Common Priorities 12/13/17

The Calculated Destruction of America’s Government – by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

It is truly extraordinary: the still-new Trump administration keeps appointing people whose common priority is the destruction of the agency they head. Their mission is therefore the opposite of their agency’s: priority to management over responsibility, product over people, and private interests over public service. In essence, Trump is presiding over a government that rejects governing and seems intent on creating a state within a state.

The examples are well known. Consumer protection is now in the hands of an anti-consumer, pro-business guy, someone who once called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “a sad, sick joke.” The Environmental Protection Agency is under an oil and gas industry proponent who despises environmentalists and denies human agency in climate change. He is removing environmental reporting from the EPA website and preventing government scientists from speaking to the public. Housing is under a well-known surgeon and political airhead who hasn’t the slightest idea about his department’s purposes. A millionaire who leads the department of education has no experience in public education and is busily trying to privatize it. Trump’s pick for health and human services is a drug company executive who had a hand in raising drug prices. And then there’s the justice department, run by a racist who is determined to keep non-whites out of the country, limit enforcement of civil rights laws, and disenfranchise minorities. Other government agencies, such as defense, homeland security, and immigration and customs (ICE) follow the same pattern of politically skewed missions that undermine our most cherished values, not to mention common sense.

But the best example is the state department under Rex Tillerson. He announced his purpose as being to reorganize the department and save money, not promote diplomacy or refine America’s interests abroad. Tillerson’s notion of good management has resulted in a gutting of the department and loss of considerable expertise in precisely those regional specialties—East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa—that demand constant attention. Following the lead of the president and his inner circle of inexperienced know-nothings who spout a white nationalist agenda, Tillerson is showing career staff the door in disdain for “bureaucrats.” Even when he makes a feeble mention of peacemaking, as with North Korea, Iran, and Israel-Palestine, Trump immediately pulls the rug out from under him—as he just did with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The state of State is disheartening, to say the least, and the rumored removal of Tillerson in favor of CIA director Mike Pompeo will not make the slightest difference. Career diplomats are leaving in droves, the budget is being cut by nearly one third, and the number of new applications for the foreign service is down by one half. The new guy in charge of personnel, who would normally be a senior diplomat, has only eight years of experience. (But then, who needs an experienced personnel manager when so few people are left to manage?) Another Tillerson appointee who was supposed to manage the downsizing has resigned after only several weeks at the job.

What we are witnessing is the destruction of the government we pay for and to which we are asked to pledge allegiance. Every week some government service we took for granted is weakened or eliminated by official fiat. By my count, Trump has now severely criticized or attacked outright seven American institutions: the media and various courts; the departments of Justice and State; the FBI; and both political parties. No public official who defies presidential preference is immune from Trump’s wrath. He has played with the idea of establishing a private spy network to get around the CIA—an idea being peddled by none other than Erik Prince (of Blackwater fame) and Oliver North (cf. Iran-Contra). This president is totally committed to sustaining an oligarchy in the image of Vladimir Putin.

Those critics who point to the Trump administration’s failure to pass any legislation as evidence of the strength of the resistance are only partly right. When you put together all the Obama-era administrative regulations that have been rescinded and the legal cases in defense of the public interest abandoned, and add to that the reactionary actions of right-wing dominated state legislatures and the Supreme Court majority, you have quite a record of intentional destructiveness as prescribed by Steve Bannon.

There is no law that says weakening the federal government’s role is a crime. But deliberately subverting the US government is reason enough to seek Trump’s impeachment. He is doing to America what no foreign adversary could do. Some might call it treason.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an Asia expert and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

3 thoughts on “Common Priorities 12/13/17

  1. So the Trump Administration is fulfilling its campaign promises by appointing Cabinet members who are rolling back commerce killing regulation and emptying out entire buildings filled with featherbedding bureaucrats.

    This is supposed to be a bad thing?

    Like Secular Saint Barack Obama once said, “Elections have consequences”.

    In the meantime, the all consuming “Russian election collusion” frenzy has been turned on its head as the Office of the Inspector General and recent congressional hearings reveal that Obama Administration officials in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Dept of Justice have been caught using their investigative and legal authority to target the Trump political campaign.

    Attorney General Sessions and CFPB Director Mulvaney have stopped the Obama Administration’s money laundering schemes of channeling portions of government fines and settlements into the coffers of politically active grievance mongers.

    Recent political upheavals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have removed another significant source of funding for leftist political causes.

    In light of these and other recent developments, is anyone really wondering why the residents of the old hippies assisted living facility calling itself “PeaceVoice” are on the verge of nervous breakdowns, and “The Resistance”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Antifa ” have been so quiet lately?

    Like Comrade Gurtov says, “…There is no law that says weakening the federal government’s role is a crime…”

    This is what draining the swamp looks like, and President Trump is just getting started.

    • I don’t know… I’m thinking you might try listening/reading/expanding your sources of “real” information.

      • Oh of course! Like the serially disgraced paragons of journalistic integrity at ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, HLN, PBS, NPR, Al Jazeera, the HuffPo, Salon, Vox, the richest man in Mexico’s NY Times, or the richest man in the US’s Washington Post?

        Or perhaps I should turn to the exhausted old Bolsheviks at PeaceVoice, who are all recycling their university classroom lectures that fill the empty heads of their students with hundred year old neo-marxist ideas that haven’t worked anywhere they’ve been tried.

        The fact is that it is impossible to avoid the politically correct cultural programming that comes at us in a geyser from nearly every major media outlet including newspapers, magazines and media productions ranging from sports coverage, to melodramas, to comedies, to documentaries all the way to kiddie cartoons.

        If anyone needs to expand their “sources of ‘real’ information”, its the crack editorial staff of the Prospect.

        As an aside, do social justice crusaders and champions of the “little guy” like the Prospect’s crack editorial staff and the exhausted old hippies at PeaceVoice ever wonder how it is that
        they find themselves on the same side of cultural and political issues as the globalist billionaires of international finance capital, the multi-gazillionaires of Silicon Valley’s new “Ministries of Information”, and the limousine liberal hypocrites of Hollywood and the Media?

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