The Dishonest Tax Day Anti-Trump Protests

All such Anti-Trump protests should be called “We Are Furious That Our Terrible Candidate And Her Corrupt Party Lost The Election And Are Throwing An Infantile Tantrum While Rejecting  Democracy and American Institutions Until We Get Our Power Back.”  That’s all they are, every one of them. At least then the demonstrations by un-American hypocrites who want to overthrow an election that didn’t go their way would deserve props for being honest.

The Tax Day protests were the electoral college protests, the illegal immigrant protests, the women rights protests (coming up: the science protests) and all the others with just a different hook. I’m sure by now there is a well-paid public relations team charged with coming up with the next one. The amount of ill-used time, public expense , inconvenience, wasted news coverage space and accumulated idiotic rhetoric such protests will generate over the next four years should be measured somehow, because it will be staggering. Is this going to be the longest, most costly, most devisive and unethical national tantrum in U.S. history? It already is.

Just to get the alleged justification for the latest sham out of the way: President Trump has no obligation, legal or ethical, to release his taxes at this point. It would be irresponsible for him to do it, in fact.

Of course, as Ethics Alarms noted during the campaign, candidate Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns was unethical: unfair to voters, a breach of transparency; and disrespectful to the process. His oft repeated reason why he “couldn’t” release them was also an obvious lie. This episode, like so many others during the campaign, demanded consequences, and there probably were some.

Who knows how many votes it cost Trump? The conduct alone did not disqualify him for election: If he were the most qualified, competent, brilliant, trustworthy, inspiring candidate the nation had seen for decades, would the mere failure to release his tax returns have caused me, or any reasonable voter, to refuse to vote for him, and instead vote for, yechhh, Hillary Clinton? Of course not.

Whatever reason there was for Trump to take this risk and refuse to abide by long practice and tradition, the gamble worked. Now, however, there is no ethical reason to reverse that decision.The original reason the decision was unethical doesn’t exist: voters had a right to see the details of that aspect of his life before choosing him to be President. He’s not running for office now, however. Now his duty is to try to do the job he was elected to do. Yes, I know the “resistance” refuses to accept or acknowledge this, but facts are stubborn things. Now, releasing the tax returns is only demanded by one set of citizens: those who already hate his guts, reject his Presidency, want to see it fail, are willing to see the nation fail if that’s what it takes, want to cobble together reasons to impeach him, and are only interested in using the returns, whatever is in them—it literally doesn’t matter—to further disrupt his attempts to do his job.

Literally nobody who either voted for the President or who wants him to succeed in dealing with the wave of problems left festering by the inept and feckless administration before his would say that allowing Democrats and other Trump foes to have a new weapon to level against his Presidency is in the best interest of the nation. The only people who want to see his tax returns  right now want them solely as a stick to beat him with.

“Show us your fucking taxes, you emotional child!” alleged comedian Sarah Silverman screamed from the podium to appreciative  Tax Day protesters. That was representative of the attitude of every individual at every one of the Tax Day protests. I wouldn’t put any ammunition, no matter how ineffective, in the hands of someone like that. It would incompetent. It would be self-destructive. It would be stupid.

Naturally, reporters are incapable of comprehending this, because they also want to bring this President down so intensely they can taste it. The pundits are already deranged: here’s Salon’s Heather Digby Parton, explaining why Maxine Waters, a career embarrassment to Congress, is a leader because she insists that she wants to impeach Trump now:

“It may seem that Waters just has a pugilistic personality and is out front because it’s her political style to mix it up. But there is a strategy at work in this. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that a president was impeached for only the second time in history and this was over a “crime” that seems laughably insubstantial compared to the possibilities that Donald Trump could face. Just for starters, Trump’s presidential campaign is being investigated in a counterintelligence probe, and the list of his conflicts of interest are so wide-ranging and so deep that almost anything could implicate him in a corruption scandal. Impeachment is really not a far-fetched proposition.”

Again, facts are stubborn things. First of all, impeachment is always a far-fetched proposition, and was intended to be.  Conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate, and unless that is feasible, the exercise of impeachment by the House is a waste of time that paralyzes the government. Bill Clinton lied under oath in a court of law and used the government to engineer a cover-up. That’s not insubstantial, except to Democrats whose position then as now was that their Presidents can do no wrong and are never accountable. Bill’s crime is insubstantial, Salon says, “compared to the possibilities that Donald Trump could face.” “Could face!” Savor that one for a bit. That’s the mindset of the entire “resistance.” These unhinged and totalitarian-listing Americans are just certain that “something is out there,” like “The X-Files,”  because it might be out there, at least in their hyper-partisan dreams. The investigation is part of the partisan anti-Trump Presidency play-book, and is about as meaningful as Republican investigations aimed at proving that the Obama Administration intentionally allowed our Libyan ambassador to die.

You see, investigations are not proof of wrongdoing. They have become weapons to insinuate wrongdoing: Joe McCarthy paved the way, As for Trump’s conflicts, “almost anything” would not constitute an actual scandal.  “Almost anything” will allow Trump-haters to claim there is a scandal, and the news media to support such claims as long as they can do undermine the President as much as they can…which brings us back to the tax returns.

If the President could plausibly believe that the news media would be fair and objective, maybe he would release his returns. All we hear is that the only explanation is that he has something nefarious to hide. That is not the only explanation. The other explanation that the news media has provide every reason for him to believe  that almost all the major news organizations are allied with his enemies, and will not fairly report on what is in the returns. Do you doubt that?  How? MSNBC reporter Morgan Radford  interviewing actress Debra Messing at a Tax Day protest, heard the former “Will & Grace” star state as fact that American democracy was “attacked and infiltrated by Russia,” ( a hysterical characterization, and pure Hillary campaign talking point—I wonder, would Messing be saying this if Russia hacked Trump’s tax returns before the election?) and responded by asking Messing the  “best way to make our voices heard” in order to “neutralize” the threat posed by the “current administration to democracy.”

Reporters aren’t even trying to be objective, don’t want to be, and are convinced their market doesn’t want them to be journalists, but activists. Thus their news organizations are refusing to enforce even minimal journalism standards. Why would any leader determined to do the daunting job facing him give these unethical, hateful hacks any assistance in warping public opinion?

CNN’s Chris Cillizza graphically illustrates how bias makes journalists stupid and untrustworthy in his feature called “The big thing Trump gets wrong about his taxes and the 2016 election.”

Taking off from the President’s typical and unhelpful “Nyah nyah, I won” tweet about the protest, Cillizza writes,

The Trump logic appears to go like this:

Democrats hit me for not releasing my tax returns during the campaign.

I won.

Ergo, no one cares about my taxes.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thinking has been deployed by Trump and his senior staff. Back in January, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that “we litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care.”

Conway’s point didn’t make sense then. And Trump’s doesn’t now.

No, Chris, your point is the umpteenth example of  journalists misreading sloppy Trump team rhetoric to make an invalid point.  What Conway meant was not that “people didn’t care.”  It was that the people who voted for Donald Trump cared about other things more. They still do. The election, after all, wasn’t about tax returns. (Similarly, those who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton may care very much about women’s rights, but cared more about keeping the corrupt Clinton machine from getting its grubby hands on the levers of power.) The people who cared about other things more than Trump refusing to reveal his taxes still care more about those things, which now includes his having to deal with very real and very pressing problems which the tax returns cannot do a thing to solve. Because the election is over and Trump is President for the next four years, they care about his taxes even less than before in comparison to wanting him to be successful. Trump, and Conway, I and I hope you KNOW the taxes matter to the people who want to wreck his Presidency; we all know Chris cares, because it can only cause harm to the administration.

The President’s point makes perfect sense, and not releasing his returns now also makes sense.

Anything else would be deliberately crippling his ability to lead, and no responsible leader does that intentionally.

President Trump does too much of that unintentionally already.

[And may I add, boy, I’m sick or having to write about this. But then, Samuel Pepys got tired of writing about the plague.]

95 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

95 responses to “The Dishonest Tax Day Anti-Trump Protests

  1. So he would have an ethical obligation to release his tax returns if he chooses to run for reelection.

  2. Chris

    You could not be more wrong if you tried, Jack.

    You say there is nothing positive that could come from Trump releasing his taxes at this point. But of course there could. If Trump has nothing to hide, then releasing his taxes would set the record straight. If he does have something to hide, then Americans have the right to know what it is. If it is something impeachable, then that goes double.

    Of course, Trump is acting like someone with something to hide. That doesn’t make you the least bit curious?

    How can you seriously argue that knowing the truth would not be beneficial to the country? How can you paint those advocating for more disclosure and transparency, those who are demanding that Trump should do what you admit he had an ethical duty to do during the campaign, as a bunch of deranged villains while providing cover for one of the most secretive, dishonest and paranoid presidents we have ever seen? This is part of your authoritarian bias, Jack; your argument is not too far from Cilliza’s summation of Trump’s stance of “I won, so there,” and that has been your stance since the day after Election Day.

    • I find it cute that someone who carried water for Clinton during the election is so deeply concerned with “the truth” now. I’m just saying.

      But to actually deal with the meat of this: It’s noise. It’s noise on the same scope of Obama’s birth certificate. In fact, in a lot of ways, the parallels are staggering. And in others… The birthers actually had more of a legitimate point: They were always conspiracy theorists, and they were always wrong, but had Obama been born in Kenya, he could not have been president of the United States… At this point, worst case for Trump? He could have taken so many deductions the government owes him money and it would not change a damn thing. But here comes the depressingly familiar litany of language, from completely different faces: “If he has nothing to hide, why not let us know?!”, “We have a right to know!”, “he’s acting like he has something to hide, aren’t you curious?”, “The truth would be beneficial to the country!”, “How can you paint those advocating for more disclosure and transparency, those who are demanding that [he] should do what you admit he had an ethical duty to do during the campaign”, and my personal favorite: “If it is something impeachable, then that goes double” (Protip: Literally nothing in his taxes could possibly lead to impeachment. Ever. Seriously, That’s so cripplingly ignorant that I just got a headache reading it.)

      How does it feel to be the new Truther movement?

      • Spartan

        The difference being, of course, that Obama released his birth certificate.

        • Chris

          The difference also being that all presidents since Nixon have released their tax returns, whereas none released their birth certificates. The difference also being that releasing tax returns is expected of presidents, and releasing birth certificates isn’t. The difference also being that Trump promised to release his tax returns if he ever ran for president, and Obama never promised to release his birth certificate. The difference also being that the conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya was nothing but racism, while concerns over Trump’s finances are rooted in legitimate concerns that Trump has lied about his wealth, his financial investments, whom he is in debt to, etc.

          I could go on, but you see my point; comparing demands for Trump to release his tax returns to the birther issue is so stupid that I honestly cannot believe I just had to explain all of this to you.

          • All such differences being irrelevant to the issue. All Presidents before Nixon DIDN’T release their returns. No President who didn’t release his returns during the campaign released them after the election. The Jeopardy category is “documents that a Presidents foes want to see to use to attack him and that the President has no legal obligation to release.” Birth certificate, transcripts, tax returns are all in that category.

            The difference also being that the conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya was nothing but racism, while concerns over Trump’s finances are rooted in legitimate concerns that Trump has lied about his wealth, his financial investments, whom he is in debt to, etc.

            …is pure partisan bile. I know one very intelligent, educated reader here who I can testify under oath is NOT a racist who violently disagreed with the Ethics Alarms position that the Obama birth questions were pure, dishonest smears. Some people didn’t trust Obama, just like you don’t trust Trump, and are inclined to believe anything.

            We know that Trump is in debt to foreign interests. We know he lies and says things that aren’t true. We knew that before the election.

            You are doing a yeoman job, Chris, pretending that this is anything but part of a partisan effort to find a hook to get Trump—just as the birther issue was a fishing trip to try to legitimize Obama but that’s all it is, and I hope you know it. The real difference? The Truther crap wasn’t supported by the media, and was so silly that it’s effects were negligible. Bias makes you–that’s YOU, Chris—stupid on this issue. You just can’t see it. And since there is no way Trump will ever release his tax returns, this is just beating a dead horse–or parrot– to a pulp because a sick group enjoys the blood.

            • Chris

              Pointing out that releasing tax returns is tradition and releasing birth certificates is not is entirely relevant to dismissing the ridiculous comparison between birth certificates and tax returns. How could it not be? If every president since Nixon had released his birth certificate until Obama, then the birther demands would have been valid. It would have looked like Obama was hiding something if he had refused to do something all past presidents for the past 40 years had done.

              • No, they would still have been contrived and offensive. See, Chris, laws, rules and precedents don’t make something that was unethical ethical, or vice-versa, though they may make them mandatory. You keep sliding away from the fact that the election is over; the tradition was breached. The current situation, demanding returns AFTER the election, is unprecedented, just like the birther demands.

                • Chris

                  It is unprecedented because Trump broke precedent as a candidate. That is his responsibility. The notion that we should ignore that just because he won is abhorrent to me. The notion that those demanding Trump honor precedent and do the right thing are the bad guys because he won is even worse.

          • “The difference also being that all presidents since Nixon have released their tax returns, whereas none released their birth certificates.”

            I find it cute that someone who holds do little stock in tradition is now deeply concerned with the sacredness of a practise in play for seven out of 46 candidacies.

            What bullshit. You know… When Nixon released his taxes, it wasn’t an expectation, it was a response to accusations from Gerald Ford (probably the last time someone put aside party politics for what was actually right), and believe me, Gerald Ford didn’t do anything because Nixon did it first. No, he did it because after all the rhetoric he spewed at Nixon, it would be deeply hypocritical for him not to… And thus: A tradition was born! Subsequent candidates started releasing their taxes. And why? What value does it bring? What smoking guns have sewered which candidates?

            Apparently all it would take to legitimise the Birther movement would be for Trump to produce HIS birth certificate, right? And then, well… Two guys have already done it, it’s tradition! And we have yet another bit of noisy drama lost in the American election cycle.

            • Chris

              You know… When Nixon released his taxes, it wasn’t an expectation, it was a response to accusations from Gerald Ford (probably the last time someone put aside party politics for what was actually right),

              And Trump should release his taxes in response to accusations from many Republicans and Democrats. I would think the Republicans joining the demands are putting aside party politics for what is right.

              • What makes it “right”… exactly? See… You spout bumper stickers like “right to know” even though it isn’t your right, and “tradition” even though it isn’t tradition…. But what do you hope to get out of this, really?

                Let’s say, for shits and giggles… Trump releases his taxes tomorrow. I’d give better than even odds that his taxes are almost identical to the records already leaked, and the entire Tax Truther movement will be caught hanging out in front of an empty safe again, and will have yet another similarity to the Birthers in that there was nothing to the… I was about to say ‘accusation’… But I’m not even sure what’s being accused at this point.

                But let’s say you’re right and… He didn’t pay tax… In fact, he didn’t pay through some exceptionally shady loophole. In fact, he just proposed legislation that would make the loophole larger. And he routinely kills kittens and barbeques them. What’s your game? Because I don’t see it. None of this is actionable, none of this is impeachable. What are you hoping for?

            • Wayne

              I’m almost finish with readying *Being Nixon* by Evan Thomas who contends that Nixon was really dead broke after the end of the Watergate scandal. His son-in-law Edward Cox along with Tricia Nixon actually had to give him a loan to pay his back taxes and legal bill.

            • Dwayne N. Zechman

              “Apparently all it would take to legitimise the Birther movement would be for Trump to produce HIS birth certificate, right? And then, well… Two guys have already done it, it’s tradition! And we have yet another bit of noisy drama lost in the American election cycle.”

              Honestly though, I would be totally okay with it if this DID become a tradition. Being a natural-born citizen is, after all, an explicit Constitutional requirement.

              But paying taxes isn’t. (Hell, you can even be Secretary of the Treasury!)

              –Dwayne

        • But was he right to? I mean… The arguement against him releasing his birth certificate for months prior was that it was irrelevant, that it would legitimize the birthers regardless of the validity of the birth certificate, and it would just provide another weapon to Obama’s opponents. And funny story, it did… The Birthers got copies and tried to “debunk” the document. It was weak calibre ammo, but it was there.

          No, the Birthers were insane, and Obama was weak.

        • uhhhh… after years, and there are still questions about it today. Not going tin foil hat here, just saying that anything you can say about how Trump looks also goes for Obama in that aspect.

      • How does it feel to be the new Truther movement?
        Bingo.

        Juror 8 to Juror 9: “Let him go. He doesn’t hear you. He’ll never hear you.” (“12 Angry Men”)

        They were talking about Juror #10, the bigot.

        Bigots don’t realize they are bigoted, and the Left’s Trump hate is now full-fledged bigotry.

    • Glenn Logan

      You say there is nothing positive that could come from Trump releasing his taxes at this point. But of course there could. If Trump has nothing to hide, then releasing his taxes would set the record straight.

      What record? There is no record. The only known Trump tax return indicates he paid his taxes like everyone else in his position. Every tax return, and I mean everyone that doesn’t file a 1040EZ, can have items that look suspicious in them. This is ten times more true for complex large-business returns and those of wealthy individuals with large business interests. The byzantine disaster that is the tax code is virtually impossible to fully comply with, because there is so much gray area there that is open to regulatory interpretation.

      Now, let us suppose Trump released his current returns and the left unleashed their lawyers and former regulators on them. I promise you they are going to find things that they are going to claim are crimes, and that require investigation by God Himself in order to clear Trump’s clearly Satainic name. It would paralyze government, further polarize the country, and possibly make it ungovernable.

      Jack understands this. The question is, why don’t you?

      Of course, Trump is acting like someone with something to hide. That doesn’t make you the least bit curious?

      So? Where is it written that we must know everything about our presidents? We had a right not to elect him based on a perception of secrecy, and we chose to elect him anyway. Any obligation he has to further expose himself to his political enemies is now inoperative, irrelevant, and frankly insane.

      You have a right to be curious. Enjoy it.

      How can you seriously argue that knowing the truth would not be beneficial to the country?

      Because he has a functioning brain, and anyone who possesses one can see the inevitable result of releasing such complex returns now. If he were George W. Bush, your argument might be more convincing, because of the comparative simplicity and black-and-white nature of an individual return. But billionaire tax returns are far less comprehensible and contain many potential arguments for lawbreaking where none was intended. So showing a document like that to your opposition makes sense only in the fever dreams of the opposition, or for people who have absolutely no understanding of the complexity of the tax code beyond uncomplicated individual itemized returns.

      Tax returns represent the absolute armpit of the regulatory state. The tax code is hopelessly complex and filled with ambiguities that even legions of experts can screw up. I own or partially own two companies, and I would never attempt a tax return on my own, even though I’m a pretty smart guy by any measure.

      Why would you ask any president or even candidate to expose himself like that to his opposition? I have never understood it, and the only answer that makes sense is that you want to see Trump brought low by any means necessary, regardless of the damage it may do to the country. I disagree with Jack’s assertion that he had an ethical duty to ever release them. It was a stupid tradition that was designed to be pure virtue-signaling and has never been a benefit to the country. I hope it stops.

      I detest Trump for a lot of reasons, but this is not one of them. I have never thought it wise or desirable that presidential candidates released their tax returns to the public, and I hope Trump starts a trend where this idiotic, holier-than-thou practice stops. If the IRS, who has probably audited Trump more than once hasn’t taken action against him by now, there is nothing else we need to know.

      As far as your accusations at Jack, he can defend himself on those. But Trump should keep his tax returns right where they are for the good of us all.

      • The key is: “What record? There is no record.” Bingo. But Chris and the resistance assume that there is already a record. Trump is a bad guy, so he is guilty until proven innocent, and they just know the evidence won’t prove him innocent, so not releasing it is an admission of guilt.

        I’m really tired of arguing with “the resistance,” which in this case Chris is serving as a mouthpeice for, to his embarrassment. They won’t get beyond their own toxic bias, so all they can say is “you must be biased not to know the President is a criminal and a traitor.” This is deranged, of course. Not being biased against the President of the United States means you are biased in favor of him. Bias is not a zero sum game.

        No, some of us believe that the President deserves the inherent trust and respect of all citizens, as well as good will, and to be criticized and opposed based on what he does and says, not based on who he is, or what his foes assume he did.

        My assessment of Trump hasn’t changed an iota from a year ago, but if he succeeds at all while being treated this abysmally, he will have earned my admiration for courage and perseverance.

        • Chris

          No, some of us believe that the President deserves the inherent trust and respect of all citizens, as well as good will, and to be criticized and opposed based on what he does and says, not based on who he is, or what his foes assume he did.

          And some of us believe that trust and respect have to be earned, and that winning an election does not inherently grant anyone trust and respect, especially when said winner spent every day before the election and every day after lying to and disrespecting the public.

          • And some of us believe that trust and respect have to be earned

            Like Hillary? Just how did she earn your trust? Hypocrasy

            • Chris

              It’s spelled “hypocrisy,” and when did I ever argue that she should be trusted and respected simply by virtue of winning an election? You don’t know what you’re talking about, your comment is devoid of substance, and is nothing but partisan deflection.

              • “I’m an English teacher, and I make grammatical errors here all the time. No big.”

                -a completely different Chris in another thread apparently to a commenter who made easy errors..

                I’m doing my best to avoid vulgarity. But dick move.

              • 1. Correcting the spelling usually means you have no substance, or you are just petty (take your pick) Spell checker did not catch it: sue me.

                2. My point (as you well know) is that had Hillary been elected, you would NOT have cared about these issues. “…when said winner spent every day before the election and every day after lying to and disrespecting the public” sounds remarkably like Hillary, except she has done it for decades instead of months

                3. There was no partisan deflection here, but a substantial point that struck too close to home. People generally accuse others of things they have done. This is because it is conceivable that their opponents would do so since one did so themselves. Note this is why the Democrats had such a hissy fit about Justice Gorsuch: they DO appoint partisan hacks to the court, who will rule based on emotion and party line and not law; so they believe any right leaning (usually called ‘traditional’) judge must do the same against them.

                • Chris

                  1. Sorry.

                  2. You don’t know what I would or would care about if Clinton won. All we know is what’s happening now: you are deflecting from my critique of Trump to critique a non-president.

                  3. See above.

        • Glenn Logan

          My assessment of Trump hasn’t changed an iota from a year ago, but if he succeeds at all while being treated this abysmally, he will have earned my admiration for courage and perseverance.

          Mine as well. Grudgingly, I admit, but he faces the most formidable headwinds in my memory.

      • Chris

        What record? There is no record. The only known Trump tax return indicates he paid his taxes like everyone else in his position. Every tax return, and I mean everyone that doesn’t file a 1040EZ, can have items that look suspicious in them. This is ten times more true for complex large-business returns and those of wealthy individuals with large business interests. The byzantine disaster that is the tax code is virtually impossible to fully comply with, because there is so much gray area there that is open to regulatory interpretation.

        Now, let us suppose Trump released his current returns and the left unleashed their lawyers and former regulators on them. I promise you they are going to find things that they are going to claim are crimes, and that require investigation by God Himself in order to clear Trump’s clearly Satainic name. It would paralyze government, further polarize the country, and possibly make it ungovernable.

        Jack understands this. The question is, why don’t you?

        I understand it perfectly, Glenn: you’re arguing that President Trump should be less transparent than previous presidents because he needs to protect himself from criticism, and because apparently the American people are too stupid to be trusted with important information.

        Which is…an argument, I guess. I wish you’d just come out and say that’s what you’re arguing, though.

        • Glenn Logan

          No, I’m arguing it was always stupid to release tax returns, and that Trump shouldn’t do it lest he damage the country further by thrusting it into more partisan warfare, and that by setting an example of not doing it, he is doing the entire country, as well as himself, a favor.

          • You’ll love the latest post!!!

          • Chris

            He is damaging the country by not releasing them, since it makes him look secretive, paranoid, and corrupt.

            When will the conservatives on this blog start holding Trump accountable for his own lack of leadership the same way they did with Obama?

            • You really are hopeless on this. You and the resistance want to damage the country by throwing up roadblocks to the President’s efforts to govern, and that’s all this is. It makes him look secretive, paranoid, and corrupt to people already convinced he is secretive, paranoid, and corrupt, and they will spin the returns to show he is secretive, paranoid, and corrupt, and then claim he has to do something else.

              It’s so, so obvious. Conservatives don’t find this strategy offensive: fair, reasonable, rational people do.

            • Glenn Logan

              He is damaging the country by not releasing them, since it makes him look secretive, paranoid, and corrupt.

              Perhaps when he was a candidate, this was a defensible statement, at last the secretive and paranoid parts. Now, it just makes him look wise, which as we all know, he isn’t, and it makes people like you look … less than wise, let’s just say.

              When will the conservatives on this blog start holding Trump accountable for his own lack of leadership the same way they did with Obama?

              Translation: “Look over there! No, don’t look here, look there!”

              Mitt Romney was a fool for releasing his taxes. I said it then, and I said it about Trump. How can I hold Trump accountable for lack of leadership when I think he is actually displaying leadership in the instant case?

              I just hope other presidents follow suit and show the metaphorical middle finger to requests for taxes, college transcripts (unless there is a legitimate dispute as to whether or not they actually attended the college in question, then a redacted copy might be in order) and other such nonsense. We have an IRS to ensure everybody pays taxes. If Trump, Romney, Obama, Clinton or whoever hasn’t been charged with tax violations, that’s all I need to know.

  3. Chris

    Also, Jack, it seems you didn’t read Cilliza’s whole piece. You write:

    No, Chris, your point is the umpteenth example of journalists misreading sloppy Trump team rhetoric to make an invalid point. What Conway meant was not that “people didn’t care.” It was that the people who voted for Donald Trump cared about other things more. They still do. The election, after all, wasn’t about tax returns. (Similarly, those who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton may care very much about women’s rights, but cared more about keeping the corrupt Clinton machine from getting its grubby hands on the levers of power.) The people who cared about other things more than Trump refusing to reveal his taxes still care more about those things, which now includes his having to deal with very real and very pressing problems which the tax returns cannot do a thing to solve. Because the election is over and Trump is President for the next four years, they care about his taxes even less than before in comparison to wanting him to be successful. Trump, and Conway, I and I hope you KNOW the taxes matter to the people who want to wreck his Presidency; we all know Chris cares, because it can only cause harm to the administration.

    But that’s exactly what Cilliza says at the end of his article:

    The reality is that both of these things could be true:
    He won.
    Voters didn’t like that he refused to release his taxes but prioritized other issues when they cast their ballot.
    That is, to my mind, the most likely thought process for most voters. They knew that Trump was breaking all sorts of traditions and rules in his campaign — some that they liked, others that they didn’t. And tax returns was one they didn’t like. In fact, in a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken shortly before Trump was inaugurated, 74% of people said they thought Trump should release his taxes — including 49% of those who voted for him.
    But, despite their disagreement with Trump on taxes, they decided that his outsider status, his promise to shake up Washington and/or their dislike of Hillary Clinton were more important factors in the election.
    Winning — a game or an election — is not an affirmation that everything you did was right. It’s only proof that for that bounded period of time, you beat the other guy (or woman).
    Trump, still, doesn’t seem to get that.

    I have no idea how you concluded that Conway did not mean exactly what she said, except that you always say the Trump team doesn’t mean the things they say, but rather more rational things that they didn’t say. I also don’t know by what method you’ve divined that only people who hate Trump care about his tax returns at this point. Even if that were true, given Trump’s abysmal ratings–Gallup places his disapproval rating at 53%–wouldn’t that still mean the majority of the country cares?

  4. deery

    Literally nobody who either voted for the President or who wants him to succeed in dealing with the wave of problems left festering by the inept and feckless administration before his would say that allowing Democrats and other Trump foes to have a new weapon to level against his Presidency is in the best interest of the nation. The only people who want to see his tax returns right now want them solely as a stick to beat him with.

    I don’t know about that:
    Sixty-four percent of Republicans think that President Trump should publicly release his tax returns, according to a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group.

    I think there are some obvious transparency and legal reasons why one might want to see the President’s tax returns. Let’s say he had a huge amount of Microsoft stock, and decided to launch barrage after barrage on Twitter against Apple. The returns might provide some clues to motivations. Or had a huge amount of personal debt to a foreign entity? Or had materially lied on his tax forms, committing a crime? Just because he was allowed by some people to get away with unethical behavior at an earlier point in time is no reason for other people not to want accountability and transparency now. It’s never too late to start, after all.

  5. I will seriously pay good money to anyone who attends one of these tax protests with a video camera and a sign saying, “What are you hiding? Show us your emails!”

    I want to see people’s reactions when the penny drops, the cognitive dissonance spikes, and they reach hypocritical mass.

    • deery

      But Trump literally has to preserve all of his emails in the White House, they are subject to scrutiny, and will be made public within 5 years of leaving office.

    • Chris

      I mean, that would make sense. At an anti-Hillary protest. So far I don’t think Trump has been accused of any improper handling of emails, so…I don’t really get the point? It sounds like nothing but partisan point-scoring, but that isn’t the EC I’ve come to know and respect.

      • The idea is that when people read the sign, they will agree with the emotions behind it, and then when they read the word “emails”, they will realize that most if not all of the arguments they are applying to get Trump to release his tax records applied better to Clinton’s private email server. My mind is already boggling at the fact that the arguments that he could be hiding corruption exactly mirror the criticism of Clinton that many of these same people were brushing off.

        For just a moment, people will be tricked into criticizing Trump for something Clinton did, and once they become aware of it, I want to see how many of them snap out of the partisan bias and what the rest of them do to maintain it.

        Will it be particularly helpful? No. Will it be particularly harmful? I’d argue that it couldn’t do any marginal harm, and may even do some good. Some yelling may be involved though. I can guarantee that if it isn’t enlightening, it will be hilarious.

        I do understand why it might not be hypocrisy, though. Most of these people are fighting a war of values, and being philosophically illiterate, the only means they have to fight is sacrificing their integrity and criticizing everything about those who don’t share their values while praising everything about those who do. They are terrified of what will happen if they lose. That’s why we need the Rational Politics project.

        • Chris

          Most Hillary voters I knew readily acknowledged that she should have been more forthcoming with her emails. Regardless, Hillary is not the president. It seems to me your proposal shifts the focus from what the protest is about to a dead, now irrelevant issue.

          • Hypocrisy and bias are always relevant. Drawing attention to Clinton’s emails isn’t the point, just a means to draw attention to cognitive dissonance. However, it’s good to hear that maybe there isn’t as much hypocrisy and bias as I thought, and so the stunt wouldn’t produce a very interesting reaction after all.

        • At this point, Trump not releasing his returns is more like Obama not releasing his college transcript. Conservatives demanding it only wanted to embarrass him, and made the same argument: what is he hiding? He didn’t have to hiding anything, and those demanding it were not his friends. As with the returns, he had no reason to be accommodating, and no good ends would have been served.

          • Chris

            No, it’s nothing like that, because tax returns are actually a) relevant and b) traditionally presented by presidents, neither of which is true of tax returns.

            And if you’re really going to bring up Obama and what documents were and were not released, please keep in mind that Obama was cajoled into releasing his fucking birth certificate because of a movement of unhinged morons led by none other than *Donald Trump.* The president is ethically estopped from complaining about being asked to release his tax returns after that. But he will do it anyway, since he has no ethics whatsoever.

            • Chris

              Ack. “…neither of which is true of college transcripts.”

            • Neither of those arguments are germane. Both Bush and Gore released their transcripts. So did Kerry. All showed them to be similarly mediocre students. No President has released tax returns AFTER being elected. Precedent isn’t binding: Trump has set a new precedent. Tradition may be good or not, but breaking one isn’t inherently unethical. FDR’s decision to serve indefinitely was a major change: those who liked him “didn’t care,” those who opposed him thought it was unconscionable.

              Of course educational records are relevant, at least potentially. My guess is that Obama’s grades were so-so (as were mine, at the same school), and that clashed with the narrative that he was a brilliant, dazzling intellect. Of course, I know that lots of brilliant people goof off at that school, but still—Obama didn’t want to give his foes a stick to beat him with. Why should he? Same here.

              I agree that tax returns have more hard data to work with. Sill a stick.

  6. RBWitkowsky

    Chris, Excellent rebuttal to all the points put forth by Jack and others. Nice having you around to present and defend the other side of the story, as well as make level the playing field. Appreciate your efforts, as well as Jack’s, even though both presentations are so very often so very diametrically opposed.
    You both educate us all. THANKS.

  7. I read after the post was up that Charles Krauthammer called Trump’s taxes a “dead parrot.” Good to know Charles is a Monty Python fan, and he’s also correct. Yet a few minutes ago, CNN’s All-President Trump Hate-All The Time morning gang had a panel discussing the issue.(With Cillizza, who said the decision not to release his taxes “hadn’t hurt Trump at all.” Who says? Oh, that’s right: Trump voters were racists, so it didn’t matter…)

    Now, why is a condition that hasn’t changed and will not change news? It’s “news” if the resistance, which includes CNN can keep slamming Trump, that’s what makes it news.

    “Why didn’t you tell everyone you are transgender?”

  8. Robert Hoffman

    “Is this going to be the longest, most costly, most decisive and unethical national tantrum in U.S. history? It already is.:

    I think you meant to say divisive not decisive.

  9. Other Bill

    I can’t begin to imagine how long and involved Trump’s tax returns are. How many partnership returns must he have to file? How much foreign tax does he pay? How many family members does he gift money to each year? How much does he pay in alimony each year to his various ex-wives? All this stuff would provide a meal for a years-long feeding frenzy. Plus, I still suspect he doesn’t make as much money has he wants people to think he makes. And why would he let his competitors in his various businesses see all the minutiae of his businesses? Among other things, this is another example of career pols and political consultants wanting to keep business people out of the politics sand box so they can keep it to themselves. Pols hate business people because they make more money than pols.

    • Other Bill

      And by the way, Sarah Silverman and Debra Messing and Madonna and Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin: Let’s see your tax returns.

    • Chris

      Thanks for outlining some of the many reasons we should see Trump’s tax returns, Other Bill.

      • Ducking legitimate points rather than acknowledging them. Nice. All of OB’s points are valid. The system is set up to make a businessman running for the office almost impossible.

        • Chris

          But this businessman did run for office, and won. He doesn’t get to say “Oh, but releasing my tax returns would just be so hard” at this point and expect sympathy. Most of the country wants to see his tax returns. I side with the majority of the American people in calling for transparency on this matter. You are telling those calling for transparency to shut up and let the president be as secretive as possible. That is not ethical, Jack.

          • Other Bill

            As secretive as possible? As secretive as any other taxpayer?

            • Other Bill

              Chris, Nancy and Mr. Pelosi don’t release their tax returns. They fill out those vague, goofy “financial disclosure statements” congress people are required to make that only provide huge ranges of dollar amounts They’re almost useless. You’re pushing a double standard.

              • Other Bill

                And what’s the end game? Let’s say Trump released a tax return for a recent year. What exactly would it show that would be germane? Every lefty tax lawyer and accountant in the country could essentially audit the return and argue the return is wrong or fraudulent. So the goal is to convict Trump of tax fraud? Is that the objective? Do you want that done to your return? Isn’t that the job of the IRS?

                • It wouldn’t matter. The disingenuous claim of “if you’ve got nothing to hide, then you should be fine publishing them” is an empty comfort. The anti-Trump bigots have no intention of treating the returns with any objectivity. Legions of loyal Leftwing acolytes will scour those things and find something wrong with them…which is inevitable in any system of laws and tax codes as Byzantine as ours.

                  Trump’s returns could be squeaky clean and show he donated $5,000,000 to religious charities and the Left would then just start screaming he’s a theocrat. They will use anything and everything to assuage their angst over running one of History’s crappiest options for president and losing.

                  • Chris

                    Which rationalizations are those, tex?

                    • As I’m not defending unethical conduct your question is clumsy and out of place. But don’t think I don’t appreciate the homage.

                      If you wanted to execute it properly the question would be “who wants to play ‘count the rationalizations'”.

              • Chris

                One standard for members of congress and another for presidents is not a “double standard.” It is rational to expect more of the president.

                • Actually, the Speaker of the House wields an incredible amount of power. There’s no inconsistency in that expectation if you really want that expectation.

          • “He doesn’t get to say “Oh, but releasing my tax returns would just be so hard” at this point and expect sympathy.”

            He didn’t need your sympathy, he needed Americans votes, and he got them. The “point”, if it can even be called that, of releasing tax returns was ostensibly to provide Americans with information necessary for them to cast a ballot. Apparently, a plurality of Americans didn’t think the tax returns were necessary.

            Trump did some napkin calculous that paid off: People seeing his tax return would most likely have no conception under God what they were looking at, and it could only provide ammo, so he didn’t give them that ammo. Did witholding his tax reurns provide ammo to his opponents anyway? Yeah… But of a smaller calibre. Welcome to politics.

            • Chris

              Contrary to what you may think, the president actually does need the support of the American people throughout his presidency in order to be effective. One need only look at how much of Trump’s agenda has been thwarted in his first hundred days to understand that. “The president only needs the votes of the people once, and then he can do whatever the fuck he pleases” is not an argument, and you don’t actually believe it; I am baffled as to why so many people here seem to be saying it.

              • ““The president only needs the votes of the people once, and then he can do whatever the fuck he pleases” is not an argument…”

                You’re right! It’s a strawman. Trump didn’t release his tax returns BEFORE people voted for him, and he still isn’t. So… nothing has changed. He isn’t doing “whatever the fuck he pleases” NOW, he did it all along. He did it all along, and was supported while doing it.

                But this is the closest you’ve come to being honest yet. You don’t really believe you have a right to see those documents, you don’t really care about tradition, you’re just really gagging to see them because you think it will damage him and keep him from leading effectively.

                Who knows, maybe you’re even right. But why the hell do you think he would be interested for a microsecond in making your job of making his life more diifcult even a modicum easier?

                • Chris

                  You’re right! It’s a strawman. Trump didn’t release his tax returns BEFORE people voted for him, and he still isn’t. So… nothing has changed. He isn’t doing “whatever the fuck he pleases” NOW, he did it all along. He did it all along, and was supported while doing it.

                  Yes, and now he has your support while doing it.

                  But this is the closest you’ve come to being honest yet. You don’t really believe you have a right to see those documents, you don’t really care about tradition, you’re just really gagging to see them because you think it will damage him and keep him from leading effectively.

                  I have no idea how you got that from my comment. What I said was that he needs to follow tradition and show the documents because it will help him lead more effectively.

                  Who knows, maybe you’re even right. But why the hell do you think he would be interested for a microsecond in making your job of making his life more diifcult even a modicum easier?

                  The purpose of releasing the tax documents would not be to “make his life harder.” The purpose would be to be honest and open with the American people, a majority of whom believe he should release the tax returns. Even a majority of Republicans think he should do that.

                  If answering to the will of the public–including the wishes of his own party–would somehow make Trump’s job harder, then there must be something on those tax returns that is pretty damaging. If not, then releasing them can only make his job easier.

                  • “Yes, and now he has your support while doing it.”

                    “you’re being an idiot” does not translate to “I support the other guy”.

                    “What I said was that he needs to follow tradition and show the documents because it will help him lead more effectively.”

                    First off: I challenge you to quote yourself saying anything like that.

                    Second off: Bullshit. You explain to me how you think an army of people like you, blissful in your financial ignorance, combing through his records to find something, anything you can weaponise against him will make him a more “effective” leader.

                    Third off: Your sudden “respect” for “tradition” is still “cute”.

                    “The purpose would be to be honest and open with the American people, a majority of whom believe he should release the tax returns. Even a majority of Republicans think he should do that.”

                    “Open and Honest” my ass. I don’t think you know the meaning of the words. You’re constantly ducking and weaving around the question that I’ve asked three times now, slightly different every time. Here: I’m not going to bother paraphrasing:

                    “let’s say you’re right and… He didn’t pay tax… In fact, he didn’t pay through some exceptionally shady loophole. In fact, he just proposed legislation that would make the loophole larger. And he routinely kills kittens and barbeques them. What’s your game? Because I don’t see it. None of this is actionable, none of this is impeachable. What are you hoping for?”

                    If you don’t answer that, we’re done here. There’s the goalposts, shoot, or go home.

                    • Chris

                      “you’re being an idiot” does not translate to “I support the other guy”.

                      On the matter of not releasing his tax returns, he absolutely does have your support.

                      “What I said was that he needs to follow tradition and show the documents because it will help him lead more effectively.”

                      First off: I challenge you to quote yourself saying anything like that.

                      Right here:

                      Contrary to what you may think, the president actually does need the support of the American people throughout his presidency in order to be effective.

                      As I explained, the majority of Americans–including Republicans–want to see the president’s tax returns. His continued determination to hide them risks further eroding his support. If this issue is a distraction, it is a distraction caused by Trump himself, who promised to release his tax returns and then went back on that promise. The idea that citizens should not demand that politicians keep their promises–and that they are in fact hysterical “idiots” if they do so–is an authoritarian, democracy-hating position.

                      Second off: Bullshit. You explain to me how you think an army of people like you, blissful in your financial ignorance, combing through his records to find something, anything you can weaponise against him will make him a more “effective” leader.

                      I explained this already. Respecting the wishes of the American people, including his own party; showing transparency; respecting tradition; showing consistency and principle, given his previous calls for other politicians to release information about themselves…you really can’t see why any of this would help his credibility?

                      Third off: Your sudden “respect” for “tradition” is still “cute”.

                      I genuinely don’t know what you mean. Can you give me examples of me disrespecting tradition in the past?

                      “Open and Honest” my ass. I don’t think you know the meaning of the words.

                      Can you explain why you disagree that Trump releasing his tax returns would show openness and honesty?

                      You’re constantly ducking and weaving around the question that I’ve asked three times now, slightly different every time. Here: I’m not going to bother paraphrasing:

                      “let’s say you’re right and… He didn’t pay tax… In fact, he didn’t pay through some exceptionally shady loophole. In fact, he just proposed legislation that would make the loophole larger. And he routinely kills kittens and barbeques them. What’s your game? Because I don’t see it. None of this is actionable, none of this is impeachable. What are you hoping for?”

                      Information does not have to be impeachable to be valuable. You know this. I’ve presented the reasons for why the public should see the tax returns over and over again; there need not be any specific “action” for that information to have value.

                    • “Information does not have to be impeachable to be valuable.”

                      Does not answer:

                      “What are you hoping for?”

                    • Chris

                      The cynical, partisan part of me is hoping to find something legally actionable or impeachable.

                      The more rational part of me is hoping the returns will be clean.

                      Either way: we should see them.

  10. ““The president only needs the votes of the people once, and then he can do whatever the fuck he pleases” is not an argument…”

    You’re right! It’s a strawman. Trump didn’t release his tax returns BEFORE people voted for him, and he still isn’t. So… nothing has changed. He isn’t doing “whatever the fuck he pleases” NOW, he did it all along. He did it all along, and was supported while doing it.

    But this is the closest you’ve come to being honest yet. You don’t really believe you have a right to see those documents, you don’t really care about tradition, you’re just really gagging to see them because you think it will damage him and keep him from leading effectively.

    Who knows, maybe you’re even right. But why the hell do you think he would be interested for a microsecond in making your job of making his life more diifcult even a modicum easier?

  11. Pennagain

    Frankly, I preferred tgt’s inability to let go of a dead argument.

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