The Brightest Unlit Candles in the Room

Taxpayers and cheatsThe more I think about it, the more I wish I’d pushed my book “Reality 101” a LOT harder. Because, fundamentally, it was a primer on political disinformation. C’est la vie.

Rachel Maddow Turned a Scoop on Donald Trump’s Taxes Into a Cynical, Self-Defeating Spectacle
Willa Paskin / Slate

— At 7:36 p.m. Tuesday, Rachel Maddow tweeted, “BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC. (Seriously),” sending the internet into a frenzy of theorizing. Did Maddow have Donald Trump’s tax returns or just one of the Trumps’ tax returns?\

And thence the snark: Rachel was too wordy, there wasn’t enough tax return, etc. etc.

And then night turned into day, and the talking heads wearily shuffled through the new fallen snow to their hairdressers, their makeup artists and their waist up finery.

And each and every one of them fell for it, hook, line and sinker, even after just about everybody did that rarest of things: asked “WHO DOES THIS SERVE?” and concluded that there was a damn good probability that it was Donald Trump hisownself.

A few even figured out that it presaged a pivot to the infamous “tax code reform” that has been so long flim-flammed to a gullible and credulous public.*

(* For those of you still using your brains for something other than a doorstop, stop and consider the fundamental fallacy: complexity = unfairness. When you actually THINK about it, there is zero evidence for this unspoken proposition. Indeed, the opposite: Simplified criminal code = death penalty for all felonies, ten years in prison for all misdemeanors, PERIOD. Simpler? Sure. Fairer? Think about it.)

So, what is the epistemology here? (Epistemology = “How do I know what I know?”)

You see, while these Hobbittses is being trickseses, they theorize that Trump has leaked the two page 1040 himself.

They then proceed to expose their general ignorance on taxes — i.e. that the 1040 is basically a SUMS form, minus almost all detail. The partnerships, S-corps, LLCs and overseas bank accounts all have their own detail forms, the rentals have THEIR own detail forms, and so on and so forth.

All the indications (including the Trumpian Tweet Style of the “official” White House Response which pre-emptively dropped BEFORE Maddow’s [legitimate] scoop.)

Frankly it all looks mostly like the transparent manipulation of a mentally retarded Machiavelli.

But, while everyone is taking everyone to task, and saying, we’re being manipulated into not talking about the Russia Connection/Trump Tower Wiretaps, everyone has swallowed the giant frog.

Here’s Politico (mirroring conversations so repetitive, I thought they must be the new “of course, other presidents have fired all sitting US Attorneys”):

Five things to know about Trump’s leaked tax return
The 2005 tax return reveals less than may appear.
By BRIAN FALER 03/15/17 03:49 PM EDT
Tuesday night’s leak of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns provide the best glimpse yet of his finances.

They show he paid almost $40 million in taxes that year on $153 million in income. But the documents, released by former reporter David Cay Johnston on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” also reveal less than may appear.

Here are five things to know about those returns:

1. Trump paid taxes […]
2. He paid more than many of his peers […]

and so forth…

Notice anything in all the trickiness?

NO ONE has ever bothered questioning the veracity of those numbers. Which has created the false fact that “Trump paid taxes and more than most, and, oh yeah, he’s a GAZILLIONAIRE!”

Really? Wherein is that written into the McGuffey reader?

In a nation that took down Dan Rather’s journalism career over proportional spacing on a standard IBM office typewriter of the late 1960s, that spent years in the fake scandal that Obama was born in KENYA (though he’d still be his mother’s child and a natural US citizen — oops) … we’re still THAT easily conned?

The “leaked” 1040 tax form (which is short a full tax return by, I’m guessing, 689 pages) from 2005 doesn’t prove a damned thing. Anyone can gin up a fake tax return with a Xerox machine, some whiteout and a standard IBM office typewriter of the late 1960s.

The Death of Socrates (detail) David

But the entire press corpse has mindlessly accepted the “veracity” of the figures and Trump’s flim flam scores two points: One, that he paid YUUGE taxes and two, because he’s a really rich guy.

And yesterday I heard a GOP congresscritter literally opine, that Der Hairball is “the greatest negotiator I’ve ever seen!”

The fart of the deal.

The silence of the lambs.

And that is how fake facts drive fake news.

We’ve watched it in election after election from the Right: intentionally creating false memes, facts and lines of reasoning. Which was why I wrote the book. (To noah veil, naturally.)

To defend yourself against false knowledge and disinformation is just about a full time job nowadaze (sic)>

Remember that a huge number of news outlets and “Berniebros” still think that they “know” stuff from disinformation documents released by cats-paw Wikileaks and their ultimate cat.

No: GIGO, “Garbage In; Garbage Out” combined with the “First Impression” law that your first impression usually imprints so deeply that it is very difficult to UNlearn a falsehood/fake fact/fraudulent news story. (I have just diagrammed Faux Nooz, BTW).

Let me tell you a story about false facts where the false facts drop out and become REAL facts, and no one’s the wiser.

I used to work for an art gallery owner and one of the little flim-flams he loved to do was to appraise the painting he’d just sold the nouveau riche lady from Texas starting with some boilerplate to the effect that based on his years of experience and intimate knowledge of the art market, this painting was worth …. FILL IN THE BLANK.

The blank was usually ten grand above the selling price for big pieces/names and one grand above for any mere four figure sales. (There were no sales in the gallery BELOW four figures.)

Except that I got to see the inventory printout, and virtually everything he had was jacked up by adding at least one zero: a painting he’d bought for $1,450 was now asking at $15,000. And when the canny rich art collector had talked him down to $12,000 he appraised it for $17,000 or $20,000 so the aesthetic collector could show everyone what a great deal they’d gotten for a $1,450 painting, only having paid $10,550 more than the gallery owner had paid for it, but having had it appraised at $18,550 more than it was worth in the prior transaction.

(Fitzgerald DID note that the rich are different than you and me, after all.)

Trump reminds me a little of the guy, minus the hair and bluster.

Classified document

Would you like some special SECRET sauce on your nothingburger?

Courage.

Cross posted from his vorpal sword

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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