Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary (CONt., Part 2)

"Two new investigative reports out today vividly describe in fresh detail the scope and scale of President Trump’s business conflicts of interests, and the damage they are inflicting on our political system.

The reports, taken together, raise the question: Can our system handle the unprecedented conflicts and self-dealing that this president is engaged in?

The two investigative reports, one from USA Today and the other from the government watchdog group Public Citizen, together show how Trump’s refusal to divest himself from his global business holdings has created a new ecosystem, outside the view of the public and the oversight capabilities of other branches of government. In the new Trump ecosystem, the world’s wealthiest people and corporations can buy direct access to the president, simultaneously lining his pockets while achieving their own personal or policy goals. . .

The USA Today report shows how Trump, despite his claims that he would “drain the swamp” of lobbyists, has simply given wealthy people direct access to him. All they have to do is pay the hefty membership fees at one of his private golf clubs. Initiation fees can exceed $100,000, and members pay annual dues on top of that. . .

Meanwhile, the Public Citizen report, aptly titled 'President Trump, Inc.,' is even more shocking, if that’s possible. It details how Trump’s promise before assuming office to transfer control of his business empire to his sons 'merely amounted to reshuffling his businesses holdings, with himself remaining the ultimate beneficiary.' Under this 'meaningless shell game,' Public Citizen notes, 'each of the entities to which Trump transferred his assets ended up under the control of a revocable trust that operates for the benefit of Trump.' As a result, Trump is open to being paid, influenced, and, as the report warns, even 'leveraged' by an adversary — suggesting that some might try buying access to influence the president’s actions, while others might use information about his business liabilities against him, possibly making him vulnerable to a different sort of manipulation. . .

In the old days, meaning as recently as a year ago, rich people and corporations looking to influence government would donate to political campaigns and Super PACs. Trump has made all of that superfluous to influencing his presidency, with the added bonus (for him) that the payments increase his personal wealth. . .

But the GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to act to rein in Trump’s ethical transgressions when it comes to his self-dealing. With no accountability, Trump will continue to rewrite the rules, opening the door for a future of of new abuses — perhaps some that, just as in the pre-Trump era, we cannot even imagine now."

Read the Washington Post, What if our system can’t handle Trump’s out-of-control self-dealing?

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary, and

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary (CONt.).

Trump's Big CON: His 'Successful' Business Experience Will Make Him a Great Government Leader, CONt.

UPDATE:  "Every month, the Trump administration proves that public-sector experience is necessary for a functioning government. Private-sector experience is a poor substitute."

Read the Washington Post, The best and the brightest in the Trump administration … and everyone else, which sarcastically asks:

"Who could have guessed that past experience in government would be a plus for governing?"

"Trump certainly exploited the notion that one doesn’t need expertise to serve in the West Wing — or any part of government. The experts were 'stupid' and didn’t know how to make deals, according to him. Businessmen can show how to run things! Wrong. It turns out that knowing something about policy, understanding how Congress and the bureaucracy operate, maintaining one’s credibility and respecting the constitutional guardrails that make certain our president is not a monarch are essential to success. . .

It turns out — who knew? — that when the president has no idea what he’s doing and his senior advisers don’t either, the president cannot get his agenda through, ricochets from one scandal to another and winds up with historically low approval ratings. . .

Business is business, and government is government. Sometimes public servants go on to illustrious careers in the private sector, but rarely does someone with no government experience nor subject expertise come in at the highest level of government and succeed. The government depends on experienced, knowledgeable and sober-minded public servants. We truly hope the rule of the amateurs and know-nothings is brief, and that the few experienced hands that remain (mostly military or ex-military men) hold things together until a fit president and an administration of qualified and competent people can be found."

Read the Washington Post, What happens when know-nothings and amateurs hold power.

Read also Trump's Big CON: His 'Successful' Business Experience Will Make Him a Great Government Leader.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Qu'ils Mangent de la Brioche Edition (AKA The Trump Populism CON)

UPDATE IV:  "The embarrassments of the Mnuchins are of the sort everyone can get: A former movie and hedge fund mogul said to be worth $300 million, responsible for the safekeeping of the taxpayer’s dollar, tries to procure a taxpayer-funded jet on a honeymoon with his expensively wardrobed, bejeweled former actress wife. . .

Mnuchin is indeed a man of great fortune. But he has the misfortune, under the circumstances, of having a name that rhymes, or rhymes close enough, with 'mooching.'

This was not lost on Twitter Wednesday night

Behold: 'The moochin’ Mnuchins.'"

Read the Washington Post, ‘The moochin’ Mnuchins’: Treasury secretary again is fodder for rich humor.

UPDATE III:  "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested a military jet to fly him and his wife, Louise Linton, to their European honeymoon this summer, raising questions again about the wealthy couple's use of government aircraft. . .

An Air Force spokesman told ABC News, which first reported the story, that the jet would cost $25,000 an hour to operate, though it is unclear if that included costs like maintenance and fuel. . .

Last month, Mnuchin and Linton took a government aircraft to Kentucky on a trip that involved viewing the solar eclipse, drawing wide condemnation and accusations that the former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood producer was using public funds for potentially voluntary travel as Trump seeks to rein in government waste.

The Kentucky trip ended within miles of the path of totality, the narrow band across the United States where the moon totally blotted out the sun during the solar eclipse. Mnuchin viewed it from one of the most restricted sites in the world: Fort Knox. . .

Linton, an actress, drew intense scrutiny after she posted an Instagram glamour shot of herself deplaning and tagged a host of high-end designers such as Hermes and Valentino in the photo, then called a critic who was offended at the idea of publicly funded travel 'adorably out of touch.'"

Read the Washington Post, Mnuchin eclipses earlier backlash with pricey request: European honeymoon by military jet.

UPDATE II:  "In a single Instagram post, Linton managed to tap into elitism, narcissism, self-righteousness, incivility, apathy and blonde privilege — all wrapped up in a designer package. Linton was so pleased with how chic she looked deplaning that she wanted to share that image on social media. The whole running-the-country thing was straight out of central casting. The couple looked the part. But even the best actors will tell you that beautiful costumes can’t compensate for a lousy narrative."

Read the Washington Post, Louise Linton just spelled out her value system for you common folk.

UPDATE:  "Before Louise Linton’s bizarre Instagram exchange Monday and before her lavish June wedding to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the wealthy Scottish actress wrote a memoir about her gap year in Zambia in the late 1990s.

The book, self-published last year, was condemned by the Zambian government, scorched by critics as a 'white savior' fantasy and ultimately removed from sales, according to the Telegraph and the Scotsman. . .

The memoir, it turns out, was also littered with inaccuracies, as Zambians pointed out on social media.

The Zambian High Commission in London denounced Linton and her 'falsified' memoir for depicting the country as 'savage.' It accused Linton of 'tarnishing the image of a very friendly and peaceful country.'"

Read the Washington Post, Treasury secretary’s wife stirred controversy before, with memoir of her ‘living nightmare’ in Africa.

"'Let them eat cake' is the traditional translation of the French phrase 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche', supposedly spoken by 'a great princess' upon learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was a luxury bread enriched with butter and eggs, the quote would reflect the princess's disregard for the peasants, or her poor understanding of their situation. . .

The quotation, as attributed to Marie Antoinette, was claimed to have been uttered during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband, Louis XVI. Upon being alerted that the people were suffering due to widespread bread shortages, the Queen is said to have replied, 'Then let them eat brioche.' Although this anecdote was never cited by opponents of the monarchy at the time of the French Revolution, it did acquire great symbolic importance in subsequent histories when pro-revolutionary historians sought to demonstrate the obliviousness and selfishness of the French upper classes at that time."

Today, our "elites" have social media where they can boast of their wealth, and mock the common people.

And so it was that "U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later. . .

When someone posted a comment on Linton's Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, the treasury secretary's wife swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control.

'Did you think this was a personal trip?!' Linton wrote on her Instagram page, responding to the person who had written 'glad we could pay for your little getaway.' . .

Linton continued in her response to the critic: 'Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.'"

Read the Washington Post, Treasury secretary’s wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts Hermes and Valentino fashion.