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: America Ain’t Got Time for That

White House economic adviser: People don’t care about Trump corruption

 (CREDIT: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES) 

When asked in an interview hosted by NPR’s Steve Inskeep on May 29 about the seemingly clear case of Donald Trump and his family profiting from doing the business of the country, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, was both a little perturbed and short with his answer.

I think it’s unfortunate when anybody takes the discussion in that direction,” Navarro said. “I think the American people would rather focus on how to stop China from taking the seed corn of our future prosperity, so that’s what I’m focused on. Can we stay on that, sir?

A little unfortunate? Maybe, but put that aside for the moment. I do agree with Navarro that it is important to focus on getting the best terms when negotiating trade deals with all the countries America does business with around the world. China needs to be held to a standard that benefits all parties as much as feasibly possible. We have a trade deficit with China, and it truly is a bad deal for the United States. It should be a priority to level the playing field where everyone prospers, and in the case of China, stops them for the irksome practice of stealing intellectual property from their trading partners.

Getting back to the “a little unfortunate” allusion, it is mind boggling how Trump sycophants sidestep questions about obvious greed-fueled corruption in the way these people do business. The article covering the NPR interview by Aaron Rupar of Thinkprogress.org goes on to examine the controversy of the Chinese company ZTE that was hit with severe penalties for doing business with Iran and North Korea contrary to America’s sanctions on those countries.

When a Chinese state-owned construction company invested $500 million in a Trump- branded property in Indonesia, the Orange One suddenly became concerned with the high unemployment that the penalties on ZTE would create for the Chinese economy. In a bizarre turn the other cheek moment, Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE, despite a warning from one of his own newly installed cabinet members and the military that ZTE was a national security threat, but wait, it gets better.

 

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Ivanka Trump attends the 4-man Boblseigh on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 25, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Ivanka Trump is on a four-day visit to South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Photo by Eric Gaillard-Pool/Getty Images)Getty Images

Tied into the mix is Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Shortly, before Trump found it in his heart to forgive ZTE their transgressions, Ivanka secured seven trademark deals from the Chinese government that will undoubtedly line her pockets for years to come. She had already been awarded three trademarks after dining with the Chinese president last year. All toll, the young Ms. Trump has received 34 trademark deals since her dad took office. Now, maybe, just maybe, Ivanka is a skilled business woman and made these deals on her own. While she has supposedly put her business dealings on hold, it seems a little odd that the Chinese government is singling her out of all the businesses in the world to heap these golden eggs on her without regard to her father’s vaunted position in Chinese and America’s relationship.

But I digress . . .

My issue is with Navarro and his dismissal of concerns that the Trump clan is not acting on the up and up despite the appearance of something underhanded going on in the Trump administration. He may believe people really don’t care what the president does in his private businesses dealings, or as Rupar put it,

Navarro did not try and reassure people that Trump is actually acting in the national interest. Instead, he suggested that the question itself is offensive, and argued that people have more important things to worry about.

When I read that comment the first time, I actually gasped, and I am normally not a gasper. The sheer audacity of someone in Navarro’s position trying to turn the table on the American people and imply it is “offensive” to question, not just the Trumps, but any public official dealing in corrupt acts is anathema to all that is right and holy in this country.

Is this the new reality in America today where a cabal of rich white people are above the law? The list is endless from Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, an oxymoronic title under Pruitt’s watch, to Ryan Zinke at the Department of Interior, to Tom Price at Health and Human Services (fired), to Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, to Steven Mnuchin at Treasury (think solar eclipse escapade), to Mike Mulvaney director of Office and Budget (he’s the one who told lobbyists to pay to play), and on and on. These people don’t even reflect the worst of the worst (Okay maybe Pruitt does), but this leaves out Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross who have their own ethical challenges.

People don’t care about Trump’s corruption? I think they do. The only real issue of import to the American people, our democracy, and the integrity of the United States depends on driving these criminals out of office at the first chance the voting booths offers. What is offensive is that a member of the president’s entourage would have the balls to say something this offensive in public and think it was okay.

It’s not.