At 12, I wasn’t interested … but she was beautiful.Donald Trump on Paris Hilton in 2003
When Alexander Acosta faced a Senate Committee reviewing his nomination to become Secretary of Labor, no one asked him a single question about Jeffrey Epstein. Across a gray, unremarkable career, he’d done only one newsworthy thing and none of the Senate panelists, not even the Democrats, felt a need to explore that one thing.
Acosta’s nominating speech focused on his signature theme for the Labor Department, the “skills gap.” The only skills gap apparent in the hearings was his own. Acosta had bounced from job to job as a Bush II political appointee before landing in the Justice Department as an Assistant AG for the Southern District of Florida. That’s where he performed the only public service that could have drawn the admiring attention of Donald Trump, a service no one on either side felt the need to discuss on his way to becoming Labor Secretary. Acosta in 2007, intervened in a prosecution against Jeffrey Epstein, insuring that Epstein had representation on both sides of the case. He then arranged a settlement that sealed the records in the case, blocking further revelations. It almost worked.
Surprised by the apparent disinterest of senior Democrats in exploring Donald Trump’s finances? Why is Nancy Pelosi so reluctant to press a public corruption investigation against the President? Does it seem like everyone in power in both parties are ignoring the obvious?
A temptation to mischaracterize the Epstein case as a “sex scandal” threatens to miss the point. There are reasons that no one complained when Epstein’s earlier prosecution was delayed. They are the same reasons that leaders in both parties have offered no more than a show of concern over Trump’s crimes. They are, in fact, the same reasons that we have two Supreme Court Justices accused of sexual harassment and two of our last four Presidents have legendary careers of rape and abuse.
Epstein offers us a rare glimpse into the machinery of rape and money that fuels a new political power, an engine of exploitation that has grown to rival, and perhaps overwhelm liberal democracy. Epstein is not merely a pedophile or a pimp, but a dangerous political pioneer. Until we find the will and the methods to counter the new machine, the rest of our political engagement will be wasted. We are approaching the Dunkirk of liberal democracy.
Welcome to the Machine
When evidence is aggressively concealed and the subject matter is lurid, there’s a powerful urge to either ignore the matter completely or tip over into lizard-people, dot-connecting conspiracy theories. Figures like Mohammad bin Salman, Trump, and Putin hide their activities and threaten or murder those who attempt to investigate them. Enablers of all kinds, from skeevy hustlers like Kelly Conway and Alan Dershowitz, up to billionaire Kleptocrats like Erik Prince and Wilbur Ross use the legal system, paired with a network of illegal systems, to make disclosures prohibitively expensive. It’s difficult to discuss this problem without drifting into paranoia, because these matters are frightening and hard data is tough to obtain. That’s no excuse to ignore them. Likewise, there’s no excuse for us or our leaders to ignore the plain, common-sense conclusions from available evidence. So, here we go.
In his book, Moneyland, Oliver Bullough describes the emerging world of global impunity for the wealthy. He explores the matrix of hidden banks, obfuscated corporate entities, and formal legal harassment that comprise the skeleton of this emerging, trans-national political force.
Clever opportunists earn personal fortunes helping criminals hide and launder money. Participants at all stages develop leverage to protect their clients and their businesses through mutual networks of kompromat. Showy donations to generic but prestigious charities whitewash their public images, making it tougher for journalists to pry. And finally, those compromised are then turned out to spread the damage and recruit new minions. It’s tough to define a starting point for Moneyland because it functions as a wheel. Perhaps it’s best to begin where the money enters the system.
Secretive offshore shells, like the Cypriot Bank run by Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, are the financial backbone of this machine, helping criminals launder illicit funds into transferable assets. Carefully crafted laws in those locations grant secrecy to bogus corporations. A blizzard of phony companies, swirled into existence for a fee, make it extremely difficult to trace assets to a human being. That washed money tends to flow into real estate, since owning and developing real estate requires very little energy, attention or expertise. Real estate is money-management for morons. If this picture resembles the Trump Organization, that’s not an accident.
How do people like Donald Trump get away with a lifetime of professional money laundering? Look what happened when Wilbur Ross faced a Senate confirmation hearing.
Before a Senate panel, Ross made the phony claim that he had divested his holdings. What did the Democrats on that panel, the people with the apparent partisan incentive to expose his fraud, do in response? Here’s what Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said to Ross about his obvious lie:
You have really made a very personal sacrifice. Your service has resulted in your divesting yourself of literally hundreds of millions of dollars.
Blumenthal has a net worth in the neighborhood of $100m, dwarfed by the fortune resting on his wife’s side of the family. He’s not going to press anyone on financial disclosures or conflicts of interest. Blumenthal didn’t just give Ross a pass, he took time to congratulate his fraud.
Banks like Ross’ are just one piece of the circle of complicity that guards access to Moneyland. Banks and phony financial institutions provide concealment, but membership in this world is still governed by networks of “kompromat,” demonstrations of illegal or embarrassing activity that take on an almost ritual nature. You’re not “in” until you are compromised in some manner than leaves you vulnerable, and therefore manipulable. No one can be trusted until they are complicit. Leverage over politicians is crucial. Donations help, but bringing elected officials fully into the circle of kompromat is best.
Once someone is compromised and initiated, creating a legitimate public veneer is an important next step, usually taking the form of showy donations to uncontroversial, prestigious charities. Museums, Ivy League schools and health research charities figure prominently here. Ideally in Moneyland, the first thing anyone learns about you from a Google search is your donations to Yale, or the medical school named for you in Tel Aviv.
The last piece of the Moneyland infrastructure is the legal system in western democracies. Money obtained through theft, fraud or political looting, laundered in obscure corners of Moneyland, is then defended in the legitimate legal systems of the West. Donald Trump’s finances are secret because US courts protect his “privacy.” Victims keep silent to hide from Trump’s pattern of abusive litigation. Watching a longtime liberal Democrat like Alan Dershowitz contort himself into pretzels defending Donald Trump seems puzzling until you read the child-rape allegations against him. He’s leveraging the protections of a legitimate democracy to punish those who expose the workings of Moneyland and protect his Kleptocrat patrons.
Who Owns the Law?
Virginia Giuffre was a 15 year old towel girl at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in 1999 when Epstein raped her, with help from his madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. They paid her and ordered her to return. That money was crucial, both as a threat and an inducement. If she was going to report this incident, what role would that money play in shaping the story? They were quietly telling her that she was complicit, and she heard the message. Epstein and Maxwell groomed her into an asset in Epstein’s traveling child-bordello, a rotating collection of dozens of children.
How they did it is important, because it mirrors the techniques used in Moneyland to compromise and control all the other ancillary figures in their orbit. Epstein’s rape of Giuffre left her ashamed and vulnerable. She might have decided to fight, but the odds would have seemed overwhelming. Then, right behind that rape came “the abuser’s kindness,” promises of power, travel and riches. A balance of assault and reward pries people away from their identity while obliterating their self-respect. From Giuffre’s affidavit in the federal case seeking to reopen the Epstein prosecution:
He could have had me killed or abducted, and I always knew he was capable of that if I did not obey him. He let me know that he knew many people in high places. Speaking about himself, he said “I can get away” with things. I was very scared, particularly since I was a teenager.
The mental process that traps these children was explained with more depth by another Epstein victim, Jena-Lisa Jones, in an interview with the Miami Herald.
You beat yourself up mentally and physically. You can’t ever stop your thoughts. A word can trigger something. For me, it is the word ‘pure’ because he called me ‘pure’ in that room and then I remember what he did to me in that room…By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years.
Also from the Miami Herald:
At least two of Epstein’s victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report.
The strange attachment felt by Epstein’s victims is vital for understanding the relationship between exploitation and passionate loyalty that characterizes so many in the Trump orbit.
Giuffre was 16 in 2000 when Epstein first invited his friend Alan Dershowitz to rape her. Her experience in this machine is particularly horrifying. Children like Giuffre are the most brutally exploited members of this great wheel of rape and exploitation, right behind the people who are murdered. However, it’s important to recognize that what happened to her is repeated all the way up the chain in different ways and to differing degrees. Dense layers of enablers in Moneyland serve both as victims and enforcers. You can see the outline of Virginia Giuffre’s story in the careers of Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, or the unknown lawyers and accountants who grease the wheel for a little cut of the action. The cult-like complicity of this machine’s victims helps keep it running until it gains enough power in the world’s stable democracies that no one’s complaints will ever matter.
Dershowitz and Giuffre had very different experiences and status in Moneyland, but they played similar roles in a great wheel of exploitation. After she was raped and cultivated, Giuffre served Epstein by collecting compromising information on targets like Dershowitz. Now that Dershowitz is fully compromised, like Giuliani, Stone, Conway and dozens of others, he gets turned out as just another hooker in the brothel to spread the cycle of exploitation. The great wheel turns.
Giuffre is remarkable for mustering the courage for a fight. Few of the victims of this circle of kompromat ever so much as rattle their chains. When she finally went public with her story, Dershowitz threatened her, then sued to keep her silent. Unlike most of Epstein’s victims, Giuffre is fighting back, but she will probably lose. Our law is simply not on her side. Over the past three decades, legal and political controls that might have thwarted the growth of this Moneyland network have been stripped away bit by bit. Our system of “rule of law” now operates primarily to preserve the power of those bold enough to grab what they can.
Who is Jeffrey Epstein?
Recent disclosures about Epstein’s sex-trafficking network are creating more heat than light. Placing his story in the wider context of Moneyland starts with understanding who he is, who he knew, and what he did.
A decade after escaping from child sex-trafficking charges in Florida, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested last Saturday by federal agents on his arrival at Teterboro Airport from Paris. Agents raided Epstein’s $70m Manhattan home seizing a trove of evidence. Among his vast collection of child pornography, they found a unique portfolio of compact disks marked with handwritten labels that prosecutors would summarize as: Young [Name] + [Name].
Over a long career in Moneyland, Epstein’s party-friends have included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, Woody Allen and a sparkling galaxy of stars from global politics, business and pop culture, drawn together by their shared appreciation of young girls. Epstein kept his photo of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered, in a prominent place on his wall of fame. Bill Clinton flew on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed The Lolita Express, on at least 26 documented occasions, five of them without the Secret Service. Despite published logs of his flights with Epstein, Clinton has maintained a pattern of lying about their interactions. Clinton has responded to Epstein’s latest arrest with a Sergeant Schultz quote that he “knows nothing” of Epstein’s activities.
Epstein and Trump partied together for years, including a 1992 “calendar girl” competition in which 28 girls were flown to Mar a Lago to meet alone with only the two of them. Epstein claims he introduced Trump to a foreign nude model with a dubious visa status who would become a client of Trump’s “modeling agency,” his third wife, and your First Lady.
Who is Epstein and how did he amass this wealth of connections? First, remember the wheel. Illicit funds find redemption in overseas shells. Mutual networks of kompromat with powerful people provide protection. Hollow, perfunctory philanthropy does for a public image what money laundering did for the assets. Then it becomes necessary to widen the circle, in a pyramid scheme of compromise and exploitation. All of this is protected by the rule of law in the western democracies, where any whiff of negative publicity draws crippling lawsuits and pressure from public officials. When holes emerge, they are plugged with shadowy non-disclosure agreements. Now, let’s go for a ride on the wheel.
The short version is that Jeffrey Epstein is Michael Cohen, but with a darker and more successful racket. He dropped out of college in the early 70’s and spent a few years teaching math. One of his students was the son of Bear Stearns Chairman Alan Greenberg. He got a job at Bear Stearns in ‘76, rising quickly, if oddly and without explanation. He left the firm in ’81 to start his own financial management company, with his first two clients being Greenberg and Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne. There’s no explanation of why these men were doing business with Epstein.
Earlier versions of the Epstein legend focus on his purported talent for financial math. Epstein made noisy claims that he would only accept money-management business from billionaires. However, no one can point to a trading strategy, an investment or any lucrative deal that succeeded. No evidence of Epstein’s financial talent is apparent anywhere in this story, but other skills have been plainly demonstrated over the years. Epstein is often described as a billionaire himself, without any attribution or evidence. His only discovered assets are a few pricey tracts of real estate and his planes, with no income details available.
Somehow, in 1986, Epstein earned the business of Leslie Wexner, owner and founder of The Limited Brands and Victoria’s Secret. If Epstein ever recruited another billionaire to his financial management business, they remain unidentified. Wexner and Epstein became curiously close and Wexner is the only identifiable source of Epstein’s wealth.
Epstein soon moved his business to the US Virgin Islands and formed a new joint corporation with Wexner. It looks like Epstein was leaning on Wexner’s fortune over the next decade. Wexner in ’89 bought the palatial Manhattan townhome that now belongs to Epstein. The home was transferred from Wexner to his joint business with Epstein in ’98. In 2011 it was transferred from that company, to a shell company wholly owned by Epstein for $0. It’s estimated to be worth roughly $70m.
Trump and Epstein met sometime in the late 80’s and appear to have become fast friends. By ’92 they were already close enough for Epstein to schedule a private party with himself, Trump, and dozens of “calendar girls” at Mar-a-Lago.
Here’s a photo of the two of them from 1997.
Another from 1999, with Melanie in tow:
Both of these photos were taken at Mar a Lago, where Epstein trolled for talent.
Epstein’s network of “models” seems to have captured Trump’s imagination. In 1996, Trump went into the money-losing business of beauty pageants, which made up for its poor financial returns with excellent access to young girls.
He followed that with his super-creepy Trump modeling business launched in 1999, with a remarkable pipeline of underage Eastern European girls, apparently working for extended periods in the US without visas, much like the First Lady. Unlike Epstein, Trump wasn’t very good at it. Epstein managed to run a network of dozens of children at a time, pimping them while they gathered valuable kompromat, and attracting little notice or complaint. By comparison, Trump’s boorish rapeyness drew his first known sexual harassment lawsuit in 1997. Unlike the careful, discreet Epstein, Trump’s assaults left a wake of noisy harassment and rape complaints and a very public reputation for abuse. Epstein had a talent, and it wasn’t math.
A cringeworthy 2002 fluff piece on Epstein in New York Magazine provides most of our publicly available biographical information. It delivered an uncritical account of his business backstory contributing to his persona as a self-made billionaire. He would join Mort Zuckerman, Harvey Weinstein and a larger consortium of investors in a failed attempt to buy the magazine the following year.
Remarkably, Epstein’s special talent for connecting powerful people with abused young girls was not a secret. In 2002, while Bill Clinton was jetting around on Epstein’s Lolita Express and New York Magazine was writing his hagiography, this is what Trump said about Epstein on the Howard Stern show:
I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.
Epstein’s reputation as a child-pimp was sufficiently public by 2002 to be a laugh line on a comedy show. Trump took at least one documented flight on Epstein’s plane in 2002.
Running the Moneyland playbook, Epstein spent millions of dollars on charities, but in true Moneyland fashion he didn’t stop there. He invested a great deal of time cultivating relationships with the recipients of his largesse. Cecile de Jongh, wife of the Governor of the Virgin Islands, was hired to serve on the board of Epstein’s charity. In 2000, he was appointed to the board of Rockefeller University. He didn’t just donate to some random needy school down the road, he spent his money gaining access to Harvard, making sure he was photographed in a Harvard sweatshirt, at Harvard, standing next to Alan Dershowitz. A guy with little or no independent income who dropped out of a run-of-the-mill university used his access to Moneyland to become a Harvard Man.
In particular, Epstein developed a personal relationship with renowned mathematician Martin Nowak, who became a much-needed conduit for Epstein’s legitimizing project. Nowak has reportedly been on visits with Epstein to his infamous Caribbean rape-island. Still today, Nowak serves as the head of the Jeffrey Epstein IV foundation. There’s a priceless line from Nowak in an old interview that places his complicity in context, “[Epstein] has changed my life. Because of his support, I feel I can do anything I want.”
One phrase from Epstein in a 2002 interview sums up the whole of his machine, from his relationship with raped children to the scientists whose reputations he funded, “I invest in people — be it politics or science. It’s what I do.” From 15-year-old Virginia Giuffre to the prize-winning scientists he bought, everyone had a role to play in Epstein’s machine of rape, money and power. Scientists who legitimize Epstein’s name right now, today, by serving on his “foundation,” are selling themselves to this machine willingly, with their eyes wide open, providing a flank of lingering support and legitimacy that keeps this wheel of rape turning. Who, exactly, is the whore in this brothel?
Considering the cruelty and horror of the rape allegations at the root of Epstein’s power, how did he avoid justice for so long? And more to the point, how does Epstein’s career shed light on the ability of Trump and others to commit crimes in plain sight while rising to the highest levels of power? Our legal system lays the final piece in this jigsaw puzzle.
Journalist Vicky Ward had Epstein’s number early on. At a time when New York Magazine was still producing adoring print on Epstein and his rape machine remained in the shadows, she was writing this skeptical content at Vanity Fair in 2003. What was stripped from that 2003 piece was the story that might have blown the case open.
Epstein had raped two underaged sisters, and they had the courage in 2003 to share their stories with Ward. Their stories were included in the profile of Epstein that Ward submitted to her editor, Graydon Carter. When Epstein got wind of those details he went on the attack, going directly to Carter to spike the story.
Pause for a moment, and revisit the trail. Money, and the veneer of money, picked up from Les Wexner. Notoriety gained from Donald Trump. Political connections from Bill Clinton and numerous others. Philanthropic and even scientific legitimacy sold to him by professor Martin Nowak. And powerful legal connections delivered by noted attorney and fellow rapist Alan Dershowitz. Now, in 2003, an editor faces a weighty decision. Should Grayson Carter bet his magazine and his career on the word of a pair of abused teenagers, or should he delete those allegations from the story and make a powerful new friend. Carter decided to make a friend instead of creating an enemy, and Epstein’s wheel of rape kept crushing lives. That’s how you move from witness to accomplice.
In March 2005, a parent of one of Epstein’s 14-year-old victims went to Palm Beach police, and it looked like Epstein’s luck might have run out. Police launched a year long investigation accumulating victim interviews and material evidence. They filed their probable cause affidavit in May 2006.
Lurid press coverage of Epstein’s sexual activities distracted from the more serious aspects of the case. Prosecutors took that trove of evidence and sought a state indictment against Epstein on a single, minor charge of solicitation. Without the tenacity of a local detective, Joseph Recarey, it might have all ended there. Recarey went to the FBI hoping that federal officials would take the case seriously. They did, at first.
US Attorneys reportedly assembled a 53-page indictment for Federal Court, then Alex Acosta stepped in. He met with Epstein’s elite legal team, which included Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, and cut a plea deal. That deal sealed existing records while letting Epstein plea to only a single state charge of solicitation. He would serve a few months of “work release” jail time and carry on with his life. Asked later why he offered such a sweet deal to Epstein without even consulting prosecutors, he reportedly explained that Epstein was “untouchable.”
We’re only talking about this now because of the brave persistence of reporters at the Miami Herald. Years of work resulted in a blockbuster, November 2018 story by Julie Brown, making the details of the case too clear and loud to be ignored. Where the legal system has failed, journalists risked their careers to protect us. They are the heroes of our time.
Now Epstein’s victims and the public get a second chance at justice in New York. It’s too early to say whether the wheels of Moneyland can crush this prosecution and protect their secrets.
Why Epstein Matters
In 2011, Jeffrey Epstein was still on the loose after his close escape in Florida. Before setting himself up again in New York City he was required to register as a sex offender. That’s when a Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor went to court on a strange mission. Manhattan Asst. DA Jennifer Gaffney lobbied a judge to grant Epstein the lowest sex offender classification. Referencing the single, minor charge for which Epstein would eventually plead guilty, Gaffney dismissed the rest of the allegations, “If an offender is not indicted for an offense, it is strong evidence that the offense did not occur.”
Why would a prosecutor make a special appearance to secure leniency for a convict?
The wheel still turns. Money still talks. Those with access to Moneyland carry remarkable power to protect each other, even in the most dire circumstances. Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, still responds to pleas for leniency for predators like Jeffrey Epstein for the same reason that Bill Clinton is still welcome in influential circles, and for the same reasons that Nancy Pelosi feels no urgency to pursue Donald Trump’s finances. These wealthy people who have gained membership in Moneyland share a fraternity, with its own rules of civility and professional courtesy. Their fraternal ties are far more important than your grubby politics and meaningless partisan squabbles.
Jeffrey Epstein is giving us a brief, fleeting glimpse into the alternate political system gradually swallowing democracy. Call it Wu Tang Politics, a system of government in which Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.), and it has successfully grown beyond the reach of conventional representative government. It’s not their alignment with red or blue, but green that moves our representatives. Those in our system who fight to resist the enticements of money are eventually crushed beneath the wheel, or cowed into complicity.
Cyrus Vance hasn’t just offered protection for Epstein. In 2012, Manhattan prosecutors built a powerful felony fraud case against Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump. Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz who also represents Russian mobster Oleg Deripaska, paid Vance a personal visit on May 12, 2012. A few months later Vance quietly intervened to end the investigation.
Vance declined to prosecute IMF Director Dominique Strauss Kahn in 2011 after he raped a hotel maid in New York. Vance squashed a sexual assault prosecution against powerful filmmaker, Harvey Weinstein in 2015. Last year, Manhattan prosecutors began following up on the Michael Cohen revelations, investigating the role of Trump company in illegal payoffs. They’ve since backed off the investigation with no explanation.
Stories about these cases have focused on payments made by powerful attorneys to Vance’s campaigns, but look back at the pattern. Vance doesn’t need these donations, which function as little more than a polite tip-of-the-hat from a professional colleague. What he needs is the access, glow and credibility provided by being of service to powerful people. It’s not just money, but what money can bring, that entraps so many of our elected leaders.
What’s the point of being District Attorney in Manhattan if you can’t be of use to A-list celebrities or billionaires in their time of need? Anger these people, and the stories about you in Murdoch’s New York Post will quickly turn ugly. Invitations will dry up. Without that power and favor, Manhattan DA is just another dreary bureaucratic job. Like the money and vacations offered to the children Epstein raped, or the donations lavished on Harvard, the payments to Vance are just a small exposed arc of the wheel. As a child of politics, fame, trust funds and privilege, Vance is a low-ranking member of the same fraternity as Weinstein and Clinton, and yes, Pelosi, and they protect their own.
Nancy Pelosi comes from a political family of modest means. She’s never had a private sector job in her life, but across a lifetime of public service she’s been able to accumulate a fortune worth well over $100m in *declared* value.
Like Mitch McConnell, Pelosi points to the income accumulated by her spouse in the private sector as an explanation for her wealth. How did her husband Paul rise from not very much to a nine-figure fortune? Nobody really knows. They give oblique answers suggesting world-class success in real estate or stock investment. However, the real answer is that their finances are a secret, just like Donald Trump’s finances. Sure, Donald Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, but neither has Nancy Pelosi.
California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has enjoyed similarly uncanny luck in the markets. She’s accumulated roughly $50m on a lifetime of government service after earning a history degree. Where did it come from? Feel free to ask her. We can’t even tell what much of it consists of thanks to the blind trusts.
Senator Corey Booker isn’t wealthy yet, but the Kushner family played a key role in his rise to the US Senate, donating tens of thousands of dollars over the years. Booker attended Jared and Ivanka’s wedding. Here’s a picture of him with the Kushners:
Joe Biden’s wayward son, Hunter, lent his family’s reputation to help thwart a corruption investigation in Ukraine that might have threatened a particularly nasty Kleptocrat, Mykola Zlochevsky. Thanks to help from the Vice President’s son, Ukranian prosecutors fighting to establish some integrity in that system found themselves outgunned. By Joe Biden’s own account, he intervened in March 2016, threatening to withhold $1bn in loan guarantees for Ukraine unless the lead prosecutor investing his son’s company, Burisma, was dismissed. He characterizes this move as a proud stand against corrupt prosecutors, but it was his son’s shady company that benefited. Six months later a Ukrainian court dismissed charges against Zlochevsky citing the prosecution’s failure to make progress.
Hunter Biden resigned from Burisma this April. Zlochevsky’s company, incorporated in Cyprus of course, now enjoys the support of former CIA counter-terrorism coordinator Cofer Black, who serves on its board. The wheel turns.
If the Baby-Boomer Generation was allowed to carve a new face into Mount Rushmore, one that most accurately represented their contributions to American life and politics, it should be Jeffrey Epstein. He’s the new Lincoln, herald of an emerging new political order stretching across our disintegrating national boundaries, in which wealthy criminals find legitimacy and legitimate political leaders find wealth. Epstein’s political model, repeated by aspiring kleptocrats all over the globe, is the heartbeat of a new system on the march, burrowing into the core of liberal democracies, destroying their capacity to represent the interests of voters before replacing them outright.
The Wu Tang Politics of the Moneyland elite plays out in a realm beyond parties or alignments. How enthusiastic do you think Nancy Pelosi will ever be about financial transparency in politics? Why should Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden or any of the other senior Democrats change course? While the Democratic Party has been pushed to the ropes over the past three decades, they’ve not merely survived, but thrived. Their interests are not your interests.
When Nancy Pelosi rolls her eyes at the naivete of the anti-Trump resistance, she’s not concealing any cold, cynical, 16-dimensional chess approach to fighting Trump. She doesn’t find Trump any more troubling than Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell ever did. If Donald Trump had run and won as a Democrat, she’s be doing exactly what Paul Ryan did for him. Pelosi and her class have already decamped to Moneyland. And if you find the Democrats’ ties to Moneyland troubling, you’re not ready for the briefest glance into the rollicking political brothel being run by Republicans.
Power corrupts. We have allowed the growth of a system in which too much wealth concentrates in too few hands with too little power remaining in public institutions. Once you reach a tipping point in the concentration of wealth, there’s no political rivalry of any significance other than conflicts among billionaires. How many top level elections on state ballots in 2020 will be fought between a pair of billionaire candidates? That system of concentrated wealth, much of it hidden away in Moneyland, threatens to neutralize democracy, and it may be too late to stop it.
Labor Secretary and Epstein protector, Alex Acosta resigned this week. He wasn’t brought down by Congress or the press, he simply wasn’t useful enough to retain his privileges. With no fortune of his own and insufficient leverage, his failure to build enough value in the currency of Wu Tang Politics leaves him with no foothold, a pariah in the world of legitimate commerce and a joke in Moneyland.
Acosta wasted his priceless shot at a place in Moneyland. Karmic justice may be satisfying in this case, but it’s not enough justice to protect us all.