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Long read with implications in Modern-day politics. MA
History Magazine
The brutal beheading of Cicero, last defender of the Roman Republic
In 43 B.C., Mark Antony murdered Cicero, famous for his unparalleled powers of speech, and ushered in the beginnings of the Roman Empire. Lawyer, Statesman, Philosopher
Cicero is remembered for his strong defense of the values of the Roman Republic and rejection of the tyranny he believed Julius Caesar, and then Mark Antony, embodied. Bust from the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

By José Miguel Baños
PUBLISHED February 25, 2019 The second-century A.D. historian Appian vividly captured the moment the Roman Republic truly died: When the great orator Marcus Tullius Cicero was struck down by the forces of his enemies:
As he leaned out of the litter and offered his neck unmoved, his head was cut off. Nor did this satisfy the senseless cruelty of the soldiers. They cut off his hands, also, for the offense of having written something against Antony. Thus, the head was brought to Antony and placed by his order between the two hands on the rostra, where, often as consul, often as a consular, and, that very year against Antony, he had been heard with admiration of his eloquence, the like of which no other human voice ever uttered.”

Cicero’s death between Rome and what is today Naples, on December 7, 43 B.C., brought closer the era of empire.
Son of the Republic
Cicero was born in 106 B.C. into a wealthy family whose surname originated from the nickname cicer, the Latin word for “chickpea.” Writing of Cicero about a century after his death, Greek historian Plutarch believed the name came from an ancestor who had a dent in his nose resembling the cleft of a chickpea. Cicero’s family was wealthy but did not belong to the patrician class, the aristocracy of Rome. His family belonged to the equestrian class, which sat below the patricians and above the plebeians, the working class of the republic. His family had strong military connections, but not the political ones necessary for the career in government desired by Cicero.

Educated in Rome and in Greece, Cicero aimed to scale the political ladder as quickly as possible. He would do so as a novus homo, new man, a term which signified that his family did not come from the ruling class. Cicero served briefly in the military before turning to a career in law. He tried his first case in 81 B.C., and then successfully defended a man accused of parricide—a bright beginning to Cicero’s public life. (See also: Wine, women, and wisdom: The symposium of Ancient Greece.)

Marriage at age 27 into a wealthy family brought him the necessary funds to continue to rise. After he wed in 79 B.C., Cicero’s career took off, and he rapidly rose through the ranks. He was elected quaestor in 75, praetor in 66, and consul in 63, the highest political office in the republic. Cicero was one of the youngest ever to reach that high office.
Cicero’s Finest Hour
It was in the Forum that Cicero addressed the people of Rome in 63 B.C., congratulating them for the defeat of Catiline’s plans to topple the republic and establish a dictatorship.

Consul and conspiracy
Wielders of imperium, Roman authority, consuls held executive power in the republic. There were two consuls who each served a one-year term. They held equal power as political and military heads of state. Consuls controlled the army, presided over the Senate, and proposed legislation. On paper, the Senate’s job was to advise and consent, but because the body was made of roughly 600 elite and powerful patrician men, it gained much power and influence. Legislative authority rested with assemblies, most notably the Comitia Centuriata. Plebeians could belong to this body, whose powers included electing officials, enacting laws, and declarations of war and peace. (Learn about Vestal Virgins, the most powerful priestesses in Rome.)
In the same year Cicero clinched the consulship, he exposed and defeated a rebellion led by a political opponent, Catiline. The plot called for assassinations and burning the city itself. Widely considered the best orator of his time, Cicero had attempted to warn Rome about Catiline’s treasonous intentions through dramatic speeches in the Senate, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. After the plot had been exposed, Catiline escaped. Five of his conspirators were caught, however, and Cicero advocated for their immediate execution, without trial.

Most senators agreed with Cicero, with one major exception—Julius Caesar. He advocated for imprisoning the men, but his recommendation was overturned. The conspirators were executed, and Catiline died later, fighting alongside his men while making one last stand. The defeat of the Catiline conspiracy was a high mark for Cicero, whom his supporters proudly called pater patriae, father of the fatherland. (See also: How Julius Caesar started a big war by crossing a small stream.)

Julius Caesar and his patron, Marcus Licinius Crassus, were both formidably rich, and had each used their wealth to gain popular support over the course of their political careers. In the chaos that followed the conspiracy, Julius Caesar and Crassus joined another general, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey, to take control of the government in 60 B.C. Announced when Caesar began his first consulship, the First Triumvirate would rule the republic for six years until the death of Crassus in 53.

Return to Rome

At first Cicero refused to support the triumvirate and fled from Rome. In 57, with Pompey’s backing, he returned to the city and tried to persuade Pompey to break his alliance with Caesar. Pompey refused. Cicero begrudgingly gave the triumvirate his approval despite recognizing that the triumvirate was unstable; each of the three men wanted to increase his own power while keeping his two other “allies” in check. No one in the First Triumvirate would be the champion for the republic for whom Cicero hoped.
Disgusted by this turn of events, Cicero left politics for a few years. During this time, he penned some of his most influential works before returning to office in 51 B.C. He accepted the governorship of Cilicia, a province located in present-day Turkey, and then returned to Rome in late 50. Crassus’ death in 53 had increased hostility between Julius Caesar and Pompey, who were headed toward an unavoidable confrontation that would explode into civil war in 49 B.C.
The Republic falls
Striving for control of Rome, neither Caesar nor Pompey wanted Cicero for an enemy, and both men appealed to him for his allegiance. Cicero chose to side with Pompey. Rome’s civil war lasted five years, and Caesar emerged victorious. In 46 B.C. Caesar was declared Dictator perpetuo, dictator for life.

Despite siding with Pompey, Cicero was pardoned by Caesar, who allowed him to return to Rome. Cicero began another period of intensive writing, creating many works defending republican values. During this time, a group of conspirators decided to take a more proactive stance against Caesar’s ambition. Although the plotters were close associates of Cicero—including Marcus Brutus whom Cicero had mentored—they kept their plans secret from the great orator.
Cicero was not involved in Caesar’s assassination during the Ides of March in 44 B.C. In his writings he expressed horror at the violence but supported the actions of the assassins:
Our tyrant deserved his death for having made an exception of the one thing that was the blackest crime of all . . . here you have a man who was ambitious to be king of the Roman People and master of the whole world; and he achieved it! The man who maintains that such an ambition is morally right is a madman, for he justifies the destruction of law and liberty and thinks their hideous and detestable suppression glorious.
Although he could probably not have brought himself to commit the violent act himself, he wrote: “All honest men killed Caesar . . . some lacked design, some courage, some opportunity: none lacked the will.” He was hopeful that by removing the ambitious Caesar, Rome could set itself back on the path to a republic. A few days after the murder, he advocated amnesty for the assassins in the Senate.
Rise of Antony
The wake of Caesar’s death left Cicero and Antony standing as the two main powers in Rome. Cicero had the backing of the Senate, but Antony had the power of Caesar’s legacy. To take advantage of his position, Antony orchestrated a spectacular funeral for the fallen leader. His stirring eulogy roused the passions of the crowd and turned public opinion against the assassins. Fearing for his life, Brutus fled from Rome. Cicero also left the city and bewailed ever more bitterly the inactivity of “our heroes” the conspirators, who, in his view, had not acted swiftly enough.

Dire Warnings
Cicero bemoaned Mark Antony’s actions after the death of Julius Caesar. He wrote to his friend Atticus: “Do you remember how you cried out that the cause was lost if he [Caesar] had a state funeral. But he was even cremated in the forum and given a pathetic eulogy, and slaves and paupers were sent against our houses with torches.” Brutus received a reproachful letter from the orator: “I can in no sense admit the justice of the distinction you draw . . . I strongly differ from you Brutus . . . You will be crushed, believe me Brutus, unless you take proper precautions.”
Cicero remained convinced that he had a part to play in the survival of the republic. He knew that his close political associations with Brutus and other conspirators would hurt his cause, so he needed a strong political ally to counter that factor. He thought he had found just the person—a youth of 18, who was in the early days of what would turn out to be an impressive career.
That young man was Octavian, a great-nephew of Julius Caesar. Caesar had named Octavian as his heir in his will. Octavian received news of Caesar’s death while in Apollonia (in modern-day Albania), and at once set out for Rome. He arrived in April and attempted to gain the trust of the veterans of Caesar’s legions and of influential figures like Cicero. He convinced Cicero to return to Rome, and the elder statesman was extremely flattered to have Octavian “totally devoted to me.” He became convinced that an alliance with Octavian might help to destroy Antony’s political aspirations. Cicero was encouraged to observe later in Rome, Octavian presented himself, unaccompanied by Antony, to the veterans of two legions and reiterated their rights. Cicero wrote, with misplaced optimism, to his friend Atticus: “This lad has landed a heavy blow to Mark Antony.” (See also: Inside the decadent love affair of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.)
Beginning in September and continuing into the spring of 43, Cicero delivered scathing speeches against Antony in the Senate that fanned outrage against him. These 14 orations were called the Philippics because they were modeled after warnings that the Athenian Demosthenes delivered about Philip of Macedon in the fourth century B.C. Perhaps harkening back to his famed orations against Catiline, Cicero argued for the restoration of the republic, advocated for Octavian, and framed Antony as a tyrant. Eventually the new consuls declared war on Antony, who was away besieging the city of Mutina (modern-day Modena) where one of Caesar’s assassins was holding out.
Attacking Antony

Cicero unleashed all his rhetorical forces against Mark Antony in 14 written speeches called Philippics. In the second, Cicero proclaims that despite knowing the risks, he is determined to fight for liberty. “Consider, I beg you, Marcus Antonius, do some time or other consider the republic: think of the family of which you are born, not of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the republic. However, do you decide on your conduct. As to mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the republic as a young man, I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Catiline, I will not quail before yours. No, I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can be restored by my death.”

Octavian and Rome’s two sitting consuls, Gaius Vibius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, led the Senate’s forces against Antony in April 43. After Pansa’s death in battle, they were able to secure a decisive victory against Antony. When news of the victories reached Rome there was jubilation in the Senate. Cicero, the man of the hour, was borne in triumph from his home on Capitoline Hill to the Forum. There he mounted the rostrum and delivered an exultant address to the people of Rome.
Cicero’s joy was short-lived. Antony managed to salvage a sector of his legions. Octavian, instead of pursuing Antony, decided to claim the vacant consulship for himself. When the Senate refused, Octavian lost no time in crossing the Rubicon—as Julius Caesar had before him—and marched on Rome with his legions. The senators were powerless to resist, and had to give in to his demands. Cicero saw how his trust had been misplaced, as his alleged protégé used the power of his troops to trample the rule of law. Historians believe the relationship between the two started to sour after Octavian found out that Cicero wrote that “the boy [Octavian] must be praised, honored, and removed.”

Death of an orator
Devastated that the republican cause was now lost, Cicero withdrew from Rome to spend time in his rural retreats in southern Italy. From there he looked on powerlessly as Octavian, reconciled with Antony, eventually formed the Second Triumvirate with him and Lepidus. Not only did Cicero feel this was a step backward politically, it also posed a serious personal threat to his life. The triumvirs put together a long list of senators and other citizens who should be “proscribed,” or condemned to die. The vengeful Antony managed to include Cicero’s name, despite Octavian’s initial reluctance.
Cicero was at his villa in Tusculum with his brother Quintus when he found out that they were both on the “hit list.” Fearing for their lives, they left for the villa in Astura, from there intending to sail to Macedonia and be reunited with Marcus Brutus. But at one point, Quintus retraced his steps in order to pick up provisions for the journey. Betrayed by his slaves, Quintus was killed a few days later along with his son. Cicero, by now in Astura, was wracked with fear and doubt as to what he should do. He set off by boat but after just a few miles he amazed everyone by disembarking and walking toward Rome in order to return to his Astura villa and from there be taken by sea to his villa at Formiae. There, he planned to rest and gather his strength before the final push onward to Greece.
Too hesitant. Too late. Realizing that Antony’s soldiers were about to catch up with him, Cicero headed through the forest toward the port of Gaeta from where he hoped to escape. The soldiers, led by Herennius, a centurion, and Popilius, a tribune, who had once been prosecuted for parricide and defended by Cicero, found his villa already abandoned but a slave called Philologus showed them which way Cicero had gone. They had no trouble catching up with him and performing their murderous deed.
Antony ordered that the severed head and right hand be displayed as trophies on the rostrum in the Forum so that all Rome could contemplate them. The rostrum was the very platform from which Cicero had been acclaimed by the crowds for his oratory. The force of arms had prevailed over the power of words.
A Long Legacy
Cicero inspired generations of philosophers, especially those of the Enlightenment such as John Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu, who stated that “Cicero is, of all the ancients, the one who had the most personal merit, and whom I would most prefer to resemble.” He was a guiding light for the U.S. Founding Fathers. In 1744 Benjamin Franklin published M. T. Cicero’s Cato Major, or His Discourse of Old-Age, the first classic work translated and printed in the colonies. Thomas Jefferson drew on Cicero’s ideas when drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. John Adams idolized Cicero, citing him in his 1787 A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America: “As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero, his authority should have greater weight.”

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Non Sequitur Comic Strip for November 03, 2019

 

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“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I Can’t say for sure when politics became such a “lie fest” however it appears that the “lie” has become the order of the day even on major networks. Some network’s mainstays are opinionators who essentially lie for a living ( much like spies). These opinionators aided by adjunct opinionators who serve to bolster the lies told. These shows have huge followings and alter the truth regularly with impunity. Our ersatz National leader relies on these shows for information on all things Presidential. All of the White House advisors push any and all misinformation related to the Administration on any and all networks or media outlets who will have them. The amazing thing is that they will continue to lie even when the truth is put before them. We all have the general opinion that politicians “lie” as a matter of course (lies such as “a chicken in every pot”) in an election run and consider it “political rhetoric” however the new normal is that one needs to lie as long as required to gain the office and then continue to lie to keep it even in the face of the truth. Unfortunately, the liars have larger followings than the truth-tellers, so we (all of us) need to take note of all political parties and the subsets who ply us with their “facts” which are suspect at the least.

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The child who gets angry at not being picked for the team takes his ball and goes home.MA

Donald Trump Becomes Resident of Florida, Says He Did It Because New York Leaders Treated Him ‘Very Badly’

“I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state,” Trump tweets
J. Clara Chan | October 31, 2019, @ 6:23 PM The Wrap

The president, who was born and raised in Queens, has lived most of his life in New York City and ran in 2016 as a candidate from New York, filed for a change in primary residency from Manhattan to Palm Beach, Florida, the New York Times first reported on Thursday.

In documents filed with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Trump — along with his wife, Melania — listed his Mar-a-Lago resort as his primary residence.
“If I maintain another place or places of abode in some other state or states, I hereby declare that my above-described residence and abode in the State of Florida constitutes my predominant and principal home, and I intend to continue it permanently as such,” the document states.

Listed among his “other places of abode” are the White House and his private New Jersey golf club.
The White House declined to comment on the reasons why he changed his primary residence to Florida, but an anonymous source told the Times that he did so “for tax purposes.” By officially moving from New York, Trump will be able to avoid the state’s 9 percent tax rate and the city’s 4 percent tax rate. The change in residency to Florida also gives Trump access to Florida’s lack of state income and inheritance taxes.

However, Trump himself later contradicted that explanation. “Unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse<” he tweeted Thursday evening.
Since his inauguration, Trump has spent a total of 99 days at Mar-a-Lago, according to NBC News. He has been in office for over a thousand days.

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We have always been suspicious of elected officials, their parties and their motives especially when their motives are counter to what we personally think. Our personal opinions are informed by what we read (correct or not) and more modernly the influence of mass media right in our pockets. In the back of our minds, we always think the political parties are barely on our side and have been proven correct enough times to maintain that distrust to the point of being swayed by any information that seems true according to our core beliefs (proven or unproven). Our enate information while valuable for everyday living until we reach the learning stage of high school where for the most part we receive the opportunity to interact with others of different faiths, creeds and ideas (the formative years?). After high school comes additional education in the form of college, tech schools and military service. These all come with the baggage of home learned information which tends to color or tilt our overall thinking. When we become voters and are assailed by political messages which either reinforce our ideas or challenges them, that is when the political information becomes suspect. The political process has always been messy and has become more so since the “Citizens United” decision which opened the flood gates on monetary contributions. This allowed an unlimited amount of cash to flow into the coffers of candidates which rendered them “paid for”. The current political system has maintained and reinforced our sense of politicians maintaining integrity for the good of their party and not for the good of the voters.

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It seems that voter suppression is alive and well in Georgia (and possibly elsewhere). MA

Dartunorro Clark 13 hrs ago NBC News

The move comes ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The state will also have an unusual “double-barreled” Senate contest, with both of its seats up for grabs at the same time.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said that it plans to send notices to voters who have been inactive for the past couple of elections and the notice will come with a paid return postage to give voters the opportunity to remain active. People have 30 days to return the notice.
Walter Jones, communications director for the office’s voter education project, told NBC News that the number of potential cancellations constitutes roughly 4 percent of Georgians on the voter rolls.
“This is not an outstanding number, relatively speaking,” he said. “Registration is considered inactive if there has no interaction with the registration system.”
The 2018 gubernatorial election between now-Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state at the time, and Democrat Stacey Abrams was roiled by accusations of voter registration purges and suppression. Kemp won by less than 2 percent. Also, in July 2017, Georgia canceled more than 530,000 registration — the largest in state history, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The plan to remove the inactive voters was announced Monday, the paper reported.
Jones said the move is routine list maintenance but voters could also get off the inactive list by voting in Georgia’s upcoming Nov. 5 election, returning the cancellation notice or registering with the state’s department of driver services.
However, Fair Fight Action, a group founded by Abrams that is suing the state over its handling of elections, excoriated the move in a tweet on Monday.
“Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections,” the group said. “Anytime a voter purge is conducted, errors can be made, including active voters being wrongly included on the list.”

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Listening to several political talk shows and the folks who call in to them, I realized that TOTUS and many of his supporters have Colonial Mindsets. The type of thinking that many years ago allowed the European and Asian countries who had the power to take and drain the resources on the conquered. One caller applauded the killing of the last(?) ISIS leader while citing TOTUS’s statement regarding the “protection”(?) of the oil fields (which are nowhere close to where the ISIS leader was killed). The same caller stated that we should take the oil much like the early conquerors took the resources of the conquered. It is apparent that many Americans who enjoy the fruits of early colonialism misremember what the original Americans (you know the NATIVE AMERICANS) lost during the first 100 years of this country. Is it possible that many nonnative aka “White” (no matter what other nationality) Americans do not or cannot see the folly of their notions, attitudes, and pseudo historic sense of our country? Unfortunately, American prosperity was built on the European model of conquering and oppressing rather than the premise of acting like a guest (as it were) in someone else’s country. Apparently many have lost (or never had) the ability to accept and coexist with other people (I don’t say Race as we are all of the Human Race) who are different. NO ONE is above the law and NO ONE is better than anyone else except in their particular circumstances. So Update your thinking to 2019 and beyond!

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sub·ver·sion
/səbˈvərZH(ə)n,səbˈvərSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: subversion; plural noun: subversions
the undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution.
“the ruthless subversion of democracy”

The current administration has seemingly made subversion a tool of its daily work. Over the past 3 years, TOTUS has continued campaigning rather than run the government with integrity. Aided by an almost criminal Congress and the related Whitehouse aides and miscreants, this administration has opened the U.S. to international and national ridicule. Our long-time allies while not speaking out have opted to do the work they need to do without the U.S. At the same time our long-time enemies have risen in our place as “protectors”. This dereliction of duty by the administration has allowed this strengthening of bad actors in the world while spending valuable capital pursuing and punishing immigrants new and long time U.S. residents. The U.S. has long contributed to our Southern hemisphere neighbors to enable them to provide better conditions for their residents. TOTUS and his “crew” have cut those funds,  allowing for the dire conditions there to become more urgent. This increased urgency (coupled with in some cases) the rise of an unscrupulous leader has caused great harm and desperation in the people who then flee their homes and livelihoods. The flow of people has led to the crisis on our Southern border and at other entry points of our country. This defunding has only weakened us a country while satisfying the baser instincts of a small core of people. In effect, the U.S. has been subverted by an administration devoted to self-service.

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The Post’s View
Opinion

By Editorial Board
Oct. 24, 2019 at 5:51 p.m. CDT
THERE IS an old Washington saying that if you’re arguing about process, you’re losing. A follow-on maxim might be: If you are wrong on process, too, you must really be in trouble.
That would apply to the 30 or so Republicans who stormed a Wednesday House Intelligence Committee hearing in a secure Capitol facility, objecting that Democrats have, so far, conducted impeachment proceedings behind closed doors.
The stunt disrupted the testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper and temporarily distracted Washington from the evidence of President Trump’s misconduct. The latter seemed to be the point, but Ms. Cooper simply testified a few hours later.

It’s already clear that the president grossly abused his office. Mr. Trump himself released a rough transcript of a call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family, as Mr. Zelensky sought military aid and a White House meeting. Republicans have offered no persuasive defense of the president’s actions, because there is none.

Fear-driven Republicans have been enablers of President Trump with their silence, argues Post columnist George F. Will. (Joy Sharon Yi/The Washington Post)
Yet questions remain, and House committees are methodically looking for answers. Lawmakers lack a voluminous investigative record like independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s 1998 report. They must do their own basic investigating, which is why it makes sense to hold some hearings behind closed doors. Investigators don’t want witnesses to play for the cameras or dishonestly align their testimony with that of earlier witnesses. Classified material may be discussed. Republicans, in their incessant and fruitless investigations of Hillary Clinton and the 2012 Benghazi attacks, held many closed hearings — and insisted they were the most useful.
Moreover, Republican legislators are present at all of these closed-door sessions and are free to pose questions. In fact, the rules allowed many of those who stormed Wednesday’s testimony to enter the room in a civilized fashion if they so chose. The impression Republicans tried to convey, of Democrats cooking up an illegitimate indictment of the president while locking all others out of the room, is a partisan fantasy.

Marginally more persuasive was a memo Senate Republicans released Thursday complaining that the full House had not formally voted on conducting an impeachment inquiry and that Mr. Trump is not allowed counsel in the room. Neither is required by the Constitution or House rules. But holding a vote would add legitimacy, and, more to the point, the sooner House investigators move from closed hearings to open ones, the better. Citizens should learn the scope and gravity of the president’s misdeeds so they can form their own conclusions. House leaders should release transcripts of closed hearings, consistent with the protection of classified material, as soon as possible.

Of course, all of this could happen sooner if the Trump administration were not stonewalling lawmakers’ legitimate requests for information.

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The hits keep coming.MA
ABC News

5 hrs ago

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin joined ABC News’ “The Briefing Room” on Friday, expressing concern over a “shadow government” within the Trump administration that, he said, made it more difficult to do his job.

“You serve at their pleasure, and the president should have the team around him or her that allows them to feel comfortable and to get the advice they want, there’s no issue with that,” he told ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks. “The issue that I’ve raised in the book and just laid out the facts — for people to decide — is this was being orchestrated by a small number of political appointees who weren’t elected and weren’t put in place to decide who should be secretary.”
When asked about the current administration, Shulkin added, “I think that President Trump is struggling right now.”
Shulkin served as VA secretary from February 2017 until his departure in March 2018, after an ethics investigation and alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars.
He said they created the situation by leaking and creating “false information” that had an influence on the other members of government.
In his new book, “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans,” Shulkin describes the nation’s capital as “toxic, chaotic and subversive.”
When Parks asked if the book, in part, was a way for him to settle the score after he said a “shadow government” of political appointees worked to undermine him, Shulkin said it wasn’t.
“I wrote the book because I feel so strongly that our veterans deserve the very best care and services that this country can offer,” Shulkin said. “I had found a formula, I think, for working within government to make that better and I wanted to share what was working and what wasn’t.”
Shulkin’s advice? More Americans need to volunteer to serve and help make the government better, including helping to protect whistleblowers.
A report published Thursday by the VA inspector general showed the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection failed to meet its stated goals under the Whistleblower Protection Act. The office, specifically created by President Donald Trump to clean up the challenged agency, didn’t meet its objectives and created circumstances that could put whistleblowers at further risk for retaliation.
“In its first two years of operation, the OAWP acted in ways that were inconsistent with its statutory authority while it simultaneously floundered in its mission to protect
Shulkin said he agreed it was tough for people to speak out even when he was in office, but that it wasn’t his intention.
“Well, I think that there’s no doubt that this has been an environment that has been tough for many people who have tried to speak out. When I was secretary we passed through Congress, and the president signed, the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” Shulkin added. “We were enacting new legislation to be able to make sure that people felt comfortable speaking out when they saw wrongdoing and that certainly was not the intention or an environment that I supported where there was retaliation.”
He expressed concern over partisanship preventing what he feels should be a bipartisan effort.
“Unfortunately, I think that this pattern of behavior, the experience that I had, which I think took away from the ability to focus, in this case on veterans, is not, unfortunately, a unique experience,” he said. “I’ve seen the same thing happen to many other people who have come to serve, many dedicated career professionals, who, trying to do the job and there for the right reason because they believe in government and they believe in their country, being prevented from doing their job every day.”
Shulkin said Trump and “others in Washington” should take a lesson on service from veterans.
“Veterans are about serving and putting country first and I think we all have a lot to learn from them,” he said. “I think that this is a country that is divided, and it’s hard to be a leader of a divided country, and I would hope that he would see that this is the opportunity to really lead in a very different direction.”

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