The Gilded Age returns; corruption in the cabinet

During the years of the Gilded Age [roughly 1870-1910, and a term coined by Mark Twain] was a period of American history noted for a great concentration of wealth at the top, industrial monopolies and cartels, rising anti-immigrant hysteria, and the rise of a populism tinged by racism, fear of immigrants, and widespread hysteria about a “foreign” religion inherently alien to America [Catholicism, not Islam].

It was also an era marked by political corruption.

So it’s logical to say that we’re in Gilded Age II, given the institutional corruption embodied in the cabinet-designate of the President-eklect.

That latest example, via the Intercept:

A Montana lawmaker tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to be secretary of the interior committed travel fraud when he was a member of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, according to three former unit leaders and a military consultant.

In announcing the nomination of Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL commander, Trump praised his military background. “As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win,” Trump said last week.

But when Zinke was a mid-career officer at SEAL Team 6, he was caught traveling multiple times to Montana in 1998 and 1999 to renovate his home. Zinke claimed that the travel was for official duties, according to the sources.

He submitted travel vouchers and was compensated for the travel costs.

Two SEAL officers investigated Zinke’s records and discovered a yearslong “pattern of travel fraud,” according to two of the sources. When confronted about the trips, Zinke acknowledged that he spent the time repairing and restoring a home in Whitefish, Montana, and visiting his mother, according to two retired SEAL Team 6 leaders. The future lawmaker eventually told SEAL leaders that the Montana house was where he intended to live after he retired from the Navy.


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