…diminishing returns [DOT 13/7/20]

what's cooked up, should burn down...

…this might sound wildly implausible…but I don’t actually relish these little moments of potentially boring you with a light garnishing of invective sprinkled in & around a bunch of links to stories that largely repeat information that you know well enough by now to – like a world-class tennis player – start reacting appropriately before the service has been completed & I’m literally in mid-swing…so going back over something I might have banged on about before is kind of closer to the gilding of lillies than I prefer to get for the most part

…sure…barely three of you probably give the possibility serious credence…but the truth is I mostly do…long-winded as I am these are all technically “the short version”

…so if you’ll indulge me a little…I’d like to preface this by stating something I’d hope would be obvious because it’s one of those things where I’d really hate to find out later it wasn’t…KC left a reply to one of these posts the other day that I meant to respond to but (things being what they are) I never quite got there…& the ever-tingling leg of one Cousin Matthew (another esteemed member of our illustrious little parish) did manage a response where I had failed to so I’d like to pull the pair of them up to the front of the class a little…& want to be clear about the bit where I don’t think what I have to say implies at any level that I’m looking to correct anything either said because I’ve read the stuff they say around here & any fool can see they’re at least as astute as I am & know all sorts of shit better than I do.

…that said…I have some opinions that overlap with the comments in question that might seem like they veer off a little in places & I figure it might not entirely be a waste of everybody’s time to sketch out why a little?

The only reason Donald Trump’s tax returns are such a big deal is because Trump made them a big deal but refusing to release them.
Given how absolutely impervious to political scandal he’s been until literally this fucking year, if he has just released them, whatever blowback he would have seen would be over by now. His steadfast refusal to show them is the only thing keeping it in the news cycle.

And honestly, I think about the only thing that they’ll reveal that we don’t already know (i.e we all know he’s a craven fraudster who’s in massive debt to Russian oligarchs) is that Trump is nowhere near as rich as he claims. I think that would damage Donald’s pride more than anything criminal that could be revealed, because the only thing keeping the cash flow coming in is stupid idiots giving Donald Trump money in the hopes he can somehow not waste it all.

KC Complains A Lot

I believe the only reason President Nixon released a tax return (thereby setting a precedent) was this aura of corruption and sleaze that clung to him almost from the moment he entered public life when he ran for Congress. He had to go on TV when it was in its infancy to bat away charges of his wife inappropriately having mink coats via a shady slush fund, the famous “good Republican cloth coat” Checkers speech.

Nixon was a lot of things but he wasn’t in it for the money. After he lost the 1960 Presidential election he moved to New York and made a good living as a name partner in a Manhattan law firm. He also spent time plotting his comeback. He was very Trump-y: paranoid, thin-skinned, power-mad, pitting Americans against each other for political purposes, but he never displayed the avarice and naked greed that Trump does with the regularity of the tides.

Cousin Matthew’s Tingling Leg

…so…working backwards…naked greed & avarice displayed in abundance with the regularity of the tides…quite apart from being an elegant bit of phrasing for a deeply inelegant aspect of the god-forsaken farce currently taking place in, around, through & most especially under the auspices of the presidency…it is unequivocally a frank (though by no means full) appraisal of a characteristic of this alleged administration that is unsurprisingly a mirror of one of the defining characterstics of its loathesomely solipsistic figurehead

…Nixon…by some indescribably ironic twist of fate that surely no historian could ever have seriously expected his legacy to enjoy…was indeed a thin-skinned, power-obsessed, paranoiac who was willing to pit both Americans & their interests against one another for personal political gain…& a vastly more capable & effective president & politician than baleficient could ever pass himself off as…much less actually be

…& yet he did less harm to his nation & its citizenry…incredible as such a statement deserves to be…but as the above comment indicates much of what he did in terms of relevant precedent where the ever-tedious references to tax returns are concerned he did because of the no longer fashionable belief that it was important to avoid anything that might lend credence to plausible impropriety where candidates for high office were concerned…why, it’s quaint enough to make a person feel nostalgic, frankly

…not least when one considers that his administration looked at the possibility of pardoning those convicted for their parts in the Watergate scandal…& likewise decided that whatever the debt Nixon owed those people it would be unthinkable to pardon them by his own hand whilst on his way to an ignominious exit from the Oval Office

…indeed it’s possible that when Barr was asked directly (I believe under oath) whether it would be lawful for the current president to pardon someone for their part in a crime that (were he not currently the president) might usually be categorized along the lines of joint-enterprise he did in fact state with some clarity that such a course of action would be illegal

…another reason, no doubt, that Roger Stone’s conviction remains intact though his punishment for it has dissapated like so much hot air…which – it’s worth noting – he continues to get to contest on the basis that investigating him was improper

…not…& I want to be clear about this because it pisses me off beyond any degree I have the words to express…explicitly not on the grounds that he isn’t guilty of this & more…but on the grounds that according-to-this-particular-tenuous-reading-of-them “the rules” say it wasn’t fair to notice that he was guilty let alone ask him to prove he wasn’t

…not “I never did that shit” & not even “you ain’t got shit on me” but your actual “hey, you can’t ask me that – no fair – that’s not how this is supposed to work”

…& this is coming from the same dizzying legal intellects that like to attempt to persuade anyone who’ll listen that because the charges related to their president’s impeachment were “procedural” in nature that somehow invidates any & all claims that the reams of evidence in support of the clear & demonstrable guilt & explicit culpabilty on his part in moral, political, legal & objectively factual terms are not in any way substantive

…in no small part thanks to the lying, obfuscating, stonewalling & attempts – some successful & a great many brought to you by one Roger Stone (multiply convicted felon inexplicably outwith confinement or other punitive consequences to his very real & deeply damaging wrongdoings) – to prevent the Mueller investigation from satisfying itself in regards to its attempts to fulfill even the insanely-forgiving remit the Report makes clear was always intended to be both the limit of its efforts & the starting point from which a panolply of further & more rigorous investigations were intended to ensue pursuant to the cause of (eventual) justice…which is to say just as soon as it might reasonably be expected that the GOP wouldn’t be mortally wounded by association

…meanwhile…as KC notes…the principal revenue stream that directs funds towards DJT’s pockets is directly or indirectly bilking credulous or morally complicit supporters of his project to simultaneously denigrate, destabilize & deprecate the functional machinery of state while enriching & aggrandizing himself in ways every bit as thoroughly inappropriate as he has always & forever been in everything he has ever done…& done so very publicly…let alone the things he has so desperately & at such great cost built walls around composed of large sums of money & dubiously-justified & suspiciously-wide-ranging non-disclosure agreements & other such instruments of obfuscation

…at this point I’d like to note that compared to the shaky financial foundation that represented his business interests & assets before he announced his candidacy the amount of hay he’s been making while the campaigning sun has been shining is like a bonanza to him…it almost certainly (thanks to those porous & exteremly pliable rules that have kept so much “soft” money in the mix that it’s a wonder any of us can stomach it) even worse than the extent to which he has sought to shamelessly extort the federal goverment to contrive to profit (from the very dubiously determined costs & payments relating to things like the mandatory protection of his person) on the grounds of his own damn properties…like the golf clubs he has now spent time at some 262 times since taking office

…or…to put it another way…he has…in a manner designed to enrich himself more or less directly & very much improperly…visited his own properties at the taxpayers’ expense with the nominal purpose of engaging in an activity he suggested was improper in Obama’s case (namely to play golf) enough times that (had he not spread them out over several years instead of a single one) he would have spent at least part of every working day (assuming a five day week) for an entire calendar year pouring money from the public purse into his own pockets under the thin pretext of doing the exact thing he claimed a president ought to be too busy to do

…because…& I can not stress this enough…ripping off the people of the United States of America has always been his full-time occupation & that fact has only been exacerbated by the insane state of affairs whereby he in fact occupies the highest office of the land

…again, as KC likewise notes, this is not news any more than it’s news that were we to get a bird’s eye view of the man’s actual bottom line it would show him not so much in the hole as down a deep, dark well that might actually graduate to being properly described as a trench so deep that no amount of legitimate enterprise or retrenchment could reasonably be expected to make him whole

…but about here is where I think I diverge in the particulars from KC’s conclusions at the same time that I still think that in many respects even those parts of what he said are not wrong in so far as they go…which probably sounds confusing & is largely why this is sitting here & not in a comment responding to his where the rest of you wouldn’t have to wade through it…but here goes, since I think there’s something to be said for both ways of looking at the thing

…so, to KC’s point, it may indeed be the case that ultimately the thing he’s seeking to defend is his pride…but my mileage varies when it comes to the suggestion that his tax returns showing him not to be as rich as he pretends would be demonstrating anything we don’t already know…indeed that was at least part of the point of a couple of the links I recycled the other day…sure, he got gifted hundreds of millions of dollars…but by his own accounting he has lost sums that add up to the better part of two billion dollars…which led the IRS to notice that he outstripped the field in terms of posted losses by an impressive margin

…nationwide the business enterprises of Donald J Trump (of the lying-orange-sack-of-flop-sweat Trumps) lost more money than anyone else not just in one year but every year for some several years…he lost money literally like nobody’s business…except his…no business anywhere else in the US (possibly even in all of recorded history) has ever lost money at a more prodigious rate than the businesses of this waddling tangerine disaster artist…at least not without going the everloving fuck out of business permanently…& in many cases somebody winding up serving time in an honest-to-goodness penitentiary

…so…a man who started out with a positive number followed by eight zeroes in a line (call it $X00,000,000) & then lost dollar amounts that rack up an extra digit (let’s call this one $Y,Z00,000,000) where Z>X>Y…that man turning out not to be a rich & savvy businessman the way he made out (before, during & after his reality TV delusion-illusion – he does love a demeaning rhyme) is pretty much the opposite of seeming like new information to me

…now obviously the period to which the information from which those figures are drawn all prefigures his stint in the political arena & its attendant opportunities to avail himself of those lax campaign finance regulations…but if you wade through the mire of the information the Times dredged up with respect to his father’s tenure at the helm of their fradulently avaricious attempt at a dynastic tradition…well…there’s plenty that rises to the level of prosecutable illegality

…so I’d say the jury may still be out on whether or not evidence of substantial wrongdoing of the prosecutable variety is demonstrated within the tax documents prepared by Mazars & now to be made available to Cy Vance & the SDNY (potentially en route to being made likewise available to Congress & perhaps one day to the rest of us) but would personally argue that it isn’t merely the pratings of one orange-faced asshole that’s kept focus on the idea that there might be something worth pursuing in terms of ensuring they see the light of day

…there’s no two ways about it…if Nixon was correct that the people deserve to know if their president’s a crook…then they should know that this one not only is but that the question is already long settled everywhere but in a court of law & the minds of the willfully &/or speciously credulous

Capone went down for tax evasion, after all…but nobody thinks he wasn’t guilty of anything else that ought to have carried jailtime in its own right

…it is sadly not as fundamentally impossible as it ought to be that had said information been made available in regards to papaya pol pot its functional utility with respect to prosecuting a bit of righteous justice in terms that register as punitive even through that tangerine hide might indeed have been rendered dubiously inert long since

…much the way the thousands of other things (any one of which would have been enough to tip the scales of ignominous financial &/or political demise in times past) have dribbled off him the way urine allegedly does from a rubber sheet (that may or may not be in physical proximity to a lady whose negotiable virtue owes its allegiences to what is generally accepted to be your archetypal hostile foreign power) because that has indeed appeared to be the nature of the rabid animal the GOP has been so all-in on reducing itself to

…but…with all due respect…we don’t actually know that any more than we know for sure that there isn’t some shit in there which in the right hands couldn’t lead to an illustration of culpable & prosecutable wrongdoing even more egregious than that demostrated in that Times piece about old man Fred’s corrupt practices & the inviolable connections that foundation has to everything his favored son has ever been or represented himself as being

…so…apologies in advance…but that shit might crop up again from time to time going forward?



  1. Bravo! And thanks for the shout out. 
    A happy Bastille Day to all. Let the guillotine blades fall where they may. I’m making my usual Bastille Day dinner, steak frites accompanied by some (quite a bit) of French red wine yet to be acquired. For dessert there will be cake, and by the way Marie Antoinette almost certainly never said, “Let them eat cake.” Anti-Royalist propaganda. 
    I’ll leave you with this. It’s the Marseillaise scene from Casablanca. The woman in the screenshot crying and singing lustily was, in real life, a French refugee. She wasn’t acting, I’m sure. She was also the last surviving actor from the movie when she died, not too long ago.
    Vive l’Amérique! Vive l’Amérique libre!

  2. Can I argue that it’s both what you said and what KC said?

    I suspect the biggest and easiest takeaway is that Trump is nowhere near as rich as he’d like people to believe AND his businesses have lost insane amounts of money. You see this as a shrug because we know he’s not that rich and he’s a lousy dealmaker, but to a man for whom the universe revolves around his ego, to see it starkly in black and white would feel like said universe is collapsing. 

    This would not sink him politically (at least, more than current trends) because many Americans don’t know the difference between “reality” and “reality TV” and he was a good businessman on that show, so it must be true. 

    However, if we were to find that he was up to his neck in hock to foreign banks with loose morals and direct ties to … hmm, let’s have a totally random example … say certain longtime leaders of large states in Europe who maybe just got “re-elected” for another 16 years?

    I know, insert the “Donny escapes jam easily” tweet here, but it IS weird that it’s still coming up and there’s still a lot of evidence and even though the right and the far left have completely dismissed it as centrist paranoia porn, we keep stumbling into more evidence that there’s a “there” there. Moreover, the big strong president who talks tough at a (checks notes) virus has basically told Putin to do whatever he wants — start wars, jack up oil prices, shoot American soldiers. To show there is a clear, direct financial incentive for him to do that I think brings a lot more people on-board to the idea that it’s not just Cold Warriors trying to rekindle an old grudge.

    • …as far as the argument that my views & KC’s can both be right is concerned…that’s very much what I was going for…so please do

      …I don’t know that I’d say it was a “shrug” kind of a reaction I have to it so much as a “spitting feathers” sort of a thing…but I’ve likely done enough of that for one morning so I’ll leave it at that for now?

  3. 1) You write well. The… is a bit odd, but doing so does not necessarily detract from your points which are, as ever, eloquently stated. 
    B) So long as Fanta Twitler spends his last days in a prison cell, I honestly do not care how he is brought to justice. He and everyone who has enabled him all need to be perp-walked onto a boat, sailed to Pitcairn*, and left to rot. 
    We would obviously relocate all the residents there already to some place else. 
    *A one-way trip to visit the Sun is also acceptable.

    • …believe it or not the … generally signify a chunk of text I didn’t type out…it’s kind of where I was going with the “short version” bit

      …but I thank you for the kind words…& heartily endorse section B) of the above

  4. This is a very interesting look at Trump’s efforts to expand his property in Scotland, how shady it is, and how dubious locals are about him:
    It makes no sense in terms of regular economics, and is the kind of thing that could blow up on him if Scotland goes independent and he can’t count on shelter from a Tory government.

  5. “so, to KC’s point, it may indeed be the case that ultimately the thing he’s seeking to defend is his pride…”
    I have always, and WILL always believe it’s not Trump’s pride here, quite as much as his whole *ego* & personal worldview, that he’s defending. (He’s a Narcissist, remember!)
    Pride (to me anyway–it may be different for y’all!) means that Trump could walk away from it, and “change his mind” on something here… this is more than just pride–it’s the man’s entire view of how the world relates to himself.
    When Trump & TrumpCo**  finally go down–i still maintain that I believe it will be for RICO, FinCEN, and other assorted frauds/money-laundering types of crimes–i think that YES, we will find that he’s mortgaged himself & his children, and likely, frankly & unfortunately, anything he could get his tiny, grubby, mitts on within the US/Federal Government, too(!), to the hilt, just to stave off his lenders.
    Because ‘Ol Donny Dumbass is too damn STUPID and narcissistic, to realize that he’s NOT, in fact, smarter than the Russian Mobsters/Oligarchs/Putin Cronies (these things are fully interchangeable & intertwined, frankly), like he–narcissist that he is–believes.
    Trump, at some time in the past, sold his soul to the Russian Mob, thinking that they were like the NY mobsters he (and Roy Cohn) knew. He thought he could scam them, the way he scammed his fellow new Yorkers for decades. He’s too damn stupid to understand that the Oligarchy will patiently wait Decades for their repayment, because that means they can collect even more favors & interest in the meantime.
    Trump doesn’t understand the Oligarchy are an entirely different species, who both have access to weaponry that the other mobs don’t (the poisonings of Viktor Yushchenko, Aleksander Litvinenko, and Sergei & Yulia Skripal come immediately to mind), and that the Oligarchy don’t care about the typical “rules” (i.e. American laws/civil structure) followed by American/US-based mobsters.
    Trump honest-to-God believes that *he* is smarter than Putin–chief Oligarch–and the one whose approval is required for all the others in the Oligarchy to stay rich & oligarchs.
    Whoever it was that Trump originally borrowed from, in order to get those cosigns on the Deutsche loans, it doesn’t really matter, anymore. We all know those loans are now held by Trump’s Vladdy-Daddy.
    Because Putin never fails to capitalize on an opportunity.
    And since *at least* the 1980’s/beginning of the 90’s, likely before, Pooty-poot has had it in for the USA, for “Breaking up” the USSR, and weakening the percieved power of Russia.
    Putin doesn’t give a shit about Trump, other than using him as a “Useful Idiot,” but he became an unexpectedly helpful tool, in Putin’s attempts to embarrass & bring down the US and to try & make us into a failed state.
    As to speculation on exactly What it is that Trump’s scared of… 
    Watch Trump’s tell in the first debate. We know by now, that with Trumpty-dumpty, there is ALWAYS a physical tell… the man is the world’s WORST poker player:

    There is zero reaction to reasons 1 & 2 (& not much to point 4, except to use it as a lifeline) about why Trump hadn’t released his returns…he doesn’t CARE about those reasons.
    Annnnnd then, with her 3rd point,  he has the near startle-reaction. When she mentions the investigative reporting on the loans–the “well you caught me there”  look he gives at 0:47/48 (rapidly cycling through a pulling back of the shoulders, raised/startled eyebrows, a quick lick of the lips as he does when caught in a lie, then the full-widening of his mouth in a grimacing “smile”–not quite a smirk–more sulk–with a flashed eyebrow-raising right around/just before :50, as Hillary says “foreign banks”) shows he’s surprised & perhaps scared…
    His microexpressions tell a story here, before he seizes the lifeline about being “smart” by avoiding paying as many taxes as possible. 
    Microexpressions don’t lie.
    They’re hard for lots of folks to catch in the moment, but they’re impossible to cover up.
    And just like his grimaces, teeth-clenching, and general other-signs of looking extremely unhappy & like his loans were called in on election night, I think Hil hit at the truth, and it was missed by most of us, back during this moment of the debate.
    Trump NEVER wanted to win the presidency. He wanted the L, so that he could have the freedom to grift himself a new media empire, off the grudges held by mostly aging, primarily rural, white supremacists.  The folks who buy the MAGA hats & t-shirts, and send him $$$. He was hoping to scam a bunch of rubes in perpetuity, while never needing to make more than nominal payments on his ever-increasing debt load, because “Well, you see, I Lost–and simply can’t afford to pay everything back!” And he was hoping to settle for pennies on the dollar–like he has for decades now…
    Everything he’s done, and everything he’s doing & will do in the future is about enriching himself (just himself, if Parscale’s financial shenanigans become too much, and Trump feels like Parscale is taking “his” money he WILL be shitcanned!), and simultaneously about avoiding payments to his creditors, while avoiding the justice system’s reach.
    His drive to stay in office Isn’t about wanting to stay. It’s all about grifting as much as possible, for as long as possible, and then avoiding prison/prosecution.
    That’s it.
    The power of being president stokes his ego. But JUST like his grasping & grating attempts to be accepted by old-money New Yorkers yeeears ago, his desire for the seat of President is ONLY for the appearance of being seen as “Rich & Powerful!”(TM), and not because of some latent desire to actually *lead*
     (**interchangeable to some extentbut TrumpCo goes beyond just Papaya Pol Pot himself)

  6. Bari Weiss quit at the NY Times!
    She wrote a screed about how she couldn’t take the ongoing criticism from her colleagues at the paper, which is rich because she constantly attacked her colleagues and complained to their bosses about them. But of course, her takes were all valid and reasonable and they were just dumb stupidheads.
    Ironically, just yesterday the driving force behind the Harpers letter, Thomas Chatterton Williams, tweeted a self pitying bit about he had to kick someone out of his house in the south of France for arguing about Bari Weiss. And then deleted it, saying his wife made him. You see, it’s vital that the leftist mob stop cancelling people for their opinions, but of course he is the victim because he had to argue with someone expressing their opinions.
    The fundamental dishonesty of these people is astonishing.

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