Op-ed: Donald Trump has shown that he is an apprentice human being.
He has a lot to learn, and not enough time. Voting is a month away, and unless the Russians really have some cyber way of disrupting them Trump will be history.
Friday night was full of vicious attacks on him by senior leaders of his own party. He was disinvited from a meeting with major Republicans in Wisconsin.
“Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has emerged as a trusted Trump ally and adviser, scolded in scorching terms: "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” Politico said.
For those who watched Trump attack everyone from women, to Mexicans, to vets, and victims of PTSD while praising Russian leader Vladimir Putin it was hard to imagine what he could have done that would surprise his critics.
To keep it brief, he said stars like him could sexually assault women any time they wanted.
Unlike previous insults, or the Bill Cosby case, this time there was an audio tape. Hearing the words come from Trump’s mouth was almost incendiary.
Trump didn’t deny it but said it was just “locker room talk.”
That kind of talk may have been acceptable 30 years ago but not now.
Even before Friday’s news Trump was going down in the polls because of leaks about him not paying taxes and a wide variety of earlier insults.
As usual Trump sought to paint his non-payment of taxes as genius, when in fact it was one of his accountants who did the work and he understood none of it.
Although there was talk in Republican circles of dumping there was no indication it would go farther than other such efforts had.
Trump is to debate Hillary Clinton on Sunday night, and most pundits thought he would have to issue some kind of formal apology for his anti-women statements. It would be an understatement to say he has been reluctant to apologize for any behavior.
Turns out his idea of sincere apology was to say: “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we're facing today.”
Most political experts said Trump’s only chance of rising in the polls would be to score a big victory. Clinton, who has far more debate experience, was judged to have scored a major victory in the first debate.
OpEd: In early August the web site 538 predicted Hillary Clinton might be able to build a 7 percent lead over Donald Trump. She is near that now, and has the lead in six of six swing states.
She moved slightly ahead in Ohio this week for the first time, and Trump even lost his lead in Iowa, according to 538.
She already had claimed leads in Florida, Nevada and North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Barring an upset in the final debate on Sunday, it may not be possible for Trump to catch up.
Meanwhile, alleged lies keep hurting Trump.
When the New York Times reported that he had lost nearly a billion dollars and used a loophole to avoid taxes, Trump tried to promote himself as a “genius.”
Just as occurred with his claim that he wrote “The Art of the Deal,” it was widely reported that Trump had nothing to do with the preparation of his taxes.
Trump had said: “As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my employees,” he said. “I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly — I have brilliantly used those laws. I have often said on the campaign trail that I have a fiduciary responsibility to pay no more tax than is legally required, like anybody else, or put another way: to pay as little tax as legally possible,” Politico reported.
Trump’s accountant virtually called him a liar.
“I did all the tax preparation. He never saw the product until it was presented to him for signature,” Jack Mitnick, a former Trump family accountant, told Inside Edition’s Steven Fabian in an interview broadcast Tuesday.
Tony Schwartz, who says he was the real author of “The Deal,” said this week that he would give away $55,000 in royalties he had made on the book because he was so ashamed it helped Trump’s candidacy.
“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” In particular, Schwartz has said he fears Trump would be mercurial and easily distracted as president and that he believes Trump has demonized Hispanic immigrants and Muslims for political gain,” the Washington Post reported.
Op-ed: Donald Trump, who never saw a shot fired in anger, now thinks he knows more about PTSD than generals.
He scorned its victims in a speech in Herndon, Va., on Monday.
Trump said: "When you talk about the mental health problems — when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you're strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can't handle it," he said.
Many hoped Trump had been misunderstood or taken out of context, such as David Maulsby, the executive director of the Texas-based PTSD Foundation of America. He told Associated Press first news accounts were largely correct.
"At the very least, it's a very poor choice of words. PTSD is basically a rewiring of the brain as the result of trauma or prolonged trauma. That is not a reflection of a person's strength, character, stamina — any of that," Maulsby said.
"Our veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress as a result of their combat need to be encouraged to seek help, and not be told they are weak or deficient in character in any way, shape or form," he said.
But the criticism Trump has received doesn’t even come close to what he deserves.
As someone who suffered PTSD and had to go on Social Security Disability I can tell you it hits reporters, like me, police officers, firefighters and other first responders. And of course the victims of massacres and other violent incidents like Columbine High School, which I covered.
It was not my first such story.
Using Trump’s standards I guess I am one of the strong because I did not commit suicide. I became a walking test tube for anti-depressants and other drugs and my family’s finances were destroyed.
The irony was I was covering PTSD for Associated Press, among the first reporters to study its effect, in this century, though it had been studied before. The U.S. Army knew of the effects of repeatedly exposing troops to violence during World War 2 and knew it could lead to soldiers becoming psychotic.
Officers were told to watch for soldiers near “their breaking points.”
And yet in this century, more than 60 years later, reports of PTSD initially were greeted by officers calling victims “malingerers.” I saw this first hand at Fort Carson in Colorado and heard about its in dozens of interviews.
Trump is the last person to judge these people. Even flying in a helicopter frequently could cause PTSD, without ever deploying in a combat zone.
The late British war historian, Sir John Keegan, wrote in “The Face of Battle” that war was making itself useless because humans had evolved beyond it.
British historian John Keegan, in “The Face of Battle,” writes that evolution has made “the fitness of modern man to sustain the stress of battle increasingly doubtful.”
There is no doubt some warriors can handle the stress, Keegan wrote.
But doctors now know that “psychiatric casualties at every stage of the war formed a significant percentage of all battle casualties...”
Op-ed: As is often the case, answers about Donald Trump’s conduct raise more questions than they answer.
Virtually everyone knows Trump didn’t pay any taxes for 18 years because of nearly $1 billion investment losses. Some think this is genius. Some think he is robbing the country by not paying his share.
But did he even suffer these losses?
An accountant, Allan Sloan, who wrote a column for the Washington Post is accusing Trump of exaggerating his loses.
Sloan wrote the claim loss “vastly exceeds any cash losses that Trump would have suffered in the collapse of his casino-hotel-airline empire, which fell apart in the early 1990s and resulted in four bankruptcies.”
He wrote these losses were not real money, but paper, a mirage. There have been many reports in creditable news companies that Trump did not pay many of his bills. He has even admitted it, saying the people involved didn’t do a good job. It is hard to imagine how the vendor that sold him $100,000 in pianos did a bad job.
“They’re almost certainly paper losses rather than out-of-pocket losses. It’s possible that those losses somehow vanished into the ether from which they came — we have no way to tell,” Sloan wrote.
In other words, he avoided taxes claiming he had lost money he never spent.
Sloan wrote: “The major takeaway from the three pages of Trump’s 1995 returns that the Times made public is that Trump is right when he says the system is rigged. What he doesn’t say is that it’s rigged in his favor and in the favor of people like him — and against regular people, those of us who earn money, pay income tax on it, and financially support the country in which we live.”
“There’s a real question … as to whether these losses are economic -- through spectacular failures of Mr. Trump’s business, tax avoidance, perhaps lawful, or maybe something much worse,” said Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.
“It’s possible some of the money Trump lost wasn’t even his."
“If he borrowed from a bank, it’s their money that disappeared… It’s almost inconceivable that he’s actually out of pocket $900 million dollars,” Howard Abrams, a professor at the University of San Diego Law School. “In essence, he’s deducting their losses.”
Many analysts said Trump broke his obligations to investors by using the tax laws to benefit himself personally at their expense.
A week of attacks on women, the tax reports, close ties with the Russian government, illegal visits to Cuba and other events have stopped his surge in the polls and Hillary Clinton is moving up.
Monday morning the state of New York suspended the certification of Trump’s foundation, which means it cannot collect donations, according to MSNBC. Meanwhile, the media has spent months focusing on the Clinton Foundation without finding a single misstep.
Trump already is facing trials on alleged fraud at Trump University.
Op-ed: An unknown source provided the New York Times’ tax records that show Donald Trump lost nearly a billion dollars in 1996. The newspaper, and other media, said the revelation could mean Trump hasn’t had to pay taxes for all the years since.
The Trump campaign did not deny the loss but said the records had been illegally obtained, and threatened legal action.
The Times’ decision to report the loss likely would be covered by the First Amendment guarantees, especially since so far there is no claim that the information is false.
And in today’s wired world there is no way to put this information back in what is Trump’s Pandora box.
However, the Washington Post said Times' staff might be prosecuted. The Post had risked just that when it published the Watergate story.
The Post said: "It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution."
The newspaper said the losses were “derives from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic city casinos…”
Politico’s headline on the tax report said: "Bombshell Report sends GOP Nominee Reeling.”
The news site said: “Trump’s refusal to release any tax returns, something every presidential nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972 has done, has been one of the larger clouds hanging over his campaign and one his Democratic opponent has sought to exploit.
It now appears as though the GOP nominee’s failure to come clean has backfired, with the Times drawing one of the same conclusions that Hillary Clinton offered as a possible explanation for Trump’s secrecy in last Monday’s debate — that he has paid little or no federal income tax for some time.”
And it explains why he has refused to release his taxes as has every major candidate since Richard Nixon.
In what seemed like the plot of a movie about Watergate or Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor,” the Times does not know the source of the records.
“The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at The Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances,” the newspaper said.
It had a tax specialist examine them and it was determined he may have been able to avoid all taxes since then. The Washington Post also had a tax accountant review them, and he came to the same conclusion.
In the past week, Trump’s surge in popularity had stopped after a poor performance in the first debate. Clinton has moved further ahead in most polls.
Op-ed: The Dutch government says Russia is responsible for shooting down a Malayasian airliner over the Ukraine two years ago. Amsterdam investigated the crash because the plane had taken off from the Netherlands.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has frequently been praised by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump for being a strongman.
Trump had no comment on the Dutch claim made at the United Nations.
Two former top officials in the CIA and U.S. Defense Department, Michael Morrell and Mike Vickers told the Washington Post:
“Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.”
All 298 people on board died when the Malaysian Airliner, flight 17, was shot down July 17, 2014 while Russia and the Ukraine were in a conflict over who controlled Crimea.
Wikipedia said: “The incident is the deadliest airliner shoot down incident to date. All 283 passengers and 15 crew died. The crew were all Malaysian and about two-thirds (68%) of the passengers were Dutch, while many of the other passengers were Australians and Malaysians. By 19 July, the airline had determined the nationalities of all 298 passengers and crew.
“Among the passengers were delegates en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, including Joep Lange, a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organized the conference. Many initial reports had erroneously indicated that around 100 delegates to the conference were aboard, but this was later revised to just six. Also on board were Dutch Senator Willem Witteveen,Australian author Liam Davison, and Malaysian actress Shuba Jay.”
“A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night,” the New York Times said.
“The report largely confirmed the already widely documented Russian government role not only in the deployment of the missile system, called a Buk, or SA-11, but the subsequent cover up, which continues to this day.
“The report by a team of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine was significant for applying standards of evidence admissible in court, while still building a case directly implicating Russia, and is likely to open a long diplomatic and legal struggle over the tragedy.”
Russian TV said Russia was not involved and the Dutch had made up evidence implicating Moscow.
Op-ed: Monday was the first televised debate with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sharing the same stage.
At times it appeared Donald Trump was one of Dr. Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees.
Asked about Russians or others spying on us, Trump said it could have been anyone, even a “400 pound man sitting on a bed.”
Time after time he took the bait when Hillary Clinton talked about the government loopholes he had benefited from.
He boasted of making money from the recession which cost millions their homes.
“That’s called business, by the way.”
He was unclear about when and if he would release his tax details, at one point saying he would if she, Mrs Clinton, released her emails and then saying he would not.
Clinton responded: “Well, I think you've seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you're under audit.
“So you've got to ask yourself, why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be.”
Trump has refused offers of millions of dollars from billionaire Mark Cuban if he would simply answer some questions about his alleged wealth.
A CNN poll and others said Clinton won the debate, but time will tell. The 538 website said her poll numbers will rise if she did win the debate.
Trump frequently interrupted Clinton but she did not seem to react.
“Polling over the next few days will reveal how voters, particularly those who haven’t made up their minds about whether or for whom they will cast their ballots, processed the debate. Immediate reactions from focus groups and spot polling showed Clinton the victor,” said Real Clear Politics.
Rolling Stone said: “The most important exchange of the night came on climate change. Clinton, after outlining her plan to make America a clean-energy superpower, hit Trump as a denier: "Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese," she said. "I think it's real."
“Trump then lied. Flat out lied. In a night full of lies, Trump's attempt to disavow climate denial was "bigly" the biggest.
"I did not. I did not," Trump said, overtalking. "I do not say that."
“But Trump did say that. In a tweet in November of 2012, Trump insisted: "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
“This is not the only time Trump has blasted climate change as a myth. Indeed, climate denial is a drum Trump likes to bang nearly as much as the racist birther lie."
2016 US election news and other news from the USA
Worked in journalism, including on the Internet, for more than 40 years. Started as a news editor at the Colorado Daily at the University of Colorado, joined a small Montana newspaper, the Helena Independent-Record, and then United Press International.