Sunday, October 02, 2016


I'm supposed to be doing a dance of joy because The New York Times published this story last night:
Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Hooray! Now we know he's probably paid less in income taxes every year than the average American! And it's because he's not a very good businessman!

Here's the problem: The Clinton campaign and Clinton's allies have been demanding Trump's tax returns for months now, all while criticizing multiple aspects of Trump's business conduct -- and in all that time, the polls have been tightening. And now that we have some information, we learn that Trump might have a light income tax burden not because he's using tricky offshore tax havens or obscure provisions slipped into the tax code after intense lobbying -- he might have low tax bills because he's using a relatively straightforward, comprehensible tax provision that allows one year's losses to offset future income gains. And it probably doesn't even matter much that this report reminds us of Trump's business failures -- coming back from bankruptcy is part of Trump's origin story (remember, he published a book in 1997 called The Art of the Comeback).

You can discount this because it's from a Fox poll, but given the impact these issues have had on the race, I suspect it's accurate or only slightly skewed:

I'd love to see polling on this from other firms. This jibes with what I've seen -- Trump opponents care about his taxes, but he's being hurt much more on the issues of racism and temperament. With Clinton, by contrast, it's emails, emails, emails -- even for some people who'll ultimately vote for her.


A much more important story is this one from The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson:
MANHEIM, Pa. — Donald Trump's campaign announced Saturday evening that the candidate would soon deliver a nine-sentence critique of comments Hillary Clinton made months ago about many of the millennials supporting her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. It was an attempt to latch onto a new headline in hopes of finally escaping the controversies that had consumed his week.

It didn’t work.

It took Trump nearly 25 minutes to read the brief statement because he kept going off on one angry tangent after another — ignoring his teleprompters and accusing Clinton of not being “loyal” to her husband, imitating her buckling at a memorial service last month, suggesting that she is “crazy” and saying she should be in prison. He urged his mostly white crowd of supporters to go to polling places in "certain areas" on Election Day to "watch" the voters there. He also repeatedly complained about having a "bum mic" at the first presidential debate and wondered if he should have done another season of “The Apprentice.”
Really, read this story. If you don't have a Post subscription and you're rationing free clicks, use one for this. It portrays a Donald Trump who's utterly unable to focus on a task, who's bouncing off the walls with rage, and who, if he isn't on Bolivian marching powder, sure is acting as if he got psyched for the speech by hoovering a few lines.

A sample:
He read the first sentence of the prepared statement: “A new audio tape that has surfaced -- just yesterday -- from another one of Hillary’s high-roller fundraisers shows her demeaning and mocking Bernie Sanders and all of his supporters.”

Rather than continuing, Trump demeaned and mocked Sanders himself, saying that he has “a much bigger movement than Bernie Sanders ever had” and that he has “much bigger crowds than Bernie Sanders ever had.” Trump accused Sanders of tarnishing his legacy by making a “deal with the devil” and supporting Clinton.

“Crazy Bernie,” Trump said at one point.

Eventually, Trump read a few more sentences, telling the audience that Clinton had described Sanders supporters as “living in their parents’ basements” and being trapped in dead-end jobs. Clinton made these comments more than seven months ago and seemed to sympathize with millennials who supported Sanders, although Republicans have tried to frame the remarks as an attack on young voters.

“In a really sarcastic tone because she’s a sarcastic woman,” Trump dryly said, going off-script.

He resumed his scripted spot: “To sum up...”

But he interrupted himself: “And I’ll tell you the other thing: She’s an incompetent woman. And I’ve seen it. She’s an incompetent woman.”

Halfway through the statement, Trump took a nearly 20-minute-long break to cover a range of topics...
The "range of topics" included a racist call for Trump voters to monitor polling places in "certain areas," complaints about CNN's reporting on him during the primaries (why is he still complaining about this?), and a moment of physical mockery of Clinton reminiscent of his attempt to imitate disabled journalist Serge Kovaleski:

Trump then imitated Clinton by flailing his arms and jostling side to side. He walked unsteadily away from the podium as if he were about to fall over. “Folks, we need stamina,” Trump said. “We need energy.”
Do I have to explain why this is nuts? Ads that show Trump's imitation of Kovaleski are really hurting him -- so he gets it into his head that should do something like that again, like a sullen kid who's told there'll be a severe punishment if he utters a particular curseword one more time at the table and decides that's precisely what he's going to do. Trump is no longer under any control -- his campaign can't control him anymore and he can't control himself.

And then there's this, which reeks of incoherence, delusions of grandeur -- and then bigotry:

What's going to matter between now and November? I don't think it's going to be Trump's taxes. Too many Americans in the post-Reagan era are still active members of the Church of the Businessman -- they think "job creators" are wonderful people and they're certain Trump is a great businessman because TV said so for 14 years.

I think Trump's mental state is going to matter much more. He's out of control. He thinks whatever makes him feel good is good for his campaign. And I really think he might be on drugs -- I know everyone says he never touches drugs or alcohol, but we heard the same thing about Prince.

I think he's only going to get worse in the next few weeks. I think he's going to be like this in the two upcoming debates. It's going to be amazing to watch.


sdhays said...

To play devil's advocate, during the debate, people really didn't like it when Trump basically admitted that he doesn't pay taxes. It was a low point in a night of low points for him. It may not decide the issue for anyone, but it's one more bushel of straw on that camel's back. Also, the Fox poll question doesn't directly apply to this - Donald not releasing his tax returns is not the same issue as Donald not paying taxes on millions of dollars for nearly two decades.

Regardless of it's direct impact, it seems to me that this story will definitely affect Donald's mental state as well. It's clear that Trump is very, very sensitive about this and it will likely drive his freak-out fever to 11. This has two things which dominate The Donald's reality:
betrayal - someone he trusted with his secrets sent this to the NYT
humiliation - record-setting losses for a supposedly brilliant businessman

Plus, people are going to be complaining about this super-rich asswipe running around on his jet and pooping his golden toilet while the American tax payer subsidizes his gargantuan losses. He feels no shame for this, but having people get upset about it and asking questions will bother him. And if it does turn out that the leak came from his ex-wife, that will mean that he was betrayed and humiliated by a woman - a woman who he probably can't touch legally because the information is hers as much as his (just speculating here). And that would round out the criteria for an epic freak-storm melt-down.

I can't imagine he's going to be able to even pretend to focus on preparing for the next debate.

Never Ben Better said...

Here's hoping for a full-on meltdown during the next debate. Maybe one of the audience questioners will hit him on a sore spot and he'll go into spittle-flecked attack mode at that person, complete with ugly personal comments and mockery.

He may be assuming that the "town hall" setup will give him the same ego-boosting feedback that his rallies do, but they won't be a pack of his diehard supporters who cheer everything he says. The format is also bad for him in other ways, as Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains:

Just one point of an excellent analysis:


Finally and most importantly, in a town hall debate we’re not only watching the candidates tell us what they think, we’re watching them interact with the people who ask the questions. The character of that interaction can be as important to our interpretation as the substance. You might recall the 1992 town hall debate during which a citizen asked, “How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives?” Answering first, George H.W. Bush took the somewhat confusing question literally, and struggled to answer her in a satisfying way as he looked uncertainly around the room, even growing defensive at one point (“Are you suggesting that if somebody has means, that the national debt doesn’t affect them?”). When it was Bill Clinton’s turn, he understood that she wasn’t really asking about the debt at all. He said, “Tell me how it’s affected you again?” as he walked over to get as close to her as he could. “You know people who have lost their jobs, lost their homes?” His eyes locked on hers, Clinton talked about how the state of the economy affected people he knew and the rest of the country.

What people remembered wasn’t the substance of the two answers, it was how Clinton immediately connected with that voter and seemed to care deeply about her and what she was worried about. This was the “I feel your pain” Bill Clinton, and voters loved it. What you may not realize is that while Hillary Clinton gets a lot of criticism for not being a natural performer and not being good at delivering a speech, this kind of exchange — between her and one voter, where she can make a connection with that person and relate their particular question to broader concerns — is something she’s really, really good at.

Anonymous said...

Come 10 November you all are going to be standing around with your thumbs in your ears wondering why the logical outcome wasn't readily so apparent months ago, and Clinton will be your president. I'm laughing, at the "superiority".

Caveat Emptor
O'owlish Amenheh
(Ten Bears)

Victor said...

Bill Clinton felt other people's pain.

Donald t-RUMP demands that we feel his!

KenRight said...

The problem is not so or as much Trump's, it is that of those SJW's and assorted deracinated liberals who don't understand yet that the hypersensitive cries of"racism" applied only to Euro-Americans, and "anti-semitism" (many "self-hating" Jewish socialists have used the same characterization cited) aren't working nearly as well as they used to anymore.
There will soon come a time when a more methodical "Trumpist" will come along
and you will be wishing for the halcyon days when Trump's peccadilloes
MIGHT have proved decisive in limiting the elective appeal of his message.

Glennis said...

Speaking of mental states, I think KenRight should get himself checked out. He's starting to rave incoherently.

Jim Snyder said...

@SteveM: nice "attaboy" from mistermix over at BJ.

Over at RawStory, the author of the NYT story is quoted as mebbe saying that she has more Trump tax dox.

@AuntSnow: "KenRight seemed to be speaking English" [doubtfully]

Frank Wilhoit said...

Steroids would explain a lot, wouldn't they?

Patricia Kayden said...

Wonder how Trump's plan to bring up President Clinton's philandering is going to go over in a Town Hall debate. I would guess not very well but we shall see. I predict that when Secretary Clinton brushes off his attempt to goad her about her husband's cheating, it will be so shocking to Trump (who cannot brush off any criticisms) that we will then see the much anticipated meltdown.

If he brings up her husband's cheating, Clinton should just smile and say that she and her husband are happily married and are both in their first marriage and decline to answer further.

GrrlGeek1972 said...

The town hall format may be the final nail in his coffin. It's a format that will allow the audience to ask tough questions, and do follow ups. He may feel comfortable attacking Hillary (although he really doesn't attack until she needled him enough) but will he actually attack an ordinary citizen?

I could see the audience laughing at something he says, and that starts the pebble down the hill to start the avalanche. Hillary gets a couple of digs in, then another woman in the audience challenges him about something and he goes completely batshit.

Because I swear to god his performance Saturday night in Pennsylvania sure as hell looked like a man on SOMETHING. He was totally unhinged. I suspect the reason the videos haven't gotten more exposure is because (a) it was a Saturday night, and (b) everyone is salivating at the tax revelations.

Unknown said...

Howard Dean suggested cocaine, a commenter at Brad Delong thought drugs a likely explanation, and my niece the nurse found it entirely reasonable. I wouldn't exclude it, but people can do crazy things all by themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hopped up on the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and Megyn Kelly crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid, though prescribed by a paradigm of wisdom: a "medical doctor", is as "hopped up on drugs" as cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana. Adderall is a commonly prescribed cocaine-like stimulant regular users and abusers often crush up and sniff much as as illegal user would sniff cocaine. But because it was prescribed by a paradigm of wisdom and not an "illegal" the user smugly maintains "don't use drugs."

'Meirca has a drug problem, and it ain't weed.

Ten Bears

Unknown said...

Just when you think Trump couldn't get any lower, he digs a little deeper. As far as him not paying taxes, wasn't he complaining mightily about the poors not contributing.