6

Turns Out “President Business Deals” Couldn’t Manage a Lemonade Stand

From Esquire, by Jack Holmes:

No one should need to see Donald Trump’s tax returns to know he’s a Businessman in the way Clark Stanley was a Businessman. We have known for some time that Trump initially made his money through a multigenerational tax avoidance scheme that at some points veered into outright fraud. We have known that many of his businesses—six at least—have crashed into bankruptcy, including multiple casinos(!), and he avoided personal bankruptcy by taking his failing business public—the stock ticker was his initials—and leaving investors with the bill. Throughout much of the 1990s, he was not paying taxes because of nearly $1 billion in business losses he incurred during that time, which canceled out any income earned. When he did get some real income again, it was primarily by playing the part of a Businessman on television—complete with a stage-set Boardroom that NBC had to build for the show—and selling the rights to others to use that contrived image.

Still, there’s something about learning from the New York Times that the president paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 because, just as in the 1990s, his businesses were hemorrhaging enough cash to offset any income that was coming in. This is a guy who could not manage a lemonade stand. It’s all smoke and mirrors. And you would think that could prove just as, if not more, damaging than the revelations that he doesn’t pay taxes. While the core of his appeal is to the Republican base’s fear and resentment of a changing world, and the notion that America was made by and for Certain People and everyone else should just be happy to be here, he needs the votes of people outside The Base if he wants to win. At least some people in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania took a punt on him based on the idea he was a Businessman who could Shake Things Up. This notion ought to be thoroughly dispelled now that we know he is simply a crooked deadbeat, though it should never have been convincing.

It’s all the rage these days for savvy observers to say Nothing Matters, or all rich people do this, or this is just the chattering classes talking amongst themselves. But that $750 figure sticks in the mind, and in the craw. It’s almost more outrageous than zero. Even when he was running for and occupying the office of President of the United States, all he saw fit to pay was 750 bucks. Barack Obama paid $1.8 million his first year in office. In 2017, when Trump once again paid $750, Bernie Sanders paid $343,000. Biden paid $3.7 million. Is this really a country where the majority of voters believe everyone who pays their taxes are just schmucks? Or did most people pay more than 750 bucks?

But again, the taxes matter less than the revelation—even if it’s not truly new—that President Business Deals is bad at business and, in fact, can hardly be considered a Businessman. He is a hologram of a real-estate mogul, an invention. His businesses, already poorly run propositions, are now getting battered by the pandemic economic downturn, which raises the prospect of whether the president’s war on lock down restrictions was a personal financial issue. We already knew his foreign entanglements were a mess of conflicts-of-interest. The Times report makes clear that, as he has $300 million in personal liabilities that will come due over the next four years and there’s little indication he has any way to pay, he’s essentially squatting in the White House. His core supporters will never give it up, but if the American republic is to survive a little longer, all that’s necessary is for a few more people on the margins to opt out of this scam.

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SIGNING HIS “TAX RETURNS.”

4

What We’ve Lost

Sent to me by my friend, Mary L., from an unknown author:

  • I’ve been wondering why this entire country seems to be under a cloud of constant misery. Why we all seem to be Russians waiting in line for toilet paper, meat, Lysol. Hoarding yeast and sourdough starter “in case we can’t get bread”.
  • Buying stamps so that one of our most beloved institutions might survive. Why we all look like we are in bad need of a haircut, or a facial or a reason to dress up again and go somewhere. Anywhere.
  • There is no art in this White House. There is no literature or poetry in this White House. No music. No Kennedy Center award celebrations.
  • There are no pets in this White House. No loyal man’s best friend. No Socks the family cat. No kids’ science fairs.
  • No times when this president takes off his blue suit red tie uniform and becomes human, except when he puts on his white shirt khaki pants uniform and hides from Americans to play golf.
  • There are no images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a moment of relaxation. No Obamas on the beach in Hawaii moments, or Bushes fishing in Kennebunkport, no Reagans on horseback, no Kennedys playing touch football on the Cape. I was thinking the other day of the summer when George H couldn’t catch a fish and all the grand-kids made signs and counted the fish-less days. And somehow, even if you didn’t even like GHB, you got caught up in the joy of a family that loved each other and had fun.
  • Where did that country go? Where did all of the fun and joy and expressions of love and happiness go? We used to be a country that did the ice bucket challenge and raised millions for charity.
  • We used to have a president that calmed and soothed the nation instead dividing it. And a First Lady that planted a garden instead of ripping one out. We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great.
  • We have lost our mojo. Our fun, our happiness. The cheering on of others. The shared experiences of humanity that makes it all worth it. The challenges AND the triumphs that we shared and celebrated. The unique can-do spirit Americans have always been known for.
  • We are lost. We have lost so much in so short a time.

13

I’m Tired.

I’m 73 and had been a widow for just a year and a half when the pandemic further upended everything. I’ve lived the life of a hermit (although a hermit with curbside grocery pickup) for the last 6+ months.

The intertoobs have been great for maintaining some semblance of human contact, but the flip side is I’m constantly exposed to the rantings of the sweaty, orange-faced current occupant of what used to be The People’s House and the complicity of what used to be the Republican party, which now resembles a cult of personality.

In the year leading up to the 2016 election, I was equally glued to the computer screen and angsted about every little fluctuation in Hillary’s poll numbers, etc. My husband warned me not to get consumed by it all because “What can you do about it? You can cast your vote and the rest is out of your hands.” He was right. As we all know, the unthinkable happened and there went a year of my life down the crapper.

If there’s one thing I hope I’ve learned from this time of reflection following the death of my husband and my self-imposed withdrawal from what used to be polite society it’s what I found on a small bumper sticker in my husband’s desk drawer: “Life is too short to argue with stupid people.”

I’m convinced Trump will win the election by hook or by crook. We already know about the voter suppression and the shenanigans at the USPS. I hope I’m wrong, but as Trump himself says, it is what it is. If the people of this country choose him again as our president, then I guess we deserve the president we get. Nothing I can do about that.

So, I’m backing off from my avid following of politics. I don’t want to spend whatever amount of time I have left on this planet in a constant state of outrage and despair. I’m only one vote, which I will gladly cast and hope it counts.

But I’m tired.

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