Grifters Gonna Grift Open Thread: David Bossie Edition

It’s no longer Honest Abe’s party… of course, it hasn’t been for many years:

Instead, federal records suggest the Presidential Coalition has spent nearly all its money — raised mostly from small-dollar donations — on more fundraising, as well as administrative costs, which include Bossie’s salary, according to a new report produced by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in collaboration with Axios…

A senior Trump administration official told Axios: “The problem the president is going to have with this is 1) he does not like when people are perceived to be profiting off of him, and 2) these are not max out donors. This is money that many likely think is going towards the president’s re-election effort when it is not. So effectively every dollar groups like Bossie’s and similar groups raise is a dollar the campaign does not.”…

TL;DR from Vanity Fair:

According to I.R.S. filings reviewed by Axios and the Campaign Legal Center, Bossie’s 527 political organization raised $18.5 million between 2017 and 2018, promising donors that the group was “dedicated to identifying and supporting conservative candidates running for office at the state and local levels of government.” …

But, shockingly, those claims were somewhat misleading. Of the $15.4 million that the Presidential Coalition spent during that period, only $425,442 (or 3 percent) was spent on candidates, political committees, or state and local ads supporting said candidates. (In contrast, the Republican Governors Association, a similar 527 organization, spent about 80 percent of its expenditures on those direct political activities.) As for the remaining 97 percent, the C.L.C. traced it directly into the pockets of the swampy, political-consultant class—including Bossie himself. According to I.R.S. documents, the Presidential Coalition spent millions of dollars on contracts with 14 direct-marketing firms to fuel fund-raising efforts, several million dollars more on postage to send said mailers and books, at least $1.1 million to telemarketing firms associated with InfoCision (which was previously accused by former employees of preying on elderly donors), and $1.2 million on donor-cultivation lists. (InfoCision has denied the allegations, but agreed to pay a $250,000 settlement to the Federal Trade Commission in 2018 over misleading practices.) Bossie himself diverted $659,493 to two of his other political organizations, Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation, from which he drew a $105,541 salary. (Incidentally, Citizens United is the group behind the Supreme Court ruling that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns and messaging.)

“Unfortunately, these practices are not unique to the Presidential Coalition: there is a cottage industry of groups targeting vulnerable communities with self-serving borderline scams,” the C.L.C. report states. “What sets the Presidential Coalition apart is that it is explicitly—and successfully—capitalizing on Bossie’s connection with the President of the United States.”

The targets of this apparent effort were die-hard middle-class Trump supporters, many of whom happened to be elderly…

This is the sort of Mafia bust-out that usually happens when the reigning familia is tottering towards collapse. That an established professional ratfvcker like Bossie has decided it’s okay to cut into Donny Dollhand’s action is, IMO, at least a semi-silver lining for us Democrats. (Assuming we can rally enough to save our beleaguered democracy, come 2020.)

Lalalalalalalala I Can’t Hear You

Donald Trump has long believed that he could eliminate nuclear weapons from the world. He is the greatest negotiator ever, and he doesn’t understand why those wimpy diplomats can’t just heave a hearty “Fuck You” across the conference table and walk out, which would induce the other party to come around.

The administration’s approach to foreign policy is driven by Trump’s ignorance and greed, but with an inertial component of conventional policy development by the permanent government employees who remain at lower levels, and a layering of political appointees with their own agendas, some of which dovetail with Trump’s, some of which are more or less conventional foreign policy, and some that are quite idiosyncratic.

Trump’s impulsiveness and desire to be the center of attention lead to statements of policy unexpected by other components of the government. “They were informed by tweet” is a statement that often appears in news stories. After an initial surprise, the impulsive statements may be modified or suppressed, but some work their way into official policy.

Conventional foreign policy analysis is still useful in looking at other countries. North Korea’s response to Trump, for example, is pretty much what you would expect. Russia isn’t too far off, although the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, whatever it may be, can be a confounding factor. But in order to understand America’s actions today, we have to look at Trump’s motivations.

North Korea has again launched some missiles. They are not ICBMs that could reach the United States. Trump tweeted that he is willing to wait it out, although it was earlier reported that he was angry about the launch. And Trump’s tweet says that “Anything in this very interesting world is possible,” which may be a threat.

Trump wants big wins, and he seems to be holding out for a total surrender of all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program before removing any sanctions at all. North Korea is operating on a more normal timeline, in which small moves on each side gradually build confidence toward a goal. North Korea has made some token moves, and they feel that it is time for the United States to do the same.

Reliable rumor has it that teams at the State Department and the national laboratories are on call to bring North Korea’s nuclear weapons back when Kim gives the word. Trump and his administration really believe that this will happen.

In Trump’s mind, waiting is easy. The two summits with Kim gave him lavish photo-ops and the ability to say that he is negotiating. He has put his deal on the table. It is up to Kim to accept it.

In Trump’s business life, he probably could walk away from a deal that was going bad after he proclaimed success. The people working for him tied up the loose ends, and he never noticed. He just went on to another deal. Next after North Korea could be a grand arms control deal with Russia and China. He would certainly get a Nobel Prize for that.

The greatest negotiator, with the greatest mind – he’s said that he could master the details of arms control in an hour or so – doesn’t need advisors. He has now gutted much of the advisory structure surrounding the President. The State Department has been cut back. Ambassadors are absent in many countries. The cabinet is composed of people who don’t know what they are doing, many of them in acting positions. His closest advisors in the White House are his children and toadies. Anyone who has disagreed with him has been removed.

So now he can run international relations as he has always believed they should be run. There has been an unfortunate distraction from the Special Counsel and Congress, but now that the Mueller report is out and tied up by Attorney General Bill Barr, that problem has been solved, as Trump and Vladimir Putin argeed.

For Trump, the central consideration is his being able to preen as a great negotiator and claim that he is making important agreements. This week’s North Korean missile test, therefore, is unimportant. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already playing it down, although the South Koreans, who are within the missiles’ ranges, are not so happy.

Trump’s strategy of ignoring facts that inconveniently undermine his narratives has worked for him as a real estate developer and television personality. Those interactions were managed by his underlings and are likely to disappear if one ignores them. International issues don’t go away. Kim continues to build up his nuclear arsenal and, further, expects continuing negotiations, including reciprocal actions. The missile test is a reminder of that. If Trump continues to ignore Kim’s inconvenient actions, Kim has more.

When and how will Trump react? It appears that he has never been in this kind of situation before, so it’s impossible to predict. So far, “Lalalalalalala I can’t hear you” is working for him.


Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.

Russiagate Horrorshow Open Thread: Salesman Trump Checks In with Home Office

Mueller is really getting to the Squatter-in-Chief; Trump can’t be arsed any longer to even pretend he isn’t taking orders directly from Putin. And — let it never be forgotten — the entire GOP is just fine with that!

Read more

Late Night Clown Shoes Open Thread: “Stephen Less” Is Out

Small potatoes, and few in the hill. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving Rethuglican:

Thursday Evening Open Thread: Pretty Much What Voters Expected, Apparently

(Jeff Danziger via

Seems like Madame Pelosi has a good sense of what voters are ready for, right now — they think Trump’s a criminal, but there’s not *yet* a consensus on impeachment:

Of course, those numbers include the predictable ‘If the president did it, it is not illegal’ authority-worshippers, not to mention the Repub diehards who actually admire a guy who’ll get out there and commit the crimes they only dream of getting away with. But as the Misadministration’s cack-handed inability to crime with competence gets more attention, the numbers shift…

As Dana Houle (among others) pointed out, Nancy Pelosi is the person who gets to be President once Trump & Pence are removed (please Murphy the Trickster God) — it’s not good ‘optics’ for her to get too far ahead of public sentiment.

And it’s not as though — for all their loud talk — the Squatter-in-Chief’s familia was acting as though they intended to be around for the long term…