Jumping the Shark

You’d have to visit my other blog to know it, but I’m an electric vehicle enthusiast, having driven an EV since 2016. This post is not about alleged cognitive decline in Donald Trump. Trump was a birther in 2011, and you can’t decline much lower than that. What Trump said in Los Vegas to a crowd seriously in danger of heat prostration started:

So we have a country that’s in trouble. We’re going to end the mandate on electric one day.

And he went on to elaborate with a fanciful short ramble about an imaginary trip in an electric boat ending in disaster and the existential dilemma of whether it’s better to be electrocuted by a boat or eaten by a shark. My response is more about the policy implications of what Trump said than about cognitive decline. Either way, Trump is clueless, saying essentially that:

  • Electric boats don’t go very far.
  • If the battery dies, the boat sinks because they are very heavy.
  • If you stand on a sinking electric boat you will be electrocuted.

I like the road trip videos of Norwegian YouTuber Bjørn Nyland, that include his electric car being carried on electric ferry boats.

The battery is rather heavy in order to power a boat that carries 120 cars plus 360 passengers.

Ferries go slowly, but not so much the Voltari 260 electric speedboat, with a top speed of 60 mph and the ability to pace a swimmer for 14 hours on a charge.

Manufacturer product photo

Of course the electrocution idea is nonsense. The US Navy has submarines that run on batteries.

The risk to America is a president who thinks he knows something, when he is abysmally ignorant. If Trump prefers electrocution to being eaten by a shark, I won’t attempt to stand in his way.

The Smoking Bank Statement

The Trump “hush money” trial went on for 4 weeks, but in my mind, the entire case can be decided on one single piece of evidence, a bank statement presented in a meeting by Michael Cohen to the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump. It was a request for reimbursement. The document following was described and presented to the jury.

Two separate witnesses identified the handwriting lower left as that of Weisselberg. The bank statement itself shows a $130,000 wire transfer from Michael Cohen to Keith M Davidson Associates PLC. Davidson was the attorney for Stormy Daniels and testified that Cohen paid him the money. So this bank statement is unquestionably the record of the payment for the NDA. It can’t be anything else.

Now let’s turn to a remark by Defense attorney Todd Blanche, in his opening statement:

But, think for a moment of what the People just told you. President Trump did not pay Mr. Cohen back $130,000. President Trump paid Michael Cohen $420,000.

And in the same breath, the People told you that President Trump is known as a frugal businessman, that he pinches pennies.

Ask yourself: Would a frugal businessman, would a man who pinches pennies repay $130,000 debt to the tune of $420,000?

The bank statement with Weisselberg’s handwritten notes is the NDA payment. So armed with the knowledge that Cohen really was paid $420,000 for a $130,000 reimbursement, we explore Mr. Blanche’s question.

The notation on the right side was written by Cohen his reimbursement request: $130,000 for the NDA, $35 for the wire transfer, and $50,000 in reimbursement for some IT services from a company called Red Finch. The total reimbursement was $180,000, the top line in Weisselberg’s accounting. The next line is “Grossed up to $360,000” which according to testimony meant that it was increased to pay Cohen back for the income tax he would owe on legal fees (but he wouldn’t owe on a reimbursement). Cohen was in the 50% tax bracket so $360,000 in legal fees would cost him $180,000 in taxes, leaving $180,000 for the reimbursement. Finally $60,000 is added (not grossed up because it’s real income) as Cohen’s annual bonus. Total: $420,000.

Cohen testified that he had a second meeting with Donald Trump and Weisselberg to go over the arrangement.

So let’s return to Blanche’s question:

Would a frugal businessman, would a man who pinches pennies repay $130,000 debt to the tune of $420,000?

And the answer is that he wouldn’t unless he got something in return.

Trump didn’t want company records to accurately reflect what was an in-kind federal election expenditure that by law Trump would have had to report to the FEC (including the ultimate recipient) where it would go into its public data base to be found by ProPublica or some other enterprising new organization.

On this one piece of paper, we have:

  1. Proof that the payments were reimbursements from Trump to Cohen for the Stormy Daniels NDA.
  2. Proof that the reimbursements were made to appear as legal fees rather than reimbursements at an extra cost of $180,000 to Trump..
  3. Proof that the business records were intentionally falsified (legal expenses rather than reimbursements).
  4. An inescapable conclusion that the purpose of the falsification was to hide the payment from the public in violation of campaign finance law
  5. And just as a bonus, it’s also tax fraud because the legal fees were deductible from the income of Donald Trump, but campaign donations were not.

Would a frugal businessman, would a man who pinches pennies repay $130,000 debt to the tune of $420,000 and not know what it was for? No, he would not — beyond a reasonable doubt.

Update:

I’ve been reading further through court transcripts and I see Trump’s lead counsel Todd Blanche repeating the claim that there was no reimbursement to Cohen for the NDA. How can he say that?

The Temptation of Trump

After the 71st violation of his gag order, Justice Juan Merchan sentenced Donald Trump to 30 days in jail on Rikers Island. Rikers is not a nice place and Trump couldn’t stand the food. As time wore on he was famished. Then the Devil appeared to Trump and said: “You’re the rightful President of the United States. Why are you putting up with this? With me by your side you can do anything! Just say the word and turn that disgusting food into a gourmet loaf of bread.” Trump said, “you’ll have to do better than that.” The Devil said, “try it.” Trump glowered at the disgusting food and shouted, “be a Big Mac and a Diet Coke!” and in an instant it was so. Trump said, “you have my attention.”

The Devil pulled out a video projector and flashed on the cell wall images of all the luxury hotels and golf courses in the world. “All of this and more will be yours if you will just follow my lead.” Trump wasn’t quite persuaded. “I want a solid gold toilet too.” “Done!” the Devil said.

The Devil then took Trump to the top of the Capitol Dome and said, “you can jump off and not be hurt. The people will see it as a miracle and you’ll be re-elected in a landslide.” Trump said, “You mean not hurt by anything? I can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose any voters?” The Devil knew Trump already had this, so he said: “I can give you absolute immunity from prosecution for anything you do as president; you can use the Army to assassinate any opposition and you can stay in office for the rest of your life.”

So dealmaker Trump asks the question: “and what do I have to give you?” The Devil said, “a God Bless the USA Bible with your autograph and free shipping. You can call it legal fees. You’ll do the rest of what I want on your own.”

Are the MAGA Hats really that gullible?

MAGA Hats (pronounced maggots) are going to define themselves this year.

The economy is doing very well. Jobs are up. The stock market is up. Inflation is on the way down, and GDP is up. The percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck has dropped. Things under Biden are much better than they were under Trump by almost any measure.

MAGA Hats in Congress can only run on the economy by lying about it. But there is the border, which they declare is a MAJOR CRISIS!!!!!!! The more deliberative Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have made great progress towards a bipartisan bill to address the southern border problems in a number of substantial ways. MAGA Hats in the US House are, so far, against the bill. The reason is that if they vote for it and the border issue improves, there’s no reason for anyone to vote for them in the next election. They lose their power.

MAGA voters are either really stupid, or then will wake up and see that they’ve been used.

Here’s a video on this.

Beau of the 5th Column video