Long-Form Worth Certificate

We still haven’t seen Donald Trump’s tax returns, but on Tuesday, the New York Times published a detailed report examining information about his taxes between the years of 1985 and 1994.

The Times didn’t obtain his actual tax returns, but it did receive information about his taxes from a source who had legal access to the returns. And the paper was able to corroborate the validity of the returns by comparing it to publicly available records and information it had previously obtained.

Here are some…interesting findings from the report:

$1.17 billion in losses

The big take away of the piece is astounding: Over the ten years, Trump had more $1.17 billion in business losses. Keep in mind that a lot of this is during the late 80s, at time of strong economic growth. Not a time when rich white men typically lose money. Also, this was when Trump as running casinos, a business that is rigged in favor of the proprietor, which he bankrupted. More than anything, this report should put to rest the myth that Donald Trump is a smart business man.

Much of that was concentrated in 1990 and 1991

In just two years, Trump lost a staggering $250 million annually.

No income taxes for eight out of ten years

Because his businesses were arranged as partnerships, the losses were reported on his personal tax returns rather than through corporate filings. With such massive losses, Trump was able to avoid paying personal income tax for eight out of the ten years the Times reviewed.

No, that is not common

Trump defenders will say he had some tough times and some good times, and that this is just the life of a high-profile businessman. Not so. According to the Times, Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.” Again, this was during the economic boom of the 80s.

Trump’s father, by contrast, made money

One person who appears to have done much better than Donald Trump? His father, Fred Trump, the man who really made the Trump family wealthy and bequeathed the fortune to his children. Keep in mind, Donald was a millionaire before he was out of diapers.

“We now have tax info on Fred Trump & Donald Trump for a number of years,” said reporter Susanne Craig, one of the reporters in the story. “The upshot: Fred always made a lot of money. Donald always lost a lot of money.”

“It’s been good financially.”

One of the most amazing parts of the story is a graph that shows Trump’s accumulated losses as they rack up on his returns. Next to some of the bars, the chart includes quotes from Trump talking about his finances.

In 1990, the Times reported that Trump said, “It’s been good financially” a year in which he had lost $400 million.

Put simply, Lord Dampnut has always been an outrageous liar.

Trump made money in the stock market by lying

As his businesses were tanking in the late 1980s, Trump had to find other ways to rake in cash. One method, the Times found, was to buy stock in a company, claim he was going to take over that company, watch the stock rise, and then sell his shares. He would profit, and never buy the company after all. Eventually, the Times reported, this scam stopped working when investors gave up on taking his boasts seriously.

This is also a pretty strong reason, among many, that Americans should not look to the stock market as an indicator of how well the overall economy is doing.

Focus groups of Trump voters in 2016 thought the fact he was a ‘hugely successful’ businessman would make him an ideal president. The fact he was a loser in business will hurt him. And that is why he’s been doing everything he can to keep his taxes secret.

Never Trust a Trump

In a betrayal worthy of Game of Thrones, the Ecuadorian government revoked their offer of asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Without Assange, we would likely not have the Trump regime, and without a Donald Trump, Assange would likely not have been hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy, under arrest by British authorities responding to an extradition request from the Trump administration. The same Trump administration Assange worked so tirelessly to elect. And thus, Assange is learning the price of putting any faith in Donald Trump.

The Department of Justice released a statement on the charges against Assange making it clear that he is not being held for anything in connection with the 2016 election, but for his actions in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a series of nearly 750,000 classified or diplomatically sensitive documents related to the war in Iraq.

The indictment is not against Assange’s publication of the documents however. Instead, it charges that Assange provided assistance to whistleblower Chelsea Manning “in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet).”

On a legal basis, this seems to remove the government’s action from the First Amendment realm where Assange and WikiLeaks would enjoy the same protections as publishers in other cases where classified documents were revealed to the public. However, that doesn’t mean this case does not have profound implications, or that the government’s actions here are in any sense on solid ground.

It’s not clear that Assange actually provided Manning with any material aid. It appears that the DOJ has latched onto a minor event during the publication of these documents and is trying to turn it into a point of prosecution expressly to avoid dealing with the idea that they’re engaging in an effort to suppress publication, which they are.

On a moral basis, Assange’s actions in the 2016 election seem indefensible. He was clearly not acting in a position of a dispassionate observer, but in coordination with both the Russian government and the Trump campaign with the explicit intent of harming Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Assange was part of the Russian government’s program to help Trump. His actions were not just partisan, but deceptive. He knew the source of his information, and both the selections released and the timing of their release was done in a way to generate maximum benefit to Trump. He used stolen goods for the material benefit of Trump.

It can’t be overstated how much Assange did this to himself. If he had turned himself over to Swedish authorities when they first called him in for questioning when he was accused of sexual misconduct in 2012, he would probably be a free man now.

The charges against him were dropped in 2017, but even if he’d been convicted, his sentence would have been light, thanks to Sweden’s progressive sentencing guidelines. If he’d stayed out of the 2016 election, he would have had little to fear from a President Hillary Clinton.

That conclusion may surprise a lot of people given that Assange has long stoked the idea that he was in serious danger of extradition for his role in the Manning leaks, which is exactly what the Trump administration now hopes to prosecute him for. But Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder, while not happy about the leaks of classified information, also decided against pursuing a case against Assange in 2013. This was out of fear that it would set a precedent that would be used against other journalists. A Clinton administration (probably) would have respected that conclusion.

But Donald Trump isn’t a man known for giving back to those who help him. Prosecuting Assange will help Trump further his attacks on the First Amendment, so there’s little chance he’ll feel constrained by gratitude for Assange’s role in getting him elected in the first place.

Assange also makes a useful target because he has few friends left. By helping torpedo Clinton in the 2016 election, he made bitter enemies out of the Democrats and many liberals who would otherwise be inclined to oppose efforts to punish independent journalists for publishing leaked government documents. That itself isn’t a very defensible position, but that’s why we’re in the Worst Timeline.

It’s hard in our black-and-white age driven by social media reactions, to have a nuanced discourse about how Assange can be disliked for helping to impose the Trump regime upon all of us, but still feel that the doesn’t warrant being arrested. His leaks in 2010, exposing the cruelties of the ongoing “war on terror” was critical muckraking journalism and probably did a great deal of long-term good. Among other things, it put pressure on Barack Obama to move back toward the more non-interventionist image that he had campaigned under in 2008.

Donald Trump owes a lot to Julian Assange, but as usual, once he felt that Assange had outlived his usefulness to him, Trump threw him to the wolves, joining such company as Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, James Mattis, etc.

When asked about the arrest, Trump absurdly said, “I know nothing about Wikileaks. It’s not my thing. It’s not my deal in life.” That, of course, is not true. During the 2016 campaign, WikiLeaks was candidate Trump’s main squeeze and he its most high profile booster. He constantly bragged about Wikileaks helping him and tweeted praise of Wikileads and Assange and retweeted stories about the leaked emails over a dozen times.

WikiLeaks? I haven’t heard that name in years…

Six Degrees of Benghazi

It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that Fox News has an earth-shaking conspiracy theory about the timing of Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday that he won’t be running for president in the 2016 election.

You or I may have watched Biden speak in the Rose Garden and taken it at face value that he did what he thought was best for himself, his family, and the Democratic Party by staying out of the race. You or I may have assumed he meant what he said simply because we’re (mostly) sane individuals.

Andrea Tantaros, however, isn’t having any of that shit:

“But when you look at the two scandals that we’re facing, that all eyes are going to be on tomorrow, Benghazi, and the email scandal — these are administration-wide scandals. All three of them, President Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton were there that night, this is their scandal as well. This email scandal is their email scandal as well. There is no way, there is no chance, that Joe Biden, and President Obama, and their national security team did not know that she was using a private server, breaking the law. There is no way, this is why this is an administration-wide scandal that they are covering up, they are all in on this, and they are circling the wagons, I cannot stress this enough. This goes all the way to the west wing, both Benghazi, and both the email scandal, and you’re watching it play out exactly today. The timing is not a coincidence!”

Fox News must use Benghazi as some kind of party game, like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. “I can connect Alan Cumming in Son of the Mask to Benghazi in just three moves!”

Andrea Tantaros really is the best running gag at Fox News right now. She doesn’t have the practiced finesse of Bill O’Reilly or Megyn Kelly so she comes off as more of a mean troll whenever she uses the couch on Outnumbered as her personal soapbox, which she does with astonishing regularity.

This makes sense given that she seems to be jockeying for a promotion so hard that she may as well move out of her apartment and take up residence in Roger Ailes’s asshole. I doubt the old pervert would mind.