Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year of the Donald

I suppose it could have been worse.  Trump could have set the White House on fire or got us in a war with North Korea.  Instead, we pretty much had to put up with his bluster all year.  Not even his ban on transgenders in the military was able to make it through the courts, and in the new year transgenders will once again be able to enlist in the armed forces.

As Presidents go, Trump has already placed himself squarely at the bottom with his petulant behavior and his inability to stay focused on any one issue.  It reached a point where Congressional Republicans wanted Trump to keep his distance given his outbursts when any Republican broke ranks.  It was better that he go play golf rather than try to solicit votes, although he did try to do that with Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul on the golf course.  Not that he had to make much effort with Lindsey Antebellum, or even Little Rand for that matter.  Ultimately, the Donald got his way with Senate Republicans, even if they only gave him one-third of the "Cut, Cut, Cut" tax bill he wanted.  No matter, he blew it up to $5.5 trillion in his White House List of Accomplishments.

Now the President is touting a new infrastructure bill.  No one is sure how this will work.  It initially started out as a trillion dollar pipe dream, but now he wants big business to ante up most of the money.  I suppose this is payback for all the tax cuts they will get in the New Year.

He lashed out at amazon once again, saying the USPS charges them too little for shipping, oblivious to the fact that the tax bill he signed gives companies like amazon nearly $5 billion in tax breaks, almost enough to cover the USPS debt.  It is politically motivated, as Jeff Bezos, the amazon guy, also owns the Washington Post, which has posted some unsavory stories on the Donald the past year that really got his goat.

At one time Jeff Bezos was on Trump's American Technology Council, but when the President pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Bezos like many of the others on this panel left.  Not that they had accomplished anything as I think they held only one tech summit.  These are the guys who were supposed to be advising Trump on how to improve infrastructure in this country.

In his 11+ months in office, Trump has unleashed one of the greatest "brain drains" in government.  Not only was he forced to disband his tech council after the remainder threatened to walk out on him over his Charlottesville remarks, but the censorship he has imposed on the National Park Service and Environmental Protection Agency have resulted in many top scientists leaving these federal agencies.  In turn, he tries to replace them with persons like these.  Instead of the "Best and the Brightest" we now have "Dumb and Dumber."

Even faithful supporters like Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson constantly find themselves under fire from the President.  Both have had to endure twitter assaults during the year, but remain loyal to Trump like one would a mafia don who is in the late stages of dementia.  Our last hope of sanity in the White House, former Gen. John Kelly, similarly chose fealty when defending the President's outrageous remarks to a war widow, turning the blame on a Florida Congresswoman who was privy to the call.  Still, Rex and Jeff tried their best to carry out the duties of their office, unlike their Commander-in-Chief, who continually undermined their efforts throughout year one.

While he hasn't let go of any cabinet members yet, Trump has virtually rebuilt his office staff.  The first to go was former Gen. Michael Flynn, who apparently lied to VP Mike Pence about his communications with Russia.  Just the same, the Donald heaped praise on a man who had been one of his most loyal supporters during the campaign, and was installed as Director of Homeland Security despite warnings from the Dept. of Justice, including Jeff Sessions himself.  Trump went with Jared on this one and paid the price.  He had to let go of Flynn less than a month into his term.

Sean Spicer never seemed comfortable in his role of Press Security, and when he became the brunt of SNL jokes you knew his time would soon be up.  Still, it was kind of sad to see Spicy go.  Like others who have come and gone in the White House, Sean is enjoying an afterlife as frequent talk show guest, as hosts hope he might have some juicy stories to tell about his former boss.  However, no one has yet to say much except the evil Dr. Bannon, who feels "Javanka" has far too much influence on the President.

This has always been a family affair for Donald Trump.  He pretty much made Jared his surrogate despite the young real estate developer's many shortcomings, and has gleefully promoted Ivanka throughout the year, like a good father would.  As John Oliver pointed out in one of his segments, neither have any qualifications for the enormous burden they have taken on in their father's White House.   Among Jared's many other overwhelming jobs has been tasked to forge a peace deal between Israel an Palestine, something that has eluded every presidential administration since Harry S. Truman.  It doesn't seem Jared has convinced Palestinians of his abilities to broker a deal.  And, we all feared the nepotism that might ensue if Hillary had been elected President.

Trump is trying to run the White House like he does his far-flung enterprises.  He invests way too much authority in his children, while driving businesses into the ground because he has no real interest in them other than collecting them as part of his portfolio.  "President" is simply the latest "accomplishment" he can add to his brief case.

He has shown no real interest in the job since the transition period, which he seemed to enjoy since he had no real responsibilities other than entertaining potential cabinet members and staffers.  Anyone who was anyone came through the revolving doors of Trump Tower during those two and a half months, including Al Gore an Leo DiCaprio who hoped they might turn Donald's ear on the environment.  In the end, Trump rewarded his cronies rather than seek a balanced administration, and so we pay the price.

Unfortunately, we can't turn back time, but we can put the pressure on Congress to hold the President accountable for what has been a very toxic administration, in which he has dragged the American flag into the mud.  Outside of Bibi Netanyahu in Israel you will find few world leaders that have any respect for him.  Countries are quickly learning how to work around the US, including Russia, which had hoped to forge a new relationship in the wake of Trump's shocking victory, which many still believe the Kremlin had a role in.

Trump seems content to ride out Robert Mueller's investigation, even as the focus turns to Jared and Donald, Jr.  He has noted there is nothing illegal about collusion, but when it crosses the line into treason that's another story.  We can only wait and see if Mueller comes up with the goods on the Trump family connections with Russia.

Meanwhile, we also hope Trump doesn't get us into a war we will sorely regret.

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