Media Criticism

Anti-Trumpers Hyperventilate Over Nothingburger Story About U.S. Ambassadors Leaving After Inauguration Day

New York Times is very anxious about maybe 10 rich families being inconvenienced in a way military brats experience constantly.

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When I was a tween in smoggy Southern California, I would sporadically experience during moments of stress and high exertion unpleasant bouts of hyperventiliation. The unlikely solution? Breathe into a paper bag, until the lungs (and nerves) calm down.

The New York Times needs to breathe into a paper bag.

Last night, The Paper of Record dropped this bit of alarmism into the anti-Trump slipstream. Here's how Times columnist Charles M. Blow shared the news on Twitter:

When you pick through the article's alarmist adjectives to get down to the underlying facts, you're left with this nut: Politically appointed American ambassadors (i.e., those selected by the president from outside the Foreign Service, usually from a pool that coincidentally overlaps with his biggest donors and bundlers), by tradition, end their terms on Inauguration Day. Usually the president grants waivers to extend the terms of those who need a little extra time for stuff like not disrupting kids' school years. This time around, the incoming Trump administration has told the political ambassadors that there will be no waivers.

Among the phrases and quotes used to characterize this move: "quite extraordinary," "exacerbates jitters among allies," "spite and payback," "guillotine," and so on. Among the relevant notions the article leaves out: How many ambassadors are "political" (usually about one-third), and how many of them will be impacted by this change. For the latter, let's go to Associated Press diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee:

I suppose "Trump inconveniences 10 families" isn't a particularly sexy story, so we're left with heavy breathing like this: "The directive has…upended the personal lives of many ambassadors, who are scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to remain in their countries so their children can remain in school." In other words, a handful of very rich people find themselves having to navigate the same disruptions that multiple military families face every damned day. (Also, re: "scrambling to…acquire visas," each of the four postings referenced in the article—Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Switzerland—allow U.S. citizens to visit without a visa for up to 90 days, which means that those dreaded disrupted school years can likely be stitched together via a single trip outside the country on, say, Easter.)

Part of the attempt at controversy here involves an unrealistic notion of what a U.S. ambassador actually does.

This is in fact pretty easy for me to imagine, traveling as often as I do to a part of France regularly patrolled by machine-gun-toting cops, and I can testify as someone who lived eight years abroad and who has interacted with a dozen or so U.S. ambassadors, the absence of a local embassy chief would mean squat-all. Ambassadors, particularly political appointees, are ribbon-cutters and toast-makers. Embassies, particularly in high-profile countries, are not really oriented around the concerns of individual Americans. And should something truly bad happen to you out in foreigner-land, it would almost certainly be the Foreign Service staff to help you out. Matt Lee again:

Lee concludes, "This is a non-story. Presidents choose their own ambassadors. None, especially non-career ones, should expect to stay post-transition."

There are many things to be alarmed about the foreign policy of the incoming Trump administration (why, here's a juicy Washington Post article to chew on!). But enforcing a hard out on political ambassadorships maybe rises to the level of a slightly raised eyebrow. Trump opponents undermine their effectiveness when going thermonuclear over trivia.

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  1. Aristocrats. Fuck em.

  2. The problem is that when he does do something so inappropriate that everyone should push back, it will be impossible to believe the likes of the NYT and WaPo, who have become breathless peddlers of fake news and faux outrage.

    1. At this point, sources like the NYT and WaPo have blown their credibility. That is why I have to appreciate Mr. Welch’s commentary here. It’s clear he’s not a fan. But, its clear he’s not going to lose his mind because someone he doesn’t like won the White House.

      1. Which is why Reason and libertarians, for the most part, are the best people to get your information from.

        1. Agreed. Libertarians are used enough to not getting our way that not getting our way no longer sends us into paroxysms of rage and horror.

          1. I wonder what would happen if libertarians got what we want. Would we be like the dog that catches the car?

            1. Oh if it ever happened we would splinter over doctrine. Wait, we do that anyway.

              1. You’re totally wrong, Iconoclast. WRONG!

            2. Nothing but legal cocaine parties, orphan wra nglin, and Soave hair touching for 4 years

  3. Can we all agree that TDS is really a thing, and the only argument should be over whether a particular person is exhibiting symptoms?

    1. If your outrage erection lasts more than 3 news cycles, please contact your doctor immediately.

      1. If your Schadenfreude erection has continued since November, please contact your doctor about how awesome it is.

        1. I prefer to just bask in the glow.

          1. Is that your own glow, or JT’s glow? NTTAWWT either way.

        2. I really didn’t think it would last this long, but it has not waned at all. If anything, the Democrats keep making it even worse. I’m starting to love Trump a little. I hate it.

    2. Who came up with the term TDS? I think it was a Reason commenter. I never saw the term until we started using it here, now it’s everywhere.

      Yeah, it’s really a thing.

      1. Well BDS and ODS were also things. Although TDS is by far the most prevalent and extreme. It’s amazing how much BDS is still around though.

        1. Personally, I rather prefer Trump Acceptance Rejection Disorder (TARD). But, it doesn’t seem to be catching on.

          1. That is much better.

          2. Yeah, but its a little narrow – basically its TDS over his legitimacy as POTUS.

      2. It is a play on Bush Derangement Syndrome, coined by Charles Krauthammer.

      3. I mean Bush Derangement Syndrome was coined by Krauthammer so it’s not exactly an original term.

      4. I started using “Palin Derangement Syndrome” in 2008 and I feel like I came up with it independently. But I probably can’t claim credit for it.

    3. Mostly looks like regular partisan freak out to me. It’s only notable in that so many “respectable” outlets and personalities are no longer trying to downplay their partisanship.

  4. Just read the comments on Twitter following Blow’s tweet. These people are just as insane and illogical as the comment section of Infowars.

  5. Charles Blow, who thought it was hilarious when departing Clinton White House staffers took the “W” keys off keyboards prior to George W. Bush arriving, is suddenly hyperventilating about ambassador schedules being an outrageous, unprecedented transition act of a monster, inhuman president?

    I’d like to say Blow me, Charles, but I’m certain he hears that daily already, and has roughly the same effect on him as being asked ‘what floor’ when he enters an elevator.

  6. You know not every outrage has to be an 11 right? Sometimes you can say, Ambassadors lose jobs a little early? Let’s call that a 3 big, fat, fucking zero

  7. I’m sure US ambassadors will have a very difficult time getting visas…. Such people have no connections. Can’t pull any strings.

  8. Look Matt, who will think of the ambassadors and their poor neglected children? Do you know how hard it is to get your kids into a good private school when you transfer after the semester has started? What do you expect them to do? Send their kids to public school? What kind of a heartless monster are you Matt?

  9. …I would sporadically experience during moments of stress and high exertion unpleasant bouts of hyperventiliation.

    How many prom nights did you have?

    And diplomats can’t read a calendar?

    1. Happened mostly during baseball games or other outdoor sporting events, on “sulphur alert” days, which we used to have.

      1. I prefer the multiple prom nights.

  10. Imagine being an Ambassador in an annex, your security resting on the shoulders of a few dudes and a local militia…

    1. It would suck. But if you are dumb enough to believe the people outside the walls love you, it would be just fine right up until the first mortar round lands.

      1. Of course, not actually being an “ambassador” but an undercover CIA operative charged with the rather despicable task from Obama and his minions of providing arms to members of Al Qaeda and other similar assorted detritus, he was never that dumb at all.

        That’s why he requested additional security multiple times, and was sadly rejected by his scumbag superiors each time. I bet he probably knew it was just a matter of time until he got killed.

  11. Now I’m experience an undefined and pointless outrage at their pointless outrage.
    Now off to read some fake news on the book of faces and click the clickbait.

  12. Anti-Trumpers hyperventilate. This is pitiful. Some Reason writers set the bar pretty high months ago.

  13. Interestingly, Welch, suffering from TDS himself, points this out. If you doubt me, just listen to a few of the Fifth Column podcasts from Oct-Nov, to say nothing of his scribblings here.

    1. In fairness, anything short of full on TDS would have caused Welch to suffer and enormous amount of social sanctioning among his friends and colleagues. So maybe he was faking it.

      1. Yes, John, this is a good excuse for why he caught the fever. But he certainly has/had it. Many otherwise rational people were caught up in it, so we have to be forgiving.

      2. In fairness, unless you have a sticky remnant of Trump’s golden splooge on your lips, you suffer from TDS.

        1. Should I be honored that you have involved me in your pornographic fantasies or horrified?

          1. TDS is a simplistic and excruciatingly boring way to dismiss any criticism that is not fervently loyal to Donald Trump.

            TDS LOL.

            1. It can be. But the fact that a term is misused and misapplied doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its proper uses. If there is a proper use of TDS, it is to describe people who make arguments they normally would not make and believe things they would normally be skeptical of in their criticism of Trump and do so because their criticism is driven by emotion and fear of losing social status more than any rational objection.

              There are a whole lot of people who fit that description and some of them work for reason.

            2. I haven’t accused anyone of having TDS that wasn’t foaming at the mouth hysterical and predicting the apocalypse upon his election. Honest, rational criticism is not TDS, but it is a real thing and there is plenty of it around.

            3. TDS is a simplistic and excruciatingly boring way to dismiss any criticism that is not fervently loyal to Donald Trump.

              Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on that. There’s a difference between disagreeing and blind hatred. There’s a difference between honest criticism and batshit crazy willingness to buy into arguments that are bizarre, and in some cases, self-contradictory (“Trump is a Putin stooge who wants to get us into a nuclear war with Russia!”).

              1. Similar to cosmo and yokel and lib and prog and socon, it is a flippant way to dismiss an opinion.

              2. Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on that. There’s a difference between disagreeing and blind hatred. There’s a difference between honest criticism and batshit crazy willingness to buy into arguments that are bizarre, and in some cases, self-contradictory (“Trump is a Putin stooge who wants to get us into a nuclear war with Russia!”).

                Many who throw the term around–not necessarily you, but definitely certain people in this thread–like to say they reserve it only for unhinged, unreasonable conspiracy theories/fearmongering, but then turn right around and throw it at anyone trying to criticize Trump on anything from trade to foreign policy or whatever.

                And even in cases where people are being unhinged and unreasonable, that doesn’t make it any less lazily dismissive.

                1. And even in cases where people are being unhinged and unreasonable, that doesn’t make it any less lazily dismissive.

                  No. It is lazy and dismissive when applied to people who are not unhinged and unreasonable. When it is applied to people who are, it is accurate.

                  You just dismiss the term because you don’t like the reality it describes.

                2. Because a word is misused, doesn’t mean its not a legitimate word. And perhaps it is “lazily dismissive” when applied to the unhinged and unreasonable. So what? Do you spend your arguing astrophysics with the unkempt man on the street corner who assures us that Jesus is going to be coming any day now with the aliens from Zurbonium 3?

              3. DS is a simplistic and excruciatingly boring way to dismiss any criticism that is not fervently loyal to Donald Trump.

                It’s definitely used that way by some. It’s a reasonable term to use for the real nutters who think that Trump is going to move us toward a White ethnostate, or is going to let people kill all the homos or something. But I see it thrown at a lot of people who, for real reasons, don’t like Trump.

            4. In my usage, TDS is when a person has such a strong bias against Trump that they use irrational, emotional arguments or obtusely ignore positive aspects of the man or his policies. And this is repeated over a significant time frame – at least several weeks.

      3. There comes a point in a man’s life when “social sanctioning” ceases to become any factor whatsoever in his behavior. Usually coincides with becoming a man.

        1. That is true Matt. Moreover, it is really fun to be subversive and not care about social sanctioning.

        2. Is this implicit approval of my cannibalistic mountain man lifestyle?

    2. You’re suffering from TDS yourself. For indisputable proof, just look back at some of the comments you made.

      1. Um….citation?

        1. Haha I don’t need to actually cite any evidence. Alls I have to is make vague references to someone having done something and it magically becomes a fact. Ain’t the internet a glorious thing?

  14. Do you know who else exacerbated jitters among allies?

  15. When I was a tween in smoggy Southern California, I would sporadically experience during moments of stress and high exertion unpleasant bouts of hyperventiliation. The unlikely solution? Breathe into a paper bag, until the lungs (and nerves) calm down.

    *sucks in wind*

    *holds it*

    NNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDD

    1. No kidding.

      If Soave knocks him down, steals his lunch money and hits on the lovely French chick, he’ll have no one but himself to blame.

      1. Soave isn’t the physical bully, he’s the one with the sweater tied around his shoulders that makes fun of poor people and talks about all of Father’s properties.

        1. He’s our very own Billy Zabka.

  16. It’s almost like Reason is positioning itself to be the voice of reason in these crazy times. Hey… wait a second…..

  17. In related news, the British economy is the best in the industrialized world.

    Apparently Brexit severely damaged the UK economy, or else it would be even better.

  18. Don’t you people get it? Obama appointed those ambassadors! When he makes a mighty pronouncement, the rest of us are supposed to bow down in glory of its awesomeness. Its supposed to be cast in the permanence his glory demands. Who the hell does this Trump guy think he is to second-guess His Worshipfulness’s timeless judgement?

    1. Who the hell does this Trump guy think he is[…]?

      The guy who won the fucking election.

  19. Far-left Obama worshipping scum in the media: “Drain the swamp! Hah!! As always, Trump is completely and totally full of crap, he’s not going to drain any swamps!”

    President-elect Trump: “Uh guys? Yeah, actually, I meant it. I’m going to drain the swamp.”

    Far-left Obama worshipping scum in the media: “WHAT?? You can’t do this! Nobody ever does this!! It’s totally against “precedent” and everything in the world that’s decent!!!11!!”

    1. You know something DD? You’re ok. I mean that.

  20. Trump opponents undermine their effectiveness when going thermonuclear over trivia.

    I agree…. and – WAIT! – OMG Trump’s campaign logo looks like a penis

    jk i’m feeling you mw

    1. That article should not bother you unless you’re a Trumpkin /crusty

      1. “trumpkins” = the new BlockInsaneYomomma?

        I was (and still am) sort of hoping there would be a dialing down of sillyness once the guy is president

        it is a vain hope. we are doooooooooooomed

        1. It will have to dial down somewhat. I don’t think what we are seeing now can be sustained for years.

          As for “Trumpkins”, I think any devoted followers of any politician deserve mockery and some kind of epithet. “Bern victims” “Obamatards”, they all deserve derision.

    2. That logo is pretty cool. Would’ve been even better if it had DC instead of P and T styled as a corkscrew.

      1. I was hoping for a flaming skull with horns with a python coming out of its eyes, but you can’t have everything

    3. It’s nothing compared to the Classi Mobile

  21. Charles Blow spilled figurative ink over the disruption in the lives of the most privileged members of society? Seriously? Aren’t most ambassadorships given to big political donors? I think they can deal with the disruption.

    1. Democrats hate Trump so much that they will endorse the CIA, runaway military spending, terrorism, antiterrorism, basically the opposite of whatever he says he wants.

    2. Most *political* ambassadorships, yes, by definition. And note that it’s only political ambassadors here who are affected (a fact that many people on Twitter seemed unable to grasp).

  22. This is similar to the ignorant people who were outraged at the floating of Bobby Valentine for Ambassador to Japan. The two Ambassadors to Japan under Obama have been an enormous bundler and a Kennedy, neither of which knew anything about Japan or had a connection. (The previous Ambassadors weren’t much better, although Howard Baker at least was a knowledgeable politico.)

    Bobby Valentine spent eight years working in Japan, is popular there, led fundraising efforts (and coordinated ways for Americans to help) after the T?hoku earthquake, and speaks the language. He’d be quite qualified by comparison.

    1. I am still hoping get the position. I write every day.

      1. Please. You just want to drink with straffin.

    2. My old L.A. Times colleague Michael McGough said that Dan Rooney has been a well-regarded ambassador to Ireland. I think Valentine would be great.

  23. B-b-but… IT’S TRUMP!!!1!!1!!!!!eleventymillion!!!1!!!!!!

  24. I have to grudginly admire Trump’s animal cunning and manipulation skills.
    He seems to know exactly how his enemies and the progs are going to react to certain stimuli, and he behaves in a way to cut off their available options in response. They end up screaming and frothing, but powerless to do anything about it. And then they’re ready to negotiate because they need their place at the money and power trough. The media losing their collective shit over him only reinforces what won him the election harder.

    1. Yep. And they have created such low expectations for him that they are setting him up for relection.

      He is a master troll

    2. He seems to know exactly how his enemies and the progs are going to react to certain stimuli, and he behaves in a way to cut off their available options in response. They end up screaming and frothing, but powerless to do anything about it. And then they’re ready to negotiate because they need their place at the money and power trough.

      You’ve hit the true nature of Trump on the head. He sets people up for negotiations by lowering expectations – putting out unreasonable negotiation positions – so that they will be only too glad to go along with something that they would have immediately rejected if presented as the first option. It’s Negotiating 101.

      First step – get leverage on your opponent. (see Art of the Deal)

  25. Part of the attempt at controversy here involves an unrealistic notion of what a U.S. ambassador actually does.

    Imagine being an American injured in a terror attack in Germany or France and there’s no U.S. ambassador there.
    ? Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) January 6, 2017

    Having lived abroad for about a decade, and way more than that if you include extended business trips and vacation travel, the very LAST thing that I’d be concerned about is whether there’s a US ambassador residing in a nation’s capitol city.

    For ordinary US citizens without government connections of some sort, the US embassy or consulate is almost useless. Most of my visits to US consulates were to pick up IRS forms there so that I could pay income taxes in the pre-Internet days. One time I got visa pages added to my passport, and that involved hours of waiting time. One time my wife and I spent the better part of a day at the embassy to get a document notarized.

    Every time I’ve been in an embassy since 1970 the staff intentionally made US citizens without government connections know that they were really not welcome and merely tolerated. Having had this experience, I am always impressed by the efficiency and cheerfulness of my local Department of Motor Vehicles staff. I know that US embassies have great parties, kind of like those portrayed in Hollywood, but ordinary Americans are never invited.

    1. Yea that was idiotic to me. Those are pretty big countries for which attacks could happen anywhere. If i am injured why would i be worried about who the ambassador is and if they are there or not? Do people go straight to the embassy?

      1. Embassy would still be around.

    2. Having had this experience, I am always impressed by the efficiency and cheerfulness of my local Department of Motor Vehicles staff.

      marvelous

      1. Maybe it’s because I live in Texas, and everything is better in Texas than the rest of the country, but I wasn’t kidding when I wrote that. Of course, I have very low expectations. Experiences with US embassy staff and the IRS have taught me to expect the worst.

        1. With one exception, all of my experiences with the NH DMV have been pleasant and reasonably efficient.

    3. If you get injured in a terrorist attack, you go to the fucking hospital and talk to the local police. What the hell does that person think the ambassador is going to do? And do they think that the whole embassy closes down if there is no ambassador?

  26. Matt you missed that the ambassador to Costa Rica’s wife has breast cancer.

  27. Matt Lee is obviously a propaganda tool of Russian intelligence.

  28. The NYT prefers to drink out of a paper bag.

  29. Actually, the article didn’t even say that all diplomats had to GTFO. This was in the 16th paragraph:

    “The State Department informed all politically appointed ambassadors in a letter the day after the election that they were to submit letters of resignation effective Jan. 20. It instructed those who wanted to seek extensions to submit formal requests explaining their justifications.”

    All they have to do is submit an extension. This is not something to be upset about.

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