Monday, February 13, 2017

Last Call For Public Safety Dance

Cops and firefighters across America voted for the Trump and the Party of Law And Order® and all that, and they expect Republicans to treat them well.  The problem with that is cops and firefighters are still government employees with strong public sector unions, pensions, and benefits, and Republicans will not let those remain.  Iowa is a good example of this, where first responders are finding out the hard way that they voted themselves into oblivion.

In the highly contentious battle to extinguish public worker rights, Iowa Republicans have attempted a divide-and-conquer approach to pit unions against each other. Their legislation splits public workers into two groups, one that’s “public safety workers,” and one that isn’t. The idea was to strip away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public employees, but keep most of it for police and firefighters, who are politically more difficult to go after.

It didn’t work.

Hundreds of helmeted firefighters have flooded the Statehouse in the last week and police officers and sheriffs have lined up at committee hearings to speak against it. They don’t trust that this carve-out for their jobs will last long, nor do many of them feel it’s appropriate to deny the bargaining rights they have to fellow workers who have also had them for over 40 years.

And several police officers and firefighters warned that Republicans’ plan to create a special “public safety” class for negotiations wouldn’t work in many cases. John Thomas, a police officer from Mitchellville, explained last week that some sheriff’s deputies wouldn’t get classified as “public safety” workers because there’s more jailers and clerks in the bargaining unit. The Republican bill only classifies workers as “public safety” employees if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit is made up of police or firefighters.

That has many police officer, who voted for Republicans in large numbers this year, particularly upset.

“It’s collective begging, that’s what it is,” Thomas labeled the bill at a subcommittee hearing. “Half of law enforcement folks I work with are Republicans. And we voted for Republicans because of conservative values. But we didn’t vote for Republicans to get stabbed in the back while we’re trying to dodge cars and bullets.”

Even for those who do get covered as “public safety” workers, the other changes in the bill would still have damaging consequences. Removing the provisions for “just cause” firings means public workers could get the ax at whatever whim of their boss, with no potential recourse of action. Firefighters cautioned that could lead to a chilling effect on discussions over best safety practices.

“After a fire … we sit down as a group, around a table and we talk about the fire,” explained Doug Neis, head of the Iowa Professional Fire Fighters union. “We talk about what went good, what went bad, and about how to improve. In those meetings we need to be able to be critical sometimes of our administration and the decisions they make. This bill removes just cause. Our members across the state will be fearful of speaking up and being critical when they need to … People are going to be in danger, our members and citizens.”

Iowa cops and firefighters realize their necks on next on the blocks.  I'm glad to see them fighting back, but it would have been better to see them vote Democratic too.  Maybe they will in 2018, that is if there's anything left of public-sector unions by then.

National Insecurity Council, Con't

Just over three weeks in, and there's no greater evidence that the Trump regime is descending into complete chaos than the National Security Council, which is already coming apart at the seams.

Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks.

The national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has hunkered down since investigators began looking into what, exactly, he told the Russian ambassador to the United States about the lifting of sanctions imposed in the last days of the Obama administration, and whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations. His survival in the job may hang in the balance.

Although Mr. Trump suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he was unaware of the latest questions swirling around Mr. Flynn’s dealings with Russia, aides said over the weekend in Florida — where Mr. Flynn accompanied the president and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe — that Mr. Trump was closely monitoring the reaction to Mr. Flynn’s conversations. There are transcripts of a conversation in at least one phone call, recorded by American intelligence agencies that wiretap foreign diplomats, which may determine Mr. Flynn’s future. 
Stephen Miller, the White House senior policy adviser, was circumspect on Sunday about Mr. Flynn’s future. Mr. Miller said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that possibly misleading the vice president on communications with Russia was “a sensitive matter.” Asked if Mr. Trump still had confidence in Mr. Flynn, Mr. Miller responded, “That’s a question for the president.”

This account of life inside the council — offices made up of several hundred career civil servants who advise the president on counterterrorism, foreign policy, nuclear deterrence and other issues of war and peace — is based on conversations with more than two dozen current and former council staff members and others throughout the government. All spoke on the condition that they not be quoted by name for fear of reprisals.

“It’s so far a very dysfunctional N.S.C.,” Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a telephone interview.

In a telephone conversation on Sunday afternoon, K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, said that early meetings of the council were brisker, tighter and more decisive than in the past, but she acknowledged that career officials were on edge. “Not only is this a new administration, but it is a different party, and Donald Trump was elected by people who wanted the status quo thrown out,” said Ms. McFarland, a veteran of the Reagan administration who most recently worked for Fox News. “I think it would be a mistake if we didn’t have consternation about the changes — most of the cabinet haven’t even been in government before.”

At best it's paranoia in the bunker, at worst it's outright chaos. Oh, but ladies and gents, it gets worse.  If the parts of the cabinet who haven't "been in government before" are baffled newbies, those who have are openly pushing their own dangerous agendas.

Mr. Trump’s council staff draws heavily from the military — often people who had ties to Mr. Flynn when he served as a senior military intelligence officer and then as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before he was forced out of the job. Many of the first ideas that have been floated have involved military, rather than diplomatic, initiatives.

Last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was exploring whether the Navy could intercept and board an Iranian ship to look for contraband weapons possibly headed to Houthi fighters in Yemen. The potential interdiction seemed in keeping with recent instructions from Mr. Trump, reinforced in meetings with Mr. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, to crack down on Iran’s support of terrorism.

But the ship was in international waters in the Arabian Sea, according to two officials. Mr. Mattis ultimately decided to set the operation aside, at least for now. White House officials said that was because news of the impending operation leaked, a threat to security that has helped fuel the move for the insider threat program. But others doubt whether there was enough basis in international law, and wondered what would happen if, in the early days of an administration that has already seen one botched military action in Yemen, American forces were suddenly in a firefight with the Iranian Navy.

I guarantee you this part is coming soon.  I don't want to hear about war with Russia (which precisely zero people want) when the Trump regime badly, badly wants a shooting war with Iran.  And these idiots are going to make it happen.

The Paper Chase

And the Trump regime claims their first head at a major newspaper: Op-ed editor Mark Lasswell of The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial features editor has left the paper following tensions over the section drifting in a pro-Donald Trump direction.

News of the departure of Mark Lasswell, who edited op-eds for the Journal, comes as the paper’s internal tensions over Trump have begun to spill into public view. The reliably hawkish, pro-trade, small government conservative Journal op-ed page has been challenged by the rise of the populist, nationalist Trump movement. The Journal’s opinion pages have been a showcase for the intra-right divide over Trump, featuring Trump-sympathetic writers like Bill McGurn alongside anti-Trump columnists such as Bret Stephens. Lasswell appears to be a casualty of that divide, and his dismissal a victory for the pro-Trump faction on the editorial staff.

According to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation, Lasswell was in effect phased out over a period of months from the paper. He took a book leave during the election following conflict with his boss Paul Gigot, the editorial page director, about the extent to which the page should run material sympathetic to Trump.

"We don't talk about internal personnel or editorial deliberations, but suffice to say your information is false in multiple respects,” Gigot said in a statement. “We appreciate Mark Lasswell's contributions to the Journal and wish him well. The Journal editorial page's coverage of Donald Trump speaks for itself, including numerous op-eds from outside contributors and staff editorials pro and con throughout the campaign and now as President. That coverage will continue.” A Wall Street Journal spokesperson declined to identify any false information.

More will follow.  Again, it will be the "Never Trump" forces on the right cleansed first.  That battle is going to be rough and judging by the time frame, quick in its brutality.

So we'll see who's next, but I seriously doubt he will be the last.
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