We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to punish you.
July 26, 2017 4:27 PM   Subscribe

You might disagree with how we approached it. You don’t have to agree. You just have to understand why we approached it that way. The brief transition period between the elections and the arrival of the new administration is always a chaotic time. Outgoing staff tries to bring the incoming team up to date on the pressing issues, the looming crises, and the loose ends. But what if the new arrivals simply don't care?
posted by bitmage (62 comments total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
 
But what if the new arrivals simply don't care?

I CANNOT IMAGINE THIS HYPOTHETICAL
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:41 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
posted by adamrice at 4:44 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


Jesus, I got halfway through the article and had to close it. Too damn depressing, frustrating and infuriating, all at once.
posted by darkstar at 4:53 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


Jesus, I got halfway through the article and had to close it. Too damn depressing, frustrating and infuriating, all at once.

Keep reading and you get to add "terrifying". Bingo!
posted by The Bellman at 5:02 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


I'm going to watch the West Wing and drink a lot of scotch. After the tweet-storm about Transsexuals serving (or not..) and reading this - I can't deal with reality until tomorrow.
posted by aggienfo at 5:15 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


This administration will cause a functional rift in our government that won't be healed until long, long past its tenure. I have this fundamental belief in the power of good government, and when I witness such careless, ignorant damage I am horrified. They have no idea the power they wield to cause catastrophic damage to citizens, the environment, and diplomatic mechanisms, or, as time is so soon telling, they don't care.
posted by missmary6 at 5:21 PM on July 26 [45 favorites]


"They have no idea the power they wield to cause catastrophic damage to citizens, the environment, and diplomatic mechanisms, or, as time is so soon telling, they don't care."

This has largely been true of the GOP as a whole, with an emphasis on the former situation of having no idea, ever since *at least* the rise of Newt Gingrich, and can likely be traced back much further.

Then, during the Bush admin, it shifted from leaning much more heavily on the former to an almost complete absorption into the latter.

The real problem is, since Obama was elected it started morphing further into a situation where they have every idea of their destructiveness, and actually care intently about such power, because destroying centuries-old institutions is a goal of the platform. That set the stage perfectly for the party to get swept up entirely in the rise of an autocratic demagogue.
posted by mystyk at 5:33 PM on July 26 [10 favorites]


This is an incredible article. I have the attention span of a gnat for internet journalism and I read the entire thing in one breathless sitting this afternoon. While the content is of course terrifying, i find it really heartening that major publications are putting in the effort right now to turn out this level of reporting on how fucked up everything is. It gives me hope that we all might get through this okay after all.
posted by something something at 5:38 PM on July 26 [28 favorites]


This is my irradiated, surprised face.
posted by Splunge at 5:45 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


Hey, remember when the Bush administration sent a bunch of twenty-something know-nothing doofus loyalists rather than competent managers to oversee the Iraq reconstruction? Well, the doofuses are now coming from inside the house. And they have the nukes.
posted by mhum at 5:49 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Well, that was certainly terrifying.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:51 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


We are completely and utterly fucked.
posted by Talez at 6:01 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Maybe if we just stroke the egos of willfully ignorant, racist, sexist, working-class white males just a little more...
posted by tully_monster at 6:11 PM on July 26 [42 favorites]


Meanwhile, from Timothy Gardner for Reuters: "U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine and other energy matters during a lengthy phone call this month with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine's prime minister."
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:20 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


After the tweet-storm about Transsexuals serving (or not..) and reading this - I can't deal with reality until tomorrow.

When you come back tomorrow please don't use that word again.
posted by AFABulous at 6:20 PM on July 26 [47 favorites]


The terror I feel is becoming a permanent nausea.

Fellow MeFites: this is an incredible article but if your mental health already feels shaky, be careful and maybe skip it.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 6:40 PM on July 26 [7 favorites]


> This administration will cause a functional rift in our government that won't be healed until long, long past its tenure.

They are taking advantage of the many, many cracks created primarily by the GOP and its advocates over the last 30ish years. Think Grover "Drown government in the bathtub" Norquist and the endless parade of media personalities and politicians whose main talking points for decades has been that government is terrible, government can't do anything right, government just wants to waste your hard-earned dollars on stupid things (schools roads bridges public health etc.), people who work in government ("Except me," says the asshole running for office, "Elect me and I'll fix it all!") hate "ordinary" citizens and love nothing better than to burden them with rules and regulations and what the fuck do these "media elites" (sez the $$$Fox news talking head$$$) know about "normal" people? They made this bed and now we all have to sleep in it while it burns.
posted by rtha at 6:58 PM on July 26 [22 favorites]


I haven't even made it halfway through this and I can't say anything other than "Holy shit.".
posted by Jpfed at 7:51 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


wow
posted by lalochezia at 8:07 PM on July 26


You know, I'm beginning to think these republican fellows are up to no good.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:01 PM on July 26 [16 favorites]


Unbelievable
posted by gt2 at 9:05 PM on July 26


I haven't even read the article and I'm like, "What in the name of..."
posted by perhapses at 9:42 PM on July 26


I read this and I think that's it, we are beaten. There is no way a technologically sophisticated society can progress or be managed efficiently without continuity imposed from the top down. We will have our freedoms but it will be the end of our dominance. The dream of the Trumpists depends on an uncomplicated Jeffersonian world. China now has the baton.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:00 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


It’s relentlessly ugly in the way the swamps around Newark Airport are ugly—so ugly that its ugliness bends back around into a sneaky kind of beauty: it will make an excellent ruin.

Ahh, the Forrestal building, a Brutalist, uh, masterpiece.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:30 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Why isn't criminal incompetence grounds for impeachment?
posted by monotreme at 11:44 PM on July 26


It is long but definitely worth the time.

Especially if you are outside of the US and think: hey, now they've turned around and started running back we have a chance to catch up with them.
(like the old joke we used to have in our Socialist European backwoods back in the 80s: we could only catch up with the Japanese if they turned around and started running towards us)

Also, future historians may look back on this period and compare it to the time a thousand years previously when the Arab world carried the standard of science and learning.

The age of stupid is, indeed, upon us.
posted by Laotic at 11:54 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


Thanks. I wasn't planning on sleeping tonight anyway.
posted by zachlipton at 12:40 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


The right-wing extremist fantasy of "drowning the government in a bathtub" is, of course, a lie. What they mean is to absolve themselves of all obligations once they're in power. A government is first and foremost its obligations towards the citizens and the duty to meet ever changing challenges, from which it derives its legitimate sovereignty.

In this Trumpian-Bannonite world it has never been more clear that their bait of "freedom" is a lie. Freedom is not the freedom from knowledge we must learn, or from the good-faith regards we must hold towards each other. Ignore those obligations and the swords of the Erinyes will fall. Cause and effect.
> Especially if you are outside of the US and think: hey, now they've turned around and started running back we have a chance to catch up with them.
> China now has the baton.
This is not a race, and nobody has the baton. China, in many ways, is a prototype of Trump's world-view. The asphyxiation we're forced to endure is planet-scale. It's not about winning, although so many in power everywhere are of course seeking that. It's about curing.
posted by runcifex at 12:53 AM on July 27 [20 favorites]


From the article: "if you are seeking to preserve a certain worldview, it actually helps to gut science. Trump’s budget, like the social forces behind it, is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant. Trump didn’t invent this desire. He is just its ultimate expression."

why did i read this article just before bed

(uh, thanks for posting this)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:56 AM on July 27 [4 favorites]


It's like a "bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S." memo ignored a thousand times a day.
posted by Schmucko at 12:58 AM on July 27 [9 favorites]


It is two and a half minutes to midnight. No matter what time zone you live in.
posted by pracowity at 1:29 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Fellow MeFites: this is an incredible article but if your mental health already feels shaky, be careful and maybe skip it.

From the article: "Trump’s budget, like the social forces behind it, is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant."
posted by flabdablet at 1:54 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Hey, remember when the Bush administration sent a bunch of twenty-something know-nothing doofus loyalists rather than competent managers to oversee the Iraq reconstruction?

I was reminded of that as well, it's terrifying when you think how that turned out, and obviously, it's far more dangerous this time round.

Of all the things that are strange about America from an overseas perspective, the war against science and knowledge is the strangest, because the US has been and still is such a global leader in science. What is it with these people?
posted by mumimor at 1:55 AM on July 27 [4 favorites]


The question on the minds of the people who currently work at the department: Does he know what it does now? D.O.E. press secretary Shaylyn Hynes assures us that “Secretary Perry is dedicated to the missions of the Department of Energy.” And in his hearings, Perry made a show of having educated himself. He said how useful it was to be briefed by former secretary Ernest Moniz. But when I asked someone familiar with those briefings how many hours Perry had spent with Moniz, he laughed and said, “That’s the wrong unit of account.” With the nuclear physicist who understood the D.O.E. perhaps better than anyone else on earth, according to one person familiar with the meeting, Perry had spent minutes, not hours. “He has no personal interest in understanding what we do and effecting change,” a D.O.E. staffer told me in June. “He’s never been briefed on a program—not a single one, which to me is shocking.”
Make America Vague Again
posted by flabdablet at 2:07 AM on July 27 [7 favorites]


About the only upside to knowing that Trump is now the guy in charge of the Big Red Button is the comforting assurance that neither he nor anybody who works for him has a clue where the fuck the Big Red Button actually is.
posted by flabdablet at 2:09 AM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Joey shall sleep no more. Trump hath murdered sleep.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:05 AM on July 27 [4 favorites]


Why isn't criminal incompetence grounds for impeachment?

It certainly could be. The Constitution's phrase is "high crimes and misdemeanors," which is vague enough to encompass anything that the House of Representatives collectively believes is reason enough for removal. There's no list anywhere of what is an impeachable offense and what isn't. However...well, you've seen our current crop of representatives.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:09 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of ok with the current administration not knowing about the nuclear cleanup sites for fear they might turn them into Handmaid's Tale-style forced-labor camps.
posted by um at 5:11 AM on July 27


Misquote?

“You don’t have to agree with our politics,” as the former senior White House official put it. “You just have to understand how we got here. Zika, for instance. You might disagree with how we approached it. You don’t have to agree. You just have to understand why we approached it that way.”

Also:

We don’t want you to help us understand

You just have to understand

lol nope

Also, for the record, there's not going to be a nuclear war (now)... but none of the people I hang out with were hoping for the downfall of the US.
posted by iffthen at 5:22 AM on July 27


Lordy.

The current Republican platform and leadership is a mess. It really reminds me of a guy (fuckboi?) who wants to be friends with benefits, except he actually wants someone to tolerate all of his nonsense:

- Offensive communication through excessive texts and tweets (Trump)

- Flakiness (support the troops except if they're transgender; build a wall with no money; abortion is wrong until you fly to another state for it)

- Bragging and lying about stupid stuff you can prove false (too many examples)

- Misogynistic attitude towards women (anger over health insurance that helps anyone with uteruses, pregnant or not)


I just got back into dating and it feels like watching 2016 campaign all over again. Same confusion, disappointment, and feeling like giving up.
posted by Freecola at 5:48 AM on July 27 [4 favorites]


"[Sec. Perry's] sporadic public communications have had in them something of the shell-shocked grandmother trying to preside over a pleasant family Thanksgiving dinner while pretending that her blind-drunk husband isn’t standing naked on the dining-room table waving the carving knife over his head."

Yeah. I feel like that too.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:08 AM on July 27 [5 favorites]


This is not a race, and nobody has the baton. China, in many ways, is a prototype of Trump's world-view. The asphyxiation we're forced to endure is planet-scale. It's not about winning, although so many in power everywhere are of course seeking that. It's about curing.


China to generate a quarter of electricity from wind power by 2030.

Top PEV global markets.

China on epic solar power binge.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:42 AM on July 27


Fellow MeFites: this is an incredible article but if your mental health already feels shaky, be careful and maybe skip it.

From the article: "Trump’s budget, like the social forces behind it, is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant."


tbh this is kind of a shitty response and please don't? there's a difference between putting off or skipping learning the details of bad things that are going to tank your mood/mental resources/etc. to something unrecoverable when you're already in a vulnerable place mentally (and when knowing the general gist of it is probably enough anyway) and plugging your fingers in your ears and screaming 'LA LA LA' because you just don't want to hear and/or believe it

people who might choose to skip this article for mental health reasons are obviously not doing so because--at the root of it--they 'desire to remain ignorant'.

hapaxes.legomenon: I did read the article bc I was in a fine place today but I thought it was really nice for you to put up the warning, thank you!
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 6:56 AM on July 27 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I had a feeling it was something like that. So sorry that I was correct.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:07 AM on July 27


putting off or skipping learning the details of bad things that are going to tank your mood/mental resources/etc. to something unrecoverable when you're already in a vulnerable place mentally (and when knowing the general gist of it is probably enough anyway)

Sorry if that came off as mainly snarky. I was trying to hint that anybody as wilfully ignorant as Trump might well be that way because his entire waking life is conducted right on the edge of cognitive and emotional competence. This would be all of a piece with the man's incredibly thin skin and compulsively self-serving tweetorrhea.
posted by flabdablet at 7:57 AM on July 27


Yeah, China is not really the best example of a country that's gleefully ignoring climate change. Their leadership realised a few years ago that they can steal a march on the US and give themselves a nice little halo by taking a leadership role in climate change, and the sudden shocking viability of PV solar farms as base power is in large part due to China's commitment. (Innovation in storage is the other large part.)

The right-wing extremist fantasy of "drowning the government in a bathtub" is, of course, a lie. What they mean is to absolve themselves of all obligations once they're in power. A government is first and foremost its obligations towards the citizens and the duty to meet ever changing challenges, from which it derives its legitimate sovereignty.

Which is, of course, why they object to government in the first place: the idea they have obligations they did not explicitly choose is repugnant to them. I grew up in a culture where, socially, rights and responsibilities are linked, so I'm not really capable of understanding how that's supposed to work. How are you supposed to have any inalienable rights if you don't have the responsibility to act so everyone else also has that right? Quizzical dog expression.
posted by Merus at 9:13 AM on July 27 [6 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. It turned up in a couple of my longform feeds and I'd been ignoring it out of anxiety.. decided to suck it up and read it anyway. What an amazing read. May we live in interesting times, indeed.
I'm actually less anxious having read it and having those fears confirmed.. it's like okay yeah it's as suspected but now I *know* and that's somehow better? I don't know. Everything is terrible.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:40 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


What if the bus driver's overriding goal was to destroy the bus?
posted by gottabefunky at 9:55 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


What if the bus driver's overriding goal was to destroy the bus?

Just so long as it never drops below 50 mph.
posted by Carillon at 10:10 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed. People can be concerned about more than one thing at once, and one of the many things people are legitimately concerned about right now is mainstream transphobia in its many forms, from the POTUS livetweeting bigoted policy whims to people using outdated/hurtful language. Treating that as an opportunity for some favorites-counting gotcha is crappy engagement, please don't.]
posted by cortex at 10:52 AM on July 27 [7 favorites]


Ring a ring of Roses
A pocketfull of posers
Atishoo! Atishoo!
We've all fall out!
posted by Burn_IT at 10:55 AM on July 27


We are completely and utterly fucked.

only if we lube up and lie still for the bastards.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:53 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


And when Trump supporters read that article they nod and say 'Yep, waste of money, shut it down. Wish I could sit on my arse all day!"
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:50 PM on July 27


To answer the question of why they hate science--at least partially--I believe much of it has to do with ideology. We are reaching a point where the disastrous effects of Republican policies can be proven empirically. The direct role the ideology of deregulation/slashing taxes/"market solutions"/Daddy-knows-best has played in looming catastrophes like climate change, coming job automation, economic inequality is becoming harder and harder to deny, even for ideological think tanks created to justify conservative policy. The data is there to prove that cutting social services doesn't magically make bootstraps appear, money that trickles up never trickles back down, and unregulated corporations externalizing their costs have done measurable damage to our environment and society. There is still some tickle of consistency in the Republican Lizard Brain that recognizes it won't fly to keep insisting that Climate Change doesn't exist when the scientific consensus is overwhelming. The answer for the Right Wing ideologue cannot be that the conservative position is wrong--it must be that the universities and institutions producing this evidence are full of Liberal Elites who Hate Freedom(tm).
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:02 PM on July 27 [8 favorites]


Add to that the impulse of the lazy thinker to confront a complex situation and just commit to oversimplification and the result is this "everything the government does is bad" crusade. We live in a complicated world that increasingly requires critical thought and the ability to recognize and absorb the expertise of others. Narcissistic injury--"I have the best brain, very smart!"--drenched in the Dunning-Kruger effect results in people who have no idea how ignorant they are, and yet are offended if anyone suggests they aren't the smartest person in the room.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:09 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


There are a couple of reasons why the GOP hates science, which dovetail with each other.
  1. Being "business friendly": If we listen to science, we have to come up with excuses for not following the path that science shows to be correct. Better to say that the science is not in yet, or this will cost jobs, or discourage innovation, or whatever. This is not new. The dangers of lead-based paint were first diagnosed in the USA in 1904. Some European countries banned it as long ago as 1909. The USA? 1978. Smoking? Same kind of thing. Guns? Same thing on steroids. Climate change? Yep.
  2. Being "pro religion." Some branches of some religions (or some practitioners of some religions) regard science as a challenge to the authority of religion because it provides an alternative explanation for the world. Being able to delegitimize science as ungodly comes in handy when you need to ensure that whatever poison your patrons are selling remains commercially viable.
posted by adamrice at 11:49 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Not knowing what else to do, but without anyone to replace him, the C.F.O. of a $30 billion operation just up and left.

For those who didn't get through the article... and wow, I hit "I want out" about eight paragraphs in... the fifth major risk at the end is indeed the whopper, and it runs all through this administration.

...the fifth risk did not put him at risk of revealing classified information. To begin, he said simply, “Project management.”

And then it goes on to imply that our next "Three-Mile Island" won't be an active facility, where there are daily workers and checks on the machinery, but some random storage site where the funding was cut so nobody is checking to make sure that elk haven't downed the power lines that keep the air conditioning on in the summer.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:51 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


"As I drove out of Hanford the Trump administration unveiled its budget for the Department of Energy. ARPA-E had since won the praise of business leaders from Bill Gates to Lee Scott, the former C.E.O. of Walmart, to Fred Smith, the Republican founder of FedEx, who has said that “pound for pound, dollar for dollar, activity for activity, it’s hard to find a more effective thing government has done than ARPA-E.” Trump’s budget eliminates ARPA-E altogether. It also eliminates the spectacularly successful $70 billion loan program. It cuts funding to the national labs in a way that implies the laying off of 6,000 of their people. It eliminates all research on climate change. It halves the funding for work to secure the electrical grid from attack or natural disaster."

God. Why would you want to reduce funding on making the country safer when your whole f*cking electoral platform was about being afraid of bad things happening?
posted by storybored at 10:19 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Bad things happen --> People are afraid. "See, I told you how bad everything was "

Demonstrating incompetence pretty much the only play in the book for Drumpf at this point.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:57 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


"God. Why would you want to reduce funding on making the country safer when your whole f*cking electoral platform was about being afraid of bad things happening?"

Why did the Bush admin ignore "Bin Laden determined to strike" memos? Perhaps because they, subconsciously or not, wanted something to happen that could be used as an excuse to shred liberties and lessen opposition to the military-industrial (and now -security) complex's appropriation of wealth and resources. (I don't believe they actively engineered 9/11, just took advantage of it.)
posted by Philofacts at 10:46 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Why would you want to reduce funding on making the country safer when your whole f*cking electoral platform was about being afraid of bad things happening?

Because if you reduce funding on making the country safer then more really bad things will probably happen, and that will make people really afraid, and then they'll vote for you even harder.

See also: sudden recovery in Bush the Lesser's waning popularity right after 9/11.
posted by flabdablet at 10:49 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Tests show Hanford workers inhaled radioactive plutonium
Officials from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, which owns Hanford, and the contractor in charge of the demolition, CH2M Hill, downplayed the seriousness of the event with statements including, it appeared “workers were not at risk”, “(the alarm went off) in an area where contamination is expected” and there was “no evidence radioactive particles had been inhaled” by anyone.

The KING 5 Investigators have discovered those statements are incorrect. An internal CH2M Hill email sent to their employees on July 21 was obtained by KING. It states that 301 (test kits) have been issued to employees and of the first 65 workers tested, a “small number of employees” showed positive results for “internal exposures” (by radioactive plutonium).

Sources tell KING the “small number of employees” is twelve. Twelve people out of 65 is 20 percent. Still outstanding are 236 tests. A communication specialist with CH2M Hill sent a statement that more positive results are expected. “We expect additional positive results because analytical tests like a bioassay can detect radiological contamination at levels far lower than what field monitoring can detect,” said Destry Henderson of CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company.

[...]

“If you look at what the exposure was it equates to about approximately what a chest x-ray would be or a little less than that or a flight to Washington DC,” said Doug Shoop, the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Richland Operations Office manager.

Several Hanford workers and four radiation experts consulted by KING 5 said the messaging from the contractor and the DOE is “misleading” and doesn’t explain the actual danger to employees.

“There’s no safe amount of plutonium you can inhale or ingest,” said Dr. Marco Kaltofen of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program, Dept. of Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “If you fly from Seattle to DC, you’re in the air for 6 hours and you’re done. With plutonium, the exposure is in your body for days, months or even years. A millionth of a gram of plutonium has a measurable risk of causing a lethal lung cancer,” said Kaltofen.
This is pure evil.
posted by runcifex at 1:24 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


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