have been worth that kind of risk.”
In essence, Mr. Trump was utilizing a media channel to manipulate a narrative and accomplish a goal of rapid destruction in order to begin the construction of his bronze trophy. He hid his queen (the true motive for a specific course of action) from the public and simply let them find the aces, thereby delaying investigation and facilitating his own steps to achieve his desired outcome.
As the graphic demonstrates, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts stock opened at $14 with a steady rise after an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that raised $140 million and topped off at $34 per share in just under one year’s time. Then the decline began, and what a rapid decline it was. For most of the company’s existence, its shares traded below its opening price and culminated with a move off of the major markets and into the over-the-counter, pink sheet, penny stock markets. Unfortunately, many shareholders and then bond holders lost a whole lot of equity while this confidence man continued to run his three-card monte game to his own benefit.
Still, many of you may wonder how a confidence man such as Mr. Trump might have actually personally enriched himself during the repeated failures of this organization and after an initial public offering that was by and large successful.
CASINO.ORG: Trump’s involvement with casinos started back in the 1980s when he made moves to purchase properties on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk … The initial plan had been for Trump to build and open his own casino in the city. However, Trump became involved in a venture with the Harrah’s-owned Holiday Inn Casino Hotel. In 1986, just two years after the venue had opened, Trump became a majority shareholder in the venue and re-named it Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
The Atlantic City Hilton Hotel & Casino and Taj Mahal were also purchased by Trump during the mid-1980s for a combined fee of $555 million with the venues being re-named as the Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal respectively.
In 1995, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts was established as a public trading company by Trump, and the company bought both the Trump Castle and Trump Taj Mahal from Trump himself for a total value of $1.38 billion.
So you have a private owner of casinos selling his assets and liabilities from his privately owned businesses to the publicly owned corporation of which he just happens to be the chairman of the board. The resources to pay for the sale were raised on the strength of the IPO through an analysis of the projected profitability and future earnings of the publicly traded organization based around the years 1995 and 1996. This sale would personally enrich the confidence man and was completely legal under U.S. law. In maintaining this income, the net operating losses provided tax deductions year over year for decades to a point in which the effective tax rate was zero, while Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts continued to operate under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors.
TAX POLICY CENTER: Basically, Trump borrowed, and lost, a large amount of money in a series of failed ventures, mainly casinos. While the losses were mostly borne by his creditors, Trump took tax deductions for large amounts of interest, depreciation and operating expenses. As a result, he was potentially able to avoid paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades. …
In the early 1990s, Trump was in deep financial trouble and pressed his lenders to restructure his debt. But, based on documents filed in bankruptcy court, Trump did not report the income from restructuring his large public borrowings …
And, utilizing Casino.org again, we learn:
The casinos owned by Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts have been exposed to the rollercoaster financial track record of the company. The company, in its various guises, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on four separate occasions. This has happened in 1991, 2004, 2009 and 2014.
It was the bankruptcy issues of 2004 that saw the company officially change its name from Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts to its current operating name of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Unfortunately, this name change did not end the financial uncertainty surrounding the company and its number of projects.
Sale of the Century
Under Presdient Trump’s administration, there was a massive transfer of public lands to private investors. These privatizations received some notice in media sources but were more or less a minor story in the circus of events utilized in yet another three-card monte game designed by the confidence man on the new corner in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Mr. Trump picked up his cards, his attaché case, his plastic egg crates and his dealer’s mat and moved the whole game south as he assumed the role of POTUS.
Whether you have been for Mr. Trump, against Mr. Trump or indifferent about Mr. Trump (which is basically how this author feels), the fact remains that by making an executive decisions on our behalf and in such a reckless manner, this president changed our nation forever. Its physical composition, its physical health and its habitats for our wilderness friends (animals, birds and fish) have been forever altered at the stoke of a pen by a man who can barely walk a few blocks, much less enjoy a pleasant, long stroll through a wooden environment.
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  On Monday, December 4, President Donald Trump signed proclamations eliminating protections for more than 2 million acres of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The action, which puts wild red rock canyons; prized hunting and fishing areas; and tens of thousands of Native American archaeological sites at risk of destruction, was the largest elimination of protections for public lands in American history. Before a crowd of cheering supporters in the Utah Capitol, President Trump said, “With your help in treating our natural bounty with respect, gratitude, and love, we will put our nation’s treasures to great and wonderful use.”
President Trump left little ambiguity about the “great and wonderful use” to which Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments will be converted: The proclamations specify that, at 9:00 a.m. on February 2, 2018, the lands will be immediately available for mining and drilling. Without paying a dime to the federal government, speculators will be able to stake a claim to mine for uranium, potash, and any other mineral that they believe can be extracted from the monuments. The oil and gas resources in the area, meanwhile, will be eligible to be sold off to energy companies through recently established private internet auctions that are highly susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse.
This issue brief highlights the legacy of fraudulent activity surrounding drilling on public lands. It then examines the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) internet auctions and the federal oil and gas leasing process through which Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and tens of millions of acres of other public lands will be sold [leased] to the oil and gas industry under the Trump administration.
Okay, so we now have the basic premise. President Donald Trump does not wish to have federal lands, parks and wilderness habitats going underutilized and remaining unproductive. He wants to maximize the financial output of those lands. Then we have the extremely odd methodology that was utilized to privatize these lands. The Trump administration decided to conduct the sales in an electronic format that was completely anonymous to the citizenry. Unknown bidders, unclear bids and unexplainable final settlements were the legacy of these sales.
These events have all culminated in driving this simple citizen out of his malaise of indifference when considering either citizen Trump and/or President Trump. Also, even though I was extremely irate and frustrated by many of his actions, I still attempted to be supportive of Presdient Trump as he ran for re-election, since I believed he was the lesser of two evils.
Yet, as I saw the manner in which President Trump conducted his campaign, or lack thereof, I realized that this confidence man was still shuffling his cards and playing his game. Needless to say, I could not justify voting for President Trump in either election. I just knew deep down and all too well that he was a confidence man with a three-card monte game from the corner. No matter how much lipstick one might try to put on that pig, in the end it was all still bacon.
Simple Citizen is a regular, prolific contributor to the comment section of Winter Watch. We appreciate and welcome his thoughtful commentary; though, as will all guest contributors, it should be said that his views do not necessarily reflect the views of Winter Watch.