"The Wars on Drugs, Gambling, and Prostitution are Rackets."

 

 

 

25.07.2018
Brian Saady
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News related to Guatemala typically doesn’t generate much buzz with foreign-policy analysts or international media. However, if there is a tie-in to Donald Trump, it has a chance of gaining exposure. Unfortunately, a brilliant report by McClatchy didn’t receive the attention that it deserved. It pointed to an underhanded diplomacy gesture by the Trump administration to minimize Guatemala’s independent anti-corruption organization, CICIG. Long story short, the extensive corruption within the Guatemalan government prompted the creation of the CICIG, which is backed by the U.N. The list of high-level Guatemalan officials who have caught in these types of scandals is quite lengthy. It includes the ex-Presidents, Otto Perez Molina, Alvaro Colom, and Alfonso Portillo.   Likewise, the former Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, is facing corruption charges, along with allegations that she accepted a $250,000 bribe from the Zetas cartel. The former Minister of the Interior also allegedly accepted a $1.5 million bribe from Los Zetas. Again, this list can go on forever. Hence, there’s an absolute necessity to maintain the strength and independence of the CICIG. However, the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, has taken several measures to tear down this institution. Jimmy Morales - Flickr - US Embassy in Guatemala In particular, Morales tried to deport the head of the CICIG, Ivan Velasquez, who is a Colombian. The reason being, Morales and his family are the targets of a wide range of political scandals. Much like Trump, he has tried to paint these scandals as “fake news.” They range from money laundering, links to drug traffickers, corruption, campaign finance laws, and more. Anyhow, did the thought of deporting the head of the CICIG remind you of the Comey firing? Well, there are numerous other apt comparisons. In fact, there are too many to list in a blog post. However, I have an article with openDemocracy, “Trump-style Latin American Leaders,” which details the many uncanny resemblances between the Trump and Morales administrations. (A series of sexual assault allegations have been directed at Morales since that article was published.) Morales responded, in kind, by moving the Guatemalan embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and that certainly showed solidarity with Trump. With that in mind, the McClatchy article pointed to pressure exerted by the Trump administration to weaken the CICIG in a variety of ways. All in all, this is another example of the disgraceful transactional foreign policy of the Trump administration.  Even more despicable is the administration that is being enabled by the U.S. government. A recent article, “The Assassinations of Indigenous Leaders in Guatemala Trigger Fear as Political Cycle Begins,” in Truthout by Jeff Abbott absolutely drives home the point. I’d definitely recommend reading that article, along with the aforementioned McCarthy article, to understand the extreme implications associated with this decision by the Trump administration. Unfortunately, it falls in line with so many other disastrous foreign policy decisions that have propped up so many tyrants, kleptocrats, dictators, etc.
20.06.2018
Brian Saady
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The Shining Path is a Peruvian narco terrorist group that peaked in power in the 1990s. In fact, the term “narco terrorism” was coined in 1982 by the President of Peru, Fernando Belaunde Terry, in reference to this group’s activities. The Shining Path funded most of its operations from drug trafficking and extorting “protection” money drug traffickers in Peru. Peru remains as one of the top cocaine-producing nations in the world and much of it is concentrated in an area known as the VRAEM, the valley of three rivers Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro. The remaining 300 or so members of the Shining Path maintain a stronghold in this region. It’s estimated that this communist rebel group killed as many 11,000 civilians. Fortunately, the Shining Path has dwindled in numbers and power, which resulted in far less bloodshed. Only three deaths were attributed to this group in 2015. However, there seems to be a mini-resurgence of violence committed the Shining Path or successors groups. Two weeks ago, Peruvian terrorists conducted an attack against Peruvian military in VRAEM region that injured six soldiers. Four days earlier they ambushed and killed four police officers. According to Peru’s newspaper, El Comercio, these attacks were attributed to a successor group of the Shining Path. This group had been known as the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (PCP). However, the group’s new name is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Peru (FARP). It expresses a clear solidarity with the Colombian narco-terrorist group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).  A Shining Path propaganda poster We don’t know what will become of the FARP, which is led by a former Shining Path rebel, Victor Quispe Palomino aka Comrade Jose. However, to be fair, the FARC is transitioning to a political party with the same acronym, FARC (The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force). Unfortunately, the newly-elected Colombian President, Ivan Duque, has promised to renege on the 2016 Peace Agreement.  Most members of the FARC have disbanded, but there are roughly 1,200 dissident members who have refused to lay down their arms. They continue to traffic drugs and commit terrorist acts. In fact, some of it has spilled across the border into Ecuador.
Sports betting has always been highly stigmatized in this country. Hence, when faced with the Pete Rose scandal in the early 90s, most Americans favored a decision that led to more criminalization and prohibition. Consequently, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned the expansion of legal sports betting, was passed in 1992 in a widely bipartisan manner. On the other hand, sports gambling scandals tend to elicit pleas for more transparency in Europe where most of the market is legal and regulated. That’s exactly what happened in the wake of a €2 million match-fixing scandal in 2005. The German professional soccer league Bundesliga was rocked by revelations that a referee, Robert Hoyzer, had been fixing matches. That scandal indirectly led to the formation of ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity). This independent organization is funded by 26 legal bookmakers in the European Union. The bookmakers that are members of ESSA share information about suspicious betting information.  Those companies spend a tremendous amount of money on staffing and software to monitor suspicious betting. As a result, when suspicious behavior is discovered, ESSA files reports that are distributed to the proper gaming regulators. ESSA communicates with 20 of the top sports governing bodies, including FIFA and the IOC.  Most Americans are completely unaware of ESSA’s existence. That’s most likely why the NBA has been able to lobby for its “Integrity Fee.” To be brief, ESSA (a non-profit organization) has been expertly monitoring suspicious betting for several years and it has done it with only a sliver of the budget demanded by the NBA.   With that said, the NBA isn’t the first sports league to lobby for an Integrity Fee. In 2010, the French legislature required bookmakers to pay fees to the respective sports leagues. As a result of that fee and other burdensome taxes, there aren’t many licensed sportsbook operators in France, sixteen to be exact. Thus, roughly 40% of France’s sports betting takes place in the black market.  A few other countries have imposed these types of fees as well and the Asser Institute conducted the most comprehensive study on this issue. That study didn’t find these fees to be necessary. Instead, it determined that “integrity benefits…could be achieved well outside the framework of private law.” It also came to the logical conclusion that overtaxing the sports betting industry forces much of the activity into the black market. By the same token, ESSA has found that sports betting is very likely to take place in the legal market as long the government’s taxes don’t surpass 20% of the sports betting revenue or “hold.” Khalid Ali, the Secretary General of ESSA, mentioned several positive models. However, the U.K. seemed to stand above the rest. Bookmakers in the U.K. are taxed at 15% of the hold. As a result, there are over 200 licensed operators in the U.K. and, remarkably, only 5% of the betting is believed to occur in the black market. A fully legalized market results in amazing transparency with twofold benefits. Europe’s bookmakers have to follow strong anti-money laundering laws, which help to deter game fixing. That data also helps to provide better investigative leads into suspicious betting. To be precise, ESSA issued 266 alerts of suspicious wagering last year. These potential scandals involved eleven different sports and spanned every continent except Antarctica. Notably, seven of these alerts involved six tennis matches and one boxing match in the U.S. Tennis is responsible for the highest percentage (60%) of alerts worldwide and there are a variety of reasons. To name one, it’s much easier to fix an individual sport. Also, these cases almost always occur in the circuits involving poorly-paid players. The second-most affected sport is soccer with 17% of the alerts. Again, these cases rarely involve the major sports leagues. After all, those players generally make way too much money to be corrupted in this manner. Wikimedia Commons Thankfully, transparency helps to identify potential game-fixing in these lower-level circuit games. There are obvious red flags, such as high levels of action on otherwise obscure games. However, this fully regulated environment allows bookmakers to attach advanced risk profiles to their clients that can trigger alerts from a variety of factors, such as geography, activity levels, etc.All in all, it appears that PASPA will be overturned and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the U.S. for how to proceed with taxation and regulation. However, the international community offers many lessons for the proper guidelines. The black market can be practically eliminated as long as the taxes are reasonable. That will create substantial transparency and drastically improve sports integrity. Also, there’s no need to impose an Integrity Fee on behalf of the sports leagues. Those efforts can accomplished for a fraction of the price and most of the costs are already absorbed by the bookmakers.
In the near future, it’s likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). States will then have the right to legalize sports betting within their borders. In fact, several states have already begun drafting proposals in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the NBA’s proposed “Integrity Fee” will probably be the main obstacle towards progress with legalization and regulation. Indiana was the first state to draft a bill that would give 1% of every bet in their state to each respective sports league. This idea came from the NBA and MLB with the argument that an expanded legal sports gambling market will increase their costs associated with monitoring that activity.  In fairness, the sports leagues will need to spend more money on gambling-related staffing if more states legalize sports betting. However, those costs will be minimal in comparison to the profits generated from increased interest as result of legalized gambling. After all, Adam Silver has openly acknowledged that legalization will definitely benefit his industry. Simply put, the NBA’s lobbying demands are outrageous. The sports leagues don’t charge licensing fees for accepting wagers on their games. Therefore, there’s no reason to believe that the sports leagues have any legal leverage to negotiate for an Integrity Fee. Also, a 1% fee may sound inconsequential because many people assume that it’s based on a sportsbook’s revenues or “hold.” Instead, the fee would be based on the total dollar amount of accepted wagers, i.e. a sportsbook’s “handle.” Sportsbooks have a statistical advantage over the bettors, but the house is not guaranteed a profit. Sports gambling is a low-profit industry. Over the last 23 years, Nevada casinos have earned a “hold” of 4.78%. That hold percentage seems to be declining as bettors are becoming more educated about the industry. Regardless, a 1% Integrity Fee would take roughly 21% of the casinos’ sports betting revenues.  Jay Kornegay, the Director of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, points out that the Integrity Fee doesn’t include the federal excise tax of 0.25% on the handle or Nevada’s 6.75% tax on the hold. Kornegay also estimates that the sportsbook’s operating costs take away roughly 60% of the revenue. Furthermore, the gaming taxes in Nevada are much lower than several other states.      Needless to say, if states pass sport gambling bills that include this Integrity Fee, it will be highly counterproductive. To compensate for the cost, legal sportsbooks may need to charge a higher “vig” or commission than illegal bookmakers. Also, those costs will deter many reputable casino operators from offering sports wagering. Therefore, only a small percentage of the existing black market will shift into the legal/regulated market. Although the NBA and MLB are presenting this as a “fee,” this is essentially a tax that benefits private companies; it’s the perfect example of crony capitalism. Our country can learn lessons by reviewing its history with over-taxing the gambling industry. In 1951, Congress placed an excise tax of 10% on every sports wager. This was a recommendation from the Kefauver Committee that investigated organized crime. At that time, the most popular sport for gambling was horse racing, which has a higher profit margin for the sportsbook than most traditional sports. Nonetheless, the 10% excise tax killed the legal betting market.   However, the demand for sports betting remained undeterred. Nevada hosted several sports-betting-only-facilities that were not operated by casinos. These “turf clubs” were unregulated and notorious for tax dodging. The Vegas bookmaking veteran, Jimmy Vaccaro, explained the simplicity of the scam in Art Manteris’ book, “Super Bookie.” Bookmakers and bettors often had handshake agreements to write betting tickets for small fractions of the actual wager. Ultimately, this naïve recommendation from the Kefauver Committee resulted in a worst-case scenario. There was very little tax revenue for the government and far less transparency to root out corruption. (Decades later, Congress reduced the federal excise tax to the current 0.25% level, which is four times less than the proposed Integrity Fee from the sports leagues.) All in all, there are many disturbing aspects to the Integrity Fee. Worst of all, it subtly negates the direct role that sportsbooks play in upholding the integrity of the game. The sports gambling industry has already absorbed the operating costs for upholding integrity. After all, a bookmaker has a vested interest to not accept bets from someone who is fixing games. Sportsbooks are key allies to the sports leagues for detecting suspicious betting patterns. Case in point, the aforementioned Jimmy Vaccaro contacted the proper authorities in 1994 when he was the Director of the Mirage’s Sportsbook. He witnessed an unusual amount of money bet against Arizona State, among other red flags. In the end, Vaccaro’s information eventually led to criminal charges and discovery of a major point-shaving scandal. Wikimedia Commons That is only one of several examples in which bookmakers have acted as unofficial partners with the sports leagues. However, Nevada represents roughly 3% of the actual betting market in this country. In other words, there stands to be far more transparency for discovering more examples of point-shaving if PASPA is overturned, thus improving sports integrity.  The question of how to properly regulate, tax, and ensure game integrity in an expanded sports betting industry represents uncharted waters in the United States. Thankfully, the international community provides several examples with blueprints for the future. In fact, proper sports integrity regulation is conducted for only a small fraction of the price demanded by the NBA and that will be detailed fully in Part II.  
Protests erupted throughout Nicaragua last week in response to plans to reduce social security benefits. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega later reversed this decision after as many as 63 protestors have been killed by government forces. The Latin-America-focused news organization, Fusion, sent its editor, Tim Rogers, to report on the story. However, he left on Friday due to threats from pro-Sandinista groups labeling him as a CIA agent, per Nicaragua-based La Prensa. Tim Rogers - Twitter Anyone familiar with the work of Fusion would never confuse it with a CIA front. (A correspondent from…say…The Washington Post, on the other hand, could deservedly receive such speculation.) Rogers (who had been fairly supportive of Ortega's cause) had lived and worked as a journalist in Nicaragua for many years. However, his critical anti-corruption reporting resulted in these kinds of smears in the past. With that said, being labeled as a CIA agent can be viewed as a death threat in Nicaragua in its current tumultuous state. If you're not familiar with Nicaragua's current politics, Daniel Ortega is repeating the legacy of the Somoza dictatorship; albeit, as a corrupt left-wing tyrant. He’s been in power for decades and his real-life House of Cards saga was cemented by choosing his wife as his Vice President.   Daniel Ortega was legitimately elected president in 2007. However, he was reelected to a third consecutive term in 2016, which had been unconstitutional until the majority-party-dominated National Assembly voted to remove term limits.   Such egregious power grabs and more, however, haven’t been widely opposed. The Nicaragua economy has steadily improved during his time in office and crime has remained one of the lowest in a region plagued by violence. That has helped to placate opposition uprising.  Despite rampant corruption, Ortega has leveraged his geopolitical relationships. His vehement anti-American rhetoric has helped maintain strong ties with Venezuela, which has supplied Nicaragua with generous subsidies that have helped fund the country’s social programs.  To the contrary, Ortega has also been able to avoid much pressure from the U.S., in part, because he has been friendly to multi-national corporations. Although he professes to be a socialist, Ortega has given many cushy tax incentives for foreign investment.  All in all, there hasn’t been much public unrest as Ortega has consolidated political power. However, this recent protest may be a sign of changes to come.
My latest piece, "Congress's New Sex Trafficking Bill Won't Solve Anything," is up at The American Conservative. It's a criticism of the latest sex trafficking bill passed by Congress, FOSTA. The bill prohibits website owners from “promoting or facilitating prostitution of another person.” The terms “force, fraud, or coercion,” were not mentioned, which means Congress essentially redrafted the traditional definition of human trafficking to include prostitution between consenting adults. Human trafficking is actually a fairly complex subject, but there is one simple, central caveat -- traffickers thrive upon vulnerability. Thus, criminal penalties for prostitution leave members of the sex industry susceptible to exploitation because they can’t go to the police for protection.  By the way, that exploitation isn’t entirely limited to pimps and traffickers. In order to avoid being arrested, sex workers are often extorted for free sex by those who are sworn to “protect and serve.” Last year, the city of Oakland settled a civil lawsuit with a teen prostitute who had sex with as many 30 local police officers. More than a few officers had sex with her while she was underage. Obviously, there’s no definitive way of knowing the exact extent of this police extortion. However, there was one academic study that provided statistics. The author Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt have published numerous unconventional studies under the banner of “Freakonomics.” One of which found that 3% of Chicago prostitutes’ sex acts were provided for free to area police officers to avoid arrest. Contrary to popular belief, websites that allow sex workers to advertise their services help them to avoid working for a pimp. With technology, they can selectively screen their clients and provide the police with data in case they are victimized. Albeit, that is the case in countries where prostitution is decriminalized. For those reasons and more, a university-conducted survey found that nearly 80% of U.K.-based sex workers responded that the Internet made their work conditions safer. But, in the end, this concept generally falls on deaf ears because we live in a time when the terms “prostitution” and “trafficking” are falsely used interchangeably. In other words, the debate surrounding human trafficking has been stifled by an extremely flawed belief that essentially everyone in the sex industry is a victim of human trafficking. It’s a small part of the current moral panic in which over-reactions are manufactured by activist organizations. Case in point, Walmart recently agreed to remove issues of Cosmopolitan magazine from checkout stands after receiving pressure from the anti-pornography group, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Worst of all, this moral panic often ignores the more relevant issue of labor trafficking. Case in point, Donald Trump has made human trafficking a major talking point without even a hint of pushback from the press. In fact, he declared January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Therefore, with that in mind, we should evaluate the labor record of the President. Donald Trump - Wikimedia Commons During the 2016 campaign, an alarming story got lost in the mix. The New York Times and Vice profiled the human trafficking conditions at the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai. Foreign construction workers were lured to Dubai with contracts for certain wages. However, upon arrival their passports were taken, they were charged exorbitant fees, paid only a fraction of their promised wages, and essentially forced into indentured servitude. In his defense, Donald Trump doesn’t own the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai. However, it’s deeply disturbing that the person who signed the FOSTA bill earned up to $10 million licensing his name to a property that, by all indications, was built with modern-day slave labor.
Michael Morell, former CIA Director, hosts a podcast “Intelligence Matters.” He recently had a very inspiring guest on his show, retired U.S. Navy Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld. Winnefeld’s son died of an overdose from fentanyl-laced heroin. After his son’s death, Winnefeld has dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to find solutions for the opioid crisis. In fact, he formed a non-profit group dedicated to this cause, Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic (SAFE). Overall, I strongly agree with most of Winnefeld’s strategies. During this podcast, he brought up several points that most of America views as highly controversial. For instance, he advocated for safe injection sites. Although this concept is controversial in the U.S., several countries have hosted these types of facilities which have proven to be a highly-effective form of harm reduction.  Every one of these facilities are staffed by health professionals equipped with the opioid-overdose-reversal drug, naloxone. There have been several overdoses in these facilities, but there has never been an overdose death. Furthermore, safe injection sites are a major boost to public health by providing clean needles, thus reducing HIV and Hepatitis. One study concluded that the city of San Francisco would save $3.5 million in public costs. Hence, although this concept is highly stigmatized, Winnefeld stated during the podcast that he wished these facilities had been legal in the U.S. while his son was still alive. If so, he may still be alive. Winnefeld brought up other very important points. In particular, the vast majority of drug arrests are for possession, not trafficking. In addition, a large percentage of those charged with trafficking are merely supporting their habit.  However, Winnefeld and I disagree on the extent of decriminalization. I support the full decriminalization (and eventually the legalization) of drugs, not just the users. Nonetheless, Winnefeld offered a great deal of insight during this podcast, which is worth a listen. However, I would be remiss to not point out the irony of a former CIA Director commenting on evidence-based solutions for the opioid crisis.  U.S. Marines in an opium field in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. (Wikimedia Commons) If you’re not familiar with the CIA’s extensive complicity with drug trafficking, there are several research resources available. However, there’s also a tremendous amount of speculation and disinformation on this topic. With that said, if you’re interested in reading about this issue, my first book, The Drug War: A Trillion Dollar Con Game, goes into great detail with extensive documentation.
(This was written two weeks before the Missouri Senate passed a bill related to gifts from lobbyists.) There’s no such thing as a free lunch and the legislature is no exception. Unlimited gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers may be the most symbolic issue in regard to special interests. The Kansas City Star has frequently reported on legislative efforts to curtail this activity, including a database of gifts received by each Missouri lawmaker. Nonetheless, we can only remain hopeful that the Senate passes this watered-down bill that would still allow gifts from lobbyists in a group setting. These points and more were brilliantly conveyed in Jason Hancock’s recent piece, “Free meals, free booze, free travel: Is this the year Missouri bans lobbyist gifts?” Remarkably, Rep. Rocky Miller asserted that passing this bill could harm public sentiment toward government. No. If this bill fails to be passed, again, it will only contribute to most voters’ cynical view of their elected officials. We could take comfort in saying that the corrupt legislators need to be voted out of office. However, that’s where the rubber meets the road in the cycle of corruption. Missouri has no “cooling-off” period, i.e lawmakers can leave office and immediately work as a lobbyist. Hence, this bill, along with others, needs to be passed to achieve true ethics reform.  
Two weeks ago, the mayor of Cuidad Juarez, Armando Cabada Alvídrez, threatened to kill a prominent local journalist, Hector Gonzalez. The mayor was brazen enough that he made these threats in public and threw a punch at one of Gonzalez’s companions.  This was nothing new for Gonzalez. As a matter of fact, this type of intimidation against reporters is widespread throughout Mexico. Also, the crimes against journalist are rarely punished. Of the 426 reported instances of violence against journalists in 2016, only 0.25% of those cases resulted in a conviction! (My free ebook, “America’s Drug War is Devastating Mexico,” goes into full detail explaining the severity of the problem.)  This is an issue in which the worlds of organized crime and politics intermingle. It’s well known that reporting on crime in Mexico is a dangerous occupation because the cartels enforce a brutal form of censorship. However, in many instances, reporting on politics can be just as, if not more, dangerous. The reason is that the cartels have deeply corrupted politics and the government provides little to no protection for journalists. My last book focused on Mexico, but this is a problem throughout Latin America and one of the primary causes of this violence is the war on drugs. Last month, a Guatemalan newspaper reporter, Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes, and radio station worker, Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, were murdered.  Their bodies were discovered in Suchitepéquez with clear signs of torture. This coastal-region state is a major transshipment point for South American cocaine. Consequently, the area is overrun with organized crime and reporters have faced extreme violence in this region. The Associated Press had previously reported that 10 journalists had been killed in this one state over the last ten years. Nonetheless, the U.S. government has a complicit role in this wave of violence. Clearly, the prohibition of drugs in the U.S. has created a culture of black market violence throughout Latin America. Worst of all, the U.S. has aided, supported, armed, and financed some of the most corrupt governments throughout Latin America as long as these countries have been geopolitical allies. There are too many examples of this hypocrisy to list in a blog post. However, since Guatemala is the current focus, we’ll examine the U.S. government’s relationship with the last President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina. Molina received training at the infamous School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in Fort Benning, GA. This former general was involved with numerous human rights abuses during the U.S.-supported Civil War in Guatemala, including the Ixil massacre. As a matter of fact, many historians identify this Civil War as a genocide because the vast majority of victims of government death squads were indigenous civilians. Nonetheless, a 2007 WikiLeaks document during his presidential campaign shows that U.S. officials were aware of information connecting Molina with the country’s top drug cartel. However, they weren’t highly concerned based on this quote from the document.  “Given that Guatemala is awash in narco-money, it is improbable that none of it has found its way into Perez Molina's campaign, but we currently have no grounds to suspect that Perez Molina knowingly accepted narco-funds.” Ultimately, it turned out that the rumors were well substantiated. Molina is currently in jail on charges of corruption. His Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, is also in jail awaiting trial for drug and corruption charges. She reportedly accepted a $250,000 bribe from Los Zetas. Likewise, the Minister of Interior, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, reportedly received a $1.5 million bribe from Los Zetas. This same destructive political dynamic with U.S. complicity is visible throughout Latin American. Much of my work has focused on exposing these truths, particularly in El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, etc. (Please read and share the articles from the links in the previous sentence. However, for a more thorough explanation, grab a copy of my book, The Drug War: A Trillion Dollar Con Game, which will make it abundantly clear that the drug war is often nothing more than a geopolitical bargaining chip.)
Most people are familiar with the pseudo-psychological belief, “Napoleon Complex,” “Napoleonic Complex,” or “Short-Man Syndrome.” The theory is that the French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte overcompensated for his height with a quest for worldwide domination. (Napoleon, who was 5’7”, wasn’t actually short for that period of time. He was average height.)  Armchair psychologists like to believe that this is the underlying cause of overly aggressive, narcissistic behavior from people who are small in size. Let’s leave it up to the trained professional to decide if there’s any validity to this theory. However, his tweets from last week firmly cemented the need to change the name to the “Trump Complex.” North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018 ....Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star..... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018 ....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018 It’s difficult to find a public figure throughout history who has openly expressed such glaring insecurity. Long before becoming President, he took every opportunity possible to brag about his wealth. His name is synonymous with the expression, “Born on third base, thought he hit a triple.” He even reportedly worked as his PR person, “John Miller,” to tout his business acumen, in addition to spreading rumors that Madonna and Kim Basinger hoped to date him. Yet, for someone who presented himself as the ultimate success in every aspect of life, Trump has displayed an unbelievable level of sensitivity when criticized.  He has a long history of using his financial leverage to attack his detractors in a variety of ways. For example, he successfully pressured a small brokerage to fire one its analysts, Marvin Roffman, after predicting that Trump’s Taj Mahal casino would fail.  Ultimately, Roffman’s assessment proved to be accurate. Trump already owned two Atlantic City casinos and the decision to add a third casino, by way of heavy debt, cannibalized his profits. All three casinos went bankrupt, thus sending Trump’s PR people into overdrive. Ironically, Trump has aggressively targeted people outside of his authority, such as Roffman, to get them fired. However, he has never been willing to take such action within his own company. Obviously, that assertion contrasts the image crafted on The Apprentice with his famous line, “You’re Fired.” That show allowed him to look like an assertive decision maker. However, Barbara Res, a former executive with the Trump organization, has said that she never saw him actually fire anyone. He always ordered someone else to handle this uncomfortable task. Someone who is supposed to be living such a charmed life shouldn’t be provoked by harsh comments on Twitter. However, Trump has a list of online feuds that is too lengthy for this post. In fact, some within his inner circle truly believe that he decided to run for President this last time because he was mocked at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. That campaign brought his “Trump Complex” to the forefront. After the “Little Marco” comments, Rubio criticized the size of Trump’s hands. Trump decided to use the debates to claim, “I guarantee there’s no problem.” Afterward, he claimed those hands are able to drive a golf ball 285 yards. Yet, Trump apparently needed two hands to grip a glass of water during a speech. During campaign media stops, Trump felt the need to proclaim a high level of intelligence. There were many gems, such as “I have a very big brain.” He also tried to brand himself as a tough guy in many ways, including praise for Putin’s “strong leadership”  and promoting violence against protestors at his rallies. This man, who avoided serving in the Vietnam War via five deferments, asserted that “he knows more about ISIS than the generals’ do.” He also felt the need to belittle McCain’s service by stating, “I like people who weren’t caught.” Even though he drew large crowds with adoring fans for campaign rallies, he consistently felt the need to exaggerate the size of the crowds. This trend continued into the White House. Ex-Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was clearly pressured to do the same. He said, “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” despite the demonstrable proof that it was far from accurate. By the same token, Trump’s first televised cabinet meeting started with “introductions” from each member. Instead of his cabinet members telling a little bit about their background, they were clearly obligated to praise the President and what followed was nothing other than groveling. Hence, when reports later surfaced that Rex Tillerson called him a “moron,” he felt the need to compare IQ test scores. Trump also couldn’t accept the fact that he lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. Consequently, he claimed that 3-5 million people voted illegally. Hence, taxpayer funds were used to assuage his ego to form a voter fraud commission, which was shut down last week with no evidence to back up his ridiculous claim.  Nonetheless, he claimed it was a “massive landslide victory” with the Electoral College votes. Check out Trump’s response when fact-checked by a reporter about his claim that it was “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” Trump clearly didn’t have a decisive victory. But, can he stand behind a great Presidential record? He claimed that his administration passed more bills than any President. However, GovTrack found his administration passed the fewest number of bills going back to the Eisenhower administration.  Likewise, it appears Trump tried to repair his ego when he wasn’t chosen by Time Magazine to be “Man of the Year.” He tweeted that he “probably” was going to be chosen, but he “took a pass.” After all, this particular magazine seems to be an obsession. Some of his properties have been decorated with fake issues of Time Magazine in which Trump appears on the front cover with the caption, “The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” On a final note, there are too many of these types of examples to list. However, the comments from his Inside Edition tape may best encapsulate the deep psychological issues of Donald Trump. Who would describe bragging about sexual assault as “locker room talk”?  At this point, the terms “Napoleon Complex” or “Napoleonic Complex” for deeply insecure actions need to be discontinued. This now needs to be known as the Trump Complex. Let's use the #TrumpComplex every time in the future when he displays this kind of conduct.    
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