Hidden History: Inside the Bungled Trump Transition

The Fifth Risk

By Michael Lewis

W W Norton (2018)

Book Review

This is a fascinating book about the bungled Trump transition following his 2016 election. As of February 2016, federal law required all remaining primary candidates to set up transition teams – in the off chance they actually won the presidency. Two million people work for the US government, with 70% employed in national security. Of these, 4,000 are political appointees who lose their jobs on the day the new president takes office.

Although the federal government provides office space for transition teams, the candidates have to pay transition staff from their campaign coffers. No one (including Trump himself) believed he would win in November. In fact he was livid on discovering former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was running his transition team from campaign funds.

Lewis’s book is a collection of in-depth interviews with the Obama appointees who spent most of 2016 attempting to orient a handful of Trump appointees to take on the massive work of these three federals departments. Their main fear was that without understanding the essential work undertaken by key agencies, the incoming Trump administration might eliminate or massively downsize vital work. In the end, this is exactly what happened.

Largely because there was no one on the Trump campaign team (other than Chris Christie or Rudolph Giuliani) with prior political experience, Christie was unable to send teams of 30-50 people (as Obama had done) to accept the handovers. So essentially they didn’t happen.

Lewis focuses on three departments, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Commerce. I found his book a real eye opener concerning the actual work they do. For example:

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has a $30 billion budget, of which half goes to safeguard the US nuclear arsenal. This $15 billion covers programs to detect and prevent espionage and to prevent accidental loss or explosion, as well as the international monitoring of all weapons grade uranium and plutonium stores, the training of all international nuclear inspectors and the clean-up of the extremely hazardous (and leaking) Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington State. When Trump took office on Jan 20 2017, the Obama appointee in charge of the nuclear weapons program notified a number of senators that Trump had failed to appoint his successor.*
  • The USDA runs the US Forest Service and its massive firefighting program. This is in addition ensuring the safety (?) of all meat Americans eat (the FDA regulates other foodstuffs). The are also responsible for food stamps, school lunches and programs offering catastrophic crop insurance to farmers and (using Weather Bureau data) advising them on the best dates to plant, fertilize and harvest their crops. Ironically they also run a Rural Development Program** providing grants and loans to the struggling rural communities that turned out for Trump in such large numbers.
  • The Department of Commerce runs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Weather Bureau and the Census, as well as a massive data bank created to assist other departments (eg global atomic weapons numbers, violent crime statistics, consumer complaints against banks, cop shootings of civilians). Much of this data has disappeared from government websites since Trump took office.

*These Republican senators forced Trump to temporarily re-appoint him.

**Which Trump cut by roughly 16%. See https://www.dailyyonder.com/trump-budget-cuts-usda-16/2018/02/12/

Robert F Kennedy Jr. Mic Dropping Speech Against The Medical Police State

“RFK Jr.: It’s a sad day for our country. And I have to ask a question, and I’d like to ask these legislators who voted for this [inaudible], for this God awful bill, if we can give government and big industries the right to inject untested medical products that are zero liability into our children, coercively, where does the power of government end?”

RIELPOLITIK

Source – greenmedinfo.com

“…Big pharmaceutical companies are the most evil companies on earth who are commoditizing our children. Who are giving our children a tsunami of chronic disease and then making the money to try to tell us “well we’re going to get rid of infectious diseases like chicken pox and measles, but we’re going to trade that for rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, and autism, and ADD, and ADHD”

RFK. Jr. Mic Dropping Speech Marks Birth of a New Civil Rights Movement Vis-à-Vis The Rise of the Medical Police State – By Sayer Ji

Medical Fascism Descends in California, While A New Civil (and Human) Rights Movement in the US is Being Born

While California’s tragic fall into what might rightly be described as a Medical Police State has many up in arms, RFK. Jr’s spontaneously delivered speech outside Gov. Newsom’s office helped transform the anger and grief experienced…

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Amazon Jeff Bezos Cuts Health Benefits for Part-Time Whole Foods Workers

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Telesur

Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores. | Photo: Reuters

RELATED:
Amazon Reduces Whole Food’s Employees Hours, Erasing Minimum Wage Gains

“I am in shock,” said an employee who asked for anonymity to avoid retribution for speaking out, adding that she’s “worked here 15 years. This is why I keep the job—because of my benefits.”

The decision will affect 1,900 of the business’s 95,000 workers, those who work part-time, or around 20 hours a week.

“We are providing team members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week,” a Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider who broke the story.

The move surprised many as owner Jeff Bezos, the richest man in modern history whose net worth just crossed the US$150 billion mark, and other several tech CEOs signed a pledge committing to invest in their employees and support the communities they operate in.

“Each of our stakeholders is essential,” the pledge read. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities, and our country.”

Yet deteriorating labor conditions are not new for Bezos’ companies.

In March 2019, following public pressure, Amazon raised its minimum wage to US$15 an hour, a decision that was expected to improve the lives of workers by giving them livable wages. However, at Whole Foods, the benefits of that decision were counteracted with other tactics aimed at maintaining high levels of corporate profitability.

“My [working] hours went from 30 to 20 a week,” a Whole Foods part-time employee told The Guardian back in March, which reported that full-time employees decreased their average weekly working term from 37.5 to 34.5 hours. Now, these workers will have their health benefits slashed as well.

In November of 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“The Whole Foods decision is not just hypocritical of Bezos, but also proves why workers should never put too much trust in kind words from CEOs and instead push for lasting changes to uphold their interests and those of their coworkers,” Business Insider columnist Bob Bryan wrote.

via Amazon Jeff Bezos Cuts Health Benefits for Part-Time Whole Foods Workers

What Does Bolton’s Ouster Mean to Victims of US Imperial Aggression?

By Glen Ford

“The Democrats chose to oppose the Orange Menace from the right, framing Trump as a dupe or agent of the Kremlin. For the past three years top Democrats and Democrat-aligned corporate media have poisoned the political environment with rabid anti-Russia propaganda masquerading as journalism and congressional oversight. They have applauded Trump’s most dangerous aggressions — calling his bombing of Syrian military bases “presidential” and backing his murderous economic blockade of Venezuela to the hilt – while undermining Trump’s initiatives for peace on the Korean peninsula and his efforts to maintain a speaking relationship with Moscow, the other nuclear superpower. When Trump restated his campaign intentions to disentangle from Barack Obama’s war against Syria, draw down U.S. forces in Africa, and end the marathon occupation of Afghanistan, Democrats and their corporate media darkly warned that he was weakening America’s posture in the world and, wittingly or unwittingly, playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands. Minus the Russiagate nonsense, these are essentially John Bolton’s positions.”



“If Trump tries to make peace with some US ‘enemies’ this election season, he will be opposed by corporate Democrats and their media.”

John Bolton, the hired gun who specializes in warmongering for Republican presidents, has legions of soul mates among Russia-obsessed Democrats.

Donald Trump, the highly unpredictable white supremacist blowhard, has unceremoniously fired John Bolton, the totally predictable white supremacist ideologue who became national security advisor 17 months ago. Every sane person on the planet should be glad to see Bolton go. As libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul put it: “The threat of war worldwide goes down exponentially with John Bolton out of the White House. I think his advocacy for regime change around the world is a naïve worldview, and I think that the world will be a much better place with new advisers to the president.”

Bolton was a doomsday weapon with a mustache, primed to blow all of us to dust. His replacement in the Trump White House will likely not be much better, but literally no one could be worse. However, the sobering truth is that Bolton, the hired gun who specializes in warmongering for Republican presidents, has legions of soul mates among Russia-obsessed Democrats.  The post-2016 Democratic Party is the true headquarters of imperial regime change and nuclear brinksmanship with Russia – the half of the electoral duopoly to which virtually all of the nation’s national security operatives fled after the hyper-impulsive Trump took over the GOP.

“The threat of war worldwide goes down exponentially with John Bolton out of the White House.”

The Democrats chose to oppose the Orange Menace from the right, framing Trump as a dupe or agent of the Kremlin. For the past three years top Democrats and Democrat-aligned corporate media have poisoned the political environment with rabid anti-Russia propaganda masquerading as journalism and congressional oversight. They have applauded Trump’s most dangerous aggressions — calling his bombing of Syrian military bases “presidential” and backing his murderous economic blockade of Venezuela to the hilt – while undermining Trump’s initiatives for peace on the Korean peninsula and his efforts to maintain a speaking relationship with Moscow, the other nuclear superpower. When Trump restated his campaign intentions to disentangle from Barack Obama’s war against Syria, draw down U.S. forces in Africa, and end the marathon occupation of Afghanistan, Democrats and their corporate media darkly warned that he was weakening America’s posture in the world and, wittingly or unwittingly, playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands. Minus the Russiagate nonsense, these are essentially John Bolton’s positions.

Bolton opposed Trump’s repeated calls for Russia to rejoin the Group of Seven (G-7) countries, echoing – and predating – the Democrats and their media’s demand that Moscow be quarantined as a pariah nation.

“Democrats have applauded Trump’s most dangerous aggressions.”

So venomous have the Democrats become in their Russiagate madness, that lifelong peacenik and perennial impeachment advocate David Swanson  has foresworn impeachment proceedings against Trump in the current, Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. “Russiagate,” said Swanson, “creates a competition among its various supporters and detractors to appear tougher than the other guy on Russia, more eager to enflame hostilities, more prepared to consign us all to nuclear apocalypse. If Russiagate were a prescription drug, every ‘news’ story about it would have to have carried that warning: ‘Viewing this may increase the risk of nuclear war.’”

The post-2016 Democratic Party is the true headquarters of imperial regime change and nuclear brinksmanship with Russia – the half of the electoral duopoly to which virtually all of the nation’s national security operatives fled after the hyper-impulsive Trump took over the GOP.

Bolton lasted a year and a half in the Trump White House, despite his many acts of disrespect for his boss, because Trump sees himself as a master of international showmanship, as opposed to diplomacy — a discipline that Trump is far too undisciplined to fathom. In Trump’s imagined global drama, Bolton would serve as the bad cop, but only to set the stage for Trump to step in and forge the big “deal” with the U.S. adversary. Voila: peace a la Trump. But Bolton kept ruining the show, sabotaging negotiations with the intent to make them unsalvageable, as he pushed relentlessly towards war. Trump finally realized that Bolton was not his operative, and cut him loose. Perhaps now Trump will attempt to make peace with some of the nations and movements on the U.S. enemies list, in this election season. If so, he will be opposed by, not only free agent warmonger Bolton, but the corporate Democrats and their media […]

Source: What Does Bolton’s Ouster Mean to Victims of US Imperial Aggression?

Green-smearing – from Nicaragua to Bolivia

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By Stephen Sefton | September 11, 2019

A fundamental dimension of contemporary psychological warfare has been dual-purpose corporate co-option of non-governmental organizations. In that psy-warfare dimension, NGOs serve both as disinformation partners with Western news media and too as false interlocutors in international forums and institutions, where they attack governments challenging the US elites and their allies. They actively subvert governments inside countries challenging the West, for example, in Latin America, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But they also pervert due process in institutions like the UN, posing as civil society but in fact serving Western elite corporate imperatives, for example in international human rights and environmental mechanisms and forums.

Among these NGOs figure high profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and Avaaz along with environmental organizations from 350.org and the World Resource Institute to Global Witness and Greenpeace. An increasing interrelationship has developed between corporate NGO funding and the exploitation of people’s general willingness to volunteer for and support apparently good causes. Symbolic of this is the way World Economic Forum attendees like Kumi Naidoo move readily between top management from one NGO to another, in Naidoo’s case from Greenpeace to Amnesty International. From Libya and Syria to Venezuela and Nicaragua, Amnesty International has played a key role using false reports to demonize governments resisting the US and its allies.

As Cory Morningstar has pointed out, Greenpeace is a key player in promoting the corporate driven New Deal for Nature aimed at financializing what remains of the natural world, especially its biodiversity, as a way of engineering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. [See See Saving the Earth or Saving Capitalism: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Today’s Youth Climate Campaigns]

Western corporate greed underlies the identical patterns of news media and NGO misrepresentation and outright deceit supporting regime change offensives against Libya and Syria, or Venezuela and Nicaragua. Right now, that very same pattern of media and NGO manipulation is clearly at work preparing for an intervention to prevent Evo Morales being re-elected as President of Bolivia.

Bruno Sgarzini and Wyatt Reed have noted how Western media and NGOs have falsely attacked Evo Morales blaming him for not controlling the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon. This is exactly what happened in Nicaragua immediately prior to the coup attempt in 2018 when the Nicaraguan authorities were fighting a fire in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. That episode softened up Nicaraguan public opinion and set in motion social media networks involving thousands of youth activists trained for that purpose beforehand over several years with US and also European government funding. In mid-April 2018, barely a week after the Indio Maiz fire was extinguished, those networks launched a social media blitzkrieg of lies and inventions marking the start of the actual coup attempt. A practically identical process is well under way now in Bolivia, which holds presidential elections next October 20th […]

via Green-smearing – from Nicaragua to Bolivia

Julian Assange to stay in prison after jail sentence ends over absconding fears

The WikiLeaks founder was told this morning that he would not be freed when his current term for skipping bail expires on September 22.

Counter Information

By Tim Baker

September 13, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – Julian Assange will remain in prison after his jail sentence finishes because of fears he may run away.

The WikiLeaks founder was told this morning that he would not be freed when his current term for skipping bail expires on September 22.

Assange, 48, was handed a 50 week jail sentence in May following his seven year stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which ended when he was dragged out of the Knightsbridge property by the police.

Then home secretary Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange to be extradited to the US over computer-hacking allegations.

Westminster Magistrates Court heard this morning that there were “substantial grounds” for believing that Assange would be at risk of absconding.

The WikiLeaks founder appeared by video-link from HMP Belmarsh wearing a loose-fitting T-shirt.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser…

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Parents Storm State Capitals over Vaccines

“Two articles in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons challenge the orthodoxy that vaccines should be mandated, overriding patients’ liberties in an effort to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases . . . According to Dr. [Andrew] Wakefield, the “return of measles” is not the fault of anti-vaccinationists, but results from vaccine failure and “escape mutants”—viruses that elude vaccine immunity, the predictable outcome of selection pressures [studies show measles immunity from MMR lasts at most 6 years – leaving most adults unprotected see Vaccine Failure Coverup].”

The PPJ Gazette

by: Jane M. Orient, M.D.

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“Baby shots” used to be a boring subject, and taken for granted. As the number of vaccines grew from seven in the 1980s to 16 requiring 70 doses now, most parents obediently brought their children to the doctor when shots were “due.” The compliance rate was more than 90 percent. Parents who objected for one reason or another just got an exemption from school-attendance mandates and kept quiet. Every state had a medical exemption, most had a religious exemption, and many had easily obtained philosophical or personal-belief exemptions.

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