Tuesday, September 03, 2019


The corruption is flagrant:
President Donald Trump suggested that Vice President Mike Pence stay at his Irish golf club on an official trip funded by taxpayer dollars, Pence's chief of staff Marc Short told reporters Tuesday.

Pence, who is traveling with his wife, sister, and mother, is staying at the president's golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland, during his visit to the country. Rather than stay in Dublin, where he is set for a day of meetings and events with Irish officials, Pence is making the back-and-forth trip from Doonbeg to Dublin, more than an hour flight each way.
As Matt Yglesias explains,
In distance terms, this is like staying at a hotel in Baltimore for your business trip to New York.
This is now standard operating procedure for the Pence family:
Since 2017, Pence’s political group, the Great America Committee, has dropped about $224,000 at Trump properties, chiefly the Trump International Hotel in Washington and its on-site steakhouse, according to Federal Election Commission records maintained by ProPublica.

Such spending appears to be a family affair. Pence’s brother, freshman Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), has also dropped considerable sums at the Trump hotel. In fact, Rep. Pence’s campaign amended a number of FEC filings this year after USA Today noted that the campaign appeared to be illegally paying for the congressman to live at the Trump hotel. The Pence campaign said those expenses were reported incorrectly, and amended FEC filings accordingly.

As of March, when Rep. Pence’s campaign reported its latest Trump property expenditure, the campaign had spent about $45,000 at the president’s businesses.
All of this is indefensible, like much of what the Republican Party does these days, but Jonathan Chait believes that it's a uniquely Trumpian form of indefensible behavior:
Trump is generally an outgrowth of the party’s broader authoritarian evolution, but one way in which he is an outlier is his determination to blend his business with his public duties. Before Trump, Republicans never contemplated the idea that a president could run a private business while serving in office. Trump has blurred this line so repeatedly it barely registers when he does so. His staffers promote his daughter’s brand, he touts one of his resorts as a potential host site for next year’s G7 summit, his Washington hotel becomes a marker for foreign and domestic allies to pay tribute — the accretion of small violations gradually implicates the entire party establishment.
But one aspect of what Chait calls "the party’s broader authoritarian evolution" is the belief that corporate chieftains should be able to run roughshod over the law, doing whatever they please without facing regulation or scrutiny. Trump may be the highest-ranking officeholder to test the limits of this principle (and to reach the conclusion that there are, in fact, no limits), but recall, for instance, that Republican Rick Scott has now won three statewide elections in Florida after his company was fined $1.7 billion for what was the worst Medicare fraud in history. His voters didn't care. For all we know, the fraud may have endeared him to them. (If the government is after you, you must be doing something right!) Also see the post I wrote last week reproducing Free Republic commenters' reactions to the Oklahoma judgment against Johnson & Johnson for its role in the opioid crisis -- commenter after commenter took J&J's side against the government.

I even see a link between the belief system of right-wing evangelicals and the high tolerance for unethical business practices. It's clear that the moral code of the evangelical right is Certain people are good, and we'll tell you who they are, and whatever they do is therefore moral and godly. This is how they can deride Barack Obama, who's had one loving marriage and is a good father, as a tool of Satan, while embracing the thrice-married, compulsively promiscuous, family-avoiding Donald Trump as the ideal Christian paterfamilias -- Trump is a good man, you see, so whatever he does is good. Similarly, capitalists are good -- we know this because liberals criticize them -- so whatever they do is good. It's simple.

No president has dared to do what Trump is doing, but Republicans wouldn't have batted an eyelash if a previous Republican president had engaged in relentless self-dealing from the Oval Office. Capitalism is moral. Republicans are moral. So what's the problem?

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