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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

If a report published Thursday in Vanity Fair — that Donald Trump is considering creating a “mini-media conglomerate,” anchored by a cable news network aimed at his current base turns out to be accurate, it confirms the worst aspect of Trump’s candidacy for president: This is all about him.

Donald Trump never wanted to be president, I figure: He wanted to be the most famous person in the world. And after achieving that goal by winning the Republican nomination, he has run a lackluster, losing campaign, race baiting presidents and federal judges even though it’s obvious that that immeasurably hurts his chances at the Oval Office; and continuously returning attention, even in his response to America’s worst mass shooting, to himself.

We should have expected as much. From the first day of his campaign, Trump has run on a platform of… his own personality.

Just a month into his campaign Trump bragged that “I’m not sure I have” ever asked God for forgiveness. “I don’t bring God into that picture,” he said.

After the bombing of a Christian theme park in Pakistan in March, Trump ominously reminded supporters of his stance on counterterrorism: “I alone can solve“.

On Tuesday, after withering criticism from within GOP when he implied the president of the United States knew in advance about the massacre of 49 people in Orlando, Trump reminded them who ought really be at the center of attention: “Either stick together, or let me just do it by myself,” he said. “I’ll do very well.”

Sure, Donald. You’ll do fine. Incidentally, recent polls show the most unpopular major party presidential nominee has gotten even more unpopular.

The move to turn the ultra media savvy campaign into an ultra media savvy news or entertainment effort would require the same skills Trump has leaned on his whole life — bullying, bluster, bullshitting — without the faux patriotism or commitment to service or charity.

Trump won’t be alone in monetizing his political success: After Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, he got his own Fox program, Huckabee, and his own daily radio show. Ben Carson went on a book tour during his presidential campaign. Joe Scarborough turned the charm of a brief congressional career into a much more lucrative morning spot on MSNBC.

And Sarah Palin, perhaps the closest in style and lack-of-substance to Trump’s verbal spasm of a political career, ended her governorship of Alaska a year early to star in Sarah Palin’s Alaska on TLC and publish a book, Going Rogue. In 2014, The Sarah Palin Channel began a one-year life online before crashing and burning.

Donald Trump obviously marks somewhat of a departure from the conservative media industrial complex: He was famous before he was political, for one, and if anything his surely-brief career as a conservative figure has so far made him much less popular than the cruel boss he played on The Apprentice. Most people don’t want that guy running the country.

But Trump’s supporters do. Which begs the question: Assuming Trump loses the presidency — which he seems to believe, unless he plans on running a media company from the White House, breaking more than a few federal laws in the process — will his supporters feel the same loyalty to a Donald Trump neutered of all potential political power?

Here’s my guess: Without the potential for political control, Trump will turn into a sad echo of his current persona — neutered, powerless, and sad.

But he will still be Trump, and so he will continue to constitute his own identity through the eyes of his “audience,” whether they be voters with the ability to ruin the course of American history, duped wealth seminar enrollees, tourists passing in front of his goofy buildings, or a brand new TV audience.

God willing, Donald Trump won’t step foot in the White House. From all indications, he’d be much happier delivering his opinions to households around the country without the burden of responsibility. So let him get his ego fix, just don’t give him the launch codes.


Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump departs after he was deposed for a lawsuit involving partners in a restaurant venture at offices in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   

A Week That Was Disastrous For Trump, Miraculous For Biden

Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he was elected president, according to a blockbuster report published by the New York Times on Sunday.

The Times report also found that Trump is millions of dollars in debt, incurred through a series of failed business ventures — a fact that runs counter to Trump's self-made image as a successful businessman. Trump has also used his financial failings to avoid paying taxes, the report found.

The president has resisted revealing his financial information since the start of his first presidential campaign, despite promising otherwise. "I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary," Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in 2015. Yet for five years, the president has failed to produce the documents.The president paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, and paid another $750 in 2017, according to the report. And in 2014, Trump paid zero dollars in taxes.

Conservatives including Trump often suggest that undocumented immigrants take advantages of government services without contributing their fair share. Throughout his first term, Trump has repeatedly cast blame on immigrants and suggested they post an economic burden to U.S. taxpayers.

"Our current immigration system costs America's taxpayers many billions of dollars a year," Trump claimed in 2017 during his first presidential address to Congress.

That claim does not hold up to scrutiny. In reality, undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes every year. In 1996, the Internal Revenue Service created a program for non-citizens who work in the U.S. to report their income. Non-citizens who do not have a Social Security Number — including undocumented immigrants — are able to file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. According to the IRS, 4.4 million people paid taxes using an ITIN in 2015, totaling $23.6 billion in tax revenue.

This raises the question: why would undocumented immigrants pay U.S. taxes if they are unauthorized to live in the country? Immigrants often choose to pay taxes in order to demonstrate "good moral character" when applying for legal residence or citizenship, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Undocumented immigrants who fail to pay their taxes risk deportation.

"Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, paid an estimated $328 billion in state, federal, and local taxes in 2014 alone," Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, told the American Independent Foundation. "It is outrageous that the average undocumented immigrant in the United States pays more in federal income taxes than the President did in 2016."

This contrast is especially ironic given Trump's tendency to deride unauthorized immigrants as irresponsible lawbreakers. Trump has a tendency to respond to criticism with projection — when accused, he accuses others of the same thing.

"Yes, undocumented immigrants are helping fund the very system that detain and deport us," journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is undocumented, tweeted in 2019.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.