Monday, August 22, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Follow the Money

The Trumpettes seized the media initiative Monday with a cascade of extreme reactions to the Clinton Foundation and recent email releases.  A counter-charge issued by Clinton campaign chair John Podesta did not get the same play.

"The Foundation has already laid out the unprecedented steps the charity will take if Hillary Clinton becomes president,” campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement. “Donald Trump needs to come clean with voters about his complex network of for-profit businesses that are hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to big banks, including the state-owned Bank of China, and other business groups with ties to the Kremlin.”

Some of the potentially much greater problems with Trump enterprises were suggested in an investigative piece released Sunday by the New York Times:

But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.

For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building."

The Times emphasized that the nature and extent of Trump's financial entanglements are not fully known, but that they present economic and foreign policy implications for a presidential candidate.  From what just this article reveals, Trump has a far greater problem that Clinton in matters of serious if not critical conflict of interest and potential criminality.

Perhaps it is partly as I feared, that the media needs to swing the narrative back to Clinton, because there was little follow-up to the Times piece, or prominence given to increasing calls for Trump to do what all other presidential candidates since 1976 have done, and release his tax returns.  In Trump's case this is more than financial disclosure--it is disclosure of potentially grave conflicts of interest regarding Russia and China, for example.

Trump's known indebtedness moreover raises potentially more conflicts, as do the many unknowns about his business dealings.  For example, the Times:"And in some cases, the identities of his business partners are obscured behind limited liability companies — raising the prospect of a president with unknown business ties."

While Trump brazenly demands that the Clinton charitable organization be shut down, he offers no information about his own entanglements, nor any plan for what he would do if elected to ensure he would have no financial conflicts of interest.  Trump must be held accountable for this, and quickly.

In other Trumped-Up matters, the Guardian presents a guide on dealing with Trump's rhetoric derived from techniques developed to deal with Internet trolls.

As just another indication of the nature of the Homegrown Hitler Youth, from the Associated Press:

Donald Trump's paid campaign staffers have declared on their personal social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, mocked how Mexicans talk, called for Secretary of State John Kerry to be hanged and stated their readiness for a possible civil war, according to a review by The Associated Press of their postings.

The AP examined the social media feeds of more than 50 current and former campaign employees who helped propel Trump through the primary elections. The campaign has employed a mix of veteran political operatives and outsiders. Most come across as dedicated, enthusiastic partisans, but at least seven expressed views that were overtly racially charged, supportive of violent actions or broadly hostile to Muslims."

Since foreign policy experts of both parties--including the most dubious--are staying away from Trump while warning that he's dangerous, where might the Donald look for foreign policy advice?  One place apparently is from the rabid right crazy Michelle Bachmann.  Which, given Trump's recent pronouncements, figures.

But foreign policy experts and political operatives aren't the only professionals shunning Trump. A survey by National Association for Business Economics find 55% believe Hillary Clinton would do the best job managing the economy as President, while Trump didn't even come in second place.  Libertarian Gary Johnson got 15% of their votes, while Trump got 14%.

On a Monday night talk show, Hillary brushed off the Trumped-Up health charges as whacky, while CNN tells the story of the "healther" sequel to the birther conspiracy.

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma perspective on the GOP-backed laws all over the country designed to thwart minority voting, which includes Native Americans.  Who, by the way, aren't even immigrants.

 And Trump's continuing scaremongering about voter fraud and calls for his supporters to watch for it (which he repeated on Monday night, while calling American cities run by Democrats more dangerous than Iraq and Afghanistan), and with fewer federal observers of possible voter intimidation, a civil rights group is calling for expanded international election monitoring in the U.S.

A confluence of factors," the civil rights group said, has made racial discrimination in voting a greater threat than at any time in recent history.

"The unprecedented weakening of the Voting Rights Act has led to a tidal wave of voter discrimination efforts nationwide and has required the United States to drastically scale back its own election monitoring program," wrote Wade Henderson and Nancy Zirkin, president and vice president respectively of the Washington, D.C.-based Leadership Conference [on Civil and Human Rights]."

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