Kennedy, Churchill, King…Trump?

We take inspiration from history’s greatest leaders and thinkers. Now that it looks like Donald Trump has a real shot at the Republican presidential nomination, let’s see how his words compare with our revered legends and heroes:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

”I have black guys counting my money…I hate it. The only guys I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes all day.” (Donald Trump)

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, then for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jesus Christ)

“Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.” (Trump)

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” (Winston Churchill)

“She (Megyn Kelly) gets out there…and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her…whatever.” (Trump)

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” (Emma Lazurus)

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best…They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists…” (Trump)

Men’s minds are raised to the level of the women with whom they associate.” (Alexander Dumas)

“You know it really doesn’t matter what they write, as long you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of a–.” (Trump)

“Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other as well.” (Jesus Christ)

“For many years I’ve said that if someone screws you, screw them back. When someone hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can.” (Trump)

Any fool can criticize, complain and condemn__and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” (Dale Carnegie)

“Rosie O’Donnell’s disgusting. Bette Midler is grotesque. Arianna Huffington is a dog.” (Trump)

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy)

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” (Trump)

 

 

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Is Game of Muppets in the Works?

A wave of mergers has created some powerful media forces, and now Cookie Monster has been enlisted in that brave new world.

NYC-based Sesame Workshop and HBO are the latest to form a grand partnership. The deal allows HBO to premiere new episodes of “Sesame Street” for the next five seasons, as well as a “Sesame Street” Muppets spinoff series.

But will it stop there? No way, Grover.

According to highly unreliable sources, HBO plans to launch other spinoffs of “Sesame Street” more compatible with the cable giant’s brand.

For instance, I hear that “Game of Muppets” is in the works, with Kermit the Frog cast in a lead role. He goes through various traumas, including a fierce battle with the character Tyrion, which ends touchingly when Kermit serenades him with, “It’s not easy being a dwarf.” The two unite in an inspiring brotherhood, which makes the last episode even more horrifying, when Kermit is boiled alive and yes, croaks.

But that’s only the beginning. Earlier this month, Miss Piggy broke up with Kermit (“We will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, etc.,” Kermit announced on his Facebook page), and now she is free to explore her lusty libido on “Sex and the Piggy.” The passionate porker has been seen around town with Animal, Elmo and Justin Bieber.

Meanwhile, Oscar the Grouch is preparing a documentary on the homeless in which he finally explains the roots of his grumpy disposition, plaintively imploring us with, “Hey, wouldn’t living in a garbage can make you grouchy?”

One “Sesame Street” regular who has breakout star written all over him is Cookie Monster. HBO wanted him for a “Curb Your Appetite” spinoff, but instead has typecast him as the title character in the new “Cookie Boss.” Unfortunately, CM has already established a rather difficult reputation on the set, repeatedly screaming “Cookie!” and scarfing down the products.

Yes, HBO plans to take full advantage of its new partnership with Sesame Workshop. Other shows waiting to be greenlighted include “Bert and Ernie Move to Chelsea,” with the long-rumored-to-be-gay companions finally coming out of the closet, and “Cheep,” with Big Bird cast as the first feathered American to hold elective office.

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Hillary’s Job: Keep Bill on a Leash

Today (8-19) is Bill Clinton’s birthday, but when he blows out the candles on his cake, it will be Hillary Clinton making the wish: Don’t extinguish my campaign.

Bill is 69. He’s had major heart surgery. And yes, his wife is still the favorite to be our next — and first female — president. But Hillary faces a dilemma, and I’m not talking about classified email. What do you do when your husband is both your biggest asset and biggest potential liability?

On the plus side, the birthday boy is still a terrific campaigner, a schmoozer with a warm, charismatic presence that Hillary will never possess. He knows how to charm not only a crowd, but also key Republicans, from the Bushes to Donald Trump.

Right before Trump declared for the Republican nomination, Bill Clinton had a phone conversation/pep talk with him, according to The Washington Post, telling The Donald he was a rising force among conservatives. Trump declared soon after, and since then chaos has reigned in the GOP, which has only helped Hillary’s chances.

Meanwhile, Hillary faces some serious issues, from the FBI going through her email server to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leading her in the latest New Hampshire primary poll.

But as in many a horror movie, the biggest threat to Hillary’s election may lurk right inside her Westchester County home.

It’s no secret that Bill Clinton has skeletons in and out of the closet. Numerous women have claimed to have been involved in affairs with or received unwanted sexual advances from “the Big Dog.”

The latest drama involves Brooklyn-born billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 of having sex with underage girls and whom Bill chummed and jetted around with. Don’t be surprised when the GOP outrage machine (Servergate! Benghazi! Littering!) tries a guilt by association move on Hillary over this as well (Epstein!).

But Bill has shrugged it all off, and continues his new Spartan lifestyle, which includes a vegan diet, Buddhist meditation to relax, charitable work worldwide and helping Hillary’s campaign whenever asked.

So enjoy your sugar-free birthday cake tonight, Bill. For Hillary’s and all our sakes, hopefully you have finally realized that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Hopefully.

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Hip-Hop, History and Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton must be spinning in his grave. Or is that a hip-hop dance?

After more than 200 years of relative obscurity, Hamilton has again taken center stage, both literally and figuratively. Last week the hip-hop musical “Hamilton” opened on Broadway to rave reviews and sold out houses.

Hamilton was an amazing man. Raised in the West Indies and orphaned as a child, he went to NYC’s Kings College (now Columbia), became the first Secretary of the Treasury, founded the nation’s financial system, was a military hero, lawyer and also founder and publisher of the NY Post.

Who today is as eclectic as Hamilton? Try the play’s author, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who not only wrote the music, lyrics and book, but plays the title role.

Miranda’s musical, with a huge advanced sale and celebrity-packed crowds, finally gives Hamilton his due as a key founding father and major force in our nation’s history.

But it’s never just good news with Alexander Hamilton. In 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr challenged political rival Hamilton to a duel, then shot and killed him. And in 2020 the U.S. Treasury will knock Hamilton off the ten dollar bill. Well, halfway off.

The movement to place a woman on U.S. currency resulted in the Treasury deciding to do so by replacing Hamilton’s portrait on the $10, ignoring protests that the $20 bill, now adorned with the face of the deeply flawed Andrew Jackson, would be more appropriate.

As you might imagine, suggestions for the first woman on our paper currency came in fast and furious, ranging from Harriet Tubman to Eleanor Roosevelt to Caitlin Jenner.

By the end of the year Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will make his final choice known. Last month the Treasury came up with the curious decision to leave Jackson alone on the $20, while the $10 will feature portraits of both Hamilton and the woman. Side by side? Front and back? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, getting tickets for Hamilton is nearly, but not totally, impossible. The musical offers a “Hamilton for a Hamilton” (#Ham4Ham) ticket lottery two hours before each show, with the winners paying just a $10 bill__a Hamilton__to sit in the front row.

Pretty sweet. But what would they call that promotion in 2020? Half a Ham4Ham? Or would that be a bit ham-handed?

 

 

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Guaranteed to Happen at the GOP Debate

Tomorrow’s the day Democrats have been giddily awaiting and Republicans quietly dreading: the first GOP presidential debate.

The 10 candidates chosen from the Kentucky Derby field-sized crowd of contenders includes two shy, sweet men from our area,  N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and NY’s own Donald Trump.

How proud we’ll be!

For those with more important plans (like watching “Hoarders” reruns), here is a sneak peek at exactly how the debate will go:

After the obligatory round of Hillary Clinton bashing, the lesser candidates desperately try for attention by ganging up on front-runners: The Donald, the Bush who now refers to himself only as “Jeb!,” and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who said he would “very possibly” have to bomb Iran on his first day in office.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich tries to score points early by accusing Trump of being a closet liberal. “Aren’t you pro-choice and pro-single- payer health care?” he challenges. “Just as you went bankrupt, you want to bankrupt America.”

“Me?” Trump replies with a smirk. “Weren’t you a managing director at Lehman Brothers when it destroyed the American economy? We’re in your home state, and half the audience never heard of you. Loser!”

On government spending, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul repeats his description of Christie as “the king of bacon.” A glaring Christie threatens to flatten Paul, prompting a warning from a Fox News moderator.

When the topic shifts to immigration, the candidate formerly known as Bush takes on Trump’s nasty rant against Mexicans here illegally. “I was hurt, hearing you speak in such a vulgar fashion,” says Jeb, whose wife is Mexican.

“Boohoo!” says Trump. “What’s the matter, you couldn’t find a nice American girl? My God, you’re even stupider than your brother!” A furious Jeb hurls his notepad at Trump, but The Donald ducks, causing it to hit Walker. “I’ll drop a bomb on you, too, Jeb!” fumes Walker.

“Time’s up!” barks moderator Chris Wallace. “All of you, off the stage, now!”

As they file off, Wallace admonishes “You should all be ashamed of yourselves.” He is slipped a note. “What’s this? Highest ratings in debate history? Great job, guys!”

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For de Blasio, It’s Lonely at the Top

I can predict with confidence that Mayor Bill de Blasio will not alienate any more prominent NY Democrats this year.

He’s already alienated them all.

The latest supposed ally to lash out against the mayor is City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Complaining that he tried to take credit for an agreement on the ride-sharing service Uber last week, an angry Mark-Viverito said “I’m not going to allow anyone to save face at the expense of this council. This was a process that had nothing to do with the mayor.”

She then took a stroll off the deep end, saying: “I find this offensive as a woman and as a Latina.”

Huh? What does that have to do with anything? Whatever you think of our mayor, he is an equal-opportunity offender. Just ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Last month, de Blasio lashed out at Cuomo, saying he lacks leadership and that he carries out “vendettas,” a word usually reserved for mobsters.  I’m sure our governor will be much more cooperative with him now.

Meanwhile, de Blasio had an unpleasant surprise for former boss Hillary Clinton, who he failed to endorse on the day she announced her presidential campaign. The mayor first demanded to see her “progressive vision.”

Wait, I’m sure we can find at least one prominent NY Democrat who gets along splendidly with our mayor. What about NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer?

Stringer complained last week that de Blasio’s effort to cap the growth of Uber “made no sense” and that his proposal was “backwards.”

Let’s not give up hope yet. What about our freaky friend Anthony Weiner? After the mayor’s non-Clinton endorsement, Weiner fumed to The Wall Street Journal “Hillary was working on a progressive vision of health care when Bill was still smoking pot at NYU, or wherever he went.” Ok, scratch Carlos Danger.

De Blasio has been on the road a lot lately for both business and pleasure — jetting off to California, Iowa, New Mexico and Italy, among other places.

When he runs for re-election in 2017 and seeks a top Democrat to campaign with him, he shouldn’t be surprised to find Clinton, Cuomo and Mark-Viverito out of town as well.

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Waiter, There’s No Fly in My Soup!

Eat any insects lately? What are you waiting for?

Earlier this month, Wayback Burgers launched an Oreo mud pie cricket protein milkshake with chocolate-flavored cricket powder.

Cricket. As in bugs.

The burger chain tested the item at one of its Long Island locations on April 1 (started as an April Fool’s joke to create buzz). But the cricket shake proved so popular, the chain is offering the buggy treat in its stores through September — and may make it permanent.

At an Explorers Club dinner at the American Museum of Natural History in March, all of the cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres were made of insects. Neal deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, sampled the cricket canapé wrapped in bacon.

While noting the insect sampler was “not as good as a rib-eye,” Tyson told NPR that “insects have been long known as a great source of protein, so I don’t have a problem with that.”

Insects also contain high levels of nutrients, and eating them is good for the planet. I’ve obviously been looking at the cockroaches crawling around my kitchen the wrong way. Talk about convenience food!

I hate to break it to you, but peanut butter and other processed foods already contain an FDA-approved limit of insect pieces. So yes, you are already consuming them on a regular basis. Sorry about that.

At this point, a lot of you are probably bugging out. I’m pretty adventurous, and have eaten alligator (tastes like chicken) and other exotic dishes. I suppose I could down an insect, especially if it’s disguised in a shake.

Could you?

We are horrified when nationalities eat dog or horse meat, but have no problem with cows and pigs. Seems like disgust is in the eye of the beholder. Eating sushi — raw fish — was once considered repugnant in our culture. It eventually became mainstream. Can insects ever be considered a delicacy here? Such fare is already popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and eaten by about 2 billion people worldwide, according to the UN.

Here in the United States, Fresh Direct started carrying Exo protein bars made from cricket flour a year ago, and it’s only a matter of time until a major American chain offers its insect line.

Bugger King, anyone?

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Landmarks and Grand Parks and Bears, Oh My!

When my girlfriend Vicki asked me to go with her to the Central Park Arsenal Gallery’s exhibition celebrating city parks to mark the 50th anniversary of NYC’s landmarks law, I admit my first thought: boring!

But when she told me the “Living Landmarks” display was beside the Central Park Zoo and I could visit my favorite grizzly bears, Betty and Veronica, I was sold.

What I didn’t expect was how the photos and stories of the birth and development of such scenic landmarks as Central, Prospect and Riverside parks, as well as Eastern and Ocean parkways, would strike such a nerve in me.

All were designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Olmsted and his design partner, Calvert Vaux. Olmsted insisted that the parks be truly public and that their green space be accessible to all citizens.

Reading how the City of Brooklyn acquired the land for Ocean Parkway in 1868, as part of a network of landscaped thoroughfares leading to major parks, brought me back to my childhood. The parkway connects Prospect Park to Coney Island, and I’d ride my bike down its tree-lined bike path to Coney with my pals.

Other times my dad would take me to Prospect Park to eye the gorillas and watch the seals snatch fish from the air. I flashed forward to my adult life in Manhattan and the endless wonders of Central and Riverside parks. None of this would have been possible without the vision of Olmsted and Vaux.

The destruction of the old Pennsylvania Station in 1963 and the Brokaw Mansion on Fifth Avenue in 1965 were the catalysts for the landmarks law. In 1965, real estate developer Fred Trump (you-know-who’s dad) acquired Coney’s Steeplechase Park site, and before it could be granted landmark status, held a “demolition party,” inviting showgirls and others to hurl bricks through its beautiful facade.

Cut to the present, when historic buildings and churches are being torn down to make way for high-rise condos, and it’s clear the battle to protect classic New York edifices and parks is still relevant.

The free exhibit runs through Aug. 28. We enjoyed the visit, and yep, dropped in on playful Betty and Veronica afterward. Not a bad NYC afternoon.

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Donald Ducks Responsibility for Corporate Trump Dump

Whoever said all publicity is good publicity is now retracting that statement, as Donald Trump’s self-destruction tour continues.

Trump’s Mexican-immigrant-bashing entry into the GOP presidential race has backfired on The Donald big time. He has made himself a human piñata, and I’m not just talking about the Donald Trump pinatas doing brisk business in Mexico.

His rant against Mexicans (“They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists”) has already led NBC Universal, Macy’s, Univision and other corporations to turn Trump’s signature line (“You’re fired!”) on him. Of course, like an obnoxious, dumped boyfriend, Trump claims he’s doing the dumping. NYC is also reviewing its contracts with him.

Still, Trump insists he’s a brilliant businessman__so brilliant that he’s the only person running for president who is losing tons of money by doing so.

As far as Trump’s claim that he will “build a great, great wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it,” how exactly would he accomplish that? Restart the Mexican-American war?

While Trump’s popularity has alarmingly risen among some Republicans since his bombastic remarks, polls show he has zero chance of winning a national election. Trump as U.S. president? Maybe president of the Hair Club for Men. While he runs to promote his brand, it looks more and more like he’s destroying it.

Meanwhile, Trump has moved up to second place in Republican polls. For a party trying to recruit Latino voters, Trump is a nightmare. How do you reach out to Latinos when one of your leading candidates is insulting and demonizing them?

But the Republican Party should collectively check the mirror. The GOP’s constant mockery and rejection of any reasonable immigration bill is a theme that Trump merely picked up and ran with, in its crudest form.

As his empire crumbles around him, will Trump drop out, or figure he has nothing left to lose and just go for it?

With the first GOP debate just a month away, the Party has gone into full panic mode. Their overflowing clown car of candidates now has a wildcard passenger elbowing his way into the driver’s seat. And they realize Trump is fully capable of taking them all over the cliff with him.

 

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C is for Creepy

What would you do if a stranger on the street grabbed your daughter or sister in a bear hug? What if he insisted on taking a photo with her, then demanded money?

Call a cop? Punch him in the mouth?

Now, what if he were disguised as Cookie Monster, Elmo or Spider-Man?

According to statistics from the Times Square Alliance, the number of costumed characters in the area has skyrocketed in the past few months__and the above scenario happens about once a minute, according to my on-hand observation last Thursday.

Most of the characters behaved responsibly. But in the hour I was there, too many acted inappropriately, including a Spider-Man manhandling teen girls who passed by. Later, Spidey and Elmo counted stacks of 10s and 20s they’d finagled from intimidated tourists.

But the issue isn’t just costumed characters. Two guys sold CDs by requesting a tourist’s name, writing it on the CD, then growling, “I can’t sell this with your name on it; you owe me $10.” And virtually nude “Vegas showgirls” targeted a group of teen boys for photos.

One Cookie Monster approached a tourist family with a hearty, “Hi! Welcome to New York!” Many of the tourists believed the characters are hired by the city — not independent operators shaking them down for cash. (A Cookie Monster was arrested in April after he allegedly grabbed a teenage girl’s breast.)

One scam repeated more than once: Minnie Mouse corralled a visiting family for a photo, Mickey rushed over to take part, then they demanded $20 each.

I saw one dazed tourist break away from a predatory pack of costumed characters, fuming, “They forced me to pay all of them.” Another cried to a Cookie Monster, “You didn’t give me enough change.” Perhaps it’s time to drop the “Cookie” part of his name.

“I have no issue with people asking for tips, but aggressive solicitation and intimidation is something else,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told me. “There are hundreds of people a day being made to feel uncomfortable or worse, and it’s just not being dealt with.”

Is this how we want NYC visitors treated?

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