I was getting ready to go to work on writing an update to my article “Surviving the Trump Apocalypse” but I’ve been too busy failing at the very first principle I outlined which was to ISOLATE myself from the news. I thought that I’d be a happier and more peaceful person if I quit listening to NPR and religiously reading the front page section of the New York Times every day. I thought I had exhausted my capacity for outrage during the Bush 43 years, but it turns out that that abomination barely pushed my outrage-o-meter up to “WARM.” Like a person who can’t make himself turn away from a train wreck about to happen, I can’t stop watching for the next WTF moment that will emerge from these clowns. That has led me to at least read the front page section of the local paper where I can get the short version of what is going on.
However, Thursday was remarkable, in that article after article seemed to have some additional bit of confirmation of how incompetent, duplicitous, or hypocritical this administration is and how each of his inner circle seems to be in a competition to prove he (there aren’t many women in this group) is just as bat-shit crazy as number 45.
You think I’m kidding. Here are some headlines all from Thursday’s paper, some quotes, and some commentary:
Kelly (Secretary for Homeland Security) Concedes a Full Border Wall Doubtful
“Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Wednesday that it was doubtful that a wall along a full border with Mexico would ever be built, despite an of-repeated campaign promise by President Donald Trump.”
Well, this will come as a surprise to absolutely no one except some die-hard Trump supporters, the one’s who took him literally. I find it remarkable that we are often being told not to take the President so literally, except when we should take him literally because after all, he was the candidate who “tells it like it is.” Back to Kelly. He was asked about one element of “extreme vetting” which included “the possible separation of mothers and children at the border to discourage immigration.” He reassured senators that while he had not actually taken the time to write up a policy for when agents might do such a heinous and inhumane thing, “he had told employees that he must approve any such separations.” When questioned further about actually writing a policy, he replied, “border agents don’t need a written policy because he’d given the order verbally.” After all, he is a retired four-star general and “his subordinates know that his orders are to be followed even if they aren’t written down.” Does anyone else hear Jack Nicholson’s voice there? I’m surprise he didn’t end the session standing on his chair and shouting at the senators, “You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!”
Trump Removes Bannon From Key NSC Post
With Michael Flynn gone, Trump actually put a qualified individual into place who has now sorted out just who should and should not be on the National Security Council. Little things, like making sure there was a chair for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. LIke kicking Steve Bannon out of the room who never belonged in the first place. But this was Bannon’s head-spinning explanation for why he was there in the first place, and why now, it was no big deal that he was leaving. He said, “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on the NSC with Gen. Flynn to ensure that it was de-operationalized. Gen. McMaster as returned the NSC to its proper function.”
Now, even I realized that I was reading this at 7 AM and there was some chance that the caffeine from my morning coffee and not yet kicked in, because I found myself say out loud, “What the fuck does that mean?” I was pleased and reassured when I read the next paragraph where the reporter commented, “Bannon did not explain what he meant by “operationalized” or how his presence on the committee had ensured that it would not be.” The syntax is so twisted, bizarre, and incomprehensible that Joseph Heller (Catch 22) would be proud.
U.S. Warns of Unilateral Action in Syria
This article was remarkable on several fronts. While he has tried to blame any bad thing that has happened in the opening days of his administration on President Obama (including the atrocities in Syria), he finally acknowledged that, “the responsibility is now mine.” But as so many times before, Trumps language is empty: “Trump said that the incident “crosses many, many lines” and had “changed very much” his attitude toward Assad.” His Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “It was a heinous act and will be treated as such.” I’m not sure what any of that means, but if Trump thought health care was “really complicated” just wait until someone, talking slowly and using small words, explains his options for Syria. Note: I wrote this piece early yesterday before the missile strikes in Syria, an action most startling because it reverses many of Trump’s previous statements about U.S. involvement in the Middle East. He has stepped into something “really complicated” here and interestingly, his severest critics have been his most fervent supporters who feel he has betrayed the many promises he made about keeping America out of messy international problems. For some thoughtful commentary, I suggest you look at Charles M. Blow’s opinion piece on the NYT website entitled “Creeping Toward Crisis.”
Tillerson’s Reticence on N. Korea Confuses Allies
If you haven’t heard of Rex Tillerson, he’s our new Secretary of State although he’s been left out of numerous key meetings and only a fraction of his staff positions have been filled. I’m not sure, but I don’t even think we now have a deputy Sec. of State. His quote of the day was, “North Korea launched yet another intermediated-range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” Really? Nothing to say about the aggressive actions of a strategically important nuclear power. The reporter pointed out that the comment was startling because, “In fact, the Trump administration has said very little about North Korea apart from some Twitter posts and Tillerson’s own statements in Seoul, South Korea, two weeks ago–when he said the United States would negotiate with North Korea only after it gave up its nuclear weapons and missiles. And that is unlikely to happen.”
EPA Seeks To Eliminate Lead Paint Programs
It’s hard to pick out the saddest part of this administrations efforts to basically turn the government over to business concerns, but if you had any doubt that the Environmental Protection Agency is now one of the biggest enemies of the environment, this should seal it: “EPA officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint–which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems”, gutting federal support for states’ efforts to safely remove lead paint from aging and deteriorating houses. If you haven’t been following the dismantling of the EPA, and the rollback of regulations that would have insured cleaner air and water for ourselves and our children, you probably should.
Apparently, there just wasn’t enough room on Thursday’s front page to include Trump’s defense of his buddy Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and the continuing reports of the millions of dollars that Fox has paid out to settle (cover up) complaints from numerous women of O’Reilly’s alleged incidents of sexual harassment. According to Trump, O’Reilly’s “a good person.”
I have to stop. I can feel the outrage-o-meter getting into dangerous territory. I may have to skip tomorrow’s paper entirely and immerse myself in a “West Wing” marathon. I always feel better after visiting my friends in that fictitious White House.