But almost certainly true.
There is now a considerable cumulative case argument for the judgment that Trump is no longer in control of his presidency, to the extent that any president can be. The evidence would consist of Bannon’s elimination; the Afghan speech and the zero improvement on relations with Russia; indeed, the fact that Congress has taken away Trump’s ability to make a deal with Russia by ending sanctions tells us everything.
Saker said the same long ago, but recent events seem to provide evidence that it is conclusive: The Modern Structure has won.
However, there is one big caveat here: it could be a stratagem.
Why do we think the Modern Structure has won, with respect to Trump formal agenda? We present two sources, one from a recent Politico report and the second from the Grand Master himself.
Politico: Kelly Moves to Control the Information Trump Sees.
Confronted with a West Wing that treated policymaking as a free-for-all, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, is instituting a system used by previous administrations to limit internal competition — and to make himself the last word on the material that crosses the president’s desk.
It’s a quiet effort to make Trump conform to White House decision-making norms he’s flouted without making him feel shackled or out of the loop. In a conference call last week, Kelly initiated a new policymaking process in which just he and one other aide — White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a little-known but highly regarded Rhodes scholar who overlapped with Jared Kushner as an undergraduate at Harvard — will review all documents that cross the Resolute desk.
Trump now must make “decisions” according to a system of pre-screened information by a “Rhodes scholar” and a Harvard man.
“Politics” is not politics:
The Kelly-Porter reforms are in many ways a reversion to the habits of previous administrations, particularly in their attempt to ensure competing views are completely and straightforwardly presented to the president.
“There is a White House policy process, tried and true, that is not endemic to Republicans or Democrats, and it includes having the various policy councils bringing in the information and perspectives from agencies and elsewhere and then having the staff secretary’s office share the policy council’s memo around the office to get it vetted,” said Tevi Troy, who served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy under George W. Bush.
(Law 31 of Power is that you must control the options of others.)
Porter, a Harvard Law graduate, has assumed a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the administration, working even before Kelly’s arrival to create form from chaos and to serve as an honest broker between the competing factions that populate the Trump White House. He’s no stranger to the GOP’s vast ideological spectrum, having served as chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and before that as counsel to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), an Ivy League blueblood and George H.W. Bush partisan, as well as to tea partier Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
An “honest broker”, from Harvard – the Vatican of the Tranzi Empire – really?
Delay, distort, disrupt, degrade and destroy:
White House aides note that the new system is likely to slow the policymaking process. Executive orders, dashed out in a matter of days at the outset of the administration, are now likely to go through weeks of review as they are circulated to policy advisers, lawyers and the president’s legislative affairs team.
Policy advisers and lawyers from Harvard, no doubt.
This is how the “civil service” works:
(Begin the video at (14:00) or you can read about the “five stalling techniques” of the civil service here.)
But some hope that this new policymaking process will deliver legislative victories that have so far been elusive — particularly now that senior strategist Steve Bannon, who was known for skipping formal meetings to take his proposals directly to Trump, is out of the White House. One official called Bannon a “disruptive force” who did not want to follow any set path for making White House decisions.
(Steve Bannon wanted to destroy the “administrative state” or the Polygon, but it destroyed him.)
The president made policy pronouncements without consulting with all the stakeholders in his own administration; absent a formal policy process, their input often didn’t make it to the president’s desk. “In the past, a few senior administration officials unilaterally made policy calls that everyone had to live with,” said one senior administration official. “It seems like those days are over.”
Since taking over for Priebus last month, Kelly has sought to crack down not just on sneakiness and backbiting but also to impose order more broadly. He has tasked deputy chiefs of staff Rick Dearborn and Joe Hagin with bringing some order to the president’s schedule, pushing them to plan events further in advance and to include one public-facing event each day and one travel event each week, according to a senior White House aide.
You’re not on the list:
He is also reworking what were once free-flowing White House meetings. Each one now includes a list of attendees to prevent aides from inserting themselves gratuitously where Kelly does not want them. Said a top White House aide: “If you’re not on the list, you can’t get into the meeting.”
“If there was not this structure beforehand and if the structure has now been created and if they adhere to it, you will get better results, but there are some ‘ifs’ in my statement,” Troy said. ”The process works if people stick to it.”
So there it is then.
Now, what would the Master make of all this?
Here is Moldbug, in 2013, giving his opinion on how the system works:
Charles Stross Discovers the Cathedral.
The reality of the 20th century is that populists lose. Populists lose because populism is democracy, and democracy is weak. For instance, democracy as a form of government originated in mob violence. It was a mob that chased Charles I out of London. Then, democracy was strong and monarchy was weak, and as always the strong ruled the weak.
There is still mob violence in London, of course, but it is not organized and therefore cannot exercise power – and in any case, it is underclass violence, and therefore aligned with the Party. There is certainly no populist violence in London, and there hasn’t been any for 50 years. The beige oligarchy has zero tolerance for that. And even the idiotic “race riots” of the ’50s were a pathetic shadow of the Elizabethan mob, which had no trouble at all in ripping the throats out of every Flemish merchant in the City if they thought they were being gouged on the wool price.
So we have an interesting situation, in which a political force, once physically powerful, became represented in formal authority as a way to recognize and regularize its capacity for violence. But it no longer has that capacity for violence. Nor does it have any capacity to govern – not that it ever had any, really. And without the capacity to govern, it also lacks the capacity to retain its position of genuine authority, either by political craft or brute force.
Therefore, we can expect exactly the result that we observe – retention of symbolic authority, loss of actual authority. Of course, for any such loss, there must be a gainer. Hence the beige oligarchy.
(More on Form V Reality here.)
Democracy is a historically rare and transient phenomenon, of course, but retention of symbolic power when real power has been lost is a very common trope. It’s just a trope that usually happens not to democracies, but to monarchs – who are pwned usually by bureaucratic oligarchies, though sometimes by other monarchs (consider the Merovingian kings).
(Our “first anomaly”.)
When I think of the Western democratic electorate, as a force which claims the capacity and reality of ruling, yet has been utterly used by the utterly anti-democratic beige oligarchy, I find it very easy to translate it into the language of monarchy. We all hate monarchy, of course – the Party has taught us well! But somehow, we still know its language.
Imagine you’re the King of France. You have the hereditary right to rule France, just as Englishmen have the hereditary right to rule England. Why? Because. It’s the constitution. So, sovereignty is yours, unlimited and absolute sovereignty, and everyone has to do what you say.
Except – there’s just one problem. The problem is: you’re seven years old.
There’s simply no way that France will be ruled by a seven-year-old. But sovereignty is conserved. Always and everywhere, France is ruled by someone. At best, it might be ruled by someone who claims he’s taking orders from a seven-year-old. It might even be the case that the seven-year-old, if bright, actually writes down the order, which the wise minister has suggested to him. But there is no possible way in which, in reality, France is ruled by a seven-year-old.
There’s a great passage in Ray Huang’s classic, 1587: A Year of No Significance:
When Wan-li was in his early teens, he merely followed Big Companion Feng’s instructions, affixing his own rescripts in vermilion ink on certain papers to make official the drafts in black submitted by Tutor Chang’s office. The documents that he personally worked on involved simple replies such as Approved and Acknowledged. When the rescripts involved complicated phraseology, the work was, as a rule, delegated to Feng Pao’s staff of assistants. These proceedings were completely in agreement with the dynasty’s established practice. An instruction written in red in the emperor’s presence carried the authority of the throne. On the other hand, any unauthorized use of the vermilion brush constituted falsification of imperial orders, a crime subject to the mandatory death penalty.
It must have been some time before the young emperor grasped the mechanics of the institutional process, of which he himself was the central figure. There is no evidence, for instance, that, when in those early days he carried out his official duty in a way not fundamentally different from calligraphy lessons, he fully understood the import of his own rescript Acknowledged, which really meant that the suggestion or request embodied in the paper had been politely rejected, and that, considering the noncontroversial nature of the proposal, no action would be taken against the writer of the paper or others mentioned therein.
One duty Wan-li could not delegate had to do with his power of appointment. The problem was solved in this way: whenever there was a vacancy in a high office, Tutor Chang and the ministers always submitted more than one candidate for the emperor’s selection. When he circled one person’s name with his vermilion brush, that person was appointed, and the emperor had ostensibly made a decision of his own. However, he had early been indoctrinated to believe that the person whose name topped the list was best qualified.
Could any more penetrating portrait of an American election be penned? “Not fundamentally different from calligraphy lessons.”
And there it is; Trump is now receiving his “calligraphy” lessons from the Cathedral.
Come the Revolution. George Friedman.
Pat Buchanan’s pessimistic articles: