Tag Archives: Trump

Oppositional Research


I’m now several years retired. Starting to get bored. Thinking of running for public office. My main concern is the increasingly harsh nature of political campaigns. Candidates dive deep into rivals backgrounds looking for dirt. It is now called operational research.

Pondering this first ever candidacy I try to anticipate skeletons buried in my closet. I may have some issues.

Summer of 1955 the manager of the A&P Supermarket on Newport Avenue spots a nine year old me in my first and only attempt at larceny.

“Young man”, he scolds “I know your parents. If I ever see you doing this again I’ll have to tell them.”

To this day driving by this building, even though it is now Hasbro’s headquarters, brings back a feeling of guilt.

Spring of 1966 our group of young Rhode Island College students celebrate the first apartment one of us rents off campus. I apparently celebrated with one or two more Miller Hi-Lifes than normal. To keep me out of harms way my accommodating pals placed me in an empty bathtub. THERE MAY BE PICTURES!

Winter of 1966 I dodged the draft, sort of. Strange story. I was drafted. I said goodbyes to friends and family. My normally stoic father teared up as he dropped me off at Fields Point where I was to be sworn in and sent to basic training. While waiting to be given our instructions someone in uniform called out, “Raftus, is there a James Raftus here?”.

I was taken into a room and a doctor found a physical issue I knew nothing about and declared me to be 4-F. This was not a day the Army was doing physicals. It was a day to start your Army tour. I did not argue with their decision and returned to civilian life until April of 1968 when the U.S. Army, at this point churning through young men, changed their mind, re-examined me and declared me fit for duty. I enlisted and served until early 1971.

Summer of 1971 was a time to unwind after my Army stint. One evening I was standing on the deck of the former Jamestown Ferry which was docked in Pawtucket having been repurposed as and arts center for the city’s youth. I was offered, and accepted, my one and only hit of pot. The only effect it had on me was a mild headache.

Late Spring of 1998 I somehow forgot to pay my 1st quarter of Cumberland taxes and was two weeks late. This was the only time I ever had to pay a fine for local, state, or federal taxes.

I think that’s the extent of my personal rogues gallery. How embarrassing would this be to my adult children if it was exposed during the campaign? I can see the headlines from Fox News, “Progressive thief, drunk, draft dodger, drug addict and tax cheat runs for office in Rhode Island!”.

But wait, on November 8th of 2016 sixty three million of my fellow citizens voted for a candidate about whom the following was already known:

He had 5 military deferments including, although a self described “great baseball player” at this age, one for questionable bone spurs.

He had suffered multiple failed business ventures ending in bankruptcies.

His real estate organization was sued by the U.S Department of Justice in 1973 for racial discrimination.

He had cheated on all 3 of his wives, once, supposedly, with a porn star shortly after the birth of his son.

He was the first candidate in decades to not release his tax returns.

He bragged about grabbing women by their private parts.

Well, maybe, just maybe voters could forgive my sordid past. Yes, I just may toss my stained hat into the ring. Oppositional research be damned!

What should I shoot for, Town Council, School Board or something more ambitious?

– END –

Jim Raftus lives in Cumberland and is not running for anything.
Contact: jraftus@aol.com

Donald “The Gunslinger” Trump


The more Donald Trumps speaks it becomes more and more obvious that he has seen too many Sam Peckinpah shoot ‘em up western movies.

12/22/15 – Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump railing about journalist at a rally, “I hate some of these people, but, I would never kill them. Let’s see…ahhh…..
(hesitates, smirks and makes a wave with his hand) no, I wouldn’t.”

The crowd roared their approval. It was at this moment I truly became worried for our country.

1/23/16 – Sioux City, Iowa. Trump proposes, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose any votes.”

This description of the loyalty of his supporters serves as a surreal introduction, and counterpoint, to the following tirade.
9/9/16 – Pensacola, Florida. Trump categorizes Clinton as, “So protected she could walk into this arena and shoot somebody with twenty thousand people watching, right smack in the middle of the heart and not be prosecuted.”

His fanatic acolytes cheered this hyperbolic mendacity as if it was the word of God straight from the Bible.

This gunslinger mentality is more than a trend. It is a troubling, and revealing, character trait showing a man who fantasizes about violence, gun play and murder while in the most visible forums imaginable. If this is an important part of his public persona, what deeper demons lie beneath this frightening surface?

Coupled with the documented violence at many of Trump’s events, it is not a paranoid stretch to imagine on of his more unhinged followers taking a cue from the candidate to a dangerous and disastrous level. Trump did, of course, once bemoan that he misses the old days when a protester would be “taken out on a stretcher”.

The Republican nominee does not mute his proclivity towards violence when describing his plans for international policies. At the same Florida rally where he fabricated Clinton shooting someone he gave his solution for a recent incident between the U.S. Navy and Iran, “..when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and make gestures at our people, which they shouldn’t be allowed to do, they will be shot out of the water.”

Thus, Trump would order an act of war over a gesture. You could hear his supporters in the crowd screaming, “Yeah, kill them! Kill them!” without realizing, or worse caring, that it would enter America into yet another war.

Combine all these utterances with other well known comments such as, “…bomb the s*#& out of them” and “…with the terrorist, you have to take out their families.” and Trump’s fetish for violence and killing is shocking.

In the final stages of this exhaustive, and disheartening, campaign the question of which candidate is more “trigger happy” is being bandied about. Yes, it is a dangerous time in history, but, Gunslinger Trump’s view of the world as a Peckinpah sequel to The Wild Bunch or a Rambo film should clearly answer that question.

A dangerous man wants to lead our country.

– END –

Are the U.K. & U.S. Unspooling Together?


What do America’s 2016 presidential campaign and the upcoming, June 23rd, United Kingdom referendum on remaining in the European Union (EU) have in common?


And this is not a good sign for democracy.

I recently returned from a short visit to London. While there I conducted an admittedly informal poll with, perhaps, the world’s smallest sample size to gauge sentiment on these two looming political watersheds. Several London cabbies and a pocketful of bespoke suit clad businessmen enjoying their early evening pints were my unwitting participants. I volleyed the conversations back and forth between Clinton versus Trump and the EU question, or Brexit as the “stay” or “leave” referendum is cleverly called in Great Britain.

Both topics produced stunningly parallel responses.

Scratch the surface of the lorry drivers psyches and a stream of anger, fear and xenophobia quickly flows. Immigration concerns are at the heart of these emotions. The current European Union, codified in 1993, allows travel free zones between the member nations and this freedom of movement terrifies a fairly significant segment of England’s population. Ironically, most of our cab drivers who expressed these fears were obviously recently immigrants themselves. These men who were definitely in the “leave” camp on the EU referendum also were huge Donald Trump supporters. With only one exception, the cabbies showed no concern, only enthusiasm, for Trump’s “build a wall” and ending Muslim immigration stances for America. They felt the U.S. has become weaker under Obama. One declared, “Every time I see Obama on TV he is apologizing to someone.”

This fear of foreigners, this call for isolationism, is fueled by the notoriously sensational nature of London’s tabloid newspapers which run headlines warning that staying in the EU would cause England to lose control of its own coast and even lead to a merger with France!

Of course in the United States a large portion of Trump’s supporters are described as alienated, angry white lower middle to low income males whose amicus is fueled by conservative talk radio and Fox News pundits spouting apocalyptic scenarios if Clinton is elected.

On the other hand the London business people, men and women, sipping their ales, porters and stouts hold a different point of view from my cabbie acquaintances. More so than the drivers, they admit to being so preoccupied with the EU question that they have given only cursory attention to our Trump/Clinton option. Most of these folks in the financial segment feel confident that the “stay” option will prevail. While they have some serious concerns about certain aspects of how the EU’s workings affects their country they feel the alternative is far too dangerous. This certainly mirrors how many people in America will vote for Clinton despite their deep distrust of her past actions and motivations. One Briton even evoked the old “…devil you know..” cliche to justify his vote.

Sadly, and most troublingly, beneath all my simplistic prodding and the answers it produced I sense a seething, rancid cleaving of the bound fabric which help create both these nations. Allies, who together defeated our common enemies in two major world wars, the United Kingdom and the United States have long been seen as beacons of hope and opportunity.

Perhaps, I myself have been unaware or too insular and these cultural divides within each country have long existed, but I fear the arc of normal disagreement and debate has escalated to disastrous levels. Levels where, unlike the past, no compromises are possible and discord becomes the constant, dominant state.

This unspooling of the threads of common decency, understanding and compassion would be heartbreakingly catastrophic for future generations. It is time for a national reassessment of how we approach each other as we carry out the obligations of citizenry.

Perhaps the London cabbies, the London financiers, the feeling neglected American middle class and the U.S.’s 1%ers should all meet together for a pint, or a draft, of their favorite brew and talk to each other.

It beats the alternative.



Unfortunately it looks like Donald Trump may not make it to Rhode Island before the primary election. Luckily I have a friend who works maintenance on the Trump Air One jet who found the discarded notes for Trump’s Little Rhody speech.

“ I love Rhode Island! I often fly over it on my way from New York to the Cape.

How about that Buddy Cianci? Is he a character or what? We should have him up on the stage here with me.

When I am President I’m not only going to make America Great Again, I will Make Rhode Island Great Again! We have to get back to the principals of your terrific founder, Andy Williams.

First of all, you need revenue. Looks like you are going to put in toll booths. Well, believe you and me, I will build the most beautiful, the greatest toll booths the world has ever seen right here in Rhode Island! Trust me, they will be magnificent and I will get Connecticut to pay for them! How? Negotiations.
And if any truckers try to sneak around your tiny state by using the roads in Massachusetts and Connecticut we will bomb the #!&* out of them.

Next we’ll deport all the folks in Rhode Island whose ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower. Then, the 40,000, or so, folks, beautiful folks by the way, who are still left in Rhode Island can all go on the state payroll and live off the public trough. How amazing is that? I have such a good brain.

Politically you people have some major issues. You’ve got way too many Democrats running the place and how did you ever let a woman become your governor? Don’t get me wrong, I love women. I saw some good looking babes today while I was having lunch up on your Federalist Hill. But, you can’t put one in charge. I mean there will be some days she won’t be in her right mind. Know what I mean guys?

I also hear that you are having some problems with your new state marketing campaign. Cooler and Warmer? C’mon, who is better at branding than me, The Donald? I just put my name on everything; Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump Casino and they’re all doing…..oh, never mind.

Let’s talk about your baseball team, the PawSox. I love baseball! In fact, if Dad hadn’t made me take a gazzilion dollar loan to buy some property when I was just a kid, I would have been a major league pitcher. I had a Hall of Fame arm.
Anyhow, back to the PawSox. When I’m elected President I’ll get the PawSox owners to not only pay to build a stupendous new stadium in Pawtucket, but they will pay to keep the birthing room & ER at Memorial Hospital open, and they will pay to finally fix those neglected gardens in Slater Park. I don’t care if PawSox owner Larry Lucchino is a fancy lawyer who was a partner with Edward Bennett Williams, he’s never negotiated with someone as smart as The Donald!

Well, I’ve got to fly now. Let me say in conclusion, Miscquamitville Beach in Westerly, Beneficial Street in Providence, Izzy’s Dough Boys in Warwick and the Twin Pines restaurant in Cranston, these are the things that make your great state of…. uh, Rhode Island wonderful!

O.K., get me to T.J. Brown airport in a hurry!

Civility Trumped – (Published in the Providence Journal 9/23/15)


Ben Franklin advised, “Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.”

My wife and I were recently shopping for a new car. We told the salesman we’d just met that we had already shopped the dealership across the street and were not impressed.

“Oh yeah, I hear they’re real a _ _ holes.” he quickly replied.
We had meant we were not impressed by the other dealer’s car offerings.

Last week we were checking into a small hotel in Rockport, Massachusetts. The man at the desk, who we learned was the owner, did not know where our hometown of Cumberland was so we told him it was about ten minutes away from the Wrentham Factory Outlets.

“The clothes they sell there are s _ _ t.” he informed us.

Two small incidents several days apart, yet, so indicative of the pervasive loss of civility in our country. I don’t believe I am a prude. However, both these merchants decided it was perfectly fine to use profanity when speaking to two senior citizens, a grandmother and grandfather, within minutes after meeting us.

In my youth, as part of the growing up process, I cussed along with the rest of my gang. By the time I enlisted in the army in 1968 I was fairly proficient in profanity. Then a funny, actually unfunny, thing happened as I was sitting in the barracks listening to the ongoing torrent of swear words which dominate army dialogue. I suddenly, and vividly, decided that the word “mother” was never intended to be the first half of a hyphenated vulgarity. The picture these vilely connected words painted was so scurrilous to me that I stopped swearing. I made no grand pronouncements, just stopped. Interestingly, I eventually noticed that the young soldiers around me cut back on their swearing as well. Oh, certainly not instantaneously, or completely, but there was a definite, detectable sea change in their vocabularies despite the fact that I never preached, or, as their squad leader commanded them to watch their language.

Post army and into my business career I continued my obscenity boycott even in the rough and tumble world of commerce and I saw the same uplifting affect on my colleagues behavior. Now, I can’t say I was a 100% abstainer, but my few slip ups had an interesting affect as well. If I threw out a heated “damn” or “hell” in a meeting I noticed everyone sat a little straighter in their chairs and their focus would increase. The one time in 20 years that my Administrative Assistant heard me drop the “f” bomb, not directed at her but an employee who had badly abused my trust, I thought she was going to melt in her chair. I quickly apologized to her.

Why do I think this is important? Because lack of civility has a corrosive effect on a country. It is a creeping disease which leads to rancor, divisiveness and myriad social ills.

Some lack of decorum appears innocent and victimless such as Vice President Biden whispering to President Obama, “This is a big f _ _ _ing deal.” when the President was signing the Affordable Care Act in 2010. But, why should such a prominent figure be so lax at an open public forum? What does it teach our nation’s youth?

Other examples are more insidious. Gangsta’ rap lyrics from the 1990’s categorized young black women as “bitches” and “whores” denigrating a whole spectrum of impressionable girls. Where was the moral outrage from black leaders and clergy?

While not yet stooping to the level of obscenity, the nascent presidential political campaigning is already one of the most uncivil in history and we have not even reached the first primary event. Donald Trump has escalated to the top of early polls seemingly partly based upon; denigrating all Mexican immigrants, disparaging a decorated P.O.W., misogynisticaly attacking a female reporter and chiding the looks of a female Republican opponent. (I am tempted to swear here.)

What can an individual do when faced with uncivil behavior? What should my wife and I have done when confronted by a trash talking car salesman and inn keeper? Seems to me there are three options.
First, you can grin and bear it.
Second, you can immediately raise your objection.
Third, you can have some patience and wait to see if there is a second indiscretion then walk away and take your business elsewhere.

Using this formula, Mr. Trump seems well past his quota and it will be interesting to see which of the above three options the electorate chooses in the upcoming primaries.

The novelist Henry James once opined, “Three things in human life are important; the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind and the third is to be kind.”

– END –

Jim Raftus lives in Cumberland. Contact: jraftus@aol.com Follow: whorlofwords.com