Imagine it’s going to be worse than you can imagine. :long:
The Immigration Ban is a Headfake, and We’re Falling For It Jake Fuentes https://medium.com/@jakefuentes/the-immigration-ban-is-a-headfake-and-were-falling-for-it-b8910e78f0c5#.at3ffenxh When I read about the incredibly active first week of the Trump administration, I struggle with two competing narratives about what’s really going on. The first story is simple: the administration is just doing what it said it would do, literally keeping its campaign promises. Lots of people won’t agree, but it’s playing to its base. They’re also not really good at this whole government thing yet, so implementation is shaky. The second is more sinister: the administration is deliberately testing the limits of governmental checks and balances to set up a self-serving, dangerous consolidation of power. ... I obviously can’t pretend to know the intentions of the new President, but let’s pretend the power consolidation move is what’s actually happening. In fact, let’s pretend we’re the Trump administration (not necessarily Trump himself, more likely his inner circle) for a second. Here’s our playbook: 1). We launch a series of Executive Orders in the first week. Beforehand, we identify one that our opponents will complain loudly about and will dominate the news cycle. Immigration ban. Perfect. 2). We craft the ban to be about 20% more extreme than we actually want it to be — say, let’s make the explicit decision to block green card holders from defined countries from entering the US, rather than just visa holders. We create some confusion so that we can walk back from that part later, but let’s make sure that it’s enforced to begin with. 3). We watch our opposition pour out into the streets protesting the extremes of our public measure, exactly as we intended. The protests dominate the news, but our base doesn’t watch CNN anyway. The ACLU will file motions to oppose the most extreme parts of our measure, that’s actually going to be useful too. We don’t actually care if we win, that’s why we made it more extreme than it needed to be. But in doing so, the lawsuit process will test the loyalty of those enforcing what we say. 4). While the nation’s attention is on our extreme EO, slip a few more nuanced moves through. For example, reconfigure the National Security Council so that it’s led by our inner circle. Or gut the State Department’s ability to resist more extreme moves. That will have massive benefits down the road — the NSC are the folks that authorize secret assassinations against enemies of the state, including American citizens. Almost nobody has time to analyze that move closely, and those that do can’t get coverage. 5). When the lawsuits filed by the ACLU inevitably succeed, stay silent. Don’t tell the DHS to abide by the what the federal judge says, see what they do on their own. If they capitulate to the courts, we know our power with the DHS is limited and we need to staff it with more loyal people. But if they continue enforcing our EO until we tell them not to, we know that we can completely ignore the judicial branch later on and the DHS will have our back. 6). Once the DHS has made their move, walk back from the 20% we didn’t want in the first place. Let the green card holders in, and pretend that’s what we meant all along. The protestors and the ACLU, both clamoring to display their efficacy, jump on the moment to declare a huge victory. The crowds dissipate, they have to go back to work. 7). When the dust settles, we have 100% of the Executive Order we originally wanted, we’ve tested the loyalty of a department we’ll need later on, we’ve proven we can ignore an entire branch of government, and we’ve slipped in some subtle moves that will make the next test even easier. We’ve just tested the country’s willingness to capitulate to a fascist regime.
Trial Balloon for a Coup? Yonatan Zungerhttps://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/trial-balloon-for-a-coup-e024990891d5#.d706c9hn1 News Reports (1) Priebus made two public statements today. One is that the ban on Muslims will no longer be applied to green card holders. Notably absent from his statement was anything about people with other types of visa (including long-term ones), or anything about the DHS’ power to unilaterally revoke green cards in bulk. The other was that the omission of Jews from the statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day was deliberate and is not regretted. A point of note here is that Priebus is the one making these statements, which is not normally the Chief of Staff’s job. I’ll come back to that below. (2) Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that the intent of yesterday’s order was very much a ban on Muslims, described in those words, and he was among the people Trump asked how they could find a way to do this legally. (3) CNN has a detailed story (heavily sourced) about the process by which this ban was created and announced. Notable in this is that the DHS’ lawyers objected to the order, specifically its exclusion of green card holders, as illegal, and also pressed for there to be a grace period so that people currently out of the country wouldn’t be stranded — and they were personally overruled by Bannon and Stephen Miller. Also notable is that career DHS staff, up to and including the head of Customs & Border Patrol, were kept entirely out of the loop until the order was signed. (4) The Guardian is reporting (heavily sourced) that the “mass resignations" of nearly all senior staff at the State Department on Thursday were not, in fact, resignations, but a purge ordered by the White House. As the diagram below (by Emily Roslin v Praze) shows, this leaves almost nobody in the entire senior staff of the State Department at this point. The seniormost staff of the Department of State. Blue X’s are unfilled positions; red X’s are positions which were purged. Note that the “filled" positions are not actually confirmed yet. As the Guardian points out, this has an important and likely not accidental effect: it leaves the State Department entirely unstaffed during these critical first weeks, when orders like the Muslim ban (which they would normally resist) are coming down. The article points out another point worth highlighting: “In the past, the state department has been asked to set up early foreign contacts for an incoming administration. This time however it has been bypassed, and Trump’s immediate circle of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus are making their own calls." (5) On Inauguration Day, Trump apparently filed his candidacy for 2020. Beyond being unusual, this opens up the ability for him to start accepting “campaign contributions" right away. Given that a sizable fraction of the campaign funds from the previous cycle were paid directly to the Trump organization in exchange for building leases, etc., at inflated rates, you can assume that those campaign coffers are a mechanism by which US nationals can easily give cash bribes directly to Trump. Non-US nationals can, of course, continue to use Trump’s hotels and other businesses as a way to funnel money to him. (6) Finally, I want to highlight a story that many people haven’t noticed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying" for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies. Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission." Conclusive? No. But it raises some very interesting questions for journalists to investigate. there's more.https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/trial-balloon-for-a-coup-e024990891d5#.d706c9hn1for more details: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/what-things-going-wrong-can-look-like-400f84a0cc3a#.su9fddxuu https://plus.google.com/+YonatanZunger/posts/T72eVRRHv39?sfc=false