Category Archives: Donald Trump

But Don’t Call Them Czars

Eight years ago, when President Obama took office, Faux News and others spent a good chunk of their time complaining about President Obama’s use of “czars.”  By czar, they meant members of the White House staff who did not have to face Senate confirmation who were assigned responsibility for certain policy areas.  Now that Republicans are back in the White House, they are about to learn the same lesson that the George W. Bush and the Obama Administrations knew — that the White House staff serves an important role in a functioning government.  But, you can be pretty sure that these positions will not be referred to as czars by Fox News.

There are several reasons why Presidents tend to depend on “staff” advisors rather than executive branch people subject to Senate confirmation.  The first reason has to do with the nature of Senate confirmations.

Most of our allies are parliamentary democracies.  While there is some distinction between the appointees to ministries (mostly members of parliament) and the Prime Ministers personal staff, the bottom line in most parliamentary democracies is that parliament does not individually confirm members of the government.  Depending on the country, parliament may have a single vote to approve the entire government (but, in others, the government takes power without any formal vote).  This process puts the full government in place on Day 1 of the new government. Continue Reading...

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Day 1 of Hell

Two executive orders were issued tonight. The first basically prohibits all government agencies from implementing any rules. They can send nothing to CFR. Remember, while Congress passes laws, it’s the agencies that implement them, and they do so via regs sent to CFR for public review and comment and then implementation. Full memo after the jump.

The second order basically allows Ben Carson to do anything possible to prevent the ACA from functioning. Again, full text after the jump. Welcome to North Korea — they are dismantling the Federal government, just like they said they would. And in answer to the question: why are you publishing this? I say: so that there is a record.

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Easier Said than Done

While November was disappointing, the Democrats did gain seats in the Senate.  As a result, the Republicans only hold a 52-48 majority.  If three Republican Senators vote no on any confirmation or bill, it fails.  We are already seeing signs that the next two years could get very interesting — even if the Democrats are more responsible in using the filibuster than Republicans were.

Right now, the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The Republicans have never been able to exactly what they don’t like about the Affordable Care Act other than that it was passed by a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.   For seven years, the Republicans have been asserting the need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  While the Republicans have been relatively unified on their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have never been able to reach a consensus on how to replace it.

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The End

This year’s elections saw a lot of unusual, unexpected, and unprecedented developments.  So nobody should be shocked at any unexpected developments when the electoral college meets on Monday.  Having said that, Democratic activists have been barking up the wrong tree by emphasizing the national popular vote.  The reason why this strategy was guaranteed to backfire is the nature of the electoral college.

The electors are not randomly chosen people.  They are local politicians and activists who are nominated by their state party.  In short, they are not the people who are likely to surrender control of the White House to the other party.  By the rules that are currently in place, the Republicans have won the White House.  So while, the Constitution, theoretically, allows these electors to vote for Hillary, practically these electors will not vote for Hillary.

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A New Foreign Policy??

For Democrats and, especially for those progressives who voted for third party candidates or stayed home, the last four weeks have been a reminder that there are significant differences between the policies of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  The nominees to fill many cabinet positions are people who are either clueless about their responsibilities (Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development) or actually hostile to significant parts of the core responsibilities of their departments (EPA, Labor, Justice, Interior, Education, Health and Human Services).   The past eight years might not have been perfect for the progressive agenda and Secretary Clinton might not have been pushing as much of the progressive agenda as some would have wanted, but it is clear that the Trump Administration will be working to reverse not just the last eight years, but much of the past fifty to eighty years.

While the nominees for most positions so far seem to be the dream team of the far right, the current rumors for Secretary of State represent a nightmare for even Republicans.  Since World War II, the two parties have shared a common basic foreign policy.  For both parties, the original foreign policy was to contain communism and to promote stability by means of adding even more countries to regional defense agreements.   Within each of the two parties, there was a disagreement about how much we should emphasize promoting human rights and democracy as opposed to seeking to stabilize government willing to work with us on our overall goal of defeating the Soviet Union.

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Protecting Democracy

democracy-header1Every day, more nominees. I never thought I’d actually be rooting for Mittens so there will be at least one adult in the room.

If you’d told me that “President of these United States” was an entry-level elected position, I would have laughed.

Who could have predicted that the Weekly World News would have gotten more right over its years of publication than what is shown on most news stations. (At the very end of this post is the best story EVER about the Weekly World News.) Continue Reading...

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Transitions

The death of Fidel Castro on Friday is a reminder that the United States is not the only country going through a transition.  In some Western democracies, the transition period is very short.  For example, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, the main opposition party has a “shadow” cabinet.  After an election in which power changes hands, it is typically a matter of days for the new Prime Minister to officially name the members of the new government (with only minor changes from the shadow cabinet).  In the United Kingdom, this means that after a Thursday election, the new ministers take charge on the following Monday (assuming that there is not a hung parliament).

Transition periods are more complex in dictatorships (even ones that are nominally democratic).  As Russia has proven over the past decades (and China proved before then), titles are less important than who really has the power.  It  has been eight years since Fidel officially stepped down and his brother Raul took over as President of Cuba.  However, Raul is now 86 and has also stated that he will be stepping down at the end of his current term in 2018.  The question is who comes next after Raul.

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Who “Cost” the Election?

I spent Election Day working for the county, greeting voters, putting those voters in one of six lines to make things move more quickly. Our polling place saw about 2200 voters that day, plus 184 absentee ballots. From that one polling place, there is a lot of insight about what went wrong.

The loss was obvious when the tape was run a little past 9, indicating that while Clinton had won the vote, turnout wasn’t high enough and the percentage wasn’t big enough. This ended up being the pattern across both the state of Pennsylvania and the country at large.

First, an anecdote that explains something. The voter who came out from voting grinning ear to ear, proud. Told me that although a lifelong Democrat who had never voted for a Republican, she proudly voted for Donald Trump. Why? “I did all my research because I wanted to be really sure and I think Clinton went bad when she shot all her partners at the Rose Law Firm and then Vince Foster.” When told that never happened, the response was: “Yes it did. I read it on the internet.” Continue Reading...

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What Now?

As it all sinks in….at the polls yesterday, I heard from Democrats who were voting for Trump for a variety of reasons. I have looked at the preliminary exit poll data and the turnout numbers and think I have an idea of how this happened. The final cross tabs might change things but bottom line — people who NEVER vote came out in droves. And what they voted against was the same thing that gave Britain Brexit — their hatred of modernity.  So what do we do? While we organize (and re-read James Madison’s Federalist Paper #10) we wait somewhat quietly to see if in his first hundred days he DOES:

  • deport massive numbers of undocumented human beings,
  • ban Muslims,
  • repeal the Affordable Care Act,
  • add a Supreme who will vote to keep Citizen’s United, repeal gay marriage, ban all abortions even to save the life of the mother
  • cut taxes for only the weathly
  • leave NAFTA
  • et, al.

Because if he does, THEN we know the plan.

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Bridgegate — Who needs to be locked up?

For the past four months, Donald Trump has been leading chants of lock her up.  Who knew that the her was Chris Christie’s deputy chief of staff.  Earlier today, a federal jury found that Christie’s deputy chief of staff and his hand picked appointee to the New York Port Authority were found guilty of violating multiple federal laws in connecting with shutting down I-95 near Fort Lee, New Jersey.  Throughout the trial, the federal prosecutor’s laid out a convincing case that Chris Christie was aware of and approved of the decision to shut down I-95.  Of course, Chris Christie is also the person in charge of Donald Trump’s transition team if the country goes insane on Tuesday.  In what universe can anybody who knows anything about what is happening in this country think that Donald Trump — he of the multiple conflicts of interests who has never followed the rules in his life — and Chris Christie can be trusted to clean up corruption in government.  That’s putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

While it is probably too late to hope for one more piece of investigative journalism into the charade that is Donald Trump before the election, I can’t wait until some journalist after the election does a thorough analysis of Trump’s FEC reports.  Between designating Trump Organization employees to do work on campaign, assigning vacant Trump Organization office space to house the campaign, and holding multiple campaign events (doubling as free advertisement for the Trump Organization) at Trump Organization holdings, the FEC reports have shown and will continue to show a large amount of expenditures going to the Trump Organization.  How much (particular as a percentage of the amount that Trump “contributed” to his campaign) of the total campaign funds ended back in Trump’s pocket will be interesting to see.  Who knew that a business could make a profit running for president?

The shame with ninety-six hours or so left in the campaign is how much Trump’s blather and blatant falsehoods have sucked the air out of  the room for the issues that deserve serious debate.  “Repeal and replace” without any details about the replace is not a solution to what is wrong with out health care system.  Building a wall and deporting everyone is not a realistic plan for dealing with immigration.  Trickle down economics is not a program to reinvigorate the middle class.  Banning all Muslims is not a solution for terrorism.  This country deserved a real campaign.  Instead, we are focused on a person who is unfit to be President as a holding place for folks who are tired of gridlock in Washington but do not understand why (hint it’s the party of no) it exists.

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