Why won’t Donald Trump show us his income tax returns?  Every other presidential candidate has in the last 35 years.  Why should he deny us a look into his bona fides?  They would shed much light on the claims and character of a man who wants to lead us?  

Trump has an oft-invoked answer.  He can’t because he’s being audited by the IRS.  Lame response; the IRS itself says an audit should be no hindrance to their release.   Donald and his son Eric also tell us the current return runs to more than 12,000 pages—apparently more than we could digest and understand is the clear implication.  Try us; surely we can hire a skilled accountant or two to explain the contents.

Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate echoed a common speculation that Trump was hiding the fact that he was worth a lot less than he claimed—not a billionaire at all.

And that he was most likely gaming the tax code and paying no federal tax at all.

Investigative reporting by The New York Times has since confirmed the likelihood of both, though Trump stays mum on the subject.   The greater part of the story—acomplex oneof international import at the highest level—is yet to be fully told.  We only know it in its sketchy outline as The Trump-Putin Affair.  Yes, the short and fit Russian assassin and the American Master of Bluster have something going.

Open and inquiring minds want to know more about this strange match.  Just watch the orange heap light up at the mere mention of Putin‘s name.  What’s behind it?  Is it a joint power grab...or...what?

Well, it’s widely believed that Trump, who has for many years wanted to build hotels in Russia, is deeply in debt to Russian oligarchs.  Putin, on the other hand, flatters Trump with kind words, including the Russian word "yarki," which Trump chooses to translate as “genius” while Putin prefers “flamboyant.” (Western analysts believe Putin’s flattery is meant to encourage Trump in his disruptive view of the West’s geopolitical interests, thus serving the Kremlin’s own.)

Add to this strange pairing Paul J. Manafort, a shady lobbyist who received millions for helping pro-Russian dictator Viktor Yanukovych to power in the Ukraine, subsequently becoming Trump’s second Campaign Manager before the press got wind of his past and the man was summarily demoted out of sight.

Complicating matters further is Lt. General Michael J. Flynn, the fired former director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency and now one of Trump’s closest advisors, previously seen seated close to Putin at a Russian state dinner.  Apparently he was also present with Trump more recently at the top secret security briefing given to presidential candidates.  Now season that mix with Russian hackers who seem to know every other secret we as a nation have, and feed them to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, who has threatened to alter the outcome of the pending American election with an October bombshell.  Yes, it’s all a big puzzlement.

While no one has put all the puzzle’s parts together yet, Trump’s attachment to Putin was evident in the first presidential debate.  Though Trump had been informed of Russian intrusions into our cyberspace at a previous security briefing, and heard it again from Clinton at the first debate, he quickly came to Russia’s defense, saying we didn’t know for sure it was Russia, that it could have been China (always his favorite scapegoat)...or some 400-pound bed-ridden nobody, for that matter.  Trump as that’s a new one on me!

I despair of ever unraveling this Gordian knot of international intrigue, preferring the less complicated and more hopeful back story I’ve been told by reliable sources who prefer to remain anonymous.  What if all this cloak-and dagger stuff is just a cover?  For what, you will ask.  Some good old fashioned amour, that’s what!   Yes, I’ve heard it said by some very, very smart people, whose names you would recognize, who say the vodka the lovers share has been spiked with bearnip.

Moreover, while I have no firsthand knowledge, I’ve been reliably informed by unimpeachable observers in the know that Trump recently went on one of those legendary manly rides with Putin and his biker gang, the Night Wolves, on a magical musical tour.  Can’t you see them now, Vlad and Donnie (as they call themselves when mounted in tandem on Putin’s Harley) preparing for the adventure.  The short, fit conqueror of Crimea gallantly helps the pudgy would-be leader of the free world with his girdle as the “Wolves” look on.

Picture them now on their wild ride east at dawn over the Moscow River on Vlad’s hog, roaring across the meadowlands and past the Isle of the Dead before spending a stormy night on Bald Mountain, only to descend onto the steppes of Central Asia, there to pitch their tent and snuggle up against the autumn chill by generating some real heat in their shared sleeping bag.  Ah! A little warming of the earth to speed along the thaw.  Ain’t love wonderful!  And to think there might even be a split Nobel Peace Prize in the offing!  That’s the good news heard on the grapevine.  Amor vincit omnia.