Tag Archives: Homeland Security

Now the acting homeland security boss hits the road

Surely I am not the only American who has this nagging sense that the Donald Trump administration is continuing to unravel, that it is a ship without a rudder, that the “fine-tuned machine” needs a serious overhaul.

Perhaps it should come at the very top of the chain of command.

The acting homeland security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, is calling it quits. Think of this for a moment: At the time when the president wants to crack down on illegal border crossings, trying to secure the “homeland” against evil doers intent on harming us, the guy charged with running the department is bailing.

Sure, the president said some nice things about McAleenan, who inherited the “acting” gig upon the (forced) resignation of Kirsteijn Nielsen. Then again, he often does even when he doesn’t mean it. McAleenan reportedly had been clashing with other senior Trump administration officials, perhaps even with the president himself, over policy matters.

So now the latest acting Cabinet secretary is hitting the road.

There are damn near too many acting secretaries and senior agency heads to count. We do have an acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who’s basically taken a powder while the president struggles against the rising tide of evidence that is likely to lead to his impeachment.

But what the heck. Trump has said he likes having all these acting secretaries and senior agency bosses. It gives him “flexibility” in enacting policy pronouncements that pour forth from his Twitter account.

Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

So now the individual charged with protecting our “homeland” is gone. Who’s next, and when will that fine-tuned machine start functioning as one?

I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question. The second part? The executive branch of government will right itself when we get a new president of the United States.

Trump throws lunches with Pence aside

This shouldn’t be a big story, but it kind of is a big one.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence aren’t eating lunch together these days. The president has decided to ditch his “intimate” lunches with the vice president. He is sending aides to break bread with the VP.

What does this portend? It’s anyone’s guess, given the mercurial, unpredictable, whim-whipped decision-making that drives the president.

I am left to wonder: Is the president so angry with the VP that he’s going to toss him over when he runs for re-election in 2020?

The report of Trump and Pence no longer breaking bread comes from The Atlantic, which reports that Trump was miffed that Pence endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz prior to the Indiana Republican presidential primary in 2016. The Atlantic also reports that Trump chided Pence in 2017 about the endorsement Trump received from former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. “I won the primary and now look where you are, Mike,” Trump supposedly told the VP.

Well, so much for the fealty that Pence has exhibited while standing by his man, the president.

I don’t know yet where this will go. Nor do I know whether it portends yet another big political shakeup within the Trump administration. Trump has demonstrated quite a propensity for shaking things up. He has tossed aside the Homeland Security chain of command. Trump has yet to name permanent replacements at several key Cabinet and senior advisory posts.

Now it’s the vice president — the next in line for the Big Chair — who might be tossed aside for someone else?

If we play that scenario out, I am baffled as to how Donald Trump could have found a more loyal foot soldier than Mike Pence. He demands loyalty. In Pence, he has gotten what he has demanded . . . and then some!

These private POTUS-VPOTUS lunches have become a staple of many previous administrations. President Obama and Vice President Biden met regularly; so did President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Yes, others at the top of the chain of command have met regularly.

To my admittedly distant vantage point, I just haven’t picked up on the body language exhibited by many previous presidents and vice presidents. Let’s face it: Pence is the straightest arrow in the quiver; Trump is, well, let’s just say he has behaved badly for damn near his entire adult life.

I guess that is why news of the end of the Trump-Pence lunches is a big deal. It might become a huge deal.

Trump rattling his fellow Republicans with DHS purge

Donald Trump is on a tear through the agency formed to protect Americans against enemies of our nation.

He has fired (essentially) the secretary of homeland security, gotten rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, canned the Secret Service director. There are threats of more dismissals/resignations to come.

Republican senators are shaking their heads, according to Politico. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said she thought DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was doing a “fantastic” job.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said “It’s a mess,” referring to the border situation and the confusion and chaos at DHS.

Yep, it’s a mess, all right.

I believe that is exactly how Donald Trump prefers it.

Cohesion and smooth operation? Forget about it! Yet he calls his administration a “fine-tuned machine.” The president is not hearing the clanks and misfires from the political “engine” he has built.

I guess I’m allowed to wonder how all this tumult at Homeland Security is going to affect the agency’s ability to, um, secure the homeland.

Great job, fella . . . but hit the road

This kind of thing drives me nuts when I hear about matters such as this. A public servant is fired from his or her job and the guy to whom the person reports tells us all what a “great” job he or she did.

If the person getting canned is doing a great job, wouldn’t that person keep his or her job?

They’re cleaning house

U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles is heading for the exits. Donald Trump instructed White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to fire Alles. So, he did.

Then press secretary Sarah Hucakabee Sanders said on behalf of the president that Alles had done a great job running the agency that used to be part of the Treasury Department, but has moved to the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “resigned” effective immediately over differences with Trump on immigration policy. The president thanked her for her service. That’s it. Message received: Nielsen wasn’t cutting it at DHS, in Trump’s view.

But the Secret Service ouster appears to be part a wholesale housecleaning at DHS.

I’ve read the reports that the man/child behind the shakeup is that 30-something whiz kid/maniac Stephen Miller, who seems to believe that the president needs to get even more harsh on immigrants, legal and illegal alike.

This isn’t fun to watch, no matter the president, the party or the policy involved.

Homeland security boss out . . . yawn!

Kirstjen Nielsen is out as secretary of homeland security.

What in the name of governmental competence am I supposed to make of it?

She tussled with Donald Trump over immigration policy. I am trying to grasp what precisely caused the president’s homeland security honcho to resign — effective immediately.

Indeed, the immediate departure tells me that she pushed out the door. Reports indicate that Trump flamethrower Stephen Miller, the senior policy adviser from hell, has been engineering a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security.

Truth be told — if you want to call it that — is that Nielsen learned to lie as clumsily as Donald Trump. She had trouble justifying the parent-child separation policy the Trump administration enacted in its hideous effort to curb illegal immigration. Oh, and then this homeland security secretary of Scandinavian descent just couldn’t bring herself to acknowledge that Trump favors immigrants from that part of Europe over those who hail from “sh**hole” countries in Africa.

Now comes word that Trump wants to get even tougher on illegal immigration. So I guess Nielsen wasn’t quite on board. Is that so?

So the president has named an acting homeland security secretary, who will join the ranks of acting defense secretary, acting White House chief of staff, acting United Nations ambassador, acting interior secretary, acting EPA administrator.

Holy cow, man! The “best people” with whom the president surrounds himself keep heading for the tall grass.

What a shocker! Kelly says Trump ‘not up to job’?

Imagine my total non-surprise!

Departing White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly told aides many times that Donald Trump “isn’t up to the job” of president of the United States.

Wow! Who would’ve thought that? Shocking, I tell ya! Simply shocking!

The New York Times is reporting that Kelly, who’s leaving the Trump administration later this week, called the chief of staff post the “worst job in the world.” That’s really saying something, given that the retired Marine Corps four-star general saw more than his share of combat defending this country.

I wanted Kelly to succeed when he took over from Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff; he had served previously as homeland security secretary. Trump canned Priebus and called Kelly over from DHS to rein in a White House staff that had spiraled out of control.

Kelly enjoyed some initial success. He got rid of Steve Bannon, the former Brietbart News exec who served as a senior policy guru. He canned Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci as White House communications director.

But then . . .

Trump just couldn’t be corralled. Kelly couldn’t manage the president. He couldn’t persuade him to follow the normal rules of procedure.

There is far more than a hint of believability in what the New York Times is reporting. Perhaps that explains why Kelly, who reportedly pledged to stay until after the 2020 election, is departing early.

I only can add: The truth hurts, Mr. President.

‘Open borders’ becomes latest straw man

I have grown so-o-o-o weary of hearing Donald Trump and his political brethren continue to harp on those who allegedly favor “open borders” and allowing anyone to enter the country anywhere at any time.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has joined that amen chorus by declaring that those who favor “open borders” are chiefly responsible for the deaths of two children who were taken into custody after entering the country illegally with their parents.

Spare me. Please!

The “open borders” argument has become the president’s latest straw man. He holds it up and then knocks the stuffing out of it by insisting that his foes don’t favor border security of any kind.

Gad, man!

I can speak only for myself. I oppose The Wall. I do not favor “open borders.” I want border security as much as the president of the United States. I favor U.S. Border Patrol agents using whatever means they have available to them to arrest those coming in illegally.

I also want U.S. immigration policy to reflect a nation that wants to work with these folks if they are seeking asylum. If they are fleeing repression and hardship in their home country, then we should protect them. Deporting them to the place they are fleeing simply isn’t part of the American spirit.

Open borders? That is a red herring. It fuels a demagogue’s arsenal of fiery rhetoric.

‘Fine-tuned machine’ blows another piston

It appears that John Kelly, the man Donald Trump brought aboard to fix the White House staff, is jumping ship.

He reportedly is about to resign as chief of staff after apparently promising to stay with the president until after the 2020 election.

Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general and former Homeland Security secretary, is the second chief of staff to be ousted since Trump took office. Reince Priebus couldn’t manage the staff, couldn’t control the message, couldn’t hit his rear end with both hands. Trump booted him out.

In came Kelly. He kicked some rear ends himself, showing former policy adviser Steven Bannon the door and seeking to control access to the president.

The president’s self-described “fine-tuned machine” ain’t running well. Imagine my (non)surprise.

CNN (quite naturally) is reporting that the two men don’t speak any longer. That is not good for a relationship that demands open communication between the boss and the person who runs his staff.

That fine-tuned machine still is needs a major overhaul.

Mend ICE, don’t end it

I happen to agree with a former homeland security secretary who is pushing back against progressive politicians’ call to get rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Jeh Johnson, who ran the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, said that ICE needs to be reformed. To end it completely, he said, would compromise national security, given that ICE is a law enforcement agency.

Not at all surprisingly, Donald J. Trump has said progressive politicians favor “anarchy” instead of law and order. Those who holler for an end to ICE only give the president ammo to fire at his political foes.

He is at his demagogic best when given such ammunition. Trust me on this, he has been reckless in the extreme in suggesting that anti-ICE forces actually want the country to be “overrun” by gang members, assorted criminals and anyone who wants to do us harm.

As Johnson wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post: “Abolish ICE” makes for a good rallying cry on the left. Demanding the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency also provides President Trump with a useful weapon for bludgeoning Democrats politically. He has said as much, and a good portion of the American public will listen to him.

Read the entire Post essay here.

If there is a way to make ICE a more compassionate law enforcement agency, then let’s look for that solution rather than an outright abolition.

Only Congress can fix it? How did POTUS do it?

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made it clear: Only Congress can fix the situation regarding the policy that enabled Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to separate children from their parents at the border.

The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, said the same thing.

So did the White House press office.

What, then, happened today? The president signed an executive order doing the very thing he and his aides could be done only by congressional fiat.

Was the president lying? Did he tell the nation’s DHS secretary to lie? Did the secretary lie on her own, all by herself?