Here Is The Political Problem With Trump White House

Many of my readers likely recall, as I do, how the Reagan White House operated.  Each week there was a message they wanted to press forward on.  For instance the week might be all about tax reform with one day devoted to deductions for home owners, another day designed to highlight the complexity of the tax code.  There would be members of the cabinet spread out for speaking engagements, and the use of backdrops with slogans backing up the central message where used endlessly.

It was masterful marketing of a message.  As a young man who did not support Reagan I nonetheless was impressed with the skill and talent that took place each week from the White House.  Having said that I now can say there is a most severe lack of seasoned talent in the Trump White House when it comes to messaging.  It was most obvious this weekend and makes for a giant political mess for all the Republicans.  It also harms the nation.

There is no doubt that chaos was Donald Trump’s calling card during the campaign.  It was created for effect.  But governing can not be aimed to create chaos.  If anyone truly loved their country they would not willingly do things that made for fear and uncertainty.  But this blog has never pretended that Donald Trump loved America.

What we have seen in Trump’s first few days in the Oval Office is that chaos is not a good tool for governing.  That is most clear when viewing the introduction of the administration’s refugee/travel ban.

The reason there is so much chaos is that there is a lack of competency.  Trump does not have the resume for the job and lacks experience in government.  His inner team lacks government experience.  And not for the first time do I stress Chief of Staff Reince Priebus  is totally out of his element.  Being a political operative within the party is not the same as having the gravitas for the duties and heavy responsibilities of making the White House operate smoothly.   And we have seen that fact play out over the past ten days.

Look at what happened just this weekend.

“The White House was left to defend what seemed to many government veterans like a slapdash process,” the New York Times’ Peter Baker writes about Trump’s travel ban. “Aides to Mr. Trump insisted they had consulted for weeks with relevant officials, but the head of the customs and border service in the Obama administration, who resigned on inauguration day, said the incoming president’s team never talked with him about it.”

Now we learned this morning there was no inter-governmental approach used to allow this ban to have been vetted.

We learned that the Homeland Security secretary was being briefed over the phone on the ban as President Trump was signing the executive order on TV.  For one who has worked in government at the state level I can assure my readers this is simply unfathomable to ponder as to how such stupidity actually took place!

Then to top it off the administration reversed itself, with Priebus saying on Meet the Press that Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries “doesn’t affect green card holders moving forward.”

The political mess is massive for the Republicans as this now becomes a huge legal journey that will consume time and create inroads for Democrats to make salient points.  This was a colossal mistake–which never need to have happened.

But it underscores what I have said for over a year.  Experience matters.  A resume matters.

And being a smart voter matters, too.

Much Heightened Concern Over Steve Bannon

The scope of Steve Bannon’s influence in this White House is revealing itself daily, through executive orders, omissions and commissions, and even an interview where he called on the press to “keep its mouth shut” for a while.  His seemingly growing grip on a less than curious man who sits in the Oval Office who has no experience or background in government is truly a reason to have deep concern.

The anti-Jewish nature of Bannon screamed out this past week when the commemorative statement from the White House about the Holocaust failed to mention the Jewish people which were rounded up and murdered.  It was simply chilling.

But it gets worse when thinking about the future problems that we face and how Bannon will have an impact.

To national-security veterans and outside observers such your blogger, Trump’s order elevating Bannon’s role on the National Security Council is startling.  Lets cut to the core and say it totally unacceptable.

Please do not miss that at the same time a white nationalist is getting more power the same order downgrades the military and the Director of National Intelligence in considering urgent security matters. Bannon is a provocateur with alt-right ties who has publicly mused that he sees power in the “Dick Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan” model. After the election he called for “an entirely new political movement.” Bannon now sits in the president’s formal inner circle of matters impacting war and peace.

Now go and have a nice day.  Nothing to worry about here.


McCain, Graham Strike Back Hard Over Trump Muslim Travel Ban

The Republican backlash starts with heavy hitters.  The global outrage is boiling, too

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina broke the GOP silence on Capitol Hill on Sunday to issue a scathing condemnation of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“We fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” McCain and Graham said in a joint statement, adding that Trump’s executive order “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Sunday the administration should immediately make revisions to the executive order. 
“We all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented, especially with respect to green card holders,” said Corker. “The administration should immediately make appropriate revisions, and it is my hope that following a thorough review and implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and reinstated.”

“Shame On You, Mr. President”

Perfectly stated today in the Boston Globe.

But here’s the real nub of the issue: Trump’s immigration order is fundamentally un-American. It turns its back on the most basic of American values, and is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are intimately familiar with the immigrant experience.

Politicians often throw around the term “nation of immigrants” or speak rhetorically about America being a “shining city on a hill.” But for many Americans those words have tangible, emotional meaning.

On one level there is the basic indecency of immigration restrictions that penalize those who have suffered the most from intolerance, hatred and war. All Americans — no matter their personal story — should be outraged by that.

Then there is the impact that such actions have on the very idea that so many Americans hold dear about what being an American means to them.

Trump’s immigration order is pointless, counter-productive, and wrong. Period. But that it would also undermine the national attribute that make so many Americans proud to be citizens of this country is unforgivable.

Shame on you, President Trump. And shame on any American who refuses to condemn this.

The Folly Of Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

There are so many great reads today about the number one issue of the weekend; the attempt by Donald Trump to ban the travel to this nation of those of the Islamic faith.  The Atlantic is one such place to spend some time.

The Trump administration is right to treat the threat as a global one, but characteristically fact-resistant in its imagining that visa-seeking nationals of the “particular concern” countries listed above are the most likely perpetrators of slaughter in the name of the Islamic State. A global threat is a global threat, and Europeans and Americans are still part of planet Earth. If the Islamic State intends to kill Americans by sending an Iraqi or Syrian to get a visa, they are doing it the hard way. Most of the attackers will blow themselves up out of frustration with the American immigration bureaucracy before they can ever reach American shores to blow themselves up near their intended targets.

Compare the tedious process of applying for a visa to the ease with which a citizen of a visa-waiver country can buy a ticket on Air France or British Airways—or just stay home and rent a truck, or buy a kitchen knife or a jerrycan of gas and a matchbook. The whole process can be conceived and executed with a credit card, in less than a day. According to Seamus Hughes of George Washington University, slightly fewer than 120 Americans have been caught on the road to jihad, and another 52 are known to have made it to Syria. One assumes there are more waiting for their moment. Add to that number the thousands who follow ISIS in Europe, Australia, and friendly countries in the Middle East. For ISIS to choose a Syrian or Yemeni to attack a Western target is not inconceivable, but it would present needless obstacles—and ISIS wants easy wins, rather than complicated plots with high risk of failure.

Donald Trump Is Afraid Of Stairs

There is so much to learn about America’s Mango Mussolini. I know the first Mussolini was fearful of cats.  Trump admits to being fearful of germs.

If Trump takes a spill in public down a flight of stairs perhaps Chevy Chase can be lined up for a Saturday Night Live skit akin to how he mimicked Gerald Ford for slips.  Though it needs noting Ford was one of our most athletic men to have sat in the Oval Office.  Trump on the other hand is overweight and clearly not skilled in things others than sitting.

Times of London: “Downing Street officials claimed the president’s phobia of stairs and slopes led him to grab the prime minister’s hand as they walked down a ramp at the White House.

The Telegraph: “The video footage of Mr Trump and Mrs May walking along the colonnade backs up the claim that the president made the first move.”


Facts Do Not Support Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

Trump Politicizes National Security Council

This is consequential.  This will harm the nation.  National Security has now become a political sideshow.  This is most awful and the seasoned voices within the Republican Party need to make a stand for common sense.

Washington Post: “Counseling Trump in the effort will be Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist whose influence inside the administration is expanding far beyond politics… Trump reorganized the National Security Council to, along with other changes, give Bannon a regular seat on the principals committee — the meetings of the most senior national security officials, including the secretaries of defense and state.”

“That memo also states that the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will sit on the principals committee only when the issues to be discussed pertain to their ‘responsibilities and expertise.’ In the previous two administrations, both were included as regular attendees.”