It’s Not Just our Corrupt President

I agree with Sarah Chayes, former NPR foreign correspondent, adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and currently a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, who wrote this morning that our entire influence-peddling, revolving-door system of governance needs a thorough housecleaning. Having visited Ukraine last month, I’ve had a lot of smug fun showing you pictures like the two below and those in this previous post. They show the excess and corruption Ukrainians tried to upend by ousting President Viktor Yanukovich in 2014. President Yanukovich lived in this place on a salary of around a thousand dollars a month.

Yanukovych’s fleeing to the protection of Russia was a victory for everyday Ukrainian people who forced him out, no question. But it is not to the honor of the United States that as soon as Yanukovych was safe in Vladimir Putin’s arms the American Vice President’s son came ’round, and as Chayes put it in her article headlined No Excuses for Hunter Biden,

“He had no prior experience in the gas industry, nor with Ukrainian regulatory affairs…. He did have one priceless qualification: his unique position as the son of the vice president of the United States, newborn Ukraine’s most crucial ally. Weeks before Biden came on, Ukraine’s government had collapsed amid a popular revolution, giving its gas a newly strategic importance as an alternative to Russia’s, housed in a potentially democratic country. Hunter’s father was comfortably into his second term as vice president—and was a prospective future president himself.”

Despite any apparent qualifications beyond bloodline, Biden-the-younger was named a director of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas producer.

Most of us, all but President Trump’s 30-something percent hardcore supporters, can agree that this president has to go. To my fellow Trump opponents who advocate electing Joe Biden to “get back to normal,” I suggest that the status quo ante won’t do, either.

So now for more of the self-satisfied display of corruption and greed, Ukrainian-style:

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s home from the rear. The balcony leading from the President’s bedroom, top right, afforded him a lovely private view of the Dnieper River. The corresponding balcony, on the left, opened from his girlfriend’s bedroom.

The view from the front of the former president’s home.

Eyes on Istanbul’s Rerun Election Today

And may the real winner win. Live news in English at TRT News, although be aware that it is a state broadcaster run by the Turkish government.

Update from the Financial Times:

Mr Imamoglu (the opposition candidate) increased his lead in the city of 10.5m voters from less than 14,000 votes in the initial vote to more than 700,000. Those figures were based on almost 98 per cent of ballot boxes, Anadolu said.

385 more photos from all over Turkey here at EarthPhotos.com.

Quotes: On Patience, and Resilience

“it is sometimes tiring to try to get the Vietnamese to do something which is, after all, for their own good (or so we think . . .). On the other hand, when I step back just a little to look at everything, it seems to me that the Vietnamese have taken our overbearing presence rather well over the last few years. We arrive here with no knowledge of the country or of the situation and immediately start giving advice, some of which we can really turn almost into orders because of the materials and money and transportation that we fully control. I think that no American would stand for such a deep and continuing interference in our affairs, even if it appeared that survival was at stake. Yet the Vietnamese accept it, and with rather good grace.”

– Richard Holbrooke as a young foreign service officer in Vietnam, quoted by George Packer in The Longest Wars in Foreign Affairs magazine.

“This part of the city belonged to the Westerners, and the Vietnamese here were in the business of making money off them—either by feeding them in the restaurants, selling them the items from the rickety stands, driving them about the city in the rusted cyclos, having sex with them, spying on them, or some combination of the above.”

– on Saigon, 1965 from Tatjana Soli in The Lotus Eaters

Quotes: Missed April Fools Day by a Day

Sunset through the haze over Dubai Creek, United Arab Emirates.

As everyone knows, oranges is another word for beginnings.

“I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges, the oranges of the investigation, the beginnings of that investigation.”

– our American president on the Mueller report, speaking to the press on 2 April, 2019.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m being unkind, hypercritical. He really said origins and just slurred it or something.

You can watch it here.

It came during remarks with the Secretary General of NATO, the defense collective the United States set up after the second world war, of which President Trump, a hotel owner accused of profiting from the presidency, is the de facto leader.

It came on the same day as an article at ForeignPolicy.com titled The American Empire Is the Sick Man of the 21st Century: Failure at the center has left the United States up for sale to the highest bidder.

The article gently points out that in one of the president’s hotels,

“located directly between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, … a Saudi-funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms in the month after the 2016 election.”

Update: On reflection, after all, the president is a go-to guy on orange.