Lazy Saturday Reads: Are There Really Any “Adults” In The Trump Administration?

Trump with so-called “adults”

Good Morning!!

Now that we know that one of the so-called “adults” in the White House day care center–John Kelly–is just another Trump clone with slightly better language skills, what do we do now? Are the other so-called “adults” in the administration–Mattis and McMaster–also “fake” adults (to use the word that Trump claims he “invented?” I have to believe that no one is going to “save” us from Trump.

If there are any “adults” in the day care center that is the WH, they’re not paying attention to what the baby-man is doing this morning.

Even worse than attacking a member of the House of Representatives, Trump retweeted an account that claimed that the family of fallen soldier La David Johnson has “colluded w extremist Dems to politicize death of Army hero.”

Oh, and have you heard that we’re not allowed to question the word of “the generals” even when they are caught in transparent lies?

The Washington Post: Video shows Kelly made inaccurate claims about lawmaker in feud over Trump’s condolence call.

The White House’s aggressive effort to discredit a congresswoman from Florida who criticized President Trump over a military condolence call ran into a new set of problems Friday when a video emerged showing that the chief of staff had made false claims about her.

It marked the fifth day of a controversy that has raged since Trump attempted to deflect criticism of his handling of the deaths of four service members in an ambush in Niger. The ensuing debate has focused on attacks against Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D) that have proved to be inaccurate but that the White House has refused to back away from, with the latest episode ensnaring Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, a decorated retired Marine general.

From left, John Kelly, James Mattis, and four other Marine four-star generals.

The escalating political mud fight has overshadowed the grief of Myeshia Johnson and the heroism of her dead husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who gave his life for his country.

Trump aides Friday stood by Kelly’s contention that Wilson had boasted about her role in winning funding for a federal building, even after video of her remarks emerged and showed that he was wrong.

But if you’re a journalist, don’t even think about questioning anything Kelly says or does. Washington Post: Sarah Huckabee Sanders to reporter: How dare you challenge one of our generals?

…reporters were primed on Friday afternoon to take up the matter with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. What of this discrepancy? Will Kelly amend the record?

That’s what CBS News correspondent Chip Reid did. After he teed up the topic, Reid and Sanders had this exchange:

Can he come out here and talk to us about this at some point?

Sanders: I think he’s addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday.

Reid: He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. The money was … before she came into Congress.

Sanders: If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.

This is coming from an underling of the fellow who once said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”

Chip Reid

Both Trump and Kelly owe apologies to Rep. Wilson and the Johnson family.

Trump also claimed that he had contacted every family who had lost a loved one on his watch, but that was a lie too. Roll Call reports: Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims.

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

Not only had the president not contacted virtually all the families of military personnel killed this year, the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of those who had been killed.

The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them.

Capt. Hallock Mohler, the executive secretary to Defense Secretary James Mattis, provided the White House with information in the 5 p.m. email about how each servicemember had died and the identity of his or her survivors, including phone numbers.

Click on the link to read the rest. Two more articles you might want to check out:

The New Yorker: John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup, by Masha Gessen.

Vox: John Kelly has become a field commander in Trump’s culture war.

Sgt. Byron Black, Sgt. La David Johnson, Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson

Lost in all the fuss over condolence calls and letters is the fact that the question Trump was asked in his Monday press conference was about why, after 12 days, he had not commented on the Niger ambush that cost the lives of four green berets. What are Trump and “the generals” hiding?

NBC News: Niger Ambush Came After ‘Massive Intelligence Failure,’ Source Says.

A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a “massive intelligence failure.” [….]

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the House and Senate armed services committees have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there.

There was no U.S. overhead surveillance of the mission, he said, and no American quick-reaction force available to rescue the troops if things went wrong. If it weren’t for the arrival of French fighter jets, he said, things could have been much worse for the Americans….

The aide said questions are being asked about whether the U.S. soldiers were intentionally delayed in the village they were visiting. He said they began pursuing some men on motorcycles, who lured them into a complex ambush. The enemy force had “technical” vehicles — light, improvised military vehicles — and rocket-propelled grenades, the official said.

After the rescue when it became clear that one soldier was missing, “movements and actions to try and find him and bring him back were considered. They just were not postured properly [to get him].” The body of Sgt. La David Johnson was not recovered until nearly 48 hours after the Oct. 4 attack.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis answers a question about the ambush of U.S. troops in Niger before a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Pentagon, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LA Times: Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

The growing list of unanswered questions and inability to construct a precise account of the Oct. 4 incident have exacerbated a public relations nightmare for the White House, which is embroiled in controversy over President Trump’s belated and seemingly clumsy response this week to console grieving military families….

The attack, apparently carried out by militants affiliated with Islamic State, was the deadliest since Trump took office, yet the U.S. military’s Africa Command still does not have a clear “story board” of facts that commanders usually gather swiftly after deadly incidents. That has senior Pentagon officials and lawmakers suggesting incompetence.

The questions arising from the incident, particularly about the availability of additional military support to the patrol, echo those raised in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attack in Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four people: U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service information officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday that getting to the bottom of what happened may require subpoenas.

Read more at the LA Times.

The most concerning questions are about what happened to Sgt. La David Johnson. Why wasn’t he picked up with the rest of the dead and injured? Was he alive when he was abandoned on the ground? CNN: Missing soldier found nearly a mile from Niger ambush, officials say.

The Pentagon is still looking at the exact circumstances of how and when Johnson became separated from the 12-member team as they were ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters but is emphasizing that the search for Johnson began immediately and dozens of US forces were quickly moved to Niger’s capital Niamey to be ready to go into the field, which some did.
Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters on Thursday that US, French and Nigerien forces “never left the battlefield” until Johnson was found.
The entire Green Beret-led team has been interviewed about when they last saw Johnson, officials said.
Johnson’s body was recovered in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops nearly 48 hours after he was discovered to be missing in the wake of the attack, according to US officials….
There have been reports that some type of tracking beacon was emitting a signal possibly from Johnson. On Friday, officials said this is a detail they are still trying to verify — it could have been one of the vehicles tracking devices that was emitting the signal.
We need to know Johnson’s cause of death and why Mrs. Johnson was told she could not have an open casket funeral or see her husband’s body. What happened to him? Was his body mutilated? We need answers, “the generals” had better get them make them public.
I’ll end with this post from October 15 at Forward.com: There Are No Adults In The White House. Worse, There Are No Mensches, by Robert Zaretsky.

…there may well be adults in attendance, at least if you define adulthood as James Mann did in the New York Review of Books this month. In an article entitled “The Adults in the Room,” Mann argues that adulthood used to be a matter of policies and process in our nation’s capital. Adults pursued moderate and middle of the road goals, and practiced pragmatic and reasonable methods to achieve them, per Mann. But all that changed since November 2016.

Trump’s rise to power has transmogrified the meaning of adulthood, says Mann. It is no longer the stuff of policy, but instead of personality (or, indeed, of psychosis). The adults in the room are now expected, in Mann’s words, “to preserve a modicum of stability within the administration.” How do they do this? By “cleaning up” the presidential messes, he writes, as well as by sending “signals that they are trying to keep Trump from veering off course.” And should all of these efforts fail? Well, according to Mann, the adults in the room will act on their adultness by leaving the room. “They simply distance themselves from his tirades.”

But what the Trump Administration is really missing is not adults so much as mensches. For cleaning up Trump’s messes and explaining away his tirades may be the acts of an adult, but they are not the actions of a mensch.

“The key to being a real mensch is character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous,” writes Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish.

What do you think? What other stories are you following today?
Advertisements

18 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Are There Really Any “Adults” In The Trump Administration?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Review of new book by Khizr Khan:

    NYT: What Trump Can Learn From a Gold Star Family

  2. bostonboomer says:

    HuffPost: Harvard Students Told Us What They’re Learning From Sean Spicer

    Sean Spicer, a man most famous for lying compulsively and giving Hitler the benefit of the doubt, has been rewarded for his brief stint as White House press secretary with a prestigious fellowship at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government for the fall semester.

    His appointment was in keeping with the trend of America’s broadly liberal institutions falling all over themselves to give a prominent platform to our country’s worst, most illiberal voices, in an idiot kabuki of broadmindedness. According to the institute, Spicer is supposed to be “engaging students in discourse on topical issues of today” by giving bright young minds a look at the inner workings of White House communications.

    Instead, according to a student who attended one of Spicer’s Q&A sessions, “The entire thing was just a defense of every waking moment he served.” He is a flack once more, only this time for himself.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Haw! I hope students keep it up and make Spicer miserable.

      Meanwhile – over at Columbia – Hillary will have the most sought-after class on campus.

    • NW Luna says:

      Looks like the bright young minds can see right through Spicer’s self-serving blather. That gives me hope!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Ouch. Pretty straightforward.

      I’m glad this story is not going away. It truly is tRump’s Benghazi and Democrats need to make sure this is thoroughly investigated. I’m especially interested in what part of the exposure of those troops can be laid at tRump’s feet and his decision to put Chad on his immigrant ban. Unlike Sec. of State Clinton, CIC tRump has no excuse for leaving those troops in harm’s way like that.

    • NW Luna says:

      Well-written and thoughtful article about the continuing abuse of democracy by this unfit pResident and his henchmen.

      the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country

      There’s more of that each day from this administration.

  3. NW Luna says:

    The kind of people who Trump emboldens:

    Three men charged after protesters shot at following Richard Spencer speech

    According to the Gainesville police, the men chanted “Hail Hitler!”, gave Nazi salutes and fired a gun at a group of protesters about a mile south of Spencer’s venue.

    In September, the Dallas Morning News quoted 30-year-old William Fears [one of the 3 men arrested] as denying belonged to any white supremacist group but saying: “Nazi is like the N-word for white people,” he said. “And I just embrace it.” He was identified by the paper as having protested against the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee from a park in the city.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/20/gainesville-shooting-three-men-charged-florida-richard-spencer

  4. NW Luna says:

    Trump does not plan to block release of JFK assassination documents

    In a tweet on Saturday morning, Trump said: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as president, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”

    The National Archives has until Thursday to disclose the remaining files related to Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. The documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released with redactions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/21/trump-jfk-kennedy-assassination-documents

  5. NW Luna says:

    BB, nice roundup. The apparent incompetence and then delay of information regarding the Niger operations are disturbing. The strange decision to put Chad on the banned countries list (supposedly over lack of the correct passport paper) is also troubling. It’s tragic when diplomatic and administrative clumsiness (if not worse) cost lives.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Is there no limit to the inhumanity of Trumpists?

    Wife of ex-US health secretary Price asks if people with HIV can be quarantined

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/21/wife-health-secretary-tom-price-betty-hiv-quarantine

  7. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Didn’t tRump pound Hillary for her AUMF vote during the campaign?

      We still don’t know what the “storm” he was talking about is either. Would the Pentagon and “his” generals go along with this? Do they really want this?? Is there any other reason he would do this? This is really disturbing and especially his timing – late on a Friday so nobody would notice. Did anyone at MSNBC talk about this last night? This is just insane…

      • joanelle says:

        Clearly having the capacity to build a bigger army goes hand in hand with WAR. Hill was right on every point she made during the campaign, but the media failed to cover it all, ooops. 😳

    • NW Luna says:

      WTH? That is scary!

  8. RonStill4Hills says:

    When Trump lied about calling Gold Star families, they scrambled to Crete a plausible cover, the instinct to lie runs through the entir organization.