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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