Tag Archives: corruption

Corruption, Mr. President? That really concerns you?

Donald J. Trump’s proclaimed interest in rooting out government corruption around the world rings about as hollow as anything the president has declared since he entered the political world.

Trump has asserted that corruption in Ukraine was at the root of his concern over former Vice President Joe Biden’s business concerns and those of his son, Hunter. It was corruption that prompted the president to ask the Ukrainian president for help in investigating the Bidens before he would release money for weapons that Congress had appropriated for use by Ukraine in its struggle against Russia-backed rebel forces.

Oh … really?

Let’s take a quick look at some indisputable facts.

  • Russia is among the most corrupt nations on Earth. Strongman Vladimir Putin orders the killing of those who oppose him. He runs the nation with an iron fist. Organized crime has run rampant ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Where is Donald Trump’s outrage there? Once again, why hasn’t the president condemned the Russians for their blatant and malicious attack on our electoral system in 2016 and their effort to do the same thing, or maybe worse, in 2020?
  •  Turkey also is corrupt. It also is run by a strongman. It has slaughtered Kurds along its border with Syria and Iraq; and the Kurds have been allied with the United States in the never-ending struggle to put down the Islamic State.
  •  North Korea is the world’s pariah state. It is a chief sponsor of international terrorism. Kim Jong Un orders the murder of opponents. His government allows mass starvation of North Koreans. Has the U.S. president ever tied his “love affair” with Kim Jong Un with demands to bolster human rights?

All of this just touches the outlines of corruption in governments on every continent on Earth. Why has the president remained silent on the issue … until now?

It’s more than just a wild coincidence, it seems to me, that Donald Trump’s interest in “Ukrainian corruption” just happens to involve business dealings concerning a potential political rival; that would be Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Donald Trump is no more interested in curbing corruption than he is in apologizing for defaming his fellow Americans.

He is a disgrace.

Now it’s Zinke who’s gone from Trump orbit

They’re leaving seemingly in droves. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is departing from the Trump administration at the end of the year, which is about two weeks from now.

That means to me that he was canned. Booted. Pushed out the door by the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Indeed, the president’s milquetoast announcement this weekend thanking Zinke for his service to the nation suggests that the interior boss’s ethical troubles have, um, made him expendable.

As if that was the worst of Donald Trump’s troubles.

Zinke has been under a cloud since he took office in early 2017. There have been allegations of ethical abuses involving expenditure of public money. Now he’s gone. The president says he will find a new Interior secretary in a few days.

So, if you’re keeping score, we have seen the departure of: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was fired; FBI director James Comey, who was fired; Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was asked to resign; EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who also was asked to resign; press secretary Sean Spicer, who was fired; numerous communications directors; senior policy adviser Steve Bannon, who was fired; two White House chiefs of staff, both of whom were fired; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired. And all of this happened before the first half of Donald Trump’s term as president.

Do I have ’em all? Probably not. You get the point. The White House is a chaotic blend of incompetence and corruption.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Donald Trump’s own difficulties, which are mounting by the hour.

This is not how you make America “great again.”

A more relevant question regarding Hastert

A blog that I follow, Bell Book Candle, has offered an interesting question regarding the growing scandal involving former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Hastert has been indicted on felony accusations involving sexual abuse of a student back when Hastert was a wrestling coach at an Illinois high school.

The media need to focus not on the sex, but on the money. According to the blog:

“The media will focus on Dennis Hastert’s past indiscretions if they are of a sexual nature. However, the real question that they should be asking is how a relatively obscure public servant can afford to pay $3,500,000 to buy the silence of one person. Our politics and our politicians are being corrupted by the huge amounts of cash available to them. We must rid our democracy of the ability of some to buy favoritism for themselves, be they corporations or be they the 1%.”

The media won’t trouble themselves quite so much with the money part of this matter.

As the saying goes: Sex sells.

However, money does have a corrupting influence at many levels involving those who make public policy.

This is one of the stranger stories I’ve heard in many years.

A big part of me hopes that it doesn’t pan out. A bigger part, though, fears that it will.

 

Yep, Sen. Menendez ought to quit

The curious world of politics at times deprives politicians of the presumption of innocence granted to “ordinary citizens.”

Such is the case with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who’s been indicted on a host of corruption charges.

He ought to quit the Senate and pursue his defense as a private citizen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/opinion/step-down-senator-robert-menendez.html?_r=0

A federal grand jury indicted Menendez on felony counts relating to his close relationship with an eye doctor, Soloman Melgen, who flew Menendez to the Dominican Republic on his private jet — trips that Menendez failed to disclose to congressional ethics officials.

There’s a lot of other allegations involving favors exchanged between the men. The amazing detail of the indictment suggests there’s considerable fire under all that smoke.

Is the senator guilty? I have no clue.

This much is clear: His service in the U.S. Senate will be clouded forever by this indictment. How in the world can this man conduct the public’s business when he is defending himself against a federal indictment?

Why does this matter to anyone outside of his home state? Well, he’s a federal official himself and he votes on laws that affect all Americans, even those of us out here in Flyover Country.

As the New York Time editorialized in calling for his resignation: “Mr. Menendez is evidently not in a hurry to get to the stage of contrition, having warned on Wednesday that he’s ‘not going anywhere.’ He would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician. His colleagues in the Senate should demand that he step aside.”

Politics can be a dirty business. It doesn’t allow for the normal presumptions of innocence granted to non-politicians. That’s the way it is.

 

Menendez indictment seems oddly 'normal'

My proverbial trick knee is throbbing again.

It’s sending me a grim message that the federal indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey on corruption charges signals a hunt for others who are might be involved in the same kind of cozy relationships alleged in the 68-page indictment against the Democratic lawmaker.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/robert-menendez-indicted-116581.html?hp=r1_3

You hear about these kinds of things occasionally involving senators and House members. They do favors for pals, develop relationships that raise a lot of questions — not to mention eyebrows.

Is Menendez alone in this? That trick knee of mine tells me “No. Not by a long shot.”

Menendez is the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’s stepping down from his leadership positions in the Senate until this matter gets resolved.

Also indicted is Dr. Solomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and longtime friend of Menendez. The indictment goes into great deal about the emails exchanged over several years between the men, suggesting alleged criminal activity, deal-making and favors.

It’s pretty salacious stuff.

I’m wondering this morning if all this will lead investigators down a lot of other paths, toward the doorsteps of other members of Congress.