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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace


Trump & The Mob



"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."


Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax


Half of the US Is Broke


The myth of the Christian country


“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937


A Just Peace


SIP contract online


Middle East friendship chart


Corporations enriching shareholders


- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry


Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks



"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  





  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:


  • Jim Hightower:

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 

Hard Times in Oregon: 


The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   




    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People


    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 


•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.


•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   

A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  


"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison











































RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ


  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 

Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.

Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 


SB 1533 passes!


Housing Needs in Oregon 




"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941


Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel


Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 


Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw



From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now

The Daily Kos

Blue Oregon


"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 


    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   



     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  


"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

















































There is something wrong with this picture - all white men discussing health care with the Veep.    

     EDITOR'S NOTE:  I've argued that one can't negotiate with a bully and a thug.  I used the example of FDR and Churchill negotiating with Stalin at Yalta.  Aside from his "love" for all things Russian - The Donald reminds one of a petty dictator. 

     So far he's been held back by the courts, the failure of Trumpcare 1.0 and now public opinion which is at an all time low for a new president - in the mid 30% range. 

     But the Ds can't sit idly by and just let health care implode.  Just today Trump hinted at another run - Trumpcare 2.0 - which will be worse than Trumpcare 1.0. 

     You can argue he's delusional, which he is and that he narcissistic, which he is and that's yes he's a bully, a liar, a thug, which he is and that he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and other mental health issues (which his constant tweeting illustrate). 

     But until he's impeached Trump is the "illegitimate POTUS" who occupies the Oval Office minus his spouse.  So the Ds need a plan. 

     I laid out some of my own ideas on my March 24th FB post last week - go to Russ to see it.  

     But here is an idea by a certifiable smart political operative who plied his trade in Pennslvania for over 20 years and has chops on how you make health care sausage.  Even Biil Clinton noted his work.  It's good reading. 


The Art of the Deal for the Deal Dude-in-chief:  

By PA Slick:  

     Today, I saw both Sen. Schumer and Sen. Sanders suggest they were willing to talk and negotiate with POTUS over health care reform.  Despite the vehement objections that it will bring from the D left, I think Schumer should try.


     First, it’s the right thing to do.  And 2nd, I still think the D’s can play a winning “divide and conquer” strategy. 

     POTUS promised lower drug prices—that’s a simple offer to make—let Medicare negotiate directly with the drug companies.  Sell it to him saying he can be seen again as a real “negotiator in chief”—the art of the deal.  It’s HIS team that will negotiate; sell it to him that way.  That’s “free market” competition at it’s finest.  And it is EXACTLY what the POTUS said he would do while on the campaign trail—many times!

     The drug companies will HATE it, but the vast majority of D’s will vote for it despite the pharmaceutical industry’s powerful opposition, and I think there are now enough “moderate” R’s (you only need 20-25 in the House; and 4-5 in the Senate) to give Trump a true “win” on one of his promises.

     Offer up “insurance competition across state lines (something both POTUS and virtually all R’s support, in exchange for them giving something on a public option.  The public option will bring more competition, especially to the geographic areas that are down to only 1 insurance company.  Trump has NEVER been against this on principle.  He said, more than once, that he was going to give EVERY American health care.

     You could throw in some form of a “high risk pool” (something Mitch really likes) and end up with a public option for anyone 50 or 55 and older; and the risk pool concept for those under that age.  R’s who have supported the risk pool concept quietly acknowledge that it only works if the government subsidizes it.  So you could even offer SOME form of reducing various of the Obamacare taxes in exchange.  One bite of the apple at a time!

     Why not just insist on Medicare for all??  Because there simply aren’t the votes in either the House or the Senate; notwithstanding Bernie and Liz and Al.  Schumer knows this.

     Work quietly with the Republican Governor’s who expanded Medicaid and who were vehemently against the Medicaid cost shift to the states in the Ryan bill.  The moderate R’s in both the House and Senate will support you on that.  Schumer could easily use one of the R House or Senate “moderates” as the go between.  I can name several who would take that opportunity. 

     And despite hard core conservative opposition; it’s one provision that you can factually demonstrate actually reduces health care costs; by providing low income American’s health care at the primary care level that significantly reduces the use of the emergency room as the PCP, and the hospitals will strongly support because it has reduced their uncompensated care debt, big-time!!!  That’s exactly what the R Governor’s were arguing.

     DON’T offer health care savings accounts up front.  In fact, your start point should be “the one thing we can’t sell in the D caucuses is health savings accounts.”  Make the R’s think that THIS is the make or break issue.  It will make them want it, even more!!

     I learned early in my political career to listen carefully to what the opposition REALLY needs; and then make thoughtful policy decisions about what principle it is that would truly prevent you from wanting to offer it up.  In virtually any political negotiation; each side needs SOMETHING that they are fighting FOR, simply because they think YOU are against it.

     Decades ago, I played a key part in creating a new, state, health care agency.  With all the truly difficult policy and political considerations; I knew EARLY that the one thing the major political opponents, the Chamber, the Insurance industry, and the Hospital Association were HUNG UP ON was the name of the organization.  They were vehemently against a “Commission”.  Because to them, it represented “government regulation” at the highest level.  In their minds, “commission” was interchangeable with “government regulation”.

Honestly, the game hasn't changed in 30 plus years.

     So, in each one of the first 6 drafts I produced for the Majority Leader, and for behind the scenes negotiations with both the House Republican staff and the interest groups; I titled the organization as a COMMISSION!!  In fact, in the last draft I had my executive secretary type up, I told her to type COMMISSION in cap letters!!  lol

     And for the 18 months it took to negotiate the bill; the opposition was convinced that my boss and I thought the word “Commission” was the one thing that we would die over.  And so did (with one truly brilliant exception) all the people who I was negotiating with.  They became obsessed on focusing on THAT.  Because, they became obsessed with defeating ME!!  EGO and personality counts in politics 101.  **winks**

     Meanwhile, all the truly important issues, the ones that truly made policy distinctions for us, I was winning concessions on.

     In those 18 months, the bill went through at least 50 drafts.  And in EACH of those drafts, the Agency remained a COMMISSION.

     At the final hours of the budget negotiations in 1986, I got a phone call directly from THE key leader of all the interest groups that were opposing the legislation;  and he requested that I come to his office for a ‘one on one’ meeting. 

     I’d been a staff member in the PA House for more than 12 years at that point; and the key staff member on 3 or 4 major pieces of major legislation that were critical politically to this political interest group.  I’d been involved in many small group meetings with him.   But this was the first time I’d ever been asked to a one on one meeting with him.  And, my title at the time was only “Acting Chief of Staff.”

     That was the meeting that turned my opinion of him from “political enemy” to “a true politician and gentleman”;  he treated me as if I WAS the Majority Leader—with total respect and honesty.  He was as straightforward and brutally honest as I’d ever heard ANYONE in that position of political leadership be.  He laid out, in clear, simple and honest terms what his POLITICAL problems were, and what he needed; and at the end of the meeting, he asked me to consider HIS needs, and let him know if I could do anything about them, to help him get his people from “no” to “yes”. 

     I told him I was more than willing to do that; and I asked him if he was willing to produce a list of “amendments” that he needed.  I truly believed, when I asked the question, that it would take him a couple days to work with his staff and produce the legislative language he needed.

     Without hesitation, he pulled a one page sheet of paper from his desk and said, “I took the liberty of already doing that”, and handed it to me.

     For a moment, I was taken aback; as I thought he was going to say—”Let’s negotiate these right now”, and he knew I wasn’t in a position to do that.  I thought I’d been out maneuvered, because he was about to place me in a position of it being ME (and by implication, my boss) that killed the legislation.

     But before I could even look at his language, he continued:  “I know you’ll need time to review these, and talk with your supporters and your boss, so please look at these in the context of what we’ve talked about today, and then give me a call and let me know ‘which, if any’ you could accept.”

     Political smarts!  Political class...equal to any I’d ever seen from the Majority Leader!!

     As I walked back to my office I read his proposals.  There were 23 specific “amendments” that he “needed”.  Virtually ALL of them fell into the legislative category of “technical”:  change “this” on p.3, line 32, to “that”.  Change “and” on page 5, line 14, to “and, or”...  And when I got to the last one, I broke out in laughter:  23--  Change “Commission” on page 1, line 4 (and in every other place it appears in the bill, to “Council”.

     And #23 was typed completely IN CAPITOL LETTERS!!

     As soon as I got into the office, I called the President of the AFL-CIO and told him—we’ve got a deal.

     If I recall correctly, we ended up being able to agree with 18 or 19 of the 23.  And, as I called him back the next morning, I kept his words “call and let me know ‘which, if any’ you could accept.”, in the forefront of my mind.  I already knew what that “flexibility” in his words meant!  I ended the conversation by saying:  “And, this one hurts bad, but I convinced the Majority Leader that we can call it a Council. 

     It was 10 years later, when this interest group leader was supporting me for Executive Director of the agency, that I learned he was pretty sure all along that commission/council was nothing more than a negotiating position with me; and that he’d actually waited until the end to talk to me because he was actually testing his 2nd in command to see if he would figure that out; and to see what kind of negotiating skills he really had.

     It was already known that he was very close to announcing his retirement, and it was his 2nd in command who was widely believed to be his replacement.  It was only then that he quietly told me that it was his #2’s inability to “get it”, that stopped him from “handing the crown” to him.  Instead, several months later, he anointed another to be his successor, and It devastated the #2.  The #2 left the organization several months later.

     Legislative Reference Bureau drafted the amendments; the following night a House/Senate conference committee meeting was called; and the amendments were adopted on a 5-1 vote.  The bill passed both House and Senate the following day—unanimously in the House, and on a 48-1 vote in the Senate.  (The one vote against is a political story, in and of itself!)

     Within an hour of passage, the interest group had it’s own press release on the front page of it’s weekly publication:  “We gain 19 critical changes in legislation; Bill passes.”  Others of the interest groups followed suite quickly.

     Can any of you guess which ONE, and only ONE, specific ‘critical change’ they specifically talked about??  **winks**

     To me, that’s the Art of the Political Deal!!

     If Schumer wants to substitute insurance across state lines in place of health savings accounts, no problem. 

The actual facts on the two issues are these:

     1.  For the millions of people who’s deductibles have gone through the roof, now averaging $5000, health savings accounts aren’t an option.  If you don’t have the ability to save $5000 a year to cover the deductible; you can’t save anything close to that in a H.S.A.  It might help a couple hundred millionaires save some money on premiums, but it won’t do anything for the millions who barely survive, paycheck to paycheck.  But, that’s EXACTLY the political point.  It’s an easy political give.  Because it doesn’t HURT any of them either.  And it’s a  “Big DEAL” to the R’s.

     2.  Competition across state lines is a “free market” myth for several reasons.  First, insurance is regulated by EACH of the 50 states.  And depending on which state the company is charted in, they would still have to offer products that meet the individual state minimum mandates and any rate pricing regulations the state has.  So what it will do in reality is start a “race to the bottom” by allowing companies to relocate, allowing them to look at the most profitable areas with the healthiest risk profiles, and the absolute LEAST state regulations. 

     Anyone remember all the big banks scrambling to relocate corporate headquarters to Delaware, and then South Dakota, when we “de-regulated” them???  Exactly what will happen with insurance companies.

     Second, insurance company profits/losses are significantly dependent on what payment  contracts  they can negotiate  between themselves and hospitals and doctors.  There are less than a handful of insurance companies who are large enough and with financial resources enough to even want to CONSIDER going outside of their current geographical area of operation; especially the Blue companies. 

     Third, in the long term, it will actually REDUCE insurance company competition and options, as it would allow the few largest insurers to price policies that can entice “healthy enrollees” OUT of the current/existing risk pools of the insurers, leaving those smaller insurers with consumers who are much sicker.  It will force more insurers to merge, or go out of business; without creating any truly NEW competition.

     So, trade that for some sort of public option...which moves us 1 step closer to a single payor system.

     Finally, if I were Schumer today, I’d go secretly and directly to Trump and try and convince him that infrastructure, and not tax reform, should be the next item on the agenda.  Why?

     Because infrastructure is far easier for the D’s to unite around than tax reform.  And here, I’m applying the #1 rule in politics:  “Everything is related to everything else.”, when it comes to negotiations. 

     There are so many things in an infrastructure bill that both the D’s, and Trump, could add or give up on.  By quietly offering the opportunity to Trump to bring in an infrastructure bill as part of the overall deal, POTUS becomes a hero.  I can’t think of a deal I was able to close in all my years that didn’t, in the end, include passing legislation (many times, a significant # of bills), absolutely “unrelated” to the theoretical policy issue in the forefront of the negotiation.  Not one. 

     That’s how one gains votes—give your members something they want/need, in THEIR district.  Not threating your members you’ll campaign against them in the next primary election.

     Tax reform has far, far, fewer options for Schumer and the D’s to trade on.

     One further point that I know.  It’s actually far EASIER to negotiate with a bully and a thug (and sometimes even a liar), than with political ideologues and demagogues.  If you understand the personal characteristics of the person (people) you’re negotiating with; you can use those very characteristics to your advantage!!  I’ve done it, many times!!

     POTUS could use this exact strategy as easily as Schumer.  Rather than letting Obamacare collapse on it’s own (which, in  2018 will be put on POTUS and the R’s); he could end up looking to his supporters like the most brilliant President we’ve ever had:  getting 2 BIG wins that he promised.  And putting him in a STRONG position to negotiate tax reform.

     Now, THAT, is the art of the deal!!  That won’t happen because neither Priebus nor Bannon have any “political sense”.

     I have no illusions this political strategy will be implemented by either leader.  Because if it actually occurred neither side would be confident that they would be the winners in 2018.  To enter into this type of “Faustian bargain” would be a big risk for BOTH sides,  And, politicians are seldom willing to take risks.

     But I do know who the true WINNERS would be. 

     The American people!!!  Yes, even the Trump supporters!! 




EDITOR'S NOTE:  One of the necessary and sufficient things to do when you are POTUS is to fill around 4,000 jobs in the many administrative agencies of the federal government including regional field offices of the bureaucracy.  This makes the job of "governance" possible.  If one neglects these important appointments, then one's agenda will be DOA even if the administration's bills are passed.  

The Trump Administration’s Not-So-Benign Neglect

While we’re watching the scandals du jour, the president and his top advisers are dismantling the federal government.

632408944-president-donald-trump-congratulates-senior-counselor President Trump congratulates his strategist Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C.  Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

This week, President Trump delighted his base with a pledge to treat deportations like a “military operation.” There were also reports that his administration is urging government officials to cherry-pick intelligence to support their desired policy outcomes and that his White House chief of staff made inappropriate contact with the FBI regarding Trump’s Russia ties. And that’s just the news from the national security sphere.

The rage felt by the president’s critics is real, and understandable, but it also plays into Trump’s broader agenda. His chief strategist Steve Bannon outlined that strategy this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, describing it as nothing less than the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

Bannon’s comments this week suggest a darker, more nefarious purpose to the nascent Trump administration’s dysfunction. It may be the case that the Trump team is deliberately failing to staff, manage, and provide resources for federal agencies so as to sabotage and slowly dismantle them. To make matters worse, the Trump team might be leveraging the controversies regarding its disastrous national security moves to obscure and conceal that slow and steady demolition of the bureaucracy.

After the election, the administration was slow to deploy its transition teams, pick top officials, develop future budgets, and generally take the reins of government. By almost any measure, the Trump White House lagged behind prior transitions in these efforts—it was the dog that caught the car and didn’t know what to do next.

To this day, the Trump administration lags in terms of picking its political appointees, let alone articulating a comprehensive policy agenda that goes much beyond “make America great again.”

At the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the two largest federal agencies by budget and headcount, the Trump imprint on policy remains amazingly light. One can glean more about acquisition, health care, or war-making from presidential tweets than from the White House’s website.

Federal agencies require certain commodities to run: leadership, legislative authorization, funding, and people. The combination of these commodities results in programming, executed either by government employees, contractors, or local governments using federal grant funds. Every part of this formula has been neglected by the Trump administration.

As of this writing, the Trump administration has failed to announce its picks for deputy, undersecretary, and assistant secretary positions across government, let alone to submit those nominations to the Senate for confirmation.

Political personnel appointments are, as the old saying goes, a form of policy. These administration appointees are the actual executors of any administration’s agenda. They are the ones whose orders, directives, and oversight provide guidance to millions of federal employees and contractors.

The officials the Trump administration has appointed include personnel whose résumés are extraordinarily thin on governance experience and who are hostile to the government itself.

Dr. Ben Carson, the former presidential candidate who is now leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has never worked in government. Neither has Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose donations have funded an anti-federal agenda for years. One appointee, Gov. Rick Perry, has plenty of public sector experience, but he previously took the position that his future agency (the Department of Energy) ought to be wiped off the map.

The Trump team has already started its campaign to undo the state that has evolved since the New Deal.

Beyond leaders, agencies need congressional authorization and funding to function. And yet, because the agencies lack political leaders beyond the midlevel transition teams deployed after the inauguration, they are woefully behind in preparing budgets for President Trump to submit to Congress.

In years past, Presidents Bush and Obama submitted their budgets within a few weeks of taking office, thanks to Herculean amounts of work by their transition teams to develop detailed fiscal plans. These teams understood that the budget submission was the key to execution of their policy agenda. It’s possible that the Trump team doesn’t understand that linkage between funding and policy.

It’s also possible the Trump team doesn’t care if agencies get new budgets because its ultimate goal is to starve these agencies. If Congress continues to pass continuing resolutions that freeze funding at current levels, while the White House’s hiring and regulatory freezes remain in place, federal agencies will begin to shrink by attrition.

Editor's note:  The irony here is that with the chaos over repealing and replacing Obamacare - if Trumpcare is passed - it will have to be implimented by somebody in the bureaucracy.  So Trump and Bannon are on a path of almost anarchist self-destruction.  

Agencies need people to do their jobs.

The government is staffed by 2.6 million federal civilian and 1.4 million uniformed employees. Most new leaders would look for opportunities to engage their workforce and enlist them in their agenda. Not Trump, who has instead opted to attack parts of the federal workforce (like the intelligence community) while holding political rallies before others (the CIA and troops). Trump’s hiring freeze has signaled disdain to the federal civilian workforce, as have many of his Cabinet picks and congressional allies, who have continued to rail against the scourge of bureaucracy and bureaucrats.

The irony, of course, is that the federal government helps and supports the standard of living of red states far more than blue states.  More...  

Each of these forms of neglect advances the Bannon/Trump agenda of crippling the federal government. Unfortunately, we’re too busy paying attention to Russian intrigues, presidential conflicts of interest, and unconstitutional immigration policies to notice that the Trump team has already started its campaign to undo the state that has evolved since the New Deal to serve the American people.

We cannot ignore the scandals du jour. The Trump administration’s Russia ties represent a threat to national security and the rule of law; its immigration order threatens to tear apart the constitutional fabric that binds us together. However, we must see these scandals in context and stop Trump from leveraging our distraction to disassemble the government in front of our eyes.



Hedrick Smith - What is Trump Hiding?  

March 19, 2017

In his short White House tenure, Donald J. Trump has set some kind of record for histrionic temper tantrums against the media — whether CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times or, most recently, MSNBC for revealing his 2005 tax return. He’s actually pursuing a well-worn path of American presidents blaming the press for their problems.

Five decades of reporting have taught me that whenever a president starts screeching about the media, it’s a sure sign he’s in hot water and fearing revelations about some policy disaster, damaging mendacity or political villainy.

Even popular presidents with reputations for charming the press occasionally stoop to blaming the media for quagmires of their own making.

For example, John F. Kennedy

Kennedy Wants to Get Rid of Halberstam

In September 1963, with the Vietnam war escalating and the pro-American authoritarian regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem besieged by popular protests, President John F. Kennedy used a private meeting with the New York Times’ publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, and James (Scotty) Reston, the Washington bureau chief, to charge that David Halberstam, the Times correspondent in Saigon, was undermining the American war effort and to pressure the publisher to pull Halberstam out of Vietnam.

President Kennedy was particularly angered by a stream of graphic front-page stories by Halberstam, describing battlefield defeats and the self-immolations of Buddhist monks.

What the president did not know was that The Times was already planning to replace Halberstam because the editors feared for Halberstam’s life. There was word in Saigon that the Vietnamese secret police run by Ngo Dinh Nhu, brother of the South Vietnamese president, had targeted Halberstam for assassination. Because I covered Vietnam policy in Washington, The Times’s editors had told me to get ready to go to Saigon to replace Halberstam.
PS:  Ironically JFK forgot his regret that he got the NYTimes to stop their story warning of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cube in 1961 - RAD

President Kennedy pressured the New York Times to withdraw David Halberstam

from Vietnam

But after the meeting, the publisher and Scotty Reston told me that my transfer to Saigon was postponed indefinitely. The Times, they said, could not afford to bow to pressure from the president to change our news coverage to suit his policy. Two months later, after the Diem regime had been overthrown, the Times decided to pull Halberstam out of South Vietnam and I was in Honolulu, winging my way to Saigon on the day that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas.

Johnson and Pentagon Blast Salisbury as a Dupe of Hanoi

President Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, intensified this adversarial strategy. He regularly railed against the press for what he and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara condemned as our biased news coverage that challenged the administration’s line that we were winning the Vietnam War, which Mr. Johnson had expanded with air attacks on North Vietnam.

President Johnson clashed with the New York Times over coverage


by Harrison Salisbury from Hanoi.

When in December 1966 the Times correspondent Harrison Salisbury went to Hanoi and began filing dispatches about the civilian casualties and destruction caused by the American bombing, the administration all but accused alisbury of treason.There was talk of trying him for “aiding the enemy.”

The Pentagon insisted that American attacks were carried out with pin-point precision, civilian casualties were extremely rare, and Salisbury had become a tool of Hanoi’s propaganda effort. But within weeks, Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach admitted privately to several of us reporters in Washington that American air raids were in fact hitting civilian-populated areas of Hanoi, Haiphong and other cities.

Nixon Creates “Enemies List” Including Media

During the administration of the next president, Richard M. Nixon, charge and counter-charge against the media escalated still further. The Nixon White House even compiled a political “enemies list” including more than 50 “enemies” among the media. To combat inside leaks over war policy, the White House and F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the wiretapping of four reporters, including me, and 14 high government officials.

In 1971, my colleague Neil Sheehan obtained Secretary McNamara’s secret Pentagon history of the war, documenting the chronic deception of the American people by a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations. When The Times pusblished our stories as “The Pentagon Papers,” the Nixon administration went to court to stop publication. The Times was temporarily blocked but other papers picked up the story.

Infuriated, President Nixon insisted that someone “has to go to jail” for the leak. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger charged that publication of the government’s own documented history of the Vietnam War was destroying ”the credibility” of the United States government.

Sounds familiar? - RAD

President Nixon ordered wiretaps of reporters like Hedrick Smith and

tried unsuccessfully to block The New York Times from publishing

stories about the Pentagon’s explosive secret history of the Vietnam War.

But very quickly, the Supreme Court ruled against government censorship of the media and in favor of the Times and we rolled out a book-length volume of stories and top secret government documents over the next 10 days that would forever alter and deepen our understanding of the Vietnam War.
Would Judge Gosech rule against Trump? - RAD

What’s Behind Trump’s Warm Embrace of Putin?

Today, the issues are different, of course — questions about President Trump’s peculiarly warm and unexplained embrace of Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin and about Russian intelligence agencies meddling in the 2016 presidential elections on Trump’s behalf. But the clash of powerful institutions is similar.

President Trump’s barrage against the media for publishing leaks from inside the F.B.I. and domestic intelligence agencies succeeded for a few days in diverting public attention away from his Russian connections. He and his White House Rasputin, Stephen K. Bannon, may also have reckoned that by savaging the press, they could intimidate Congress into softening its investigation into the Trump-Russia link.

But now the focus has swung back to the central question: What is President Trump hiding? If his campaign is innocent of illicit Russian connections, why not welcome the investigation and clear the air? If, as Trump said at his press conference last month, his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was simply “doing his job” in talking with the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak about American sanctions against Moscow, why did General Flynn lie about it?

More broadly, why has President Trump side-stepped reporters’ questions about renewed fighting in the eastern Ukraine or the Russian deployment of a new missile in conflict with a 1987 arms agreement between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev? Why, after publication of his 2005 tax returns, does Trump still refuse to release his most recent returns? Will they reveal something that makes him beholden to President Putin and Moscow?

History teaches that no matter how much the president tries to demonize the press, these and other crucial questions will not go away because today’s journalists are just as committed as those of us who covered past presidents to pursue them until we get answers that make sense and reveal the truth.





What would Jesus tell House Speaker Paul Ryan about looking after the sick and the needy? Credit Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Nichols Kristof, NYTimes

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.”

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

Well, I say it's high time we made Jesus the official health care of Congress. That's right, let's insist that no member of Congress shall...

Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

“Why, they can pray for a cure,” Pious Paul explained. “I call that universal health care access.”

Jesus turned to the 10 lepers. “Rise and go,” he told them. “Your faith has made you well.” Then he turned back to Pious Paul, saying, “Let me tell you the story of the good Samaritan.

A man was attacked by robbers who stripped him of clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A minister passed down this same road, and when he saw the injured man, he crossed to the other side and hurried on. So did a rich man who claimed to serve God. But then a despised Samaritan came by and took pity on the injured man. He bandaged his wounds and put the man on his own donkey and paid an innkeeper to nurse him to health. So which of these three should we follow?”

“Those who had mercy on him,” Pious Paul said promptly.

Jesus nodded. “So go ——”

“I mean the first two,” Pious Paul interjected. “For the Samaritan’s work is unsustainable and sends the wrong message. It teaches travelers to take dangerous roads, knowing that others will rescue them from self-destructive behaviors. This Samaritan also seems to think it right to redistribute money from those who are successful and give it to losers. That’s socialism! Meanwhile, if the rich man keeps his money, he can invest it and create jobs. So it’s an act of mercy for the rich man to hurry on and ignore the robbery victim.”

How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus mused to himself. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.”

“Let me teach you about love, Jesus — tough love!” Pious Paul explained. “You need a sustainable pro-business model. And you need to give people freedom, Jesus, the freedom to suffer misery and poverty.”

“The Lord God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,” Jesus replied, emphasizing the last two words. Then he turned to a paralyzed beggar at his feet. “Stand up!” Jesus told the man. “Pick up your mat and go home.” As the man danced about joyfully, Pious Paul rolled his eyes dismissively.

“Look, Jesus, you have rare talent, and it should be rewarded,” Pious Paul said. “I have a partner, The Donald, who would like to work with you: He’d set up a lovely hospital, and the rich would come and pay for you to heal them. You’d get a percentage, and it’d be a real money-spinner. Overhead would be minimal because every morning you could multiply some loaves and fishes. You could strike it rich!”

Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God,” Jesus said. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received comfort.”

“Oh, come on, Jesus,” Pious Paul protested. “Don’t go socialist on me again. Please don’t encourage class warfare. The best way to help the needy is to give public money to the rich. That then inspires the poor to work harder, galvanizes the sick to become healthy, forces the lepers to solve their own problems rather than kick back and depend on others. That’s why any realistic health plan has to focus on providing less coverage for the poor, and big tax benefits for the rich. When millions of people lose health care, that’s when a country is great again!”

From everyone who has been given much,” Jesus told him, “much will be required.”

“Well, sure, this hospital would have a foundation to do some charity work. Maybe commissioning portraits of The Donald to hang in the entrance. But let’s drop this bleeding heart nonsense about health care as a human right, and see it as a financial opportunity to reward investors. In this partnership, 62 percent of the benefits would go to the top 0.6 percent — perfect for a health care plan.”

Jesus turned to Pious Paul on his left and said: “Be gone! For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; and I was sick, and you did not help me.”

“But, Lord,” protested Pious Paul of Ryan, “when did I see you hungry or thirsty or sick and refuse to help you? I drop your name everywhere. And I’m pro-life!”

Truly, I say to you,” Jesus responded, “as you did not help the homeless, the sick — as you did not help the least of these, you did not help me.

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