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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
October 31, 2016

Vox - Two experts say Donald Trump should be investigated for criminal tax evasion


Donald Trump has, for years, served as president of a charitable foundation that, though named after himself, is not financed with contributions made out of his own pocket. Instead, contributions mostly seem to come from a range of Trump’s business partners, allowing him to parlay celebrity into securing credit for charity work.

And much of the foundation’s spending doesn’t really fit the traditional conception of philanthropy at all. Some of the money seems to flow back into Trump’s pockets through his businesses, while other funds are used to punish his political enemies or try to gain new friends in the conservative movement.

At times the level of self-dealing becomes downright comical. It spent $20,000 on a portrait of Donald Trump, for example, and $12,000 on buying Trump an autographed Tim Tebow helmet. When Trump's Mar-a-Lago club racked up $120,000 in fines from the town of Palm Beach, Florida for violating a local ordinance regarding the height of flagpoles, Trump eventually settled the dispute by agreeing to a $100,000 donation to a veterans' charity — and then had his foundation rather than the club pay the tab. The largest gift the foundation ever made was a $264,631 bequest that was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel. He’s also used the charity for some surprisingly small-time frauds.

Various aspects of this almost certainly violate the laws governing charities (he’s already been sanctioned by the state of New York), but several experts are also raising the question of whether Trump is guilty of criminal tax evasion. This is a difficult charge to prove, but the law requires the government to demonstrate knowledge and intent which means that scofflaws can often get off by pleading ignorance. But both Philip Hackney, a former IRS attorney now working as a professor of tax law, and Adam Chodorow, a tax law professor at Arizona State University, have written that the elements exist to at least begin an investigation.
October 30, 2016

The Nation - How Trump’s Media Cheerleaders Turned Campaign Coverage Into a Total Disaster

Interesting story of how the corporate media enabled Trump in the pursuit of both right wing ideological goals, as well as the pursuit of profits at the expense of informing the public.


Now that the Trump campaign is reaching its final implosion, let’s take stock of those journalists and media moguls who used their influence and airtime to enable this catastrophe.

First and foremost on the list would have to be Rupert Murdoch. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has detailed the genesis of what he termed the “Murdoch-Trump alliance.” He quoted a Murdoch insider explaining that the boss “doesn’t like people to be snobs and treat Trump like a clown,” though, of course, this is exactly what he is. Despite the kerfuffle with prize Murdoch property Megyn Kelly, in which Trump put his ignorant misogyny on full display, Murdoch tweeted that the GOP “would be mad not to unify” behind Trump. The deal, according to Sherman, was largely brokered by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the Orthodox Jewish owner of The New York Observer, who doubles as a top adviser to the billionaire’s campaign of anti-Jewish hatred. As a result, Sherman noted, Trump’s fellow sexual predator, former Fox News honcho Roger Ailes, sent out the word: “Make sure we don’t go after Trump.” This led one anchor to complain, “We’ve thrown in the towel.”

Pushing Trump has also been the rule at other Murdoch properties. The New York Post is among the few newspapers in America to endorse his campaign, terming him “King Don” after his New York primary victory. (Joining the Post in this lonely endorsement was the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which—surprise, surprise—is owned by Sheldon Adelson and deployed, much as Murdoch uses the Post, as a propaganda sheet for its owner’s business interests and extremist ideology.) The Wall Street Journal generally does not endorse, but editor in chief Gerry Baker made sure his staff understood the need to be “fair” to Trump, lest their professionalism interfere with its owner’s political agenda. This attempt to further bias the paper’s Murdoch-meddled news coverage is, of course, augmented by its far-right, science-denying, supply-­side-economics-cheerleading editorial page.

 Per usual, Murdoch’s corporate interests and ideological obsessions reinforced each other regarding Trump’s candidacy. Not only did ratings reportedly dip on Fox whenever anyone was too critical, but when Trump loses, Fox will have to start worrying that a Trump-branded “alt-right” media empire will steal away its most fervently nutty viewers. Over at CNN, however, things are less complicated: Sucking up to Trump brought in viewers and hence massive amounts of advertising dollars for the network, something its president, Jeff Zucker, has known since the days when he promoted Trump’s reality shows at NBC. Zucker disgraced CNN by constantly running Trump phone calls and rallies as if the “C” stood for “Cheerleader.” He also hired Trump apologists, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who, while being paid by CNN to allegedly offer his honest opinions on the election, was simultaneously being paid by the Trump campaign to do exactly the opposite. At no point did Lewandowski do anything on the air that was inconsistent with his role as an official Trump mouthpiece—up to and including his willingness to parrot Trump’s recent complaint that the election is somehow “rigged,” a move that power-hammered the final nail in his political coffin. And yet Zucker had no problem with deliberately misinforming his audiences in the service of exploding ad revenue.

October 29, 2016

Trump Is Coming Back in Polls Because Too Many People Are Afraid To Take a Stand

Here is Trump just freely lying and pushing conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory:


In the closing weeks, the media has once again taken to giving Trump softball interviews, including this one by Mark Halperin who himself chastised other journalists for refusing to press Trump on his failure to disclose his tax returns:


Finally, putting party over country, the GOP has stood by even as Trump has cozied up to Russia even when they themselves have said that Russia has taken an active role in trying to influence the election.


This is how we descend into facism. When people are afraid and intimidated to do what is right.

October 29, 2016

Hypocrisy - Daily Beast - "GOP Blocks Probes Into Trump-Russia Tie"

While Russia, Er, Republicans go on television and complain about Hillary's use of personal e-mail constituting a security threat, watch the MSM ignore Republican efforts to kill any examination of ties between Trump and Russia.


Suspicion is mounting about Donald Trump’s ties to Russian officials and business interests, as well as possible links between his campaign and the Russian hacking of U.S. political organizations. But GOP leaders have refused to support efforts by Democrats to investigate any possible Trump-Russia connections, which have been raised in news reports and closed-door intelligence briefings. And without their support, Democrats, as the minority in both chambers of Congress, cannot issue subpoenas to potential witnesses and have less leverage to probe Trump.

Privately, Republican congressional staff told The Daily Beast that Trump and his aides’ connections to Russian officials and businesses interests haven’t gone unnoticed and are concerning. And GOP lawmakers have reviewed Democrats’ written requests to the FBI that it investigate Trump before they were made public.

But the lawmakers in both chambers have declined to sign on to them. Republicans have no appetite to launch inquiries into their party’s presidential nominee, and they continue to believe the FBI flubbed its investigation into Clinton and her aides, who should have been charged with mishandling government secrets, the staffers said.

Instead Republican lawmakers appear far more interested in probing Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, nearly three months after the Justice Department declined to press charges against her or her aides. FBI Director James Comey has been called to testify to Congress three times about the email investigation, and Republicans have launched a separate inquiry into whether the former secretary of State committed perjury when she testified before Congress about her unorthodox communications system. As a result, Clinton is likely to face relentless grilling on Capitol Hill from now until Election Day, but Trump can rest assured that his fellow partisans will go easy on him.

October 29, 2016

Reminder - Vox - The media's 5 unspoken rules for covering Hillary

This reminds me of the media's rush of Clinton Foundation stories.


1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the "vast right-wing conspiracy," and mainstream media outlets

2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.

3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there's hard evidence otherwise.

4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America's royal family

5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit
October 28, 2016

Vox - Last year, no candidate got more negative media coverage than Hillary Clinton

While Donald Trump bases his whole campaign on how the media is so unfair to him in reporting the things he says and does, the MSM ignores the ongoing negative narrative by which it has framed Hillary Clinton.


Fox News ran 330 stories about Hillary Clinton in 2015. About 300 of them were overtly negative, according to new research.

Fox News may have hit Clinton harder than any other news outlet, but it’s hardly been alone in treating her candidacy with extra scrutiny. Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy released a report this week that says the top news outlets hammered Clinton in 2015 far more than any other presidential candidate.

According to the report, eight of America’s most influential news outlets wrote coverage "negative in tone" about Clinton 84 percent of the time — compared to just 43 percent for Donald Trump, and 17 percent for Bernie Sanders.


In every month of 2015 but one — October, when Clinton was widely praised for her handling of the Benghazi hearings — those eight outlets devoted far more negative than positive coverage to Clinton, the report found.
October 26, 2016

Donald Trump Has Irrevocably Changed How We Will Grade Our Presidential Candidates

Nice article that illustrates how Trump and the MSM have conspired to lower the bar regarding what we expect from Presidential candidates.


Close your eyes for a second and go back to October 2012. Mitt Romney, engaged in a pitched fight to unseat President Barack Obama, is campaigning hard as the election closes, drawing major crowds and inspiring Republican visions of a White House takeover.

Now imagine, as Romney campaigns, that a story breaks detailing how his onetime company, Bain Capital, took $17 million in insurance money for business damages that it very likely had not incurred. It would be a scandal. Romney’s ethics would be questioned. The campaign would come to a halt for a bit.

OK, ignore the insurance fraud. Let’s say as Romney was campaigning down the stretch, a story broke that his super PAC, Restore Our Future, was caught discussing how to secretly funnel illegal donations from a Chinese source into its coffers. Watchdog groups would be in an uproar. Obama’s campaign would pounce and Romney would be forced to condemn the group immediately, lest he seem like he was benefiting from foreign money.

Let’s say that neither the Chinese donations nor the insurance fraud happened in our re-imagining of the 2012 election. Instead, an article was published in the closing days of the race saying Romney had held parties with underaged girls and cocaine. OK. That’s impossible to imagine. Let’s say the article reported that he’d openly discussed trying to pick up John Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, just days after the couple’s 16-year-old son had died. You’re right ― again, impossible to imagine.

October 26, 2016

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s trickle-down economics experiment is so bad the state stopped reporting

Trump's scandals are grabbing all the air time, but what is ignored is a tax plan that would make Sam Brownback proud.


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, the Republican responsible for the state’s business-friendly tax policies, is now trying to erase any evidence of just how wildly unsuccessful his Reaganomics experiment has proved.

Last month the state’s Council of Economic Advisors, which Brownback created in 2011 and still chairs, quietly discontinued quarterly reports originally intended to showcase the state’s rapid economic growth. (During Brownback’s re-election campaign in 2014, the reports were scrubbed from the internet and subsequently available only upon request.)

The council issued what ended up being its last report in May.

Brownback “specifically asked the council to hold him accountable through rigorous performance metrics,” Heidi Holliday, executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “Five years later, the metrics clearly show his tax experiment has failed while business leaders and local chambers of commerce across the state openly ask him to change course.”

* * *
Brownback ran for governor in 2010 on an archaic small-state economic platform that promised widespread tax cuts for business owners and high-income earners. These cuts — amounting cents on the dollar, essentially, for individuals — went into effect in 2012, and subsequent years of revenue losses have gutted public infrastructure and diminished quality of life in the state.

October 25, 2016

Trump Tax Plan Gives 47% Of Cuts To Richest 1%, New Analysis Finds

The one thing that the media continues to push is the idea that Trump is some sort of populist. Just because Trump appeals to the white working class by making appeals to racism does not make him a populist.


A new analysis of tax proposals from the major Presidential candidates shows Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have moved even farther apart in their approach to taxing the rich.

According to the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Trump’s latest proposals would cut taxes by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, with 47% of all cuts in 2017 going to the top 1%. Clinton’s plans, by contrast, would raise taxes by a net $1.4 trillion over a decade, with 92% of the increase in 2017 extracted from the 1%. (By TPC’s definition, it takes expanded cash income in excess of $699,000 to be part of the 1%.)

TPC director Leonard Burman described the Trump and Clinton tax plans as “mirror images.”

The tax cuts that Trump is now proposing are smaller than the $9.5 trillion in cuts he floated last year, but are also more tilted in favor of the wealthy. In his initial plan, by TPC’s figuring, the 1% got 35% of the tax cut. When Trump revamped his tax plan in August, he made cuts for most types of individual income less generous and those for corporate income (as well as business income reported directly on individual returns) more generous. In calculating the distribution of tax burden and tax cuts, TPC includes individual, payroll, estate and corporate taxes, and assumes that 80% of the corporate tax burden is borne by the generally wealthier owners of capital and 20% by workers. In addition, the think tank assumes that Trump’s lower rate for business income–a top 15% rate, versus 33% for salary —will lead half of high wage workers to take steps to convert salary into business income.

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