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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Grifters

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
Ben Carson has had to cancel the $31k order for a dining set at HUD, a department that serves poor people.

Robert Schlesinger at US News:
But this just makes Carson the latest Cabinet official had issues with the taxpayer dollar. Five others have to various extents run into problems with their official travel. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price famously resigned last fall amid a scandal involving his habit of chartering private planes on the taxpayer dime; Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is under fire for bringing his wife along on a tourism-filled government trip (an addition made possible after his chief of staff altered government records about it), improperly accepting Wimbledon tickets and then lying to the department's ethics chief about the whole thing. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt came under scrutiny for first class air travel so as to have a "buffer," as the head of his security detail put it, between him and nasty members of the public who kept saying rude things to him; Pruitt, whose travel habits are also under inspector general investigation, revealed this week that he's decided to brave the coach class calumnies of his fellow citizens. (Some questionable expenditures are just weird: The EPA's inspector general is investigating why the agency spent $25,000 installing a secure, soundproof booth in Pruitt's office.) Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the subject of a pair of investigations into his travel habits, including looking at whether he violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits mixing official business with politics; Interior's inspector general has already rapped the secretary, who is reportedly on track to exceed his travel budget by $200,000, for inept records-keeping of his travel. (Zinke, who received opprobrium for denouncing 30 of his department's employees as not being "loyal," is also under inspector general investigation regarding whether he illegally reassigned senior career staffin order to get them to quit.) And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's interest in using a military plane for his honeymoon travel stirred criticism (he ended up flying commercial); his travel habits too were investigated by his department's inspector general, who cleared him of wrongdoing while noting that in future he should provide greater detail to justify the use of government-funded planes.