NOT HOW BUT WHO

Generally, US presidents don’t begin making real money until AFTER their term(s) have expired.   (Many other leaders of distant lands cash in from the moment of inauguration.)   The most recent American example being Bill (and Hillary) Clinton, with speaking engagements, memoirs, conference appearances, and their Foundations or libraries.

In this extraordinary year, 2016, that generality no longer holds true.

This didn’t hit us until yesterday afternoon, as we sat overlooking “the back forty,” iced tea at hand.

Why, we wondered, was Donald Trump so “tetchy” about Russia, the Crimea, and Ukraine?

The answer came to us slowly, we regret. But we think we’ve got it.   It comes to us not from the horse’s mouth but from his offspring, a foal named Junior.

Donald Trump, Junior, has not been shy in discussing how Trump Enterprises profits from its business with the former Soviet Union.   He told The Washington Post that a great deal of development money for Trump enterprises and buildings comes from Russia.   Donald Trump himself has been lobbying for years to build another pyramid in Moscow on which his name would be etched.   This is called slipping around sanctions, sliding through legislative holes.   In fact, what this most reminds us of is Osama Bin Laden, whose family over the years became the number one builder in the Middle East, regardless of whether it was servicing Arabs, Muslims, or even Jews.

Which brings to mind an old bromide but one that seems to hold true regardless of nationality:  them that has, gets.

Put another way, it’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference.

Mr. Trump is probably right: he does not have a “relationship” with Vladimir Putin.  Nor does he really want one.  The less he knows about what Junior is doing, the better off he becomes.   (This is called ”plausible deniability”.)   The sidebar to this has to do with his campaign “manager,” Paul Manafort, whose shoulder has been put to the wheel in assisting Ukrainians in their dealings with the Russians.

This is guesswork, we rush to say.   Whatever the ties that bind these two would-be giants are undoubtedly so convolutedly entangled and hidden very few but the most determined and sleuthy economist could ever decode them.

Ordinarily, most folks would say “Who cares? It doesn’t hurt us.”

And that’s probably true.

Probably.   But aren’t we beginning to sense a rising odor of cronyism from the oil-rich waters of the Black Sea and its attached waterways?  Could this be the reason that the Trump delegation on the Republican platform committee lobbied to erase language dealing with sanctions, Ukraine, and trade?  And won?

(Since we’re a one-man shop, we delegate this Pulitzer idea to whomever has the time and money to follow all this up.)

Here’s the question: is Donald Trump preparing to line his pockets BEFORE he becomes president, perhaps to the disadvantage of his country?   It certainly seems clear that like a shark, the Donald has to keep moving.  New loot may soften the blow of closing the latest Trump casino in Atlantic City.  We doubt he’s worked up about having to fire 3,000 workers.

Are Putin, Manafort, and the Trumps preparing an end run around what the US Congress has enacted?

More speculation.   If Trump actually wins the election, is he open for impeachment immediately?

Face it: he’s toiling AND he’s spinning.

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