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Why Trump hid his taxes

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Because he’s a massive tax evader with massive conflicts of interest:

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

Tuesday should be fun.

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diannemharris
9 hours ago
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The case for rereading

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The first time I read Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, I got to the end and promptly turned back to the first page and began to read it again. This was my introduction to Butler’s writing, and I was unprepared: for the radicalness of her perspective on human nature, and for the encounter with the aliens in the book, whose interaction with humans is both terrifying and transfixing. By the end, I was so thoroughly involved in her world that I couldn’t bear to leave it—so I didn’t.

I did the same thing with Anna Tsing’s outstanding Mushroom at the End of the World and with several of the novellas in Elizabeth Hand’s Errantry; I did it with Tamsyn Muir’s infuriatingly good Gideon the Ninth, and again with Harrow. With Mushroom at the End of the World, I felt my brain was being rewired as I read it and I wanted that rewiring to stick. With Lilith’s Brood, I had an irresistible desire to remain in the world Butler had built, for longer than the book could grant. With Errantry, I was motivated by the sheer need to spend more time with Hand’s language, to keep turning her sentences around in my head. Gideon and Harrow were both so much fun I didn’t want to quit them, but I also had questions a single read couldn’t answer.

I’m not talking about just any kind of rereading here. If it’s been a decade since you’ve read a book, you aren’t so much rereading as reading it for the first time—again. I’m taking about rereading when the book is still reasonably fresh, maybe within a year. If more time has passed, you will have forgotten large parts of it, or misremembered, and will still experience some of the initial novelty you had with the first read. But a reread within a year, or a few at most, occupies a space where you can still recall enough to approach a book with familiarity. Instead of being surprised by a turn of events, you anticipate them; lines and phrases pop out as ones you remember, but they seem louder this time around, more resonant—as if they are lining up with the memory of the first time you heard them, wave patterns amplifying one another.

I’ve read and reread William Gibson’s The Peripheral an unknown number of times because I can’t stop thinking about the Jackpot—the slow-moving, centuries long apocalypse in which eighty percent of the world’s population is lost. It’s such an apt framework for understanding our current times that reading it is like cleaning my glasses, wiping away the film I hadn’t noticed was starting to cloud my view.

adrienne maree brown takes this kind of rereading further: in Emergent Strategy, she describes reading Octavia Butler as gospel:

I read sci fi and visionary fiction as political, sacred, and philosophical text, and I engage with others who read it that way. I spent the first part of my life learning what history’s victors wanted me to believe about the past, including the simple assumption that it was the past. I see massive patterns of violence and inequality in history, which perpetuate in the daily news. Science fiction, particularly visionary science fiction, is where I go when I need the medicine of possibility applied to the trauma of human behavior. While I have done deep dives into the work of Samuel Delaney, Ursula Le Guin, and others, I started this scholarship in earnest with Octavia. She presented perspectives on the future that were terrifying and compelling, and she took my breath away with her ideas for how to navigate change.

brown, Emergent Strategy, page 37

Reread a book enough times, or often enough—keep it at hand so you can flip to dog-eared pages and marked up passages here and there—and it will eventually root itself in your mind. It becomes both a reference point and a connector, a means of gathering your knowledge and experience, drawing it all together. It becomes the material through which you engage with the world.

In Staying with the Trouble (another book I’ve read more than twice), Donna Haraway writes:

The British sociologist Marilyn Strathern … taught me that “it matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with).” ... It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots; what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.

Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, page 12

The Jackpot is one of the thoughts I think with. I also think with Octavia Butler’s insistent call to shape change. I think with adrienne maree brown’s thinking with Butler’s stories. I think with the complicated and critical anarchism of Shevek in Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. I think with the many thousand year frame of John Crowley’s ymr every time I notice a bird alight on the tree in my tiny backyard. I think with Ursula Franklin’s thoughts of holistic and prescriptive technology. I think with Walter Ong’s secondary orality, with E.F. Schumacher’s Buddhist economics, with Haraway’s chthulucene. I think with Gideon Nav’s loyalty to her friend and nemesis, with Hild’s gemaecce, with all the ways that friendship between women can gather and explode. I think with N.K Jemisin’s stonelore, about the interdependence needed to survive an inevitable civilizational collapse.

I think often with Mary Ruefle’s incandescent and urgent call to waste time, a kind of exorcism of productivity and capitalism and all its trappings, an incantation to be alive.

Rereading packs your brain with thoughts to think with. It also makes other thoughts—like those that might flit by you in the form of various newsfeeds—less likely to be thought with. It gives you something to hold on to, something to draw back to, when everything else is in flux.

I’ve spent more time rereading in the past six months, in part because I’ve spent less time doing anything else, what with the loss of so many of the routines of ordinary life. But I also think the instinct is a grounding one. Reading, especially fiction, is often referred to as an escape, but I’ve never believed that. It’s true that a great story transports you somewhere else, that returning to your life afterwards can feel like an abrupt reentry. But I think that’s less because you escaped the real world, however briefly, and more that you got a clearer look at it. A great book rearranges time: it brings both history and speculative futures into the present, into a now you can occupy and taste and feel. The constraints of capitalism and patriarchy and white supremacy work to compress the present into the smallest of cages—this day, this hour, this minute—with everything before lost, and everything after always deferred. Reading enlarges the moment: it gives you the space to live in a time that is months or years or centuries in breadth, to contemplate measures and movements that are greater than your own life. A great book doesn’t take you away from the world—it brings you back to the world you were torn from.

Reading isn’t an escape—it’s a reckoning.

Rereading is training, practice for remaking and unmaking—and, yes, razing—the world. Rereading draws your best thoughts close, keeps them at the ready, prepares you to think thoughts with them, prepares you to act with them at hand. Your favorite reads are your armor and your weapons and your shelter all in one. What have you gathered about you? What has taken root in your mind? What thoughts are you thinking with?

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jepler
12 hours ago
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Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
diannemharris
13 hours ago
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acdha
14 hours ago
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Washington, DC
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The Jerk Who Gave Me a C+ In English Could Cost Democrats the Senate

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That jerk would be: Notorious spoiler Joe Lieberman’s son Matt.

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diannemharris
1 day ago
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Turning your state into a death trap to own the libs

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What could possibly go wrong:

Florida will no longer requirebars and restaurants to operate at less than full capacity, as Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday removing all remaining restrictions on those businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The order, which takes effect immediately, also prohibits local governments from closing businesses or collecting fines related to pandemic-related mandates, such as mask requirements — leading to at least one Central Florida county being inundated with calls asking if people no longer have to wear one. But it does allow local authorities to limit restaurant and bar capacity to 50% if they can justify it.

Are cases in Florida even going down? Absolutely not. Are we anywhere remotely near herd immunity (even assuming it’s possible, which it may not be)? Not even close.

But hey, at least Rick will have that Jacobin endorsement wrapped up!

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diannemharris
1 day ago
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We Are In Danger of Becoming the Puppets

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This morning, my Op Ed appeared in the Washington Post. If you have a subscription to the Washington Post, you can read it here. If not, click here for a PDF version.

Spoiler: if Trump wins this, it won’t be because he masterminds a way to get state legislatures and courts to keep him in the White House after he loses the election. It will be because he gets everyone to help him undermine democracy, truth, and logic.

Highlights from my Washington Post Op Ed followed by discussion:

If you are Donald Trump, and your image is based on the claim that you are a winner, what do you do when every recent national poll has you losing?

How do you stop people from talking about your failed pandemic policies, tapes showing that you lied to the American people, an economy in trouble, and polls showing the Republicans are likely to lose their Senate majority?

You create a fiction: You tell the world that you are not losing, the other side is cheating, and you will not allow it. When Trump says something like, “we can throw away the ballots and avoid having to transfer power,” he hijacks the national conversation: Everyone must now discuss whether Trump can get rid of ballots (he can’t) and whether the state governments and the courts will work in tandem to overturn an election and install Trump as a dictator (highly unlikely).

People become convinced that Trump absolutely can pull it off. Thus Trump creates a fantasy world in which he will retain power. His critics inadvertently lend credence to the fantasy by acting as if it is true.

See how Trump transforms himself from a guy who is losing into an unstoppable winner? I understand how it happens. Trump keeps everyone in such a heightened state of panic and outrage that it’s hard to think clearly.

We forget what happened yesterday and can’t think ahead to tomorrow.

A common logical error people make is confusing what might happen with what will happen. Person A demonstrates that something is possible. Then people say, “You can’t prove that it won’t happen, so it will.”

Another error goes something like this: “Trump defies subpoenas. He ignores the law. Therefore he can steal the election.” This is like saying, “I got away with speeding so I can certainly rob 10 banks.” Stealing a US election is not comparable to: “You can’t have my taxes and you can’t make me talk.”

Trump engages in wishful thinking, which everyone takes seriously, which then lends credence to the fantasy and helps Trump bring about the outcome he wants.

Precisely. We know Peale shaped his thinking. This is how Trump “governs”:

  • The virus will magically disappear.
  • If you stop testing, you won’t have bad test results.
  • I’m losing because of massive voter fraud.

Precisely. We are in danger of becoming the puppets.

Lots of people think I’m totally wrong and in 6 weeks they’ll be saying “I told you so.”

The “we have to prepare” argument goes like this: “We must uncover all of these far-fetched unlikely scenarios so that we can guard against them.”

Ok. Let’s consider this. Let’s compare two elections, a normal election, and an election with an unhinged candidate threatening crazy stuff. In the normal election, you really want to win, so you try to mobilize your voters. You know there will probably be legal issues because there always are, so you put together a top-notch legal team. You put security in place in polling areas.

Now, add an unhinged candidate threatening to find ways to steal the election. What do you do? You do all all the same things. (Maybe add a few extra teams of lawyers, and more polling place security, which is what is happening.)

What other preparation is there? Discussing this 24-7 helps Trump because we’re not talking about his failures. We’re not talking about Covid. We’re not talking about the fact that he’s trying to eliminate the ACA.

Moreover, suppose we do persuade everyone that Trump has this election rigged. What will that do, other than depress turnout and demoralize everyone. Why vote if your vote won’t count?

So everyone running around with their hair on fire insisting that Trump has this rigged are helping Trump carry out a massive voter suppression campaign.

Consider this: The “evidence” we have that Trump will rig the election is Trump’s own comments, and the things Trump’s campaign manager told The Atlantic. Trump wants to persuade us that he can rig this election.

I suppose the people who think Trump will be harmed by talking about this believe that Trump supporters will turn away from Trump if they know he’s willing to rig an election. The opposite is true, actually. They will get energized and respect the Mighty Strongman.

A good question is whether the article serves any other purpose. If Trump had an actual way to rig the election, would he send someone to tell a reporter?

You don’t hear Obama, Biden, or Harris insisting that Trump can (and will) rig the election. Why would anyone bother voting if the fix is in?

They say Trump will refuse to concede, but they don’t say he will stay in the White House. It’s obvious he will refuse to concede. But an incumbent who refuses to concede does not get to remain in office.

This is from 538:

23% is not zero. I maintain that there is much less than a 23% chance that Trump can pull off a coup and overturn the results of the election.

So people melting down about Trump pulling off a coup are worrying about the wrong thing.

[View as a a Twitter thread]

The post We Are In Danger of Becoming the Puppets appeared first on Musing about law, books, and politics.

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diannemharris
1 day ago
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A New American Manifesto

jwz
1 Comment and 5 Shares
absurdistwords:

So I translated the Declaration of Independence into plain English. Ironically, Most people don't recognize it. But many feel it "speaks to them".

A number of people have remarked that it's really staggering to see all of Trump's bad acts itemized and listed together. What's amazing is that I just copied all the original charges against the King. Barely had to adjust anything.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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CallMeWilliam
2 days ago
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Actual link to the plain text declaration: https://medium.com/@absurdistwords/a-new-american-manifesto-c75f35318091
tingham
2 days ago
shanks lembranks
diannemharris
2 days ago
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