Friday, February 23, 2018

Trumpot Dome?

The uniquely appalling vision of a "low information" President installed in the highest Executive office in the United States, lying and raging on his cellphone whilst sitting on the toilet in the early hours of the morning is difficult to ignore. But it's worthwhile to recall that, at least in the political sense, the damage that the administration of His Fraudulency is doing has little or nothing to do with Trump himself.

As previously noted on this site, the GOP of 2018 exists to pimp for plutocracy, construct a new Gilded Age where their domestic oligarchs can imitate the sort of open Putinesque kleptocracy so admired amongst the Federalist set, and punch down at the lib'ruls, hippies, poors, and dusky Others.

One aspect of the Fraudulency Administration that is not often dissected, however, is the Return of the Harding Ethos of "public service"; the brutally open graft and hoovering-up of public largesse not seen since the Roaring Twenties. From the simple and crude quid-pro-quo of holding government functions at Trump's properties to the sort of brutal griftopia of the Whitefish Energy and Tribune Contracting scams run through as Puerto Rican "disaster assistance" and the multiple Trump appointees mulcting the public trough in ways ranging from upgraded commercial flights to ridiculous "security" expenses, the current administration is marching boldly back to the future of "honest graft".
And why is this a subject for a military-geopolitical blog?

Because the Department of Defense is, as Willie Sutton said, "where the money is".

I don't think that anyone here will question the bald statement that there is corruption in the U.S. military procurement process.

Perhaps not the sort of open, hand-out-palm-up sort of corruption on display at Mar-a-lago. But the "military-industrial-congressional-complex" has been a one-hand-washes-the-other since "defense" became big business back in the 1940s. Defense contractors schmooze legislators and Pentagon program managers. Ex-officers and ex-congresspeople slide effortlessly into corporate offices at Boeing, Raytheon, FLIR Systems, Lockheed-Martin, and so on.

Nobody has to do anything so crude as slip a Franklin into some Congressman's pocket. Ensuring that some F-35 sub-sub-contractor is located in his district, cranking out jobs and tax revenue, is often more than enough.

That's...well, let's call it the "usual corruption", red-white-and-blue corruption, the sort of thing that a big, rich, imperial power can tolerate and still survive, and even prosper.

My concern is, rather, that the incredible degree to which Trump, the Trumpenspawn, and his Trumpenproletariat have normalized open, hand-out-palm-up corruption will cause it to slowly, but inevitably, begin to seep into the U.S. military bureaucracy.

Seven years ago, when the arc of the GOP's New Gilded Age Project had become apparent, I wrote a piece over at my personal blog about the blatant corruption I saw in Panama. One of the most visible problems in the armed forces of the various parts of the Third World I saw when I was on active duty was this issue of vicious, endemic corruption that ran from the lowest private up to the big building in the capital that housed the Ministry of Defense or whatever it was called.

Aside from the innate foolishness of trying to Hustle the East, one of the biggest problems with the endless Wars on The Middle East we've fussed with since 2001 has been the ridiculously corrupt armies of our supposed "allies" in Afghanistan and Iraq. Everything from military funding that simply disappears to company officers padding their alpha roster with "ghost soldiers", imaginary people whose paychecks go into the commanders' pockets.

We've never seen that sort of thing. Not in my army.


We haven't swum in the sort of sea of corruption that the Trumpkins swim in, not since my grandmother was a young woman, which is to say that none of us have the slightest experience with how to deal with this kind of venality, or know what will happen if the U.S. government and armed forces are allowed to steep in it for another three to seven years.

I'd like to think that my Army is too honest to become the Panama Defense Force.

But I thought my Army wouldn't torture helpless prisoners, or lie about checkpoint shootings, either. I never thought I'd see my Army march witlessly off into a wilderness of mirrors, wasting blood and treasure in pointless cabinet wars without so much as a whisper of protest. It's like we learned nothing from the wasted years and wasted lives of Vietnam.

What I fear is that the corruption and delusion at the heart of the "wars on terror" have set up the U.S. military to become as physically corrupt as they have made us geopolitically and strategically corrupt.

And what I dread is what I've said before about the rest of the prospect awaiting those of us not in the New Gilded Age; we're going to places that none of us understand, that no American has seen for almost a century. And that what we know of those places is that, well, for most of us, they weren't much fun at all.


  1. Well, the old Army might not have, but the Navy dealt with Fat Leonard for years. You can't hang that on Trump.

    1. Like I said in the post; there's been corruption in the armed services, hell, going back to the "club scandals" of the Vietnam years. It's not like the services needed Trump to come up with sleazy fiddles.

      But. There's a difference between one-off sleaze and a culture soaked in it; it's the difference between Spain and Somalia, between the USN and the Iraqi Army.

      One of the underappreciated things about this administration is how utterly, openly corrupt it is. It's a massive fuck-you to the Emoluments Clause. I talk about a New Gilded Age, but the Trumpkins are taking us back to a degree of corruption we haven't seen since Grant. I have no idea whether that sinks in to DoD or what happens if it does. But, given the huge pile of cash on offer there it seems like an irresistible magnet to the sort of grifters like the Trumps and their remoras...

    2. On further consideration, I'd push the corruption back even further. Very little has been written about the sort of black-marketeering rackets that went on in the Allied rear areas in WW2, but there appears to have been some degree of criminal activity that flourished in both Italy and northern Europe. It makes sense, when you think that you had this immense service-and-supply organization dropped into countries that had been ruined by war. On the one hand you had desperate civilians, starving and needing everything from gasoline to clothing, on the other, Allied troopers in the supply organizations that had this immense stockpile of largesse that could be skimmed almost without so much as a ripple. Is it hard to believe that some of those tires, that fuel, food, and clothing disappeared into the underworld in Paris or Naples?

      Mind you, I think that this was a one-off; the combination of people, organizations, and circumstances was unlikely to be repeated.

    3. The rushed armament effort in 1917/1918 was infamous for its wastefulness and corruption.

    4. And let's not EVEN talk about the Spanish-American War...

  2. Chief, bout this, I'll dig into my past because...thank god, that's where all this shit occurred.

    College, end of the year, coming graduation, and lots of "what you gonna do?" questions flying around.

    Me, biotech-pharma...but one guy...and he got a bio-degree as well, said, "government."

    Now, I'm thinking elected?

    "No," he smiled, "My goal is to get on a Senator's team, and then it's fat city from there on."

    Fat city?

    "Dude," And he was dead serious," there is millions to be had in government."


    "Millions of dollars." He was quite serious, "I get on an elected official's staff, learn the ropes, move around amongst the various staffs till I get into lobbying, and then it's money, money, money."

    I don't know if he ever made it, or did it...but...that was his goal.


    Making money in government.

    And I think, based on the type of people in government, who are running the country, who are making the decisions on financials that the "making money for myself" is the primary objective.

    And if we take in consideration why the Republicans seem to be fumbling around, fucking everything up that they touch can be attributed to one.salient.point:

    They're more interested in lining their pockets than they are in governing.