Tuesday, September 29th, 2020


The False Profit

I mean, you didn't think Donald Trump was hiding his taxes because he was more successful than we thought. While it may feel satisfying to see some paperwork behind the house of cards, the NYT's exposé on Trump's taxes is hardly surprising. Maybe the only bewildering part of his decades-long plot to dupe everyone from television audiences to the IRS is that it all leaves him without a pot to pee tape in. In essence, he ran a reverse pyramid scheme. He cheated, borrowed, and lied, all to end up broke. Give Trump credit for this (and by credit, I mean the public acknowledgement kind, not the financial instrument kind): No one has ever done a better job playing the part of a successful businessman. Ironically, that's the one thing he's made money doing. NYT: How Reality-Tv Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline. "Months after that inaugural episode in January 2004, Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year. The red ink spilled from everywhere, even as American television audiences saw him as a savvy business mogul with the Midas touch. Twelve years later, that image of the self-made, self-saved mogul, beamed into the national consciousness, would help fuel Mr. Trump's improbable election to the White House."

+ NYT: 18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records. "In addition to the 11 years in which he paid no taxes during the 18 years examined by The Times, he paid only $750 in each of the two most recent years — 2016 and 2017."

+ My dad is in the real estate business, so I've been hearing him explain Trump's financial shenanigans for decades. When it comes to this story, I might be the least surprised person in the world. Well, outside of Scotland... "October marks the 15th anniversary of the incorporation of Mr Trump's first Scottish company, set up to facilitate the development of his inaugural Scottish course ... In that entire time, not a single one of Mr Trump's companies has paid a penny in corporation tax to authorities in the UK. The reason? Not a single one has ever turned a profit."

+ The question of the moment: Will 750 convince people when 200,000 didn't? Or as The New Yorker's David Remnick puts it: Donald Trump Barely Pays Any Taxes: Will Anyone Care? For the Trump psyche, I think there's actually much more at stake than votes. This is life-long fraud coming unraveled. The psychic pain is on a level a normal person can barely relate to. It's the everything story.


Cleveland Steamer

Aside from giving armchair pundits a chance to shake off some live-tweeting rust, it's hard to imagine that tonight's debate is going to change a lot of minds. (They disagree on every policy and we've had decades to witness the character of both men, but I'm gonna wait and see who gets in a really good zinger.) Here's a look at some of the prep going on behind the scenes.

+ It's also hard to imagine Trump's remaining backers seeing any debate performance of his as a loss. More concerning, many of them also can't imagine an election loss. "Trump supporters saying they have Mr. Trump's back is not a surprise at this point in the Trump era. But recent interviews with Republican voters in several battleground states show just how much Mr. Trump's unrelenting campaign to shake trust in voting has compounded the deep misgivings his supporters have about the integrity of the process. While some were troubled by the idea that Mr. Trump might refuse to leave if he was decisively defeated, many simply do not believe that he could, or will, lose fair and square." How Trump Voters Feel About His Refusal to Commit to Transferring Power.


One Million

"Even at 1 million — greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas, more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean — the toll is almost certainly a vast undercount. Many deaths were probably missed because of insufficient testing and inconsistent reporting, and some suspect concealment by countries like Russia and Brazil. And the number continues to mount." AP: Worldwide grief: Death toll from coronavirus tops 1 million.

+ More deaths. More misinformation: "Top White House officials over the summer pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to downplay the risk of the coronavirus among young people and encourage the reopening of schools, according to two former CDC officials who were at the agency at the time." (It never ends.)

+ As NYC goes back to school, Covid-19 numbers are going back up.

+ Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings close facilities after Titans players test positive for the coronavirus.


Amnesty Gram

"Tuesday's announcement puts India in the same category as authoritarian regimes such as Russia, the only other country where Amnesty International previously ceased operations when it shuttered its office in 2016. The director of its Turkey arm was arrested, but its office in the country remains functional. The group does not have a presence in China." WaPo: Amnesty International to cease work in India, citing government harassment.


Legislative Wall

"A Venezuelan father waiting in Mexico to plead his U.S. asylum case who has yet to meet his newborn daughter. An Iraqi refugee stuck in Jordan despite his past helping U.S. soldiers. A mother sent back to Honduras after being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border from her two young children. A Malian package courier deported after three decades in the United States. And an Iranian couple kept apart for years under a U.S. travel ban." All of these people were impacted by Trump's signature policy before the pandemic. And regardless of who wins, changes will not be quick. Reuters: The Tangle: Unraveling of Trump policies a distant hope for separated immigrant families.


The Other Pandemic

"In the six months since Covid-19 brought the nation to a standstill, the opioid epidemic has taken a sharp turn for the worse. More than 40 states have recorded increases in opioid-related deaths since the pandemic began, according to the American Medical Association. In Arkansas, the use of Narcan, an overdose-reversing drug, has tripled. Jacksonville, Fla., has seen a 40 percent increase in overdose-related calls. In March alone, York County in Pennsylvania recorded three times more overdose deaths than normal." NYT: ‘The Drug Became His Friend': Pandemic Drives Hike in Opioid Deaths. (It's got to be painfully ironic for these families to anxiously await a pandemic vaccine from the same industry that drove America's other health epidemic.)


You Can Even Eat the Dishes

"The super-enzyme, derived from bacteria that naturally evolved the ability to eat plastic, enables the full recycling of the bottles. Scientists believe combining it with enzymes that break down cotton could also allow mixed-fabric clothing to be recycled. Today, millions of tonnes of such clothing is either dumped in landfill or incinerated." New super-enzyme eats plastic bottles six times faster. (Knowing humans, we'll figure out a way to dispose plastic 7 times faster...)


Cardboard Stiff

"They reveal a mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses, one that is especially acute at robotic facilities and during Prime week and the holiday peak – and one that Amazon has gone to great lengths to conceal. With weekly data from 2016 through 2019 from more than 150 Amazon warehouses, the records definitively expose the brutal cost to workers of Amazon's vast shipping empire – and the bald misrepresentations the company has deployed to hide its growing safety crisis." Reveal: How Amazon hid its safety crisis.


Par for the Course

"Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was detained and hospitalized Sunday afternoon after an altercation with his wife at his Florida home. Parscale, who is still on the Trump campaign staff, had a loaded weapon and was threatening suicide, Fort Lauderdale police said Monday. Parscale's wife, Candice, called the authorities after fleeing the home when Parscale allegedly loaded the gun in front of her during a verbal altercation. Candice told police that Parscale was in the house with multiple guns after drinking heavily; she said she feared he might take his own life." Former Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale Accused of Domestic Abuse by Wife. (There are now enough former Trump campaign managers in legal trouble for them to start their own Scared Straight Program.)


Bottom of the News

"An analysis of monthly US Census data by the Pew Research Center reveals that a majority of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are now living with their parents — surpassing a record set during the Great Depression. These numbers have only increased as lockdown has ground on: The Pew poll says that 47% of young adults were living with at least one parent in February; that number climbed to 52% in July. According to Pew, the trend encompasses 'all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions.'" Millennials Are Trying To Shake The Stigma Of Moving Back In With Their Parents. (I'm less concerned with any stigma and more concerned that my parents keep changing the locks...)

+ GQ: How Gray Sweatpants Became the Unofficial Symbol of Fall Horniness.

+ I know less about Cricket than Ted Lasso knows about soccer, but this seems like a good play.

+ I just got my new NextDraft Let There Be Light t-shirt. It could be the best ND shirt of all time.