18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“The New York Times has obtained tax-return data for President Trump and his companies that covers more than two decades. Mr. Trump has long refused to release this information, making him the first president in decades to hide basic details about his finances. His refusal has made his tax returns among the most sought-after documents in recent memory.

Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation:

  • Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750.

  • He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes.

  • The financial pressure on him is increasing as hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed are soon coming due.

  • Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television.

  • Ivanka Trump, while working as an employee of the Trump Organization, appears to have received “consulting fees” that also helped reduce the family’s tax bill.

  • As president, he has received more money from foreign sources and U.S. interest groups than previously known. The records do not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.

It is important to remember that the returns are not an unvarnished look at Mr. Trump’s business activity. They are instead his own portrayal of his companies, compiled for the I.R.S. But they do offer the most detailed picture yet available.

Below is a deeper look at the takeaways. The main article based on the investigation contains much more information, as does a timeline of the president’s finances. Dean Baquet, the executive editor, has written a note explaining why The Times is publishing these findings.”

(then there is more)

Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance – By Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire – The New York Times

The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.

“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.”

Opinion | Joe Biden’s Stutter Is His Superpower – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“In school they called him Stutterhead and taunted him with “H-H-H-H-Hey, J-J-J-J-J-Joe B-B-B-B-Biden.” He felt shame and embarrassment and was afraid people would think something was wrong with him. Early on, he learned who the bullies were and plotted his revenge.

In the first of three presidential debates next week, he will face off against the world’s most powerful bully, a gutter-dwelling man allergic to decency. If the past is any indication, President Trump will belittle his opponent for what Biden calls “the only handicap that people still laugh about.”

Please do. For here’s the thing, folks, as Biden would say: The Democratic presidential nominee is at his best when making a virtue of the rough edges of his humanity. Embracing a lifelong struggle to overcome a stutter, and the stumbles that have happened along the way, Uncle Joe is a hard man to dislike.

In that same vein, Biden has finally gone where Hillary Clinton would not, but should have: straight at Trump’s whiny rich-kid privilege. “I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me,” Biden said last week. “These are the guys who always thought they were better than me, better than us, because they had a lot of money.” “

Opinion | At the Debate, Joe Biden Must Deal With Trump’s Lies – By Richard A. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Friedman, a contributing opinion writer, is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Credit…Illustration by Alvaro Dominguez; photograph by Getty Images

“When Joe Biden debates President Trump on Tuesday, he will have to figure out how to parry with an opponent who habitually lies and doesn’t play by the rules.

As a psychiatrist, I’d like to offer Mr. Biden some advice: Don’t waste your time fact-checking the president. If you attempt to counter every falsehood or distortion that Mr. Trump serves up, you will cede control of the debate. And, by trying to correct him, you will paradoxically strengthen the misinformation rather than undermine it. (Research shows that trying to correct a falsehood with truth can backfire by reinforcing the original lie. )

Instead, Mr. Biden should use more powerful weapons that will put Mr. Trump on the defensive — and also tell the audience that the president is a dishonest narrator.

The first weapon maybe the most effective: humor and ridicule. A derisive joke can defuse tense and outrageous situations. In 2007, for example, protesters dressed as clowns confronted a “white power” march in Charlotte, N.C., holding signs that read “wife power” and throwing white flour in the air. It made the white nationalists look ridiculous and avoided a violent confrontation, which would have served the interests of the racists.”

Opinion | How Faith Shapes My Politics – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

“Over the past few decades, whenever a Republican president puts up an important judicial nominee — especially a Catholic one — we go through the same routine. Some Democrat accuses the nominee of imposing her religious views on the law.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Senator Dianne Feinstein notoriously told Amy Coney Barrett in a 2017 confirmation hearing. Then Republicans accuse Democrats of being religious bigots. Then the nominee testifies that her personal opinions or religious faith will have absolutely no bearing on her legal judgments.

This unconvincing routine gets us no closer to understanding two important questions: How does faith influence a person’s political views? How should we look at religiously devout people in public life?

To the extent that I have answers to these questions it’s through my own unusual experience. I came to faith in middle age after I’d been in public life for a while. I would say that coming to faith changed everything and yet didn’t alter my political opinions all that much. That’s because assenting to a religion is not like choosing to be a Republican or a Democrat. It happens on a different level of consciousness.”

David Lindsay: The comments section is closed, but full of push back. I compliment David Brooks for his courage and insight in writing such an honest and thoughtful piece. I have a running disagreement with Mr. Brooks, for being too anthropocentric.

I am a Christian and a Pagan. The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes pagan as:

“Definition of pagan

1HEATHEN sense 1  especially a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
2one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods an irreligious or hedonistic person
3NEO-PAGAN   witches, druids, goddess worshippers, and other pagans in America today— Alice Dowd”
x
I’ve rediscovered Christianity through the writing of Richard Rohr in his book “Eager to Love,”  where he introduced me to the religious beliefs of Saint Francis of Assisi and his partner Saint Clair. Rohr goes on to describe how disciples of these two have added to their world view over the centuries.
The main point is that these Christians believed all life was sacred, not just human life, and they were hard core Christian environmentalists. Humans who believe they are above all other species and other forms of life are in the process now of destroying the planet with overpopulation and pollution.

Opinion | Five Things Biden and His Allies Should Be Worried About – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“There are at least five reasons Joe Biden’s consistent lead over Donald Trump does not guarantee him a lock on the White House.

First, there are indications that Trump’s base of support — whites without college degrees — is more energized and committed to voting this year than key Democratic constituencies. And there is also evidence that polling does not reflect this.

Second, Latinos, who are key to the outcome in several crucial states — Arizona and Florida, for example — have shown less support for Biden than for past Democratic nominees. Many Hispanic voters seem resistant to any campaign that defines them broadly as “people of color.”

Third, absentee voting is expected to be higher among Democrats than Republicans, subjecting their ballots to a greater risk of rejection, a fate more common to mailed-in votes than to in-person voting.

Fourth, the generic Democratic-Republican vote (“Would you be more willing to vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate for Congress?”) through early July favored Democrats by more than 10 points, but has since narrowed to 6 points.

Fifth, the debates will test Biden’s ability to withstand three 90-minute battles against an opponent known for brutal personal attacks.

There are other factors — such as the possibility that the Republican Party will conduct an effective voter suppression drive, or that Trump and his advisers will contrive new mechanisms to pave the way to victory.”

Opinion | I Am Not a Housewife. I’m a Prepper. – By Mira Ptacin – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Ptacin is a writer.

Credit…Julianna Brion

“Before the pandemic, I was working on a book about doomsday preppers — people who are actively preparing for the end of the world, or at least major disruptions to our comfortable daily lives. Starting out, my idea of prepping matched the stereotype I’d so often seen: the prepper as a rural, military-minded dude who gathers canned food, guns and ammo, and heads to the hills to wait out the zombie apocalypse.

For the most part, I found the stereotype to be accurate, in spirit if not in detail. A majority of the preppers I encountered were male. They were white, and fearful, though it was masked by a strange facade of pride and bravado. Their prepping was a pre-emptive reaction to what they swore was coming and needed to hide from (in their bunkers) and be ready to fight (with their weapons): civil unrest. There wasn’t a sense of prepping to have enough to share, or to take care of one another. It was more stockpiling ammo along with trail mix. N95 masks next to the powdered milk and pepper spray.

I also spoke to preppers who were professional bunker builders with enormous YouTube followings, who wore MAGA hats through airports, filmed other people’s reactions, then proudly posted them alongside their videos of igniting dynamite next to their bunkers to display their durability. I met preppers who had wine cellars that doubled as safe rooms, pantries with secret doors that stored their automatic rifles. They were positive the end was coming — not from climate change, but from civil unrest, which I sensed to be code for “brown and Black people.” These guys were preparing, all right, but they were also hoarding, and not to save up to share and take care of their communities; they were hoarding so that they wouldn’t have to adapt. I assume they were kind enough to speak to me because, well, I’m a white woman, and they were happy to mansplain. I found little hope of having my assumptions overturned or finding a way to relate to it.

Then I met Lisa Bedford, a woman known in the prepper community (and on her website) as Survival Mom. She told me that the head-for-the-hills scenario bears little relation to what people actually experience in disasters or other disruptions — and because of that she focuses on another type of prepping: ultimate homemaking and community resilience. “We moms have always and quietly thought in terms of what if, Ms. Bedford said. “Instead of thinking, ‘What if my kids get too cold outside?,’ we’re thinking, ‘What if this snowstorm keeps us in the house for a couple of weeks and the roads are closed?’” The most basic rule of prepping, she told me, isn’t having a lot of guns and ammunition to fight marauders. It’s the Rule of Redundancy: Have a backup, and then have a backup for your backup.”

Opinion | The Republican Irritation Olympics – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

“So which Senate Republican do you find most irritating? Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney?

I know there are lots of other contenders, but let’s stick with the men of the moment — the three stars of the Supreme Court follies! All famous for keeping their word except when it involves, you know, something they really want.

All currently supporting Donald Trump’s plan to get a new Supreme Court justice in place before the election. That’s just a little over a month, and far less time than it would normally take Congress to modify the rules on mackerel importation.

Of course, they all found it totally, deeply unacceptable when Barack Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice during his last year in office. McConnell, in fact, hated the idea of a Democratic president nominating judges at all. He dragged his feet so successfully that when Trump entered the White House, McConnell was able to go into a legislative closet somewhere and gift him with 105 moldering judicial vacancies. Probably the greatest achievement of the Senate majority leader’s career. Nothing Mitch cares about more than keeping Democrats off the court benches.”

David Lindsay:  You go Gail.  Here is the top comment, and the reason I posted the piece above.

D Price
Wayne, NJ Sept. 23

Two of these three are up for re-election this year. I beg the good citizens of Kentucky to vote for Amy McGrath, and rid us all of Mitch McConnell — whose power is ridiculously out of proportion to the mere 806,787 votes that put him in office. And I likewise beg the good citizens of South Carolina to cast their ballots for Jaime Harrison. Lindsey can check himself into a clinic to have his principles re-oriented. Those of us who don’t live in either state might consider a cash contribution to the campaigns of these two challengers. It would be lovely if Gail never had to write about McConnell or Graham again.

14 Replies1048 Recommended

Live Trump vs Biden Updates – by Nate Cohn – The New York Times

“We often focus on the battleground states that decided the last election and seem likeliest to decide the next one. But on Tuesday, we got high-quality polls from two states that Donald J. Trump won handily in 2016, and they’re an important reminder of the wide range of possibilities in this election.

The polls, in Iowa, which Mr. Trump won by nine points in 2016, and in Georgia, which he won by five points, both found ties.”

Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

 Keeping you current

Threats to global biodiversity are also threats to humans, experts warn

A cloud of smoke rises on the right over a rainforest treetops, with one tall tree illuminated from behind by the sun, and smoke. Hints of blue sky to the left
Smoke rises from a fire in the Amazon rainforest, south of Novo Progresso in the Para state, Brazil. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP / Getty Images)
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
“Two major reports released this month paint a grim portrait of the future for our planet’s wildlife. First, the Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), published last week, found that in half a century, human activity has decimated global wildlife populations by an average of 68 percent.

The study analyzed population sizes of 4,392 monitored species of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from 1970 to 2016, reports Karin Brulliard for the Washington Post. It found that populations in Latin America and the Caribbean fared the worst, with a staggering 94 percent decline in population. All told, the drastic species decline tracked in this study “signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world,” the WWF notes in a release.

Source: Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Two on the Aisle

NYC and Connecticut Theater News and Reviews

Inconvenient News Worldwide

On World Affairs: Politics, the Environment, the Drug Wars, and the Arts

Mereconomics

Providing more on Environmental and Resource Economics

InconvenientNews.Net

Politics, Economics, the Environment, the Drug Wars, and the Arts

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.