Just a few videos to remind of us how good we had it.
You probably would not be surprised how many of these I found
And look, a president who knows how to use an umbrella.
And a great dad.
Well, now I feel better.
Respite open thread
Just a few videos to remind of us how good we had it.
You probably would not be surprised how many of these I found
And look, a president who knows how to use an umbrella.
And a great dad.
Well, now I feel better.
Respite open thread
Let’s get this out of the way first: President Donald Trump didn’t actually say the words “red line.” In fact, he, his National Security Advisor, and his Secretary of State say so many different things that it can be hard to tell whether there are red lines, let alone where they are.
In August 2012, President Barack Obama explicitly laid down a red line to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria: Move chemical weapons around, and we will strike. A few days later, Assad brutally killed over a thousand people in Ghouta with sarin. Congress and allied nations were reluctant to back a military strike in response. But then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered another response: Syria would join the Chemical Weapons Convention and give up its stock of chemical weapons and the means to make more.
It might seem that disarming Syria of chemical weapons was an appropriate punishment for their use after an ulitmatum was issued. No longer would they have that set of tactics available. The benefit to the rest of the world is obvious – ending that form of brutality and the threat to other nations in the region. Missile strikes could never have done that.
Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited Iran’s nuclear program to a greater degree than for other signatories of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He then imposed additional economic sanctions on Iran, in contravention of what had been agreed. A number of small provocations then ensued, and Trump and his advisors threatened war, only to rescind the threat at the last minute. This action is being compared broadly to the 2012 actions.
Let’s look at the comparison in more detail.
In August 2012, a civil war was in progress in Syria. The United States was involved, but not as a primary actor.
The recent provocations against ships have been relatively small and ineffective. They were likely carried out by Iran or its proxies, but the evidence made public is less than conclusive. A military attack on Iran would be disproportionate.
Obama’s clearly stated objective was to end Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. A military strike would have limited that capability, but would not have ended it.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has presented to Iran a list of 12 demands to Iran that no country could accede to, short of defeat in war. Trump has said that all he wants is for Iran not to build nuclear weapons. It is not clear how a limited strike against Iran would further these demands.
When presented with an alternative to military action that would be more effective in reaching his objective, Obama changed direction.
Trump and his aides have presented four or five explanations for his change of direction. We have no way of knowing the truth.
Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile was mostly removed and the ability to make more curtailed. Assad seems to have retained a small amount of sarin, which he has used in attacks since the disarmament. He has also used chlorine, a dual-use chemical that is regulated differently. Equivalent attacks with sarin would have been much more deadly.
It’s too soon to judge the effect of Trump’s action.
Obama was excoriated for not holding to his red line. Much of the US foreign policy establishment puts great stock in military action and was disappointed that Obama chose chemical weapons disarmament over missile strikes. The commentary on Trump’s action has been much more moderate, but there is some warning about threats and confidence. For example,
.@realDonaldTrump right not to strike Iran;costs would have exceeded benefits. But restraint comes at a price, as his will to use force is suspect, likely inviting future challenges. This is what happens when you adopt a policy w/o thinking it thru https://t.co/uPosIHEJI5
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) June 23, 2019
Many reasons are possible for the more moderate response. Perhaps we have become accustomed to Trump’s bluster without followthrough. Perhaps the situations are different enough that the response is justified. And perhaps Obama, by taking a more effective and peaceful route, broke the attraction of violence.
Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.
Former first lady Michelle Obama confessed she still suffered from “imposter syndrome,” even as her memoir, Becoming, broke sales records last month and became the year’s best-selling book 15 days after it was published.[…] Asked at the event how Obama felt about being seen as a “symbol of hope,” she said: “I still have a little imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me,” according to the BBC.
“It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know?”
When I’m dealing with this, I’ll think on past successes, or remind myself of times when I’ve succeeded by soldiering on. Sometimes, yes, I’ll think about the ways I’m more capable than others. Mrs. Obama has a much better tool for this than I do.
But Obama offered a “secret” to young women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.“
I’m going to assume she’s using an absolute scale and not a relative scale (it is hard to be smarter than her, after all). And that does make me feel better about myself… but maybe not about like, the world?
In unrelated news, here’s something interesting from the world of data mining.
These word clouds of online language really drive home the differences in personality traits that guide our behavior.
Here are the language differences between people who are extroverted vs. introvertedhttps://t.co/U5TKOsHnMN
— Jay Van Bavel (@jayvanbavel) December 4, 2018
To learn more about this research, check out the original paper based on approximately 19 million Facebook status updates written by 136,000 participantshttps://t.co/yfASkW7UFT
— Jay Van Bavel (@jayvanbavel) December 4, 2018
*Today mine was a bit quiet; I’m currently in the I’m a genius phase of a project at work.
Seriously, I miss this man. If it did not embed correctly, go to 2:25:22 in the live feed.
(and yes, I know I stepped on Adam, but I’m running out the door and I thought we could use this )
President Barack Obama’s statements and decisions around responses to Bashar al-Assad’s use of Sarin against Syrian opposition provide a test case for three issues: Intervening in conflicts that have only indirectly to do with US interests, assumptions about the use of force that have gendered aspects, and how a president communicates. If we are to end our forever wars and avoid stumbling into more, we need to understand these issues.
Some time ago, I wrote up an analysis focusing on the gendered assumptions about the use of force and struggled with an editor over it for several months, until Jeffrey Goldberg published his interview with President Obama in The Atlantic. I had predicted some of the new information in that interview in my analysis, but of course the interview precluded the use of that analysis. So I never published it. But the fact that the interview supported my analysis has kept me watching for more information about presidential decisions in August and September of 2013.
Ben Rhodes has provided more information in an Atlantic article taken from his forthcoming book. The Obama interview is a useful companion read. In this post, I’d like to work through my three issues in relation to Rhodes’s article.
The biggest news in Rhodes’s article comes near the end.
On the flight home [probably September 6, 2013], Obama mentioned that he’d had a private conversation with Putin on the margins of the [G20] summit. For years, Obama had proposed that the United States and Russia work together to address the threat from Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile; for years, Russia had resisted. This time, Obama again suggested working together to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Putin agreed and suggested that John Kerry follow up with his Russian counterpart.
That Monday, September 9, John Kerry mused before reporters’ cameras that Syria should give up its chemical weapons. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, replied that Syria could do that. By September 12, Russia and the United States had an agreement on the subject.
That sequence seemed scripted to me at the time, and, if Rhodes’s account is accurate, we now know it was.
In the White House discussions, it appears that Rhodes played the part of what Obama called the foreign policy “blob” – the Washington conventional wisdom that military force is the first response to be considered to most foreign relations problems. Obama wanted to change that conventional wisdom. Read through that framework, Rhodes’s article is a suspenseful account of one battle in Obama’s struggle with the blob.
Even though I had misgivings about our Syria policy, I wanted to do something about the catastrophe in Syria, just as I had advocated intervention in Libya.
When bad things are happening, it’s natural to want to do something, and for people in power, that all too often translates to military force.
Yet I was also wrestling with my own creeping suspicion that Obama was right in his reluctance to intervene militarily in Syria. Maybe we couldn’t do much to direct events inside the Middle East; maybe U.S. military intervention in Syria would only make things worse.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, said that something needed to be done even if they didn’t know what would happen after they took action. That’s not good military thinking. But blob thinking is pervasive.
All this was in April 2013, before the attack on Ghouta that caused more than a thousand deaths. Assad tested Obama’s earlier warning with small attacks. Rhodes does not say what the purpose of doing something would be, perhaps to send Assad a warning. But a warning of what? Would there be more American attacks if Assad ignored the warning? Troops on the ground? This is the problem with the blobby do something.
The intelligence people were not sure enough that Assad was behind the attacks to write a finding. They gave their information to Rhodes to write an equivalent document.
The United Nations inspection team had not completed its work. Germany’s Angela Merkel felt that support needed to be built in Europe. Congressional opposition to a strike was building. There was an element of hypocrisy in Republican opposition, but it was a real difficulty for going ahead with strikes. The administration’s lawyers had concerns. The British Parliament voted against joining American strikes.
With Rhodes’s assessment in hand, John Kerry said in a speech at the State Department, “My friends, it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.” Which is why presidents have to be careful what they say. On the other hand, we are now seeing what happens when too many people do not call out wrongdoing.
Rhodes continues as the voice of the blob:
Kerry suggested that we wait another week to bring other countries into a coalition. I argued that we had to act as soon as possible—time was not our friend, and our military action was likely to change the public dynamic. Obama, who seemed increasingly focused on the factors aligning against us, pressed for the domestic and international legal basis that we could cite for taking action.
As Rhodes becomes convinced that cruise missiles would soon be hitting Syria, Obama decides to seek approval from Congress.
At some point, [Obama] said [to the National Security Council], a president alone couldn’t keep the United States on a perpetual war footing, moving from one Middle Eastern conflict to the next. In the decade since 9/11, we’d gone to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Now there was a demand that we go into Syria; next it would be Iran. “It is too easy for a president to go to war,” he said.
As Obama goes around the room to gauge opinion, Rhodes agrees with him.
“In this Syria debate,” I said, “we’ve seen a convergence of two dysfunctions in our foreign policy—Congress and the international community. They both press for action but want to avoid any share of the responsibility.” All week, I had been thinking the answer to that problem was to go ahead and do something; now I saw Obama’s reasoning for why that wouldn’t work. “At some point, we have to address that dysfunction head-on.”
Of course, we now have so many dysfunctions in government that this one has gone to the back burner.
Obama decided not to ask Congress to vote on an intervention in Syria. Then came the massive chemical attack on Ghouta and the agreement between the United States and Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.
As decisions are made about interventions elsewhere, it’s essential to think about alternatives, as Obama did, and evaluate on more criteria than the need to do something.
Image: National Security Council meeting in 2014. Rhodes is at the end of the table on the right.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.
I think some of you nerds like science fiction. I do too. Let me weave a dystopian tapestry before your wondering eyes and you can tell me what you think.
The year is 2020. There are now flying cars and cheeky robot companions. You have neither of these things. You have a slightly fancier phone and a couple of new shirts.
Your state’s primary has been pushed to the end of the season and its outcome will be pivotal. Democratic primary voters have said they will not go to Cochella. They will not go to Bonaroo. They won’t even go to Lollapalooza. The voters in the other 49 states have proclaimed that they want Paul Revere and the Raiders or The American Breed. This tortured analogy is trying to tell you they want Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.
Let’s say that Joe has stayed his course as the WWWC (Wooer of the White Working Class) candidate. Bernie has staked out the leftmost pragmatic position on all of your favorites: Healthcare, education, minimum wage, full employment.
And there you are, in the voting booth. Between Scylla and Charybdis. For whom do you pull the lever?
While you muse on this bummer episode of The Twilight Zone, please observe what I have in my other hand: It’s the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.
Charlie Pierce posted a plea for President Obama to get off the sidelines and join the Resistance full time. I urge you to go read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:
You always have been a voice for reason. Defend it now. Angrily, if you must. You always have been a voice for reconciliation. Demand it now. Harshly, if needs be. You always have been the voice of a vision of the American ideal. Fight for it now, ruthlessly, and realize that it has real enemies within this country with whom we cannot reason, who will not reconcile, and who have every intention of grinding that ideal into the dust in order to appease the unappeasable gods of their hate and their fear.
Long ago, I wrote that your capital error in politics was that you offered this country absolution without demanding penance. Look at where that’s gotten us. If you honestly believe in the America you described in Boston, then goddamn it, fight for it against the people to whom it is anathema. It’s time to join the resistance full-time, if you have the stomach for it. A madman is begetting more madmen and, frankly, I don’t know how much time we have left.
I agree with everything Pierce wrote (except the implication that giving speeches to bankers is unseemly — I don’t give a fuck about that). Pierce acknowledges in so many words that Obama owes us nothing — true! But Obama is a patriot, and most Americans trust him. He’s not a nut. He can’t be dismissed as a sore loser.
The very things that make it so unlikely that Obama would lead the resistance to Trump — his belief in institutions, his circumspection, his trust in processes — would make his open, high-profile opposition incredibly powerful.
Again, President Obama doesn’t owe us jack-shit. But could he make a difference? I believe he could. And when Trump’s own cabinet members are discussing tackling their boss to keep his mitts off the nuclear football, it’s pretty clear we’re reaching “desperate times call for desperate measures” territory.
Michelle Obama criticizes Trump administration's decision on school lunch rules: “Think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap.” pic.twitter.com/Yac03GaSfi
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 12, 2017
I could be wrong, but I always had the feeling Michelle Obama was a little less optimistic about the goodness and decency of the American people than President Obama. Maybe because they grew up in such different places. Perhaps he’s just naturally more idealistic.
Don’t get me wrong — I think they’re both idealistic as hell; people who weren’t wouldn’t have taken the path they took. And both of them experienced an uglier side of America than I ever will, so I’m not saying either was naive. But maybe she always had a more realistic view of this country than he did.
In retrospect, the way they approached the 2016 campaign sort of signaled that; PBO flatly denied Trump could win (as did I). I bet Michelle Obama knew it was possible all along. At least that’s my impression.
Anyhoo, glad to see her speaking out. Open thread!
NEW: President Obama will make his first real public appearance in Chicago on Monday, and to a familiar audience: young community organizers
— Gregory Korte (@gregorykorte) April 21, 2017
Former President Barack Obama will speak to young people at the University of Chicago on Monday, returning to the city for what will be his first public event since leaving the White House.
Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, he said.
The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at the U. of C., and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. He gave his farewell address in January in the city that launched his political career. And the discussion with students lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said…
No tickets remain for distribution to the general public, but the event will be televised. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany her husband on the trip, Lewis said.
The participants on stage with Obama are expected to range from high school to college to recent university graduates. According to Lewis, they have all been chosen and are from the Chicago area, but their names were not released Friday…
Obama has been writing his memoirs amid a succession of celebrity-filled vacations intended to allow him and the former first lady to decompress. Reports have had him as far away as Tetiaroa, a French Polynesian island once owned by Marlon Brando.
Now, the timing of the Chicago event suggests an increasing public profile for the former leader. On May 7, he will be in Boston to receive the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Profile in Courage award. It’s being called the centennial award because Kennedy was born 100 years ago.
What else is on the agenda, as we wrap up the week?
To follow up on DougJ’s post below (and to tread on
Alan ADAM* Silverman’s turf): American forces dropped a GBU-43/B bomb on a target identified as an underground ISIS complex. The weapon, officially named the “Massive Ordnance Air Blast,” or MOAB, has the probably obvious nickname: the Mother Of All Bombs.
It’s a no-doubt ginormous creation, with an effective yield of eleven tons of TNT. It’s so large it is delivered by a variant of a cargo plane, the C130, and not the kind of aircraft more commonly used to deliver battlefield weapons.
A MOAB is not the ultimate bunker-buster, those weapons designed to penetrate well-hardened targets (silos, etc.) For our Vietnam vets, the analogous ordnance is BLU 82B “Daisy Cutter.” In the open defense literature, the MOAB is at least in part a psychological weapon and in part a clear-the-ground device. How useful it actually is against a cave complex is unclear, as this description suggests:
The weapon is expected to produce a tremendous explosion that would be effective against hard-target entrances, soft-to-medium surface targets, and for anti-personnel purposes. Because of the size of the explosion, it is also effective at LZ clearance and mine and beach obstacle clearance. Injury or death to persons will be primarily caused by blast or fragmentation. It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use. The massive weapon provides a capability to perform psychological operations, attack large area targets, or hold at-risk threats hidden within tunnels or caves.
There’s at least pretty good reason to believe that the use — its the first combat deployment ever — was intended to send a message:
The strike comes just days after a Special Forces soldier was killed in Nangarhar province. Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, of 7th Special Forces Group, was killed Saturday by enemy small arms fire while his unit was conducting counter-ISIS operations, according to the Defense Department.
The fact that the U.S. dropped the MOAB in the same province where De Alencar was killed is probably not a coincidence, said Bill Roggio, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“There might have been a degree of payback here as well,” Roggio told Military Times. “There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re killing your enemy.”
The news came the same day as a report that a coalition airstrike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 fighters backed by the United States.
The U.S. statement also said, “U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike.” The U.S. military is reportedly currently assessing the damage from the bomb.
The strike in Afghanistan is part of a huge increase in the American air war in Afghanistan that started under the Obama administration, but has increased even more sharply under President Donald Trump. In the first three months of 2017, American planes have dropped over 450 bombs on targets in Afghanistan, compared to about 1,300 for all of 2016, according to U.S. Air Force statistics. The number of strikes in the first two months of the Trump administration more than doubled the number taken in the same time period under the Obama administration.
The FP journalists note that US military leaders “long bristled at the control the Obama administration exercised over small troop movements and sometimes individual targets.” Donald Trump — and this is one promise he’s kept — seems to have unleashed those commanders. The result?
Well, it seems to me that the question isn’t whether der Trumpenführer will lead us into war. It is, rather, how quickly the war that’s already bubbling will become recognized as such by the media, and the American people.
As for war aims? That’s the kicker, isn’t it. Multi-ton bombs are headline-grabbers. How effective they are, really, at counter-terrorism is, to my deeply un-expert mind…”unclear” is how I’ll put it. The current spate of bombing and micro-deployments looks like a purely ad hoc approach to whatever our tactical or strategic goals might be in Syria, Iraq and, still, Afghanistan. If there’s a logic — and I genuinely hope there is — it sure isn’t apparent to this citizen, in whose name (along w. 312 million of my closest friends) these small wars are being fought.
Over to y’all.
Image: Mary Cassatt, Maternité, 1890.
*type in haste, repent at leisure.
There’s much to be said about the still-unpossible fact that the shitgibbon is now president. But in this day one of our national experiment in test-to-destruction governance, there’s something…missing.
That would be a government. Or at least, an administration.
There are roughly 675 Federal positions that require Senate confirmation.*
There are some four thousand more jobs to be filled by direct appointment, and while many of those are minor, many are not.**
So that’s the hole. How far along is Trump to filling it?
Well, according to The Washington Post‘s tracker, Trump has so far sent 30 names to the Senate.*** None have been confirmed.
Update: James Mattis and John F. Kelly have now been confirmed for Defense and Homeland Security respectively.
By comparison in 2009, six Obama cabinet nominees were confirmed as of the inauguration, and four more followed the next week.
And even if/when all those nominated so far do make it through the Senate process, they’ll be doing — or rather not getting done all the work of the senior management of their departments.
Foreign policy? We ain’t got none, for the time being, no matter how often Trump bellows “America First!” There are no appointees at State below the secretary level. That’s not “none-confirmed.” That’s none, as in not a single deputy, assistant, or under secretary has yet been named.
We’ve got no boots on the ground either. In a break with prior custom, Trump demanded the resignation of every serving ambassador as of today. With only three as-yet unvetted, much less confirmed, ambassadorial appointments, and dozens yet to be made, the US is without its head-of-mission everywhere. While it’s true that politically appointed ambassadors have professional staffs that are still in place, the fact remains that our international representatives aren’t there.
Same goes for the national security apparatus. The odious and unfit Michael Flynn does not require Senate confirmation, so he’s on the job. He’s got no help though:
Trump has made one other NSC appointment, tapping retired Gen. Keith Kellogg to be NSC chief of staff. And some reports indicate that Matt Pottinger, a former Wall Street Journal China correspondent who joined the U.S. Marines and grew close to Flynn, may become the NSC’s director for Asia.
It ain’t going to get any better any time soon. Flynn’s in charge of filling out his org chart, and, as the same Politico article notes, he’s making a mess of it:
The NSC staffing process is being controlled closely by Trump’s national security adviser-designate, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who, unlike his past several predecessors, has no NSC experience. Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland, served as a typist and a research assistant at the NSC in the Nixon and Ford White Houses before working as a speechwriter and public affairs official in the Reagan Pentagon…
…Sources who have had contact with Trump’s national security transition team said it has been tight-lipped about its staffing. “Very few people really know anything about lower-level appointments,” said one person in the mix for a job. “Those who do know aren’t talking, and those who are talking don’t know anything.”
The same is true at Defense. James Mattis looks from this distance as the best of Trump’s cabinet appointments and the one likely to get through the confirmation process most smoothly. It could be months — or hell, who knows, more than year — before he has a full cadre of senior officials to help him run the department that spends about half of the entire Federal discretionary budget. Right now, as at State, there’s not a single deputy, assistant or under secretary appointment out there. He can have coffee with the Secretary of the Army, once that confirmation goes through, but while that’s undoubtedly a significant post, just about everyone a SecDef needs just to stem the torrent of decisions that department needs made every day isn’t even on the radar yet.
Trump’s going to redo trade deals around the world? Who’s going to do the talking? At least Commerce has a deputy secretary nominee, but again — no one else is home.
Modernize the nuclear arsenal? Governor/Secretary Perry, all by his deeply – nuclear – competent lonesome?
And so on. In sum, as Jonathan Bernstein put it at Bloomberg News:
When it comes to policy, Trump will be only a vague presence in the executive branch during the months when presidents normally have the best chance to get things done. [link in the original] It’s not news to anyone that bureaucrats are skilled in resisting the preferences of presidents. But an entrenched bureaucracy against a secretary (and in most cases, a secretary with little government experience or little policy expertise or both) and a bunch of empty desks? That’s no contest.
In some ways this is all a tiny bit of a good thing: when if we have to confront malice, may it be incompetent and all that. I don’t take too much comfort there — I’m sure the Republican Congress will do all they can to ensure that policy, once Trump’s executive branch knows where the bathrooms are, will be just as awful as can be. That it may take a bit longer to get there is a good thing, but not hugely so.
But here’s what does seem scary. Government isn’t just about doing what you want to do pro-actively, whether it be getting or taking away health care from millions. It’s also about dealing with what happens in the world while you were making other plans. And here, from emergency management to war and conflict, there’s no one minding the store. That could bite us on the ass at any time. (And, if Trump’s appointments match Bush-the-lesser’s for competence, even after he staffs up.) Politico again:
Several of Trump’s national security appointees, including Flynn, have strong military backgrounds — but limited experience in coordinating with other senior government officials in a time of crisis. McFarland last served in government more than 30 years ago. Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has no prior government experience. Nor does Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
At the moment, the team’s heavyweight is Trump’s pick for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, who led U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013.
To help the Trump team prepare for the worst, on Saturday the Obama White House held an emergency-management exercise with nearly two-dozen Trump appointees, including Flynn, McFarland, Mattis and Trump’s nominees for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, and for director of national intelligence, Sen. Dan Coats.
But that exercise focused on natural disasters, and not the type of catastrophic terrorist attack that some fear could strain an understaffed Trump team.
So: two cheers for any no-show-derived reprieves from the worst of Trumpismo. None at the thought of the Ferret Heedit Shitgibbon faced with a real-time response to more or less anything with his non-existent administration there to help.
*It’s a slightly tricky number. For one thing, since 2011, almost three hundred positions that require confirmation can get it through a streamlined process, and the number above omits those. For another, people don’t seem to be sure exactly how many appointments still have to go through the full megillah. The Washington Post says 660, for example, while Bloomberg News goes with 690. Hence my split-the-0difference number above.
**The top public affairs folks at the major departments are among those direct hires. One way to keep a lid on news is to leave the press with no one to talk to…
***That’s all fifteen members of the cabinet, three ambassadors — to China, Israel and the United Kingdom — the US Representative to the United Nations, a deputy secretary (Commerce), the Secretary of the Army,
Medicare’s assassin the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Deputy Attorney General, the Adminstrators of the EPA and the SBA, the trade rep, the director of OMB, the CIA and Office of National Intelligence Directors, and the SEC chairman.
Image: Albert Anker, The District Secretary, 1874.
Our wonderful President just pulled a fast one on the Veep he calls his brother. Class honoring class:
If you want to cut to the chase, go here:
I’m so going to miss both these guys. Or rather, come January 21, they can each take, oh, say, two weeks. Then I’m gonna need them back, full steam ahead.
The election has jangled my nerves this week. So it always does me good to hear our President speak:
Here is the video:
Michele looks lovely. Wade through the music, his speech starts at about .57
If there is any problem with this video, here is the C-SPAN link.
His dry humor just never gets old for me.