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No getting over it: Mulvaney is now chief of graft

In 2008, days after political newcomer Mick Mulvaney won a seat in the South Carolina state Senate, he told a local newspaper that many voters had suggested that he run for the U.S. House seat held by Democrat John Spratt instead. “I couldn’t stop laughing,” Mulvaney said. “I’m perfectly happy being in the Senate.”

But within a year, Mulvaney was not only challenging Spratt, he defeated him handily in 2010 on a message of reforming Washington and slashing federal spending. “There’s a few things I just think we all believe,” he said in one campaign ad. “We cannot continue to spend money we don’t have.”

That shirt-sleeved, bookish reformer, who talked to voters at a diner over drinks in Styrofoam cups, arrived in Washington in 2011 on a tea party wave of cutting bureaucracy and ending corruption.

But some nine years later, after a six-year stint in the House and a quick ascent into the Trump administration, the Mulvaney who promised to end deficits has expanded them. The man who swore he’d cut budgets juiced his own. And the shirt-sleeved, small-business owner that South Carolina sent to D.C. is now at the center of an international corruption scandal he not only tolerated, but may have championed.

If you’re surprised, in the words of Mulvaney himself, get over it.

Mulvaney’s road to this incredible moment — of the reformer now possibly in need of reform — began in the days after Donald Trump won the White House. According to a Politico profile titled “Mick the Knife,” Mulvaney quickly reached out to Speaker Paul Ryan to ask that he recommended him to Trump as director of the Office of Management and Budget. A Freedom Caucus founding member, Mulvaney was known and respected in conservative circles as a real-deal, small-government tax cutter.

Although Trump was never known as a conservative at heart, appointing Mulvaney put hard-liners on the right at ease that he had someone on the budget who could be trusted behind the wheel. And Mulvaney did indeed recommended massive cuts to Trump’s first budget — for nearly every federal agency except his own. While most agencies took a major haircut, I reported at the time that OMB got a 7.7% increase in the White House budget request. The extra $8 million was proposed to go for an additional 30 full-time staff positions, which put the total number of staff at OMB at 495.

As Mulvaney continued to recommend cost-reducing reforms like adding work requirements for welfare and major cuts to entitlement programs, his own shop seemed to be immune from those measures. After he took on the additional role as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he set about in an effort to change the agency’s name to take the focus from “consumer” to bureaucracy. But an internal analysis showed the change would cost the bureau up to $19 million in document and printing costs, along with as much as $300 million for outside industry groups to make the change, The Hill reported.

When Kathy Kraninger took over as the permanent director in 2018, one of her first acts was to leave the name as it was. “I care much more about what we do, than what we are called,” she said in an email to CFPB employees, which she shared on Twitter.

Last December, Mulvaney went from a frequent presence in the West Wing to a near permanent one as acting White House chief of staff, where a loophole meant that he and his top aide were exempt from the White House’s $183,000 salary cap, topping them out well above other longtime staffers like Kellyanne Conway, according to a White House release of staff salaries.

With controversies and potential impeachment swirling, Mulvaney kept a relatively low profile as chief of staff until last week, when an appearance in the White House briefing room to announce the site of the 2020 G-7 summit spiraled into a defense of the truly indefensible.

From the podium, Mulvaney:

said the president’s choice of his own Trump Doral property to host the G-7 summit “makes perfect sense.”

shrugged at the role of Rudy Giuliani as a parallel emissary to Ukrainian officials — “The president gets to use who he wants to use.”

told reporters a quid pro quo in negotiations is no big deal — “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

scolded anyone who thinks asking a foreign country to investigate the Democratic National Committee is a problem — “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

Mulvaney consistently conflated personal and official benefits to the president; U.S. foreign policy and American campaign priorities; and negotiation and threats. It left some incredulous members of Congress wondering whether he and this White House even know the difference between right and wrong anymore. And if they do know the difference, whether they care.

Later, Mulvaney put out a statement walking back the “quid pro quo” comment, but the damage was done. On his own radio show later, Sean Hannity wondered aloud, ”What is Mulvaney even talking about? I just think he’s dumb, I really do.” The music played off with the show’s tagline, “Draining the swamp … one corrupt politician at a time.”

No matter what Mick Mulvaney says, don’t get over it, America. There is a difference between right and wrong. We have laws that that govern politicians’ behavior, especially when they can’t govern their own. Don’t ever get over it.

Inner Heroes: We need to work at our 'love skills'

Maybe not all of us are love rookies.

There are a few folks on the planet, at any given time, who have mastered the elusive art of loving. May we be inspired by their ability to always see light in the darkness.

Most of us do our best to love and sometimes do it beautifully. Other times we stumble and wish we could do better. When we feel love, we experience peace and connection. When we don’t, we feel edgy and separated.

Why would we desire to improve our ability to give and receive love? Why is this path littered with so many challenges? What are some practical ways to develop and maintain our love skills?

Love is the state of being that creates harmony. Isn’t that what we wish for ourselves, our families...the world? Our most common prayers are for peace, inner and outer. Stop the fighting! Stop the hurting! Let there be peace!

Each one of us has an arena of influence in the world and within it we are responsible to create ever-growing love and light.

A thimbleful of light will banish a room full of darkness.

~The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Why are there so many challenges to stay on the path of love? Because if love is the most prized human value, how could it come easily? Education, health and fitness, financial security, artistic creations, daily food? Each one requires hard work before it manifests itself in our lives. Why not love, the most precious of all?

Our world is filled with love challenges. Blame, fear, big egos, delicate egos, selfishness, insufficient training. Each one of these impediments to love is well-defended, habituated and generationally preserved. We must work vigilantly to overcome these ingrained cultural and personal hurdles.

Here are a few practical ways to develop and maintain our love skills:

1. Say to yourself daily, “I am a love rookie. I may know a few things in this arena, but there is so much more to learn.” Humility and kindness are the first steps in our journey towards deeper, more consistent connections. The very next step is courage.

2. Forgive, let go and move on. Another difficult step, for sure! Holding on to old hurts prevents hearts from softening. None of us is perfect. We all hurt one another; there are no angels down here. Practice forgiveness every night before going to sleep.

3. Apologize and take responsibility for everything we say, do or feel. Blame no one for anything! Our unique human gift of free will gives us this power.

4. Listen longer and with more interest. Ask questions. Sigh. Feel. Empathize. Very little conveys caring more than active listening.

5. Practice being open and vulnerable. Share your inner thoughts, fears and wishes. Ask for help. Get help. Be tender. Thank more. Cry more.

6. See goodness in everyone. Often it's well hidden. Often we aren't even looking; often we are too busy judging. Keep looking, it is always there.

Focus on the task — and watch happiness grow.

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Oct. 22, the 295th day of 2019. There are 70 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 22, 1962, in a nationally broadcast address, President John F. Kennedy revealed the presence of Soviet-built missile bases under construction in Cuba and announced a quarantine of all offensive military equipment being shipped to the Communist island nation.

On this date:

In 1797, French balloonist Andre-Jacques Garnerin (gahr-nayr-AN') made the first parachute descent, landing safely from a height of about 3,000 feet over Paris.

In 1811, composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt was born in the Hungarian town of Raiding (RY'-ding) in present-day Austria.

In 1934, bank robber Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was shot to death by federal agents and local police at a farm near East Liverpool, Ohio.

In 1979, the U.S. government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment — a decision that precipitated the Iran hostage crisis.

In 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization was decertified by the federal government for its strike the previous August.

In 1986, President Reagan signed into law sweeping tax-overhaul legislation.

In 1991, the European Community and the European Free Trade Association concluded a landmark accord to create a free trade zone of 19 nations by 1993.

In 1995, the largest gathering of world leaders in history marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

In 1998, the government advised parents to remove the batteries from their kids' "Power Wheels" cars and trucks, made by Fisher-Price, because of faulty wiring that could cause them to erupt into flame.

In 2001, a second Washington, D.C., postal worker, Joseph P. Curseen, died of inhalation anthrax.

In 2002, bus driver Conrad Johnson was shot to death in Aspen Hill, Md., in the final attack carried out by the "Beltway Snipers."

In 2004, in a wrenching videotaped statement, aid worker Margaret Hassan, kidnapped in Baghdad, begged the British government to help save her by withdrawing its troops from Iraq, saying these "might be my last hours." (Hassan was apparently killed by her captors a month later.)

Ten years ago: Mortars fired by Islamic militants slammed into Somalia's airport as President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed boarded a plane, sparking battles that killed at least 24 people; the president was unhurt. Gunmen kidnapped Gauthier Lefevre, a French staff member working for the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Sudan's western Darfur region. (Lefevre was released in March 2010.) Comedian Soupy Sales died in New York at age 83.

Five years ago: A gunman shot and killed a soldier standing guard at a war memorial in Ottawa, then stormed the Canadian Parliament before he was shot and killed by the usually ceremonial sergeant-at-arms.

One year ago: President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. would start cutting aid to three Central American countries he accused of failing to stop thousands of migrants heading for the U.S. border. A bomb was found in a mailbox at the suburban New York home of liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros; federal agents safely detonated the device after being summoned by a security officer.