29 January 2017
All crazy on the Trump front
Refugee restrictions. They change by the hour, with the NY Times now reporting that the White House scaled back the ban to exclude green card holders following restraining orders issued by federal judges. But even scaled back, it’s a ham-handed solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.
The results thus far: no improvement to national security; U.S.A. held up to ridicule around the world; some refugees sent back to dangerous places. Trump’s decree, of dubious legality, is an exercise in nativist hysteria that harkens back a century.
Strange and frightening changes at the National Security Council. As reported by the Guardian, Trump promoted Steve Bannon, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to the NSC. Putting COS Priebus on the NSC is not a problem, but giving Bannon, who functions as Trump’s Rasputin, an NSC seat is crazy. Worse, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are no longer regular members of the NCS. That removes the counterweights to Trump’s half-wrapped national security advisor, Michael Flynn, the retired general who shouldn’t be allowed within telescope distance of any unit of government. Trump is doing this to avoid being confronted with inconvenient facts.
When I first read of this in a Facebook post by Chris Burke, I thought it was so nuts it was a hoax. My apologies, Chris. I failed to smell the craziness.
The Republican suicide pact. At the New Republic, Brian Beutler writes that Trump and the Republicans Are on a Suicide Mission together:
[Trump’s] …shown a basic willingness to behave like an apparatchik. He nominates conservative true believers to the cabinet; he’ll sign any executive order his advisers place in front of him. Republicans, in other words, have begun enacting an agenda they know to be just as unpopular as Trump. They are acting exactly as you’d imagine a party to act—indeed, as many of us predicted they’d act—if they believed this was their one and only chance to pull off a major heist. Trump’s unexpected victory has provided them with exactly that.
In their ideal world, Republicans would be imposing this agenda on the country with a popular mandate and a president with broad public support. “Whopping majorities,” as McConnell once yearned for.
They don’t have that luxury, but they’re not letting it stop them. To the contrary, if they believed their lack of consensus and popular support were fatal to their agenda, they would have no reason not to jettison Trump before he did irrevocable damage to their party, the country, and the international order. Instead, they will embrace the current arrangement, in all of its recklessness, at least until their agenda is complete—or in ruins.