How Is That ‘Draining The Swamp’ Thing Going?

Long-time readers know I think a functional government requires skilled personnel along with a healthy dose of institutional memory.  The idea that we just start throwing out those who have held their long-time jobs in order to make a political point has never found favor with me.  I also do not hold to the idea that just because a person has a career that includes the banking or financial services and/or is a wealthy person that it makes for a deal breaker when wanting to work in the federal government.   The Kennedy family, as an example, proved that wealth and social awareness are not incompatible.

So I write this post mostly to make clear a political point.  The Trump voters who cast ballots due to some verbal rhetoric being promised from Donald Trump have already seen that it was simply just hot wind.  (Recall I was one of those who predicted as much, and so can now stand on rational ground and say ” I told you so.)

Lets start with Steven Mnuchin who was the national finance chairman for Trump’s campaign.  Score another cabinet choice based on loyalty. But let us be honest and say this is one very wealthy loyalist to be placed in a very pivotal economic post.   Mnuchin began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he became a partner, before creating his own hedge fund, moving to the West Coast and entering the first rank of movie financiers by bankrolling hits like the ‘X-Men’ franchise and ‘Avatar.’  For all those Trump supporters let me add some salt to the ‘swamp’ with the fact he will be the third Goldman Sachs alumni to serve as Treasury secretary.

Trump now has two Goldman Sachs alumni at the top of his White House.  They are senior adviser Steve Bannon and Mnuchin, who have degrees from Harvard and Yale, respectively. (Lord have mercy!!  Educated ones, too!)  Mnuchin’s dad worked at Goldman, too, and get this (you angry white male Trump voters) Bannon drove a Porsche in college.  (That imagery is just perfect!)

Meanwhile Elaine Chao , wife to Senator McConnell and a former cabinet member, will he Trump’s transportation secretary nominee.  She is giving up a lucrative life if she becomes transportation secretary. She made at least $1,074,826 from serving on boards of directors in 2015, according to public records. She serves on the boards of four publicly traded companies: News Corp, Wells Fargo, Ingersoll Rand and Vulcan Materials Co. Wells Fargo paid her $291,027 in 2015 ($111,000 in cash, $180,027 in stock). Ingersoll Rand paid her $224,362 ($81,820 in cash, $142,542 in stock). News Corp paid her $295,250 ($114,000 in cash, $181,250 in stock). And Vulcan paid her $264,187 ($110,000 in cash, $153,671 in stock and the rest in other compensation). She is also on the boards of Centerra Group LLC and Protective Life Insurance Co., both of which are not public.

Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary nominee, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, has been in Congress since 2005, so I guess that term-limit thing is more a throw away line for the Trump voters who bought everything wholesale.  Then there is Wilbur Ross, his Commerce secretary, who is a billionaire Wall Street turnaround artist.  (Gotta love that swamp cleaning act of Trump’s on the campaign trail!)

When it comes to swamp-draining the ethical canyon that is the Trump business empire mixed, blended, and stirred with government is going to make for a never-ending series of stories and scandals that will plague the next administration.  The Republican Party knows this is about to befall them.  Simply put there is no amount of distance that Trump can put between himself and his Oval Office duties–without an outright sale of his entire operation–that will not allow for an all consuming and difficult four years.

Think about it from the perspective of a GOP member of congress.

If Trump doesn’t divest or separate himself from his business dealings in a very real way, that is going to put a ton of pressure on Hill Republicans to remain independent of the administration.  No one is going to put their necks on the line–mid-terms are two years away–knowing full well that in six months or a year, when some serious conflict of interest blows up and the news channels go 24/7 with the story there will be serious pressure to curb the ethical scandal.  GOP members start to cover their rear-ends from the start.

I also note that it will be then that the angry white Trump voters who got taken for a ride in 2016 will discover those successful men and women–the billionaires in the cabinet–are all of a sudden a problem.  There will be a free ride for the most part during the congressional hearings in January.  The fan kicks in when the first scandal rips into the next administration.  And with Trump that timing will be sooner rather than later.

As are the majority of voters this year, I am not pleased with the election outcome.  But I can tell you that I am laughing my backside off each and every day as I watch this circus act play out.  If an actor can not make for a serious theater performance at least let it be funny.  On that count Trump is ready for an Emmy.  (Since he was not able to score before.)

What Is Up With Mika Brzezinski?

One of my morning favorites is Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.   So it would concern me deeply if there is any thought of her turning to the dark side.

Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s flagship morning program Morning Joe, discussed “an interview opportunity” at Trump Tower in Manhattan Tuesday morning, Donald Trump communications director Jason Miller told pool reporters.

Brzezinski was spotted entering Trump Tower Tuesday morning, prompting speculation about the purpose of her meeting. A spokesperson for MSNBC did not immediately return a request for comment.  Trump and the Morning Joe team of Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have had a sometimes friendly, sometimes rocky relationship during the 2016 campaign. Trump has repeatedly criticized the morning program and mocked the hosts, calling Brzezinski “neurotic” and occasionally tweeting that he no longer watches the program after show segments critical of him aired.

At the same time, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump early in the campaign and their reported cozy relationship with the president-elect from before he ran for office and during the Republican primary has drawn scorn. Trump has not appeared on the morning show in months.

Old Potato Returns To The News

In an unexpected sighting yesterday former Vice President Dan Quayle showed up at Trump Tower to offer his “personal congratulations” to Donald Trump.  I was in the area and I stopped by to see the president-elect to offer personal congratulations to him. I talked to him recently on the phone.  Things are in good hands. He’s moving forward and he’s going to make America great again.”

One might think Quayle would just never want to seek out a camera ever again after the truly odd things he said and did when serving as vice-president.

Who can forget the classic line “I want to be Robin to Bush’s Batman.”

Unless there is a role for court jester in the new administration it would seem best for Quayle to just smile and move along.



COME ON READERS–Reach Out And Help Kids This Christmas At American Family Children’s Hospital

This morning before the coffee was made or my day was even underway there was a large box delivered to the front stoop.  Large, but not too heavy.  Only one thing on order fit that description.  The stuffed toy bears for American Family Children’s Hospital had arrived.

Shortly after I arrived in Madison in 1986 I started my own personal tradition of taking some new teddy bears and dropping them off at the hospital each Christmas season.  I had no personal knowledge of any child being treated there, though like most folks knew that the professional medical staff saw scores of young faces throughout the year and for those kids this was no easy process.  Maybe the load might be lifted ever so slightly with a new toy—perhaps a plush teddy bear that might be just the right size for smaller kids that it seemed the bear could even hug back.

Nothing seems more unfair to me every year at the Holidays than to know there are children who are very sick, requiring them to be in a hospital over Christmas.  In Madison at American Family Children’s Hospital  the beds are full of patients who have been stricken with various kinds of serious health problems.  There are 86 beds in the children unit and the census is always high which underscores the need.

I never forget there are toddlers, kids, and teenagers who need to be comforted, and not forgotten during this Holiday season, and then throughout the other months of the year. It is not too late for each of my readers in the Madison/Dane County area to help lift the burden for these kids at the Children’s Hospital.

I want to strongly encourage you to buy a new toy and take it to the hospital at 1675 Highland Avenue in Madison.  Just enter the main doors and it will be very clear where to make the donation at the main counter.  Leave the tags on the toy.  You can be responsible for helping to put a smile on a kid’s face while lifting a burden just a bit.

James and I always take the Teddy Bears and drop them off with the hope the recipients at the children’s hospital will soon find their way back home.  Today these pandas arrived at our home and this week will be taken with the faith they will make for a smile on the face of some boy or girl.  Let the season take hold in your heart by reaching out and also making a kid at the hospital smile when receiving a toy during their stay.  



Lets Talk About Wisconsin Presidential Recount

Up to this point I have remained silent on this blog about the recount that will be taking place of the recently cast presidential ballots in Wisconsin.  My reason for doing so has been mostly that the news event occurred over a holiday weekend.  The second reason is that I trust the voting, tabulating, and reporting process in this state.  I trust the election process.

The place I have always stood in relation to my faith in the process is where I am firmly planted today.   That does not mean, however, that there is not a place for recounts and audits.  There is a statutory right for such actions following an election, and there should be no one who should seek to stop a recount if the process for such actions are followed.

But then I read the email below and I wonder what is wrong with others who can not see the reasonableness in the process as I do?

From: Chris Carr, Political Director <>
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 7:47 AM
Subject: Breaking: Clinton’s allies on the left order election recount
The far left is trying to stop President-Elect Trump.  

Friend, President-Elect Trump has issued a call for unity, which is exactly what our country needs right now. Sadly, one group would rather continue to bicker and protect the broken Washington status quo.

This weekend, the Clinton campaign joined the ridiculous effort for recounts in battleground states that President-Elect Donald Trump won — and a recount was just successfully launched in Wisconsin.

Over $6 MILLION  have been raised to drag our country through this meaningless recount. It’s a political ploy by the left to further divide our country, gin up support from their extremist base, and threaten President-Elect Trump’s mandate.

Donald Trump won in an electoral landslide, winning states and counties that no Republican won since Ronald Reagan’s triumphant victory in 1984. But liberals still can’t accept the fact that their chosen candidate lost.

We should be taking this moment to unite as Americans after a brutal election and bind the wounds of our divided country.

Can you imagine what would be happening if it were President-Elect Trump contesting an election that was decided three weeks ago?

We know the answer… The media would be eating him alive.

Where does one start in offering up a response?  Give me a chance.

  1. “President-Elect Trump’s ‘mandate.'”  Lets get real and state there was NO mandate. Facts show Hillary Clinton has 2.5 million more votes. Furthermore Trump did not even have the ability to secure a plurality.
  2. “Donald Trump won in an electoral landslide.” Trump did win the electoral votes of Utah, North and South Dakota and Idaho under a system developed when Black people counted for 3/5th a person (for census only) and women, white men with no land and Blacks and Native Americans couldn’t vote.  There is something to be said for reviewing the Electoral College!
  3. We should be taking this moment to unite as Americans after a brutal election and bind the wounds of our divided country.”  I suspect that means following the GOP example of how to react to a new president? I seem to recall when Obama was inaugurated following a truly historic election (first black president) that Paul Ryan, Eric the Lobbyist Cantor, and Kevin ‘the Benghazi hearings were all about driving Hill’s numbers down’ McCarthy were meeting to negate and vote no on everything proposed by the White House. I also recall that Mitch McConnell claimed his first job was to make Obama a one-term president. The only thing one might say that is accurate about the above email is that this is a historic election if you consider this is our first Dumb-Ass Reality TV Star President
  4. “Can you imagine what would be happening if it were President-Elect Trump contesting an election that was decided three weeks ago?”  Frankly no.  I CAN imagine the Donald screaming “Rigged Election!!!   Citizens A-rey-est!!! Rigged Election!   All that would take place about three minutes after the election was called IF HE LOST, not three weeks.  Be mindful that they are still counting provisional ballots from people the GOP tried to disenfranchise and create barriers against them on Election Day.

The Irony With Lawsuit By Robin Van Ert Against UW-Madison Officials

UPDATEA federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against UW-Madison officials by a woman who was romantically linked to former men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan, finding that her constitutional rights were not violated by the school’s investigation into her relationship with Ryan or by the release of her 2015 email accusing Ryan of misconduct.


I was surely not the only person reading the Wisconsin State Journal on Thanksgiving and needing to put the coffee cup down while saying out loud, “Give me a break.”   The reason for such a response was due to the back story concerning Robin Van Ert’s lawsuit against UW-Madison officials in connection with men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan.   Ert and Ryan were romantically involved from 2009 until 2014.

There is certainly reason to suspect that a lawsuit over the questions of due process and the invasion of Ert’s privacy has foundation.  There will be some legal hurdles to clear but no one doubts that folks are taking this lawsuit very seriously at the UW.  And for good reason.   The release of her name to the press was a step that does deserve more than a mere explanation.

But all that was not what made me place my raspberry chocolate coffee on the counter.    No, rather, it was these sentences from the story.

Van Ert alleges the scope of the “sham” investigation wasn’t broad enough, claiming Ryan was “unfit” to mentor student athletes and violated university policies and a “morality clause” in his contract.

“…she ended the relationship in part because she thought he was “manipulative, deceptive and abusive toward Van Ert and other women,” the complaint alleges.

This is where I am going to sound a lot older than I am.

Ert claiming that there was an issue with Ryan’s “morality clause” misses the mark by a mile.  The issue with the UW is second to the fact that Ryan was a married man and his first contract and overriding obligation was that little sticking point called a marriage vow.

As a gay man who has had to fight for the right to marry I am not now–nor have I ever been in any way–lackadaisical when it comes to the meaning of ’till death do us part’.  My parents were just short by a few months of celebrating 60 years of marriage when my mom died.     So when it comes to the ‘other woman’ talking about Ryan’s lack of morality in relation to the UW it strikes many who believe in the sanctity of marriage as most odd.

As to Ert’s claim that she ended the relationship due to Ryan being  “manipulative, deceptive ” must be due to someone not editing the final wording of that document in a  meticulous fashion.  The very act of cheating on one’s spouse is, by its very definition, manipulative and deceptive.  So from day one Ert had ever reason to leave Ryan!

I fully understand that a large segment of society will not ponder this at all and perhaps if they do think I am living in some Victorian land far from reality.   But I would argue that foundations still matter.

While there are legal arguments as to why Ert has a most reasonable chance to prevail with her claims about privacy it can not be left unsaid that all this would not have happened had two simple rules been followed.

Spouses should not cheat on their partners and no one should ever think dating a cheating spouse will ever bring anything other than misery.

All In The Family As Richard Nixon’s Grandson To Be Ambassador To China

I found this interesting to read today.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Christopher Nixon Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon, had time with Donald Trump in Florida.  Cox is being heavily promoted to be the next ambassador to China.

It was the work of President Richard Nixon that opened China’s diplomatic doors.   And it seems now the circle comes back home with the forthcoming news of Cox’s assignment.

The problem I have with Cox is his lack of state department background.  I have long argued against the idea of political supporters being made an ambassador.  It not only cheapens the job but gives real workers at state the willies.  While there is a charming aspect to his grandfather being central to a major foreign policy initiative, and now the grandson having the high post it also needs to be said that Cox does not have a resume to support undertaking such a job.

Minefield Of Scandals Ready To Explode During Trump Administration

Since the election one line has bounced about in my thoughts in relation to the messy and most troubling collision of America’s interests and the large business world of Donald Trump.  The line that keeps going through my mind is “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal”?

The person who uttered those words years after leaving the White House was Richard Nixon.

It does not take anyone any length of time to conclude there is a minefield of scandal just waiting to explode day after day once the new administration takes over.  Simply denying the problem exists, or that is does not matter, or that there is no legal issue at play is simply wrong.

Today The New York Times has one of those must-read stories that lays the ground for where we are headed.

Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President, by Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Norland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero is the lead story in this morning’s paper.

And in Turkey, officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a religiously conservative Muslim, demanded that Mr. Trump’s name be removed from Trump Towers in Istanbul after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. More recently, after Mr. Trump came to the defense of Mr. Erdogan — suggesting that he had the right to crack down harshly on dissidents after a failed coup — the calls for action against Trump Towers have stopped, fueling worries that Mr. Trump’s policies toward Turkey might be shaped by his commercial interests.

Mr. Trump has acknowledged a conflict of interest in Turkey. “I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” he said during a radio interview last year with Stephen K. Bannon, the Breitbart News executive who has since been designated his chief White House strategist. “It’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one. It’s two.”

Some former government officials from both parties [are asking] if America’s reaction to events around the world could potentially be shaded, if only slightly, by the Trump family’s financial ties with foreign players. They worry, too, that in some countries those connections could compromise American efforts to criticize the corrupt intermingling of state power with vast business enterprises controlled by the political elite. …

Mr. Trump’s companies have business operations in at least 20 countries, with a particular focus on the developing world, including outposts in nations like India, Indonesia and Uruguay … What’s more, the true extent of Mr. Trump’s global financial entanglements is unclear, since he has refused to release his tax returns and has not made public a list of his lenders. … Even if Mr. Trump and his family seek no special advantages from foreign governments, officials overseas may feel compelled to help the Trump family by, say, accelerating building permits or pushing more business to one of the new president’s hotels or golf courses, according to several former State Department officials. …

In April, even before Mr. Trump had secured the Republican nomination, his business moved to trademark the name American Idea for use in branding hotels, spas and concierge services, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It was one of more than two dozen trademark applications that Mr. Trump and members of his family filed in the United States and around the world while he was running for president.