Every accusation is a confession.
Joe Biden is not in business with China. Despite whatever bullshit Steve Bannon and Rudy Guiliani are fapping on about (sorry, had to do it), this Joe Biden China thing does not exist.
Donald Trump is also not in business with China. Or, not big business, anyway. But not for lack of trying!
In the latest installment of The New York Times series on the president's tax returns, we learn that Donald Trump tried and failed to develop a hotel in China for the entire decade before he became president, with his efforts extending well into the 2016 campaign. He maintains a corporate bank account in China, something the GOP has pointed to as evidence of Hunter Biden's shady deals, and actually paid $188,561 in taxes there between 2013 and 2015. Which is a shit sight more than $750!
Trump tried to get an office tower built in Guangzhou in 2008, partnering with the government-controlled conglomerate State Grid Corporation. But the deal fell through in 2016 when State Grid became ensnared in a corruption investigation. Game recognize game!
The Times points out that Chinese buyers, like their Russian counterparts, seem quite eager to buy Trump-branded condos as investments, which raises similar red flags about foreign nationals lining the president's pockets.
During the 2016 campaign, a shell company controlled by a Chinese couple from Vancouver bought 11 units, for $3.1 million, in the Las Vegas tower Mr. Trump co-owns with the casino magnate Phil Ruffin. The owner of a Las Vegas-based financial services firm told The Times he was later visited by two F.B.I. agents asking about the company behind the purchases, which he said had used his office address in incorporation papers without his knowledge. It is not known what became of the inquiry.
Oh, hey, isn't that the hinky deal that would have blocked access to security clearances for anyone other than Princess Nepotism von Griftenstein?
There's also the small matter of the sale of a Manhattan condo in 2017 to a Chinese government-connected businesswoman named Xiao Yan Chen for $15.8 million, a transaction on which Trump reported $5.6 million of capital gains.
Plus, there's whatever this is regarding an unusual payout in 2017 from a holding company called THC China Development, which deals with Trump's hotel projects. (Presumably the THC stands for "Trump Hotels China," not tetrahydrocannabinol. Or does it!)
In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years' combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company's capital account.
On the president's public financial disclosures for that year, he reported the large revenue figure, and described it only as "management fees and other contract payments."
Some of the cash came from the sale of Trump's interest in Trump SoHo hotel. Oh, hey, isn't that the hinky deal that almost got Vanky and Deej indicted for fraud?
Anyhoo! Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten said the reported $6 million SoHo payout represented a "significant portion" of the THC bump, but failed to explain where the other $11 million might have come from. Nor did he specify which bank in China hosts the president's bank account.
Is it the same state-owned bank that rented three floors at the Manhattan Trump Tower for the first three years of Trump's presidency? Mr. Garten cannot say. All he's saying is that the company "opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes."
"No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive," Mr. Garten continued, omitting to mention that it remained inactive because his boss was a bigly yuuuuge failure in the world's largest country.
Something to keep in mind as the president and his allies spew nonsense about Hunter Biden's supposed billion dollar deal in China. Sure, it never happened. But maybe they're just jealous because they spent 10 years moving on her like a bitch, but they just couldn't get there?
Awww, don't feel bad dude. It happens to all the guys some times. Keep spankin' away, and you'll get there eventually.
So to recap: A senior Trump advisor was just caught alone in a hotel room fondling himself in front of a woman he… https://t.co/v6nchXPIR9— Zac Petkanas (@Zac Petkanas)1603301046.0
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Also wants some of those fancy heaters.
Last Friday, Donald Trump announced that he was going to ban the video social media app TikTok, for reasons, which he claimed were national security. For heavens sake, TikTok harvests user data, and unlike good patriotic American tech giants, TikTok might be sending that data right to the Chinese Communist Party instead of to American advertisers! The company and the Chinese government both deny that and say that, like any tech company except Wonkette, TikTok's owner ByteDance simply wants to direct ads to users.
Still, Trump is mad at TikTok, and after initially saying he'd oppose it being taken over by Microsoft, he told Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Sunday that he'd give ByteDance and Microsoft until September 15 to arrange the sale, or TikTok would for sure be banned in the USA. And then Trump hummed what he still thinks is a patriotic Springsteen anthem.
Because there was still room for things to get a lot stupider, they did. Trump had a new thought, which he shared with reporters Monday, pointing out that it had come from his gargantuan deal-thinking-of brain:
The United States should get a very large percentage of that price, because we're making it possible. [...] It would come from the sale, which nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that's the way I think, and I think it's very fair.
We suppose Trump has a bit of a point: Nobody else would try to force the sale of a private foreign company to a private US company and then demand a cut for the US Treasury. As a BBC business analyst says, with lovely understatement, "The US Treasury has not explained how this extraordinary demand for a cut of a private transaction would work."
We're wondering what sort of back-channel arrangement would end up with some of that hypothetical money in the Trump Organization's accounts. Guess we'll have to wait 15 minutes for a leak, or a few months for a tell-all book.
As Mike Masnick argues at TechDirt, there are only about a million and six things that stink about Trump's edicts on TikTok, even before this latest grifty fantasy. The security concerns may be overblown (or at least no more horrifying than the amount of access big companies already have to our data), and forcing the sale of a software product may be constitutionally dicey, since software is protected as speech by the First Amendment. Not that mere technicalities like the law matter all that much to Trump. Nor does "consistency," since we're A) supposed to be very worried about the consolidation of Big Tech companies; but also 2) supposed to now be rooting for Microsoft to get bigger.
In a follow-up, Masnick notes that Microsoft and ByteDance may just go ahead with the deal because Microsoft gets a bargain, and ByteDance doesn't want its product's value to go entirely into the toilet because of a ban, legal or no. But now, with his characteristically mafiosal comments, Trump has made the deal harder, not easier.
For the record, Masnick points out,
First of all, people have been discussing the possibility of ByteDance having to sell TikTok to get away from questions about its Chinese ownership since long before Trump ever heard of TikTok. So the idea that it's only because of him is just yet another one of his narcissistic fever dreams.
As for the idea that the US government should get its beak wet from any deal because it's "making it possible," well that's just gangster talk, like the threat to burn down a restaurant "makes it possible" for the place to stay in business. Extortion is generally not something the "president" of the USA should be suggesting. [A wild Libertarian breaks into the post to yell about all taxation, and is dragged out by the cat]
Worst of all, from a purely transactional standpoint, supposedly the source of Trump's "genius," Masnick notes that simply floating the idea "gives the Chinese government a ton of ammunition" to oppose the deal, and by golly, that's exactly what happened:
The state-run China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday that Beijing would not accept the "theft" of a Chinese technology company.
It also warned in an editorial that China had "plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab".
Says Masnick, the suggestion that the US ought to take over a Chinese company flies in the face of this country's repeated complaints that China is stealing US intellectual property.
[Giving] the Chinese government a talking point to argue that the US government "does the same thing" is just a huge diplomatic stupidity.
Well sure, but Donald Trump's entire trade agenda is a massive diplomatic and economic stupidity. Why should TikTok be any exception?
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Supposedly it is because he thinks the Chinese would use it to spy on us.
Trump announced on Friday night that he would be banning the wildly popular social media app TikTok, most likely today, on the grounds that his administration suspects the Chinese government could use it to spy on us and copy all of our most precious dance moves.
Back in June, hundreds of thousands of TikTok users registered to attend Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with no intention of showing up. This caused the administration to expect a far higher turnout than the 6,200 people who actually showed up, which ended up being very hilarious for everyone watching at home, given how much they had bragged about how many people had signed up. Not only did they have to cancel their overflow satellite rally, but the stadium was very sparsely filled.
Surely, this has absolutely nothing to do with the decision to ban the app.
Via The Verge:
"I will sign the document tomorrow," said Trump on Friday night, indicating that a ban could take effect "essentially immediately."
The threat of a TikTok ban has been lingering since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the possibility on July 7th, saying it was "something we're looking at." TikTok is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance, and critics have called out its privacy practices and potential ties to the Chinese government. Pompeo also compared TikTok to Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese companies that have been designated as threats to US national security.
On Friday, there were rumors that ByteDance would simply be forced to divest from the app, and that a company like Microsoft would buy them out. Trump, however, has decided not to allow that. For reasons. He just wants them gone.
For their part, TikTok says they're not going anywhere. Vanessa Pappas, the U.S. General Manager of TikTok, put out a video Saturday morning saying that they have ever intention of being around — in the United States — for a long while, and thanking all of the creators that had helped to make the app a success.
A message to the TikTok community. https://t.co/UD3TR2HfEf— TikTok (@TikTok)1596291330.0
And she may be right. Actually banning the app would be extremely difficult to actually do, and would, ironically, require something like the Great Firewall of China. As The Verge explains, this would be unprecedented in U.S. law.
It's still not clear exactly how the Trump administration will force a TikTok ban in the US. There are variety of different methods, but a network block like China's Great Firewall would simply be unprecedented in the US. American law doesn't have any precedent for blocking software in such a way, so it's unlikely that the White House will be able to immediately block TikTok with a network ban.
Then again, a whole lot of things involving this administration are pretty unprecedented. And not in a good way. Trump's plan so far appears to be just issuing an executive order and expecting the app to just disappear into the ether.
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I see what we did there.
Joe Biden gave a speech at a metal-working plant in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, near his hometown of Scranton — did you know? Joe Biden is from Scranton! He slammed Donald Trump as being out of touch with working Americans and called for using the power of the American government to help build a post-coronavirus economy that's fairer for workers, with good, clean-energy, union jobs. Biden's testing out a new slogan, "Build back better," to push his economic recovery program, which has some very noticeable DNA from earlier proposals rolled out by Jay Inslee and Elizabeth Warren during the primaries. As Biden's campaign site puts it,
[This] is no time to just build back to the way things were before, with the old economy's structural weaknesses and inequalities still in place. This is the moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.
It was a very good speech, if you have a half hour to spare; Biden had to compete with a bunch of chirping birds in the venue, which frankly was kind of charming. Let's watch!
Joe Biden Delivers Remarks on His Economic Recovery Plan to help America Build Back Better youtu.be
Biden's plan borrows a key element from Inslee and Warren's green manufacturing plans: The federal government buys a lot of stuff. So let's make sure that the money spent on procurement reinforces worthwhile economic goals, by requiring that government contracts go to companies that are based in America, that use green manufacturing methods, and that pay their workers a living wage and encourage unions. Wherever possible, also make sure the stuff the government procures is energy-efficient, ideally non-polluting altogether. And maybe fewer contracts to companies that just incorporated four days before and are run by convicted frauders? Well, let's not get crazy.
Biden said the tax code, and the economy in general, have for too long been tailored to help the investor class at the expense of virtually all other parts of the economy. "We must reward work as much as we rewarded wealth — but now we just reward excessive wealth." In addition to rolling back most of Trump's 2017 Big Fat Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads, Biden said we need to see the economy as working for everyone, not just Wall Street:
It's way past time to put an end to the era of shareholder capitalism, the idea that the only responsibility a corporation has is to shareholders. That's simply not true; it's an absolute farce. They have responsibility to their workers, their community, to their country. That isn't a new or radical notion, these are basic values and principles that built this nation.
And it wouldn't be a Joe Biden speech without at least one weird, folksy colloquialism. In calling for $300 billion in government investments in research and development, Biden said China is "spending multiple billions of dollars trying to own the technology of the future, while we sit with our thumb in our ear." (I checked; he didn't say "rear.")
Biden also went after Donald Trump several times, accusing him, accurately, of promising to be an advocate for working Americans while pushing policies that actively hurt workers. We could quibble that both Trump and his voters both knew damn well that most of that rhetoric was really a smokescreen for playing on racial resentments, but in economic terms, Biden was dead on. In one of his more stinging points, Biden said it's "understandable" that a guy whose entire life has been spent in wealth and privilege like Donald Trump doesn't know what it's like to struggle from paycheck to paycheck. But it's "unconscionable," Biden said, that Trump is so obviously incapable of even trying to empathize with the plight of people who are struggling.
Hilariously, Donald Trump, who may only have been told that Biden spoke about "buying American," complained to reporters today that Biden had "plagiarized" the economic plan from Trump's own "America First" economic ideology.
"He plagiarized from me. But he can never pull it off — he likes plagiarizing," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.
Bold words from the guy whose wife kept stealing entire speeches from Michelle Obama (and trying to blame it on Twilight Sparkle). We're still looking for the parts of Trump's plan that involved using government procurement to create green jobs and strengthen unions, though we suppose using government to enrich Donald Trump and his cronies is at least slightly similar. After all, in both cases, government spending goes to advance each guy's central political goals. Trump's just happens to be himself, and is that so wrong?
As Trump was accusing Biden of stealing from him, Fox News was already accusing Biden's proposals of being simultaneously ineffectual and a dangerous path to Marxism, because if there's anything Americans hate, it's good jobs, fairness, and a clean environment. Please give us oligarchy!
Biden added that next week, he'll be releasing a clean infrastructure plan, and there again we expect it to be heavily influenced by ideas from Warren and Inslee. Can't wait to see Trump insist he came up with the idea of Infrastructure Week first.
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