Kakistocracy

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Trump's vaccine czar won't disclose investments

Billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of lives are at stake:

The scientist leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program will be allowed to remain a government contractor, a decision that permits him to avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees and maintain his investments in pharmaceutical companies.

Two prominent watchdog groups as well as some Democrats in Congress had called for the Department of Health and Human Services to require that the scientist, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a venture capitalist and a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, fall under the same ethics rules as federal employees.

And why are only Democrats in Congress worried about this? Rhetorical question, we all know why. The GOP has hitched its horse to a corrupt President, and it will go wherever he tells it to. This situation is ripe for conflicts of interest, but aside from the corrupt aspects, the end goal of securing and producing a vaccine is put in jeopardy by those conflicts:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Pollution "watchdog" was lawyer for polluters

This is starting to read like a really bad dystopian future novel:

As a corporate lawyer, William L. Wehrum worked for the better part of a decade to weaken air pollution rules by fighting the Environmental Protection Agency in court on behalf of chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers and coal-burning power plants. Now, Mr. Wehrum is about to deliver one of the biggest victories yet for his industry clients — this time from inside the Trump administration as the government’s top air pollution official.

On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to propose a vast rollback of regulations on emissions from coal plants, including many owned by members of a coal-burning trade association that had retained Mr. Wehrum and his firm as recently as last year to push for the changes.

If Trump was merely "incompetent," his staffing decisions would be bad enough. But we've gone far beyond a lesser (or least) qualified appointee, and into the realm of a "fox in the hen house." And for those who saw a glimmer of hope in the possible rift between Trump and the Koch Brothers, put those hopes back in your pocket:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Ronny Jackson nomination evidence of deeper problems

Quite possibly the worst candidate to run the Veterans Administration:

During an overseas trip in 2015, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee, according to four sources familiar with the allegation. The incident became so noisy, one source familiar with the allegation told CNN, that the Secret Service stopped him out of concern that he would wake then-President Barack Obama.

Two sources who previously worked in the White House Medical Unit described the same incident, with one former staffer telling CNN that it was "definitely inappropriate, in the middle of the night," and that it made the woman uncomfortable. At the time, the incident was reported up the chain of command, and it is one of multiple drunken episodes involving Jackson on overseas trips, according to a source familiar.

Those two paragraphs highlight three major problems with the military, two of which make Jackson supremely unqualified to run the VA. Because there is always a victim, the 1st problem is sexual harassment and assault. Decades of efforts to curb this have mostly failed, and Jackson is a prime example why. When junior officers see (and hear about) a Rear Admiral pulling this crap, they know the good old boy's club is still alive and well. This makes the problem "perpetual," meaning it will likely never stop, unless drastic measures are taken. The 2nd problem is substance abuse in the ranks. This is another problem that is not new, but seventeen years of sustained hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq have supercharged it, and the vast majority of the record-breaking number of veteran suicides can be chalked up in the substance abuse column. The last thing we need is an alcoholic at the helm of the VA. The last problem exposed above is the military's inability to police its own ranks, once officers have achieved Field Grade level. Jackson should have been cashiered years ago, but he's still partying on. Now that my critique of the military is done, let's look at the dysfunctional White House:

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