Archive | February 2017

” President Donald Trump’s Week 5 in Office – February 20 – 24, 2017 – In Real Trouble or Not ? ” – February 25, 2017.

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Here’s detailing the pronouncements made and initiatives mooted by President Donald Trump in his Week 5 in Office :

1. Lt Gen HR McMaster, a widely acknowledged military strategist, has been named the National Security Adviser. “He is a man of tremendous talent, a man of tremendous experience.” said the President.

2. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, officially visit Mexico.

3. “No more mass deportations or military force” – assure U.S. officials to Mexico.

4. President Donald Trump reverses Obama ban on private prisons.

5. U.S. Treasury Secretary assures that “Tax Reform” will be passed by August.

6. GOP Town Hall protests happen in many cities.

7. President Donald Trump aims at one of the greatest military build ups for America.

8. White House communication with FBI seen as not being held by custom and more in the nature of influencing the moves ( reports of conversations between Trump aides and Russian officials during the election campaign ).

9. President Donald Trump’s speech at CPAC on ‘Reclaiming America’s Promises’ perceived to be much in the style of a Campaign Speech and not so much as expected of a President.

10. Policy on transgender bathrooms in schools is a State responsibility, says President Donald Trump.

Let me briefly cite a few of my observations now giving a commonsense perspective for the discerning enthusiasts.

A. The combination of two highly distinguished “M”some , Gen McMaster,NSA, and Gen Mattis, Defense Secretary, portends an excellent omen for the conduct of the Security & Defence affairs. There could possibly be some vibrations in their approach to normalise relations, just as we experience vibrations in tidal patterns or sound waves. But like the ‘Mountainous’ strength and ‘Multiple’ talent combining to form a mighty force protecting the Motherland, the awesome twosome will negotiate, maneuver, and overcome the barriers to peaceful solution. This is the expectation. Their jobs have just begun.

B. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly in Mexico – Their main effort is to rectify and remedy the impact of bold pronouncements of President Donald Trump in terms of stringent deportation moves, and building the wall in the southern border. Patching the troubles that have taken roots in terms of strong Mexican resistance is a priority. Shifting a bit from the ideals, and sticking to the vitals in terms of regulating illegal immigration ensuring safety of people will possibly be the central theme. It is also extremely important not to be seen as meddling in one another’s internal affairs while preserving the economic, trade, and business cooperation. The meeting, however, can now at best be described as ‘friendship consolidation’. Whether they can get the Mexican government have their way in the weeks/months to come will be watched.

C. GOP Town Hall protests were reminescent of the Tea Party Organization activists in 2009. Eventhough the present protests are likened to them, there is a distinct difference that cannot be missed. Barack Obama’s actions in 2008-2009 connote an assuagement of the immediate financial ills, and protection of people from overpowering devastation. Stimulus approval to tide over the crisis was a relatively simple and easy quickfix. President Donald Trump acquired, according to his own words, “a mess”, a different kind of social, ethnic, and racial challenge which does not lend itself to any single effective solution. Hence the challenge of this day is more complex and relatively longterm requiring people participation in a big way.

D. Coming to the essentials of President’s strategy now :

The figure below represents President Donald Trump’s strategy to enhance the ” trust” and “reputation” critical to mark his leadership.

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President Donald Trump seems to hold the strong conviction that swift actions on his election promises is the right path to garnering people support and enhanced image. His model leading to the satisfaction of people and securing their loyalty while invoking his own integrity may not be new, but the circumstances he finds himself in ( lack of government experience, candid outbursts, growing pain & discontentment of policy implementation … ) may well stand in goodstead specially in the long run. People may want to give more time for his acclimatisation process, bearing the glitches. For a presidential candidate who won on the plank of his promise of changing the Washington culture, it is important that this is perceived as the most alluring and effective route to tread on. That most polls do not substantiate his strategy and portray his unfavorableness even more prominently has not made any dent in either the President’s resolve or the strength of his constituency. If companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ford, Chrysler .. stand firm and committed to bringing more jobs to America as the President claims, the spellful momentum that may accrue cannot be dismissed easily. What this would mean for Americans as a whole unit, and whether this will indicate a real trend of moving forward is unclear at this juncture.

Is the President in real trouble or not is now the question.

“Dieu avec nous”

Saturday, February 25, 2017 – 11. 09 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Many men owe their grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties “.

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” President Donald Trump’s Week 4 in Office – February 13-17, 2017 – Makes Him a ‘Mensch’, not just a Politician ” – February 18, 2017.

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Here’s the list of activities that President Donald Trump initiated/accomplished during his 4th week in office.

Gen Michael Flynn with Donald Trump.

Gen Michael Flynn with Donald Trump.

1. NSA, Michael Flynn resigns for misleading the WH on talks with Russia. (Michael Flynn said that he “inadvertently gave incomplete information to VP elect and others.)

2. President Donald Trump slams Intel agencies – ” Giving out information like candy”. Attacking the Intel agencies is what distances the President from others like the Intel community as a whole, media, analysts, people … …

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3. President Donald Trump-Israeli PM Netanyahu Joint News Conference in WH. This is significant because of the conference taking place before the meeting.”One State or two State – I can live with either one. I like the one which both parties like”- says Donald Trump.

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4. Defense Secretary James Mattis says NATO is a fundamental bedrock for U.S.

5. President Donald Trump meets with Retail leaders at WH. Talked about jobs, growth, tax reforms. Emphasised his resolve to knock down two regulations for each regulation in place.

6. U.S. considering sending troops to Syria. Fight against ISIS gets accelerated. Election promise initiation within 30 days.

7. David Friedman, Ambassador nominee to Israel, confirmation hearing begins.

8. President Donald Trump asks for proposal to defeat ISIS by end of this month.

9. VP Mike Pence, James Mattis, and John Kelly to take part in the Munich security conference.

10. U.S. senate confirms Scott Pruitt to the position of EPA Chief.

11. Mike Dubke will be the WH Communications Ditector.

12. President Donald Trump’s visit to South Carolina, Boeing factory, and Florida rally.

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13. Rex Tillerson’s first trip as Secretary of State attending the G-20 meet in Bonn, Germany.

This is choosing activities 1 and 12 for discussion briefly :

(1) Michael Flynn’s phone conversations with Russian officials in December 2016 were perceived to be insincere. His explanation that he ‘inadvertently’ engaged in that was enough to hold that it was not deliberately designed to mislead either the VP or the President or the American people. Many feel differently, however.

But for anyone who values ‘Leadership Principles’, it becomes imperative that the President does not remain simply a person holding high opinion or inspire with hope and spirit of integrity, but seem to be one doing and adopting for and by himself. We are not talking about just conversations here but ones that possibly can have repercussions of blackmail in future by Russia. That the President has not made any effort to protect a certain member from further scrutiny as the Democrats swiftly doubted is something that we’ll have to wait and see. That the circumstances of his dismissal do not cast a shadow on the future performance of the government is important here.

This is the second test of Leadership for President Donald Trump. Will the declining popularity ( 38% approval according to Gallup poll Feb 14-16 ) following the travel ban order suspension; Dismissal of Michael Flynn; and the disillusionment with the ongoing chase of the undocumented immigrants put him in to a partial heels over head act of his opinions further on issues also will be keenly watched. It can also sow the seeds of leadership deficit and trust deficit if not immediately remedied.

WH official stating that the two state solution for the Israel-Palestinian issue needs further negotiations without it being a ‘granted’; President’s softening of the ‘One China Policy’; U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley’s strong words on Russia in her first address; Better relationship with Japan ( contrary to what was expected from the President elect speeches ); – all show that with only a month into the office of the President, Donald Trump displays a level of comprehension followed with some change in style of actions.

With personal popularity coupled with charisma beginning to rise and occupy the mantle of Leadership in the world now ( India’s PM, Narendra Modi; American President, Donlad Trump; France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen – not in power yet; and Philippines’s President Rodrigo Duterte … ) what one does and will do politically will be observed and not just scrutinised, but even be captiously read by staunch supporters if they feel they have been misguided and deceived. How the leader acts in such instances will determine the authority that he/she is able to command with the legislators and people specially.

(12) Of significance is President Donald Trump’s (a) visit to the Boeing plant in South Carolina – he was critical of the cost of Airforce 1 designed, shaped, and built by Boeing in December 2016 – with the aim of securing more ‘jobs’, and (b) his planned rally in Florida, Saturday, a la campaign event. The first is meant to be seen as his intention to fulfil one of his election promises, jobs growth. The second is more in the nature of a consolidation of his image among supporters which in the first four weeks has taken a beating from the turn of events ascribed more to his attitude. It also reinforces his method of keeping his supporters energised in strong support without significantly communicating on policy issues.

Conclusion : President Donald Trump actually began with high hopes ( even if it is mostly among the whites ), and it remains to be seen whether some of his mishaps will lead to disillusionment, spite, and image lessening OR he is able to continue without any obligation in any manner. His improvements in relationships with not just his cabinet members but also among the legislators on either side of the aisle will possibly mark his excellence and success in terms of Making America Great Again.

Has the President vivaciously quickened his act or lowered his personal popularity among his constituency which expects and longs for modesty and effective governance ?

“Dieu avec nous”

Saturday, February 18, 2017 – 9. 59 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Congress not fake, will keep Trump in check.” – Senator Lindsay Graham.

” President Donald Trump’s Week 3 in Office – February 6 – 10, 2017 – Key Actions List and his retrait ” – February 10, 2017.

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Here’s the list of key activities/operations performed during the 3rd week of Donald Trump’s Presidency :

1. With the 9th appellate court (three judges) ruling 3 – 0 suspending the President’s ‘Travel Ban Order’, giving the president a big setback, and relieving the citizens of 7 countries mentioned in the ban order to resume travel to U.S.A., the complexity of the situation has engulfed the talk this week among administrators, lawyers, experts on immigration, media, and the general public.

2. President Donald Trump expressed his view that there will not be any appeal to the Supreme Court on this suspension. New Executive Order is a possibility according to him.

3. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited Washington in a gesture reflecting the bond with U.S. as unshakable. Strengthening of U.S. – Japan relationship is on the cards.

4. President Donald Trump spoke with Xi JingPen of China indicating that he will honor the “One China” policy.

5. Tom Price is confirmed as HHS – secretary.

6. Iran’s President expressed his readiness to stand up to amateurs in office in U.S.A.

7. U.S. investigators even while corroborating some aspects of the Russia Dossier, could not pass any final judgment whether it contained any compromising information on President Donald Trump.

The heat of the discussion on immigration and the Travel Ban Order being suspended seem to alter the prevailing equations on relationships and make for interesting but uncertain turn of actions in the weeks/ months ahead. Resolving this issue is the prime agenda now, and everybody’s attention is on the steps President will take in the course of the next few days/weeks.

Three actions involving attitude, strategy, and ability will be worth following in this context.

The figure below presents this in the form of a triangle ‘Tackling the setback triangle’ : Calmness, Communication, and Competence constitute attitude, strategy, and ability respectively.

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(a) Calmness : This refers to making one’s act set in order and remain self possessed. President Donald Trump had a jolt of his own. He is facing difficulties on this issue, and the first thing he should make people know is that ‘he accepts it’. He has done it swiftly and smoothly after some unexpected tweets. It could not have been other than what we witness now. Yes, anger and disappointment to a large extent had overwhelmed him initially to react in ways blaming the judiciary. His critics have been quick to question his mental and emotional adequacies to lead. It is more than a challenging situation for any individual. What he urgently needs is a confidant with whom he can freely discuss (he sure has more than one in the WH), and the reassurance of a good plan/argument inducing strong faith in him. His decision not to appeal in the SC is indicative of the support he enjoys on this aspect too. His temperament and character for the next few days or weeks will possibly display the right composure without much ‘tweeting’ in a way soothing the feelings of his agitated critics and opponents. Even little success on this will be emboldening.

(b) Communication : This refers to making the public get the right picture and benefits of his order. For this to be effective his team needs to project the right arguments (good points from lawyers) through a communication strategy that is capable of enhancing the confidence and morale of people and his staff, setting aside any panic or any speculative scenarios spreading. Keeping people know the truth in a way they will understand without being tendentious is the key here. It is in effect a ‘propaganda strategy’ frequently harped on and tried/used in politics and business when the going gets tough. President’s team is already on the move.

(c) Competence : This refers to making a plan with alternatives to overcome the setback. The plan requires getting suitable arguments that’ll remedy the implementation process and control of the situation and bring up the right perspective to the task and the goal of national security. It is important that people are made to realise the value of his ‘order’ that can elevate the strength and morale of people as a nation to work better. That the ‘order’ is to support and do the right thing for people safety while making a perceptible difference in governance has to be felt strongly by the people with the accomplishment of the task. President’s words of not ruling out a ” New Executive Order” is again indicative of his conviction in this regard.

Conclusion : The Court Order suspending the travel ban is a sure setback for the President. The situation also provides an opportunity to people to measure how he solves the problem as a leader. Mental injuries take time to heal and overcoming this setback will certainly take time. This may well succeed in putting his actions to slow down a bit. All he needs is just a small success once in any of his actions to dispel the cloud overlying his disappointments. He’ll now change his mindset to fit the ball effectively.

When he finds the right solution and successfully comes out of the present adversarial moment, he’ll strengthen his position further. It is in fact a potential opportunity rather than a drawback. Peoples’ faith in him will grow; his credibility will rise; and he’ll be viewed as a better leader. His vision and mission for the nation and for any kind of ‘change’ that he stands for will get a facelift.

The present setback to the President is as much a ‘chance’ to demonstrate his competence as it is to establish himself as an effective leader is the position I take here.

“Dieu avec nous”

Saturday, February 11, 2017 – 1. 29 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” After you travel through some parts of the world, you’ll realise how lucky you are to live in this great nation.”

” Judicial Branch of the Government is on a High now ” – February 9, 2017.

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President Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban order’ is suspended for now, clearing the way for the citizens of 7 countries mentioned in the ban order to resume travel to U.S.A. The 9th appellate court (three judges)
ruled 3 – 0 to keep the travel ban on hold.

Reason : “Federal Government has failed to provide evidence that without the ban order in force there will be harm to the nation”.

President’s response : ” See you in Court, the security of nation is at stake.” ( through his tweet )

Department of Justice is reviewing its decision.

Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General.

Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General.

Noah Purcell, Solicitor General.

Noah Purcell, Solicitor General.

A big victory for the Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, and his team including Noah Purcell, Solicitor General. Their key arguments : “Separation of families; small businesses, universities, and students besides the economy getting impacted” have found favor with the judges in their unanimous decision.

Solution : Rescind the order, write a new order with consultations and place forward; decision may go to a larger bench with 11 members; or be viewed by the District Court again with elaborate discussions and reviewal.
Ultimately it may go to Supreme Court, a possibility many minds – legal, political, and academics converge upon.

Questions that arise : 1. While submitting ourselves to the fact that a free society comes with some inherent risks, has the President taken the idea of ‘security’ through his travel ban a little too far ? May be true.
2. Has President Trump harmed himself by pursuing something difficult to attain through the means, rightly or wrongly, adopted ? May be true.
3. Will he feel hurt enough to be motivated strongly to prove something to the judiciary now ? May be yes.

The Obvious : That President Trump is not one to surrender anytime to anyone is known. Will this prove to be a temporary halt to his quick strides on election promises in his first two weeks in office ?

In about a 15 minute period, I asked 10 common people in India as to the nature of their preference to safety & security Vs freedom. 6 out of 10 put safety & security as the ‘priority’. Freedom automatically comes from safety is their view.

What now : For President Trump safety & security is like a dream task and the courage to believe that he’ll win is never diminished. Victory in the Court decision would have enabled him to take more challenges facing the nation probably with added drive. But it has not happened and the process will get dragged on further for long now.

Without defending in any measure the President’s travel ban order, are we forced to think in terms of a faulty system in place on ” Risk Management” is what emerges to my mind.

” Dieu avec nous”

Friday, February 10, 2017 – 8.09 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit: ” Success requires risk taking”. SR.

” CNN Debate – Future of Obamacare – No Clear Model but Whims of Candidates Rule and Persist ” – February 7, 2017.

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Of President Donald Trump’s two key platforms on which rested his election success : (a) Gain in quality, safety, and security of Americans; and (b) Repeal & replacement of Obamacare, new trade deals, and tax reforms; – the second (b) was put to test in the debate arguments in Washington University, between Senator Bernie Sanders (I), and Senator Ted Cruz (R) this night.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Ted Cruz, the debaters.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Ted Cruz, the debaters.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash,  CN . Moderators.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, CN . Moderators.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash of CNN moderated the debate.

Rather than going into the details of questions and answers in this debate, I would like to present just the salient arguments of both the debaters on three characteristics constituting the fearures, the three legs of a stool i.e. ‘Obamacare’.

The picture below presents the characteristics in terms of a triangle that I am usually fascinated with in representing my simple, commonsense take.

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