• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

From childhood we learn that you can know somebody by his or her company. Our present president, Donald Trump, values loyalty.  He favors people who like what he likes and who think like him.  For his closest helpers, he has chosen people who have appeared devoted (or related) to him and who have endorsed goals he has championed. Many, however, have landed in jail and more may be on the way to the same destination, including even the man for whom they were backers or fixers.

Now in the third year of the Trump presidency, we can tote up some of the results.  Many of Trump’s cabinet picks have been accused of serious ethical breaches such as using government planes for private entertainment ventures.  It now appears that the current EPA administrator, then lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, consulted secretly with then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017 on omitting areas rich in coal and uranium (plus sacred Native American sites and unique dinosaur fossils) from the redrawn borders of two national monuments in Utah.

Whether those whom Trump gave major jobs were actually competent for their assigned task seems to have been irrelevant.  The only apparent rationale for choosing a  brain surgeon to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development was that he had lived in one or more homes. As HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson has done little except to sign off on some expensive office furniture allegedly ordered by his wife. On the other hand, some appointees do know their assigned domain, if only from the perspective of an industrial owner or lobbyist.  The ex-governor of carbon-rich Texas, Rick Perry, was notorious for vowing to demolish the Department of Energy even before Trump asked him to head it.

But here is the crux:  the Special Counsel’s probe has indicted six individuals associated with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy chairman Rick Gates; also, some twenty-six Russians whose hacking and social media campaigns probably hurt Hillary Clinton and helped Trump to win the electoral college. The president’s daughter and son-in-law may also be charged with criminal abuses of power. Trump’s personal lawyer and long-time fixer says that just before the election, acting on Trump’s instruction, he paid two women to be quiet about their intercourse with The Donald. Using the language of a Mafia don, Trump denounced Michael Cohen for being a “rat.”

The man has an almost unerring faculty for bad judgment. His first choice for National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, let go early in 2017,  has just finished working in March 2019 with Justice Department investigators looking into Russian electoral interference, and will soon be sentenced for lying to the FBI and other offenses. Meanwhile, the president says that all seventeen U.S. government intelligence agencies are wrong about Russia, North Korea, and China.

We do not know yet if Russian agencies have blackmail or other leverage over the current U.S. president. But Trump’s frequent apologias for Kremlin actions and his secrecy about one-on-one meetings with Putin suggest he owes something to Moscow.   Besides,  the U.S. and Russian presidents seem to like at least two of the same tough guys, Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte, though they part ways on Nicolás Maduro and Bashar al-Assad.

Where there is this much smoke, there is surely fire.  The fire comes from the president himself.  Apart from possible conspiracies with Russia, still being examined, there is considerable evidence that Trump has broken campaign finance laws; bribed possible accusers; obstructed justice; and violated the emoluments clause of the constitution.  The president’s practice of spouting false or misleading  information several times a day is surely unethical if not criminal.  In the next two years or soon thereafter, Trump too will probably face justice over his actions. He and his birds of a feather may not stick together,  but they may soon sing a jangling cacophony of recitatives.

More articles by:

Walter Clemens is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University and Associate, Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He wrote Complexity Science and World Affairs (SUNY Press, 2013).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail