Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Of taxes and tactics

I don't know how ProPublica did it, but they got a very partial peep at Trump's taxes. Just a small glimpse, but enough to allow us to understand the main issue.

Here's Donald Trump's signature tax move: He keeps two sets of books. When it's time to pay taxes, he pretends to be poor, but when he asks a bank for a loan -- baby, he's a rich man too.
Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.
This isn't a huge surprise. In the past, we've seen other indications that he likes to play this kind of game. Some of you may recall my earlier post on Donald Trump's Big Fat Chicago Con.

More than one member of the Trump crime family should go to jail for these frauds. Yet half the country has been brainwashed into thinking that Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden did something wrong.

One of my readers summarized Trump's campaign strategy as Conspiracy theories from Opposite-Land. That pretty well sums it up.

Giuliani and Turkey. I knew about Flynn, but I didn't know the depth of Rudy's involvement.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, repeatedly urged President Trump to arrange for the deportation of a Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, calling him a violent extremist who needed to face justice in Turkey, former White House officials said on Tuesday.
Gulen is not a terrorist; he's an Erdogan critic. Is Rudy being paid for this shit? I don't know for sure, but that's the way I'd bet. Rudy wouldn't care about Gulen otherwise. If he did take money, that's a FARA violation -- and an orange jumpsuit.

How to proceed with impeachment? There are two philosophies. The first is KISS -- Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Trump asked a foreign power for help in an election, which is against the law. No need to prove a quid pro quo; the request itself was criminal. Making things worse, the administration hid the evidence, which is also against the law.

Even the dumbest dummy in Dummyland can understand the preceding paragraph.

(Of course, many people will pretend to misunderstand even the simplest statement if doing so soothes their egos.)

But the more Congress pulls on these investigative threads, the more criminality is exposed. It really does look as though Giuliani and Trump were working with various foreign and domestic sleazeballs to manufacture evidence. Team Trump had three main goals: Smearing Biden, freeing Paul Manafort from the pokey, and undermining the conclusion that Vladimir Putin interfered with the 2016 election.

The problem: Understanding the "threefold smear" theory requires a mind at ease with complexity -- and such a mind transcends the KISS principle. Should we keep it simple? Or should we be willing to embrace complexity?

I'd like to argue in favor of complication.

The KISS principle has one problem: Simplicity is boring. People hunger for new revelations, and if they don't get them, they become inured to the familiar. One of the reasons why the Clinton smears of the 1990s proved so successful is that every day, there was something new. As soon as one smear was exposed, paranoia buffs had a new toy to play with.

The suddenly-popular conspiracy buff subculture of that era was awash in details that no-one really understood, although everyone pretended to understand more than they really did. We became a nation of Goonies exploring a mysterious cave filled with secrets: JFK! Roswell! MJ12! The Illuminati! Rennes-le-Chateau! The Octopus! Whitewater! What excited people was the thrill of constant discovery. Our collective effort to solve the world's most challenging enigma made us feel smarter, more vivified.

Complexity can be attractive. No one wants to read an Agatha Christie novel with only two suspects.

I know that the average American can seem pretty thick. But look at it this way: If the nation can follow Game of Thrones, the nation can follow the Game of Rudy. If you present a complex story in an exciting way, you'll hook 'em.

If I were part of the Democratic establishment, I'd argue in favor of tossing something new into the mix every other day. Let's take impeachment beyond Ukraine.

Emoluments corruption. Inauguration corruption. Turkish corruption. Scottish corruption.

Let's talk about the Trumpian tactic (impeachable in and of itself) of hiding evidence by over-classifying it.

And yes, let's talk about the ten counts of obstruction of justice proven by Mueller; each count was worse than the "smoking gun" tape that brought down Nixon. Let's not be afraid to talk about Team Trump's collusion with the Russians in 2016. Hiding the evidence proves that a crime occurred. What the Trumpers are doing now recapitulates what was done then.

More than that. We must start talking about Ivanka's corruption. Don Jr. and Eric's corruption. And above all, Jared's corruption.

If you hit the preceding link, you'll see this sub-headline: "Jared Kushner Firm Took in $90 Million From Unnamed Foreign Entities Since 2017" Here's more: "The [money] came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secretary."

Do most people know about that Cayman Islands money? Nope.

They know the name Hunter Biden, who did nothing wrong, but they don't know about Jared's filthy money from the Cayman Islands.

That fact tells you a lot about the effectiveness of the right-wing propaganda machine. The Guardian and The Atlantic reach many readers, but not enough. For most Americans, that scoop about Jared from last June will have the shock of the new. (And we still don't know the full story of Jared's white elephant on Fifth Avenue.)

Jared's corruption can become the talk of the nation if Adam Schiff or Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden or Liz Warren or Chuck Schumer make a big deal out of it, and if they can find some way to make Trump's wretched son-in-law part of the impeachment debate. Journalists can't do what the aforementioned Democrats can do. Schiff, Pelosi and company have the power to drive the national dialogue.

Investigate Jared. Demand that he leave government. Make him part of the impeachment effort. Subpoena documents. Spit thunder and vomit lava. Scream until your screams become bolts of lightning.

And a short while later -- before Americans can fully process what they've heard -- hit 'em with something new.

New dramas. Four times a week.

Punch punch punch punch, every day, ruthlessly, always from new angles. Dems must develop the same killer instinct that put Trump where he is.

Last night, during the Dem debate, why the hell didn't Joe Biden (or the other candidates) go after Trump's kids? I think that it was right for Hunter Biden to give that interview -- from time to time, it is necessary to play defense -- but immediately after, you've got go on offense. They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.

Sure, many people won't understand the intricate details of each new revelation and allegation. That doesn't matter. The point is to make the Trump name truly toxic, even to the folks still caught up in the cult. Yes, that goal can be accomplished.
I read somewhere that Trump contested one form of taxes on his properties in NY (leasing?) For 9 years in a row. This action caused the contested tax appraisals to become public record and that is how they become available to some.
This may come as a surprise to some but most businesses of any size keep two sets of books. One set to reduce their tax liability (legal) and one set so they really know what is happening with their money (legal).
You, we, discussed this before
anon, it is still against the law to lie to a bank. Or to the IRS.
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