Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Blood Kin: More Bang for Your Buck the Bush Family Way

Original version published in The Moscow Times, Dec. 5, 2003.

Imagine these banner headlines, circa, say, 1998: President's Brother in Biz With Red Chinese! President's Brother Beds Hookers as Corporate Perk! President's Brother Hip Deep in War Profiteering: White House Policies Fill Family Pockets!

There would've been a hot time in the old media town with all that, eh? Wall-to-wall coverage, 24/7, Fox News frothing, Washington Post pounding, tabloids screaming – "Oval Evil: Reds, Beds and Milking the Dead!" Earnest clucking in the halls of Congress: "We must get to the bottom of these unsavoury connections." Late-night comics cracking wise: "Hey, when the president's brother orders Chinese, he ain't just talking chow mein: 'Yeah, I'll have the rice, the won-ton, two blondes and a bag of unmarked bills, please.'"

But of course, that was another millennium. In our new, more enlightened, more chastened age, we humbly accept – even celebrate – the special privileges accorded to the great ones among us. And so, with a couple of honorable exceptions, the bigtime American media lay a nice soft comfy quilt of silence over last month's revelations about presidential brother Neil Bush – details which emerged from the nasty divorce suit Neil brought upon himself by his flagrant adultery with a close family friend.

While others quilted, the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle detailed Brother Neil's fat "consulting" contract with Jiang Mianheng, son of recently retired Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Young Jiang and his well-connected Communist capitalists are paying Neil $2 million in stock for his "advice" on manufacturing hi-tech computer circuits – despite Neil's sworn oath that he had "absolutely no background" in the field. "But I've been working in Asia for a long time," he added.

He certainly has. Neil also admitted that he'd experienced carnal canoodling with several women during his many business jaunts to Asia over the years. He told the divorce court that these brazen hussies had simply knocked on his hotel door, came in and had sex with him. These encounters were not emollients offered by the businessmen courting his favor and royal name, Neil insisted. Why, he's not even sure these anonymous women offering themselves to him unbidden actually were prostitutes, because "they never asked for money and I didn't pay them." If it's true – as he swears under oath – that he didn't know why those women came to see him, then the best you can say about Brother Neil is that he is an idiot of the highest order. (A possibility not to be discounted, given his illustrious pedigree.)

But of course Neil is no idiot. He first entered the public eye for a sweet scam he pulled during the Reagan-Bush years. As a director of a Colorado savings-and-loan bank, he steered $100 million of homeowners' savings to his own business partners – without telling his fellow directors of the personal connection. The partners defaulted, and Bush, using his family links to Argentine strongman Carlos Menem, tried to hide the losses in some bait-and-switch deals south of the border, as the Austin Chronicle reports.

When the feds finally caught up with him in 1990, Bush had cost American taxpayers $1.3 billion in bailouts to cover his mismanagement. But as the son of the sitting president, Neil could not possibly go to jail for stealing $100 million; the high-born don't do hard time. No, he was merely fined $50,000 and banned from all banking activities. Naturally, Neil didn't pay his own fine; fatcat Republican fundraisers covered it for him.

We told you he was no idiot.

Now comes the sweetest deal of all – enriched by the blood sugar seeping out from the bodies of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Yes, Neil has dipped his silver spoon into the reconstruction gravy being ladled out by his brother George, the White House warlord. Neil is now being paid a fat annual fee to "help companies secure contracts in Iraq," the Financial Times reports.

Bush is co-chairman of a pork funnel called Crest Investment Corporation. His partner, Jamal Daniel, is wired into the chief private conduit of war profits, New Bridge Strategies, a lobbying firm packed with Bush family retainers, many of whom left government service this spring to leap into the Iraq money pit. And what does Neil do to earn his crust of bloodsoaked bread? He told the divorce court that he "answers the phone when Jamal Daniel calls to ask for advice."

And what does Jamal Daniel get out of this unusual arrangement? Why, he gets to say, "I was just talking to my partner, the president's brother" when he's negotiating with Bush administration officials to win "reconstruction" contracts for his clients. As long as Brother George keeps tossing cannon fodder into the Iraqi cauldron, Brother Neil will keep padding his fat Bush wallet.

Neil's sordid saga exemplifies the Bush clan's prime "family value": rake it in from all sides, blood and honor be damned. We've often noted here that Neil and George's grandpa, Prescott Bush, was a huge investor in the Nazi war machine, maintaining his profitable Hitlerian arrangements even after America was at war with Germany. Some of these assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. But last month, newly uncovered government documents showed that Prescott and his partners, including Democrat bigwig Averill Harriman, actually held onto to more than a dozen other Nazi assets throughout the war, the New Hampshire Gazette reports.

Did anyone go to jail for these crimes? Of course not! Instead, Prescott founded a political dynasty that has used aggressive war, insider trading, covert operations, government corruption and sweetheart deals with virulently anti-democratic patrons (the bin Ladens, Saudi Wahabbi extremists, the Chinese Communist Party, cult leader Sun Myung Moon, etc.) to enrich themselves and their cronies.

If you have no honor, no integrity, and don't care if people die to make you rich, why then, the world is just a nameless woman who shows up at your door unasked and lets you have your way with her.

Right, Neil?