Living Large In Carson City: Chaos As A Governing Policy Edition

A good chaos theory means you have a disciplined strategy behind the scenes of how you’re going to roll out policy. And then you do it in a way that inflicts chaos on the press and your opponents.

Jennifer Palmieri

I never really understood the Chaos Theory until Donald Trump became president. Even then, it’s taken three and a half years for its meaning to really sink in and the implications that it holds. The past month’s news cycle has, however, opened my eyes to just how effective it is when wielded by a master of bullshit like Trump.

For me, it all began with Mike Pence’s European junket that found him in Ireland staying Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg over a hundred miles from Dublin where he had meeting scheduled. Sounded suspicious, but then, it was Mike Pence. Then there was Trump’s trial balloon about having the next G7 meeting at his Trump International Doral Golf Club in Miami. This was followed by the revelation that an unknown number of military flights were routinely routed to the Shannon Airport and personnel were forced to stay at the same golf course property in Doonbeg were Pence stayed. All of which lined Trump’s bank account.

Then there was Corey Lewandowski. His appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was nothing less than surreal. The fireworks started shortly after the top ranking Republican on the committee, Doug Collins of Georgia, gave an opening statement that ranged from firebrand accuser to snarling mad dog insanity which ultimately ended an unhinged chaotic screed and shameful defense of the president.

Lewandowski took it from there. The fact that he unselfconsciously admitted that he lied to the press when it suited his purpose, and that the president asked him to ask then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take over the investigation away from Mueller were only two startling admissions that bled from Lewandowski mouth couched in bile and abject disdain for what used to pass as the rule of law. It was tiresome to watch and disheartening to endure.

Now, America is mired in yet another scandal based on a whistleblower’s claim that Trump acted inappropriately when he asked the president of Ukraine to uncover dirt on Joe Biden’s son. The issue stems from Biden pressing the president to fire a corrupt prosecutor who had come under criticism from American allies across Europe for is lack of moral rectitude. More on this later.

 America has to wake up to the fact that our democracy is under siege. It is hard to write that sentence, but the time for self-delusion and standing on the sidelines is over. Long over. Also, not to be a liberal bashing the conservative party, it is increasingly obvious that the Republican Party as it is today is not part of the solution. Americans witness daily the lack of concern and complicity that has become the norm between the Republican Party and the Trump administration. Support for meaningful gun control hovers around 55 % consistently for all Americans. Climate change is real whether the deniers would rather suck up to big oil than face the stark reality the planet is in trouble. Mitch McConnell’s iron grip on the Senate keeps any meaningful legislation from even coming to a vote. And the Republican Party demures and looks the other way. 

Of course, the real problem lies with Trump himself and his slash and burn approach to governance. The problem begins with the people he has chosen to run the heads of the departments (or left vacant) that are the lifeblood of the government. In January Shannon Vavra writing for Axios noted in a article,

Former oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt became acting secretary of the Interior on Wednesday following the departure of Ryan Zinke.

Why it matters: President Trump campaigned on the promise of “draining the swamp.” But Bernhardt is just the latest in a revolving door of special interests to take over key positions in the president’s Cabinet. The New York Times’ Eric Lipton notes that as of Thursday, the Defense Department will be run by a former Boeing executive, the Department of Health and Human Services will be run by a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and the Environmental Protection Agency will be run by a former coal lobbyist. Axios

For a more in depth look at other swamp creatures heading influential department posts see The Economist’s article here.

Of course, there are the outright ideologues and political appointees that are rampant throughout the government. Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, Rick Perry at the Department of Energy, Wilbur Ross at the Commerce Department, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, and on and on. Appointed more for their past support of Trump or as useful idiots who should never be placed in a position of power over people’s lives, the ragtag team of sycophants are dismantling hard fought gains by past presidents of both parties  that will take years to correct if they can be corrected. The result is our democracy is being attacked and taken over by plutocrats and hucksters whose only goal is blatant self aggrandisement nothing more. 

Even more disturbing is Trump’s choices for his inner circle – those who do the work of henchmen (and women) to keep his small hands for being sullied. Starting with the low-hanging fruit in no particular order, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. Conway has never heard a truth or fact that she didn’t try to twist into a compliment that praised the president and trashed the “liberal media” or others who stray into her gunsights. White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, comes off as little more than a yes man without a spine and a obsequious hit man for Trump. It is safe to say that no lie or distortion is too big, too egregious, or blatantly false that Mulvaney will not repeat in an effort to pander to the president.

Two of Trump’s appointments defy both logic and good sense to say nothing about the flaunting of our democracy by putting power into these two men’s hands. Attorney General Bill Barr is a case in point. Now known as Trump’s “fixer”, there is little doubt that Barr is the “wall” that Trump constructed to keep his transgressions from seeing the light of day. From Mueller’s report to declaring the aforementioned whistleblower’s report from prosecution, Barr is the proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to justice and the rule of law concerning Trump’s shenanigans.

Then there is Stephen Miller; Trump’s immigration guru. Filled with hate, self-importance, vile beliefs, and a lack of empathy and humanity, he is the Trump poster boy who represents the most base of Trump’s despicable administration. Miller alone is proof enough that the president is a soulless person who should never have become president.

Yesterday, the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi decided to begin a formal impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower scandal proved to be one bridge too far for some of the most staid Democrats in the House. The real issue is will the Republicans step up and abandon Trump and call him out as the amoral, reckless wretch that he is or let him skate once more? Will the Senate under Mitch McConnell moved forward on Articles of Impeachment if the House follows through and deliver the coup de gras to the floundering excuse for a public official?

This has always been the real issue. Trump on his own is a blumping clown who deserves nothing less than abject ridicule. From the “pussy grabber” tape to sucking up to Putin to kowtowing to Saudi Arabia, the Republicans have turned both a blind eye and a deaf ear to all of Trump’s lies and what would be comical faux pas’ were they not so serious in their implications. Chances are they will not. They will adopt the line that the impeachment will harm the Democrats at the polls as the “faithful” come out in numbers to reelect the Great Orange One. Shame on them.

Living Large In Carson City: Same As It Ever Was . . . not! Edition

“I am brainy, too brainy. I am so brainy, it’s almost unbelievable.” Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s proclamations about his intelligence aside, the Orange one is doing little these days to burnish his mental chops. Dorian, the hurricane that would not go away, provided the world with evidence of just how loose the president plays with the truth and reality – again. As Dorian finally got off its rump and moved away from the beleaguered Bahamas headed toward the East Coast of the United States, Trump in his meteorological wisdom decided to include Alabama in his weather prognostications warning the good people of Alabama to feel the fear. Contrary to those who should know, the weather scientists, Trump believed The Heart of Dixie State was in for a scouring. As the  days following his announcement have made clear, only proclamations of nothing less than death and destruction (even where none exist) would assuage the president’s tiny ego.

Okay, the guy made a mistake. The right and sane thing to do would be to fess up, make an apology, and move on. Simple, right? Not for Trump. According to a a report by The New York Times, even his Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, threaten to fire officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) if they did not disavow a Tweet sent out by the Alabama regional office personnel an hour after Trump’s Tweet contradicting Trump’s claim that Alabama was in Dorian’s path. The Commerce Department called the statement false adding more fuel to an all ready out of control conflagration.

What is so odd about the Alabama/Dorian story is the fact that it was easily proven that the president was wrong. Factually wrong to boot. The media, politicians, business leaders, hell, even my three poodles knew he was wrong. Yet, Trump dug in and even altered the now infamous NOAA weather map by extending the impact zone that Dorian was projected to make by using a Sharpie to show the storm’s path jutting into southern Alabama. The question is “For what purpose?” The prevailing opinion of most is Trump’s penchant for never saying he is wrong. This Dorian Gate, however, blew up in his face and severely called into question the ability of the president to look at facts and make the proper assumptions. Will it affect the way his die-hard supporters view his credibility? Probably not, but the incident does make sane voters pause and wonder.

Then there was the Taliban, Afghanistan, and Trump secret meeting to be held at Camp David this week. Besides going against all norms of how foreign policy works, the idea of bringing a known terrorist group to Camp David shocked more than a few Americans including Republican supporters of the president. In retrospect, it appears that not only was it a bad idea, but Trump was basically willing to give away the farm to come to a peace agreement at all costs. The Taliban being the Taliban, who are sworn enemies of America, could be counted on to do what they do without regard to the consequences. The night before the meeting Taliban forces blew up a car bomb and killed an American soldier.

Trump seemed surprised that known killers of American soldiers would have the audacity to kill an American soldier. Americans and most of the world found out the next morning when Trump Tweeted,

Donald J. Trump


Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to.…an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?

Uh, a terrorist organization like, I don’t know, the Taliban.

The secret modus operandi Trump is so fond of employing is getting old. Add to the confusion over cancelling the “secret” meeting, Trump seems to not realize the entire fiasco makes him look like a bush leaguer on the world stage. Yet, in his his skewed wisdom, he cannot stop himself from surrounding his actions with a secret aura that (if and when it ever works)  he believes it will make him look like a genius negotiator. The fact that he gave no thought to the horrible optics of asking known terrorist to Camp David only puts a even more clownish spin on the meeting.

One good thing that came out of the scrapped meeting was John Bolton was either fired or resigned depending on who is telling the story. It seems neocon John was getting on the president’s nerves by disagreeing with his almightyness over policy procedures, and well, inviting terrorists to Camp David. I have long been a verbal opponent of Bolton since the mid-nineties when he and a bunch of other old white men like Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others teamed up to create the Project for the New American Century. The guiding light behind the endeavor was an us-against- them mentality which held the interesting concept of attacking countries across the world to reshape them in our image while democracy spread like wildfire in the wake of destroyed infrastructures in the aforementioned countries. These guys even had a manifesto like all true terrorists and would have loved to put it into action. One could argue that the Iraq war was the beginning of their dream world. That didn’t work out so well.

Trump is now mired in so many outlandish dealings it is a wonder he even has time to actually do anything remotely resembling foreign policy. It appears that those who do delve in the foreign policy negotiations are often shunted away at the very end so Trump can jump into the fray to claim victory of his own. Meanwhile, North Korea is firing off multiple missiles capable of carrying sophisticated warheads that threaten both our overseas assets as well as the continental United States. An Associated Press article notes Iran is upping their capacity to enrich uranium beyond where they promised not to venture. The article states,

Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms.

. . .

The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. APNews

Back in the clown car, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is ready to meet with Iranian officials to discuss the two countries differences with “no conditions” attached. Uh, what about Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon? This turn of events makes Barack Obama’s dealings with the rogue nation look like he is the Statesman of the Century. Wasn’t it Trump who once said of the deal supported by our major allies, “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never ever been made”? Now, America and the world are supposed to believe Trump and his ilk can come up with something better when they are going in without preconditions? Good luck with that scenario.

So it goes in the Trump presidency. Shatter the norm, criticize real negotiations others made in the past, and send in the clowns. What could go wrong?