Thursday Reads: A Baby-Man In ChargePosted: January 19, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: baby-man, Donald Trump, Energy Department, Rick Perry, Russian hacking, Trump transition, Vladimir Putin 45 Comments
Just one more day before the authoritarian baby-man becomes the “leader” of our once-great nation. It’s obvious that he’s not qualified for the job and he has done very little to prepare himself to do it. He has surrounded himself with other wealthy men who in many cases have no experience in government service. Will we survive this catastrophe? We’ll have to wait and see.
Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg yesterday: The Empty Trump Administration.
We’re two days away from having a new president. But we’re apparently a lot longer than that from having a Trump administration with even a minimally functional ability to govern.
Politico’s Michael Crowley has a nice piece explaining the missing National Security Council staffers, and the dangers that could cause if there’s an early crisis. Hundreds of briefing papers have been created by Obama’s NSC and sent to Team Trump, but the New York Times reports that no one knows if they’ve been reviewed.
Yet the NSC is ahead of the curve for this administration. Look at the big four departments. There’s no Trump appointee for any of the top State Department jobs below secretary nominee Rex Tillerson. No Trump appointee for any of the top Department of Defense jobs below retired general James Mattis. Treasury? Same story. Justice? It is one of two departments (along with, bizarrely, Commerce) where Trump has selected a deputy secretary. But no solicitor general, no one at civil rights, no one in the civil division, no one for the national security division.
And the same is true in department after department. Not to mention agencies without anyone at all nominated by the president-elect.
Overall, out of 690 positions requiring Senate confirmation tracked by the Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service, Trump has come up with only 28 people so far.
The Atlantic’s Russell Berman had a good story two weeks ago about how far behind Trump was. Since then? If anything, it’s getting worse — he’s added only two of those 28 since Jan. 5. As Berman reported, the Partnership for Public Service suggested a president should have “100 Senate-confirmed appointees in place on or around Inauguration Day.” At this pace, he won’t have 100 nominees by the end of February, let alone having them confirmed and hard at work.
Please read the rest at Bloomberg View.
Politico: Distrust and empty desks could stunt Trump’s government.
Just days before he ascends to the presidency, there are lingering questions about whether President-elect Donald Trump’s team is fully prepared to take over the sprawling federal government, according to more than two dozen interviews with Trump and Obama administration officials, lobbyists, experts and others close to the process.
A deep distrust has taken hold between Trump’s transition officials and Obama’s political appointees at a number of federal agencies, slowing down the handover of agency responsibilities on everything from meat inspections to drug pricing. There’s confusion over policy on several major agenda items, as Trump gives conflicting signals and often disagrees with his Cabinet nominees. And a number of federal agencies are far from having the staff they need to run on Day One, people close to the transition say….
“They look like they are designed for chaos,” said Stephen Hess, an expert on transitions at the Brookings Institution. “It’s just, there is no other word for it, weird for those of us who have been involved in government for decades.”
Trump transition officials insist that they are prepared. They say they have written detailed action plans for every major agency, adding they’ve even been charting a path forward at more obscure subagencies and departments. They note that securing the confirmation of their nominees is the most important near-term task and that they will soon announce hundreds of hires.
Much more at the link.
Many of us are apprehensive about tRump having the sole power to order a nuclear strike. But what about the man tRump has chosen (perhaps unknowingly) to maintain and manage the U.S. nuclear arsenal?
The New York Times: ‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood.
When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.
In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.
Two-thirds of the agency’s annual $30 billion budget is devoted to maintaining, refurbishing and keeping safe the nation’s nuclear stockpile; thwarting nuclear proliferation; cleaning up and rebuilding an aging constellation of nuclear production facilities; and overseeing national laboratories that are considered the crown jewels of government science.
“If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,’” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who advised Mr. Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked on the Trump transition’s Energy Department team in its early days. “If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.’ It’s been a learning curve.”
Unreal. And this is one of the departments presidential candidate Perry said he wanted to eliminate.
Mr. Perry, who once called for the elimination of the Energy Department, will begin the confirmation process Thursday with a hearing before the Senate Energy Committee. If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.
For Mr. Moniz, the future of nuclear science has been a lifelong obsession; he spent his early years working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.
Mr. Moniz had such deep experience with nuclear weapons that in 2015, President Obama made him a co-negotiator, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, of the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr. Perry would sit atop the men and women making the judgments about whether Iran is complying with that accord. In the basement of the Energy Department’s headquarters, the agency’s intelligence unit monitors compliance, working closely with the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and other intelligence bodies.
That is just plain frightening. According to Politico, Perry now “regrets” calling for the elimination of the Energy Department.
Journalists and biographers are still trying to figure out what’s going on in tRump’s psyche.
Politico: ‘He Has This Deep Fear That He Is Not a Legitimate President.’ I’d say that fear is very well-founded. The piece is a follow up to a previous one in which Politico talked to tRump’s biographers.
Now, after more than two months of Trump’s norm-shattering transition, we gathered Gwenda Blair, Michael D’Antonio and Tim O’Brien by conference call (Wayne Barrett, the dean of Trump reporters, could not participate because of illness) to assess whether Trump has continued to surprise them. Their collective wisdom? In a word, no.
From his pick of nominees for posts in his cabinet to his belligerent use of Twitter (our conversation was a day before he traded barbs with Congressman John Lewis) to his unwillingness to cut ties with his business to avoid conflicts of interest, they see the same person they’ve always seen—the consummate classroom troublemaker; a vain, insecure bully; and an anti-institutional schemer, as adept at “gaming the system” as he is unashamed. As they look ahead to his inauguration speech in two days, and to his administration beyond, they feel confident predicting that he will run the country much as he has run his company. For himself.
“He’s not going to be that concerned with the actual competent administration of the government,” D’Antonio said. “It’s going to be what he seems to be gaining or losing in public esteem. So almost like a monarch. The figurehead who rallies people and gets credit for things.”
Read the rest at Politico.
One more interesting read from Thomas Edsall at The New York Times: What Does Vladimir Putin See in Donald Trump?
At noon on Friday, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Millions of Americans will rejoice at the sight, and millions more will not. As a rule, foreign leaders don’t attend the inauguration of American presidents, but Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, will be there in spirit. To understand why and to understand what’s happening as Trump takes over the White House, we need to go back two weeks.
On Jan. 6, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency asserted with “high confidence” that “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election” formed part of a broader, worldwide agenda “to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order.”
According to the intelligence report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” Vladimir Putin
ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.
The intelligence assessment raises the question: what made Trump an attractive vehicle through which to attempt to weaken the liberal democratic order. Why him?
The article is an excellent summary of reporting and opinions on Russia’s successful campaign to elect their own puppet to the U.S. presidency. Now we will have a baby-man in charge. It’s going to get very hairy folks.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy our country’s final day of sane, adult leadership.
Texas-speak for new-clee-r
You mean he found out that it was about more than oil?
IOW I regret making an ass of myself talking about something I knew nothing about.
We are about to enter an era of monumental bullshit. It will be heaved at us from the moment President Stupid takes the oath followed by a ghost written speech crafted by somebody else.
He will be sent to the sidelines along with his Twitter account to “communicate” with his moronic followers while the adults run the world. Those adults will be the white supremicists, religious nutcase, war mongering assholes, and unqualified picks who are about to ruin the very democracy they pledged to uphold.
Gone will be the safety nets and civil rights fought for on behalf of the population and replaced with “laws” brought forth by an ignorant GOP just because they can. Easy peasy when you have the majority and a simple minded dolt playing a role as POTUS.
Trump will wallow in the title, reliving the campaign over and over because his brain is made offish while his subordinates mock the law and corruption goes unchecked. We are witnessing some of that now via confirmation hearings for people virtually unsuited for the positions they seek.
No one can stop what is about to occur but the GOP and I have a better chance of becoming Miss America then expecting them to act on behalf of the nation.
“Patriot” will become an obsolete word as this gang seizes control.
Notice how stupid these become when they are suddenly under oath.
The rest of the world would be laughing at the U.S. if they weren’t so horrified. I keep wishing for a deus ex machina.
Have not heard that before……….looked it up. I see we have protesters all over the world against Trump. None in Russia.
I’ve gone straight to praying for assassins.
My brother-in-law and I were listing possible banana peels: 70, overweight, excitable, never sleeps, possible coke-head – but my money is on the CIA.
Unfortunately I saw something somewhere about how he’ll live another 15 years because medicine is so good now – if you can afford it.
From the article:
That’s just in Round One. The US of Kleptocracy.
Their policy is basically “take a knife to whatever you don’t support “
Surprise! They want to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency. And who doesn’t want commercials while watching public teevee.
At least it might not pass. Spending cuts like these won’t do a thing if on the other hand they want to ratchet up military spending and grant huge tax cuts to rich people. This is just targeted spite based on personal views without regard to consequences.
I’m waiting for pitchforks and guillotines to go on sale at my local Ace Hardware store. I am so in on that. May he end like Mussolini and sadam Hussein …Swinging to the very end.
If you haven’t filled the NSA, State Dept., Pentagon, etc, when the crisis comes and all there is is direct line military to attend to the crisis, you then make the case that those other agencies were useless, because they couldn’t perform. Classic Chomsky and a desired wet dream for the libertarian who wants no more government than a standing army.
That’s the exact argument the tea party tRump supporting manager of my apartment complex makes. Her favorite party has gutted enforcement agencies here in NC where ever they’ve had the power. When I told her about one employer who routinely demands employees work off the clock and the fact that the Republican headed department of labor won’t do anything about it, she just said “Well, that’s government for you.”
She and her mother, who is on dialysis and needs treatment four times a week, very much need Social Security and Medicare, but she voted to cut and privatize them. When that starts hurting them badly, I know she’ll blame just the government again and continue to work for and vote Republican.
Yes, republican vote republicans.
One other think, when I read this, an alarm bell went off – Putin’s already making aggressive noises towards neighboring countries. What is he going to do once there is no functioning State Department, NSA, Pentagon, etc?
erm – that should be “One other thing”.
Call for champagne, then call his generals.
We are so fk’d.
The Democratic Party, which after all, is the only potential opposition to Trump and his underlings, has somehow got to find some leadership. Not one person, but some committed and courageous people in very visible roles. The more time the Democrats give to Sanders and his group, the more they will flounder. The Left will never win an election in this country; all they will do is make it impossible for the Democratic Party to win, something about which they do not care a bit.
The fact that most Americans now seem to have had some veil lifted, and start to realize how awful this admihistration will be, is something, I suppose. But the much harder part is galvanizing the resistance so that it is not just a bunch of upset people on the social media. And the even harder part is figuring out how to win elections; how to stop the voter suppression, make sure more people want to, and can, vote. Because right now, even with all this fear and outrage, I am much afraid that the Republicans will win their usual midterm victories, since they have the billions of dollars, the fake news organizations, and the corrupt media, to bamboozle the public over and over. People vote against Democrats without having any rational idea as to what they stand for; they believe all the lies and slanders. And who is the next great leader of this party? He or she is not going to suddenly appear in three years. Democrats have no bench, no new potential figures of stature and depth. If Warren or Sanders gets the nomination, the Democrats will get slaughtered. If it is Booker, the Left will destroy him. Oh, Hillary will very likely not run; but who else is out there who could push back against the Republican’s insidious minority takeover of the country?
I knew when I woke up this morning it was going to be one of them days! I suppose I’ll be saying this everyday for a while.
Don’t forget to turn your clocks back 100 years at noon tomorrow. Goddess save us all!
At 12:01pm Eastern, turn your backs to Washington DC.
Heartless, soulless, parasitic greedhead scammers:
On eve of inauguration, Pres.-elect Donald Trump tells donors: “Next time we’re going to win the old-fashioned way.” https://t.co/gUlmSu2Dcl https://t.co/gDefeeMfZC
Ah, American kompromat, bribery, and blackmail instead of the Russian kind.
Luna, this is exactly what I did see coming when I could not stop crying after I got back from a local candidate’s office on Nov. 8th and started checking election results. This was the first thing I saw. My last refuge from the sexism and stupidity of humans would be gone, thanks to the sexism and stupidity of Americans. And this boy couldn’t see it coming.
Must have had his eyes closed. My refuge, my sanity, my solace is wilderness and the goddesses of nature. The lands of the “morning of creation” will be strip-mined and drilled and turned into trash heaps.
C’mon, Trump, visit Yellowstone. You can tweet your way into a boiling geyser.
Bigly appropriate to the occasion!
Wearing my funeral clothes. It may be casual Friday for everyone else.
Black Friday to me…
Mother and sister are on their way to DC for the Women’s March.
We will march in Atlanta.
This thinking of sign ideas. So far I am leaning toward:
“WE AIN’T PLAYING WITH YOU M0TH3RF#CK3RS!”