What We Knew, What We Know, and Why It Matters

A screenshot of today's New York Times front page, with the words

Does the New York Times’ extensive and highly-researched dive into Donald Trump’s taxes tell us anything we didn’t know before? As a practical matter, yes: Donald Trump actively avoided releasing his taxes for years, and now we have the actual facts and figures out in the open — or, at least, the actual facts and figures that Trump’s legions of accountants and tax lawyers decided they could not avoid offering up to the Internal Revenue Service without substantial and likely public repercussion. We also have the little tidbits, like the already-infamous $750 sum for income taxes that Trump paid with his most recent available filing, which is less than most people who do pay taxes shelled out, and which is still more than what he paid most years, which was zero. We now actually know things we didn’t, which Trump would have been happy for us not to know, forever, if possible.

As an existential matter, no: This doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. No one but the most credulous and gormless among us wasn’t aware of the Trump Presidency origin story: An overextended and overleveraged Trump, who is not so much a successful businessman as a someone who cosplayed as a successful businessman on TV, decided to “run for president” in order generate publicity to raise his personal commercial value. This publicity, however, would have been worthless if his taxes were released and he was revealed to be a threadbare huckster on the verge of dissolution who paid less on his taxes than a fry cook, and who is up to his neck in debt owned by foreign interests.

So he stalled on those until, thanks to a perfect storm of internal and external political factors, he experienced the actual worst case scenario for him, and for everybody else: He won and had to become president. Since then he’s been doing the only thing he knows how to do, which is to keep running his grift from the Oval Office, because the moment he stops, it all falls down.

All of this was known by anyone with the sense to know, and the willingness to know it. The tax numbers fill in details here and there, but the outline of the Origin Story of the Trump Presidency, which is both tragedy and farce, was already there.

Likewise, now we know for sure why it is Trump is running for re-election. It’s not that he wants the job or has a legislative or political agenda, or has any interest for or in the country he leads or the people in it. It’s because as long as he is president, all his personal financial misfortunes are shoved down the road. It may be technically possible to bankrupt a man with access to nuclear codes, but as a practical matter, it’s difficult. That doesn’t mean he’s not still in thrall, and susceptible to, the people to whom he owes money, or the political players behind those people. As they say, follow the money, and you’ll see an entire nation’s foreign policy hinging on who will cut Trump the best deal on his debt.

Equally clearly, Trump’s avoidance of personal consequence for his own financial acts is strong enough that he’s perfectly willing to undermine the validity of the election in order to stay where he is. If you were to ask him which he prefers, a functional American democracy or rolling out the crushing weight of his own debt load for another four years, you know which of these he’d choose. Someone should ask him, because after the five or so minutes of meandering word salad that passes for thought in the man’s head, he would actually say it out loud, and probably not understand why what he said was so wrong.

But let’s be clear that Trump couldn’t have gotten where he is alone. I’m not talking about the Russians or the other foreign interests who meddled with the 2016 election, although they did, and, again, everyone knows it. No, Trump needed people on the inside, and got that with the GOP. Trump neither wanted nor deserved a first term. But he got one, thanks to the GOP intellectually and politically neutering itself to the point where its base of voters gleefully swamped the “best minds” of the party to embrace a flashy con man, who happily peddled the white supremacy and bigotry they craved after eight years of having to tolerate a black man in the White House. Trump then had the good fortune of having as his political opponent someone who was both a woman (hey, did you know the GOP is also structurally sexist?), and also someone the GOP had already spent two decades vilifying on a regular and profitable basis (and yet she still got more actual voters to vote for her than Trump did, which is an important point, and which still galls Trump).

Trump doesn’t deserve a second term, either, and at this point probably can’t get one fairly. But he might get one anyway, because the GOP has definitively decided to say the quiet part loud, after years of pretending that it wasn’t saying it loudly: That a white supremacist autocracy is better than a democracy where the GOP is out of power, probably forever. That Trump is the instrument of this works perfectly well for the GOP; since Reagan the party has shown a preference for dimwitted, incurious men to install in the top office while apparatchiks do the heavy lifting away from the spotlight. Trump is certainly dimwitted and incurious. He’s also dangerous, because he owes so much money to entities that do not have the interests of the United States at heart, but the GOP has decided that as long as they can finally dismantle the social net, keep women from having control of their own bodies, and shove minorities, immigrants and the gays back into their respective holes, meh, whatever, that’s fine.

So this is the bargain between Trump and the GOP for the second term. He gets to kick his money troubles down the road, they get to perfect their white, christianist, oligarchic autocracy. We already knew why the GOP does what it does — because it’s currently a white supremacist organization whose entire political modus operandi is to deny that any other party should have control of the levers of power, whether they earned them at the ballot box or not — and now, thanks to the tax returns, we have confirmation of what we already knew about Trump: Grifter, con man, fraud, and broke… and terrified of having all of that revealed beyond the power of denial.

And thus we are at a place where we know what we knew before — only now we know it factually, and have the actual numbers. Already on the right are assertions of “it’s fake news and even if it’s not so what,” and on the left I’ve seen “it’s not going to change anyone’s mind, so what’s the point.” The former doesn’t surprise me, because the people who are in the tank for Trump aren’t there because they’re interested in facts, they’re there for the white supremacy and owning the libs; the latter doesn’t surprise me because there’s always an element on the left who would prefer to be defeatist pieces of shit because it doesn’t require any effort on their part.

The thing is, it’s not fake news, and the truth always matters, sooner or later. There’s no hiding what Trump is any more, versus what he presents himself to be, and no one can go into this election unaware of what and who they’re voting for, or against. We know what we already knew. Now let’s hope we know better.

— JS

142 Comments on “What We Knew, What We Know, and Why It Matters”

  1. Notes:

    1. Political post, Mallet, stick to the topic, etc. In particular, be polite to each other — this is actually something some of you are in fact not doing much of recently, so I’m going to be paying attention to personal attacks more in this thread — and stick to addressing the issues brought up, not thumping on each other. I mean it.

    2. Also be aware I have prepared BINGO cards for both the right and left, and will call out the comments that I think are more “BINGO card” responses than responses that exhibit, you know, actual thought. If you exhibit more than three BINGO card responses in your post, I’ll probably Mallet. Right-learning folks, be aware “H. Clinton” is the Free Space on your card.

    3. Yes, I know, I said just yesterday I would be doing fewer political posts, probably, and not reading the news as much. But come on. This one was hard to miss.

  2. Dang. That is a fairly succinct summary of the situation. My only question: Will it be enough to topple him- and his complicit, corrupt enablers, the GOP- from power?

  3. I doubt it was a coincidence that NY Times published this a couple days before the first debate, giving Biden’s team just enough time to include points from these data in his preparations but NOT enough time for the right wing spin machines to shift the narrative before the debate.

  4. I think the tax issues will not bother his base — the political commentary I have read seems to forget that he bragged about being a tax cheat in 2016 on the stump (he would say that anyone who can’t get out of paying as much of their taxes as they can is a sucker). But I think the issue that will strike home is the $70,000 on hairstyling. That is the concrete kind of image that will stick in many people’s craw. It is always a horrifying spectacle to see how Trump’s scandals play out. We keep thinking, hoping, something will matter, but so far, nothing has to 40+% of the nation’s voters (let alone to the GOP).

  5. I may have to watch the debate after all just to see if he gets asked about it.

    And Nixon’s whole “I am not a crook” was in relation to his taxes which, surprise!, he turned out to have been a little shady with.

  6. I guess my question now is: If he’s this broke, is this why everyone in his orbit appear to be running their own grifts? because he’s not paying them?

  7. Thanks for this, it’s really clear and well-written. It’s going to be hard to get people who have invested so much in *not* admitting reality about him to themselves (see this article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/undecided-voters-2020-presidential-debates/2020/09/27/0911c650-fd9e-11ea-8d05-9beaaa91c71f_story.html), but I think the hard number of $750 is going to be relatable enough to move at least a few of them.

    Not the true Trump supporters, but the “undecideds” who just can’t seem to look at the truth about him and Biden.

  8. Just to be clear: An employee working in the IRS committed a felony crime of U.S. Code § 7213 by leaking these records.

    A federal agency has engaged in partisan politics right before a major election. That’s a lot scarier to me than a President that isn’t as good a businessman as he claims.

    I want Donald Trump out as much as the next person. But this is not the way to get it done. Everyone should be screaming at the IRS about this breach of public trust.

  9. > the latter doesn’t surprise me because there’s always an element on the left who would prefer to be defeatist pieces of shit because it doesn’t require any effort on their part.

    This really hits home, because I had to bow out of the politics channel of my WoW guild’s Discord because it was dominate by a couple of far left people who are of the “if we don’t get our hard left candidate then we want to see the Democrats fail” variety. An exact quote from them after RBG died was “there goes the last reason to vote for Biden”. Coincidentally (can’t say that with a straight face) they are highly paid white males.

  10. Trump’s non-payment of taxes, as bad as that is, isn’t actually the main issue.

    The main issue is his $300-400 million in outstanding debt which is coming due this year, and which he cannot hope to pay. He doesn’t owe the money to any legitimate bank, because legitimate banks long ago stopped doing business with him, as a recidivist deadbeat.

    The only entities willing to bankroll him are entirely corrupt themselves: DeutschBank, a known money launderer for international criminals and criminal governments, and the Russians, and the Saudis.

    The question then becomes, who holds Trump’s debt, and what is he willing to do to get out from under that debt? What “favors” are his creditors going to demand of him?

    We’ve already seen what he’s willing to do: change US foreign and economic policy to favor the entities he owes money to. Undermine an election in order to stay in office and out of prison.

    He has endangered US internationally and domestically in order to curry favor with his creditors, and stay in office. He will continue to endanger the US in order to curry favor with his creditors, and stay in office.

    His supporters, as you point out, will happily accept any amount of lies and corruption, and destruction of American democracy; so will his enablers in the GOP, media, and the 1%. This won’t move them.

    The only people for whom the revelations might make a difference are the low-information voters who don’t pay much attention to politics. People who tune in maybe a month ahead of the election and make their decision then, and base it mostly on how well or badly their own lives are going.

    They may or may not care about non-payment of taxes. They might, however, care about their own quality of life declining in order to keep a corrupt, bankrupt sociopath in office and out of jail.

  11. A wise man (you) speaking the truth about a criminal a liar and a conman (him). Well said, sir. Well said.

  12. Surely people can see the grift for what it is now. Let’s just hope that my state can become sensible enough to get rid of Mitch as well in the process.

  13. He’s also running to get the justice system loaded as much as possible with justices friendly to his kind of maneuvers as possible before it all comes tumbling down. He and most of the GOP don’t really care at all about the issues of race, immigration, abortion, etc. They just want the system set up as much as possible to benefit them personally, allowing them to get and keep as much money as possible. The banks holding his older loans, which were based on him making money, should immediately file suit for immediate repayment due to fraud in the applications. He’s constantly had this 2 sided narrative: rich, making lots of money, which he presents to the banks for loans, and losing money which he shows the IRS. There’s got to be some questionable scheme he’s used like debt shelving to have both been forgiven his debts in his multiple bankruptcies and claimed them as losses to the IRS.

    When it comes to a trial, he’s displayed plenty of evidence for a defense of incompetent to stand trial, and there’s at least some chance that that is his contingency plan.

  14. Chris, we don’t actually know where the returns came from. The Times said their sources had legal access to the returns, but there are people besides the IRS who can do that. Maybe Trump stiffed the wrong accountant.

  15. My personal opinion – Trump will trade “peaceful transfer of power” for “absolution of crimes” and my expectation is Biden will absolutely cave on that point.

  16. My expectation is once Joe kills him at the polls, Trump will trade “peaceful transfer of power” for “absolution of crimes” and Biden will cave and do it.

  17. “someone who cosplayed as a successful businessman on TV”

    But if there were the equivalent of the 501st for cosplaying successful businessmen, one hopes he’d never have been approved by the costuming standards people.

  18. So, I just finished reading the NYT article (and it’s a long read since they have so much to cover) and ultimately, the summary is the 12th or so paragraph of the article:

    “Ultimately, Mr. Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life.”

    That’s the take away that I would hope that most folks would zero in on from it. Most of the people that I know that still support Trump support him because “he’s a business man and the country should be run like a business” (direct quote from a family member). Now, putting aside that the function of a business is to make a profit and the function of a government is to protect people and those two things do not necessarily intersect, I’d still think that for those who think that a country should be run as a business would have some deep reservations after reading the Times article. Assuming of course, that they don’t completely buy into the whole “fake news” BS. So I’m actually hopeful that it’ll manage to move at least a few people away from Trump.

    You never know – after all, stranger things, like Trump getting elected in the first place, have happened.

  19. Absolution of crimes, he’s already stated that he thinks he can pardon himself. Either way the election goes, I expect soon after the election he’ll be trying that, as well as pardoning many connected people. Probably pardons going out where no one even suspected a connection to him, and investigating those should be revealing.

  20. Chris Shorb:

    The thought has occurred to me, but Trump will still have New York state to worry about, and the potential crimes there are, shall we say, considerable.

  21. CaseyL already said the part that came to mind; the taxes aren’t the big deal, but the loans coming due are. If the right things happen on Nov 3, he’ll have to come up with a new way to stick-handle his way out of debt — hold rallies and charge admission? Promise a tell-all book (ghost-written, of course). Beg for donations?
    And if there are people backing him, will they prop him up some more, or will that support disappear when he’s no longer useful? Talk about living in interesting times. Yikes.

  22. @Aaron Doukas: I do know a number of people like that who aren’t highly paid white males, which has always confused me even more. They seem to be slightly less on the defeatism angle and more on the “SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IS THE ONLY ANSWER” angle. Like, those circles haven’t mentioned the taxes thing at all even though they’re heavily political spaces that care a lot about yelling about US politics, probably because it doesn’t fit the “Biden and Trump are the same” narrative. (I’ve honestly been speculating whether these people might *want* Trump to win in the hopes that things get worse enough that they get the violent revolution they’re hoping for.)

  23. “I said just yesterday I would be doing fewer political posts”

    Actually you explained why you stepped back from political post a few years back. I agreed with your logic/feelings at the time. However it is fun to see the old RSSA (Razor Sharp Scalzi Analysis in action.

    “…he experienced the actual worst case scenario for him, and for everybody else: He won”

    It is right out of Mel Brooks, “the Producers.”

  24. As someone who will be pushing the button for Biden/Harris with gusto, this obviously doesn’t do much to change my vote – if anything, I’ll hit that button with maybe a bit more fervor when I head to the polls. But if it does influence enough undecided voters in the right states, then it will have had the desired effect. Doesn’t even have to be that many – Bush took Florida by 537 votes in 2000, at least according to SCOTUS at the time. What percentage is that of the NYT’s subscriber base?

    Also, regardless of the needle-moving factor, I see the truth being out there as an existential good. Also also, it gives the arguments that Trump is a failed businessman and conman a bit more substance, even though said arguments have been in use for years now.

    Chris Martin: if it is the case that an unidentified IRS employee leaked this to the press, it seems to me to be more in the spirit of a good old-fashioned whistleblowing. There is a balance to be struck between the adherence to the letter of the law and the duty to the greater good of the republic.

  25. An earlier comment of mine said the IRS was to blame for this leak.

    I was wrong to say that.

    I didn’t notice the NYT statement that an employee with legal access to the files leaked the files. Please disregard my attack on the federal employees of the IRS. That is not a proven fact at this point.

  26. I keep thinking of a phrase that comes up twice on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album, “debts no honest man can pay”. He was referring to people at the lower economic levels, but under the current circumstances I think Springsteen’s line is ripe for re-purposing, maybe even by Springsteen himself.

  27. Chris Martin, there are at least dozens and likely hundreds of people outside the IRS that had legal access to those records. Starting with most of the staff of Mazars, numerous people within the Trump organization, some members of his family, and assorted current and former hangers-on. This isn’t about partisan politics anymore — those hundreds of millions of unpayable debts he has coming due in the next few years make him a critical national security threat.

  28. Actually it’s kind of worrying what’s going to happen after the election any way it goes.
    Trump wins, you get mass protests on an unprecedented level.
    Biden wins, you also get mass protests, but by a different group, the white supremacist, gun toting group that he’s been feeding the line about the deep state fixing the election to for a while.
    Even during the election, some states are trying to lower restrictions on things like partisan poll watching, and you’ve got trump’s son posting to recruit trumps army to watch the polls and mailboxes etc to keep the left from stealing the election. He stops short of, but still is leading people to by implication, suggesting that followers should stop people on the other side from voting.
    There have already been heavily “volunteers” stopping people based on race in some of the fire areas, saying they don’t belong there, with police doing nothing about it. This is sure to happen on election day.

  29. Mr. Healy, yeah, but…had Trump released his tax returns four (or three or two…) years ago, as he promised, and as ever other Presidential candidate has done for decades, there wouldn’t be any question of timing, so don’t come looking here for sympathy.

    Anyone who has lived in New York for decades knows he is just a grifter.

  30. “It may be technically possible to bankrupt a man with access to nuclear codes, but as a practical matter, it’s difficult.”

    Feels like the opening line to a Fuzzy Nation sequel.

  31. The thing about Trump supporters thrives from their deep hatred of liberals. They dont care what he does as long as liberals are against it. Right winged media has crammed this hatred into them for decades.

  32. “there’s always an element on the left who would prefer to be defeatist pieces of shit”

    The polite version is “being led to glorious defeat.”

    I am not surprised that Trump has generated a financial Ellsberg. Indeed, I have been watching and waiting for the various bombshells and booby traps to come out as we enter the crux period of the election. A woman whose abortion Trump paid for, and who kept the receipts. The out takes from The Apprentice that have Trump making racist and mysogynist witticisms and expressing his true feelings about southern rednecks and Bible-thumpers. Such things are available, I’m sure, to people who can write six-figure cashier’s checks, and if Bloomberg is willing to spend a hundred million on Florida ads, he ought to be willing to reward some key grip who wants to retire to Maui.

    So grab the popcorn and settle back. It’s going to be fun.

  33. Chris Shorb and John: My supposition of that particular pardon quid pro quo is that Andrew Cuomo would be blackmailed…er, convinced…to pardon Trump for NY statue violations as well…a package deal.

    In preference to actual shooting in the streets, I’m afraid I’d have to agree to it. But I might see whether Cheetolini could be induced to give up immunity for Ivanka et al. You KNOW they have their beaks dipped as well.

    And it should be clear that any amnesty ends the second one of those failsons, faildaughters, and/or failsons-in-law so much as LOOK at politics again.

  34. Is there a point where the donor class thinks that he’s more of a liability than an asset and quits funding him? I’m not talking about the base but the rich that as long as they got what they wanted-tax cuts, regulation cuts, etc they were willing to put up with the grifting and the debt. Will they pull their funding, cut their losses and perhaps work on Senate and House races in hopes of keeping those seats now that the tax documents are in black and white? What about Putin and the Russian interference? Putin has to know he wasn’t likely to see that money from Trump and if NY seizes and freezes assets does he just leave him hanging? Esp if polling shows Biden and dems for the Senate in the lead?

  35. John, let’s not forget the role of the press in the creation of the Trump presidency. GOP gonna GOP, but the press totally fell down on its job and just enjoyed, and profited from, the circus. The president of CBS (I think it was) came right out and said that the Trump candidacy was good for business.

  36. @Matthew Hughes & @Aaron Doukas:

    Yes. I ended a friendship recently over this. Someone who kept insisting he would vote Biden but screamed about every conspiracy theory or bad take, insisting that Republicans are Fascists and Democrats are Republicans, etc. I eventually told him I couldn’t take his ridiculousness and attacks on people who were trying to help him and ended it.The last straw was when a random lobbying group predicted that Biden might choose Romney as SoS and he went off on a bender about how evil Democrats are.

    In his defense, he’s not a rich white guy. He’s a white-passing latino with health problems in his 30s who gets by on SSDI, medicaid, and California subsidies that Democrats fought for. So I guess he doesn’t fit the profile.

  37. This is like the burritos you clearly love – lots of good stuff mixed up into one tasty meal.

    Hurrah!

  38. “it’s not going to change anyone’s mind, so what’s the point.”

    There is a flaw in that line of reasoning (which I know JS does not hold but is merely mentioning). The first is that there are true undecided voters. True undecided are VERY rare in my experience, though and not worth all the brainpower that political strategists spend.

    The real shifts that occur from election to election are people who have a real preference, but a low amount of commitment. It’s not so much that there’s millions of people who are changing there minds on parties every four years, but that the people who have a certain preference are more motivated to actually turn out at the polls. Get Out The Vote is the thing.

    In that light, anything that stresses how Biden is better or how Trump is terrible can change the election results without appreciably changing minds.

    Plus, in the longer term, there should be a constant pressure, stressing how Trump and his GOP enablers are terrible. It should never let up, so that the idea of them as corrupt hacks becomes part of the public consciousness. There is never going to be one massive Truth which enlightens the public to how horrible they are. If there was, any number of revelations already would have. It has to be constant erosion. This story is one more grain in the sandstorm that will hopefully wear them down.

  39. The problem is such things won’t matter to the trump voters.
    Him paying for multiple abortions doesn’t matter to the antiabortion christian voter, since trump is the one who will install conservative antiabortion judges to “save the yearly millions of murdered children” and Biden won’t.
    Racist and Misogynist remarks? already had that in 2016, didn’t matter.
    True feelings about rednecks and bible thumpers? Well, as far as they are concerned at least he’s “on their side” the democrats are the socialist enemy of the republic.
    They see him as god’s chosen president, and anything against him is liberal lies anyway.

  40. So I guess telling Biden to look in the mirror when he starts attacking Trump about all his tax records wouldn’t be appropriate? The same Biden and Democrat Party that has bee propped up by both China and Russia? It’s obvious that your bias rather then your actual fact-based opinion is showing. Good luck when Trump wins his second term. Hahaha!

  41. Dems need to do a couple of things if they have any hope of saving this country from implosion.

    Get biden in
    Win control of senate.
    Maintain control of house

    And then
    Term limit scotus to 18 years
    Pass law saying pres candidates have to release last 8 years of taxes.
    Pass law saying scotus nominees have to undergo full background checks.
    Possibly impeach kavanaugh for lying during confirmation.
    And pass whatever election/campaign finance reform laws they can.

    Bare minimum, and theres all the shit they have to undo that trump did in the last 4 years. And they need to take the damn kid gloves off because we’re like one step away from breaking democracy.

  42. The actual numbers were something of a surprise to me, but the level of corruption was not. I lived in New Jersey from 1967 to 1999, and the only way not to know that Trump was corrupt was to make up your mind that all news was fake. He ran casinos into bankruptcy! And in Atlantic City, where the rules were so one-sided in favor of the casinos.

  43. John Scalzi for President! Or at least Governor of Ohio! Yes, we’d have to give up those cool novels he writes. But serving the community interest sometimes demands sacrifice.

    – Mark

  44. When your leader invades privacy law he’s a devil; when my leader breaks the privacy laws he’s an angel, and If he collaborates with, and furthers the reach of, Homeland Security he’s a patriot.

  45. Going out this afternoon so only have time right now for a few sentences, but you can tell that this is going to leave a large mark on Trump’s hide by the fact that the defenses of him have been so sporadic and weak. There is plenty of video of Trump in 2015/16 complaining about how rich people are cheating on their taxes and he’ll force them to pay. You’re going to see a lot of those video clips in the weeks ahead. Running off now!

  46. I appreciate that you’re not pulling any punches in this piece, though I am now also thoroughly depressed and trying to hold onto hope that the voting process will be respected.

  47. One of the articles on Trump’s taxes said he “demurred” on running in 2000 and 2012, which is an overly positive spin on “lost” :-) (It also mentioned other years, during which he may well have decided he didn’t have a chance before running instead of after.)

    The dude couldn’t make money providing gambling to New Yorkers, even while stiffing a lot of his suppliers. I lived in NJ during those years – he sure scammed a lot out of Atlantic City and got lots of favors from NYC, though.

  48. Yeah, nothing we didn’t know already. There are a pretty large number of bots on twitter saying “he’s a property developer, they don’t pay taxes” which is semi-true – it’s rare to pay taxes as a landlord, as you get a depreciation credit on the buildings, but if/when you sell, all that is clawed back as the tax basis on sale is what you paid for it, less all the depreciation credits. So typically they lose money most years, but if they really are a developer (i.e. make profit, an alien concept to Trump) you’ll see a giant tax paying year now and again. In the 20 years the NYT has seen, there isn’t one year where there is a profit, and that is unusual.

    We have rental properties, they’ve never made a profit for tax, but the capital gains tax when we sell is going to be eye-wateringly painful.

    Of course he was broke, of course he’s been running a ponzi scheme.

    There’s no way that someone with that debt exposure would ever get security clearance (see Kushner, J. before Trump forced it through) as he’s so open to corruption and abuse.

    Everyone knows it’s owed to Deutsche Banks’ private bank, which is the money laundering arm of the Russian government/mob (they are interchangeable)

    Also, he’s probably on the hook for $100M or so in fraudulent claims from the early 10’s – it wouldn’t be dragging out this long if it was a valid claim.

    Fat, bombed on Adderall, and stupid is no way to go through life. Unless you pretend to be president.

  49. As Carlton Wood noted above, as Trump’s base really lives for owning the libs, and, I’d add, packing the courts, this likely won’t move their needle — but, I still think the micro stories out of this could change some minds. I would love, love, love to see Biden come out as his opener in tomorrow’s debate, regardless of the question, with something along these lines: “Nice hair, Donny. How much of a write off did you get for that cut?”

  50. Pierce Nichols has it exactly right up-thread: Donald Trump is now the most dangerous national security threat faced by the United States of America. Imagine all the secrets he could sell to the intelligence services of a foreign adversary (or even an ally). Imagine all the undercover operatives/agents he could expose. Imagine all the nuclear secrets he could sell to get out from under his crippling debt.

    Yes, he is the most serious threat this nation faces – win OR lose this election in five weeks.

  51. Marginalized people do not have the luxury of being defeatist p.o.s, (though plenty will give it a try), which is why every time I come across that kind of thinking online, I have absolutely no patience for it.

    I’m thoroughly sick of listening to or being around spineless, weightless, people who have allowed themselves to be so beaten down by trump that they have essentially just given up.

    I understand the reasons for despair, but I refuse to give in to it. I can’t.

  52. The line Biden must use at some point in the debate, after Trump delivers one of his flat-out lies about health care or China paying the tariffs is: (with an amused shake of the head) “There you go again.”

  53. ETA – Trump’s now blathering on about how he’s not highly leveraged. As interest is tax deductible, it makes even less sense that he’s showing tax losses – without the interest deduction, you should be making some profit from real estate. Unless, of course, you’re orange and really really really bad at anything other than shouting nonsense and wearing long ties, ill-fitting suits, and shoes with lifts in them.

  54. Amen, Brother John. It seems like a while since since you wrote one of these castigations; I’m happy to see this one.

  55. I agree that truth, in the long run, matters. Of course anyone who paid even casual attention would have known trump was a complete fraud and grifter, but many did not pay attention, or did not care. This could change some minds, but even if it does not it may well make a few of “the base” more likely to stay home.

    I guess we now have a rough dollar figure on what Putin and the Saudis have on trump; I wonder how it is divided.

  56. And for any who ask after Biden’s taxes: look on his website. At least 8 years worth are posted. He had two very good years from his bestseller—and gave quite a lot of that to charity.

  57. It only matters to those that already want us to be rid of Trump. It will be spun to say that good businessmen don’t pay taxes.

    It might be the beginning of what will be an October surprise for the history books, but even that won’t really matter to those who drank the Kool-Aid.

    Trump is going to keep throwing stuff at the walls because he is desperate. He loses and the Generals will send the troops to remove him and take him directly to jail, do not pass go or collect $200. Probably for tax fraud. That will be his legacy.

  58. 1. The NYT story as fake news? Hardly. A story such as this would have been so vetted and confirmed the paper would have consulted mathematicians to confirm 2+2=4. The inability of Trump to do anything other than sputter and declare “fake news” when he could easily refute any errors or inaccuracies is conclusive and compelling.

    2. If the Ds carry the Presidency (and perhaps the Senate) in a little over a month we should be able to escape our time under Trump with minimal damage. And, since his time as the head of the Rs will result in their banishment to the wilderness with perhaps writing their end as a competitive national party, the result might have almost been worth it. A competent far right R (Cruz? Rand Paul?) could have beat Clinton in 2016 the same way Trump did, and someone competent could have not only pushed policy and policy execution much further right but have built a base of support that would last far into the future.

  59. I just can’t bring myself to hope that he and the party of white supremacists won’t steal the election regardless of this (utterly unsurprising) information. I’d be ecstatic to be surprised. But I don’t expect to be.

    All I can do is to vote (which is done) and to encourage everyone I know to vote (which is ongoing and which will continue through 7:45 pm on November 3). I just don’t expect that to be enough in the face of the naked greed and corruption that is so desperate to hold onto power at any cost.

  60. Geez, I hate to provide any defense, but it is awfully easy to focus on the $750 year, yet I keep hearing reminders of the “alternative minimum tax”. According to the NYTimes story, between 2000 and 2017 he did pay $24.3 million in the alternative minimum tax (which is there just to reduce the effects of continuing tax losses), an average of about $1.3 million a year. (However, he only paid that tax in 7 of those years.) Still way less than a decent, solvent businessman would pay, And it also does not absolve him of all the related fraud.

  61. It’s a good point Bob. The headlines make for snarky tweeting but the fact is he did pay tax. As you said there’s no absolution for other issues. A lot of this problem is the fact that our tax laws are complex and there are loopholes. It will be interesting in the debate what defense Trump provides, and what argument Biden brings. Joe Biden was in Congress for years and the tax laws got more complex, so he’s kind of the ultimate insider.

  62. Chris Martin (& anybody else who thinks Trump’s taxes got leaked by the IRS): Trump in NY Court is now at the point where he needs to show his taxes. That’s why Don Jr. has to turn up for a deposition in early October. My guess is that an employee of the court turned them over, which is legal as long as they’re not under seal & Trump’s attorneys would have to win a motion to keep them under seal which I haven’t seen reported in the press. After all, the IRS has had Trump’s tax returns since they were filed, so if the IRS was going to turn them over, it would’ve happened long before this.
    The Republicans have voted for image over substance ever since Ronald Reagan, actor, won the presidency. (Imagine how frustrating it must be for Bloomberg – to realize that Republicans would prefer Trump, a charlatan who played a billionaire on TV – to him, an actual self-made billionaire, but that’s what they did.) Republicans like the fantasy version. Not the real thing.
    We’ll see how many people like reality come Nov. 3rd.

  63. Scalzi: I wish I shared you confidence about the GOP being out of power “probably forever.” This from someone who worked on Capitol Hill exclusively for Republicans.

    Chris Shorb: I love the idea of Biden promising to pardon Trump in return for peaceful transfer of power. Then not doing it!!! Why not, eh? The GOP pulled that crap all the time (when is it appropriate to vote on a Supreme Court justice nominee again) and enough of them are going to try to block Biden’s agenda anyway that reneging won’t make any practical difference.

  64. I think the theocracy part is a means to an end for the GOP rather than a goal in itself.

    How do you get the children and grandchildren of southern white people who lived through the Depression to back a party that wants to undo the New Deal down to the last detail? Racism and evangelical Christianity.

    The people paying for all those legislators don’t give a damn about abortion; *their* daughters and mistresses will always be able to go to another country for one. What they want is a complete end to anything at all that keeps them from getting richer. No environmental protections, financial regulations, no more OSHA, unions, workers’ rights, taxes. Just more money, and still more, forever and ever, and no one else having any power to stop them. Just like the 1920’s, really. And we know how that ended.

  65. I wish that (1) I had more followers with which to share this and (2) it would change someone’s mind. (“Someone” here refers to my entire extended family, all of whom have bowed before idol that is Trump.)

  66. @Haicho – SCOTUS needs to be 13, there will be 6 right wing hacks after ACB get confirmed.

  67. Of all the scathing indictments of Trump, his administration and his loyal orcs and acolytes, yours is the best and most concise I’ve read in the last few days.

    The atrocious contingent of the right is no longer the contingent but wholly emblematic of their precepts, platform and vision.

    Rockefeller republicans these ain’t.

    Nope, today’s GOP validates nearly every “straw man” argument against their power, from the claim that they are fundamentalist woman-haters bent on codifying misogyny into law to the one about them being racist, xenophobic bigots who insist that whiteness is synonymous with “American” and that English is the national language because their enslaving, colonizing ancestors declared it so.

    Loyalty to the reprehensible is kind of their thing. I remember Doubya’s reign, under which anything and everything Islamic constituted terrorism, spying, torture and indefinite imprisonment (sound familiar, anyone) were A-okay because foreign brown people and opposition to cowboy tactics in Iraq (committed under false pretenses) meant you were a seditious, anti-American terrorist sympathizer.

    Today, opposing concentration camps, eugenics, police-sanctioned lynching and the removal of protesters (even the violent ones have rights) to “dark” locations by unidentifiable forces means you’re un-American.

    Stating that black lives matter and advocating to protect them is considered seditious.

    Advocating for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and social security constitutes communism or socialism (still waiting for a trumpist, any trumpist, to use this term correctly).

    Defending gender equality constitutes the destruction of the “nuclear” (code for heteropatriarchal) family.

    Protecting women’s reproductive rights means signing onto infanticide and defying God and nature (this is especially rich coming from folks taking scalpels to migrant brown women and yanking out their baby making works against their will and without their knowledge).

    Loving someone of the same gender and exercising your right to transition equals child abuse.

    Most importantly, the very un-American attempt to undermine democracy is perfectly alright so long as the “right” people get what they want. Sickening and terrifying.

  68. First, in response to the drumbeat that has sounded here and is beating in all the media — no illegal actions were taken to achieve this information and see the documents. If one reads what the NY Times posted about that at the same it put of the first of these reports, you would know that. This report has been worked on by multiple investigators for years.

    Beyond the tax etc. frauds committed by him, his election frauds have again become news on English tv right now. Not only his financial criminal actions, but his criminal election fraud actions. This is part of the Cambridge Analytica – Russian – Facebook 2016 election fraud and other illegal political activities, including who got paid to do what.

    I knew all this about his taxes, fakery as a successful biz guy, etc., or versions of all this, if not all the details, just like all NYers knew. It was front page tabloid fodder nearly every morning for years as I went to work. Whether I read it myself or not, it was there in the newspapers others were holding up. New York told the country over and over in 2016. What we couldn’t answer is why he was able to avoid prosecution for these crimes. Beyond, of course collusion that is part and parcel of NY politics going back at least to the days of the Dutch colonial era, but in the days of Giuliani it burned like wildfires — about whose phoneyness we also informed the country to no effect. How did the Murkins vote this fraud, rapist and criminal into office?????? The media, of course. Racism, you betcha! Hatred of women, big time! And Russia’s gleeful vengeance. And the Evangelicals ancient mission to wipe all religions from the face of the earth but their own. And, OF COURSE, biggest OF COURSE, the Republican party. They’re ALL versions of him. And let’s not forget — the Dems being complacent and intimidated since at least Reagan and Gingrich.

    But if he loses the election, he and everyone in his family and many others are facing federal and state criminal indictments for multiple crimes of bank fraud, mail fraud, — every kind of fraud there is — tax evasion, etc. — i.e. seriously, just like the racketeers before. Plus, the cases of sexual assault haven’t gone away either.

  69. Is it still defeatist if we’re being realistic that no, it won’t change anything? As you pointed out anyone that still supports Trump (hereafter “Shitgibbon” – thank you Scottish Twitter) isn’t going to be dissuaded by any sort of negative coverage of the man. This coverage is certainly important for the record of facts, but as we’ve already seen the record of facts is at this point manifestly irrelevant to American politics on the right.

    I posit that it’s not defeatist nor cowardly to look at this coverage and say “yeah, confirms what we guessed. Nice to see the hard numbers. Nothing’s going to change as a result of this.” That’s just a statement of the current reality in America. It’s totally fucked up that this is the case, but it’s accurate.

    I don’t consider myself a coward in regards to most things (most, not all). There really is literally nothing for me to do as a result of the release of this information. I can’t shout about it any louder than I already do, I can’t vote any harder than I’m already gonna, and I can’t hate the insanity of American right-wing fascism any harder than I already do.

    If I had more money to give I would. If I were fit for phone banking or canvassing I would (mental illness makes that a no-go for me).

    I do truly appreciate you using your platform to highlight these issues. I have enjoyed (and most likely will continue to enjoy) reading your work here. But on this one point I’m gonna publicly disagree. I truly don’t think there’s any action the vast majority of people can take in response to this coverage that they aren’t already likely engaged in. I don’t see that as cowardice. It’s just the grim reality of where we are right now.

    Please don’t misunderstand this as straw-man. I understand the type of people you’re specifically meaning about the left defeatists. However I think that net ends up being wider than I infer you may have intended.

  70. The quick version is this:

    He filed for extensions and payed the estimated amount, then he filed returns showing he owed (next to) nothing, and got his payment refunded. It’s the textbook definition of tax fraud.

    But he also has over a hundred million in debt, and the deadline to pay it comes up this year.

  71. I hesitated to click on the “see comments” button.

    But then I did, and encountered smart people who had wise things to say.

    Good work, people.

    I don’t think I’ll be able to breathe until after the election is done.

    And after Joe wins, I will offer constructive criticism, especially about this “reaching across the aisle” nonsense, because the only thing he’ll get out of that is a bloody stump where his arm used to be. I’m thinking he knows that, and he’s just saying that to appeal to the centrist extremists. But I will be voting like my life depends on it (it does), and voting a solid blue ticket. And if I weren’t an atheist, I’d be praying.

  72. That’s a fine bit of writing, John. You sometimes get close to as good as Roy Edroso at lefteous indignation. This was good.

  73. “Someone should ask him, because after the five or so minutes of meandering word salad that passes for thought in the man’s head, he would actually say it out loud”

    And that was the key thing I learned from Bob Woodward. I don’t know if Woodward is still half the journalist he was in the Nixon years, but he clearly still knows how to give a crook enough rope to hang himself.

    @Chris Martin:
    “Just to be clear: An employee working in the IRS committed a felony crime of U.S. Code § 7213 by leaking these records.”

    Perhaps. Others have pointed out that that may not be true, but even if it is—sometimes, you have to do what’s right at the cost of what’s legal, to break the law and take the consequences. If an IRS employee did leak the returns, they should be prosecuted. And given your country’s highest civilian honor.

  74. @Lizzielou20:
    Translation: I maybe skimmed the first two sentences of the entry before letting fly with uninspired Trumpist “Ra Ra Ra! Sis boom Baa!!” chock full of more spittle than substance. Perfect ten from the Russian judge.

    One way to be persuasive is to avoid the juvenile tactic of whataboutism.

    Projectile vomiting “damning” evidence of your political opponents’ objectionable activities (citation, please) neither gets Trump off the hook or makes Trump the preferable candidate for anyone with a working brain and the reading and critical thinking skills (insert deity here) gave an amoeba.

    As far as I’m concerned, Biden could sprout horns and a tale and he’d still be better for this nation than Trump, who, incidentally, works in the interests of and owes his first term and a bucket-load of scratch to Russia.

    That said, I’ve the sneaking suspicion that persuasion wasn’t really your goal so…

    @Kit Harding:

    I saw a ton of this when Biden selected Kamala Harris for VP.

    Lots of tooth gnashing and hair-tearing over her record as a prosecutor spewed forth and added an especially ear-splitting quality to the din of “we don’t want a black/Indian woman” “Burnie or burn it down” tantrum throwers who’d already decided to deliver another whippin to the democrats for denying them their pony.

    That most of these whines appeared to issue from privileged corners wasn’t a shock but, oddly enough, the caterwauling and foot-stomps from marginalized folks weren’t either.

    Their rationale went something like “we’re used to living shitty lives, so more of the same is worth it to send a message.”

    As far as I’m concerned, their hands are just as wet and red as are their supposed Trumpist counterparts; wanting a ton of the same things we do but working actively to make sure we never get it does not a political ally make.

    @Steve Ish:

    You’re absolutely right; those automatically sold on insolating the privileged and on cheating and other atrocities as political strategies aren’t likely to be moved.

  75. I feel like Trump is “broke” and avoids taxes in the same way alot of American corporations are “broke” and manage to avoid taxes: he takes advantage of every loophole he can find and ships any of the remaining profits overseas. Of course, that doesn’t make him any less of a lying fraud, and it could very well be that he owes money to all sorts of people that would use that as leverage.

    Also this “an employee working in the IRS committed a felony” line does not hold up very well. There are likely dozens of people who worked on or reviewed these documents outside of the IRS. Some of them maybe used to work for Trump, others may have worked for people Trump tried to borrow money from. Since there’s an ongoing investigation by the State of New York into Trump’s finances, my guess would be someone in the District Attorney’s office is the one who leaked this, even if they weren’t the original source of the documents.

    In any case, the President* is a lying cheating criminal who is terrible at his job and should be voted out of office and made to pay for his fraud and other crimes. But we don’t live in a just world, so I would settle for him just being gone in January.

  76. Spartacus, there are other things you can do other than phone banking or canvassing (I’ve done the former; made my teeth ache). You can drop off campaign literature or write letters to nudge people to vote.

  77. Steve ish said: “The headlines make for snarky tweeting but the fact is he did pay tax.” $750? I pay more than that every paycheck, every 2 weeks, and I ain’t rich. Snark isn’t my reaction to this news; rage and disgust are.

  78. Several seeming side points:

    The tendency of the GOP to nominate incurious doofuses (doofusi?) began long before Reagan. Nixon wasn’t (he was an evil genius worthy of the very best in superhero comics), but his first Veep was (Agnew; gee, there’s that tax angle again, so serious it “forced” removal), and Ford had an on/off switch mostly stuck in off. Eisenhower? Really? Dewey? Coolidge? And coming back the other way, some of the GOP nominees who didn’t make it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania weren’t exactly Wile E. Coyote-class suprageniuses, either.

    Much more disturbingly, the TBase seems more and more like those who celebrated CIA-supported dictators from the 1950s through early 1980s, just because they were our bastards and (said they were) anticommunist. Because both the universe in general and Murphy in particular enjoy the “Careful what you ask for…” game, that gave us the Philippines, Iran,* Venezuala, the horrid mess between Iran and India, and perhaps worst of all Freedonia.** Before considering virtually the entire African continent (for which the CIA gets less disdain because it was mostly a European-agency playground).

    * Courtesy in disturbingly large part to FDR’s nephew, who could on occasion successfully get directions to the men’s room while in Tehran — if someone who heard his request spoke English.

    ** With the horrifying memories of how that sad, sad nation was exploited in the 1980 campaign. Because I’m old and have a really sick sense of humor, that’s why.

  79. (russia hacked dnc server releases emails.)

    Republicans: “whether russia broke the law or not, they didnt reveal anything not true.”

    (MAYBE an IRS employee leaked trumps tax returns. Maybe not.)

    Republicans: GAH! NEVER MIND IF THE DOCS ARE TRUE! THEY WERE ACQUIRED BY ILLEGAL MEANS!!! THATS THE TRUE CRIME HERE!

    What a bunch of punk ass hypocrites.

  80. In a world of Big Brother and Social Media gossips, among the protections where I live in Canada is PIPA, meaning Protection of Individual Privacy Act and FOIP meaning Freedom of Information and Privacy. The latter act applies to any goverment, business or nonprofit that comes under government regulation.

    When I was hired by a for-profit agency I did not merely make a “promise” to my boss to keeps stuff confidential as a fireable offence, rather, I “swore” on the Bible, after being duly identified, as a chargeable offence.

    Socially, sometimes it takes the weight of a legal offence to impress on people a moral offence.
    I have no idea whether such legal “freedom from disclosure” exists in any foreign countries, including (but not limited to) the United States of America.

  81. Right after WW2 ended, there were few who admitted to be members of the National Socialist Workers (aka: ‘NaZi’) Party. It was always that family down the street who’d left town hastily just ahead of American soldiers with lists of name sought for questioning. “Nope, not me, not my brother, none of us. Shocked! Oh so shocked at what those monsters did!”

    One minute past noon on 20JAN21, there will be GOP posting their utter shock at the mess left behind, and few will ever admit to having tried to benefit from Trump’s schemes.

    And speaking of benefitting, wanna bet there will be lots of people with boxes ‘n boxes of hand scribblings and gigabytes ‘n gigabytes of failed-to-be-erased e-mail eager to ‘rat out’, to trade in their peers to avoid jail time? After our fearless orange leader flies off — likely imitating Nixon’s legendary departure — there will be lines ‘n lines of lackeys seeking to make deals with DoJ before Biden’s appointment of a new AG. And then there are the night terrors they’ll have once a replacement FBI director is identified.

    But no matter what hard evidence or eager testimony, there is one bitter truth that was made clear after the 2008 meltdown, and every political scandal in the last two hundred years.

    Prediction: nobody significant goes to jail.

    Worse, the stormtrooper-wannabes have been fondling their guns in unsavory ways for too long to simply accept an election defeat. If lucky, rioting and less than a hundred dead, nationally. If we are unlucky, convoys of trucks rolling in to ‘restore order’ and there will be blood pooling as non-militia folk spontaneously resist; which in turn will trigger a backlash severe enough to be an unpleasant surprise to the militia gun nuts.

    I have mixed feeling about bigots becoming gallows fruit on American streets — a bit of political virginity sadly lost — but I will still savor watching KKKers and neo-Nazis dancing on air. (And berate myself for fantasizing which arsewipes amongst GOP leadership should be up there alongside.)

    Prediction: there are now millions of idle folk who have had so many misery-tainted months are now feeling sympathy for non-whites, having had their first deep taste of systemic unemployment, fear of hunger, visible police brutality of unarmed civilians, loss of medical coverage, worrying about eviction, et al. So there is wide spread and deep interest in society-wide reforms. Thanks to the internet, and more so mobile phone cameras as the unblinking woke conscience of America, it could be just five (or six) years until genuine changes roll outwards.

    But we got to be ready, find another way other than buying up all the bullets or knotting rope.

    So here’s my suggestion… please excuse fractured grammar… these are each cyber-haiku posted upon twitter…

    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 02OCT2020 reeling from disclosure of secret losses ($400M) Trump orders mass arrest of CPAs by DHS goons for unspecified crimes; thousands held “undisclosed offshore location” to be forcibly debriefed; given many are Jewish, seen as start of Nazi-esque ethnic cleansing
    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 03NOV2020 Trump refuses to acknowledge defeat, calls out the military and orders gassing of unarmed protestors; DHS arrests non-GOP congressmen for unspecified crimes, to be held in “undisclosed offshore location”;
    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 04NOV2020 peaceful boycott and economic blockade of Washington launched by truckers, bakers, prostitutes and other unionized labor groups… no brie, no bagels, no decent sex, no toilet paper…
    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 01DEC2020 three weeks of wiping their tender arses with the Washington Post and senators pass Impeach Trump 2.0 Act with 92-0 vote (8 Senators dying from CV19+hemorrhoid co-morbidity)
    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 02DEC2020 it has been confirmed by the US Marshals Service that Donald J Trump is scheduled to be tossed head first into an open sewer on 20JAN21 at one minute past noon by an eager team of marshals…
    fun fact: all 94 marshals, 3,953 deputy marshals volunteered even those on maternity leave
    =+=+=+=
    FUTURENEWS: 20JAN2021 Joe Biden sworn in, crowds estimated at exceeding 2.1 million; FOXNEWS fails in effort to term statistic fake news; cheering audible all the way to golf course where Trump went to plot his futile attempt at a comeback;
    =+=+=+=

  82. @FL Transplant “Minimal damage” if one doesn’t count the Supreme Court, that is.

    And we aren’t subjected to a massive outbreak of right-wing violence post-election.

    @adonisus But he also has over a hundred million in debt

    Correction, over four hundred and twenty million in debt coming due.

    Also, as regards to changing no one’s mind, I think that’s true when it comes to his hardcode constituency. I think the point is to A) drive it home to the somewhat moderate people who voted for him last time because they just couldn’t stand Hilary, and B) to just raise the level of urgency in everyone to GET OUT AND VOTE!

  83. Don’t be dissing Eisenhower. Not only did he manage the hellacious egos involved in WWI, and the largest and most complex amphibious invasion in the history of the world, he then had the foresight to lay down a serious warning (sadly almost entirely ignored) about the perils of the military-industrial complex. That guy /earned/ his place in history.

  84. In 2016, 63 million people voted for Trump. Maybe he’s too tainted for that to happen again, but there’s the one who comes after him, and the one after that. Democrats need to figure out why so many people, when offered the choice between crap and cake, chose crap.

  85. @Howard:

    “I have mixed feeling about bigots becoming gallows fruit on American streets — a bit of political virginity sadly lost — but I will still savor watching KKKers and neo-Nazis dancing on air. (And berate myself for fantasizing which arsewipes amongst GOP leadership should be up there alongside.)”

    What a sweet, beautiful image.

    I’m sorry, but I’m all out of basic human empathy for ignorant monsters who have and continue to work actively to marginalize and murder people who look like me and people I care about.

    It will be very interesting to see the “BLM protesters and sympathizers are a bunch of Marxist anarchists” hold fast to the white supremacist groupthink when or if the streets run with the blood of those on the tip of their spear.

    The images evoked in the first two haiku are not unlike my own nightmares.

    More importantly, given the practice of eugenics, concentration camps for Hispanic asylum seekers, the brutalization and “arrest” of protesters by hired mercenaries, genocide in the form of premature reopening/ a bungled federal response, trump’s “suggestion” that supporters employ “second amendment solutions “to political disagreements and Trump’s prescription of “rot” for cities peopled by his political opponents, we’re well on our way to just that kind of society unless justice digs its way out of the right’s underground prison.

  86. I confess I tend towards the “element on the left who would prefer to be defeatist pieces of shit because it doesn’t require any effort on their part”. Oddly, hearing you call me out for it is—hmm, not quite inspiring because I’m already too defeated to have any belief in a good outcome—but comforting, in a way. I’m glad you still believe in principles like truth and facts mattering and being able to change things. I feel better about the world, not for having truth and facts revealed, but for having people in it who believe that revealing truth and facts are important, and who are not yet crushed by repeated evidence to the contrary.

  87. Ultimately, this is nothing but a yawner. Those who despise him, starting with the host and working down through the 100+ commenters have yet another “story” to cement/validate their perpetual loathing of the President, while those who do not, with the exception of the person writing this comment, realize it’s yet another hit piece from a biased organization who believes that 43+ million people were wrong and need guidance to be brought back into the fold.

    Ultimately, those who believe they are better off now than four years ago and more importantly, are tired of the hit pieces/hysterical rhetoric/lawlessness that no one here seems to have a problem, are going to vote for him.

    Like me.

  88. Also,
    @G. B. Miller:

    Your Trumpist cheerleading is as yawn-worthy and ironic as it is telling.

    I’ll let you puzzle out how and why.

    Here’s a hint, you and demographics you regard as human are “better off” as your dear leader shits on the rule of law and millions of people from groups to which you and yours likely do not belong are being mutilated and murdered at the behest of your president and his…whisperers.

    It’s always interesting when Trumpists “remove all doubt” (Twain), especially when their commentary functions as cast-iron proof of every criticism that has ever been leveled against them by sociopolitical opponents.

    And if you believe that the lawlessness (those female concentration camp prisoners needed hysterectomies, amirite?),historical rhetoric (Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization, democrats are going to turn America into Venezuela and feminists are disincentivizing manhood and destroying the nuclear family) and hit pieces (let’s not pretend Faux news and Breitbart are shining examples of objectivity and journalistic integrity) you’re even more reality-averse than I thought.

  89. Damn it! That last sentence is missing a piece. It should read:
    “And if you believe that the lawlessness (those female concentration camp prisoners needed hysterectomies, anyhow),historical rhetoric (Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization, democrats are going to turn America into Venezuela and feminists are disincentivizing manhood and destroying the nuclear family) and hit pieces (let’s not pretend Faux news and Breitbart are shining examples of journalistic integrity) aren’t major concerns for democrats you’re even more reality-averse than I thought.”
    Reads a lot clearer as a complete thought.

    Friends don’t let friends write disgusted.

  90. And not only should everyone make sure they’re registered to vote, we should make it easier for other people to register and make it easier for other people to vote. Voter registration deadlines are coming very soon (next week in some states)– for people who want to do SOMETHING, is your local democratic hq organizing voter registration (ours is doing block walk door drops)? Are they doing phone banking (my sister says phone banking is much nicer this year than prior years– people want to talk)? Can you do postcards to voters or vote forward? (The vote forward drop date is coming soon.) Are local places organizing pizza to voters or driving people to the polls? Does your precinct have enough poll workers?

    This year it’s not enough to just vote if you’re able to do more (not trying to guilt trip anyone, just… if you can do something, please do). A second term will bring full fascism. (He’s already talking eugenics!)

  91. You’re not a defeatist POS if you acknowledge reality, which is that this story isn’t going to move the needle much in terms of electoral votes. If you’re a Democrat, Trump’s crimes are abhorrent, and if you’re a Republican, they’re glorious, and that’s about it. The only real way he’s going to lose votes as a direct effect of these revelations is if it turns out he took his illegally obtained tax refund and donated it to HIAS or the National Immigration Law Center, because _that_ is something his base wouldn’t tolerate.

    Now, does that mean I think it doesn’t matter? No, of course it matters. Maybe Biden can use it to trigger a meltdown during the debate, during which Trump says something that _does_ cost him the election. Or maybe, as they hinted, the NYT has something even bigger up their sleeve that they’ll drop at the right moment. But I wouldn’t look for this to change the game by itself.

  92. No one is going to actually _change_ their minds over this, because, as you so eloquently put it, we already knew all of this stuff. What it _should_ do is get all those idle bastards, those lazy “my vote doesn’t make a difference” and intellectually dishonest “they’re all corrupt” morons off of their couches and into voting booths. Will it? Only time will tell.

  93. no illegal actions were taken to achieve this information and see the documents. If one reads what the NY Times posted about that at the same it put of the first of these reports, you would know that

    I think we want to be careful about asserting that completely. The Times says that “All of the information The Times obtained was provided by sources with legal access to it.”

    That the sources had legal access to the returns is not quite the same thing as having the legal right to turn the returns over to the Times. Persnickety? Perhaps, but my radar pings when something is worded that carefully.

    None of this changes the fact that Trump appears to be a lying cheat.

  94. [Deleted because as I noted above, I’m paying extra special attention this time around to when people are attacking other people in the thread, and, hey, guess what — JS]

  95. Trump was the Hail Mary pass the republican party desperately threw and it worked for a while. But now the chickens have come home, you can hear the dying gasp of the gop. Republicans everywhere should be whispering in fear, “winter is coming.” November is the death knell of the gop, January 20th will be the last time the country will ever have to deal with the.
    Oh yeah, and can we say it? If you’re a republican, you are a racist.

  96. Spot on, Mr. Scalzi. And you are correct, nothing new or surprising for anyone paying attention or caring for anyone other than themselves or their own agenda.

    Several, including @DevitaDavison, said it most succinctly: “Trump is nothing more than a broke father of five kids by three different women, living in public housing.“

    I tried to find a single, suitable Mencken quote. But they are myriad. Here’s one:

    “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” H. L. Mencken

  97. “He and most of the GOP don’t really care at all about the issues of race, immigration, abortion, etc. ”
    I’ve heard that argument before and I disagree. Certainly the big money cares much more about eliminating taxes and regulation but an awful lot of Republican officials are true believers on race and abortion. And Trump himself is thorough-going racist; it’s one of the few issues he has a consistent history on.
    While I agree with our host that this won’t shift the needle much, it’s worth doing if only to hurt our narcissistic president’s fragile ego. The emperor has no clothes and now he knows we know.

  98. I used to have a cup with a picture of a disgusted man in hip waders: When you are up to your hips in alligators, it’s hard to remember you started out to drain the swamp.

    A man who owned a chain of six restaurants, all in the red and failing, refused to panic. Instead he made one his flagship restaurant to keep experimenting until he had something profitable going.

    If my peers say I should virtuously panic and think only of the next few weeks and Trump, I say, “No.” Rather, I may cast my mind back in time to ask, “Why were we surprised when the polls were wrong and Hillary did not get in?” and cast my mind into the future. And in the spirit of Hyman Rosen, upthread, wonder what can we do about the next president, and the next? Beyond voting, I mean.

    Two slogans, one from Vietnam: Information is power and don’t fight a ‘war without windows.’ I think a good way to gain information about (nonparty member) republicans is to converse: Seeking to understand, in honest peace, without an arrogant agenda to instantly convert. This means controlling my ego for being right, controlling my fight or flight instinct. I know I can do so, I have in the past.

  99. I like this essay – it is well within my personal bubble – but the dismissal of “defeatist pieces of shit” bothers me. Learned helplessness is a thing, quite common among survivors of abuse, especially of abuse during childhood, and is not laziness. I don’t know how common this is in the general population, but I do know whereof I speak. It is very difficult to regain a sense of agency even after the abuse is long over.

  100. A lot of people are saying that this doesn’t change anything. I don’t think that is completely true but I would agree that it probably won’t change many people’s minds. However, it definitely doesn’t HELP Trump and that’s key. He’s the one who is behind (badly) right now. He needs things to get closer by at least 2-3 points to have a chance of squeaking by in the electoral college and every day that passes where things don’t change is one less day to make that happen. And the NYT has promised more stories on the subject so this will likely continue to dominate the news for some time depriving Trump of even more time to try and change the trajectory of the race. In short, stasis is not bad news at this point!

  101. “This is so boring, I’m going to barge in here and tell you all at length how very, very bored I am” is pretty much the center square on Energy Creature Bingo, isn’t it?

    @DAVID, I’m sure that wording was chosen very specifically, and the biggest reason is likely to protect their source by withholding data that might help identify who the source is (or sources are, for that matter).

    One step removed from that, pointing to a law and saying ‘that’s a crime’ may not be accurate – for example, if the law has exceptions, or if there is a competing whistleblower statute. Did the leaker commit a crime? Maybe, but we can’t determine that from the absence of detail.

  102. ’m sure that wording was chosen very specifically, and the biggest reason is likely to protect their source by withholding data that might help identify who the source is

    Or to avoid legal liability.

    Did the leaker commit a crime? Maybe, but we can’t determine that from the absence of detail.

    The comment I responded to was categorically saying that the leaker didn’t commit a crime, which, as you said, we can’t determine.

  103. @rochrist:

    As a professional military historian for one tour, I will diss Eisenhower all the way to the moon (and, BTW, his response to the Sputnik launch is a great example). He was a decent manager of people, but his greatest skill was taking credit for the work of subordinates who were more interested in getting the job done than in who got the credit for it. I’ll grant that often (certainly not always, consider the mismanagement at the tail end of the Korean overt hostilities, the coup in Iran…) the job did get done — a huge improvement over Coolidge and Hoover — but I’ll stand by “incurious” with a dessert helping of “not the brightest crayon in the box.” A good President actually needs all three of curiosity, brains, and people management. Needless to say, we haven’t had an awful lot of them… and two of them had horrific conflicts of interest and/or “difficulties” with corruption.

    @DAVID

    The wording in the NYT piece is compelled by the contortions of New York’s version of a “reporter shield law”: If the paper asserts that the entire process was legal, it may be obligated to defend that entire process… and its insurers won’t cover that; the insurers will only cover (and tender a defense) to things that happen “inside” the paper. If you were to look back at anonymous whistleblower works on all kinds of subjects in all kinds of media outlets in New York for about thirty years, you’d see remarkably similar wording.

  104. Or to avoid legal liability

    Well, lawyers try to be very careful about phrasing as a rule, but I’m not sure what the NYT could be liable for here. Most likely they’re keeping close-mouthed about the nature of how they got these documents because the more information they disclose about the circumstances under which the documents were obtained, the more it narrows the universe of people who could be responsible for the leak. They really did have to confirm that the documents weren’t obtained through burglary or an illegal hack to avoid an uproar, but beyond that?

  105. As a professional military historian for one tour, I will diss Eisenhower all the way to the moon

    Professional presidential historians disagree with you. They have Eisenhower as the fifth best of all time.

    https://www.c-span.org/presidentsurvey2017/?page=overall

    The wording in the NYT piece is compelled by the contortions of New York’s version of a “reporter shield law”

    Right — as I said, to avoid legal liability.

    but I’m not sure what the NYT could be liable for here.

    If they encouraged the leaker to do something illegal, they can be held liable for it.

  106. A reporter just contacted me to ask if Trump’s debt could be problematic for the US. How is that even in question?! And how is it a question someone needs a PhD to answer?

  107. If Trump wasn’t such a crook, Bloomberg could offer to pay his debt to the IRS and the Russia mob off, out of pocket change, in return for him resigning.

    Doesn’t solve the problem of him and his spawn spending time in jail, though. Bank fraud and property tax fraud are going to be pretty much slam dunks, that’s why he fought so hard to keep the tax returns secret – the numbers on the real returns won’t match the ones on the fake returns he showed his lenders.

  108. I think it is pretty simple in a scifi way: WHATS NEXT? Say he wins what does that mean for most of us white red etc. etc.

    When the right wins the game is not over and not counting on discord the economy would really tank. Oligarths and enforcers would likely become more prevelent.

    How do you think if the GOP ran everything that things would go and end up??? Nothiing seems to matter outside their cacoon.

    It seems a bleak picture eventually even for them.

    Just sayin.

  109. @Jaws I will bow to your professional acumen. That was really just a reaction to seeing him lumped in together with Dubya and Ford. I defy your imagination to picture Dubya in command during the Normandy invasion.

  110. If the last four years has taught me anything it’s that I just don’t understand people.

    My initial response to this entertaining and well written piece was the defeatist “Glad to finally know the facts but I doubt it will change many voters minds.” I think though, that this is really more of a reflection of my initial assertion.

    A partial list of people who support dRumph that I don’t understand…

    The repugnanticans: Nope, I just don’t see how they can justify supporting him and all his bullshit.

    Any minority or women: Whether they are a voter, a politician, a rich business person, whatever. How can you possibly support his agenda? He’s such a racist, sexist jackass that to me it feels like you’re punching yourself in the face.

    People who call themselves Christians: He is demonstrably not a Christian and his behavior goes against the tenets of every major religion.

    Undecided voters: What do they… Who *are* these people??? How can they not be sure one way or the other? In an odd way this has been one of the least stressful election cycles I can remember. Never has it been so clear as to which way people should vote. I know everything he says will be a lie or at least lie-ish. Biden wasn’t my first choice as I tend to be a more of a democratic socialist and he’s a bit too centrist for my liking. But it’s like making a choice between buying a car whose color wasn’t your first choice and a diseased horse with a lit stick of dynamite tucked under the saddle.

    “Democrats” who won’t vote for Biden because their candidate didn’t get the nomination – You’re just a bunch of whiney crybabies who obviously don’t want to work on the problems if you can’t have it exactly your way.

    3rd Party voters – I believe it’s everyone’s right to run for office. I can even see a valid place for 3rd party candidates in a primary. However, if your candidate is polling in the single digits then voting for them is just throwing your vote away in which case, why don’t you just not vote? At best you’re just going to piss people off if it’s a close election. At worst, your candidate pulls voters away from one of the major candidates throwing off close elections.

    The dRumph base: I kind of feel like I do understand this poor/white/racist/sexist/anti-vax/anti-LGBTQ+/ignorant crowd. (Which makes me want to take a shower.) Basically these people have felt ignored by politicians and vilified by the mainstream media for years. They finally have public support in the government and the mainstream-ish Faux News. Thereby allowing them to feel raised up and their views vindicated when they see all the other assholes with similar beliefs letting their confederate flags fly.

    I could go on but I’ve depressed myself enough for one post.

  111. Fascists openly flaunting their fascist support of trump.

    They have no empathy and therefore no shame.

    Wonder if the dems have figured that out yet. Wonder if the independents have gotten a clue yet. We shall soon see.

  112. When I spent time busking in Ireland in 1990, I had to pay (almost no) taxes there, and I had to report quarterly to the Garda to show that I had sufficient funds to remain another three months. The tax forms, the longest form, was shorter than our 1040A (or was it EZ?) at the time. It was quite frankly culture shocking just how…short…the form was.

    Every time I do my taxes, every time I hear about American taxes, I wonder what exactly the forms are that other people file around the world. I bet that ours are the most jerktastic of all.

  113. fair warning… I am gonna plagiarize the following nifty snippets…

    Candice:
    Republicans everywhere should be whispering in fear, “winter is coming.”

    @DevitaDavison:
    “Trump is nothing more than a broke father of five kids by three different women, living in public housing.“

    I’ve waited as close to my estimation of this page going into lockdown, to gain a better sense of reactions… everyone is worried, some are afraid and *nobody* is complacently expecting the next sixty days to be boring…

    “…what hurts their wallets changes their politics…”

    please do as we are here in NYC, puzzling out how to *legally* pressure our fearless orange leader to leave peacefully… thus far the only thing most of us can agree upon is boycott and embargo but stopping just short of blockade… another sticking point is what radius… after looking at the map, it has to be sixty miles, that being the maximum commuting distance feasible for government workers and elected officials and private sector lobbyists… how convincing businesses in midst of a staggering recession to comply will be the next topic to untangle…

    I’ll see you all on the other side when the dust settles (prayer not promise)

  114. 1. If Trump manages to cripple the democratic process and remain in power, the chances of him becoming the last president are more than zero. This is especially true if we have to contend with a republican congress and a right leaning SCOTUS.

    2. You can’t really “convert” or reach out to chronically bigoted social Darwinists who believe themselves to be biologically and culturally superior to all others. This isn’t just about respecting disagreement; it’s about stomping out what is objectively terrible. My goal is to vote their candidates out of power and keep the Kyle Rittenhouses and Derek Chauvins among them from killing me and people I care about. Let those insolated by oceans/borders (waves high from ground zero), wealth, faith, culture and skin color proceed to the other side with understanding and a willingness to listen. Let those who aren’t regularly targeted for slaughter suppress their “fight or flight instincts” and try to reason with terrible people. Meanwhile, I’ll be loading up on weapons and supplies for when they take to the streets and it isn’t safe for certain folks to either leave or remain in their homes. Asking me to tolerate intolerance is like asking me to tolerate the feel of battery acid while trying to reason with and understand the assholes who threw it. No thanks.

    3. White supremacy, classism, religious intolerance, faux faith and other reprehensible traits know no demographic; see ***Daniel Cameron, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, Marco Rubio, Stacey Dash, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin or any “passing” right-leaning person of color who denigrates their ethnicity and nationality to other white supremacists. And how many of the “let ICE, their doctors and covid cleanse the nation of undesirable populations” brigade are God fearing Christians? These are likely the same Christians who applauded torture under Doubya.

    4. Tantrum throwing “democrats” are like spoiled, seriously disturbed children who’ll burn the house down because mommy and daddy won’t buy them a unicorn. That the damn things may not exist is of no consequence; up goes the house and everyone in it. The same applies to the “no one likes or understands me” protest voter who writes in a cartoon character or votes for an obscure loser of a candidate. I think privilege unites this ilk, especially in 2020.

  115. “and owning the libs;”

    Only one small correction ; Owning the libs has morphed into killing the libs. Witness Kyle Rittenhouse and demands for his release or the other day when someone drove his SUV into a crowd of protestors.

    When you’ve marked half the country as the enemy of America, bent on its destruction for no reason other than the sheer joy of the destroying, killing is only a short step away.

    Some on the left could stand to reflect on that as well.

  116. @rochrist:

    I (professionally) lived through a certain little mid-1980s leadership-and-policy crisis that ended up in televised Congressional hearings; some others… didn’t. I don’t have to “imagine” the consequences of, umm, less than satisfactory senior leadership. It’s sort of like one of the best lines in A Study in Pink:
    SHERLOCK: If you were dying, if you’d been murdered, in your very last few seconds, what would you say?
    WATSON: “Please, God, let me live.”
    SHERLOCK: Oh, use your imagination!
    WATSON: I don’t have to.

  117. I think that nearly all of the marginalized groups on the left have had more than enough time to reflect on that.

    In general, I think that some kind of armed conflict is inevitable, given the policies, practices and rhetoric coming out of the other side.

    We aren’t dealing with people who can be reasoned with.

    We aren’t dealing with people who are willing to argue in good faith.

    We’re dealing with people who applaud the president’s genocidal, xenophobic, authoritarian and anti-democratic behavior because they are “better off” (Miller).

    The time for talk is drawing to a close, because it’s no longer about simple disagreement.

    I don’t think the right wing “extremists” are on the fringe. Their cheerleaders certainly aren’t.

    Remember how Kyle got to the murder scene in the first place.

    That argument might (the operative word here is might) have been valid in 2016, but it falls dead on its face in 2020.

    If Biden wins, the Kyle Rittenhouses and El Paso shooters are going to take to the streets in the millions.

    If Trump wins, we probably won’t see “hunting” parties in democratic cities that night, but trumpists’ activities will likely be codified into law, and no one will be held accountable for those crimes.

    Trump has just now informed the American people that, should Biden be elected, he will be overthrown by white supremacist organizations and other groups.

    Given their stances, voting records and the banners they hoist, I feel more than comfortable charging Trumpists with anti-Americanism and the wanton destruction of American society.

    I don’t care why Trumpists are Trumpists; it’s enough that they are trumpists.

    I don’t believe they’re as worried about the country as a whole as they are about their own skins.

    Ultimately, Antifa and The Not Fucking Around Coalition don’t speak for me or my chosen political party like the Klan and other white supremacists do for the GOP.

    If the left is moved to violence, it’s likely to be more a case of self-defense than fueled by the desire for wholesale annihilation of political opponents and undesirable populations.

    I’m honest enough to acknowledge the violence that will come from leftist fringe groups, but I’m not so naïve as to suggest that the other side isn’t a bigger threat to American society.

    Me, I’ll be over here reflecting on how to survive what’s coming.

  118. Also, the president has just admitted to deploying “poll watchers” and has publicly advised The Proud Boys and other white supremacist allies to “stand back and standby.”

    The half of the country who intends to cast votes for this man aren’t just “disagreeing” with the left but working actively to destroy the best aspects of American society.

    We’ll se who wins.

  119. * * *
    John Scalzi: given this atypical night, please allow me to post a third time and just express how upsetting this has been…
    * * *
    When you’ve marked half — more than half — the populace as the enemy of the One True Faith then when the righteous are hellbent on their destruction for no reason other than the sheer joy of destroying, hearing glass smash, mass slaughter was only a short step away. What came to be glossed over as ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the now-lost twentieth century, a bland-sounding updated term for genocide in the twenty-first.
    About seven hours ago I expected to sit back and watch a man overmatched by crisis and undersupplied with talent get his arse whooped by a rational, educated and Washington-savvy politician. There was a huge bowl of fresh popped corn, lightly salted and sprayed liberally with olive oil as a snack whilst I savored Trump trying to explain away the taxes, the lies, the scandals, the grifting, and screwing up responding to the single most deadly planet-wide health crisis in a century.
    Instead, the popcorn concealed into an inedible clump and my gut tightened into a knot. Not inclined to watch all the coverage I stopped after stumbling over a snippet of Jake Tapper of CNN who came up with expressing what I was feeling, unable to verbalize. “That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck, That was the worst debate I have ever seen, in fact it wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace.”
    Yup.
    And for the last three hours I’ve been wondering what the hell is gonna happen to me. To us. To the country. And there it was, when randomly clicking through some movies, I found a way of describing what we are facing. It was a fictional character, a soldier in a mindless movie who explained it in the most bloodcurdling terms, chilling for how the character was weary of all his misery in fighting back and was just trying to complete his current mission. “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Yeah, Kyle Reese, got it right. Though given circumstances here-n-now swap out ‘terminator’ for ‘right wing extremists’.
    Possibly there will be a specific moment, a particular night that will end up labelled as “Kristallnacht 2.0” by historians looking back from the 23rd century. Or maybe there will be so many ‘Nights of Broken Glass’ making impossible to choose just one.
    What I advise all of you — black, brown, female, gay, lib, trans, none-of-the-above — ought do is learn the lesson of the first Kristallnacht. Had we Jews fought back at the very least there would have been fewer Nazis for American troops to contend with. Perhaps we might have killed enough the German high Command would have left us alone.
    But no, we were civilized, compliant. We prayed for mercy along the route between home and where we ended up. Slave labor camps in the case of my mother and father, four years in hell till the Soviets cut the barbed wire. Slaughterhouses where millions screamed and died. It was a continent soaked in blood and leaving Europe was the best thing my parents could do. And until now it was their best gift to me, for me to have been born an American. After all, I’d be safe here.
    Now? Not so much.
    I was pushing (not at all subtly) the notion of drawn out boycotting of Washington to patiently pressure Trump into an orderly transfer of power. Now? No. Not any more. If I lived anywhere but NYC this very day I would be buying myself my first handgun. And five hundred rounds of ammo. Make that a thousand.
    So fuck patience and protest. If the Proud Boys convoy into my neighborhood, there’s going to be all sorts of clever surprises for them; I am crippled and old but not too crippled. While I do not have any guns now, I will loot the corpses of mine enemies. And yes, I will be there to watch these Nazi-wannabes dance on air, and no, there will be little regret. Best all, rope is reusable. Because from now on, my personal motto is, “Let me alone, I leave you alone; but whenever you kill one of mine, I’ll kill ten of you”.
    To my brothers and sisters, friends and strangers, learn this bitter motto and repeat it aloud, and say it oft times until those monsters learn: “rope is reusable”.
    Gonna be a lot of gallows fruit growing until they do.
    * * *
    Last piece of advice: NSA, GCHQ, et al, are copying all texts and recording all phone chatter. Choose your words with careful attention. It took me three drafts to eliminate anything overtly threatening and position myself in a mode of self-protection which is legal.
    * * *
    Choose. Your. Words. With. Careful. Attention.
    * * *

  120. Beautifully written, Howard; I agree over 200,000 percent.

    One of the only reasons I haven’t deleted the nextdoor ap is because knowing who and where the bigots are may be essential to my and my family’s survival if Trumpists decide to go a hunting for libs and “non-American” populations.

    When you’ve got “neighbors” arguing that blacks and Hispanics envy whites and white-adjacent their intellectual capacity and work ethic and still others declaring that they should either be “wiped out or deported back to Africa and Mexico,” putting names, general locations and even faces to viewpoints is critical to staying safe.

    I’ve more than a few surprises in store for any “patriots” or ethnic cleansers who decide to employ their “second amendment solutions” on my doorstep.

    As for the debate, one of the things that occurred to me (and I know this wasn’t lost on the tens of millions of us paying attention) was that Trump never explicitly denied a relationship with white supremacist groups.

    Any president who gave a damn about perception would categorically deny even having breathed the same air as a white supremacist.

    Trump doesn’t even bother with the usual right-wing brand lying or sidestepping but blurts out his connection for all to hear.

    Trump’s command to them to “stand back and stand by” establishes for all of us that there is a clear line of communication.

    More importantly, he has publicly declared to the entire country that he fully intends to deploy the Proud Boys and other white militia groups if he does not like the election results.

    So, I say again, the time for civil discourse may have passed.

    We’ve got the concentration camps and what appears to be a healthy eugenics program underway in Georgia and other states.

    Marginalized groups are being lynched and maimed with near impunity, their advocates branded as Marxists and terrorists and their very existence being put forth as the cause of the decline of American society.

    The trumpists who aren’t celebrating these things are flatly refusing to see or acknowledge that they are happening.

    My advice to marginalized groups is to be very, very careful whom you speak to about politics. Call me paranoid, but the possibility of folks in “protected” groups selling people out to protect their own lives and families is probably more than zero.

    The other thing to consider is that people who voted for Biden aren’t going to risk themselves or their families if Trump wins and it’s your life or theirs; get prepared and circle the wagons.

    Finally, this generally works as a “safe” warning to online idiots who threaten you.

  121. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

    Trump considers the fascist group to be his own private vigilante army. Anyone defending this clown has no morals whatsoever.