Episode MMXVII: Attack of the Clowns
It’s a classic story: a duo of TV entertainers — with the help of plutocratic power brokers and racist reactionaries — run outsider presidential campaigns against the corrupt establishment. After their victory, the twist: instead of cleaning up politics, they do the complete opposite. It’s easier and makes for better television.
President-Elect Donald Trump ran against the dishonest media, the big banks, and the venal DC politicos. Then, he did an about-face and surrounded himself with their handmaidens. Trump’s senior advisor, Steve Bannon, isn’t just a white nationalist; he’s a former Goldman banker and publisher of Klan-friendly dog whistling at Breitbart. He’s not the only Goldman alum — so is Gary Cohn, Trump’s pick for the National Economic Council, and Steve Mnuchin, the proposed Secretary of the Treasury. Throw in three billionaires and millionaire Linda McMahon, who is married to Vince McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (a bonus billionaire for good luck!) That, my friend, is how you get money of politics.
The Guatemalan political establishment is also a tiny cabal of uber-rich kleptocrats, of course, but their power isn’t built on money: it’s built on blood. President Jimmy Morales ran in 2015 as a candidate for the FCN — a center-right party in Guatemala founded and funded by a group of retired military officers called AVEMILGUA.
They’re members of the same military-intelligence community whose sins and scandals brought down the administration of Otto Perez Molina. Luis Felipe Miranda Trejo, who founded the FCN, has his fingerprints on the mass graves of hundreds discovered at a military base in Coban. Edgar Justino Ovalle Maldonado, diputado and Jimmy’s political fixer, was an officer on the ground during the ethnic cleansing of Ixil Maya in the early eighties.
Morales appears untroubled by these grisly political realities, in part, because he has a more important historical atrocity that he claims as his number one priority — the theft of Belize from Guatemala. He’ll right this wrong alongside his Minister of Defense and Chief of Security, the Padilla brothers. Three Salvadoran politicians and their pilot were kidnapped, killed, and incinerated at a PNC blacksite on Padilla land back in 2007.
At Trump Tower, Belize is at best the number two priority. The main goal is fully postmodernizing the federal government. Incoming Labor Secretary and Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder has written op-eds about replacing his workers with robots. Rick Perry once tried to say that he’d eliminate the Department of Energy in a presidential primary debate, only to lose his train of thought mid-sentence on national TV. He will now be in charge of the Department of Energy. Scott Pruitt will lead the EPA — an agency who, as the AG of Oklahoma, he attempted to sue into oblivion.
Morales has of his own posse: the actors from Moralejas, the lowbrow comedy show he did with his brother Sammy. Edgar Fernando Lopez, a graduate of Moralejas, nailed a post in the Ministry of Culture. Juan Adriel Orozco Mejía, another former moraleja, has been tapped to step in as a diputado should Ovalle be arrested for war crimes.
A third Moralejas alum on the political scene is Othmar Sanchez, an actor turned diputado and close friend of Morales. He might have had something to do with a Q90,000 dinner charged to taxpayers at upscale restaurant Fulanos and Menganos — a dinner, it seems, that never happened. Jimmy’s brother and son are accused of falsifying documents to bury their financial stake the joint, where the Morales brothers once performed live.
But that’s what family’s for, right? The Trump children — charged with minding the store while Daddy’s president — keep themselves busy nowadays by soliciting national security clearances, getting screamed at on planes, and retweeting white nationalists.
Truly, we live in a golden age of television.