Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Trump Appoints ‘Foreclosure King’ As Treasury Secretary

December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints 'Foreclosure King' As Treasury Secretary

President-elect and self-proclaimed swamp-drainer Donald J. Trump has named Goldman Sachs alum and former hedge fund partner Steve Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary. Mr. Mnuchin, who was finance chair of the Trump campaign and the producer of Suicide Squad, became infamous as the “Foreclosure King” when his OneWest Bank foreclosed on over 36,000 family homes during the financial crisis. OneWest specialized in “harsh, repugnant and repulsive” foreclosures on the homes of minority families and the elderly, and in one celebrated case foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman over a 27 cent error.

The Department of the Treasury controls mortgage guarantee agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and runs the MHA mortgage relief program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which helps homeowners most in danger of foreclosure due to the financial crisis. Oh, it also regulates banks.

More:

“Trump Treasury pick made millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners,” Lorraine Woellert, Politico

“Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary,” Peter Dreier, American Prospect

“Trump Was Always Going to Be a Gift to Wall Street. His Pick for Treasury Secretary Proves It.,” Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“Donald Trump voter who lost her home to new Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin has ‘no faith in our government anymore,’” Josh Boak and Jeff Horowitz, AP via Salon

“Angus King: Trump’s not draining swamp, he’s adding alligators,” Mark Hensch, The Hill

Bonus:

“Before heading to the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin will grace the silver screen in ‘Rules Don’t Apply,'” Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

“The fiancée of Trump’s twice-married new Treasury Secretary, 53, is 35-year-old actress who sparked fury after she ‘invented parts of her memoir about nearly being killed in Africa,'” Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail

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Ben Carson at HUD: Pyramid Scheme?

November 30, 2016

Ben Carson at HUD: Pyramid Scheme?
Last we heard of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, he was proposed for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, presumably because he lives in a house and once lived in a city. We assume President-elect Trump will appoint a city planner as Surgeon General.

Dr. Carson’s fascination with Egyptian pyramids may influence U.S. cityscapes during the Trump administration. On the other hand, his spokesman told the press that Ben Carson thinks he’s unqualified to run a federal department. Any department. Oh, and the good doctor recently diagnosed the HUD-administered Fair Housing laws as “communist.”

More:

“Ben Carson Is Trump’s Pick for HUD Secretary, for Some Terrible Reason,” Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

“Ben Carson for HUD Secretary, Why?” Kriston Capps, CityLab

“Stop Treating HUD Like A Second-Tier Department,” Andrew Flowers, FiveThirtyEight

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President Trump May Govern From His Tower

November 15, 2016

President Trump May Govern From His Tower

President-elect Donald J. Trump wants to spend three-day work weeks in the White House and long weekends holed up in New York’s Trump Tower, according to the New York Times. Reporters can’t pursue this further because the President-elect is holed up in Trump Tower. President Trump may also take long weekends at his golf resorts in New Jersey and Florida.

3 days in DC and 4 days at home is the weekly schedule of the denizens of Congress. That pattern was established in 1994 so Republican congressmen could spend more time raising big-time campaign funds instead of just passing laws and stuff. Who made that happen? Ethically challenged House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich, now a key Trump advisor.

More:

“NYT: Trump May Split Time Between White House And Trump Tower,” Caitlin MacNeal, TPM Livewire

“Will Donald Trump even live in the White House?” Jeva Lange, The Week

“Trump Tower: The home of a reality show, a campaign and now a transition,” Jenna Johnson, Washington Post

Related:

“With Trump Using Tower as Base, Fifth Avenue Grinds to a Halt,”Sarah Maslin Nir,  New York Times

“Trump Tower, Fifth Avenue, and the Militarization of Urban Public Space,” Justin Davidson, New York Magazine

“New York mayor to ask feds to help pay for Trump security,” Harper Neidig, The Hill

“How Donald Trump will retrofit Midtown Manhattan as a presidential getaway,” Marc Ambinder, Washington Post

“Secret Service wants to shut down traffic on Fifth Ave. around Trump Tower when the President-elect is in town: sources,” Rocco Parascandola, Dale W. Eisenger, and Leonard Greene, NY Daily News
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Image (“The Trump Tower of Barad-Dur”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Trumpismo Grabs America By the … Throat

November 9, 2016

Trumpismo Grabs America By the ... Throat
American voters have elected the honorable demagogue Donald J. Trump as the next president of the of the United States, and the news has been greeted with glee by strongmen, dictators, authoritarian leaders and far-right politicians across then globe:

“Russia’s Putin pleased as Trump win shocks world,” Nicole Gaouette, Elise Labott, CNN

“Philippines’ President Duterte says his country can enhance relations with the US and congratulates Trump, a month after telling Obama to ‘go to Hell,'” Jay Akbar, Daily Mail

“China Just Won The U.S. Election,” James Palmer, Foreign Policy

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban congratulated Donald Trump on his victory,” Jay Akbar, Daily Mail

“French far-right leader Le Pen hails Trump victory,” RFI

“Dutch extremist Geert Wilders expects Trump win to boost Europe’s racist right,” Reuters via Raw Story

“Nigel Farage and other far-right leaders hail Trump’s ‘historic’ US election win,” Toby Meyjes, Metro

“Why authoritarian leaders worldwide may be thrilled with Trump’s win,” Patrick Winn, GlobalPost

“The world’s demagogues offer simple solutions and a strong hand. Trump’s victory has been the latest reminder of this.” David Motadel, History Today

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‘This Is How Democracy Dies’

October 28, 2016

Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter was interviewed by Margaret Warner of PBS NewsHour on September 14, 2012, the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Souter: “I don’t worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I’m afraid of a foreign invasion. I don’t worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some of other places. What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, as they might do, for example, with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem.’

“That is how the Roman republic fell. Augustus became emperor, not because he arrested the Roman Senate. He became emperor because he promised that he would solve problems that were not being solved.

“If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible. If we don’t know, we will stay away from the polls. We will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and we and the government will in effect say, ‘Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do.’

That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”

Video of full interview here

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Shocking News From the Library of Congress

July 27, 2016

Shocking News From the Library of Congress

Before leaving Washington for a seven-week vacation, the U.S. Congress did something unprecedented: It approved the appointment of a professional librarian to run the Library of Congress. What a concept! Dr. Carla Hayden, head of Baltimore’s public library system and former American Library Association president, is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post, appointed after a six-month delay, of course.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with 162 million items in its collections. Not exactly the U.S. “national library,” it was established in 1800 to help Congress in its deliberations and, even though today those are largely fact-free, the library remains. It also runs the Copyright Office, has 3,200 employees, and an annual budget of $630 million.

More:

“Senate Approves Carla Hayden As New Librarian Of Congress,” Camila Domonoske, NPR

“Can Carla Hayden Reinvent the Library of Congress?” Alex Duner, U.S. News & World Report

“The Library of Last Resort,” Kyle Chayka, N+1 Online

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Paul Ryan Coronation Today. Make That ‘Paul D. Ryan.’

October 29, 2015

Paul Ryan Coronation Today. Make That 'Paul D. Ryan.'

After refusing the crown three times, like Caesar, Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) accepted it, along with the sable, sceptre and orb, and was anointed as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Henceforth, he shall be known as “Speaker Paul D. Ryan.”

Okay, he’s not Emperor, but the GOP’s Tea Party and Freedom Caucus loons resent the imperial powers invested in the office by Newt Gingrich while he was Speaker.

More:

“Paul D. Ryan elected House speaker, but GOP divisions remain,” Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

“Paul Ryan Is Elected House Speaker, Hoping to Manage Chaos,”Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

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Paul Ryan Wants Job Security, Weekends Off

October 22, 2015

Paul Ryan Wants Job Security, Weekends Off

Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI-1), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and former Oscar Myer salesman, has deigned to replace Rep. John Boehner (R, OH-8) as Speaker of the House under the following conditions:

  1. A Change in House Rules so that he can’t be removed as Speaker
  2. House Republicans need to vote the way he tells them to
  3. Weekends off so he can spend time with his family
  4. Reduction of the Speaker’s Republican Party fund-raising duties
  5. All GOP House Members must immediately read Atlas Shrugged and start P90X workouts

Okay, we lied about that last demand but Mr. Ryan’s GOP colleagues are choking on the rest of them, especially Items #1 and #2.  That goes double for the mysterious but powerful anarchists of the Freedom Caucus. No matter what you’ve heard, the Freedom Caucus didn’t quite endorse Paul Ryan as Speaker in a vote Wednesday night, and the real vote isn’t for another week, anyway. Plenty of time for FC members to reconsider and throw their typical fits of rage.

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Happy Fiscal New Year

October 1, 2015

Happy Fiscal New Year

May old encumbrance be forgot, and never brought to mind . . ”
– Singer and retired Federal employee Joe Hickerson.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 1 — Today Federal employees throughout the Washington region and across the country observe their traditional holiday, the Fiscal New Year. Fiscal 2015 ended at midnight last night; today is the start of Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016 for short).

The weeks leading up to Fiscal New Year’s Eve were hectic with preparation of the Continuing Resolution. The “CR” is last-minute stopgap legislation allowing the federal government to function despite the resolute obstructionism of our Tea-Party-Republicans in Congress. It provides a few months of funding for the activities of the civil servants who do the work citizens actually need while politicians bloviate about petty, symbolic issues to distract the media and voters.

From Capitol Hill, a Safe & Happy FY 2016 to you and yours.

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John Oliver on the District of Columbia’s Missing Political Rights

August 6, 2015

Americans who live in the District of Columbia pay Federal taxes, die in U.S. wars, but have no vote in Congress. What they have had, for over two centuries, is Taxation Without Representation. Sound familiar? John Oliver explains it all to you:

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