Donald J. Trump vs. J. Dalton Trumbo

written by A. L. Hart Havens on September 15, 2022

The upcoming midterm elections in the United States have unquestionably reinvigorated assertions that the country’s former president either openly or in clandestine fashion acts as a Russian agent, a Russian asset, and/or a parrot of Russian talking points. However, Donald John Trump is not the first prominent American who has been subjected to a protracted and relentless character assassination at the hands of the US political establishment and media due to an audacity to express viewpoints concerning Russia that misalign with the popular narrative of the day.

In fact, a man with a curiously similar name, one James Dalton Trumbo, was the target of a remarkably similar campaign in the 1950s. And although Trump and Trumbo might appear to have very little in common other than being near-namesakes, this article will draw a number of interesting comparisons between the two men, particularly with regard to their alleged connections to the Russian government.

The House Un-American Activities Committee

Trumbo, who went by his middle name Dalton rather than his first name James, was a prolific, accomplished, and highly sought-after Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted in the 1950s due to his openly pro-communist worldview and his membership in the Communist Party USA at the height of the second Red Scare and the McCarthyist era.

Trumbo wrote the screenplays for award-winning films like Roman Holiday (1953) starring Audrey Hepburn, Spartacus (1960) starring Kirk Douglas, Exodus (1960) starring Paul Newman, and Papillion (1973) starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. He was often forced to use front writers for his screenplays during the blacklisting campaign and did not receive credit for some of them until decades later.

Trumbo’s early writings as a novelist also frequently drew the ire of the Roosevelt Administration, as they echoed an unmistakably non-interventionist worldview. This attitude was reflected in his anti-war novels Johnny Got His Gun (1939) about a severely maimed WW1 veteran and The Remarkable Andrew (1941) about the ghost of former president Andrew Jackson returning from the grave to warn the United States against entering World War 2.

Dalton Trumbo’s anti-war rhetoric even in the face of the US government bankrolling the Soviet war effort would prompt the FBI to take a particular interest in harassing him in a way that was not dissimilar to the August 2022 raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence (which saw the seizure of his passports, among other things).

Now, given the highly egalitarian tone and outrageous left-wing bias of movies produced in Hollywood today, it may strike this newsletter’s readers as quite peculiar that the US government, media, and film industry at one point took such a harsh stance against communism.

The ostensible reason for this is that the US government’s actual aim was not to combat the institution of communism, as US institutions at the time were already firmly under the grip of far-left ideologies. The objective was instead to weaken the government of the Soviet Union with the ultimate goal of eventually taking down the world’s only other remaining power. After all, the USSR’s diabolical plans for world domination stood in the way of western globalists’ competing dreams of a one-world government.

At the highest level, the Cold War marked a geopolitical struggle between the US and Soviet governments for worldwide hegemony and did not represent an ideological struggle between communism and capitalism. This is a very important distinction to keep in mind.

The fact that America’s geopolitical adversary happened to embrace an extremely ill-conceived and highly objectionable economic system that gives rise to mass impoverishment and starvation conveniently made the idea of a free world struggling to contain a hostile foreign dictatorship a very easy one to sell to the American public. As such, it served as an excellent pretext to rally support for the US government’s empire-building endeavors across the world and for the high taxes that these foreign adventures would entail.

With this in mind, it certainly should not have come as a surprise to Dalton Trumbo when he was effectively branded a Soviet spy and placed before the House Un-American Activities Committee, an institution created in 1938 that was tasked with investigating US citizens suspected of holding disloyal views such as fascist or communist sympathies, and which also indirectly targeted the non-interventionist libertarians and constitutionalists of the day. Trumbo refused answer the committee’s questions and was sentenced to a year in prison, which he served in 1950. After his release, he spent two years living in Mexico City before returning to the US.

To be clear, the above commentary certainly does not intend to argue that the Soviet Union wasn’t trying gain control of US institutions via subversive action. In fact, the USSR was widely known to be highly adept in the art of espionage, which was evidenced first and foremost by the ability of shrewd Soviet spies to successfully infiltrate the Manhattan Project and obtain access to America’s top-secret nuclear program.

In fact, the Soviet espionage network was arguably the most potent of all WW2 combatant nations, with the incredible accomplishments of master Soviet spy Richard Sorge, who is sometimes credited as having single-handedly influenced the outcome of World War 2, serving as a prime example. This holds true in spite of Sorge’s eventual capture by the Japanese secret police and his subsequent torture and hanging at a Tokyo prison in 1944.

Later successes in Soviet espionage were recorded by the CIA and FBI turncoats Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, double agents who handed over highly classified US intelligence to the Soviet Union and later to Russia over several decades from the late 1970s into the 2000s. Both men provided valuable assistance to the Soviet Union in identifying KGB double agents secretly working for the CIA. Hanssen’s story was documented in the highly acclaimed 2007 movie Breach. At any rate, attempts to infiltrate an adversary’s governmental institutions should simply be viewed as part of the endless struggle for geopolitical control, and all governments wielding any degree of geopolitical clout are undoubtedly engaged in the same nefarious activities.

The 2015 movie Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston, which was filmed in late 2014 and released concurrently with Donald Trump’s rise to political stardom, has garnered some condemnation for painting Trumbo as an innocent victim of political persecution and for whitewashing the horrors of communism. And although this criticism is not unwarranted, the movie is nonetheless an interesting watch given its oddly timed portrayal of a celebrity American political activist who is unjustly accused by the US government and media of serving Russian interests.

Trumbo-Stalin and Trump-Putin Hysteria

While Trumbo was accused of serving the interests of Joseph Stalin much like Trump faces accusations today of acting as the extended arm of Vladimir Putin, it would nonetheless appear safe to say at first glance that these two men with ostensibly diametrically opposite worldviews — one a capitalist and the other a communist — would not have been the best of friends.

However, while Donald Trump is frequently portrayed as the quintessential American capitalist due to his wealth and business achievements, the fallacy of associating entrepreneurial success with an advocacy for free market economics is quite apparent in view of the highly regulatory economic platform pursued by Trump as president. And the fact that Trump’s economic policies may have been less rigid than those proposed by the majority of his political opponents does not change this assessment whatsoever.

Likewise, the sincerity of Dalton Trumbo’s commitment to communist ideals is — despite a very modest childhood upbringing in western Colorado — definitely questionable in view of his affluent southern California lifestyle and his keen desire for fame, fortune, and recognition as the screenwriting profession’s very best. In light of this, Donald J. Trump and J. Dalton Trumbo may have indeed found some common ground that would have allowed them to briefly enjoy each other’s company — although this hypothetical encounter would most likely have quickly devolved into an apolitical bragging and one-upmanship contest. Trumbo died in 1976 when Trump was 30.

As an aside, a very similar comparison to that of Trump and Trumbo could be drawn between two prominent Detroit-area men — Walter P. Chrysler, an automotive industry pioneer, successful business executive, and founder of the world-renowned Chrysler Corporation, and Walter P. Reuther, an openly socialist political activist and organized labor leader who headed the United Auto Workers union (UAW) for a quarter century. Reuther, who died in a 1970 plane crash, was 32 at the time of Chrysler’s death in 1940.

Regarding the enduring Russia-Trump furor surrounding the alleged 2016 election interference, it is not widely known in the United States or Germany that the German government headed by Angela Merkel donated $5 million (USD) of German taxpayers’ money to the Clinton Foundation between July and September 2016, just months before the US presidential election that Hillary Clinton was widely expected to win. Strangely, neither the FBI nor the mainstream media found the German donation to constitute election interference by a foreign government.

And amazingly, US intelligence agencies discerned that the 2020 presidential election was effectively the freest, fairest, and most secure election in world history — in spite of the supposed ever-present threat of election sabotage emanating from the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Cuban, North Korean, and Venezuelan governments. The insinuation that these countries would seek to manipulate the voting results in favor of Trump is of course an obvious one.

Against the background of this asinine state of affairs, it can be argued that Trump is partially at fault for the persistence of the Russian collusion narrative, as he made a habit as president of appointing war hawks like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to his cabinet who were eager to push the election interference narrative as justification for furthering the neoconservative foreign policy agenda.

And since genuine Trump loyalists stood little chance of securing approval for positions requiring congressional confirmation and would thus have remained acting directors on an indefinite basis, Trump was presumably convinced by his son-in-law and pro-establishment advisors to bring Bush-era neoconservatives out of the woodwork in order to avert the shame and embarrassment that would otherwise arise from his appointees’ rejections.

Jupiter in the Night Sky

On an entirely unrelated note, the planet Jupiter will soon be making its closest approach to Earth in 71 years and will be a remarkable sight to see in the nighttime sky anywhere from now until mid-October. Jupiter will appear due south at midnight for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, shining its very brightest on the night of Monday, September 26.

And in a relatively clear sky, any amateur sky gazer will easily be able to locate Jupiter’s four largest moons with a pair of standard binoculars. The current positions of these Galilean moons in their orbits around Jupiter can be viewed at https://shallowsky.com/galilean/ and are designated as follows: Callisto (C), Europa (E), Ganymede (G), and Io (I).

As each moon of course periodically passes in front of and behind Jupiter, there are times when one or more of them are not visible. Further, the easily discernible alignment of the moons with Jupiter and with one another also reveals the orbital plane of Jupiter’s satellite system, which appears tilted when viewed from the perspective of Earth. Jupiter won’t come this close again for another 107 years, so it would be a shame to miss out on this unique opportunity.