Notes and Comment Blog


Energy in the executive

Feb 6th, 2017 4:19 pm | By

Even John Yoo, author of torture-approving memos in Bush’s Justice Department, thinks Trump is overstepping the limits on what presidents can do.

Article II of the Constitution vests the president with “the executive power,” but does not define it. Most of the Constitution instead limits that power, as with the president’s duty “to take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” or divides that power with Congress, as with making treaties or appointing Supreme Court justices.

Hamilton argued that good government and “energy in the executive” went hand in hand. In The Federalist No. 70, he wrote that the framers, to encourage “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch,” entrusted the executive power in a unified branch headed by a single person, the president.

Woo considers himself a Hamiltonian.

But even I have grave concerns about Mr. Trump’s uses of presidential power.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump gave little sign that he understood the constitutional roles of the three branches, as when he promised to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would investigate Hillary Clinton. (Judge Neil M. Gorsuch will not see this as part of his job description.) In his Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump did not acknowledge that his highest responsibility, as demanded by his oath of office, is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” Instead, he declared his duty to represent the wishes of the people and end “American carnage,” seemingly without any constitutional restraint.

While my robust vision of the presidency supports some of Mr. Trump’s early executive acts — presidents have the power to terminate international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example — others are more dubious. Take his order to build a wall along the border with Mexico, and his suggestion that he will tax Mexican imports or currency transfers to pay for it. The president has no constitutional authority over border control, which the Supreme Court has long found rests in the hands of Congress. Under Article I of the Constitution, only Congress can fund the construction of a wall, a fence or even a walking path along the border. And the president cannot slap a tax or tariff on Mexican imports without Congress.

Well…if he can’t, maybe one of his helpers can? Steve Bannon for instance?

Nor can Mr. Trump pull the United States out of Nafta, because Congress made the deal with Mexico and Canada by statute. Presidents have no authority to cancel tariff and trade laws unilaterally.

Immigration has driven Mr. Trump even deeper into the constitutional thickets. Even though his executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim nations makes for bad policy, I believe it falls within the law. But after the order was issued, his adviser Rudolph Giuliani disclosed that Mr. Trump had initially asked for “a Muslim ban,” which would most likely violate the Constitution’s protection for freedom of religion or its prohibition on the state establishment of religion, or both — no mean feat. Had Mr. Trump taken advantage of the resources of the executive branch as a whole, not just a few White House advisers, he would not have rushed out an ill-conceived policy made vulnerable to judicial challenge.

But where’s the fun in that? Trump wants the fun he imagines goes with the job. He couldn’t care less what the Constitution says…despite having sworn that oath.

A successful president need not have a degree in constitutional law. But he should understand the Constitution’s grant of executive power.

He should at least have read the damn thing. I strongly doubt that Trump ever has.



While Donnie was looking at window treatments

Feb 6th, 2017 1:00 pm | By

More from that Times piece yesterday on Trump’s sad awakening.

Cloistered in the White House, he now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day — too much in the eyes of some aides — often offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon.

And, of course, it doesn’t help that he’s willfully stupid and incurious. He seems to me to have made a choice long ago – I don’t know when because I never paid attention to him until I was forced to last July – to refuse to think hard or ask questions or learn. He’s caught in a loop of his own making.

Until the past few days, Mr. Trump was telling his friends and advisers that he believed the opening stages of his presidency were going well. “Did you hear that, this guy thinks it’s been terrible!” Mr. Trump said mockingly to other aides when one dissenting view was voiced last week during a West Wing meeting.

But his opinion has begun to change with a relentless parade of bad headlines.

I’ve been offering him help with that on Twitter…but of course so have millions of other people, so he can’t really benefit from our counsel.

He ran off to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend and Steve & Reince went with him.

By then, the president, for whom chains of command and policy minutiae rarely meant much, was demanding that Mr. Priebus begin to put in effect a much more conventional White House protocol that had been taken for granted in previous administrations: From now on, Mr. Trump would be looped in on the drafting of executive orders much earlier in the process.

Looped in? So it really is Bannon who’s been writing them?

Mr. Priebus bristles at the perception that he occupies a diminished perch in the West Wing pecking order compared with previous chiefs. But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.

Wait. What?

Trump didn’t know Bannon had given himself a seat on the NSC? Is that what they’re reporting?

Well, never mind – Trump is busy with redecorating.

Visitors to the Oval Office say Mr. Trump is obsessed with the décor — it is both a totem of a victory that validates him as a serious person and an image-burnishing backdrop — so he has told his staff to schedule as many televised events in the room as possible.

To pass the time between meetings, Mr. Trump gives quick tours to visitors, highlighting little tweaks he has made after initially expecting he would have to pay for them himself.

Flanking his desk are portraits of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. He will linger on the opulence of the newly hung golden drapes, which he told a recent visitor were once used by Franklin D. Roosevelt but in fact were patterned for Bill Clinton. For a man who sometimes has trouble concentrating on policy memos, Mr. Trump was delighted to page through a book that offered him 17 window covering options.

Of course he was.



Dashing madly off in all directions

Feb 6th, 2017 12:35 pm | By

The Times tells us that Trump and his gang have in fact noticed that doing stupid things very quickly doesn’t necessarily work out well.

But one thing has become apparent to both his allies and his opponents: When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success.

The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said.

Surprise surprise surprise – it’s not actually a job you can just make up as you go. Who knew?! Who knew that it’s a large and complicated job requiring lots and lots of consultation and thought and responsibility and care? What possible way could anyone have to know that ahead of time?

This account of the early days of the Trump White House is based on interviews with dozens of government officials, congressional aides, former staff members and other observers of the new administration, many of whom requested anonymity. At the center of the story, according to these sources, is a president determined to go big but increasingly frustrated by the efforts of his small team to contain the backlash.

God he’s a fool. What did he think would happen? That it would be exactly like a daydream? That he would say what to do and people would do it and instant awesomeness would occur?

One former staff member likened the aggressive approach of the first two weeks to D-Day, but said the president’s team had stormed the beaches without any plan for a longer war.

Well, plus…also…hi…it’s not D-Day? At all? In any way? Not to mention the fact that D-Day took more than two fucking years to plan and implement? That thousands of highly trained experts from several countries were involved in the planning and implementation? That it was decidedly not a matter of Churchill just waving his hand and saying “Invade Europe now!”? That it couldn’t be more different from Trump’s reckless amateur way of carrying on if it tried? The president’s team absolutely did not storm any god damn beaches – they did the equivalent of wading into the Channel in Southampton carrying pistols and then standing there looking stupid.



Non-speakers

Feb 6th, 2017 11:35 am | By

The Speaker of the House of Commons has made a forthright statement on why in his view Donald Trump should not be invited to give a speech in said House. Spoiler: it’s because Trump is a bad man. Specifically, it’s because he’s racist and sexist.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” Mr Bercow told MPs.

“After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

Parts of the Commons erupted into rare spontaneous applause in support of Mr Bercow’s statement.

The intervention will cause headaches in Downing Street, where Theresa May has bent over backwards to rekindle the so-called special relationship with the US.

By rushing over here to visit, and by rushing to issue an invitation to Trump to pay a state visit, an invitation which is normally not issued immediately. It makes me furious that she’s doing that.

The Speaker said: “We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay grade of the Speaker.

“However, as far as this place is concerned I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”

Theresa May please note.

The Speaker’s intervention is a particularly stunning development because the post is politically neutral. Mr Bercow was previously a Conservative MP before he was elected to the role; following convention he then gave up any party affiliation.

Nearly two million people signed a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to be cancelled in just days after it was announced. MPs are to debate the issue in Westminster Hall.

He wants to play golf at Balmoral.



The little fingers stab the keys

Feb 6th, 2017 10:58 am | By

Your morning TwitterTrump.

Last night he interrupted the flow of invective with a sportsball rejoicement. Rah.

Then today it was back to business.

Perfect, isn’t it? Any poll he dislikes is “fake news.” Trumpian epistemology in a nutshell.

And what does he think he means by “people want”? Of course some people approve of his ban, but others don’t. He can’t tell how the numbers fall just by looking out the window.

Plus the usual thing – we already have border security and extensive vetting.

The presidency is not about One Big Manly Man calling his own shots. It’s not a dictatorship, it’s not an absolute monarchy, it’s not being a general or an admiral. It’s not a matter of “calling shots” at all. Telling us how peremptory and autocratic he is is not the way to go. We already know he’s like that, and that it’s one of his biggest flaws.

Then of course there’s the fact that he actually doesn’t, really, not with Bannon in the room.

Then there’s the laughable claim about data. Hahahahahahaha no you don’t, dude.

Then there’s the “everyone knows it.” That’s that “they all love me” delusion again. The audience for his inauguration was HUGE. Everybody loves him. All those protests are just fake news.

Then there’s the actual misappropriation of the label “fake news,” yet again.

Then there’s the move to demonize the press, yet again.

All that in one tweet. He gets a lot of bullshit into one tweet, I’ll give him that.

He was on O’Reilly’s show yesterday, too. So he’s going to do O’Reilly every day, now? That’s going to be his response to “fake news” i.e. news that reports on his many crimes and blunders? Good plan. Very presidential.

And, to wrap up the morning’s blurts, yet another cock-wave at the Times.

And with that the screaming toddler closed the Twitter and went to the office.



GAG tells us all what to do

Feb 5th, 2017 4:44 pm | By

Activism at its finest: vandalism and intimidation at…corporate headquarters of a polluting oil giant? Steve Bannon’s indoor pool? The parking garage at Fox News? No – a women’s library. Guerrilla Feminist Collective was there and tells us what the “activists” had to contribute:

Last night we had to push through physical intimidation and lots of verbal nonsense to enter the new Vancouver Women’s Library.

Anti-feminist protesters actually showed up for once! They were welcomed inside (snowing, cold, everyone was welcome), but asked to leave when they tried to tear down feminist posters in the space and continued their physical intimidation inside. Police had to be called for fear of destruction of the space and the safety of library patrons inside. The protesters held signs and shouted at people entering the space. They poured wine over the books. They smoked inside when asked not to. They pulled the fire alarm. Some of them tried to bar then pushed women entering the space. As far as we saw, men were left alone to come and go as they pleased.

Women were shamed and blamed for calling the police, for fearing for theirs and others’ safety. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All battered women will be familiar with these tactics. When we pointed out how we were physically barred then pushed from entering the space, and how threatening that felt, protesters wanted to know how we’d gender the person, rather than discuss the ethics of violence at hand.

That’s what “trans activism” has become – a transparent excuse to tell women what to do and push them around if they refuse.

Despite clearly stated goals (creation of women’s space for women’s work and dialogue), inclusion (all women), transparency of funding (self & UBC women’s centre), hard work (unpaid), and initiative (frankly brilliant caring GOODNESS of heart, seeking to create A WOMEN’S LIBRARY) the organizers were demonized, targeted, lied about, and all but burnt at the stake.

Ridiculous demands were made, such as the stepping down of founding member Emily (for having volunteered at and supporting a shelter for women fleeing male violence), creation of a board of directors (must everything be Mc-incorporated?), and the removal of certain books (fascism 101).

One of the three founders dropped out last minute under the heat of hatred and vicious verbal attacks rampantly circulating the “activist” communities. The remaining two women, Em and Bec, worked hard with the help of friends to open this space on time and as promised. We’re so proud to know and support these women, this space, and the beautiful hope it brings for women gathering, women speaking, women lifting each other up and shielding one another from the hate and violence that surrounds us, however that may brand or market itself.

Despite all the shit, the pure hate, the lies, the violence, the verbal attacks, once inside, the library was amazing. The conversations inside were energizing. The solidarity and diversity in women young and old was beautiful to behold. No wonder they want to shut it down. Women united are powerful. We can’t let them win.

We are feeling so much love and gratitude for the women of Vancouver Women’s Library and cannot wait to see it grow and flourish. Not just the collection of physical books, but the community of strong, brave women who will utilize and contribute to the space. Thank you women, and see you soon. Stand proud. You have created something good and true.

Who are the people making these demands, and what are they demanding? A group that calls itself, fittingly, GAG, posted a long manifesto – demand – ransom note – whateverthefuck, claiming to speak for a nameless “group”…

*This note is being shared by GAG on behalf of a group composed of sex workers, trans women, IBPOC, queers, and people in solidarity with them, in opposition to the opening of the Vancouver Women’s Library. This note is to be copied and shared by other groups in solidarity with those leading the action this evening*

Oh that group. But what’s it called, where does it meet, how can we talk to it, why is it speaking through an intermediary?

It’s classic, though, isn’t it, all those sub-groups whose only reason for living seems to be bullying and silencing feminist women. All those sub-groups that can think of nothing more urgent to do right now than to disrupt the opening of a women’s library. Funny how much the new “activism” looks exactly like the old misogyny.

So, their account of themselves:

“We are writing this list of demands in response to the opening of the Vancouver Women’s Library. With the ongoing violence against trans women, sex workers, and IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) perpetuated by one of the main organizers paired with the exclusion of work that centers trans women and sex workers we came together as a group including: sex workers, trans women, POC, queers, and people in solidarity. We demand the following, because there is nothing radical about replicating settler-colonial violence, transmisogyny, and whorephobia*.

*If you are not a sex worker this term is not for you.

TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism) : Trans Exclusionary Feminism, also known as Trans Women Exterminationist Feminism, is a loosely-organized group with a message of hate and exclusion against transgender women in particular, and transgender people as a whole. They have attached themselves to radical feminism as a means to deny trans women basic access to health care, women’s groups, housing, jobs, support services, restroom facilities, and anywhere that may be considered women’s space. TERFs are complicit in the deaths of trans women, by outing them, promoting the denial of needed government services, and creating the myth of trans women as sexually predatory men in disguise.

SWERF (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminism) : Sex-Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminism or SWERF, is a group who advocate for criminalization of sex work, see sex work as inherent exploitation with no recognition of autonomy and agency of sex workers and seek to control people’s bodies much like the state. They enact violence on sex workers by working to deny their access to resources and support. They work alongside the colonial government to pass bills that do direct violence to sex workers, such as, Bill C-36 (see inside).

You can see how dishonest it is. It’s Trump-level dishonest.

After that string of lies, they get to their “demands”:

OUR DEMANDS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE ORGANIZERS

The library needs to be transparent about its funding, organizing policies and affiliations with other institutions, both within the academic system and outside of it.

The library must elect a new board that is comprised of women that reflect the breadth of experience in our community, so that the organizing committee is not entirely cis and white.

Not entirely “cis” – so they “demand” that a women’s library not be entirely women. We were allowed about five minutes to push all-male institutions to let women come in (in tiny numbers), but that’s all over now – women are too damn uppity so they have to be punched back down again.

The library needs to have a policy of not featuring titles that are written by non-trans women and non-sex workers that dehumanize, speak over and advocate harm towards trans women and sex workers. We have enclosed a list of books from the catalogue that perpetrate these issues.

The library needs to include a vast array of books written by women of colour, sex workers, incarcerated women, and trans women about their lived experiences. We are currently compiling a comprehensive list of suggestions that we will share when the other demands are met.

Current organiser Em Laurent must step down as an organizer and end her involvement with the library because her presence is not safe for community members and after years of violence enacted against women, sex workers and queers, accountability will be a very long process.

The organizers must also enter into a public meeting with the communities that it aims to serve to discuss the harm done to marginalized women in the community and how the library can move forward.

“Must” – women have to do what they’re told or else.

Then there’s another 50 thousand words or so explaining how right and perfect they are and how scum of the earth the women who organized the library are.

…all of the organizers have been linked to an organization that does not support trans women, active drug users, or active sex workers and collectives that call for the exclusion of trans women and femmes, abolition of sex workers rights, and that center a feminism that excludes anyone who is not white, cisgender, or doesn’t fit into western constructs of womanhood.

Cis white women are the beneficiaries of white supremacy. People who are the most affected by police brutality, settler colonialism, racialized violence, incarceration, gentrification, sexual violence, ableism and houselessness can and should be the people creating safer spaces for those most impacted by these experiences.

…The same ideology and praxis of hate is present and replicated in right-wing/alt-right/neo-nazi organizing. TERFs and SWERFs organize for the same violent policies and work in partnership with right-wing hate groups to replicate settler-colonial white-supremacist constructions of cisheteropatrarchy that outright reject, erase, and deny IBPOC sovereignty, body sovereignty, and all peoples that do not fit under euro-centric nativism…The moniker ‘self-identified’ is used by cis women as a move to innocence from their complicity in violence against trans women. It is used to mark trans women as ‘Other’ and centre themselves again as victims of patriarchy. This will not stand.

They repeatedly accuse one of the organizers of “violence” by which, it turns out, they mean “ties to” a Vancouver women’s shelter.

Then they give a long list of books they order the library to remove.

Peak activism.



If something happens blame him and the court system

Feb 5th, 2017 1:34 pm | By

TwitterTrump just in. I guess he slept late today.

So the very first thing he says is that he cannot believe our system of government works the way it does work. That’s a pretty tragic admission for a head of state.

And then there’s the boneheaded error at the heart of all this, which is the fatuous belief that he has discovered the One Simple Way to prevent any and all Islamist outrages inside the US. The reality of course is that there is no One Simple Way. Anybody could decide that Islamism is the best thing ever and violence is the way to hasten it along. Anybody. If “something happens” – it will likely be the handiwork of someone born here. Blaming the judge is the equivalent of blaming The Jews for the Reichstag Fire.

And then there’s the fact that people aren’t “pouring in,” because the vetting was already strict and time-consuming.

The courts are doing no such thing. HS was already checking people very carefully. He really ought to STUDY UP on these things.

Then he ends gracefully with a promo for his own interview on Fox, the one where he says Our Country is as bad as Putin’s Russia.



YOUR word!

Feb 5th, 2017 1:21 pm | By

Donnie from Queens hasn’t tweeted about this yet. That will be because it appears to be about someone else. The fact that that someone else reflects badly on him won’t cross his mind.



So innocent?

Feb 5th, 2017 12:41 pm | By

Even some Republicans are a little bit skeeved by Trump’s flattery of Putin.

President Trump has long been effusive in his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.

In an interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, which will air ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Trump doubled down on his “respect” for Putin — even in the face of accusations that Putin and his associates have murdered journalists and dissidents in Russia.

“I do respect him. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them,” Trump told O’Reilly.

O’Reilly pressed on, declaring to the president that “Putin is a killer.”

Unfazed, Trump didn’t back away, but rather compared Putin’s reputation for extrajudicial killings with the United States’.

“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”

Hmmmmm. But yesterday he was Twitter-shouting about keeping “evil” [scare-quotes his] out of our glorious nation.

This isn’t a new line with him.

In a 2015 interview on “Morning Joe,” Trump was pressed on the same issue and gave a similar answer.

“He kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” the show’s host, Joe Scarborough, pointed out.

“Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe,” Trump said.

Hmmmm. Really? Bush and Obama put polonium in activists’ tea? Bush and Obama sent hit men to machine gun journalists in their own apartment buildings? I wonder why we haven’t heard anything about that.



The little Hitlers of the corporation

Feb 5th, 2017 12:33 pm | By

From Nick Cohen’s extended piece on Trump and lies and the people who believe his lies:

No one in the west has seen Trump’s kind of triumph in politics since the age of the dictators. But look around your workplace and perhaps you won’t be so surprised by their victories. If you are unlucky, you will see an authoritarian standing over you. The radical economist Chris Dillow once wrote that, while the fall of communism discredited the centrally planned economy, the centrally planned corporation, with the autocratic leader who tolerated no dissent, not only survived 1989, but blossomed.

Dillow is not alone in worrying about the harm the little Hitlers of the corporation might bring. Since the crash, economists have looked as a matter of urgency at how hierarchies encourage petty tyrants to brag their way to the top. They exhibit all the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder: a desire to dominate, overconfidence, a sense of entitlement, an inability to listen to others or allow others to speak and a passion for glory. If you want to know how they can win the votes of those around them, remember Fred Goodwin’s vainglorious decision to takeover ABN Amro. Perhaps the single worst decision in UK business history, whose consequences we are still paying for, was not opposed by a single member of the RBS board.

Narcissists in business are more likely to seek macho takeovers and less likely to engage in the hard work of innovating and creating profitable firms, the researchers found. They are more likely to cook the books to feed their cults of the personality and make, if not America, then themselves look great again. Academics from the University of California have asked the obvious question: why would rational companies let the fascism of the firm survive? Surely they ought to be protecting their businesses, as free market theory dictates, rather than allow dangerous and grasping men and women to risk their destruction.

They found what most of us instinctively know to be true: in the right circumstances, compulsive liars can create compulsive believers, as Trump has done. “Overconfident individuals attained status” because their peers believed the stories they told about themselves. It should not be a surprise that Donald Trump, Arron Banks and oligarchs backing the Russian and east European strongmen come from business. The age of the dictators never came to an end in the workplace.

We are all his Apprentices.



Deputy assistant junior subaltern president

Feb 5th, 2017 11:42 am | By

Why is Ivanka Trump present at official meetings? She was present at a meeting of business honchos on Friday. Why? Presidents don’t just routinely have random family members joining the gang at official meetings. Why are the rules different for Trump?

President Donald Trump convened with the heads of some of America’s largest corporations on Friday at the White House for a meeting intended to make good on the administration’s pledge to reduce regulation, promote women in the workplace, and cut taxes.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, told CNBC it had been a “fabulous meeting” and said the president “engaged forcefully” on every topic.

Steve Schwarzman, CEO of private equity firm Blackstone and chairman of the council that arranged Friday’s meeting, said the session had been “spirited intellectually” and that the members had had a “balanced discussion” about “taxes, trade, infrastructure, women’s issues, education, and how to bring home jobs in terms of training people in technology.”

Other attendees at Friday’s business huddle included members of Trump’s economic advisory council, such as JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, Walt Disney’s Bob Iger, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon, and Mary Barra of General Motors.

The meeting also included First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president; as well as Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Why was she there?

I still want to know.



Just speaking his mind

Feb 5th, 2017 10:56 am | By

So Pence is willing to lie for Trump, and he’s willing to excuse Trump’s infantile and reckless personal attack on a federal judge. I guess we knew that, since he was willing to be his VP.

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday defended President Trump’s personal attack on the federal judge who blocked his travel ban on seven predominately Muslim countries, saying that the president’s remarks did not risk undermining the bedrock principle of the separation of powers.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s reference on Twitter to the “so-called judge” who ordered a stay of the president’s executive order, Mr. Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Well, look, the president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government. And we have a long tradition of that in this country.”

Oh stop. “Criticize” is one thing, and “insult via Twitter” is quite another. Criticism is not the same thing as publicly saying a federal judge is not actually a judge but an impostor.

Asked on the ABC program “This Week” about whether Mr. Trump had failed to respect the judicial branch’s check on his authority, Mr. Pence said the president was merely “speaking his mind,” as Americans have come to expect from him.

Right, like all those times he called Senator Warren “Pocahontas,” and that time he bragged about being able to grab women “by the pussy,” and the countless insults to women, and all the rest of the toxic stew. We know. But he’s president now, so that’s an additional reason he should stop “speaking his mind” in that way – additional to the ones about not being an evil belligerent misogynist racist shit.

Critics in both parties said the president had demonstrated a lack of understanding of or a disregard for the nation’s three equal branches of government.

Or both. He appears not to understand that the judiciary can rule on his orders, and we can be pretty sure that he would carry on the same way even if he did understand.



Bad hombre

Feb 4th, 2017 6:57 pm | By
Bad hombre

der_spiegel_2017_cover

H/t Dave R



Another Saturday night upheaval

Feb 4th, 2017 5:39 pm | By

And they’ve filed an appeal.

On another day of chaotic developments over the week-old order, the State Department reversed its cancellation of visas for people from the seven affected countries and restarted efforts to admit refugees. Aid groups scrambled to take advantage of what they acknowledged might be a brief opportunity for refugees to enter the United States, and small numbers of travelers from the previously banned countries began their journeys, knowing that the judge’s ruling could be reversed at any time.

The developments led Mr. Trump to lash out throughout the day on Saturday, prompting criticism that he failed to respect the judicial branch and its power to exert a check on his authority.

He certainly does – and he very publicly and noisily fails to respect it.

Late Saturday, the Justice Department filed papers notifying the District Court that it would seek to have the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit block the lower court’s action. The White House had said earlier that it would direct the Justice Department to file for an emergency stay of the ruling, by Judge James Robart of Federal District Court in Seattle, that would allow continued enforcement of the president’s order.

Judge Robart, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, declared in his ruling that “there’s no support” for the administration’s argument that “we have to protect the U.S. from individuals” from the affected countries — Iran, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.

I think we’re supposed to just take Trump’s word for it.

In his first statement on the matter on Friday evening, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, described the judge’s action as “outrageous.” Minutes later, the White House issued a new statement deleting the word outrageous.

Mr. Trump’s Twitter post showed no such restraint. It recalled the attacks he made during the presidential campaign on a federal district judge in California who was presiding over a class-action lawsuit involving Trump University.

Democrats said the president’s criticism of Judge Robart was a dangerous development. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Mr. Trump seemed “intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis.” Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state filed the suit that led to the injunction, said the attack was “beneath the dignity” of the presidency and could “lead America to calamity.”

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s outburst could weigh on the confirmation process for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

He’s like the crazy relative locked up in the root cellar.

Until now, Mr. Trump had been comparatively restrained about the multiple federal judges who have ruled against parts of his immigration order, even as he staunchly defended its legality. Some analysts had speculated that he did not want a repeat of the storm during the campaign when he accused Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of having a conflict of interest in the Trump University case because the judge’s family was of Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump, who had painted Mexicans as rapists and criminals, settled that case after the election.

But on Saturday, Mr. Trump let loose, and in the afternoon he unleashed another volley of attacks on the ruling. In one Twitter message, he questioned why a judge could “halt a Homeland Security travel ban,” which would allow “anyone, even with bad intentions,” to enter the country. An hour later, he complained about the “terrible decision,” saying it would let “many very bad and dangerous people” pour into the country.

Earlier, Mr. Trump had asserted, without evidence, that some Middle Eastern countries supported the immigration order. “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban,” he wrote. “They know that if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”

Crash crash crash! – as he knocks all the jars of pickles to the floor.



Checks and whatses now?

Feb 4th, 2017 4:49 pm | By

Jim Wright on Facebook on Trump’s demented idea that judges can’t overrule his decisions:

That moment as President when you discover that part about Checks and Balances most of us learned in 8th Grade.

Leaving aside the part where the President of the United States, the actual goddamned PRESIDENT, is sitting on the shitter at 5 in the morning petulantly complaining to the internet about the New York Times and people being mean to him and the fact that the job is WAY more complicated than he imagined (so tough in fact that he needed a vacation less than two weeks into it), leaving all that aside, there’s this:

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

“The opinion of…”

That opinion is a legal decision in accordance with the Constitution. That’s how our government is supposed to work.

“…of this so-called judge…”

There’s nothing so-called about it. James Robart is a US District Judge, a conservative appointed by George W. Bush in accordance with the Constitution and approved by the Senate in a vote of 99 to 0. Now either Trump believes in the US Constitution and the US process of government or he doesn’t. It’s just that goddamned simple. Federal Judges ruled against President Obama any number of times (it happens to all presidents), you didn’t see Barack on the shitter at 5AM tweeting “IT’S SO UNFAIR! UNFAIR!” like a fucking child.

But here’s the part which really matters:

“…which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country…”

What?

WHAT?

HOW does this judgement take law enforcement away from our country?

How? Be specific and show your work.

The press should grab onto this line, this one right here “essentially takes law enforcement away from our country,” and hold on like a pitbull.

Yes it should.



Trump voices outrage that a judge can overrule him

Feb 4th, 2017 4:31 pm | By

He’s terrifying. He apparently has no idea that judges can overrule him and that that’s just a normal part of how our government works. He thinks it’s lèse majesté. He has no clue how the state he’s head of which actually works.

What’s our country coming to, he asks, when a judge can put limits on what a president does. What our country is coming to when that happens is an example of what is often called “checks and balances,” and it is what is supposed to happen.

I wonder if he even remembers that two weeks ago he swore to uphold the Constitution. I wonder if he even knows what the Constitution is. I wonder if he realizes he can’t just ignore it if it gets in his way.

A judge could have ruled that Executive Order 9066, that authorized the internment of Japanese-American citizens during WW 2, was unconstitutional. Unfortunately no judge did so rule, and war panic allowed a gross violation of the rights of tens of thousands of people.

That’s a reckless and irresponsible lie. People still need visas, and people requesting visas are still vetted. Nobody is “pouring” because nobody was “pouring” in the first place. The president of the US is telling public lies about a federal judge in order to delegitimize his ruling.

Why is Trump such a reckless power-intoxicated maniac?



Down with evil, up with great

Feb 4th, 2017 12:24 pm | By

Today in Trump on Twitter.

Oh. Ok – I’ll get right on that.

But why the scare quotes? Or are they not scare quotes but actual quotes? But in that case who is the source? Lots of people have used the word “evil,” in lots of contexts – he needs to be more specific. Or maybe they are scare quotes, but then it’s hard to tell what he means. Also – if you’re looking for evil, to be frank, I can’t think of anyone in government in the US as thoroughly and conspicuously evil as he is. If he genuinely wants to keep evil out of our country he should instantly retire from public life. He’s not only evil in himself, he is the cause that evil is in other people – he validates and encourages evil.

Also, of course, it’s just a stupid, witless thing to say.

But he doesn’t mean “a country” – he means himself, acting unilaterally and with no check or oversight. He’s not the country. It’s frightening (and disgusting) that he thinks he is.

That’s the president of the US, calling a federal judge a “so-called judge.” There is no low too low for this evil man.

Presidents should not attack the free press. Presidents should not obsessively attack and lie about one of the country’s best newspapers, especially not on social media. Presidents should not carry on like angry babies.

Uh…calm down, dude.



Physician, heal thyself

Feb 4th, 2017 11:55 am | By

Trump has a command for us.

“Get smart” meaning what? What sure-fire action does he think there is that would prevent that? Rounding up all the “radical Islamic terrrorists” and expelling them? What sure-fire intelligence operation is there that can do that? Does he think we should round up and expel all Muslims? (He probably does, yes. He hasn’t quit put it that way yet, but it’s consistent with a lot that he has said, and with his temperament and “values” and love of bullying.) That would be logistically difficult and a violation of a whole raft of laws, national and international, plus it would be a leap into a moral abyss. And it wouldn’t do what he seems to think it would anyway.

It’s also ludicrous as risk management. It’s all the more ludicrous given the fact that the guy in Paris was stopped, by on the ground screening that did what it’s meant to do.

And then, it’s also shitty – given the fact that he hasn’t even publicly mentioned the terrorist attack by (allegedly) a white nationalist in Quebec that actually killed six men and injured more. Of course they were Muslims, so maybe he thinks it’s a start.



Down with this sort of thing

Feb 4th, 2017 11:20 am | By

That talk by Julie Bindel at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford (across the river from Manchester) went off without a hitch this afternoon. Friends who went say it was terrific.

There was a “protest” of sorts…but the sorts were pretty pathetic sorts.

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes and outdoor

They did get more than two people, eventually.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, shoes and outdoor

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I’m told the library volunteers took them tea. It’s a chilly day.



Alternative words

Feb 4th, 2017 10:33 am | By

I encounter a survivor of the Bowling Green Massacre.

If only I had better reading skills.