Sunday, April 16, 2017

The First March, Trump's Taxes

Picture Legend:

1. Julianne Moore
2. Pershing Square, from south to north
3. Pershing Square, area where marchers first assembled
4. John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing
5. Millennium Biltmore Hotel
6. Gas Company Tower
7. Getting started at the corner of 5th and Olive (I’m the one on the left)
8. Our lovely friend and progressive radio personality, Stephanie Miller (on the right)
9. Walking up a big hill on 5th St (I’m still there on the left)
10. Sun Demon
11. One of the many thoughtful signs displayed during the march
12. The multitude
13. Kristina Wong and the Chicken

   The lovely and talented actress Julianne Moore sent me an e-mail April 13th.
   She’s always doing that.
   Maybe she’s lonely.
   Anyway, this time she wants me to get off my well shaped ass and do something.
   This is what she wrote:
   “Hi Ricky [she calls me Ricky, just like my mom and sister]

In 1951, my mother immigrated to this country from Scotland.

Here, she met my father, a veteran who served our country as part of the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam.

I’m grateful to them for helping to make my dreams possible and for all of the lessons they taught me, including the importance of citizenship.

Today, as a parent and as a citizen, I’ve had it with Donald Trump.

I’ve had it with his divisive rhetoric, his dangerous agenda, and his conflicts of interest. And I refuse to remain silent while he wastes hard-earned taxpayer money without sharing the truth about his finances.

That’s why I’m standing with tens of thousands of Americans during this weekend’s nationwide Tax March. We’re demanding to see Trump’s tax returns -- are you standing with us? Just click here to find a Tax March happening near you.

Before he left office, President Obama told us that the most important role in a democracy is citizen.

I have to say he’s right.

I’m demanding to see Trump’s tax returns because, as citizens, we deserve to know the truth. His conflicts of interest could put our national security at risk and make it harder for each of us to stand up for the issues we care about most, whether that’s gun safety or immigration reform.

If you’re with me, I hope you’ll find a nationwide Tax March near you

Thanks for standing up!


Your Honey Bunny, Julianne

   First of all, she’s very presumptuous, assuming I would sign up. But I want to see Trump’s tax returns as well.
   I did find a march near me, at Pershing Square, in downtown L.A. at 10am.
   The lovely and talented TV news journalist, Rachel Maddow, who never e-mails me, even talked about the marches on her show that evening.
   She wished us well.
   So I waited patiently for Saturday to arrive in two days.
   Saturday did arrive! I knew it would if I waited long enough.
   After writing a little and washing my towel I made myself a nice breakfast buritto of sausage, egg, cheese, and liverwurst, then at 9am I left for Pershing Square at 532 S Olive, smack dab in the middle of downtown Los Angeles.

   Our President has had a busy couple of weeks. On Thursday the 6th he authorized, without Congressional authorization, the attack of a Syrian air base with 59 tomahawk missiles. Granted it was for a good reason. Apparently Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s nominal leader, authorized the use of sarin gas against his own people, which was rather rude as sarin causes suffocation from lung muscle paralysis, hence death, in one to ten minutes. Worse than that, the production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed as of April 1997 by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance (like Ricin (which you’ll remember from “Breaking Bad”), mustard gas (which Adolf Hitler got a sniff of during World War I), or VX (O-Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonothiolate. Say that three times in rapid succession), so it’s use is a clear violation.
   The missiles were aimed at the base that launched the jets that dropped the sarin.
   Another example of the power of karma.
   The bigger point here is... we’re not at war with Syria. As former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, Robert Reich quite rightly pointed out, number 1, this wasn’t the first time Assad had used chemical weapons. When he did in 2013, Trump advised against bombing Syria in response.
   And as I mentioned earlier, where exactly did the Trumper get the authority to bomb Syria? “Assad is a vicious dictator who does terrible things to his people. But U.S. law doesn’t authorize presidents to go to war against vicious dictators who do terrible things to their people.”
   The Constitution leaves it up to Congress, not the president, to declare war.
   Also, this action was made in haste, without a thorough investigation of the sarin attack, to verify that it actually occurred the way the Trump administration says it did.
   To that point, as I write this on the 16th, L.A. Progressive published this article which may provide evidence that, no, it didn’t happen as the Trump administration says it did.  
   Trump revived the effort to take health care away from millions of Americans by putting that back on his agenda as his first priority.
   On Wednesday April 12th, apparently Trump authorized (we’re not sure because when asked if he did authorize it he avoiding answering the question in a clear, unambiguous manner) the Pentagon to drop a 22,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) on people described as “Islamic State forces” in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, killing about 36 “terrorists.”
   As Robert points out “It’s the first time this bomb – nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” and the largest air-dropped munition in the U.S. military’s inventory – has ever been used in combat.
   It’s the largest explosive device America has utilized since dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. (By comparison, U.S. aircraft commonly drop bombs that weigh between 250 to 2,000 pounds.)
   Why, exactly? It’s not clear. And what was Trump’s authority to do this? Even less clear.”
   There’s some question as to how much just one of these bombs costs. Some have claimed as much as $360 million per unit. Rachel Maddow said on her show the cost was $180 mil. I checked for myself, and the Air Force claims that each costs $160,000. Now that’s a lot of money, but a lot less than the first two estimates.
   Still, at a cost of $160,000, let me see... 36 people... why that adds up to, about $4,444.00 bucks per person.
   That’s certainly not cost effective! You can kill individual people for a lot less than that!
   If it cost that much to kill people there wouldn’t be any murders.
   The average cost of a bullet is about 22 cents for Christ’s sake!
   And littler bombs are a lot less expensive.
   So the only apparent reason Trump used this weapon is 1, see it go boom (which I admit is probably pretty cool), 2, give “Fox and Friends,” the opportunity to make a music video featuring the explosion, and show what dim-witted, blood thirsty assholes they all are, and 3, allow Trump to show how tough he is.
   Oh yeah, and he’s almost gotten us into war with North Korea, a nation that has nuclear and chemical weapons, who doesn’t care at all about the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, by threatening to attack it.
   All before his first 100 days in office.
   He is indeed the eager beaver!
   Not too busy though to take an early day off and head to the golf courses of Mar-a-Lago... at tax payer expense. 

   Pershing Square is a public park in downtown Los Angeles, California, one square block in size, bounded by 5th Street to the north, 6th Street to the south, Hill Street to the east, and Olive Street to the west. It lies atop a large underground parking garage.
   It is named after John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, who was a famous General of the United States Army during World War I.  He is most famous as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front, which would be the closest to Germany. He rejected British and French demands that American forces be integrated with their armies, and insisted that the AEF would operate as a single unit under his command, although some American divisions fought under British command, and he also allowed all-black units to be integrated with the French army because he didn’t want anything to do with them.
   He also participated in one of the greatest acts of genocide ever known by fighting American Indians in the Apache & Sioux Wars. He fought with Theodore Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan Hill, which was a famous battle of the Spanish American War, which was another war fought to promote corporate interests, and which led directly to the Philippine–American War, which lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. He was an instigator in the Russo-Japanese War, and participated in the Pancho Villa Expedition, which was a part of the larger Mexican Revolution, which raged of for ten years between 1910 and 1920.
   He sure did like to fight a lot.
   Not like me.
   Black Jack (named after a popular card game) is the only American to be promoted in his own lifetime to General of the Armies, the highest possible rank in the United States Army, which is quite an achievement, and is why he has so much stuff named after him.
   I arrived there at 10:00, as directed. On my way I was thinking to myself, what if no one showed up. That would really be embarrassing, and go a long way into proving Trump’s assertion that nobody cares about his tax returns other than reporters.
   As I approached the park on 6th St, a young black woman holding a cardboard support structure with all kinds of buttons on it, told me, “All that hat needs is a nice button on it.”
   I was wearing a ball cap, and she was trying to sell me a button. I politely declined as I have way too many buttons already. I need to get rid of some as a matter of fact.
   But I love them all!
   I entered the block sized park from the south and walked to it’s middle. There were about a hundred people there, some with signs, other people didn’t have any signs at all, one could say they were signless, myself included.
   There were some dogs there, most of them attending to their humans.
   The crowd consisted for a large part of middle aged, or older white people, a few younger ones. I saw several brown folks, two blacks, one purple. As I write this I will place in quotation marks what was displayed on some of the many signs I observed, like this:
   “Show Us Your Damn Taxes,” and “Trump Lies Matter.”
   Pay attention now as I won’t give you any more warnings.
   I sat down. A man came over to me and asked if I would sign a petition concerning Assembly Bill 14, the California Disclose Act, which deals with dark money in politics.
   I did sign it. Later I would get a Tootsie Roll for my efforts.
   Not a big one though, a small one.
   I would see a lot of people fiddling with their smart phones throughout the march. I was envious as I had forgotten my cell phone and left it at home. At that point I didn’t know what time it was.
   “Damn,” I said to myself.
   So a lot of people were taking pictures.
   One guy sat next to me and opened up this large cardboard contraption which was filled with buttons. He was there to sell them, and he did sell some as I watched.
   “Crooked Donald Show Us Your Taxes.”
   More people enter the park and began to congregate. Old and young... no bikers though.
      “Where Are Your Taxes Fool.”
   Someone was holding a flag that had the word “Resist” on it.
   More people came by the minute. In the first ten minutes that I was there about 300 potential marchers entered the congregation.
   I saw a “Show Us Your Taxes" T-shirt.
   “Protest Is Patriotic, Impeach Trump.”
   A lady walked by selling “Tax March” T-shirts.
   A man sitting on the other side of me was holding a sign promoting a car dealership, and supposedly, by extension, clean energy. “Boycott Exxon, Buy Electric.”
   Two ladies across from me, who apparently were with the organizers of the march, began singing, “There’s nothing funny, about dark money!”
   That sort of rhymes, doesn’t it.
   They tried to get a lot of people to sing along with them but nobody did.
   “What Is Trump Hiding?”
   “There Will Be Hell ToupĂ©e.”
   I saw a young girl holding a white bag on the end of a stick with a “$” sign printed on it.
   Fairly soon there were somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 people there.
   How exciting!
   I waited for my friend Storm to show up, but she was busy taking a shower in the Valley.
   It’s good to be clean.
   She was with us in spirit though, she later let me know, as I knew she felt passionately about the object of the march.
   A lot of people that couldn’t be there physically felt the same way, my sister included.
   One of the ladies who had been singing, who was wearing a “Resisting in L.A.” T-shirt, told us that the march would begin at 11:00 at the corner of 5th and Olive, and that we would be following a truck with a big inflated chicken that looked like Trump on it.
   Well that should be easy enough to find as trucks with big inflated chickens on them that resemble Donald Trump are relatively rare in Los Angeles.
   Or at least I haven’t seen any.
   The two ladies began to chant “There’s nothing funny, about dark money.”
   There were now a good 3,000 people of various shapes, sizes, and sexes there. The place was getting filled up fast.
   I now couldn’t see to the north end of the park due to the amount of people blocking my view.
   “Read My Pussy Lips, Trump’s A Coward.”
   The park cops came up to the button selling guy next to me and told him he had to leave because he was selling buttons on park property. He took his time about leaving but eventually did.
   Apparently the T-shirts the “Resist in L.A.” ladies were selling just a few feet away were alright, because they kept selling them.    
   “When You Say Your Taxes Are Under Audit Are You Putin Us On.”   
   By this time there were several million there, in the range of 4,000.
   People took up the chant “What are you afraid of, show your taxes.”
   I detected a medium to high percentage of enthusiasm in the crowd.
   I began to mosey over to the corner of 6th and Olive, with the classic Millennium Biltmore Hotel across Olive on the south side of 5th and the giant 52 story Gas Company Tower on the north side.
   A couple of girls kept hitting on me but I explained in a kind and patient fashion the seriousness and earnestness of the work I was doing, letting them down as gently as I knew how.
   I stopped by the giant chess set which is right next to the giant checkers set, for a quick game.
   Won in 2.7 minutes.
   Somebody gave me a free poster that showed the hand of a puppeteer pulling puppet strings, with one of the hands having a hammer and sickle tattoo, with the caption “Who’s Pulling Your Strings Trump?”
   A big truck was parked on Olive, just at the intersection, blocking the street. I was watching it while a man walked by with a cart  which was filled with what looked like sandwiches. He wheeled it over to the grassy area and started to hand them out.
   I was hungry by now so I went over and got one.
   “These are for the homeless,” a blonde lady called to me.
   “I’m homeless,” I told her. “Wanta see my Homeless Card?”
   “Yes please.”
   I showed it to her.
   “Oh, sorry,” she said.
   It was ham and cheese.
   Music began to emanate from the truck. Loud, rave music, with a pounding and insistent bass.
   I stayed as far away as possible.
   “Less Lunacy, More Transparency.”
   “No! Drive Out The Trump/Pence Regime.”
   It was a bright sunny day in Los Angeles. The people I have figuring out the weather for me told me the temperature would remain in the mid seventies, but the sun was beating down on us and it seemed a lot warmer than that.
   I walked over toward the middle of the north end of the park and looked at the entrance at 5th and Hill where a steady stream of marchers were entering.
   They just didn’t stop!
   “What Tax Returns? Putin Paid Cash.”
   I noticed that real police were showing up and making an appearance.   
   “Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes.”
   “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”
   I’m not sure exactly how that last one has to do with anything.
   I walked over to the truck. And an announcer guy got on the P.A. and asked the crowd in the street on Olive to move over as much as they could toward the hotel.
   Good, they’ll get things going any minute. It must be 11:00 by now.
   Then the announcer guy asked more people from the sidewalk to get on the street.
   I moved into the street.
   Then he told everybody to enjoy the music.
   Oh hell no!
   We were packed a tight as sardines in a can and we were supposed to stand there and dance until the truck guys got their act together and started the march! The announcer guy wasn’t down there on the street. What inconvenience did he have to suffer on the nearly empty truck bed.
   So I moved back to the park, found a spot and waited for the show to get on the road.
   The truck began to play “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
   “Did Putin Forget To Send Your W-2.”
   “Stop Putin It Off.”
   I detected a certain amount of angst within the crowd.
   “Impeach and Imprison.”
   Somebody gave a me a free sticker of Trump’s face made up as a clown. I think I’ll put it on my manager’s door. He will have great difficulty getting it off, which will provide a certain amount of amusement for me.
   That’s very immature isn’t it?
   I agree.
   “Oligarchy Is The New Democracy.”
   “Where Are Your Taxes At Bitch!”
   “The Art Of The Steal.”
    “Turns Out We Do Care, Show Us Your Taxes.”
   The announcer guy on the truck began a crowd chant.
   “What do you wanta see?!”
   “The crowd replied, “Taxes!”
   “When do you want to see them?!”
   He then said that a performance artist was going to perform for them.
   Great. It was getting hotter and hotter. Sun demons pummeled us from the sky.
   I asked somebody what the time was.
   “Eleven thirty,” he said.
   The performance guy yelled, “Long live Putin and Trump.”
   The crowd responded, “Boo!”
   “Long live American Democracy!”
   I thought for a moment about Trump and wondered at the amount of energy required to be such an asshole.
   “We the people we demand, put those taxes in our hands.”
   An assistant of Rep Maxine Waters of the 43rd Congressional District, which lies west of downtown and includes Inglewood and part of Torrance, spoke of Trump’s excuse for not showing his taxes, the audit excuse. She pointed out tax experts and even the IRS had said that it was perfectly fine for him to issue his tax returns.
   During the campaign the media rarely pressed him on this point, if ever. At one point during one of the debates with Hillery, he admitted that he could show them, and would do so, against his lawyers advice, if Hillery released E-mails or something.
   So at that point he was using a lawyer’s advice as the reason he couldn’t release them.
   There must be some pretty nasty shit in there.
   After the assistant finished they played more music.
   I don’t like to stand around and do nothing for no good reason.
   Then an energy person spoke for a while, and he got the people chanting.
   “A liar, a cheat, a climate change denier!”
   More music.
   One last speaker we were told. By this time the whole crowd was beginning to get inpatient.
   He spoke about single payer health care, and ended by exclaiming, “Let’s take our country back!”
   He also spoke of Senate Bill 149, which would require those running for president in a California primary to submit their tax returns for the last five years.
   I’m all for that.
   Then the march began.
   We all filed slowly out of the park, following the chicken, up 6th St to Grand, near the US bank Tower and the library. That’s one of the steepest streets in the downtown area. We turned right on Grand which is even steeper.
   Maybe we could find a nice moat to swim across soon.
   We turned left on Hope Pl to Hope St, at which point we turned right, or north. We turned right onto Kosciuszk Pl, which brought us into a tunnel.
   We stopped about half way through and press photographers got a chance to take pictures of the marchers who were up front.
   Then we continued on back to Olive turning left, or north.
   “Free Hugs.” (“A hug can turn your day around,” says Chuck, of “Pushing Daisies”)
   We blatantly ignored all of the red lights we came across in a mighty yet dignified display of social disobedience.
   “Fuck Golf.”
   We marched to 1st St, made a right to the east, to Hill St, making a left and north again until we reached Grand Park, which brought us to City Hall, our final destination.
   The music was playing as I arrived, then a young lady, Kristina Wong, began speaking. I listened for awhile, before heading home.
   After all, I needed to start writing this.
   I recall one good line she had. That on the night of the election, when it became apparent that Trump would win, the only thing that saved her from jumping off the roof of her building was that the line was too long.
   I hear Trump is trying to rationalize the various marches throughout the country by tweeting something like this.

"Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies, The election is over!"

   Will he release his tax returns? No, he will not. The only way we’ll see those is if Congress forces him to release them, and that won’t happen until Democrats take back the Senate or the House, or both next year.

   But Mr. Trump. It’s not about the election, whether it’s over or not.
   We’re going to get rid of your ass one way or another.
   For the sake of humanity.

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