There’s a sucker born every minute

Donald Trump’s penchant for turning his political and legal troubles into fundraising schemes has long been recognized, but the former US president’s money hustling tricks seem to have expanded since his defeat by Joe Biden, prompting new scrutiny and criticism from campaign finance watchdogs and legal analysts.

Just days after his defeat last November, Trump launched a new political action committee, dubbed Save America, that together with his campaign and the Republican National Committee quickly raked in tens of millions of dollars through text and email appeals for an “election defense fund”, ostensibly to fight the results with baseless lawsuits alleging fraud…

And it continued…

“Donald Trump is a one-man scam Pac,” said Paul S Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation with Common Cause. “Bait-and-switch is among his favorite fundraising tactics,” Ryan stressed, noting that Trump’s Save America Pac told “supporters he needed money to challenge the result of an election he clearly lost, and then wound up not spending any on litigation last year.

“Now he’s at it again, with frivolous lawsuits filed [in July] against Facebook, Twitter and Google, accompanied by fundraising appeals,” Ryan added. “This time he’s got the unlimited dark money group America First Policy Institute in on the racket…”

Charlie Black, a longtime Republican operative, said that Republican committees realize that Trump’s “name has the most popular appeal to the grassroots, so naturally they’re going to try to figure out ways to use his brand where they can to raise more funds”.

But legal analysts caution that Trump’s new fundraising modus operandi are different, and carry clear risks for unwitting donors and US campaign finance laws.

There are plenty of honest folks around who still don’t comprehend just how dishonest Trump and his Republican band of thieves are. Over time, I expect many will realize their mistake. OTOH, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t value the power of racism and populist lies on the American electorate. That particular theme music persists uninterrupted by politicians in power…in general lacking the courage to challenge the most consistent political thread in the history of the last major nation to legalize slavery.

A cooking show I shall never see

“Cooking With Paris”

Paris Hilton, the ur-celebutante, returns to television. The six-episode series “Cooking with Paris” joins recent shows like “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook” and “Selena + Chef,” in which famous people who don’t really know how their way around a kitchen navigate one anyway. And yet, Hilton takes culinary dilettantism to a new and bedazzled place. In the first episode, which co-stars Hilton’s childhood friend Kim Kardashian, Hilton asks, “What’s a tong?” In the second, her utter inability to pronounce cotija, a taco night staple, becomes a running gag. Cereal, she says, is her favorite food group.

Hilton, one of the pre-eminent interpreters of the sexy baby voice, pioneered reality TV with “The Simple Life.” The kind of person who makes a word like “reality” wobble Jell-O-like, she dusts most dishes with edible glitter, feeds caviar to her dogs, leans over the deep-fryer in feathered cuffs. (“This is not the best outfit to cook in,” she says, as the fringe from her jacket skims flan.) The show exists mostly to trademark a new catchphrase — “sliving,” a portmanteau of “slaying” and “living” and the heir to “that’s hot” — and bring back gloves as an essential fashion accessory. It’s doubtful that either will catch on.

Throughout, the boundary between what’s authentic and what’s performative is as porous as a paper towel. Anyone expecting a more dimensionalized woman, like the one Hilton revealed in the last year’s documentary “This Is Paris” should probably just click on an early season of “The Great British Baking Show” instead. But Hilton remains a genius in giving the camera what it wants. Which apparently includes Frosted Flakes French toast.

By Alexis Soloski, sitting in for Margaret Lyons this week

This is from my daily “Watching” newsletter from the NY Times. Saves me trying to sort which films/new shows are available if I haven’t already decided to watch 2 more episodes of DCI Banks. [which is what I’ll be doing, tonight…starting Season 5]. So, no links…even though the newsletter has a bunch.