Blessing must arise from within your own mind. It is not something that comes from outside. When the positive qualities of your mind increase and the negativities decrease, that is what blessing means. The Tibetan word for blessing … means transforming into magnificent potential. Therefore, blessing refers to the development of virtuous qualities you did not previously have and the improvement of those good qualities you have already developed.
― Dalai Lama XIV
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Trump’s incompetence and astonishing retinue, including a national security aide who may be a member of a Nazi-linked party, and a former campaign worker who graduated from high school in 2015.
Failure and weakness also build on themselves, and the health care debacle will make it more difficult for Trump to get his way
with Congress on other issues. As people recognize that the emperor
wearing no clothes, that perception of weakness will spiral.
One of the underlying problems is Trump’s penchant for personnel choices that are bafflingly bad or ethically challenged or both. Mike Flynn was perhaps the best-known example.
But consider Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism adviser to the president. Gorka, who is of Hungarian origin, founded an extremist right-wing party in Hungary in 2007, and The Forward has published articles claiming that Gorka had ties to the anti-Semitic Hungarian right and is a sworn member of a Nazi-allied group in Hungary called Vitezi Rend.
Members of the organization use a lowercase v as a middle initial, and The Forward noted that Gorka has presented his name as Sebastian L.v. Gorka.
Gorka’s background might have become a problem when he immigrated to the U.S., for the State Department manual says that Vitezi Rend members “are presumed to be inadmissible.” Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian journalist who has long specialized in Hungarian affairs, told me that Gorka unquestionably had worked with racists and anti-Semites in Hungary.
Gorka and the White House did not respond to my inquiries. But Gorka told The Tablet website that he had never been a member of Vitezi Rend and used the v initial only to honor his father. He has robust defenders, who say he has never shown a hint of racism or anti-Semitism.
As Ana Navarro, a G.O.P. strategist, tweeted: “Donald Trump attracts some of the shadiest, darkest, weirdest people around him.”
In fairness, Trump has also appointed plenty of solid people: Jim Mattis, Elaine Chao, H. R. McMaster, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and more. And Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is a first-rate lawyer.
Yet Trump’s record of appointments over all suggests a lack of interest in expertise. I’m not sure that this is “the worst cabinet in American history,” as a Washington Post opinion writer put it, but it might be a contender. The last two energy secretaries were renowned scientists, one with a Nobel prize, while Trump appointed Rick Perry — who once couldn’t remember the department’s name.
Trump appointed his bankruptcy lawyer, David Friedman, to be ambassador to Israel. He chose Jason Greenblatt, another of his lawyers, to negotiate Mideast peace. He picked Omarosa Manigault, who starred with him on “The Apprentice” and has a record of inflating her résumé, to be assistant to the president.
The director of Oval Office operations is Keith Schiller, a former Trump bodyguard best known for whacking a protester. And the Trump team installed as a minder in the Labor Department a former campaign worker who graduated from high school in 2015, according to ProPublica.
So see the failure of the Republican health care bill through a larger prism: The measure collapsed not just because it was a dreadful bill (a tax cut for the wealthy financed by dropping health coverage for the needy). It also failed as a prime example of the Trump administration’s competence gap.
Democrats may feel reassured, because ineptitude may impede some of Trump’s worst initiatives. But even if Trump is unable to build, he may be able to destroy: I fear that his health care “plan” now is to suffocate Obamacare by failing to enforce the insurance mandate, and then claim that its spasms are inevitable.
Of all the national politicians I’ve met over the decades, Trump may be the one least interested in government or policy; he’s absorbed simply with himself. And what we’re seeing more clearly now is that he has crafted an administration in his own image: vain, narcissistic and dangerous.