Evil Minions Open Thread: Rude-y Ghouliani

GOP Strong Angry Daddy Figure will defend his beau ideal to the last. Per the Washington Post:

Giuliani, who has regularly appeared on the Sunday political-show circuit as one of Trump’s top surrogates, insisted Sunday on CNN that it is the Democrats who overwhelmingly engage in voter fraud because they “control the inner cities.”

“We do cheat,” Giuliani told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper. “We have people who cheat in elections!”

“I’ve found very few situations where Republicans cheat,” Giuliani said, shrugging. “They don’t control the inner cities the way Democrats do. Maybe if Republicans controlled the inner cities, they’d do as much cheating as Democrats.”

“I think there are a lot of elections experts that would have very, very strong disagreements with you,” Tapper responded, shaking his head…

He won two elections, running in a high-crime era as the Tough Sheriff who would put those people in their place (the inner city). But New Yorkers got Rudy’s number, just as they got Deadbeat ‘Developer’ Donnie Trump’s. If it hadn’t been for 9/11 — which Giuliani tried to use as an excuse for extending his last term — he’d be eking out a modest living on the rubber-chicken circuit. The Media Village Idiots’ romanticization of “America’s Mayor” greatly increased his marketability… just not always among those who knew first hand how badly he’d botched both the security preparations and the response.

As with everyone whose reputation ends up Trump-crumpled, Rudy was never a good person.

Eight years after his own presidential bid failed, Giuliani has emerged as Donald Trump’s unflinching chief apologist, cheerleader and rhetorical Rottweiler, even as GOP leaders far and wide abandon their party’s candidate.
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Comic Relief Open Thread: Ted Cruz, Reaping What He Sowed

Remember the old line about “We’ve already established you’re a whore; now we’re just haggling over your fee”? Well, Ted Cruz sold himself early, while the market was hot. What with all the breaking Trump news, I never got the chance to post Politico‘s story — Cruz profited off Trump well before endorsing him“:

It took Ted Cruz four months and three weeks of “careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience” to declare publicly that he would vote for Donald Trump.

He made the decision to profit by selling his supporter list to Trump far faster than that.

Just six weeks after he dropped out – and more than a month before Cruz would dramatically snub the nominee at the Republican National Convention – the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future…

The exact details of Trump’s financial arrangement with Cruz are unclear, and loose federal record-keeping makes it impossible to verify. But an email rate sheet obtained by POLITICO shows that Cruz asks campaigns to pay more than $22,000 for the right to send a single email his list of 280,000 digital donors. He charges more than $51,000 to ping his full email file of 1.28 million supporters. Because Trump has rented Cruz’s list so often, he is almost surely receiving a negotiated discount from the list price, industry veterans say.

“You are just a send away from reaching the most engaged and generous supporters in Republican presidential primary history,” the Cruz rate sheet says. More than $20 million was raised from Cruz’s email list, it says.

Since he exited the presidential race in May, Cruz’s campaign committee has reported a total of roughly $290,000 in list rental income, Federal Election Commission records show. Trump’s campaign directly rented Cruz’s list five times in June and since early July his joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee — which gives 80 percent of its proceeds to Trump — has rented the Cruz’s list more than 25 times…

In addition to paying to rent Cruz’s list, his campaign has offered some candidates the ability to strike so-called “revenue-sharing” agreements where, unbeknownst to the donor, Cruz and the renter split the donation. The rate sheet suggests Cruz would receive 60 percent of those funds, while the renter would receive 40 percent…

Nowhere in the fine print of the Trump emails does it disclose to recipients that they ended up on the GOP nominee’s email list by previously signing up for Cruz’s list.

After campaigns end, many candidates hire third-party vendors to manage their valuable email lists, paying them a portion of the profits for their services. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who ended his brief presidential campaign deep in debt, has made back $441,000 in list rentals in the last year, FEC records show…

Much more detail at the link — it’s always interesting to see how many behind-the-scene grifters experts get a swig of the mother’s milk of politics.

Pass the Popcorn

Via the Washington Post:

The New York attorney general has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law — by soliciting donations without proper certification — and ordered Trump’s charity to stop its fundraising immediately, the attorney general’s office said Monday….
the Trump Foundation never registered under article 7A of New York’s Executive Law, as is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year from the public. One important consequence: Trump’s foundation avoided rigorous outside audits, which New York law requires of larger charities which ask the public for money.

Pass the popcorn and refresh your overnight Twitter account as the response is going to by Yuuggge and absolutely AMAZING!!!

Open Thread

Open Thread: Grifter Newt Gingrich Thinks He’s Found His King

“Secretary of State Gingrich” he whispers to himself…

Cranky #NeverTrump conservative:

Early Morning Open Thread: Trump’s Grifting the Secret Service

I’d have assumed such behavior would fall under an extremely intense version of the old rule “Never be rude to people who could spit in your food.” But then, I’m not a commanding visionary business leader like Donald ‘The Grifter’ Trump. From the Politico article:

It’s standard practice for the agency — which is tasked with protecting presidential candidates as well as presidents and other federal officials — to reimburse presidential campaigns for the cost of traveling with the candidates.

In fact, the Secret Service has reimbursed the Clinton campaign, too: $2.6 million so far this cycle.

The difference with Trump is that one of his companies, TAG Air, Inc., owns the plane, so the government is effectively paying him.

The Clinton campaign, by contrast, mostly has been chartering planes from a private company called Executive Fliteways in which the Clintons do not have any ownership interest.

“The taxpayers are actually reimbursing Trump for the travel of the Secret Service agents,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at the law firm Akerman LLP. “It’s just another example of how the Trump campaign has taken an unprecedentedly large amount of its money and spent it at Trump-owned facilities.”

A POLITICO analysis of FEC records found that, through the end of August, Trump’s campaign has spent at least $8.2 million at Trump’s own businesses, including to hold events at his hotels, buy food from his restaurants and rent office space for its headquarters in his Manhattan office tower…

If Trump was a character on a TV comedy, he’d be rejected as “too exaggerated”.

A President Trump’s Foreign Policy Preview: For Sale, To the Highest Bidder

This is just a quick pointer to the essential read of the day.  If Kurt Eichenwald’s brutal, beautiful story on the Trump Organization’s seemingly limitless overseas conflicts of interest with US policy doesn’t become the dominant campaign story for the day and much longer, then, again, we’ll know who and what our media are.

One of the best minor pleasures of this deeply important piece is the way Eichenwald brutally dismisses the false equivalence crap that so many in the press promise us doesn’t exist.  A sample:

The Trump Organization is not like the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the charitable enterprise that has been the subject of intense scrutiny about possible conflicts for the Democratic presidential nominee. There are allegations that Hillary Clinton bestowed benefits on contributors to the foundation in some sort of “pay to play” scandal when she was secretary of state, but that makes no sense because there was no “pay.” Money contributed to the foundation was publicly disclosed and went to charitable efforts, such as fighting neglected tropical diseases that infect as many as a billion people. The financials audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global independent accounting company, and the foundation’s tax filings show that about 90 percent of the money it raised went to its charitable programs. (Trump surrogates have falsely claimed that it was only 10 percent and that the rest was used as a Clinton “slush fund.”) No member of the Clinton family received any cash from the foundation, nor did it finance any political campaigns. In fact, like the Clintons, almost the entire board of directors works for free.

On the other hand, the Trump family rakes in untold millions of dollars from the Trump Organization every year.


Much of that comes from deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities. None of Trump’s overseas contractual business relationships examined by Newsweek were revealed in his campaign’s financial filings with the Federal Election Commission, nor was the amount paid to him by his foreign partners.

That should (but probably won’t) leave a mark in a certain building on 8th Ave between 40th and 41st st.

One more sample, just to get a sense of how utterly at odds with US national interest a Trump presidency would be:

With Middle Eastern business partners and American allies turning on him, Trump lashed out. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal—the billionaire who aided Trump during his corporate bankruptcies in the 1990s by purchasing his yacht, which provided him with desperately needed cash—sent out a tweet amid the outcry in Dubai, calling the Republican candidate a “disgrace.” (Alwaleed is a prodigious tweeter and Twitter’s second largest shareholder.) Trump responded with an attack on the prince—a member of the ruling Saudi royal family—with a childish tweet, saying, “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016.”

Once again, Trump’s personal and financial interests are in conflict with critical national security issues for the United States. During the Bush administration, Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, and Washington reached a bilateral agreement to improve international standards for nuclear nonproliferation. Cooperation is particularly important for the United States because Iran—whose potential development of nuclear weapons has been a significant security issue, leading to an international agreement designed to place controls on its nuclear energy efforts—is one of the UAE’s largest trading partners, and Dubai has been a transit point for sensitive technology bound for Iran.

Given Trump’s name-calling when faced with a critical tweet from a member of the royal family in Saudi Arabia, an important ally, how would he react as president if his company’s business in the UAE collapsed? Would his decisions in the White House be based on what is best for America or on what would keep the cash from Dubai flowing to him and his family?

There’s tons more at the link — and yet Eichenwald says, correctly, that this article only scratches the surface. This is (truly) disqualifying stuff, folks. That it almost surely won’t drive Trump from the race is an indictment of him, his party, and a political process, shaped in part by a flawed media culture.  That just leaves us as a last line of defense.

You know, voters.

The common clay…

[Had to leave that hanging curve out for the Balloon Juice Jackals, right?]

Seriously. Eichenwald has done really important work here.  Go read what he’s found, then get it out to everyone you can.

Image: Marius Granet, A Peasant Girl Buying an Indulgence 1825

The work of accurately covering Trump could kill a man

I’m gonna throw this out as an answer to why the Times (and other supposedly responsible media outlets) are acting so strange on Trump and CLinton. Yes, the senior management of the New York Times has had a hard-on for the Clinton family since 1992. But Krugman is right, this year they have acted really, really strange. I think it comes down to something more fundamental than personal animus or whether Hillary Clinton has held any press conferences. At its heart the Times and similar media outlets have a hackable business model. And Trump is hacking it.

It all comes down to the graphic below. The Times stakes its reputation on independence, balance etc., which means this figure below must not be allowed to happen under any circumstances.


The New York Daily News could not care less if you call it biased. The NYDN is biased. They think Republicans are assholes. They have a clear editorial perspective. In a city with six hundred different print news outlets that is a perfectly reasonable position to take. FOX News? You could make a thousand graphs like that and they still won’t give a shit. Just ask Media Matters. In the same way Trump only ‘courted’ black people to reassure white suburban women, that ironic FOX slogan comforts people who want to think black people are bad and dangerous but hate the connotations that a word like racist carries with it.

The Times is not one more paper in a crowded market. The Times imagines itself to be the outlet, the singular gateway to journalistic credibility. You could say the Wall Street Journal and the Times are the dual avatars of conservatives and centrist Democrats, but the NYT is not having any of that. They want to be the first place Republicans and Democrats get their news. Maybe five or six other outlets spread around print and TV see themselves the same way.

An outlet like the Times has no real defense against a human Gish gallop like Trump. He has done so many reprehensible things, is doing, and will do next week that it takes superhuman resources just to keep up. How is that Trump University fraud case going? I have no idea. I almost forgot about it between reading how amazingly racist Trump was as a landlord and goggling at the chutzpah of him complaining about the Clinton foundation while every detail of the Pam Bondi bribery story is so much worse than I thought*. Just last week he gave a screaming fascist tirade in place of a speech about immigration policy and I already have to remind myself how bad it really was.

Meanwhile Hillary is a fucking boy scout. She doesn’t do anything worth criticizing. She stays on script. She has good advisers who keep her from offending anybody unless she means to (i.e. Breitbart, Stormfront and the KKK). If you dig a little deeper, you find that she basically does things by the book. If you interview everyone who has ever known her, you find out that she…does things pretty much by the book. You can read every damn email she has written in her capacity as Secretary of State and the story stays frustratingly the same. If anything the story gets weaker, not stronger, the more you know about it. I challenge people to find any other remotely powerful human being who would withstand this level of scrutiny. Okay, fine, Obama. Find me two. In a fair world where stories reported actual bad things that people did Times coverage would look like the graph above, and half of the stories about Hillary would be stuff like accidentally starting a reply-to-all disaster at State.

Bus as I said, the graph must not happen. And as the old advice goes for attorneys when you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, pound the table. CNN and the Times have to criticize something, but she rudely gives them stale crumbs to work with. Trump is a lavish cruise ship buffet of leads. In any normal race that Pam Bondi bribery story (also fraudulent donation reporting and tax evasion) would be duck confit on glazed figs. You could work a story like that for months. But try to visualize the main buffet table on a upper-tier cruise. You can’t see the end of it. You could cross the international date line before you realize the confit is even there.

Further, I think that point about taking your time to digest a story is extremely important. Gish gallops work because people cannot process any one lie before the next one hits you. Clinton is the polar opposite of a Gish gallop. Unless someone wants to claim Benghazi has some meat left on its bones (Gowdy? Has anyone seen Trey Gowdy?) emails is all they have. A reporter assigned to say something bad about Clinton** has to keep coming back to the email thing over and over again. That means they have time to understand it, to dig in, try different angles, find the person who won’t answer questions and make them a villain. People keep hearing about this same story to the point where they assume she did something wrong. Not everyone knows the first rule of judging a scandal story – the most damning specific allegation leads. If a two thousand word story opens with shadows, or clouds, or a coolish breeze out of the northeast then you will not find anything worth reading further in. Burying the killer allegation where only devoted readers will find it is journalistic malpractice of the first degree.

The Times needs to print something, because figure one above. So we get clouds, and people imagine Clinton must have done something bad, and Paul Krugman pulls his hair out, because the only thing you need to hack the business model at the Times is to be the worst person on Earth.

(*) Time to dust off Brad DeLong’s rule #1 about the Bushies: even knowing it is worse than you think, it is still worse than you think.
(**) A given reporter would certainly protest if you phrase it that way, but from an editorial standpoint that’s what it is.