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The Madness of Trump

Is Trump playing 5D chess, or is he nuts?

By Petrarch  |  December 29, 2022

The last month or two has been, let us say, not an unbroken stream of triumph for former President Donald J. Trump.  To borrow from the Emperor of Japan's commentary on the Pacific war, "It has not proceeded necessarily to his complete advantage."

First, the expected Red Tsunami election turned into, at best, a draw, and in the face of the most promising possible facts on the ground of spectacular Democrat failure and incompetence.  Mr. Trump's picks of course weren't the only ones affected, but, his endorsement seemed to do no good and perhaps harm at the national level.

His official announcement that he's running for re-election in 2024 surprised exactly nobody, and if anything, strengthened the cultural divide: those who had been looking forward to it have been anticipating it for many years already, and those who felt otherwise feel even more hostile to the idea.

His legal troubles continue to mount - no great surprise, as he constitutes the largest possible career-boosting prize for any Democrat with subpoena power.  Despite being the most-investigated person in all of human history, his enemies have still utterly failed to find a shred of evidence of any substantive crime.  It has to be irritating that a veritable army of Inspector Javerts continues to burn through countless billions of taxpayer dollars in a quest that would make even Captain Ahab retire to an Iowa farm, but don't expect it to stop any time soon.

These are all somewhat expected for a politician, though, certainly for one on the side of the Stupid Party.  What is not expected is a loudly Trumpeted "Major Announcement!" that turns out to be... trading cards?

My official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection is here! These limited edition cards feature amazing ART of my Life & Career! Collect all of your favorite Trump Digital Trading Cards, very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting.

I'm sorry, but unless it's an original mint-condition Honus Wagner, there are few things more boring than a trading card.  Somehow, though, Mr. Trump managed to find one of those things: unlike a real baseball card that in fact exists, Mr. Trumps' "trading" "cards" have no more grounding in tangible reality than his latest tweets, being nothing more than ephemeral bits on a computer screen.

We could roll forward with all the expected proverbs, like "A fool and his money are soon parted," "No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people," and "There's a sucker born every minute."  And yet, as Forbes reported:

Former President Donald Trump's line of digital trading cards sold out in a day, netting millions despite the massive ongoing slump in non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency and a fair bit of mocking from some of his allies...Priced at $99 each, they collectively brought in nearly $4.4 million.

OK, let's be fair: could you or I obtain $4.4 million in cold, hard cash, perfectly legally, by "selling" something that does not in fact exist in any objectively real way?  No, we could not, and I know this because if we could, we would, and so would you.  Who wouldn't?  Mr. Trump could and did.

That may be capitalism at work, but, surely it's beneath the dignity of an ex-President, to say nothing of a billionaire who no doubt spends more than that on a regular basis re-gilding his golden toilet seats?  Not necessarily; he is by no means alone:

The most expensive artwork at the first son's new SoHo show is priced at $225,000 - and already has two interested buyers... President Biden's scandal-scarred son sold two other works a day after his second solo art show opened at the Georges Berges Gallery Friday.

Hunter Biden is well known in conservative circles for his corrupt if not treasonous dealings with the Red Chinese, Ukrainian oligarchs, and other unsavory characters, corruptly covered over by our corrupt media to protect Joe Biden's corruption from being known to the voting public. All involved have  completely gotten away with this, with no price paid of any kind by any of the recipients of this ill-gotten swag.

Nevertheless, the younger Biden has upped his game, adding one more layer of insulation between himself and any legal risk.  Is there anything more American and less illegal than painting a work of art and selling it for whatever someone is willing to pay for it?  In a world where supposedly serious museums pay millions of dollars for a corpse of a cow chopped in half and immersed in formaldehyde, who are we or anyone else to say that Hunter's "work" isn't worth a quarter-million bucks?

Nor are we to say who exactly has been shelling out to buy them, or what other conversations they may have had with the "artist" or his supportive relatives.  Does not everyone have a perfect right to have conversations with their customers, or those of their beloved offspring?

Of course, to anyone with an iota of morals, the venality of the Biden crime family is glaringly obvious - but, like that of the Clintons who made bribery tax-deductible through their foundations, they may well have found a way to accomplish it in a technically legal fashion, particularly since they can count on the media and the DOJ to look the other way.

What has this to do with Donald Trump?  In one way, nothing: he's priced his "art" affordably for normal people, whereas only plutocrats could do business with the Bidens.  There's no plausible accusations of corruption in the normal way, at least for this.

At the same time, the Trump trading cards do share an objective: they make a mockery of laws that their progenitor thinks deserve to be ignored.  In the Biden's case, this is laws around influence-peddling, selling out to foreign interests, and straight-up common-or-garden bribery.

For Mr. Trump, it is the campaign finance laws that both enforce harsh restrictions on how much money any one person can donate to a campaign, and require many donors to be disclosed publicly.  Years ago, this was defensible, but now that donating to conservative causes commonly results in the donors losing their jobs, this is yet another way of forcing conservatism into the shadows or out of existence entirely.

None of that applies to Trump cards.  They are a perfectly normal sale of an item with no special reporting requirement other than reporting income and expenses for tax purposes.  Indeed, they aren't even being sold by Mr. Trump himself, but by some other mysterious company not known to exist before a month ago that has merely licensed his image.

Shades of Bernie Sanders becoming a millionaire by selling books!  Among the many things we don't know is how much of the money Bernie received was actually associated with a physical book.  After all, NBC News tells us, "Ex-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh indicted on fraud charges in children's books probe" regarding unsavory methods of selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of her self-published children's books.

At the end of the day, we are confident that the "license" was not free and that the transaction will withstand whatever scrutiny Democrats decide to hurl at it.  One way or another, if you purchase a Trump card, we are convinced that a large share of your funds - how much exactly we cannot know - will indeed end up in Mr. Trump's own coffers, with your name entirely disassociated from it, and probably tax-free as well.  It's been long established that any candidate has a perfect right to spend as much of their own money on their own campaign as they choose, with no limits whatsoever, so there you are - a way to invisibly contribute to Trump's campaign!

Has Mr. Trump discovered a way to flip both middle fingers at the corrupt and tyrannical Democrat-run campaign finance regime that oppresses his supporters in every way possible?  Or is he merely, as Rush Limbaugh so famously put it, "demonstrating absurdity by being absurd"?  Both?  Neither, on purpose, or just by accident?

It doesn't matter - we'll take it.  Anything that ties the left in knots while shining a spotlight on their own abuse of the system is healthy for all concerned.  No, we won't be shelling out a C-note on something that doesn't exist, but it doesn't matter - they've all sold out!  For now.