Tag Archives: Air Force One

‘Emergency’ plays second fiddle to golf at Mar-a-Lago

I admit readily that I am a bit slow on the uptake at times.

Such as when the president of the United States declares a “national emergency” and then jets off to Florida for a weekend of fun in the sun and a round or three of golf at his posh Mar-a-Lago resort.

What am I missing? I cannot grasp what he’s doing here.

When a president declares a “national emergency,” doesn’t he remain on his watch, pouring all his energy into solving the problem that causes the emergency? Yeah, I know I’ve declared my lack of angst over all the golf that Donald Trump plays; he’s always on the clock. It’s just that he said he wouldn’t “have time” for golf once he took office as president.

So he says our southern border has become a “point of entry” for hordes of drug dealers, human traffickers, killers, rapists and assorted international terrorists. His response was to declare the “national emergency” that in fact doesn’t exist.

The president betrayed the urgency of the declaration, I am going to presume, when he boarded Air Force One and headed to South Florida for the weekend.

I always have considered “national emergencies” to be, by definition, events that require the president’s undivided attention. President Carter declared such an emergency when the Iranian terrorists took our embassy personnel in 1979. If memory serves, the president acted the way one in his position must act.

Donald John Trump Sr.? He has fabricated a “national emergency” where no such thing exists.

Let’s call it Air Force One, even though it really isn’t

The big blue-and-white Boeing 747 that is carrying the late President George H.W. Bush back to Washington, D.C., for his state funeral has a new name.

I’m going to refer to it as Air Force One, even though in the strict definition of the term, it isn’t. For this flight it is known as Special Air Mission 41.

Air Force One is referred to any aircraft that is carrying the president of the United States. Piper Cub, Stealth Bomber, Gulfstream jet, Boeing 747, it doesn’t matter. If one of its passengers is the president, it is Air Force One.

The jet is carrying as well the former president’s children, including the 43rd president, George W. Bush.

I have been struck by TV news commentators referring to the jet as Air Force One, as if it’s how you refer to the jet at all times.

Well, I’m going to stray from decorum and refer as well to the big jet that is taking Bush 41 back to the place where he toiled for eight years as vice president and four years as head of state.

This great — and good — man has earned one final ride aboard Air Force One.

Someone needs to get fired at the White House

A comedian posing as U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has spoken with the president of the United States … who was flying on Air Force One when he took a phone call.

“Menendez” asked Donald Trump all kinds of pointed questions about immigration policy and about his upcoming choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

But that’s all beside the point. The real point is this: How in the name of high-tech security did this guy get through to the president of the United States of America?

America, we have a problem. A big one, too! No goofball comedian should be able to patch a phone call through to the president. Not ever! Imagine for a moment if the caller was a spy for, oh, Russia, North Korea, Iran or any other country intent on doing harm to the United States.

Donald Trump used to make his living telling reality TV show contestants “You’re fired.” He needs to tell someone on his White House staff that very thing.

Remember those $600 hammers?

One man’s bargain is another man’s boondoggle, yes?

Sure! Well, get a load of this little item: Air Force One, the jumbo jet that carries the president of the United States and his ample staff is getting two new fridges. Their cost? A cool $23.6 million!

Oh, for the days when we fretted over $600 hammers procured by the Pentagon. I trust you remember how outraged we got over that exorbitant expense.

This one, though, well … I am a bit stunned.

Not long after he became president of the United States, Donald Trump canceled an order for a new Boeing 747 to serve as Air Force One. “Too expensive,” he declared. Trump didn’t need a shiny new airplane on which to fly to this or that location. “Cancel order!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

Now he and his staff are getting two new “chillers” for the big bird. The cost is astonishing — at least in my view.

An Obama administration official said Barack H. Obama “would have been impeached” if he had approved such an expense. Maybe. Maybe not.

However, the price tag for the airborne refrigerators does have at least one defender. Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group consulting firm, defended the cost. As Global News reports: “It’s not a contractor issue, it is a requirements issue,” Aboulafia told Defense One. “It’s not getting people rich.”

While the price tag might seem outlandish at first and second glance, the “chillers” need to be custom built for the presidential plane. They will also undergo strict testing by Boeing and the FAA.

OK. I get that this isn’t your household Frigidaire or Whirlpool fridge. But holy crap, man! Twenty-three million bucks?

Aren’t Republicans supposed to belong to the political party of fiscal responsibility? Of conservative spending principle?

This is more than just a little bit spendy, folks.

Stay ‘home,’ Mr. President

Donald J. Trump surely understands the importance of symbolism.

He plasters his name on tall buildings all around the world to symbolize his immense wealth. The rest of us get it, Mr. President. You’re worth a bundle, man.

So, why doesn’t he act a bit more symbolically with regard to the office he occupies and remain in the White House, where he was elected to serve?

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, one of the president’s pals in Congress asked just the other day about his continual forays to that posh resort of his in Florida. Mar-A-Lago has become a sort of surrogate White House. Ernst doesn’t think Trump serves his office well by spending so much time there, enjoying the glittery fruits of his tremendous business success.

I happen to agree, although I want to stipulate something I’ve noted already on this blog. It’s that the president is the president wherever he is. He doesn’t leave any of the power of the office behind when he ventures away from the Oval Office.

However, this particular individual — the 45th president — campaigned as a populist; a friend of the little guy, the working man and woman, the Mom and Pop business owner. His constant jet trips to the glitz and glam of Mar-A-Lago suggest to me that he is more comfortable living the high life than he is in connecting with the rest of the country.

The president has some pretty nice digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Granted, they aren’t as gaudy as his south Florida palace. We pay for it. We maintain it for the president and (hopefully soon) his family. The grounds are immaculate. You can’t beat the home security system, either.

All that said, the president ought to heed the pleading of one of his congressional friends. He can choose to ignore those coming from the rest of us who dislike him.

Sen. Ernst is right. Donald Trump ought to park that that big blue-and-white Boeing 747 for a time and stick around the White House.

It’s the symbolism, Mr. President. Yes, it matters.

Trump needs to get out more

I am going to make a request of the president of the United States.

Mr. President, you need to take wing in that big jet of ours and visit the nation you are trying to govern. And no, sir, I don’t mean just those states you won. You need to go to those places you lost bigly to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.

I’ve griped in the past about previous presidents’ failure to reach out to those parts of the country that backed the other guy.

The only time Barack Obama ever came to Texas, for example, was to attend those private, high-end fundraisers. He didn’t visit the Panhandle, which voted twice for his Republican opponents by, oh, significant margins. We have concerns, too, that the president should have addressed. Farm policy is a big deal around here, you know?

So it is with Trump. He spent a good bit of the transition period visiting those deep-red states he won in 2016. It was that so-called “thank you tour” in which he seemingly continued harping on the campaign themes that helped him win the election in the first place. He kept chiding Clinton for failing to visit states such as Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign. He talked about his “massive landslide” victory, which of course it wasn’t.

Trump promised to be every American’s president. He vowed to unify the country. He has pledged to work for the common man and woman.

Well, he gets to fly on that big Boeing 747 that we pay for and maintain. It’s not his plane, but it’s ours. I am more than willing to foot the bill for it as long as the president puts it to good use.

The way I see it, flying that bird to places like San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Seattle, Albuquerque and Denver is a pretty good use of the plane. He even ought to visit some liberal enclaves in those red states, too. You’ve heard of Austin, right, Mr. President?

Sure, he’ll get some protestors. That goes with the territory.

He jets back and forth between Washington and his posh estate in South Florida. I believe he’s been there three weekends in a row. Hey, he knows they love him there.

We’ve got a great big country out here full of citizens who cast ballots for the other candidate. Pay them a visit, too, Mr. President. Tell them how you plan to “make America great again.”

They’re all ears. As am I.

Transition from Somebody to Nobody

I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about these things, but the thought has crossed my mind: What is it like for someone to transition from being the most powerful man in the world to, oh, just another Ordinary Joe?

That is what awaits Barack H. Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha.

At noon Friday, President Obama becomes just another guy, a citizen who will get to drive his own car, open his own doors, sleep in if he wants and relax with his family.

He follows a tradition set by dozens of other men who’ve had the good fortune to survive their presidencies and transition to a new life … that resembles the way it used to be before they became the planet’s most powerful figure.

I don’t know how President Obama feels about all this. His body language, though, tells me he’s ready to get out of Dodge. He’ll fly to California on that big blue jet that’s called Air Force One when the president is on board. He’ll play some golf, eat some relaxing meals with his wife and daughters, read, write and relax.

It might be arguably a little more of an adjustment for Barack Obama than he’ll be willing to admit. You see, I’ve long noticed one thing about this president: From the very beginning of his two terms, he seemed to own the office he occupied.

Why do I say that? I was struck for eight years how he would use the first-person singular pronoun when referencing the government he led. He would mention “my national security team,” “my vice president,” “my attorney general.”

I once wrote that the government didn’t belong to the president. It belongs to us — you and me. The president merely is our hired hand elected to the job by virtue of getting more electoral votes than anyone else.

In just a few hours, the 44th president will surrender that immense power to the 45th president. Then he becomes an average guy — so to speak.

Barack Obama is likely to prove me wrong by adjusting just fine to his new life. At least I hope he does.

Well done, Mr. President.

Cool it with the Twitter account, Mr. President-elect

twitter-logo-bird

I know that Donald J. Trump wouldn’t ever heed this bit of advice from little ol’ me, mainly because he likely won’t see what I’m about to say … but I’ll offer it anyway.

Cease and desist with the constant tweeting, Mr. President-elect. You’re the Big Man now and you ought to pick your battles with a lot more care and caution.

A story in the Washington Post illustrates just how much damage this fellow — Trump — can do to someone who objects to some of his policy pronouncements.

The story talks about how, when he was running for president, Trump responded to a woman who challenged whether he was fair to women. Trump tweeted that the woman was a “plant” and called her an “arrogant young woman.”

Good grief, man! She was a citizen, a potential constituent making a comment about things he had said.

Here’s the story:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/this-is-what-happens-when-donald-trump-attacks-a-private-citizen-on-twitter/ar-AAljS3f?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Since his election, Trump has used his Twitter account with amazing result.

He told the world about how he talked with the president of Taiwan — a nation with which we have no diplomatic ties — roiling relations with the People’s Republic of China and causing potentially devastating friction between the two great nation; he called for cancellation of an order for a new Air Force One jetliner to be developed by Boeing, causing the aircraft manufacturer’s stock value to plunge; he called a union leader a “liar” after the leader challenged Trump’s assertion that he had saved more than 1,000 jobs in Indiana.

Trump, of course, defends his use of this particular social medium, saying it’s the way people communicate these days.

Uh, Mr. President-elect, you ain’t like the rest of us. You are about to possess immense power to influence global events. You are going to be the Top Dog, the Big Magilla, the Main Man. You’ll inherit a Twitter account set up for the president of the United States.

How about using it wisely? Use it with discretion. Be circumspect and careful. How about traveling along the high road at all times?

The new president ought to leave the incessant tweeting and other cheap social media banter … to shlubs like me.

Trumps won’t be ‘slumming it’ in White House

white-house

The Donald J. Trump family is quite used to an opulent lifestyle.

Posh resorts, jet airplanes, gawdy fixtures … all that kind of thing.

What are they getting now as they prepare for their new lives as the world’s most visible and gawked-at family — except, perhaps, for the Kardashians?

More of the same, only to a somewhat lesser degree. They’ll be fine.

The Man of the House says he’s going to forgo the $400,000 annual salary. He doesn’t need the money. The president-elect intends to collect a dollar a year, which he said not long ago is required by law. That means he can return nearly $1.6 million to the U.S. Treasury during the four years he’s in office.

It won’t amount to more than spitting into the ocean, but hey, it’s still a good bit of dough.

But think of this, too. The Trump clan is going to get to live in a pretty nice house. They’re going to have security like they’ve never seen. That airplane the president uses for official business — dubbed Air Force One when he’s aboard — ain’t bad, either. The Trumps can rest assured that the big blue-and-white Boeing 747 is decked out with the finest technology ever assembled for a single flying machine.

The Trumps won’t be driving their own motor vehicles for at least the next four years. They’ll have chauffeurs at the wheel, highly trained Secret Service security agents opening doors for them and staffers ensuring that their every wish is met and every command is followed to the letter — which likely is something to which they’ve become quite accustomed already … given the old man’s reported penchant for that kind of detail.

All this speculation is quite relevant, given the Trumps’ lifestyle and y-u-u-u-g-e success — which the president-elect boasted about continually while running for the first public office he’s ever sought.

I’m just hoping now as the new first family gets set to step into the public spotlight we don’t hear any griping from them about how they’re slumming it on the people’s dime.

Tornadoes need federal, political attention

dallas-tornado-from-airport

My wife and I laughed — nervously, I’ll admit — earlier today at our good fortune as we prepare to haul our fifth wheel back home.

We left the Texas Panhandle just ahead of a severe winter storm that blew in from the northwest. We headed for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to spend Christmas day with our son, daughter-in-law and our three grandkids — only to watch while tornadoes ripped through the region the afternoon and evening after Christmas.

The tornadoes resulted in several deaths and untold destruction of property all around our kids’ home in Allen.

I’m not well-versed in what happens next, but the destruction would seem to require some federal help. I am aware that state governors have to ask for it but as I write this brief blog post, I am unclear about whether Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is going to seek federal help to clean up the mess that the tornadoes left behind.

President Obama is due to return to Washington in the next day or so. I want to extend an invitation for him to land Air Force One at D/FW airport and take a look at what happened out there.

And the other candidates for president? I’m aware that Republican contender Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, already has taken a gander at what occurred in his home state.

We’ve still got a bunch of presidential candidates seeking the office. Yes, they can come, too.

Will anything get done? Will there be relief to be delivered to the state? Can it be delivered without attaching strings, such as what occurred when Joplin, Mo., was devastated by tornadoes in 2011 and then-U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor demanded that Congress cut spending elsewhere to “pay” for the relief?

We’ve got a lot of presidential contenders out there on the campaign trail. We’ve also got a president who’ll be flying directly at Texas on his way back to the White House. Texas is a big and important state.

And we’ve got a lot of residents who at this moment likely would appreciate some comfort from words of encouragement and support.