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  • Trump’s No Billionaire. He’s a Bullshit Artist. And Soon, We’ll Have the Taxes to Prove It.
    He pretended he was too rich to be bought. Now we know that he’d chase a dollar bill on a string through a trailer park, and that he’s sold this country on the cheap.

    Updated Jul. 12, 2020 [<------ just over two months ago lol - TH]

    The most telling revelation I ever received about Donald Trump was from a New York hedge-fund bro for whom I did some occasional speechwriting. In late summer 2015, I went to him and said, “We have to stop this guy. He’s a billionaire. He could fund his own campaign.” The hedge bro looked at me and laughed: “Trump’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. Trump is a clown, living on credit.”

    I was reminded of that by Trump’s Twitter meltdown—a hissy-fit, foot-stomping ragefest against the Supreme Court—after winning a major portion of one case over his mysterious tax returns.

    He understands that when his taxes are unraveled before a New York grand jury and the inner workings of his multifarious business schemes are brought into the light of day, the picture won’t be of a successful multibillionaire mogul turned president, but one of that clown, living on credit, a third-rate real-estate developer with a first-rate talent for fleecing banks and vendors.

    That’s why Trump sought for so long to hide his tax returns. He’s just not that rich.

    His accounting firm will likely be revealed to be exploiting every tax loophole up to and over the edge of the law, and he’ll be shown to be a master of the bullshit paper tornado. Of course, we’ll also discover that the supposed audits are just one more lie in an endless chain of lies.

    What really bothers Trump, what unsettled him to his core, is that the decision to reveal his taxes to the New York grand jury comes at the same time his political fortunes have taken a nosedive. He knows that as early as January, he could be a former president without Bill Barr running cover for him. He knows that even if he ekes out an unlikely victory in November, Congress now has a pathway to launch a forensic financial colonoscopy of his business affairs.

    He has no ambition to truly lead, and God knows he doesn’t give a damn about any kind of policy whatsoever, but is running to save himself.

    Trump doesn’t want to win again. He needs to win again.

    Give Barr four more years, he thinks, and the Interior Minister will choke out every investigation, and end any hope of understanding the web of lies, venality, and corruption that define this presidency and the man.

    The preservation of his image is so high in Trump’s hierarchy of needs that nothing else rivals it. And to be honest, that bullshit image got him a long way; too far, in fact.

    Back in 2015 and 2016, we saw the voter interviews and focus groups that showed Republican voters honestly believed the reality-television image they saw of The Apprentice guy. They would straight-facedly say things like “He’s the richest man in America,” “He’s the world’s greatest negotiator,” and “He owns all of Manhattan.” Even when confronted with Trump’s long, long record of incompetence, sleaze bankruptcies, rip-offs, and serial failures, the magical hypnotic power of television overcame all of it.

    Pretending he was too rich to be bought was absolutely central to his success in 2016. But Donald Trump would chase a dollar bill on a string through a trailer park, and he’s sold this country on the cheap since his election. That’s why the coming exposure of his finances has shaken Trump. He’s thinking about the actual audits, and real financial and potentially even legal consequences, awaiting him in his post-presidential years.

    Trump’s obsession with his image and his brand emerges from his weird, abusive childhood. As details from his niece Mary Trump’s new book emerge, we see a man imitating his father’s fixation on the image of wealth and power. Like Fred Trump, Donald finds the tabloid ideal of himself more appealing than any reality.

    Donald Trump has always wanted to portray himself and his projects as the superlative version of everything, even when actual Manhattan builders knew that he was essentially a towering bullshit artist. Mary Trump’s book demonstrated that Donald’s failures started early, and iterated across every single part of his life: personal, professional, and political. He can pose and posture all he wants—the biggest buildings, the biggest dick, the biggest crowds, the best, the first, the most—but it’s all bullshit, piled on top of more bullshit.

    The crisp, analytical history from his niece and the coming revelations about his finances are a preview of a future he doesn’t like one bit, as Americans will see for themselves that the seamy, seedy reality of Donald Trump is ugly, small, and dirty.
    ____________

    Good a time as any to repost this.

    This is the man that so many have willing drank the Kool-Aid for. And continue to do so.

    A psychiatrist could base on entire career on a Trump's follower's cognitive dissonance and blind obedience.
    My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

    Comment


    • He is almost as detestable as his supporters, yet neither are as utterly contemptable as those anti-Hilary left wingers who were just too up themselves to vote against Trump in 2016. I hope they live long enough to correct their error this year and then they can fucking die. At least Trump and his cult followers achieved something, even if it is something awful.
      sigpic

      Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Bigfella View Post
        He is almost as detestable as his supporters, yet neither are as utterly contemptible as those anti-Hilary left wingers who were just too up themselves to vote against Trump in 2016. I hope they live long enough to correct their error this year and then they can fucking die. At least Trump and his cult followers achieved something, even if it is something awful.
        Yup....they can all burn in hell.

        They own this.
        “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
        Mark Twain

        Comment


        • The Times says he looks to be personally responsible for $421 million due over the next four years. In the past he has always wiggled a way out by getting banks to loan to him again. Hopefully, now, the banks see him stripped to his shorts and realize not again. Only this time they refuse to help and instead seize his properties as payment.

          Almost forgot the $100 million due in 2022 on Trump Tower. Now I'd like nothing better than to see that foreclosed on.
          Last edited by tbm3fan; 28 Sep 20,, 16:58.

          Comment


          • Trumpworld is imploding

            Donald Trump has many well-known enemies—and some stealthy ones, as well.

            The main takeaway from a New York Times report on Trump’s tax records is that Trump claims to be a billionaire, yet in some years pays little or nothing in federal income taxes. Trump uses many legal tax credits to lower his bill, but may also break the law by exaggerating his business expenses or mischaracterizing payouts to family members.

            There’s also an unstated revelation in the Times expose: Somebody close to Trump turned on him, leaking financial information that could be both politically damaging and legally treacherous. The Times isn’t saying where it got the detailed information on nearly 20 years of Trump tax returns, and isn’t even releasing the documents, to protect the source. But it seems obvious that a Trump insider is trying to damage him, flouting Trump’s famous demand for loyalty from anybody who works with him.

            Trump is in a close reelection race, and it’s possible he could beat Democrat Joe Biden once the ballots are counted in November. At the same time, however, a more ominous scenario is unfolding. Trump’s notoriety as a combative president has brought unprecedented scrutiny to a family business that for decades was a black box, its inner workings secret. Trump is now facing more legal scrutiny than ever, including criminal probes into possible felonies. There are even signs his supposedly iron grip on the Republican Party could shatter if there’s an opportunity to dispatch Trump and move on.

            First, the legal cases. The Manhattan district attorney is investigating Trump and his businesses for various types of fraud, probably including some of the tax-avoidance strategies described in a 2018 New York Times feature. The DA investigation is secret, so it’s not clear what the exact focus is. But city, state and federal prosecutors have an obligation to investigate possible crimes if they become aware of them, and the intense scrutiny of Trump’s finances since he became president may have surfaced plenty of trouble. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, went to jail in part for his role facilitating a campaign-finance felony: the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Trump signed the checks, meaning he’s at least as complicit as Cohen.

            The New York State attorney general is mounting a separate investigation into whether Trump has misstated asset values to lower his tax payments or defraud lenders or insurers. The New York AG initiated this probe after Cohen testified before Congress in 2019 and accused Trump of fraud. Cohen might seem like an old story at this point, but the information he revealed after the FBI raided his office in 2018 could fuel investigations into Trump for years, and possibly lead to convictions.

            It’s obviously tricky to investigate a sitting president, one reason the federal Justice Dept. has had no apparent role in probing Trump since William Barr became attorney general in 2019. But Trump won’t be president forever, and federal investigators could join the city and state probes of Trump at some point. The Justice Department’s Southern District of New York led the Cohen prosecution, which culminated in Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea on eight criminal counts. If Cohen provided incriminating information on Trump as part of that case, it would be logical for the Justice Dept. to pick up the probe once Trump is no longer president and certain legal privileges of the office expire.

            All of this comes as Trump’s businesses are apparently under mounting financial pressure. According to the latest Times report, most of Trump’s properties lose money, and he owes $421 million in loans, much of that due in the next few years. Trump’s hotels, resorts and golf courses are struggling amid a travel rout, and while the presidency has elevated Trump’s visibility, his unpopularity may have harmed the brand.

            Some of Trump’s legal woes stem from the decision of his niece, Mary Trump, to spill secrets of the family business to the New York Times for its 2018 expose on the Trump Organization’s aggressive tax strategies. Mary Trump is now suing the president and other family members for fraud relating to the family inheritance. Unless the various Trumps settle the suit, it could make public even more damaging information about Trump and his clan.

            Matching these business and family mutinies are defections by former Trump aides now openly opposing his reelection, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and former spokesperson Anthony Scaramucci. Trump also faces unprecedented opposition from within his own party, with many moderate GOP officials endorsing Biden, funding anti-Trump ads and posting testimonials describing how Trump has let them down. More than 75 former Republican national-security officials have signed an open letter declaring Trump a threat to the nation.

            Trump has manhandled most Republican elected officials, largely because he can mount furious opposition to their candidacies if they cross him. But this superpower is waning, too. Several otherwise loyal Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pushed back on Trump after he suggested he wouldn’t leave office if he loses to Biden. Some Republicans privately loathe Trump and fear he’s wrecking their party. They might not have the guts to oppose him publicly, but they might not help him, either, in a tight election that could bring Trump’s political end.

            Nobody should count Trump out. He’s a renowned escape artist who has bounced back from four bankruptcies and many scandals. What’s different now, however, are growing fissures in the facade that for decades protected Trump’s family and business. Prosecutors and the public are getting a look inside, and it’s messy. People turn on the boss when it becomes a matter of survival, and the closer the scrutiny, the more trouble there’s likely to be. Trump’s downfall may not be imminent, but it is starting to look inevitable.
            __________

            The incredible part is that Trump could still win a 2nd term. Not because a majority of the American people want him to (again), but because he has the apparatus of the Executive Department in his back pocket.

            So this headline is premature. Until the EV votes are certify a Biden win, and even afterwards, the damage he can continue doing to this country is incalculable.

            The question is how many people will suddenly "find" their conscience between now and Inauguration Day.
            My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

            Comment


            • So this headline is premature. Until the EV votes are certify a Biden win, and even afterwards, the damage he can continue doing to this country is incalculable.

              The question is how many people will suddenly "find" their conscience between now and Inauguration Day.
              probably not until after Trump himself is kicked out of the White House on Inauguration Day, and even then, those folks aren't the ones really deep in Trumpworld.

              well, this will ensure the Democratic Party doesn't become complacent again anytime soon.
              There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

              Comment


              • Originally posted by astralis View Post
                probably not until after Trump himself is kicked out of the White House on Inauguration Day, and even then, those folks aren't the ones really deep in Trumpworld.
                Agreed. The willingness of people to surrender....everything decent and moral about themselves on the Altar of Trump is simply staggering.

                That's going to be the most morbidly fascinating part about Trump leaving office, whether in January or god forbid after that: The scurry of frightened GOP rats trying to desert the S.S. Trump and cling onto something else now that their orange god emperor is gone.

                Hey there's always Don Jr and Eric, right?
                My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                Comment


                • Yes, A Tax Scandal Can Take Down a Politician
                  What does the story of Bill Brock foretell for Trump?

                  There are thousands of words in the New York Times account of Donald Trump’s taxes, and tens of thousands more will be published in the coming weeks.

                  But it’s the first 27 words of the piece that have the potential to inflict a serious wound on the president: “Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.”

                  The body of the story recounts years of dissembling about his finances: claiming huge losses to offset his tax liabilities, inflating his assets to obtain massive loans, asserting that: “Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.” It is rich in detail, and those details—hundreds of thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” to daughter Ivanka, a disputed $72.9-million tax refund, among other things—are not the stuff of easy interpretation (although $72,000 of deductible “business expenses” for hair styling, might raise a few eyebrows).

                  But that opening number—$750 in taxes from the self-proclaimed multi-billionaire—is easy to grasp, and easy to turn into a clear political message.

                  The proof of this can be found in a Tennessee Senate race back in 1976. First-term Senator Bill Brock, who had defeated Al Gore Sr., years earlier, was in a difficult race against Democrat James Sasser. In mid-October, after being pressured by the press about his finances, Brock conceded that he’d paid $2,026 on an income of $51,670—a rate of less than 4 percent at a time when someone making that much would have written the IRS a check for as much as 62 percent of his income.

                  Almost immediately, hot pink buttons began appearing reading: “I Paid More Taxes Than Brock.” As the story spread, the chair of the State Labor Council held a press conference comparing Brock’s taxes with those of an auto worker, steel worker and railroad engineer, each of whom paid far more taxes on far lower salaries than Brock. In November, Brock lost his seat by a 5-point margin.

                  The story had resonance because it confirmed “populist” notions about how things really work: that one way or another those in positions of power manage to avoid the burdens that afflict “regular” people. It’s what lay behind one of Richard Nixon’s liabilities during his Watergate days: his taxes. In one case, he had claimed a $500,000 tax deduction for donating his essentially worthless vice-presidential papers. In another, it turned out he had paid $792.81 in federal income taxes in 1970 and $878.03 in 1971, on a salary of $200,000. (His taxes were not included in the Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House Judiciary Committee.)

                  Asked about the story at his press conference Sunday evening, Trump explained (I use the word loosely) that the story was a hoax, a fake. A Trump spokesman told the Times that Tump had paid huge sums in taxes—without explaining what kind of taxes —but did not deny the basic assertion that he had paid only $750 a year for two years.

                  Perhaps the president, who has survived many seemingly fatal controversies, has so succeeded in convincing his acolytes not to believe anything critical of him that this latest story will have little effect. But I wonder: What if people start showing up in offices, factories, in malls and stores, with buttons and T-shirts reading: “I Paid More Taxes Than Trump”?

                  There’s an 89-year-old ex-Senator in Chattanooga who might be able to tell you what comes next.
                  ___________

                  Trump has paid more to hookers than he did in taxes....there's gotta be a button or t-shirt idea in there somewhere.

                  My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                  Comment


                  • Donald Trump’s former lawyer says whole ‘clan' could be jailed in tax controversy

                    Donald Trump’s long-time former lawyer says the president’s whole “clan” could go to jail over the alleged tax evasion scandal.

                    Michael Cohen said he believed that three of Mr Trump’s children, Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric, would be caught up in the tax controversy, in an interview with MSNBC.

                    And Cohen told the US news network that Mr Trump could become the “first sitting president to go from the White House straight to prison.”

                    Mr Trump paid just $750 in the year he won the White House and $750 in his first year as president, according to a bombshell new report by the New York Times.

                    And Mr Trump reportedly paid no income tax in 10 of the last 15 years as he reported huge financial losses across his businesses.

                    “He may actually be the first president to go from the White House to prison. And I don’t think he’s by himself too,” Cohen told MSNBC’s Joshua Johnson.

                    “I think that Allen Weisselberg, his chief financial officer, is complicit in it. As well as Don, Ivanka, Eric. I believe that the entire Trump clan is complicit in all of this tax evasion.”

                    Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress, campaign violations and financial crimes and was sentenced to three years in prison.

                    The campaign violations are tied to money paid before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both claimed affairs with Mr Trump.

                    The president has denied all claims against him.

                    “These are legitimately what Judge Pauley stated in my case,” said Cohen, who is currently on home confinement following release from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic.

                    “These are sophisticated schemes, within which to deprive the IRS of income, of taxes, that are desperately needed. Not putting your money in either Capital One or First Republic Bank as I did.”

                    Mr Cohen added that the “whole thing is a scheme, and there is always a scheme when it comes to the Trump clan.”

                    Cohen, who wrote a tell-all book about his time with Mr Trump that was published earlier this month, said he did not think the tax issue would bother the president’s supporters.

                    “He’s got a certain base where it truly doesn’t matter what he does,” said Cohen.

                    “And these people, for whatever their crazy belief system is, and I was part of that Donald Trump cult.
                    And for whatever reason, it’s acceptable. But it’s absolutely not.”
                    _____________

                    If Allen Weisselberg is suddenly granted total immunity, it'll be the end of the Trump Organization and almost certainly prison time for some people named Trump.

                    Even if he doesn't flip, I'll be shocked if at least one person from the Trump klan is thrown in the slammer sometime within the next 3-5 years or less.
                    My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                      ___________

                      Trump has paid more to hookers than he did in taxes....there's gotta be a button or t-shirt idea in there somewhere.
                      The Lincoln Project is already working on that....

                      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                      Mark Twain

                      Comment


                      • Ex-Watergate Prosecutor Says 'No Question' Trump And Ivanka Could Both Face Prison

                        A former federal prosecutor during the Watergate proceedings that brought down President Richard Nixon says new tax revelations about President Donald Trump could ultimately send him to prison.

                        “No question about it,” Nick Akerman said Monday on CNN. “And his daughter could go to jail, too.”

                        Both the president and his oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also serves as a White House adviser, are named in the New York Times report detailing the schemes that allowed Donald Trump to avoid taxes for much of the past decade and a half.

                        “Tax evasion is a five-year felony,” said Akerman, who was an assistant special Watergate prosecutor investigated Nixon’s taxes. “It’s a pretty serious crime, and the more money that’s stolen, the longer you go to jail for.”

                        Trump has denied any wrongdoing. However, he has also refused to publicly disclose his tax returns, as has been customary for presidential candidates for nearly half a century.

                        Akerman said the Times report details “a whole series of activities that could qualify as tax fraud, not tax avoidance.”

                        Avoidance, he said, is merely taking advantage of the tax code in legal ways to maximize deductions. Fraud, on the other hand, involves lying about income and deductions.

                        He pointed specifically to consultant fees paid by Donald Trump to Ivanka Trump. Since Ivanka Trump was already an employee of the Trump Organization, Akerman said, there was “no legitimate reason” for those payments.

                        He speculated the two could have been shifting the money around to avoid paying taxes on it.


                        That, he said, could lead to an ominous development for the president should he leave office in January.

                        “The only thing that’s saving him at this point is the Department of Justice’s guideline that says you can’t indict a sitting president,” Akerman said. “Once he’s no longer a sitting president, he is subject to being indicted.”

                        He added that “any decent prosecutor” could make a “pretty viable” case.

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                        My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                          Ex-Watergate Prosecutor Says 'No Question' Trump And Ivanka Could Both Face Prison

                          A former federal prosecutor during the Watergate proceedings that brought down President Richard Nixon says new tax revelations about President Donald Trump could ultimately send him to prison.

                          “No question about it,” Nick Akerman said Monday on CNN. “And his daughter could go to jail, too.”

                          Both the president and his oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also serves as a White House adviser, are named in the New York Times report detailing the schemes that allowed Donald Trump to avoid taxes for much of the past decade and a half.

                          “Tax evasion is a five-year felony,” said Akerman, who was an assistant special Watergate prosecutor investigated Nixon’s taxes. “It’s a pretty serious crime, and the more money that’s stolen, the longer you go to jail for.”

                          Trump has denied any wrongdoing. However, he has also refused to publicly disclose his tax returns, as has been customary for presidential candidates for nearly half a century.

                          Akerman said the Times report details “a whole series of activities that could qualify as tax fraud, not tax avoidance.”

                          Avoidance, he said, is merely taking advantage of the tax code in legal ways to maximize deductions. Fraud, on the other hand, involves lying about income and deductions.

                          He pointed specifically to consultant fees paid by Donald Trump to Ivanka Trump. Since Ivanka Trump was already an employee of the Trump Organization, Akerman said, there was “no legitimate reason” for those payments.

                          He speculated the two could have been shifting the money around to avoid paying taxes on it.


                          That, he said, could lead to an ominous development for the president should he leave office in January.

                          “The only thing that’s saving him at this point is the Department of Justice’s guideline that says you can’t indict a sitting president,” Akerman said. “Once he’s no longer a sitting president, he is subject to being indicted.”

                          He added that “any decent prosecutor” could make a “pretty viable” case.

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                          would there be any pressure from a biden admin NOT to prosecute? on account of avoiding more political division ...I also have a sneaky suspicion politicans are more comfortable if no politican gets prosecuted, sets an "uncomfortable" precendent for them...(admmitedly this is too big and trump too vile to probably expect normal tendencies to apply...)
                          Last edited by tantalus; 29 Sep 20,, 23:07.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by tantalus View Post
                            would there be any pressure from a biden admin NOT to prosecute? on account of avoiding more political division
                            Considering that Trump is a man without a shred of honor, morality, decency or love of country, no. I highly doubt there will be any meaningful pressure not to prosecute Trump to the fullest extent of the law.

                            He has spent the last 4 years flagrantly disregarding, violating and publicly denigrating any and every law that he's found inconvenient to him, up to and including sections of the United States Constitution, the very document that he swore an oath to protect and defending.

                            In the simplest of terms, the moment he leaves office, he is completely and utterly fucked. As is his family and business associates.

                            He's been asking for this his entire life, and now he's going to get it.


                            Originally posted by tantalus View Post
                            I also have a sneaky suspicion politicans are more comfortable if no politican gets prosecuted, sets an "uncomfortable" precendent for them...(admmitedly this is too big and trump too vile to probably expect normal tendencies to apply...)
                            No, not here in the United States. Here, corrupt politicians are gleefully slung into the pokey, left and right. Governors, Congressmen, you name it.

                            Trump going to prison would certainly be unique, but not impossible. Even if Trump manages to avoid prison, there's plenty of his crime family that won't be so lucky.
                            My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                            Comment


                            • Op-Ed: Reality Ends The Reality Show

                              In the reality show that has been the Trump presidency, we probably should have expected something like this. As a plot twist, the show-runners would have kept this moment for the very end of the penultimate episode, just before the season finale. Anything could still happen, of course. Trump could be dead by election day. Or he could somehow stage a swift recovery in a mild case, and run a back-from-the-near-dead campaign that surges improbably to victory on a wave of sympathy. Between those two scenarios, your guess is as good as mine.

                              It’s a terrible thing for an elderly person to get this disease, and Trump’s obesity puts him in an even more vulnerable category. No one deserves this, even those, like Trump, who openly defied prudent measures to reduce risk, and thereby helped infect and kill countless others. The president, like any human being, deserves sympathy and support.

                              But there is something salutary in the Trump era about reality reasserting itself in this last twist of the viral knife. The man has spent years at war with reality: living in delusions, perpetuating fantasies, imagining hoaxes, constructing conspiracies, accruing debt, rewriting history constantly as self-serving myth. At some point, reality was going to get personal in return.

                              And it has. Like all tyrants, Trump lives in an alternate universe where his will, tempered only by his whim, determines everything. And like all tyrants, Trump will eventually be defeated by the distance between his universe and the real one. The question has always been how long that would take, and how much damage would be done in the process. But the toll has been piling up of late. 205,000 dead, a stalled economy, a broken constitution, a bankrupt treasury, a ravaged environment, and the most toxic political culture in memory have not, exactly, made America great “again”. And, with his tax returns now public, the reality that Trump is a failed businessman and tax dodger is as inescapable as the truth that he is a serial sexual abuser.

                              Just as inescapable is the reality of the epidemic. The winter looms, as cases surge in Europe once again. The pandemic economy has been absolutely brutal for the working poor, compared with the middle and upper classes, intensifying dangerous, destabilizing levels of inequality. It has torn the social fabric apart, sequestering the elderly in heartbreaking solitude, compounding the opioid crisis, deepening depression and anxiety, increasing suicides among soldiers, keeping loved ones away even from a deathbed. It cannot be willed away.

                              Neither can the fast-deteriorating environment, which will condemn this country and the world to unknowable ordeals from wind and rain and fire and ice in the coming years and decades. Neither can the intensifying polarization and tribalism of our culture of online algorithms — a world of techno-politics we are only beginning to understand how to control. Trump denied these realities, obscuring them with salesmanship and shock, or exploiting them for his own purposes. He preferred a reality show — which he has been a genius at concocting at the expense of everything else — and so, unforgivably, did many of us.

                              The one simple thing I learned from being diagnosed as positive with a lethal virus decades ago is that I am not in control, and that maturity subsists in acceptance of this. A life well lived is not in denial of reality, but in difficult, unsatisfying, daily, hourly engagement with it, alongside a spiritual attempt at occasional transcendence. Similarly, it seems to me, politics is best conducted as a tackling of the world as it is, free from delusion and ideology, wary of our own bias and wants, humble in our goals, prudent in our methods. It is not a show, let alone a psychotic melodrama about a deranged narcissist.

                              This latest news, hard to absorb, is therefore nonetheless a tonic. It points in a simple direction: toward a man whose encounters with reality have been many and brutal, and who has endured them with grace and grit and realism. Joe Biden — blindsided by the untimely, soul-testing deaths of his nearest and dearest through the decades — knows how unsparing the world as-it-is can be. He has taken this epidemic seriously from the start, taken the proper precautions, and urged a serious, sustained response. He is not in denial of the fragility of life, because he has been taught the hard way how not to be.

                              At some point, the reality show must end; and our engagement with reality needs to begin again. We can start November 3.
                              _____________

                              Trump followers constantly demand to know "What, you think Biden will be any better than Trump??" Well, yeah, I do. For the exact reasons in the bolded sections above outline.

                              But mostly it comes down to this:

                              Joe Biden has taken this epidemic seriously from the start, taken the proper precautions, and urged a serious, sustained response. He is not in denial of the fragility of life, because he has been taught the hard way how not to be.

                              None of which is true of Donald Trump.
                              My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                              Comment


                              • Op-Ed: What Did You Expect?

                                Trump should never have been allowed anywhere near any public office.

                                There is a great deal you have every right to expect at this moment of crisis, and no reason at all to believe that Donald Trump or his White House will provide it.

                                You cannot expect this White House to tell the truth about Trump’s health. His doctors have lied about the president’s weight and height. They have never offered an adequate explanation of his sudden, unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center a year ago. Even the fact that a close aide to the president had tested positive for the coronavirus was kept from the public until Bloomberg broke the news.

                                You cannot expect the White House to produce any orderly plan for the execution of Trump’s public duties, even to the very limited extent that Trump executed public duties in the first place. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 6 of this year. Johnson formally deputed Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to preside over the government during his own incapacity. But the pattern in the Trump administration has been that the president will not and cannot do the job himself, and that he vengefully strikes down anyone who tries to do the job for him.

                                Trump fired his most successful chief of staff, John Kelly, for trying to force him to work. Kelly’s successor, Mick Mulvaney, survived by enabling Trump “to act as he chooses—a recognition that trying to control Trump is a futile approach,” as Politico’s Nancy Cook put it. Likewise, Vice President Mike Pence had better be awfully circumspect about filling the role that the Constitution and its Twenty-Fifth Amendment assign him. Trump will be watching. So long as Trump is conscious, he will not allow it; should he lose consciousness, he will retaliate when and if he recovers.

                                You cannot expect the White House to exhibit any regard for the health of others. The president knowingly exposed his wife, his adult children, his staff, his donors, and his supporters in the Cleveland debate hall. He refused and forbade the most basic safety precautions in the close quarters of the West Wing and on Air Force One, except for testing, which was intended to protect him personally. On Tuesday, Trump was on the debate stage mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing face masks; as the positive tests came in, he did not bother to inform Biden or his team that Trump had exposed him to the coronavirus. Until we know the date of Trump’s last negative COVID-19 test, we can only guess at the number of people he exposed. By sticking to an aggressive travel schedule with in-person gatherings while eschewing even minimal safeguards, Trump has carried the risk of disease across the country.

                                You cannot expect Trump to gain any wisdom, empathy, or compassion for others. Throughout the pandemic, Trump has disdained the hardships suffered by sick and dying Americans, by their families and neighbors, by those who have lost jobs and homes. When NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Trump on March 20 what the president would say to Americans feeling fear because of the disease, he upbraided Alexander: “I’d say you are a terrible reporter.” When Republican Senator Mitt Romney self-isolated because he had been exposed to COVID-19 by the negligent selfishness of Senator Rand Paul, Trump sarcastically said to reporters, “Oh, that’s too bad.” It’s a consistent pattern for Trump; on October 2, 2016, four years ago to the day of Trump’s COVID-positive acknowledgment, Trump cruelly pantomimed onstage Hillary Clinton’s campaign-season bout of pneumonia.

                                What you can expect is a lot of victimhood and self-pity. Trump and those around him have always demanded for themselves the decencies that they refuse others. They will get them, too. Trump’s opponents will express concern and good wishes—and if they do not, Trump’s allies will complain that those opponents are allowing politics to overwhelm human feeling. It was only three days ago that Trump on a debate stage dismissed Biden’s dead son, Beau, and falsely claimed that Biden’s surviving son, Hunter, had been dishonorably discharged from the military.* The next day, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., appeared on Glenn Beck’s show to describe Hunter as a “crackhead.” Now, though, we will hear a lot about how people are not being respectful enough to a president in his time of illness.
                                Trump has all his life posed a moral puzzle: What is due in the way of kindness and sympathy to people who have no kindness and sympathy for anyone else? Should we repay horrifying cruelty in equal measure? Then we reduce ourselves to their level. But if we return indecency with the decency due any other person in need, don’t we encourage appalling behavior? Don’t we prove to them that they belong to some unique bracket of humanity, entitled to kick others when they are writhing on the floor, and then to claim mercy when their own crimes and cruelties cast them upon the floor themselves?

                                Americans are dead who might have been alive if Trump had met the challenge of COVID-19 with care and responsibility—or if somebody else, literally almost anybody else, had been president instead. Millions are out of work, in danger of losing their homes, living in fear. Tens of millions of young people have suffered disruption to their education, which will follow them through life. The pandemic was not Trump’s fault, but at every turn, he made things worse than they had to be—because at every turn, he cared only for himself, never for the country. And now he will care only for himself again.

                                Trump should never have been allowed anywhere near any public office. Wish him well, but recognize that his deformed spirit will never be well—and that nothing can be well for the country under his leadership.
                                __________
                                My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

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