As many in the nation have become transfixed with the Paul Manafort trial, another name associated with President Donald J. Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the cabinet member who used federal government aircraft to transport, entertain and impress his recently-wed bride, has informed us that he and his boss are advocating for an additional $100 billion tax cut for the same recipients of the recent Trump administration tax cut.

Those with a measure of insight to what’s going on to rob America’s other 99 percent see the two events, the Manafort trial and the recent—and now newly proposed—tax cut as another cut from the U.S. flag as metaphor.  As the reader may already know, Manafort had grown super rich by taking public money while Mnuchin now seeks a legal version of what got Manafort into the crosshairs of special counsel leader, Robert Mueller.

In the latest version of what’s become an 18-month grab of anything not nailed down in Washington, D.C., this proposed cut would be brought about through what’s called executive fiat or an action without a vote of Congress.  It’s not only highly unusual but also contrary to the actions of anything known done by any democracy and would fall into the category of plundering the U.S. treasury while led by the guy given the assignment to protect it.  Mostly, it will enrich the U.S. elites as well as Mnuchin, Trump and other wealthy Trump cabinet members.

What’s really going on should be a warning to all of us, even those who will benefit from it, because it seriously threatens our nation as a constitutional government based on the rule of law and U.S. sovereignty.  It even has a name, that is, kleptocracy.  For those without a handy dictionary, kleptocracy refers to a ruler who uses his political power to steal his country’s resources.

Interesting to note that we often hold the view of ourselves as a people who do not abide the sort of nepotism and outright theft so common in other countries, including, for example, Brazil.  Another generalization we Americans hold dear has been that our practice in good government would be duplicated elsewhere. However, increasingly, shamefully and destructively, we have become a sanctuary for laundered money, shell companies and underhanded real estate deals.  Wealthy Americans plant their money offshore in 2018 and have done so for a couple of decades, just like their crooked counterparts in bottom-feeding nations that we Americans commonly view as disgusting and despicable.

Manafort is one of those Americans who has lead the way into the world of dark, shady and illegal deal-making.  He works well with thugs and despots at stealing from their citizens and then hiding their plunders.  Manafort helped sanitize Philippine Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Angola’s Jonas Savimbi, the Congo’s Mobuto Sese Seko, and Kenya’s Daniel Moi.  These crooks by Manafort’s means were able to receive arms and aid from the U.S. And, by the way, he’s helped Russian oligarchs who, along with Vladimir Putin, are busy trying to undermine America.

The tales of betrayals are foreboding for Americans as the Manafort and Mnuchin stories are just two of the many underway with a Trump administration where foreign countries are financing deals that profit the president’s own family along with the bank accounts of his entire retinue, most poignantly of late by the shenanigans of Tom Price and Scott Pruitt.  There’s an American elite who are active just like Manafort and others who, for personal gain and riches, send us into the toxic gasp of international kleptocracy.  The Trump administration is the most wildly corrupt ever while the Republicans in House and Senate do nothing about it.  Currently, the only hope for corrections and a U.S. rescue reside in the special counsel.

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his     opinion every week in the Keizertimes.)