Donald Trump’s Reality TV Presidency: Defense Secretary is the Latest ‘Acting’ Cabinet Official

With all of the controversy and melodrama that emanates daily from the historically chaotic White House of Donald Trump, it’s easy to forget his humble beginnings as the host of a reality TV game show. That was not a recreational pastime for a bored billionaire. It was his job for fourteen years. A real billionaire wouldn’t have had the time for that.


As president Trump has transferred his experience in television playacting to his new job in Washington. And it’s painfully obvious that his skills are utterly inappropriate for his new duties. He spends most of his time watching TV (Fox News) and conducting made-for-the-camera photo-ops with bill signings and human props. His press conferences are a circus wherein he replaces substantive dialogue with insults and rambling incoherence.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Trump runs the White House like he would a fictional sitcom about a bumbling chief executive. Many of his senior staffers were actually recruited from television (again, Fox News), and most have little experience for the assignments they’re given. His Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications is the disgraced former president of Fox News, Bill Shine.

On Sunday morning Trump Announced the latest recipient of his “rose” for a critical post in his cabinet. He is making Patrick Shanahan the “Acting” Secretary of Defense. This follows the resignation of Gen. James Mattis, whose departure was motivated by Trump’s recklessness and ignorance. Mattis advised the President that his resignation would be effective February 28, 2019. But now, in a fit of pettiness and ego-pacification, Trump is moving that up to December 31.

What’s more troubling is Trump’s newfound compulsion to replace permanent, senate-confirmed cabinet officials with unqualified “Acting” stand-ins for the real thing. Currently serving in Trump’s pretend regime are an “Acting” Chief of Staff (Mick Mulvaney), Attorney General (Matthew Whitaker), EPA Director (Andrew Wheeler), Interior Secretary (David Bernhardt), and now Shanahan as Acting Secretary of Defense. All to serve our Reality TV Acting “President.”

This means that nearly twenty percent of the President’s cabinet is serving in an “acting” capacity. They have not been vetted or confirmed by the Senate as required by law. The reasons for this include Trump’s lack of knowledge of the sort of qualified people to fill these positions. Also problematic for Trump is the fact that qualified nominees don’t want to get anywhere near this president or his defective, criminally-tainted White House.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So now America is stuck with third rate understudies for governing officials who are likely to be merely surrogates for Trump’s dementia. Mulvaney as chief of staff is the perfect example of that. He’s a rabidly partisan Republican Nationalist who slobbers over Trump now even though he called him a terrible human being just two days before the election. We have to wonder when the country will have competent leadership again that is serving in accordance with the law. But that will probably have to wait until the law catches up with Trump and ousts him from the office he stole with the help of his Russian comrades.

Donald Trump Accuses Members of His Own White House Staff of Treason

The morale at the White House just took another deep dive into the abyss of the Shakespearean tragedy it has become. Donald Trump’s administration is already notable for suffering the worst retention rate in history with dozens of top-level staffers resigning or being fired in just the first year. This is a crumbling house of cards that Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called “a very functioning place of business.”

Donald Trump

The White House has recently been described in strikingly negative terms. One account calls it “the most toxic working environment on the planet.” The official who told this to Axios went on to say that:

“Usually tough times bring people together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart. There’s no leadership, no trust, no direction and this point there’s very little hope. Would you want to go to work every day not knowing whether your future career was going to be destroyed without explanation?”

In the midst of that turmoil, it isn’t surprising to see many insiders anxious to leak to the media. According to a new report by Axios they are doing so, in part, to set the record straight and protect themselves from jealous coworkers. So Trump’s response to this dreadful lack of leadership was to post this harangue on Twitter:

Note the obvious paranoid psychosis in that brief tirade. First of all, if he’s referring to “so-called leaks” by the “Fake News Media,” then there isn’t really anything to complain about as far as leaks go. In his view the information is false and, by definition, not a leak. Secondly, Trump doesn’t need any help from anyone to “look as bad as possible.” He’s doing that very well on his own.

Nevertheless, Trump is outraged that anyone in his employ would exercise their free will and talk with people in the media about the train wreck over which he presides. And his response to that demonstration of disloyalty to the King is to accuse the fiends of treason and threaten them with capture and punishment.

This president is certainly not the first one to be stung by insiders talking out of class. But he is the first to charge them with crimes punishable by death. And that is what makes Trump’s totalitarian tactics so dangerous and unambiguously contrary to the American values of freedom and democracy.

If Trump wants to stop leaking from his staff, the best and easiest way is to inspire them to have admiration and respect for his leadership. He’s quite clearly incapable of that, so he resorts to this sort of intimidation and bullying. Which isn’t going to work. In fact, it will just make things worse for him. So, Mr. Trump, please proceed.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Right-Wing Media Gets Hysterically Overheated by Dumbass White House Petition

You know the loons that shill for Donald Trump are getting desperate when they latch onto petty nonsense. And that seems to be all they are doing these days. Many pundits are calling last week Trump’s worst week yet. But that could be said about almost any week since he was inaugurated. However, a week when he defends white supremacists and forces his political guru, Steve Bannon, to walk the plank, surely deserves a spot at the top of the list.

Donald Trump

In an effort to boost Trump’s spirits, some of his Deplorables posted a petition on the White House website. They are seeking to have the anti-fascist protest group, Antifa, officially designated a terrorist organization. The whole of the petition alleges that:

“Terrorism is defined as ‘the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims’. This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations. AntiFa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States. It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.”

Anti-=Fascist activists have lately been showing up at marches and rallies organized by neo-Nazis and KKK groups. They are often confrontational, but there is no evidence that they have ever initiated violence or “influenced” anyone to kill police officers. These are unsupported smears advanced by racists who don’t like being challenged.

More importantly, those responsible for this petition don’t seem the least bit disturbed by the rise of neo-Nazi groups who openly threaten violence. And they actually did commit a murder last week in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, they haven’t bothered to post a petition calling for those terrorists be officially designated as such.

Nevertheless, right-wing media has jumped all over this petition and through their promotion of it achieved a milestone. Petitions on the White House website need to get 100,000 signatures within sixty days to get a response from the Oval Office. This petition now has about 180,000. And that has set the hearts of the bigots on the right to fluttering. Here’s a short list of some of the more prominent right-wing media outlets that are all giddy over this:

  • Infowars: WHITE HOUSE PETITION CALLS ON TRUMP TO OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZE ‘ANTIFA’ AS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
  • TheBlaze: White House petition: Formally recognize Antifa as a terrorist organization
  • Breitbart: White House Petition Calls on Trump to Officially Recognize ‘Antifa’ as a Terrorist Organization
  • RT: Petition to label Antifa as terrorists hits 100k signatures required for White House response
  • Daily Caller: White House Petition To Recognize Antifa As A Terrorist Organization Hits 100k Signatures
  • And of course, Fox News: Petition to Label Antifa Terror Group Has 146,000 Signatures So Far

In addition to the weakness of their argument for this petition, these “news” manglers are exposing the blindness of their prejudice by ignoring the hostility of the right. What’s more, they are also ignoring the petition on the White House site that has the most signatures of any petition posted. With over 1.1 million accumulated to date, here is what Americans really want the President to address:

Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.

Since the threshold for a response is only 100,000, and Trump hasn’t responded, it’s safe to say he has no intention of doing so. But it remains to be seen if he will respond to the far less popular petition attacking anti-fascists. It’s a sad time for America when being opposed to fascism earns you a rebuke from the Republicans and, perhaps, the President. But that’s the times we are living in today in the Era of Trump.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump is Frantically Looking to Hire Fox News People to Staff His Flailing Press Office

The controversy over Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey continues to unfold. And the President insists on making matters worse with comments that are implicit admissions of impeachable offenses. For instance, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he asked Comey if he was a subject of an FBI investigation. He also asked Comey to pledge an oath of loyalty and threatened him with releasing secret tape recordings. All of these could be regarded as ethical breaches sufficient to warrant an impeachment inquiry.

Donald Trump Sean Spicer

While the core story is as disturbing as anything that’s come out of Washington in decades, there are spin-offs that are equally unsettling. Among them are recent reports concerning the toxic status of Trump’s White House Press Office. Sean Spicer and company have been taking a severe beating over their inability to communicate a consistent, coherent message. They have lost credibility among their peers and, apparently, their bosses as well. On Friday Jeanine Pirro of Fox News asked Trump if Spicer’s job was secure. He pointedly declined to give a straight answer.

Trump is so upset that he actually proposed eliminating the daily press briefings and communicating via Twitter. He also suggested that he might just hold weekly press conferences by himself. An article in the Associated Press noted that Trump “increasingly sees himself as the White House’s only effective spokesperson.” While the absence of regular press avails would ordinarily be an unprecedented insult to the public trust, in the case of this White House it hardly matters. Very little of substance, or truth, is derived from their daily get-togethers.

Now there are reports that Trump is sending out feelers to reshape his press operation more to his liking. In the same AP article there was a line that revealed where Trump’s thinking is headed for the near future:

“Trump is mulling expanding the communications team and has eyed hiring producers from Fox News, according to one White House official.”

That should fix everything. When your press office isn’t lying well enough, get yourself some professionals to do it. For the record, Trump has already tapped Fox News for several administration appointments. Former Foxies on the White House payroll currently include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastion Gorka, Heather Nauert, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. There has never been an administration that was so packed with people from a major news enterprise. And now that’s going to get even worse.

Among the rumored changes is one that predicts the departure of Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Trump insiders are telling the media that Trump “wants Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle to take his place.” Guilfoyle was an attorney who is currently a co-host of Fox’s right-wing gab-fest, The Five. She has never been a journalist and has no experience in press relations. That surely won’t bother Trump who regards inexperience as an asset. Trump may also appreciate Guilfoyle’s admiration for Vladimir Putin, who she thought would be a better president than Barack Obama. And if you don’t believe the anonymous sources speculating about Guilfoyle, the story broke two days earlier on Alex Jones’ Infowars. So that should settle it.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

By bringing in Fox News producers and presenters, the White House press office would take on a new identity as an overtly partisan purveyor of propaganda. So one might ask, what’s the difference? Well, it would also cement Trump’s image as a TV character who relies on the fakery of entertainment values over honest journalism. And it would reinforce the relationship between Trump and Fox, which is already a marriage of political convenience and ideology. But most of all, it would abandon any hope of securing the respect of the American public or the world at large. It would turn the press office into a punchline. And considering that the Trump administration is already a bad joke, they don’t really have that far to go.

Trump’s Cabinet May Be The Most Inexperienced Ever – And That’s Actually Good News!

As the administration of President-Elect Donald Trump takes shape, there is one characteristic that is inescapable. Most of his appointees so far are utterly incapable of performing the jobs for which they have been chosen. There seems to be a deliberate effort to select people who lack the necessary skills to be successful.

Donald Trump

This could be due to an old Republican strategy of purposeful failure. The objective of this strategy is to insure that government operations fail. Then they can later point to the failure as proof that government doesn’t work and justify cutting every program.

However, it could also be due to simple incompetence on the part of Trump who hasn’t the foggiest notion what he’s doing. Remember when he said that he knows all the best people and would surround himself with unparalleled talent? Apparently all of those people are busy, so Trump has resorted to names familiar to everyone who watches Fox News.

The Huffington Post noticed this deficiency and reported on it with some key perspectives from people with real experience. HuffPo’s Ryan Grim wrote that:

“Trump’s roster of key White House advisers and Cabinet officials could, in the end, rank among the least experienced in recent presidential history.

“Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, headed right-wing news site Breitbart News before chairing the president-elect’s campaign. Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, previously ran the Republican National Committee. And Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a key presidential campaign strategist who is now being discussed as a White House adviser, ran his family’s real estate business before entering politics.

“None of those individuals has worked in government.”

Add to that Nikki Haley whose role as governor of South Carolina gave her none of the foreign policy experience needed for being the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Then there’s Dr. Ben Carson whose medical skills won’t help him develop housing policy as HUD Secretary. And Betsy Devos as Education Secretary has never held any position in teaching or school administration. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was an attorney and a prosecutor. But he was also rejected for a judgeship because of his public racist outbursts. That hardly seems appropriate for the Attorney General’s post who oversees civil rights enforcement. And let’s not forget that Trump wants to install his fatally unqualified kids into official government posts.

There may, however, be a positive side to this. Since Trump and his people will be so ignorant and inept, they will have to rely on the career bureaucrats in each department. These are people who are more likely to be concerned with efficiency rather than ideology. Some of them have been there for decades and were hired during the administrations of presidents from both parties. That means there is some diversity of opinion and workplace camaraderie. They will likely cooperate on ongoing projects and on keeping the department’s routine operations functional. They may not be particularly anxious to help wingnut bosses execute foolish plans.

Consequently, as Trump’s lieutenants attempt to implement policy, they will run headlong into obstacles which they cannot overcome. Then they will either defer to the experts or try to force their vision into place. If they choose the former, then business will proceed as usual. If they choose the latter, they will likely fall flat on their fannies. In any case, it will be difficult for them to shepherd any real reform through a bureaucracy they can’t comprehend.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So let’s hear it for inexperience. Three cheers for incompetence. As long as someone as dangerously clueless as Donald Trump is in the White House, the best the American people can hope for is that he and his minions perform as terribly as we all expect them to. Of course there’s a downside to this as well, but that’s another, more depressing, subject.

It’s Best When Everybody Thinks Alike

In this administration, as in the halls of Fox News, it’s best when everybody thinks alike – No matter how much they pretend otherwise.


The White House held it’s annual “Holiday” (that’s right, holiday) Party for the media last night and the guest list was, to no one’s surprise, heavily weighted to the right-wing regurgitators of whom the President is so fond.

This morning Dana Perino, the President’s press secretary, visited with a regurgitator on Fox News and had the following exchange:

Steve Doocy: [H]ow weird is it to have, Dana, people who appear on other channels, who bash the president all the time, and then, one night a year, they come into the White House, they bring their kids, and they say, Hi, how are you, as if they haven’t been bashing the president all year long?

Dana Perino: It’s a little awkward. And it was amazing to me, being in charge of taking the requests for invitations this year, how audacious some people are to call and ask to be invited to the president’s Christmas party.

It was nice of Doocy to so openly reveal that it is the “other channels” who bash the President, and not Fox, the President’s Cheerleading Squad. That sort of honesty has been more in view since Rupert Murdoch admitted that he tried to shape the agenda on Iraq. And Perino’s discomfort with reporters who are critical of the President says something about her lack of professionalism and her immaturity in the role of press secretary.

And speaking of lack of professionalism, another Fox regurgitator, Neil Cavuto, interviewed his boss Rupert Murdoch yesterday. The conversation covered Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones (and the Wall Street Journal) and the launch of the Fox Business Network, for which Cavuto is the Sr. VP. Have they really sunk this low? A senior Fox News executive interviewing his boss on air. That would be like Dana Perino interviewing the President for broadcast (maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas). What exactly would we expect to learn from that?

I guess we’ll just have to get used to Fox News employees interviewing other Fox News employees. And we’ll have to accept that the White House is no longer the people’s house, but an office for partisan business and gatherings.

A White House Awash In Lies

Former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, is joining the ranks of castoff Bushies to belatedly embrace truthfulness in advance of the publication of a new book. This is a disturbing pattern amongst public figures who lie while in office and then recant their deception, after they’ve been ejected from their perch, with a tell-some memoir of their nefarious official activities.

In McClellan’s case, the publisher of his forthcoming tome teased the press with this tantalizing morsel:

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.”

“There was one problem. It was not true.”

“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.”

This admission of administration dishonesty could rise to the level of impeachability (as if we needed another reason). It demonstrates a deliberate effort on the part of high ranking officials to mislead the public and to obstruct justice. And it is telling that this criminality was shepherded through the White House press machine with the complicity of McClellan who was either terminally naive or incompetent.

While it is useful that these revelations are coming out, it is galling that it took so many years to do so. The administration has successfully quashed any discourse on the issue by refusing comment when the case was being actively litigated and then declaring that it was old news when the litigation came to a close. Both of McClellan’s successors, Tony Snow and Dana Perino, are just as guilty of covering up this affair as McClellan was. When asked to comment on the McClellan book, Perino said:

“The president has not and would not ask his spokespeople to pass on false information.”

That contradicts the president who admitted that he does lie to the press when it suits him, as it did when former defense secretary Don Rumsfeld resigned.

Contrary to Perino’s protest, the President, along with many of his top advisers, is simply not to be trusted. And the same is true of the mouthpieces like Perino, Snow and McClellan, who will do and say whatever their leader asks of them. They will prevaricate obediently and then, many years later, seek absolution through the purifying glow of book publishing and million dollar advances. The rest of the media will largely ignore this misbehavior because they are either too stupid to ferret out the truth, too frightened to report it, or too compromised by their own involvement or dreams of future book deals.