The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Adding Alligators

Rich Galen

Thursday April 26, 2017

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  • I was composing this edition of MULLINGS in my head as I was driving into work this morning. Somewhere between National Airport and the Memorial Bridge the news broke that Admiral Ronny Jackson, MD had withdrawn his nomination to be the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • Put aside whether he handed out Ambiens on overseas flights aboard Air Force One, or whether he had a snootful on a trip.

  • The Major complaint was Dr. Jackson's lack of management history to run the second-largest bureaucracy in the Executive Branch. The VA has about 377,800 employees. The White House Physician's office, maybe a couple of dozen.

  • That makes sense until you consider how many Members of the House and Senate have taken jobs as Cabinet Secretary.

  • Members of the House have a limit, I believe, of 18 staffers - full and part-time on their personal office staff. Eighteen.

  • Some have larger committee or leadership staffs, but 18 is the number because every Congressional District contains approximately the same number of people, the staff sizes are the same.

  • U.S. Senators have more money for staff depending upon the state they represent. A Senator from California has to represent about 39.5 million people. A Senator from Maine has to represent about three percent of that: 1.3 million so Maine Senator Angus King's personal staff is far smaller than California Senator Diane Feinstein's.

  • Yet.

  • A Senator from Maine, Bill Cohen, was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be Secretary of Defense - the largest of the Departments, with over 2.8 million employees (all in) - in spite of never having managed more than a few dozen staffers.

  • The blame for the failure of Dr. Jackson to advance lies at the feet of Donald Trump.

  • Trump hasn't, can't, won't learn to look beyond the TV remote on his desk to understand how disruptive this constant churning of his senior staff and Cabinet Secretaries is to the regular, and important, day-to-day work that the federal government is charged with doing.

  • Adm. Jackson, like so many others in this Administration, flew too close to the sun and now will not be Secretary of the VA, he will probably not continue to be the Physician to the President, and will likely have to retire from the Navy.

    New Topic:

  • Not counting the Adm. Jackson issue, and the vote on (former Congressman) Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State today, and the continuing issues surrounding Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo as Director of the CIA and the Mueller and Southern District of New York investigations, and whether EPA Administrator (former Oklahoma AG) Scott Pruitt needs a security detail the size of the 82nd Airborne Division - not counting those things, now we have (former Congressman) Mick Mulvaney openly discussing how he demanded bribes from lobbyists.

  • Well, maybe not bribes, but it sounded like hell.

  • Mulvaney was speaking to a bunch of bankers and explaining to them that he had a hierarchy as a Congressman as to who could get in to see him.

  • At the top of the stack were folks from home: The 5th District of South Carolina. They could get into see him if they came to Washington.

  • That's fine. It was what he said about lobbyists that has got everyone's hair standing up straight:
    "If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you."

  • Mulvaney is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and interim head of a thing called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which was set up to protect Americans from abuses by large banks (among others).

  • Buying your way into a Member's office is exactly the kind of thing Donald Trump (a) bragged about doing and (b) promised to stop when he "drained the swamp."

  • To misquote Pogo: We have found the swamp, and we're just adding alligators.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to Adm. Jackson, to Gina Haspel and to Mick Mulvaney.

    The Mullfoto is a Lady bug.

-- END --

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