If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Trump TV Debuts

It’s time to Break It Down!

Mercifully, we are in the “Final Days” of the 2016 Presidential Election. As of this morning, 13 days remain before D-Day, November 8th. That is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. However, in an election pairing what are arguably the two most unpopular candidates in the history of Presidential Elections, and two campaigns largely framed around efforts to expose and leverage their opponents’ “un-favorability,” there is always a chance that the next new thing will be the last straw…the one that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

For Mr. Trump, the Theme-of-the-Week, this week, apparently is, the media is displacing, or at least challenging Mrs. Clinton for the title of the most crooked thing going. They (the media) are central players (according to Trump) in rigging the election for Clinton. Mr. Trump has ramped up attacks on the media. He asserted that Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits that lampooned him were evidence of media rigging of the election. He made this argument despite the obvious fact the comedy also satirizes Hillary Clinton. Reflection and balance are not his strengths.

As you may know, Mr. Trump is no stranger to the media. According to a March 16 story in CNN Money, Mr. Trump earned nearly $2 billion worth of free media attention up to that stage of the primaries. No one should have to tell you that is a lot of free media. How much? To put it in context, it exceeded the total value of all of his GOP competitors combined. These findings were part of a study conducted by The New York Times using mediaQuant and SMG Delta data. The study also found that Mr. Trump accrued:

  • More than six times as much free coverage as his closest competitor, Ted Cruz
  • More than two-and-a-half times as much free coverage as Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side

Suffice it to say the study proffered evidence that the American news media has given preponderantly more coverage to Trump than to any other candidate who sought the Presidency during the Campaign 2016 cycle. In light of findings related to this story, it is interesting, to say the least, that Mr. Trump’s heretofore shield of invincibility and/or his status as a media darling had been punctured or otherwise compromised by the very entity many reasonable observers would infer propelled him from a mere guy in the pack to frontrunner status during the primaries, and ultimately, to the GOP Nomination.

Now if you are for Donald Trump, you may argue (And I would expect you to do so) that not all of the attention Mr. Trump garnered in the media is positive. Wow, Sherlock, that’s just plain brilliant. But hold up; wait a minute. Before you go getting carried away, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson in the Capital One commercial, “Don’t let that go to your head Gary.” As a rejoinder, that is true…but pointless. Or at least it is inconsequential in the framework of a head-to-head comparison.

Why, you may ask? It is pointless or inconsequential because no candidate is guaranteed that all coverage will be positive. Reporters are constantly looking for angles to explore and different aspects to present regarding candidates and their stories. Mrs. Clinton’s coverage was not encased on a crystal stair either. She’s had to navigate an early Black Lives Matter (BLM) SNAFU, the super predator comment, the email imbroglio, the Iraq War vote, and currently, the Affordable Care Act premium increase, among others. When one lives in the fish bowl that is the public sphere, in which all politicians reside, most especially major Party Presidential Nominees, it behooves one to recognize the primacy of the inimitable law of gravity…”What goes up must come down.”

And so it is. Last Thursday, Trump made a comment some considered eye opening, others provocative, and still others, simply affirming. During Wednesday’s Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 Election Season, Mr. Trump declined to answer a direct question from Debate Moderator Chris Wallace regarding whether he would concede, were he to attract fewer votes than Mrs. Clinton (again, note, just as last week, I did not say lose). At a rally Thursday, he said he would absolutely respect the election results…if he wins.

There is an obvious trend afoot. When things are good…they are r-e-a-l-l-y good. When the media is kind to Mr. Trump, when the polls say he is ahead, and when he won primaries, the system was not rigged, the polls were great (and he reveled in them at every rally), and the media was his trusty sidekick and adoring mouthpiece. Right now, things are no so good. Mr. Trump has encountered a few headwinds from the previously docile and compliant media. His alleged sexual assault accusers get lots of air play, ad he lags in most reputable polls. Oh my, what is an entrepreneur to do?

Well, if that entrepreneur is Donald Trump, the answer is simple. Innovate! Create your own media enterprise. Monday, with 15 days left until Election Day, Team Trump broadcast its first “nightly campaign coverage from Trump Tower, and Trump TV was born, in a manner of speaking. The virgin episode lasted 38 minutes, and presaged shows that will air each night until the election. It featured several of his surrogates covering political news of the day, one presumes unrigged, from a Trump perspective, and led up to a Trump Rally in Tampa.

There is understandably a level of speculation about what all this means. Nascent possibilities abound, including the questions, is it:

  • Trump’s reaction to a “rigged media”
  • Queuing up his post “Apprentice” TV presence,
  • A gambit to spur fleeting sizzle associated with the Trump brand as his Presidential Campaign falters, by most accounts
  • All of the above

Of course, I do not know Donald Trump. I must note, he has suggested he is not interested in actualizing a full-scale Trump TV endeavor. That is what he has said, anyway. However, CNN Money reported in a story from Monday of last week that his son-in-law may have provided a tell regarding the potential imminence of Trump TV:

“Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November,” the Financial Times reported Monday

I am not close to any of his surrogates either. I do know people who support him, and let me be clear, the ones I know, I like. They (the ones I know) all have other opinions, many of which I agree with. Each of the above possibilities has some level of merit. But lest I leave anyone with the impression that the actual answer matters (to me), it does not. The questions were rhetorical…but the point was not. For me, that point is completely encapsulated in the title of this post…”If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Trump TV Debuts!”

I’m done; holla back!

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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” (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2016/05/11/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!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

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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://

‪            1.usa.gov/HFZJKH


‪            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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