Thursday, May 28, 2020

Set up offshore companies. Pay little or no tax. Then gobble up the lion's share of COVID-19 bailout funds meant for small American Mom & Pop businesses. Oink oink! Thank you, Mr. Trump!

You may be having a hard time, but filthy corporate hogs with connections to the
Trump Administration are doing just fine. Oink oink!
Reuters, a business-oriented wire service with no known political axes to grind reports that fat corporate hogs are gobbling up the taxpayers' money again.

A case in point, a Utah-based company named Zagg Inc., that makes "mobile device accessories." Zagg stuck its fat corporate snout in the trough and snarfed up more than $9.4 million smackolas of your money and mine.

(Typically, Mom & Pop-type claimants received "an average of $155,000" according to the Small Business Administration, which runs the program.)

Zagg is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange and the pile of moolah it got was 80 times the average amount, reports Reuters. Further "Zagg ( ZAGG ) has booked much of its profit through small companies in far-off Ireland and the Cayman Islands, its filings show," Reuters tells us.


Hang on, there's more. "Of the almost 110 recipients of $4 million or more, Reuters found some 46 paid no U.S. corporate tax for the last year. There are many reasons for this, not all to do with tax avoidance." Yeah, I'll bet some of it has to do with grabbing money with both hands, thereby leaving no hands free to fork over the taxes.

You can find the whole horrifying story here, but warning: Before reading, wrap two or three rolls of duck tape tightly around your head to keep your skull from exploding.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Donald Trump bankrupted or otherwise wrecked all of these businesses. Is he about to bankrupt and wreck the United States of America?

The Trump Shuttle. Donald Trump bought this successful route  and its aircraft from
Eastern Airlines — and promptly sank it. And that's only a drop in the bucket.
Wherever Donald Trump goes, whatever he invests in, sooner or later, likelier than not, it ends up lying in ruin — a miserable wreck of what was once a going business if he took it over, or a shambles and a failure almost from the beginning if he started it.

Interestingly, he bought some companies, crashed them, but then better businessmen than Trump turned them into going concerns, further evidence that Trump isn’t as smart a businessman as he pretends to be, or perhaps he’s not a businessman at all, period. Instead, he’s a screwup, one of those rare individuals with an uncanny knack for failure. Precisely the kind of person who shouldn’t be running the most powerful office in the United States.

Some of the highlights of Trump's business "career":

•Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Atlantic City, NJ. He opened it in 1990 at a cost of $1.2 billion. Only a year later, he was seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Trump Castle Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, NJ.. Opened in 1985. Bankrupt in 1992.

•Trump Plaza CasinoAtlantic City, NJ. Opened in 1984. Bankrupt in 1992. 

• “Trump” Plaza Hotel, New York City. Opened (under different management) in 1907. Purchased by Trump in 1988. Entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.

• The “Trump Shuttle.” Founded by Eastern Airlines, it flew regular hourly flights between Boston, New York and Washington D.C. Purchased by Donald Trump in 1989. Lost over $250 million the first year Donald Trump owned it. Defaulted on its debt in 1990. Trump “bailed out” in 1992. The airline route is now successfully managed by American Airlines.

• Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Entered into Chapter 11 in November, 2004. After restructuring that reduced the company’s $1.8 billion of debt by approximately $600 million (as well as cutting interest payments) Trump relinquished majority control and lost his title of chief executive officer.

• Trump Entertainment Resorts, a Trump casino holding company, entered into Chapter 11 in 2009.They more recently became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises. Icahn sold the Taj Mahal to Hard Rock International in 2017. Hard rock renovated to get rid of the tackily-glitzy décor, and reopened the rebranded hotel in 2018.

•Trump University. Opened in 2005. Closed under a cloud of scandal in 2010. The New Yorker magazine reported
If anyone still has any doubt about the troubling nature of Donald Trump’s record, he or she should be obliged to read the affidavit of Ronald Schnackenberg, a former salesman for Trump University. Schnackenberg’s testimony was one of the documents unsealed by a judge in the class-action suit, which was brought in California by some of Trump University’s disgruntled former attendees.Schnackenberg, who worked in Trump’s office at 40 Wall Street, testified that “while Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money in real estate, in fact Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could.” The affidavit concludes, “Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.
In 2018, the so-called University settled with its former students for $25,000,000.

And don’t forget these fiascoesTrump Water. Trump Steaks. And Trump Vodka. Bloomberg News reports:

…on St. Patrick’s Day, J. Patrick Kenny, the creator of Trump Vodka, is sitting in his New York office, sipping a Diet Coke and explaining what had gone wrong. Not even he has a bottle of the stuff left. “There used to be one here, but it’s gone,” Kenny says. “The company cratered.” Trump Vodka had problems, from distillery to bottling to finance. Even so, it would be just another celebrity’s doomed foray into liquor if it weren’t the project of a potential president. With no political résumé to speak of, the only way to evaluate the capabilities of Trump is by once again poking around in his exploits in commerce. Like his bankrupt casinos, closed college, and other dead-end brand journeys, Trump Vodka was a flamboyant exercise in failure. Trump, naturally, insists it was a triumph, though good luck finding a bottle today. Its slogan was “Success Distilled.”

Why does all this matter? It matters because Trump is now doing to the United States precisely what he did to his many failed businesses. He’s bankrupting the country. 

If this failure continues the jobs getting lost today will never return. Hundreds of thousands more Americans will be added to the 100,000 already dead of Covid-19. Trump is already talking about cutting Medicare to pay for his give-aways to the rich, and Social Security can’t be far behind. Under the best of circumstances, without Trump, it will take many years for the USA to recover from the damage Trump has already done to us. If he is voted back into the presidency, this nation is doomed to mass bankruptcy and a plunge into Third-World nationhood. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

This smells like Donald Trump’s rectum — a short meditation concerning the intersection of candle marketing, science, politics and bullshit

Prove it, Gwyneth!
The hullabaloo began, as probably everybody knows by now, when Gwyneth Paltrow’s tchotchkes-for-women marketing machine, an organization called Goop, began selling a candle scented with something called “This Smells Like My Vagina.” 

Let’s deal first with the Goop organization. Nearly everything you need to know about it comes from a couple of lines on its website that say, “Meet goop Lab, our 100 percent shoppable bungalow at the Brentwood Country Mart, home to a clean Beauty apothecary, a curated fashion boutique, and a fully stocked kitchen.”

Wait wait, what’s that again? 

What the hell is a “shoppable bungalow?” And what does “100 percent shoppable” mean? That everything for sale there is for sale there? No shit! And what’s “curated” fashion? The dictionary tells us that would be fashion collected by an expert. In other words, it’s a bunch of stuff somebody who presumably has some expertise about what sells, bought to sell to you.

I can’t really complain about “a clean Beauty apothecary.” I wouldn’t want to shop at a filthy anything, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the use of the word “apothecary” gives me pause. My Oxford English Dictionary tells me the word is archaic, and refers to a person who prepared and sold medicines and drugs.” Paltrow had better not be preparing and selling either, or off to the jug she goes. 

In other words, what she’s throwing over your eyes is a word salad of equal parts late Middle English and deftly curated bullshit, designed to blind you into tossing her a big pot of money. Her vagina-scented candles go for $75 bucks each. Throw in shipping and handling, and you could be close to paying $100 for a candle that may or may not smell like what it’s purported to be. I have no way of knowing, although I’m open to hearing any confirmation offers Ms. Paltrow might choose to make.

Slathering on  the pretension

Okay, time to move on, although I can’t move without noting that, evidently in the spirit of endless pretension, the candle describes itself on its own label as “Bougie Parfumée,” which in plain English simply means “perfumed candle.” In French, a bougie can be either a candle or an automotive sparkplug, so there’s that, I suppose.

Okay, as I was saying, it’s time to move on…but wait!  I still can’t move on without noting that the address of Paltrow’s shoppable bungalow at the Brentwood Country Mart is 225 26th Street, in Santa Monica. Listen, I’ve been to Brentwood. And I’ve been to Santa Monica. They’re two different neighborhoods. A Brentwood Bungalow in Santa Monica is kind of like talking about a “shoppable” Fifth Avenue townhouse in Rivington Street on the Lower East Side. And now I really, really need to move on.

Except for this: Someone in England, not to be outdone by Paltrow, has come up with a line of their own scented candles. One is called “The Local” and its descriptive copy tell us, “Handpoured in East London, The Local candle evokes the classic British boozer. Top notes of spilt beer, hair pomade and chip fat jostle amongst a pungent base of varnished teak and sticky carpet. A waft of testosterone gives way to the ersatz-lemon of a urinal block, as the salted breath of pork scratchings is soused in cheap rosé and freckled with cigarette ash. A potent fragrance that lingers, like the melancholy ramblings of an old inebriate.”

Now that’s what I call honest advertising! Which brings me around, however obliquely, to Donald Trump.

This smells like Trump
telling us more lies

Earlier this week, Trump told reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for several weeks. Here we go again! 

I thought Trump had gotten off that hobby horse. Evidently, he saw an opportunity to leap back on. And now the liberal blogosphere is buzzing with theories. I’ve seen it said that

 • He’s probably only taking micro-doses which have no negative effect. (Nor a positive one)

• That he thinks he’s taking it, while meanwhile his White House physician is feeding him a placebo

• That he’s taking it for real, and he’s lucky that his heart hasn’t galloped off into eternity with him

Personally, I intend to agree with Big Bad Bald Bastard who cuts through the bullshit and said of Trump, “I don’t believe that he’s telling the truth, primarily because he’s a serial prevaricator.” A bit further on, Big Bad Bald Bastard adds:
“I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just past caring. If Trump’s supporters, many of whom have co-morbidities, want to pop hydroxychloroquine tablets at the behest of their Dear Leader, they should go for it. The MAGA cult looks to be entering the Jonestown stage, all we need is for a Trump-branded sugary drink to wash the tablets down with. I doubt he’s taking it himself, but if he’s pushing it, it’s the second most dangerous drug he’s selling, the first of which is hate.”
My one personal wish is that when Trump made the announcement, there had been a reporter in the audience, someone far more astute and more pharmaceutically aware (if that’s a thing) than I am, who had asked the following gotcha question:

How Trump could have 
been nailed by his lie

“Mr. Trump, out of curiosity are you taking the five milligram pills or the ten milligram pills? And are you taking them once a day or twice a day?”

Since Hydroxychloroquine evidently only comes in 200 milligram pills, and the usual starting dose is between 200 to 400 milligrams once or twice a day, his response, whatever it might have been, likely would have been…shall we say “interesting?”

In any case, Trump’s veracity in this case (and in many other cases, for that matter) seems to smell like somebody’s rectum. And although I hope I don't need to point it out to the kind of people who read my stuff, I herewith do so anyway: Don't take Hydroxychloroquine. There's no hard scientific proof that it'll either prevent or cure Covid-19. But it might kill you.

And now this:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Is it time for a national meat boycott?

Nine maggots on a sirloin steak. Now imagine nine million
Corona Viruses on the same piece of meat. (It may be in
your refrigerator.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. I’m a carnivore to the depths of my soul. In my gastronomic firmament, nothing is likelier to get my juices flowing than a two-inches-thick sirloin steak, barbecued on an outdoor grill, flavored by the smoke from its own fat, crisply charred on the outside, pink and almost bloody on the inside, sizzling on my dinner plate.

All the same, I’ve been thinking of giving up meat. Not forever. Just until the COVID-19 epidemic no longer exists except in the history books.

I don’t think meat is safe to eat any more. Not beef. Not veal. Not lamb. Not pork. Not chicken. 

Certainly not in this country. And perhaps nowhere in the world. If you’ve somehow missed the story you can get some help catching up here. And here. And here. And here.

Infestation coverups and
uncovered faces

Meat packing plants are infested with the COVID-19 virus. Keeping meat refrigerated — necessary to avoid spoilage — also helps to preserve the virus until it gets into your supermarket, your kitchen, your refrigerator, your dinner. 

Massive outbreaks of this plague in meat packing plants all around the USA are getting covered up. Workers who don’t feel safe in those places, or who have already tested positive, get handed stark choices: Come into the plant and work until you die of the virus or fall so sick you need to be hospitalized. Or stay home and starve with your family, because if you’re told to come to work and don’t, we’ll cut off your unemployment income and you’ll have no money for food and rent.

And so meat comes to us — handled, breathed on, perhaps sneezed and coughed on, poked, prodded, sliced, sawed and wrapped by infected workers feverishly fearful of skipping work. In at least one case, a meat plant worker wasn’t even permitted to wear a surgical mask, according to the Bloomberg article cited above, because “it was creating unnecessary fears among plant employees.” 

In other words, it didn't look good. So eighty-six the mask even if it keeps disease from spreading  —  and start breathing droplets of virus on somebody's hamburger. We've got a meat business to run here!

Those dripping meat wrappers
may be dripping with viruses

But doesn’t cooking your meat kill the viruses? Maybe. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know. I do know that when you take meat home raw, it comes in bloody or watery packages, dripping with juices from the infested meat. Open the packages and you’ve potentially got viruses on your hands, on your kitchen counters, on your utensils, on your own cutting board, on your mixing bowl, on your floor, on and on.

But don’t we need protein? Yes, we do. And we can get it from eggs, milk, cheese, lentils, peas, tofu, edmame, chickpeas, and beans.

Will any of those provide the satisfaction of a slab of rare sizzling meat on the plate? Hell no. But think about it. Would you rather live on eggs and beans, or die gasping for air over a platter of virus-infested meat?

Maybe it’s time America let the meat packers of this country know that unless and until they can make their plants one hundred percent safe, and test their workers daily, and reveal the results of the tests, and send sick workers home to recover, they can also take their meat and shove it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

A 5 year-old’s valiant quest for a $3 Lamborghini. Plus Trump shoots self in foot, while his underlings get caught with their pants down trying to create fake news.

A late model Lambo. If you have to ask what it costs, you can’t 
afford one. Enter a five-year-old boy with big ambitions.
No need reminding you that the news out of our Trumpian dystopia lately has been horrendously grim. That’s why I’m pleased to begin today with a story out of Utah, guaranteed to produce, if not a laugh, at least a nervous chuckle. It started when a five-year-old boy had a dispute with his mother. What it boiled down to was simple. 

He wanted her to buy him a Lamborghini, a car whose cheapest version, will run you about $200,000 before you add in the price of air conditioning, an MP3 player, a cellphone cup holder, and any other option or ego toy you feel that your Lambo absolutely must have. Panoramic woofers and tweeters, I suppose.  

At any rate, the little boy’s mom for some reason refused.

The kid hits the road
and also, almost, a few 
other nearby cars

So the five year old swiped the family Buick and headed to California, the Promised Land for car fanciers, to buy his very own Lambo. Unfortunately, he was so small that he had to sit at the edge of his seat to see (more or less) over the windshield. It’s not known whether anybody ever taught him to drive or whether, like Trump, he was just going on down the road on his own juvenile instincts. 

Nevertheless, he managed to get out of the driveway, over to a nearby Interstate, and two miles closer to California before the Utah Highway Patrol noticed him weaving across lanes in an erratic manner, nearly colliding with other cars. A highway patrol cop pulled him over. Thereupon, the whole Lambo purchase master plan unraveled.

What seemed to mystify the cop, aside from the question of how a five-year-old had any idea how to drive, was how the boy expected to buy the Lambo, since he only had three bucks in his pocket. And that makes me wish that the kid had made it all the way to the Left Coast. 

I keep fantasizing that the kid would have somehow persuaded a California Lambo dealer — one perhaps with an overwhelming thirst for publicity — to let him have the Lambo for the three dollars, with a full tank of gas so that the five-year-old could make it back to Utah. But that’s just the beginning of the fantasy.

Near the end of my fantasy, the kid sits down at his computer and writes a book. It’s called “The Real Art of the Deal.” Enraged that a five-year-old can negotiate a better deal (and write a better book) than he ever could, Trump pulls a Rumpelstiltskin. You know Rumpelstiltskin. He was the medieval ogre involved with a greed-laden fairy tale scheme for spinning straw into gold.

Anyway, in a Rumpelstiltskin-like rage, Trump stamps his foot so hard that he sinks into the White House lawn up to his waist. Infuriated, he grabs his other foot with both hands and tears himself in half. Hey, you can’t make this stuff up — but the Brothers Grimm of Grimm Fairy Tales fame could. Just check Wikipedia.

And now on to the real Donald Trump, who isn’t all that much different from the fantasy Donald Trump.

Trump undone by 
the Streisand Effect

Back around 2003, a photographer took pictures from the air of Barbara Streisand’s multi-million dollar Malibu hideaway. The photographer wasn’t all that interested in Streisand's house. He was documenting California coastal erosion, and her palazzo happened to be sitting on the eroding coast. Hardly anybody else was interested, either. The image had been downloaded only six times. But then Streisand kicked up a fuss and sued the photographer

And whammo! Over 420,000 people visited the website. Streisand not only lost in court, but had to pay the photographer’s legal fees, some $155,000 worth.

That’s the “Streisand Effect” — the act of calling overwhelming public attention to something by trying to suppress it. Which brings us to Donald Trump.

Seems a group of Republicans, who call themselves the Lincoln Project, have had enough of Trump. Yes! Republicans! Then want him out, come the next election. No ifs, buts, or maybes. They didn’t have a huge budget, but they did have enough money to edit together some documentary footage and sad music. They made a commercial that used the line “mourning in America” — playing off an old Ronald Regan TV spot called “It’s morning in America,” but in this case referring to the mounting loss of money, jobs, and life caused by Trump’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis.

It might have sat out there forever on the Internet, getting a few clicks here, a few likes there, but not doing much else. Before Trump lost his marbles over it, the YouTube version of the ad had “a couple of thousand views,” according to Ad Age, the leading advertising industry trade paper.

Then Trump took to twitter to denounce “Mourning” in America in a series of enraged, foaming-at-the-mouth tweets. He referred to various members of the Lincoln Project as “Moonface,” “deranged loser,” “Crazed,” and “LOSERS.” And whaddya know? The Streisand effect went into overdrive. As of May 5th, the viewership of Mourning in America had gone up to 433,707, Ad Age reports.

In case you’ve missed it, or would like to add to the damage caused byTrump’s stumbling over the Streisand Effect tripwire and shooting off his own foot, here it is:

Faking “fake news” to
make it really fake

You’d think that after all the carrying on Donald Trump has done about “Fake News,” he’d be extra-special, double-super-careful not to let his people try faking any news themselves.


The Trump campaign has been sent a cease-and-desist letter, telling it to take down an ad that makes “false, misleading, and deceptive” use of CNN programming.

According to the media trade publication Medialite, in the ad …
…two brief snippets of CNN footage from the March 30th episode of The Situation Room are included. The first includes part of a question from anchor Wolf Blitzer to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. As the letter points out, the ad truncates the question from Blitzer to make it seem like he is only asking about President Donald Trump’s ban on a commercial travel ban from China in early January and that, without that decision, Blitzer concludes “it could’ve been two million people dead here in the United States?” Moments later, Gupta is seen saying “Yes,” in apparent affirmation. 
But is that what really happened on CNN’s air? Nope.
“The advertisement purposely and deceptively edits the clip to imply that Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were crediting the President’s travel ban policy issued in January for saving millions of American lives, when in fact Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were discussing recently implemented social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments,” Rick McMurtry, associate general counsel for WarnerMedia, wrote in the letter addressed to Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director. “CNN hereby demands that you discontinue airing the advertisement with the CNN clip that has been distorted in such a way as to mislead the public.
Trump people trying to mislead the public? I am shocked … shocked!

Monday, May 04, 2020

What makes Jared run?

Disclaimer: The New York Crank is not a psychiatrist or any kind of medical
doctor or mental health professional and any opinions expressed or implied 
herein are simply speculative in nature and are not to be construed as anything save
conjecture. Any delegation of Saudis attempting to enter my apartment building 
with a bone saw or lingering outside shall be considered to be committing a hostile
act and may trigger a call to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.