The overnights

A person can’t have a life these days, if all these things are going to be happening after she firmly closes the laptop for the day and tries to think about other things. Donnie from Queens, do me a favor and take the evenings off.

But I shouldn’t complain. Rachel Maddow had to do a second broadcast, at midnight her time.

So, the Times on the firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates:

Ms. Yates’s order was a remarkable rebuke by a government official to a sitting president, and it recalled the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case.

At 9:15 p.m., Ms. Yates received a hand-delivered letter at the Justice Department that informed her that she was fired. Signed by John DeStefano, one of Mr. Trump’s White House aides, the letter informed Ms. Yates that “the president has removed you from the office of Deputy Attorney General of the United States.”

Two minutes later, the White House officials lashed out at Ms. Yates in a statement issued by Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

“Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the statement said.

The government is not an athletic competition. It’s not a dick-swinging contest. It’s not supposed to be a street brawl, but currently that is what it is.

Ms. Yates, like other senior government officials, was caught by surprise by the executive order and agonized over the weekend about how to respond, two Justice Department officials involved in the weekend deliberations said. Ms. Yates considered resigning but she told colleagues she did not want to leave it to her successor to face the same dilemma.

By Monday afternoon, Ms. Yates added to a deepening sense of anxiety in the nation’s capital by publicly confronting the president with a stinging challenge to his authority, laying bare a deep divide at the Justice Department, within the diplomatic corps and elsewhere in the government over the wisdom of his order.

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers.

In other words, what we have here may be an unlawful order. Those two words carry a heavy freight of history – think Nürnberg, think My Lai, think “I was just following orders.”

The president decided quickly: She has to go, he told them.

The official statement from Mr. Spicer accused Ms. Yates of failing to fulfill her duty to defend a “legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States” that had been approved by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

How does one deal with the claim that the order was “designed to protect the citizens of the United States” when the mechanism involved is so very invisible? It’s like passing a law that no one may combine cheese and bananas in one sandwich and saying it’s “designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Just saying it in your head doesn’t make it true or a reasonable belief. It’s a fantasy that slamming the door closed on seven random majority-Muslim countries will do anything to “protect the citizens of the United States.” Trump must think, in that tiny little cupboard he uses for a brain, that a mere show of “toughness” will do the trick. It won’t do the trick: it will do the opposite.

“It is time to get serious about protecting our country,” Mr. Spicer said in the statement. He accused Democrats of holding up the confirmation of Mr. Sessions for political reasons. “Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”

“Dangerous places”? What is that even supposed to mean? And why those seven and not Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Nigeria? Not to mention the fact that the vetting already is “tough.”

I’m seeing people saying this is a cunning plan of Bannon’s, to distract us with a Shock so that he can get away with something much worse while we’re still staggering around dealing with the Shock. I don’t find that very convincing. I think it’s more that he’s getting his fun while he can, because he can tell they don’t have much time.

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