In the movie “The Sting,” the heroes goad the heavy, Doyle Lonnegan, into a blind vendetta by out-swindling him. Lonnegan’s complaint: “What was I supposed to do, accuse him of being a better cheat than me?,” is the position of both parties, on matters a more functional political system would demand impeachment for (impeachment for everyone).

Russian electoral interference versus Saudi electoral interference: which is more threatening to our national security? A betrayal to the Russians is less likely to get us into conflict, but the conflict would be more damaging. A betrayal of Americans to the Saudis is more likely to lead us to conflict, but at less of a cost. Which is not to say the political-pimping has not already cost us dear: President Obama himself complained that the Saudi Royal family’s role in the September 11 atrocity, which caused us to set a match to the most explosive tinderbox in the world, would continue to be kept secret.

To what would be Doyle Lonnegan’s amazement: you absolutely can accuse the other of being a better cheat, as the parties and their media finger-puppets show. The latest whirl in the “better cheat” dogfight, is tribe Blue’s indignation over accusations that the President has dug up dirt on the Democratic primary front runner, Joe Biden. Evidently, the President made calls to the President of Ukraine, concerning Biden’s son’s lucrative job with Ukrainian gas giant, Burisma Holdings.

Ukraine is pivotal in our conflict with Russia. Pivoting, any reasonable person should fear, at the table of the board of directors of Burisma would be a reasonable thing to look into. Hunter Biden’s seat at that table goes back to 2014, when political outsider Donald Trump was still an abrasive talk show host.

In a more functional news environment, the story of the possible bribery of the son of a Vice President, by a country which is a proxy in our conflict with Russia, would be a mushroom cloud of dirt. “Digging up” is not needed to describe what should be plain to see. Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. It beggars credibility to imagine that such jobs are given out based on the objective merits of a lawyer from Delaware. Here is a video of then-Vice President Biden’s boasting of tying up Ukraine’s development money. What seems a likely explanation: Biden’s accusation of superior cheating by a Ukrainian prosecutor, trying to cheat son Hunter’s cheating the cheaters. To reiterate: the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine is one of the most serious challenges to global stability there is (global survival, really). Conflict of interest doesn’t begin to describe the heart of this conflict, or the stakes.

Here is what functional checks on conflicts of interest look like with unbent civil servants: I worked the night of the 2003 NY City blackout. We and the police had to carry down the stairs a very tight asthmatic, after spending the night carrying down God-knows how many others. We all practically collapsed from the effort. The owner of a deli, looking on, said “Wait right there.” He brought out the last cold can of Coca Cola in the city, that he cultivated for a “special occasion.” I hate Coke, but it was one of my life’s most hit-the-spot moments. I took a swig, passed it to my partner, who took a swig. When the can got to the cops they politely declined: “We can’t take anything. If someone sees us, the perception of corruption looks very bad.” Just so. This, from men who make less in a year than what Hunter Biden makes in a month, sitting on the board of a state energy company, whose owners are cat’s paws of America’s existential enemy.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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