Update 23 May ’20 – WashPost
David C Williams, former inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration and Nuclear Regulatory Commission during four presidential administration:
Inspectors general were established to conduct independent, dogged investigations into federal government agencies and report their findings freely to Congress and the public. Yet at the very time we need thorough oversight of the federal government’s expansive coronavirus relief spending, the president is conducting a war on those tasked with holding him accountable.
- (Good people have been removed but) more concerning are the individuals the president has named to replace some of the career civil servants that he has removed.
- The new acting inspectors general at the State and Transportation departments are both political appointees chosen from within their departments, and both will reportedly remain in their current roles at their respective departments. This presents a number of issues.
- Appointing an official to investigate an agency while still reporting to that agency head presents a huge conflict of interest and runs contrary to the rule of law. It should be explicitly barred. These officials will also be privy to confidential information and the complaints and identities of whistleblowers. This is disturbing and could leave whistleblowers afraid to come forward if they witness wrongdoing.
A positive relationship has blossomed between President Trump and our beloved PM Scott Morrison. We see them in Europe, we see them on Capitol Hill, we see them in factories ….
These predictions and prognostications were written in August 2019 but they came true:
President Trump has sent out invitations to a “second lunch” on 20 September, with our Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
There is a wide agenda between the men and a growing he-man camaraderie, possibly including Boris Johnson although he is more inclined to look to Australia for supplies than to America.
Bad-mouthing low-carbon futures in the Pacific and NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern in particular is a certainty. So too Australia’s admired offshore detention and prosecution of people smugglers, but not perhaps the turmoil over medical and ethical problems.
If PM Morrison is in trouble over Gladys Liu MP, add plagiarism, incompetence, misogyny, cronyism on a larcenous scale, and plain, ordinary ignorance of due diligence and proper management and political processes.
“Honest John” Howard’s manipulations of “Children Overboard”, the Coalition of the Willing (with the deceitful Blair), and “Wheat for Weapons” (and kick-backs everywhere) challenge his chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos’ unquestioned-to-date right to take the left seat to Morrison in Washington, especially as he has white-washed unAustralian brutal unfairness.
Howard’s Deputy PM, the recently departed Tim Fischer AC, has been lauded as a thinker and doer, by PM Morrison and Deputy PM McCormack – but both distorted the legend in an apparent effort to downplay their comparative ineptitude. In particular, Tim was Chairman of Tourism Australia when Morrison had to depart there under a cloud of suspicion.
Mr Trump is certain to raise the Supreme Court permission he has obtained to use a little bit of Pentagon money on his Wall which looks like it will cost almost $70 billion.
Mr Morrison trumps that with ready local acceptance of “$100 billion over 10 years”, mainly for “Field of Dreams” fast trains, ignoring freight and ports while undermining regional economies.
The Governor of the Reserve Bank was over-optimistic about that “$100 billion” as that is $50 billion short or rising to $300 billion if promises are to be kept. The 13 high speed train proposals given consultancy money are smokescreens to hide a widely-publicised “Mandurah” scheme for sooner, cheaper and more flexible services that would enhance existing towns, which the CLARA con (waste of $8 million) would damage.
Former Premier Mike Baird has lent his name to the “model” of selling old assets to pay for new, which is a two-card trick because it has a life of about 1 year against the 10. Premier Berejiklian has created a debt lake of $40 billion or more, it’s unclear, to pay for her high-cost, high-risk Metros and tollroads. Treasury projections say the resulting debt burden will equal 20 per cent of tax revenue, or the equivalent of the entire Education budget, by 2056, if the fiscal fever continues.
President Trump doesn’t much worry about urban and regional facilities. Many Middle American cities and towns are calling for more cost-effective solutions to missing and ageing infrastructure.
Mr Morrison might admire the way that Mr Trump is stacking the courts and ignoring breaches of Congressional conflict-of-interest codes. It has long been a convention that US separation of powers, Congressional surveillance and Senate reviews of many political appointments do better than do the Australian laissez-faire regime which is building unConstitutional “gifting” mechanisms to benefit boosters.
Mr Morrison can counter with his enforcement of state intervention in media, community and citizen rights. His predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, abolished the safeguard of separating federal and state relationships as has been used previously under PMs Menzies, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Howard.
Finally, China’s “Belt and Road” strategy is having a significant effect in the Australian port systems and in the island States of the southern Pacific. Returns on their investments have been reduced by mistakes in metro and port policies, including Baird’s “secret levy” on Newcastle containers, and failed housing and densification targets.
There is the strange permission given to China to acquire strategic port assets including Darwin where the US wants to have a base for medium-range missiles – pointed at China!
It is also distorting Sydney’s balance between housing and infrastructure, as vested interests take precedence over intergenerational equity.
What will come out of the special lunch? Whatever is discussed, including the current “Campaign No. 2 of The Willing” in the Middle East, the main topic might be how Trump can learn from Morrison’s surprise election victory, something that Trump dearly wants to emulate.