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.

Emergency?

There is a debate this afternoon about whether the president’s speech tonight should be aired by the broadcast networks (the cable channels will carry it). I believe there is a more important topic for discussion. If the president uses the speech tonight to declare a state of emergency, go and immediately read this.

Quotes: The American President on Pollution

“You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including many other places, the air is incredibly dirty, and when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific. It flows and we say, ‘Where does this come from?’ And it takes many people, to start off with.”

From an interview with Donald Trump in The Washington Post.

Shock and Awe

President Trump called the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership the worst arrangement ever concocted by mankind anywhere, pretty much. In his words, it would have been “a continuing rape of our country.”

He similarly criticized NAFTA, savaged Mexico and Canada and tore at the United States’ relationship with both close allies. He was particularly vocal in his anger at the Canadian dairy industry “Because in Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers,” Trump has said.

Thank goodness our savior is making American great again. The Negotiator in Chief has wielded his magic wand and voilà! A miracle! In an article headlined USMCA deal seen as win for Canada’s Trudeau, the Trump-friendly Washington Examiner reveals the awesome might of Trump the Negotiator:

“The move is expected to allow U.S. producers to gain 3.6 percent of the Canadian (dairy) market, up from the 3.25 percent that had previously been negotiated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which Trump pulled the U.S. out of.”

That’ll show ’em.

Sad!

“In May 2015, there were 69,460 jobs in coal mining itself — only 15,900 of which were extraction workers or helpers, mining machine operators or earth drillers. That’s 0.019 percent of the American workforce that month.”

– That’s from the Washington Post. The Bureau of Labor Statistics website says there are 2,800 more coal mining jobs now than in the month President Trump was elected.

Count me as an opponent of the Trump administration, but doggone it, it’s hard not to feel bad for the president (Yep, I just wrote that) out rallying tonight in West Virginia, working the 0.019 percent, looking for friends.

Because back in Washington today his 2016 campaign manager was convicted of corruption, while his personal lawyer pleaded guilty to eight crimes, naming the president as a co-conspirator in campaign finance violations.

The president is a Tweeter, not a poet. But if he were:

“Witch hunt witch hunt,
crooked Hillary, Pelosi too!
Remember we hire only the best,
that I can tell you.” Believe me.

Helsinki

The site of the Trump/Putin summit is a compact, handsome, livable low-rise town of around 600,000. Click these photos to enlarge them.

President Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg is a little less than 400 kilometers up the road. The high speed Allegro train connects Helsinki with St. Petersburg in three and a half hours, four times a day.

Mr. Putin must feel – almost – at home. The lay of the land, the lakes and forests, is the same in Finland as where the Russian president grew up. Here is Mr. Putin with Sauli Niinistö, the Finnish president, on a boat tour when we saw them last summer. Saimaa, the name of the ship, is also the name of the lake:

There are many more photos from lovely Finland here, at EarthPhotos.com.