Saturday, July 29, 2017

General Misery

I have been railing against Trump's reliance on retired and active (McMaster) generals even longer than this administration has been around, and now Trump has named John Kelly Chief of Staff.  I am not a fan of this move as I am not a fan of too many generals nor am I a fan of Kelly. 

For the latter: Kelly has been pretty enthusiastic in enforcing Trump's anti-immigrant efforts even when the guidance is vague or likely illegal (see Sally Yates!). He could have sought clarifications before implementing or implemented this stuff more humanely (see another Marine general role model--Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dunford).  I really don't know Kelly very well, but the fact that Trump seems to love him implicates him in my view, given what Trump loves--mindless loyalty. 

Back to the theme of too many generals, what is it about Kelly and retired generals that Trump likes so much?  Is it his insecurity which leads to too much admiration for folks in uniform?  Is Trump in love with the authority they radiate?  Is it that they obey so very well and leak so very little? Is it that Trump really does like authoritarian rule and generals are usually handy for that?  Of course, a key factor is that Trump's circle of trust is very narrow, so he is going to pick folks who have already been admitted rather than look wider.  This is not so unusual for a chief of staff job. 

The big question is who is the next head of the Department of Homeland Security?  Is it an effort to move Sessions from Justice? Rudy Guliani? I have no idea.  After all, I didn't bet on Priebus getting booted even though the odds were not bad.  All I know is that the choice will be awful, because one of the few consistencies for this Uncertainty Engine as President is that Trump finds the worst people, usually arsonists who want to burn down their agencies.  In the case of DHS, we are less likely to get an arsonist and more likely to get someone who wants to use its agencies to repress immigrants and the rest of the folks.

So far, with the exception of McCain's vote, ruthless pessimism seems to be the best approach, and the changes over this week don't suggest otherwise.

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