Monday, July 24, 2017

Our New Kleptocracy

The Guardian has a more detailed picture of how millions looted by Russian oligarchs (mobsters) has been laundered through high end real estate in the U.S.

"The ties between Trump family real estate deals and Russian money interests are attracting growing interest from the justice department’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, as he seeks to determine whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia to distort the outcome of the 2016 race. Mueller has reportedly expanded his inquiry to look at real estate deals involving the Trump Organization, as well as Kushner’s financing.

"Leviev, a global tycoon known as the “king of diamonds”, was a business partner of the Russian-owned company Prevezon Holdings that was at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit launched in New York. Under the leadership of US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, prosecutors pursued Prevezon for allegedly attempting to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury.

"The scam had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who died in 2009 in a Moscow jail in suspicious circumstances. US sanctions against Russia imposed after Magnitsky’s death were a central topic of conversation at the notorious Trump Tower meeting last June between Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin."

Con men use a trick called the three card monte or the bait and switch. One hand distracts the eye while the theft is accomplished by the other. Trump isn’t the only con man in this story. Putin is a thief of monumental proportions. He’s been looting his country for decades, laundering the money he’s stolen through high end real estate worldwide. Trump and Kushner are either happy collaborators or well-paid stooges. Are the Russians invading our country? Not in the strictest sense, but they are attacking it, with help.

They, Trump and his Russian friends, stole our election, or helped steal it, which seems less damaging than, say, invading us bodily. But how many die in an invasion? We’ve never been invaded so we don’t know. But Russia has been invaded a few times. The last time was World War II. Millions of Russians died. Russian casualties in WWII are hard to pin down. Estimates say around 9 million dead and 23 million wounded or wasted by disease brought on by war and deprivation. Big numbers.

Estimates by our CBO indicate around 22 million Americans will lose their access to healthcare if Trumpcare becomes law and Obamacare goes away. They are slipping it to us three-card-monte-fashion, while we are distracted by mass rallies and daily revelations about Trump administration crimes and daily Twitter tantrums by the president. It’s estimated 45,000 more Americans will die if deprived of healthcare, so only a half million will die in the decade covered by the estimate, but millions would get sicker and stay sicker and die younger and probably die bankrupt in the process––the way our ancestors did. Prior to the New Deal and the Great Society of FDR and LBJ old people died poor and poor people died young. Democratic policies ended that, temporarily it seems, because the Republicans have fought back, making things more dysfunctional and more ruinously expensive for the least fortunate among us. This is the reality in Russia, where the vast majority are poorer every year and the life expectancy is 13 years less than here in the US––and ten years less than China. Trump role model as national leader is Putin, who has degraded life in Russia during his rule.

Don’t kid yourself: Trump would love to lower our life expectancy by war as well as by deprivation. He loves seeing things go boom but slow death also seems to please him. Judging by the first six months of his rule the goal is to do maximum harm to the maximum number by every means available. It might happen if the gang running this game are able to fire the investigators coming after them. And if they are able to screw 23 million Americans out of their healthcare. If they do they will call it a big win and hold rallies where we can all celebrate our degradation.

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