Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Uncategorized

Believe It, You Matter: The “May Contain Peanuts” Presidency

Believe It, You Matter: The “May Contain Peanuts” presidency.


Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries. Offering this in case it helps you talk to friends who might have voted for Trump in 2016, who lean Republican, and who are struggling with who to vote for in 2020.


Ok, so you go to the store and you buy a bag of peanuts. *As you’re having your snack, you idly flip it over and notice that on the back, in a far smaller font, there’s a warning:


May contain peanuts.


This despite the fact that it says PEANUTS in two-inch-high red letters on the front of the goddamn package.


Why the hell is that warning there?


It’s there because a) the company that sells the peanuts got sued by someone, and they got nailed for not having an explicit, legible warning printed on the package, or b) the lawyer for the company got spooked by a similar lawsuit and insisted they put that language on the package, just in case.


It seems ridiculous to warn people that a package of peanuts contains peanuts. It should be self-evident. And guess what? It IS self-evident to virtually everyone. The vast majority of people who are allergic to peanuts read the front of the package and stay far away.


Except one guy.


THAT guy.


There’s ALWAYS that guy.


And somehow That Guy finds a That Guy Lawyer and brings a ludicrous lawsuit claiming that a bag of peanuts that says peanuts on the front is not enough of a warning. So the company does a collective eye-roll and tells the graphics department to put the warning on the back of the goddamn package, just in case.


Trump is That Guy.


There’s a bunch of things that everyone who runs the country, or wants to, does because it’s The Right Thing To Do.


An example of that is candidates for president releasing their tax return at some point in their campaigns.


They do that because Richard Nixon submitted some hinky-looking tax returns in the early 1970s. The hinkiness fed into the Watergate scandal. It was the tax thing, NOT Watergate, that prompted Nixon to famously say, “I am not a crook.”


Anyway. Since Nixon, all presidential candidates have released a series of tax returns from their recent past, to show they’re clean and hink-free.


It wasn’t, and isn’t, a law. It never needed to be.


Everyone understood that releasing their tax returns was The Right Thing To Do, and it let the public get a clearer picture of the people who wanted the job of Leader of the Free World.


Except Trump.


Oh, he PROMISED, as a candidate, to release them, but he never got around to it, and the GOP never got around to demanding that he do it before picking him as their 2016 nominee.


As President, Trump famously said, “Hmmm, nah, not gonna,” and KellyAnne Conway was wheeled out to back him up.


As I type this in late March 2019, the Dems who run the House of Representatives are in the process of summoning Trump’s tax returns. [I have no idea why it’s taking so goddamn long.] Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is bracing for a fight, even though Congress definitely has the right to ask for them.


But the Dems shouldn’t have to ask for them, because Trump should have released them like every single other candidate has since Nixon. And the GOP should have told him “Release your goddamn tax returns, or you can’t be the 2016 Republican nominee. Simple as that, dude,” and they should have followed through.


But he didn’t, and they didn’t, so here we are.


Because of Trump, we now have to codify in law what everyone did voluntarily for decades, because while their individual political worldviews might be shitty, they, themselves, were not shitbags.


Because of the GOP, we now have to codify in law what they should have stepped up and enforced, voluntarily, because they’re craven cowards who claim to hate regulations and big government, but they won’t do what’s necessary help create a world in which people Do The Right Thing without being compelled to by law.


Trump is That Guy.


Fuck That Guy!


Fuck him for forcing us to pass laws covering acts that everyone before him was sensible enough to do without having to be compelled. Fuck him for his shitbaggery that’s forcing us to say, “Hey, you presidential candidates can’t be a shitbag in this particularly obvious way, or else.”


Fuck the GOP for not stepping up when it mattered.


Fuck him for making the process of running for high office that little bit more grim and tedious.


Trump is That Guy.


Don’t re-elect That Guy.


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*I have not encountered such a bag of peanuts in the wild, but I have encountered other products with equally absurd warnings on their packaging. I have not meticulously cataloged them with photographic evidence.

Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).


Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:


Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA


Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:


This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):


Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger









Community Activism · Postcard Campaigns · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Tell Trump You Care About His Tax Returns

This OTYCD entry originally posted in January 2017.

During his January 11, 2017 press conference, Trump claimed that only reporters cared about his tax returns.

After repeating the claim that he could not release the information because it was under IRS audit, this exchange ensued:

Trump: “You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only ones who ask.”

Question (Unnamed Reporter): “You don’t think the American public is concerned about it?”

Trump: “No, I don’t think so. I won, when I became president. No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all.”


Prove Trump wrong by telling him you care about his tax returns.


You can mail a postcard to:


Donald Trump

c/o Trump Tower

721 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY, 10022


Write a succinct, polite, direct message:


I care about your tax returns.

I am not a reporter, and I care about your tax returns.

I am a concerned citizen, and I care about your tax returns.

I care about your tax returns (written out as many times as will fit on the postcard)

Please release your tax returns.


Postcard stamps cost 34 cents. Buy them online through the USPS store:



Earn OTYCD style points for mailing Trump a postcard that features Norman Rockwell’s timeless Four Freedoms series image, Freedom of Speech. You can buy them for $1 apiece through the Norman Rockwell Museum Store online:


Earn double OTYCD style points for buying a 100-count roll of postcard stamps, a big mess ‘o postcards, and inviting as many like-minded friends as you can to join you for a postcard-writing party. Maybe plan it for January 20. Why not?

Encourage as many people as you can to mail postcards to Trump. The more, the better. If it appeals to you, go ahead and mail a postcard every day until he relents and reveals his tax returns. (Be warned that if you follow that path, you may need to buy more 100-count rolls of postcard stamps.)


If you have a Twitter account, you can tweet Trump at:




Be succinct, polite, and direct. Boring, even. Make your point and get out: “I care about your tax returns.” Include the hashtag #TrumpTaxes.

Tweet your message as often as you like and as often as your followers will put up with it, or until Trump reveals his tax returns.


This New York Times article contains a full transcript of the January 11 press conference. Scroll down about 40 percent of the way to find the exchange about tax returns:

Marches and Protests · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Join the Second Annual Tax March on Sunday, April 15, 2018

Join the second annual Tax March on Sunday, April 15, 2018.


Last year, the focus was on urging Donald Trump to release his tax returns, which he’d promised to do as a candidate but had failed to fulfill.


Well, as of the time of writing, now-President Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns, and he has since signed a lousy, destructive tax bill that benefits big corporations and the already wealthy at the expense of the middle class, the working class, and the poor.


Please come out a second time to demand that Trump release his tax returns AND demand the repeal of the Trump Tax Bill.



Find a Trump Tax March near you (dates prior to Sunday, April 15 might reflect events for the Repeal the Trump Tax Tour):



See the main Trump Tax March page:



Sign up for updates on the Trump Tax March (scroll all the way to the bottom):



Donate to the Trump Tax March:



Buy Trump Tax March merch:



Like the Trump Tax March on Facebook:



Follow it on Twitter:





Call Your Members of Congress

Call Your MoCs to Say NO to Trump’s Proposed Tax Cuts

Call your MoCs to say NO to the tax cut bill that Trump and the GOP are proposing.

In late September, just as Trumpcare 3.1 was given up for dead, Trump and the GOP unveiled their plans to “reform” the U.S. tax code.

You won’t be surprised to learn that it sucks, and it doesn’t do what Trump claims it does.

If Trump and his minions got their way, they’d repeal the estate tax, which only kicks in for those passing on wealth amounting to $11 million or more.

The bill would raise the lowest tax bracket and lower the highest tax bracket, which means those subject to the lowest bracket would pay more tax and those who qualify for the highest tax bracket would pay less.

The bill also proposes doing away with the provision that allows filers to deduct state and local taxes, which would hurt residents in blue states such as California, New York, and New Jersey.

Trump claims that he would not personally benefit from the proposed changes. This New York Times article shows that Trump would receive more than $1 billion extra:

Trump claims the bill won’t benefit the rich. It will, and it would benefit the rich most of all, as these articles show:


Also consider that the bill would add $2.4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years (funny how Republicans lose interest in this when they’re in power).

And let’s not forget that Trump has yet to release his own tax returns in full, which he promised to do during the 2016 campaign.


Please call your MoCs to oppose Trump’s tax bill. Please check their websites and social media feeds before you call to see if they’ve said anything about the bill, and thank or shame them accordingly.

If your Senators include any of the following Republicans, it is extra-important for you to call:


Bob Corker, Tennessee

John McCain, Arizona

Rand Paul, Kentucky

Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania

Orrin Hatch, Utah

Susan Collins, Maine


This Bloomberg article explains why:


Now the script: “Dear Senator/House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to oppose the tax bill being put forward by Trump and the GOP. It would eliminate the estate tax, which is a terrible idea. Part of what makes America America is that we don’t have a landed gentry, like they do in Europe. The estate tax ensures that scourge does not take root here. It also takes away the chance to deduct state taxes, which is insane, and designed to punish blue states in particular. And if it was passed, it’d widen the deficit by $2.4 trillion over 10 years. Any tax legislation on this size and scale should be revenue-neutral. And lastly, we shouldn’t be taking up plans that would give Donald Trump a tax break without him first revealing his tax returns, as he promised to do. Thank you.”


Read more about the tax bill:









Marches and Protests · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

Join Your Nearest Trump Tax March on April 15

Those who lived through the 2016 presidential campaign know all too well that Donald Trump does not feel shame. But those who joined the Women’s March protests on January 21 know that he feels some uncomfortable emotion that he can’t name, and feels it keenly, when exceptionally large groups of people gather all over everywhere to push back against his nonsense.

Join the Trump Tax March happening near you on Tax Day, April 15.

The march is a social media wish that came true, but Trump himself willed it into being by promising to release his tax returns when on the campaign trail and refusing to do so once he was in office. He continues to insist that the public does not care that he hasn’t released his tax returns.

Trump clings to this delusion despite all evidence to the contrary, including a petition asking him to release his tax returns that tallied the required 100,000 signatures to trigger a response in under two days. As of February 4, 15 days short of the deadline to sign, it had racked up almost half a million signatures. It is the most popular petition in the history of the site, which was created by the Obama administration.

Clearly, people want Donald Trump to fulfill his promise and release his tax returns. Joining the April 15 marches just might prod him to do that.


View the page and sign up to receive alerts about the march:


Find the Tax March taking place nearest to you:


Like its Facebook page:


Follow its Twitter account:


And if you’re seeing this before February 20, sign the petition asking Trump to release his tax returns in full (and make sure to UNCHECK the box that lets the White House email you messages and updates):