Now I Know Why Trump Never Released His Taxes: He Knew He Was Going To Lose.

 

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It’s bad enough, if you’re Donald J. Trump, that you may be headed to a devastating loss.  The intoxication of the crowds and the applause and the rote chanting–“lock her up,” “Mexico,” and the one he thinks was written just for him, “USA, USA, USA,” will suddenly end, as it would for any presidential loser.  People who actually bought into his impossible nightmare will go back to their lives, and Trump will spend the rest of his days blaming and justifying and spinning and trying to reclaim the life he had before becoming a candidate.  Most of us would be happy if that’s all he did, conceding gracelessly but leaving the United States relatively intact, having bloodied a major political party, media, basic human decency, and causing a split in the country as wide as Vietnam.  No, Donald, Hillary’s email thing wasn’t “worse than Watergate.”  You, Donald Trump, singularly may turn out to have been worse than Watergate.

Trump is the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous guy lyingly claiming he was running as a sacrifice for his country, which he lyingly claimed needed him as the “only I can fix it” guy.   One of his most famous lies is the one about wanting to release his taxes but he just can’t because they’re under audit. That’s a classic Trump whopper because it does what he does best: pile misdirection and disinformation on top of a hidden agenda, reaching a conclusion that is then defended by his Excuse Squad, then burying the subject at the back of the line when other outrages displace it.  It’s always been about protecting whatever phony image he has projected all these years, now horrendously backfiring.  Keeping his taxes under wraps has always been about making sure the world doesn’t know down to the penny what a tax-evading, stingy with charity, not as rich a guy as he’s portrayed himself, preserving that image for after the election.  But a presidential campaign really does strip the bark off you, paraphrasing the late Lee Atwater referring to his destruction of Michael Dukakis in service to George HW Bush in 1988.  The exposure of the fraud that is Donald Trump has forever tarnished his sacred brand, to the point where new hotels won’t even have his name on them anymore.  Any previous perception of high-quality, best-in-breed Trump-anything has been down-scaled by the chattering class’s disgust with Trump and his classless, third-rate, hateful persona overtaking the false image.

Were there ever emptier words from a candidate than the ones that made it clear that his candidacy was never about him, but about “you,” or some variation thereof?  Yea, right.  From the Dean of the Trump University School of Narcissism….

When the FBI called off the dogs 10 days after releasing the Hounding of Hillary, the entire world breathed a sigh of relief.  Financial markets roared their approval that the Greatest Businessman Ever wasn’t going to repeal and replace with nothing, build a wall, End the Fed, and charge everyone 35% more for a Ford subcompact or an air conditioner built in Mexico.

As much as the conventional wisdom leaned on the cliche that Americans, in general, say we’re going in the wrong direction, it’s just a lazy explanation for hate, racism, and (what used to be) conservative complaining that no one takes personal responsibility for anything and it’s The Others’ Fault.  Clue…. we ALWAYS think we’re going in the wrong direction….  more on that from Leonard Pitts here: A black man was elected president and white people lost their minds.  Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” stolen from Reagan, was always about simply turning back the clock to a mythical thrilling yesteryear that never really was that can never be replicated.  Low-skill factory jobs are never coming back, no matter how many promises demagogues like Trump roll out.  The steel mills aren’t reopening in Pittsburgh, cheap textiles will never come from South Carolina like they did 50 years ago, and Apple is not about to build iPhones here.  The calculations have been made.  If you’re too lazy to click…. the answer is $2,000.

How much would an all-American iPhone cost?

Finally, my back of the envelope calculation says this:  that things just aren’t really quite bad enough economically for most Americans that they want to take the ultimate chance by rolling the dice with the Unstable One. Gas is really, really cheap these days.  It’s amazing how that’s such a big issue around an election when it’s high… and how it disappears when it’s so low on a historical basis like it is now.  And the old misery index: Unemployment plus inflation… fuggetabout it.

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For way too long, as we now realize, many of us thought that this was really just one big dare, one big joke that got out of hand and took on a life of its own, and that Trump never really wanted to be president as much as he just didn’t want to lose trying to be president. Donald J. Trump always declares himself to be the winner and even if he’s not, he just lies and says he won.  Not this time. The national exhaustion at the year-and-a-half of this man’s brain chemistry experiment gone bad is about to end.  While we know this isn’t the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning of some legitimate issues Trump clumsily raised, maybe we can start with something small… like adding a ninth justice to the Supreme Court.  That would be special.

 

Final Four- Insanity of the States Edition- IN, TX, AZ, NC

If it were to come to pass that Trump’s astounding unpopularity outside the core of his most-supportive, unshakable followers not only would guarantee a Goldwater-sized defeat and a flipping of the US Senate, Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 12.36.28 PMmaybe the House, and changes in statehouses and governors’ mansions across America…. what a wonderful world it would be.  Let’s drill down and see what’s going on in the Blue Chip States of Creativity, those wonderful laboratories of democracy.

  1. Indiana!:  Remember the brouhaha a year ago over Memorie’s Pizza, the Indiana pizza joint whose owner said he’d refuse to cater a gay wedding?  Not that he’d ever been asked to, and not that he was refusing to actually serve gay people in his restaurant… but that was enough to start a moronic social-media firestorm that ended up with a million dollars being raised for the guy via GoFundMe, and more recently another $40,000 when the owners finally decided to throw in the towel.  We should all go out of business so lucky.

But that pales in comparison to the latest move by the Hoosier legislators and the governor on one of your Big Three Wishes For Republican Purification of America… in the arena of gay rights, voting rights, or abortion rights.

Abortion Is Now Illegal in Indiana If the Reason You Want One Makes Republicans Uncomfortable, For Instance a Fetal Genetic Abnormality Such as Down Syndrome

NARAL reacted: “This is one of the most extreme anti-abortion measures in the country and only further penalizes Indiana women and their doctors for accessing constitutionally protected abortion care. Preventing a woman from choosing abortion based on a medical diagnosis substitutes a politician’s ideology for a woman’s judgement. Politicians like Governor Mike Pence who insert themselves into a woman’s private medical decisions aren’t just practicing bad medicine, they’re betraying the seven in ten Americans who support safe and legal access to abortion.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD spoke up: “Now Indiana’s Legislature has passed a bill that forces women to give birth if a doctor has detected a fetal abnormality. Which, yes, would mean that a pregnant woman who contracts Zika would lose her right to abortion, while a woman with a healthy pregnancy would retain her right to say no to giving birth.”

THE INDIANA RIGHT-TO-LIFERS: “By signing the dignity for the unborn bill, Gov. Pence has again signified his commitment to protecting life. We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race. We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”

Assumedly this (?) is what Ronald Reagan meant in 1986 when he zinged out his now-famous quip: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help force you to have that baby.”  Oops, I cheated and that would have been 14 words.

2.  Texas!: This is the state that has given us Ted Cruz.  That’s enough. I should stop right there, but I won’t!  Along with Donald Trump, he forms the Axis of Republican Inanity.Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 1.39.27 PM I have no idea whether conventional wisdom will hold and the Republican Party will cease to exist following a Hillary blowout of LBJ-1964 proportions.  But the Republican anti-Trump movement is certainly real, his attack last week on Cruz’s wife possibly the only way humanly possible that Ted Cruz has ever engendered any degree of sympathy in the campaign, even from former opponents like Lindsey Graham and other folks who find him the poison to Trump’s firing squad as not much of a choice.

3. Arizona!:  Long-time leader and favorite to make the finals, Arizona just keeps coming up with new ways to top itself. As part of the state’s long-running stage version of “Old White Men Who Are Obsessed With Abortion And The Women Who Love Them,”  they were at it again this past week.  They never stop trying to prevent pregnant women who need or want an Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.56.01 PMabortion for personal, private reasons from getting one, forcing them to cross borders, possibly to California if they can afford it. Read the latest from the Cactus League of Extraordinarily Silly Gentlemen here.  Other gems that have just passed include:

Affordable Care Act: A bill that bars the state from using any resources or staff to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, said sponsor Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, if the bill is signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, it would prevent Arizona from establishing its own health-care exchange.

Apparently, after all these years, some Arizonans inside the health care establishment weren’t fully onboard with hatin’ on Obamacare enough.

Plastic-bag ban: 1.The bill would block cities, towns and counties from passing ordinances that ban or regulate the use of plastic bags, Styrofoam and other containers. 2. The bill also would prohibit local governments from requiring businesses to report how much energy they use, halting efforts by Tempe, Flagstaff and Phoenix officials, who are considering new environmental ordinances.

I guess even the question “paper or plastic” is too pro-choicey for Arizona politicians.  And part two there is just one more state legislative Big Foot move by Republicans, the ones who have reinterpreted “states’ rights” to mean a state government always gets to tell the cities and counties who’s in charge.

4. North Carolina! is my home, and now clearly the favorite to go all the way.  It’s quite an impressive, tone-deaf, obstinate, bigoted, small-minded, wrong-side-of-history, pander to prejudice that they’ve just pulled off in Raleigh.  The gift of geriatric gerrymandering keeps on giving to the residents of the Tar Heel state, who looked the other way in 2010, got steamrolled in the Tea Party backlash election, and have paid for it ever since, with ever-increasing arrogance by near one-party control of Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.35.56 PMlawmaking.  This time, it was special legislation to make sure Caitlin Jenner still must use the little boy’s room.  Scrambling to quickly waste $42,000 of taxpayer money on a special session, the New York Times notes that Orwellian-labeled House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act was triggered by:

the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte last month that would permit transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, rather than their gender at birth. But the law passed by the legislature on Wednesday night, which prohibits municipalities from passing their own ordinances allowing such bathroom use, also prevents cities from protecting gays and bisexual people against discrimination generally.

Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd notes that in a demonstration of cynicism and what they think will be some kind of business-friendly move, the law also “limits the ability of cities like Greensboro to provide a living wage. While the city can control the wages of its own employees under this bill, it cannot mandate a higher minimum wage for private businesses or companies contracting with the city.”  More here.

Yes, “business-friendly” for the Republican state legislators apparently means a financial irrelevancy like Hobby Lobby or another Christian-based business.  And Billy Graham already lives in North Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 3.41.44 PMCarolina.  Too late for that.  Only about 150 Chick-fil-A’s in NC…. always room for more of those!   They have no idea what a modern workforce looks like. The cigar-chomping Republican goobers in bolo ties from the small towns that dominate a state legislature have really blown it this time.  There’s probably more open debate right now in the Iranian Parliament than in the North Carolina statehouse, where the Democrats in the state senate walked out and didn’t vote on this travesty, claiming they were not allowed to participate at all during the process. The Charlotte Observer makes it irrefutably clear:

 

 

My Job Is To Make Sure Trump Is a One-Term President

I fully realize Trump’s use of extremely simple language “we’re gonna win,” “Mexico/China/Everyone is ripping us off,” mixed with his insufferable bragging about himself, his alleged wealth, his unmatched negotiating skills (he’s never, EVER been outwitted), and his nonstop schoolyard victories over all enemies… from the media to his opponents Screen shot 2016-02-19 at 5.21.25 PMand now to the Pope…is working wonderfully for him. I believe the only thing worse than politics as usual is politics as Trump–Conman of Conmen.

The only thing worse than Trump reading a statement (he does it rarely and only when it’s on a subject that demands The Thoughtfulness of a Poet… as in his prepared words on Muslim-banning back in December and this past week attacking the Pope, who, of course, viciously attacked first)… the only thing WORSE is every other moment he’s speaking. Trump’s inability to say things that really make sense on rudimentary examination baffle those of us not in his corner; we can’t believe others are so dumb. But we’ll find out soon if Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 3.11.35 PMthat holds, or if this know-nothing but slick-talking New Yawk proprietor of the Art of the Spiel runs out of ethanol, which, naturally, he became a new, big fan of back in Iowa.

A bully for punching the disabled reporter, the Univision guy who is kicked out of the rally in addition to protesters who are tossed….Trump just remembered this past week how to count again. He decided ahead of the South Carolina primary to attack anything with a billion or more of anything attached to it: Pope Francis of 1.4 billion Catholics, Pope Tim Cook of the Church of Apple—millions of customers & over a billion devices sold, and finally….McDonald’s–I remember as a kid when they finally changed the signs to “billions sold.”

Since Trump is never held down and tortured into admitting he’s a no-nothing, pandering liar… it was great to see him shown here Thursday, by his own mouth, what a fake he is…. via CNN:

Anderson Cooper: “I understand that you’re a big fast food guy as well, that you actually bring fast food to your plane sometimes. When you roll up at McDonald’s, what does Donald Trump order?”
Donald Trump: “The Fish Delight sometimes. [laughter from audience] The Big Macs are great, the Quarter Pounders with cheese.”

Sorry, but before anyone talks of “litmus tests” for Supreme Court nominees…. I’ve got one for presidential nominees: if you call a Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 3.14.26 PMMcDonald’s Filet-o-Fish a “Fish Delight,” you’re fired! YOU are the one whose citizenship I question. What part of the brain did those words come spilling out of? The “two Corinthians” part, I gather.

American Hoarders

This piece has had me noodling for a couple of days

American businesses currently have $1.9 trillion in cash, just sitting around. Not only is this state of affairs unparalleled in economic history, but we don’t even have much data to compare it with, because corporations have traditionally been borrowers, not savers. The notion that a corporation would hold on to so much of its profit seems economically absurd, especially now, when it is probably earning only about 2 percent interest by parking that money in United States Treasury bonds. These companies would be better off investing in anything — a product, a service, a corporate acquisition — that would make them more than 2 cents of profit on the dollar, a razor-thin margin by corporate standards. And yet they choose to keep the cash

My immediate reaction was to be a little angry. These business GENIUSES can’t figure out any way AT ALL to take that cash and make more than THAT.  They have entire DEPARTMENTS of human beings that do nothing but crunch numbers. I never went to business school and I’ve done stuff that managed to return better than 2 cents on the dollar on my money (I’ve also figured out ways to do worse).  Most small business people can take tiny amounts of cash and turn that into equipment that improves efficiency and returns way more than 2%

By the way, if you’re thinking this is about Obama/Obamacare/”creeping socialism”

This strange vogue for corporate hoarding seems to have begun around the turn of the millennium

You know, when Obama was an Illinois state Senator

I had to chuckle to myself when I suggested in my own mind that Trump should announce tomorrow that when he becomes president, he will force those corporations to spend that money, hire people, and grow the economy

Let’s get that out of the way quickly: I don’t think government should be in the business of making hoarding companies spend their money and no one is even suggesting that. Even Bernie Sanders. I also don’t think that our politicians need to incentivize these companies to spend this cash

It would be kind of funny if one of those hoarding shows on television had a host who performed an “emergency intervention” and broke into a CEOs house and found nothing but stacks and stacks of cash littering every square inch of space

Sir, you know you have a problem

I know, but I just can’t let go of this money. I mean, this stack over here was from 3rd quarter of 2012 and those were the happiest days of my life

The big question is why? Why is this happening?

The answer, perhaps, is that both the executives and the investors in these industries believe that something big is coming, but — this is crucial — they’re not sure what it will be. Through the 20th century, as we shifted from a horse-and-sun-powered agrarian economy to an electricity-and-motor-powered industrial economy to a silicon-based information economy, it was clear that every company had to invest in the new thing that was coming

So, the truth is that they’re not afraid something bad is coming, but that something good could be coming. This could be very good news, but when we will know what the new thing is? When will we know it’s “go time”? Time to invest and get more than 2% return on the cash that’s just sitting around

Of course, they could be sitting on the cash because they expect another ’08-’09 type of crash. But, you can’t live your life that way, can you? This is disturbing on two levels:

  1. How can you live your life in fear? Sure, being cautious is important, but what great American business icon achieved anything out of fear?
  2. CEOs and senior management know that we haven’t done the things we needed to do to prevent another collapse like we saw in the last decade

Here’s hoping that another massive American business boom, like we saw in the 90s, is just around the corner. Here’s hoping that the cash that’s not being spent right now, will be spent soon to create jobs, foster innovation, and improve people’s lives. Perhaps that’s why this years’s presidential race is so contentious: The combatants know there’s a lot of money out there just waiting to be spent and they’d love to take credit for the good times that could be just around the corner