Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Last Call For Under New Mismanagement

The wipeout of the House GOP was always going to be followed by a wipeout of Trump cabinet members and other senior officials.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is already gone, fired by Trump and replaced by a crony who will tell Dear Leader what he wants and let the courts figure it out, and WH counsel Don McGahn left in October.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are expected to be gone in the next few weeks, Zinke and Ross are guaranteed to face House Democratic investigations over corruption and misuse of funds, so Trump will jettison them. Kelly has long been rumored to want out, and he will, just as soon as he's done being Trump's hatchet man and firing everyone else. 

The next person on that list however may be current Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who is not expected to survive the month.

President Trump has told advisers he has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner, according to five current and former White House officials.

Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.

The announcement could come as soon as this week, three of these officials said.

Trump has changed his mind on key personnel decisions before, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say. But Kelly’s future in the administration also is shaky, according to three White House officials.

DHS officials who work with Nielsen declined to address her potential departure Monday. “The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement.

Nielsen has been reluctant to leave the administration before reaching the one-year mark as secretary on Dec. 6, but she has been unhappy in the job for several months, according to colleagues. Trump has berated her during Cabinet meetings, belittled her to other White House staff and tagged her months ago as a “Bushie,” a reference to her previous service under President George W. Bush and meant to cast suspicion on her loyalty.
When Nielsen has tried to explain the laws and regulations that prevent the government from drastically curtailing immigration or closing the border with Mexico, as Trump has suggested, the president has grown impatient and frustrated, aides said. 

It's that last part there that should concern everyone.  Nielsen was Kelly's personal choice for the position after Kelly left DHS to become WH Chief of Staff, and she dared to tell Trump "no" when it came to shutting down the border completely and mass deporting people.

Expect her replacement to be much more sanguine about kids in cages in camps, tens of thousands in ICE custody becoming hundreds of thousands, and more troops on the southern border because that will be the job description.

Sinema Paradiso, Or A Flake Bi-Product

The last batch of mail-in votes counted in Arizona's Senate race put Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema up by almost 40,000 votes, nearly two percentage points, the AP called the race, and GOP Rep. Martha McSally has conceded.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has made history by becoming the first woman elected to represent Arizona in the Senate. She defeated Republican Rep. Martha McSally after several days of ballot counting.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sinema led McSally 50 percent to 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race six days after Election Day.

Sinema’s victory also marks the first time in 30 years that a Democrat has won a Senate seat in Arizona.

The race’s results were unknown for several days due to roughly 500,000 votes, mostly from Maricopa County, that still had to be counted after Election Day.

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Regan explained in a statementthat vote tabulation can take days due to security measures and the high volume of early vote ballots dropped off at polling places on Election Day. Officials must verify someone who turned in an early ballot on Election Day did not also mistakenly vote in person at the polling place.

Sinema’s historic win could appear surprising in a state where women had early success running for statewide office. But long-serving male senators kept Senate seats elusive, until the two women faced off this year to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

Don't feel bad for McSally.  She'll more than likely be joining Sinema in the Senate as Jon Kyl, who is holding John McCain's seat, is largely expected to step aside and allow GOP Gov. Doug Ducey to name her to the position.

After John McCain's passing in August, the responsibility fell to Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to appoint an interim replacement for the beloved senator in Washington. Ducey made a safe choice in former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who retired from office in 2013. Kyl, however, only committed to serve in the role until early January, after which Ducey will once again have to choose a replacement until Arizonans make their choice to fill the seat in a 2020 special election.

So who are the potential candidates? There was speculation over the summer that Ducey might appoint his own chief of staff to the role or even Cindy McCain -- the Arizona senator's widow. But should Sinema eek out a win after ballot counting is completed, McSally will be out of a job, having vacated her seat in Congress to campaign.

If Ducey decides to appoint McSally, that could leave both candidates serving in the Senate until at least 2020. After that, the Republican appointee will have to decide whether or not to run in the special election.

Ducey has left no indication so far about his intentions for the appointment, but McSally's name certainly isn't out of the picture.

It's only a matter of who Ducey picks, and McSally just became the frontrunner, naturally she conceded gracefully.  She knows she doesn't have to fight for a Senate seat.

Stay tuned.

The Pyongyang Shuffle

Looks like Kim Jong Un has left Donald Trump an early Thanksgiving gift, and of course Tang the Conqueror looks like a giant turkey as North Korea's suddenly revealed new missile bases are now in play.

North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.

The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.

“We are in no rush,” Mr. Trump said of talks with the North at a news conference on Wednesday, after Republicans lost control of the House. “The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.”

His statement was true in just one sense. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to the halt of missile flight tests, which have not occurred in nearly a year. But American intelligence officials say that the North’s production of nuclear material, of new nuclear weapons and of missiles that can be placed on mobile launchers and hidden in mountains at the secret bases has continued.

And the sanctions are collapsing, in part because North Korea has leveraged its new, softer-sounding relationship with Washington, and its stated commitment to eventual denuclearization, to resume trade with Russia and China.

Moreover, an American program to track those mobile missiles with a new generation of small, inexpensive satellites, disclosed by The New York Times more than a year ago, is stalled. The Pentagon once hoped to have the first satellites over North Korea by now, giving it early warning if the mobile missiles are rolled out of mountain tunnels and prepared for launch.

But because of a series of budget and bureaucratic disputes, the early warning system, begun by the Obama administration and handed off to the Trump administration, has yet to go into operation. Current and former officials, who said they could not publicly discuss the program because it is heavily classified, said there was still hope of launching the satellites, but they offered no timeline.

The secret ballistic missile bases were identified in a detailed study published Monday by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a major think tank in Washington. 

In other words, Trump was outmaneuvered completely by North Korea, and he now looks more like a fool.  Kim has gotten everything he could want: broken sanctions, US legitimacy, trade with Russia and China, and total diplomatic victory over the United States.

Democrats should absolutely hold hearings on Trump's abject failure, but there really isn't much to discuss here: Trump is simply a moron, and so are all the people working for him.


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