America: The Walmart of governments

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A few minutes ago I finished watching the movie, The Big Short. If you are not familiar: it’s adapted from the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. The book details how the financial collapse happened and how a few people knew about it, tried telling everyone about the impending doom and ultimately profited from the collapse.

If you’re as greedy and self-centered as I am, you’re kicking yourself in the ass for not getting in on the credit default swaps that eventually yielded as much as a 25/1 payout in some cases.

Not all the people that invested in these financial “instruments” were excited about hitting it big in the bond market because, as you may recall, millions of people lost their homes and their jobs. Many of us little people were screwed and then we were screwed even more when T.A.R.P. was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008. T.A.R.P. was the $750 billion bailout of the financial industry.

In other words, we the taxpayers footed the bill to pay off the financial industry so bank CEOs and hedge fund managers like Jamie Dimon could give themselves bonuses of $30 million or more for Christmas. What was your Christmas bonus in 2008? Count yourself lucky if you got a box of chocolates bought wholesale from Sam’s Club.

So, after watching The Big Short ON Netflix I switched back to regular TV to see, once again, talking heads discussing what’s going on at Trump Tower in New York. Donald Trump is populating his cabinet with billionaire bank CEOs, an energy company CEO, some retired generals, including one who is a conspiracy nut, a crazy racist who runs an “alt-right” — i.e. racist — website; a current senator who was rejected by a Republican Senate in 1988 for being too racially bigoted (for Attorney General no less),  and of course his adult children. The class of people that created the largest recession since the Great Depression now — openly — have a couple seats in Trump’s proposed cabinet. That’s how Trump represents the interests of the working class, the people that voted for him.

The adult children should be the most troubling part of this picture, although lets face it: everything about Donald Trump being president is troubling.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson
testifying before Congress (YouTube)

Since his election on November 8, Donald Trump has been shocking the political world with his actions and inaction — as in not taking the daily intelligence briefings. Then news begins to trickle out about Trump’s business ties to various nations around the world — including his ties to Russia, which have now been doubled by his selection for Secretary of State, oil CEO Rex Tillerson — and his proposed real estate deals in Taiwan and Turkey and wouldn’t you know, just by coincidence these are the countries that called Trump to congratulate him on his win.

Just by coincidence. And here’s how Turkey fits into this coincidence: Newsweek investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to Trump right after the election. In their little discussion Trump bragged to the Turk about his deal with a Turkish company that was building some Trump Towers in Turkey. Trump praised one particular executive from that company, Doğan Holding. Shortly thereafter President Erdoğan had that executive arrested and jailed, claiming he had a hand in Turkey’s recent coup attempt, even though there appears to be nothing connecting this executive to anything concerning the coup.

What does President Erdoğan want? There is a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania who is a big critic of Erdoğan and his government and Erdoğan wants the cleric extradited to Turkey so he can punish him for being a critic of his government.

Turkey is, by the way, one of our strongest allies in that part of the world: the Near East which is next to the Middle East with borders to Iraq, Syria and Iran … and Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia; it shares the Black Sea with Ukraine, Crimea and Romania, all former Soviet Bloc nations Vladimir Putin would like back under his thumb.

It’s the most liberal Muslim nation in the world. We have military bases in Turkey; for more than 60 years Turkey has been one of the key bulwarks against Soviet — and now Russian — expansion. We used to have nuclear missiles in Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union and it figured into the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis; and Turkey is now a partner in NATO — making Turkey a very important strategic partner of the United States, despite our differences (We apparently like the Kurds and the Turks don’t).

Turkish President Erdoğan meeting with President Obama in Wales. Erdoğan is hoping for a better deal with Trump. (Wikipedia)

So President Erdoğan of Turkey has this business executive in jail in the hopes of forcing President Trump into giving up the cleric in exchange for the freedom of Trump’s business partner. What else in our ties with Turkey can Erdoğan use to blackmail President Trump? Or any other government leader from say: Singapore, The Philippines, Taiwan, and even China? The Donald wants to build a bunch of hotels in the Peoples Republic of China and he owes the Chinese hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to build hotels here in the states.

On the bright side he can kill two birds with one badly entwined conflict of interest: he sends a Muslim back to his country of origin — Trump’s supporters cheer because it looks like he’s keeping a campaign promise — and he gets to follow through with his Trump Tower branding deals in Turkey.

The Trump company makes millions of dollars and Erdoğan gets a well known religious leader to torture for a few years.

And Trump tells us he won’t take part in his businesses because he is turning them over to his children. And this is supposed to be considered divesting from his businesses. Already his two oldest sons and oldest daughter have sat in on policy-making meetings — with Ivanka Trump sitting in with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while closing a deal with a Japanese clothing company that will make clothes with her name on them.

The Trump Administration and his businesses will be as one. We should be very worried about this. Trump’s children will be running his businesses that he will profit from … as long as he makes the “right” domestic and foreign policy decisions.

Trump isn’t draining the swamp, he’s populating it with his own pets, people he can be assured will make sure the money continues to flow into the Trump business empire. And of course their business interests will profit as well.

Rex Tillerson’s company, ExxonMobil, signed a $500 billion oil exploration and drilling deal with Russia, only to see it shut down by sanctions against Russia after Putin invaded Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. ExxonMobil — and Tillerson — will benefit greatly when President Trump lifts the sanctions on Russia.

The conventional wisdom is that the Senate will confirm Tillerson. As if on cue, a third of GOP voters have now decided they like Vladimir Putin and Russia, a change in attitude due to Trump’s bromance with the Russian dictator.

Republicans in Congress are jacked about going to town on anti-choice legislation and repealing the Affordable Care Act, as well as ending Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, plus privatizing the V.A. medical establishment so they are not too jacked about being the check and balance on the Executive Branch.

The ultimate partisan GOP Congressman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz
of Utah (Wikipedia)

We can’t count on Rep. Jason Chaffetz to be as diligent on Trump as he has been with President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Not even a little. First he was against Donald Trump because he couldn’t look his daughter in the eye and talk about what Trump said on that Access Hollywood recording … and now he thinks Trump is moving in the right direction when it comes to ethics.

In Trump’s cabinet are a bunch of climate change deniers, starting with his pick for the EPA, Myron Ebell, who also wants us to believe pesticides are not as harmful as scientists say they are. Trump’s pick to head the Department of the Interior is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, who at the very least is wobbly on climate change. She once acknowledged it was happening, but has consistently voted against doing anything about it.

To head the Department of Energy, which has authority over our nuclear grid and weapons, former Texas Governor Rick Perry. When he ran for president in 2012 Perry had forgotten Energy was one of the three departments he wanted to get rid of right away as president. Perry is the guy who thinks global warming is a hoax cooked up by scientists looking to get rich. On one hand we have Trump who claims climate change is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese and on the other Perry who says it’s a hoax by scientists.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. Any GOP administration would be filled with climate deniers.

The real shocker is this: many of Trump’s cabinet picks haven’t been fully vetted. So who knows what’s going to happen in those confirmation hearings? It isn’t likely the Republican members of the relevant committees will dig too deep into the backgrounds of the nominees. Let’s hope the Democrats and Independents do the digging.

Then there is the foreign policy, starting with the Russians, led by Putin himself, hacking into the DNC email servers and then sending the emails to Wikileaks to be published. Now all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agree the hack was by the Russians, i.e. Vladimir Putin. The F.B.I. and the C.I.A. agree Putin did it in order to influence the elections so Donald Trump would win.

Ever since this story first broke in the summer, it always baffled me that people were more concerned about the emails of John Podesta and Debbie Wasserman Shultz than the fact that a foreign power hacked the email servers of our political parties. In other words a crime was committed to expose those emails, which didn’t expose any crimes, just that the Democratic Party wanted their top contender to win the primaries. Well, duh.

Melania Trump, Mike Pence, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. They will be good for business.(YouTube)

Somehow that’s worse than grabbing women by the pussy without consent, worse than singling out ethnic groups for discrimination based on their religion or the nation of their origin. Those emails are worse than bullying and name-calling, worse than the misogynist comments about Megyn Kelly, Heidi Klum, Carly Fiorina and others. Those emails are worse than advocating for the use of torture.

Truly, I don’t get it — and no amount of explanation from anyone, including the Jill Stein camp, will sufficiently explain why Donald Trump is a better choice for president than Hillary Clinton.

  • One side note: Some have been asking, as a way of discrediting the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies, why our government didn’t do anything to stop the hacking. They are supposed to be protecting our digital infrastructure. That’s true, but the DNC, RNC and political campaigns are contained in private, commercial systems, not government systems, which the FBI, CIA and other agencies are tasked with protecting. Our intelligence agencies probably didn’t know about the hacks until after the fact. The security of the private email servers of the political parties and campaigns rests with those non-government entities. My version of that question would be directed at the DNC DCCC, HFA (Hillary For America) and any other political, non-government entity that was hacked.
  • We already heard the story about the typo that allowed Podesta’s emails to be hacked. If true, it’s a bonehead, “rookie” mistake. After 20 years of using email I’ve learned a thing or two about opening suspicious emails … which makes me wonder of that’s what really happened with Podesta’s emails. Maybe it was a stupid mistake.

But Donald Trump is the candidate a minority of well-placed voters cast their lot with on November 8 so we have the biggest fraud in the history of American politics set to become president. On the bright side the corruption won’t be hidden behind the veil of regulations, it will be right up front for all of us to see. That will be different.

Trump suggested the Democrats made up the story about Russia hacking the DNC and then his very public mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway decried the never-ending campaign of the Dems and media — while her boss was out having campaign rallies in Wisconsin, among other localities. I mention the Dairy State because that’s where he finally got Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to toady up to him. Well, the speaker is going to have to be friendly with President Trump if he’s going to push through all his legislation to remove America’s safety net.

Just this week the Chinese seized an underwater drone from the U.S. Navy and we can safely assume it’s a reply to Trump suggesting we can have a two China policy. Then, inflaming the Middle East, Trump said he looks forward to opening up a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which Trump believes is the capital of Israel.

Are you ready for President Donald Trump? (YouTube)

But he did save 700 jobs in Indiana — without hindering Carrier’s plans to move their production facilities to Mexico. And he did it the old fashioned way: he had the state pay the company a multimillion-dollar bribe. By state we really mean the taxpayers. It pays to have the Governor as your VEEP.

Some people believe we should give Trump a chance and judge him by his actions as president. It’s pretty clear, with his cabinet choices and foreign policy blunders that will be a disaster.

True, he will be inaugurated January 20, 2017, and with Congress in the control of the GOP there’s not a lot that can or will be done to push a President Trump into accepted standards of ethical practices in regards to personal business and government policy. In fact many in Congress will probably see it as the gate opening for them to test the boundaries of ethics. We shouldn’t be surprised to see the federal government be openly for sale. It’s happening now.

America: The Walmart of governments … Trump even said American workers are paid too much.

P.S.: Russia is getting the president they wanted for free.

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UPDATE: The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot and killed in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

The ambassador was giving a speech at an exhibition of photographs when an off-duty policeman dressed in a suit and tie came up and shot Karlov in the back. The gunman shouted, “Allahu akbar,” and “Remember Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!”

Russia has been an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their combined air and ground assaults on the ancient city of Aleppo have left hundreds of thousands homeless and at least tens of thousands dead. The civil war in Syria has created a refugee crisis that is causing great turmoil throughout Europe and a debate about Muslim registries and religious profiling in the U.S. — thanks to the campaign of Donald Trump.

The United States has officially condemned the attack and offered our condolences to the murdered ambassador, his family and the Russian nation.

Reuters is reporting the gunman was killed by security forces.