Rex Tillerson Confirmed As Secretary Of State

In a closer than normal vote for the position, Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as Secretary of State.

In what turned out to be a largely party-line vote, the Senate has confirmed former ExxonMobil  CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State:

WASHINGTON — Rex W. Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56 to 43 vote to become the nation’s 69th secretary of state just as serious strains have emerged with important international allies.

The many votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation made his selection among the most contentious for a secretary of state in recent history, and he takes his post just as many traditional American allies are questioning the policies of President Trump. In the past 50 years, the most contentious confirmations for secretary of state were those of Condoleezza Rice in 2005, who passed by a vote of 85 to 13, and Henry Kissinger in 1973, who was confirmed 78 to 7.

Mr. Trump is the most unapologetically nationalistic president of the modern era who has questioned the value of many of the alliances and multilateral institutions that the United States has nurtured since World War II to keep world order.

How Mr. Tillerson’s translates Mr. Trump’s vow of “America First” into the kind of polite diplomatic parlance that will maintain vital alliances will be a significant test.

Among his other challenges are dealing with Mr. Trump’s promises to recast relations with China and Russia, move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and re-examine an international nuclear deal with Iran.

A Texan, Mr. Tillerson, 64, earned an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, got a job at Exxon in 1975 and climbed his way to the top, leaving only last year. Neither a diplomat, soldier nor politician, he is an unconventional choice for the job, but has vast international experience.

With operations on six continents, Exxon Mobil is in some ways a state within a state. As its chief executive, Mr. Tillerson struck deals with repressive governments — in at least one case, against the advice of the State Department. Environmentalists largely opposed his nomination

But his views on international affairs are in many ways more conventional than those of Mr. Trump, which is why even Democratic-leaning foreign affairs experts said they welcomed his selection in hopes he would bring ballast to a turbulent administration.

“Rex Tillerson will have the most demanding and complex agenda to face a secretary of state in a very long time,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor and career foreign service officer.

Another crucial question will be how much influence Mr. Tillerson has on Mr. Trump. All cabinet secretaries must compete for power with White House aides who have long personal relationships with and frequent access to the president. But Mr. Trump’s reliance on a close circle of advisers to write and vet executive orders while keeping departments that must implement them largely in the dark is without precedent.

(…)

“Tillerson faces the most difficult task of any secretary of state in the postwar era in trying to reconcile President Trump’s intention to make a radical break from decades of bipartisan consensus U.S. foreign policy leadership with the reality that, if he succeeds, such a break could lead to global chaos,” said Ryan C. Crocker, who served as the United States ambassador to five Muslim countries.

Mr. Tillerson may also face difficult internal hurdles. Much of his department’s top leadership has departed — many because the Trump administration, like others before it, refused to keep political appointees. But the Trump transition team has been so short-handed and the pickings among Republican foreign policy veterans who had not criticized Mr. Trump so slim that dozens of positions are likely to remain empty for some time.

More worrisome, morale among the department’s rank-and-file career officers has plunged, with a dissent memo against the administration’s refugee and entry bans being submitted on Tuesday garnering more than 900 signatures, an extraordinary number.

Whether Mr. Tillerson meets these challenges with defiance or moderation will be a telling indication of his leadership.

Tillerson takes over at Foggy Bottom at a particularly challenging time in world affairs. In addition to the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the United States continues to maintain a presence in Afghanistan where the Taliban continue to fight the government and American forces remain on the ground there both to aid in that mission and to continue operations against al Qaeda there and in Pakistan. Additionally, the ongoing Saudi war on Yemen is threatening to spin out of control, which could cause that nation to become yet another hotbed for terrorist recruitment and training in the future. Tensions with Iran remain high notwithstanding the nuclear deal thanks in no small part to the fact that the Iranians continue to attempt missile tests that are in clear violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions that have applied sanctions against the Islamic Republic that are separate and apart from the ones imposed due to its nuclear weapons research. In Europe, Russia continues to cause trouble in Ukraine and hold on to Crimea while at the same time subtly probing at the eastern edges of the NATO alliance to see just how willing the United States would be to stand in defense of an alliance that has expanded significantly since the days of the Cold War. Additionally, it has been apparent since September that Russia is once again seeking to stir up trouble in the Balkan region dominated by the nations that used to make up Yugoslavia. As a result, although largely not talked about in the United States, tensions in that region have increased and some have suggested that President Trump’s first foreign policy crisis could come from an area that has been relatively quiet since the late 1990s. Finally, in Asia, the North Koreans remain a problem as always and China continues to assert its regional muscle in ways that are concerning to American allies such as South Korea and Japan as well as nations such as far away as the Philippines and Australia.

In addition to the challenges from abroad, Tillerson will also face challenges at home in the implementation of foreign policy. At present, it remains unclear who President Trump will rely upon the most in making foreign policy decisions. Traditionally, Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis would be the primary voices that a President would listen to. In Trump’s White House, though, it seems as though National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon may end up having more influence than the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. How that internal battle for the President’s ear pans out could have a significant influence on the direction of American policy around the world, as well as how the rest of the world reacts to the United States. In the end, Tillerson seems like he’s well up to the task of serving as Secretary of State, but one wonders just how much he’s going to be listened to over the coming years.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. SenyorDave says:

    Comforting that Steve Bannon’s advice will take precedence (presidence?) over SecState and SecDef. He is a reasonable guy, as evidenced by this:

    “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

    If things goes south, and it almost has to with Trump as POTUS, people hopefully will remember that the Republican base picked an ignorant, uninformed buffoon as candidate, and 90%+ of Republicans voted for him.

  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Is Tillerson really just Putin’s hand up the Orange Puppets arse?

  3. CSK says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Who do you think will win the great cage match to be Trump’s principal advisor: Bannon or Ivanka and Jared? Anything Trump does or says depends on what person most recently whispered in his ear, and, of course, upon who’s curried the most favor with him.

  4. Jake says:

    You hate Trump more than you love the truth.

    Get use to disappointment . It going to be a long 8yrs for you.

  5. Turgid Jacobian says:

    I dislike Tillerson on the merits, experience, etc. But on his own terms I can live with it. Again, it’s the miasma of Russophilia that hangs over him and everybody else in the Prez’s inner circles. That’s disturbing. Though I wouldn’t want an alarmist Russophobe, either. Hard to figure a good choice from this bunch.

    Pretty much everybody else has been useless to worse.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    You hate Trump more than you love the truth.

    What exactly is this “truth” you are referring to ? It wouldn’t be like alternative facts, hmm?

    It going to be a long 8yrs for you.

    Not really, as neither Trump nor Pence will hold their current positions that long…

  7. Gustopher says:

    Unlike some of Der Pumpkinfuhrer’s nominations, Tillerson is well qualified for a job. Not this job, but a job.

    Anyway, his first task will be to clean up the mess Donald The Orange created in Australia. Or Mexico. Seems like a miserable job.

  8. Guarneri says:

    Did Obama leave him the can of red paint?

  9. gVOR08 says:

    Of course it’s purely coincidence that the first bill to hit Trump’s desk is likely to be repeal of a provision of Dodd-Frank that requires oil companies to report payments to foreign officials, a provision Exxon strongly objected to.

  10. CB says:

    Can we get a new thread about how our brilliant new President cavalierly sent a SEAL team into a predictable catastrophe? Can it please include the words “Benghazi Committee” fifty or sixty times?

  11. Grumpy Realist says:

    I bet Tillerson is looking at the mess Trump just created for him with Australia and Mexico, thinking “oh god what did I sign up for?!!”

  12. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: If I have to choose between those three, I will pick Ivanka, after all she’s the one he wants to

    well, I just think I’ll not go there instead…

  13. cian says:

    Things seem to be unravelling fast. The domino effect of Brexit first and now Trump is destabilising the world fast. With Holland’s anti EU party leading in the polls and Le Pen profiting from her opponents woes, the European project is in real danger of collapsing and with it 70 years of peace.

    Those working hard to destroy it have no proposals for what comes next, no vision for what the world they are calling for will look like, other than it will once again be France for the French, Holland for the Dutch, etc.. And in this direction lies havoc. Hopefully the people of Europe can turn back the tide of madness that is sweeping the western world at the moment, madness cheered on and facilitated by Russia and now, unbelievably, by the US under Trump.

    Is Tillerson a part of this insanity or will he attempt to steer foreign policy in a different, saner direction, and does he have the required skill set to achieve this? Russia’s desire to see the EU and single market broken up is no surprise and even understandable as a disintegrating Europe strengthens their hand immeasurably. But why would the US want this and why is Bannon working closely with the far right groupings in Europe to enable them in their destruction? Let’s be clear, a failed Europe will not make America safer. It will not be a plus for the American economy.

  14. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I’m not sure whether the European scene today more closely resembles 1914 or 1934. Either way, it’s discomfiting.

  15. Pch101 says:

    It’s terrific that the US head of state believes that it’s acceptable to treat a foreign leader as he would a drywall subcontractor:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/no-gday-mate-on-call-with-australian-pm-trump-badgers-and-brags/2017/02/01/88a3bfb0-e8bf-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html

    The fact that he had an actual tantrum with a conservative* leader of a US ally is even more striking.

    Trump reminds me of business people who I have met who only respect force. These people tend to view the world in hierarchical terms, abusing those who they can but acquiescing to those whom they fear. Which would explain why the Trump-led US will have “better” relations with a Soviet thug like Putin than it will with our actual allies.

    Tillerson had better be good, because his boss is worse than useless. On the other hand, the Chinese must be thrilled at all of these new opportunities to usurp US power.

    *The Liberal Party in Australia is the country’s conservative political coalition. It’s isn’t liberal in the left-of-center sense.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    Centcom says Trump sent a soldier to his death in Yemen with inadequate intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.
    https://www.google.com/amp/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/02/civilians-likely-killed-trumps-first-raid-yemen-says-us-military/amp/?client=safari
    It’s not even two weeks into his term. This crew makes the Keystone Kops look competent.
    I’m quite certain we will have 11 Congressional investigations into this, right???
    In addition to the Seal Team member that Trump killed, there was also the Eight-year-old American daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki killed. Taken on top of Trumps Muslim Ban…and Conspiracy Theorist Mike Flynn calling out Iran…we are well on our way to fwcking up the Middle East again.
    Here we go…

  17. Mr. Prosser says:

    @SenyorDave: Thanks to Walt Kelly I think you are looking foe “presidense” or “presidensity”

  18. Franklin says:

    @Jake: From the brief stuff I’ve read, Tillerson is a smart guy, even somewhat reasonable. But aside from his dealings internationally (and that’s not even a plus in this case, considering the murky ties between him and Trump and Russia which makes everyone suspicious), I don’t see what qualifies him for this job. Please fill us in rather than launching unguided nebulous attacks about “truth”.

  19. Argon says:

    @CB:

    Can we get a new thread about how our brilliant new President cavalierly sent a SEAL team into a predictable catastrophe? Can it please include the words “Benghazi Committee” fifty or sixty times?

    But her emails…

    I’m sure Trey Gowdy will be hot on the case.

  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Jake:

    You hate Trump more than you love the truth.

    I’m trying to imagine the experiment that could test this hypothesis, but failing.

  21. Jack says:

    OT

    Meanwhile Hillary will publish a book of essays including her thoughts on Donald Trump.

    I wonder what she’ll call it? “WTF”, “I Lost to Him”, “Tim Kaine is a Schmo”, “Deplorables Beat Me Like A Rented Mule”, “Why I Hate Russians”, “Nana Goes To Prison”, “Comey Ain’t My Homey”, Diary Of A Mad Presidential Candidate”, “You’ve Got Mail: The Classified and Uncut Version”, “I’m Sick As A Dog, But No One Is Watching”, “Lies I Live By”, “I, Loser”.

  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Jack…who spent years screaming BENGHAZI at the top of his wimpy little lungs…chooses to focus, this morning, on Clinton’s unwritten book rather than Trump sending soldiers into harms way without intelligence or proper preparations resulting in the death of a soldier.
    So you can clearly see what Jack is really all about.

  23. Jack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Are you mad, bro?

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  24. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens; 36, from Illinois.
    The first person to be killed by Trump’s ineptitude.
    That we know of, I guess.

  25. Pch101 says:

    Congressional Democrats should be demanding hearings about the botched Yemen raid.

    If the Republicans won’t agree, then they should hold their own public unofficial hearings, which emphasize Trump’s and the Republicans’ lack of concern for US troops and their lack of patriotism.

    When they’ve completed one set of hearings, then they should have a second. When those are done, a third. And a fourth. And a tenth.

    Do not emphasize incompetence. Talk instead about illegitimacy and a lack of patriotism. You don’t want to just attack the right, you want to co-opt their buzzwords and turn that rhetoric against them. The Republicans are not the patriots, they are the traitors.

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    I suppose that your friends in Moscow told you that it’s cool to laugh about dead American troops.

  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jack:
    You voted for the incompetent buffoon…his blood is on your hands too.
    But after Bush send 4000 troops to their needless death you didn’t give a fwck either…so carry on.

  28. Jack says:

    @Pch101: With all of the hatred you spew, how is it that you have not yet committed a) suicide; b) mass murder, or c) b then a?

    I believe all liberals, if truly committed, should simply kill themselves in protest of President Trump.

    I look forward to that day with fondness.

  29. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    Hey, you’re the one who is laughing at dead American troops.

  30. Jack says:

    @Pch101: No, I’m laughing at DOBD, but I would expect YOU to confuse the issue. Go back to School House Rock, it’s more befitting your level of intelligence.

  31. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jack:
    Jack…laughing at dead troops.
    In between beating his Mexican wife, I suppose.

  32. Jack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Please. Let’s stop your fake outrage at the death of an American service member. Until you are ready to put on a uniform and pick up a rifle to defend your country, your opinion on US troops means less to me than your puddle of tears over Hillary’s loss.

    If you were really outraged, you would commit suicide. Come on, if monks can douse themselves in gas and set themselves on fire, I’m sure a no-brain liberal can figure it out.

  33. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jack:

    If you were really outraged, you would commit suicide.

    That’s maybe the stupidest thing you have ever typed.
    You must be a real pussy to default to suicide when things get tough. Myself, I think, fight.
    But to be clear, Jack…I’m not actually saying you’re a pussy…I’m just saying that your Mexican wife ought to stuff a tampon in your mouth.

  34. Jack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I’m simply cheering you on. You can do it. Needs some help? I’d be glad to refer you to a doctor.

  35. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    From the AP:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

    Seriously? We are going to have a military incursion into Mexico?
    And what adult calls anyone a “bad hombre”?
    Holy shit…this country is fwcked if something doesn’t happen to stop this idiot.

  36. Jack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Holy shit…this country is fwcked if something doesn’t happen to stop this idiot.

    Are you suggesting something should happen or are you suggesting you are willing to make something happen? Do I need to report you to the Secret Service?

    Mods, I suggest you gain control of DOBD before you become implicated.

  37. David M says:

    Come on people, the troops signed up to die by the thousands under illegitimate Republican presidents in pointless wars. None of them signed up to die under Democratic presidents. You should know how this works by now.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    Good article over at the New Yorker on how Trump may be leading us down the path to being like China.

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Centcom says Trump sent a soldier to his death in Yemen with inadequate intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.

    He sent a sailor to his death. SEALS are part of the Navy and are not soldiers.

  40. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    He sent a sailor to his death. SEALS are part of the Navy and are not soldiers.

    Don’t expect a minor detail like that to get in the way of fake liberal outrage.

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Oh…well that makes him an excellent Combover-in-Chief.

  42. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    You get dumber with every single comment you type.

  43. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: At least he is a Commander-in-Chief, unlike Hillary Clinton. Mic-drop.

  44. Rick Zhang says:

    Seriously people, just ignore these internet trolls. I know how they work. They are part of the alt-right Trump Troll Army who are assigned blogs/news organizations to troll. That’s why we have the rotating cast of characters on here (they are probably assigned days of the week as well). Some even get paid for it. Others are paid by Russia to similarly troll websites.

    If you go to WaPo or Marketwatch, the first comments at the bottom are always from trolls like these. Their goal is not to participate in reasonable discourse, but to sow chaos, rile you up, and create cynicism. They would love for the forums to grind to a creaking halt due to an impaired signal:noise ratio.

    Just ignore them. Stop giving them the attention they seek.

  45. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Rick Zhang:
    You’re giving Jack way too much credit…he’s just a loser hanging out in his pajamas, eating cheeto’s until his hands are stained orange…and living off his Mexican wife’s earnings as a chamber-maid.

  46. Pch101 says:

    @Rick Zhang:

    The wingnuts would be here even if there were no replies.

    The only way to get rid of them is for the moderators to ban them.

  47. Jack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    18 U.S. Code § 2385 – Advocating overthrow of Government

    Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

    Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

    Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

    If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

    As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.

  48. Jack says:

    @Pch101: Typical tolerant left. Only opinions you agree with may be proffered. All else must be banned.

    You aren’t a UC Berkeley student are you?

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    Don’t expect a minor detail like that to get in the way of fake liberal outrage.

    Oh, please. Like Trump knows. He called Mattis, a lifelong Marine, a “soldier” at his news conference announcing his appointment, and also tweeted out about Ivanka greeting the body of a dead “soldier” when the seaman’s body was returned.

  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It’s just a pet annoyance of mine, that members of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines are routinely referred to as “soldiers.” That term is only proper for Army personnel. I realize that not everyone shares my micro-obsession on this.

  51. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders: And Obama called them CORPSE MEN. So fwcking what.

  52. Franklin says:

    @Rafer Janders: Is it OK to call people sailors who you know are were in the Navy but you don’t know their rank?

    This is more curiosity, because I got a funny look from somebody once.

  53. Kylopod says:

    @Rick Zhang: I’m finding this thread depressing, but I don’t agree that we should automatically assume every dumb right-wing commenter here is part of some massive Trump Troll Army. Jack has been with us for several years, and I’ve been seeing commenters like him on many political forums going back a long time.

    One thing to keep in mind is that there has long been an element of American right-wing culture that is distinctly trollish. It’s a lot older than Trump’s entry into politics; it probably goes back at least to Rush Limbaugh in the ’90s. Partly due to their persecution complex and their preoccupation with “political correctness” (which is heavily about taboo-shattering), a whole generation of righties raised on a diet of talk radio, Fox, and the fever swamps of the web have become obsessed with the idea of getting a rise out of liberals, as if the very act of getting someone angry is itself an achievement to be proud of. It has reached the point that it matters more to many of them than any specific policy issue or partisan debate. Trump is in many ways the perfect embodiment of this attitude, but he didn’t invent it.

  54. Pch101 says:

    “Jack” may or may not be a fraud, but his internet persona represents that chunk of America that is high on animosity and low on intelligence.

    People like this do exist. You cannot educate them, you can only belittle and weaken them.

    Even now, a lot of Republicans are birthers: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/poll-persistent-partisan-divide-over-birther-question-n627446 These are not reasonable people with a legitimate alternative point of view; be sure not to regard them as such.

  55. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Today in amazing:
    Trump relaxes IT sanctions against Russia…imposed after they hacked our election.
    Makes sense; they helped Trump become President…President Trump helps them.
    I hadn’t heard, until today, that Trump shut off the recording of his call to Putin so there is no transcript.
    Imagine if Obama was pulling this crap. Republicans like Jack would be going bat-shit insane.
    But with their own in the White House…no big deal.

  56. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    People like this do exist. You cannot educate them, you can only belittle and weaken them.

    I fear politically all we can do is marginalize them. iI hope that they are no more than the famous 27% of the populace. If there are significantly more than that, we are screwed.

  57. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    Marginalizing them will have to do. You certainly can’t fix them.

  58. Jen says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: That easing of restrictions on cyber-security sales did actually literally make my jaw drop. Between that, adding additional sanctions on Iran, getting into a spat with Australia’s PM, threatening to invade Mexico, calling for the elimination of the Johnson Amendment, and taking time to be snippy to Arnold Schwartzenegger, he certainly had a full day of WTF today.

  59. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jack: I don’t see how saying that you’re living in a basement, eating Cheetos, and living off your wife’s minimum-wage-plus-tips job constitutes

    Advocating overthrow of Government

  60. Just 'nutha ig'rant ig'nint cracker says:

    @Jen: I read an article about the sanction easement and it seems that the degree to which commerce was restricted by the order was preventing Microsoft from purchasing the licenses necessary to sell Microsoft Office in Russia.

    I still don’t understand, and have little sympathy for the problem, but that may be just my ig’nint crackerness coming out.

  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    Ah yes, the Smith Act. Yet another statute you clearly do not understand and are reading outside of the context of applicable rulings which render it toothless and mostly unconstitutional.

    I suggest that you read Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957) and, more pointedly, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). To wit:

    the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action

    This establishes three required elements which the government must prove in the affirmative beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1) Intent – the accused intended to cause unlawful action as a product of his utterance(s), and;

    2) Imminence – The threat of said unlawful action occurring has to be in the immediate. Something that might happen at some distant future date doesn’t qualify, and;

    3) Likelihood – There has to be a legitimate probability that the unlawful actions will actually be incited by the utterances

    What’s being bandied about here doesn’t even come close to satisfying those conditions.

    What have I told you, repeatedly, about the perils of trying to play attorney? Stick to something you’re actually qualified to do. Being an alcoholic perhaps?

  62. Mikey says:

    @Jack:

    Let’s stop your fake outrage at the death of an American service member. Until you are ready to put on a uniform and pick up a rifle to defend your country, your opinion on US troops means less to me than your puddle of tears over Hillary’s loss.

    Well, I don’t know Daryl’s other brother Darryl or his service, if any, but I DID put on a uniform and pick up a rifle, for 20 years, three months, and 10 days. And I’m rather pissed off that the President authorized an operation he shouldn’t have authorized, that resulted in the death of an American sailor, the loss of an aircraft, and the deaths of several noncombatants, including children. Ain’t no fake about my outrage.

    Trump screwed the pooch on this one. Period. And a good man died because of it.

  63. dxq says:

    @Rick Zhang:

    The wingnuts would be here even if there were no replies.

    The only way to get rid of them is for the moderators to ban them.

    Yeah, I wish people would stop babbling “Ignore the trolls”. Since the invention of the internet on October 29, 1969, no comment thread in history has ever once succeeded in starving a troll of attention.

    Mods here don’t even have to ban trolls, just give us an “Ignore Commenter” button. There will always be loser scum like Jack, but we don’t have to see it every other comment.

  64. Pch101 says:

    @dxq:

    It’s good that “Jack” posts here. He should serve as a constant reminder that you cannot reason with or educate wingnuts. They like being that way, and they would literally kill you if you gave them the opportunity.

    Remember that not long ago, this country used to have lynchings. Now you can see who would have participated in them.

  65. dxq says:

    i don’t care if jack posts here or not, it’s just annoying to have to sift through that garbage for the intelligent discussion. be nice to have a way to collapse or avoid it altogether, as it’s worthless.

  66. dxq says:

    i grew up the the deep south, on the florida/georgia border. Town next to us had their last lynching in the 1970’s, when i was in diapers.

  67. DrDaveT says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I realize that not everyone shares my micro-obsession on this.

    I like to get it right, but “soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines” is such an awkward mouthful, and I really hate ‘warfighters’ as the generic, and ‘military’ is an adjective, not a noun. What do you prefer?

  68. Rafer Janders says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “Military personnel,” “troops,” “the military,” etc. etc. But if you’re only referring to someone from one branch, as in one SEAL, then it’s not too hard to properly call him or her a sailor rather than soldier.

  69. Rafer Janders says:

    @Franklin:

    Is it OK to call people sailors who you know are were in the Navy but you don’t know their rank? This is more curiosity, because I got a funny look from somebody once.

    This is a debate that is unique to the Navy. Everyone in the Army, officers and enlisted men alike, considers themselves a soldier. Similarly in the Marine Corps, both officers and enlisted men are Marines. But in the Navy, many officers feel that only lower ranks are sailors, while they are naval officers. However, recently the Navy has cracked down on this and is encouraging, i.e. ordering, the officers to consider and refer to themselves as sailors. (For various reasons there has always been far more of a divide between officers and lower decks in the Navy than in the other services).

  70. dxq says:

    possibly a tradition going back to the brits, where the officers weren’t sailors, but commissioned upper-class knobs?

  71. C. Clavin says:

    @Pch101:

    They like being that way, and they would literally kill you if you gave them the opportunity.

    C’mon…Jack is all bluster from behind his keyboard and would cower in the corner…maybe through a stale Cheetos at your back as you walk away pitying him.
    No doubt some of these ignorant red necks are dangerous…armed with their penile prosthetics…but not Jack.

  72. Kylopod says:

    @dxq:

    Since the invention of the internet on October 29, 1969, no comment thread in history has ever once succeeded in starving a troll of attention.

    One problem is that the entire culture of the Internet has built up trolls to be a lot more than they are. The very word “trolling” has been invested with positive connotations it probably doesn’t deserve. People make it sound like an art form. (I’m constantly hearing pundits say stuff like “Harry Reid successfully trolls Republicans…”) In reality, the truth about Internet trolls is that it requires absolutely no talent or skill at all, because it’s a game that by definition is impossible to lose. No matter how people react, the troll always wins. If the troll beats you in an argument, he wins. If he’s defeated in the argument, he still wins, because he’s successfully “trolled” you. If he does nothing but spew insults at you, no matter how boring, lame, and witless, he wins. To the troll, the very act of trolling is its own reward, and therefore there’s nothing you can do to defeat him because his very existence fulfills his goal. And designating him as a troll validates his existence, because everyone knows that trolls, while annoying, are all awesome. So maybe what needs to be done is not constantly reminding people DFTT but stop talking about “trolls” outside the Internet like they’re some kind of subversive rebels. It’s part of what got the country to where it’s at now.

  73. Pch101 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It doesn’t take much courage to be in a lynch mob.

  74. Rick Zhang says:

    I’m historically skeptical of a direct ban due to free speech grounds. Plus, there are easy ways around that with IP masking. However, I agree with the above posters that an ignore feature or a auto-minimize for comments that are too negatively rated would be the way to go.

    We run the risk of becoming an echo-chamber like Naked Capitalism, where one side of the spectrum feels uncomfortable even posting, but at the same time I’m finding it hard to find thoughtful discourse from a right-wing perspective. All the right-wing intellectuals I know and respect (in real life as well as online) are part of the Never Trump wing. See: James Joyner, Jennifer Rubin, Greg Mankiw. They know when their movement (grounded in Burke, Hayek, Buckley, and Friedman) has been hijacked by a populist.