Four Important Takeaways From This Weekend

I think there are a number of important takeaways from this weekend. First, although it may seem like this Muslim ban was hastily rolled out, there was clearly a fair degree of planning that went into the way it was actually implemented. Steve Clemons reported on MSNBC tonight that OMB and other agency heads that would potentially be effected were informed about the immigration ban, if not in detail but in general, and were instructed not to discuss it within their agencies. So, it is clear that the lack of legal and bureaucratic preparation for this ban was part of the White House plan. And I think we can safely say, based on the fact that Bannon and Miller overrode DHS on green card holders, that when we say White House in regard to this issue, we really mean Bannon/Miller. In addition, based on the uniform response of the CPB and their lack of cooperation with lawyers as well as their defiance of court orders, I think we can reasonable speculate that Bannon/Miller had coordinated this ban far more intimately with the CPB union, the only federal employee union to endorse Trump, I believe, than with the federal bureaucracy. It would be interesting to see the results of an FOIA request on that, if you could get a response.

Secondly, I also believe that this will be the MO of the Trump administration going forward, ignoring the layers of federal bureaucracy and “going it alone”. Trump/Bannon does not believe in the federal bureaucracy and somehow thinks that everything can be managed from the White House. We see that in the purge of top State Department officials and ambassadors, leaving all the details of our foreign policy in the hands of the White House as the Secretary of State still has not been confirmed. The unwillingness to involve the federal bureaucracy in any of the details of this Muslim ban again demonstrates that faulty thinking. Based on the results of this weekend, that should scare us all. That lack of faith or interest in the bureaucracy is also indicated by dropping the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DNI from the NSC’s inner circle while adding Bannon, apparently without the consent of the Senate that is required. That alone is frightening, especially to anyone who truly cares about our national security.

Thirdly, Rachel Maddow pointed out earlier this evening that this Muslim ban was just the initial salvo and the administration would see how everyone would react and what they would able to get away with now and in the future. That accounts for the ban including green card holders. It was designed to push things to the max and see how the people and Congress would react. Seeing how much resistance they were getting, Bannon/Miller pulled back on that issue late today. But the rest of the order still stands and will still need to be fought. And this will just be the first battle. If they can get away with the ban on these seven countries, they will soon issue a new order expanding the number of countries to be included.

Which brings us to the next point which is that Trump will be relentless in his abuses of the system, both within the law and outside the law. To quote the Huffington Post headline right now, it will take “relentless resistance” to stop Trump and/or slow him down. That will mean spontaneous acts of resistance like this weekend will have to be maintained with high participation over an extended period of time. As we have seen clearly, Republicans in Congress are clearly on board with whatever Trump does and, with the exception perhaps of a handful, they can not be relied upon to check trump in any way, at least not until they get their precious tax cuts in place and roll back the New Deal. Trump and Bannon are counting on us to slowly lose the interest and passion to fight them. They are looking at a four to eight year horizon. We need to be prepared to wage a difficult and protracted fight. They are counting on a significant portion of today’s resistance to begin to feel that it is futile and unproductive. So we need to understand that this is a battle against an authoritarian ruler and a fight for the soul and the future of this country. For all of us, it is a battle we can not afford to lose.

[I’ve also written about this and other issues on my personal blog at]

Thoughtful discussions on politics and economics with some sidelights in photography and astronomy.