Paragraph To Ponder

From Tara Westover’s gripping and sad New York Times best seller:

“I had a thousand dollars in my bank account. It felt strange just to think that, let alone say it. A thousand dollars. Extra. That I did not immediately need. It took weeks for me to come to terms with this fact, but as I did, I began to experience the most powerful advantage of money: the ability to think of things besides money.”

What I’m currently reading.

Trump’s Reckless Driving

Based upon tax case law, estate tax compliance is like speed limit enforcement, 5 miles an hour over the posted limit, troopers look the other way. Similarly, stretch property valuations and annual gift discounts +/- 5 or 10 percent on estate tax returns; no harm, no foul.

How Fred and Donald, and then just Donald, via their estate attorneys, drove 120 miles per hour on streets marked as “40”, year after year, I have no idea. Does the “I” in IRS stand for “Incompetent”?

Something else I have no idea about. How do any honest, hardworking people of modest means, who pay all of their taxes, support this serial short cutter whose actions suggest he doesn’t give a damn about the common good?

From the New York Times investigative report:

“They (father Fred and Donald) were both fluent in the language of half-truths and lies, interviews and records show. They both delighted in transgressing without getting caught. They were both wizards at manipulating the value of their assets, making them appear worth a lot or a little depending on their needs.

Those talents came in handy when Fred Trump Jr. died, on Sept. 26, 1981, at age 42 from complications of alcoholism, leaving a son and a daughter. The executors of his estate were his father and his brother Donald.

Fred Trump Jr.’s largest asset was his stake in seven of the eight buildings his father had transferred to his children. The Trumps would claim that those properties were worth $90.4 million when they finished converting them to cooperatives within a few years of his death. At that value, his stake could have generated an estate tax bill of nearly $10 million.

But the tax return signed by Donald Trump and his father claimed that Fred Trump Jr.’s estate owed just $737,861. This result was achieved by lowballing all seven buildings. Instead of valuing them at $90.4 million, Fred and Donald Trump submitted appraisals putting them at $13.2 million.

Emblematic of their audacity was Park Briar, a 150-unit building in Queens. As it happened, 18 days before Fred Trump Jr.’s death, the Trump siblings had submitted Park Briar’s co-op conversion plan, stating under oath that the building was worth $17.1 million. Yet as Fred Trump Jr.’s executors, Donald Trump and his father claimed on the tax return that Park Briar was worth $2.9 million  when Fred Trump Jr. died.

This fantastical claim — that Park Briar should be taxed as if its value had fallen 83 percent in 18 days — slid past the I.R.S. with barely a protest. An auditor insisted the value should be increased by $100,000, to $3 million.”

Paragraphs To Ponder

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, on what the Russians most likely have on Trump:

“I don’t think it’s the infamous pee tape because even if real, the pee tape might not sink Trump. I think it’s money — that Trump’s entire company, and therefore his personal wealth, is held afloat entirely by Russian money and Putin could pull the plug on it with a snap of his fingers. But whatever it is, it seems clear there’s something they’ve got on him.”

Gruber again:

“I’ve been thinking for a few months now that the most powerful person in the world isn’t Trump or Putin but Rupert Murdoch. If Fox News turned against Trump — not against Republicans, not against conservatives, but only against Trump and his family — it would sink Trump’s presidency within months. Politically, Trump couldn’t breathe without the support of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch could make that happen.”

 

The Kavanaugh Nomination Explained

Thank you Lili.

“The nominee looks good on paper—he’s Ivy-educated, Federalist Society–approved, and has the sorts of credentials serious thinkers like to solemnly enumerate. More importantly, though, Kavanaugh isn’t just a booster for presidential power, he’s someone who—having once laid out the grounds for impeaching President Bill Clinton—has since (in a move his advocates will no doubt cite as evidence of his broad-mindedness) changed his mind about how presidents should deal with being investigated. In brief, he doesn’t believe they should have to: ‘[T]he President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,’ Kavanaugh wrote. ‘We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions,’ he added. The ‘indictment and trial of a sitting President’ would ‘cripple the federal government.’

Imagine Trump’s feelings when he heard that. Trump used the phrase equal justice twice in his speech, but what he really wants is exceptional justice. And Kavanaugh is willing to give it.

But installing a judge who will quietly immunize you from any legal consequences for wrongdoing requires finesse. It’s a challenge even for a showman of Trump’s caliber. A maneuver like this must look quite, quite normal in order to successfully mask his real rationale. It can be easy to forget, especially on the heels of a bile-filed rally in Montana, that Trump can ‘code switch’ when he has reason to, and he had reason to do so Monday, when what he needed was to make filling a Supreme Court seat look like the act of a statesman rather than a robber baron.

Kavanaugh went out of his way to play his part in catering to Trump’s ego.”

 

Highly plausible. I also LTM (laughed to myself) as Kavanaugh’s acceptance stretched from one minute to seven or so and Little St. Don couldn’t mask his complete and total annoyance at having lost the limelight. I’ve heard some people have been saying he’s a bit of a narcissist.

Poor Karl, His Tax Savings Could Be Erased

Of course Karl Rove is down with Trump’s tax cuts.

“President Trump is justifiably proud of passing tax reform last December, telling audiences ‘because of our tax cuts, you can keep more of your hard-earned money.’ He’s right: American taxpayers will save $75 billion this year and $189 billion next year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.”

To which any thinking person should ask, “WHICH American taxpayers will save those estimated billions?” Rove leaves out that the savings are skewed to the New Aristocracy of which he is a charter member.

Proving he’s the exact kind of Establishment Republican the Trumpeters despise almost as much as Democrats, he notes that, given the evolving Trade War, Trump’s tax cuts will be cancelled out by higher prices on imports coupled with some job losses.

“Yet the president’s tariffs on imports could negate much of the tax relief he’s been bragging about. These levies are not paid by foreign countries or companies. They are passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices for either foreign or U.S.-made goods.

The Trump tariffs are now clawing back tax savings at a rate of roughly $10.6 billion per year. The levies already in place include 25% on steel (imports in 2017 were an estimated $23.4 billion), 30% on solar panels ($8.5 billion), 10% on aluminum ($18 billion) and 20% on washing machines ($1.8 billion). That’s chump change compared with what may be coming.”

The harsher the left’s criticism of all things Trump, the more inclined Trumpeters are to blindly follow him. Eventually, inflation and increased outsourcing of manufacturing jobs will test their knee-jerk, self-sabotaging love. Right?

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