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

That Associated Press photo of a disheveled, exhausted Boss Trump trudging across the White House lawn with his tie undone clutching MAGA hat in his hand appears destined to become the classic portrait of his reign of misrule: the beginning of the end.

As usual, the debacle in Tulsa, with its acres of empty blue seats, was everybody's fault but Donald J. Trump's. A classic case of over-promising and under-delivering. "We've never had an empty seat, and we certainly won't in Oklahoma," Trump had boasted. Oops!

Hundreds of thousands were anticipated; maybe 10,000 showed. Maybe. The Big Crybaby's campaign alibis that non-violent protesters scared his supporters away from the Tulsa rally. Protesters and the news media that is, which unfairly publicized rising Covid-19 infections there and across Oklahoma.

But it wasn't Black Lives Matter or the largely imaginary Antifa that threatened violence, it was Trump himself. "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand," he tweeted a couple of days before the debacle "you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene."

People were going to get hurt.

(Hey, darlin', how about we load up the kids and go see the riot?")

On racial issues, Boss Trump's invariable message is "Let's you and him fight." He's running as the candidate of the white people in the red states, period. A gang of bearded white guys in camos carry AR-15s into the Michigan statehouse and he tweets "LIBERATE MICHIGAN." But let Black Lives Matter activists march and chant in city streets, and they're "thugs" and "terrorists."

Thanks to criminals who use civic disorder as an excuse to loot and burn, Trump's threadbare race-baiting plays with a many of his supporters. However, one can't help but notice the growing proportion of white Americans—and not just college kids—among protesters marching in the wake of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. The nation's conscience has been touched.

Now me, I have no use for NASCAR whatsoever. The noise alone would make me crazy. It's also my view that nothing involving an engine can be properly called a sport. That said, the sight of large contingent of NASCAR drivers and pit crews rallying in support of Bubba Wallace after an anonymous coward left a noose in the African-American driver's garage, couldn't help but make one wonder if maybe this time around, things are going to be different.

Message: racial hatred is for losers.

Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, a winner of eleven NBA championships, has been outspoken about racial justice all his life—even back when it was widely resented by sportswriters and fans. Today, at age 86, Russell writes of his hope that outrages like George Floyd's death "are forever behind us and that real, lasting change will finally be realized. Our lives depend on it."

Should that happen, Trump will be the last one to hear about it. Nothing outside the orbit of his engorged ego interests him. This is a guy who thinks people are wearing face masks during a viral pandemic to express their opposition to him. A ordinary sociopath would have understood that asking people to sign waivers agreeing not to file lawsuits if they got sick or died as a result of attending the Tulsa rally was no way to draw a crowd.

Indeed, it's a testimony to the Trump Cult's hold over his perfervid "base" that anybody showed up at all. After all, the greatest country song about the city is about "livin' on Tulsa time." Not dyin'.

(There's another wonderful song called "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma," but it's about homesickness. And tractors.)

So was Trump joking or was he deadly serious when he told supporters at the Tulsa event that he'd ordered "his people" to cut back on Covid-19 testing? Perhaps because she recognized that actually giving such an order would have indicated a depraved indifference to human life, the press secretary I call Dollar General Barbie—a Harvard Law graduate costumed as a country singer—told reporters that her boss was pulling our collective leg.

A real kidder, Boss Trump.

The man himself, however, insists that he was dead serious. "Cases are going up in the U.S." he tweeted on June 23, "because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!"

People would still be sick, see, but nobody would know it. Good for Trump, bad for everybody else. Or so he must imagine, because he's really not all that plugged in to reality.

Faced with a choice between Trump as sadist and Trump as liar, the White House is going with liar for now.

So far, there's no evidence he's actually ordered anybody to fudge the data. But the election campaign's only getting started.
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.