The elephant in the room

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I’m just resting my face. And my arms. And my liver.

No one else will say it but, Putin targeted the GOP because it was the easiest one to take over and GOP voters were the easiest to dup. I’m not being insulting or flippant here, or denying that Dems got duped a bit as well. I’m just observing that the Putin govt had to pick a US party to take over, the one that was most vulnerable to manipulation and take over, and they chose the GOP.

My guess is that Putin felt that the GOP was easy because it’s the most like his own party. It’s controlled by men who wanted to use the government to enhance their wealth and power. In dealing with the GOP, the Russians only had to insure the nomination went to someone who would promise to make those GOP leaders wealthier and more powerful, so pretty simple.

I know there are some who think that wealthy,  powerful people don’t need more wealth or power. For instance, Larry Kudlow, an advisor to Donald Trump’s team for months, wrote

“Why shouldn’t the president surround himself with successful people? Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption.”

If that were true, Larry, Putin and his entire government wouldn’t exist. Think about ultra rich Trump donor Carl Icahn, having Trump keep a tiny piece of legislation through which he will make a billions of dollars. Carl Ichan doesn’t need the money, he’s worth $20 billion. He’s 81; he’ll probably die in a year. And yet, all Carl can think about is squeezing a few billion more out via corrupting the government.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) also made the same argument to The Atlantic‘s McKay Coppins,

On a recent afternoon in his Capitol Hill office, I read through a litany of headlines detailing potential entanglements between President Trump’s business and his administration with the congressman. …. I asked Chaffetz if he was concerned about Trump reaping financial rewards from his presidency, but he just shrugged.

“He’s already rich,” Chaffetz said. “He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.”

Sadly, the exact opposite is true and Chaffetz, like many, suffers from circular thinking.

People driven by greed and power become more corrupt over time in their continuous quest for more wealth or power. They get to point where they literally can’t understand the wrong they are doing in the quest to fulfill their need for wealth and power.

Study after study shows that the poor give way more to charity than the rich. In fact, the richer you are, the less you give. Trump set up a foundation that only ever gave other people’s money to Trump. He actually spent $20,000 of money earmarked for charitable purposes to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself.  How’s that for the perfect example?

Tom Price is another great example. Already a Congressman, he feels the need to do insider trading to make more money through corrupting legislation that’s supposed to benefit the American people. Apparently Tom works for Tom, and his Georgia state constituents were just an afterthought, or a cover.

Remember Enron? Kenneth Lay was known as “Kenny boy” to President Geo. Bush, because he was the single largest contributor to Bush for many years. Kenneth Lay’s energy company, Enron, created false energy shortages, to drive up prices, which then cities and states were forced to pay. The executives and shareholders at Enron were already well off, energy was already costly. Why’d they do it? They didn’t need the money or… no pun intended … power.

Still not convinced? Look back at 2007, when for years Congress had chipped away at the 1933 protective regulations in the banking and investment industry, saying we don’t need them. Low-income borrowers were set up to take home loans they couldn’t afford — by the banks. Those borrowers lost their homes but the mortgage brokers and bank executives got bonuses and banks made billions.

Want a smaller scale, personal example? I know a moderately rich guy. He’s a super nice person who loves his family, works very hard, and votes GOP. One day, while I was talking with some friends about the drought in California and ways to conserve water, he walked up to us with a big smile and said,

“Oh, we’re conserving water at the club [his golf club, with a $100K per year membership fee]. We paid $30,000 to drill down in to an aquifer so we have all the water we need for free and we aren’t using the water supplied by the city, so the city has saved water.”

This kind, intelligent man truly thought by drilling into a 10 million year old aquifer, an aquifer that belongs to all the people of California, and using that water to to keep golf greens, green so that only rich members of this private club could swat a ball around, was helping conserve water and doing California a favor.

Just like some people can’t stop drinking, some people can’t stop trying to get more money or more power. The very things that drive people to desire wealth and power don’t go away when they get some.  And just like a drunk’s thinking is warped by his addiction, so too is the thinking of a person consumed by greed and power.

Here’s a good example warped thinking. Trump in October put on an FEC filing that his New York golf course was worth $50 million. He was sent a property tax bill in January based on the property being worth only $15 million. A substantially reduced tax bill. You’d think that was a great deal right? Nope, Trump right away sued the county saying his property was only worth $1.5 million and that’s all he should be taxed on.

Even though he got a discount price, it wasn’t enough. Even though he should have been happy, he (as president) started a lawsuit to try to exert his power and drive the tax bill down. That’s bad citizenship, bad business-government relations, and just psychologically nutso.

Trump is a drunk, and his drink of choice is money with a straight up shot of power. There will never be enough of either and he has no problem working hand in glove with Putin, or anyone else, if it feeds his addiction. Trump doesn’t see Russia’s requests as bad or wrong. He only sees he wants to be president, and if Russia can help him in return for some “minor” stuff that’s okay.

Handing the State Dept to “friend of Russia” Rex Tillerson to dismantle because that’s what Russia wants, minor stuff to Trump. Removing censure of Russian activity in Ukraine from the GOP platform, sure minor stuff. Keeping quite as Russia goes about murdering Democracy advocates in the streets, minor stuff.

Of course, the problem with drunks is that they’re really just painfully slow suicides. If watching the antics of Trump’s administration reminds you of a painfully slow political suicide, that’s because it is.  And that’s an appropriately Russian way to end the story.

 

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