Minority Enterprise Development Week

Someone is asleep at the switch, or…?

This proclamation was not on the White House website yesterday when I checked, so it had to have been posted later yesterday or earlier today.

I think it was back-dated because the week was already in progress when he finally signed it after golfing over the weekend. Of course, that is pure speculation, but it if the shoe fits…

Also, is the focus of this proclamation and the lateness of its signing just a coincidence? I think this particular proclamation was simply not a priority, or perhaps even begrudging finally signed.

Official Title and Link: President Donald J. Trump Proclaims October 22 through October 28, 2017, as National Minority Enterprise Development Week

Proclamation dated October 20, 2017


Anything But Quiet

This is day six since the last posting of any presidential action on the White House website. In some respects, it was inevitable the orders, memoranda, etc. were going to appear less frequently, but this is a precipitous drop for this president. Could it be the president is otherwise occupied (distracted)?

I don’t intend to write about every sordid detail of this administrations’ bungling activities, so will simply mention the firing of Michael Flynn, now former National Security Advisor, and today’s news of the nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrawing his name from consideration under fire from an increasing number of Republicans, as examples of the incompetence, corruption, and floundering of this administration. These are just two very recent examples of the chaos that has ensued. Today’s Non Sequitur comic by Wiley Miller seems particularly appropriate. Funny, but not funny.

Because the past few weeks have been such a disaster and it promises to get worse not better, I’ve decided to expand the topics of focus for this blog, at least for a while. In addition to writing about presidential executive actions (and in some cases consequences of them such as court cases) and a few of my own comments/observations/opinions, I intend to follow two threads of media attention that appear to be growing public concerns, or at least increasing in news coverage by many media outlets. One is the mental health or mental competence of the president. The other is the numerous calls for accountability of the president or calls for outright impeachment. Neither of these are new. In fact, both have been present in the press at least since the election, but there does seem to be greater frequency of stories being written or produced on these two topics.

While at this point much of this is speculation, ultimately either situation could lead to removal from office. The Constitution does allow for removal for incompetence, presumably including mental incompetence. The Constitution also has two Emoluments clauses that could be used to impeach the president.

In a future post, I will address some of what I have read and am following regarding the president’s mental health. It is an active topic with a number of mental health professionals taking public positions in spite of the long followed “Goldwater Rule” that basically prohibits such professionals from diagnosing anyone, particularly a public figure, without actually interviewing them personally.

Today, on the emoluments issue, I will point to an interesting article by Judd Legum of Think Progress on how POTUS 45 can be held accountable for violating the Constitution without the help of the Republican Congress that is currently a major road block. The gist of the article is a report on potential legal actions that could be taken by a state’s Attorney General. What the article points out is that public official has a much better case for proving “standing” as required by law than a private individual or corporation would. Legum also suggests the state of New York might be the ideal place for this to get done. Washington, D. C. might also be a likely success location.

I do not expect the Congress to do anything about this president’s myriad conflicts of interest anytime soon, so will be watching to see if any Attorney General decides to act on behalf of the people.


Executive Orders and Their Impact on Current and Future Staffing

After reading and reviewing presidential executive orders for a while now (beginning with the Obama orders of late fall 2016), I find myself thinking about the impact of these executive orders on the various government departments and agencies that an order names for implementation. If there are hundreds, even thousands of these orders over decades, the incremental increase of work for those designated for implementation becomes something to be concerned about, or at least address.

I do not know anything about the detailed management of a government entity, so there may well be in its rules and regulations a systematic way of determining what their daily priorities are, but like anything else, adding on new expectations of work, including meeting times for coordination and/or deliberation, would inevitably mean not doing something else, or at the very least, putting off until later.

I wonder the extent to which past executive orders have simply died on the vine due to not being a priority for the sitting president or cabinet officer. I also wonder the extent of bureaucracy bloat that can be attributed to the need for more assistants to carry out all the designated priority tasks on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.

If I were president, I might advocate insertion of sunset clauses or inclusion of supplemental statements indicating the need/desire to not increase staffing as a result of an executive order, thus requiring a careful review of priorities and perhaps a brief report back if a department deems too many other tasks take a higher priority than the current new one. That way some deeper review could occur as to whether or not the executive order should be issued at all.  Obviously, my not knowing how things really work in the federal bureaucracy means I do not know if this kind of review is already part of the drafting and vetting process for any new executive order, but if so, someplace there should be a public record of what was decided NOT to continue doing in order to implement major new initiatives.

As I contemplate the imminent beginning of a new administration and a completely new White House staff, I suspect some of the initiatives of President Obama will just disappear without official executive action. Some may be intentionally abandoned without fanfare and others may not be part of ongoing department or agency activity simply because there is no institutional memory (due to staff and leadership changes) to keep them going. The potential for inefficiency and ineffectiveness seems to loom large with the incoming administration not being known for attention to detail and effective management. Since so much of the bureaucratic management of government operations is largely inaccessible to us average citizens, we may not know about anything more than the major catastrophes that occur as a result of poor administrative management.

Executive Branch management is worth monitoring, but I am still thinking about how that might be best be done.

Future of the White House Website

While working on this project, I discovered that each administration is responsible for the operations and content of the White House Website. That means on January 20, 2017, all the current content will be moved to the National Archives Electronic Record Archives site and the White House site will have to be rebuilt completely.

Recently the Obama administration provided an interesting and quite helpful post on the White House site regarding what they call the Digital Transition. The current administration has many “firsts” in the digital era including establishing We the People petitions, @WhiteHouse Tweets, and thousands of hours of video footage among other things.

I am pleased to know the archives will be responsible for maintaining all these digital records as they have for the Bush era.

What I am curious about is just how effective the next administration will be in running the White House site. Will they hit the ground running or will the site be rudimentary with little substantive content, at least at the start? Will they continue to host petitions from the people? Will they even publish and allow access to the presidential actions, or will we need to wait until they appear in the Federal Register or Congressional Record?

I expect at least some time beginning January 20 will be needed to get the new site content up and running smoothly, but it remains to be seen how it will operate in the future. My hope is it will continue to be a useful site for the American people providing the necessary transparency of an open government. My speculation is it will be far less transparent and may even become simply an infomercial for the man and his brand, as opposed to the office.