Trump Showdown…


I see that PBS has a special tonight, Oct. 2, called Trump Showdown, a deep analysis of Trump’s rise. When I heard about it, I couldn’t help recalling the publicity last year  related to a 1950’s episode of a Western about the Texas Rangers called Trackdown that featured a con-man named Walter Trump who warned the townsfolk that the end of the world was coming and he is the only person who can save them by building a wall.

The episode so resonates in strange ways with the current scenario of politics that it seems as if the episode must have been altered to insert the name Trump as the con man. In other words, a con about a conman. But I’m glad to see that Snopes verified that the episode is in its original form and was not changed by CGS magic.

That makes it quite an incredible synchronicity. I’ve watched the entire episode a couple of times, and —spoiler alert—it end with Trump being arrested.

Vanity Fair in February 2017  published a related article entitled, This Television Show Predicted Donald Trump…in 1958.

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14 Responses to Trump Showdown…

  1. Trish and Rob says:

    You might change your mind about Trump not being a con man if you read the New York Times article detailing how Trump has been involved in flagrant fraud, which is illegal. They laid it out in detail.

    • bh says:

      There are many legal ways to reduce or eliminate tax liabilities. A good accountant gets paid very well to find and exploit those loopholes in the law. I would certainly fire my accountant if he didn’t take advantage of every opportunity to save me money – that’s his job.

      Setting up shell companies to transfer wealth is one of those legal loopholes. You don’t have to like it, but it is well within the law. It seems the IRS agrees, since Mr. Trump (Fred, not Donald) was audited frequently during his lifetime and was never assessed any penalties for it. Likewise, property transfers are assessed at market value, which is flexible and determined by the property owner (which may be a bank if the property is under a mortgage). The Times article asserts that Mr. Trump (again, Fred not Donald) transferred properties to his children and “undervalued” them for tax purposes. If I own a property outright (that is, without a mortgage), I can sell it for $1 if I want to, and that is its market value for tax treatment. If the property is under a mortgage, the bank will determine the transfer value to be the value of the mortgage, which is likely to be significantly less than what the property would actually be worth if it were sold. Again, that transfer value is what is is reported to the IRS for tax purposes. And when the transferee (in this case Donald) later sells the property, his tax liability is the difference between the sale price and the transfer price – so the tax still gets paid at the full sale value of the property, just at a later date. The Times article, as is typical for a Times article, conveniently leaves that information out.

      I could go point-by-point if you want, but I think it’s clear that the NYT is counting on most readers not understanding any of this in order to make it look like the president committed fraud. Yet another political hatchet job, and another reason not to trust anything you read without doing the research for yourself. Critical thinking is so important in this era, and isn’t taught well enough in schools.

      • Trish and Rob says:

        $400 million is a lot of $ to “transfer,” more than most of us will see in a lifetime, maybe several lifetimes. I haven’t read the article yet but will be back when I do!

      • Trish and Rob says:

        Actually, you’re wrong in saying that Fred was “never assessed any pentalties.” Fred was fined for illegally buying more than $3 million worth of chips from Donald’s failing casino, and walking away without using the chips. That was an illegal action. You also say nothing about the fact that Trump has lied over and over about how he has achieved his wealth. It came from daddy. He is not a self-made billionaire, who only received $1 million from his father and paid it back with interest, as he has said.

        What your comments about the detailed NYT article show us again is that Trump, in the eyes of his hard core base supporters, can do no wrong. We can only imagine what the base would say about Hillary if she had done the same. And we know you are going to respond that she did worse. His fans last night were shouting lock her up again, and it seemed to refer both to Hillary and Dr. Ford…and probably any woman who has testified against Trump’s unwanted sexual actions. Go ahead, tell us about Hillary now. Hillary bad, Trump good. Simple, simple.

        Please read the article, rather than spouting simplistic tax relief jargon.

        • bh says:

          If you read what I actually wrote, you’ll notice I said “never assessed any penalties for it (referring to the use of shell companies to lessen the tax burden). I didn’t say he was never assessed any penalties for anything, ever (he might also have had a few parking tickets and a speeding ticket or two, but I didn’t feel that was relevant to the discussion either).

          As for where Donald Trump’s wealth came from, he exaggerates. That’s not a crime. He’s an arrogant narcissist, but that doesn’t make him a criminal. To talk as though Trump were the first liar in politics is either the act of an amnesiac who remembers nothing about politics before Trump, or a disengenuous partisan who is trying to paint a negative picture of someone they don’t like. It doesn’t help your argument in the least, and in fact weakens it.

          I never said President Trump can do no wrong. I also don’t consider myself a part of his base. I disagree with him on a lot of things, but I generally support him because I believe he’s right on a great many of the things I care about. When he stops being right about those things, I will stop supporting him.

          And please don’t characterize my words as “spouting simplistic tax relief jargon”. I do have a degree in accounting, and the fact that you don’t like my refuting the author’s claims doesn’t make my argument simplistic. Tax law regarding real estate transactions is a very complex subject, and since I don’t have access to the documents the Times author claims to have, I can only guess at the kinds of transactions he is referring to. If you’d like to contact the author and obtain copies of his documents, I’d be happy to go over them with you and explain the intricacies of the relevant sections of the law. But again, I assume the IRS has already done that, and they found nothing illegal there.

      • Trish and Rob says:

        I found this paragraph particularly telling:

        from the Times article: “All told, The Times documented 295 streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades to enrich his son. In most cases his four other children benefited equally. But over time, as Donald Trump careened from one financial disaster to the next, his father found ways to give him substantially more money, records show. Even so, in 1990, according to previously secret depositions, Mr. Trump tried to have his father’s will rewritten in a way that Fred Trump, alarmed and angered, feared could result in his empire’s being used to bail out his son’s failing businesses.”

        • bh says:

          Quick lesson in critical thinking: any time you see language like “Fred, alarmed and angered, feared…” attributed to a dead guy, a red flag should be raised in your mind about where the author is trying to lead your thinking. Ask yourself how the author knows the dead guy was alarmed and angered. Ask yourself how the author knows what the dead guy feared. If there is nothing in the text to support such an assertion, then you know the author is trying to lead your thinking by flat-out making stuff up. And once you understand where the author is trying to lead you, ask yourself what else in the article may have been mischaracterized to support their conclusion. Words like “careened from one financial disaster to the next”, reveal much about the author’s bias, and should be taken into account when making that assessment.

          All that aside, it seems the author is blaming Donald Trump for accepting gifts from his father. As far as I know that’s not a crime.

          • Trish and Rob says:

            It may be when those gifts total – what was the figure? $140 million? $400 million? – and the taxes paid on that amount are minimal.

          • Trish and Rob says:

            One thing trump has done very well is to create an image – a brand – of himself as as self-made man. And it’s just not true. His father seemed to have bailed him out of every bad financial decision he ever made. We could all be self-made if we had dads like that! So essentially, the guy who touts himself as a deal maker is actually more of a deadbeat. Goes back to some kids’ stories – the emperorer’s s new clothes, the wizard in oz.All hype. That’s my definition of a con man.

            • bh says:

              Fair enough. I actually kind of like your Wizard of Oz analogy. But just to stretch the analogy a bit further, I will point out that the Wiz did a lot of good from behind the curtain by helping the characters recognize the things they had all along (heart, brain, courage). Much as Trump has done by revealing the bias in the media, the corruption inside the government, and the vitriol among those on the extremes of the political spectrum (both ends) – things that were there all along, but never really seen. With those things out in the open, we now get to decide as a country how we want to deal with them.

              I also believe one learns more from their failures than their successes, so perhaps he learned a thing or two about deal making from the mistakes he made along the way. I’ve seen no evidence of him being a bad negotiator in the deals he has made so far for the country, and in fact quite the opposite.

  2. Dennis Igou says:

    Russian mobster me thinks.

  3. George says:

    This sounds like an excellent instance of precognition. Impressive.

  4. bh says:

    Of course, the con man aspect presupposes that Donald Trump is in fact a con man – which, as you might expect, I don’t believe to be the case. An arrogant narcissist, for sure, but not a con man.

    That said, I’ll grant you that it is kind of funny that the character who wanted to build the wall was an outsider named Trump.

    In the unlikely event that the writer of that episode is still alive and has memory of it, it would be interesting to find out what inspired him to write that character and choose that particular name.

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