• The Chief Strategist/Senior Counselor, in this case Steve Bannon, is a personally appointed advisor to the president; it is UNUSUAL (illegal?) and inexplicable for a standing member of the NSC to be a person without any intelligence or foreign policy expertise and who is completely unaccountable to Congress.  He has not been vetted by our elected congressional representatives.

    • The question we can ask our Senators is whether they will support growing efforts to call for an ‘Advise and Consent’ process to clear Steve Bannon before he is permitted to take a regular seat at the NSC table.

  • Another dramatic change in the same presidential memorandum has been widely reported as ‘demoting’ both the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

    • Both the DNI and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs remain as regular standing members of the NSC itself (Principals Committee plus the president) as proscribed by the forming legislation and all subsequent statutory guidance.

    • Both the DNI and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have had their role on the Principals’ Committee changed, to one where they are only to attend “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”

    • The White House spokesperson tried to explain this shift – after first denying that there had been any change – by saying that the White House wanted to make sure they were not taking up the valuable time of the DNI and Joint Chiefs Chair in these NSC Principals’ Committee meetings.

    • The question for Senators on this, is why they think it is wise to have the NSC Principals’ Council evaluate our national security and formulate suggestions for the president without the consistent input of our Director of National Intelligence and our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

  • Thanks largely to these NSC organizational changes, I have been re-educating myself on Bannon himself.  He is a white supremacist who spent a healthy segment of his professional life publishing blatantly false stories as ‘news.’  His lies are always underpinned by bigotry, prejudice, fear-mongering, and/or undermining a peaceful democratic world.  What else lurks in this “alt-right” mind?  I have, like many of us, resisted using the term “alt-right” since it seems to distract from what it really is, which is bigotry writ large.  I have looked at how these people define themselves and see their role in our country and the world.

    • Now that Bannon seems to be settling firmly into a policy making role in the White House, it bears remembering what reporting has suggested:

“The modern Alt-right has embraced Putin as an ally in their battle to install a “Traditionalist” worldview.  The “Traditionalist” Alt-right believe that Republicans and Conservatives have abandoned them and embraced multiculturalism and allowed things like the acceptance of gays, gay marriage, and multiculturalism.  Because of this, they have abandoned hope in American Conservatism and crossed country lines.  They have written articles about Putin being one of them.” from dailykos 11/18/16

    • Notice that this world view is hostile to both Republicans and Democrats; they oppose modern American democracy, no matter the party.  They have found a foothold in the Republican party and are using it to advance themselves.  This does not make them Republicans.  It does make Republicans culpable for allowing their party to embrace these bigots, and it makes Republicans responsible for creating distance from the hate, fear, and prejudice that now threaten to permeate our culture and our government.

    • When we engage with our Republican lawmakers, it seems essential that we make common cause with them no matter what our own party affiliation may be.  Despite our differences, if they are doing their jobs then we should be able to talk with them about American values and governance.  I am going to make every effort to keep partisan differences from getting in the way of their hearing my concerns about compassion, integrity, competence, and transparency.