I’m going to try to take a Thanksgiving holiday break from thinking or writing about Trump-related issues. It’s a health and safety thing; I just can’t cook turkey and dressing, make gravy, mash potatoes, etc., while contemplating an asshole-punching rampage through the center of town.
So, Thanksgiving. My sister is a vegetarian, and Thanksgiving is at her house this year. It grosses her out to deal with raw turkey, so if left to her own devices, she’d buy a heat-and-serve turkey from the grocery store. She’s done that in years when I was at my in-laws for TG. Well, not on my fucking watch, sis.
Instead, I’m roasting the turkey at my house and transporting it there. Timing shouldn’t be an issue because it takes about the same amount of time I’d let a roasted turkey rest before carving it to drive to my sister’s house. So, I think we’re okay there.
Luckily for us, we won’t encounter any of the Trumpenproletariat this Thanksgiving; only the sane half of the family will be in attendance. I’ll deal with the others once I’ve calmed down a bit. So don’t bother looking for “Florida Woman Bludgeons Father with Turkey Carcass, Shoves Uncle’s Face into Molten Sweet Potato Casserole” on your Twitter feeds.
Went to the store for feast preparation supplies yesterday, and goddamn, what a zoo. Unfortunately, I forgot sugar — a critical ingredient in the mister’s homemade cranberry sauce. I think I’ll just hit the convenience store and pay a premium rather than braving the supermarket on T-1.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-11-22 18:22:482016-11-22 18:22:48Florida Woman! (Not BettyC!)
“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Donald Trump said back in 2000 when he was contemplating a bid that he never followed through on. And while he didn’t actually turn a profit on his 2016 run, it’s looking more and more likely that being president is going to be very lucrative for Trump. By the time it’s over, he may even be worth as much as he has always claimed to be.
The words “conflict of interest” don’t begin to describe what the Trump administration is shaping up to look like — though there will be plenty of conflicts of interest with administration figures such as Rudy Giuliani, who made millions from foreign governments and corporations, some of which are hostile to the United States. But the real action is going to be in Trump’s own family.
Anti-nepotism laws prevent Trump from giving his family members jobs in the administration. But don’t think that’s going to stop them from being active participants in U.S. government decision-making, or using the fact that Trump is president to keep money flowing in. In fact, we could see the president enriching himself and his family on a scale that we normally associate with post-Soviet kleptocrats and Third World dictators.
For starters, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. are on the executive committee of Trump’s transition team, helping decide who gets hired for key positions and what the administration’s initial focus will be. We learned that someone on the transition team inquired about obtaining security clearances for the three so that they could see classified information (though the Trump team protested that the request did not come from Trump himself). Then there’s the matter of Ivanka Trump’s husband…
Kushner — whose knowledge of government is so minimal that he was apparently surprised to learn that the Obama staffers in the White House wouldn’t be staying on to serve President Trump — is shaping up as perhaps his father-in-law’s closest adviser. He won’t have an official position, yet he’ll be privy to some of the most sensitive intelligence secrets the government possesses…
Here’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a member of the Seanad Éireann, telling that august body just what he thinks of the outcome of the recent US election. Given he is a Senator, maybe someone should ask if he wants to be Minority Leader. Or maybe DNC Chair?
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-11-17 20:44:272016-11-17 22:03:30Perhaps Someone Should Ask if He Wants to Be Minority Leader
The Donald Trump transition, already off to slow start, bogged down further Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of former Congressman Mike Rogers, who had been coordinating its national security efforts.
Two sources close to Rogers said he had been the victim of what one called a “Stalinesque purge,” from the transition of people close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who left Friday. It was unclear which other aides close to Christie had also been forced out.
The Trump transition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prior to entering politics, Congressman Rogers was a Special Agent in the FBI. He worked in the Chicago Field Office specializing in organized crime and public corruption.
NBC goes on to report:
Rogers was initially seen as a leading candidate for CIA director, but now is likely off the list, a source told NBC News. Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is now a top contender.
Rogers’ departure follows Christie’s demotion from head of the team to a vice-chair, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence taking over for him last week.
The purge indicates the emphasis on loyalty — and significant influence of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka — that characterized Trump’s campaign will carry over into his White House.
Multiple sources indicated that Christie was demoted because he wasn’t seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump, failing to vocally defend him at key moments on the campaign trail.
Elliot A. Cohen, a former senior advisor to Secretary of State Rice, has reversed his position of last week:
After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They're angry, arrogant, screaming "you LOST!" Will be ugly.
You asked what I thought about going to work in a Trump Administration. I do not have to worry about that, of course: I was one of the ringleaders in denouncing him as unfit by temperament, character, and judgment for political office. They will have no use for me, or, to be fair, I for them. But others, including some of my younger friends, will have jobs dangled in front of them, because the government has to be staffed.
It seems to me that if they are sure that they would say yes out of a sense of duty rather than mere careerism; if they are realistic in understanding that in this enterprise they will be the horse, not the jockey; if they accept that they will enter an administration likely to be torn by infighting and bureaucratic skullduggery, they should say yes. Yes, with two conditions, however: that they keep a signed but undated letter of resignation in their desk office (as I did when I was in government), and that they not recant a word of what they have said thus far. Public service means making accommodations, but everyone needs to understand that there is a point where crossing a line, even an arbitrary line, means, as Sir Thomas More says in A Man for All Seasons, letting go without hope of ever finding yourself again.
It goes without saying that friends in military, diplomatic, or intelligence service—the career people who keep our country strong and safe—should continue to do their jobs. If anything, having professionals serve who remember that their oath is to support and defend the Constitution—and not to truckle to an individual or his clique—will be more important than ever.
It is unclear if Cohen’s reversal applies to those currently serving – I would hope it does not, we need them to do exactly what he suggests they do in that third paragraph.
None of this – the purging as related by NBC or the vindictiveness and revanchism related by Cohen – should be surprising. It was both a hallmark of the campaign, but it is also emblematic of the President Elect’s social darwinian outlook and belief in eugenics.
In an interview for US TV channel PBS, the Republican presidential nominee’s biographer Michael D’Antonio claimed the candidate’s father, Fred Trump, had taught him that the family’s success was genetic.
He said: “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development.
“They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”
Then we had a long talk about his approach to politics. He never called himself a “populist” or an “American nationalist,” as so many think of him today. “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.
Shocked, I asked him what he meant.
“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.
[Norquist] talked about how to build a broad coalition. “If you want the votes of people who are good on guns, good on taxes, and good on faith issues, that is a very small intersection of voters,” he said. “But if you say, Give me the votes of anybody who agrees with you on any of these issues, that’s a much bigger section of the population.” To illustrate what he meant, Norquist drew three intersecting circles over a piece of paper. In the first one he wrote “guns,” in the second he wrote “taxes,” in the third he wrote “faith.” There was a small area where the circles intersected. “With that group, you can take over the country, starting with the airports and the radio stations,” he said. “But with all of the three circles that’s sixty percent of the population, and you can win politically.”
While I have a longer post on personalities matter, relationships matter, and personnel is policy coming later this week, the keys to continue to watch as this attempt at transition occurs are largely the positions for staffing key White House positions, many of which do not require Senatorial confirmation. We’ve already seen the Chief of Staff position go to someone with no experience except as a party functionary (largely for Governor Scott Walker) and the Chief Strategist/Senior counselor position go to an anti-Semite and white supremacist with no government service other than a ten year stint in the Navy. Reaching the rank of Officer Level 3 (O3) as a lieutenant senior grade in the Navy is not something that prepares one for elected or appointed office at the National strategic level. This has readily been apparent with several former O3s who are now serving in Congress.
So keep an eye out for the picks for National Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor, as well as Spokesperson and Deputy Spokesperson, as well as the speech writers. The important Cabinet level picks to watch for are Attorney General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of Homeland Security. The Directors of the FBI, CIA, and Directorate of National Intelligence all have time left on their appointments that extend past the end of the Obama Administration. The Director of the FBI serves a fixed, single ten year term – so he is very hard to replace, but the Director of Central Intelligence and the Director of National Intelligence both serve at the pleasure of the President, so they will offer, at least, pro forma resignations. It will also be important, though we likely won’t see it until late January 2017, what happens with the Service Chiefs, as well as the Director of the NSA. All of these gentlemen are four star general officers/flag officers. What is important to realize right now, however, is that the Trump transition team has not, as of yet, even responded to the requests from the Department of State and Department of Defense to begin the transition work. This may very well be because of the sentiments expressed by Cohen and others to other Republican and conservative foreign, defense, and security policy professionals to not accept appointments in the Trump Administration. I’ll have more on this in the upcoming personnel is policy post later this week.
Update at 4:40 PM EST
After considering several comments regarding the title of this post, I have appropriately renamed it. We now return you to your regular Tuesday afternoon.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-11-15 13:05:512016-11-15 16:40:55The Midday of the Plastic Sporks Begins
I know everyone is coping with the election’s results differently. And I’m not here (front page or in comments) to tell everyone to just get over it already. But I do think its important that we not panic. All panicking is going to do is make things worse. Someone asked me in a comment if we are in the last days of the Republic. The short answer is I do not know, but if we are it shouldn’t be allowed to fall without a fight – and I’m not talking an actual, violent one.
My longer answer is I do not think that we are in the last days of the Republic. When 650,000 or more of us are strewn across battlefields from Pennsylvania to Florida and from New Mexico to South Carolina and there’s still no end in sight, then we might be in the last days of the Republic.
I’m not going to say things aren’t grim. That we’re in uncharted territory. That we appear to be nationally compromised by Russia and that the Chinese now perceive their long game to eclipse us may have sped itself up. All of this is true. But we’ve come through worse. And when we have we’ve almost always made advances. But no advancement, no progress in America has ever come without a sharp, strong, and uncomfortable attempt at retrenchment and reprisal. This is what happens when your state and society are the Constitutional Republic version of liberal democracy and, at the same time, the oldest and most aged of revolutionary states and societies in the modern period. The latter tend towards reactionary beliefs, attitudes, and actions as they age.
So where does this leave us as Americans? The same place it always does; the inheritors of great ideals and promise. Great ideals and promise that are all to often unfulfilled or more often than not paid lip service, rather than actualization. If we fall to pieces now, if we turn on each other out of fear and panic, then the Republic really will fall. If we hold fast, hold to the ideals, hold to the promise, then we may make it through this even if doing so is emotionally, mentally, and physically painful.
I leave you with the painting of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, Commander II Corps, the Army of the Potomac placing himself in the line of fire near what would become known as the high water mark opposing Major General George Pickett’s charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.* When MG Hancock’s subordinate’s asked him to remove to a safer location, he responded with: “There are times when a corps commander’s life does not count.” Shortly thereafter he was wounded in action, but not fatally, and remained at the front until the attack was over and the Confederate assault had been repulsed. If you are concerned for the Republic, then I recommend you take Major General Hancock’s example to heart and hold the line.
https://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpg00Adam L Silvermanhttps://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/balloon_juice_header_logo_grey.jpgAdam L Silverman2016-11-14 21:27:342016-11-15 12:03:19We Hold the Line II