With government closed, Trump plays politics overseas

The the partial shutdown of the federal government now guaranteed to continue over the New Year holiday weekend, the standoff with president Donald Trump becomes first priority as the new Congress convenes late next week with a new party in control of the House of Representatives.

“If they can’t do it before January 3, then we will do it,” says Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., incoming chairman of the Rules Committee. “We’re going to do the responsible thing. We’re going to behave like adults and do our job.”

Trump admitted the standoff is all about him in a tweet Thursday.

“This isn’t about the Wall,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “This is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win.” He added Democrats may be able to block him now, “but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”

Trump couldn’t even leave politics at the door during his unannounced trips to Iraq and Germany to visit troops.

His series of partisan attacks in comments to soldiers ignored the traditional norms of a presidential visit to troops in far away places and in war zones and angered military leaders.

“As long as the message from the president is how wonderful it is that they are doing a service for the country, that’s great,” Charles Blanchard, a former general counsel for the Army and the Air Force told The Washington Post. “But when it turns into a political rally, what do people see? They see enthusiastic soldiers clapping and yelling for a partisan message.”

Armed Forces leaders say Trump “erodes public faith in a military” that enjoys 74 percent of American confidence according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

They say the military earns that trust by steering clear of politics, which is why it is the most trusted government institution by Americans.

“Lyndon Johnson went to Vietnam and visited the troops,” presidential historian Robert Dallek says. “Did he attack the Republicans? Did he attack his Democratic critics? No. It’s inappropriate. But, once again, what you have with Trump is someone who bends the rules and violates the norms in order to make himself look special or exceptional.”

Rosa Brooks, law professor and national security expert  at Georgetown University, says it is important that the incredible power of America’s military is not “being used for partisan ends.”

“We have the line because we don’t want to turn into a banana republic,” she said, adding Trump’s comments to troops on a foreign base “uses an address to military personnel as a partisan opportunity.”

In Iraq, Trump attacked House Minority Leader, and expected new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and said “we have a problem with the Democrats because Nancy Pelosi is calling the shows.”  Then he questions the chain of command of forces in Iraq, saying the officers were wrong and promised “we’re doing it a different way.”

Soldiers brought Trump campaign hats, an officer displayed a Trump campaign banner and other political signs at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and lined up to have Trump autograph the hats.

Defense Department Directive 1344, emphasized in training of military personnel, prohibits active-duty members of the military from participating in political rallies, giving the appearance of endorsing a candidate or displaying partisan political posters, banners or signs.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in an article for Joint Force Quarterly in 2016, said the military must “protect the integrity and political neutrality of our military profession.”

Even Republican political strategists say Trump hurt himself and the nation with his partisan actions in Iraq and Germany,

“He diminished himself and the office by using it as an opportunity to politicize,” said GOP strategist Rick Tyler.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Christmas with a lying, erratic, destructive president

On this Christmas, the feeling of yuletide joy is missing, thanks to the destructive actions of a president gone mad in the White House and the greetings of the season are less than celebratory.

With some thousands of federal employees affected by the partial closing of the government last Friday at midnight, many of them spend this Christmas pondering the return to gifts to help pay mortgages and bills.

President Donald Trump’s Christmas morning appearance in the Oval Office was primarily a threat to keep the federal government closed until he gets his way.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” he said. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want. But it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country.”

Writes three-time Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times:

Trump’s behavior has become so erratic, his lying so persistent, his willingness to fulfill the basic functions of the presidency — like reading briefing books, consulting government experts before making major changes and appointing a competent staff — so absent, his readiness to accommodate Russia and spurn allies so disturbing and his obsession with himself and his ego over all other considerations so consistent, two more years of him in office could pose a real threat to our nation.

His recommendation?

I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president that makes clear that if there is not a radical change in how he conducts himself — and I think that is unlikely — the party’s leadership will have no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.

Our sources on Capitol Hill says a slowly increasing number of Republicans — especially in the Senate — are muttering the same thing in closed-door gatherings.

They realize Trump is out of control.  It’s only a matter of time before they start coming out.

Fact-checking services report 7,546 outright false or misleading statements and claims by Trump in 700 days in office.

“If America starts to behave as a selfish, shameless, lying grifter like Trump, you simply cannot imagine how unstable — how disruptive — world markets and geopolitics may become,” writes Friedman. “We cannot afford to find out.”

Nobel Memorial Prize recipient Paul Krugman says a future with Trump as president is not promising:

The reality that presidential unfitness matters for investors seems to have started setting in only about three weeks (and around 4,000 points on the Dow) ago. First came the realization that Trump’s much-hyped deal with China existed only in his imagination. Then came his televised meltdown in a meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, his abrupt pullout from Syria, his firing of Jim Mattis and his shutdown of the government because Congress won’t cater to his edifice complex and build a pointless wall. And now there’s buzz that he wants to fire Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Oh, and along the way we learned that Trump has been engaging in raw obstruction of justice, pressuring his acting attorney general (who is himself a piece of work) over the Mueller investigation as the tally of convictions, confessions and forced resignations mounts.

Over at The Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson writes:

The chaos all around us is what happens when the nation elects an incompetent, narcissistic, impulsive and amoral man as president. This Christmas, heaven help us all.

Paul Waldman adds:

Trump has shown himself to be even more of a despicable human being than he appeared then, and utterly incapable of growing into the office. He is just as petty, just as impulsive, just as narcissistic, just as dishonest and, perhaps, even more corrupt than we realized. Not only does he seem to be using every available opportunity to exploit the presidency to enrich himself and his family, but a recent, meticulously documented investigation showed that Trump, his father, and his siblings engaged in a years-long scheme to commit tax fraud on an absolutely massive scale, a story that, in the endless waves of White House madness, has been almost forgotten.

Not a lot of Christmas cheer floating around on what is supposed to be a day of celebration.

Trump claims he has supports from those he put out of work with the government shutdown.

“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated — stay out until you get the funding for the wall,” Trump added. “These federal workers want the wall.”

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents about 150,000 of those federal workers, disputes that claim.

“Federal employees should not have to pay the personal price for all of this dysfunction,” Reardon said in response to Trump’s claim. “This shutdown is a travesty. Congress and the White House have not done their fundamental jobs of keeping the government open.”

No rank and file federal worker affected by the shutdown has come forward to say he or she supports Trump or the shutdown.

In other words, another lie from a lying president.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue