Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why Trump Really Doesn’t Want to Release Those Returns

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Very interesting and plausible reason why Trump doesn’t release his tax returns: he fears what will be found if a large number of tax professionals are given a chance to look at the returns. More details here from a West Coast lawyer, via James Fallows.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government, Law

Trump insisted that Mitt Romney release his tax returns

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As noted earlier, Trump continues with his obvious lie that he cannot release his tax returns because he’s being audited. He must know that this is a lie—even the IRS has said that an audit does not in the least preclude releasing the tax returns—but Trump doesn’t care: he just continues to repeat the lie.

But Trump has been insistent that other candidates release their tax returns. Here he is in 2012, taking Mitt Romney to task for not releasing his tax returns fast enough:

This was pointed out this morning by James Fallows as one of the Trump Time Capsule entries. Fallows notes:

In a press conference right now, Donald Trump says that he’d be happy to release his tax returns but can’t “while the audit is continuing.” So he can’t put them out before the election.

The IRS has maintained all along that the audit status has nothing to do with whether the returns can be released. As The Hill and many other outlets noted early this year:

“Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” the IRS said in a statement.

As a reminder:

  • It’s 103 days until the election;
  • Major party nominees in modern (post-Nixon) times have understood release of tax returns and believable medical reports to be part of the basic price-of-entry for the general election campaign. Trump has done neither. (If you’ve forgotten about his ludicrous “medical” report, check it out here.)
  • Four years ago, Trump was even scolding Mitt Romney for talking so long to release his returns: [see video above – LG]
  • This is entirely apart from any question of where Trump gets his money, what Russian operators are or are not doing, or anything else of the sort. Entirely apart from those issues, this is part of the basic bargain with the public of national-level campaigning. Candidates are asking the public to grant them control of the enormous powers of national government.  In return the public properly asks to know as much as possible about the candidates.

So: the reason Trump is giving for not releasing his taxes is flat-out false, according to the authority most likely to know: the IRS. Neither the press nor the public should accede to his attempt to normalize this stance.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

A 1-person, 1-meal Glorious One-Pot Meal

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When The Wife got into doing GOPM cookery, she didn’t want to make two meals at once, so I got her this 1.25-quart Staub cast-iron saucepot. It’s $119 at link (I paid $80, but Staub was just being introduced at the time). You can also get it from Amazon for $249 if you want.

It’s the same thing: layer the food, cover the pan, cook in the oven at 450ºF for 45 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes, and you have a meal. I’m cooking my lunch now.

For me the appeal comes from several factors:

  1. Only one pot to clean.
  2. Easy to improvise recipes
  3. Easy to assemble meal and—more important—fun to assemble meal
  4. Easy to balance the meal: a little starch, a little protein, lots of fresh vegetables
  5. Cooking requires a timer but no attention
  6. Inevitably extremely tasty

This one by layer from bottom up:

1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 Tbsp hulled barley
1.5 Tbsp Crosse & Blackwell mint sauce
1 mild Italian sausage (about 3.2 oz: 5 sausages to the pound), cut into pieces
1/2 bunch chopped mint leaves (the rest of the mint)
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 slices Italian eggplant, chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 lemon, end cut off, diced

The pour-over:

2 Tbsp Bragg Sesame and Ginger vinaigrette
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

It’s cooling now.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Trump asks Russia to hack classified information

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Donald Trump is a very unusual presidential candidate, the first on record of asking a foreign power to hack into government files and take information. Trump’s request is made in hopes that Russia will release information from the hack that will enable Trump to win the election.

So his reason for the request is clear, but it is still a big step—amounting to treason—to ask a foreign power to violate the law and steal government information.

Ashley Parker reports for the NY Times:

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially sanctioning a foreign power’s cyberspying of a secretary of state’s correspondence.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which researchers have concluded was likely the work of two Russian intelligence agencies. . .

Continue reading.

And see also this article by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine.

I can’t recall the GOP being so friendly toward Russia in general and toward Putin in particular.

On another front, Trump continues to lie quite openly about not being able to release his tax returns because he’s being audited. As has been repeatedly pointed out to him (and as the IRS has publicly stated), being audited does NOT prevent the release of the tax information. Either Trump has a very serious learning disability (which I think is a definite possibility) or he is knowingly lying even though he knows that his listeners know he is lying. Neither is a good characteristic in a president.

And people are now pointing to Trump’s attacks on Mitt Romney in 2012 because Romney did not release his tax returns fast enough. Romney did release them, though, and Trump still refuses to release his own returns. One can speculate as to the reason, but this is the first time in decades that a presidential candidate has refused to release his returns.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election, GOP

Gold-plated Gillette Tech goes to auction

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Tech side

The Tech shown is now listed on eBay. It’s a very nice razor, but I have other Techs and so am reducing the collection.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 11:50 am

Posted in Shaving

Nanny’s Silly Soap, The Copper Hat brush, and the excellent Dorco PL-602

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SOTD 2016-07-27

I was exchaing emails with a reader who has a razor with a Delrin handle, which reminded me of my brush with a Delrin handle that I bought at The Copper Hat in Victoria BC. It’s an extremely nice brush, and I like the look of it and the feel in the hand. Delrin is a very tough plastic often used to make gears, and it is denser than one would expect.

I haven’t had any of Nanny’s Silly Soap for a while, but recently got this tub, which is White Grape and Bamboo. It’s a pleasant light fragrance, and the lather is good.

A commenter yesterday mentioned how much he likes his Dorco PL-602, which prompted me to use mine this morning. It is an extremely comfortable and extremely efficient shave. Indeed, it reminds of the wonderful RazoRock Baby Smooth, now no longer available, and on looking at the head I see that it produces the same extreme curve in the blade that the Baby Smooth does. That may account for some of the excellence in its feel and performance. I recommend this razor highly, and at less than $5, it’s not a big risk.

A good splash of Chiseled Face Summer Storm aftershave finished the shave on a fine note. The petrichor fragrance of the aftershave was quite evident—more evident than when I used it following a shave with Summer Storm shaving soap, presumably because this time the fragrance did not repeat the fragrance of the soap and so stuod out more sharply. It does have menthol, and that kicked in just after I left the bathroom: a kind of delayed reaction.

Great shave. Good products do make a difference.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2016 at 11:10 am

Posted in Shaving

The Trump-Putin Fallacy

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Masha Gessen has a very interesting article in the NY Review of Books, well worth reading in its entirety. It begins:

In the earlier months of the Donald Trump campaign, many people I knew asked me to comment on the similarities between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Recently I have been asked to comment on direct connections between Trump and Putin. And now, with the release of nearly 20,000 emails apparently stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s email server by Russian hackers, has come the suggestion that Putin may actually be interfering in the US election to help get Trump elected. These ideas—that Trump is like Putin and that he is Putin’s agent—are deeply flawed.

Imagine that your teenage child has built a bomb and has just set it off in your house. The house is falling down all around you—and you are blaming the neighbor’s kid, who threw a pebble at your window. That’s what the recent Putin fixation is like—a way to evade the fact that Trump is a thoroughly American creation that poses an existential threat to American democracy.

Though no direct connection to Putin, let alone Trump, has yet been shown, the hacked DNC emails have played into a growing theory in the American media that Trump is an instrument of Putin. In recent days and weeks there has been a series of articles that seek to link Trump to the Russian leader. In Slate, Franklin Foer described Trump as Putin’s “plan for destroying the West” and listed all available evidence of Trump’s ties to Russia: he has pursued a series of aborted construction projects there; he has attracted dirty Russian money; and two of his operatives, campaign manager Paul Manafort and adviser Carter Page, have connections to Russia (Page has business interests there and Manafort has worked for the ousted pro-Moscow Ukrainian president). Foer did not claim to show that Putin actually has a hand in Trump’s campaign: he was merely listing the connections that align with Putin’s evident interest in seeing Trump become president. But if one looks at these connections within the overall activities of Trump and his advisers, activities that would include all of Trump’s other unsavory partners and Manafort’s other unsavory clients, it would look like a mere subsection of a tycoon’s checkered international business career.

In The Washington Post, first Josh Rogin and then Anne Applebaum wrote about the Manafort and Page connections and noted that Trump’s people have apparently been indifferent to the party platform but focused on exactly one point: blocking an amendment that would pledge weapons to Ukraine. Arguing that the issue was of supreme importance to the Kremlin, Applebaum called Trump a “Manchurian candidate.” But this theory ignores the fact that the same passage in the platform contains the following sentence: “We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored.” That just happens to be the plank that Russians had hoped to see gone. In fact, earlier this month Page was in Moscow giving a lecture that was publicized by Putin’s press secretary and attended by journalists who asked Page to promise to advise Trump to lift sanctions; in what was clearly a rehearsed performance, Page in response pulled out a Putin quote and read it in broken Russian: it said that countries should not interfere in one another’s affairs. With this in mind, the incident with the blocked amendment begins to look like Page’s attempt to curry favor with his business partners in Moscow by giving them what he can, which isn’t what they asked for.

In The New York Times, Paul Krugman called Trump the “Siberian candidate” and, rehearsing all the known connections, wondered if Trump was more than just a sincere admirer of Putin: if there is “some specific channel of influence.” Finally, Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo, weighed in with a piece called “Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing.” To the usual list, Marshall added that Trump’s

most conspicuous foreign policy statements track not only with Putin’s positions but those in which Putin is most intensely interested. Aside from Ukraine, Trump’s suggestion that the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion is a case in point.

This is precisely what makes the Trump-as-Putin’s-agent line of reasoning so unhelpful. Trump’s foreign policy statements are perfectly consistent with his character and thinking. The man is uninterested in anything he doesn’t understand. He is incapable of strategic planning, and he has a particular distaste for paying debts. Of course he doesn’t see any reason for the United States to fulfill its obligations to other countries and organizations—just as Trump personally wouldn’t fulfill his obligations to other people, or to organizations. Yes, that happens to be exactly what Putin would want him to say. But the idea that Putin is somehow making or even encouraging him to say these things is a work-around for the inability to imagine that the Republican Party’s nominee is saying them of his own accord.

Trump is not a foreign agent. This gets me to the second common trope: that Trump is like Putin. Yes, he is. As Timothy Snyder has pointed out, Trump seems to want to be Putin: “Putin is the real world version of the person Trump pretends to be on television.” That may well flatter Putin. More to the point, Putin is on record as hating Hillary Clinton and blaming her for much of what ails Russia, so there is little reason to doubt that he would prefer to see Trump win the election. But that tells us nothing about his actual ability to influence the election or Trump himself. Trump is also like Mussolini and Hitler. All of them are fascist demagogues who emerged from their own cultures and catered to them. In fact, Trump is less like Putin, whose charisma is largely a function of the post to which he was accidentally appointed, than he is Mussolini or Hitler.

In the middle of the last century, a number of thinkers whose imaginations had been trained in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany tried to tell Americans that it can happen here. In such different books as Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom, Theodor Adorno and his group’s The Authoritarian Personality, and Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, the great European exiles warned that modern capitalist society creates the preconditions for the rise of fascism. America doesn’t need Putin for that.

Not that there are no lessons to be learned from Putin’s reign: there are, and these lessons concern the imagination. I have spent a good third of my professional life working to convince the readers—and often editors—of both Russian and American publications that Vladimir Putin is a threat to the world as we know it. I was not alone in this, of course: the task was taken up first by a few journalists and academics, then by a few more. Making the case was easy: in his speeches, decrees, and, most of all, in his actions, Putin provided ample and easily obtained evidence. And yet for years—while Putin started two wars, took over the media, canceled elections, seized and appropriated assets, amassed a fortune, sent his most prominent critic to jail, and had at least one person killed (and this was just the uncontested evidence against him)—many readers found this case unconvincing. To get from evidence to conclusion and understanding, one needs more than logic: one needs imagination. Both Russians and Westerners simply could not imagine that Putin was as bad as all that. He had to prove it over and over again.

Lack of imagination is one of our greatest handicaps as humans and as citizens. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the richest men in the world, could not imagine that Putin would put him in jail, and this was one of the reasons he ignored repeated warnings and stayed in Russia. Then he spent ten years in a Russian prison. David Cameron could not imagine that his fellow citizens would vote to secede from the European Union, so he called for a referendum. Soon after the vote last month, pundits in both the UK and the US regrouped and started reassuring themselves and their audiences that the UK will not really leave the EU—because they can’t imagine it. I have spent much of this year arguing with my American friends about Donald Trump. Even after Trump had won enough delegates to lock up the Republican nomination, reasonable, well-informed people insisted that some Republican savior would swoop in and reclaim that party. There was little, if any, evidence in favor of that kind of outcome, but for a brief moment many Americans seemed to believe in the unlikely rather than the obvious. Why?

“I just can’t imagine Trump becoming the nominee,” many said at the time. But a lack of imagination is not an argument: it’s a limitation. It is essential to recognize this limitation and try to overcome it. That is a difficult and often painful thing to do.

Now that Trump has become the Republican nominee—and has pulled even or even slightly ahead of Clinton in the most recent polls—it is time to force ourselves to imagine the unimaginable. Forget Putin. Let us try to imagine Donald Trump being elected president of the United States.

The day after the election, the stock market will crash. Then, there will be a lull. For one thing, Trump will not have taken office yet. But life will seem conspicuously unchanged. The stock market will recover some. On inauguration day, there will be large anti-Trump protests in some American cities. But in some others, including Washington, there will be large celebrations that will make your skin crawl. On the other hand, they will not be wearing black shirts, and that will make what has happened seem a little less real. In some cities, there will be clashes. The police will do their jobs, and this will be reassuring.

After all, you will think, the American presidency is a strangely limited institution. It doesn’t give Trump that many ways to radically alter the everyday lives of Americans. But that is exactly the problem. President Trump will have to begin destroying the institutions of American democracy—not because they get in the way of anything specific he wants to do, like build the wall (though he will probably have moved on to something else by that point), but because they are an obstacle to the way he wants to do them. A fascist leader needs mobilization. The slow and deliberative passage of even the most heinous legislation is unlikely to supply that. Wars do, and . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 July 2016 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

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