Rexless Abandon

The departure, one way or another, of Rex Tillerson has been expected for months; yet, his ouster somehow felt like a surprise. So it goes with the Trump administration's revolving door. From WaPo: In the end, no one was more surprised that Tillerson was fired than Tillerson. One thing that should surprise no one: Tillerson won't be the last high-profile administration departure. The outgoing secretary was viewed as a moderating influence in the administration. It's increasingly clear Trump doesn't want those.

+ The Atlantic: "Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson disagreed on global trade, climate change, NATO, the nuclear deal with Iran, talks with North Korea, Qatar's impasse with its neighbors, and, ultimately, even how the president fired his secretary of state."

+ Tillerson was largely sidelined from internal White House debates. But he had a massive impact inside of his own department. Consider this: "Under Tillerson's watch, 60 percent of State's top-ranking career diplomats resigned and new applications to join the foreign service fell by half." Vox: Rex Tillerson has been fired. Experts say he did damage that could last a generation. And from NYMag: The Mess Rex Tillerson Is Leaving Behind. And from Slate: An ignominious end for the most passive secretary of state in a century. (So basically, what we have here is a bad tenure followed by a worse firing.)

+ Shortly after the Sec of State was dismissed, his Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs was canned for releasing this statement about Tillerson's firing.

+ We're long past the point where the fact that Tillerson was fired via Tweet would come as a shock. Vice: Rex Tillerson's Rise and Fall, as Told by Trump Tweets.


Pompeo’s Circumstance

"With Mike, we've had a very good chemistry from the beginning." Trump never got along with Tillerson. He's always seemed to get along with Tillerson's replacement, current CIA director Mike Pompeo. NPR: Mike Pompeo: A Soldier, Spy Chief And Tea Party Republican To Become A Diplomat.

+ "For all the criticisms of Mr. Tillerson — and there were many, particularly in the State Department as he moved to slash its size — he was considered a restraining influence on Mr. Trump. Mr. Pompeo, in contrast, has been an enthusiastic defender of the president's policies, to the point that many senior current and former C.I.A. officials worried that he was far too political for the job." The NYT's David Sanger: Under Pompeo, a Foreign Policy That Fits the President's Worldview.


A Spy’s Rise

"In her appointment last year as deputy director, Haspel garnered praise from high-level Obama-era and Bush-era appointees, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden." Meet Gina Haspel. She's a career intelligence officer who's been running many of the CIA's day-to-day operations for the past few months. If confirmed, she'll become the organization's first woman director.

+ Haspel's confirmation hearings will likely focus on one topic: Her thoughts on, and role in, the CIA's post 9/11 interrogation tactics.

+ "Haspel ran the CIA's detention site in Thailand, the agency's first overseas secret prison. It was there in 2002 that she oversaw the interrogation of two terrorism suspects. One was Abu Zubaydah, who, according to the New Yorker, 'was tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.' CIA operatives reportedly waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times and repeatedly slammed him into walls." Vox: Haspel's long history with torture.


Collusion Course

On a normal day in DC (remember those?), one of these three stories would have topped the political news. First, the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee unilaterally ended their Russia probe and shared findings rejected by their Democratic colleagues, and the entire US intelligence community. Second, President Trump's "longtime personal aide John McEntee was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes ... Minutes after news of his departure broke, the Trump campaign announced McEntee would be joining the reelection effort." And Third, Trump made his first presidential visit to California where he inspected prototypes for his wall.


Off the Wall

For those interested in the president's expert takes on what we should look for in a wall, I offer these examples: One, you "have to have see-through." Two, if "we're not gonna have a wall system, we're not gonna have a country." Three, keep in mind that Mexican immigrants are "like professional mountain climbers." (Someone should have built a wall between 2016 and the future.)

+ As for who will pay for it -- it now turns out that the wall will pay for itself.


Brain Freeze

"Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere." MIT Tech Review: A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is 100 percent fatal. (I bet there are a whole lot of political reporters who would take this deal today...)


Camp America

"For her latest series, The Making of a Patriot, documentary photographer Sarah Blesener visited some of the camps and clubs where roughly 400,000 children throughout the US are annually trained in the Christian and military values, and the embrace of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny, that make up the new Americanism." From The Guardian: War games: the patriotic clubs training young Americans – in pictures. (Full disclosure: The closest I came to this experience was attending a Jewish overnight camp where I wet the bed every night for a week.)


Conversion Aversion

"The two patients said they were subjected to sexual misconduct by Iscove during their testimonies before the Discipline Committee. The patients, given the pseudonyms 'A' and 'B,' respectively, said that even as they saw Iscove as a father figure, he slowly coerced them into entering a sexual relationship with him throughout the course of their therapy sessions." Gizmodo: Gay Conversion Therapist's License Suspended After Patients Say He Sexually Abused Them.


Cheat Home Alabama

"Many Alabama sheriffs contend that the practice of keeping 'excess' inmate-feeding funds for themselves is legal under a state law passed before World War II." Etowah County's Todd Entrekin is one of those sheriffs. Etowah sheriff pockets $750k in jail food funds, buys $740k beach house.


Bottom of the News

"This means not only will you see six-pack abs in no-time, but you'll also find yourself completely despondent and unable to speak after just one session." McSweeney's: Newscycle is the very first cycling class focused on completely exhausting you mentally and physically.

+ Great photos from the Paralympics.

+ And a couple stories to get you prepped for tomorrow's school walkout and the ensuing debate about putting more weapons in the schools: Sheriff apologizes for accidentally leaving gun at school. And, School Resource Officer Accidentally Fires Gun Inside Alexandria School.