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From Palace to Circus Tent: The Trumpian Odyssey and the Turkish Proverb

AI generated image of Mar-a-Lago.
AI generated illustration of Mar-a-Lago.

Text by ChatGBT

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Illustration by Dall-E

In the annals of political history, the rise and fall of leaders often mirror the wisdom encapsulated in ancient proverbs. The Turkish proverb, “When a clown moves into a palace, the clown doesn’t become a king. The palace turns into a circus,” seems eerily prophetic in the context of the tumultuous tenure of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. This essay aims to dissect the applicability of this age-old adage to Trump’s presidency, marked by controversy, division, and a unique blend of political showmanship.

The Clown in the Palace:

Donald Trump’s entry into the political arena was unconventional, to say the least. A businessman and reality TV star, his campaign rhetoric and demeanor stood in stark contrast to the polished and measured approach traditionally associated with presidential candidates. As the proverb suggests, Trump did not transform into a conventional “king” upon assuming office. Instead, the White House witnessed an unprecedented transformation into a political circus, replete with sensationalism, bombastic tweets, and an unapologetic disregard for established norms.

The Circus Unleashed:

From the outset, Trump’s presidency bore the hallmarks of a spectacle. His unfiltered communication style on social media became a defining feature, often overshadowing policy discussions. Tweets served as his preferred mode of communication, bypassing traditional channels and capturing the attention of both supporters and detractors alike. The White House, once a symbol of gravitas and diplomacy, transformed into a stage for a reality TV show where the leader of the free world played the role of a provocateur-in-chief.

One of the key aspects of the proverb is the idea that the clown does not become a king. In Trump’s case, his presidency was characterized by an unconventional and often chaotic leadership style. Rather than conforming to the traditional image of a presidential figure, he reveled in disruption, upending established norms in favor of a more confrontational approach. The result was a divided nation, where supporters lauded his authenticity, while critics decried his lack of decorum and diplomatic finesse.

The Palace in Disarray:

The Turkish proverb also implies that the palace, once a symbol of order and authority, descends into chaos with the entry of the clown. In the case of Trump, the chaos manifested in numerous ways. His administration witnessed high-profile resignations, internal power struggles, and a revolving door of key personnel. Policy decisions often seemed impulsive, driven more by the president’s whims than a coherent long-term strategy.

The circus atmosphere extended beyond the confines of the White House, permeating international relations and diplomatic engagements. Traditional alliances were tested, and global institutions were treated with skepticism. The palace, which once stood as a beacon of stability, found itself navigating treacherous waters as the circus of Trumpian politics unfolded on the global stage.

Impeachment and Legal Challenges:

The proverb’s reference to a clown moving into a palace not becoming a king finds resonance in the context of Trump’s impeachment proceedings. Impeached twice by the House of Representatives, Trump faced accusations of abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and incitement of insurrection. The impeachment trials, while not resulting in conviction, underscored the tumultuous nature of his presidency and the erosion of the traditional dignity associated with the presidential office.

The legal challenges did not end with impeachment. The proverb’s allusion to a clown in the palace turning it into a circus is further exemplified by the numerous legal battles Trump faced post-presidency. From tax evasion investigations to allegations of financial misconduct, the former president found himself entangled in legal troubles, reinforcing the perception of a leader who, far from becoming a king, left a trail of legal controversies in his wake.

The Legacy of the Circus:

As the Trump era came to a close, the aftermath revealed a nation deeply divided and a political landscape forever altered. The proverb’s warning against the transformation of a palace into a circus serves as a cautionary tale for future leaders and citizens alike. The circus atmosphere introduced during Trump’s presidency left an indelible mark on American politics, raising questions about the durability of democratic institutions and the role of personality in shaping political discourse.

The Turkish proverb encapsulates the idea that the entrance of a clown into a position of power does not elevate the clown but rather transforms the once-stately palace into a circus. In the case of Donald Trump, his presidency challenged established norms, reshaped political discourse, and left a lasting impact on the American political landscape. Whether viewed through the lens of impeachment, legal challenges, or the divisive rhetoric that characterized his time in office, the Turkish proverb offers a poignant reflection on the Trumpian odyssey and its implications for the future of American democracy.

Alexei Navalny: The Silencing of a Dissident

Illustration of martyred Russian dissident Alexei Navalny by Thomcat23
Alexei Navalny. Artwork by Thomcat23. Copyright 2024

Text by Claude.ai

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Alexei Navalny: The Silencing of a Dissident

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Edited by Tony Ward

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The sudden death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny while imprisoned in a penal colony has sent shockwaves around the world. Navalny’s wife has accused the Russian government of murdering the prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. While the details are still emerging, there are several plausible reasons why the Kremlin may have wanted Navalny dead.

First and foremost, Navalny posed a political threat to Putin’s autocratic rule. As Russia’s most prominent opposition activist, Navalny uncovered high-level corruption and mobilized mass protests against the Putin regime. His imprisonment on trumped-up charges last year was widely seen as an attempt to silence him. But even from behind bars, Navalny remained a vocal critic, accusing Putin of amassing illicit wealth and calling for free and fair elections. His very existence challenged the authoritarian status quo.

Second, Navalny’s murder eliminates a potential future challenger to Putin. Recent constitutional changes allow Putin to stay in power until 2036, but Navalny made no secret of his own presidential ambitions. As a charismatic, anti-corruption campaigner with a large youth following, Navalny was seen by many as the one figure capable of ending Putin’s decades-long dominance. Taking him off the political chessboard removes a significant obstacle to Putin clinging to power indefinitely.

Additionally, Navalny’s death sends an ominous warning to other opposition voices inside Russia. The brazen killing of the country’s top dissident in state custody demonstrates the extremes to which Putin will go to maintain control and crush dissent. Other activists may now think twice before speaking out, wary of meeting a similar fate. The silencing of Navalny is aimed at consolidating the Kremlin’s authoritarian grip on power.

While Putin denies any involvement in Navalny’s death, it fits with a long history of political murders under his watch. From high-profile defectors to investigative journalists, many of the president’s ardent critics have turned up dead under suspicious circumstances. Navalny himself was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 in an assassination attempt he blames on Putin. A state-sanctioned killing is certainly within the Russian security apparatus’s capabilities.

The full truth likely won’t emerge anytime soon, as the Kremlin moves swiftly to suppress an independent investigation. But the timing and circumstances of Navalny’s sudden demise raise serious questions about the Russian government’s culpability. By lethally silencing an opponent, Putin snuffs out a force for reform – and democracy itself becomes the next casualty.

 
 
 

Politics: Mean Marjorie Taylor Greene

Portrait of Marjorie Taylor Greene by the artist Tomcat23 for Tony Ward Studio
Marjorie Taylor Greene. Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2024

Text by Claude2

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Edited by Tony Ward

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Marjorie Taylor Greene has made headlines since her election to Congress in 2020 for her controversial and often extreme political stances. As a vocal supporter of former President Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement, Greene has propagated disproven conspiracy theories, expressed racist and anti-Semitic views, and supported overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.

While Greene’s blond hair and brash speaking style may appeal to some of her supporters, her political positions and statements are deeply troubling. She has endorsed dangerous QAnon conspiracy theories, including the false claim that Democratic leaders are part of a satanic pedophile ring. Greene has also denied school shootings like the Sandy Hook massacre, harassed teenage survivors of school shootings, and trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes.

As an elected leader, Marjorie Taylor Greene has a responsibility to serve all her constituents, not just those who share her extreme ideological views. Her hateful rhetoric and endorsement of disinformation have no place in Congress. While she is entitled to her opinions, her false and discriminatory statements make her unfit for public office.

Rather than judging Greene’s questionable sex appeal, the media and public should focus on holding her accountable for her harmful words and actions. She was rightly stripped of her House committee assignments due to her past incendiary comments. Now her colleagues must continue to denounce her extremist stances and work to counteract her spread of misinformation.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s loyal followers may find her blond hair and aggressive tone appealing on a superficial level. But true leadership requires integrity, compassion and a commitment to facts – qualities sorely lacking in Greene. Her presence in Congress is a danger to vulnerable groups, democratic norms and the institution itself. We must look beyond the surface and examine the real harm Greene’s views have caused. Her place is not in making policy for the American people.

The notion that blonds have more fun is a longstanding stereotype in popular culture, but does this idea actually hold up under scrutiny? A deeper examination reveals the flawed assumptions and prejudices behind this superficial belief.

The idea propagates regressive gender norms by reducing women, especially blonds, to objects rather than whole persons. It implies fun is predicated on appearance and grants white blonds an elevated social status. However, people’s capacity for joy comes from within, not their hair color. Perpetuating this stereotype diminishes the diversity and depth of all women.

Additionally, blond hair has long been associated with whiteness, lightness and purity. The “fun” ascribed to blondness is intertwined with notions of privilege and racial bias. Positioning blondness as ideal excludes and marginalizes women of color. It also reduces blond women to a narrow, sexualized stereotype rather than acknowledging their full humanity.

The notion that blonds have more fun provides a useful illustration of how even playful stereotypes normalize prejudice. Taking a critical lens to this cultural trope reveals the need to challenge assumptions, reject biological essentialism and embrace the spectrum of human diversity. While hair color provides aesthetic variety, it gives no indication about a person’s character or capacity for joy.

Nefertari Williams: Tim Scott OUR Black Man – Not yours!

Illustration of Senator Tim Scott Republican of South Carolina
Senator Tim Scott. Artwork by Thomcat23 Copyright 2024

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2024

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Tim Scott OUR Black Man – Not yours!

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This is an opinion piece so I will go easy. To understand my perspective you will have to learn a few things that are just truths within the black community. Colorism exists. Since we were enslaved individuals we were told and we watched as the Plantation master would treat the lighter skinned enslaved blacks better than the darker skinned enslaved blacks (in some cases they were his own children after he would rape his enslaved girls and women). This unfortunate “benefit” has been a mental barrier within our community although it does seem in some situations that companies and even ad agencies find lighter skinned blacks more palatable.

Another truth that you must know about some black men who grew up by a single black mother – I repeat “SOME” – become resentful towards their black mothers if their lives were troublesome when they were children. These men sometimes even turn against their entire community they didn’t have pleasant experience’s growing up in due to poverty, teasing, bullying etc.

Ok this one may be a bit controversial. Some of our black men who have experienced at least one of the aforementioned situations seem to be easily indoctrinated into the thinking differently then they may have been raised to think while attending black churches or by their low income earning black mothers. This seems to ring true if the black man has witnessed people who looked differently, acted differently as high income earners equating their value to their earring potential. With this way of thinking, that would mean that a disabled wise man with strong values who had dozens of children at his feet as he taught them life lessons, as worthless unless he found a way to monetize this simple kind act. While those of us who were taught that the value of a person is based on the content of his character.

All of these words are a prerequisite for you to understand how a man like Tim Scott (A Black Republican Senator From South Carolina) can “become”.

THE MENTOR

When Tim Scott was growing up he was raised by a single mother who was a nursing aide  (under paid which is a proven and common issue within the black community) who had to work long hours So Tim was left alone often. He moved around a lot as a kid. When he was a teen he worked at a theatre. When he became hungry he would go to the local Chic- Filet and purchase fries to eat. The owner of  the restaurant took notice of Tim and asked him why he would only buy fries and Tim told him “because they are cheaper”. One day after a few encounters the man went to the theater where Tim Scott worked and gave him a chicken sandwich.

Tim appreciated the generosity shown by the man and chose to accept the life lessons that this man would teach (the man passed away from a sudden heart attack while Tim was still in his teens) 

Tim’s mentors name was John Moniz. He went on  to teach Tim about Christian conservative values strongly expressing the importance of giving.

THE INDOCTRINATION

By teaching Tim that giving leads to receiving, Tim started to question his life. Maybe the reason that the people in his life didn’t have as much as his wealthy mentor was because they didn’t give enough. The mentor never mentioned to Tim how his mother was under paid for her job as a nurses aide which was a systemic problem. He also failed to mention that the hundreds of years that Blacks gave to the country free labor was what caused the country to be the super power that is  today and most “conservatives” vote to make sure that their conservatism is mostly aimed towards restricting funds towards urban schools, unequal lending practices and so much more.

Although Tim was born to married parents who were together for the first 7 years of his life it is described that Tims parents were of the working class impoverished (Btw – there should be no such thing Tim Scott. If you work you should be able to live).

TIM SCOTT’S SOCIAL LIFE

I hate to say this is typical of a black man who has experienced the situations that I have discussed in paragraphs one and two because I hate implying that any group is a monolith- but it is walks like a duck…..

When these two factors meet up I have witnessed the black man tends to avoid dating black women. Maybe he tried and was shot down, maybe he feels “inadequate” (I’ve heard that one before). But as so many in the community have guessed, Tim Scott is now engaged to a woman who is not black. She is white like his mentor was.

So maybe a white woman will understand all that he has learned and will be a better partner because he now knows the secret to being successful in America? Well, no because just as much as I don’t like putting black men in a box I don’t like to with black women. You can find a black woman from all walks of life right here in America. To each their own I say.

Why am I writing about the ONLY black republican Senator, failed presidential candidate and seemingly a new pin cushion for Trump. I was posed the question- what does the black community think of Tim Scott.

I asked a prominent DJ of New York City his opinion on this matter and he simply said – he’s a sell out.

I’m not so sure it’s that simple. I believe there are several factors at play which I have listed.

But here is my overall opinion of Senator Tim Scott:

Come home Tim Scott – Come back to the love of your minority community. We know you may not have been treated well. We all have been bullied a little but we dusted ourselves off and “became”.  Ok so you may not have the Barack Obama swagger, or the Denzel Essence nor the Edris Finesse. That doesn’t mean you are not loved. You are no longer that little poor boy who didn’t have money for a chic filet sandwich. We watched as you stood on stage behind Trump as he called you out just to humiliate you in New Hampshire. It will never stop. You deserve better my brother. Come home. We love you!
Sent from my iPhone

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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/nefertari-williams-the-epidemic-of-loneliness-part-2/

TW: A Visit From the Dead

Portrait of Ed Simmons photographer from California who passed away not that long ago
Linkedin Page: Ed Simmons 2024

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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A Visit From The Dead

A dear friend, Ed Simmons visited me recently. No. Not in the flesh.  Ed passed away a little over two years ago on September 22, 2022.  Never the less, there have been a series of events that I’ve experienced recently that gives me a feeling his spirit is very much alive.  As friends for over a 30 year period, our bond principally developed by our mutual love for the medium of photography and the memories good pictures can provide us. Ed and I shared many of those photographic memories in conversations we had about each others work and our dedication to making weekly phone calls to keep in touch. Although Ed lived the remaining 15 years or so of his life in Los Angelos, we never lost our commitment to a lasting friendship.

black and white landscape by photographer Ed Simmons
Dunes. 2008. Photo: Ed Simmons

The first thing that happened recently that made me feel his spirit was very much alive, was when I visited a mutual friend of  ours that was seeking my advice about selling some old photography equipment she was know longer using.  I suggested that I should visit her in person so that I could access the condition of the equipment.  When I arrived and after looking at the equipment, she opened a box that contained several photographs of which ran a chill up and down my spine.  The first three on top of the pile were photographs that Ed Simmons produced while he was spending time photographing the American West during photography workshops in 2007 and 2008.  My friend didn’t know Ed very well, although they were part of  a group of artists who regularly met on South street for coffee during that time period.  She wasn’t particularly attached to the photographs that wound up in her possession through a mutual friend, so she offered them to me as a gift.  Ed had to have been smiling down on us a that moment knowing how much I cherished our friendship and his legacy. In an instant I became the proud owner of three Ed Simmons landscapes. What a pleasant surprise that was.

Dellenback Dunes Oregon photo by Ed Simmons
Dellenback Dunes, Oregon. Photo: Ed Simmons

So I brought them home and have had them on display in my studio just so that I can continue to reflect on the life of a dear friend. And just yesterday while  I was browsing LinkedIn there  was an automated message from Ed congratulating me on a work anniversary. As I looked at the picture closer, I could see that he was wearing one of my t-shirts!  The memories of a lifelong friendship continues.

Bandon Oregon beach photo by Ed Simmons
Bandon, Oregon. Photo: Ed Simmons

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To learn more about the life and times of Ed Simmons, link herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-in_memorium/