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Transition to Trump: Donald Trump’s bold personnel moves put conservatives in charge

If there was any doubt left in supporters’ minds that Donald Trump would conduct a conservative administration after he takes the oath of office on January 20, those fears should have been allayed by his most recent nominations to some of the most key leadership posts.

By proposing to elevate Senator Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General and Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the CIA on Friday, Trump sent a message to the country that he very much intends to keep his campaign promise to drain the swamp and put new blood in charge.

Jeff SessionsThe realization that there’s a new game in town is reflected by the reactions of both the left and right to his selections.

Niall Stanage of The Hill reports on the liberals’ response, “Democrats and others on the left are horrified by the transition that is unfolding. David Axelrod, a former key aide to President Obama, tweeted on Friday that Trump was ‘sticking with those who brought him to the dance but to many Americans, it will seem a Monster's Ball.’…

“Isaiah Poole, communications director of People’s Action, a progressive group, said that the fear of the Trump administration was of ‘a whole different magnitude’ than the concerns that might have been voiced if previous GOP nominees such as Mitt Romney or John McCain had won the presidency.”

Hmmm…I wonder why they’re extra scared of Trump? Could it be that even the most ardent liberals in Washington saw McCain and Romney as characteristic of the same compromised culture that’s dominated American politics since Ronald Reagan left the White House? If either of the previous two Republican nominees had actually been elected, everyone knows they would have brought about little change to the way things are done in government. But Trump will.

In contrast to the old establishment order, people like Steve Bannon (Trump’s Senior Advisor), Sessions and Pompeo are conservatives who were mostly locked out of power during the George W. Bush years. Needless to say, when the Democrats were in charge under Bill Clinton and Obama, conservatives were definitely on the outside looking in.

Now, it’s the other way around. And the left’s fear is tangible.

Some in the media have already speculated Sessions will have a difficult time getting confirmed because of so-called controversial statements he made 30 years ago, but in reality, the Alabama Senator should be passed-along rather easily.

Burgess Everett and Elana Schor of Politico report, “Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a potential swing vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will support Sessions, a spokesman said Friday. That's a key pickup, given Flake's moderate views on immigration and social issues, and his opposition to Donald Trump during the campaign. Then moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said he would support Sessions as did moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, all but clinching his elevation.

“If Sessions can clear committee, he’ll likely win a floor vote to become the nation’s top law enforcement official, GOP Senate insiders said. Republicans will likely have 52 votes in the next Congress, and Trump's Cabinet picks can't be filibustered because Democrats unilaterally changed Senate rules three years ago to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most nominations.”

From what it sounds like, Sessions would probably receive close to 60 votes in any case, though with the Senate Democrats, you never know what you’re going to get. If one of their interest groups cries “racism, sexism or homophobe” they scatter like flushed quail before a hunting dog.

But to his credit, Sessions is one of those rare personalities who can advocate his beliefs without making a lot of personal enemies in the process. Sessions is principled without being confrontational. In that sense he’s kind of like the senators of old who could disagree on issues and still go out for a drink after the day’s deliberations.

That type of comity doesn’t really exist anymore in the Senate thanks to the always political Harry Reid (and probably won’t be any different under the new minority leader, Chuck Schumer). Despite the expected relative ease of Sessions’ confirmation, expect several days’ worth of intense and personal questioning at the hands of Democrats.

Meanwhile, Trump’s choice for senior advisor, Steve Bannon, has already endured a thorough character whipping at the hands of the media since the president-elect named him to the post a week ago. There’s absolutely no amity involved in his case.

And Bannon is fighting back. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel, Trump’s right-hand man was described by the journalist as, “Mr. Bannon is an aggressive political scrapper, unabashed in his views, but he says those views bear no relation to the media’s description. Over 70 minutes, he describes himself as a ‘conservative,’ a ‘populist’ and an ‘economic nationalist.’ He’s a talker, but unexcitable, speaking in measured tones. A former naval officer, he thinks in military terms and likes to quote philosophers and generals. He’s contemptuous of the media, proud of Breitbart, protective of the ‘deplorables,’ and—at least at the moment—eager to work with everyone from soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to House Speaker Paul Ryan.”

In other words, it would seem Bannon’s personality is a perfect match for Trump’s. Whereas campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is given most of the credit for helping the candidate Trump become more disciplined on the stump, Bannon was there to make sure he didn’t stray too far from his winning conservative message.

Bannon, for instance, was apparently the impetus behind Trump’s campaign-direction-altering visit to Mexico in late August. Bannon also unapologetically defends Israel -- so much for the media’s label of Bannon being racist and anti-Semitic.

In his talk with Strassel, Bannon indicated he won’t be doing many media interviews during his time in the White House, so as soon as all the furor surrounding his future role dies down, expect Bannon to fade into the background of the news cycle. There will be plenty for the media to talk about in any case if Trump is successful in dumping Obamacare, pushing through tax reform and making progress on cleaning up illegal immigration.

I can’t help but think Trump’s administration personnel moves thus far will further him in that mission.

Conservatives are noticeably excited about the tone of Trump’s administration thus far…and for good reason.

With AG spot out of the question, Ted Cruz shifts to Supreme Court

Yet another reason for conservatives to get excited at the notion of a Donald Trump administration is the promise of filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court (generated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February) with another principled conservative jurist.

Of course, Trump already released his list of potential Justices he would consider if elected months ago, but there are more and more rumors the president-elect might be considering other prominent conservatives for the role as well.

One of those is apparently Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz had been rumored to be a possibility for the Attorney General position, but now that Sen. Jeff Sessions looks to be a shoo-in for that office, Cruz has now shifted to thinking about a place on the high court.

Kevin Daley of the Daily Caller reports, “Republican Sen. Ted Cruz signaled willingness to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court Friday afternoon at a conference of conservative and libertarian lawyers in Washington, D.C.

“’What I will say is that history is long and can take unexpected paths,’ he said in response to an audience question about his filling the vacancy. ‘I think it is absolutely vital that that seat and every other seat that comes vacant on the court be filled by principled constitutionalists who will be faithful to the law and will check their own policy preferences at the door and simply honor their oath.’”

Ted has always possessed a wonderful way of side-stepping questions that would seem to demand a direct answer. But at the same time, it’s not clear whether Cruz really wants the Supreme Court slot or not. Should Trump appoint him for the opening – and he survives confirmation – Cruz will then all but disappear from the national scene, at least in terms of making news.

For a man who’s worked very hard in recent years to forge a reputation with grassroots conservative and Tea Party groups and then make a long and spirited run for president, it would no doubt be difficult to step away from the thrilling aspect of democratic politics.

If that were the case, there would no longer be the cheering crowds and throngs of fans for Cruz. There would only be the silence of his Supreme Court office and the heavy intellectual work of upholding the Constitution through lengthy judicial opinions. Not all politicians would make great Justices. It’s too isolating.

But there also wouldn’t be any more fundraisers to attend or annoying media interviews to contend with. There’s also a certain attractiveness involved with not being called names and having yours and your family’s reputations being dragged through the mud on an almost daily basis.

My feeling is Cruz would honor being selected for the Court. As a man of high principle he realizes that much of the important work of reforming and preserving America’s unique constitutional framework lies with getting the right combination of thinkers on the Supreme Court, where one vote often means the difference between life and death (in terms of abortion) and traditional values (same-sex marriage and religious freedom).

Cruz’s intellectual side would be well served on the Court. I would think he’d make a name for himself instantly by taking over Scalia’s role of chief interrogator for attorneys arguing before the bench.

As with all of Trump’s appointments, the prospect of having Cruz serve in a new capacity is intriguing. At least for this one mystery in particular, we won’t find out the answer until after January 20’s inauguration.

Trump transition gathers steam, still generates social media controversy

After a very eventful Friday, Donald Trump kept up a healthy pace of meetings over the weekend. The president-elect also continues to use his Twitter account to make quick comments on events, suggesting he’ll bring his fondness for the medium to the White House.

Matthew Nussbaum of Politico reports, “President-elect Donald Trump has picked up the pace of his transition efforts, holding court at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort throughout the weekend with contenders for top administration jobs while at the same time continuing his feud with the cast of ‘Hamilton’ and denouncing NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live.’

“The dichotomy has been jarring, with Trump appearing the poised president-elect one moment as he greeted prospective Cabinet appointees on the front steps of his Bedminster golf club, only to turn belligerent on Twitter the next moment, declaring (and quickly deleting) that a ‘Hamilton’ actor ‘couldn’t even memorize lines!’”

The “dichotomy” on Trump’s behavior must be “jarring” only to the media. As if it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Donald Trump does not play by the traditional rules of politics.

Of course the “Hamilton” controversy started on Friday night when vice president-elect Mike Pence attended a production of the Broadway hit only to be verbally lectured by one of its lead actors from the stage after the show.

By tweeting a comment, Trump was merely defending his second-in-line from a politically correct motivated attack in front of a potentially hostile audience. In the process, Trump certainly knew Tweeting about it would engender more coverage of the event, since the media can’t resist squawking when an actor condescends to a conservative in front of the whole world.

Trump also met with an interesting cast of potential cabinet appointees at his New Jersey golf club -- Mitt Romney probably being the most headline-grabbing of the bunch.

Mike Pence himself confirmed on Sunday that Romney is under consideration for the Secretary of State job. Another Trump detractor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, is apparently being contemplated for Secretary of Defense.

All throughout his campaign Trump demonstrated an uncanny ability to generate news buzz. I’m not sure if floating Romney and Mattis as future Trump team members is another means of getting people talking or whether they’re under serious scrutiny for roles in the new administration.

But in the end, I don’t think much has changed in Trump’s world. The president-elect knows what he’s doing and anticipates the media’s and public’s reaction to his actions even before he makes them. After all that’s happened I’m not sure how well the news of Romney being made Secretary of State would be received in conservative circles, but there is precedent for putting an adversary in the office.

After all, Obama chose Hillary for his Secretary of State nominee.

If you don’t want your potential rivals criticizing you, bring ‘em onboard. And if you’re Donald Trump, tweet about it afterwards.

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Mandatory Vacation Days

Everything, just about, should be put on hold by the Obama Administration. Their foremost responsibility is to tidy their desks and walk away from the Administration of the country. They should leave their unfinished business unfinished. The only thing on which American taxpayers’ money should be spent (besides for vacations) is for ongoing law enforcement, defense, intelligence, and custodial operations. The rest of the government should be made to use up their vacation days, after getting their files in order, while the FBI monitors the document shredders and computer networks.

The Obama Administration policy folks should be corralled in a large convention center in Cincinnati, Ohio, for extensive interviews by congress, and not allowed to return to their offices to push any more of their insane, alarmist garbage down the throats of the American people.