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Sinking the Ship of State

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Der Untergang der Titanic

Julia Ioffe’s article on her interviews with career State Department employees manages to be heartbreaking, appalling, and frightening at the same time.

You should read the whole thing, but here are three choice excerpts.

First, the evisceration of the professional bureaucracy in favor of barely competent loyalists and family members:

A lot of this, the employee said, is because there is now a “much smaller decision circle.” And many State staffers are surprised to find themselves on the outside. “They really want to blow this place up,” said the mid-level State Department officer. “I don’t think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist. They think Jared [Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law] can do everything. It’s reminiscent of the developing countries where I’ve served. The family rules everything, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows nothing.”

Second, the complete collapse of the Office of Policy Planning:

The Office of Policy Planning, created by George Kennan after World War II, is now filled not just with Ph.D.s, as it once was, but with fresh college graduates and a malpractice attorney from New Jersey whose sole foreign-policy credential seems to be that she was born in Hungary. Tillerson’s chief of staff is not his own, but is, according to the Washington Post, a Trump transition alum named Margaret Peterlin. “Tillerson is surrounded by a bunch of rather mysterious Trumpistas,” said the senior State official who recently left. “How the hell is he supposed to do his job when even his right hand is not his own person?” One State Department employee told me that Peterlin has instructed staff that all communications with Tillerson have to go through her, and even scolded someone for answering a question Tillerson asked directly, in a meeting.

Third, a quotation that sums up the human-capital side of Trump’s march to geopolitical suicide:

“This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire,” said the mid-level officer. “America is over. And being part of that, when it’s happening for no reason, is traumatic.”

Don’t get sucked into debates about whether Trump’s failure to bite a bat in half at last night’s speech bodes well for the Republic. When you look past the shiny object, it’s all terrible.

Image.

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  • Rather mysterious, actually, why Tillerson is doing this. He gave up a lot – from his point of view anyway – and I don’t see what’s in it for him. Maybe somebody has a thought. Also, McMaster must be viewing all this with horror, what’s he going to do?

    Vamos a ver.

    • AMK

      Right. And Tillerson isn’t some Spiceresque GOP political hack. He led one of the 2 or 3 largest companies in the world for ten years–and he presumably didn’t get there by being a pushover.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Did he do it by insisting that his briefing materials be no more than two pages? (That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m genuinely curious.)

        • JohnT

          It wouldn’t be an uncommon practice for CEO of such a gargantuan company. The odder thing was his refusing State briefings entirely. during his confirmation. I think he pretty clearly dislikes the actual department and he almost certainly, as most business types do, thinks officials are too long winded.

        • SamChevre

          I’ve worked some with good senior managers in a Fortune 100 company. The rule was always “put the key items on one page.” And that flowed down: the key items about the overall subject went on one page; the key items about component subject y went on one page.

          It’s an important discipline, when you are dealing with someone who has a lot of varied responsibilities: the goal is that they decide, based on good information, and that the “getting the information” is as fast as possible.

          AKA: no matter how important Yemen is, the Secretary of State also has to think about China, and Iran, and Russia, and personnel, and Congress, and the other Cabinet members–and they can’t remember everything; they need to be able to look at their notes a week later on their way to a meeting and be prepared. “One page; I’ll ask you for the next page for the items I need to know more about” is a way of trying to make that process as efficient as possible.

          • sigaba

            The gravest enemy America has ever faced is the curiosity of responsible people.

            • Chetsky

              Damn, that’s brilliant! I assumed you -had- to have cribbed it from somebody, but El GOOG tells me that no, it’s original. I take my hat off to this!

              • BiloSagdiyev

                Ditto. I was thinking Mencken.

      • efgoldman

        Tillerson isn’t some Spiceresque GOP political hack. He led one of the 2 or 3 largest companies in the world for ten years

        He doesn’t need the job, the aggravation, or the money. I wondered why he took it in the first place. Maybe Tangerine Tumor told him he could negotiate oil deals freely with Pootie Kazootie. Maybe he was just flattered. But somebody with the power and influence he’s used to won’t put up with this shit for long.
        As for eviscerating State, there will be consequences, somewhere, somehow – bad ones, and sooner rather than later.

      • smott999

        Wants to avoid Exxon getting sued off the planet maybe?

        • rhino

          Like that’s going to happen. Face it, companies like Exxon are completely untouchable in any sense they would regard as something to fear.

          The worst would be a fine that barely makes a dent in profits, and even that has almost certainly been priced in to the play in the first place.

    • delazeur

      A senior cabinet post is a nice capstone to a high power career. I would not be at all surprised if he liked the idea of transitioning toward retirement while gaining the right to style himself “Secretary”, and simply didn’t care who the POTUS was or whether he would have any actual influence over foreign policy.

      • JohnT

        Hmmm. He gave up a lot of control of his finances and cut himself off from his business ‘home’. That’s a big deal for these kind of guys. I don’t think he’d do that just for the reasons you suggest. He must have thought he could achieve something.

        • delazeur

          I agree that most people of his type would find this arrangement distasteful, but I also think that a small though non-negligible percentage would go for it.

      • humanoid.panda

        Or, alterntatively, he is another contractor jilted by Trump.

    • keta

      From a WaPo piece in December:

      ExxonMobil has a mandatory retirement age of 65, and Tillerson, who is 64, was already expected to retire next year before the announcement Wednesday he would step down at year’s end.

      There’s also the Russia/Exxon arctic drilling bonanza to be considered, once the sanctions are lifted (and who doubts they will?) Tillerson would be ousted at Exxon, but perfectly placed in Trump’s cabinet to oversee the deal. And oh!, by the way, a month ago the House approved a resolution killing an SEC requirement for US energy companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments, known as the “extraction rule.”

      Tillerson didn’t agree to become Sec of State for shits and giggles.

      • humanoid.panda

        There’s also the Russia/Exxon arctic drilling bonanza to be considered, once the sanctions are lifted (and who doubts they will?) Tillerson would be ousted at Exxon, but perfectly placed in Trump’s cabinet to oversee the deal. And oh!, by the way, a month ago the House approved a resolution killing an SEC requirement for US energy companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments, known as the “extraction rule.”

        There was no need for him to become the Secretary of State for any of this to happen.

        I also think that removing sanctions on russia is one of the few red lines that Republicans won’t less Trump cross – notice that any reference for Russia was absent in the speech yesterday.

        • keta

          Tillerson being named Sec of State greases the skids – enormously – for all this to happen.

          And the reason Trump didn’t mention Russia last night is because that’s currently the one issue that has the potential to really put a wrench in his works. People generally don’t spotlight where they’re susceptible.

          • humanoid.panda

            Tillerson being named Sec of State greases the skids – enormously – for all this to happen.

            Um, no. The rollback on the corruption regulations is part of an out assault on Obama’s last year rule-making. How is Tillerson’s tenure related to that?

            And for sanctions: given that we have a detailed story showing that Tillerson is marginalized and isolated from policy-making, the argument his presence is crucial for removing sanctions is.. weird.

            • keta

              Do you really think Tillerson would have taken the post knowing he’d be frozen out? Really?

              I’ve laid out what I think the thought processes were at the time of nomination, acceptance and confirmation. You disagree, which is fair enough. So, why did Tillerson become Sec of State?

              • humanoid.panda

                Lots of people laid it out: he thought that under a moron president, he will have free hand to run American foreign policy. Trump plausibly told him as much when he gave him the job. That a smart guy like Tillerson would trust Trump looks ridicilous to us, but a large number of people did that over the years.

                • keta

                  Right. Which circles back to why I think he took the job in the first place.

    • Peterr

      I honestly don’t think he understood exactly what he was signing on to do. I can’t imagine that Trump and Bannon told him “We’re going to not even nominate any deputies for at least two months, just to see who we can weed out from the career people. That means you’ll be on your own for a while, but we have confidence that you can handle it.” At most, they said “we’re going to shake things up” but he didn’t realize just what that would mean for him.

      And having signed on to take the job, Tillerson can’t let himself walk away from it. It makes him look like a fool for taking it in the first place, and it undercuts his pal Donald — even though Donald wasn’t up front with him in the first place. I think he’s in a lose-lose position, and at least so far has decided to choose lose-and-stay-in-place over lose-and go-home.

      If Tillerson was smart — DC street smart, that is — he’d be meeting with these mid-level folks who are spinning their wheels. Without meetings like these, well, let’s let one of those staffers in the article paint the picture:

      “There are inefficiencies, there needs to be reform. They certainly have a right to staffing, or lack of staffing,” the staffer said of the new administration. “But doing it without an analysis of where the inefficiencies are, the cutting just won’t be rational or effective. It just creates ill will.”

      And all that ill will is not something that will bother Trump and the WH. It’s blocks away from them, and means nothing to them beyond words on a page or stories in the media.

      But it will definitely make Tillerson’s life increasingly miserable, even if the ill will is aimed at Trump. Rex is the one who will need briefing materials for his trips, Rex is the one who will need to send guidance out to various embassies, and Rex is the one who will need people to do the million and one things the Secretary of State needs done every day. He may be alone behind the blue tarps on the seventh floor, but he needs to get out and buck up his staff while waiting for other appointees to arrive. He needs to invest in the people who work for him, even if Trump won’t.

      • keta

        You make some great points, including:

        I honestly don’t think he understood exactly what he was signing on to do.

        I’d rephrase that slightly to, “I honestly don’t think he understood what a thin-skinned, unprepared, clueless shithead his boss would be.”

        • I don’t know about that. Actual really, really rich people who have worked their way to the top of a corporate multinational probably don’t think much of Trump, who has never displayed much business acumen. Other NYC real estate developers certainly know that he is all hat and no cattle. I suspect that Tillerson believed he’d have an open field

        • tsam

          I’d rephrase that slightly to, “I honestly don’t think he understood what a thin-skinned, unprepared, clueless shithead his boss would be.”

          Nah–everyone saw Trump’s Twitter feed and heard his street-corner preacher ranting during the campaign. See BruceJ’s comment below.

    • BruceJ

      Why is Tillerson doing this? Half a goddamn trillion dollars, is why.

    • Jean-Michel

      I’m guessing it’s because he’s a terrible person who agrees with Donald Trump’s vision for America and the world.

    • vic rattlehead

      Right? From CEO of one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world to this? I mean, I get wanting State, that’s prestigious. But like this? Where you can’t choose your own right hand man? And all the other political appointees are dumbshit Trump lackeys? And the Administration constantly undercuts you and keeps you in the dark and does shit behind your back? This is a guy used to having power, and right now he’s basically being sidelined. At what point does he give Tangerine Torquemada the finger and quit?

  • An effective answer to this is for the state staffers to feed them rope and let them hang themselves.

    • llennhoff

      I’m afraid that in this case we will all hang together.

    • What would that look like, exactly? Neither Trump nor the GOP experiences shame and embarrassment as reasons to correct behavior. They always double down and lash out when they are exposed as frauds, liars, corrupt, and incompetent. So there isn’t going to be “enough rope” to “hang themselves.” They will simply blow up the world and not even bother with an “oops.”

      • humanoid.panda

        Late term W sidelined Cheney and the neocons, and relied on his dad’s perfectly professional foreign policy hands. But Trump is far from the man W was…

        • efgoldman

          But Trump is far from the man W was…

          And he doesn’t have a bunch of former State and DoD senior individuals in his Rolodex; and if he did, he wouldn’t call them.

      • CP

        Furthermore, they’d simply get blamed for the disaster. We’ve seen this again and again: Republicans ignore the civil service which they view as “useless bureaucrats without real jobs most of whom should probably be fired” in favor of politically vetted cronies who mouthe the approved Heritage/Hudson Foundation party line. When that leads to disaster, they just turn around and blame the professionals.

        See also the WMD mess which all of Official Washington has agreed to label an “intelligence failure,” as opposed to a “failure of leadership to take anything for an answer other than ‘yes, there totally are WMDs in Iraq.'”

        • efgoldman

          When that leads to disaster, they just turn around and blame the professionals.

          Who got blamed for Katrina?

          • N__B

            The RWNJs blame Ray Nagin.

            • efgoldman

              The RWNJs blame Ray Nagin.

              The public at large blamed W, bigly.

  • humanoid.panda

    The mystery to me is why Tillerson, who in his previous job was probably more powerful than nearly all cabinet secretaries and all but a handfull heads of state, is letting himself to humiliated like that. Guys like Mattis and Kelly at least wield real power…

    • Is there an echo in here?

      • humanoid.panda

        Oops. My apologies.

      • efgoldman

        Is there an echo in here?

        …echo in here…

    • econoclast

      He’s probably just not prepared to deal with the situation. You wouldn’t see this level of incompetent hackery at a McDonald’s on the interstate, let alone in a Fortune 500 company.

    • Mike G

      Because he’ll get a massive under the table payoff from Putin for lifting sanctions and removing political obstacles from Russian oil projects?

      • humanoid.panda

        It’s a nice theory, except the fact that Tillerson is kept away from actual decision-making kinda refutes it?

  • FlipYrWhig

    Remember when one of the big criticisms of Obama was that he relied on “Unelected Czars”? Who the fuck is Jared Kushner? He’s just some snot-nosed kid who’s never done anything. Has he been made an Archduke now or something?

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      It’s totally unfair to say that Jared Kushner’s never done anything. He ran the New York Observer into the ground; I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right?

    • vic rattlehead

      Well, his father bought his way into Harvard. So he completed the oh so difficult task of being a rich kid who managed to not flunk out of Harvard (that is sarcasm, like 93.4% of the class graduates with “honors” for fuck’s sake).

      And it’s one thing for Donnie Dumbass to think his precious son in law is qualified to do these things. It’s quite another for Jared to be enough of an arrogant prick to think he’s actually capable of doing any of the shit he’s tasked with-given that he has literally no relevant experience and no one but moron sycophants to turn to for advice. It takes those two narcissistic jizz stains on the mattress of humanity to tango.

  • Cheap Wino

    “. . . and a malpractice attorney from New Jersey whose sole foreign-policy credential seems to be that she was born in Hungary.”

    This caught my eye. What’s the chance this person is somehow connected to Gorka and the fascist groups in Hungary he is associated with?

    • Phil Perspective

      But dick pic NatSec Twitter guy says Gorka is on the up-and-up!

    • vic rattlehead

      Hey, the other thing that caught my eye is I know some very upstanding plaintiffs attorneys in New Jersey! Why is New Jersey relevant anyway? I swear I could see the sneer from my apartment as the author typed that!

  • Bitter Scribe

    This part of the article really jumped out at me:

    After about two dozen career staff on the seventh floor—the State Department’s equivalent of a C suite—were told to find other jobs, some with just 12 hours’ notice, construction teams came in over President’s Day weekend and began rebuilding the office space for a new team and a new concept of how State’s nerve center would function. (This concept hasn’t been shared with most of the people who are still there.)

    That last sentence, in parentheses, is absolutely chilling. They’re making fundamental changes and not telling the staff about them? That can only mean one of two things: They don’t trust the staff, or they’re planning to get rid of (or at least bypass) them.

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Both.

    • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

      Or they have no fucking clue what they’re doing

      • JBC31187

        All of the above, I think. Trump, Bannon, et al. don’t trust anyone outside their little circle-jerk and don’t see any value in diplomacy and soft power- but they’re not evil geniuses. They’re bullies and bigots who’ve been spoiled rotten.

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    My favorite part:

    Tillerson’s chief of staff is not his own, but is, according to the Washington Post, a Trump transition alum named Margaret Peterlin. “Tillerson is surrounded by a bunch of rather mysterious Trumpistas,” said the senior State official who recently left. “How the hell is he supposed to do his job when even his right hand is not his own person?” One State Department employee told me that Peterlin has instructed staff that all communications with Tillerson have to go through her, and even scolded someone for answering a question Tillerson asked directly, in a meeting.

    Remember, tens of millions of people voted for Trump, who has in turn decided to treat the White House like his own personal record label.

    • Alex.S

      Schrödinger’s Anecdote — Where the story is both unbelievable and believable at the same time. Interestingly, observation only increases the superposition of believable and unbelievable.

      For example, Trump saying “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated”.

    • trollhattan

      is Trump secretly a Scientologist? because it sounds like Tillerson is getting Tom Cruise treatment.

    • vic rattlehead

      Wow. If I’m a cabinet secretary, no one fucking tells me what to do or forbids people from my own fucking department from answering to me except the president. I’m surprised Tillerson hasn’t told Peterlin to eat shit. I mean really.

      • tsam

        I would have ended that situation in an embarrassing way right then and there. I would NEVER allow my staff to feel like they couldn’t speak directly to me.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    Peterlin’s bio indicates that she might be a reasonable candidate for her position. But beyond that, who do they think is going to do the grunt work on the all the improved deals they’re going to negotiate so winningly? Having the principals agree broad concepts is one thing but you can totally get taken to the cleaners on the details, which is why you need subject matter specialists and capable mid-level people to manage and coordinate throughout the process. Nafta is ~400 pages, it’s not Trump and Pena sit down and hash out a compromise then turn it over to a couple of lawyers to finalize, like a real estate deal may be – it’s multiple expert groups on both sides.

    • sigaba

      Let’s be honest, most of these “winning” deals are going to involve spitting on our cupcakes and Trump calling it frosting, delicious frosting.

    • The Lorax

      CNN, NPR News, NYT headline writers, etc. will all spin it as a win because they’re not smart enough to dig for details. And when it blows up in our face in 10 years, the media will say, “Who could have known it wasn’t a winning deal?”

  • CP

    The proper analogy isn’t 1945 Britain (which might have been losing its empire i.e. its ability to rule other people without their consent, but was doing perfectly well for itself). The proper analogy is 2003, CPA-ruled Iraq.

  • Mike G

    It’s all straight out of the authoritarian playbook. They don’t care about input from knowledgeable technocrats because they think they know everything already; all is decided by a small group of cronies bound by personal loyalty to El Caudillo.

    It’s undiluted Republican stupid which burns the sinews of a functioning state like sulfuric acid. CPA-era Iraq is probably a good analogy. Got any 24-year old ideologically-correct interns to run major government departments?

    • CP

      It’s all straight out of the authoritarian playbook. They don’t care about input from knowledgeable technocrats because they think they know everything already; all is decided by a small group of cronies bound by personal loyalty to El Caudillo.

      Yep. It’s a common misconception encouraged by decades of right wing narratives that “dictatorship” automatically means “big government.” It actually doesn’t – autocrats only care about the things they care about, and are quite liable to let everything rot away that doesn’t interest them personally. And the croynism inherent in these regimes usually means power concentrated in a very small circle of people. On the other hand, functioning democracies badly need a significant professional civil service bureaucracy with some shielding from political pressures, or they end up as failed states.

    • River Birch

      Point of clarification, the British economy in the immediate aftermath of the war was such a disaster that the US had to lend it massive sums to stave off collapse.

      ETA: This was meant for the comment above

  • nemdam

    I’m sure Hillary would’ve done this too.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Actually, she would have been worse. There would have been classified data flying all over the place! Much safer just to shut it down; information that is not on an insecure email server cannot possibly be detrimental to US interests.

      • tsam

        There’d already be a no-fly in Syria and 341 Russian planes downed.

      • nemdam

        Ah good point. Everyone knows that the only place classified information is mishandled and private email is used is in the State Department. So it shut it down and the crimes of Crooked Hillary will never be repeated.

  • Anna in PDX

    So interesting these times we live in with the disintegration of our empire and the excesses of late stage capitalism. I feel like I am in Rome. If only I did not have any descendants, I could be a lot more objective about this.

    • Thom

      You’re right, that helps a lot. Meanwhile, I do sympathize with the young–it is going to be a long struggle in so many ways.

    • sigaba

      We never had an empire, our relations with Europe were always on a formally equal basis and our various satraps were basically symbolic– the Marshall Islands and Chile do not an empire make.

      Pax Americana mostly involved writing big checks, mingled with covert wars fought specifically with the intent of giving us deniability that we had any interest. Our military had thr mission of collective security– it might have been bullshit, but it was our stated ideal.

      Trump’s vision is the empire, where everybody pays tribute and we openly divvy up places like Eastern Europe into spheres of influence. George H. W. Bush would have never traded Ukraine for an oil deal; it was anathema to Democratic and Republican thinking.

      • tsam

        Empires aren’t the legions rampaging through foreign nations anymore. They’re economic empires.

        • dpm

          Plus, there was that whole conquest of North America thing

          • Thom

            Yep, we conveniently forget that, a process that inluded war to take half of Mexico.

      • Philip

        When you can just go bomb a force on another continent into oblivion because the mood (benevolent or otherwise) takes you as in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc, you’re an empire.

  • JBC31187

    “This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire,” said the mid-level officer. “America is over. And being part of that, when it’s happening for no reason, is traumatic.”

    Are we so lucky, though? As far as I know, Britain seemed to come through that all right. Here in the US we have both voters and officials who A) insist on the idea of American exceptionalism and B) refuse to do anything to maintain “American Exceptionalism.” Not to mention we have a huge army and too many nukes.

    • CP

      Agreed. The only victim of Britain’s fall from superpower status was the ego of imperial nostalgists. If we lost our number one status in the same way the British did – lots of money saved and reinvested in domestic problems and strong allies forming a community that, together, were more than enough to hold off the enemy of the day – we’d in fact be doing very well for ourselves.

      • humanoid.panda

        The only victim of Britain’s fall from superpower status was the ego of imperial nostalgists.

        Well, they and the millions of people killed in various India-Pakistan-Bangladesh conflicts..

        • CP

          Yes, I was, indeed, just talking from a POV of what it cost the U.K. and should have specified that.

        • JBC31187

          I know. I’m not opposed to America not being the sole super power. But managing something like that requires thought and patience using all the tools in the box. Trump and his cabal are going to wreck everything and burn it to ashes just for spite.

  • LFC

    That third quote from the State Dept person saying “America is over” is absurd hyperbole. As if the United States is equivalent to the current set-up of the int’l system down to all its details.

    Robert Kagan had a bad column in Foreign Policy last month called “Backing into World War III” in which he misuses analogies from the ’30s. This third quote misuses an analogy from post-1945 (Britain after WW2). It’s possible to be somewhat alarmed by aspects of Trump’s approach to the world, as one should be, w/o going over the top, as that third quote does.

    You know what’s prob more important than whether communications to Tillerson have to go through a Trumpista? Trump’s proposals to cut that part of the foreign-assistance budget that includes programs like PEPFAR and the Global Fund to combat TB, malaria, and AIDS.

    We shd be getting upset about *that*, not claiming that the U.S. will commit geopolitical suicide if it no longer has 800 military bases all over the world.

    Kagan, in the aforementioned column, claims that the the US engaged in “retrenchment” under Obama. Kagan doesn’t mention that the US spends more on its military than the next seven or eight countries combined. And Trump has proposed increasing the mil. budget by $54 billion.

    The proposed increases to the mil. budget are probably bad and the proposed cuts to ‘the 150 account’ (the foreign-assistance budget) are worse.

    P.s. Getting rid of most of its formal empire was one of the best things that Britain ever did. (of course in some cases it was pushed)

    • efgoldman

      Robert Kagan had a bad column….

      Water is wet and sunshine is bright.

    • sibusisodan

      I’m not so sure it’s hyperbole. A particular idea of America, and it’s role internationally, is being undermined.

      That’s vastly different to the end of the British empire. I love my country, but I don’t delude myself that we divested ourselves of empire for noble reasons. Anything we could plausibly hold on to, we did.

      What’s happening at State appears to be a shaking of the foundations of the post-war international order, in the absence of external pressures to do so, and without much of an internal democratic mandate for it.

      • Peterr

        . . . and most of all, without much of a vision of what the world will look like when those foundations give way.

      • petesh

        Essentially I agree. The solid foundations of the post-war (anachronistic phrase!) international order fell apart ages ago, with the collapse of the USSR, the rise of China and the economic success of the EU. Failing any comprehensive reform of the order, it staggered along for years, but right now no one really knows how to rebuild it. It’s like an old house that’s sort of livable but doesn’t have the electric circuits for modern toys, and doesn’t have the bathrooms or kitchens for modern tastes.

        I have advocated for eliminating most foreign bases for lo these many decades; it would be weird if this orange-utan closed them without any decent rationale, and he’d probably mess up the process.

        • JBC31187

          I have advocated for eliminating most foreign bases for lo these many decades; it would be weird if this orange-utan closed them without any decent rationale, and he’d probably mess up the process.

          One of the many, many reasons I voted for Clinton is because the old world of America as sole superpower is fading away. I believe that Clinton’s too attached to the idea of American military intervention, but she’s also a rational person who understands the value of diplomacy and soft power. Her administration could have helped prepare a softer landing and an easier transition despite Republican interference. Now we’ve got this jack-off who’s deliberately pissing off as many of our allies as he can, but has no clue on how to manage anything that isn’t paid for by his daddy.

  • Chetsky

    [slightly OT, but re: Russia] I found this analysis of Dolt45’s speech to be profoundly disturbing:

    The whole thing

    And specifically the part about Russia:

    To Russia with Love

    I quote:
    Alexandra Erin‏ @alexandraerin 15h15 hours ago
     More
    You see how instead of saying, “Isn’t it better if we get along with Russia?”, they just sort of weave the idea in there?

    • humanoid.panda

      Yeah, I find “wheels within wheels within wheels” interpretation of Trump and his circle somewhat tedious. Remember when we were told the Muslim ban was planned to so it will create chaos and be overturned by the courts for reasons?

      • Chetsky

        And yet, by all accounts, Bannonazi -did- plan the travel ban with the aim of engendering mass protest. They just didn’t plan on such incompetence in the drafting of the decree.

        No, there’s no evil genius directing things backstage. But when it comes to wording, over and over (e.g. Holocaust remembrance statement) it supports the conclusion that they’re more-carefully dog-whistling to their base that they’re not for turning.

  • Mike in DC

    A parallel concern is the dismantling of the regulatory state, and the hazards to citizenry that will ensue.

    • petesh

      Oh yes, chaos external and internal.

      It's almost enough to make you want to go seasteading.

      • tsam

        Until you find out what kind of people are building those things. No thanks.

        • petesh

          Note font!

  • Sumac

    “We’ve seen such evil coming out of our State Department.” “You have to have a gay pride parade” to get U.S. funding. – Michele Bachmann. I had the misfortune to listen to part of this program (on Bott Radio, right-wing/Christian) a few weeks ago. It sounded as though Bachmann was expecting a purge – and encouraging the fans to expect one. More on http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/michele-bachmann-hopes-trump-will-reverse-evil-gay-rights-causes/ .

  • uc

    I hope Leader-President Trump keeps fucking these little crybabies over harder than an overseer raping an Alabama field coon.

    • Arschverletzung

      you sound butthurt bro

      ETA: mods, pls?

  • NewishLawyer

    Last week, Slate (I think) had an article about how Bannon’s real goal is the destruction of the administrative state and stuff like this certainly fills in line.

    Suppose this is true. What does it look like? Does the amount of damage Trump and Bannon can do depend on how long the Democrats don’t control Congress?

    I.e, suppose the Democrats regain control of Congress in 2018? What can a Democratic Congress do to mitigate Bannon’s assault on the admin state? Does it depend on the size of their majority?

    Suppose the Democrats don’t come into power until 2020, 2022, or 2024 and hundreds of positions in the federal government go unfilled and budgets are slashed. What does the Democratic Party need to do to rebuild everything or is the damage done permanently.

  • humanoid.panda

    Cleanup required.

  • Redwood Rhiadra

    “This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire,” said the mid-level officer. “America is over.”

    This is why Glenn Greenwald loves Trump, of course.

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