Tag Archives: government shutdown

Fly ‘commerical’ to Kabul? You bet, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the military flight for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Europe and Afghanistan was fraught with protocol breaches as well as a nonsensical travel recommendation.

The president responded to Pelosi’s request that he postpone the State of the Union speech until after the government is reopened. He acted petulantly by canceling the military air transport planned for the delegation; hey, he’s the commander in chief so he can do that sort of thing.

However, he blew Pelosi’s cover that she wanted to fly to Afghanistan to visit our troops, to show them her support for the work they are doing to keep us safe from international terrorists.

That was a violation of protocol. These flights into combat zones are kept secret for an obvious reason: to protect those who traveling their from possible attack from our enemies.

Oh, but then Trump offered this idiotic recommendation: Why not fly “commercially” to Afghanistan? What? Does he even know about how dangerous that would be? Moreover, is there even any commercial air travel to Afghanistan available?

The president’s bald-faced ignorance of so many aspects of government and history and protocol suggests to me that he fired off that response without giving any of a moment of thought.

Weird.

PR stunt? Of course it is! They all are!

Donald Trump canceled a trip overseas by Nancy Pelosi, contending that her visit to Afghanistan is a mere “public relations” event.

Wow! No sh**? Of course it was intended as a PR stunt. I mean, the speaker of the House wanted to visit with our troops who the commander in chief thrusts into harm’s way. She wanted to tell them the nation supports them and that despite the partial shutdown of the federal government that the politicians who run the government won’t let them down.

Sure it’s a PR event. However, there is inherint value in it.

It’s as much of a public relations production as the one that the president and first lady performed when they flew to Iraq right after Christmas. The president took selfies with troops, schmoozed with them, hugged their necks, told them he loved them. Then he and Melania flew back home to the chaos that awaited them.

Yeah, these trips are PR events. That’s what commanders in chief and other leading politicians do when they fly into combat zones.

I won’t get into the goofiness of Trump’s cancellation of the Pelosi venture, which looks for all the world to be a retaliatory strike in the wake of Pelosi’s request that Trump delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union speech before a joint congressional session.

However, for the president to say that the speaker of the House’s planned visit to our troops serves no useful purpose other than it being a PR stunt denies the obvious benefit it brings to the troops who get to see and talk directly to the politicians we elect to ostensibly “run the government.”

Trump lobs a grenade back at Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to lead a congressional delegation to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be secret, in keeping with standard policy regarding official trips into a war zone.

Then the president of the United States, Donald Trump, pulled the plug on the trip. As commander in chief, he has the power to ground military aircraft for these congressional trips. So he did.

Then he released a letter to the public disclosing that Pelosi was going to Afghanistan, which flies directly in the face of normal protocol. The Pentagon, Congress and the White House don’t reveal in advance about trips into these combat zones.

As former Secretary of State John Kerry said via Twitter: The President of the United States just compared visiting our troops in a war zone to a “public relations event.” Another sad day for our nation when that’s how the Commander in Chief sees such a visit.

Kerry is correct to suggest that such trips aren’t just a “public relations event.” The speaker of the House, as the No.2-ranking official in line of presidential succession, reportedly was going to Afghanistan to speak to those troops, to tell them their country stands with them. It’s not just PR. It’s part of what members of Congress — as well as the president and Cabinet officials — do as part of their jobs.

Trump is trying to get Pelosi and other congressional leaders to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.

This back and forth is driving me batty. I want the shutdown ended, too. The men and women who have been furloughed and denied their income are suffering needlessly.

Pelosi wants Trump to delay his scheduled State of the Union speech. So what does Trump do in response? He blows the speaker’s cover by grounding a military jet that would have taken her potentially into harm’s way.

I’ve heard a term to describe this rhetorical exchange.

Sophomoric.

Is pressure mounting for POTUS to cave on shutdown?

Sitting as I am out here in the middle of Trump Country, I am in no position to state with absolute knowledge about what happens in Washington, D.C.

Still, I cannot stop thinking that pressure may be building to some sort of spontaneous combustion concerning this partial government shutdown.

Eight hundred thousand federal employees are without paychecks. They are starting to rumble. They are demonstrating. They are demanding action by the president and Congress. The speaker of the House has pulled back her invitation to the president to deliver his State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives, citing security concerns created by the government shutdown.

The president has ordered some federal employees back to work, but without pay! That order well might be unlawful, which could prompt yet another lawsuit against the president.

Donald Trump wants to build The Wall along our southern border. He wants to spend about $5.7 billion for The Wall. Congressional Democrats are resisting him. Trump said he would take responsibility for shutting down the government; then it happened, but now Trump is blaming Democrats for the shutdown.

It’s not going well for Donald Trump. There might be some weakening of his position, even though he’s still talking tough.

The government needs to reopen. Those hundreds of thousands of employees need their income restored. Yes, we need to negotiate some form of enhanced border security.

Is there a semblance of humanity and common sense to be found anywhere in Washington? If so, then it needs to present itself, the government needs to return to full functionality and both sides need to actually talk to each other about how they can find some common ground.

That is how you govern.

The Woman of the House shows her mettle

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has laid it on the line to the president of the United States.

Donald Trump is no longer invited to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union speech.

She wrote the president a note telling him of her concerns over “security,” given the government shutdown and how the furloughing of critical security personnel makes it impossible for Congress to protect the president, the vice president, the full congressional membership, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the diplomatic corps.

So, her message to the president? Deliver the SOTU speech in writing, as other presidents have done. That’s if he is wedded to the Jan. 29 date scheduled for his in-person, live TV speech.

Pelosi wants the government reopened fully before the president speaks to a joint congressional session.

Thus, she is demonstrating — as if the president needed any proof of it — that she is the Woman of the House and that Donald Trump has met his match.

SOTU delay might serve Trump’s best interests

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a perfectly reasonable offer to Donald J. Trump: The president should delay his State of the Union speech until after the federal government reopens fully.

No word yet on whether the president will accept Pelosi’s request.

Why is it in Trump’s best interest?

Consider the following:

Democrats and Republicans are locked in a death match over The Wall. Trump wants it built. Democrats oppose it. The deadlock has produced the partial government shutdown that Trump once said he would be “proud” to own. The State of the Union speech is designed to give the president to declare whether the Union’s strength is strong, weak or somewhere in between.

Trump surely is inclined to declare that the SOTU is “strong.” Were he to do so, he would become the butt of jokes throughout the nation, if not the world.

Accordingly, perhaps the speaker has Trump’s best interests at heart by requesting a delay. I don’t know, obviously, what fueled the request. If you think about it, though, I find it a way out of the president exposing himself to national or international ridicule.

The speaker’s letter to the president talks about security concerns related to the shutdown. That’s legit, too.

The back story might lie more as a PR move. There’s no requirement that Trump deliver his SOTU speech on Jan. 29 as planned. He could do so in writing, as Pelosi has suggested.

He might do well to take Pelosi’s offer. Put the speech off until he can report that the State of the Union is in better shape than it is at the moment.

Check out Pelosi’s letterĀ here.

WH chief of staff gets a dose of Trump

Donald Trump selected Mick Mulvaney to be the acting White House chief of staff to succeed John Kelly, who resigned far ahead of his announced timetable.

Mulvaney, who runs the Office of Management and Budget in his real day job, said upon his hiring that he planned to “let Trump be Trump.” He had no intention, or so he implied, of reeling in the president while trying to prevent him from some of his more impulsive behavior.

Well, it’s being reported that Mulvaney got a serious dose of the real Donald Trump during a White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders. The group met ostensibly to find a way to reopen the government, which has been shut down partially for three weeks.

Trump reportedly dressed Mulvaney down in front of those congressional leaders, telling him to “Stop, stop, just stop. What are you doing? You’re f***ing it all up, MIck.”

There you go. That’s Trump being Trump, per the White House chief of staff’s stated desire. Is this what he really intended when he took the job on an “acting” basis? I think not.

Don’t misconstrue me here. I don’t feel sorry for Mulvaney. He’s a grownup who likely knew about the loony bin into which he was entering when he agreed to run the White House staff.

Still, what I find astounding is that the president of the United States would (allegedly) treat the chief of staff in that fashion in front of a roomful of politicians and other staffers. Then again, given the president’s lack of decorum or dignity at any level, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised at all!

The White House chief of staff once was considered the plum of plum jobs in D.C. No longer. Not for as long as Donald Trump is president of the United States. He’s already burned through two chiefs of staff, Kelly and before him Reince Priebus. Kelly was brought in to bring a sense of order after Priebus was canned; indeed, Priebus couldn’t control the traffic in the Oval Office, just inflaming the chaos that dictates the flow within the White House.

Now we have Mulvaney perched in the White House hot seat. I’ve thought all along that an “acting” chief of staff cannot sustain himself over any length of time. I mean, Mulvaney already has a full-time gig at OMB, which is a huge job all by itself.

So now he gets pounded and pilloried by the president while the government remains shut down.

Great work if you can get it, right, Mick?

The world is watching and likely laughing

I happen to care what the rest of the world thinks of my nation.

Accordingly, I am thinking at this moment about what the world is thinking as the United States of America grapples in the fashion that it is over border security. What’s more, I am wondering how our allies in particular are feeling about this great and powerful nation functions with only part of the federal government running.

I find myself wishing to be a fly on the wall in places like Ottawa, Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, New Delhi, Nairobi, Jerusalem and Hanoi. What are leaders of these nations thinking today about the quality of leadership being seen in the White House and Capitol Hill.

Are they thrilled to see the United States writhing? Does it give any of them comfort as they watch the world’s “most indispensable nation” engaged in an internal struggle over how — or even if — it can reopen the all the halls of government?

Does it matter? Sure it does! Donald Trump might not give a rat’s rear end what the rest of the world thinks of these matters, but millions of his fellow Americans damn sure do care. I am one of them.

As for our adversaries, what are they thinking in Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, Caracas and Pyongyang?

Are they laughing? Are they using all the publicity brewing in the United States to their advantage? Will they seek to parlay all of this into some game they intend to play on the world stage?

Are our friends and foes just throwing up their hands?

Donald Trump vowed to “make America great again.” Is this how it looks to those around this shrinking world of ours?

Sen. Tester tells it like it really is

If you have a little more than five minutes to spare, take a look and listen to this video of Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat.

Spoiler alert: He scolds the Senate for failing to do its constitutionally guaranteed job, which is to act as a “co-equal branch” of the federal government.

Tester wants the Senate to vote on a Republican bill to open the government. He wants Donald Trump to carry through on his threat to veto it. And he wants the Senate to vote on whether to override the presidential veto.

“It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Indeed. It certainly isn’t a complicated process.

He also wonders what the nation’s founders would think of the Senate as it has regressed to this point, of being a body that requires a “permission slip” from the president to cast votes.

Seriously. Take just a few minutes out of your busy day to listen to this Montana cowboy. The man makes sense!

No chaos in WH? Sure thing, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump denies what’s being reported by media that cover the White House, which is that the place is a den of chaos.

The president says he’s virtually the only person on the job in the West Wing. Everyone else is gone? Really? No (acting) chief of staff? No administrative help? No senior advisers? No national security guru to brief POTUS on existential threats and danger to the nation and the world?

Well, you and I know what’s real here. The White House is a loony bin. The president has acting an defense secretary, an acting attorney general, acting chief of staff, acting interior secretary, acting EPA administrator and no United Nations ambassador.

No chaos? Sure.

And then we have the government shutdown. Members of Congress in both legislative chambers have gone home. No negotiations are scheduled. Federal employees are not being paid while remaining on the job.

But there’s no chaos in the White House. Is that what POTUS is telling us? Of course he is to be believed, truthful and trustworthy fellow that he is.

We are witnessing chaos in action. You are seeing. I know I am seeing it. So is the president. He just cannot bring himself to admitting it, nor will he do anything to end it.

This is not how you make America great again.