Category Archives: Trump

That’s How You Do It

Statement on Violence in Charlottesville from University of Miami President Julio Frenk

As universities across the country prepare to welcome students for a new academic year, we are faced with an attack on our core values. The University of Miami rejects the use of fear and the incitement to violence, which promote hate and suppress diverse voices. We therefore condemn the tragic events in Charlottesville, which began on the campus of our sister institution, the University of Virginia. We stand in solidarity with its faculty, staff, and students, and with the people of Charlottesville. We express our deepest sympathy to the victims of the acts of violence that followed and their families.

While we defend freedom of speech and assembly, we denounce the rhetoric and actions of white supremacists and any other groups that promote exclusion, suppression, and intimidation of people who look, speak, or pray differently. History has shown us that it is only through respectful and constructive exchanges that societies can evolve and flourish. That is the core mission of the University of Miami, and we recommit to it at this challenging time.

Now, why was that so hard for the White House?

Posted in Trump | 2 Comments

Minor Note on the Moscow Embassy Expulsions

It pains me to blog anything that might be misunderstood as pro-Trump, especially in this moment of quite terrifying saber-rattling at North Korea, but I do feel compelled to note that Trump’s otherwise bizarre thank you note to his model (and perhaps master) Vladimir Putin (see Trump Praises Putin Instead of Critiquing Cuts to U.S. Embassy Staff) might in fact have, however accidentally, some connection to reality.

I was immediately reminded of Charlie Peters’s famous account 1982 of When Less is More:

I LIKE TO RECALL the time the Czechoslovak government got mad at our then-ambassador, Ellis O. Briggs, and ordered two-thirds of our embassy staff to return to the United States. Briggs found that the remaining third constituted the most efficient embassy he had ever known.

I had heard of a few similar cases: When Bill Keller and Ann Cooper compared the American embassies in Morocco and Mali for The Washington Monthly, they found the latter, at less than half the size of the former, more efficient. When the District of Columbia reduced its garbage collection crews from four men to three, the result was not less but greater productivity. Such examples are, however, difficult to uncover because they are not the sort of truth bureaucrats yearn for the public to know.

So I was delighted to hear recently that the Japanese Foreign Ministry, among the world’s most efficient, is exactly one-third the size of our State Department. Indeed, the entire Japanese government has but 506,000 employes. Thus a nation with a population half the size of ours manages to make do with a bureaucracy less than one-fifth our own.

There is a simple solution to the slot problem. It is consolidation of jobs. Combine the distribution director’s job, for example, with that of another employe who also really works only half-time. That way you still can eliminate one employe, but you’ll be doing it in a way that does not harm your organization.

When I was working at the Peace Crops in the mid-sixties, it became clear that the headquarters was succumbing to the usual Washington tendency toward overstaffing, and I was assigned to look into the problem. What I discovered was that for each of the 50 or so countries to which our volunteers were assigned, we had Washington officials who were called program officers, training officers and volunteer support officers. These people spent most of their day in meetings with or writing memos or talking on the phone to one another.

We could have saved the time involved in these communications and in the bureaucratic squabbling that accompanied them by turning the three jobs into one. My suggestion to do just that was opposed with considerable passion by almost everyone concerned. The argument was that each job involved a different kind of expertise. But the truth was that the necessary expertise, as in the case of so much administrative work, was acquired on the job.

Still, I lost the argument…

Don’t get me wrong, if I had to bet I would say Trump’s comment was motivated either by a businessman’s (and self-professed gamesmanship master’s) instinct to say that his rival’s effective counter-move in fact causes no pain, or maybe by a more generalized desire to make nice with Putin.  But facts are facts.

PS I am morally certain that the same bloat problem infects the modern university.

PPS It also reminds me of a great 1960s or 70s-era joke about the United Nations:

Supposedly the UN got concerned about all the American critiques of overmanning, so they hired management consultants to do a report about staffing needs in hopes of disproving them.  A team of consultants thus went floor-by-floor interviewing everyone at UN HQ about what they did, starting from the bottom and working their way up. When they got to the 30th floor, they found an office that was absolutely empty except for two suited employees sitting at two bare desks with nothing on the desks except phones.

“What are you doing?” one consultant asked they guy on the left.

“Nothing,” he replied.

“And what are you doing?” the consultant asked the guy on the right.

“Same as him,” replied the other.

The consultants duly noted “duplication of effort” in their report.

Posted in Korea, Trump | 1 Comment

Boy’s Club?

Over at ACS Blog, my brother notes that of the 29 people Trump has nominated for U.S. attorney positions, 28 are men.  And 25 are white.

Makes for a nice collage:

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Law: Everything Else, Trump | Leave a comment

The Constitutional Iceberg

Josh Marshall summarizes it best:

Trump is in many ways his own worst accuser. Anyone who’s been in business for decades would not welcome a searching legal scrutiny of years of business. Most people, certainly in Trump’s line of work, aren’t totally clean. And a determined prosecutor can often find technical infractions that in the normal course of things would never be an issue. So no one would like this. But Trump is willing to run the most unimaginable political and even criminal risks to block even the beginnings of a serious probe into his business history and the 2016 election. We are far, far past the point where there is any credible reason to doubt that President Trump is hiding major and broad-ranging wrongdoing. No mix of ego, inexperience, embarrassment or anything else can explain his behavior. It just can’t. He’s hiding bad acts. And the country is likely heading toward a major constitutional and political crisis because Trump is signaling that he will not allow the normal course of the law to apply to him – a challenge which puts the entire edifice of democratic government under threat.

Which reminds me of that old Doonesbury cartoon.

I had originally remembered this one as being about Nixon, which is apparently a very common error (search down for Doonesbury), in part because Trudeau reworked this strip not just once, but twice.  Maybe it’s time for him to do it again.

Posted in The Scandals | 7 Comments

Contingency Plans

Is this over-the-top? Paranoid? Sadly, no.

Pix from Digby’s blog which also points me to Host a Mueller Firing Rapid Response Event. Myself I have to think the odds are that Trump is not so crazed as to try to fire Mueller, but what’s the confidence interval for that prediciton? Not high enough, that’s for sure.

Posted in The Resistance, The Scandals | 2 Comments

Can You Imagine Anything Like this on US TV?

An Australian reporter explains what we learned about Donald Trump from the G20 meeting. Unfortunately I cannot embed the video for copyright reasons, but click through and page down a bit. The stuff about North Korea is especially apt. Was there anything like it in US media, or are all their sources domestic?

The video fully lives up to Crooks & Liars’s title, BRUTAL: Australian Journalist Sums Up Trump’s G20 Visit In 2 Minutes, which is where I came upon it – except it takes two minutes and eleven seconds.

UPDATE: NYT sez the video has gone ‘viral’ (hate that term, oh well).

Posted in Trump | 4 Comments