Friday, August 16, 2019

Last Call For The Purge: Trump Edition

The State Department's inspector general dropped a bombshell report this week finding the department's international affairs bureau was a disaster where career staffers found insufficiently loyal to Dear Leader Trump were targeted for harassment and even retaliatory action.

A report by the State Department’s inspector general concludes that leadership of a leading department bureau mistreated and harassed staffers, accused them of political disloyalty to the Trump administration, and retaliated against them.

In response to repeated counseling by more senior State officials that he address staff concerns, the report concluded, Kevin Moley, assistant secretary for international affairs, “did not take significant action.”

The report, released Thursday, is a sweeping condemnation of Moley and more specifically of his former senior adviser, Mari Stull. A former lobbyist and consultant for international food and agriculture interests, Stull left the department in January following press reports that, among other things, she had compiled a list of staffers deemed insufficiently loyal to the Trump administration.
The 30-page report — based on what it said were interviews with dozens of current and former employees, as well as documents — chronicled numerous episodes of Stull berating and belittling employees, and Moley’s repeated failure to deal with complaints reported to him.

Both Stull and Moley, it said, “frequently berated employees, raised their voices, and generally engaged in unprofessional behavior toward staff,” and reportedly moved to retaliate against those who had held their jobs under the previous administration.

Stull, it said, referred to some employees as “Obama holdovers,” “traitors,” or “disloyal,” and accused some of being part of the “Deep State” and the “swamp” — terms that President Trump has used to refer to federal employees. All of those so accused, the report said, were career staffers and not political appointees.

Some staffers said Moley accused them of “undermining the President’s agenda,” the report said.

In a response appended to the report, Moley said he had no recollection of much of the counseling, and said the description of his behavior with employees “does not represent the person I am or have ever been.” He said accounts of the departure of two senior bureau officials was inaccurate, and that he had not witnessed Stull’s reported behavior.

Stull, the report said, declined to speak to investigators.

Recommendations included in the report advised Undersecretary of Political Affairs David Hale, who supervises the international affairs bureau, to develop a “corrective action plan to address the leadership and management deficiencies,” and to consider other action, “including disciplinary action.”

The State Department response, contained in the report and repeated Thursday by a Department spokesman, accepted the recommendations. Noting that Stull was “no longer with the Department,” it said that “with regard to the second employee,” Moley, it would submit a “corrective action plan” within 60 days.

A slap on the wrist at best.

You serve at the pleasure of Dear Leader Trump.  This government and this country now exists to benefit him.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

Congressional Republicans are in their home districts for the August recess, avoiding town hall meetings and questions about Trump, but they have been given their talking points on mass shooters and white nationalism just the same, and they are absolutely disgusting lies.

Congressional Republicans recently circulated talking points on gun violence that falsely described the El Paso massacre and other mass shootings as “violence from the left.”

A document obtained by the Tampa Bay Times and sent by House Republicans provides a framework for how to respond to anticipated questions like, “Why won’t you pass legislation to close the ‘gun show loophole’ in federal law?” and “Why shouldn’t we ban high-capacity magazines?" The answers are boilerplate Republican arguments against tougher gun restrictions.

But it also included this question: “Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?” The suggested response is to steer the conversation away from white nationalism to an argument that implies both sides are to blame.

“White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form," the document said. “We also can’t excuse violence from the left such as the El Paso shooter, the recent Colorado shooters, the Congressional baseball shooter, Congresswoman Giffords’ shooter and Antifa."

Yep.  It's the "left's" fault!

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, included the talking points in a newsletter that he emailed this week to his Florida constituents. His spokeswoman Summer Robertson said they were “provided by the House Republican Conference," the caucus arm in charge of devising messaging strategy for its members. The conference’s internal strategies are not usually made public.

Robertson said that the inclusion of El Paso was a mistake. It was supposed to say Dayton, the site of a second mass shooting 13 hours later where nine people died.

The El Paso shooter is alleged to have intentionally targeted Mexicans when he killed 22 people at a Walmart on the Texas-Mexico border on Aug. 3. In a manifesto published just before the attack he expressed white nationalist and anti-immigrant beliefs, using language that echoed President Donald Trump’s characterizations of illegal immigration.

The Dayton Daily News reported that the shooter in Ohio had attended a protest of a Ku Klux Klan rally and other outlets have reported his political leanings aligned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist. The motivations of the Dayton shooters killing spree, though, are less clear. He reportedly was obsessed with violence and once made a list of girls he wanted to kill. He fatally wounded his sister in the rampage.

The GOP conference talking points ascribed other shootings as leftist violence despite ambiguous, if not contradictory, evidence. The shooter that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, a Democrat, was paranoid about government and obsessed with the Arizona Congresswoman, a law enforcement investigation found. His political persuasions were mixed and did not appear to be a factor. Nor does it seem that the May shooters at a Colorado high school — both teenagers and bullied students — were motivated by politics.

But that sure doesn't matter to Republicans who just want to blow smoke up your ass in order to have yet another excuse to avoid anything on gun safety or background check legislation that the vast majority of American adults want to see passed.

Just another day in Gunmerica.

It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

As I've said on multiple occasions, like most malignant narcissists, Donald Trump views the world through the lens of loyalty.  Specifically, people who please him are good, and people who oppose him are vermin to be crushed.  The Washington Post lists a pile of instances where Trump's penchant for petty vengeance has driven national and international policy.

By pressuring the Israeli government to bar entry by two members of Congress, President Trump once again used the power and platform of his office to punish his political rivals.

It’s a pattern that has intensified during the first two and a half years of Trump’s presidency, as he has increasingly governed to the tune of his grievances.

The president has grounded a military jet set for use by the Democratic House speaker, yanked a security clearance from a former CIA director critical of him, threatened to withhold disaster aid from states led by Democrats, pushed to reopen a criminal investigation targeting Hillary Clinton and publicly called for federal action to punish technology and media companies he views as biased against him.

Taken as a whole, Trump’s use of political power to pursue personal vendettas is unprecedented in modern history, said Matthew Dallek, a political historian who teaches at George Washington University.

“It’s both a sign of deep insecurity on his part and also just a litany of abuse of power,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really has done it as consistently or as viciously as Trump has. No one has used the power of the bully pulpit in such a public way.”

The Post needs to batten down the hatches for another round of FAKE NEWS and ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE. But at what point does Trump cross the line from Petty vindictiveness to full-blown abuse of executive power?

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III documented several instances in which Trump sought to pressure the Department of Justice to pursue a criminal investigation into his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server. In his report, Mueller found that Trump encouraged then-attorney general Jeff Sessions in 2017 to reverse his recusal from any Clinton-related matters to pursue new charges.

The FBI closed its investigation into Clinton’s email practices in 2016 without charges, a decision Trump pledged as a candidate to reverse. Sessions did not reverse his recusal but did assign the U.S. attorney in Utah, John Huber, to examine the Clinton investigation. Trump fired Sessions in November.

Democrats, some of whom have called for Trump’s impeachment, have said his attempts to have Clinton prosecuted represent a clear example of abuse of power.

Trump has also wielded his authority over the federal budget to intervene in spending decisions related to various natural disasters. He has publicly shown disdain toward disaster-stricken states where Democrats outnumber Republicans, and in some cases threatened to withhold disaster funding from them.

As historic wildfires ravaged California earlier this year, Trump lamented the amount of money the federal government was spending to provide relief.

I fully expect Democrats, when that impeachment rocket takes off, will nails Trump the hardest on his abuses of power.  And Trump has nobody but himself to blame for making them so visible and so easy to document.


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