German Robber Baron Castle
Last fall, while staying at the Caring House in Durham, N.C., I realized that I had been putting the flatware in the dishwasher upside down. Early in our marriage we bought some stainless that had knives with pointed tips. Most table knives are rounded on the end; these weren’t. The tip of one of the knives went through the silverware basket and a rotating arm bent the tip.
Since we were young, had good vision, weren’t diabetic and able to adjust we began loading everything in the basket pointy side up. Fork tines didn’t get bent and knives came out straight. We did things that way through the next 40 years of marriage.
No one else at the Caring House did things that way and someone had apparently grabbed a handful of knives and forks and stuck their palm.
I grew up outside the city, within sight of the Arkansas River. The “bottoms” were rife with rabbits at that time, and my dad and his buddies liked to hunt them. They each bought a beagle, bred their dogs to friend’s dogs that showed ability, and we eventually hunted with large packs of beagles.
Rabbits have a habit of running in a wide circle when chased, returning to their own territory. Our hunting group had some unwritten rules; no drinking before or during the hunt, before the hounds were set loose everyone picked a spot in a large circle – out of shotgun range of the people across from you - and stayed there. No wild shots. Through years of hunting with these fellows no one was ever injured. I ate rabbit as a child at least three days a week. Wild rabbit is nothing like caged rabbit, and it pains me to know that I will never taste wild rabbit cooked by my father ever again.
In college I was asked to a friend’s home for the weekend. On Saturday I went with “Wendel”, his father, and his father’s friends rabbit hunting. Wendel’s dad was some sort of minor law enforcement official and had confiscated moonshine that he was now sharing with his friends. We all got situated and the dogs were released. Shortly, I heard the dogs drawing closer and when a rabbit came over a shale outcropping I fired. There was a loud scream and I was mortified to see Wendel’s alcohol impaired dad coming over the other side of the hill, chasing the rabbit. As it turned out a piece of the shale had flown up and hit the man in the cheek. He had broken two of my father’s rules; don’t drink, don’t move.
I learned at that point that you can never assume what the rules of behavior are for any situation. This is especially true when the rules are understood, but not spelled out.
We now have a U.S. President who ran on a platform of breaking all of the rules. There are rules of presidential behavior that are spelled out in the constitution. There are others that are traditional. We now have a president who flaunts tradition.
The President, Congress and our Supreme Court Justices are servants. They are in place to serve the needs of the people who elected them, or were appointed by the people who elected them. In return for that service the nation owes them certain things. They are paid generously, have an enormous array of benefits – including the best health care available - better than that of the people who elected them in almost all cases, and in the President’s case, they are supplied with a home.
The President’s home, the White House, is admittedly old, but well kept up and the nation has agreed to pay for a staff that remains in place through successive administrations. Prior to Donald Trump, only one president did not stay in the White House, George Washington, and that was because his term, which ended in 1797, ended before the capitol was moved from Philadelphia to the small village named in the first president’s honor, Washington, D.C.
The White House, then, is like a parsonage. It is supplied free of charge, but the pastor may elect to live elsewhere, on his or her own dime. I suppose that the practice varies between Christian denominations, but in the Lutheran Church to which I once belonged, many pastors chose to buy a home so that there would be equity built up at the time of their retirement, and in one church that I attended the neighborhood had changed and the parsonage was next to the winter night shelter.
President Trump has elected to leave his current wife and their son in Trump Tower in New York for the remainder of the school year. He is spending a large amount of his time in Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Mar-a-Lago, built by the Post family (Postum cereal) is an enormous home, given to the Federal Government which declared it an historic site, and then gave it back to the Post heirs because it was too expensive to keep up.
The Post heirs then put the home up for sale. Donald Trump made a bid, which was rejected, and Trump, doing what Trump does, bought the beachfront of the home and threatened to put up a hideous house (which he knows how to do) and block the view of the ocean. He bought the house and then decided to make it a private club. When the local municipality objected, Trump sued on grounds of racism and it is now a private club. If you are interested in joining the entry fee is $200,000 (it doubled when Trump became president) and there is a $20,000 a year maintenance fee, and you get charged another $2,000.00 a year for meals.
I don’t know how many members there are, or who they are, but Jennifer “JLo” Lopez and P. “Diddy” Combs were reported to have been spotted having sex on a beach chair on the grounds. I wasn’t there, so I can’t corroborate that.
What I do know is that the “Winter White House” visits by Trump have cost the taxpayer over $3,000,000 a trip, have created security issues, and have cost the citizens of Palm Springs an additional $1,000,000 in tax assessments for the extra cost of protecting the President. In the short time that Trump has been in office he has made 3 trips to Mar-a-Lago, and summer is not yet here.
So, you may say, no one has been injured. Breaking tradition hasn’t gotten anyone killed. We’re in the first 100 days of the Trump fiasco. It’s not over yet. The residents of Palm Springs don’t feel that they should have to pay for the cost of protecting Trump. Their solution is to make Mar-a-Lago pay for the cost of security.
“The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office says that the county has spent $570,000 to help security and other measures to protect Trump during his presidency, and that doesn't include overtime pay. Law enforcement officials assigned to aiding the president’s visits are paid overtime, totaling another $60,000 or so per day. Trump also visited Palm Beach during the winter holidays after he was elected but before he became president, costing the county around $548,000. Altogether, the bill comes to well over $1 million in Trump-related costs incurred by the county over the past few months.” Money Magazine
There are, aside from security, issues of conflict of interest. Trump has not divested himself of his assets, nor has he placed his assets in a blind trust (I mistyped “bling trust” which might be appropriate), so he is directing business to, and accruing free advertising for, a personal asset; one that he profits from using. Mar-a-Lago is no longer managed by Donald Trump; it is managed by Donald Trump Jr.
The Sheriff in Palm Springs says that the city has a $40,000,000 dollar deficit due to an overwhelming heroin epidemic, and the city’s money needs to be going to take care of the city’s needs, not Donald Trump’s. Also, the federal government has not reimbursed Palm Springs for its costs, nor for the losses to area businesses that are forced to close when Trump is in town.
Again, no one has died, yet.
There are benefits from tradition. Everyone knows what to expect. No one knows what to expect from Mr. Trump, except that whatever happens will be calculated to make him wealthier, more powerful, and massage his enormous ego. The American public voted in a businessman and got a robber baron.