civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

Lies from the Right (Again)

I am regularly amazed by how, even in winning, the Right is still filled with rage. They own every branch of government, and still can get nothing done. Perhaps hatred and bigotry don’t make for a good platform.

Tonight on RWNJ Levin’s radio show, he loudly and repeatedly railed against Democrats explaining that they have enacted a “silent coup” against Trump.

He went on to incorrectly say that Democrats are obstructing “hundreds” of positions in the Trump administration and that the coup is being perpetrated by “Obama holdovers”, whose goal is to prevent the proper functioning of government.

Let’s unpack a couple of things here.

  1. Democrats are obstructing “hundreds” of positions in the Trump administration. This is false. First of all, to get a nominee confirmed, Congress needs only a simple majority. (1) Last time I counted, there are 52 Republican Senators (of 100 total), theoretically giving the Republicans a simple majority for EVERY NOMINEE VOTE.
  2. Trump has yet to nominate or announce 62% of White House jobs under the level of Secretary. 10 of the 15 Cabinet Positions are operating without a Deputy Secretary, amounting to a total of 177 top level positions unfilled (114 of which have not even been announced or nominated) (2). Can’t approve someone who hasn’t been nominated.
  3. As for all of these “Obama holdouts” that are presumably civil servants – just fire them! According to Chapter 43 of the Civil Service Reform Act, a government employee who is performing poorly can be fired 90 days after receiving negative performance counseling. I believe being a “traitor” to Trump would qualify. So if there are “Obama holdovers” messing your plan up, you could have just fired them! You’ve had 6 months.
  4. As of 1 Aug 2017, 355 positions have not been nominated. 6 have been talked about but are awaiting official nomination. 49 have been officially nominated. (4)


So stop already. Republicans are in control of all three branches of government. Maybe it’s time to own your lack of accomplishments on your inability and lack of a plan. White supremacy is not a plan.



  • 85% of science jobs don’t have a nominee (5)
  • Tillerson has stopped all transfers and reassignments in the State Department, and is in the process of cutting 8% of the workforce (6)
  • Trump signed an Executive Order that stopped all Federal government hiring through Apr 2017
  • Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he “expects many government positions left open during the hiring freeze will never be filled, as officials look for ways to streamline federal operations and cut waste.” (7)
  • “A lot of those jobs I don’t want to appoint because they’re unnecessary to have. We have so many people in government… You don’t need all those jobs.” – Donald Trump (8)
  • By my count, 5 nominees have withdrawn their own names, 7 significant Cabinet level employees have resigned, 10 have quit, and 10 have been fired. (9)


The truth is, Republicans don’t know how to govern. Trump has stated repeatedly, like some lonely deity, that only he can save us. Having other people around stealing the spotlight threatens his apocalyptic narcissism.

Please, go forth and use these facts. I don’t know if it will help, but make sure that you at least are armed with as much factual data as possible. The nonstop assault on us by our own government in unprecedented, and we all have to do what we can to make change.



Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM)


civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

Collateral Damage – Addendum

Since writing the original piece, some other major shake ups have occurred in the Trump Administration prompting me to add to the list. Additionally, after some more research I found out about other White House personnel changes that I omitted from the first piece.

Here is the current tally of White House staff changes as of Jul 31st 2017-

5 nominees withdrawn

7 resignations

10 quit

8 fired

177 top Cabinet positions unfilled

  It is also worth mentioning that Trump has yet to nominate or announce 62% of White House jobs under the level of Secretary. 10 of the 15 Cabinet Positions are operating without a Deputy Secretary, amounting to a total of 177 top level positions unfilled (114 of which have not even been announced or nominated) (1)   

Angella Reid – (White House Chief Usher) – fired 5 May 2017. reason unknown. (2)

Charles Brotman – (Inauguration Announcer) – fired 8 Jan 2017 –  no reason given.


John Thompson – (U.S. Census Bureau Director) – Resigned 9 May 2017, no official reason given. (4)

K.T. McFarland – (Deputy National Security Advisor) – fired from the NSC on 9 Apr 17 (5)

Michael Short – (White House Aid) – resigned 25 Jul 2017, reason unknown. (6)

Reince Preibus – (White House Chief of Staff) – fired 28 Jul 2017  “…failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing” (7)

Walter Shaub – (Director of the Office of Government Ethics) – quit 19 Jul 2017 “…after condemning the president for using his hotels and other properties for government business in what is in effect a free advertising campaign” (8)


Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)

civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

Collateral Damage – Front Row Seats to Watch the Trump Train Crash

On Feb 16, 2017 Trump Tweeted that his administration was a “finely tuned machine”. Ignoring for the moment how pundits are swooning about potential firings of Sessions and Mueller, and overlooking talk just today of Trump firing Tom Price if the healthcare bill fails, there is quite the vortex of chaos in this administration.

The following is a list of notable White House and Executive Branch employees fired, resigned, or quit as a result of Trump and his policies. In all honesty, there have been so many personnel shakeups that I can’t even be sure that I have all of them accounted for.

Since President Harry Truman began his first presidential term in 1945, only 35 presidential appointees have been fired (1).

During a five year period stretching from 2008-2013, President Obama’s record (2)-

2 nominees withdrawn (compare to Trump’s 5 in six months)

3 resignations (compare to Trump’s 5 in six months)

1 quit (compare to Trump’s 9 in six months)

3 fired (compare to Trump’s 4 in six months)

As an aside, there is so much incompetence, insanity, and grift occurring each day of this train wreck its easy to get overwhelmed. Its easy to lose perspective. Worse, it’s easy for what happening to be normalized. “Just another day in Trump’s America”.

I beseech the three of you that read my work to not let this kakistocracy become normal. This is not normal. #resist

Note – Some dates listed below may reflect the date the person in question was terminated, and not the actual last day of work.

Andrew Puzder (Nominee for Labor Secretary) – Withdrew name 15 Feb 2017.  Republican senators turned sharply against him, the latest defeat for a White House besieged by infighting and struggling for traction even with a Republican-controlled Congress. (3)

Bob Iger (Advisor to Trumps Strategic and Policy Forum) – Quit 1 Jun 2017 – “because Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord.” (4)

David Rank (Acting US Ambassador to China) –  Quit 5 Jun 2017. “disagreed with Trumps climate change policies” (5)

Elon Musk (Advisor to Trumps Strategic and Policy Forum) – Quit 1 Jun 2017. “because Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord.” (6)

Gentry O. Smith (Director of the Office of Foreign Missions) – Quit 1 Jan 2017 “Signaling a lack of faith in the incoming administration and the new Commander in Chief” (7)

James Comey (FBI Director) Fired by Trump 9 May 2017. Reasons not clear.

James Runcie (Head of the Dept. Education Student Financial Aid Office) Resigned 25 May 2017 “I cannot in good conscience continue to be accountable as Chief Operating Officer given the risk associated with the current environment at the Department” (8)

Jason Miller (Trump campaign’s senior communications adviser) – Withdrew name from consideration for “family reasons” (9)

Joyce Anne Barr (Assistant Secretary of State for Administration) – Quit 1 Jan 2017 “asked to leave by Trump administration” (10)

Katie Walsh (Deputy Chief of Staff) Quit 30 Mar 2017. “A former RNC staff member said of her – ‘she won’t be missed’” (11)

Marc Kasowitz (Trump’s personal lawyer) – Resigned 21 Jul 2017 – “ProPublica published several profane emails he sent to an individual telling him to stop defending the president.” (12)

Mark Corallo (Spokesman for the White House legal team) – Resigned 20 Jul 2017 – “Tension between the White House and the Trump legal team”. (13)

Mark Green (Nominee for Secretary of the Army) – Withdrew name 5 May 2017 – “…amid a growing whirlwind of controversy surrounding comments he made in the past, especially about LGBT people” (14)

Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor) – Fired 13 Feb 2017 by Trump for “lying to the Vice Presedeint.”  (15)

Michele Bond (Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs) – Quit 1 Jan 2017. “asked to leave by Trump administration”  (16)

Mike Dubke (White House Communications Director) – Resigned 18 May 2017 – “The communications operation — and Dubke and Spicer specifically — have come under sharp criticism from Trump and many senior officials in the West Wing, who believe the president has been poorly served by his staff” (17)

Patrick Kennedy (State Department’s Undersecretary for Management) – Quit 1 Jan 2017 (18)

Phillip Bilden (Nominee for Secretary of the Navy) – Withdrew name Feb 2017 “over financial concerns” (19)

Preet Bharara (US Attorney) – Fired 10 Mar 2017 by Trump for not resigning. (20)

Rumana Ahmed (National Security Council) – Quit Jan 2017. “When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.” (21)

Sally Yates (Acting Attorney General) Fired 30 Jan 2017 by Trump for “betraying the Department of Justice” (22)

Sean Spicer (White House Press Secretary) – Resigned 21 Jul 2017 – “telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with his appointment of Anthony Scaramucci”  (23)

Vincent Viola (Nominee for Secretary of the Army) – Withdrew nomination Feb 2017 “over concerns about the complicated task of divesting from his many business interests” (24)


Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)




civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

What’s Happening in Venezuela and Why it Matters

What’s Happening in Venezuela and Why it Matters

  Why should Americans be concerned about what’s happening in Venezuela (1)? How does this South American country with a population less than California (2) matter? I will attempt to answer these questions, but first let’s attend to some background for context. As you read through the following, consider how it relates to what is happening in America.

A History of US Intervention

  The U.S. has been interfering in South and Central American countries for so long (3) that it seems that we consider the voices of their own citizens to be inconsequential. For decades the United States intervened in elections, supported coups, and attempted (mostly unsuccessfully) to mould sovereign nations across the continent into something that was malleable to American foreign interests. In the 19th Century, U.S. foreign policy was targeted at limiting European influence (4). Guided by the Monroe Doctrine (5) the United States threatened European countries, deployed military forces across Central and South American countries ( Dominican Republic in 1904, Nicaragua in 1911, Haiti in 1915), and was cited as late as the 1960’s as justification for resisting the Soviets putting missiles in Cuba (6).

With the onset of the Cold War, our meddling intensified, and nearly anything was justified if it could be construed as combating the spread of Communism. Starting in Cuba in 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista (7), the US started to take active measures to disrupt the new Cuban government. Batista was a dictator but he served US business interests (the US was heavily invested in sugar, cattle and mining in Cuba) and was pro-American (8). Castro had the audacity to attempt to restrict American influence in Cuba and was immediately labeled an enemy of the US.

President Kennedy inherited President Eisenhower’s CIA mission to train and equip anti-Castro guerilla resistance fighters, culminating in the Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco. (9).

All through the 1960’s and 1970’s, the CIA sowed seeds of discord and violence across Latin America – Ecuador (’60-’63), Brazil (’61-’64), Peru (middle ‘60s), Dominican Republic (’63-’65), Uruguay (’65-’70), Chile (’64-’73) for an interesting read about CIA activities in Chile read their own report about it here (10), Bolivia (’64-’75), Argentina (1970s), Nicaragua (’78-’90). (11).

These activities continued into the 80’s – Grenada (’79-’83) culminating in the terribly executed but ultimately successful invasion of this small island in 1983; El Salvador (’80-’92), Haiti (’87-’94) – where the US supported a dictator for 30 years; Panama (1989) – resulting in yet another invasion. In the 1990’s we have been extensively involved with Mexico, Columbia, and Peru. (12)

Finally, I want to add Venezuela to this list. Since the late 1950’s governments in Venezuela have bounced between dictators and democratically elected left-leaning presidents, and for decades one of the most notable characteristics of Venezuelan politics, regardless of who was in charge, has been corruption (13). The Cato Institute even has a paper called “Corruption, Mismanagement, and Abuse of Power in Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela” (14) that traces the history of corruption there all the way back to 1821. (15)

In recent years, the US has given millions of dollars to opposition groups hostile to former President Hugo Chavez (16) through a private US nonprofit called the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In 2005, Congressman Rand Paul described the NED as having “very little to do with democracy. It is an organization that uses US tax money to actually subvert democracy, by showering funding on favored political parties or movements overseas.” (17)

I mention all of this because it helps set the stage for understanding the mechanisms that have contributed to the slow demise of Venezuela and how the same path to ruin can and likely is, happening in the United States of America. I also find it ironic that in both cases, it is America itself that has contributed to this demise. I don’t know how much Russia influenced our election, and without any concrete evidence to the contrary I am going to blame this kakistocracy on each of us. Election apathy, low information voters and an antiquated Electoral College. Perhaps Venezuela had the same issues. In any case-

The Story of Venezuela

  Venezuela, like America, is resource rich. It has plentiful deposits of gold, nickel, iron ore, diamonds, aluminum, bauxite, asphalt, and petroleum. (18). Their natural gas reserves are the second largest in the Western Hemisphere (19), and they also have an estimated 50,000 tons of uranium (20). Most significantly, Venezuela is sitting on the largest verified oil reserves in the world (21), totaling some 297 billion barrels. The country is also a major oil refiner and owner of the Citgo gas chain. In 2016, Venezuela enjoyed nearly $26 billion in oil exports. (22)

In spite of this enormous potential for wealth, the country is at a 13 year low to oil production (23) coupled with falling oil prices. Equally alarming, the country currently is experiencing rolling blackout due to a shortage of electricity, food and medicine shortages, and growing social crisis (24).

There are myriad reasons that have led Venezuela to this point of crisis. The state owned oil company PDVSA has been plagues with scandals and mismanagement. Experts suggest a failure to invest money into the oil industry and infrastructure, power outages caused by corruption, mismanagement, and low water levels at a key hydroelectric facility, 500%-900% inflation, an inability for foreign companies to operate (recent pull outs by companies like Kimberly-Clark makers of Kleenex, Oreo, and Pepsi), and shortages of cash all contribute to this crisis (25).

Additionally, the government is accused of exploiting poor people for their own enrichment and the eroding democratic institutions. (26) The Maduro government and his supporters also blame the US for interfering and funding opposition parties (27).

In March of this year, the Venezuelan Supreme Court took over the powers of the National Assembly, and although they reversed this decision soon after, it reduced the separation of powers and increased the power of the President.

Furthermore, Maduro blames the countries woe’s on the opposition trying to overthrow him, and a secret “economic war” waged by the US against him (28). He wants to create a new constitution to “bring peace” which the opposition says only consolidates Maduro’s power. (29).

The political reality is that both the government and the opposition are weak. Leopoldo López, one of the opposition leaders, in an interview from jail with Time “The government is working in a barbaric way to steal from public funds, destroy the country, rob the country’s oil while it says it’s constructing a homeland!” (30)

Maduro also actively suppresses the press by preventing papers from accessing newsprint and withholding government advertising. (31) There are wide reports of journalists being beaten and detained. (32)

Charges of nepotism have been levied against the Maduro government claiming 16 relatives of Maduro’s wife were appointed to the National Assembly. (33)

Maduro won the 2013 election by just 1.6 % (34), and currently enjoys about a 20% approval rating. These numbers mirror the Trump administration very closely. Both are widely unpopular and distrusted.

Putting it All Together

  Let’s put this together now. I know that I’ve spewed a lot of data and a lot of words, but I felt that for those that aren’t too educated about South American politics (and Lord knows I’m no expert) might appreciate some background. Here are some comparisons between the two leaders:

Trump and Maduro share the following-

  • Both came into power by narrow margins.
  • Both currently enjoy unprecedented levels of unpopularity.
  • Both exacerbate an already divided nation.
  • Both are corrupt, with the Trump administration enjoying an unprecedented level of unopposed corruption.
  • Both engage in nepotism.
  • Both attack the idea of a free press and individual journalists. (Although to be fair, Trump hasn’t had any assaulted yet)
  • Both use government funds like they were personal funds.
  • Both steal from public lands.
  • Both despise their respective Constitutions.
  • Both lead weak and feckless political parties.
  • Both are actively engaged in the erosion of democratic institutions.
  • Both lead resource-rich countries.
  • Both demonize their opposition.
  • Both leaders seem unable to stop businesses from fleeing the internal conditions.
  • Both are comfortable in the role of authoritarian and are happy to accumulate as much personal political power as possible.

I believe that we could be months away from the levels of civil unrest currently exploding in Venezuela. We too are a rich nation being ruled by corrupt and short sighted, unpopular, wannabe dictator.

One notable difference. Venezuela is on the political Left. In Venezuela political protestors have historically been Middle and Upper Class Venezuelans (35), as Leftist policies generally benefit the poor. Under Chavez (the President before Maduro) incomes increased and poverty decreased (36), making Chavez relatively popular with poor people. In the last couple of months under Maduro, as conditions have worsened, the poor have joined the protests. (37)

In the US, it’s sort of the opposite. Many of the initial protestors were university students, grassroots liberal leaning organizations, and women (38). As the levels of protest grow, fueled by anger at the administrations policies and actions, I believe a wider and more diverse group of protesters will appear. When this happens, we will be where Venezuela is today. A cross section of Americans angry and scared for their future, and willing, finally, to do something about it.

We started the Trump era with an unbelievably powerful protest with the Women’s March. Nothing has been done to heal the damage that has been done, and from where I sit, Trump and his cronies appear to be uninterested in leading the country. Our Congressman openly and regularly mock and ridicule him.

Eventually, this train will crash. It might be an FBI investigation. It might be Mueller. It might be Articles of Impeachment. It might by the backlash from the American people taking to the streets in protest. But this will not end well.

Trump has single handedly eroded our Republic, and although there are plenty of examples that show the timeline for destruction, there are few that show how a country recovers.

So pay heed to what is happening in Venezuela. They could be our canary in the coal mine.

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM)


  6. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  15. Ibid
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  36. Ibid
civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

A Tale of Two Presidents

My news feed is regularly filled with bold claims from Trump and his supporters about the historic work that has been done by this administration. I am often caught off guard by these statements due to the fact that from my vantage point, I haven’t seen anything that supports this claim. I have however seen the so-called president divide our country, hire Nazi-wannabes, promote White nationalism, tarnish our reputation overseas, shred our alliances, threaten the stability of the world, and lie every day.

To go from a president who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to one under constant investigation with rumors of a tape with Russian prostitutes peeing on him is almost to much to bear.

I don’t usually write with Trump supporters in mind. However, today’s essay is for them; a bit of a follow-up from yesterday’s writing. These lists could go on-an-on, and they are in no particular order.

President Obama:

  • Won Nobel Peace Prize
  • Made record investments in education initiatives, environmental research, industrial modernization and, most famously, health-care reform.
  • Invested money into scientific and medical research
  • Invested money into alternative energy sources
  • Signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – saving the US from economic doom and stopping the Great Recession
  • Drafted healthcare reform – ACA
  • Saved the American auto industry
  • Inherited a country on the brink of disaster, and saved it.
  • Doubled the number of female justices on the Supreme Court (more than any other time in history)
  • Ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” allowing gays to openly serve in the military
  • Stopped supporting Defense of Marriage Act, allowing gay couples to get married
  • Allowed women to choose serving in combat roles in the military
  • Massive investment into green appliances, buildings, autos etc., which cut greenhouse has emissions
  • Opened relations with Cuba
  • Banned waterboarding
  • Signed CHIP – expanding healthcare to 11 million needy kids
  • Killed Osama Bin Ladin
  • Signed Dodd-Frank Act – largest financial regulatory overhaul since New Deal


  • Nominated 33% of his Cabinet
  • Has gotten 8% of his Cabinet positions confirmed
  • 16 days spent playing golf
  • Appointed Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
  • Did not proclaim June 2017 as LGBT Pride Month
  • Currently facing lawsuits from three entities for violations of the Emoluments Clause
  • Currently facing 12 lawsuits related to sanctuary cities and immigration
  • Currently being sued for violations of the Presidential Records act of 1978
  • Currently being sued for violations of the First Amendment
  • Under investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee, the FBI, the House of Representatives, and Robert Mueller for a variety of crimes to include collusion with a hostile foreign nation and illegal financial dealings
  • Withdrew from the TPP
  • Removed pollution protections from public waters in the US
  • Launched 59 Tomahawk missiles into a deserted airfield in Syria
  • Ordered a botched raid into Yemen that resulted in the death of a SOF solider and many civilians
  • Fired the head of the FBI for not pledging loyalty to him
  • Encouraged America’s intelligence chiefs to undermine the FBI’s Russia probe
  • Denied climate change and pulled the US out of the Paris Accords
  • Shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with a core ally of Israel’s top geopolitical foe


Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)