Sunday, December 11, 2016

Trump's Triumph Over the Professional Middle Class

I'm going to tote up a few things that are sometimes too obvious to say, but that should be in circulation.  The end point is that Donald J. Trump's post-fact ethos is the visible piece of a submerged crusade to make the United States a post-middle class society.

The first visible thing is the national knowledge crisis.  People now talk about a post-fact era, and  even the summit of the Washington establishment is feeling distress about Trump's power to dismiss any analysis that "conflicts with his a priori assumptions."    A more banal but pervasive problem is that it is impossible to understand any public issue through television, our dominant news medium.  This is also true of most print outlets, where coverage is superficial and fragmented. That is slightly better than superficial and chaotic, or simply propagandistic, which is the range on TV.  (Social media varies from deep, authoritative expertise to fake news propaganda to dark marketing psy-ops, but I leave that aside here.)  The U.S. has no public framework of political understanding today.  Crisis is too weak a word for the state of national knowledge.

The second clear thing is that Trump's success rested on a classic plutocratic appeal to white racial resentment.  There are two parts to this. Part one, the resentment, takes the form, "my white stuff has been given to minorities by the government."  We often talk as though this just another way of saying "white racism," but that begs the question, what is white racism today? My own sense is that it is tied to a white feeling of superiority and to a white feeling of failure--to the economic and cultural failure to be successful, central to the society, recognized as such. The complicated result is racial resentment, which is fused with resentment of government. Our knowledge crisis then helps many whites trace their sense of failure to the great government giveaway to racial minorities.*

Part two: Plutocracy is Trump running as the American businessman-king, who has a sovereign power to make everything work.  This figure is embodied in the corporate CEO, who has two core features. He [sic] maximizes private/corporate self-interest. He [sic] has a proven capacity to dominate others in pursuing this private self-interest. A plutocracy admits no public interest that is separate from the private interests of the dominant figures. It has no need for democratic processes that are separate from the executive's power to dominate ("to get things done").  Hence Trump's failure to admit the need to separate his business interests from the state or to grant the importance of the emoluments clause that opposes this use of the state to advance private interests.  He of course understands that there are frequent conflicts of interests (Carrier management and Carrier employees, perhaps Putin the oil baron vs. Putin the Middle East strategist). He does not grant that conflicts must be adjudicated by a non-dominating public-interest procedure that differs from the behavior of the strong private executive, and is ruined by the executive.

So far we have a knowledge crisis sustaining a plutocracy crisis that hinges on racial scapegoating. This gets us to a third thing: Trump's voters supported plutocratic racial capitalism because they hate the supposed alternative, the professional-managerial class's knowledge economy, championed by the Democratic party.  The professional-managerial class** seems to oppress them more directly--as managers and know-it-alls--than moguls do. Moguls like Trump act like Machiavelli's Prince, existing above all laws and rules, possessed of a magical ability to get things done.  A quarter-century of Clintonian know it alls--including Robert "symbolic analyst" Reich and Richard "creative class" Florida--have abandoned the American working class and let their towns and cities go to hell.

On top of that, Clintonist professional-managerial types demanded that workers convert themselves into people like them if they wanted jobs.  This meant not just demanding university degrees of 45 year olds but a change in their culture and values and relationships.  On the other hand, Republicans offered the preservation of some manufacuturing and extractive industry jobs for which blue-collar folk were already trained--as well as the continuity of conservative cultural values.  Republicans have been the political champions of blue-collar work, even as their tax giveaways to the wealthy undermine it.  Blue-collar workers can legitimately wonder how much worse Trump could be for them than Clinton and Obama.

Fourth, the professional-managerial class displays a conceptual failure that rests on this practical failure to keep the working class (only 1/3rd white male in the mid-1990s, and less so today) fully inside the U.S. economy  The conceptual failure is to have abandoned a sharp distinction between the public and the private good.  As Clintonist centrist Democrats practically abandoned the industrial working class and racial equality of outcome, they also gutted public good conceptions of social cohesion and majority prosperity.

Fifth, in abandoning the blue-collar economy and a strong public-good ethos, Clinonist professional managerial folk mooted the difference between expert authority and executive authority.  The PMC is supposed to earn its (limited) authority on the basis of knowledge, which is then to generate equity and effectiveness.  Expert authority is supposed to be an alternative to domination, while executive authority is domination. A good large chunk of the population, including the nonprofessional middle-class, now seems to think we may as well have domination via Trump, and this Trump strength exists because the supposed non-domination of expert authority has done nothing economically for Trump voters in the past 35 years.

The two great government programs even Tea Partiers like, Social Security and Medicare, were New Deal and Great Society programs that were in place a generation before the Clinton-Obama quarter century of Democracy Lite.  The yuppie army of knowledge economy advocates added nothing to them. They never built an employment base to match that of dirty industry--steel, auto, coal, et al. To top it off, the Clintons personally squandered the PMC claim to equity and effectiveness--to the absence of partiality and corruption--with their steady stream of minor but revealing scandals over these 25 years.  They also got rich through government service--a common right-wing talking point--further eroding the public vs. private good distinction on which professionals' superior virtue depends.

Disliking professional authority helps explain why Trump's vote correlates with medium and low levels of education more than with higher or lower levels of income: the population that respects the moral and political claims of expertise has shrunk to other experts or near experts like holders of B.A. degrees.  Trump's people never penalized him for his contempt for the governing claims of professional people--quite the opposite. He needs functional skill, but this is a commodity that he can buy, and the Trumps of the world can buy any expertise at some price.  As a commodity, knowledge expertise lacks political rights or moral authority.  The Clinton period has witnessed the commodification of increasingly complex skill, with the irony that professional skill is going the way of blue-collar skill--a point I discuss at length in The Great Mistake.

At this point, a card-carrying professional like myself can rush into discourse critique: In contrast to people like doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, accountants, nurses, college professors, city planners, and so on, Trump has spent his life in a world where a sales pitch plus money and influence creates its own reality, which is good at fleecing people but not at building a society.  More fundamentally, his personality structure disables the sort of verbal analysis, debate, and synthesis that is second nature to knowledge workers. His move is to throw the disputant out of the language game, which, in Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard's classic definition, is terrorism.  Lyotard's definition of "postmodernism" in his famous book on the topic was not the end of "master narratives," but the rise of economic determinism, embodied in the U.S. by the businessman-king, who has the power to expel any irritating opponent from the language game before it starts.   Right-wing media plays its major partnering role.  The point is not to debate democratic socialists, for example, but to define them as bad people who want to destroy America, which means you don't need to debate them at all.  In this discursive sense, Trump is the Terror King.

All true enough. But the structural point is that Trump is also the triumphant enemy of the professions and professionals that make up the PMC.  Professionals, living in their traditional world of self-regulated standards and widespread social respect, do not understand this fact: the American right in general, and Trump in particular, have built a post-knowledge economy in which expertise is a commodity they buy for pennies on the global market.

The convenient effect of this hatred for the professions is that Trump can create the kind of cabinet he has:  foxes will guard every henhouse.  He picked an enemy of the minimum wage and the 40 hour week to head the Department of Labor, an enemy of public education to run the Department of Education, an unhinged opponent of everything public to run Housing, an extractor of treasury funds to run the Department of Treasury, a fan of war to run Defense, an enemy of environmental protection to run the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of the World Wrestling Federation to run the Small Business Administration, and now, reportedly, the leading advocate of private petro-interests to run the Department of State. From from Trump's point of view, why not?  Professional expertise and democratic deliberation either don't really exist or are obviously inferior to executive command.  And the public interest isn't different from private self-interest (an American neo-Smithian truism not limited to Trump).  This frame lends logic to Trump's kleptocapitalist cabinet, running energy policy for the petro sector, banking for hedge funds, labor for fast food chains, and education for charter school chains.

The wider political spectacle will be executive power crushing self-proclaimed independent professional expertise.  Every member of the cabinet of predators represents the use of autocratic authority against collective forces--cultural change, social movements, labor unions--whose political claims have been embodied in the disinterested languages of ethics, the law, and bureaucratic rationality.   Most professionals still think they are sheltered from direct executive power, and the high end perhaps believes their high salaries will protect them.  Protect them from poverty perhaps, but not from humiliation or political marginalization--or from being made historically obsolete as they had made the nonprofessional working and middle classes.

In short, the key achievement of Trump's business wing of the Republican party is have contained the knowledge economy.  It has done this by overcoming the class opposition between the working class and the bourgoisie that Eric Olin Wright could still identify twenty years ago. He has forged a working-class/bourgoisie alliance by rendering the professional middle classes their common enemy.

One big effect is to turn high-end professionals into servants, as I already mentioned.  Another is to have flattened the democratic potential of the tech economy that advocates like John Seely Brown had long predicted. Brown's co-authored Shift Happens is a good window into the promise of 2009 (and 1999). The shifts this book describes are:
  1. Value is moving from stocks to flows
  2. Power is shifting from organizations to individuals
  3. Performance is falling for organizations.
(3) is entirely true: corporations are failing, measured as Return on Assets and other ways.  Large, top-down organizations in general are a mess, and are burdening society in many ways I can't go into here.  In addition, (1) and (2) are true in principle. But the point of resurgent, extractive, financialized Trumpian organizations ruled by businessman-kings is to make (1) and (2) false. Trump's capitalism locks up value in stocks that companies control and meter, and traps individual insight and energy within organizations, where they commodify that insight.  In our era after the knowledge economy, management is more powerful than ever, audit culture rules professional organizations more than during the Bush years, and executives are more entitled autocrats than in any other period.

This is the work of Trump's circle of allies, waging war on dissent, focusing Prince-like entirely on their own rule, and making knowledge creators into subordinates.   It is also the work of Silicon Valley culture, which has been stupid about and contemptuous of human processes and so can't protect them.  It is also the work of Clintonism, which has blamed people and their (non)skills rather than management/moguls for every economic thing. The Valley and Clintonism broke whatever alternative to Trumpism was in the minds of the Google bus dissidents as they were shipped in their rolling crates to work.

The current default is that Trump autocracy will rule American capitalism, keeping it extractive and oppressive to white- and blue-collar labor alike, opposing even minimal reforms, accelerating the aging of the U.S. economic apparatus and its productive decline.  The result is to be a U.S. that is no longer middle class in economic entitlement, political rights, or multi-racial equality.

Such is what the executive-plutocracy-working class alliance foretells.  When the musician Beck, in the top photo, released "Loser" a few weeks after Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993, he called it "forces of evil in a bozo nightmare."  We were warned, and now we have to do something about it.

Addendum: I started this blog as a kind of diary ten years ago this month. In the first post I pointed out that "when the gloves come off, the Creative Class goes down like a bag of cement." Still so true!  Happy anniversary to "Middle Class Death Trips."


*I realize someone like George Lakoff would say facts won't change the framing, and that analysts going back to Du Bois would say facts won't change the social structure.  I agree: a national knowledge system rests on frames or paradigms and not just facts, and the frames are rebuilt every day, week after week.  Thus a functional national knowledge system would fail to support, and therefore erode, this white sense that, to paraphrase Zizek, "the government has stolen my enjoyment.  And given it to racial minorities." We don't have one.

**I generally use Erik Olin Wright's 12-class model from Class Counts (1997), in which the middle-class is a set of "contradictory positions within class relations" that reflect variations of authority and expertise.  This class ranges from expert to skilled to unskilled, and has a range of authority positions as well.  I'll use professional managerial class for the expert/skilled white-collar people, and gloss over a bunch of details, particularly the current civil war between professional and managers in medicine, academia, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Depressing Hillary

The reality is that I don't know a Democrat who is actually enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton becoming the next president. Many Democrats think she's earned her shot and is very qualified. Everyone sees the value of having a woman president.  And yet my twenty-something feminist friends and students have said, "yes I want a woman president.  Just not that woman."  Reports this morning are that in spite of the Trump terror factor, African American early voting is down.

Clinton has not broken with her dynasty's 1990s New Democrat vision of business as the great progressive force, and made no case in the debates that the public mission would be back in charge.  She already ran for president in 2008, when she was defeated by the then more populist candidate Barack Obama.   She didn't have a good record in her last big job as Secretary of State--her acceptance of the removal of the democratically elected Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras helped disintegrate that society, which in turn led to some of the immigration that Donald J. Trump has successfully stigmatized.  And she isn't clearly willing the integrity race with the demagogic salesman, scapegoater, tax avoider, and OPM artist Trump.   On policy, she will be Obama Minus: about the same centrist ineffectuality on banking reform and economic redevelopment, and worse on the Middle East on other areas of foreign policy.  On personal integrity, she isn't in Obama's league--she's more like Trump Plus.

The root problem is her neoliberal self.  This has been nicely defined by the political theorist Wendy Brown as devoting one's working life to increasing the value of oneself as human capital.  The Clintons are profoundly unoriginal thinkers who have stayed inside of the influential orthodoxies of the particular time, for example, favoring stereotype-driven"super predator" mass incarceration in the 1990s rather than confronting the deindustrialization that drove the crime spikes; then opposing mass incarceration thanks to Black Lives Matter et al. in 2016.  This reflects the fact that they always take positions that will maximize their own position and influence. People who have watched them over the years understand this, and it is at the root of the feeling that they are unreliable allies.  The single worst example early on was Bill Clinton's abandoning of Lani Guinier, his nominees for the civil rights head of the Department of Justice, when a Wall Street Journal labeled her a quota queen.  But everyone can imagine the Clinton's abandoning a position at any time, which gives them a queasy feeling.

Another aspect of the neoliberal self is not being able to tell the difference between public goods and self-advancement.  This seems like something anyone could and should be able to do, but this has become less true in practice.  One of the FBI investigations of the Clintons involved "pay to play" use of their foundation in which foreign leaders that Hillary Clinton treated as the Secretary of State could get enhanced access through donations to the Clinton foundation.  Reporters have found a statistical correlation between donations and meetings with Hillary Clinton. The causal connection would never be direct, but what matters is the general ability to imagine that Bill would certainly do this and that Hillary would go along.  They spent the 2000s using their political prominence to get rich.  Though they pay full taxes on their multi-million dollars of annual income, they are the kind of people that can't imagine their wealth impairing their public vision.  That's neoliberalism.

This week CNN announced the firing of former DNC head Donna Brazile because they found that she was feeding questions to the Clinton campaign ahead of interviews.   This is cheating.  The same goes for former head of the party Debbie Wasserman, who was forced to resign in the wake of WikiLeakes information of her skewing party resources away from Bernie Sanders. Hillary's response to that was not to apologize for taking advantage of unfair advantage, but to give Wasserman a job.

I have a bad feeling about what is to come.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Trump's Noir Power

This piece blames the Democrats for the persistence of Trump. My reason is that Trump wields what I'll call the power of noir, and the mainstream Democrats are unable to fight it.  Noir is a vision of terrible trouble and of violent recovery that in this election mixes authoritarianism, economic pessimism and racial fear (of white weakness, rather than certainty of white supremacism).  In the U.S., noir always beats nothing.  And that, at the moment, is what the Dems are offering--the status quo, no change, nothing, nothing that we don't already have with Obama, and that is clearly not enough.

This was Clinton's weakness in the debate she won.  The first question noted that half of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck and asked how the candidates would create good jobs.  Clinton answered that this is an opportunity to think about the country we want, mentioned her two-year-old granddaughter, said "I want us to invest in you," called for more profit-sharing, and said she supported better work-life balance.  All very nice.  None of them offer a direct means of restoring middle-class jobs.

Here's Trump.
Our jobs are fleeing the country. They're going to Mexico. They're going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They're devaluing their currency, and there's nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing.
So we're losing our good jobs, so many of them. When you look at what's happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it's the eighth wonder of the world. They're building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much.
So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They're all leaving. And we can't allow it to happen anymore. As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we're going to do, but perhaps we'll be talking about that later.
But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us
Trump said, of course we need child care.  But we're talking about other countries stealing our jobs. He offered a direct cause for job loss: other countries are getting our jobs.  He then turned to two direct solutions:
All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left -- fired 1,400 people. They're going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this.
We cannot let it happen. Under my plan, I'll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That's going to be a job creator like we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan. It's going to be a beautiful thing to watch.

 Trump's first direct solution helped caused the problem he laments: Reaganite deregulation allowed companies to offshore production with no financial penalties. It's a terrible solution, and will in fact make the problem worse. But he did offer a direct response to the problem, and scores points for that.  He then offered a better, second response:
The first thing you do is don't let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. I could name, I mean, there are thousands of them. . . . And what you do is you say, fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. But if you think you're going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you're wrong. 
And once you say you're going to have to tax them coming in, and our politicians never do this, because they have special interests and the special interests want those companies to leave, because in many cases, they own the companies. So what I'm saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that's a big, big factor.
This is Trump's best line, and it's straight noir.  "Big people are screwing you.  They have to be made to stop. I will stop them.  I will charge them to leave, and that will make them stop."

How did Clinton respond? By recalling the financial crisis eight years ago, and saying this:
That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.
In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, "Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money." Well, it did collapse.
TRUMP: That's called business, by the way.
CLINTON: Nine million people -- nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out.
Now, we have come back from that abyss. And it has not been easy. So we're now on the precipice of having a potentially much better economy, but the last thing we need to do is to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place.
Independent experts have looked at what I've proposed and looked at what Donald's proposed, and basically they've said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would in some instances disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession.
Clinton is basically right, but it doesn't matter.  There is no noir agent in her crisis. "Tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy" isn't an agent: it is an effect of some unnamed parties. How do we know she knows who they are?

Clinton needed to say this: "Donald has supported tax cuts his whole life, and is a champion tax avoider.  I mean he's the king of the legal tax dodge--at least I assume they're legal, Donald.  The congresspeople he gave money all through the 1970s and 1980s when jobs were leaving--they paid him back.  They cut his taxes and deregulated real estate and Wall Street.  When Wall Street blew up the economy with exactly the know-it-all arrogance we see Donald show, Donald and his friends make more money than ever, while his banker friends evicted you or your neighbor or your family member from your house.

She should have continued: "Donald will say, 'that's called business.'  Donald means, 'I win when you lose.'   Now he wants to take another $5 trillion away from you by depriving the government of $5 trillion more after he and his friends lost $13 trillion in family wealth.  He wants to take another $5 trillion from schools, clinics, roads, bridges, colleges, parks, police, firefighters, everything you need for a decent life, and give it to the same wealthy people who made all the money from the crash. Made money from the crash just like Donald did.   I won't allow that.  As president, we'll put the money Donald and his rich friends took from you back into your communities and the economy."

Clinton can only fight Trump noir by writing her own noir plot and making Trump the predator.  As many a Bernie voter knows, she is probably prevented from doing this by her own alliances with Wall Street and her own distance from the working class Democrat base that, starting with the Carter and ending with the Clinton presidencies,

The Clinton-Trump exchanges I mentioned all occur in the first six pages of a forty-page debate transcript.  Clinton goes on to invoke solar energy, inviting Trump to defend another of his terrible claims, which is more oil and coal because global warming is a hoax.  Trump instead turns Clinton-Obama back into the noir villain:
TRUMP: She talks about solar panels. We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster. They lost plenty of money on that one. 
Now, look, I'm a great believer in all forms of energy, but we're putting a lot of people out of work. Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt. You can't do what you're looking to do with $20 trillion in debt. 
The Obama administration, from the time they've come in, is over 230 years' worth of debt, and he's topped it. He's doubled it in a course of almost eight years, seven-and-a-half years, to be semi- exact. 
So I will tell you this. We have to do a much better job at keeping our jobs. And we have to do a much better job at giving companies incentives to build new companies or to expand, because they're not doing it. 
And all you have to do is look at Michigan and look at Ohio and look at all of these places where so many of their jobs and their companies are just leaving, they're gone. 
And, Hillary, I'd just ask you this. You've been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you've been doing it, and now you're just starting to think of solutions. 
CLINTON: Well, actually... 
TRUMP: I will bring -- excuse me. I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs. 
CLINTON: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit. 
TRUMP: Yeah, for 30 years. 
CLINTON: And I have -- well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again... 
TRUMP: Well, he approved NAFTA.. (CROSSTALK) 
CLINTON: ... million new jobs, a balanced budget... 
TRUMP: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.
Trump gets Clinton to defend NAFTA, which destroys her image as tough on Wall Street. She doesn't ever say what the great new ideas are that have come from 30 years of thought.  He goes on to point out that her own party's president is pushing a new trade deal that's like NAFTA, and she doesn't repudiate Obama.  She says, "there are different views about what's good for our country," which proves Trump's point that she can't be trusted to know who the enemy is or to do anything to that person.

When they get to the next segment on taxes, her big line is that she "would not add a penny to the debt." This puts her entirely in the camp of the conventional Republicans that Trump torpedoed in the primaries.  So it doesn't matter that Trump says "the wealthy are going to create tremendous jobs" when the wealthy have been doing the opposite for thirty years, because he is talking directly about overcoming an enemy--people who send American jobs abroad.  She is not.

In the final two-thirds of the debate, Trump lost focus and became defensive, so most pundits have declared her the victor. She was not. She didn't become a noir hero battling an identified evil with a direct intervention.  Trump remained one.

The same problem dogs today's New York Times revelation that Trump may not have paid income taxes for twenty years. Previous NYT reports have showed that Trump built much of his empire on political connections that generated $885 million in tax breaks in postindustrial New York, made his money on a labyrinth of debt, on bankruptcy, and on shorting investors he'd attracted while stiffing working-class contractors.   As U.S. manufacturing and its blue-collar workers declined, real estate deals and Trump's extractions soared.  So you'd think Clinton could make Trump the poster child of American decline, caused by its greedy extractive financiers.

Not so far.  In response, Trump said the Times is an arm of the Democratic party,  that they broke laws to get the tax documents, that Hillary Clinton is even more criminal than Trump is, that Trump is a supremely skilled businessman who was obliged to minimize his tax burden which is what he did. The crucial statement appeared in a Trump tweet: "I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them."

Translating the noir code: "I know the system, I used the system, I broke the system. If you want to fix the system, hire the person who was big enough to break it.  And if you don't, I will keep breaking it."

In a guilt-driven nation like ours, he who shows no guilt will be considered innocent, and receive a hero's welcome.  This is how we have gotten to Trump, the conquering hero.  Some analysts feel that Trump is such an obviously unqualified and corrupt candidate that it's a miracle that Hillary Clinton isn't 20 points ahead. I feel that Hillary Clinton is such a weak candidate on working-class and middle-class economics that Trump still can win. 

UPDATE: Trump's "bitchy sewing circle of overweight men" performed exactly this spin control about the NYT story today (h/t Meranze)--Trump the conquering tax hero.