“Woodstein”:  Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward heeded the advice of investigative source “Deep Throat” to “follow the money” and brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

“Woodstein”:  When young Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein (shown here in 1973) heeded the sage advice of inside Watergate source “Deep Throat” to “Follow the Money,” they help- ed bring down the corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon.


The Donald knows a good deal from a screwing


By Bjarne Rostaing
Where did Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump come from? Their populist armies exploded from nowhere and made them national figures overnight, and except for raw energy they looked totally different.

Trump’s base was mainly angry disenfranchised white males from the right, and Sanders’ youthful gang of progressives looked as optimistic and innocent as Occupy Wall Street.

Neither man was politically connected or ever governed, but they were the story of the primaries, two underdogs tapping into a hard, grim dissatisfaction with 21st Century America, a place where you can’t afford an education that used to be almost free, or get a decent job once you have your sheepskin.

As far back as 1792, Alexander Hamilton described the American people as “a great beast.” In 2016, the “beast” is finally awake — and angry.

The raw energy of that angry beast is what the Trump and Sanders people have in common, and change is what they want, right and left, a need so urgent that both groups accept that it was worth the risk to break out.

Rearranging the deck chairs on our Titanic debt-ridden economy wasn’t working, and both groups were in revolt against globalism. Specifically they wanted out of those massive trade deals, which they saw as working for special interests and against the common good.

Say what you will about Trump, he knows a good deal from a screwing. Sanders gets that too: he’s an idealist, but he’s also a tough, smart Brooklyn Jew.

The heat was on and the most basic issues were finally being confronted: Do we continue to prioritize expensive foreign adventures like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and the “Asia Pivot,” or do we deal with domestic emergencies, starting with our reduced-income service economy, immigration, and our collapsing Third World infrastructure?


Do we need bridges and trains? Is the presence of lead in tap water from 40-some states a legitimate priority? It’s not just Flint, Michigan, it’s nationwide.

Lobbies have controlled spending for decades. The arms, oil, and technology industries are aggressively global for obvious reasons, starting with cheap labor. But polls, electronic letters-to-editors and the Trump/Sanders revolt show that Americans are tired of endless wars that siphon taxes off to corporations like Halliburton, Blackwater (renamed Academi in 2011) and Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden’s employer, which failed to vet him but continues its lucrative relationship with the U.S. government (about $6 billion yearly from the feds, which represents 99 percent of the company’s revenue).

Driven by these long-entrenched powerful lobbies, “Washington” continued Bush/Cheney-Obama/Clinton foreign policies, which prioritize for-profit wars over domestic spending. Then it blew up in their faces during the primaries. Money was disappearing for wage-earners and going into weapons. It’s definitely not food stamps.

Behind the macro-economic decisions that have off-shored entire industries, are the realities of international trade and finance, which the hands-on Trump probably understands better than any elected politician.


This is clear from his remarks about China. There’s no “Asia Pivot” military bluster: his view is that of a serious businessman. He’s concerned about the crippling advantages China derives from currency manipulation, and he wants to get rid of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the horse that it rode in on: votes controlled by those lobbies.

The one thing Sanders and I agree on is ending these trade deals.

This gut issue is lost in nonsense like The Donald’s Scottish golf course rant, “disgusting” bathroom breaks, The Great Wall and Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle. But populist rage from right and left is ongoing. It wants real change, and people who think Trump can’t make inroads on the Sanders vote reckon without that.

There will be no change with Clinton, a Democrat allied with neocons who can’t accept a $15 minimum wage, which qualifies as a sellout for most Sanders people, a false-flag Republican.

Case in point: When neocon intellectual/writer Robert Kagan endorses a Democrat (Clinton), it’s worth an asterisk: His wife is Assistant Secretary of State (for European and Eurasian Afffairs) Victoria Nuland, who staged the Ukraine coup on behalf of billionaires like George Soros who were invested there.


Nuland then installed U.S. citizens as finance minister and senior executive in the natural gas monopoly, destroyed a decent relationship with Russia and ultimately created an ethnic civil war. The whole thing was about money.

The adage Follow the Money harks back to Watergate, when an anonymous source met with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (a/k/a “Woodstein”), young Washington Post reporters assigned to a break-in story that ended with President Nixon’s resignation.

They met with the source in a parking garage, and he didn’t say much — just enough clues to redirect their thinking, and a theme:  Follow the Money.

Woodstein called him Deep Throat, and his earthy nickname — based on a 1972 porn flick — quickly entered American folklore. Woodstein clammed up like pros, and not until 2003 did we learn that Deep Throat was former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt. Civil Disobedience by a bold and honorable man deposed a corrupt president, and Congress cleaned up his mess.

Deep Throat was right as rain. It’s a near-absolute political law that when money passes hands, there is a quid pro quo, and this is one law that will never be repealed. Purchased congressional votes are the means by which the lobbies are strangling our political process, and little has changed since the seventies, when well-dressed upstanding citizens would exchange paper bags full of hundred dollar bills on park benches.

Hillary Clinton would have us believe she is above the law.

      Hillary Clinton would have everyone believe she is above the law.

Secretary Clinton would have us believe she is above this law — that she is not influenced by financial contributions, and certainly is not in the establishment pocket.

She’s denied it often enough, and people have mostly given her a pass, if not their trust. That’s not easy to do if you look at the numbers. The Clinton income is enormous, complex and covert, far beyond the ken of corporate journalists.

And there is no transparency. The Clinton speaking fees are newsworthy but minor; it’s the big money in the Foundation that matters. There’s so much of it that Wikipedia has grouped contributors by size for clarity, and the list is endless.

Powerful and connected to a wide range of liberal and conservative interests, the Clintons’ domestic funding (Blackwater et al) needs scrutiny by experts. Sanders didn’t have them, but Trump will.

But contributions by entities like “Friends of Saudi Arabia” — Wahhabi fundamentalists known to fund ISIS — are even more troubling, because the Clintons can deliver.

Mrs. Clinton was a very aggressive Secretary of State whose interests aligned with those of the war industry, and led to our unfortunate and unsuccessful Mideast maneuvers. As the only candidate who favored the Iraq invasion (around $3 trillion, give or take) it was predictable that she would push the Libyan action. Nuland’s Ukraine coup on behalf of Soros and other billionaires was ignored by major U.S. media but no surprise to the EU.

You won’t hear much about it on TV, but print media are aware of the issue. The Wall Street Journal noted that foreign donors are prohibited by law from contributing to political candidates in the U.S., but many are major long-term contributors to the Clinton Foundation.

A subsequent Washington Post inquiry found that certain donations by foreign governments to the Foundation continued at the same level they had before her tenure as Secretary of State, which was legal but indicative.

Last year Reuters nailed the Clinton Foundation for failing to publish a complete donor list — which it had committed to do — and for also failing to let the State Department review all its donations from foreign governments, another commitment to the government unfulfilled.


Late in 2015 the Department of State issued a subpoena to the Foundation, focused on “documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.” These critiques by respected sources have been running parallel with the borderline-legal hanky-panky, but are ignored by non-print media which reflect the corporate agenda of their owners.

What is really damning is that Clinton’s policies and initiative actions align so closely with the interests of her financial backers, as does her stance as a Democrat for whom a living minimum wage is unacceptable, which is normally a Republican position.

For specifics on the relationships with donors, Clinton Cash is a good source. Not a perfect book, but Peter Schweizer calls B.S. on her claim of independence, and he’s not bluffing:

His assertion that “we will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds” is not inaccurate. Perhaps most significantly, she routinely backed the trade agreements challenged by Sanders and Trump.

The status quo favors corporations — her backers — for whom Sanders and Trump were obvious threats.

The Clinton Foundation has accepted money from “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” an organization composed of Wahhabi fundamentalists known to fund terrorist groups such as ISIS.

The Clinton Foundation has accepted money from “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” an organization composed of Wahhabi fundamentalists known to fund terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and others.

Sanders is gone, swept away by the Clinton/Wasserman Schultz machine, but Trump is still there sounding wild as ever, kicking and screaming and owning the media. He knows his words make little difference if he can manage the transition to candidate mode, and this is beginning to happen since he hired a pro to run his campaign.

He is talking policy in a different way, following the money and focusing on Clinton’s established positions. He’s still behind, and his campaign is broke; but he’s clever, and he knows how to put words together with effect, which is not Clinton’s forté.

He’s also having fun with her husband’s 1992 mantra, It’s the Economy, Stupid, which is more to the point now than it was at that time, and he’s getting specific about Chinese currency manipulation and those trade deals that sent vital jobs and entire industries abroad, which he describes as “total betrayal.”

Trump the man is a classic boor, an arrogant male chauvinist, and an embarrassment of a human being. His racism is un-American and horrific, and his proposed Wall is as ridiculous as deporting some 12 million Mexicans, most of them lured here by agribusiness, most of them decent people who behave better than the crazed in-your-face wing of his base.

But Trump understands money in a way that lawyers like the Clintons never will. We need that badly, because maxing out your credit and printing endless amounts of money can’t go on forever.

That’s what destroyed Germany and gave us Adolf Hitler. For the Clintons, big money is still a novelty, a kind of collectible you get under the table, on which you charge a fee for future services and use to bribe useless allies. For Trump, money is something you take any way you can within the law. Anyone with a little history knows that.

They also know that after you’ve made your filthy pile, you reinstate yourself as a human being and become respected in a whole new way by endowing libraries like Carnegie, or bringing up a useful, decent family like the Rockefellers — or getting your son elected President, like Joe Kennedy.

It’s our hard luck that Trump can’t imagine anyone but himself in that role. But on the plus side, he isn’t talking war or American Exceptionalism, and he does have that adult understanding of money.

“Inside Pitch” is a Voice of Baltimore commentary/opinion column authored by various contributors, along with VoB editors and staff.  It has been a regular feature of this website since 2013.
 Bjarne (Barney) Rostaing is the author of Epstein’s Pancake, a novel published by St. Mark’s Press and available for purchase on and at Barnes & Noble — click here  and  here.

He was an editor at the SoHo Weekly News, won a First Place AFI Award for a sports video, and worked with Uma Thurman in her film debut in “Kiss Daddy Goodnight” (1987).  As a sports writer, Rostaing exposed — in Sports Illustrated — the 1984 U.S. Olympic blood doping scandal.

His earlier works include Breeders (St. Mark’s Press/2011), a crime novel set in the world of horse racing; Phantom of the Paradise (Dell), based on the 1974 horror film written and directed by Brian De Palma; and Bill Walton’s Total Book of Bicycling (Bantam Books/1985).

Originally from Bantam, Conn., the “Red Diaper Baby” lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.

To learn more about Epstein’s Pancakeclick here.

One Response to “‘A GREAT BEAST’ — Presidential politics and the American people: finally awake — and angry”

  1. joel4man

    This piece is too good. It troubles me more than I like, especially its assertions about big money’s control of foreign policy and the resulting impoverishment of domestic needs. Rostaing reaffirms my sense, widely shared, that the nation is stuck between rocks and hard places. Hillary is too arrogant, too much of a hawk, and (if Rostaing is right) too ready to serve the interests of big money. But it’s impossible for this reader to make a positive case for a Trump presidency.

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