I’m seeing people talking about the lack of ethics agreement letters for Trump’s cabinet nominees as evidence of corruption, and maybe it is, I don’t know (nobody knows, that’s the whole point of those background checks, so we know), but I think it’s also-or-instead that the Trump team values loyalty and ideology over competence.
The behind-the-scenes low-level administrative work of making sure there’s no last-minute scrambles and of calling nominees (or, likely, nominees’ assistants) to make sure they filed everything, appears to kind of magically happen because admins like me make it happen, smoothly and anonymously, and it’s… not happening… which says to me that Trump’s team can’t hold on to competent staff, or that he doesn’t hire them to begin with, or that he overwhelms the ones he has so that it’s impossible for them to do a good job.
The amount of harm that can be done by simply not knowing what the hell you’re doing when it comes to the details of governing is potentially catastrophic.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about:
- NYT, Senate Confirmation Hearings to Begin Without All Background Checks
- Letter from the head of the Office of Government Ethics on how unprecedented this is
In other news:
- Making America Irradiate Again: “Trump Is Letting Go the People in Charge of Maintaining Our Nuclear Arsenal,” Gizmodo.
- “No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.” from “How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler,” Smithsonian.
- Read the whole thing, but here’s the money quote (see what I did there?): “immediately repealing the tax aspects of Obamacare will put an average of $33,000 in the hands of the richest 1% in 2017. Unfortunately, however, those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 per year will actually see their tax bills increase if the Obamacare taxes are immediately repealed” from “Obamacare Repeal Results In Tax Cuts For The Rich; Tax Increases And Lost Insurance For The Rest,” Forbes.
- We overestimate how conservative our neighbors are: “On average, Canadians believe a quarter of the population think it’s wrong to have sex before marriage. In reality, only 15% of us think you should get hitched before hooking up. . . . Those are all findings from international polling company Ipsos’s annual Perils of Perception survey. In 40 countries, the firm compared people’s perceptions of demographic fact, with actual demographic fact. And in most cases, found that people are way off.” The US was the 5th least accurate country (of 40) at understanding demographics. [CBC]
And, about the whole Russia thing:
Finally, Putin’s strategy of interfering in Brexit and the US election seems to be part of a pattern to split the UK (and probably other countries) off from Europe, and to exploit existing regional tensions to splinter the US (through, amongst other things, secession movements in California and Texas). Now there’s credible allegations that Trump owes money to Russian mobsters and/or that Putin has compromising personal and financial information on him that’s potentially blackmailable, and that Trump’s campaign traded foreign policy promises for the Wikileaks-hacked DNC communications.
It sounds like a Tom Clancy novel. It feels like we’re being led by the hand to war. It also feels like failing to push back against Russian propaganda and Trump’s inevitable pro-Russian policies might result in a splintered USA and a broken EU, with Russia and China the only superpowers left in the world. There’s got to be a middle way, where we can be both unified *and* peaceful.
I want to say something really pithy about this, but then I get overwhelmed by despair.
More reading on this:
- John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI [Guardian]
- Russia spreading fake news and forged docs in Sweden: report [The Local.se]
- From His Home in Russia, Calexit Leader Plots California Secession [KQED]
- Declassified report on Russian hacking during the 2016 election [dni.gov (pdf)]
- Happy New Year From Your Friend Vladimir Putin [Esquire]
- U.S. [Obama administration] to Blacklist 5 Russians, a Close Putin Aide Among Them [NYT]
- Was Donald Trump bailed out of bankruptcy by Russia crime bossses [Daily Kos]
- Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him [CNN]
- Donald Trump’s legal team ‘won Russia Law Firm of the Year award’ [Independent]
[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]