Things to know and things to learn as the Trump administration begins

The 2016 presidential election campaign was certainly the strangest ever, so there’s no reason to think that the transition to and the start of the Trump administration will be any different. There are things to know and to learn as the new administration begins. Here are some, in no particular order.

  1. Principles matter very little and hypocrisy is in style. OK, I know that I am pushing a little hard here, since this has always been an issue in politics – but this year’s version seems so much more noticeable. Throughout the past many months we have watched and read as countless numbers of Republicans, known as “#neverTrump,” “the establishment,” or “the elite,” attacked Donald Trump, calling him all sorts of names and explaining how unqualified he was in oh so many ways. Think Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley and various generals, diplomats, and political commentators. Romney just a few months ago called him “a phony,” “a fraud,” “a con man.” Those folks, we were told, stood on principle. But now, after cabinet positions, frogs legs, or other benefits were dangled in front of them, more and more have come to realize how fabulous and intelligent Donald Trump really is.
  2. Super rich people all of a sudden are interested in public service. It is not unusual for millionaires to become members of a president’s cabinet. It can probably be a challenge to live on a cabinet secretary’s salary unless you have made or inherited a few million to comfort you in your assignment. This is probably the first time, however, that cabinet meetings will look like a gathering of those billionaires lists that Forbes publishes every year. So what brings them to the calling of public service all of a sudden, so late in life? Perhaps they know so much more about everything than all the rest of us. Or could it be that these super rich folks see some opportunity to set some things up so that they can finally get what they think they most truly deserve?
  3. Tweets are limited to 140 characters. OK, so we already knew this. But do we know if the Twitter owners are figuring out a way to expand that so that our fearless leader can fully express himself without having to send multiple successive tweets on the same little thought that pops into his head? Perhaps Twitter could allow an exception for the president. That way we would not have to listen to things like the inaugural address or the State of the Union speech, we could just skim through them. And here is a scary thought: MSNBC noted a couple nights ago that the president will soon have the technical capability of texting anyone and everyone with a cell phone. It is supposed to be used in emergencies, but in the hands of Trump, God help us.
  4. If Barron Trump accidently switched the channel of his father’s television set from Fox to MSNBC, would Rachel Maddow become his press secretary? I know, that seems absurd, but since Trump gets most of his information and many of his administration’s potential appointees from watching television, would he be smart enough to figure out that Rachel is not really on his side?
  5. Will it be OK if Ivanka or Jared still attend a few meetings with foreign leaders? Most of us would think that people who have a financial interest in a foreign country or its bank should not be involved in meetings where there are discussions about what the United States government might do for or to the foreigners. Seems kind of tacky at the least. Would John F. Kennedy have said “ask not what we can do for you. Tell me what you can do for me?”
  6. Trump said during the campaign that something needs to be done about the internet. But what would that be? If he can cut a deal with Carrier to keep some jobs in this country, what might he propose to Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, etc.? He loves control. Maybe Putin can offer some suggestions.
  7. Did Carrier and United Technologies just pull a fast one on Trump? Senator Bernie Sanders, in a recent Washington Post op ed, pointed out what is likely to be the true story about the Carrier/United Technologies deal – that the conglomerate stretched out the discussion about moving to Mexico to extract concessions on their lucrative defense contracts. This might serve as a model for other defense contractors. The stated benefit for Carrier, that they will get $7 million in tax breaks from the State of Indiana to save 1,000 jobs, is sort of a joke. The deal amounts to $7,000 per job. Compare that with what Andrew Cuomo provided Solar City for 1,400 jobs (or is that 500?).
  8. If Russia is now going to be our new friend, does that mean that history books about the cold war will need to be re-written? Some of us still remember having to practice hiding under our school desks in case Russia attacked us. Those good old Republicans Dick Nixon and Joe McCarthy made careers out of fighting the Ruskies. If we are friends with Russia does that mean that everyone will now love Cuba? There is an old political truism that starts “a friend of a friend is a friend…”
  9. Lies are truths. Most of us learned at an early age that it is not good to tell a lie. Like if you were to say that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide if it were not for the three million illegal aliens who voted for Hillary. You can look it up on Alex Jones’ website, which for Trump is like the Encyclopedia Britannica. Fearless leader operates on the theory that if he says it, it is true. And if you say it on Twitter it is even more true. Here’s another scary thought: on January 20th Donald Trump will automatically inherit the 12 million Twitter followers that are affiliated with the office of the President of the United States.
  10. How do spell “e-m-o-l-u-m-e-n-t” and why do I need to know that? That is a word that does not easily roll off the tongue, and it takes some work to even type it correctly. Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution states “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” Trump has pledged to remove himself from the “business operations” of his empire, which will be transferred to his children. He said this would be done because it plays better “visually.” He is not selling his interests or putting them in some sort of blind trust. So when we inevitably find out some of the details of his business ownerships, particularly those in other countries, we the public might have some sense of how Trump’s public actions are personally benefiting him. Which would violate the emolument clause. It is still probably too early to set up an over/under pool on how long all of this will take to lead to congressional action challenging Trump. But stayed tuned.