Well today’s article is somewhat of a continuation of yesterday’s article because; Oh boy did a lot happen while I was “away”. I’m certain to still be incomplete but let’s continue to explore.
Trump managed to make another bad situation worse by effectively firing Secretary of Defense James Mattis. In his place is one of Trump’s many acting Cabinet members, Patrick Shanahan. Shanahan has no military experience and is little more than a conduit for money to flow to his former employer Boeing. Can you say swamp?
The Justice Department announced another criminal investigation into recently departed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. I have lost count but I think the number of investigations into Zinke numbered in the teens. I used the past tense because under our much in need of revision rules when Zinke left it effectively shut down some of them. The new Acting Secretary of the Interior is David Bernhardt who spent most of his career as a fossil fuel industry lobbyist. While Bernhardt may be Trump’s Plan B we all must remember there is no Planet B. Suddenly Eastern big city boys like me are actually looking at the Interior Department.
Trump has a habit of putting totally incompetent people in positions he doesn’t care about (i.e. Betsy DeVos at Education and Rick Perry at Energy). It has long been rumored that Trump acts as his own Chief-of-Staff. The appointment of Mick Mulvaney as Acting Chief-of-Staff is consistent with that philosophy and rumor. Mulvaney did not relinquish his role as Director of the Office of Management and Budget which the last time I checked was very much a full time job.
One tidbit that mostly got buried in the news because in the Trump administration it almost doesn’t qualify as a scandal is the fact that the news media did a little bit of research (which would be called vetting in a normal hiring process) and discovered that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker lied on his resume when he stated he was an Academic All-American. That is far from a small honor and not something that is vulnerable to a cloudy memory. It is a flat out lie. In view of that I guess he is a good fit for the Trump Cabinet.
The 3.0 version of the Trump Shutdown is primarily over funding for Trump’s promised wall on the Mexican border which he repeatedly told campaign rally audiences that Mexico would pay for. That sentence in itself could be the basis of essays, but I’ll let my readers connect those dots. However Trump claimed in a tweet that the Obamas have constructed a ten foot high wall around their current Washington, DC home for security. That proved to be another easily demonstrable lie. The ten foot high wall is about a three foot high fence like you will find around a lot of big city yards. Most people have them to keep small children and/or dogs in or simply for decoration.
Sticking with the shutdown for a bit, as federal workers try to figure out how to live sans paychecks Trump’s top aides received a $10,000 annual raise. Trump also froze 2019 pays for federal workers. But then again Trump despises most federal workers. In fact he declared that most of the people without paychecks are Democrats, his way of saying (expletive deleted) you to them. While some many call Trump a populist I never have and never will!
Christmas and the surrounding days held their fair share of political surprises. Trump tweeted out that he was all alone in the White House including “(Poor me)”. On Christmas Trump made calls to the troops that were similar to the ones he made on Thanksgiving where he spent a good deal of the time talking about how great he is.
On the 26th we awoke to the news that Trump made a surprise trip to the Middle East to visit the troops in a combat zone for the first time in his almost two year old presidency. During said brief visit he appeared to have broken both laws and jeopardized military security including the lives of personnel. He brought along “gifts” of MAGA hats which he proudly autographed for a handful of troops in a photo-op. Mixing politics and government duties violates several American laws. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Whitaker-led Justice Department to take action. He also took a picture which was subsequently made public with members of a Navy Seal team whose location and identities are of necessity secret.
Trump did have some good news for the troops. He told them that they were “No longer suckers.” Somehow I doubt they ever considered themselves to be and even if they did is that anyway for the Commander-in-Chief to jack up the troops? In typical Trump fashion he lied to the troops about military pay increases. I wonder how many actually believed him; most people know their own pay history pretty well.
Mattis apparently resigned (only to be fired) in protest of Trump’s announcement to withdraw all troops from Syria. That announcement was at the request of Turkish president Recep Erdogan and was also an early Christmas present to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition to General Mattis, Brett McGurk also resigned. McGurk was Trump’s Special Envoy to the coalition battling ISIS in the region. In response to the resignation Trump told reporters he didn’t even know McGurk. Was that just another lie in an attempt to defuse a scandal or is Trump really that incompetent? In either event it is a major problem.
On the legal front things got worse for Trump. In my opinion the most interesting development was the revelation that Trump’s resort in Bedminster, New Jersey was supplying undocumented employees with fake green cards and social security numbers. FBI and New Jersey investigators are said to be in possession of evidence and conducting investigations into the matter. It is debatable as to whether Trump can squelch an FBI investigation but he has no control over state agencies in very blue New Jersey. Where is Chris Christie when Trump needs him?
I’ll leave you with a historical fact, unrelated to Trump but important to much of his base, to ponder. It was on Christmas Day December 25, 1868 that then President Andrew Johnson issued a blanket unconditional pardon to all former confederate soldiers. The crime they were pardoned of was treason and Johnson was the first President of the United States ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives (on unrelated charges).
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