Donald Trump gets a billionaire’s endorsement, despite a number legal problems. (Photo: Getty)
Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus is begging for Donald Trump’s election in 2924, in an usual plea that is fraught with right-wind disinformation and some glaring conflicts of interest, according to a deconstruction of his screed.
Here’s one disclosure Marcus failed to make right off the bat: He has a huge investment in Trump’s political career.
Nearly 90 percent of Trump’s $236 million haul in 2020 campaign contributions came from just eight billionaire benefactors: Bernie Marcus and his wife Billi Wilma donated $17 million.
Marcus began on an empathic note, noting his age, 94, and his sadness at the state of America.
“Like many of you, I am exhausted by politics and saddened by what I see happening to America,” he wrote in a commentary, published today by realclearpolitics.com.
“I had hoped it was time for me to move to the sidelines and let younger generations continue the fight to preserve America’s founding freedoms and values. But, like so many of us, I realized that I could not let myself walk away; the stakes are just too high.”
But the column goes downhill from there. It plunges into right-wing Fox News disinformation to make the case for the former president, who is facing 91 criminal charges in four separate cases.
“I understand the frustration of some of my Republican friends who do not like or are offended by things Donald Trump does and says. I, too, have been frustrated at times, but we cannot let his brash style be the reason we walk away from his otherwise excellent stewardship of the United States during his first term in office,” he writes.
Marcus’s comment is Orwellian, all the more so because he was born in Newark, New Jersey to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, who fled Russia to avoid persecution.
His plea to overlook Trump’s “brash style” is an argument Jews made to justify voting for Hitler in 1933. Jewish voters overlooked Hitler’s “brash style” and considered his threats of Jewish annihilation in “Mein Kampf” to be just so much political posturing.
“Public fears over economic woes and political uncertainty made the Nazis’ solutions to the nation’s problems appealing. The Nazis downplayed more extreme aspects of their agenda,” according to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Trump may or may not rise to the level of Hitlerian mendacity, but his rhetoric of late has been spiked with terms that could have been lifted from one of Hitler’s fascist screeds.
Trump claims migrants are “poisoning the blood of America;” he called for detention camps and mass deportations; he called Americans “vermin,” threatened the free press and claimed his opponents were “communists,” socialists, and “the enemy within.”
He promises in his second term to unleash the military on dissident protesters and seek revenge against anyone who criticized him, including former members of his own cabinet.
Marcus’ claim that Trump provided “otherwise excellent stewardship” of the country is nothing less than Orwellian newsspeak.
He praised Trump for his “judgment, strength, decisiveness, and courage” during his term in office when he clearly lacked all three. The evidence he cites is Trump’s order to murder Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and to “dissuaded Russia from invading Ukraine.”
“Many, including myself, believe that Hamas would not have unleashed its barbarism and cruelty on Israel if Donald Trump was our president today,” he writes.
Soeimani’s murder, however, did just the opposite. It inflamed the Middle East, increased Iran’s support for radical Islamist groups, led to vows of vengeance and set the stage for Hamas’ invasion of Israel. The terror group began planning its invasion during the Trump administration.
Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 before Trump took office, and the conflict raged all during his administration. He did nothing to bring peace to the region. He was in the process of dismantling NATO when he lost in 2020, and was an embarrassment fawning over dictators like Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban and Kim Jong Un.
His greatest foreign policy achievement, the Abraham Accords, between Israel and two minor Arab states failed to lead to peace in the region. Saudi Arabia refused to sign it. The civil war in Yemen broke out during his administration, and his Israel/Palestinian peace initiative was roundly rejected by Palestinian representatives.
He further inflamed the region by brokering the largest U.S./Saudi arms deal in the Kingdom’s history.
His tariff war with China caused prices to rise in the United States, nearly wrecked the U.S. farm industry and caused goods that Home Depot sells, such as lumber and hardware, to skyrocket in price,
Trump’s time in office left a trail of wreckage domestically as well.
He mismanaged the COVID epidemic, directly causing tens of thousands of deaths. Trump was so derelict in office he played golf 296 times during his administration, a record, costing taxpayers $144 million, spent mostly at his own clubs.
He told more than 30,000 lies in office and continues to lie, including the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
The 2020 election was the first time the nation did not have a peaceful transition of power in 242 years, going back to its founding. Trump allegedly fomented the Jan. 6 insurrection, fake elector schemes in several states and tried to coerce votes in Georgia.
All during his presidency, the Chinese government rented a whole floor in Trump Tower in New York City and paid a higher price per square foot than other office tenants in the building.
The state-owned Chinese bank that occupied the space paid $7 million in rent and stayed there even though it rented twice the space in a nearby building. It moved out around the time Trump left the White House, according to Forbes.
Trump’s business career is no less a calamity. He’s gone through six bankruptcies. Trump University and the Trump Charity were shut down for fraud; he’s started and failed at a dozen companies trying to profit off his “brand” and his real estate empire has largely kept afloat on fraudulent valuations, sketchy bank loans and foreign cash, according to court records in his New York state trial and other sources.
Marcus cites a familiar complaint about the business climate. He co-founded Home Depot in 1978 as a small business and grew it into an international retail chain.
We could only have done this in America because of America’s system of free enterprise and pro-jobs growth government policies,” he writes. “The problems of the last three years, would prevent my partners and I from succeeding as we have,” he adds.
Yet, more than 10.5 million small businesses have been formed since 2021, the highest recorded amount during a two-year period on record, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Marcus claims fantastically the nation’s business climate has soured in only three years, apparently discounting any effect from the COVID pandemic’s deep recession.
He also seems to ignore the fact that much of Home Depot’s growth occurred under Democratic presidents. There have been four Democratic and four Republican administrations, since his company opened its doors.
Marcus complains about “divisiveness” in the nation, but fails to make any reference to the principal cause of the divisiveness — Donald Trump.
Marcus’ dystopian view of America is at the bottom of his plea for a Trump presidency and it begins with its cities. His complaints are lifted from Fox News and right wing disinformation. Here are some of his key points.
“Many of our once-great cities have devolved into lawlessness with random violent attacks on innocent people, rampant looting, and large-scale homeless encampments. There are rarely consequences for the wrongdoers because George Soros-elected prosecutors across America refuse to prosecute them.”
If crime is so bad in cities like New York, San Francisco and others, rents and housing prices would be collapsing. But just the opposite is happening.
New York City rents rose 9.4% in 2022 and 7.4% this year. The median listing home price in New York City is $799,000, up 1.8% over last year.
As for crime, in New York City, an analysis of crime data shows that the city has seen far less violent crime compared to 1990, when the city had its most reported murders on record.
In 1990, a total of 527,257 criminal complaints of all kinds were reported. In contrast, last year 95,273 crimes were reported to the NYPD. That includes 327 murders compared with 2,245 murders three decades ago. Houston reported 435 murders last year, a city one-fifth the size.
New Orleans in deep-red Louisiana led 75 other major cities with the highest murder rate per 100,000 population, according to a crime tracking website,
Marcus also cites “rampant looting” and “large-scale homeless encampments” in major cities. Both claims are Fox News headlines that bear little resemblance to reality.
By rampant looting he’s obviously referring to video clips of large numbers of people invading retail outlets in mass shoplifting sprees. It’s a trend that grew out of the pandemic. But police have learned that most of these groups are organized crime rings.
So far this year, rings have been broken up in Baltimore-Washington, Philadelphia, Miami-Dade and other cities. Nine states have passed new laws cracking down on organized retail theft, others have similar laws in the hopper and Congress is considering federal action, according to CNBC.
It makes sense that homelessness is an urban problem, because that’s where services are most readily available. Many of the high-profile “random violent attacks on innocent people””,” are carried out by the mentally ill, who have no place to go for treatment.
But that’s a problem that began with the Reagan administration.
“After the deinstitutionalization movement began in California in the 1960s, [under then Gov. Reagan] many state mental health hospitals closed, forcing many folks who needed a lot of care onto the streets,” wrote psychologist Divya Kakaiya, earlier this year in The San Diego Union Tribune.
“In 1981, when President Ronald Reagan deinstitutionalized the mentally ill and emptied the psychiatric hospitals into so-called “community” clinics, the problem got worse,” she writes.
“We also need to not be in denial that jails and prisons have become surrogate psychiatric hospitals for many people with severe mental illnesses, and we need to do something about that, too.”
The reality is states have already cut mental health budgets by a combined $4 billion over the past three years — the largest single combined reduction to mental health spending since de-institutionalization in the 1970s, accoridng to Mental Health Advocacy.
Marcus makes another damning claim citing another piece of Fox News disinformation.
“There are rarely consequences for the wrongdoers because George Soros-elected prosecutors across America refuse to prosecute them.”
Oddly, Soros was a major shareholder in Home Depot from 2000 until he finally sold his holdings in 2015.
Soros has had a hand in state and local prosecutor races through non-profit groups and political action committees. But the thrust of his effort is to “promote reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial,” according to Politico.
One TV ad from a Soros-funded group, Florida Safety and Justice, touted a candidate who promised “to remove bias so defendants charged with the same crime receive the same treatment, no matter their background or race.”
What’s more Soros isn’t alone in this effort.
The same groups he backs also have received funds from the Ford Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charity founded by Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg and his wife and Art for Justice, a group dedicated to reducing mass incarceration managed by the Rockefeller Foundation.
What Marcus fails to note is that criminal justice organizations, like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, support not prosecuting offenders for minor offenses.
For an average marginal case not prosecuted, the individual was about half as likely to face a new criminal complaint in subsequent years as someone who was prosecuted, according to a study.
“That criminal background check — that line on your criminal background check — can make it harder to get employment, harder to find housing. It can have all sorts of collateral consequences that seems to make it so that you’re more likely to end up with criminal justice contact in the future,” says one of the study’s authors, Rutgers University economist Amanda Agan.
Prosecutors in major jurisdictions dropped charges in 20% of all non-violent misdemeanor cases. Of those prosecuted, nearly three out of four ended without criminal convictions. But felony crimes and violent crimes are rarely dropped, according to one major study.
More often than not, when offenders are released on bail it’s due to overcrowding in chronically underfunded local jails.
“Overcrowding and understaffing have plagued jails across the country for years, and even before the pandemic many facilities were in disarray,” according to The Marshall Project, a nonprofit newsroom covering the U.S. criminal justice system.
In California, lawyers accused staff at the Los Angeles County jail of chaining mentally ill detainees to chairs for days at a time.
In West Virginia, people held in the Southern Regional Jail sued the state, saying they found urine and semen in their food.
In Missouri, detainees in the St. Louis jail staged multiple uprisings last year, while in Texas, a guard at Houston’s overcrowded Harris County Jail said she and her coworkers had started carrying knives to work for fear that they wouldn’t have backup if violence broke out.
Rikers Island jail complex in New York City has been the focus of media coverage for its surging number of deaths, rural and urban lockups from Tennessee to Washington to Georgia are not faring much better, according to the group.
“It’s hard to believe, but it seems jails are even more wretched than usual these last few months,” David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project told the group.
“Having worked in this field for 30 years, I don’t remember any other time when there seem to be so many large jails in a state of complete meltdown.”
Trump addressed the problem with deep cuts in federal funding for programs and services states and localities deliver. The cuts began in 2018, slashing $44 billion — equivalent to more than 5 percent of state general fund budgets.
By 2027 alone, the cuts would cost states as much as $453 billion — 37 percent of state budgets at that time, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Rather than giving low-income people supports to help them become self-sufficient, such as job training, child care, adequate nutrition, and health care, this budget would simply drive people deeper into poverty,” according to a report by the group.
Marcus’ claims about the southern boarder are pure Republican agitprop.
“Our southern border is unprotected, and millions of people we know nothing about pour into our nation to receive care and benefits that we cannot afford to provide to our struggling military veterans. Worse, many of the border crossers may be gang members who commit violent crimes here,” he writes.
More than 2.4 million apprehensions occured in the 2023 fiscal year, which ended in September. That tops the previous record, set a year earlier, of more than 2.3 million, according to government data released on Saturday, more than during the Trump administration.
“During the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made 1.4 million arrests, what it calls “encounters,” in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 (24 months),” according to a study by the Cato Institute.
“Of those people arrested, only 47 percent were removed as of Dec. 31, 2021, which includes people arrested by Trump and removed by Biden, and 52 percent were released into the United States.
“Under Biden, DHS made over 5 million arrests in its first 26.3 months, and it removed nearly 2.6 million—51 percent—while releasing only 49 percent,” the study found.
“In other words, the Trump DHS removed a minority of those arrested while the Biden DHS removed a majority. Biden managed to increase the removal share while also increasing the total removals by a factor of 3.5.”
As for crime, in Texas, which keeps detailed records of immigrant status in arrests, the illegal immigrant criminal conviction rate was 782 per 100,000 illegal immigrants, 535 per 100,000 legal immigrants, and 1,422 per 100,000 native‐born Americans, according to another Cato Institute study.
“The illegal immigrant criminal conviction rate was 45 percent below that of native‐born Americans in Texas,” the study concluded.
Despite all the Republican hand-wringing over extremists crossing the border, no U.S. citizens have been killed or injured in attacks on U.S. soil committed by terrorists who illegally crossed the Southwest border.
“From 1975 through the end of 2020, only nine people convicted of planning a terrorist attack entered the United States illegally – some of them on ships, airplanes, and walking across the border, ” the institute found. Some of those convicted entered the country as children.
So much for the border crisis, which appears more and more to be a Republican shell game.
Marcus also takes a shot at public education, repeating more right-wing political disinformation aimed at diverting public money to private schools under the guise of “school choice.”
“School children across America cannot read, write, or do basic math, while our educational leaders tell us that they know better than parents how to raise our children,” he writes.
Using pubically available data, states coded as “blue” based upon results from the 2004 presidential election were significantly higher in education funding than were states coded as “red” under Republican leadership.
Students in blue states scored significantly higher on outcome measures of math and reading in grades four and eight.
To the contrary, Republicans are destroying public education.
Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget called for a $5.6 billion cut in the Department of Education — a cut of nearly 8 percent from prior year’s funding level — while dedicating $5 billion in tax credits to the administration’s private school voucher scheme.
The Trump Administration invested nearly $1.5 billion in the development of private charter schools that focus heavily on profit and religious teaching.
So what’s Marcus’ personal stake in Trump?
It’s likely Trump’s biggest legislative achievement, the 2017 tax overhaul, helped the fortunes of U.S. billionaires grow by a collective $1 trillion during the pandemic, from March 18 to Dec. 7, 2020.
That’s 19 times the $72 million cost of bonuses for the company’s hourly employees, which ranged from $200 to $1,000, depending on length of employment.
The employee bonuses were also a pittance compared to the board of directors approved $15 billion share repurchase program effective Aug.15, 2023, which raises share price and dividends. Marcus, incidentally, has received more than $400 million in Home Depot dividends since 1987, according to Forbes.