Trump Spin: Democrats Are Trying to Steal the Election Through Voter Fraud

It’s time to Break It Down!

Back on May 11, 2016, more than fiver months ago, I penned a post entitled, “Fact Free Universe: The Quintessential Trump Advantage” ( In that post, I elaborated on the degree to which Mr. Trump, in framing his campaign’s narrative, was not constrained by even a fleeting appearance of truth. Neither his surrogates nor his supporters seem the least bit interesting in establishing any foundation for veracity or fact-based accountability when it comes to defending and repeating ad nauseam the often-groundless assertions uttered by their candidate. It is as if he operates in what I have deemed, a fact free universe.

To complicate matters further, the media has largely taken the position that it is utterly incapable of taking Mr. Trump to task for his every deviation from the truth table. Even one of the journalists responsible for moderating the Presidential Debates wants no part of monitoring Mr. Trump’s aversion to facts. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate the final debate of the 2016 Campaign tonight has said, “I do not believe it’s my job to be a truth squad. It’s up to the other (Nominee) to catch them” if they lie during the debate.

In deed, that may sound reasonable on it’s face. The moderator isn’t running for President, after all. However, the reality is, when one is dealing with Mr. Trump that can be problematic. Several organizations have concluded Mr. Trump is a veritable voracious arbiter of fact free assertion. At some point, it is conceivable that if Mrs. Clinton is tasked with fact checking every Trump truth violation, she will be left with little or no time to answer the moderator’s questions or to promote her own policy prescriptions. That is not a desirable outcome, neither should it be an acceptable one.

As I noted in the May 11th post, Joseph Heller asserted “In his 1984 tragicomedic novel God Knows, “The truth is whatever people will believe is the truth. Don’t you know history?” In that light, Mr. Wallace is on point, and Trump is simply channeling Machiavelli, and doubling down on Malcolm X, in a, “The end justifies the means,’ and a “By any means necessary” kind of way, respectively. But. Lest you missed my previously referenced blog, or in case you have forgotten one of its essential points, reflect upon this passage from that post:

“In the March 13 Edition of Politico, in an article entitled Trump’s Week of Errors, Exaggerations and Flat-out Falsehoods, the magazine makes the case that Donald Trump is a veritable truth avoidance machine. This was a month ago, and several weeks before Trump was elevated through a series of convincing Primary wins to the GOP’s presumptive nominee status. The magazine in effect fact-checked a week’s worth of Mr. Trump’s verbal stump speech stylings. This amounted to 4.6 hours of speeches and press conferences from North Carolina to Missouri.

In summary, what they found was more than five dozen statements deemed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or just flat out false. These were deemed material that would not have made it into one of the magazine’s stories, or in some instances would have lead to scuttling a story altogether. According to Politico, it amounted on average to roughly one misstatement every five minutes.”

Let Hillary fact check Trump? Good luck with that!  Of course I can understand why that would be among Team Trump’s fondest desires.

So much for the preamble, let’s move on to the meat of today’s topic. As we enter the final 20 days before the 2016 Presidential election, the elusive set of values and data that the pundits, analysts, and candidates refer to as the “fundamentals of the campaign” are settling fast. As they do so, Mrs. Clinton holds a small lead in most national polls, a lead by varying amounts in most of the swing sates, and a substantial lead among several key demographics, including:

  • Women overall
  • College educated white women
  • College educated whites overall (a group that Democrats have never have won in exit polls dating to 1976)
  • Nonwhites
  • Democrats
  • Democratic-leaning Independents (who supported Bernie Sanders)
  • Registered voters
  • Likely voters

At the same time his opponent is solidifying critical support among those important segments cited above, Mr. Trump is amassing an ominous collection of unfavorables. Recent polling shows:

  • 79 percent of Americans polled say he doesn’t show enough respect for people he disagrees with
  • 70 percent express anxiety about a Trump presidency
  • 67 percent think he lacks the personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively
  • 64 percent doubt his understanding of world affairs
  • 63 percent see him unfavorably overall
  • 62 percent say he’s not honest and trustworthy
  • 61 percent think he’s unqualified for office
  • 60 percent think he’s biased against women and minorities

Furthermore, on his handling of his dispute with the parents of fallen Muslim U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan: 73 percent disapprove, including 59 percent of Republicans. All this was underscored by the revelation that Mr. Trump, who refuses to reveal his taxes, took a nearly billion dollar write-off on his taxes, likely went nearly two decades without paying federal taxes, and was accused by several women of sexual assault.

As he is someone Mr. Trump would cast into the rigged media category, I doubt the candidate follows his work, but based on yesterday’s data, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight forecast put the chance of winning the Presidency at the following:

  • Hillary Clinton – 87.4%
  • Donald Trump – 12.6%

One might say the rudiments of a trend are developing. With these elements as a backdrop, Team Trump has conceived, and he especially, is promoting a catchall explanation for what in his own mind, and no doubt the minds of those who support him, is the unthinkable…the fact that he could possibly awake the morning of November 9th as something other than a winner. I used that awkward phraseology in honor Mr. Trump’s personal conviction that he never loses…or fails.

Nevertheless, for several days now, Mr. Trump has flatly, vociferously, and consistently insisted that the election is rigged. He claims that there is widespread voter fraud, and he maintains that the media is complicit in carrying out what would be (if it were in fact so) a patently illegal scheme. Monday he tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naïve!”

His fellow New Yorker, surrogate, and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, has taken to the airways to parrot Mr. Trump’s paranoia. Sunday, on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Mr. Giuliani said, “Dead people generally vote for Democrats instead of Republicans. If you want me to tell you that I think the elections of Philadelphia and Chicago are going to be fair, I would have to be a moron to say that.” My unscientific guess is there are those who believe he is a moron, based in part on what he said above.

While I am in no position to speak for them, I have the impression that many self-respecting Republicans are flatly embarrassed by this ridiculous, and more important, unsubstantiated claim. It is nonsense such as this that poses an existential threat to our Democracy. Mr. Trump actually seems to be inviting his gaggle of avid supporters to activate and revolt, should he lose, which appears more of an inevitability each passing day.

Fortunately, a cross-section of individuals who have claimed the GOP for longer than the current political cycle has come to the defense of the functional operation of the American electoral system, both historically, and contemporarily. A veritable Who’s Who of GOP elected officials has dismissed the idea as utter tomfoolery. Four of the notables who have distanced themselves from this absurdity include:

  • Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State – It’s important to note, Ohio is not only a swing state, but a state no Republican has ever won the Presidency without winning. Mr. Husted says, “I can reassure Donald Trump, I am in charge of elections in Ohio and they are not going to be rigged. I’ll make sure of that.” He went on to say, “It’s bipartisan, it’s transparent, and there’s just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.”
  • Marco Rubio, Florida’s Junior U.S. Senator – Florida is the poster child for concerns about voting tabulation, dating back to the 2000 Election of George W. Bush, when he ostensibly won the election by beating Al Gore in the state of Florida by 537 votes. Senator Rubio summarily rejected Mr. Trump’s claim, saying, “This election is not being rigged. We have 67 counties in this state, each of which conduct their own elections. I promise you there is not a 67-county conspiracy to rig this election.”
  • Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – The nation’s top elected Republican House Member has disavowed the Nominee’s claim. Speaker Ryan said in a statement released by his spokesperson, AshLee Strong, “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
  • Mike Pence, Candidate for Vice President of the U.S. – Mr. Pence, the Nominee’s own running mate, parsed words with, and pushed back on the President’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest.  After Earnest said Mr. Pence wasn’t concerned about voter fraud, Pence haggled, but still managed to land on a spot dismissing the issue. He ultimately said, yesterday, “I’ve got a news flash for you, the President’s press secretary doesn’t speak for me. They’re not worried about it (speaking of voter fraud) because they are denying it’s happening, I’m not worried about it because I know the American people are not going to let it happen.” While his comments seethed with an undertone of inviting Trump supporters to engage in acts of voter intimidation, in the final analysis, he still refused to give credence to this travesty of a deception.

While the counter narrative emanating from GOP mavens, which represents a break with the Nominee, may be somewhat surprising, it comes as no surprise at all President Obama offered direct and terse pushback to the notion of voter fraud upending the election. During a news conference in the Rose Garden yesterday, President Obama said Donald J. Trump should:

  • “Stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

POTUS, noting that though the history of America’s democracy is filled with stories of spirited, if not contentious contests, when they are over, regardless of the victor’s Party, the loser congratulates the winner, reaffirms our democracy, and moves forward. He added:

  • “That’s how democracy survives.”

Let me put a bow on this by citing contemporary research on the subject. Justin Levitt, Professor at the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and an expert in constitutional law and the law of democracy, with a particular focus on election administration and redistricting, conducted a study on voter fraud. Levitt tracked both allegations and prosecutions for voter fraud from 2000 to 2014. He looked at incidents that included general, primary, special and municipal elections. More than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period in general and primary elections alone. Of those billion + ballots, he found 31 incidents, anywhere in the country, that rose to the level of “possibly” having been voter fraud.

Some of the cases have been thoroughly investigated, and a few resulted in prosecutions. A number of the others have not. Professor Levitt opines that some will be debunked due to a problem with matching people from one computer to another, a data entry error, confusion between two people with the same name, or someone signing in on the wrong line of a pollbook.

Voter fraud is illegal and should be taken seriously. In fact, the record seems to indicate that by every reasonable assessment, that is exactly what is happening. Thirty-one instances out of one billion ballots cast over nearly a decade and a half would suggest all due care is applied in our running election system, and there is no viability to Mr. Trump’s claim of election fraud. So here we are, less than 3 weeks until the election, and the integrity of the election system is under assault. Fortunately, it would seem, this is a true case of false alarm for the nation. Perhaps, though, the concern is valid for a campaign that has for sometime chosen to operate in its own fact free universe. To that end, as I conclude, this is what we know…”Trump Spin: Democrats Are Trying to Steal the Election Through Voter Fraud!”

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Deny, Decry, Defend, Deflect, Divert, Dissemble, and Dismiss: The Trump Mantra

It’s time to Break It Down!

Twenty-seven days to E-Day, and for the vast majority of people, it cannot get here quickly enough. I would have to imagine Clinton supporters are slightly more interested in getting it over with, based on today’s polling, since Mrs. Clinton leads in most polls at the moment.

Last week I wrote about the first of the Campaign’s infamous October surprises, which dealt with Mr. Trump’s taxes, and the smart, brilliant, genius way in which he has, despite his alleged $10 billion worth, avoided paying any, perhaps for the better part of two decades. In Sunday night’s second Presidential Debate, he asserted that Mrs. Clinton’s wealthy donors had used the same strategies he does, specifically identifying the Carried Interest Forward provision, and directly naming Warren Buffet among those donors.

Mr. Buffet, who does support Mrs. Clinton, and who backed President Obama before that, responded quickly to that claim, to which he took great exception. After advising that Mr. Trump had clearly not seen his taxes, Mr. buffet noted that he has paid taxes every year for 72 years, dating back to 1944 (incidentally, two year longer than Mr. Trump has been alive), and added that he has copies of all 72 returns. He also indicated he has never used the Carried Interest Forward provision. He not only cited specifics about his own taxes, he revealed details about his 2015 return, including, according to Business Wire:

  • Adjusted Gross Income – $11,563,931
  • Deductions – $5,477,694
  • Allowable Charitable Contributions – $3,469,179
  • With the exception of $36,037, the difference between deductions and charitable contributions went toward State Income Taxes
  • Total Charitable Contributions – $2,858,057,970
  • Of that number, more than $2.85 billion was not taken as deductions (and never will be), based on tax law limits to charitable deductions
  • Total Federal Income Tax – $1,845,557

Mr. Buffet said his contributions for previous years reflected similar contributions, deductions, and tax rates. Forbes Magazine has pegged Mr. Buffet’s worth at $65 billion. In his most pointed comments direct at Mr. Trump, he revealed that he had been audited by the IRS on multiple occasions, including currently, and that he has no problem making his tax information public while being audited. He added that neither would Trump – at least not a legal problem.

Of course, in the week that has passed since my last post, there has been another October surprise that rocked Trump World. Last Friday a video was released showing Mr. Trump making remarks that a vast segment of the American population characterizes as him describing his propensity to commit sexual assault on women. Mr. Trump apologized, then downgraded his remarks to what he called “locker room talk,” then he attempted to further inoculate himself by claiming Bill Clinton said far worse to him on the golf course. All in all, it is unclear whether Trump is attempting to minimize the negativity of his own comments, or once again trying to insert Bill Clinton into the role of bad guy, to lower the temperature of the fix in which he finds himself.

This latter imbroglio led to a number of prominent republicans rescinding their endorsement of Mr. Trump, some of whom declared they would not be voting for him, and a few who actually indicated they would be voting for Mrs. Clinton. Even the Speaker of the House has said he will no longer defend Donald Trump, and that he will, for the next four weeks, focus on electing down ballot Republicans. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump responded by attacking Speaker Ryan, calling him weak, and a few other not so positive things.

While much of the current conversation around the GOP Nominee centers on his “sexcapades,” or at least his potty mouth, I want to highlight another of his high profile escapades…and he has had many, before, and during his campaign. He has:

  • Employed racist comments, tactics, and actions
  • Demeaned women
  • Roiled anti-Muslim sentiment
  • Disparaged Mexicans
  • Embraced harassment of blacks at his rallies
  • Attacked the notion that John McCain was a war hero
  • Antagonized a Gold Star family
  • Belittled a former Miss Universe
  • Alleged the President was not born in America
  • Ran an ad calling for the State to kill five schoolchildren

The list above is not intended to reflect a Top 10 of Mr. Trump’s offensive deeds or actions. In fact, it is an acutely abridged version of what some might refer to as his parade of despicable antics. I am going to briefly elevate the last of the preceding bullets notated. That bullet summarizes the Central Park jogger case, which was a 1989 case familiarly known as the Central Park 5.

A woman was attacked while jogging in New York City‘s Central Park, on April 19, 1989. The encounter consisted of violent assault, rape, and sodomy. The 28-year-old victim remained in a coma for 12 days. The New York Times characterized the assault as one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980’s.

When the story broke, it was detailed by police and prosecutors as a band of young people, part of a larger gang, rampaging Central Park, and mercilessly beating and assaulting the jogger. The story exploded upon the public sphere, having been fanned by both politicians and sensationalized media accounts.

Five black and Hispanic young men, ages 14 to 16 were arrested, and subsequently convicted. Despite the fact all of them asserted that the incriminating statements they gave had been coerced by authorities, their statements were ruled admissible, and led to convictions in 1990.

In 2002, the Manhattan District Attorney (DA) found DNA and other evidence that the woman had not been beaten and raped by the five teens. Instead, another man, a convicted rapist and murderer who had confessed to acting alone in the attack, was the perpetrator. The DA concluded that the new evidence, if available, could have resulted in a different verdict during the trial. He joined a defense motion asking that the convictions be vacated.

In 2014, the five men agreed to a $41 million settlement from New York City to resolve a civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment. The settlement averaged about $1 million for each year the men were imprisoned. Current Mayor Bill de Blasio deemed it a “moral obligation to right this injustice.” The suit alleged false arrest, malicious prosecution, and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive them of their civil tights by the city’s police and prosecutors. It is worth noting, the previous Mayor, Michael Bloomberg vigorously denied and fought against the suit in federal court for more than a decade.

Let’s rewind. On May 1, 1989, Mr. Trump published an ad in the New York Daily News calling for the State to kill the five teenagers who had been arrested, convicted, and as we now know, confessed to the crimes under police coercion. Though convicted, they were not guilty, a fact later proved by DNA and other evidence.

In retrospect, it is clear the possibility that the Central Park 5 might be innocent never occurred to Donald Trump. Apparently, it still hasn’t. He emblazoned his opinion in a New York Daily News ad with a clarion call to anger and fear: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”

Years later when the city offered to settle the case, Mr. Trump again took to the New York Daily News with an op-ed full of disgust. He insisted it was “ridiculous” that the city offered a settlement, and that “settling doesn’t mean innocence.” This was, and still is his position, even after the men were exonerated, and moreover, after DNA evidence established without a doubt that someone else (who also confessed) was the culprit.

Just last week Trump told CNN in a statement “they admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

This choice to embrace some facts, while opting to ignore others, such as the new DNA evidence and corresponding subsequent confession, are emblematic of what I have come to characterize as the Trump Way…his hardwired philosophy, if you will. This is an artful design with seven key principles. He has already written The Art of the Deal (1987), and The Art of the Comeback (1997). Perhaps his next tome should be entitled, The Art of Deny, Decry, Defend, Deflect, Divert, Dissemble, and Dismiss: The Trump Mantra!”

I’m done; holla back!

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October’s First Surprise: It’s a Taxing Matter

It’s time to Break It Down!

By the numbers, most Americans pay taxes. An even greater number believes that doing so is a function of one’s civic duty. In fact, perhaps surprisingly, that includes a substantial majority of folks who consider themselves Trump supporters.

Surprisingly so, because on a gaggle of issues, Mr. Trump’s surrogates and supporters have consistently unearthed more and more creative ways to contort themselves into pretzel-shape, all in order to defend some of the most whimsical and unorthodox position a candidate for American public office, to say nothing of the Presidency, has ever articulated and embraced.

While his surrogates are paid to take on this often miserable job, his supporters from all across the country, if television interviews are a reliable indicator, willingly, and for free, step up to a mic and utter allegiance to or support for some of the most bizarre public policy and political pronouncements of at least the 21st century.

Donald Trump and his taxes have been one of the more talked about matters of the 2016 Presidential Campaign. If one were to conduct an online reference check, Trump’s taxes probably would not appear as often as “Building a wall,” or “Muslim ban,” or even Crooked Hillary.” But it would likely rival those phrases, and exceed almost any others related directly to Trump’s campaign. The Donald’s taxes have been a key fixture in discussions about the 2016 Presidential Race for several reasons, starting with the fact that every major Party nominee for the past 40 years has released their tax returns.

Of course, Trump is not new to outlier status. Among recent candidates, he is the lone nominee to refuse to concede, until the last two weeks, that President Obama was born in Hawaii, he is a Climate Change denier, and he claimed he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering because of the 9/11 bombings. There is confirmed science and/or reliable documentation that support the polar opposite of each of those positions. Suffice it to say, unconventional does not even begin to adequately describe Donald Trump’s stated approach to governance.

According to a CNN/ORC Poll, which was released this past Monday, registered voters strongly believe in the nexus between taxes and good citizenship. The Poll results showed:

“Of nearly all registered voters surveyed — 86% — say they see paying taxes as every American’s civic duty, while 12% say that they see taxes as an unnecessary burden to be avoided.”

While those are impressive numbers, the number of Trump supporters who concur was nearly as high, coming in at 79%, or nearly 8 of 10. It is important to note that most of the surveys were completed prior to “Saturday night’s October 1st report from The New York Times that revealed Trump might have avoided income taxes for the last 18 years after declaring a $916 million loss in 1995.”

The Times did not have access to Mr. Trump’s entire return. Its investigators and reporters looked at one page of his resident New York State return, and on page from nonresident returns from New Jersey and Connecticut. Aside from the outrageous numbers involved in Mr. Trump’s alleged loss, perhaps the most damning fact to emerge from this revelation is that the Trump campaign has not challenged anything presented by the Times’ story. Instead they have attempted to pivot and refer to the Times as having illegally obtained the information.

In fact, according to a CNN report, Trump or his representatives threatened to file suit against the Times if it published the story. Clearly, the Times and its staff were either underwhelmed by the prospect of yet another Trump lawsuit, or supremely confident in the merits of the story. In any event, Trump and his minions, I mean his men and women, have been working double time this week to render normal the idea of his not paying taxes, and then circling back to defend his doubling down and characterizing, actually congratulating himself for being, among other things, smart, genius, and brilliant for creatively joining the ranks of the non-taxpayers.

As noted previously, Trump is no stranger to curious positions. There is an inordinate irony encapsulated in his no tax-paying hubris, as he has on a number of occasions, lamented OPP (Other People’s Proclivity) to not pay, of to pay less than, presumably, Mr. Trump thought they should. As one of Twitter’s most famous and prolific users, The NYT (New York Times) cited in a story published Sunday a number of Mr. Trump’s more pointed comments on the subject:

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

You know what is the worst part of ‪@BarackObama‘s Tuesday speech playing class warfare–we paid for it with our tax dollars.

3:25 PM – 8 Dec 2011

688 688 Retweets
454 454 likes

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

HALF of Americans don’t pay income tax despite crippling govt debt…


2:59 PM – 23 Feb 2012

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

‪            @BarackObama‪ who wants to raise all our taxes, only pays 20.5% on $790k salary.

‪            http://



‪            Do as I say not as I do.

2:19 PM – 13 Apr 2012

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

Facebook billionaire gives up his U.S. citizenship in order to save taxes. I guess 3.8 billion isn’t enough for (cont)



3:12 PM – 14 May 2012

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

Everyone is starting to feel the new tax hikes. You get what you vote for!

3:48 PM – 14 Jan 2013

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

‪@MartyCPA: ‪@gregshoes69 ‪@realDonaldTrump 10% of the people pay 90% of this countries tax. What wealthy tax breaks.”

10:41 PM – 30 May 2013

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

The ‪@washingtonpost loses money (a deduction) and gives owner ‪@JeffBezos power to screw public on low taxation of ‪@Amazon! Big tax shelter

10:18 AM – 7 Dec 2015

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

The hedge fund guys (gals) have to pay higher taxes ASAP. They are paying practically nothing. We must reduce taxes for the middle class!

5:54 PM – 5 Sep 2015

Donald J. Trump

‪            @realDonaldTrump

Signing a recent tax return- isn’t this ridiculous?

11:35 AM – 25 Feb 2016

(This tweet was accompanied by a giant stack of paper, presumably, the brilliant one’s tax return)

Apart from a robust Twitter feed, this was another week when the stable of Trump surrogates has earned its money, no matter how much it is, and regardless of whether it is before or after taxes. Quickly in the wake of the NYT story on Trump’s taxes, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were either called upon, or volunteered to defend Mr. Trump on the question of taxes. In response to the story, in which the Times said documents reveal Trump claimed nearly a billion dollars ($916 million) in losses from properties he owned, including casinos, a hotel, and an airline, these losses had potential implications on future taxes owned. According to Internal Revenue Service guidelines, those losses could be used to offset future taxes for as many as 18 years. Politico reported Governor Christie said:

“There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code.”

Mayor Giuliani appeared on the latest edition of CNN’s “State of the Union.” During his interview, he said:

“The headline should have been, Donald Trump takes advantage of legal provisions in tax code.”

To put a fine point on it, both of them blamed Mr. Trump’s issues with taxes on the tax code, not on Trump himself. That sounds about right. After all, remember, this is the gentleman (Trump) who proclaimed he did the country, and even President Obama a service by successfully pressing the President to release his Birth Certificate. Indeed!

In one very Trumpesque, but non-Twitter example, during the last Presidential Campaign, Trump found himself prodding then Nominee Mitt Romney for not being timely in releasing his taxes. Specifically, this year’s Nominee said in January 2012 about taxes:

“Romney would “be better off just to release them now.”

In conclusion, there are three things I fully believe and one I wholeheartedly recommend. They are:

  • This election’s results will not revolve around the issue of Mr. Trump’s taxes
  • Trump has paid little or no taxes for many years
  • Trump will not release his taxes (so we will never know about Bullet #2)
  • Don’t boo, vote…and make Trump’s taxes a moot issue

Last night, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence participated in the lone Vice Presidential Debate of this year’s campaign. CNN’s early returns suggest Mr. Pence got the best of Kaine. This should be considered somewhat significant because the audience was skewed Democratic. There will be more Polls for sure, as well as two more Debates…between the Candidates for President, including one this Sunday evening.  By all means, check them out.

Back to this post, as it relates to “October’s First Surprise: It’s a Taxing Matter!” I’m done; holla back!

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Transparency: Now You See It, Now You Don’t!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Monday night’s first Presidential Debate between Secretary Clinton and billionaire tycoon Donald Trump is in the books. It has been deemed the most watched tete-e-tete in the history of Presidential Debates, with an estimated 84 million viewers, according to CNN. There will be two more debates between the duo competing to become the 45th President of the United States. So while a number of polls, analysts, as well as men and women on the street assessed Clinton to be the winner of the contest, it is worth recalling that Mitt Romney took sitting President Barack Obama to the woodshed in their first debate in 2012, and yet POTUS rallied to prevail in the next two meetings, and to recapture the Presidency.

Meanwhile, it’s been a tough week in my adopted hometown of Charlotte. While the entire state is reeling from the consequences of standing foursquare behind HB 2, familiarly known as the “Bathroom Bill,” in Charlotte, two black men were killed on successive days last Tuesday and Wednesday, civil unrest erupted as protests ensued, Governor McCrory declared a State of Emergency and called out the National Guard, numerous protesters were arrested, and just yesterday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was forced to evacuate due to a bomb scare. Suffice it to say, in any number of realms, there is a lot to hold our attention, a lot about which to be concerned, and most certainly, a lot worthy upon which to focus a blog post.

I considered all of the above, and after doing so, I opted to spend a few moments elevating another topic that I believe is critical, or at least should be, to all people who consider themselves concerned about truth, justice, and the American way, particularly as it is practiced in The Old North State (North Carolina, in case you are unfamiliar with the appellation). At a time when African Americans in particular, seem to be under siege and threat of death by what should often be the most routine of police encounters, North Carolina is joining a number of other states in enacting a dubious law, HB 972, that will limit citizens’ access to police video.

The new law goes into effect in North Carolina October 1st (Saturday). In a seemingly ironic twist, a number of states, most importantly (to me), North Carolina among them, have opted to respond to a growing outcry in the wake of black men shot and killed by police by dramatically tamping down public access to police initiated video, including video from dash cameras, and from body cameras. That the official enactment follows so closely the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte police officer simply added more fuel to an already active debate. That debate was further stoked by Chief Kerr Putney’s initial position that he would not release video related to the Scott shooting. In a community with already frayed relations and fleeting trust between community and police, the mere prospect that the Chief would run out the clock until the new law took effect upped the ante and heightened the tension as the protests continued day after day.

To provide some idea of how…and more importantly why concerned citizens have every right to be (concerned), the short title for the law primarily sponsored by Representatives Faircloth, McNeill, Boles, and Hurley is Law Enforcement Recordings (Body-Worn & Dashboard Cameras)/No Public Record. The phrase to the right of the slash, No Public Record pretty much says it all. The idea behind body and dash cameras was that they would help provide a record of law enforcement’s actions when interacting with the public, and establish a basis for ensuring that the rights of citizens engaging law enforcement officers are not abrogated. This new and very unimproved law effectively disconnects the utilization of cameras from protecting the rights of citizens. In effect, in the prevailing environment when citizens are demanding transparency, accountability, and protection of their rights, they will now be thrust into an environment that looks and feels a lot like life before video cameras.

Upon signing HB 972 into law in June, Governor McCrory justified the law by insisting that body-camera footage, along with footage from dash cameras can “mislead and misinform” the public.” In an amazing display of disregard for other peoples’ common sense, the Governor added that the new law, as configured, will actually “ensure transparency.” Of course it will!

The operational framework of HB 972 is stated thusly:


As you can see, in addition to cameras, the law also covers a hypodermic syringe and needle exchange program. The combining of the very unrelated matters appears to be a function of one of those ploys legislators with competing interests use; adding item B as a condition of getting item A. I will not address the syringe/needle portion of the law.

Not surprising, there are those who disagree. Count me among them. According to the tenets of the new law, footage resulting from cameras will be categorized as personnel records. As a result, the only people who are allowed to see the video are those in the video and their relatives. In order for journalists and the public to access video footage, they will have to secure a court order. Even police departments that wish to release video footage on their own aegis will have to seek approval to do so from a state superior court judge. Also, police departments are authorized to deny access to video if they determine that footage will damage an officer’s reputation, harm an investigation, or jeopardize an individual’s safety.

I cannot close this post without including a disclaimer. There are phenomenal men and women in our nation’s police departments. I not only believe that, I know a number of them. Having said that, the rules have been revised to make it much more difficult for the public to benefit from tools that were originally put in place with them in mind.

So why is this matter important…to me personally? Race is pivotal in police shootings. Body cameras and dash cameras are a vital tool in addressing this matter. According to the Washington Post, although black men account for 6 percent of America’s population, they accounted for 40% of the unarmed men shot to death by police in 2015. Interestingly, the majority of instances in which police shot and killed someone with a weapon or who brandished a gun, the person was white. Conversely, a tremendously disproportionate number, 60%, of people killed after exhibiting less threatening behavior were black or Hispanic. So aitch yes, I am concerned about, for all practical purposes, taking cameras out of citizens’ equation for interacting with police. It’s pretty much abracadabra, “Transparency: Now You See It, Now You Don’t”

I’m done; holla back!

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Tragedy in Tulsa…This Time!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This past Friday evening the paths of a Tulsa police officer and an unarmed black man crossed. A short time later, Terence Crutcher was transformed.   He was no longer a stalled motorist seeking help on a Friday night in Oklahoma. No, he was the latest member of one of the most ill fated clubs of all, an unarmed black man, killed by a police officer.

The result was another absolutely harrowing, totally inconsolable and irreparable, yet all too familiar consequence. Most of us have had life altering experiences. Mr. Crutcher, abruptly and I’m fairly certain, unexpectedly, faced the ultimate, a life-ending encounter. Experiences such as his are at the crux of one of our most volatile contemporary national conversations. Similar experiences spawned the Black Lives Matter Movement (#BLM), which in turn served as a catalyst for the Blue Lives Matter Countermovement, which led, indirectly, to the Colin Kaepernick inspired “Not standing for the National Anthem” protests.

This story, like each of those that preceded it, has it’s own specific details. Moreover, every person’s life is indubitably unique and demands its particular solemnity. Yet, it must be said, this tale is merely the next sequence in a continuing saga; a sorrowfully pathetic narrative that we should all find offensive.

So what happened to Terence? Here’s what we know. Allow me to fast forward and begin with the end. A police officer feared for her life. That most often really is the end of the story, an officer in mortal fear. While we do not yet know what the final determination will be, as it relates to this particular installment, we do know that magic phrase is very often a get out/stay out of jail card on par with Dorothy clicking her heels three times and riffing “No place like home, no place like home, no place like home.”

I will not regale you with all the details; here are a few of the pertinent ones as reported by ABC News:

  1. Police received a call regarding a stalled vehicle.
  2. The responding officers did not know whether the driver was armed.
  3. Crutcher’s most recent court records were for traffic violations over 10 years ago.
  4. Since 2007, Tulsa’s officers have been involved in 24 fatal shootings (according to the newspaper Tulsa World).
  5. Officer Betty Shelby, whom police say shot Crutcher, was one of several officers on the scene with guns drawn.
  6. Scott Wood, Officer Shelby’s attorney, said the officer “believed” Crutcher was armed when she shot him.
  7. Officer Shelby’s husband, also a Tulsa police officer, was above the scene in a (police) helicopter, a fact police deemed “a happenstance.
  8. Chief Chuck Jordan called the shooting “very difficult to watch” and has sought an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
  9. Police spokesperson Jeannie Mackenzie told reporters Mr. Crutcher “refused to follow commands given by the officers.” She added, “They continued to talk to him. He continued not to listen and follow any commands. As they got closer to the vehicle, he reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment, and a short time later there was one shot fired.”
  10. Officer Tyler Turnbough, also white, used a stun gun on Mr. Crutcher. It is unclear why one officer drew a stun gun while another drew a handgun against an unarmed man. It also remains unexplained why Mr. Crutcher was considered a threat to multiple armed officers.

Video and audio documentation related to the events leading to Mr. Crutcher’s death were released Monday. Prior to releasing that information, Chief Jordan announced that Mr. Crutcher had no weapon, neither on his person, nor in his vehicle.

The best of the video, taken from a helicopter above the scene, shows Mr. Crutcher walking toward his vehicle with his hands in the air. When he reached the vehicle, he placed his hands on top of his SUV. Dashcam video also appears to corroborate his hands were on top of the SUV. Based on the audio recording, a voice from the helicopter says, “Time for a Taser.”

Another voice can be heard saying, “That looks like a bad dude too. Probably on something.”

The video does not appear to show what might have validated those perceptions. I will decline to speculate whether any of those voices, or the views that accompanied them, came from Officer Shelby’s husband, who as mentioned earlier, was in the helicopter.

What the video does show is that there were three officers standing in a line behind Crutcher, and at least one more standing several feet behind them. As the tape continues to roll, Mr. Crutcher can be seen falling to the pavement. As blood pooled around his body, approximately two minutes appear to pass prior to anyone checked on him.

Danny Williams, a U.S. Attorney indicates there will be a Department of Justice civil rights investigation of the shooting, separate and apart from that conducted by local authorities. He noted:

“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.”

Looked at from a variety of angles, and from different cameras, of course, the video appears to show the same disturbing fact pattern. “Yet another” unarmed black man walks down a road, this time in Tulsa, with his hands in the air. Police follow behind him closely until he reaches his vehicle, where he stands momentarily. Then, he falls to the ground after one of the officers pulls the trigger.

As for Attorney Wood’s assertion that Officer Shelby feared Mr. Crutcher was reaching for a gun inside the car, Benjamin Crump, a member of the Crutcher family’s legal team, observed at a news conference that, “the vehicle window was rolled up…making it highly unlikely he was reaching into the vehicle.”

This story will continue to unfold for some time. The details vary from incident to incident, for sure, but the theme is worth noting, and repeating.  I am compelled to remind all who read this post of what strikes me as a super vivid irony.  Monday Ahmad Khan Rahami, suspected of several terrorist bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, was captured alive and arrested…after a shootout with authorities, while Friday night, Terence Crutcher, unarmed, was killed by the officers he encountered. Today we observe, in respectful repose, “Tragedy in Tulsa…This Time!” It’s the “this time” that serves as a not subtle at all reminder, #BLM!

I’m done; holla back!

P.S. While I was writing this post, a police shooting and immediate fallout were unfolding here in my own City, CLT. It was tempting to switch horses in midstream and write a hometown story. However, the Tulsa story was further developed, and more facts were immediately available. I will say, pray for Charlotte, and especially the family of the deceased. You can check for the still unfolding details here:

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Downright Deplorable: Accompanied by the Stats to Back it Up!

It’s time to Break It Down!

On a day when the country was focused on the horrors of 9/11 and on honoring the 2,977 victims (not including the 19 hijackers), and also a day when both major Party candidates were scheduled to be off the campaign trail, it is difficult to imagine how one of them could actually go a long way toward upstaging the thematic focus of the day. But one did…and to my personal surprise, it was not one named Donald Trump. Yikes!

Hillary Clinton, who was diagnosed with having pneumonia last Friday, but instead of following her doctor’s orders to rest, opted to try to power through. A decision she has since admitted did not work out so well. Although, apparently, she was forced to make this admission only after she got “overheated” at a 9/11 event in NY this past Sunday, the 15th Anniversary of that fateful day.

I first wrote about the catastrophic details of that day on the 10th Anniversary in 2011, and reprised it in 2013 (in a post entitled “Calling All Patriots; Nine-Eleven Ten Years Later” (, when the blog posted on the Anniversary date. Today’s brief reference was intended to provide a highly appropriate nod to the seriousness of that day, to the degree to which Americans rallied after the tragedy, and to acknowledge that we continue to pay tribute to nearly 3,000 lives senselessly lost to terrorism. Mrs. Clinton’s ill-timed health scare was just an unfortunate coincidence that warranted mentioning, primarily due to the irony that she planned for it to be low key, no fuss kind of day. So perhaps it’s true, “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”

Alternately, the Title of today’s post draws from a comment Hillary Clinton made last Friday at a rally in New York. According to a report from Time Magazine, she said:

Half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables” characterized by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” views.

The statement, quite possibly made after her physician recommended rest, has sparked quite the kerfuffle. Team Trump has attempted to frame it as on par with Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe. The entire statement is:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

Now, as quiet as it has been kept, that is not all she said. In that Time Magazine story it was also noted that she said:

“The other half of Trump’s supporters feel that the government has let them down” and are desperate for change. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

I like the Trumpsian spin. There are a couple of reasons why I like this move. First, the facts justify the remark. Admittedly, it was impolitic for Clinton to say it. However, that doesn’t make it a false statement. What’s wrong with a little truth telling? After all, isn’t it Trump and his supporters who are always railing against political correctness?

Let’s attempt to put this in some degree of context. Mr. Trump has:

  • Called Americans stupid
  • Called for a Muslims ban
  • Called for monitoring Mosques
  • Called for a Wall separating Mexico from the U.S.
  • Called Mexicans rapists (while stating maybe some are good),
  • Asked blacks what the hell have they got to lose
  • Praised Putin
  • Praised Saddam Hussein
  • Assailed a “Mexican” Judge, who is actually American, because of his heritage
  • Offered to pay legal fees of supporters who attacked protesters at his rallies
  • Taunted a journalist with disabilities
  • Conveniently failed to remember who David Duke was after choosing not to run himself as a member of the Reform Party…because of David Duke’s involvement
  • Acted as Birther-in-Chief; insisted President Obama was not born in America
  • Implied President Obama is a Muslim
  • Accused POTUS of having founded ISIS/ISIL

*Refused to apologize for any of the above…in fact, tried to spin much of it as logical, normal, or otherwise, perfectly reasonable

So if Trump, who appears to have winked and nodded at David Duke and his ilk, in an effort to curry favor with that segment of the electorate, chooses to insert himself into the conversation about deplorables, he must at some point accept the role that he so expertly defined for himself. Well, the truth is he doesn’t really have to accept it, but if the voters are paying any attention whatsoever, they will see it for themselves, which is more important anyway.

The second reason I like Mr. Trump’s protestation is because a number of journalists are finding their voices and pointing out the obvious; the Trump campaign has consistently stoked, promoted, and yes provoked the flames of anger, blame, hatred, bigotry, and racism that a number of Americans, mostly white, coincidentally, harbor. One of those journalists, Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank, framed it thusly:

“As a matter of statistics, it is probably true that people expressing racist sentiment … constitute more than half of Trump supporters,”

In an interview with on CNN’s “Newsroom,” Milbank effectively told Brook Baldwin that, half, the only aspect of the comment that Clinton apologized for, was likely understating the case. About that he said:

“More than half of Trump’s supporters display racist or bigoted tendencies”, according to data collected by the American National Election Studies. He went on to add, “You actually can unpack those numbers. It’s really quite shocking. Something like 62% of white voters have these sorts of sentiments, and by better than two-to-one, they vote Republican.”

I understand very well, no one wants to be called, thought of, or in anyway characterized as racist. I suppose that is especially true of Trump supporters, since he has directly appealed to their sense of righteous indignation over the Clinton comments. That is all well and good. It would be a considerably more compelling argument if Team Trump were as diligent in distancing itself from some of its many statements and actions of record. Unfortunately, in the America that Trump and many of his supporters harken back to in order to make America “Great Again,” we would return to the pre-civil rights era when the Constitution and the rights it ensures were largely deemed the sole province of white men.

In addition to Mr. Milbank, a number of journalists of color have also weighed in on the deplorable state of Trump backers. The list of luminaries includes Ta-Nahisi Coates of the Atlantic, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, Charles Blow of the New York Times, Bakari Sellers of CNN, Juan Williams of Fox News, and James Boule of Slate. Boule in particular had this to say on “Face the Nation:”

“But ‘half’ wasn’t wrong. ‘Half’ wasn’t a gross generalization at all. ‘Half’ was by all indications close to the truth. . . .”

“I’m inclined — so I’m inclined to see it as strategy and not so much as a gaffe because when I heard the remark, my first question was, well, is this true, right? Regardless of how it sounds or what it looks like, is it actually — what is the case about Donald Trump’s supporters?”

“And if you break down the numbers and you look at the Real Clear Politics average and that gives Trump about 43 percent of the registered voters. It was about 30, 31 million people. Compare that to polls that show 65 to 70 percent of all Republicans who say that Barack Obama either wasn’t born in the United States or is a Muslim. You look at pilot data from the American National Election Study and it shows upward of 40 percent of Republicans saying things like, blacks are more violent, blacks are lazier, Muslims are more violent, Muslims are lazier.”

“Among Trump supporters in particular, 60, 50, 70 percent of them agree with statements that political scientists categorize as being explicitly racist. So I’m — I’m looking at Clinton’s statement and half, which is about 31 million people again, doesn’t really seem that out of bounds. Forty to 50 percent of Republicans I would say, looking at the full spectrum of data, agree with beliefs that we would categorize as explicitly prejudiced. So regardless of whether or not Clinton needs [to] walk it back or not, I think she’s being correct and accurate. . . .”

I have previously written about the pretzel-like contortions many Republicans have resorted to, ostensibly because of Trump. A number of prominent members of the GOP have called Trump’s words or actions deplorable, or worse, or words to that effect. Yet, they still find themselves locked into a position of saying they will vote for him, either in an effort to save the GOP Congressional majority, salvage their own re-election bids…or both. That’s politics; I understand. But none of that does anything to make Hillary’s “Basket of deplorables” any less real. An that is, Downright Deplorable: Accompanied by the Stats to Back it Up!”

I’m done, holla back!

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Labor Day – Three Years Later, Actually Five Years Now

It’s time to Break It Down!

(This post appeared originally in this space on August 31, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented again September 3, 2014. Today, September 7, 2016, it has been edited and updated to reflect the most recent unemployment data.)

Monday was Labor Day.  At its core, According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day in the United States was designed to commemorate the creation of the labor movement; dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  The holiday focuses on contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country.

First observed in September 1882, the event has always been observed on the first Monday of the month.  Initiated by the Central Labor Union of New York, the celebration became a federal holiday in 1894.

In addition to its formal structure and purpose, Labor Day has a number of symbolic associations.  It is considered:

  • The unofficialEnd of Summer
  • The last 3-Day warm weather weekend for vacationers
  • By High Society standards, the last day for which it is appropriate for women to wear white
  • The beginning of the College Football Season (the preceding Saturday)
  • The start of the NFL Season (typically the following Thursday; this year, the previous)
  • The conventional kick-off of hard core political campaign season (which this year includes a Presidential Election)
  • Backto-School shopping

On the formal side, while the Labor Department’s blurb omits any reference to it, Labor Day also validates and recognizes an often controversial mechanism that frequently divides American opinion; the labor union.  Scorned by many who fancy themselves as Free Enterprise Capitalists, unions and their members have not only been actively involved historically, in debates that framed public policy for American workers, they have won or forced hard-earned concessions that in the shimmering glow of reflective perspective, must be considered to have fundamentally altered the playing field (known as the workplace), including:

  • Pensions
  • Health Care Benefits
  • Paid Vacations
  • Equal Pay to women
  • The Development of Child Labor Laws
  • The 5-Day Work Week
  • The 40-Hour Work Week
  • The 8-Hour Work Day
  • Worker’s Compensation benefits
  • Female Flight Attendants permitted to marry

These and many other important cherished and effective employee rights are attributable to the efforts of the American Labor Movement.  But, this is not an ode to Labor UnionsUnions also have downsides.  They create or contribute to:

  • The potential for strikes
  • Additional costs to all employees (membership dues; whether a member or not)
  • Loss of individuality (ability to represent one’s self in a grievance)
  • Subject to fines & discipline by the Union
  • Disincentives to productivity and competition
  • Lack of promotions
  • Burdensome salary demands (relative to the market)
  • Loss of profits (and/or pay) due to strike
  • Inefficient & ineffective contracts
  • Increased unemployment due to failure to reach agreement w/management

The first Labor Day celebration was led by a Labor Union.  The history of the Day has been linked, inextricably, with Labor organizations, ever since.  But if it is the American Worker the Day was intended to commemorate, Labor Day 2011 was set in an auspicious and trenchant backdrop:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported to be 9.1% in July 2011
  • The economy added only 117,000 jobs in July (154,000 in the private sector, -37,000 government jobs lost); better than expected, but still a dismally low number
  • Businesses are stockpiling $2 trillion in cash

Three years hence, the picture, thankfully, was much improved:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U. was reported to be 6.2% in July 2014
  • The economy added 209,000 jobs in July 2014
  • (August2014 employment data will be released the first Friday in September)


In 2011, President Obama, announced after the Debt Ceiling Deal on August 2nd, that he would present a jobs proposal for Congress to consider, and was set to do so, after Labor Day, (on September 8th).  The proposal included a combination of tax cuts, spending on infrastructure, and measures designed to assist the long-term unemployed, while bolstering certain sectors of the economy.  This potion sounds eerily similar to the ideas Democrats proposed when negotiating the Debt Deal.

Republicans were lined up to oppose the plan, suggesting instead, among other things, a Balanced Budget Amendment; a balm the GOP/Tea Party also suggested during the Debt Deal negotiation.  In short, there was little expectation for significant movement, or the adoption of sweeping legislation to address the lack of jobs in America…and there wasn’t.  What we had instead was, déjà vu…all over, again!  Then, I was compelled to ask, “Labor Day: Where Is The Celebration?” Fast forward three years, and the truth is the labor dynamics in this country have improved appreciably. However, our country is still beset by challenges.

Each day we are faced with a series of old, and it seems developing challenges abroad. Syrian, Iraq, the Ukraine, Russia, North Korea, China, Somalia, are all global hot spots, just to name a few. Then of course, there is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the burgeoning by ISIS/ISIL, also known as the Islamic State. And oh yeah, we are still winding down in Afghanistan.

In the August 2016 Jobs Report, issued September 2, 2016, the nation’s Job’s Report has continued to improve:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 4.9%
  • The economy added 151,000 jobs in August 2016
  • Paychecks grew 2.4% compared to a year ago
  • Jobs Growth record extended to 78 consecutive months

August job growth is historically volatile, and is the slowest month for job growth since the Reports have been published. The increase in jobs was notable, but not as substantial as the 275,000 in July. While the number was disappointing, it was not surprising, given the trend for the month of August.  Moreover, the number more than doubles the 5-year average for the month of August, which is 71,000. It is also important to add, the Unemployment Rate remained below 5%.

Unlike in 2011, in 2014, and again Monday, in my opinion, Labor day brought us more of a day of respite and reflection in honor of our country’s Labor Movement. On top of all that don’t forget, as the sixth bullet from the top advises, the conventional kick-off of the hard-core political campaign season is upon us. The General Election is just 62 days away, and with it, the selection of our next President just nine weeks from yesterday. By all means be sure to exercise your franchise; vote.

It’s “Labor Day – Three Years Later, Actually Five Years Now,” and while we’ve got plenty of issues to temper our celebration, we should indeed celebrate America’s phenomenal Labor Movement. I’m done; holla back!

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