These are the times that try men’s souls. What we think we want becomes part of what we fight against. Imagine that you are a devout corporatist, a true believer that businessmen will be the saviors of the world. That naked capitalism will make life perfect for everyone.
Remember the heady days when the Donald appointed only the greatest business talents in the world to run the administration that would Make America Great Again. A head of one of the world’s greatest investment banks to run financial planning. A seasoned oil tycoon with deep ties to both Saudi Arabia and Russia to unite world governments and drive a resurgence of “burn-it-up” energy policy, while stamping out climate change mythology.
We were promised that running government like a business would solve all problems. We were assured that the Donald, with his vast, global business experience, was choosing only the best and the brightest to leadership posts in his administration. Candidates were carefully considered, vetted, and only the cream of the crop were chosen.
Like Michael Flynn. As a general, he had been selling classified secrets to Pakistani generals who passed them on to the Taliban and ISIS. A great eye for profitable business deals. Streamlining the communications between opposing general staffs for the greater benefit of general officers. And the only people hurt were grunt level U.S. soldiers, more easily targeted by Taliban and ISIS soldiers. Collateral damage, irrelevant in the face of greater profits.
Rex Tillerson was a close business pal of Czar Vlad, helping keep oil a universally fungible, profitable commodity. He was guaranteed to provide the ever acquisitive Donald with entrée to the vastly richer Czar. By greasing the diplomatic machinery, he would facilitate a shared-rule détente between two great despots.
Tillerson was groomed to believe in the government guaranteed privilege of the corporate wealthy, without need for particular intelligence, and unquestioning of the assumptions of colonial capitalism and corporate management.
But neither Czar Vlad nor president Donald have any interest in shared rule. Each imagines himself as king-of-the-world. Czar Vlad had been pitching “Make Russia Great Again” more than a decade before the Donald decided to rent the slogan. He created a model for fear-based xenophobia as the foundation for a faux-nationalistic kleptocracy. And his success in enriching himself at the expense of his citizens was an irresistible lure for the much poorer, but aspiring Donald.
Czar Vlad rules over a single-asset, wobbling economy. The Donald aspires to rule over a multifaceted, stable economy. Czar Vlad achieves stability because he is educated, politically experienced and ruthless. The Donald’s impetuous bloviations, based on ignorance, trigger turmoil.
Tillerson is like neither of these. He was groomed to believe in the government guaranteed privilege of the corporate wealthy, without need for particular intelligence, and unquestioning of the assumptions of colonial capitalism and corporate management. Where Czar Vlad and the Donald see violence as a primary tool for gain, Tillerson saw negotiations, and reliance on government influence in favor of the powerful, as the way to stability. Stability has never had any value to either Czar Vlad or the Donald.
It made sense, at the start, for Tillerson to believe that he could use his friendship with Czar Vlad to achieve corporate strategic goals of greater profits and stability in an increasingly fractured international setting. From the isolated bubble of the corporate boardroom, looking down at the world, it was probably easy to imagine that “gentlemen” could reach agreements that would solve problems and end strife. But neither the Donald nor Czar Vlad is a gentleman.
And that isolated bubble of the corporate boardroom also insulated him from knowing anything more about his “good friend” Czar Vlad than the master manipulator wanted him to see. Tillerson was probably simply unaware of Czar Vlad’s history of turning on, and killing, employees, business partners and ‘friends’ who’s behavior he saw as disloyal or dangerous to his greed, because such matters only involved the working classes, and the lesser people who served the corporate bosses.
Czar Vlad’s most recent attempted murder of an ex-spy and his child in London must have been a true shock to Tillerson. Perhaps it built on learning that Czar Vlad supported Bashar Assad’s use of chlorine gas against civilians, and other atrocities. A secretary of state can’t ignore such things although a corporate honcho can. As secretary of state, he had to choose between clear national interest and support for our allies, or his personal ‘friendship’ with a man he turns out not to have known well at all.
No wonder he spoke out in condemnation of the attempted murder, once our close ally had identified the source of the attack. And no surprise that Czar Vlad then ordered his fanboy, the Donald, to fire Tillerson for that criticism.
The greater surprise, and cautionary revelation comes from the entire Republican Party leadership lining up behind the Donald’s obeisance to the Russian Czar. We can remember that there was a time when Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al., believed in government, not despotism. But apparently, their desperation to cling to power, after the debacles of the Cheney/Bush administration, and the chaos of Donald mania, leads them to ignore any reality and drool slavishly for a foreign potentate who maintains power using tactics they used to pretend to hate.
The Republican Party has now completely abandoned any prior principles it ever had, in its lockstep devotion to the Donald and his slavish obedience to Czar Vlad. But are Democrats and Progressives so much better? What shall we think of Democrat support for the Donald’s appointments of Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson and of Gina Haspel to head the CIA?
Pompeo is a Kansan, in the Sam Brownback wing of corporate, racist nuttery. He loves war and despises civil rights and those who think that people should share in the government support that is the natural right of corporations. Because he openly espouses war with Russia, it will not be long before Czar Vlad orders the Donald to fire him as he did Tillerson.
Gina Haspel will become the first woman to head the CIA. Is this finally a triumph for women, a broken glass ceiling? How many will support her simply because she is a woman, as so many people supported Clarence Thomas simply because he was black?
Gina Haspel ran one of the first of Dick Cheney’s “black sites” (in Thailand). She arranged “special renditions”. “Black site” is a code name for what are simply torture facilities. “Special rendition” is a code name for kidnapping. When word got out about her kidnapping and torture work, Gina Haspel ordered subordinates to destroy the CIA’s prized videotapes of the work. She is a woman who has built an entire career on celebrating contempt for U.S. law, international law and any concepts of human rights.
Some enterprising, rightwing writer will, no doubt, script a movie casting Gina Haspel as a female James Bond figure, working in the shadows to save the world from all those rag tag monsters who want to extend corporate privileges down to colonial subjects everywhere. But James Bond swashbuckles across the screen at least nominally trying to save the “free world”. Gina Haspel built her career working around the world to prevent outbreaks of freedom.
But she’s a woman. How many will ignore her complete contempt for the rule of law because of that? The Republican Party has already decided. Spokespeople are on the media outlets whining about anticipated efforts to disclose facts about Haspel. Even Republican-lite Senator Dianne Feinstein is speaking up for the noble corporate warrior-in-dark-places.
We know how this ends. Clarence Thomas has spent decades working against the rights that Dr. King was working to achieve when he was murdered. Betsy DeVos has spent years working against the interests of women and female students. Ben Carson says that poor people, including black children, must give up basic housing so that he can have a $31,000 dining table. Gina Haspel's confirmation will be one Republican step closer to replacing the traditionally imperfect U.S. government with a Czar Vlad style kleptocracy.