B.J. Bethel

A view of the world from Ohio

Tag Archives: donald trump

A Month of Trump: Nothing that shouldn’t have been expected

President Donald Trump’s cloud of magnificent bullshit, the same cloud our newly elected orange-toiffed cherub rode to Leader of the Free World, finished its dissipation from roaring thunderhead during the campaign to the last remnants of late weekend sailor’s fog over the period of three weeks, or if one were to round up, until today, when Trump took active duties as our President.

Trump was inaugurated Jan. 20, making Feb. 20 the official one-month anniversary in the written histories, but our President diligently took a three-day weekend, so Feb. 23 it is.

A month into this, there are things we’ve learned:

  1. The surprise that Trump’s White House was so incompetent at every step in its first month is a shock to many. I don’t understand why. Trump so brazenly and effectively sidestepped every issue he had in his campaign, he locked his Republican opposition out of the news cycle with outrageous Twitter account, then dodged every bullet from Hillary Clinton during the election. The more brash and vulgar he became, and the more that underbelly was exposed, the less of an affect it had.
  2. That does not translate into political success, and there’s no reason it should. Trump ran a campaign for the 21st century, fit for a reality TV B-lister and tabloid cover boy. His chief advisor Steve Bannon had experience in Hollywood. This should be no surprise. Breitbart.com, Bannon’s website after the passing of Andrew Breitbart, was always a large amount of hype with little heft. Most of it’s large scoops, it had to settle in court. The website gathered a following thanks to marketing and media blasting, but as an activist and propaganda outlet, it was never a success, turning off mainstream conservatives once Bannon became it’s everyday head, and bringing the alternative right, the Birchers and white nationalists closer to respectability in the Republican party.
  3. That marketing, social media outbursts and pugnacious reprehension for the press and a majority of the country registered as an ability to govern is laughable. Trump isn’t capable of it. He can scramble and try to put together a respectable staff, but the likelihood he can fill massive agencies with functional employees after he went to war with the CIA, State and the FBI is unlikely.
  4. The Michael Flynn resignation should have been expected. He took money from the Russians for a speech, had been a consultant according to a few reports ( I doubt that would have cleared his background check, though), and was a guest of honor at the Russia Today 15th anniversary with a seat next to Vladimir Putin, where he could hear Julian Assange’s anti-American tirade live from the Ecuador embassy.
  5. Ego will be the fall of the Trump administration – and not just Trump’s. Bannon, following Andrew Breitbart’s lead, has said for years he detests policy discussion and finds it irrelevant. This is a talking point for the entire staff, from Milo Yiannopolous and others, who are interested in TV coverage. That’s not how government works. Trump’s party is in control of both the House and Senate, and made no effort to push serious legislation. Obama by this time managed a $1 trillion stimulus package and a follow up to TARP that had backing by both parties. Executive orders, which in comparison are simple, are too much for the administration to handle, particularly Bannon, who has no experience in law or political science, or as any matter of politician or public servant, and wrote a sweeping order that essentially was doomed before the ink dried.
  6. Trump’s vow the next EO will cover the same bases as his previous immigration order, is a lie. By law you can’t ban people entering the country based on nationality (no matter what comparisons they made with President Obama’s slowing of refugees from Iraq). Congress made that law, and Trump can’t override Congress. The courts almost always go the way of the administration when it comes to executing these types of policies, but Trump’s proud ignorance of the law and disgust with the court system won’t be tolerated. His immigration EO was a slap in the face to law, Congress and the court system re-writing it with the same intent won’t change the law.
  7. Democracy and the republic win. The most powerful man in the world, no matter how stupid and wreckless he may be, has been put in check by the other branches of government, federalism and the Fourth Estate. Democracy and republicanism will only continue to win if the U.S. as a country becomes better educated on civil matters, returns to the moderate tradition of the Founding Fathers, and begins to embrace those with which they differ politically. This is an issue on both sides of the aisle, but more so on the right, where more are being lied to by corrupt bought-by-donor propaganda apparatus and a false victimhood that their fathers and grandfathers would have abhorred.

 

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Highway 2016 Revisited: Why Trump won, and why neither party will respond

The day after Nov. 3, the sun rose from the east, as it has every day since God pulled the trigger on his galactic shotgun and put this mess together. It shocked many, but wasn’t nearly as shocking as Donald Trump becoming president-elect the night before.

Stock futures plummeted, before rallying. It’s continued since, with the market hitting 19,000 for the first time, most likely because Trump was considering staff friendly to finance. The Democrats – those who actually run for office and are on ballots – clawed through the wreckage with their fingernails, wondering why they lost, while the base already made up their minds, and were more concerned with protecting their corner of the turf instead of winning elections.

And since the ‘day-after’ article has already been written 20-plus times by every media site since the election, I waited. Some had it right, others wrong, but clearly a large part of working and middle-class America drove to the curb in front of the establishment and tossed a brick through its plate glass window. Trump won, Hillary lost – this is why:

Jobs: The Trump election was a rejection of the U.S. economic system. For too many it doesn’t work even if it doesn’t exclude you. Talking to Trump voters, those who may be apolitical or might not like him as a person, the words often heard were, ‘Nothing to lose.’ Forty years of Republican and Democratic presidents, and the working class gets worse by the year. It’s now suffering a social and cultural collapse that’s the real story of the election, one no one wrote about, unless as some tip of the hat flyover piece in a coastal magazine. The type where some Ivy League kid comes through a town with trees for the first time, and writes about its inhabitants the way Morgan Freeman talks about critters on a nature documentary.

Trump was the first candidate in 40 years to say he would bring back jobs that have gone overseas. It was a lightning bolt to the ears. Those jobs began leaving in the 1970s. Cities like Youngstown and Cleveland were already feeling the burn. Dayton hung on until the mid-2000s. The promise of NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO was Ross Perot’s ‘giant sucking sound’ would be painful for 15-20 years, but emerging markets would gain enough purchasing power where The U.S. could re-balance trade and begin blue collar manufacturing anew, and better, with the countries having already caught up to the post-war boom.

That was a lie, it continues to be a lie. Our trade policy has been conducted with one hand behind our national backs. China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea – they negotiate in the best interest of their country, the U.S’s ideas on trade is in the best interest of a handful on Wall Street. It’s a wonder there hasn’t been rioting, burning, all of the lot. We can thank our culture, our standard of living and our social safety net for that, but that began crumbling a decade ago, and is collapsing as the election approached, leading to:

Heroin Epidemic: Rural America is being devastated by the heroin epidemic. For those not in the know, this is the tale: Doctor’s prescribed pain medication in large amounts, medication that was tested and believed to be non-addictive. In actuality it was highly addictive. When prescriptions ran out, people were left out to dry. Drug and alcohol addictions are bad, what makes pain killer and opiate addiction the worst one could suffer, you aren’t taking the drug for a high, you take it to feel normal. The desire to feel normal, painless and without injury becomes an addiction. There is no sadder state in which to live. Injuries are prevalent in service industry jobs and in other areas, including recreation, especially in the Midwest. With the prevalence of heroin overseas, over prescribing of pain killers and the loss of medical benefits and low wage jobs or no jobs, it was a Molotov cocktail of social breakdown.

The last two years has seen an exponential rise in the number of heroin overdoses and deaths in Ohio and other Midwest states. This has gone virtually unreported in national media until recently (few places have done good journalism here, such as the EPIX series America Divided).

Myself, I know two people who have died of heroin overdoses, some relatives, and another who died in his house, was revived in the hospital, and took off out the door before nurses could get his name and give it to the police.

Hillary Clinton avoided these rural areas completely during her campaign, instead focusing on trying to recreate the success of the Obama coalition and sticking to city centers like Cleveland and Columbus. She never came to Dayton once, the first for a major party candidate in memory. These mistakes were based on flawed strategy and flawed demographics. Exit polls from 2012 and 2008 were wrong, some to the extent of six percent for some demographic groups, according to surveys and reports from Nate Cohn of the New York Times.

Trump and his surrogates spent weeks in these areas. Trump, despite his hyperbole and his Twitter rants, used most of his time on the stump to talk jobs, offshoring, blue collar life and the heroin crisis. Many of his stops were in the areas at the heart of the epidemic. When voting results were finalized, some counties in Western Ohio had turnout averaging around 70 percent of registered voters. One county that has been plagued by crime, lack of jobs and heroin had 89 percent of registered voters vote. Those are numbers one usually sees in dictatorships, but this was real.

Clinton, already the epitome of an establishment politician, spent no time with the voters that would ultimately vote her out.

Desperation: Eight-Nine percent of people found their way to the ballot box on a cold day, in a small county where a precinct isn’t down the road, but a few miles a way, where you have to find to go between the two jobs you work, or picking up kids at school. This number is amazing. While Ohio and cities like Dayton have shown signs of turn around and rebirth, there’s an inordinate despair among many in the white working class, especially baby boomers. They worked the same factories their fathers did, who received pensions and retirement plans, and managed to retire at a decent age and enjoy, by world standards, a luxurious life. This was the defacto expectation for the baby boomer that came head on with the generation reaching retirement age right when The Great Recession struck.

This led to companies shedding their most experienced workers because they were the most expensive. As technology changed, companies went to the millennial for answers because they understood tech and social media, and were also cheap and plentiful.

The millennial grew up with guidance counselors in their ear, telling them not to worry about student loans, pick what you want to do the rest of your life as a major, pick something you enjoy, career prospects aren’t a major concern when choosing a field of study. An anecdote I was always told, it didn’t matter what college degree you had, if you had one you would have a job. You may major in meteorology, but some company would hire you as a supervisor if need be.

This turned into six-figure debt, much of which is beyond the understanding of 30 year olds, let alone high school juniors who are signing their lives on the line, and for dollar amounts that make most mortgages look small.

The articles flowed endlessly the last decade – the millennial isn’t interested in buying a house, or having kids, or having a car, or life as Gen X or the boomers carried, and then followed with a list of answers that sound familiar to any 18-30 year old that came before. Slackers, lazy, taking it easy, more interested in social life. Truth was they’d love to have kids, cars, homes, vacations and to be pumping their income into an economy if they had an income, and weren’t burdened with student loans.

This last year 37 percent of student loan holders either missed a payment or were late on one, the default rate is rising, and these loans aren’t ones you can bankrupt, thanks to changes in law 20 years ago, which means defaulting is akin to financial suicide. Some have committed suicide under the pressure, others haven’t.

When you have your master’s, and you are working the late shift at Denny’s, and someone says they can bring good incomes back and make that loan disappear, you listen. Millennials voted for Hillary, but not by the numbers she should have received. What was Clinton’s position on student loans? If you listened hard at the debates you would know, or if you looked at her website, it was available, but it wasn’t something she talked about, which brings us to another reason she lost:

What was Clinton’s message?: Hillary Clinton was called the most qualified person to ever run for president. I would have to say I don’t believe she holds that title herself, but I believe she’s in teh upper tier. If she had a governorship on her curriculum vitae, it would have been no doubt. And with the experience as a governor, she would have overcame the weaknesses she had in her campaign, if not as a candidate. Still, asking someone what Clinton’s core message was, you’d still be waiting for an answer. She had many proposals and positions, but she didn’t run on a central theme. Most commercials focused on her work for children and children’s insurance (she put together the CHIP program, or was at least a part of its design), but most of her ads focused on Trump’s controversial and idiotic statements on social media or at the podium, they weren’t about her. You never got to know Hillary Clinton. You never knew why she was running, other than it was the next job in line. It’s a shame we’ll never find out.

 

 

QUICK DEBATE FACT CHECK: Clinton vs. Trump III – because all other fact checks stink

I can’t remember everything from last night’s debate, as I was working simultaneously and only caught bits of it on DVR afterward. But I did my best.

Presidential Debate No. 3 was not without its skirmishes, interruptions, ignorance of said Answer timer; but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was the best moderator of the three. Debate Two, which came immediately after the Trump “Access Hollywood” tape was reported by the Washington Post, was a mess. Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz didn’t control the debate as well as Wallace, though Wallace had the advantage of seeing how bad it could get from the previous debate. Fox News has a very strong lineup of serious reporters, and with Roger Ailes now out, hopefully we get more ‘news’ and less ‘rhetoric’ out of Fox, conservative or otherwise.

DONALD TRUMP

  • Trump is a stronger candidate on issues than both Gary Johnson and Bernie Sanders. Sanders won’t even give a foreign policy question an answer without “having a sheet of paper in front of him,” as he famously told the New York Daily News, and in that same interview couldn’t say how he would he implement his core policy issue of reining in banks. Trump had answers, and when he’s stuck to trade, offshoring, jobs and NAFTA he’s been strong and Clinton hadn’t made a dent on him when he hasn’t.
  • Clinton made the definitive case for her presidency during her retort to Trump on her “experience.” It was a ‘YouTube’ moment Trump never recovered from.
  • The issues with Trump (outside of the sexual comments and assault allegations, which if the later are true would make him unfit), stem mostly from Stephen Bannon sitting on his left shoulder and whispering in his ear. The major controversies of his campaign are all Breitbart-esque Alinksy-style politics on core issues Breitbart.com considers the most important – that isn’t a coincidence. That’s not to left Trump off the hook, his behavior has been atrocious.
  • Trump’s declaration that the Mosul offensive was going bad was completely off base. The assault was only in his fourth day. Key Iraqi and Kurdish officials have said for months, even as the Iraqi Army and the Pershmerga was chasing IS out of cities in hours, the Mosul offensive could take six months or longer. As of the debate started, the offensive was only in its fourth day. Reports from BBC, from Iraqi president Fuad Masum and the Kurdish government said they’ve made better headway than they expected at this point. Iraqi Special Forces (U.S. trained) hadn’t joined the fight until today.
  • Donald’s analysis on Aleppo was wrong. As was the situation being anarchy and beyond a ceasefire – because Syrian and Russian forces agreed on a ceasefire this morning.
  • Trump’s assertion he “didn’t know” if he would accept the results of the election was pure Breitbart and purely stupid.. The dangerous things Trump and Bannon do for electoral advantage are no different than what Marxists did in countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.
  • His Putin remarks and remarks on Wikileaks were ridiculous. His former campaign manager had direct ties to Putin proxies in Eastern Europe, even the exiled former president of Ukraine. The Russians have hacked the DNC and are openly trying to intervene in the election, with some going as far to say electing Clinton would re-start the Cold War.

HILLARY CLINTON

  • Hillary’s comments on open borders and her assertion it was about “energy production” was not as closed as she maintained. Energy was a major part of her speech in Brazil, looking back at quotes. She was speaking of energy in the next sentence after the comment at the speech, but she never said explicitly whether she would be for a tightening of trade in the Western Hemisphere or not, and her speech in Brazil was much broader than she said. She’s positioned herself against TPP, but her answer gave no insight into how she would approach trade in the Americas. Given Trump’s key issue involves NAFTA, the silence was deafening.
  • Clinton gave no response to the Project Veritas/James O’Keefe videos when prompted. There’s little doubt the violence at the Chicago rally was inspired by Sanders supporters. Trump has also used ‘violence’ at his rallies as part of his campaign to enforce his image as a law and order candidate. But the videos show her campaign workers and that at least deemed a response from her. It was politically expedient to say nothing, but she didn’t soothe any independents who may have had questions about whether the party was playing dirty.

Crime may be at historical lows, but Trump’s law and order appeal is based on reality for rural areas

Tragedy in West Virginia. Twenty-seven overdoses in four hours –  one death. The overdoses occurred in the same area, within a couple miles of each other.

All of the overdoses happened within a mile and a half radius, which leads officials to believe they are from the same batch of heroin. The overdose victims ranged from 20 years old to 50, according to Merry.

This story is familiar in Dayton and its exurbs and the rural areas surrounding it. The drug was likely bought by all 27 victims from the same dealer, and laced with fentanyl, a narcotic more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is what killed musician and star Prince. Where I work, a metro newspaper and major local news affiliate, this is news we report every weekend.

When dealers are running low on heroin (which is in epidemical demand), they cut heroin with fentanyl, and dealers seldom let customers know the product has been cut and could be fatal. Overdoses occur regularly, many causing death. Police departments, such as the Dayton Police Department in Ohio, have officers carrying NARCAN, a drug used to revive and save heroin ODs. This is standard equipment for officers, like a flashlight, handcuffs or a sidearm.

This is recent news to most, but this surge is far from a recent happening. Over a decade ago, law enforcement and hospitals in rural areas began seeing a switch from meth to heroin. Meth imported from Mexico was cheaper than meth produced by local dealers. At the same time new legislation made it more difficult to acquire opioids and other prescription pain medication. Heroin acts in the bloodstream like morphine. For those addicted to pain medication (many through bad practice by their own doctors), it was a natural switch that politicians and law enforcement didn’t anticipate. Now the United States is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in at least 20 years, maybe ever.

Mike Burkholder of The Evening Leader and Wapakoneta Daily News wrote extensively about this problem nine years ago, but like many small town reports, it fell on deaf ears to others outside rural areas. It’s news to Washington DC, but almost everything from rural America is.

When Donald Trump speaks of law and order, he isn’t only speaking about immigration, inner city violence, he’s hitting a chord with rural working class and poor whites who have watched crime skyrocket due to the exploding epidemic in small towns. One exburb of Dayton had 80 heroin ODs through three months. They’ve occurred locally in Walmart and McDonalds bathrooms, in a Walgreens, and it’s eaten into the middle and upper middle class families.

Trump will probably not be president. But this problem will remain if Hillary Clinton doesn’t push aside the normal fight among progressive identity groups and take on the white working class and poor as the most serious part of her agenda. The Obama administration this week announced $17 million in funding to fight the heroin epidemic – it’s not nearly enough. It wouldn’t be nearly enough in Ohio. Promising more would outrage other groups that make up the Democratic voting base (poor and working class whites tend to vote Republican), who use academic language and old arguments about white privilege, which automatically fall apart when discussing the heroin epidemic. When a study was released early this year saying the mortality rate is only rising worldwide among one group of people – working class and poor American whites – progressive journalists were standing in line to either discount the findings as a whole or to twist them to fit their own gender or race politics, the same aggrandizement contest that has become a breeding ground on Twitter, and was the focus of garbage sites such as Gawker.

Hillary Clinton has long needed her Sister Souljah moment. To explain, Sister Souljah was a female rapper in the early 90s. She appeared at an MTV event with then candidate Bill Clinton, who loudly denounced her lyrics as violent against police and something he didn’t support. Hillary needs to make an honest reach to the rural white and working class, and do so in a loud fashion. Until this bloc is brought back into play for both parties, the vast disintegration of the political center will never get fixed. The GOP will continue to be at the beck and call of the Breitbart faction and the danger that runs from extremism continues.

Trump is probably losing the election – I say probably, because nothing is a certainty. But his candidacy hasn’t caused divisions and rank and furor in the country – it has revealed issues that have been long standing to those outside the corridor. Until the Democrats put aside the pecking order of their coalition, and start to work to truly unify the country, these problems will only get worse, and extremist fringes will continue to have a large voice.

The Democratic convention was a great start, with Ronald Reagan invoked (given the changes in the GOP, I’m sure the former Democrat and President would not have minded), and there are Republicans who would be more comfortable working with Democrats from the center than their own party on he right (John Kasich is the example). But invoking it, preaching optimism and unity, and focusing the country as one is one thing on the stump, and another thing in government.

This will be Hillary Clinton’s toughest challenge if she’s president.

Dear Trump campaign: This isn’t Kiev, this is the United States

Donald Trump’s “Bad 72 Hours,” as put delicately by CNN, started with the presidential candidate’s criticism of Khiz Khan, a Muslim father whose soldier son earned the Medal of Honor after saving 10 of his fellow troops from a suicide bomber in 2004.”Why didn’t we hear from his wife?” Trump questioned, addressing the legitimate point of women’s rights among those practicing Islam. But Ghazala Khan wasn’t having it, and addressed the criticism in the Washington Post, saying she did not speak at the convention due to the emotion of the moment and the loss she continues to feel for her son.

This led to most of the GOP, the VFW, and everyone short of the Islamic State blasting Trump for his remarks toward a Gold Star family.

As this unfolded, numbers from the Republican National Convention were historic – for the first time in history, a candidate came out of his own convention with voters less likely to vote for him than before it started. Hillary Clinton experienced a significant bounce, and is now nine points ahead of Trump in one poll. Despite the ultimate outcome of the RNC, Trump experienced a brief bounce among independents that had him leading Clinton for the first time since May – that quickly disappeared, as the DNC recalled the days of the 1980s GOP – the Shining City on the Hill; numerous Republicans deploring Trump and pledging votes to Clinton; a former General and Afghanistan commander blasting Trump’s foreign policy; and homage’s to American exceptionalism, most notably in the speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama, who left the podium emotional.

The Trump campaign’s response to the fiasco of their own making is to threaten a Constitutional crisis – if they can’t win, they are going to burn it down.

I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged,” Trump said in a visit to Columbus, Ohio. A comment strongly rebuked by President Obama. The real double-down came when Trump staffer Roger Stone went on the podcast of Milo Yiannopolous, and accused both parties of hacking election machines.

This point is important. Milo is a moderator on Reddit for Trump supporters forum. He’s also a favorite among 4chan and disaffected GamerGaters who felt burned by liberals they supported when media groups like Buzzfeed and Gawker supposedly turned on them so ferociously over what should have been no more than a message board soap opera.

“I have no doubt that after the last election, when Karl Rove, who was George Bush’s campaign manager and a Romney partisan, insisted that ‘no no, your numbers have to be wrong,’ he said on Fox, ‘Romney definitely carried Ohio,’ and the reason he was so certain is because it was bought and paid for,” he claimed. “He knew the fix was supposed to be in. Therefore I can only conclude that sometimes things don’t stay bought, and perhaps Obama came in with a better offer.”

The Rove rigging Ohio story is important. One legend traveling the message boards and 4chan for years is Anonymous came in and saved the sanctity of the Ohio election by de-hacking voting machines and counts that were rigged by Rove and his dastardly fellow Republicans. This was why Rove’s memorable 2012 election night meltdown occurred.

I don’t believe for a moment anything in Ohio was rigged. I think the Anonymous story is akin to thousands of tall tales you’ll find across the internet, most of which have more grounding in truth. The Republicans lost Ohio because their polling was awful and their understanding of the electorate was worse. In no fashion did they see Obama having a second term, this was conventional wisdom in the party dating back to 2008 and Mitch McConnell’s declaration that the Senate and Congress’s main purpose was to deny Obama a second term.

Exit polls showed the Obama “coalition” showed up in the same form it did in 2008, and the incumbent president won easily. That’s closer to what actually happened then the story of Anonymous hackers saving the day or the Obama’s having a better cyberwarfare unit stashed in some RV somewhere.

This reasoning also turned out wrong. The electorate is whiter than researchers suspect because most of the calculations on demographics are taken from exit polls, which have been inaccurate. More scientific surveys had evangelicals shorted by as much as six percent of the total electorate. If the numbers are wrong, how did Obama win? He did better among white voters than the media or exit polls suggested.

So rather than buck up, offer a positive message and try to swing voters skeptical of Clinton and Democrats on trade, social issues and security, Trump and company now say the election will be rigged.

Campaign manager Paul Manafort and the rest of Trump’s staff, who I will now refer to as “Red Team Six,” are now working to delegitimizing the election two months before it happens. This doesn’t occur in U.S. politics, it occurs in third-world countries Manafort finds himself in, making boat loads of money from Moscow, and helping soften images of dictators and people who think of assassination the way U.S. politicians think of town hall meetings.

In other words, it’s a disgrace. Obama has rebuked Trump and called him unfit for office. He’s called on Republicans to disavow Trump and not vote for him. Republicans who earlier offered tepid endorsements have criticized Trump, but have yet to dump him to the curb, a telling sign.

This is now on the GOP, conservative media, the large billionaire donor base, and cowardly politicians. Trump is the manifestation of the conservative movement, starting with with talk radio, to the takeover of the tea party by the donor class and the conservative media establishment, to Ted Cruz and his efforts to crash the government. Republicans can fix much of their own damage by dumping Trump.

 

 

 

 

Don’t look for the media to keep barbarian Donald Trump from the gates

My column in the Sydney Morning Herald: Donald Trump is the Day of Reckoning for conservative media, which now cries to legitimate media to save them from their own candidate and their own creation – their base.

 

Putin on the Ritz – How the media finally seized on Trump’s concerning ties with Russia

Waiting for the national media to notice ties between Russia and the Trump campaign was long and frustrating – especially to those concerned over the dire ramifications,  but the grand unveiling of the Trump-Russo romance this week has taken over the media cycle. The DNC has said since June the Russians were responsible for their widely-reported attack on the Democrats email servers, but today the Clinton campaign took the next step and said the hack was done to benefit Donald Trump. This was a connection some took for granted, as Trump’s ties to the Russians are deep and are throughout his staff, and are little surprise to those who have watched the Russians behave on social media platforms. But it was a big step in the campaign of pointing out just who is behind the Trump campaign.

A few reporters have looked at Russia and its involvement in the 2016 election. Chris Zappone of Fairfax Media has regularly wrote and blogged on how Russian trolls and twitter accounts (often bots) had a distinct Trump flavor. How many Trump twitter supporters not only like the Donald, but are strangely up to speed on Russian domestic politics? Too many to not at least be curious, if not flat-out cynical. I’ve written about how this same group has a horrifying anti-Semitic streak.

Most of this was limited to the fantastic reporting of Franlkin Foer, Zappone, and others who picked up on the trends on social media such as myself.

Then the flood gates opened due to one morning TV rant – and an email.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s criticism of Donald Trump was light by today’s political standards. You could hardly call Kasich’s statements about Trump a major criticism according to the Donald’s own rhetorical standards

Kasich didn’t like Trump, that was clear. But surely, the Trump camp felt, the Governor would want to speak at the first major party convention in his state in 70 years, so the bait was simple – if you give an endorsement, you speak, probably in prime time, and if negotiated correctly, maybe a keynote. Kasich said no and to make his point more plain,  decided not to attend the convention. He spent the week in Cleveland, but at party functions around the city.

Whether Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lost his mind on the morning of Monday, July 18, or if he planned a grand strategic maneuver to turn the party and Ohioans against Kasich, and put them in the Trump column, nobody knows but Manafort, Trump and a few others. The result was a morning appearance on MSNBC – of all networks – where he double-barrell blasted Kasich for not giving an endorsement and not appearing at the convention; calling Kasich “petulant”and an embarrassment to his state and party. This was the first negative word Trump’s campaign had said about Kasich since the primaries started – Trump himself spoke better of him than he did of other candidates, usually with respect to the governor, but criticized trade deals Kasich supported. The reason for this more polite approach was quite calculated.

What happened the next three days showed the campaign staff for the Governor of Ohio was smarter than the campaign staff for Donald Trump. More importantly, someone finally called the emperor on his lack of clothing.

Once Manafort took his first swing, Kasich strategist landed what Vladimir Putin, a judo practitioner, would know as an ippon. He left him flat on his back and beat.

“Manafort’s problem, after all those years on the lam with thugs and autocrats, he can’t recognize principle and integrity,” Kasich strategist John Weaver wrote Jonathan Martin of the New York Times. “He has brought great professionalism, direct from Kiev (Ukraine) to Trump world.”

A day later a source on the Kasich staff revealed that Trump and Manafort wanted the Ohio governor as their Vice President. Manafort and Trump’s son Donald Jr. went to Kasich strategist John Weaver with an offer he nor the governor could possibly refuse – to make him the most powerful vice president in history. This led to the now famous line of Don Jr. telling the Kasich strategist, the governor could run foreign and domestic policy, while Trump would be in charge of “making America great again.” Kasich said no.

Trump denied offering Kasich the VP slot in a very short tweet. His campaign then blasted Kasich, saying he was never considered and said his background “read like a dirty novel,” which was interesting since if Trump’s staff didn’t consider him for VP, why were they looking into his background?

Trump’s camp became suddenly bored talking about Kasich’s allegation that he was offered the VP spot after the Columbus Dispatch confirmed with four more sources in the governor’s campaign that the offer had been made.

When Ted Cruz left the RNC stage to boos and yells for not endorsing The Donald, a Trump chief staffer immediately ran to CNN and gave a ranting speech about how if Trump wins, he’s booting both Kasich and Cruz from the GOP.

As the Democratic National Convention starts tomorrow, Kasich told the Philadelphia Inquirer he doubts Trump can win Ohio. He called Trump a divider and said “Ohio was a snapshot of the country and wanted a positive way forward.”

Trump’s response was to say he may start a super-PAC – even as president – to fight Cruz and Kasich in whatever future political endeavors they choose.

Weaver’s comments took new meaning today. When he inferred Manafort had been “on the lam” with autocrats, the first thought was Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who Manafort had worked, before the Putin apparatchik was chased from the country after a rigged election and a popular revolt (Yanukovych now resides in exile under the warm, tender embrace of Putin).

Or Weaver knew what Franklin Foer tweeted and wrote in Slate today: Manafort once lost investment cash from a Russian billionaire oligarch and crime lord, and went into hiding for a sustained period, with some of his former business colleagues asking in cryptic emails if they knew his whereabouts.

If Paul Manafort wasn’t real, Martin Scorcese would have to invent him.