The bureaucrats are revolting

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The bureaucrats are revolting
January 31st, 2017
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The bureaucrats are revolting

Global Chaos


Global Chaos: That's what the New York Times' Michael Shear and Ron Nixon say has been unleashed by Trump's executive order banning citizens from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. Anyone who visited JFK Airport (or Twitter) over the weekend, knows their assessment is pretty spot-on.

But even more chaotic, perhaps, is the environment at the White House post-Trump—a chaos that's only been worsened by the president's itchy executive order fingers.

"This is insane," replied political writer J.R. Hennessy to the revelation that when Homeland Security secretary John Kelly spoke with other legal experts and officials who had not been asked to review the executive order, someone turned on the TV to discover that “The president is signing the executive order that we’re discussing.”

"Insane" doesn't go far enough for Politico's Eric Geller, who screencapped the same section of the Times piece that Hennessy did, but wrote, "This is BONKERS AF oh my god."

Elsewhere, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, opted for the more sober but no less devastating "Breathtaking negligence" to describe Trump's process for signing the order..

"Wherever you fall [on the] political spectrum, hard to be anything but appalled by story of how immigration order came about," tweets former Senior Aide to President Obama, David Axelrod.

And it's not just protesters and journalists upset with the travel ban. LAWFARE reports that "Numerous Foreign Service officers and other diplomats have drafted a dissent memo expressing opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order."

Here's Geller again: "Wow. State Dept dissent memo on Muslim ban: 'We are better than this ban.' Hundreds of FSOs expected to sign."

The voters may have spoken, as Trump is fond of saying. But it might not matter if, as KETV's David Earl puts it, "The bureaucrats are revolting."

Meanwhile, a lot of posts are popping up on social media arguing that what Trump's done isn't so different from orders signed by President Obama and even the U.S.'s erstwhile-peanut-farmer-in-chief Jimmy Carter. But according to the Washington Post's Juliet Ellperin, Obama rejects these comparisons, offering words of encouragement to protesters. Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis also told the outlet, "The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."

Seems like a pretty straight-forward anti-discrimination message with little to unpack, right? But the piece's writer, Ellperin, explains its understated significance in a tweet:

"Obama said he would only comment on Trump when US's 'core values may be at stake.' It took him 10 days to speak out."

Moving on...

...to Trump's much-anticipated/dreaded decision on who will replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many are throwing out guesses as to who might take the seat of the conservative jurist who, depending on who you ask, was either a brilliant intellectual gadfly or an angry hypocritical blowhard whose single-minded enmity toward Obama—and love of Internet chain mail vernacular—reminds you of that Twitter account your uncle made so he could follow Sean Hannity and then forget about ten days later.

So who will it be? Could it be the Heritage Foundation's John Malcolm? Transgender rights opponent Luther Strange? (My money's on Dan Aykroyd's grotesque judge from the unwatchable/can't-look-away Chevy Chase vehicle "Nothing But Trouble" but we'll see)

Who cares! Or at least that's what some Democrats in Congress are saying, according to Politico's Burgess Everett, who reports that Senate Democrats plan to filibuster Trump's Supreme Court nominee no matter who it is. (The only exception? Obama's favored pick, Merrick Garland). London School of Economics professor and recent VICE contributor Brian Klass' tweets are cold as ice on the matter ("Paul Ryan has lost his spine. And Democrats seem to have found theirs") while activist and blogger Michelle Kinsey Bruns spits hot fire on the GOP—a party that last year, in a brazen breach of protocol and tradition, stalled Obama's SCOTUS pick for an extraordinary period of time until he was out of office. "YES. They have no right to this seat," Bruns says. "It was for Obama to fill—period. @SenateDems, don't you give an inch on this."

Stunning news



That's NPR's Rickey Bevington description of a new The Wall Street Journal piece by James V. Grimaldi revealing that Tom Price, Trump's nominee to head up the Health and Human Services department, received "privileged, discounted offer on biomedical stock." (as you might expect, "Price is Right" puns keep continuing to abound on Twitter). ProPublica's Alec McGillis wonders glibly, "How did a congressman getting a discount on a stock buy that netted him ~$300K escape notice in vetting? Oh, right." (The "Oh, right" refers to McGillis' and others' opinion that the vetting of Trump's appointees wasn't exactly very robust compared to previous administrations' appointees'). 

One huge story from the weekend that's still sending shockwaves through digital and physical networks of politicians, bureaucrats, military personnel, journalists, the intelligence community, and all-around concerned citizens is the upsetting (to many) news that top Trump adviser Steve Bannon—whose biggest claim prior to the Trump presidency was the work he did "mainstreaming white nationalism," in the words of Vox's Zach Beauchamp, at the website Breitbart—will now have a full seat on the National Security Council's "principals committee" while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence have been "downgraded" and are no longer slated to attend every meeting. While some like the Washington Post's Ashley Parker are focused on the "Nice Bannon v Flynn palace intrigue in Trumpworld" revealed in the piece, others are simply appalled.

"Steve Bannon is a white supremacist. His presence in the White House & on National Security Council is a disgrace," tweets Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated.

And still others, like former National Security Adviser under Obama, Susan Rice, are just bewildered. Rice tweeted, "This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?"

Watercooler
Question of the Day

Friday, we asked: Before he takes on the role of Legion in the FX series, Dan Stevens played a pot-smoking, cross-dressing, stay-at-home dad in which web series?

Answer: High Maintenance

This time, congrats to Craig Pittman and Charlotte LoBuono.

Your question of the day for today is… Lots of people are making nuclear doomsday prognostications since Trump took over as President of the United States. And despite the horrific nature of these potential scenarios, they've served as fodder for some of the best novels and films of the 20th century, including Fail-Safe, The Watchmen and, of course, Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. (Maybe the Trump era will also bring about a resurgence in great nuclear war films... as long as it doesn't also bring about a resurgence in, uh, nuclear war).

The ending to Dr. Strangelove (I won't spoil it) is one of the most iconic in film history. But it almost got left on the cutting room floor in favor of an alternate ending set in the War Room that never made the final cut. What conflict—one that's considerably less dire than nuclear war—transpires in the alternate ending?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MuckRack. We’ll announce the winners tomorrow!

Don’t forget - if you change your job in journalism or move to a different news organization, be sure to email us (hello [at] muckrack [dot] com) so we can reflect your new title. News job changes only, please! Thanks!
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