Lazy Late Friday Open “Tech” Thread: Move Fast, Break the Wrong Stuff…

Shoved aside, amid all this week’s affray. It’s all about noisy displays of public dominance, innit? The NYTimes:

Timothy D. Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet were among 18 tech executives and investors — many of whom have criticized the Trump administration — who attended the four-hour afternoon session to discuss cloud computing and procurement systems run by government agencies.

For many, it was the second group meeting with Mr. Trump since the election — and another demonstration of the administration’s ability to summon top business executives, even amid controversy.

“Government needs to catch up with the technology revolution,” said Mr. Trump, who strolled in at the end of the meeting to greet the tech titans. “We’re going to change that with the help of great American businesses like the people assembled.”

He later said, drawing laughter, “We have approximately $3.5 trillion of market value in this room — but that’s almost the exact number that we’ve created since my election.”

Few technology specialists from the White House attended. The administration has not filled several major science and technology positions. But the business and economics team closest to the president attended, including Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, senior counselor for economic initiatives…

As described by NYMag‘s Select/All blog, “Tech Leaders Cucked by God-Emperor Trump”:

The White House is hosting leaders and CEOs from leading technology companies this week, hoping to get the best in the biz to figure out why the government sucks so bad at technology. The summit was the first meeting of the American Technology Council, which the administration established in May, led by Jared Kushner. Big boy Jared even made a speech, and presumably received an extra scoop of Cheez-Its at snack time for doing so…

Kushner suggested shifting government data to the cloud. “Federal agencies collectively operate 6,100 data centers,” he noted, “the vast majority of which can be consolidated and migrated to the cloud” (a little fun fact for you tech-heads out there: Remote data centers are what comprise “the cloud”). He also spoke about how the Department of Defense still uses floppy disks (not sure how that matters to the average American, but fair point), and that it takes months to update any government website (in part because the “move fast, break things” ethos doesn’t work for enormous populations of more than 300 million people).

The meeting appears to be fulfilling its implied purpose: making the president look good. Breitbart, to highlight one example, is celebrating how these feeble lefty tech CEOs are bowing before their new god, citing quotes like Eric Schmidt’s: “I’m absolutely convinced that during your administration there is going to be a huge explosion of new opportunities because of the platforms that are getting built in our industry.” (In January, Schmidt told an audience of Googlers that Trump would do “evil things,” citing the president’s stance on immigration.) Jeff Bezos said that Trump could be the “innovation administration,” while Tim Cook pressed the president on immigration and requiring coding classes in public schools…

What odds Trump vaguely assuming putting all this government stuff “in the cloud” would make it too heavy to hang over his head suspiciously any more?

In other news…

(Backstory)



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: In Like Flynn

As Miss Manners would’ve told Pompeo, sometimes the rules are there to protect you from your friends. It’s certainly possible to imagine (if you squint hard enough) that a guy from one’s personal circle, well-known for his range of interests, might choose to sit in on the briefings in all innocence. Surely a man with such a storied military career would know what could not be safely repeated outside the room, immune from minor peccadilloes of money or fame…

Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.

Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.

The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power…

The concerns about Mr. Flynn’s vulnerabilities, born from misleading statements he made to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, are at the heart of a legal and political storm that has engulfed the Trump administration. Many of Mr. Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, can ultimately be traced to Mr. Flynn’s stormy tenure.

Time and again, the Trump administration looked the other way in the face of warning signs about Mr. Flynn…

Concerns across the government about Mr. Flynn were so great after Mr. Trump took office that six days after the inauguration, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, warned the White House that Mr. Flynn had been “compromised.”…

White House officials have said they moved deliberately both out of respect for Mr. Flynn and because they were not sure how seriously they should take the concerns. They also said the president believed that Ms. Yates, an Obama administration holdover, had a political agenda. She was fired days later over her refusal to defend in court Mr. Trump’s ban on travel for people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

A warning from Mr. Pompeo might have persuaded the White House to take Ms. Yates’s concerns more seriously. Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman, is a Republican stalwart whom Mr. Trump has described as “brilliant and unrelenting.”…

Speaking of protection from one’s “friends”, is is fair to assume that one reason Pompeo chose not to speak up about Flynn’s presence was that he hoped to avoid a fate like that meddlesome talebearer Sally Yates?



Open Thread: Some Happy News, for Non-Revanchists

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III made his career using the full weight of “Law & Order” to abuse unruly people of color, uppity women, young people and poor people with ever-more-restrictive drug laws, capricious enforcement of petty regulations, and statutes restricting the lives and freedom of ex-felons. He was an earlier rider on the ‘Trump train’ because he saw, in a Trump administration, a cushy future where he would be able to enforce his eighteenth-century prejudices on even more people over a wider range.

Were he to end up bankrupted and emotionally broken due to the application of those expansive “Law & Order” codes… well, it wouldn’t improve my estimate of the Trickster God’s script-writing abilities, but I would enjoy the final act.



Trump’s Foreign Policy “Team”: Uneasy Sits the Arse That Warms A Throne

Like any other cartel boss, Trump can’t trust his lieutenants unless he’s got them within arm’s reach — forever checking their body language, the eye contact between underling & underling, the pauses after his applause lines and the enthusiasm of their individual responses. And it’s not as though the Trump administration took any effort to keep the lower bureaucratic offices they inherited properly staffed or funded while the new crew figured out how to work the light switches…

The CIA director’s treks to the West Wing reflect Trump’s insistence on frequent meetings with favored members of his team. Every president has regular contact with key Cabinet members, but Trump, who remains deeply mistrustful of career agency officials, has turned the White House into a hangout for his chosen department heads.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met with the president at least 34 times since he was confirmed in February, according to a POLITICO analysis of Trump’s interactions since taking office. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are also frequent guests at the White House — so much so that one White House staffer quipped, “Wilbur practically lives here.” Defense Secretary James Mattis has enjoyed private meetings with the president, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken to eating at the White House mess several times a week.

Senior aides say Trump demands face time with his appointees in part because he doesn’t trust bureaucrats who do the day-to-day work of the federal government. The president shuns them as tools of what he often refers to as the “deep state,” and blames them for frequent, unflattering news stories coming from his White House, according to two White House aides…

Two administration officials said the parade of Cabinet officials going into the White House on a daily basis has prompted worries that their focus is being diverted from the day-to-day operations of their departments and agencies.

“We’ll see how long it lasts,” one of the officials said, noting that many secretaries don’t yet have a full cast of undersecretaries to brief top White House officials. “They don’t have their politicals yet, so some of it is a necessity.”…

Some of the Cabinet officials are also his friends, and they are beckoned to the president for political advice, even if it’s outside the purview of their agency…

One senior administration official said White House staff members understand the president’s desire to rely on agency heads to learn about complex issues, but they wish that the meetings would be coordinated in advance. Instead, Cabinet secretaries like Mnuchin and Ross just stroll in with little notice.

Others in the administration remain concerned that Cabinet officials are spending too much time schmoozing with the president and attending events, and not enough at their agencies…

Just a buncha guys from the old neighborhood, hangin’ around, shootin’ the breeze. They’re not running the country, they’re too busy running the ongoing Donald Trump campaign / crime cartel.

THANKS, REPUBLICANS!



Monday Morning Open Thread

Ah, summer!…

Apart from #StillResisting, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

You know the drill —

And finally, some useful advice:



Late Night Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games, Until Someone Shoots Up A Baseball Game

Looking on the bright side, if Ted ‘Pantload’ Nugent is edging away from “hateful rhetoric”, that’s one more indicator that the right-wing media fevers may have reached a point where, having burned through all susceptible victims, it’s no longer profitable for a D-lister like Nugent to make a noisy public display of his ammosexuality.

But you can count on the lower ranks of wingnut welfare recipients to keep singing from the same old hymnbook…



Saturday Morning Open Thread: All Hail! — Hell

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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Apart from the ongoing Trumpocalypse, what’s on the agenda for the day?