The Purges Begin

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This is how would-be dictators work after they achieve office w. the veneer of democratic respectability:

Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are developing plans to reshape Energy Department programs, help keep aging nuclear plants online and identify staff who played a role in promoting President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. [h/t TPM]

Step 1: identify expertise and any possible source of civil-service resistance to the illegitimate power grab.

Step 2: harass the key figures into resignation, or, failing that, post them to sheep-flatulance monitoring posts in the Dakotas.

Step 3:  replace with loyalists.  Consolidate long term holds over policy in the agencies.  Capture government statistical reporting and the representation of reality.

Step 4:  Rince. Repeat.

ETA: The Washington Post has more detail on the probe/purge-in-waiting at DOE:

The Trump transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking officials there to identify which department employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The memo provides the clearest indication yet of how Trump’s administration would begin to dismantle specific aspects of President Obama’s ambitious climate policies. …

One question zeroed in on the issue of the “social cost of carbon,” a way of calculating the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The transition team asked for a list of department employees or contractors who attended inter-agency meetings, the dates of the meetings, and emails and other materials associated with them.

The social cost of carbon is a metric that calculates the cost to society of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The Obama administration has used this tool to try to calculate the benefits of regulations and initiatives that lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“My guess is that they’re trying to undermine the credibility of the science that DOE has produced, particularly in the field of climate science,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford climate and energy researcher, in response to the question about the Integrated Assessment Models.

There’s lots more at the link. None of it good. These are f**king dangerous people.

Meanwhile, public protest too is under pressure from the Trump junta:

For the thousands hoping to echo the civil rights and anti-Vietnam rallies at Lincoln Memorial by joining the women’s march on Washington the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration: time to readjust your expectations….

The NPS filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit” for many of Washington DC’s most famous political locations for days and weeks before and after the inauguration on 20 January, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional rights litigator and the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

The National Park Service applied for the blocking permit on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee — i.e., Trump’s donors and apparatus.

Again: this is how would-be dictators work, taking control of the bureaucracy and squeezing civil space.

We’ve a long road ahead.  My small act of resistance today is to call my representatives (Warren, Markey, Kennedy) to urge them to publicly condemn the emerging civil service witch hunt.  Whatever y’all can do, please have at it.

Image: Nicholas Poussin, The Destruction of Jerusalem1637.








Moral Action in Trump’s America

I’m way deep in a big project, and rather significantly behind on it too, so my blogging for the next few months is going to be quick-hit stuff rather than anything thought through.  I’ll try to make up for that by making it as regular a practice as I can to toss good reads your way.

Todays comes from Masha Gessen, someone y’all know I greatly admire.  About a week ago she posted a piece on The New York Review of Books site.  In it, she asks if the realist stance in politics can function in the context of Trump.  To find out, she looks to her own family history — including choices she made — to answer no.  She takes no prisoners:

In Bialystok ghetto, my great-grandfather’s responsibility in the Judenrat was to ensure that the ghetto was supplied with food. He ran the trucks that brought food in and took garbage out, he ran the canteen and supervised the community gardens that a group of young socialists planted. He also discouraged the young socialists from trying to organize a resistance movement: it would be of no use and would only jeopardize the ghetto’s inhabitants. It took him almost two years to change his mind about the resistance efforts, as he slowly lost hope that the Judenrat, by generally following the rules and keeping the ghetto inhabitants in line, would be able to save at least some of them.

As in other ghettos, the Judenrat was ultimately given the task of compiling the lists of Jews to be “liquidated.” The Bialystok Judenrat accepted the job, and there is every indication that my great-grandfather took part in the process. The arguments in defense of producing the list, in Bialystok and elsewhere, were pragmatic: the killing was going to occur anyway; by cooperating, the Judenrat could try to reduce the number of people the Nazis were planning to kill (in Bialystok, this worked, though in the end the ghetto, like all other ghettos, was “liquidated”); by compiling the lists, the Judenrat could prevent random killing, instead choosing to sacrifice those who were already near death from disease or starvation. These were strong arguments. There is always a strong argument.

But what if the Jews had refused to cooperate?

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Was Arendt right that fewer people might have died? Was Trunk right that Judenrat activities had no effect on the final outcome? Or would mass murder of Jews have occurred earlier if Jews had refused to manage their own existence in the ghetto? We cannot know for certain, any more than we can know now whether a scorched-earth strategy or the strategy of compromise would more effectively mitigate Trumpism. But that does not mean that a choice—the right choice—is impossible. It only means that we are asking the wrong question.

The right question…or better, the right stance, the right scale on which to weigh any choice of action?

We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge….

Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning. That would mean, at minimum, thinking about the right thing to do, now and in the imaginable future. It is also a good idea to have a trusted friend capable of reminding you when you are about to lose your sense of right and wrong.

I’m convinced Gessen is correct.  More, I believe her demand that we make the moral choice first, and then pursue whatever particular tactic seems most likely to embody that choice, will be the most effective, as well as the right thing to do.  A Democratic response to Trump that says we can make this work a little better enshrines Trumpism, and all the vicious GOP assumptions as the ground on which such matters get decided.  One that says “No. This is wrong.  Democrats will oppose, not mitigate…” is the one that creates a real choice going forward on the ground on which we want to fight.

Read the whole thing.

Image: Charles Le Brun, Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridgec. 1642/3 (I know it’s not dead on point, but it’s close, and I always loved the story, so there.)








Early Morning Open Thread: Red(state) Princess Ivanka

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(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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A concept imported from China, like Trump’s campaign hats: the “Princelings” eliding the line between political machine and business empire. Neither of her adult brothers seem to be capable of doing much beyond collecting ‘honorariums’. Ivanka, on the other hand, is not only a chip off the Trump block (or at least presenting herself as one), she’s done double familial duty by allying herself to another wealthy real estate crime family by marriage…

Interesting Esquire piece on young Jared: “His father-in-law is moving into the White House, and he’s got a seat at the table”:

And yet for all that Jared has helped Trump, there is a sense among Jared’s friends and business associates that he sees the gold-plated vision of a Trump White House as the ultimate step in a carefully plotted ascent to redemption, one that began when his father’s scandal tarnished the family name…


Read more








Open Thread: Masque of the Red(state) Death

Somewhere Jay Gatsby is going, “Ugh, tacky. ” But not Politico! “Trump attends donor’s ‘Villains and Heroes’ party — as himself”:

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday night attended a lavish costume party on Long Island hosted by his biggest donors, the Mercer family…

According to a Saturday evening pool report, Trump’s motorcade arrived at the party at 8:35 p.m. As Trump entered, dressed in a dark suit, overcoat and tie, he was asked who he was dressed as. Pointing at himself, the president-elect mouthed the word “Me.” Neither his wife, Melania Trump, nor Trump’s children attended. Top aide Steve Bannon and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway attended, with Conway dressed as Super Woman, according to the pool report…

Although Trump during the campaign decried the influence of big donors, the Mercer family played a major role in his campaign and has wielded vast influence in his transition.

The family patriarch, hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, donated $2 million to a pro-Trump super PAC that came to be run by his daughter Rebekah Mercer, who controls the family’s political operations.

Rebekah Mercer played a pivotal role in persuading Trump to bring on three close allies of hers to run the campaign — incoming White House senior counselor Bannon and top campaign officials Conway and David Bossie…

The Mercers have hosted the party at their estate on Long Island’s North Shore around the holidays in each of the past several years.

It’s become an increasingly hot ticket as the Mercers have become bigger players in conservative politics.

Robert Mercer and his youngest daughter, Heather Sue Mercer, are competitive poker players, and past years’ parties have featured blackjack and poker tables. The Mercers supply chips — free of charge — that can be redeemed at the end of the night for lavish prizes such as gold Rolexes, according to people who have attended.

Staff and security at the event were dressed as Hell’s Angels and retro Salvation Army members, according to the pool report.

So, I guess this was a sort of coming-out party for Rebekah Mercer, as the new generation of bloated plutocrat parasitizing our commonwealth.

Maybe the best outcome the rest of us can hope for is that Ms. “But She’s the Smart One” comes to blows with “Daddy’s Little Princess” before the Trump Kakistocracy can embed itself too deeply in the national hide. Because I suspect those two have as many issues to work out as their more-famous-for-now daddies…








If You Don’t Know Who The Patsy At The Table Is, It’s You Part [n+1]

Just a quick update for the “who has Trump f**ked today” file.

AT&T is reportedly feeling confident about its ability to buy Time Warner after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team—even though Trump himself vowed to block the merger during his campaign.

“Donald Trump’s transition team has reassured AT&T that its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner will be scrutinized without prejudice,” the Financial Timesreported yesterday. “After talking with the president-elect’s team, AT&T executives are confident that their deal has a good chance of passing regulatory scrutiny, people informed about the conversation said.” [Ars Technica]

This is a couple of days old, actually. It’s tough to keep up.

To be sure, relative to little things like blowing up the world’s system of states, agreements, and understandings…

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…letting a mega-corp misbehave exactly as any Republican president would (and some Democrats, alas) is hardly the top of either my terror or rage list.  But still, I do love seeing Trumpkins slowly wake up to the degree to which they’ve been conned/are complicit in the ongoing shit show.

Sorry, folks.  You really do need watering twice a day if you trusted the cheeto-faced, ferret-heedit shitgibbon.

That’s about the limit of the fun to be had these days — a respectful nod in the direction of the late, great Molly Ivins.  I wish I could enjoy the tears of betrayed Trumpkins a bit more, but there’s too much damage they’ve done to the rest of us to take much satisfaction.

Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors1533.