The New York Times published a piece about the manner in which Paul Manafort found ways to launder money from Ukrainian sources into accounts designed to cover his tracks and support a massively lavish lifestyle. There are all sorts of legal problems with that behavior, and Mr. Manafort will someday have to address these openly thanks to his Not Guilty plea on the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But that’s an issue for another day.
The other concern is why a guy with this level of corrupt overseas dealing was running a presidential campaign for Donald Trump. That issue will come up soon enough.
But the third and equally disturbing reason why America should be sick of the Paul Manaforts of this world is the apparent assumption, on their part, that they somehow deserve the money they get from really crooked dealings. And is President Donald Trump actually in the business of laundering money for the 1%. That is the question at hand. Trump acts like he deserves everything America can afford to give him, and a lot that it cannot afford at all.
The same assumptive attitude seems to ooze from the likes of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who took seven flights on military jets at a cost of $800,000 to America taxpayers and thought nothing of it. His wife even took a swipe at people who criticized the couple for the acts. The New York times reported, “Mr. Mnuchin has made nine requests for military aircraft since assuming his position earlier this year and has taken seven flights. A request to use a military plane for his European honeymoon with his wife, Louise Linton, in August was withdrawn. A ninth flight is scheduled for later this month, when Mr. Mnuchin is expected to travel to the Middle East.”
Perhaps the use of military aircraft for official government business can be justified. But the assumption that his European honeymoon flight should be sponsored on the taxpayer dime? That’s plain arrogance.
Which helps explain why so many Americans distrust politicians in general, calling them freeloaders, or managing affairs for their own benefit. The behavior of Paul Manafort surely shows a breadth of greed. But perhaps the attitude of Steven Mnuchin is even more disturbing. Because without even doing anything technically illegal, he shows how the abuse of power can become so casual and commonplace that reality gets warped into something everyday Americans cannot comprehend.
This attitude is also absorptive, in that it not only feeds on the wealth it can find, it also cannot resist grasping for any type of wealth it sees within its sphere. Which is why wealthy Republican politicians want to grab hold of the money in Social Security and toss it into a free market pot where they and their buddies can divvy it up and make handsome profits just moving it around. It is a Ponzi scheme to end all.
Humble goals and security
But in fact, most Americans don’t seem to really care if their retirement money absolutely kills it in the markets. Sure, it’s nice if that $500,000 nest egg accrues a little bit after you turn 70, because a little extra spending money beyond the household budget of Social Security and interest income would be nice.
That strategy for living a life of relative comfort and security seems to piss off greedy Republicans to no end. They make the case that the “government wants your money” but in fact, it’s the other way around. Republicans want the money. They want all the money they can get their hands on.
Cranky old everyday Republicans with their requisite pocked white skin, white beards and thick bifocal aviator lenses love to grouse about their taxes and how Welfare Queens are living off the largesse of hard-working Americans. That’s a lie, but when the White Savior Ronald Reagan introduced the concept of the Welfare Queen, it bore appeal because it salved the racist instincts of those looking for someone to blame for a poor economy. They should have blamed Reagan’s trickle-down economics and gutting of America’s unions. Those same voters turned out for Donald Trump’s savage racial attacks and playing the blame game on minority for an economy that the GOP again destroyed during the Bush II years.
There is also patent worship for GOP nutjobs such as Grover Nordquist, whose hatred of government is so bad he comes off like the Archie Bunker of public policy. The man offers no real answers, just a lot of bitching and complaining about things he doesn’t really understand. He claims he does, but he’s nothing more than a raving idealogue on the order of a biblical creationist who worships the likes of Ken Ham.
As quoted in The Atlantic: “Trump’s regulatory regime is Reaganite,” Norquist told me. “His tax cut is Reaganite. He’s more aggressive than Reagan on labor issues.” All that other stuff—the crazy tweets, the chaotic White House, the Russia investigation, the travel ban—is just noise. What Trump was really elected to do, Norquist maintained, were the things Republicans had been coveting for years. And Trump is already doing just those things.
Those are the words and beliefs of an equally sociopathic bastard convinced beyond all doubt he is right. But there is no proof that government is really the problem, as Reagan once stated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Real economic truths
Government plays a vital role in the real economic strength of America. It always has, and always will. The economy has thrived during periods of bigger government, and it required major assistance in recovery from the Great Depression and more recently, from the Bush Recession. Roosevelt’s reinvestment in the economy and the Obama stimulus packages did their job. Conservatives niggle about debt and the deficit, but refuse to do a full accounting of the money flowing out of the nation to overseas capital.
It is no coincidence that conservative also hate abortion yet don’t want to offer birth control to prevent the need. Deep internal conflicts such as these vex every conservative policy on the books. That is why conservatives can’t govern even when given all the reigns of the government, as they now have.
As for the worship of the “free market,” which conservatives laud at every turn, every company on the Dow Jones and on Wall Street depends on government infrastructure to conduct business. Government-sponsored benefits range from roads to airports to rail agencies to transport goods and people. And shall we talk about the massive corporate welfare supporting the oil and gas industries, agriculture, and automotive.
When those cranky white Republicans with the white beards moan about welfare queens, they conveniently ignore the incentives and outright cash delivered by governments large and small to make it better and easier for businesses to succeed in this country. Even NFL teams go begging to municipalities for tax dollars to build stadiums.
You didn’t build that
When President Obama spoke to businesses and told the world a few years back, “You didn’t make that,” he was talking about the fact that the contributions of American taxpayers were the lifeblood of every business on the continent. For his honesty, he was savaged by dopey Republican critics who thought he was talking about their businesses, but that’s not what he meant at all.
But that’s the pathetic level of shallow insight driving GOP theology. God forbid a President such as Obama should look beyond the dumbest answer to any question about business and government.
The Money Launderer in Chief
But the GOP got their brand of man in Donald Trump. He’s as shallow as they come, virtually incapable of uttering more than 140 characters without mashing the English language into a horrific wordscrabble. Yet this ignorant character loves to claim the economic productivity of the Obama years as his own. Trump has done nothing other than try to resurrect dying industries such as coal to generate jobs. Other than that, he’s taken measures to gut environmental standards that protect the life and health of everyday Americans and now threatens to approve a GOP budget that rewards the wealthiest Americans and corporates with massive tax cuts while delivering a piddling amount to the average, everyday tax payers.
He’s money laundering for the 1%. We can’t put it any other way. That’s why a guy like Paul Manafort had such a role in the Trump campaign. He already knew the story. He just had to find a seemingly harmless symbol and protector for his own brand of greed. That’s the Manafort Factor in a nutshell.