Archive for the ‘government’ Category

FBI Executive Search

May 11, 2017

FBI Executive Search

After praising FBI Director James Comey since October and expressing confidence in him for the last 100 days, on Tuesday President Trump fired him. The pretext concerned Mr. Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, but the firing came soon after the Director’s congressional testimony about the FBI’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

President Trump, the subject of those FBI investigations, will now pick the next FBI Director. Former Trump campaign advisor Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General, who pledged to recuse himself from any investigations of Trump campaign links to Russia, will help pick the FBI chief heading those investigations. What could be more ethical?

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Never Fear, Jared’s Here

April 3, 2017

President Trump, has appointed son-in-law Jared Kushner to run his new Office of American Innovation. And what could be more innovative than giving your daughter’s husband a job? The goal of this new biz exec “SWAT team” is to run the federal government “like a great American company.” Would that be like the four companies Donald Trump bankrupted, or the one that landed Jared Kushner’s daddy in prison?

Trump in-law Kushner may have little time to spearhead SWAT raids. He’ll be talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), sanctioned by the U.S.in 2014 after Russia seized the Ukraine. The meeting was in December, while Mr. Kushner still ran the family business, the multibillion-dollar Kushner Companies. He still owns some Kushner Company assets.

The Intelligence Committee inquiry isn’t a fishing expedition. Last year a New York VEB employee, Evgeny Buryakov, admitted he was actually a Russian SVR spy. Mr. Buryakov is serving two and a half years in a US prison.

More:

“America’s government can’t be run like a business. That’s a feature, not a bug.” Jeff Spross, The Week

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Dissembler-in-Chief

March 1, 2017

To general amazement, President Donald J. Trump addressed a joint session of Congress in a normal tone of voice last night. To no one’s surprise, however, he continued to base his dubious policies on alternative facts.

More:

“Fact-checking President Trump’s address to Congress,” Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post

“When you fact-check Donald Trump’s latest speech, you find that even the technically true parts aren’t really true,” Holly Baxter, The Independent

“Fact Check: Trump’s First Address to Congress,” New York Times

“Fact-checking Donald Trump’s first presidential address to Congress,” Alan Yuhas, The Guardian

“Fact-checkers had a field day with President Trump’s address to Congress,” Peter Weber, The Week

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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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