Tag: Bureaucracy

Only Took 43 Years

The Federal Reserve has been required to place equal weight on full employment and prices stability since the passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins act in the late 1970s.
It hasn’t. Instead, it has gone for real unemployment while fighting imaginary inflation.

It only took a few decades, but now the Fed has decided to change its policy, and so will no longer engage in monetary tightening just because unemployment is low, they will wait for actual inflation to show up:

In a historic break with decades of policy, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will no longer deliberately keep millions of Americans unemployed at all times.

America’s central bank has a dual mandate — to promote full employment and price stability. These two aims were long presumed to be in tension: If unemployment fell too low — such that there was no slack in the labor market (i.e., no reserve of jobless workers for employers to draw on) — then workers would gain the upper hand on their bosses and demand wage gains in excess of their own productivity, which would force companies to raise the prices of their goods to keep up with their labor costs, which would then cause workers to demand still-higher wages to keep up with prices, in a vicious inflationary cycle.

For this reason, the Fed defined “full employment” as an unemployment rate significantly above the level one would expect from mere job-switching frictions. And when the labor market tightened beyond the level the Fed deemed conducive with price stability, it would start raising interest rates — to choke off credit creation, slow growth in the money supply, and thus, deliberately keep Americans out of work — even if inflation had not yet exceeded its official target.


In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the inequity of the central bank’s longtime prioritization of avoiding theoretical inflation — over the certain unemployment of millions of workers — became more conspicuous. The Fed’s official inflation target is 2 percent. But for a variety of reasons — among them, the tepid pace of the recovery and the weak bargaining power of American workers in an age of trade-union decline — price growth remained stubbornly below those levels, even as the central bank kept interest rates near zero. Nevertheless, despite the absence of any hint of excessive inflation, the Fed began raising interest rates in 2015, on the grounds that the U.S. could not sustain an official unemployment rate of below 5 percent without triggering a wage-price spiral.

Progressive (and a few growth-oriented conservative) economic-policy wonks pushed back on this move. Then, when a Republican president with a penchant for easy money came to power — and the GOP’s inflation hawks went dutifully silent — Trump’s appointed Fed chair, Jerome Powell, adopted a more accommodative stance. And America proceeded to learn that its economy could not only abide a 3.6 percent unemployment rate without suffering runaway inflation, but that such a rate wasn’t even sufficient to bring inflation to its target level of 2 percent. The theorized hard trade-off between unemployment and price stability did not appear to exist, which meant that America’s finest economic minds had been slowing growth and killing jobs for no good reason.


(1) The Fed will no longer presume that it knows what the maximum level of employment in the U.S. economy is, and will therefore refrain from raising interest rates until there are clear signs of excessive inflation.

(2) The Fed will not treat its 2 percent inflation target as a maximum, but rather as the average rate it wishes to promote over an extended period of time. Which is to say: If inflation runs a bit below that target for years on end, then the Fed will tolerate inflation a bit above that target for a few years after.

I am not surprised that the Fed Chair who did this is not an economist.

Your Post Office F%$#ery Update

This is not a surprise.  Postmaster Louis DeJoy has been lying about a lot, and he has continued to sabotage it while promising that he is not doing so:

Postal workers in Washington State have reinstalled high-speed mail sorting machines—dismantled after controversial orders from the U.S. Postal Service— despite USPS orders not to put machines back in use.


Only two facilities, Seattle-Tacoma and one in Dallas, seem to be ignoring the Postal Service’s directive to leave decommissioned sorting machines out of use.

I’m kind of surprised that we haven’t seen more insubordination from the Post Office rank and file.

In related news, it turns out that DeJoy lied about the extant of the slow-downs that he has created in mail delivery:

You’re not just imagining it: The mail really is experiencing widespread delays, according to new internal United States Postal Service documents.

The documents were published by Rep. Carolyn Maloney ahead of a Monday hearing with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Motherboard previously reported that a mix of the coronavirus pandemic, more restrictive overtime policies, and a restriction on the amount of time that mail can be sorted and loaded onto mail trucks before they go out has led to delays in mail delivery. Maloney said that “these new documents show that the delays are far worse than we were told” by DeJoy.

The new documents, a Postmaster General “Service Performance Measurement” briefing prepared for DeJoy on August 12, seemingly show the actual impact of those policies. Across the board, “on-time” scores have fallen sharply since early July. Presorted first-class mail is getting delivered late 8.1 percent more often than baseline, marketing mail (8.42 percent), periodicals (9.57 percent), and even Priority Mail (7.97 percent) have seen similar drops.

Lies from Trump and his  Evil Minions?  Hoocoodanode?

What a Surprise

The Post Office has forbidden its letter carriers from witnessing absentee ballots.

Yet another way that Louis DeJoy is ratf%$#ing the election at Donald Trump’s bidding:

In a nationwide rule change that went unnoticed this summer, the U.S. Postal Service has forbidden employees from signing absentee ballots as witnesses while on duty. The change could make it more difficult for Alaskans, particularly rural residents, to vote by mail.

In Alaska and several other states, absentee ballots must be signed by a witness who can verify that a ballot was legitimately filled out by a particular voter. Without a signature, the ballot will not be counted.

Alaska’s ballot instructions say to “have your signature witnessed by an authorized official or, if no official is reasonably available, by someone 18 years of age or older.”

It lists postal officials as an example of an authorized official, but many Alaska voters said postal clerks told them they were forbidden from signing ballots.

Sooo I went to the post office to mail my absentee ballot and even tho it says very clearly on the instructions that postal officials can sign your witness affidavit, the folks working the counter downtown said they were not allowed 🤨 why?

— Sheli DeLaney (@SheLaney) August 18, 2020

I am completely unsurprised by this.

Screwing with the elections is literally the only priority of Trump and Evil Minions right now.

Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

Donald Trump has now definitively stating that he is blocking US Post Office funding in an attempt to sabotage vote-by-mail:

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was blocking Democrats’ effort to include funds for the U.S. Postal Service and election infrastructure in a new coronavirus relief bill, a bid to block more Americans from voting by mail during the pandemic.

Congressional Democrats accused Republican Trump of trying to damage the struggling Postal Service to improve his chances of being re-elected as opinion polls show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump has been railing against mail-in ballots for months as a possible source of fraud, although millions of Americans – including much of the military – have cast absentee ballots by mail for years without such problems.

Trump said his negotiators have resisted Democrats’ calls for additional money to help prepare for presidential, congressional and local voting during a pandemic that has killed more than 165,000 Americans and presented logistical challenges to organizing as large an event as the Nov. 3 elections.

“The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting,” Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. “If we don’t make the deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

Trump later said at a news briefing that if a deal was reached that included postal funding, he would not veto it.

So, he is admitting that he wants to squelch vote by mail, but it’s too much of a wimp to veto a relief bill.

In any case this will not prevent Trump and his Evil Minions from actively sabotaging Post Office operations:

The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given, Motherboard has learned through interviews with postal workers and union officials. In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has “ample capacity” to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots.

Motherboard identified 19 mail sorting machines from five processing facilities across the U.S. that either have already been removed or are scheduled to be in the near future. But the Postal Service operates hundreds of distribution facilities around the country, so it is not clear precisely how many machines are getting removed and for what purpose.

Even to local union officials, USPS has not announced any policy, explained why they are doing this, what will happen to the machines and the workers who use them. Nor has management provided a rationale for dismantling and removing the machines from the facility rather than merely not operating them when they’re not needed.


While the consequences of this new policy are mostly unclear for now, it neatly fits with the sudden, opaque, and drastic changes made by DeJoy, a longtime Republican fundraiser and Trump donor, in the less than two months he’s been postmaster general. Like his other changes, including the curtailing of overtime resulting in the widespread mail delays and sudden reorganization of the entire USPS, it is possible to see some semblance of corporate logic while second-guessing the decision to make drastic changes on the eve of the presidential election in which the USPS will play a critical role.

This is literally page 1 of the despot’s play book, and if it were happening in Venezuela Mike  Pompeo would be condemning this as an affront to democracy.

Deliberate Sabotage

Trumps new appointed Postaster General has rearranged and decimated senior management in a part of the ongoing attempts of the Trump administration to undermine the viability of vote by mail.

It’s been called a “Friday night massacre.”

Trump is going to be dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming in January if Joe Biden and his Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) incompetents manage not to completely screw up the campaign:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s mail service, displacing the two top executives overseeing day-to-day operations, according to a reorganization memo released Friday. The shake-up came as congressional Democrats called for an investigation of DeJoy and the cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy, a former logistics executive and major ally of President Trump, and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge. All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring, with five more staffers joining the leadership from other roles.

The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays — the Postal Service banned employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail — and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and November’s election draws near.


Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House subcommittee responsible for postal oversight, called the reorganization “a deliberate sabotage” to the nation’s mail service and a “Trojan Horse.”


The structure displaces postal executives with decades of experience, moving some to new positions and others out of leadership roles entirely, including McAdams, Williams and chief commerce and business solutions officer Jacqueline Krage Strako, who previously held the title of executive vice president and chief customer and marketing officer.


Earlier Friday, congressional Democrats demanded an investigation of DeJoy’s cost-cutting initiatives, which postal workers blame for delivery slowdowns.

A letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and seven other Democrats, including Connolly, urged Postal Service Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb to examine how DeJoy came to implement policies that prohibit postal workers from taking overtime or making extra trips to deliver mail on time, and how such delays specifically affect election mail.

This is a toxic mix election tampering and Trump’s vendetta against Amazon.

I Still Want to Abolish the Patent Court

Technically, it’s full name is US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and I have little good to say about this institution.

For that matter, neither does the US Supreme Court, which has taken to overruling the C.A.F.C.’s extreme views on IP on an almost routing basis.

But today, I wholeheartedly approve of their ruling stating that the federal judiciary must cease using the PACER document access system as a cash cow for the courts:

The federal judiciary is overcharging for public access to online court records, an appeals court ruled Thursday in a decision that could result in lower fees to search and download case documents.

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said affordable access to public records is critical for oversight and transparency in the nation’s court system.

“If large swaths of the public cannot afford the fees required to access court records, it will diminish the public’s ability ‘to participate in and serve as a check upon the judicial process — an essential component in our structure of self-government,’ ” wrote Judge Todd M. Hughes, who was joined by Judges Alan D. Lourie and Raymond C. Clevenger III.

The ruling does not eliminate the paywall for the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. But the decision upholds a District Court finding that the current 10 cents per page charge is “higher than necessary to operate” the system. The court limited fees to the amount needed to cover the cost of providing access to docket information online.


The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by three nonprofit organizations. The National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center and Alliance for Justice claimed that the dime-per-page fee unlawfully exceeded the cost of running the system. The cost of storing data has declined since the inception of the courts’ electronic repository in the 1980s, while PACER fees have increased.

The administrative office has used the money to pay for projects such as flat-screen TVs for jurors, to send notices to bankruptcy creditors and to fund a study by Mississippi for its own court system.

This is a good decision.
More generally, any time that an enforcement agency derives income directly from its basic operations, it is corrosive to good governance.

Drip, Drip, Drip

This means that the Gypsy cab companies may have to start paying for yet another societal cost that they foist on the rest of us.

The order is directed at the New York unemployment office, but it appears that it will likely force these companies to report earnings, and (eventually) pay the unemployment insurance premiums that they have been evading:

A federal judge has ordered the state of New York to quickly pay unemployment benefits to four Uber and Lyft drivers who have been waiting for the payments since March or April. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which filed a lawsuit over the issue back in May, says that the ruling could ultimately help thousands of drivers in similar situations.

Uber and Lyft have long argued that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. That stance has come under increasing pressure. Since 2016, the New York Department of Labor has held that ride-hail drivers were employees for purposes of unemployment insurance. But Uber and Lyft have dragged their feet, failing to provide wage data that would enable the agency to calculate unemployment payments for each worker.

As a result, when Uber and Lyft drivers forced out of work by the pandemic applied for unemployment benefits, some were told that they weren’t eligible because state data showed them with zero earnings. Workers continued to be denied benefits even after they submitted 1099 tax forms showing their earnings.


In her Tuesday ruling, Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall sided squarely with the drivers. She acknowledged that Uber and Lyft bore some of the blame for failing to supply the state with necessary data. But she said the state still had an obligation to pay benefits promptly—using data supplied by workers themselves if necessary.

Assuming that Andrew “Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo is not in the gig companies’ pockets, (a big if) collecting wage data, along with pursuing payment of premiums, should occur as a matter of basic bureaucratic imperative.

Another Civil Society Group Fail

I’m not a big fan of civil society groups. Their history of letting their camps in (then) Zaire to be used as staging areas for the former members of the genocidal regime in Rawanda, along with their enthusiastic embrace delivering aid Serbian concentration camps in Kosovo. (Can’t find a link, sorry)

Particularly when juxtaposed with studies that show that the entire foreign aid establishment would do better by just giving people money, I am inclined to believe that there is way too much careerism in among the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), and that it takes priority over results.

Case in point, it appears that NGO anti-corruption campaigns increase the level of corruption, because they reduce the confidence in the government of make both the citizens and the bureaucrats.

Of course, for the NGOs, and more importantly the donors, it is more important to appear to be fighting corruption than it it is to actually fight corruption:

Donors and civil society groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year trying to combat corruption. They do it because corruption has been shown to increase poverty and inequality while undermining trust in the government. Reducing corruption is essential to improve public services and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.

But what if anti-corruption efforts actually make the situation worse?

Our research in Lagos, Nigeria, found that anti-corruption messages often have an unintended effect. Instead of building public resolve to reject corrupt acts, the messages we tested either had no effect or actually made people more likely to offer a bribe.

The reason may be that the messages reinforce popular perceptions that corruption is pervasive and insurmountable. In doing so, they encourage apathy and acceptance rather than inspire activism.

The NGOs, and more importantly the donors, will likely be impervious to data showing that what they do does not work.

This is because for the NGOs, accepting this would require a change in tactics which would involve working with more local input and local agents, which means that there would be fewer jobs for the professionals staff of these groups.

As Upton Sinclair so pithily observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

As for the donors, it’s an easy sell, because it is, as H.L. Menken so pithily observed, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

Chaos is Job Won

The new Postmaster General is a Trump toady, and he is doing his best to destroy the post office in order to kill postal voting:

The new head of the U.S. Postal Service established major operational changes Monday that could slow down mail delivery, warning employees the agency would not survive unless it made “difficult” changes to cut costs. But critics say such a philosophical sea change would sacrifice operational efficiency and cede its competitive edge to UPS, FedEx and other private-sector rivals.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers if it delayed letter carriers from their routes, according to internal USPS documents obtained by The Washington Post and verified by the American Postal Workers Union and three people with knowledge of their contents, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution.

“If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day,” according to a document titled, “New PMG’s [Postmaster General’s] expectations and plan.” Traditionally, postal workers are trained not to leave letters behind and to make multiple delivery trips to ensure timely distribution of letters and parcels.


The Trump administration has consolidated control over the Postal Service, traditionally an apolitical institution, during the pandemic by making a financial lifeline for the nation’s mail service contingent upon the White House political agenda. President Trump in April called the agency “a joke” and demanded it quadruple package rates before he’d authorize any emergency aid or loans.


“This is framing the U.S. Postal Service, a 245-year-old government agency, and comparing it to its competitors that could conceivably go bankrupt,” said Philip Rubio, a professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University and a former postal worker. “Comparing it to U.S. Steel says exactly that ‘We are a business, not service.’ That’s troubling.”

The changes also worry vote-by-mail advocates, who insist that any policy that slows delivery could imperil access to mailed and absentee ballots. It reinforces the need, they say, for Congress to provide the agency emergency coronavirus funding.

These changes achieve 2 goals of Trump and his Evil Minions:  Shafting Amazon, and suppressing the vote to boost his own reelection chances.

Tweet of the Day

cheerily walking into the HOA meeting with this handy guide pic.twitter.com/wHXYx4xVtb

— womanfredo tafuri (@mcmansionhell) July 1, 2020

As an FYI, the section reproduced by the tweeter is from a World War II vintage OSS manual on sabotage, specifically,  sections 11 and 12 of the OSS’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Using this at a HOA meeting is the most appropriate use of the dark arts ever.

McKinsey Being McKinsey

McKinsey and Company has a reputation as being an ethical consultant.

For the life of me, I do not know why.

We have seen it aiding corrupt politicians and businessmen steal from the taxpayers, and now they are managing bailouts to hospitals while instructing their hospital clients about how to game the system.

This is classic McKinsey.  Their job is not about ethics, or even good management, it is about placing an ethical gloss on self-dealing, corruption, and looting:

The global consulting firm McKinsey, which has been tapped by the Department of Health and Human Services to help manage and audit billions of dollars in coronavirus relief for hospitals, has worked for at least 10 hospitals and chains that have received federal recovery funds, according to tax records and other public disclosures.

McKinsey was hired to help manage the program and establish audit procedures for the funds, according to the contract award, which was granted in late April and is worth $4.9 million.

The majority of the $175 billion in funds had yet to be paid out to hospitals when McKinsey was hired, though McKinsey denied playing any role in deciding which hospitals received funds. Among those that have already received payments are at least 10 hospitals and chains that have in recent years retained McKinsey & Co.’s extensive health care business, which employs more than 1,700 consultants. The hospitals have paid as much as $20 million for McKinsey’s services in a single year as they seek to streamline costs and boost revenue, according to public disclosures.

By, “Streamline costs and boost revenue,” they mean firing lots of people, price gouging, and reducing patient safety.

That’s in addition to using their inside position in monitoring the fund to help their clients to get a jump in the line.

Maybe when we talk about jailing bankers, we should add their consultants to the list.

Supreme Court Calls Trump Administration a Blithering Idiot

The Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump administration’s attempt to repeal DACA.

The ruling was not on constitutional grounds, it was essentially a statement that the way that they had repealed DACA was so incompetently done as to be invalid.

Oh, Lord, thank you for making the evil so inept:

It has been eight years since the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which allows undocumented young adults who came to the United States as children to apply for protection from deportation. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would end the program, which it believed had been illegal in the first place. Today, by a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled that the administration acted improperly in terminating the program, and it sent the case back for the Department of Homeland Security to take another look. The ruling means that the DACA program will remain in place, at least for the foreseeable future.


The battle over DACA came to the Supreme Court in November 2018, when the Trump administration asked the justices to take up three different challenges, filed in California, the District of Columbia and New York, to the decision to end DACA. The challengers – which include states, cities, universities, DACA recipients, civil rights groups and even Microsoft – argued that the decision to rescind DACA violated the rights of DACA recipients and the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal law governing administrative agencies. In all three cases, the lower courts ruled for the challengers and ordered the government to keep DACA in place. At the end of June 2019, the Supreme Court announced that it would review the three cases.


Roberts then turned to the central question in the case: whether the Trump administration followed proper procedures in terminating DACA. Under the APA, Roberts stressed, courts should not substitute their own judgment for that of the agency. Instead, he explained, their job is to determine whether an agency made its decision “based on a consideration of the relevant factors and whether there has been a clear error of judgment.” In the majority’s view, the Trump administration had failed to meet even this relatively low bar.

“Even this relatively low bar.” 


This Woman is a Walking Cancer

Despite the recent bailout law making it illegal, Betsy DeVos is still garnishing student debt borrowers wages.
Given that DeVos has consistently sabotaged efforts to offer relief to student loan debtors.  It has been one of her signature initiatives, so I am not buying that this is any sort of oversight, this is flat out malice: 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is continuing to garnish the wages of federal student loan borrowers who fall behind on payments even though Congress suspended the practice in the economic rescue package, according to a new lawsuit.

An upstate New York woman who works as a home health aide for less than $13 an hour claimed in the lawsuit, filed late Thursday, that the federal government seized more than $70 from her paycheck as recently as last week — nearly a full month after President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law. She is suing on behalf of about 285,000 borrowers whose wages are being garnished, according to the lawsuit.

DeVos first announced in March that she would take administrative action to automatically stop the Education Department from seizing the wages —and tax refunds — of defaulted student loan borrowers for at least two months. Congress then included that policy in the CARES Act and extended it, prohibiting the Education Department from garnishing wages or tax refunds through Sept. 30.

But the proposed class action lawsuit claims that the Education Department hasn’t actually halted the practice and is continuing to garnish wages in violation of the CARES Act. It cites a Washington Post story that said the department had not sent formal letters to tell employers to stop withholding money from borrowers’ paychecks on behalf of the government.

She is in the running for being the most contemptible member of the Trump administration, and this is against remarkably stiff competition.

What Dealing With the Pandemic Seriously Looks Like

The Spanish Government has taken control of all private hospitals in order to effectively fight the corona virus pandemic:

The Spanish government has nationalized all of its hospitals and healthcare providers in the country in its latest move to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health in Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s administration on Monday announced it would put all of Spain’s private health providers and their facilities into public control as the spread of COVID-19 continues to grip the country.


“The government of Spain will protect all its citizens and will guarantee the right life conditions to slow the pandemic with as little inconvenience as possible,” Sánchez said.

Madrid has also closed restaurants, bars, and shops — except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Authorities are using drones to monitor the movements of its citizens.

There were 9,191 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain as of Monday, with 309 deaths linked to it.

In one fell swoop, Spain has dealt with a problem, profiteering, that the US government is actively encouraging.

That’s why Trump’s head of the CDC said, “I guess I anticipated that the private sector would have engaged and helped develop it for the clinical side.”

The powers that be in the United States, in both parties, are so wedded to the rules of Neoliberalism:

  1. Because markets.
  2. Go die!

It’s Official

The World Health Organization has officially declared that COVID-19 is a pandemic:

The spread of the coronavirus is now a pandemic, officials at the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

“We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director-general.


There are only about 1,100 confirmed cases in the United States, but experts fear that is only a fraction of the real prevalence, because testing for the coronavirus has been unavailable or haphazard in the United States.

The number of cases in the world doubles every six days, epidemiologists have estimated.

And the US response will be handled by people who want to down the government in a bathtub.

What Happens When You Treat Your Staff like Crap for Years

After years of cuts, many of the staff of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) are not favorably inclined toward their current, or former employer, and so many of the retired staff are disinclined to return temporarily to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis:

Scores of retired NHS doctors and nurses have told the Guardian that they are against returning to work to help tackle coronavirus, with many saying it would threaten their physical and mental health. The government confirmed contingency plans on Tuesday to call back to work NHS “leavers and retirees” to help relieve pressure on an NHS workforce that is expected to be overwhelmed by the virus.

But a majority of 120 former NHS employees who responded to a Guardian callout were resistant, and in some cases hostile, to the idea. Many respondents said unprompted they did not want to a return to a working environment where they suffered stress, bullying, burnout and even breakdowns.

Seventy-one said they would not be happy to return to work, with many expressing their reluctance in vehement terms. “After the way I was treated I would rather shove a rusty six-inch nail up my backside than return to my old job,” said a 67-year-old former staff nurse from Manchester.

This is what happens when you are in an organization that has systematically been defunded, demonized, and privatized for decades.

Once you go back, you do not want to get back in.

NHS has been Americanized, and now it has a disgruntled staff, and former staff, who unlikely to go that extra mile in an emergency.

Oh, Snap!

A federal judge has ruled that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to head the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and so all of the rulings that he has made are invalid:

A federal judge ruled on Sunday that Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II was unlawfully appointed to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and that two policies he put in place that limited asylum seekers’ access to counsel should be nullified.

The judge, Randolph D. Moss of United States District Court in Washington, said the Trump administration violated a federal law that stipulates who can fill vacant leadership positions at federal agencies when Mr. Cuccinelli was tapped in June to be the acting director of the agency that oversees legal immigration.


The statute related to Mr. Cuccinelli’s appointment is the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which says an official temporarily filling a cabinet-level position before Senate confirmation must be next in the line of succession by serving as the “first assistant” or must have worked as a senior official in the agency for at least 90 days. Mr. Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general who aggressively defended Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda on television in the months before his appointment, did not meet either of those requirements, according to the ruling.


But Nitin Shah, senior counsel at Democracy Forward, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said lawyers would examine how other policies could be affected.

“It raises serious questions about the legality of a number of policies that Cuccinelli has enacted and may yet enact, and we and others will be taking a closer look at that in the coming days,” Mr. Shah said. He called the voiding of the asylum directives “a big blow for the Trump administration’s racist agenda.”

The only saving grace of the Trump administration is that they are incompetent.

Because it Worked SO Well for President Garfield

Someone seems to forget that the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed in response to the assassination of James A. Garfield by a disgruntled office seeker.

This is not a good precedent:

The White House this week confirmed it is combing through federal agencies to identify employees not sufficiently loyal to President Trump to facilitate their ouster, sparking concerns the administration could run afoul of long-established civil service laws.

The administration is examining employees throughout the government to find anyone taking action officials decide represents an effort to undermine Trump, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News Monday. Gidley did not specifically mention career employees, who are statutorily protected against political retaliation, but did note the “millions” of individuals agencies employ. By contrast, there are only about 4,000 political appointees in government.

“It’s not a secret that we want people in positions that work with this president, not against him, and too often we have people in this government—I mean the federal government is massive, with millions of people—and there are a lot people out there taking action against this president and when we find them we will take appropriate action,” Gidley said.

His comments followed reports in Axios that the administration maintains “deep state” hit lists of employees to fire and the president has tasked the head of the Presidential Personnel Office, Johnny McEntee, to purge “bad people” who are not loyal to him. The latter report mentioned only political appointees, who serve at the pleasure of the president and can be dismissed at will, but Gidley’s comments this week appeared to go further.

“Time and time again we see in the media reports from people in the bowels of the federal government working against this president,” he said.

This is not going to end well.

A Feature, Not a Bug

We are now seeing indications that the 2020 census, which will go digital and online, is likely to crash and burn like the Iowa caucuses or the roll out of Obamacare.

I would argue that the failure of the census will not be a cluster-f%$# (incompetence) but a rat-f%$# (deliberate sabotage).

If the process descends into failure, it gives corrupt individuals the opportunity to manipulate the date for partisan political advantage.

The Republicans have been trying rat-f%$# the census for decades:

The stakes are high when a major civic exercise involves a large population, new technology that has not been thoroughly tested and an entire country waiting on the results.

Just ask the organizers of the Iowa caucuses, which offered a cautionary tale on the technological woes that could befall a big political event. Some observers worry that this year’s census carries the same potential for mayhem — except on an infinitely larger scale.

The U.S. Census Bureau plans to try out a lot of new technology. It’s the first once-a-decade census in which most people are being encouraged to answer questions via the internet. Later in the process, census workers who knock on the doors of homes that have not responded will use smartphones and a new mobile app to relay answers.

A government watchdog agency, the Census Bureau’s inspector general and some lawmakers have grown concerned about whether the systems are ready for prime time. Most U.S. residents can start answering the questionnaire in March.

“I must tell you, the Iowa (caucus) debacle comes to mind when I think of the census going digital,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, said this week at a hearing on the census.

Cybersecurity is another worry. Experts consider the census to be an attractive target for anyone seeking to sow chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government, as Russia did in the 2016 presidential election.

In a worst-case scenario, vital records could be deleted or polluted with junk data. Even a lesser assault that interfered with online data collection could erode public confidence. In 2016, a denial-of-service attack knocked Australia’s online census offline, flooding it with junk data.

Why am I thinking that there might be a Republican operative who is thinking about passing access codes to the GRU?