Trump continues his attack on everything that made America great

Another day, another onslaught of Trump attacks on the things that make America great — the rule of law, respect for native peoples and their land, experienced people in government service.  Trump is out to destroy each of these.

In the State Dept, top diplomats continue to resign in response to treatment by Trump administration

The U.S. State Department’s third-ranking official, Tom Shannon, is stepping down from his post, the department said on Thursday, becoming the latest senior diplomat to exit since President Donald Trump took office a year ago.

Shannon, who serves as under secretary of state for political affairs, is the top U.S. career diplomat and has been a fixture among the nation’s diplomatic ranks during more than 34 years of service. In a letter to department staff, Shannon, 60, said he was resigning for personal reasons.

His departure deprives the State Department of a seasoned veteran at a time of pressing diplomatic concerns including the threat posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tillerson in November said he was offended by claims that the State Department was being hollowed out under Trump, saying it was functioning well despite scathing criticism from former American diplomats including Nicholas Burns and Ryan Crocker.

The forcing out of many senior diplomats, the failure to nominate or to win Senate confirmation for officials to fill key agency roles, and a perception that Tillerson is inaccessible have eroded morale, according to current officials.

Trump to allow 19th century style land rush to destroy precious national monuments on Native American land

Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and even the United Nations’ expert on indigenous rights, at 6am on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands.

“It is outrageous to witness the dismantling of the Bears Ears national monument, in what constitutes a serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Tauli-Corpuz noted that the previous administration’s decision to create the monument “protected thousands of sacred sites which are central to the preservation of regional Native culture,” and warned President Donald Trump’s December decision to reduce Bears Ears’ area by about 85 percent “exposes thousands of acres of sacred lands and archaeological sites to the threats of desecration, contamination, and permanent destruction.”

This is just another example of Trump’s disdain for people who are not white and rich like him.

Trump admits the Nunes memo is an attempt to destroy the FBI

Sources are telling CNN that President Donald Trump is championing a controversial memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) as a way to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“In phone calls last night and over the past days, Trump has told friends he believes the memo would expose bias within the agency’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him,” CNN writes, citing two sources.

CNN’s sources also claim that the president is plotting for ways to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel last year after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from handling the Russia probe.

“Another person said Trump is so frustrated with the Russia investigation and, in turn, Rosenstein that he may look for any opportunity to build a case for Rosenstein’s firing,” CNN reports. “He could argue that Rosenstein failed to scrutinize the information initially used to request the warrant and therefore didn’t do his due diligence.”

The FBI on Wednesday issued an extraordinary statement slamming the Nunes memo as based on cherry-picked intelligence and called its conclusions misleading. Despite this, the president is still expected to release the memo.

We should have seen this coming

Meanwhile, as we all expected, Trump cranked up his Twitter account this morning and proclaimed the TV audience for his SOTU address was the largest ever.  No, it was not.

President Trump still has a problem with audience size.

The commander-in-chief erroneously touted Thursday that the 45.6 million people who watched his first State of the Union was the most-watched ever.

“Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” Trump tweeted, noting his favorite Fox News lead with 11.7 million viewers. “Delivered from the heart!”

But television ratings tracker Nielsen Company announced Wednesday that Trump’s State of the Union had 2 million fewer viewers than President Obama’s first State of the Union address eight years earlier.

Trump’s first State of the Union address also came in lower than Bill Clinton’s first State of the Union, when 45.8 million viewers tuned in, according to Nielsen. Fox News wasn’t on the air when Clinton made the 1994 speech.

Trump’s SOTU speech was a crock of shit

It was the most elaborate of charades, the most sophisticated of masquerades, that played itself out in the chamber of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night. The amount of pretense required to keep all sensible people—which is to say, any person who was not a Republican—in their chairs must have been heroic.

All involved had to pretend that Donald Trump makes sense as a president, that his administration makes sense as a government, and that his first State of the Union address made sense as either a description of national policy, or as a rhetorical summons to national unity. All involved had to pretend that his thoughts were coherent, that his words made sense, and that the complete and universal collapse of civic responsibility that propelled him onto the podium was not the most singularly destructive event in the history of American democracy since the Civil War. Everyone had to pretend that a freak show was Shakespeare, and that a rumbling, stumbling geek was Lincoln, and that the whole tableau unfolding before the Congress was somehow made noble despite the obvious fact that the whole event was an endless procession of lies and half-truths, and that the only truly remarkable thing about the speech was that it was such a perfectly round and complete crock of shit.

I don’t know how long the institutions of the republic can sustain this much pretense. Over my lifetime, the American presidency has tested what were believed to be the outer limits of counterfeit grandeur, but now we see that there is a vast universe of untruth and malignant fantasy of which we were painfully unaware. It is a burden to maintain the masquerade. It is beyond the strength even of the sturdiest democracy to be led by such a vanguard of unreality. Why anyone showed up on Tuesday night is a mystery to me.

Did he “call for bipartisanship”? Of course he did, the way a carny barker calls for suckers. Did he call for “unity”? Of course he did, the way a tent-show preacher howls for Jesus with a statue bleeding glycerine from its eyes. Are we supposed to pretend that we believe him, that we have faith in his desire to lead the entire nation, that he won’t be acting like a jackass on Twitter again by Valentine’s Day? Are we supposed to compliment the White House medical staff for finally getting the dosage right? How much pretending can we do before the national psyche, bloated on pretense, finally collapses of its own weight? How big a crock can be fashioned out of the ruins of the American experiment?

I want to pick out a specific passage in the speech because it is so utterly truthless, so completely ghastly in its contempt for the intelligence of its audience, and so pure in its essential charlatanism that it stood out from the rest of the address like a diamond on black velvet.

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future. In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.

How does eliminating family reunification in the immigration system protect the nuclear family? “Chain migration” is a racist term of art contrived over the last few years because it sounds ominous. And then, later, while celebrating the triumph of a Korean refugee named Ji Seong-Ho, who fought through the perils of hell to get to South Korea, the president* said:

“Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed.”

Do you think he even was aware of how perfectly he had contradicted himself? Do you think he even was aware that his current and proposed immigration policies will send young people back to war zones and into the loving arms of narcotrafficates? Do you think he’s aware that his immigration policies, aimed at MS-13 on Long Island, will send people back to the MS-13 bureau in El Salvador? Do we all have to pretend? How long do we have to pretend? Do we all have to pretend until there’s nothing left but the masquerade, empty and sterile and dead? God help us all.