Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

You Humps Quit Badmouthing Queens

August 1, 2017

I submitted this column to several major news outlets before Anthony Scaramucci again did me dirty by leaving the White House. Good riddance.

As a native of Elmhurst, I won’t stand for Donald Trump and his new mouthpiece Anthony Scaramucci tossing shade on Queens. We are not a county of “front-stabbers,” as you told a BBC reporter, Mr Scaramucci. If a boor from Nassau County like you or your Manhattan wannabe boss think you can distort Queens in your image, I got one word for you: fuggedabouddit.

Queens is not a place where people curse through hired spokespersons to prove their toughness. Queens is where 2.3 million people, nearly half born in another country and almost evenly split among Hispanics, Asians, blacks and whites, live together in the most diverse large jurisdiction on earth. For them, Queens represents a key step up the ladder toward the American Dream. It’s a place for a first job, first child, first home and, often a second language.

It was pretty much that same way 60 years ago when I was growing up between the 90th Street and Junction Boulevard stops on the Flushing line, in a row of two family houses. Our closest neighbors were Italian, Greek, Irish and a Yugoslavian-Irish couple, plus a new apartment house full of Cubans fleeing Castro around the corner. I didn’t meet a white Protestant until I got to college.

My elementary school, PS 19, served Corona’s Italian and African American enclaves, the latter thanks to the area’s relative absence of racial discrimination that drew Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. PS 19 also resembled the United Nations, literally, since back then, a fair number of the world body’s personnel resided in Elmhurst. We had Japanese, Haitians, Indians, and Jerry from Ghana who wouldn’t say the Pledge of the Allegiance to the American flag that began every school day.

For junior high, I was bused to Maspeth, a double fare zone dominated by Eastern Europeans. But our class president was a black girl, our class sweetheart was Irish, the top clique was an Italian, Greek, Hawaiian Japanese and Korean-Irish, and I attended a half-dozen classmates’ bar mitzvahs. As part of Queens’ next immigration surge, Maurice joined us in seventh grade from Peru, learned basketball from us and went on to turn his father’s jewelry store into a chain.

Newtown High School, with 5,000 kids on two shifts plus an annex in an old bowling alley, embraced the Latin influx. After decades of mediocrity, Newtown’s soccer and baseball teams became championship contenders. Although the school still had plenty of Levines, Learys and Leones, the most popular surname in my graduating class was Lee, previewing Queens’ next immigration wave.

By the time I went to work for the Queens Borough President a dozen years later, the Flushing Line was known as the Orient Express, and my father, relocated to Jackson Heights, saw Little Bombay blossom alongside one of New York’s biggest Latin American clusters.

It’s this constant change, renewal and integration – that in just one ordinary family produced the bar mitzvah of my cousin Eddie Hernandez, Larry Cohen from Brooklyn marrying a Brazilian woman after my mother died and some guy named Muhammad Cohen – that make Queens and America great. There’s no question about that. What we have to ask is how Donald Trump grew up in Queens and missed it?

During high school, when I was working as a stock boy in a drugstore at the far end of Elmhurst, I remember our self-styled class radical feminist, who would attend Barnard College, being mortified as I saw her come out of the neighboring store, her parents’ Chinese laundry. But she should have been proud, because Queens is all about working hard and doing the job right so that your kids never have to starch other people’s shirts or schlep cartons of baby formula up flights of stairs.

The hardest work Donald Trump has ever done likely involved skulking around New York and Atlantic City by limo and helicopter to cheat on the mother of his first three children. He did a better job duping voters than he did fooling Ivana Trump, he lost money in the casino business and would have gotten a better return on his inheritance if he’d put his father’s money in a stock index fund rather than creating monuments to himself bearing his name in big gold letters. So naturally Trump doesn’t understand Queens values.

Even though two of his wives were born abroad, it’s no surprise Trump can’t comprehend how embracing differences, dialogue and tolerance are the keys to growth and renaissance because he’s never looked beyond himself and the patchwork of lies and misconceptions he and lackeys like Scaramucci craft to fit his worldview. Trump may believe that Queens really is the home of 1970s TV bigot Archie Bunker, brilliantly portrayed and consistently derided by Newtown High graduate Carroll O’Connor. In his nightmare of tribal hatred, Trump can’t recognize people who look or speak or act differently from him pursuing the American dream.

Or it may be as simple as what Will Rogers, who lived in Queens’ Kew Gardens a century ago, said: “A fool and his money are soon elected.”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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Ten Ways Donald Trump Has Already Made America Great Again

January 21, 2017

1. Shortened the list of things not to do if you want to be President.
2. Made the White House white again.
3. Brought the ignorant and bigoted back to the policy making table.
4. Agreed to remake Green Acres as a White House reality show. Theme song excerpts: “Wash DC is the place for me/Making billions skewing policy/Tanks spreading out so far and wide/Failing Washington Post, you’ve got nowhere to hide.”
“No, New York is vhere I’d radder stay/I’ll die if Barron goes to Georgetown Day/I just adore my Tower milieu/Darlink, I love you, but I vant Jeter, too.”
5. Put Ivanka in and kept Chelsea Clinton and her Jew husband out of the White House. We all know what happens with Clintons and Jews of another gender in the West Wing.
6. Provided a replacement for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.
7. Extended the Obama First Couple tradition of one American and one foreigner.
8. Promoted equality by proving that an Ivy League diploma doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
9. Returned US to the International Leaders Crazy Hair List at number two, behind North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
10. Ended discrimination against the privileged.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Casinos gamble on Trump presidency

November 30, 2016

Failed former casino owner Donald Trump’s presidency can help and hurt casinos in Asia, depending on their connections to the president-elect and the evolution of his administration’s policies.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Racism, cynicism Kellyanne Conway calling cards

November 7, 2016

Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway grabbed my attention during the 2008 presidential race. After media questioned the Democratic contenders about an Obama-Clinton dream ticket, and the two candidates generously conceded the other would make a strong running mate, Conway appeared on CNN’s AC 360 to sneer, “Hillary Clinton says Barack Obama can ride in the back of her bus.” It was an extraordinarily cynical, racially inflammatory remark, projecting racism onto someone else who had displayed not an iota of it. I was so shocked by her racial Molotov cocktail that I wrote to CNN, where I once worked as a news producer, to suggest they ban Conway from their airwaves.

In this campaign, Conway’s cynicism on racial issues has blossomed, continually trying to convince minorities turn their backs on their champions in favor of a proven antagonist. The Trump campaign berates Clinton for failing to achieve economic and educational equality for minorities and even Jay Z’s lyrics, while ignoring Trump’s record of housing discrimination, demonizing the Central Park Five even after exoneration and leading the birther movement that claimed President Obama wasn’t born in the US. Now, under Conway’s tutelage, Trump talks about a rigged election and voter fraud, specifying minority areas, pandering to the far right and dog whistling to white supremacists.

On the final Sunday of the campaign, Conway wouldn’t correct a fake story about voting hours being illegal extended for “certain groups” in Clark County, Nevada. Confronted with the truth – officials followed standard procedure, allowing voters already on line by closing time to vote – Conway claimed she didn’t have “all the facts,” though that didn’t stop her from putting her false spin on the story. She also refused to repudiate the fantasy narrative of an “assassination attempt” on Trump in Reno, when the only person really in danger was the protestor who tried to display a “Republicans against Trump” sign.

With Conway and her ilk in ascendancy spouting cynical venom – and, compared with Donald Trump’s rants, seeming reasonable – there’s little danger of the country ever coming together. Which, of course, means more work for Conway.

As in 2008, I once again ask the media to just say no to Conway and deny her and her clients the oxygen of publicity. Someone with such blatant disregard for truth and for decency doesn’t deserve anyone else’s megaphone.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Atlantic City: Macau’s past or Macau’s future?

November 20, 2014

Atlantic City came out of nowhere to top Las Vegas as the global leader in gaming revenue in the 1980s and ‘90s. Now, the New Jersey shore Queen of Resorts is shriveling, with four of its 12 casinos shuttered and a fifth due to close next month. Current global gaming leader Macau shares some troubling traits with Atlantic City and needs changes to avoid a similar fate.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Scotland key to Gaddafi dilemma – get him kilt

March 26, 2011

Intervention forces aren’t the only ones in Libya searching for an exit strategy. As last month’s protests against the 42 year rule of Moammar Gaddafi turned violent, many experts suggested the Libyan leader had to fight to the death because he had no alternative. If only Gaddafi (why doesn’t everyone call him Gaddafi Duck?) could take refuge somewhere, perhaps there could be a negotiated solution to end the bloodshed.

Scotland should step up and offer Gaddafi a safe haven. Since releasing Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in August 2009, Scotland has had an empty Libyan mass murderer suite. It can fill that vacancy with the mastermind of the December 1988 bombing that killed the 259 passengers on Pan Am flight 103, most of them Americans returning home to spend Christmas with their families, and 11 people on the ground in the Scottish village of Lockerbie. Doctors gave al-Megrahi just weeks to live due to advanced cancer, but he’s survived more than a year and a half since his triumphant homecoming.

Upon granting al-Megrahi compassionate release Scotland’s Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill bragged about his country’s finely developed sense of humanity. “In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people,” MacAskill waxed. “The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.” Welcoming Gaddafi would give Scotland another chance to uphold those values, and MacAskill another chance to hear the beloved sound of his own voice beaming across international airwaves.

Scotland and Gaddafi could be a good fit – and not just due to growing sentiment Gaddafi ought to be kilt. There’s plenty of attractive countryside for pitching his tent. Some of that land is even owned by the guy who gave Gaddafi a place to raise a roof over his head in New York, Donald Trump. Another Gaddafi deal would help The Donald flesh out his foreign policy resume for a presidential bid.

Gaddafi could blend Scottish tradition with Islamic law by spending some of this alleged fortune on developing halal whiskey. Success in that venture could do more to build good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims than any international armed expedition.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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