Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Trump’s Taxes | Lefsetz Letter

He’s a rock star. And nothing he does will alienate his core fans. Sexual peccadilloes, financial improprieties, none of them make a difference, people need hope, they need to believe in something, and at least a third of this country believes in the Donald.

Maybe you read yesterday’s “Times” article. I doubt it, but I did. And it was inside baseball, boring, there was no real smoking gun. Oh, there were Ivanka’s “consulting fees” (the issue here being that Trump deducted them), the low or no payments in certain years and finally the argument over the $70 million plus refund. Which on the surface seems unjustified. Turns out the government just gives you the money, it doesn’t ask any questions until AFTER it pays you, and we all know possession is nine-tenths of the law. Be rich enough to hire the best attorneys and you can fight the government endlessly.

But none of that truly resonates with the public, even though the headlines have been displayed everywhere in the past twenty four hours. But if you follow boxing, and it seems that it’s only those interested in baseball who do, the youngsters are only interested in MMA, which is why Joe Rogan is such a star, you know it’s called the one-two punch. And it’s the TWO that does the damage.

Well, the “New York Times” just landed the two:

How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump A $427 Million Lifeline”

No rock star makes it without a manager. And you need a great manager to sustain. We can talk about Irving Azoff, the Q-Prime twins, Bruce Allen…well in this case Trump’s manager was Mark Burnett. Click on the link above, you’ll see him right at the top, in a picture with Trump.

Furthermore, truly great managers can make almost anyone a star, especially if they can sing and are good-looking. Look at what Lou Pearlman did with Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. Yes, Lou did it more than once, he was a great manager, and also a liar and a thief. And Lou invested the money he stole, the same way rock managers invest the money they made dealing dope, to break his acts. It was all about the spend. Took years for Backstreet Boys to break in the U.S. But Lou Pearlman believed.

Mark Burnett may not be a crook, but he’s got the best track record in reality television, one can argue he invented the genre with “Survivor” (oh, don’t talk about MTV’s “Real World” or PBS’s show about the Louds, those were more cinéma vérité). And Burnett had a formula, he was just lacking a star.

Talk to any label head, they’re not looking for talent so much as STARS! Charismatic people who sell themselves. And in the rock era of yore, if you alienated a bunch of people, if you played your game to excess, that was even better. Which is why Led Zeppelin and the mud sharks at the Edgewater Inn and Ozzy biting off the head of a bat burnished their image amongst acolytes. They were the OTHER and that’s what used to sell music, alienation. The acts were not traditional winners, they were outsiders, who were emerging victorious, making bank in a game they devised, leaving in their wake abused hotel rooms and women.

And everybody wanted to be a rock star, they wanted the PERKS!

And as greed grew the economy, made the rich richer and minted new billionaires, the belief was that money could buy the rock star lifestyle, the dope, the girls…the trail of destruction in their wake. And that’s exactly what Trump did, he made himself a local rock star in New York, and then Mark Burnett blew him up nationally, internationally!

It takes money to make it, and Trump had plenty, his father was rich. As for his son Donald being a bad businessman and blowing it, never forget Edgar Bronfman, Jr. sacrificed the entire Seagram empire. The next generation is not known for its business acumen. It was born with a silver spoon in its mouth, with a pedigree, and this second generation trades on it, oftentimes it’s the only thing they’ve got, they’re not educated and they never suffered, therefore not needing to succeed to leave their mark.

So, Trump took his dad’s money to make it. And his dad was a crook too, that was the essence of the 2018 “New York Times” Trump tax story. It’s got to do with middlemen and valuation and write-offs and I won’t bore you, but if you’re sophisticated, which most people are not, and that’s exactly the point, you know how this game is played, and how it’s abused and how oftentimes offenders emerge victorious, especially in an era where the IRS is continually gutted.

So, Trump uses his dad’s money to make a mark. Saving Wollman Rink.

And then he goes on an all-out publicity campaign, FOR YEARS!

And he hoodwinks the press. He learned from Roy Cohn. And if you watched last night’s “Vow” episode you know that with enough money you can sue your opponents to death, Barbara Bouchey spent 700k on her defense just to emerge intact. So, Trump was known as a fighter, and either you liked him for his outrageous antics, like Howard Stern, or you were afraid to go against him because he would sue you ad infinitum, and most people did not have the money to defend themselves and who wanted to bother with Trump anyway.

Yes, Trump had been around New York forever. There are always bands like this, and when they make it you scratch your head. THOSE GUYS? But it turns out they had the one element that truly makes you a star…THEY NEEDED IT! And Trump needed it.

Now Trump spent his own money until he signed with a label, in this case Burnett/NBC, yes, Burnett had a production deal just like so many managers have with their charges, so they can make extra dough.

And it takes real money to make it. You can get started on TikTok, but if you want to sustain, you need that big label cash. And now Trump had it. And he started making money hand over fist.

And like a modern rock star, not one of yore, Trump was not worried about his credibility, he’d whore himself out to anybody who paid. Come on, you’d see him in those ads hyping crap and you’d laugh.

And then, just like a traditional rock star, who knows how to be famous but has little business sense, Trump blew it all. But instead of buying quickly depreciating automobiles, Trump purchased golf resorts. Kinda like rock stars investing in restaurants. Some people make money serving food, but it’s really difficult and there are slim margins. Same deal with golf clubs.

And now Trump is broke.

Now if you’re a rock star, you write off the sins of the past, get a new manager and go on the endless road to pay for your lifestyle. After all, your fans still believe in you.

But there are many more zeros in Trump’s investments. And he’s personally liable for so much of the debt and…

It’s all crashing down on him.

You wanted to believe Trump was smart, he’s not.

You wanted to believe he’s a good businessman, he’s not.

You wanted to believe he was not compromised by foreign countries/investors, he is.

Don’t bother to argue with me, those are the facts. Just vote for him anyway, like you plan to do, and we’ll see you on November 3rd.

As for the horse race, as for tomorrow’s debate, it’s a complete waste of time. It’s like VH1’s “Behind the Music” or some crappy MTV fighting show. There’s little reality involved. And, AND, the truth is there are almost no undecideds, it’s a myth. But, if Biden does well, he might inspire people to come out and vote, but I doubt it.

Speaking of coming out to vote, did you see the “Hamilton” clip?

“Hamilton X When We All Vote”

It’s not a hit. That’s the modern music business. It doesn’t matter who you are, if it’s not a hit, it ain’t gonna fly. Just ask Justin Bieber, who tried to hype himself and game the system with his last work and it fell flat. You smile at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s concept, but you don’t need to see it again.

A hit is really hard to create.

But if you have enough hits you can leverage them into a lifetime career. Which is what Trump has done. People have forgotten his stiffs, and like with Kanye, they like to watch the movie. Kanye’s impact in the recording world has been fading, but when he’s off on one of his bipolar rants/activities the press covers it like he’s still number one. This is the world we live in, and now more than ever you need to light yourself on fire in order to gain widespread attention.

So, read the second “Times” piece linked above. It’s not like the first piece, you don’t have to know that the $70+ million Trump and the government are fighting over has to do with tax law that says in order to take the write-off you can’t have any continuing interest in the corporation, and Trump maintained 5%, this second article is sheer show business. As for the bad business, isn’t that what rock stars do?

So, this is like “Rolling Stone” and rock rags trumping up the Van Halen M&M’s story. Or Alice Cooper’s various stunts. No one fact-checks, no one explains it, they just print it.

As for those who do yell and scream, the mainstream media is afraid of them. Bill Maher claiming over and over that Trump wouldn’t leave. Sarah Kendzior saying Trump’s government was an authoritarian kleptocracy. You see mainstream media is all about the institution, the gravitas, but we live in a world where gravitas and credibility are out the window.

So, you must read this “Times” article to find out how you were conned. How Donald Trump employed show business techniques to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes and become president. It’s akin to Milli Vanilli. Clive Davis was responsible for that, and he sustained, just like Mark Burnett, he blamed it on someone else, but both are responsible.

Burnett took a middling act and made it a superstar. And then Trump behaved like every other rock star and doubled-down until he burned it all to the ground.

And Trump won by being outrageous, by not observing the norms. Like the Beatles, smoking and doing dope and saying they were bigger than Jesus. Sure, there was blowback, but their fans loved them even more for it!

Not only had the media never seen the act, but neither had government, neither had D.C. Trump was like hip-hop coming along to kill rock. People still say rock is alive when hip-hop has been here for ages, and is flourishing.

You can’t live in the past.

But the truth is America is dumb. And so are its institutions. It’s not only Trump, but people like Lindsey Graham, begging for cash on Fox just like Macy Gray hyping her new album at the VMAs. If you’re looking for someone to believe in, look in the mirror. Only you know your personal truth. Only you can decide if you want to rip people off or be honest and trustworthy. But it’s hard to fly straight when all the winners do not. But in an era where the gap between winners and losers is greater than ever, the losers are desperate, to glom on to anything to try and make it, like Trump University, otherwise life is just too damn depressing.

And never forget, true fans are the last to let go. I still get e-mail and tweets from Taylor Swift defenders. As Taylor and her team manipulate the chart to say she’s the biggest act of the summer when nothing could be further from the truth.

But hey, that’s SHOW BUSINESS!

[from https://ift.tt/2k9aO1A]

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