Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Running for president: a money-making proposition

"Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it's all part of his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway." — Michael Moore, American documentary filmmaker

SIX YEARS ago almost exactly I sat next to Morry Taylor at Rotary. Remember him? He's president and CEO of Titan International, a $1.39 billion tire and wheel manufacturing company. He also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.


We talked politics. I was interested in what lessons Morry had learned about the process and the system based on his own unsuccessful run. 


It was obvious at the time of course who the Democratic presidential contender would be for 2012, but a plethora of Republicans were beginning to elevate their profiles and test the waters for their side of the ballot, and we remarked upon the sizable number of candidates who were acting interested. (Oh, how innocent we were back then! Little did we know just how many, many Republican candidates we'd be forced to contemplate and consider for 2016.)


Morry said to me, "You do know that lots of them run to make money." 


I was incredulous. I thought most candidates go into debt when they run unsuccessfully for office. 


Ah yes. The campaign might, but apparently not necessarily the candidate. According to Mr. Taylor, it's a major money-making proposition for some of them, and that's why they do it — because there are plenty of legal ways to funnel that left over campaign war chest into their own pockets. 


He named three or four candidates specifically, but the only one I remember for sure was Newt Gingrich.


Before you cite laws preventing such an outcome, think back to when Stephen Colbert 'ran' for president. According to the Federal Election Commission, his Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super PAC and its sibling 501(c)(4) “Colbert Super PAC Shhh” raised $1,237,220. 


And do you remember that when he suspended his 'campaign', he had his super pac lawyer, Trevor Potter who is president of the Campaign Legal Center and a former FEC Chairman, come on the show and explain all the loopholes (or “loop-chasms” as Stephen called them) in the laws designed to regulate coordination between candidates and supposedly 'independent' groups, which essentially let Stephen dispose of the money (or keep it) however he wanted.


I share with you now a story from the New York Post about Donald Trump's self-enriching use of campaign funds.


Below that is an interesting analysis of Trump's motivation for running for president offered by Michael Moore published by CNBC





Trump hikes rent on his own campaign office in Trump Tower


By Daniel Halper 

August 23, 2016 

Running for president is good for Donald Trump’s bottom line.


The real estate mogul jacked up the rent on his own presidential campaign, billing it more than four times the previous cost for its use of Trump Tower, once the dough wasn’t coming out of his own pocket, according to a new report.


In March, the campaign shelled out $35,458, but by July, the rent ballooned to $169,758, according to the Huffington Post.


The reason for the difference, the site claims, is that in March the mogul was mainly self-funding his primary presidential campaign.


But in July, the Trump campaign transitioned to using outside funds to finance the campaign.


And during that period, employees and consultants on the Trump campaign declined — going from 197 in March to 172 in July, according to the report.


“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” a Republican National Committee member told the Huffington Post. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”


In 2000, Trump boasted that he would find a way to make an Oval Office bid profitable.


“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” he said in 2000.


According to one estimate, 9 percent of Trump campaign spending ends up in companies owned by the Trump family, with the largest expenditure being $5.6 million to pay for the tycoon’s private jet.


Is Trump purposely sabotaging his campaign?


By Michael Moore 

August 18, 2016 

Friends,


Donald Trump never actually wanted to be President of the United States. I know this for a fact. I'm not going to say how I know it. I'm not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything. And I'm certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.


Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, "The Apprentice" (and "The Celebrity Apprentice"). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you're going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.


Trump had begun talking to other networks about moving his show. This was another way to get leverage — the fear of losing him to someone else — and when he "quietly" met with the head of one of those networks, and word got around, his hand was strengthened. He knew then that it was time to play his Big Card.


He decided to run for President.


Of course he wouldn't really have to RUN for President — just make the announcement, hold a few mega-rallies that would be packed with tens of thousands of fans, and wait for the first opinion polls to come in showing him — what else! — in first place! And then he would get whatever deal he wanted, worth millions more than what he was currently being paid.


So, on June 16th of last year, he rode down his golden escalator and opened his mouth. With no campaign staff, no 50-state campaign infrastructure — neither of which he needed because, remember, this wasn't going to be a real campaign — and with no prepared script, he went off the rails at his kick-off press conference, calling Mexicans "rapists" and "drug dealers" and pledging to build a wall to keep them all out. Jaws in the room were agape. His comments were so offensive, NBC, far from offering him a bigger paycheck, immediately fired him with this terse statement: "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump." NBC said it was also canceling the beauty pageants owned by Trump: Miss USA and Miss Universe. BOOM.


Trump was stunned. So much for the art of the deal. He never expected this, but he stuck to his plan anyway to increase his "value" in the eyes of the other networks by showing them how many millions of Americans wanted Him to be their Leader. He knew, of course (and the people he trusted also told him) that there was no way he was actually going to win many (if any) of the primaries, and he certainly would not become the Republican nominee, and NEVER would he EVER be the President of the United States. Of course not! Nor would he want to be! The job of being President is WORK and BORING and you have to live in the GHETTO of Washington, DC, in a SMALL 200-yr. old house that's damp and dreary and has only TWO floors! A "second floor" is not a penthouse! But none of this was a worry, as "Trump for President" was only a ruse that was going to last a few months.


And then something happened. And to be honest, if it happened to you, you might have reacted the same way. Trump, to his own surprise, ignited the country, especially among people who were the opposite of billionaires. He went straight to #1 in the polls of Republican voters. Up to 30,000 boisterous supporters started showing up to his rallies. TV ate it up. He became the first American celebrity to be able to book himself on any show he wanted to be on — and then NOT show up to the studio! From "Face the Nation" to "The Today Show" to Anderson Cooper, he was able to simply phone in and they'd put him on the air live. He could've been sitting on his golden toilet in Trump Tower for all we knew –and the media had no problem with any of that. In fact, CBS head Les Moonves famously admitted that Trump was very good for TV ratings and selling ads — music to the ears of the NBC-spurned narcissist.


Trump fell in love with himself all over again, and he soon forgot his mission to get a good deal for a TV show. A TV show? Are you kidding – that's for losers like Chris Harrison, whoever that is (host of "The Bachelorette"). He was no longer king of the dealmakers — he was King of the World! His tiniest musings would be discussed and dissected everywhere by everybody for days, weeks, months! THAT never happened on "The Apprentice"! Host a TV show? He was the star of EVERY TV SHOW — and, soon, winning nearly every primary!


And then… you can see the moment it finally dawned on him… that "Oh sh-t!" revelation: "I'm actually going to be the Republican nominee — and my rich beautiful life is f#*@ing over!" It was the night he won the New Jersey primary. The headline on TIME.com was, "Donald Trump's Subdued Victory Speech After Winning New Jersey." Instead of it being one of his loud, brash speeches, it was downright depressing. No energy, no happiness, just the realization that now he was going to have to go through with this stunt that he started. It was no longer going to be performance art. He was going to have to go to work.


Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans "rapists" should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn't born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — "I hate this! I want my show back!" But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.


But, let me throw out another theory, one that assumes that Trump isn't as dumb or crazy as he looks. Maybe the meltdown of the past three weeks was no accident. Maybe it's all part of his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway. Because, unless he is just "crazy," the only explanation for the unusual ramping up, day after day, of one disgustingly reckless statement after another is that he's doing it consciously (or subconsciously) so that he'll have to bow out or blame "others" for forcing him out. Many now are sensing the end game here because they know Trump seriously doesn't want to do the actual job — and, most importantly, he cannot and WILL NOT suffer through being officially and legally declared a loser — LOSER! — on the night of November 8th.


Trust me, I've met the guy. Spent an afternoon with him. He would rather invite the Clintons AND the Obamas to his next wedding than have that scarlet letter ("L") branded on his forehead seconds after the last polls have closed on that night, the evening of the final episode of the permanently cancelled Donald Trump Sh-t-Show.


Yours,


Michael Moore


Postscript:


Don, if you're reading this, do it soon. Give your pathetic party a chance to pick up the pieces and nominate Ryan or Romney so they can be the ones to lose the White House, the Senate, the House and yes, praise Jesus and the Notorious RBG, the Supreme Court. Don't be too hard on yourself. You're only the logical conclusion to a party that has lived off the currency of racism and bigotry and fellating the 1% for decades, and now their Trump has come home to roost. 


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