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The big guy takes a big percentage

Back when Vice-President Joe Biden was in charge of US policy for the Ukraine, he weaponised his power over US aid. Later, he boasted of it.

“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.” (text and video link)

That Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating the company Biden’s son ‘worked for’. Except that Hunter Biden couldn’t have been working for them. Never mind trivia like Hunter’s knowing nothing of Burisma’s business. As a reformed addict explained, the timeline makes it impossible Hunter’s salary could have been for any services whatever that he himself rendered.

From my own experience, there is no such thing as a functioning cocaine addict. The worse it gets, the faster it gets worse.

A few years have passed, a few things have happened, Biden is again in charge of money voted for the Ukraine – and is again weaponising it. It’s $13.6 billion now, and these days even Biden’s ‘military aid’ includes actual weapons. However Biden is including it in other things – $1.5 trillion-worth of other things.

It was must-pass legislation, needed to keep the government operating and avoid the kind of partial shutdowns that have been seen in the past. But this one was not only huge — it was different from recent spending measures. The difference was that it revived earmarks, which are spending provisions put in at the behest of individual lawmakers. In the past, earmarks created a culture of runaway pork spending, which led Republicans to push for a ban successfully in 2011. Now, they are back.

Not back, because it was never gone, is MSM misreporting of it. For once, I think the New York Times’ phrasing,

To push the package through the Senate, lawmakers had to navigate a series of objections from conservative Republicans, who complained that they had little time to examine the legislation and pushed to prioritize emergency aid to Ukraine.

…may not suit Biden, and the cabal that gave him the presidency, quite as well as the way the Washington Post’s headline,

More than two dozen Senate Republicans demand Biden do more for Ukraine after voting against $13.6 billion for Ukraine.

…reported (or, one could say, avoided reporting) that a request to separate the aid-for-Ukraine bill from the earmarks bill was strongly made and was absolutely refused.

The WaPo’s headline is not wholly without information. If two dozen voted against, that tells us some other Republican senators voted for $13.6 billion for the Ukraine – along with a mere $1.6 million to assist “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture in Rhode Island” and $800,000 to fund “artist lofts” in Pomona CA, and … and … and … (an earmark here, a thousand earmarks there – pretty soon you’re talking about real money). Whether they did this reluctantly, because they feel the Ukraine needs whatever fraction of that $13.5 billion it will finally get, or eagerly, because they feel they themselves need whatever fraction of that $1.5 trillion they will finally get (the 4000-odd earmarks were mostly for Democrats – but not exclusively so), I leave it to any readers who know those senators to speculate.

Meanwhile, here as elsewhere, the pro-Biden narrative and the pro-Putin narrative overlap. It was a Putin shill or dupe commenting way down a thread on this very blog who first told me it was Biden’s opponents in congress who “voted against aid to Ukraine”. Did he get that line from Russia Today or from the Washington Post? Who knows!

There’s nothing special to the Ukraine in all this, of course. All his political life, Biden has been exceptionally that kind of politician who demands his percentage of every transaction. It’s only noteworthy (and, let’s face it, it’s hardly surprising) that even now the Ukraine is fighting for its life, ‘the big guy’ still does.

20 comments to The big guy takes a big percentage

  • The Pedant-General

    “a request to separate the aid-for-Ukraine bill from the earmarks bill was strongly made and was absolutely refused”

    I’m genuinely shocked that this is the first time I’ve heard this. I am really struggling to comprehend how badly – and deliberaetly – we are being misled by the MSM all across the (nominally…) free world…

  • John

    I don’t want to go all David Icke on you but this really isn’t all that surprising.

    Incidentally I read that the bill contains no less that $782 billion for defence. Quite how the US military spends that colossal sum and with what level of efficiency is a puzzler even if they do have a rather substantial shopping list to replace everything left behind for the Taliban – which is rather good news for Lockheed Martin et al.

  • Fraser Orr

    I have been listening to David Starkey (who has an interesting eponymous YT channel) lately. And some of the things he has said have challenged some of my preconceptions. For example, you might listen to his talk on “Why I am a conservative”.

    I’m not so sure I agree with some of his views, but he definitely made me think a bit. Some of his arguments about government are interesting. I’m paraphrasing, and he doesn’t necessarily talk about it so much in the video above, but in reference to earmarks he argues that earmarks, pork though they may be, are in a sense the oil that makes the machinery of government work. In a sense, the oil in your car is a bit of a waste but try running the engine without it, and things quickly grind to a halt.

    So, goes he argument, without a little bit of corruption, bribery and simony, government also grinds to a halt. You end up with what we have in the United States, gridlock, inability to do anything, acrimony and division. A few billion spent on “studies on how many peanuts can a monkey be force fed before it pukes”, or $50MM dollar bridges that carry three cars a day, are a small price to pay to make things actually work. We’d like a corruption free government that works, but we can’t have both so pick one or the other.

    Of course this argument assumes that a “working” government is better than a sclerotic government, which I’m not sure I think is true. But one of the consequences of sclerotic government is a horrible level of animosity, acrimony and hostility in the population, and there are SOME things that the government does have to do (enforce the criminal law for example) that gets very much caught up in the sclerosis. JFK plagiarized the meme “if you make peaceful revolution impossible you make violent revolution inevitable”, which I think we are seeing play out in the streets of America.

    Anyway, Niall’s comment, with his unqualified condemnation of earmarks, brought to mind some of the things I have been listening to from Starkey. I’m a big fan of Starkey, he is a bit of an ass, but sufficiently iconoclastic, and blunt as to be appealing, and brave enough to give the finger to the establishment, nor allow them to cancel him entirely. You should watch his channel just to give the finger to the people who tried to cancel him.

  • Fraser Orr (March 23, 2022 at 7:34 pm), I also buy Starkey’s books and listen to his videos occasionally, in part

    just to give the finger to the people who tried to cancel him

    though I have not yet heard the one you link. However I very much disagree with your suggestion that

    You end up with what we have in the United States, gridlock, inability to do anything, acrimony and division.

    from not enough corruption.

    The overt hatred of Trump presents as ideological, but I have long believed that the need to protect the enormous tax-farming racket that infects the US government was more important at the top levels. For many high-ranking people climaxing in the Clintons and Bidens, the US government is cosa nostra – ‘our thing’ – and the ideological hatred of the outsider Trump floats on a practical lake of conscious and unconscious loathing and fear at the threat that ‘drain the swamp’ posed to ‘our thing’ – enhanced by the pressure from the top to be loyal to ‘our thing’ if you wanted to remain part of it. Hence the election stealing. There was much at stake.

    If all that had been needed was quiet toleration of a bit of long-established palm-greasing then Trump would have done. His long years as a New York property developer did not leave him innocent of the fact that New York city’s building code devisors, inspectors, licensers and etc. needed a spot of grease every now and then. He differed from others in wanting the building actually to exist at the end, not tolerating the vast expenditure that ends in nothing at all – witness the Wollman ice rink saga. What infuriated Trump was not that the money did not all go on bricks and workmen’s wages, or that some very small fraction of that wastage was his taxes. What infuriated Trump was that $12 million and six years produced nothing at all !

    The kind of ‘productive’ oil-the-wheels corruption that Starkey is talking about does not strike me as the kind that enrages Trump. The problem is that the transformation President Eisenhower warned of – ‘science’ transformed into a government-grant-farming business, etc., etc., – is now so far advanced as to produce a sea change in government itself. Trump’s desire that government serve a purpose defined by the subjects, not by the rulers, a purpose that is objectively instead of ideologically defined, is what ‘our thing’ feared. I don’t think they ever thought he was so puritanical that not one building bureaucrat could ever get a handshake for expediting a permit.

    Meanwhile, earmarks were formally banned for a decade thanks to a Republican initiative and have been openly restored now Biden is in the White House. I see mid-terms political profit in making that as widely known as possible. Both Starkey’s opinion of wheel-oiling corruption and mine that that’s not the kind we’re talking about here seem like esoteric refinements irrelevant to that debate. There’s a ton of electoral, never mind financial, corruption to defeat before the question of any law-of-diminishing-returns in fighting corruption will appear on the most distant horizon.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Back when Vice-President Joe Biden was in charge of US policy for the Ukraine, he weaponised his power over US aid. Later, he boasted of it.

    I believe that i raised this issue before, but i don’t remember getting an answer:

    Is it even legal for a US government officer to bribe/blackmail a foreign government with taxpayers’ money?

    NB: this question is completely unrelated to whatever personal/family interests Joe Biden might have had in this bribe/blackmail.
    (It might be relevant, however, whether Joe presented solid evidence that the Ukrainian prosecutor whom he got fired, was corrupt himself. Which i understand Joe didn’t.)

    I believe that all, or almost all, European electorates would be outraged if any of their government officers bragged about the sort of bribing/blackmail that Biden bragged about.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . earmarks, pork though they may be, are in a sense the oil that makes the machinery of government work.”

    I always considered earmarks to be generally good things, except when the policing ability of Congress disappeared into rank partisanship.

    They’re designed for things that ought to get done, but don’t rise to the level of a separate bill. I’ve seen some very justifiable projects completed with federal dollars in situations when you’ll never get anyone else’s attention and support for a narrow project that affects 48 other Senators not at all.

    Is there backscratching in most instances? “I’ll vote for your dam rebuild if you vote for my water treatment plant”? Sure, but Congress is built on backscratching. Another word for that is cooperation.

    I don’t mind seeing my Senator, or anyone else’s, seek federal dollars this way.

    Niall K’s points are valid, of course. There needs to be pure transparency in an earmark bill. There needs to be less “he’s my Democrat friend, of course I’ll buy him a brand new courthouse with his name on it.” That’s what it devolved into before it was banned.

    At least in a 50-50 Senate, there’s going to be some oversight and control exercised. It becomes pure pork when one party can ram through an earmarked bill on its own.

    But, to the extent that you recognize that federal dollars have a place in narrow expenditures, the process has its place. It has no more or no less potential for outright theft than does any other act of Congress.

  • bobby b

    “Is it even legal for a US government officer to bribe/blackmail a foreign government with taxpayers’ money?”

    If you call it foreign aid, it’s legal. If you violate the recipient’s home state’s laws concerning bribery, there are specific federal statutes that make it a crime here, also.

    (ETA: I forgot – there’s also an anti-bribery convention adopted by many countries back in the 90’s in which they promise to make foreign bribery illegal. I have no idea how or if that works, but it’s there.)

  • Of course this argument assumes that a “working” government is better than a sclerotic government, which I’m not sure I think is true.

    And you are right to be dubious. As Will Rodgers said: “It’s a good thing we don’t get all the government we pay for.”

  • Allen

    Unfortunately, it seems a diseased government (like my fellow citizens) can be kept alive indefinitely.

  • Paul Marks

    The true problem is NOT that the Biden family, led by Joseph “the Big Guy” Biden have been BRIBE TAKERS for years – there have always been criminals and Mr Joseph Biden has always been a corrupt man (even when he was at university).

    The real problem is that the FBI and the “Justice” Department KNEW (yes knew) of the crimes of Mr Joseph Biden and family – and did not prosecute them, indeed they covered-up their crimes. So did the media. Yes the “mainstream media” knew of the crimes of Mr Joseph Biden and his family, and covered them up – indeed viciously smeared people (such as Rudy Giuliani) who tried to expose these crimes – just as the media viciously smeared people who tried to expose the blatantly rigged 2020 Presidential Election.

    A nation can withstand a few corrupt individuals – there have always been, in every nation, criminals such as Mr Joseph Biden. What is far more dangerous is a systematically corrupt (partisan) “Justice” system and media – and that is what the United States now has.

    The modern FBI and “Justice” Department judges things, just as the New York Times judges things, on the basis of what is good for the “Progressive”, i.e. ever bigger government (“to help the poor”) policy – Mr Joseph Biden has always supported such ever bigger government policies (“to help the poor”) and that is the only thing that matters to the Administrative State (the so called “Deep State” such as the “Justice” Department) and that is all that matters to the mainstream media.

    How did this come to pass? How did the institutions of the United States come under control of people who do-not-care-about-crimes? Who believe (as their only principle of morality) that anything (anything at all) is justified if it pushes the “Progressive” cause of ever bigger government (“to help the poor”) – it is the “Pragmatism” of the EDUCATION SYSTEM that has led to this, its denial of objective truth and universal and objective moral principles – and its support for ever bigger government (“to help the poor”).

    What to do?

    In the 19th century, in reaction to the murder of President Garfield (whose fondest desire was to create an “Administrative State” divorced from the grubby control of democratically elected politicians) Congress passed the first Civil Service Act – this Act, and later Acts, HAVE TO GO. Otherwise just electing a President from outside “the system”, such as Donald Trump, will not do any good – as the system (the bureaucracy) will make it impossible for them to really govern.

    The SYSTEM itself (the Administrative State – the bureaucracy, in everything from the FBI to the health authorities) is corrupted with “Progressive” doctrines – they all have to go.

    “But modern vast government can not exist without an Administrative State” – then modern vast government has to go as well.

    After all the United States even fought, and won, the Civil War WITHOUT an Administrative State based on examinations and so on.

    “But democratic control of the government was corrupt!” – yes, but not as corrupt as what has replaced it.

    A new President and a new Congress must appoint people who share their beliefs – not have an “Administrative State” which is always under the control of the Progressives – regardless of the election results.

    And elections must be straight – visual I.D. (yes provided FREE for the poor) and in-person voting only. No millions upon millions of “mail-in ballots” which may have no connection to actual voters. And no computer machines under the Progressives of Silicon Valley.

    Paper ballots – counted in the presence of representatives of the candidates. No driving out registered poll watchers with mocking laughter from “public servants” (vote counters). And no financing of voting and vote counting by people such as Mr Mark Zuckerberg.

    “But that means the taxpayers will have to pay” – yes the taxpayers will have to pay for elections.

    I am in support of increased government spending to cover voting and vote counting – rather than leaving such things to the “kindness” of Mr Zuckerberg and others via their “charities”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Bobby: thank you for your reply!

    Unrelated, from Fraser Orr:

    In a sense, the oil in your car is a bit of a waste but try running the engine without it, and things quickly grind to a halt.

    To stay within this metaphor:

    The problem with government is that you need more and more oil to keep running the engine.
    Eventually, you’ll need to spend so much on lubricating oil that you cannot afford to drive anymore.

  • Eventually, you’ll need to spend so much on lubricating oil that you cannot afford to drive anymore. (Snorri Godhi, March 24, 2022 at 8:04 pm)


    I quoted a corruption investigator in a recent post:

    It takes time to reach 70% – but once you do, the journey back takes longer and is a lot harder.

    This point appears again and again in studies of corruption. Once a corrupt culture is strongly established, it is far harder to check its further growth, let alone to halt and reverse it, than it would have been to prevent its growth in the first place. It is a progressive disease (to make a pun that is fair enough in the anglosphere today 🙂 ).

  • gnome

    Paul Marks – there has been a (quite compelling) suggestion that biden was simply a partner in the biden family enterprise, but the “big guy” was the magic negro himself.

  • bobby b

    This would seem to be an ideal time to advance aid to Ukraine with some anti-corruption and anti-Azov conditions attached.

    Alas, Biden is running things.

  • This would seem to be an ideal time to advance aid to Ukraine with some anti-corruption and anti-Azov conditions attached.

    Actually now is a truly terrible time for the latter. Guess who is defending Mariupol? If any of the Azov folk survive, worry about them later. But as for anti-corruption drives, Ukrainian police just charged a member of Zelenskyy’s ruling party due to corruption, which indicates to me a system actually starting to work.

  • bobby b

    “Actually now is a truly terrible time for the latter.”

    Oh, gosh, yes, I agree. I’m thinking about reforms for later. You don’t get rid of your nasty attack dog until after the wolf is gone.

  • bobby b (March 25, 2022 at 5:37 pm), I have to agree with Perry de Havilland (London, March 25, 2022 at 6:11 pm).

    – Any courageous Ukrainians fighting and dying in Mariupol do not look like they are trying to let others fight while they seize power, or become wealthy by stealing war materiel while others shiver on the front lines. Afterwards, any survivors will have earned their exercise of free speech and their one-man-one-votes. Given the election of Jewish President Zelensky beforehand, we may reasonably hope that any Ukraine that holds off Putin will survive that.

    – Given Zelensky’s response to Biden – “I need ammo, not a ride” – I expect the unasked Ukrainian government to weaponise current patriotism into restraint of military-harming corruption better than I expect Biden or his handlers to manage any power that aid gives them into asking anything useful.

    Putin’s problems arise in part because they have much diminished the corruption and consequent military impotence they had when Putin seized Crimea.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin (March 25, 2022 at 8:13 pm), I am not thinking in terms of “change your ideology.” I don’t care what they believe.

    More like “once this is over, you will not lob artillery into the basin, attack civilian areas, or rape and torture.” (And that’s just from the Wiki entry.)

    You can admire bravery and zeal and still wish to stop some behavior. This would appear to be an appropriate time to consider that. We have some leverage here.

    But, as I said, I doubt Biden will.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Not that i know much, or anything really, about the Azov battalion, but i am reminded of the Luca Brasi character in The Godfather.

    Luca Brasi was a psychopath who would fit right in with the Gestapo or KGB. Yet Don Vito Corleone made good use of him, while apparently keeping him within bounds — i.e. letting him be atrocious towards Don Vito’s enemies, but nobody else.

    Zelenskyy might possibly have managed to do the same with the Azov battalion.

  • (And that’s just from the Wiki entry.) bobby b, March 25, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    “From you”, was Candace Owens’ witty and just reply when the NYT asked her where she got the idea of Nazis in Ukraine, quoting specific NYT articles and ridiculing their claim she must have read Russia Today for this stuff that was in the NYT yesterday. The NYT idiots had double-think-style forgotten how recently their narrative had swung round. I trust Candace therefore understands how unreliable in themselves her sources are for this stuff. (When the subject is both political and a current hot topic, Wikipedia does not rank that much above those sources.)

    None of which in itself refutes any specific claim. However I’m not much in favour of attaching even “sort this out post-war”-style conditions to aid because I expect Jewish president Zelensky to have a more genuine concern and a better idea (both now and post-war) of what needs post-war checking (in both senses of ‘to check’) than Biden or the NYT of either yesterday or today (that is a very low bar, to be sure). FWIW, Kamil Galeev’s discussion of how the Russian-speaking areas went anti-Putin suggests the Azovians acted like the lesser evil, but that is compatible with Zelensky taking tough post-war action as, if and where needed. I’m just saying (and I think bobby b, after thinking of Biden, in effect agrees 🙂 ) let’s leave the discretion in the hands of the guy with more genuine motive to fix any real ‘Nazi’ problems and less senile and/or narrative-imposed ignorance of the Ukrainian reality.

    Just my 0.02p FWIW.