Category Archives: Mentions

Reagan Historian: Trump Should Turn Off the TV || Lifezette

Reagan Historian: Trump Should Turn Off the TV

Presidential biographer says Trump needs to forget the pundits, start driving the conversation

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 07 Feb 2017 at 4:23 PM

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump closely monitors how news outlets are reporting on his administration. And when he comes across something he doesn’t like or that he views as inaccurate, he often turns to Twitter to unleash his frustration.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough became one of Trump’s latest irritants when he wondered aloud Monday on “Morning Joe” about “who calls the shots” in Trump’s White House, saying, “It is astounding that this soon into a new administration, I don’t know, maybe [Steve] Bannon is calling all the shots, I still don’t think he is. I think Trump is the guy who calls the shots, but this is a thing that I guess needs to be investigated.”

And it took just mere moments before the president fired back at Scarborough in a scathing rebuke.

“I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it,” Trump tweeted. “Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!”

The tone of Trump’s defensive tweet prompted widespread ridicule in the media. “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah even went so far as to proclaim Bannon president of the United States.

“Trump’s defensiveness is telling. It shows that even he realizes he needs to prove he’s in control, and maybe some day he will be. But for now, let’s congratulate Steve Bannon,” Noah said Monday evening. “As of this moment, you are the real president … The American people didn’t elect you. But then again, they kind of didn’t elect Trump either.”

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump railed against the “dishonest media” and lambasted them for their negative — and often inaccurate — coverage of his rallies, his policies, and the level of his national support. When Trump defeated media darling and former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a stunning upset, the pundits stood by in shock before unleashing a torrent of caterwauling.

Using Twitter as his primary medium to push back, Trump left no room for any doubts concerning his opinion of the media.

“I am not only fighting Crooked Hillary, I am fighting the dishonest and corrupt media and her government protection process. People get it!” Trump tweeted in a media-directed tirade on Aug. 14.

“My rallies are not covered properly by the media. They never discuss the real message and never show crowd size or enthusiasm,” Trump continued. “If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%.”

This blunt method of communication ultimately served candidate Trump’s purposes effectively and brought his opinions directly to the people. But Trump is no longer a presidential candidate.

“I think also he’s got to realize that … he’s no longer running for office. He drives the news. They don’t drive him. He drives them,” Craig Shirley, a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian, said Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” “So, sometimes it’s better to say fewer things and tweet fewer things that to say something all the time and tweet all the time.”

If Trump continues to flock to Twitter on every whim, his administration and presidency could suffer, Shirley warned.

“Trump needs to say ‘No’ to interview requests or to over-booking in his schedule. He needs time to stop and think — just think things through or talk things through with a few trusted confidential aides,” Shirley said.

Shirley especially pointed back to Trump’s interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday, in which O’Reilly asked Trump if he respected Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Trump said he did, O’Reilly said that Putin was “a killer.”

“We’ve got a lot of killers … You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump responded. “Well — take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes … but a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.”

Of course, the mainstream media immediately pounced on Trump’s words, suggesting the president was drawing a “moral equivalency” between Russia and the U.S.

“It was fine up until he made the moral equivalency argument between the United States and Russia,” Shirley said. “I think he needs to go out and clean it up a little bit.”

These mistakes can be costly and lead to the Trump administration’s “currency” and leverage “being devolved and overexposed,” Shirley said.

There is also no need for Trump’s officials and advisers to make the Sunday morning show rounds tirelessly every week and agree to appear on every show every day all week, LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham said. Noting that Vice President Mike Pence gave interviews on four Sunday morning shows this week, Ingraham said that “less is more sometimes.”

“I agree with you. I think we’re seeing all of them too much,” Ingraham told Shirley.

Rather than allowing the media to twist their words and distract from the concrete actions the president and his administration are taking, Ingraham said that Trump and his team should concentrate on fulfilling his campaign promises.

“I’d turn off the TV. Turn it off. There’s nothing to watch anyway. It’s not going to make your life any better. It’s not going to make your job any easier. Turn it off,” Ingraham said. “Unless it’s something where you’re galvanizing the public to your point of view on something, I think Twitter can be fine.”

“[Trump’s] not a pundit. He’s the president. And he doesn’t need to act like a pundit,” Ingraham said. “Every time someone says something or [criticizes] him, he doesn’t need to respond via Twitter. It just — it’s pointless. It’s a pointless endeavor.”


Mike Pence’s swearing-in is full of symbolism || USA Today

Mike Pence’s swearing-in is full of symbolism

Obama Isn’t Planning to Be as Silent as Bush in Post-Presidency || Daily Signal

Obama Isn’t Planning to Be as Silent as Bush in Post-Presidency

President Barack Obama says he appreciated George W. Bush’s silence during his eight years in office. Now, as the current president prepares for life outside the White House, his aides have given mixed messages about just how political Obama will be during the Trump administration.

Obama has said speaking out on policy won’t be his priority after leaving the White House on Friday.

“Now, that doesn’t mean that if a year from now or a year and a half from now or two years from now, there is an issue of such moment, such import, that isn’t just a debate about a particular tax bill or, you know, a particular policy, but goes to some foundational issues about our democracy that I might not weigh in,” Obama said in a December CNN interview with his former adviser, David Axelrod. “You know, I’m still a citizen and that carries with it duties and obligations.”

Upon leaving the White House, Obama will be the first president to remain in the District of Columbia since Woodrow Wilson in 1921. The first family is remaining in the District until their 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, graduates high school.

Obama will have a new office in the same building that houses the World Wildlife Federation. He has also already started building his post-presidency staff, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday. He hired a chief of staff, Anita Decker Breckenridge, an aide since Obama was an Illinois state legislator in 2003.

Obama White House aides Valerie Jarrett and Jen Psaki told the Tribune that Obama will work to ensure affordable health care access—presumably meaning he will speak out against President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to dismantle Obamacare.

The Tribune also reported that Obama will speak up for Dreamers, the label given to children of illegal immigrants. In June 2012, Obama took executive action to carry out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects illegal immigrants from deportation. Trump opposes the program.

Obama’s involvement in policy battles would be a significant departure from his predecessor. Upon leaving office in 2009, Bush retreated to Texas and out of the spotlight.

Just days after the November election, White House press secretary Josh Earnest invoked Bush’s behavior to indicate Obama might not second guess Trump in public.

“He deeply appreciated how President George W. Bush, after leaving office, gave the new president some running room, gave him a little space, wasn’t backseat driving in public, offering up all kinds of critiques with every single decision that President Obama was making in the earliest days of his presidency,” Earnest told reporters during a White House briefing.

“I’m confident that President George W. Bush didn’t agree with every single decision that President Obama was making,” Earnest added, “but he was extraordinarily respectful of the democratic process. President Obama admired that.”

Bush has consistently steered clear of criticizing Obama or even making many policy pronouncements. Democrat predecessors such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have remained in the spotlight, choosing to speak out on various political issues of interest to them.

“He is already one of the wealthiest presidents in modern history and he will probably make millions more on corporate boards,” author and presidential historian Craig Shirley told The Daily Signal of Obama. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he became secretary-general of the United Nations.”

Shirley, a biographer of Ronald Reagan, said Obama will be similar to Clinton—young in retirement and unable to step out of the spotlight. He doesn’t anticipate Obama having a modest post-presidency like his immediate predecessor.

“He will continue talking. That’s what he knows how to do,” Shirley said of Obama. “He won’t fade away. When Reagan’s eight years were up, he went back to California. When [Dwight] Eisenhower’s eight years were up, he returned to Gettysburg and played golf.”

Reports over the last two years indicated Obama would focus on his presidential library to be built in Chicago, but also on helping black youth through a nonprofit incarnation of the White House initiative known as “My Brother’s Keeper.”

Obama has said he was committed to the goals of the “My Brother’s Keeper” program to boost opportunities for young men of color after leaving office. Shirley suggested this could be an “admirable” nonpolitical issue for Obama—one in which he could become an elder statesman in his post-presidency.

A more political effort would come from his work with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is focused on doing away with gerrymandering. Obama is expected to work with former Attorney General Eric Holder on the initiative. Gerrymandering is the drawing of legislative and congressional districts to help one’s party.

Obama’s involvement is geared toward helping Democrats running for state legislatures win back state houses before the 2020 census and subsequent redistricting.

“The Democrats have lost about 1,000 elective legislative seats since Obama took office,” Shirley said. “For stopping gerrymandering, they’re not going to turn to Obama for guidance.”

During the CNN interview in December, Obama talked about shaping the next generation of leaders.

“With respect to my priorities when I leave, it is to build that next generation of leadership; organizers, journalists, politicians,” Obama said. “I see them in America, I see them around the world, 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds who are just full of talent, full of idealism.”

He continued that a short-term goal would be helping his beleaguered Democrats.

“I think what I can do is not do it myself, but say to those who are still in the game right now look, think about this, think about how you’re organizing that, you know, what are you doing to make sure that young talent is out there in the field being supported,” Obama said. “You know, how are you making sure that your message is reaching everybody and not just those who have already been converted. Identifying really talented staff and organizers who are already out there and encouraging them to get involved.”


Rick Perry would have difficulty honoring past vow to scrap Energy Department || Yahoo News

Rick Perry would have difficulty honoring past vow to scrap Energy Department

Senior National Affairs Reporter
Yahoo News 

The iconic moment of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ill-fated 2012 presidential run came when he struggled during a debate to rattle off the names of three federal agencies he had vowed to eliminate — uttering an infamously painful “oops” instead of naming the Department of Energy.

In an ironic twist, President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that Perry was his pick to lead that very agency, which handles energy research and policy as well as the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Once Perry has the reins, will he try to slim down — or even get rid of entirely — the agency he once vowed to eliminate?

If so, he faces a rough road ahead. Significant reform of federal agencies is difficult and has few precedents. Former President Ronald Reagan, who vowed to shut down the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, famously complained that “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

Reagan dutifully appointed people to lead both of his least favorite agencies, and he did not succeed in shutting them down or even significantly shrinking them.

“He always respected the men who he put there; he just didn’t respect the agencies,” said Craig Shirley, a historian who has written several books about Reagan. “They either cut spending or at least they toed the line on spending.”

“Eliminating a federal agency is almost impossible,” Shirley added.

President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Energy in 1977 during the oil crisis, but its major responsibility is the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The agency spends about $30 billion per year — with $18.4 billion of that going to the U.S. nuclear weapons program, including maintaining, securing and designing the nukes. Another $10 billion goes to energy and physical sciences research. The current leader of the agency, Ernest Moniz, is a nuclear physicist.

It’s unclear what Perry planned to do with the nuclear weapons under his 2012 proposal to shut down the agency. Some have suggested that the military could take charge of the program, but having them in the hands of a civilian agency is seen as a crucial check on the military’s power. In a statement about his selection, Perry said he looked forward to “engaging in a conversation” about “the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”

Avik Roy, a policy adviser to Perry in his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign, said he believes that Perry may focus less on slimming down or shutting down the agency and more on limiting the scope of its powers.

“Generally speaking, conservatives believe agencies should be slimmer, but it’s not really about the personnel, it’s about what powers these agencies have been assigned by Congress,” Roy said. “If you really want to reform agencies, you can slim down the staff, but if the agency has certain responsibilities invested by Congress — that’s why you have staff.”

James Burnley, the secretary of transportation under Reagan, agreed that any administration has relatively little power to change a federal agency on its own. “You’ve got a lot of power in the executive branch, but when it comes to the basic structure of the federal government, Congress does really have the whip hand.”

Reagan was able to shrink the size of a small agency in 1981, when Congress agreed to reduce appropriations for parts of the Action Agency, an umbrella agency for volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps. Years later, the agency was eliminated.

Roy predicted that Perry will be a noninterventionist leader, reluctant to intrude on private energy exploration and vigilant in trying to ensure that the department isn’t having negative affects on the economy.

 Still, there are some signs that Perry may have some cuts in mind for the department. The Trump transition team sent a 74-item questionnaire to Energy Department employees last week asking which of its programs are necessary to meet President Obama’s goals of reducing carbon emissions. The survey raised concerns that the Trump team may be considering eliminating those programs. The questionnaire even asked for the names of scientists working on climate change topics. Both Trump and Perry have denied that human-caused climate change exists, though Trump said in Fox News interview Sunday that he is keeping an open mind about it.

On Wednesday, a Trump transition official said the questionnaire was not sanctioned. “The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” the official told Yahoo News.

Two Patriots in the Crucible of December 1941 || Real Clear Politics

Jay Dawley graduated from West Point in 1939, having entered the military academy four years earlier. It was prescient, as his family knew that war was coming.

“My father was pretty certain of it and he said, ‘I’ll send you to any college in the country, but I think that West Point would be a good choice,’” Dawley reported to me three years ago. Of course, he noted, having an uncle in Congress — Sen. Stephen Young — helped give him a perspective on the greater world.

Dawley excelled at the Point, graduating No. 2 in his class. Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Class of ’39 and personally handed the young man from Cleveland his diploma. He recalled that FDR sat on a stool as he awarded the certificates.

Dawley was present at Pearl Harbor on that date that would live in infamy. As fate would have it, he had been due to begin leave on December 8, 1941. The Japanese had other plans for him.

He initially didn’t think it was an attack. It couldn’t have been. “I heard some bangs like airplane noises and some explosions and I thought, ‘Gosh, I’ll bet there’s a crash. Probably the Navy maneuvering or something … and I’ll bet somebody crashed.’”  But when he looked outside there were dozens of Rising Suns in the sky.

When under attack, most people seek shelter. Not Lt. Dawley, or any of the service members stationed there that day. “We got out, got our rifles and fired at these airplanes.  They were about 400 feet above us.” He did this in his bathrobe.

It was “the first time I’d ever fired at anybody in anger,” he recalled. Of course, seeing your brothers in arms slaughtered in a cowardly attack would bring out the anger in even the calmest man.

Dawley’s other immediate reaction was shock and awe: “I was just overlooking Pearl Harbor. I saw the dangers, all the smoke and things, and [knew] this is major war. And [thinking], what is my great country going to do about it? Here I am seeing the war itself start.” Imagine: witnessing an unprovoked attack first-hand, and realizing that the world, much less your country, was not going to be the same. Twenty years earlier, a generation of young men had died in the so-called War to End All Wars. Not so. Instead, another one was here.

Dawley immediately cancelled his own leave – before any commanding officer would do so. He was determined to see this through on his terms. Wars are often brought about by old men but are fought by young men. Dawley, who would rise to the rank of colonel, passed away several years ago, yet another unsung hero of military service. His father had once chased Pancho Villa all over Mexico as part of the National Guard, so service was deep in his blood. Still, the Army in 1941 was a pretty casual affair. “There was a kind of soldiering, you might say kind of goldbricking around,” was how Dawley described it. But he was still proud to wear the uniform and shortly would become prouder still.

The next day, Roosevelt made his historic call for a declaration of war before a joint session of Congress. It was a momentous occasion, and the vote was done in less than an hour after FDR gave his famous “date which will live in infamy” speech. All senators and representatives – save one – voted for war.

One of the witnesses to Roosevelt’s momentous speech was John Dingell Jr., at the time a 15-year old page in the House of Representatives. His father, John Dingell Sr., was a representative from Michigan. (Dingell Jr. would later replace his father in Congress, serving admirably for nearly 60 years.) Decades later, Dingell recalled the 500-word speech as “extraordinary,” comparing it to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. And he remembered the “enormous” applause that often interrupted Roosevelt.

Part of Dingell’s job was the help reporters get to their seats. He recalled doing so for conservative columnist Fulton Lewis and his heavy audiotaping machine. It was the first time the House permitted the use of film, photography and other recording devices in the chamber.

When it came to the vote, Rep. Jeannette Rankin’s sole objection to the war was met with hisses and boos. John remembers his father yelling, “Sit down, sister!” at the Montana congresswoman. Dingell Sr. “had enormously powerful feelings,” his son explained, partly because of his Polish ancestry. A country rich in history and culture, Poland was being decimated by the Nazis, so any opposition to the war declaration was akin, in the congressman’s eyes, to accepting such destruction. He hated the non-interventionist America First Committee with a passion for that very reason.

Dingell Jr., witnessing history, was afraid. He was a teenager, after all. “I’m scared to death, and we were not sure we could win.  First of all, nobody knew what the hell had happened.  We knew a bunch of battleships had gotten sunk, but we didn’t know how many.  We didn’t realize the day of the battleship was over and that the aircraft carrier was the new queen in the seas. … They actually thought there was going to be an invasion” of the U.S. homeland.

Roosevelt was – and continues to be – a personal hero of his. The Great Depression had crippled the United States, and FDR brought it back to life. The war would be vast in scale, but to a larger-than-life president, that made little difference.

And thus were two young men, thousands of miles apart, witnesses to history. Both were in service to their country, drawn together by a patriotism that too few today can fully fathom.