The Trump Quandary

We desperately need to pivot from Donald Trump and Dan Barry is here to help. If I could only share one article on Donald Trump with some person in the future curious about the Trump Era, it would be Barry’s from today’s New York Times, “‘Loser’: How a Lifelong Fear Bookended Trump’s Presidency“.

It’s not angry or mean, it’s thorough, thoughtful, and explanatory without succumbing to rampant psychological speculation. Barry doesn’t inflame and doesn’t even analyze Trump as much as he describes what has happened, or more accurately, is still happening.

I could excerpt most of it, but in case you’ve already exceeded your recommended daily calories, here’s just a taste:

“. . . his famous aversion to the label of loser has now reached its apotheosis.

Since Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election — and Mr. Trump therefore declared the loser — the president has repeatedly trafficked in baseless allegations of a fraudulent and corrupt electoral process. What was once considered the quirky trait of a self-involved New York developer has become an international embarrassment, nearly upending the sacred transition of power and leaving the world’s foremost democracy — grappling with a deadly pandemic and a teetering economy — with a leader who refuses to concede despite the basic math.

‘AND I WON THE ELECTION,’ Mr. Trump tweeted last week. ‘VOTER FRAUD ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.'”

We’re in a quandary. We need to move on from DT for the sake of our own mental health and our relationships with our conservative friends, but we also need to remember the past.

It’s not psychological speculation to assert that Trump’s preoccupation with winning is his dad’s fault. Pay attention to the stories from his childhood. When I do that, I feel extremely sorry for him. He never stood a chance.

I suppose, like many people approaching sixty, I now realize internal, personal contentment is preferable to any exterior notions of life success.

More specifically, I now realize you can’t beat me in anything if I refuse to compete with you. Knock yourself out winner. I’ll be seeking contentment, quietly, outside of your view.

I’m profoundly thankful on this day that my dad was Donald J. Byrnes and not Fred Trump.

Trump’s Reckless Driving

Based upon tax case law, estate tax compliance is like speed limit enforcement, 5 miles an hour over the posted limit, troopers look the other way. Similarly, stretch property valuations and annual gift discounts +/- 5 or 10 percent on estate tax returns; no harm, no foul.

How Fred and Donald, and then just Donald, via their estate attorneys, drove 120 miles per hour on streets marked as “40”, year after year, I have no idea. Does the “I” in IRS stand for “Incompetent”?

Something else I have no idea about. How do any honest, hardworking people of modest means, who pay all of their taxes, support this serial short cutter whose actions suggest he doesn’t give a damn about the common good?

From the New York Times investigative report:

“They (father Fred and Donald) were both fluent in the language of half-truths and lies, interviews and records show. They both delighted in transgressing without getting caught. They were both wizards at manipulating the value of their assets, making them appear worth a lot or a little depending on their needs.

Those talents came in handy when Fred Trump Jr. died, on Sept. 26, 1981, at age 42 from complications of alcoholism, leaving a son and a daughter. The executors of his estate were his father and his brother Donald.

Fred Trump Jr.’s largest asset was his stake in seven of the eight buildings his father had transferred to his children. The Trumps would claim that those properties were worth $90.4 million when they finished converting them to cooperatives within a few years of his death. At that value, his stake could have generated an estate tax bill of nearly $10 million.

But the tax return signed by Donald Trump and his father claimed that Fred Trump Jr.’s estate owed just $737,861. This result was achieved by lowballing all seven buildings. Instead of valuing them at $90.4 million, Fred and Donald Trump submitted appraisals putting them at $13.2 million.

Emblematic of their audacity was Park Briar, a 150-unit building in Queens. As it happened, 18 days before Fred Trump Jr.’s death, the Trump siblings had submitted Park Briar’s co-op conversion plan, stating under oath that the building was worth $17.1 million. Yet as Fred Trump Jr.’s executors, Donald Trump and his father claimed on the tax return that Park Briar was worth $2.9 million  when Fred Trump Jr. died.

This fantastical claim — that Park Briar should be taxed as if its value had fallen 83 percent in 18 days — slid past the I.R.S. with barely a protest. An auditor insisted the value should be increased by $100,000, to $3 million.”