Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Last Call For The Resistance Department

Funny thing about Trump going on camera and online to say he's going to fire tens of thousands of federal employees and silence tens of thousands more: said federal employees aren't exactly going to stand around and just accept that with a smile.

Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make. 
And a few government workers are pushing back more openly, incurring the wrath of a White House that, as press secretary Sean Spicer said this week about dissenters at the State Department, sends a clear message that they “should either get with the program, or they can go.” 
At a church in Columbia Heights last weekend, dozens of federal workers attended a support group for civil servants seeking a forumto discuss their opposition to the Trump administration. And 180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop next weekend, where experts will offer advice on workers’ rights and how they can express civil disobedience. 
At the Justice Department, an employee in the division that administers grants to nonprofits fighting domestic violence and researching sex crimes said he and his colleagues have been planning to slow their work and to file complaints with the inspector general’s office if they are asked to shift grants away from their mission. 
“You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Through leaks to news organizations and internal complaints, he said, “people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable.” 
The resistance is so early, so widespread and so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals by workers to do their jobs. 
Asked whether federal workers are dissenting in ways that go beyond previous party changes in the White House, Tom Malinow­ski, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, sarcastically: “Is it unusual? . . . There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security. That happens all the time. It’s totally usual. Nothing to worry about.”

The thing with a federal bureaucracy designed to continue working past any single President is that most of the time it works as intended, and it doesn't turn on a dime.  Federal employees have families and pay taxes and grocery shop and go to worship and drop their kids off at school just like anyone else with a job.  There's also a lot of them, although the federal workforce as a percentage of the US population is actually under 2% these days, the lowest it has been in decades.

Still, given the more than 320 million Americans these days, that's still a lot of people, and they know how to fight from within the system.

The big weapon is leaks, and yes, before you go all "well, actually" on me I know the Obama administration took a very dim view of whisteblowers and leaks in general.  They also paid for it with massive espionage and data breaches.

I don't think Trump will be any better, and a whole lot more people are going to be motivated to leak frankly.  We're already seeing that with draft executive orders and other inside information hitting journalist's mailboxes daily at this point, and it's been less than two weeks.

Bottom line is to expect more leaks. A lot more.

Trump's Warren Terrah

From all reports it looks like Trump's first significant military action as President was ordering a raid in Yemen to get AQAP bad guys, and the raid went south in a New York minute.

Nawar Anwar Al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of former al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a joint American-UAE raid against the terror group Sunday, according to the girl's family. 
Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who directed attacks against the US, was killed in a targeted drone strike in 2011. 
Multiple US officials told CNN that an assessment of civilian casualties is still ongoing and that there was no hard intelligence yet to suggest that al-Awlaki's daughter was killed. 
The raid also resulted in the death of US Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens who was fatally wounded in a firefight that saw three other US service members wounded and 14 al Qaeda fighters killed. 
Initial reports conducted by the elite special operations force that carried out the mission found no evidence of civilian casualties, but a US official told CNN that subsequent intelligence led the military to believe that there was a high likelihood that some civilians were killed. 
The official added that during the gun battle, al Qaeda fighters took up firing positions on the roof of a nearby building and that the US troops came under fire, calling in an airstrike against the building which likely led to the civilian casualties. 
The raid encountered more problems when an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft was forced to undergo a "hard landing" which resulted in three additional service members being injured. The military opted to destroy the aircraft in an airstrike to prevent it falling into enemy hands. 
It was the first counterterrorism operation approved by President Donald Trump though US officials note that given the complexity of the raid, planning for the mission began during the administration of Barack Obama. 

An 8-year-old dead, a SEAL killed in combat, and a lost Osprey.  Had this happened as Hillary Clinton's first military order, we'd have House Republicans screaming about a second Benghazi investigation and vowing impeachment proceedings.

Instead, this story has effectively vanished.  Ask yourself why that is.

And Our Chief Export Is Pain

The Trump administration is considering a plan to weed out would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, as well as to deport — when possible — immigrants already living in the United States who depend on taxpayer help, according to a draft executive order obtained by The Washington Post. 
A second draft order under consideration calls for a substantial shake up in the system through which the United States administers immigrant and nonimmigrant visas overall, with the aim of tightly controlling who enters the country, and who can enter the workforce, and to reduce the social services burden on U.S. taxpayers. 
The drafts are circulating among administration officials, and it is unclear whether President Trump has decided to move forward with them or when he might sign them if he does decide to put them in place. The White House would not confirm or deny the authenticity of the orders, and White House officials did not respond to requests for comment about the drafts on Monday and Tuesday.

If this is true, then bad, bad times are coming.

The administration would be seeking to “deny admission to any alien who is likely to become a public charge” and develop standards for “determining” whether an immigrant can be deported after five years if that person receives a certain amount of public assistance, including Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid. 
The second order, titled “Executive Order on Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs” calls for “eliminating” the “jobs magnet” that is driving illegal immigration to the United States, according to a copy obtained by The Post. The order would rescind any work visa provisions for foreign nationals found not to be in “the national interest” or in violation of U.S. immigration laws.

It weighs how to make America’s immigration program “more merit based,” calls for site visits at companies that employ foreign workers, and tasks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with producing a report twice a year on the total number of foreign-born people — not just nonimmigrant visa holders — who are authorized to work in the United States.

It also instructs DHS and the State Department to submit a report on “the steps they are taking to combat the birth tourism phenomenon,” meaning instances in which noncitizens come to the United States to have children, who in turn gain citizenship, a popular conservative refrain but one that is dismissed by immigration experts as a relatively minor problem. 
Together, the orders would aim to give U.S. citizens priority in the job market from top to bottom by preventing immigrants from taking jobs and pushing some immigrants out of jobs they currently have. 
“The unlawful employment of aliens has had a devastating impact on the wages and jobs of American workers, especially low-skilled, teenage, and African American and Hispanic workers,” the draft order says.

If that last part sounds creepy, it's because "We have to get rid of them, they're taking your jobs" was used before about, oh, say 80 years ago by an unemployed Austrian painter who went into German politics.

Exit question:  Who exactly would enforce all this with Trump's "freeze" on federal hiring?  Because it sure sounds to me like the regime would need a whole hell of a lot of bodies to crack heads, raid houses, and roll up on businesses.  Think "a national version of Joe Arpaio's deputy posse".  You know, the guy currently facing all kinds of charges for failing to heed civil rights laws in his zeal for rounding up brown people.

And if a screaming populist demagogue who is demonizing a segment of the population for removal and wants legal reasons to create a force with the purpose of removing that segment doesn't get your hackles up, then you're way past gone.  These are actual Brownshirts, guys.  (Not to be confused with Browncoats).

This is moving remarkably quickly.  Understand that this is moving so fast because it's not only a top priority of Trump, but of the actual man running the White House: Steve Bannon, who has long been virulently anti-immigrant.  And again, the difference is Bannon's not just gunning for undocumented folks, he wants to drastically reduce legal immigrants into the country as well.

On a March 2016 episode, Bannon said that restoring sovereignty meant reducing immigration. In his radio shows, he criticized the federal H-1B visa programs that permit U.S. companies to fill technical positions with workers from overseas. 
The “progressive plutocrats in Silicon Valley,” Bannon said, want unlimited ability to go around the world and bring people back to the United States. “Engineering schools,” Bannon said, “are all full of people from South Asia, and East Asia. . . . They’ve come in here to take these jobs.” Meanwhile, Bannon said, American students “can’t get engineering degrees; they can’t get into these graduate schools because they are all foreign students. When they come out, they can’t get a job.” 
Don’t we have a problem with legal immigration?” asked Bannon repeatedly. 
Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?” he said, meaning the problem of native-born Americans being unable to find jobs and rising wages. 
In another show, Bannon had complained to Trump that so many Silicon Valley chief executives were South Asian or Asian. This was a rare time when Trump — normally receptive to Bannon’s ideas on-air — pushed back. “I still want people to come in,” Trump said. “But I want them to go through the process.”

There's no reason to believe that Bannon won't get his way on this, either.

America has a long history of letting immigrants in, but also of treating those immigrants like garbage. Scapegoating immigrants has long been the hallmark of America's nationalist movement. History teaches us these movements almost always become violent in the end.  We're entering another such period now, and there's no reason to believe that it will go any better this time around.

In fact, there's every reason to believe that it's going to get very bloody, and quickly.


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