Friday, October 14, 2016

Editorial: Light the GOP Fuse

Donald Trump must have had mixed emotions when the news media stopped talking about the nearly billion-dollar loss he claimed on his income taxes in 1995, which allowed him to avoid paying taxes for the next 18 years but also undermined his claims that he is a master businessman.

During the first debate, on Sept. 26, Hillary Clinton managed to goad Trump into admitting that he paid little or no federal taxes. He replied that not paying taxes “makes me smart,” a statement that alienated some middle-class voters who pay their taxes and resent the “takers” who get government benefits but don’t pay taxes. The Washington Post reported Sept. 27 on a focus group of undecided voters in North Carolina with the headline, “When Trump said that not paying taxes ‘makes me smart,’ undecided voters in N.C. gasped.”

Then some unknown person with a return address of Trump Tower, New York City, mailed the New York Times three pages of Trump’s state tax returns for 1995, which showed the $916 million loss, which the Times reported Oct. 1, “certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of The Apprentice, or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.”

In another article, Steve Eder and Alicia Parlapiano reported in the Times Oct. 6 on their analysis of roughly 60 businesses started or promoted by Trump in the past decade. Few went off without a hitch. “One-third of them either never got off the ground or soon petered out. Another third delivered a measure of what was promised — buildings were built, courses taught, a product introduced — but they also encountered substantial problems, like lawsuits, government investigations, partnership woes or market downturns.

“The remaining third, while sometimes encountering strife, generally met expectations — notably the television show The Apprentice and the purchases of numerous golf courses, including properties near Philadelphia and in the Hudson Valley.”

Trump surrogate Rudolph Giuliani compared Trump to Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs, saying that, like them, “He had some failures and then he built an empire.” He asked: “Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman, and the only thing she’s ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails?”

Heather Digby Parton replied, “The idea that a man whose business has gone bankrupt four times, who has stiffed thousands of small business owners, who has been sued all over the country for fraud, who used his charity as a slush fund and who now has been revealed to have reported to the government that he lost more than $915 million — in a year in which the stock market gained 37%! — is an economic genius could only be true in Bizarro World.”

A new firestorm overtook the dissection of Trump’s truncated tax return on Oct. 8 when the Washington Post reported the video of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women and grabbing them by, among other things, their genitalia, and getting away with it. Because, you know, he’s a star.

Trump dismissed his lewd comments as “locker room talk.” He denied that he had physically assaulted anyone. He counterattacked with claims that former President Bill Clinton had done worse in assaulting women while Hillary Clinton also “viciously” attacked the women who claimed they had been abused by her husband.

Trump invited four women to the debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9, but PolitiFact noted that only three of them — Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones — actually accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct. The fourth woman, Kathy Shelton, was a victim in a rape case. Hillary Clinton defended Shelton’s attacker in 1975 while working at a legal aid clinic. Trump accused Clinton of laughing at Shelton on two separate occasions.

PolitiFact concluded that Bill Clinton has been accused of sexual assault and having affairs. “The record shows Hillary Clinton played a role in defending her husband, and that the Clintons’ first presidential campaign deployed tough tactics to defend against stories of consensual sex.

“But in the cases of alleged abuse by Broaddrick, Willey and Jones, Hillary Clinton was largely silent. The words she allegedly had with Broaddrick are subject to interpretation. Approving the release of Willey’s letters does qualify as an attack, but using a person’s words against them is a fairly tame tactic. And Clinton did not attack Jones directly.

“Overall, we rate [Trump’s] claim Mostly False.”

As for the claim that Clinton laughed at a sexual assault victim on two separate occasions and got her attacker off, PolitiFact noted that Clinton, then 27, was representing an indigent defendant and the prosecutor had little evidence connecting the defendant to the crime, so she plea-bargained the case to unlawful fondling of a minor. The defendant was sentenced to one year in prison and four years’ probation.

PolitiFact concluded, “Trump is referring to an audio tape in which she does respond with amusement at her recollections of the oddities of the case, which involve the prosecution and the judge.

“At no point does she laugh at the victim.

“We rate his claim False.”

Taryn Hillin noted at that, according to legal documents, Trump has been accused of raping a 13-year-old child, raping his ex-wife Ivana, and attempting to rape a former business associate. Trump has vehemently denied all of these accusations — and Hillin noted anyone can file a civil complaint in court, and a complaint is by no means proof of allegations. That being said, the accusations are chilling, and if old accusations against Bill Clinton are fair game, sexual assault accusations against Trump — who actually is running for president — are even more important for the press to explore.

As we went to press, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, taken after the video was disclosed but before the debate, showed Mrs. Clinton jumping to an 11-point lead over Trump among likely voters on a ballot including third-party candidates, up from 6 points in September.

The Journal noted the weekend survey found Clinton’s advantage among women increased to 21 points, from 12 points in the September Journal/NBC Survey. Trump retained a small, single-point advantage among men.

That had Republicans worrying that a Clinton victory could become a blowout, which might not only allow Democrats to gain the four seats they need to regain control of the Senate, but might create a wave that could wipe out the 30-seat Republican majority in the House.

This could ruin House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, regulatory agencies and many other progressive initiatives through the budget reconciliation process. This radical parliamentary ruse depends on Republicans holding onto the House and Senate and gaining the White House, but Republicans still might try to force a regressive budget through the Oval Office if they keep their congressional majorities intact.

On either the business side or the sexual side, it looks like many people have had a bad experience with the blowhard real estate mogul. Now a lot of Republican officials are regretting their embrace of the Caligula of Mar-a-Lago, but they fear the backlash from his millions of supporters if they try to cut him loose, raising the prospect of a civil war among the GOP.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer party. Vote for Hillary Clinton — or Green Jill Stein, if you must. But vote Democratic for the House and Senate. No good will come from another Republican Congress, but the blame-throwing could be entertaining if they get wiped out. — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2016

Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links
About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2016 The Progressive PopulistPO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652

No comments:

Post a Comment