We got one good day of Sunshine yesterday, and now it’s grey and raining! The only good thing is that the freezing temperatures have gone away! My brightest day this month was when Burpee’s seed catalog came, and I could page through the promise of spring planting and summer harvests! Burpee’s has been publishing its catalog since 1876.
My Burpee’s blackberry slip in its pot went outdoors yesterday for a bit of sun! It and my potted herbs were in the dining room while we got rid of the hard freezes. Today, they’re getting a good watering along with all the plants that survived. I’d planned to get some big yard trash bags and tackle some of the dead stuff today. Instead, I’m warm and snug inside, waiting for the next sunny day.
The big news today is the release of the Trump tax forms. They really are a mess! This is from Noah Bookbinder, writing for The Atlantic. “The IRS Really, Really Should Have Audited Trump. The failure to do so is outrageous and needs to be investigated.” Indeed! However, I’m not sure the Republican Congress will do it.
Six years after Donald Trump should have disclosed his tax returns to the public, they have finally been released. This took advocacy, congressional action, and litigation that went to the Supreme Court—all to obtain basic financial transparency from a president.
But the House Ways and Means Committee’s report on its investigation, released last week in conjunction with the committee’s vote to disclose Trump’s tax returns, revealed new information that may be as astonishing as anything in the returns themselves: The IRS did not even begin auditing Trump’s taxes until 2019, on the same day the committee began asking the agency about them. This is outrageous, and it must be investigated.
Getting Trump’s tax returns should not have been this hard. Every president elected since Richard Nixon—with the exception of Trump—has publicly disclosed his tax returns. Tax returns can tell the American people, and Congress, whether a president is following the law and behaving honestly. Crucially for Trump, who uniquely and inappropriately retained ownership of a massive international business while president, they can provide information about conflicts of interest that may have swayed his decision making.
Examining Trump’s tax returns and discovering all they can reveal about how his finances may have intersected with his presidency will take time. The committee released an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation stating that Trump had paid nothing, or close to it, in some years of his presidency. The income information included in that analysis also seems to support the assertion that Trump’s use of the presidency to steer business to himself from the government and those seeking to influence it may have reversed years of financial losses for Trump’s companies and led to hefty profits in 2018 and 2019, until COVID’s arrival in 2020 reversed his fortunes again. Now that the detailed returns are available, we’ll learn much more about those companies’ earnings, losses, and tax payments, and about Trump’s financial interests.
Six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns released on Friday show the former president paid very little in federal income taxes the first and last year of his presidency, claiming huge losses that helped limit his tax bill, among other revelations.
The returns, long shrouded in secrecy, were released to the public on Friday by the House Ways and Means Committee, the culmination of a battle over their disclosure that went to the Supreme Court. They confirm a report issued from the Joint Committee on Taxation that Trump claimed large losses before and throughout his presidency that he carried forward to reduce or practically eliminate his tax burden. For example, his returns show that he carried forward a $105 million loss in 2015 and $73 million in 2016.
The thousands of pages of documents from the former president’s personal and business federal tax returns – which spanned the years 2015 through 2020 – provide a complex web of raw data about Trump’s finances, offering up many questions about his wealth and income that could be pursued both by auditors and Trump’s political opponents.
The returns were obtained by the Democratic-run committee only a few weeks ago after a protracted legal battle. The committee voted last week to release the tax returns, but their release was delayed to redact sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers.
CNN is currently reviewing the tax returns.
David Corn has already sniffed out something interesting. What would we do without great investigative journalists?
Speaking at a small university in Rhode Island earlier this year, Justice Elena Kagan committed an act of Supreme Court heresy.
For years, justices have told the same anecdotes to assure the public that — despite the court’s increasingly polarized decisions in high-profile cases— the powerful jurists are committed to putting the best interests of the institution ahead of their personal agendas.
They point to genteel traditions like the handshakes exchanged before arguments, the ban on discussing cases during their private lunches, and the camaraderie they share when discussing books, vacations, children, grandchildren and sports, often baseball. The oft-told tale of Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg bonding over a mutual love of opera took the sting out of any notion that the court’s most high-profile conservatives and liberals were angry with each other.
But Kagan, the Democratic appointee who has sought to be a consensus-builder for much of her legal career, broke sharply with the court’s tradition of downplaying disagreements and emphasizing off-the-bench bonhomie. In her speech at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., last September, she even went so far as to argue that these mundane staples of the justices’ public patter may actually now be obscuring the dysfunction on the nation’s highest court.
“To be a truly collegial, collaborative court, you have to be talking about more than: ‘Do they talk about baseball together?’” Kagan declared to about 1,000 students gathered on the lawn. “You have to be talking about: ‘Can they engage in the real work that they’re doing in collegial and collaborative ways?’ … That comes only with serious, sometimes difficult, but persistent effort to engage. And to try to work out divisions and reach places you thought you could not be — places of common ground.”
About a month later, speaking at the University of Pennsylvania, Kagan again suggested that the justices’ ability to make small talk is no substitute for genuine engagement on the crucial issues the court is asked to resolve.
“I don’t see why anybody should care that I can talk to some of my colleagues about baseball, unless that becomes a way for a better, more collaborative relationship about our cases and work,” Kagan said. “I think it is in service of that.”
Kagan, a nominee of President Barack Obama, then unmistakably signaled there have been breakdowns in the substantive give-and-takeshe views as essential to the court’s success.
“That is a work in progress. I mean, some years are better than other years,” she said. “Time will tell whether this is a court that can get back … to finding common ground.”
I’m not holding my breath for any of this. Hardliners on the bench think heaven anointed them and speaks through them. The best we can hope for is some meaningful reform of court ethical behavior.
If you haven’t heard, Maryland Representative Jame Raskin is facing cancer and treatment. You may read about his diagnosis and treatment plan on his Twitter link. We wish him the speediest of healing and success in his treatments! He’s one of the jewels of the House of Representatives.
Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson for the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said prosecutors had applied to hold the influencer at a “detention centre” for an additional 30 days.
A judge will rule on the application on Friday afternoon, the spokesperson added. The brothers have been under investigation since April alongside two Romanian nationals.
“The four suspects… appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” DIICOT said in a statement.
Video on social media showed Tate and his brother being led away from a luxury villa.
Burpee Catalog from 1903
With men like these, we will never take back the night, let alone any other places. Women should not have to create safe places because of the predatory behavior and power of so many men.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has offered a key concession to critics of his bid for the House speakership during private conversations this week: reducing the threshold that is required to force a floor vote on ousting the sitting speaker, according to six Republican sources familiar with the internal discussions.
McCarthy has been trying to find a compromise threshold that would appease his critics enough to earn their speaker vote, while still being palatable to the rest of the House GOP, and has been sounding out all corners of the conference in private phone calls this week.
One of the numbers that has come up in recent conversations between McCarthy and GOP lawmakers – and which has not been previously reported – is a five-person threshold, according to two of the Republican sources.
Currently, the majority of the House GOP is required to call for the so-called motion to vacate the speaker’s chair. But some conservative hardliners are pushing for a single member to be able to call for such a vote, which they see as an important mechanism to hold the speaker accountable.
A five-person threshold, however, may be too low for the moderate wing of the party, some of whom have privately suggested they would be willing to agree on a 50-person threshold.
And some of McCarthy’s fiercest critics, including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, told CNN they see the five-person threshold as still too high, underscoring the significant challenge McCarthy faces as he works to lock down the speakership.
“No, less than 5!!” Norman said in a text message of the proposed motion to vacate threshold. “2 or less (my opinion).”
And Gaetz said: “He’s gotta get down to 1.”
All of this will be a major topic of discussion during a crucial conference call on Friday afternoon that McCarthy scheduled with the various ideological caucuses in the House GOP, just four days ahead of the January 3 speaker’s vote.
I could just spend a few moments here going on about “your reap what you sow” or “‘For there will be peace for the seed, the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce, and the heavens will give their dew, and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.” That last bit is from Zechariah 8:12. There are all kinds of fruit and seed quotes in literature, so I guess I may not be the only one that looks forward to the harvest. I try to know what I plant and yank out the weeds. I’m a believer in karma, and I see some ripen.
“Hang there like fruit, my soul,
Till the tree die.”
It’s just kind of nice that the day after the darkest and longest night of the year, Burpee’s keeps offering a promise of food and beauty for sunnier days from the farms of my great grandparents to the victory gardens of my grandparents and my yard here in New Orleans. Have a great New Year’s week! I will see you on Monday. Let’s hope this year we get many fruitful days!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Today is my 75th birthday. It seems like a big deal, but at the same time it’s really no big deal. I’m OK with being an old woman; I’m happy to be alive, sober, and generally healthy. I can’t remember proper names very well, but that’s been going on for years. I sometimes have trouble finding the names of things, but I find that if I give myself a minute or two those words will come to me. I still have a very good memory for facts and events.
My Mom is 97 now and has dementia. It’s almost as if she has already left us. She seems to know who I am, but I’m not absolutely sure. I miss the way we used to talk about everything. When I called her on Thanksgiving, she didn’t even seem to understand what that day means. It’s very sad, but I’m grateful for all the years we had–she was really my best friend in many ways.
I miss my Dad too. He has been gone now for 11 years. I miss talking to him about books and language. I miss his sense of humor, even his dad jokes. That’s what it’s like to be old, I guess–losing people. But they are still with you in your memories.
I hope I don’t sound too maudlin. It doesn’t feel that way to me, because I accept being old and I even enjoy it in a way. I have time now to think and to read as much as I want to. I’ve always had an irrational fear of running out of things to read; and so I’ve bought way too many books over the years. Now I’m afraid I won’t have time for all the books I want to read.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get to some news and comment.
The George Senate runoff election is coming up next Tuesday, Dec. 6. It’s difficult to believe, the the race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is very close, despite all the scandals surrounding Walker, the fact that he can’t form a coherent sentence, and his admission that he lives in Texas. Here’s the latest:
A former longtime girlfriend of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker has come forward to detail a violent episode with the football star, who she believes is “unstable” and has “little to no control” over his mental state when he is not in treatment.
The woman, Dallas resident Cheryl Parsa, described an intimate and tumultuous five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s, beginning shortly after his divorce and continuing for a year after the publication of his 2008 memoir about his struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder.
Parsa, who has composed a book-length manuscript about her relationship with Walker, says she is speaking out because she is disturbed by Walker’s behavior on the campaign trail, which she claims exhibits telltale flare-ups of the disorder she tried to help him manage for half a decade.
Amer Ice Cream, by Richard Wallich
“He’s a pathological liar. Absolutely. But it’s more than that,” Parsa, who last had regular contact with Walker in 2019, told The Daily Beast. “He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control.” She said that when she was with Walker, he used his diagnosis as an “alibi” to “justify lying, cheating, and ultimately destroying families.”
Parsa provided a detailed account of a 2005 incident that turned violent after she caught Walker with another woman at his Dallas condo. She said Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her chest and neck, and swung his fist at her. “I thought he was going to beat me,” she recalled, and fled in fear.
Parsa is one of five women who were romantically involved with Walker who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article. All of them described a habit of lying and infidelity—including one woman who claimed she had an affair with Walker while he was married in the 1990s. All five women said they were willing to speak to expose the behavior of the man they now see running for Senate.
Herschel Walker was being swamped by negative television ads. His Democratic opponents were preparing to flood the polls for early voting as soon as doors opened. After being hit by fresh allegations of carpetbagging, he was left with just over a week to make his final appeals to voters in the runoff for Georgia’s Senate seat.
But for five days, Mr. Walker was off the campaign trail.
The decision to skip campaigning over the crucial Thanksgiving holiday weekend has Mr. Walker’s Republican allies airing frustrations and concerns about his campaign strategy in the final stretch of the overtime election against Senator Raphael Warnock.
“We almost need a little bit more time for Herschel’s campaign to get everything off the ground,” said Jason Shepherd, the former chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, pointing to the transition from a general election campaign to a runoff sprint. Notably, the runoff campaign was cut from nine weeks to four by a Republican-backed law passed last year….
Mr. Shepherd said Mr. Walker’s decision not to campaign during Thanksgiving was just one troubling choice. He also pointed to a series of mailers sent by the Georgia Republican Party encouraging voters to find their polling places that contained broken QR codes as examples of poor organizing. And he raised concern about the steady stream of advertisements supporting Warnock, a first-term senator and pastor, on conservative talk radio and contemporary Christian stations.
By Gregory Frank Harris, 1953
That all sounds like good news for Democrats. It’s hilarious that in making it harder to vote, Republicans have ended up hurting themselves–just as they did in the runoff elections in 2020. But King notes that the race is still close despite all the scandals.
His campaign has been one of the most turbulent in recent memory: Mr. Walker was found to have lied or exaggerated details about his education, his business, his charitable giving and his work in law enforcement. He acknowledged a history of violent and erratic behavior, tied to a mental illness, and did not dispute an ex-wife’s accusation of assault. Two women claimed that he had urged them to have abortions, although he ran as a staunchly anti-abortion candidate. He denied their accounts. He regularly delivered rambling speeches, which Democrats widely circulated with glee.
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Herschel Walker might be the most flawed Republican nominee in the nation this year,” said Rick Dent, a media consultant who has worked for candidates from both parties and plans to vote for Mr. Warnock.
The high-stakes Senate runoff in Georgia next week will be the first major test of abortion politics since the 2022 general election, when a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision galvanized proponents of abortion rights and boosted Democrats.
Abortion was a major issue on Election Day in Georgia, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock finished about 1 point ahead of Republican rival Herschel Walker, though narrowly missing the 50% he needed to win outright. The 26% of Georgians who ranked abortion as their top issue backed Warnock by a margin of 77% to 21%, NBC News exit polls showed.
Now, Democrats see an opening to weaponize it to finish the job against Walker in the Dec. 6 runoff, when a victory would give their party a 51st Senate seat.
“On December 6th, our rights are on the ballot. Herschel Walker wants a total ban on abortion nationwide,” says a TV ad by the Democratic group Georgia Honor, playing footage of Walker calling for a “no-exception” ban. “Raphael Warnock is fighting to protect our right to make our own health care decisions,” a narrator says.
Meanwhile, Walker sits at the center of a clash within the Republican Party about how to handle the issue in the new era. While some like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have sought to minimize abortion and pivot to other issues, leading anti-abortion advocates insist that’s a losing strategy and want Republicans to lean in and paint Democrats as the real extremists.
Walker is taking the approach preferred by the anti-abortion advocates, embracing their rhetoric equating abortion to infanticide and attacking Warnock for supporting legislation that would protect the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal restrictions.
The problem with that is that Walker has urged at least 2 women to get abortions and paid for them.
…[O]ne campaign issue relevant to many voters has little to do with the highly partisan horse race. Rather, it involves one of the most common chronic diseases in America, diabetes, and the soaring cost of the medicine used to treat it, insulin. In both the general and runoff campaigns, Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, has made much of his efforts in Congress to cap the price of insulin at $35 a month, talking them up in ads, debates and speeches.
“It has resonated with just about everyone,” said Dr. Kris Ellis, a physician who also owns the Bearfoot Tavern in Macon, where Mr. Warnock made a recent campaign stop. “If you don’t have diabetes, you know someone with diabetes.”
He was describing an unsettling reality in Georgia, as in much of the South, where diabetes rates are staggeringly high and the escalating cost of insulin over the years has led to painful choices and, for some, catastrophic consequences.
As campaign issues go, the price of insulin is nowhere near as contentious as just about everything else raised in the four-week runoff between Mr. Warnock and Herschel Walker, the former football star who is his Republican challenger. Even so, interviews with Dr. Ellis and a number of other voters suggested it had broken through the noise of the high-decibel contest, which Georgia requires because neither candidate won a majority of the vote in the general election.
Of course, the candidate who has tried to deal with this issue is Sen. Warnock.
Mr. Warnock has focused on lowering insulin prices since arriving in the Senate nearly two years ago, motivated in part by hundreds of letters that have poured into his office, pleading with him to do something. He has also described seeing the ravaging impacts of diabetes, including losing limbs and eyesight, on congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he is the senior pastor.
The House Ways and Means Committee now has six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, ending a yearslong pursuit by Democrats to dig into one of the former president’s most closely guarded personal details.
“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.
The spokesperson did not provide any additional information. Federal courts had decided the House could request six years of Trump’s returns, after the committee had requested them in 2019 and again in 2021, according to public court records.
The handover had been on hold, until the Supreme Court declined last week to intervene. Several judges, including Republican appointees, have found the House had power to request the returns from the IRS….
The committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, had sought six years of Trump’s tax records, primarily from the time he served as president. That included records about both Trump personally and several of his corporate entities.
The panel is planning to meet Thursday to get briefed on the legal ramifications of the section of the tax law that Neal used to request Trump’s tax returns, according to a Neal aide.
Democrats are not expected to review the tax returns at this session, and the documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.
Only the Body Withers, by Lucie Bilodeau
Then what is going to happen when Republicans take over control of the the committee? We don’t know yet. I think the Democrats should get busy look at the returns before that happens, but what do I know?
A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his Justice Department would continue to “work tirelessly” to hold accountable those responsible for efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors highlighted the defendants’ links to key allies of President Donald Trump, such as Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
But Garland declined to say Wednesday if he expected prosecutors to eventually file charges against them or any other people who did not physically participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I don’t want to speculate on other investigations or parts of other investigations,” Garland told reporters at a briefing where he also touted Justice Department efforts to establish federal oversight of the water supply system in Jackson, Miss….
Tuesday’s verdicts upheld a key Justice Department argument laid out in the seven-week-long trial: that the breach of the Capitol was not an isolated event, but rather a culmination or component of wider plotting by extremists who wanted to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. In this case, the jury found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs, at least partially responsible for staging firearms and preparing to forcibly oppose federal authority. Both were convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” a rarely used charge that is among the most serious levied so far in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation.
Justice Department officials had been eyeing the Oath Keepers verdict to help decide whether to file criminal charges against other high-profile, pro-Trump figures who had roles in the buildup to the violence, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
Garland also said he hopes to get access to the interviews conducted by the House January 6 Committee.
At the briefing with reporters Tuesday, Garland also said that he has asked the House Jan. 6 committee — which has been pursuing a separate investigation into the attack — for all interview transcripts and evidence that it has collected. That’s long been a point of tension between the Justice Department and Congress, with the committee yet to hand over all the materials.
“We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigation,” Garland said.
The convictions of two Oath Keepers leaders on seditious conspiracy charges puts new pressure on the Department of Justice to indict Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his lieutenant Kelly Meggs were found guilty this week for their roles in the U.S. Capitol assault, and other militia members were convicted on other charges, and Woodward told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” those cases would weigh on attorney general Merrick Garland and newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.
“It gives them a strong basis,” Woodward said. “I think we are now at this point that the Justice Department, the new special counsel is going to have to indict Trump or explain why they are not indicting him. Now, that’s certainly possible that they won’t — prosecutors have discretion, but the case of the violation — I’m sorry, it’s technical 18 U.S.C. 371 — conspiring, working to subvert a lawful function of government is right there in plain sight.”
Garland responded to the Oath Keepers convictions by pledging to hold others accountable for trying to overturn the 2020 election, and the House Select Committee will decide soon whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department against the former president.
“In a way, they’re interesting fodder for us to discuss,” Woodward said, “but I really think if you get, you know, Garland is there talking about the dedication and efforts that people have made in doing this investigation. Dedication and effort is wonderful. What is most wonderful is evidence, and they have compelling evidence.”
Watch the video at the Raw Story link.
Just a few months ago, I knew nothing about Elon Musk. Now he’s everywhere. Here’s the latest crazy Musk story:
Neuralink, the neurotech startup spearheaded by Chief Twit Elon Musk, held their much-ballyhooed and oft-delayed tech demo on Wednesday night—promising a lot while showing little in the way of progress towards their lofty promises.
Musk was joined on stage by numerous Neuralink engineers and researchers to explain the technology they’ve been working on for the past few years. This included the N1 link, the company’s wireless brain-computer interface (BCI); and the R1, a robot that the company said would be able to implant an N1 in a human brain. The bot was present at the event conducting a simulated surgery on a dummy while presentations occurred.
The team also announced that the N1 chip was capable of being wirelessly charged, which would be a massive improvement in most current BCI technology which typically requires the devices to be tethered.
Painting by Jantina Peperkamp.
“I could have a Neuralink device implanted right now and you wouldn’t even know,” Musk joked, later adding, “In one of these demos I will.”
However, Musk announced that it would still be at least half a year until Neuralink would be able to begin human trials. “We’ve submitted most of our paperwork to the FDA. In about six months, we should be able to have our first Neuralink in humans,” he said.
The demo was initially slated for Oct. 31 but was delayed by Musk just eight days before it was set to launch. He did not give a reason for the schedule push. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the event itself was also delayed by more than half an hour before it started. Musk then took to the stage and stumbled through an awkward, meandering monologue where he touched on topics from AI, to how BCIs work, to something about how humans are all cyborgs.
WTF? I have no idea what these people are talking about. Maybe Quixote knows what this is all about?
“The overarching goal of Neuralink is to create a whole brain interface,” Musk explained, later using a photo of the character Rick Sanchez from the TV show Rick and Morty to illustrate his point. “So a generalized input-output device that in the long term that could interface with every aspect of your brain, and in the short term can interface with any section of your brain and solve things that cause debilitating issues for people.”
Musk also made a number of very lofty promises that should be taken with a Cybertruck-sized grain of salt if his history of overpromising and under delivering is any indication. This included the idea that the Neuralink will be able to restore vision even to those who were born blind, and also that it could restore mobility back to those who have had their spinal cord severed.
He mentioned that the N1 would allow patients to use it wirelessly and remotely in most any setting outside of a lab—which would be groundbreaking if it, you know, actually ever happens. Rajesh Rao, Hwang professor and director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington, told The Daily Beast that this would represent a significant leap forward for BCI technologies—and showcase something that has truly never been done before.
OK, now I’m starting to get it. Read more at the Daily Beast link. I just wish Musk would hurry up and go to Mars and leave us alone.
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial
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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.
To summarize the NYT story: Trump got a bunch of $ from his daddy. He lost it all, but then he got paid hundreds of millions to play a billionaire on TV. He tried to use that $ to become a real billionaire, but he lost it all again.
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:
– This new source had more money and seems to have put fewer restrictions on his spending. – Only question for us as a nation: what is that new source of money? – As I’ve written obsessively, 2011 is when he gets into business with the Mammadovs.
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:
Also recall: a NY state court judge recently required Eric Trump to give testimony, promptly, in the NY Attorney General investigation of the Trump Organization and its principals. The court rejected Eric Trump's effort to put off that testimony.
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.
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.
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.
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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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.