Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trump shocks come fast, furious and postal

Dimitry Strashnov, center, CEO of Pochta Rossi, the Russia postal service, looks at first day ceremony for Trump stamp. 

     The most outrageous thing about Donald Trump is that there is no most outrageous thing. There can't be. The man is a constant whirlwind of outrage. Nixon had the drip drip drip of Watergate.  Trump is a fire hose of ethical lapses, a new Watergate every day if not every hour. Outrage over Tuesday's shock barely builds before Wednesday's jaw-dropper arrives, and those still going on about Monday's astonishment seem positively mired in the hazy past.
      Thus I was only mildly surprised to read in Linn's Stamp News, and nowhere else, that two weeks ago the Russians featured their pal, President Donald Trump, with his own postage stamp. This is the first time the Russians have ever honored a U.S. president, and while the Russian issued the stamp without explanation, it doesn't take a genius to see what is going on here. One hand washes the other.
     Trump's reaction was pure, well, Trump: "I'm much better looking than that," he told Fox News' Brett Baier. "I am a very, very handsome man."
    What adult says things like that? 
    Yes, on one hand, like so many of the tawdry occurrences during the Trump administration, this is dwarfed in significance by worse excesses: his war against immigrants, Muslims, the environment, health care—thwarted at the moment, but just wait—against a free press, fair elections, free trade, internet privacy, the very idea of factuality itself, our most precious possession...the list goes on, but you see what I mean. 
     Nor do we need the Russians to issue a stamp in order to illustrate their fondness for our 45th president—their machinations to throw the election to him demonstrated that aplenty. 
    And yet. Somehow. Maybe because I'm a former stamp collector—that's why I check Linn's Stamp News from time to time—the new Trump stamp somehow embodies all these ills in one flimsy paper parcel. 
     This isn't the first time the Russians have honored those in the West who do their bidding, you know.  In 1990, the Soviet Union issued a stamp honoring British double agent Kim Philby. But the Trump stamp is, in a sense, worse. Philby was dead when the stamp came out. Trump is very much alive and doing, well, whatever it is he's doing that makes the Russian love him so.  
     The Trump stamp, by the way, was designed by an American, graphic designer, Patrick O'Neil, who has not only created stamps for a number of infamous regimes, including a series of stamps glorifying Saddam Hussein, but also created the graphic presence for the Pakistani military government, including a pamphlet entitled, "Why Am I Being Tortured?" 
On sale last week in Moscow
     If Trump offers endless outrage, there are at least a handful of comforts. First, American institutions have stood firm under the onslaught and that, combined with the determination of clear-headed Americans, his most egregious schemes, regarding immigration, regarding health care, have so far been thwarted. The nonsensical wall still remains on the drawing board. And there is every indication that the excesses that swept him into power over a far more qualified opponent will prove to be illegal as well as immoral, and that we might yet be spared four (or, shudder, eight) full years of a Trump presidency. 
      Meanwhile, though I haven't purchased any new stamps to augment my boyhood collection in years, I plan to shell out the $2.25 plus shipping for one from Loral Stamps, which specializes in Russian stamps online, and get my own copy of the Russian 25 kopek Trump stamp. Not as a collector's item, nor because I think they will become valuable. But because I believe it represents, as all good stamps will, an embodiment of its historic moment, a moment that sees an American president in thrall to our nation's bitterest opponent, and that opponent boldly blowing kisses back in his direction. It would look tawdry in fiction but it is, as this new stamp starkly reminds us, all too real.

If you'd like your own Trump stamp, you can order one by clicking here.


  1. On a side note. Check Trumps friendship with Russian singer, Emin. The son of a Russian billionaire and once married to the daughter of the Azerbaijan president. Also the veep of many businesses, including a huge fashion industry. Strange but true. They have history. Which includes Trumps visit to Moscow. This discovered today, strangely enough, when a friend looked up the singer after recieving tickets to his May 30 concert,through a PBS donation.

  2. Why hasn't the Emin thing gotten more attention? Trump is IN one of Emin's videos!

  3. Well done, very funny! *clap clap clap*

  4. Since you can't make up anything weirder and more astonishing than what occurs daily with Trump, let the countdown begin for the day when he actually has a Russian stamp with his picture on it.

  5. I was just thinking yesterday that Trump has spoiled April Fool's -- if you believe anything he says, everything is possible. A Russian Trump stamp? Sure, why not? You sold it, Neil.
    Great job.


    1. Yes. Nicely done. but almost too easy.


    2. Said the guy who never had to get a fake Russian stamp designed.

  6. This is so funny/sad at the same time. You had me during the first 2 paragraphs. But you did get me to visit and design my own.

  7. You had me until the "Why am I being tortured" line.

    1. I know, but it was too funny not to leave in. Besides, I try to have clues so people don't fall too completely. They can become resentful.


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