Thursday, May 25, 2017

Governed By Greed

On Thursday NBC and then the Washington Post reported that indeed it's Jared Kushner: he is the White House official that the FBI/Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in a US election wants to talk to, especially about some of his meetings with Russian officials.

This fits into what seems likely to be the master narrative that someday may emerge from all this.  That a chaotic family empire was rescued by at least one major Russian bank, possibly directed personally by Putin but in any case within his power, and working with Russian government spy agencies.  That these financial relationships (which probably still continue) at some point led to political relationships, so that activity on behalf of the Republican nominee became at least part of Russia's meddling with the US election, with some level of coordination and cooperation between Russians involved and members of the campaign.

This likely involvement is one feature of this regime that is unprecedented in American history.  All the signs are there, from lies about contacts to openly public behavior.  The regime denies what US and allied intelligence agencies all say: that Russia deliberately interfered in the US federal election campaign.   Russian officials, including a known spy, are hosted in the Oval Office more warmly than actual allies, and given highly classified information.

And also on Thursday, when our dictator apprentice spoke in Europe, he made inflammatory statements damaging to the western alliance, calling it into question--sowing confusion and discord that benefits above all that country whose name starts with R.

Why?  Why would Americans act against their own country to benefit a hostile foreign power?  Look at the rest of that foreign trip.  Look at the lovefest in Saudi Arabia, where the White House regime made a $110 billion deal to sell arms to that nation, including weapons that can be used in its known efforts to suppress human rights.  And as many media stories recounted, the deal was chiefly engineered by Jared Kushner.

Soon after that deal was made, another was announced: Saudi Arabia's $20 billion investment in a private US company called Blackstone, which (according to the Bloomberg report) just happens to have financed major real estate deals of Jared Kushner.  Blackstone is positioning itself to make big bucks on infrastructure--which just happens to be one of the few big spending items in the proposed federal budget.

This may not be the first private deal to follow shortly after an official visit by Kushner and his wife Ivanka; China is a country that comes to mind.  Kushner is of course the son-in-law of the dictator apprentice, and Ivanka is his daughter.  All of these family members are involved in international business on a large scale, and none have truly extricated themselves from these businesses and their financial arrangements, including those with the autocratic national government regimes that receive gaudy praise and personal visits and phone calls.

Never has the president had family members in such powerful positions with so little oversight who continue to make deals for their businesses while representing the US government at the highest level.  Never in modern history has a US chief executive refused to make public everything about his private financial affairs.  None has failed to separate himself meaningfully from private businesses.

Why not--except to hide ways to profit by their positions?  Has any White House official ever been in position to profit so much while in government?  And we can only guess what's going on with the Cabinet.  Who is going to keep an eye on them?  Jeff Sessions?

But at least until now, all of this is so far from the immense public scandal it should be, at least judged by history, that the dictator apprentice's company could essentially spit in the eye of the Constitution by refusing to even pretend to take that document's emolument clause seriously, which forbid the chief executive from taking money from foreign governments.  And the story didn't cause a ripple.

Which brings it all back to Russia and the why are they doing this?  It's Greed.  It's greed so large and pervasive through this administration, and so boldly evident, that the word needs to be shouted at a decibel level to shatter human eardrums in order to give some sense of its proportion.  Greed and all that flows from it.

That doesn't explain why a lot of Americans don't seem to care about it, which is the bigger, more profound and more consequential question.  But remember what makes a Dark Age dark.  It's forgetting.

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