Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, January 26th, 2017.


The Trumpettes: Incompetence on Steroids

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Trump Maladministration

I go out for an afternoon and all hell breaks loose. Today we learned that the entire senior level of management officials at the State Department resigned/were fired yesterday. And  I see that Trump plans to build his wall by making tomatoes unaffordable.

Initial reports were that four senior State Department officials resigned yesterday, but now two of them are saying they were fired. But I’ll come back to that. This is from Josh Rogin at WaPo:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

However, CNN reported this afternoon that these officials were fired. Reading between the lines of the CNN report, it appears these officials are presidential appointees, and as is customary they offered resignations at the beginning of a new administration. The normal thing is for the new Administration to ask the old hands to stay on, either indefinitely or until new people could be appointed. But The Trumpettes informed these officials they were out of a job as of yesterday, which is not the normal procedure. Back to Rogin:

In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

CNN reported,

The firings leave a huge management hole at the State Department, with a combined 150 years of institutional experience among all of the named officials. The second official echoed that the move appeared to be an effort by the new administration to “clean house” among the State Department’s top leadership.

The State Department is now where FEMA was when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Brilliant.

Now, on to the tomatoes

A deep rift opened Thursday between the United States and its southern neighbor as the Trump administration pressed forward with a plan for a giant border wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it, possibly through a U.S. tax on imports.

President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday called off a trip to Washington after restating that Mexico would not finance the wall. Hours later, Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, said the wall could be funded by a 20 percent import tax on goods from Mexico.

Immediately the Dallas Morning News retorted,

The White House floated the idea Thursday of imposing a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, arguing that would be more than enough to pay for a controversial border wall.

Such a tariff on goods and services would be paid by U.S. consumers and businesses — people buying anything from avocados and tequila to automobiles. Energy companies, big retailers and other major business interests oppose such an import tax, arguing that it would drive up prices in the United States, curb demand, and erode profits.

We import tons of stuff from Mexico, but especially note that Mexico is America’s second biggest supplier of fruits and vegetables. Trump’s Folly could raise the price of food out of sight.

Estimates are that the wall easily could cost $25 billion to build. That money won’t be paid by Mexico. If Trump gets his way, it will be paid by American consumers. #TrumpsFolly

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The Truth About Chicago

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Trump Maladministration

When he is not obsessing about his own glory, Donald Trump has been observed to briefly notice issues other than himself. One of these is violence in Chicago.

The city of Chicago is much beloved by conservatives as an example of why big inner city areas run by Democratic mayors are bad. Chicago’s fabled gun violence not only proves (to wingnuts) that gun control causes more shootings, black-on-black homicides provide them with cover (in their minds) for their raging racism. And, you know, that Democratic mayor doesn’t know how to get people under control.

Blah blah blah.

But never fear; El Comandante Trump thinks this is easily fixable.

President Trump again decried the levels of bloodshed in Chicago during a televised interview this week, saying that the problem could be easily solved without elaborating on what he meant. Trump, in his first major television interview since moving into the White House, said that police and city officials were “not doing the job” and suggested the problem was that they were “being overly political correct.”

Gun violence is the result of too much politeness?

Trump thrust himself back into the discussion of Chicago’s violence — which has spiked recently, as homicides last year reached a two-decade high — with a tweet Tuesday night threatening to “send in the Feds” if city officials were unable to stem the killings.

Leading to this and similar tweets:

Trump’s restraint is admirable. I figured he’d have sent troops into Brooklyn already, just because they don’t like his hair.

Chicago does have a problem with violent crime. Chicago had more homicides in 2016  than did New York City and Los Angeles combined, which is a seriously bad accomplishment.

However, that doesn’t make Chicago the most dangerous city in the U.S. The most dangerous city in the U.S. is St. Louis. According to FBI data for 2014, St. Louis has a homicide rate of just about 50 murdered people per 100,000 people annually. Chicago’s murder rate is considerably lower; 15 homicide victims per 100,000 people annually. Chicago has more homicides than St. Louis because its population is a great deal larger. But this means that you are in much more danger of being murdered in St. Louis than you are in Chicago.

(The 2015 data show Baltimore overtaking St. Louis in murders, I understand, but I haven’t found more recent data in an easily digestible form.)

Other cities in which your odds of being murdered are higher than Chicago’s include Washington, DC (16/100,000), Miami, Florida (19/100,000) and Mike Pence’s Indianapolis, Indiana (15.8/100,000).

Los Angeles has a homicide rate of 6.7 per  100,000 people. And New York City’s homicide rate is about 4 per 100,000 people, among the lowest in the nation for an urban area. Note that both NYC and LA have Democratic mayors and among the nation’s stricter gun control laws, especially NYC.

It would take a closer analysis than I have time to even guess why some cities are so much more violent than others, but one suspects political correctness is not a major factor.

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