Trump Thanked Putin For Cutting America’s Diplomatic Corps

While many Americans are rightfully concerned that Trump is playing to a big-time wrestling script with thermonuclear war as possible result, the reality show character’s close relationship with Vladimir Putin is not commanding much news coverage. However, yesterday while some Americans were considering building bomb shelters in their backyards, Trump showed that he still embraces Russia and continues rejecting America and more importantly, its diplomats.

No doubt Trump has yearned for a reason to thank Putin for his valuable (campaign) support over the last year-and-a-half, but that would just further implicate his complicity in Russia’s attack on democracy. Still, Trump found a way to express his gratitude to Putin and “stab American diplomats in the back” in the process; because diplomats prevent wars.

When Trump was asked what his thoughts were on Putin expelling about 775 diplomats from Russia as retaliation for new congressionally-mandated sanctions, he seized the occasion to express how “very thankful” he was that Putin expelled hundreds of American diplomats from Russia. He even explained why he was grateful.

Trump said:

I want to thank him [Putin] because we’re trying to cut down our [State Department] payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

No sane person thinks Trump was being facetious in offering his gratitude to Putin; no small number of diplomats and foreign policy experts have bemoaned loudly that Trump’s refusal to even partially staff the State Department is a gargantuan disaster waiting to happen. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is rabid about cutting down on diplomats, and the idea that Trump wants a non-functioning State Department has nothing to do with “saving a lot of money.” He is more than willing to spend a “lot more money” on bombs and bullets in one fiscal year than it costs to run the State Department for a decade.  Trump and his key alt-right advisors ardently believe that the best way to conduct foreign policy with any country is not diplomacy; they love threats, belligerence, bullying and war. It is the worldview Trump has demonstrated over the past few days in the grandest fashion imaginable.

There have been several reports that the State Department is woefully understaffed with no plans, or intent whatsoever, to fill those positions. And they are crucial positions around the world that do not include janitorial or kitchen help jobs. This danger is not all down to Trump, but it is likely he directed Secretary of State Tillerson not to bother himself with putting up nominees for “low priority” positions such as assistant secretary for diplomatic security. Some Americans may recall that Republicans consider diplomatic security at the bottom of their low-priority concerns to explain why the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi lacked adequate security and protection.

As many former diplomats and foreign policy experts have noted, there is much “more than an ineffectual State Department here, there is real danger.” The real danger is when, not if, something in the world goes terribly wrong like when a poor manager and inexperienced malcontent issues biblically-inspired threats of “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Every administration faces crises throughout their tenure, and everything falling on Trump stems from the rest of the world’s perception that he is a sap and those foreign policy crises are only going to increase in number and frequency. As noted in the Washington Post, America’s foes feel emboldened with an incompetent in the White House.

They also state the peril of Trump endangering national security by not filling important diplomatic positions; or worse, thanking a hostile foreigner for “cutting down our [diplomatic] payroll and letting a lot of people go.”

It is frightening to imagine what happens when “a crisis erupts in an area of the world that Tillerson hasn’t bothered to staff,” or another attack on an embassy occurs when Tillerson has not bothered to put up a nominee for assistant secretary for diplomatic security? “Tillerson and the president Trump will be in deep trouble.

Remember too that Trump claimed filling his administration with billionaires with exemplary business backgrounds would ensure that his government will have better management and only the very best people will be employed. “Instead they cannot perform the most basic management task of an administration — picking personnel.”

A career foreign service officer who served as an ambassador to Poland in the Clinton Administration and on the National Security Council under Bush really put Trump’s idiocy and third-rate management skills under a spotlight with two simple rhetorical questions. Dan Fried asked:

Under what theory of management is there not an assistant secretary for Europe or Asia?”  And, “How do you make an administration effective when your institutions are weak?

Trump believes his administration is effective because he controls one powerful institution; the United States military and its robust nuclear arsenal. It is likely why he said the hundreds of diplomats “Putin let go to cut America’s State Department payroll” are not going back. It is also highly likely that since Secretary of State Tillerson is BFFs with Putin, Trump believes diplomats are unnecessary; Putin will help Tillerson run the State Department and probably help him cut the diplomatic payroll even more.

It is particularly prescient right now that Trump is demonstrating what he thinks of diplomats or seeking a diplomatic solution to end his nuclear pissing match with the North Korea’s version of Donald J. Trump. One thing is crystal clear after Trump’s showy display of gratitude for some Rusky budget cutting assistance; Trump is too enamored and thankful to ever get into a pissing match with Vladimir Putin.

Trump Budget Reveals How the Kochs Will Dismantle the Government

This author has warned, for at least six years, that if Republicans ever gained control of the entire government, that at the behest of their corporate masters the Koch brothers they would begin immediately dismantling the federal government. Trump’s number one counselor, fascist Stephen Bannon, said as much earlier this year when he bragged that the administration’s chief goal in appointing corporate billionaires, perjurers, and religious freaks to Trump’s cabinet, freaks and billionaires nominated by the teabagger-run Heritage Foundation, was to “dismantle the administrative state.” The administrative state is a not-so-subtle code for the United States government.

In Trump’s “proposed” budget for the next fiscal year, a so-called “skinny budget” the Heritage Foundation proposed a month ago, does exactly what the preponderance of Republicans indebted to the Koch brothers support; begin the dismantling of the federal government to satisfy a dream the Koch brothers championed over 30 years ago. Trump’s cohorts didn’t even attempt to hide the fact that the budget came directly from Heritage Foundation and the Kochs because they gave it the same exact name, the skinny budget, as the Heritage Foundation’s proposal last month.

The New York Times reported that Trump will unveil an even “skinnier” budget later in the spring that includes the Koch-Heritage plan to give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations and dismantle even more of the administrative state. Phase two will assault Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other domestic social program serving the overwhelming majority of the population. However nasty the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act appears, it is the world’s greatest socialist giveaway compared to what Trump will do to the government and the people it belongs to with the Koch-Heritage budget.

Although it is true the budget outlined this morning has to get past the Koch-Republican Congress, there is little doubt that except for drastic cuts to the Department of State, Koch-aligned Republicans will gleefully aid their funders in dismantling the government agencies that serve the people. Besides funneling tens-of-billions robbed from social programs, education, scientific research, and environmental protections to fund Trump’s “wars America has to start winning,” it will significantly reduce the “non-defense federal workforce” to rapidly kill tens-of-thousands of jobs.

According to the fascists running the executive branch, Trump and Bannon, the “skinny budget” “will reset the process of Washington policy making” from a policy of serving the “general welfare” of the people to a policy that serves the rich and their corporations exclusively, as well as the military industrial complex.

To demonstrate the Trump’s malice towards humanity, besides slashing the Environmental Protection Agency by over a third, there are drastic reductions to the “60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters.” It makes sense that an administration promising to win more wars would take drastic measures against any program for peace, or diplomacy – that is the purpose of cutting the State Department budget. Just to show how petty the Trump-Heritage budget is, it completely eliminates the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program because it subsidizes flights to rural airports. It is a signal to the country bumpkins who voted for Trump that his agenda never, never ever, not even once took their needs into consideration and instead takes as much as possible from the people.

For example, Trump is expected demand “a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.” It is a preview of what Trump means by “resetting the process of Washington policy making” that his chief strategist Bannon labeled “deconstructing the administrative state.

As expected, it is the cuts to the EPA that will impact Americans as detrimentally as the GOP’s draconian healthcare plan. And although thousands of Americans won’t die quickly for lack of affordable, or any, healthcare, Americans will die to enrich corporations. The NYT pointed out that as expected, the Koch-Heritage proposed cuts to the EPA “are a magnitude greater even than those envisioned by congressional Republicans, many of whom forcefully oppose the agency’s regulatory agenda.”

As an example, last year the Republican-controlled House spending subcommittee setting the EPA budget proposed reductions that still funded the agency at $8 billion. At the time, the Koch-Republicans in the House only cut $291 million from President Barack Obama’s last requested funding amount for the EPA; not anywhere near the $2.6 billion demanded by Trump. The EPA cuts are so drastic that Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) said he never imagined having to cut the wildly-popular EPA “state grant programs that fund projects like restoring the Great Lakes and cleaning and redeveloping formerly contaminated industrial sites;” a cost that should be borne by the corporations responsible for the contamination like the lead still poisoning the water in and around Flint Michigan.

The NYT is patently wrong in claiming that both the current “skinny budget” and the “skinnier budget” to be unveiled later this Spring demonstrates the level of chaos, inexperience and staffing dysfunction in the Trump White House. Of course, the administration is all those things and so much more, but everything in the current and soon-to-be-released attack on government has been in the works for decades, more likely a generation or two going back to the New Deal. There is nothing chaotic or inexperienced in the Koch brothers’ vision of dismantling the government.

Some Senate Republicans have been critical of the Bannon-Trump proposal to slash funding for the State Department, but because they are so intricately tied, and heavily indebted, to the Koch brothers, there is little doubt they will revel in finally getting to do their part dismantling the federal government they have shown nothing but contempt for. But that makes sense for Republicans and their teabagger-conservatives who hate the government as much as they hate the American people and the U.S. Constitution.