U.S. Politics and Culture

Category: Campaigns

Trading With The Frenemy


Time was, colluding with Russia could get you killed; back when Russia was the USSR, our WWII ally, and the collusion was turning over an amateurish drawing of an atom bomb trigger. A drawing so bad that it was useless to the Soviets. So bad that it made my elementary school art look like masterworks  But it was enough to get Julius Rosenberg electrocuted. 

How things have changed. Three members of Future Ex-President Donald Trump’s campaign had an exchange by email and meetings with Russian diplomats and proxies. The stated purpose was to offer Russian assistance to beat Hillary Clinton.  Bring it on, the Trumpistas said, meeting up at Trump Tower right under Trump’s nose with an emissary from Putin, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.  

We don’t yet know the precise outcome of the meeting. We do know that the “dangle” offered by Russia was Russian help to attack Hillary Clinton with dirt dug up by Russia’s intelligence. We all know what happened eventually.  Russia carried out its cyber attack on Clinton and the Democrats to benefit Trump.  The only thing we don’t know is the price paid to the Russians for the boost.  My guess is that it’s a bit more valuable than a lousy drawing. It’s also my guess that none of the Trump operatives will ever see the inside of a jail cell. 

Let me say it before you do – How stupid can I be to compare a little political gamesmanship with giving away atomic secrets?  So let’s break it down. The Soviets were our ally when Rosenberg was an atomic spymaster.   By 1950 it was our existential Cold War enemy. McCarthyism was at its peak. Bad timing for the Rosenbergs. There’s no excuse for his espionage but nobody but the Rosenbergs were executed for acts taken in peacetime. 

Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort’s actions crossed the same line. Even if they, like Julius Rosenberg, thought the Russians were friends, not enemies, at the least they were so reckless and craven to consider undermining our Presidential election, by dealing with a foreign power. Maybe Junior is too stupid to know better. Kushner and Manafort knew better.  Kushner’s repeated falsifications on his security clearance declarations show his guilty knowledge. 

If you think that comparing Rosenberg and the Trump syndicate is a false equivalence, you’re misjudging how destructive it is to let Russia hijack the integrity of our elections and how dangerous it is for Trump’s son and son-in-law to open themselves to potential blackmail. It’s as destructive as the A-bomb to the survival of the American republic. 

Tapped Out and Brassed Off: No More Donations

Money in politics

I’m on a first-name basis with Barack, Michelle, Joe, Hillary, Chelsea, Senator Al (Franken), somebody named Jess and somebody else named Nick.  All my new BFFs write to me, some of them every day to tell me about their opponents’ character defects, and they always ask for money. Not a lot, $5.00 here, $25.00 there, or $50.00 if someone is really sore aggrieved about something.  Lately it’s been about the FBI, but it’s mostly about Donald Trump.  And there’s always a deadline, a crisis, a one-stroke-of-midnight tone to these messages. I wasn’t ready for these desperate pleas for support. I thought that’s what families were for.

Work for (a) Change 

Every time there is a tick in one of the polls, the Clinton campaign turns that tick into a nick for cash.  “Ohio’s up? Help us seal the deal! Ohio’s down? Help us save the U.S. as we know it!” We’re a week away from Election Day.  As of September 30th, Clinton had $385M cash on hand compared to $40M for Trump. Her campaign and its affiliates took in $101M through October 19th, while Trump raised $29M during the same period. Clinton had $62M on hand. On the other hand, Trump had to kick in $31M of his own money to keep the doors open —and he never invests his own money. With a week to go, they’re still spending and whining about money. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.

The Clinton campaign has been going on for two years. Democrat-affiliate Super-Pacs have been at it even longer.  I contributed to Bernie (“$27.00 —would you like a receipt?”). When Bernie folded, I backed Hillary, even though I am not an ardent supporter.  But seriously, does it ever stop?

The Politics Industry

The answer is No, it doesn’t. Political fundraising is perpetual.  After Obama won, fundraising continued without stopping for a breath. “Support the Agenda.” Then it was issue-driven, against Citizens United, among other things. Now, we get Super-PAC fundraising to limit Super-PAC fundraising? Only in America.

What do you call a perpetual campaign? you call it an industry. Politics for both parties is a business, and together they form an industry. After all, if campaigns were limited to 60–90 days, all the pros would have nothing to do the rest of the time. Pollsters, organizers, lawyers, accountants, and policy wonks would be cashiered. Our contributions keep the politics industry rolling. Our campaign system is a retort to anyone who says that politicians don’t create jobs. They create jobs for themselves. 

None of this fundraising is illegal. In fact, in our end-stage capitalist nation, it is the official language of politics. The Supreme Court said so itself in Citizens United. When I give money to a campaign, I’m not just speaking; I’m also investing, but I have no voice in how the company is run. I don’t get stock, interest or dividends. 

Brassed Off

The only thing I can do is to cap my investment, which is what I’ve done. So, Barack, Michelle, Joe, Hillary, Chelsea, Al, Jess and Nick: I’m turning off the spigot. No more money for 2016. I’m tapped out. But by all means, write to me next year when you’ve got your first quarterly report, and I’ll decide if your company’s prospects look good.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies. Reprinted with permission.

You’e Fired!…and You’re Fired…and You’re Fired!



It took Donald Trump exactly two days to undo his new Teleprompter demeanor and turn his campaign on its head again. He demoted campaign manager Paul Manafort in favor  of Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, a team calculated to walk Trump back further into the political wilderness.

No matter what you thought of the content of Trump’s recent speeches, the fact that he was delivering them in a more conventional style gave the impression that he was starting the all-important pivot from sideshow freak to politician. In fact, the Celebrity Apprentice Candidate reality show was continuing off-camera the entire time. The pivot, when it came, turned away from the center, not toward it.

It’s been all bad news for the Trump campaign lately. Poll numbers are going through the floor. He was blaming his opponent, Hillary Clinton, until recently, when he declared the media as the true scourge and President Obama and Clinton as the founders of ISIS. He dog-whistled his Second Amendment friends what to do when President Hillary Clinton nominates Supreme Court Judges unacceptable to the Duck Dynasty crowd.  This situation cried out for a campaign chief who knows how to put out fires. Instead, he hired someone who brings his own Molotov Cocktails.

Stephen Bannon is now CEO of the campaign. He is the former chairman of Breitbart News, the late Andrew Breitbart’s conservative e-zine for the Torch and Pitchfork Crowd.  A former Goldman Sachs investment banker turned Sarah Palin acolyte, Bannon was named the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America in October 2015 by Bloomberg News. For example, Bannon thinks that Fox News is too soft and needs to take the gloves off.

Kellyanne Conway was promoted to campaign manager. Conway is a lawyer and pollster.  She had been a GOP operative since 1988.   Trump first tried hiring Conway while she had been running Ted Cruz’s super-PAC. When his campaign collapsed, Trump hired her initially to improve Trump’s image with women.

The story within the story is that Manafort had been a compromise choice, acceptable to the Republican National Committee and Trump.  After six weeks, Trump’s campaign was failing and, hey, you can’t fire the candidate, can you?

Actually, the RNC had been working on trying to dump Trump but hadn’t found a way out of its mess. After exploring the legal and electoral consequences, it reallocated its resources to protect the down-ballot candidates in the House and Senate, where the GOP currently holds majorities.  Its hold on the Senate is tenuous and especially troubling.   Retaining Senate control is the key to blocking any of Clinton’s judicial nominees.

Finally, the RNC pulled back on its operational support. This, in turn, caused Trump to fire the RNC symbolically, by canning Manafort.    Hiring Bannon was Trump’s declaration of war.  Trump accompanied this staff turnover with the announcement that he will not pivot. Trump’s going to dance with the one who brought him, even if they both fall off the dance floor.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

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