Trump’s ‘House of Cards’

On the day of Donald J. Trump’s presidential inauguration, a trailer of Season 5 of the “House of Cards” Netflix series was shown. The trailer – which movie critics dubbed “creepy” – accompanied an upside down American flag, along with the tweet: “We make terror.” This line is a recall of last season’s final episode, when Underwood said, “We don’t submit to terror. We make the terror.”

I am not trying to promote the controversial series but I can’t help but notice the stark similarities between Trump and President Francis J. Underwood, the villainous character in the “House of Cards.” Sometimes it makes me wonder whether Trump is play-acting the role of the scheming and wily Underwood or Underwood is playing the real-life Trump.

It seems like the producers are going to take “House of Cards” to a level that would parallel the Trumpian presidency – with all the intrigues, lies, corruption, dirt, and warts that would make Underwood look like an altar boy. Yes, Season 5 will be all about Trump masquerading as Underwood. It would be Trump’s “House of Cards.”

For starters, the similarity of personality between Trump and Underwood makes people wonder if the presidency is no longer the domain of statesmen who are more concerned about policy rather than politics. Gone are the days when the nation’s elected leaders brought honor to the presidency. Trump, in the first 100 days of his presidency has dragged the office to a level of disrespect not seen before. Indeed, his first acts as president created chaos, which set the tone of how he is going to run the government for the next four years.

Assault on women

But if the first week of Trump’s presidency was a precursor of what it would be like in the next 200 weeks, then the American people should be prepared to ride a roller coaster endlessly. Indeed, Trump did not disappoint them when the day after his inauguration, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in Washington to express their disgust over Trump’s misogynistic behavior against women. In cities across the country, hundreds of thousands more converged on the streets in a show of solidarity.

Indeed, like Underwood, Trump’s attitude on women smacks of the demeaning – and brutal — treatment of women during the dark ages. And this is manifested in his attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” and replace it with a healthcare system that is deemed as an assault on women’s health. With a majority of Americans expressing their opposition to ”Trumpcare,” Trump demonstrated his cold-blooded persona by ignoring the nation’s cry for compassion for the tens of millions who would be denied health coverage under Trumpcare, mostly women and the poor.

Which makes one wonder: What is the underlying reason for Trump’s obsession to repeal Obamacare and replace it with his own creation? His first executive order – on Inauguration Day – involved “minimizing the economic burden” of Obamacare. But if there is one thing that’s has emerged in his brazen experimentation of the people’s healthcare is that he has created a Frankenstein… or should I say, Trumpkenstein?

Assault on immigrants

While it’s bad enough that creating Trumpkenstein is awfully insensitive, Trump’s assault on immigrants – particularly those who are from certain Middle East countries – is repugnant and bespeaks of his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment, which is driven by his “white nationalist” and anti-immigration xenophobia. The fact that he hired Steve Bannon – an avowed “white nationalist” with racist predisposition – to be his senior strategist and advisor, shows his disdain for people of color. Bannon, formerly the power behind the right-wing Breitbart News website, was the author of Trump’s controversial travel ban executive orders.

A week after his inauguration, Trump signed the executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the so-called “Travel Ban.” However, immigration advocates call it more aptly, “Muslim Ban.” When the Federal Court stopped its implementation, Trump revised it to make it more legally “palatable.” But once again the Federal Court rejected it. It is now on appeal.

“Golden Visas” for sale

But while the travel ban restricts, if not prohibits, the issuance of visas to people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a scandal erupted recently involving Trump’s family. It was revealed in the media that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family real estate business, “The Kushner Companies” – which holds around 20,000 apartments and 13 million square feet of commercial space across the U.S. — is involved in promoting a program that would allow wealthy foreigners in obtaining EB-5 Investor Visas, pejoratively called “Golden Visas.”

Recently, Jared’s sister Nicole Kushner Meyer organized an event in Beijing to lure 300 wealthy Chinese to invest a total of $150 million in a 79-story apartment building in New Jersey called Kushner 1. Marketing materials distributed by Nicole cited the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status. Although the White House said that Jared has no involvement in the project, the family’s relationship with Trump was highlighted when a wide screen image showing a juxtaposition of the project and President Trump was displayed behind the podium. Like they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Yes, indeed.

Surmise it to say, if the name-dropping and showing of Trump’s image on the wall was intended to attract and influence people to invest, then one can say that such ploy is tantamount to “influence peddling,” which constitutes corruption. And by the way, during the marketing presentation, journalists were asked to leave the room.

Abuse of power

Trump promised to “drain the swamp” at the nation’s capital, but instead he raised the level of corruption, which has become a trademark of the Trump presidency. And then there is also the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to hack the U.S. elections in favor of Trump, who won the presidency by garnering a majority of the Electoral College votes. However, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than three million votes.

While this quirk in the political system had happened a few times in the past due mainly to the way the Electoral College votes were distributed, Trump’s victory is being questioned by many people who blamed Russia’s alleged hacking had changed the calculus of the election results.

To date, the FBI investigation into possible Trump-Russia collusion has caused heads to fall. The first was acting Attorney General Sally Yates whom Trump fired after she warned the White House about former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn’s questionable contacts with some high Russian officials.

Consequently, Trump fired Flynn. And then there was Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who was torn between loyalty to the Republican Party and to his duty as “ethics watchdog.” Faced with a lose-lose dilemma, he resigned from his congressional seat.

Last May 9, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. According to Comey, he was fired because: (1) He never provided Trump with any assurance of personal loyalty, and (2) The FBI’s investigation into possible Trump team collusion with Russia in the 2016 election was accelerating. And to complicate things, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly threatened to quit after he was named as the “driving force” – which he denied — behind Trump’s decision to fire Comey.

There were two collateral damages to the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. The first was Attorney General Jeff Sessions who recused himself from the investigation. And the second was Congressman Devin Nunes who recused himself as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee after he announced that he was under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics because of public reports that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Unrelated to the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump fired another Federal employee: Angela Reid, former White House Usher. No reason was given for the firing of Reid who was a native of Jamaica. But what is glaringly apparent is that Reid is a woman, an immigrant, and a person of color! Did Trump fire her because she didn’t fit into the “white nationalist” crowd that he surrounds himself with in the White House?

With all these people being fired or resigning from the government, it makes one wonder if the “House of Cards” that Trump built on lies, intrigues, and deceit would survive public scrutiny.