Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Cruising the Web

It feels sometimes like that Trump's tweets are a glimpse into his Id and it's not a pretty sight.

With his travel ban before the Supreme Court and one of the arguments the administration is going to have to make is that Trump's statements in the campaign should not be considered in place of the actual text of the executive order. So what does Trump do? He went on a rant about how he doesn't like what he considers the "watered down Travel Ban" and wishes that his first, poorly crafted travel ban was the one before the Court today. Sheesh! He also ignored his aides' efforts to avoid calling it a travel ban, and calling it a "temporary pause" instead, but Trump doesn't care.
Clearly, he has absolutely zero understanding of what the case involves. His poor lawyers advocating for his executive order have tried to argue that Trump has more clarity on the issue now than during the campaign when he stated that he would ban all Muslims from coming into the country.
Last week, lawyers in the solicitor general’s office filed polished briefs in the Supreme Court. They urged the justices to ignore incendiary statements from Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, including a call for a “Muslim ban.” The court should focus instead on the text of the revised executive order and statements from Mr. Trump after he had taken the inaugural oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” the briefs said.

Mr. Trump, his lawyers said, was now a changed man, alert to the burdens and responsibilities of his office.

“Taking that oath marks a profound transition from private life to the nation’s highest public office, and manifests the singular responsibility and independent authority to protect the welfare of the nation that the Constitution reposes in the president,” they wrote.
That would indeed be nice, but it's not what his tweets demonstrate.
The Supreme Court has asked people and groups challenging the executive order to file their responses to the government’s briefs next Monday. Those responses will almost certainly rely on Mr. Trump’s tweets in arguing that the justices should not revive the order. The court will probably act on the government’s requests in the coming weeks.

In his posts, Mr. Trump seemed to betray a misunderstanding of how two branches of the federal government work. His criticism of the Justice Department was misplaced, because it works for him. He could have insisted that it defend his original order. It was Mr. Trump’s decision, too, to issue the revised order.

Mr. Trump also suggested that the Justice Department could ask the Supreme Court to impose a “much tougher version” of his executive order. But the court’s role is limited to evaluating the lawfulness of the current order.

Insulting judges is also generally a poor litigation strategy. But Mr. Trump also posted that “the courts are slow and political!”
There is a strong case that the administration could make before the Supreme Court. And Trump's reckless tweets just contradicted that case. The WSJ writes,
Mr. Trump is also sabotaging the legitimate legal basis for the travel ban, and the stakes are bigger than the ban itself, which we think is counterproductive and unnecessary. He is exercising core presidential powers over foreign affairs that the courts may restrict if Mr. Trump keeps daring them to do so.

Two appellate courts have ignored the order’s text and cited legally irrelevant campaign statements to rule that the ban is really intended to discriminate against Muslims. And now President Trump has given liberal judges Twitter evidence to conclude that his motives may be suspect. At the very least he is making it harder to corral a Supreme Court majority.

In other words, in 140-character increments, Mr. Trump diminished his own standing by causing a minor international incident, demonstrated that the loyalty he demands of the people who work for him isn’t reciprocal, set back his policy goals and wasted time that he could have devoted to health care, tax reform or “infrastructure week.” Mark it all down as further evidence that the most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump.

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And his attempt to make it seem like this all sprang ex nihilo from the DOJ is truly bizarre. Remember, this thing is an executive order, not a DOJ order. Does he remember that he is the guy who signed the thing?Jim Geraghty comments,
Why is the president fuming about the Department of Justice like it’s some faraway entity? Someone reminded him he gets to make appointments to the DOJ, right?
As Geraghty points out Trump's DOJ is a hollowed-out shell because Trump hasn't gotten around to making the necessary nominations there and elsewhere.
It’s June 5, and right now there are only three Trump appointees working at DOJ: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand have been confirmed. Trump has named Noel J. Francisco as his nominee to be Solicitor general, Steven Engel to be his assistant attorney general for the Office of the Legal Counsel, Stephen Elliott Boyd to be assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affair, and Makan Delrahim to be assistant attorney general for the antitrust division. The Senate can be blamed for the slow action on those nominees.

But President Trump still hasn’t even named a nominee for the positions of assistant attorney general for the national security division, assistant attorney general for the civil division, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division, assistant attorney general for the justice programs division, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy, or assistant attorney general for the tax division.

While these positions may not relate directly to litigating the travel ban, Trump still hasn’t named a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, administrator or deputy administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency, or a director of the U.S. Marshals Service.

And, of course, he fired FBI Director Comey. He said we would have a replacement quickly… three weeks ago.

Whenever I make this point, some ill-informed Trump defender insists this is a wise cost-cutting measure. No, those positions don’t go unfilled and the salary doesn’t get unspent; they’re just filled by “acting” replacements… who, at this rate, are likely to be acting for quite a while. Those acting replacements may or may not agree with the Trump administration’s perspective; while they’re no doubt professionals, why wouldn’t Trump want his own people in these positions, who understand his priorities?

Trump’s complaining about the courts? There are 131 judicial vacancies in the federal courts. Trump has nominated ten judges so far. Nominating qualified figures to the executive and judicial branch is a key part of governing. Reacting to what’s said about you on Morning Joe isn’t.

By the way, that second travel ban that Trump is complaining about? He signed it! If he thought it was such a terrible idea, he should have said so back in March when discussing it with his legal and national security team, instead of chewing their work out in public two months later.

This is the problem with a president whose decisions can be swayed by whether he talked with Steve Bannon or Ivanka Trump most recently. He makes a decision, and then if he decides he doesn’t like the outcome, he blames the person who offered that advice, instead of himself for following that advice.

For the readers who will grumble this is “bashing” President Trump… what am I supposed to say? Pretend this is the way a president and his administration are supposed to work? The president is publicly fuming about the decisions of his own Department of Justice, decisions he signed off on! He’s got a phone. He can call Jeff Sessions anytime he likes. I’m sure they’ll wake him up if the president calls.

Yes, there are a lot of judges with starkly different philosophies who will block an executive order on sketchy grounds. This is the opposite of unprecedented. If you think Trump is the first president who have his desired policy about who to let into the country nullified by decisions by judges, ask President Obama how his executive order about illegal immigrant children and their parents turned out.
Perhaps one of the reasons that Trump has had problems finding people to nominate, other than vetoing those who might have criticized him in the past, is that people just don't want to work for a boss who would sabotage the good that they might do or just undermine whatever they've worked so hard to accomplish. As the WSJ writes,
If Mr. Trump’s action is legal on the merits, he seems to be angry that his lawyers are trying to vindicate the rule of law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be justified if he resigned, and this is merely the latest incident in which Mr. Trump popping off undermined his own lawyers. The White House spent days explaining that the President fired James Comey on the counsel of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, only for Mr. Trump to tell an interviewer that he planned to dismiss the FBI director in any case. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has also suggested that the temporary visa shutdown is not an “immigration ban.”

If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an Administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff. People of talent and integrity won’t work for a boss who undermines them in public without thinking about the consequences. And whatever happened to the buck stops here?

It's a shame that Trump apparently has such a sketchy idea of how the government works.

Trump should listen to Kellyanne Conway's husband, George, whom Trump had been considering for a senior job in the DOJ. He tweeted out his own criticism of Trump's tweets.
Conway, an attorney who was reportedly a leading contender to head the DOJ’s civil division before removing himself from consideration Friday, wrote, “These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help [The Office of the Solicitor General] get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad.”
It's not helpful for his own side's argument, but the attorney opposing the administration, Neal Katyal, is grateful for Trump's help.

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That set of tweets wasn't the only bizarre choice that Trump made to tweet about. Apparently, at a time when Britain is trying to deal with its third terror attack in nine weeks, Trump thought it would be a good idea to misconstrue the Mayor of London's remarks following the evil attacks in London.
Trump, writing on Twitter Monday, said: "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his 'no reason to be alarmed' statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!"
It is the second day that Trump has twisted the mayor's words. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Khan said there was "no cause for alarm" when referring to a visible increase in police activity on the streets of London.

Trump appeared to misconstrue the statement on Sunday when he tweeted: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"

Khan's spokesman repeated his response of a day earlier: "Nothing has changed since yesterday. The Mayor is focused on dealing with Saturday's horrific and cowardly attack and working with the police, the emergency services and the Government to keep London safe."
In what universe does it make sense to attack the mayor of the city where this horrific attack occurred? Does he think that such tweets will help Theresa May the week of the British election?

I know that Trump looks at his Twitter account as his method of communicating to people and getting around the MSM. But he's also the President of the United States and his tweets are interfering with his own efforts to govern. He doesn't seem to care and just tweets away even when he's shooting himself in the foot. The campaign is over; he won. Act like it. He was able to back off tweeting while on his foreign trip and during the Gorsuch hearings as well as at the end of the campaign. He should learn from those moments. Or go back to tweeting about covfefe. That would be so much preferable.

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How's that socialism gig working out for Bernie Sanders? Quite well, it seems.
Sen. Bernie Sanders snagged a $795,000 advance last year for his book “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” according to his personal financial disclosure.

The book hit best-seller lists after its post-election release in November. Sanders also took in a $63,750 advance for a future adaptation of “Our Revolution” geared toward younger readers and $6,735 in royalties from his 1997 book “Outsider in the House,” rereleased in 2015 as “Outsider in the White House.” The Vermont independent also reported receiving $2,521 in royalties last year for a 1987 folk album.
He's pulling in a lot more than Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren. The advance will help him pay the mortgages on his three homes. All power to the Sanders for making money off of his fame. But then don't start railing against anyone else who has the same urge to make money as if they're evil, but you are somehow above all that.

William McGurn writes
of the tendency that many elite liberals have to look at people in middle America as anthropological oddities who must be barely tolerated if they are going to succeed politically.
Nine years after Barack Obama accused small-towners of clinging to guns or religion, nearly three years after Jonathan Gruber was shown to have attributed ObamaCare’s passage to the stupidity of the American voter, and eight months after Hillary Clinton pronounced half of Donald Trump’s voters “irredeemable,” Democrats are now getting some sophisticated advice: You don’t win votes by showing contempt for voters.
He then links to several recent pieces by liberals advising other liberals not to be so visible and vocal in their contempt for the white working class or just anyone who doesn't wholeheartedly accept liberal nostrums.
Much of what these authors write is sensible. But it can also be hilarious, particularly when the effort to explain ordinary Americans to progressive elites reads like a Margaret Mead entry on the exotic habits of the Samoans.

Mr. Tomasky, for example, informs progressives that middle Americans—wait for it—“go to church.” They have friends (“and sometimes even spouses”) “who are Republicans.” “They don’t feel self-conscious saluting the flag.” Who knew?

Most of these writers allow that there is at least some fraction of Trump voters who are not deplorable. What they do not appreciate is how condescending they can be while advising their fellow Democrats to be less condescending. Exhibit A: Mr. Drum’s recommendation that Democrats can “broaden [their] appeal” because these are “persuadable, low information folks.”

Still, Mr. Drum comes across as Gandhi when set against the writer at Slate who interviews Ms. Williams. The following question conveys the tone: “What attitude should we be taking toward people who voted for a racist buffoon who is scamming them?”

Ms. Williams, a University of California law professor who has written a new book on the white working class, generously avoids telling her interviewer he is a perfect instance of the problem. But the larger progressive dilemma here is that contempt is baked into the identity politics that defines today’s Democratic Party.
When Mrs. Clinton labeled Trump voters deplorable (“racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it”) she was simply following identity politics to its logical conclusion. Because identity politics transforms those on the other side of the argument—i.e., Americans who are pro-life, who respect the military, who may work in the coal industry—from political opponents into oppressors.

Which is precisely how they are treated: as bigots whose retrograde views mean they have no rights. So when the Supreme Court unilaterally imposes gay marriage on the entire nation, a baker who doesn’t want to cater a gay reception must be financially ruined. Ditto for two Portland women who ran a burrito stand that they shut down after accusations of cultural appropriation regarding their recipes.

No small part of the attraction of identity politics is its usefulness in silencing those who do not hew to progressive orthodoxy....

The great irony here is that this has left Democrats increasingly choosing undemocratic means to get what they want. From President Obama’s boast that he would use his pen and phone to bypass Congress to the progressive use of the Supreme Court as its preferred legislature to the Iran and climate deals that made end runs around the Constitution, it all underscores one thing: The modern American progressive has no faith in the democratic process because he has no trust in the American people.
This reminds me a lot of the revolution of 1848 in France. The radicals attained control of government, wrote a constitution with universal male suffrage, and then held an election. And whom did those ungrateful peasants end up voting for - Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte who a couple of years later became Napoleon III. The lesson that the radicals took away from that experience was that the peasants couldn't be trusted. They might vote against their best interests and support a conservative like Louis Napoleon or Bismarck. Sounds a lot like the premise behind Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? Those stupid people in Kansas don't know what's good for them and they get distracted by social issues instead of voting for liberals who have the true interests of those ignorant yokels at heart, even if they're too dumb to recognize it.

Those 19th century radicals, like Lenin, eventually concluded that revolutions needed to be conducted by the vanguard rather than by depending on the peasant class.