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Monthly Archives: September 2018

It is our job to get the right information and demand proper investigation when required. This latest debacle with the Senate Hearing on Judge Kavanaugh is a disgrace and shows up our “representatives” for the cowards that they are. So it is OK for Bill Cosby to be prosecuted for events from 20 -30 years ago but not for a potential High Court Judge? Can’t say if its Racism but a sexual miscreant is the same no matter what Race they are! Considering who we have sitting in the Oval office and possibly in Congress are we surprised? It is so important that we as voters recognize that we are the real power in government and  we must vote for the right people and voice our opinions whenever or wherever we can. We should not be taken in by political ads that attack or mislead, these are the instruments of dishonest people or factions no matter what high-sounding labels they give themselves. We are currently experiencing a hardly believable era of influential people in and out of Government whose sole objective is have things their way and convince us that their actions are good for us. This occurred in the 1930’s Germany and the 1950′ s America with Sen. Joe McCarthy. If we let The Senate and TOTUS get away with this, what’s next?


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Associated Press 11 hrs ago

Students protest return of Kavanaugh.
WASHINGTON — Educational, legal and religious institutions important to the life of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have come out with calls to either delay or outright cancel the confirmation process.

The calls from the dean of Yale Law School, the president of the American Bar Association, and the magazine of the Jesuit religious order come as the Senate wrestles with how to proceed with the Kavanaugh nomination in the face of allegations of sexual assault.
The most recent of these calls came from Yale, Kavanaugh’s alma mater for both undergraduate studies and law school. Heather Gerken, dean of the Yale Law School, called Friday for a delay pending additional investigations into allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in both high school and college. Proceeding with the confirmation without those investigations would be against “the best interest of the court or our profession,” Gerken wrote.
Gerken’s statement follows the ABA’s call for a delay.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee released Thursday, ABA President Robert Carlson said the vote on Kavanaugh should proceed “only after an appropriate background check into the allegations … is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Carlson argued that a lifetime appointment to the high court “is simply too important to rush to a vote.”
Earlier this month, the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave its highest rating of “well-qualified” to Kavanaugh. Committee member Paul T. Moxley said in a statement to the Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh, “enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and is a person of outstanding character.”
Kavanaugh and others had cited the ABA’s high regard of Kavanaugh as proof of his professional and moral bona fides.
Kavanaugh himself testified to his “unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “If you lived a good life people will recognize it like the American Bar Association has — the gold standard.”
On Friday morning, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley played down the significance of the ABA position. The Iowa Republican described the ABA as an interest group like any other, and said the letter represented the view of an individual, not necessarily the whole organization. “We’re not going to let them dictate our committee’s business,” Grassley said.
The committee subsequently voted to send the nomination to the full Senate, though Senate Republicans later agreed to delay the full vote for one week to allow an FBI investigation of the allegations.
The Jesuits took an even stronger stance. Following Thursday’s testimony by Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, the magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States publicly withdrew its endorsement of Kavanaugh. An editorial in America Magazine declared that “this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country.”
Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school, when the alleged assault took place.
The editorial doesn’t attempt to parse whether Kavanaugh’s or Ford’s testimony was more credible. But it concluded that “in a world that is finally learning to take reports of harassment, assault and abuse seriously,” the nomination must be abandoned.
“If Senate Republicans proceed with his nomination, they will be prioritizing policy aims over a woman’s report of an assault,” it states. “Were he to be confirmed without this allegation being firmly disproved, it would hang over his future decisions on the Supreme Court for decades and further divide the country.”
The magazine had previously given Kavanaugh a full-throated endorsement, stating that his addition to the Supreme Court may furnish the fifth vote needed to overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The Catholic Church firmly opposes abortion.
That original endorsement editorial concluded that “anyone who recognizes the humanity of the unborn should support” Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The reversal is significant given that Kavanaugh has cited his Catholic faith and Jesuit education in defending himself against Ford’s accusations. In his opening statement Thursday, Kavanaugh twice referenced his years as a student at Georgetown Prep.


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Will TOTUS bring these jobs back? MA
Chris Isidore 10 hrs ag

Sears, the company known for DieHard batteries and Kenmore appliances has been selling assets, most notably its Craftsman tool brand. After years of losing money and Amazon’s sales in North America surging, Sears has said that there is “substantial doubt” it will be able to keep its doors open. Sears, Roebuck & Company was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1886.
Sears stock has fallen into the bargain bin.
In the latest indignity for a once-grand retailer, the share price fell below $1 on Friday for the first time in the company’s history, dropping as much as 15% to 85 cents in midday trading.
Falling into loose-change territory is more than embarrassing. Nasdaq, the exchange where Sears stock trades, could delist the company. That’s a long process and would happen next year at the earliest.
Shares of Sears Holdings had already plunged 88% in the past year. They took another blow Monday, when CEO and primary shareholder Eddie Lampert warned the board that the company was running out of time and cash. He said Sears must restructure and cut its debt “without delay.”
Click here to see Sears Holdings’ (SHLD) latest share price
Lampert pointed to a $134 million debt payment due on October 15, and said the company must demonstrate to lenders by Monday that it has required levels of cash in reserve, which could itself prove difficult.
Sears’ market value has fallen to less than $100 million. Lampert recently offered to buy the Kenmore appliance line through his hedge fund for $400 million, suggesting that the Kenmore brand on its own is worth more than four times as much as the whole company.
All of which is a stunning reversal for a company that was once not only the nation’s largest retailer, but also its largest employer.
In its heyday, Sears was both the Walmart and Amazon of its time. In the late 19th century and early decades of the 20th century, many Americans bought mass-produced goods for the first time through the Sears catalog. Most lived on farms and in small towns, and had previously made many of the goods they needed, such as clothes and furniture, themselves.
Sears stores helped reshape America itself, drawing shoppers away from traditional Main Street merchants and into malls, contributing to the suburbanization of the country after World War II. And its appliances introduced many American homes to labor-saving devices that changed family dynamics.
But long before the rise of Amazon and online shopping, Sears struggled to keep up with changing shopping habits.
Big box retailers such as Walmart beat it on both price and selection. In 1999, Sears was booted out of the Dow Jones industrial average, where it had been for 75 years. Home Depot took its place.
In more recent years, Sears has struggled just to stay alive.
It told investors last year that there was “substantial doubt” it could stay in business. Lampert’s latest warning to the board raised a similar warning. He said it was in the best interest of creditors and shareholders to restructure the company “as a going concern.”
Sears has lost $11.7 billion since 2010, its last profitable year, and sales have plunged 60% in that time. It has fewer than 900 stores, down from a combined 3,500 US stores when Sears and Kmart merged in 2005.
In July, the company closed the last Sears store in Chicago, its former hometown. And the company recently announced that 46 more stores will close just before the holiday shopping season.


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Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, reveals how Trump’s bungled presidential transition set the template for his time in the White House

Main image: Illustration: Nathalie Lees

Thu 27 Sep 2018 01.00 EDT Last modified on Thu 27 Sep 2018 09.44 EDT

noticed a piece in the New York Times – that’s how it all started. The New Jersey governor had dropped out of the presidential race in February 2016 and thrown what support he had behind Donald Trump. In late April, he saw the article. It described meetings between representatives of the remaining candidates still in the race – Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – and the Obama White House. Anyone who still had any kind of shot at becoming president of the United States apparently needed to start preparing to run the federal government. The guy Trump sent to the meeting was, in Christie’s estimation, comically underqualified. Christie called up Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job had not been handed to someone who actually knew something about government. “We don’t have anyone,” said Lewandowski.

Christie volunteered himself for the job: head of the Donald Trump presidential transition team. “It’s the next best thing to being president,” he told friends. “You get to plan the presidency.” He went to see Trump about it. Trump said he didn’t want a presidential transition team. Why did anyone need to plan anything before he actually became president? It’s legally required, said Christie. Trump asked where the money was going to come from to pay for the transition team. Christie explained that Trump could either pay for it himself or take it out of campaign funds. Trump didn’t want to pay for it himself. He didn’t want to take it out of campaign funds, either, but he agreed, grudgingly, that Christie should go ahead and raise a separate fund to pay for his transition team. “But not too much!” he said.

And so Christie set out to prepare for the unlikely event that Donald Trump would one day be elected president of the United States. Not everyone in Trump’s campaign was happy to see him on the job. In June, Christie received a call from Trump adviser Paul Manafort. “The kid is paranoid about you,” Manafort said. The kid was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Back in 2005, when he was US attorney for New Jersey, Christie had prosecuted and jailed Kushner’s father, Charles, for tax fraud. Christie’s investigation revealed, in the bargain, that Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, whom he suspected of cooperating with Christie, videotaped the sexual encounter and sent the tape to his sister. The Kushners apparently took their grudges seriously, and Christie sensed that Jared still harboured one against him. On the other hand, Trump, whom Christie considered almost a friend, could not have cared less.

Christie viewed Kushner as one of those people who thinks that, because he is rich, he must also be smart. Still, he had a certain cunning about him. And Christie soon found himself reporting everything he did to prepare for a Trump administration to an “executive committee”. The committee consisted of Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Manafort, Steve Mnuchin and Jeff Sessions. “I’m kind of like the church elder who double-counts the collection plate every Sunday for the pastor,” said Sessions, who appeared uncomfortable with the entire situation. The elder’s job became more complicated in July 2016, when Trump was formally named the Republican nominee. The transition team now moved into an office in downtown Washington DC, and went looking for people to occupy the top 500 jobs in the federal government. They needed to fill all the cabinet positions, of course, but also a whole bunch of others that no one in the Trump campaign even knew existed. It is not obvious how you find the next secretary of state, much less the next secretary of transportation – never mind who should sit on the board of trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

By August, 130 people were showing up every day, and hundreds more working part-time, at Trump transition headquarters, on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The transition team made lists of likely candidates for all 500 jobs, plus other lists of informed people to roll into the various federal agencies the day after the election, to be briefed on whatever the federal agencies were doing. They gathered the names for these lists by travelling the country and talking to people: Republicans who had served in government, Trump’s closest advisers, recent occupants of the jobs that needed filling. Then they set about investigating any candidates for glaring flaws and embarrassing secrets and conflicts of interest. At the end of each week, Christie handed over binders, with lists of names of people who might do the jobs well, to Kushner, Donald Jr and the others. “They probed everything,” says a senior Trump transition official. “‘Who is this person?’ ‘Where did this person come from?’ They only ever rejected one person: Manafort’s secretary.”



The first time Trump paid attention to any of this was when he read about it in the newspaper. The story revealed that Trump’s very own transition team had raised several million dollars to pay the staff. The moment he saw it, Trump called Steve Bannon, the chief executive of his campaign, from his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, and told him to come immediately to his residence, many floors above. Bannon stepped off the elevator to find Christie seated on a sofa, being hollered at. Trump was apoplectic, yelling: You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?

Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed: Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. Months before the election, the law said, the nominees of the two major parties were expected to prepare to take control of the government. The government supplied them with office space in downtown DC, along with computers and rubbish bins and so on, but the campaigns paid their people. To which Trump replied: Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.

Shut it down, said Trump. Shut down the transition.

Here Christie and Bannon parted ways. Neither thought it was a good idea to shut down the transition, but each had his own misgivings. Christie thought that Trump had little chance of running the government without a formal transition. Bannon wasn’t so sure if Trump would ever get his mind around running the federal government; he just thought it would look bad if Trump didn’t at least seem to prepare. Seeing that Trump wasn’t listening to Christie, he said: “What do you think Morning Joe will say if you shut down your transition?” What Morning Joe would say – or at least what Bannon thought it would say – was that Trump was closing his presidential transition office because he didn’t think he had any chance of being president.

Trump stopped hollering. For the first time he seemed to have listened.

“That makes sense,” he said.

With that, Christie went back to preparing for a Trump administration. He tried to stay out of the news, but that proved difficult. From time to time, Trump would see something in the paper about Christie’s fundraising and become upset all over again. The money that people donated to his campaign Trump considered, effectively, his own. He thought the planning and forethought pointless. At one point he turned to Christie and said: “Chris, you and I are so smart that we can leave the victory party two hours early and do the transition ourselves.”

At that moment in American history, if you could somehow organise the entire population into a single line, all 350 million people, ordered not by height or weight or age but by each citizen’s interest in the federal government, and Donald Trump loitered somewhere near one end of it, Max Stier would occupy the other.

By the autumn of 2016, Stier might have been the American with the greatest understanding of how the US government worked. Oddly, for an American of his age and status, he had romanticised public service since he was a child. He had gone through Yale in the mid-80s and Stanford law school in the early 90s without ever being tempted by money or anything else. He thought the US government was the single most important and interesting institution in the history of the planet and could not imagine doing anything but working to improve it. A few years out of law school he had met a financier named Sam Heyman, who was as disturbed as Stier was by how uninterested talented young people were in government work. Stier persuaded Heyman to set aside $25m for him so that he might create an organisation to address the problem.

Stier soon realised that to attract talented young people to government service, he would need to turn the government into a place that talented young people wanted to work. He would need to fix the US government. Partnership for Public Service, as Stier called his organisation, was not nearly as dull as its name. It trained civil servants to be business managers; it brokered new relationships across the federal government; it surveyed the federal workforce to identify specific management failures and success; and it lobbied Congress to fix deep structural problems. It was Stier who had persuaded Congress to pass the laws that made it so annoyingly difficult for Trump to avoid preparing to be president.

Anyway, from the point of view of a smart, talented person trying to decide whether to work for the US government, the single most glaring defect was the absence of an upside. The jobs were not well-paid compared with their equivalents in the private sector. And the only time government employees were recognised was if they screwed up – in which case they often became the wrong kind of famous. In 2002, Stier created an annual black tie, Oscars-like awards ceremony to celebrate people who had done extraordinary things in government.

Every year the Sammies – as Stier called them, in honour of his original patron – attracted a few more celebrities and a bit more media attention. And every year, the list of achievements was mind-blowing. A guy in the energy department (Frazer Lockhart) organised the first successful cleanup of a nuclear weapons factory, in Rocky Flats, Colorado, and had brought it in 60 years early and $30bn under budget. A woman at the Federal Trade Commission (Eileen Harrington) had built the Do Not Call Registry, which spared the entire country from trillions of irritating sales pitches. A National Institutes of Health researcher (Steven Rosenberg) had pioneered immunotherapy, which had successfully treated previously incurable cancers. There were hundreds of fantastically important success stories in the US government. They just never got told.

Stier knew an astonishing number of them. He had detected a pattern: a surprising number of the people responsible for them were first-generation Americans who had come from places without well-functioning governments. People who had lived without government were more likely to find meaning in it. On the other hand, people who had never experienced a collapsed state were slow to appreciate a state that had not yet collapsed.

That was maybe Stier’s biggest challenge: explaining the value of this enterprise at the centre of a democratic society to people who either took it for granted or imagined it as a pernicious force in their lives over which they had no control. He would explain that the federal government provided services that the private sector could not or would not: medical care for veterans, air traffic control, national highways, food safety guidelines. He would explain that the federal government was an engine of opportunity: millions of American children, for instance, would have found it even harder than they did to make the most of their lives without the basic nutrition supplied by the federal government. When all else failed, he would explain the many places the US government stood between Americans and the things that might kill them. “The basic role of government is to keep us safe,” he would say.

The US government employed 2 million people, 70% of them one way or another in national security. It managed a portfolio of risks that no private person or corporation was able to manage. Some of the risks were easy to imagine: a financial crisis, a hurricane, a terrorist attack. Most were not: the risk, say, that some prescription drug proves to be both so addictive and so accessible that each year it kills more Americans than were killed in action by the peak of the Vietnam war. Many of the risks that fell into the government’s lap felt so remote as to be unreal: that a cyberattack left half the country without electricity, or that some airborne virus wiped out millions, or that economic inequality reached the point where it triggered a violent revolution. Maybe the least visible risks were of things not happening that, with better government, might have happened. A cure for cancer, for instance.

Enter the presidential transition. A bad transition took this entire portfolio of catastrophic risks – the biggest portfolio of such risks ever managed by a single institution in the history of the world – and made all the bad things more likely to happen and the good things less likely to happen. Even before Stier created an organisation to fix the federal government, the haphazard nature of presidential transitions drove him nuts. “We have a legacy government that hasn’t kept up with the world we live in, largely because of disruptions from bad transitions,” he said. “People don’t understand that a bungled transition becomes a bungled presidency.” The new people taking over the job of running the government were at best only partially informed, and often deeply suspicious, of whatever happened to be going on before they arrived. By the time they fully grasped the problems they were dealing with, it was time to go. “It’s Groundhog Day,” said Stier. “The new people come in and think that the previous administration and the civil service are lazy or stupid. Then they actually get to know the place they are managing. And when they leave they say: ‘This was a really hard job, and those are the best people I’ve ever worked with.’ This happens over and over and over.”

Most of the big problems inside the US government were of the practical management sort and had nothing to do with political ideology. A mundane but important example was how hard it was for any government agency to hire new people. Some agencies couldn’t hire anyone without 60 different people signing off on him. The George W Bush administration had begun to attack that particular mundane problem. The Obama administration, instead of running with the work done during the Bush years, had simply started all over again.

Stier’s Partnership for Public Service had helped to push through three separate laws related to the transition. In 2010, Congress gave free office space and other resources to the nominees of the two major political parties immediately after the summer conventions. “The reason campaigns didn’t prepare is that they thought it would cost them politically: no one wanted to be seen measuring the drapes,” said Stier. “The idea was to give the nominees of the major political parties cover to do what they should do.” In 2011-2012, to enable the president to put people in jobs more quickly, Congress reduced the number of presidential appointments that required Senate confirmation from about 1,400 to roughly 1,200 – still more than 1,000 too many, in Stier’s view, but a start. Finally, in 2015, Congress required the sitting president to prepare in various ways to hand the government over to his or her successor. The person who had already taken the test was now required by law to help the person who may not have studied for it.

As the 2016 presidential election approached, Stier was about as hopeful as he had ever been that the US government would be handed from one leader to another with minimum stupidity. His partnership had worked with both the Clinton and the Trump campaigns. “Their work was good,” said Stier. He was disappointed with Obama in some ways. Obama had been slow to engage with the federal workforce. He had appointed some poor managers to run some agencies. The fiasco of the rollout of was not an accident but a byproduct of bad management. But Obama’s preparations to hand over the government had been superb: the Obama administration had created what amounted to the best course ever on the inner workings of the most powerful institution on earth. What could go wrong?

Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was 1.35am, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump. Trump himself just stared at the TV without saying anything, like a man with a pair of twos whose bluff has been called. His campaign hadn’t even bothered to prepare an acceptance speech. It was not hard to see why Trump hadn’t seen the point in preparing to take over the federal government: why study for a test you will never need to take? Why take the risk of discovering you might, at your very best, be a C student? This was the real part of becoming president of the US. And, Christie thought, it scared the crap out of the president-elect.

Not long after the people on TV announced that Trump had won Pennsylvania, Jared Kushner grabbed Christie anxiously and said: “We have to have a transition meeting tomorrow morning!” Even before that meeting, Christie had made sure that Trump knew the protocol for his discussions with foreign leaders. The transition team had prepared a document to let him know how these were meant to go. The first few calls were easy – the very first was always with the prime minister of Great Britain – but two dozen calls in you were talking to some kleptocrat and tiptoeing around sensitive security issues. Before any of the calls could be made, however, the president of Egypt called in to the switchboard at Trump Tower and somehow got the operator to put him straight through to Trump. “Trump was like … I love the Bangles! You know that song Walk Like an Egyptian?” recalled one of his advisers on the scene.

That had been the first hint Christie had of trouble. He had asked Kushner what that was about, and Kushner had simply said, Trump ran a very unconventional campaign, and he’s not going to follow any of the protocols. The next hint that the transition might not go as planned came from Pence – now, incredibly, the vice-president-elect. Christie met with Pence the day after the election, to discuss the previous lists of people who had been vetted for jobs. The meeting began with a prayer, followed by Pence’s first, ominous question: “Why isn’t Puzder on the list for labour?” Andrew Puzder, the head of CKE Restaurants, the holding company for the fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, wanted to be the secretary of labour. Christie explained that Puzder’s ex-wife had accused him of abuse (although she later retracted the allegation) and his fast-food restaurant employees had complained of mistreatment. Even if he was somehow the ideal candidate to become the next secretary of labour, he wouldn’t survive his Senate confirmation hearings. (Trump ignored the advice and nominated Puzder. In the controversy that followed, Puzder not only failed to be confirmed, but also stepped down from his job.)

After meeting with Pence, Christie was scheduled to brief the Trump children, Kushner and the other members of Trump’s inner circle. He was surprised to find, suddenly included in this group, retired army lieutenant general Michael Flynn. Flynn was a jobseeker the transition team had found reasons to be extremely wary of. Now he wanted to be named Trump’s national security adviser, which was maybe the most important job in the entire national security apparatus. The national security team inside the Trump transition – staffed with senior former military and intelligence officials – had thought that was an especially bad idea. Flynn’s name was not on the list. But here he was, in the meeting to decide who would do what in the Trump administration, and Ivanka was asking him which job he would like to have.

Before Christie could intercede, Bannon grabbed him and asked to see him privately. Christie followed Bannon to his office impatiently. Hey, this is going to have to be quick, said Christie.

It’s really quick, said Bannon. You’re out.

Why? asked Christie, stunned.

We’re making a change.

“Okay, what are we changing?



It’s really not important.

The method of his execution was unsurprising: Trump always avoided firing people himself. The man who played Mr You’re Fired on TV avoided personal confrontation in real life. The surprise was that it was being done now, just when the work of the transition team was most critical. Only when Christie threatened to go down and tell reporters that Bannon had fired him did Bannon concede, “It was Jared.”

In the days after the election, the people in the building on 17th and Pennsylvania were meant to move to another building in downtown DC, a kind of White House-in-waiting. They soon discovered that the lists that they had created of people to staff the Trump administration were not the lists that mattered. There was now this other list, of people allowed into the new building, and most of their names weren’t on it. “People would show up to the new building and say: ‘Let me in,’ and the secret service would say: ‘Sorry, you’re not on the list,’” said a civil servant who worked in the new building.

It wasn’t just Christie who had been fired. It was the entire transition team – although no one ever told them so directly. As Nancy Cook reported in Politico, Bannon visited the transition headquarters a few days after he had given Christie the news, and made a show of tossing the work the people there had done for Trump into the bin. Trump was going to handle the transition more or less by himself. Not even Bannon thought this was a good idea. “I was fucking nervous as shit,” Bannon later told friends. “I go, ‘Holy fuck, this guy [Trump] doesn’t know anything. And he doesn’t give a shit.’”

They were about to take control of the portfolio of existential risks managed by the US government. Only they weren’t. On the morning after the election the hundreds of people who had prepared to brief the incoming Trump administration sat waiting. A day became a week and a week became a month … and no one showed up. The parking spots that had been set aside for Trump’s people remained empty, and the briefing books were never opened. You could walk into almost any department of the US government and hear people asking the same question: where were these people who were meant to be running the place?

The department of agriculture was an excellent case study. The place had an annual budget of $164bn and was charged with so many missions critical to the society that the people who worked there played a drinking game called Does the Department of Agriculture Do It? Someone would name a function of government, say, making sure that geese don’t gather at US airports, and fly into jet engines. Someone else would have to guess whether the agriculture department did it. (In this case, it did.) Guess wrong and you had to drink. Among other things, the department essentially maintained rural America, and also ensured that the American poor and the elderly did not starve. Much of its work was complicated and technical – and yet for the months between the election and the inauguration, Trump people never turned up to learn about it. Only on inauguration day did they flood into the building, but the people who showed up had no idea why they were there or what they were meant to do. Trump sent, among others, a long-haul truck driver, a telephone company clerk, a gas company meter reader, a country club cabana attendant, a Republican National Committee intern and the owner of a scented candle company. One of the CVs listed the new appointee’s only skill as “a pleasant demeanor”.

All these people had two things in common. They were Trump loyalists. And they knew nothing whatsoever about the job they suddenly found themselves in. A new American experiment was underway.

• Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

This is an edited extract from The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, published by Penguin on 2 October.To order a copy for £17.20 (RRP £20), go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

And so we begin the final leg of our journey. And oh what a journey it’s been. Over the last eleven years, babies were born, friends and loved ones passed away, marriages began with hope and love, while others ended with lawyers and shared custody. And through it all, through the ups and the downs, the laughter and the tears, we made a TV show that we loved, a TV show we were proud of. To those of you who have been with us from the beginning, and those who joined along the way, we want to take this opportunity to thank you all for going on this journey with us. And as for those of you who wished us ill, the haters, please know that while our feelings may occasionally have been hurt, we have always tried to understand and support your right to an opinion — even if it’s a meanspirited one. Of course it follows logically that we too should be allowed to voice our thoughts. So… “Go %#@% yourself.”


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It is unfortunate that we have so many neer do wells in Congress and they feel they are correct in all that they do. This is the way “conservatives” have always operated and it has never been good for ALL of us.MA.

Nick Visser,HuffPost September 27, 2018

Reuters • September 28, 2018

Trump: FBI doesn’t want to be involved in Kavanaugh sex assault claims

(Reuters) – The American Bar Association has called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh so that the FBI can investigate the sexual assault accusations against him, the Washington Post reported.
Association President Robert Carlson requested the delay in a letter sent to the committee on Thursday evening, the Post reported, after a day of testimony by university professor Christine Blasey Ford who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, and by Kavanaugh who denied it.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” Carlson wrote to Chairman Charles Grassley and ranking committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein that, the Post reported.
Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge chosen by President Donald Trump, said he was the victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination” orchestrated by Senate Democrats.
The Judiciary Committee, on which Republicans hold an 11-10 majority, was to meet on Friday morning and several senators said they expected it to vote then. The full Senate, controlled 51-49 by Trump’s fellow Republicans, could vote within days.
Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump and his confirmation would cement conservative control of the Supreme Court with disputes over abortion rights, immigration, gay rights, voting rights and transgender troops possibly heading toward the justices soon.
Ford’s allegation emerged last week and has been followed by other allegations. Some Democrats have called on Kavanaugh to withdraw in light of the allegations and have said an FBI investigation is needed before any Senate confirmation vote.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson wrote.
“Deciding to proceed without conducting an additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court,” he added, the Post reported.


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Godwin’s Law
A term that originated on Usenet, Godwin’s Law states that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin’s Law has effectively forfeited the argument.

There have been times when I compared TOTUS’s actions and words to Adolph and have had pushback in form of “Godwin’s Law” as shown above. The so called law means nothing as the purpose is used to end an argument or conversation using Hitler as a comparison. This being said I have decided to affix another “nick name” to TOTUS . I will refer to him as :Mitler: which means mini Hitler. To move on, our CIC is no more than a showboating bully who is so far out of his depth as be drowning in air. His method of governing is linked to his business operations where whatever he says goes no matter the consequences however in government there are no less than 10 or more people that should and often need to be involved in most if not all decisions from toilet paper to what’s for dinner. What we have is definitely “a failure to communicate”. This administration is deep in manure with the Congress and the White House staff  piling more on daily. Meanwhile “Mitler” is oblivious as long as he is praised and is allowed to tweet. The common thread is to bully, lie, deny and repeat while Congress sits on their thumbs.


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Do we want another High Court Judge with a “taint”? We have the Hon. Justice Thomas and the President of the United States both of whom have a “taint” of sexual impropriety and it is possible that we have others in the administration who have not been revealed (yet). The “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” are excuses for bad behavior and SHOULD have no place in a conversation about qualifications for an office, especially a position of this importance. This appointment is equal to hiring a thief as a teller and certainly have our share of thieves in Government from the top down. TOTUS has not been up front in revealing his tax returns not because of an audit but more likely as to the shadiness contained in those returns, question should be what do you (TOTUS) have to lose? Unfortunately our recourse is not impeachment but denying him a second term. Impeachment will give us Mike Pence which will not be an upgrade. The other actions we need to take is changing Congress as they have shown for years that they DO NOT HAVE OUR BACKS as they state with regularity. Their focus is staying in office and doing the work of their big money donors. It is unfortunate that too many voters did not vote in last election and those that did voted on the wrong issues. Voting is the only voice we have and we should not give it lightly or uninformed.


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Kavanaugh,this is not DE JA VU’. It is  another political move against the American people even thought some us do not understand the implications of it. This current issue over Mr. Kavanaugh harks back to Clarence Thomas’ hearing which was never quite resolved and under a Republican administration. It is possible that this could have happened under a Democratic administration but it didn’t. To go back a bit more, there was a failed attempt at placing a more radical judge on the court in the Reagan years so my question is: why would any of us Democrat , Republican or any other party want a high judge that does not reflect the general values of ALL Americans? These nominees are supposed to be people who can interpret the law as a neutral party as opposed to using party line and personal ideals to interpret the law. We already have the now free flowing money in campaigns which has influenced our elections and now we are looking at the possibility of having “conservative” values as espoused by a powerful faith based faction  and vote hungry politicians imposed on us. This is not what was envisioned by the founders. It is no crime to have a personal opinion on what is before the court but it is a crime to impose that on actions that affect public policy. This administration has no qualms in publishing and offering lies to us with no compunction with the tacit approval of Congress. It is apparent that party means more to Congress than the people they represent. With this being evident why are we still supporting them and their platforms that appear to float on a sea of lies? I say again forget the party rhetoric and look at the people we have elected time after time and their priorities (we are not one of them).


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Draining the swamp really means TOTUS wants his own nefarious group of deplorables so that his prior and possibly continuing Illicit activities will be hidden or ignored. Meanwhile the current swamp dwellers aka Congress  are seeking to stick us (the oft cited American people) with THEIR choice of a high court justice rather than a justice who is capable of judging in an impartial manner using current and established law and/or precedent rather than their own opinion. It seems that on paper Judge K is wonderful but it seems that his past is as dark as TOTUS’. Each Justice on the high court needs to be above politics but we have been unable to get that formula right. It is indeed a difficult job being on the High court but many have managed to do the work especially when it affects the legal rights of the American public. This candidate is a political pawn who could upend the progress made on so many fronts. Congress is looking to cement a Conservative court rather than a court for us all. DJT just wants his name stamped on something high profile because that is what he is about. It is our duty to deny this candidate a seat at the big table since we currently have a misogynist already seated. We have enough swamp dwellers in this administration  and that includes the Congress.


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