Got a new book, Secret Empires by Peter Schweizer. Read it in two days, and I’m not a fast reader. Don’t be impressed though- I’m in prison and you’re not (that is, if you are reading this online).
The book just came out and is the latest product to roll off the Schweizer assembly line, of the Government Accountability Institute. The GAI is a think-tank/information factory dedicated to exposing crony capitalism, the misuse of taxpayer monies, and gov’t corruption and malfeasance. His last book (i.e. their last product) was Clinton Cash, which became a NYT bestseller. This likely will too.
I was eager to get this book because when I read that it was coming out, I learned that Sen. Mitch McConnell was one of the corruptocrats featured in it. I wanted to lay to rest a prison myth I’ve heard many times since coming here, that McConnell is the prisoners’ worst enemy, because he makes tons of money off supplying goods and services to prisons, and doesn’t want to kill off his golden goose. Unfortunately, that question is never addressed in this book- only how his fortune is enriched by his contacts in China, thru his wife, Elaine Chao, whose family are Chinese shipping tycoons, and hence also very much a part of the Chinese gov’t. Let the myth persist until another time. (If you know of good info relevant to this, please email.)
The book is well laid-out and well-argued. (I like the new habit of some books that state, on the first page of each chapter, the conclusions it intends to prove. See, for ex., By The People, by Charles Murray.) It tracks the vast amounts of money made by influence-peddling on the part of Joe Biden’s son (Hunter Biden) and John Kerry’s step-son (Christopher Heinz); the McConnell’s; the children & wives of various congressmen and senators; the Daley’s of Chicago (Richard J., Richard M. [son], Bill [brother], etc); Marty Nesbitt (Obama’s best friend); Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and others.
To boil down ‘corruption’ is to distill it to its basics- which is essentially old-fashioned bribery. This ‘new’ corruption is much more complex, however, than, say, Congressman William Jefferson’s (LA-Dem) $90K cash-in-freezer, in the sense that these crimes sidestep existing bribery laws. The amounts of money involved are also many times greater that the $10-50K “handshakes” of old.
One great strength of the book is that doesn’t lay these crimes at the feet of one party. Schweizer, though a conservative himself, does a pretty good job of being an equal-opportunity exposer of fraud. He does go after Jared & Ivanka, and questions whether Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” hasn’t already been shown to be a classic ‘bait & switch’ scam. On the other hand, his chapter entitled “A Real Estate Mogul Goes to Washington” cleverly suggests it to be about Trump, but actually shows that all the allegations made about Trump’s finances being questionably a conflict of interest were seldom made, if at all, about Obama’s Sec. of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. She is the heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, an Obama sugar mama, and according to the interweb, has a few less than savory ties to the Chicago mob.
Schweitzer suggests Trump could learn a great deal about not creating conflicts of interest by studying the bad examples practiced by Pritzker, seemingly with the blessings of Obama.
A great value of the book is the revealing of a powerful technique for amassing a corrupt fortune thru political means, apparently now perfected by Washington D.C. It’s a version of insider trading Schweizer calls “Smash & Grab”; wherein family and confidants of politicians are made privy to imminent regulations that will devalue an industry so as to make extremely vulnerable corporations ripe to takeover.
Fortunes can either be made by participating in the takeover, or by accepting offers of a lucrative position on the new owners’ board of directors, made available to those well-connected to a politician who can help or hinder the company by regulation. The examples given in the book are Obama’s “best friend”, Marty Nesbitt, and some of Obama’s financial backers- Tom Steyer and George Soros.
The book’s conclusions are:
1) American political corruption today is more lucrative and complex than ever before.
2) It’s increasingly hard to prevent holders of public office from personal empire building.
3) The mindset that this is just how the world works is prevalent.
4) Current ethics laws have created a zero-accountability zone for Washington D.C. politics.
5) IF WE WISH TO REMAIN A VIABLE CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, WE MUST FACE AND WIN THE WAR ON CORRUPTION AT HOME.
So, what do I think this has to do with my plight?
On a surface level, it pisses me off that the gov’t spends many millions to go after ‘piss-ant’ criminals, but not many (hardly any) on these mega-criminals, most of which are traitors to the country on many levels.
I well remember the many conversations with friends and family at the time of my trial about the unfairness of being smashed by the gov’t at a time when various felonious figures in the gov’t were seemingly untouchable. (ex. Lois Lerner)
On another level, to the extent that this exists, it seems less likely that anyone in the governing class can obtain the traction needed to fix the putrid corruption that is dominant at the DOJ.
But on the other hand, how else would my grandkids grow up thoroughly educated to the true nature of our Republic, than that they got the firsthand experience of seeing their grandpa deal with it?