Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Access to the President? Join the Club!

February 20, 2017

Access to the President? Join the Club!
Membership has it’s privileges, especially for those who shelled out $300,000 to join the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.

Back in November, President elect Donald J. Trump paraded his prospective cabinet officers into the clubhouse of his Bedminster golf club for job interviews. Now it turns out he invited random club members to sit in. Politico just got the audio, recorded by someone who was in the room. Here’s a transcript:

“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything. You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.”

“We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State. We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along.”

The pattern continues now that Donald Trump is President and Golf-Cheat-In-Chief. While he was entertaining Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in the public dining room of his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida ($200,000 membership fee), aides alerted him about a North Korean ballistic missile test, and they discussed the US response in full view and earshot of the club’s members. One club member even got a selfie with the serviceman who carries the “nuclear football.” House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz was not amused.

Mr. Trump believes that only the rich should play golf, so if you have the bucks to pay and play, you can chat with him about the nation’s business as well as your own.

More:

“Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people,'” Darren Samuelsohn and Anne Karni, Politico

“Trump ran a campaign based on intelligence security. That’s not how he’s governing.” Philip Bump, Washington Post

“Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power,” Nicholas Confessore, Maggie Haberman, and Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Trump’s Presidency ‘Enhances’ a $200,000 Mar-a-Lago Membership,” Chas Danner, New York Magazine

“Democrats demand Mar-a-Lago list of members, visitors,” Matthew Nussbaum, Politico

“Shouldn’t We Know Who Else Is at the ‘Winter White House’?” George Zornick, The Nation

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Crash Course for New Presidents

February 16, 2017

Have you recently arrived in Washington’s Executive Mansion only to find that the U.S. Government doesn’t run by fiats, diktats, decrees and Executive Orders? Here’s a quick video rundown on the government. Hope you like to watch TV!
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Zip Codes Helped Organize America

February 7, 2017

Back in the Sixties, when people mailed paper letters and the U.S. Post Office was a real government agency, the USPO introduced the Zone Improvement Plan, organizing the country by ZIP Code. Vox explains.
Video by

Bonus: ZIP Code music video by the Swingin’ Six.

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Inaugural Parade

January 20, 2017

Inaugural Parade

Today’s 58th Inaugural Parade perfectly represents Donald J. Trump’s America — people from fewer than half of the 50 states will be participating. Mr. Trump, you may recall, was elected with only 46 percent of the vote.

Many of the marchers will be from police and military units, following compulsory orders. God help them, now that DJT is Commander in Chief. Appropriately, Virginia will be represented by Arlington’s Tragedy Assistance Marching Unit.

At least Mr. Trump didn’t get the tanks and missile launchers he wanted in his inaugural parade.

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Image (“Trump Triumphant, after an 1885 Varanasi painting”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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58th Presidential Inauguration

January 20, 2017

58th Presidential Inauguration

At Noon today, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Mr. Trump will take the oath of office with his hand on the Lincoln Bible, symbolizing his hostile takeover of the Republican Party and the U.S. of A.

God Save the Republic.

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Image (“Party of Lincoln, after Bill Mauldin”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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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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Image (“American Dream, after Grant Wood”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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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

Update:

“Turns Out Ben Carson Didn’t Grow Up in Public Housing,” Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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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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