Book Review: The Making Of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston covered Trump as a journalist for thirty years, in the course of reporting on the Atlantic City beat. He presents in The Making of Donald Trump a greatest hits of the President’s business life. And by greatest hits, I actually mean the lowlights of his behavior with women, with business partners, with lawsuits, with his employees, and with the press.

To point out that President Donald Trump is primarily a con man with easily observed personality disorders is relatively straightforward, given what we’ve witnessed of him as a Presidential candidate, and now as President. I think the time for outrage at each new Tweet or each new attempt to subvert the best traditions of the Republic is past. We know what he is. We know he will try his best to break this country’s constitutional traditions.

But to play armchair psychiatrist for a moment, Trump is not, primarily, evil. He is a deeply insecure person unencumbered by the moral boundaries which limit the rest of us. When faced with his unrelenting narcissism, a yawning chasm of need, he chooses the fastest route to a short-term fix for that sickness. Johnston’s book is a history of this sickness, in easily digested, well-researched, chapters.

Sometimes his sickness means doing business with noted mob associates. Occasionally it means cutting family members out of their inheritance. Often it means threatening lawsuits against journalists, newspapers, and other perceived enemies who jangle the nerves of his insecurity. Often it involves an unrelenting thirst for vengeance. Sometimes it means screwing over your bondholders. Historically it has involved inventing hotel prizes, and then hiring people to award them to you, as a 4-year old child would do, if given the chance. It includes cutting corners on building costs by hiring illegal labor, working under dangerous conditions. It means running a scam University making false claims and preying on financially vulnerable people.

Sometimes it means calling up gossip columnists, pretending to be a PR man, and bragging about how Madonna or Carla Bruni or some other hottie of the day is lusting after Donald Trump. Sometimes it means not actually trying to legitimately attract a woman’s attention, and just The_making_of_donald_trumpgrabbing them by the pussy.

Johnston published this book in August 2016, after Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party but before the November election. He tried to do his patriotic duty of warning the country about a con man he’d observed closely for decades.

Anyway, life is going great here in the United States since the election, OTT.1


Please see related posts:

Why I Can’t Sleep At Night (post Trump election)

Trump Part III – The Authoritarian Use of Security Crises

Trump Part IV – The Authoritarian Use of Economic Crises

Trump Part V – The Constitutional Crisis

Trump Part VI – The Need For Principled Republican Leadership Right Now

The Fall of The Roman Republic by Plutarch

Post read (126) times.

  1. “Other Than Trump”

Trump Wins. Markets Panic. Why?

trump_victoryStock markets worldwide will drop significantly tomorrow, and throughout the rest of the week, as US and global investors recalibrate their expectations of the United States due to the little-anticipated Donald Trump victory in today’s Presidential election.

Stock Market

From an individual investor perspective, I suddenly have deep regrets about two pieces of 100% rock-solid advice I’ve given out about personal investing in the stock market. The first is that there’s no particular advantage to owning ETFs over mutual funds, since nobody should really need to trade their personal stock holdings in the middle of the day. ETFs allow you to trade at any time when markets are open, whereas mutual fund investors can only trade based on the day’s closing price. But I’ve never believed any individual investor should be in a such a hurry to sell that a mid-day trade is better than an end-of-day trade.

With the victory of Donald Trump, I’m really sad that I have to wait until the end of tomorrow to sell stocks, rather than mid-day.

Implicit in this comment is my second deep regret. My advice has always been the Winston Churchillian rock-solid “Never, never, never never sell.

But of course now I want to. It will take all my will-power to do nothing, as I watch stock market values plunge tomorrow.



In a seemingly unrelated vein, (but is it?) my favorite Tracy Chapman song “Why” goes like this:

“Why do the babies starve when there’s enough food to feed the world?

Why are the missiles called Peacekeepers, when they’re aimed to kill?

Why is a woman still not safe, when she’s in her home?

Love is Hate. War is Peace. No is Yes. We’re all free.”

No Gridlock

It’s both a cliche and a truism that Wall Street prefers gridlock in Washington. Gridlock is predictable. Gridlock is  stable. It prevents wild swings in policy. A divided Executive and Legislative branch tempers drastic or rapid change in regulations.

With a newly elected and strongly Republican House and Senate, and Donald Trump appearing to have a “mandate” for his bat-shit crazy ideas, whims, and personal vendettas, who is going to be the check and balance on the worst ideas from that side of the aisle? Like Trump’s fiscal spending plan, for example, estimated by a bipartisan budget group to add $5 Trillion to the federal deficit? Like Trump’s continual threats to unilaterally alter trade agreements or punish our most important trading partners like Mexico and China?


Tracy Chapman continues singing in my head:

“But somebody’s gonna have to answer

The time is coming soon

When the blind remove their blinders

And the speechless speak the truth.”


US Treasurys 

US Treasury bonds typically live in what the kids on the show Stranger Things would call The Upside Down. Meaning, if stocks go down, bonds go up. When stocks go up, bonds can go either sideways or down. And that’s what’s happening with a Trump victory tonight. A huge bond rally is happening right now, overnight, as I type this at midnight on Election night.


But also, this rally in US Treasury is a totally bonkers reaction to a Trump victory, since Trump actually threatened to renegotiate US sovereign debts, if need be. No responsible financial or political US leader has ever made that threat. We’ve never defaulted, or threatened to default. Alexander Hamilton’s lasting contribution1 to our country’s strength is our rock solid credit, ever since 1789. Threatening US Treasury default is the kind of Third-World bush-league bullshit disruption that bond people don’t appreciate, and which I wrote last summer would have unknowable but possibly catastrophic consequences for our country, which actually is heavily indebted but treated like a safe bet in world markets. Until now.

Back to you, Tracy:

“But somebody’s gonna have to answer

The time is coming soon

Amidst all these questions and contradictions

There’re some who seek the truth.

Love is Hate

War is Peace

No is Yes

We’re all Free.”


Post read (478) times.

  1. Outside of inspiring Ron Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book and show, respectively