Sunday, February 19, 2017


What else did Donald Trump do this week?

Golf. Trump played golf for the fifth time in his 30-day-old presidency today. Trump was extremely critical of President Obama playing golf, in part because of the expense to taxpayers for Secret Service protection when Obama spent nights away from the White House. The cost of protecting Trump and his family for the first month ($11,300,000) is about the same as the average cost for President Obama on a yearly basis. * * * * * For example, the Secret Service accompanied Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. as they opened a golf course in Dubai this week and met in private with leaders of the United Arab Emirates.

Staff issues (and golf). Many executive branch employees under Trump lost their jobs this week. At least six Trump-appointed White House staffers lost their jobs for failing background checks, though some--like the daughter of a Trump political ally in the swing state of Florida--will be given other administration jobs. * * * * * Two senior advisors were fired for criticizing Trump: Shermichael Singleton was fired from his new job at HUD for anti-Trump editorials he had written during the primary campaign, and Craig Deare was dismissed from his post at the National Security Council for remarks he'd made regarding Trump's diplomatic bungling with Mexico. * * * * * Trump's efforts to replace Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor he fired this week, also hit a wall when the leading candidate, Vice Adm. Robert Harward, turned down Trump's offer and privately referred to the job under Trump as a "shit sandwich." * * * * * In an audio recording uncovered this week, Trump discussed the details of staffing his cabinet with members of a New Jersey golf club he owns, telling members, "You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government." Trump also told members, who pay him $300,000 per year in fees, "you are the special people."

Russia. In the past week, Russia has engaged in two military provocations: violating a 1987 missile treaty by deploying a ground-launched cruise missile, and parking a spy ship about 30 miles from a US Navy submarine base in Connecticut. These actions follow other recent provocations, including the "buzzing" of a Navy destroyer by Russian aircraft and the test launch of an ICBM. Trump, who raged at a campaign rally last night about a nonexistent terror attack in Sweden, has been muted and noncommittal in the few words he has said publicly on the subject.

Why should anyone care about these things?

  • Americans are not "special" just because they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to play golf.
  • If highly qualified national security experts will not work for a president, national security suffers.
  • Ideological purges of staff is what authoritarians do.
  • It is bad if a president freely discusses the business of his administration with members of whatever country club he happens to be relaxing at.
  • One way of demonstrating that a president has not been compromised by the hostile foreign power that helped him get elected would be to respond in some way to acts of military aggression by that country.
  • It is bad if a president is more concerned about imaginary acts of terror than real threats.