Folks are upset that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is not going to be a permanent member. I am not so chuffed about that as he will be in meetings whenever the military is being discussed. If not, his voice will be heard via the SecDef, who will share far more in common with the Chairman than the usually SecDef (both being Marines and all that).
Last night, amid the news that the Trump Administration was malevolently screwing with people's lives to play up Islamophobia came the news about the new National Security Council. It is the right of any president to shuffle some of the seats, but Trump's moves are deeply disturbing.
That the DCI--head of the CIA--is also a guest member rather than regular attendee is, of course, disturbing because you want intel to drive policy--you want the best picture of reality before you make decisions. Well, unless you are the Trump team, where you don't really care about reality. I used to argue that the Bush Administration (GWB) didn't care about the second or third order effects--that invading Iraq might lead to a stronger Iran and more recruitment for the terrorists, but that the Bushies didn't care about that because they just cared about getting Hussein. Well, the Trump folks do not even care about the first order effects. They want to make noise, but don't really care about the direct impacts. After all, if they did, then perhaps the list of countries in the banning order might have included those that actually have sent terrorists to kill Americans in the US. But Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan were excluded. Ooops.
No, the truly disturbing although not surprising move was to put Steve Bannon on the NSC as a permanent member, making him symbolically equal with the Secretaries of Defense and State. Of course, they are not equal, as Bannon is far more powerful in this administration. He is the one drawing up executive orders and not staffing them. He is imposing his will, as we can tell from the team of arsonists in the cabinet and the White House. And this is awful, since Bannon has said that he would like to burn everything down. This is not a guy you want influencing decisions about war and peace, and yet here we are.
I don't know what Rasputin-like skills he has to get into Trump's head, but can we please drop any pretence that Jared Kushner is a force for moderation? I argued last summer that Bannon's ascendancy raised big questions about Kushner's influence since Kushner is Jewish, and Bannon is a Nazi. Usually, Jews don't get along with Nazis. And no, this is not hyperbole. Anyhow, the cabinet choices and the past 48 hours have made it abundantly clear that Bannon is driving this trainwreck of an administration. People didn't vote for this, and the press could have spent a wee bit more time making people aware of Bannon and his influence. So, yeah, we can be shocked that this is the darkest timeline, but perhaps we should stop being so surprised.
This is what we got, and Bannon is not going to go away anytime soon. The GOP in Congress are not making noises with a few notable exceptions. The status quo will remain. The only real question is whether SecDHS Kelly or SecDef Mattis will continue to be complicit. My guess is that they will be, just as Mattis smiled as Trump signed this awful executive order. The good news is that the more they screw up, by not vetting stuff, the easier they make it on the lawyers and the courts. And, yes, the majority of Americans are against this regime, and that does mean something.