The Politex Report #1225

Dictators Punish: Ineptitude Was Part Of Bannon's Chaos Plan

Bannon's Muslim Ban was over a month in the making, was created in secret by the Trump inner circle without proper vetting, and was a surprise to the rest of the Trump administration expected to carry it out. It was crafted to create legal chaos and was unleashed without warning to provide further administrative chaos. Its goal was to punish everyone outside the Trump inner circle. It was Amerika's early salvo against America, a first step on the road to dictatorship. --Jerry Politex


Trump has issued more than a dozen orders and memorandums, often without significant review by Congress or federal lawyers, and always with little regard for the agencies responsible for overseeing the outcome. None of the relevant departments and agencies — State, Homeland Security, Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement — were asked to weigh in on creation of the Muslim ban, which was written largely by Stephen Bannon, late of Breitbart News, and Stephen Miller, a former aide to Senator Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, whose role during the campaign was whipping up the xenophobia at rallies before Mr. Trump took the stage. Indeed, nobody in the White House thought to call most of these officials until Mr. Trump was signing the order on television.

“This gang shoots, and then they look around to see what they’ve hit,” said a former senior government executive who’s been fielding agency complaints. “There’s a danger not just of unintended consequences, but of significantly dangerous consequences.”

--NYT ED: Bannon's Mushroom Management: A Government on Edge and in the Dark.


Jeff Sessions Approved as Attorney General by Senate Committee, 11-9 on a straight party-line vote. NYT


"Put simply, I don’t believe that the stated purpose is the real purpose. This is the first policy the United States has adopted in the post-9/11 era about which I have ever said this. It’s a grave charge, I know, and I’m not making it lightly. But in the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.

When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do."

--Malevolence Tempered by Planned Incompetence: Trump’s Horrifying Executive Order on Refugees and Visas - Lawfare


"So why the weekend frenzy, the screaming headlines, the surge of protest? Because of several features inherent to populism, which tend to undermine its attempts to govern no matter the on-paper popularity of its ideas.

First, populism finds its voice by pushing against the boundaries of acceptable opinion. But in the process it often embraces bigotries and extremisms that in turn color the reception of its policies...

Second, having campaigned against elites and experts and all their pomps and works, populists imagine that their zeal can carry all before it, that proceduralism and institutional knowledge are for losers and toadies and men with soft hands, and that a few guys in the White House can execute a major overhaul of a delicate system without bureaucratic patience or rhetorical finesse...

Then, finally, because populism thrives on its willingness to shatter norms, it tends to treat this chaos and blowback as a kind of vindication — a sign that it’s on the right track, that its boldness is meeting inevitable resistance from the failed orthodoxies of the past, and so on through a self-comforting litany. That makes it hard for populists to course correct, because they get stuck in a “the worse the better” loop, reassuring themselves that they’re making progress when actually they’re cratering...

The great fear among Trump-fearers is that he will deal with this elite opposition by effectively crushing it — purging the deep state, taming the media, remaking the judiciary as his pawn, and routing or co-opting the Democrats. This is the scenario where a surging populism, its progress balked through normal channels, turns authoritarian and dictatorial...

--When Populism Stumbles, We're on the Road to Dictatorship. Douthat, NYT