chief-of-staff

4.04 Shutdown - Press Release

SECRETARY OF STATE MCCORD WORKS TO NEGOTIATE AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND ITS CONGRESSIONAL OPPOSITION TO END A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN WHILE SEARCHING FOR A NEW CHIEF OF STAFF, ON “MADAM SECRETARY,” SUNDAY, OCT. 29

“Shutdown” – As the government shutdown shows no sign of progress, Secretary of State McCord must negotiate an agreement between the White House and its opposition led by Senator Morejon (José Zúñiga). Also, Elizabeth is having trouble finding a suitable replacement for the chief of staff position, on MADAM SECRETARY, Sunday, Oct. 29 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

huffingtonpost.com
Widow Of U.S. Soldier Killed In Niger: Trump's Call 'Made Me Cry Even Worse'
Myeshia Johnson confirmed the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

trump’s travel ban, before it was halted by the courts, caused the death of 4 U.S. soldiers and trump first doesn’t acknowledge deaths, then insults the families, then says the families are lying about his behavior, and finally has his press secretary and chief of staff continue the lie on his behalf while continuing to accuse the families and their allies if lying. All of this because trumps frail ego and narcicism make a simple, honest apoligy unthinkable. 

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The world is changing. Slowly, but surely, television is changing. The character stereotypes are changing, or being turned inside out by some fantastic writers and actors. People of color are on TV playing roles that are fleshed out, complex, human. And yes, some of those characters are maids. Some are sexy heartbreakers there to steal your man. Some own BBQ joints, while some are Chiefs of Staff. Some are prisoners, and some are cops. All are real people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, and all the other vast human emotions and desires.

But as wild as the healthcare debate was, the White House communications director going on the record without realizing it and calling the Chief of Staff a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and referring to a senior adviser to the president as “trying to suck [his] own cock” is INCREDIBLE. Whoever is writing this season of American politics is on fire

Is Trump Unraveling?

Last week, Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview with the New York Times that Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

Corker said he was concerned about Trump. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said, adding that “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here … the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker’s interview was followed by a report from Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, who wrote that the situation has gotten so out of control that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack. Kelly has tried to keep Trump focused by intercepting outside phone calls to the White House and restricting access to the Oval Office. Many of Trump’s advisors believe he is “unstable” and “unravelling” quickly. 

Is Trump really unraveling? Are Republican leaders ready to pull the plug? I phoned an old friend, a Republican former member of Congress who keeps up with what’s going on. I scribbled notes as he talked:

Me: So what’s up? Is Corker alone, or are others also ready to call it quits with Trump? 

He: All I know is they’re simmering over there. 

Me: Flake and McCain have come pretty close. 

He: Yeah. Others are thinking about doing what Bob did. Sounding the alarm. They think Trump’s nuts. Unfit. Dangerous. 

Me: Well, they already knew that, didn’t they? 

He: But now it’s personal. It started with the Sessions stuff. Jeff was as loyal as they come. Trump’s crapping on him was like kicking your puppy. And then, you know, him beating up on Mitch for the Obamacare fiasco. And going after Flake and the others. 

Me: So they’re pissed off?

He: Not just that. I mean, they have thick hides. The personal stuff got them to notice all the other things. The wild stuff, like those threats to North Korea. Tillerson would leave tomorrow if he wasn’t so worried Trump would go nuclear, literally. 

Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?

He: Who knows what’s in his head? But I can tell you this. He’s not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It’s starting to scare all of them. That’s really why Bob spoke up. 

Me: So what could they do? I mean, even if the whole Republican leadership was willing to say publicly he’s unfit to serve, what then?

He: Bingo! The emperor has no clothes. It’s a signal to everyone they can bail. Have to bail to save their skins. I mean, Trump could be the end of the whole goddam Republican party. 

Me: If he starts a nuclear war, that could be the end of everything. 

He: Yeah, right. So when they start bailing on him, the stage is set. 

Me: For what?

He: Impeachment. 25th amendment.

Me: You think Republicans would go that far? 

He: Not yet. Here’s the thing. They really want to get this tax bill through. That’s all they have going for them. They don’t want to face voters in ’18 or ’20 without something to show for it. They’re just praying Trump doesn’t do something really, really stupid before the tax bill.

Me: Like a nuclear war?

He: Look, all I can tell you is many of the people I talk with are getting freaked out. It’s not as if there’s any careful strategizing going on. Not like, well, do we balance the tax bill against nuclear war? No, no. They’re worried as hell. They’re also worried about Trump crazies, all the ignoramuses he’s stirred up. I mean, Roy Moore? How many more of them do you need to destroy the party? 

Me: So what’s gonna happen?

He: You got me. I’m just glad I’m not there anymore. Trump’s not just a moron. He’s a despicable human being. And he’s getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in shit up to our eyeballs with this guy.

cnn.com
BREAKING: Trump signs directive banning transgender military recruits, limiting health care access for existing members
President Donald Trump on Friday directed the military not to move forward with an Obama-era plan that would have allowed transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces, following through on his intentions announced a month earlier to ban transgender people from serving.
By Jeremy Diamond, CNN

Donald Trump has ordered the military not to follow through with President Obama’s initiative allowing transgender people to join the military. He has also banned the Department of Defense from using its funds to provide transition-related health care for trans people currently in the armed forces. 

He also gave officials the option to consider booting trans people currently in the military based on “military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant.”

The White House official who briefed reporters on the memo on Friday evening declined to say whether transgender troops would be allowed to remain in the military under those policy guidelines.

But the official signaled that the administration was returning to the military’s pre-2016 policy under which no transgender individuals were allowed to serve openly in the armed forces.The guidance comes a month after Trump said on Twitter that he would reinstate a ban on transgender troops, an announcement that took many in the military’s leadership – including the joint chiefs of staff – by surprise. […]

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force.

The study put the number of transgender people in the military at between 1,320 and 6,630. Gender-change surgery is rare in the general population, and the Rand study estimated the possibility of 30 to 140 new hormone treatments a year in the military, with 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries among active service members annually. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found.

I’m speechless. He’s set on ruining as many lives as he possibly can. 

Memo to Tillerson about the Moron

To: Rex Tillerson
From: Robert Reich
Subject: The Moron

I can understand why you feel Washington is a place of “petty nonsense,” as you said Wednesday when you called a news conference to rebut charges that you called Trump a moron last summer after a meeting of national security officials at the Pentagon.

I’m also reasonably sure you called him a moron, which doesn’t make Washington any less petty. You probably called him a moron because almost all of us out here in the rest of America routinely call him that.

But you’re right: There are far more important issues than the epithet you likely used to describe your boss.

On the other hand, your calling him a moron wouldn’t itself have mushroomed into a headline issue – even in petty Washington – if there weren’t deep concerns about the President’s state of mind to begin with.

I bet every cabinet secretary has from time to time called his boss a moron. I was a cabinet secretary once, and although I don’t recall ever saying Bill Clinton was a moron, I might have thought it, especially when I found out about Monica Lewinsky. But Bill Clinton was no moron.

The reason your moronic comment about Trump made the headlines is that Trump really is a moron, in the sense you probably meant it: He’s impulsive, mercurial, often cruel, and pathologically narcissistic. Some psychologists who have studied his behavior have concluded he’s a sociopath.

Washington is petty, but it’s not nonsensical. It latches on to gaffes only when they reveal something important. As journalist Michael Kinsley once said, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Face it. You are Secretary of State – the nation’s chief diplomat – under a president who’s dangerously nuts.

Last weekend, for example, Trump publicly said you were wasting your time trying to open talks with North Korea. Does he have a better idea? Any halfway rational president would ask his Secretary of State to try to talk with Kim Jong-Un.

And there’s Iran. You and Defense Secretary James Mattis have both stated the nuclear agreement should be retained. That, too, is only rational. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has been honoring the agreement. Without it, Iran would restart its nuclear program.

But Trump is on the verge of decertifying the agreement in order to save face (in the 2016 campaign he called it an “embarrassment to America”) and further puncture Barack Obama’s legacy. His narcissism is endangering the world.

You tried to mediate the dispute between Qatar and its Arab neighbors. That, too, was the reasonable thing to do.

But then Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner sided with the United Arab Emirates, where they have business interests. Less than one hour after you called for a “calm and thoughtful dialogue” between Qatar and its neighbors, Trump blasted Qatar for financing terrorism. That was also nuts.

You are rightly appalled at Trump’s behavior. I can understand why you distanced yourself when Trump blamed “both sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And why you were horrified when Trump gave a wildly partisan speech to the Boy Scouts of America, which you once headed.

Given all this, I’m not surprised to hear that you’ve talked about resigning, but that Mattis and John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, have talked you out of it.

I urge you not to resign. America and the world need sane voices speaking into the ear of our Narcissist-in-Chief. 

As Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said recently, it’s you, Mattis, and Kelly who “help separate our country from chaos.” I don’t think Corker was referring to chaos abroad.

Let Trump fire you if he wants to. That would further reveal what a moron he is.

But if you really did want to serve the best interests of this nation, there’s another option you might want to consider.

Quietly meet with Mattis, Kelly, and Vice President Pence. Come up with a plan for getting most of the cabinet to join in a letter to Congress saying Trump is unable to discharge the duties of his office.

Under the 25th Amendment, that would mean Trump is fired.

We prayed for a day when the disease struck someone who mattered, prayed for a weaponizing of AIDS, and when I finally saw the Post headline I knew our terrible wishes had come true: “ROCK HAS AIDS—And He’s Known for a Year.”

A friend of Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett, Ronald Reagan’s guest in the White House, like a brother to the first lady: [Movie star] Rock Hudson stepped forward to tell the world he had the gay plague. What the article didn’t say was that becoming the face of AIDS hadn’t been his idea. The crush of reporters on the American Hospital’s doorstep in Paris had grown so overwhelming that officials entered his room with an ultimatum: either Hudson would announce his diagnosis, or the hospital would do it for him. After a pause, Hudson waved a hand, and with a thin voice said, “Who cares? Go ahead. We’ve hidden it for over a year. What’s the point.”


[…]


The news tore around the globe, igniting gossip in most known languages, and sending printing presses into overdrive. The New York Post’s commuter edition was on sale within hours. I brought the paper to the newsroom, and our collective feeling was clear: At last.


Patrick Merla, the Native’s editor, imagined the influence that Hudson’s notoriety could bring to funding and to public awareness. It took only a few days to see the evidence of that. In my Native column on the revelation, I wrote about the massive number of developments on the AIDS front, from a broken dam of media coverage to sudden voices of urgency at the research bench. Television anchors expressed amazement that an American citizen—tax-paying, upstanding, and beloved—was forced to go to France to receive a medical treatment that his own government was unable or unwilling to offer him at home. Reporters flew to Paris to discover that four hundred Americans were pleading for health care there. In the limelight, Margaret Heckler’s chief of staff was dispatched to the morning shows to announce that HPA-23[, a French experimental treatment,]  would be available in the U.S. in under three weeks on a “compassionate use” basis. Even Reagan was prodded into action. Without breaking his public embargo on mentioning AIDS, he spontaneously increased his AIDS budget request by 47 percent, and Congress, not to be outdone, threw in $70 million more, bringing AIDS spending up to $190 million for the coming year—still insufficient, but a sign that the disease was finally on the public agenda.


[…]


On September 17, [1985,] after more than six thousand young Americans had died of AIDS, after the disease had eclipsed all other causes of death for New York men in their twenties and thirties, Ronald Reagan finally discussed the epidemic in public. It came during a regularly scheduled press briefing, Reagan’s thirtieth since the first AIDS death was reported by the CDC.

—  David France, How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS (2016), Pt. 2, Ch. 3
Trump’s Civil War

Trump’s unwillingness to denounce the white supremacists who came to Charlottesville last weekend bent on violence has been part of his political strategy from the start.

Remember, weeks after he began his campaign by alleging that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists, two brothers in Boston beat up and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national, subsequently telling police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Instead of condemning the brutality, Trump excused it by saying “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”

During campaign rallies Trump repeatedly excused brutality toward protesters. “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

After white supporters punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester, Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

Trump was even reluctant to distance himself from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan.  

Since becoming president, Trump’s instigations have continued. As Representative Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina, told the Washington Post, “the president has unearthed some demons.”

In May, Trump congratulated body-slamming businessman Greg Gianforte on his special election win in Montana, making no mention of the victor’s attack on a reporter the night before.

Weeks ago Trump even tweeted a video clip of himself in a WWE professional wrestling match slamming a CNN avatar to the ground and pounding him with punches and elbows to the head.

Hateful violence is hardly new to America. But never before has a president licensed it as a political strategy or considered haters part of his political base.

In his second week as president, Trump called Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association to the White House.

Soon thereafter, LaPierre told gun owners they should fear “leftists” and the “national media machine” that were “an enemy utterly dedicated to destroy not just our country, but also Western civilization.”

Since then the NRA has run ads with the same theme, concluding “the only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”

It’s almost as if someone had declared a new civil war. But who? And for what purpose?

One clue came earlier last week in a memo from Rich Higgins, who had been director for strategic planning in Trump’s National Security Council.

Entitled “POTUS & Political Warfare,” Higgins wrote the seven-page document in May, which was recently leaked to Foreign Policy Magazine.

In it Higgins charges that a cabal of leftist “deep state” government workers, “globalists,” bankers, adherents to Islamic fundamentalism and establishment Republicans want to impose cultural Marxism in the United States. “Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction.”

There you have it. Trump’s goal has never been to promote guns or white supremacy or to fuel attacks on the press and the left. These may be means, but the goal has been to build and fortify his power. And keep him in power even if it’s found that he colluded with Russia to get power.

Trump and his consigliere Steve Bannon have been quietly encouraging a civil war between Trump’s base of support – mostly white and worried – and everyone who’s not.

It’s built on economic stresses and racial resentments. It’s fueled by paranoia. And it’s conveyed by Trump’s winks and nods to haters, and his deafening silence in the face of their violence.

A smaller version of the civil war extends even into the White House, where Bannon and his protégés are doing battle with leveler heads.

National security advisor Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster fired Higgins. Reportedly, Trump was furious at the firing.

McMaster was quick to term the Charlottesville violence “terrorism.” Ivanka Trump denounced “racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.” Reportedly, chief of staff John Kelly pushed Trump to condemn the haters who descended on Charlottesville.

Let’s hope the leveler heads win the civil war in the White House. Let’s pray the leveler heads in our society prevent the civil war Trump and Bannon want to instigate in America.  

I Wouldn’t Even Stop for Red Lights

(A Captain Swan AU based on the West Wing episodes In The Shadow of Two Gunmen I & II)

Also on AO3


Emma felt like she was floating half a foot off the ground as they made their way out of the museum. At the front of the pack, Mary Margaret cracked jokes with Leroy, clearly feeling at least as good as Emma did.

Emma glanced around at her colleagues. Zelena was laughing at something that Elsa had just said, and even quiet, thoughtful Belle had a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Jasmine put a hand on Emma’s shoulder and grinned.

“She did great tonight,” Jasmine said gesturing at Mary Margaret, and Emma nodded.

Out the front door she took a deep breath of the cool, evening air. It wasn’t any quieter outside than it had been inside- all along the path to their cars, people shouted and waved from a roped-off area, hoping to touch the closest thing to royalty that America has.

Mary Margaret had told them all that she didn’t want to speak to people on the rope line tonight- she wanted to go straight home and watch a romantic comedy that was showing on cable that night, never mind that she owned it on DVD.

“It’s what normal people do, Emma,” she had said as Emma had held her jacket for her friend. “Normal people watch whatever comes on TV in the evening and have a glass of wine, and that’s what I’m doing tonight. No rope lines.”

“No, Madam President,” Emma had said, sharing a look with Leroy and Mrs. Lucas, both of whom were standing in the doorway of the Oval Office, carefully hiding their smiles.

Mary Margaret Blanchard-Nolan couldn’t resist a rope line, and they all knew it, so it came as no surprise when she altered her course, like a magnet pulled in the direction of the screaming throng. Mulan and Merida, the two secret service agents assigned to her for the evening, didn’t falter in their step as they followed her.

Emma grinned at Zelena, who was laughing at the president, now shaking hands with what appeared to be half of the junior class from George Washington University- the female half. The first female president of the United States had a strong rapport with women.

“Didn’t she want to watch Notting Hill or some such?” Zelena asked, stepping up beside Emma.

“I’m sure TNT will show it again soon,” Emma said. “No need to hurry her along.”

It had been months since they’d felt this good. Maybe years. Not since the night that Mary Margaret had won the presidency and they’d begun the horrible, grueling, soul-destroying process of actually running the country. Their team was back to where they belonged- returning hope to a country torn apart by partisanship and scandal, and tonight had been a ringing refresher of what the United States had voted for just eighteen months before.

Zelena moved off to speak to someone, and Emma pulled her phone from her pocket to see if her assistant, Killian, had called. He would do, if something important had come up.

It wasn’t like the movies- a burst of noise and light and screaming and pain. There was no sound, no light, not even pain. The only way that Emma realized that anything had happened to her was because she found, without realizing it, that she was on the ground, when she hadn’t been before.

Her eyes searched the kaleidoscope of color and movement that was the crowd, trying to find the President, to assure herself that she was alright, but her eyes found nothing recognizable, and closed after a long minute.

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