Posted: October 17, 2020 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: just because, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: caturday, Donald Trump, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Judge Reggie Walton, polls, Rudy Giuliani, Trump debts, Trump tweets, TV ratings |
Only a little more than 2 weeks to go until November 3!
Biden continues to lead Trump in the polls. In the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, he Biden is ahead by 11 points among likely voters. At Vanity Fair, Bess Levin humorously summarizes the findings: Poll: Americans Think Donald Trump is a “Horrible” “Disgusting” “Putinesque” “Ass.” They additionally think he’s a “racist,” “despicable,” “corrupt,” “antichrist.”
Trump was able to win in 2016 with just 46% of voters casting a ballot in his favor because states key to the Electoral College backed him. But Biden is ahead in several crucial states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which helped Trump clinch the election four years ago. Not only has Biden maintained an advantage with Black, Latino, and women voters—which might have something to do with the fact that Trump is a flaming raollscist and misogynist—plus young voters, independents, and people who live in cities and suburbs, he is also leading the president with a heretofore unthinkable collection of individuals: white people.
Yes, Trump, who won white voters by 20 points in 2016, and has spent the last four years saying and doing things that have suggested there was a nonzero chance he might appear at a rally one day wearing a white sheet and burning a cross, is losing to Biden with his favorite demographic….
Additionally, 52% of likely voters view Trump’s presidency as a failure, which is generally not a great thing vis-à-vis winning an election. The bad news for the president comes on the heels of his white-power-embracing, lie-spewing, explosive-diarrhea-of-the-mouth debate performance earlier this month and his COVID-19 diagnosis. And it’s not the only thing the campaign should probably be worried about! On top of the cold, hard data, poll respondents were asked to describe the candidates using one word, and for Trump, the views are a positive sign, unless it’s considered a positive that Americans think he’s a pathetic jackass:
“For Trump, the word that stands out is ‘incompetent,’ while for Biden it is ‘honest.’
From the NPR article:
To be clear, both candidates have a range of words ascribed to them that are positive and negative.
For Trump, on the positive end, people said he is “good,” “great,” “successful” and “strong.” On the negative side, “incompetent” was overwhelmingly the most common word used, followed by “liar,” “failure,” “bad,” “horrible,” “disaster,” “arrogant” and “buffoon.”
The positives ascribed to Biden include, for example, “honest,” “confident,” “hopeful,” “good,” “trustworthy” and “compassionate.”
On the negative side, voters said: “old,” “confused,” “incompetent,” “senile” and “weak.”
Biden also beat Trump soundly in TV ratings of their competing town hall appearances on Thursday night. Vanity Fair: It’s Official: Biden Beats Trump in Town Hall Television Ratings.
Dr. Thomas’ Eclectric Oil was formulated by Dr. S. N. Thomas in the late 1840s. It contained spirits of turpentine, camphor, oil of tar, red thyme, and fish oil.
According to Nielsen numbers released Friday, the Biden event was watched by 13.9 million viewers on ABC, easily besting Trump’s NBC spectacle, which drew just 10.9 million viewers. The Trump event’s total viewership was dwarfed by Biden’s even though Trump’s was simulcast on CNBC and MSNBC: as CNN noted, the three networks combined for roughly 13 million viewers, a total that still lagged behind the Biden event.
Before Thursday night’s town hall with Trump aired on NBC—a last-minute decision that was broadly panned—outlets reported that the president was banking on a ratings windfall.
“He looks at this the same way he looks at attendance at his rallies versus the [turnout] Biden gets for his events,” an anonymous source told The Daily Beast this week. “He obviously wants to blow Biden out of the water.
But on Friday morning, in the wake of mockery for his performance, Trump received some surprising news: a Biden ratings lead in the preliminary numbers. Even then, it was expected that Trump would ultimately prevail, owing to the fact that NBC blanketed its cable networks with the president. Alas, that wasn’t the case—although Trump could still potentially claim victory, as the Nielsen numbers only account for television viewership and not online and streaming numbers. (As one reporter noted, however, Biden’s town hall did comfortably beat Trump’s event in viewership on YouTube.)
It’s not looking good for Trump, and he is clearly freaking out about it. In a rally in Macon, GA last night he said he might have to leave the country if he loses.
From the article:
At one point, Mr. Trump threatened to leave the country should he lose the election.
“Could you imagine if I lose?” he said. “I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”
Trailing in the polls and at a significant cash deficit compared to Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump attempted to argue that he was opting against raising more money as he enters the final stretch of the election.
“I could raise more money,” he said. “I would be the world’s greatest fund-raiser, but I just don’t want to do it.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign announced this week that he had raised over $247 million last month, far short of the record $383 million raised by Mr. Biden’s campaign and affiliated Democratic committees.
The president also delivered a discursive monologue about what he cast as a choice to not be more presidential, an allusion to the chaotic style that has turned off suburban women, a group that helped boost Mr. Trump to victory four years ago.
“I used to go and I’d imitate a president who’s playing presidential — it’s so easy compared to what we do,” he said. “I said, ‘I can be more presidential than any president in our history with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln when he wore the hat, that’s tough to beat.’”
Mr. Trump acknowledged his losses in the suburbs, seeming to link his slide to his divisive style. Mr. Biden leads by 23 points among suburban women in battleground states, according to recent polling by The New York Times and Siena College. Among suburban men, the race is tied.
“Suburban women,” he said. “I heard they like my policy but they don’t like my personality. I said they don’t care about my personality, they want to be safe.”
I don’t think it’s just his personality that turns off women voters. It’s his actions and non-actions.
Trump might actually try to leave the country if he loses, because he will face multiple criminal prosecutions. But that won’t save him from the millions he owes to someone, likely Deutsche Bank. The New York Times has a new article up based on Trump’s tax data: $421 Million in Debt: Trump Calls It ‘a Peanut,’ but Challenges Lie Ahead.
President Trump painted a rosy picture of his financial condition during a televised town hall on Thursday night, calling his hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due “a peanut” and saying he had borrowed it as a favor to lenders eager to take advantage of his financial strength.
In fact, the loans, and the unusual requirement he had to accept to receive them, illustrate the financial challenges he faces and the longstanding reluctance of banks to deal with him.
Mr. Trump had to personally guarantee $421 million in debt, a rare step that lenders only require of businesses that may not be able to repay. The commitment puts his assets on the line and could place his lenders, should he be re-elected, in the position of deciding whether to foreclose on a sitting president.
The personal guarantee also speaks to why, despite Mr. Trump’s assertion that banks are eager to lend him money, nearly all the money he borrowed in the last decade came from only two institutions.
“When a bank asks for a personal guarantee, it is because the bank isn’t satisfied with the creditworthiness of the borrower,” said Richard Scott Carnell, who served as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton and now teaches law at Fordham University. “If the captain gives a personal guarantee for the ship, he will be less likely to sink it.”
There are lots of articles today on the ridiculous New York Post/Rudy Giuliani story about Hunter Biden’s alleged emails. This one is by David Ignatius at The Washington Post: The truth behind the Hunter Biden non-scandal.
The story of Hunter Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma isn’t a scandal about his father, as the Trump campaign claims, but part of a personal tragedy for the vice president’s son, compounded by this week’s dissemination of what looks like disinformation about Joe Biden’s role.
What’s clear, beyond the false scandal-mongering, has been evident for years: Hunter Biden made a mistake getting involved with a dubious company like Burisma. But the notion that the Burisma affair undermines Joe Biden’s case to be president is, as he would say, malarkey.
The Biden campaign has been understandably reluctant to respond, for fear of giving the story legitimacy. Still, Biden has said his son made a mistake. Family friends say the vice president is reluctant to publicly criticize Hunter Biden further, but they stress that both Bidens have learned the painful lesson that a president’s children should stay away from international business. Would that the Trump family recognized that rule.
That’s really the point, isn’t it? I wonder why more news outlets don’t focus on Trump’s nepotism and the corrupt behavior of his children and son-in-law.
The Hunter-Ukraine connection has been a political sideshow since the Biden campaign began. It got new voltage this week when the New York Post published what it claimed were emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop suggesting that he had helped arrange a 2015 meeting between his father and a Burisma executive. The Biden campaign denied any such meeting, and its accounts, based on recollections of multiple staff members, are believable. An Eastern European expert in digital forensics who has examined some of the Ukrainian documents leaked to the New York Post told me he found anomalies — such as American-style capitalization of the names of ministries — that suggest fakery.
Read more at the WaPo and at the following links:
AP: Biden email episode illustrates risk to Trump from Giuliani.
The Daily Beast: Bolton Warned His Staff To Stay Away From Russia-Aligned Rudy Giuliani.
NPR: Analysis: Questionable ‘N.Y. Post’ Scoop Driven by Ex-Hannity Producer, Giuliani.
The Daily Beast: Rudy: Only ‘50/50’ Chance I Worked With a ‘Russian Spy’ to Dig Dirt on Bidens.
One more before I wrap this up. Yesterday Judge Reggie Walton called Trump’s bluff on his tweeted order to declassify every document associated with the Russia investigation. The Washington Post: U.S. judge: Do Trump’s tweets or White House lawyers speak for president on declassifying entire Russia probe?
A federal judge rebuked the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office on Friday for dismissing without explanation President Trump’s “emphatic and unambiguous” tweets ordering the declassification of all documents in the government’s probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax,” the president tweeted Oct. 6. “Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!”
Trump’s blanket statement came the day after he returned to the White House from three days of treatment for the novel coronavirus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The tweet has since created a headache for government lawyers in pending open-records lawsuits filed by news organizations seeking fuller disclosure of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report and investigative materials.
Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer maintained in a court filing Tuesday that the White House Counsel’s Office informed the Justice Department that notwithstanding the president’s statement, “there is no order requiring wholesale declassification or disclosure of documents at issue.”
The Judge wasn’t buying it.
At Friday’s hearing, however, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court in D.C. expressed bafflement at the claim that President Trump’s words were not to be believed.
“I think the American public has a right to rely on what the president says his intention is,” Walton said.
“It seems to me when a president makes a clear, unambiguous statement of what his intention is, that I can’t rely on the White House Counsel’s Office saying, ‘Well, that was not his intent,’ ” the judge said in a hearing conducted by videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Walton directed the department by noon Tuesday to clarify with Trump or “an individual who has conferred directly with the president” whether Trump had intended to order the declassification and release of Mueller report materials without redaction. The judge cited the urgency of releasing as much information as possible in the remaining days before the election.
This could get interesting. I hope you all have a great weekend. Please stop by Sky Dancing if you have the time and inclination–we love to hear from you!
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Posted: September 29, 2020 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump, evangelical Trump supporters, First 2020 presidential debate, Florida seniors, Joe Biden, reality TV, The Apprentice, Trump as national security threat, Trump debts, Trump taxes |
The New York Times has published the second installment in its ongoing series on Trump’s taxes. But first, a recap of the revelations from the first blockbuster story and reactions from other sources.
Just Security has a good breakdown of the main revelations from the the first NYT article: Ten Quick Takeaways from the New York Times’ Bombshell Article on Trump’s Tax Returns. This is takeaway 2:
Trump appears to be an absolutely terrible businessman. This is a man who netted $606 million over nineteen years (from 2000 to 2018) through The Apprentice, licensing and endorsements, and investments and businesses run by others, and yet has created enormous financial peril for himself by buying prestige business properties for high prices, and then pouring cash into them without thereby generating positive net returns. Even with the cash infusions, his personally run businesses have continued to lose a great deal of money (even leaving aside depreciation deductions that might or might not be accompanied by actual declines in economic value). One therefore suspects that he is simply funding the negative cash flow, not creating new value that might pay off in the future. (Even the enhanced revenues at some U.S. properties from their being used by lobbyists have failed to eliminate the pattern of losing a great deal.)
Meanwhile, perhaps to fund the ongoing cash infusions, he has been taking out loans and making one-time asset sales that imply a danger of simply running out of money soon if there is no turnaround. The $421 million in personal liability debts that the Times says are due soon add to the impression of an approaching risk of financial breakdown. However, beyond just the financial peril that he may be facing, the pattern looks like one of recklessly and improvidently burning through one’s cash for as long as it lasts, rather than of investing prudently to create future value.
Adam Davidson of The New Yorker posted an interesting Twitter thread yesterday:
Davidson concludes: “Until we know who, we don’t know who this man owes and what they know about him.”
This is from Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors on the Robert Mueller team:
From The Washington Post: Trump’s debts and foreign deals pose security risks, former intelligence officials say.
ecurity teams at U.S. spy agencies are constantly scouring employee records for signs of potential compromise: daunting levels of debt, troubling overseas entanglements, hidden streams of income, and a penchant for secrecy or deceit to avoid exposure.
President Trump would check nearly every box of this risk profile based on revelations in the New York Times from his long-secret tax records that former intelligence officials and security experts said raise profound questions about whether he should be trusted to safeguard U.S. secrets and interests.
The records show that Trump has continued to make money off foreign investments and projects while in office; that foreign officials have spent lavishly at his Washington hotel and other properties; and that despite this revenue he is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt with massive payments coming due.
“From a national security perspective, that’s just an outrageous vulnerability,” said Larry Pfeiffer, who previously served as chief of staff at the CIA. Pfeiffer, who now serves as director of the Hayden Center for Intelligence at George Mason University, said that if he had faced even a fraction of Trump’s financial burden, “there is no question my clearances would be pulled.”
The disclosures show that Trump’s position is more precarious than he has led the public to believe, and he faces the need for a substantial infusion of cash in the coming years to avert potential financial crisis.
As a result, officials and experts said that Trump has made himself vulnerable to manipulation by foreign governments aware of his predicament, and put himself in a position in which his financial interests and the nation’s priorities could be in conflict.
Moving on, here’s today’s New York Times dispatch: How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline, by Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig
From the back seat of a stretch limousine heading to meet the first contestants for his new TV show “The Apprentice,” Donald J. Trump bragged that he was a billionaire who had overcome financial hardship.
“I used my brain, I used my negotiating skills and I worked it all out,” he told viewers. “Now, my company is bigger than it ever was and stronger than it ever was.”
It was all a hoax.
Months after that inaugural episode in January 2004, Mr. Trump filed his individual tax return reporting $89.9 million in net losses from his core businesses for the prior year. The red ink spilled from everywhere, even as American television audiences saw him as a savvy business mogul with the Midas touch…
But while the story of “The Apprentice” is by now well known, the president’s tax returns reveal another grand twist that has never been truly told — how the popularity of that fictional alter ego rescued him, providing a financial lifeline to reinvent himself yet again. And then how, in an echo of the boom-and-bust cycle that has defined his business career, he led himself toward the financial shoals he must navigate today.
Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame.
The show’s big ratings meant that everyone wanted a piece of the Trump brand, and he grabbed at the opportunity to rent it out. There was $500,000 to pitch Double Stuf Oreos, another half-million to sell Domino’s Pizza and $850,000 to push laundry detergent.
There were seven-figure licensing deals with hotel builders, some with murky backgrounds, in former Soviet republics and other developing countries. And there were schemes that exploited misplaced trust in the TV version of Mr. Trump, who, off camera, peddled worthless get-rich-quick nostrums like “Donald Trump Way to Wealth” seminars that promised initiation into “the secrets and strategies that have made Donald Trump a billionaire.”
Just as, years before, the money Mr. Trump secretly received from his father allowed him to assemble a wobbly collection of Atlantic City casinos and other disparate enterprises that then collapsed around him, the new influx of cash helped finance a buying spree that saw him snap up golf resorts, a business not known for easy profits. Indeed, the tax records show that his golf properties have been hemorrhaging millions of dollars for years.
Read the whole long, detailed article at the NYT.
I doubt if Trump’s base supporters read The Atlantic, but maybe they’ll get wind of this on Facebook or Twitter. McCay Coppins writes: Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters. Former aides say that in private, the president has spoken with cynicism and contempt about believers.
One day in 2015, Donald Trump beckoned Michael Cohen, his longtime confidant and personal attorney, into his office. Trump was brandishing a printout of an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million from his flock to buy a private jet. Trump knew the preacher personally—Creflo Dollar had been among a group of evangelical figures who visited him in 2011 while he was first exploring a presidential bid. During the meeting, Trump had reverently bowed his head in prayer while the pastors laid hands on him. Now he was gleefully reciting the impious details of Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650.
Trump seemed delighted by the “scam,” Cohen recalled to me, and eager to highlight that the pastor was “full of shit.”
“They’re all hustlers,” Trump said.
The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. “My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” he declared at a rally for evangelicals earlier this year. It’s a message his campaign will seek to amplify in the coming weeks as Republicans work to confirm Amy Coney Barrett—a devout, conservative Catholic—to the Supreme Court.
But in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.
As world-wide coronavirus deaths pass 1,000,000, with more than 205,000 in the U.S., another source of political support for Trump appears to be weakening. Politico: ‘He just lies’: Florida’s senior voters suddenly are in play.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida seniors, long an unflinching bloc of reliable GOP votes, are suddenly in play as President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus has his reelection campaign on the defensive.
The pandemic and anxiety about possible cuts to entitlement programs have eroded the GOP’s once-solid advantage with the battleground state’s retirees, recent polls show, a demographic Republicans have won by double digits in recent presidential races.
“I really got sick of him when he did not wear a mask, and he took the control totally away from the governors. It was a very bad situation,” said Joy Solomon, a 65-year-old from Boca Raton who voted for Trump in 2016 largely because that’s who her husband supported, but who has now turned against the president. “I want this place to come back to some sense of normalcy.”
“He just lies about everything,” she said.
Retirees have long flocked to Florida’s warm climate and white sandy beaches, where they’ve gained outsized political sway in the nation’s largest swing state. In the 2012 presidential election, voters 65 and older comprised 26 percent of all votes, a number that jumped to 30 percent in 2016.
Now recent polls show Trump’s comfortable cushion with Florida seniors eroding in a state where campaigns are won on the thinnest of margins.
Read about the latest polls at the link.
With all this happening, you have to wonder how Trump can face participating in a debate with Joe Biden tonight, but that is what he’s scheduled to do tonight at 9PM. I expect he’ll be even crazier than ever–lashing out in all directions. I hope Biden can handle it. Here’s some info on tonight’s political cage match from Vanity Fair: How to Watch the First Presidential Debate Between Trump and Biden.
On Tuesday night, for the first time this election cycle, President Donald Trump and his challenger, former vice president Joe Biden, will come face-to-face to tackle a wide range of issues during the first presidential debate of 2020. Based on just the last few days alone—during which Trump suggested Biden take a drug test before the debate and the New York Times released bombshell reporting on Trump’s federal income tax returns—viewers should expect fireworks between the septuagenarians. Here’s what to know about the first presidential debate, including where to watch or stream, who will moderate, and what the candidates will actually debate….
For those interested in seeing Trump versus Biden, it will be almost impossible to miss Tuesday night’s debate. The event will broadcast live on all the major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), as well as cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. The debate also airs via CSPAN, which will provide a live-stream on YouTube for the proceedings as well.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will be the moderator.
I plan to watch. How about you? If you’re watching tonight, please stop by and share your reactions. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check in here during the day and let us know how you’re doing and what you’re reading and hearing.
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