We’re at a point where the tools of some of the terrorists — knives, trucks — are so common that there’s not much of a “planning stage” where law enforcement can intervene. When an aspiring jihadist contemplates a truck attack instead of building a bomb, there’s no step of buying the chemicals for the bomb, no time spent building the bomb, no strange smells for neighbors to report, no chemicals for the dogs to sniff while searching his home, etc etera. The terrorist can suddenly decide to launch his attack during his commute; all he has to do is swerve onto a crowded sidewalk.
.. Finally, the nanny state could be good for something useful. If you call for overthrowing the government, the government will push back by the Al Capone approach — looking for any excuse including tax evasion to put you behind bars.
President Trump, Meet the Department of Justice; DOJ, President Trump
This morning, President Trump tweeted several times: “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” “The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court — & seek much tougher version!” “In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!”
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?
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; 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, Trump 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. Trump 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.
A Leader Has to Help His Team Help Him
Speaking of the extraordinary difficulty of working for this president…
When President Donald Trump addressed NATO leaders during his debut overseas trip little more than a week ago, he surprised and disappointed European allies who hoped — and expected — he would use his speech to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to mutual defense of the alliance’s members, a one-for-all, all-for-one provision that looks increasingly urgent as Eastern European members worry about the threat from a resurgent Russia on their borders.
What’s not is that the president also disappointed — and surprised — his own top national security officials by failing to include the language reaffirming the so-called Article 5 provision in his speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included.
It was not until the next day, Thursday, May 25, when Trump started talking at an opening ceremony for NATO’s new Brussels headquarters, that the president’s national security team realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences — without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change.
“They had the right speech and it was cleared through McMaster,” said a source briefed by National Security Council officials in the immediate aftermath of the NATO meeting. “As late as that same morning, it was the right one.”
How would you like to be H. R. McMaster at that moment? You make a recommendation, there seems to be a consensus on the national-security team, the president seems to agree… you check and re-check to make sure the decision is going the way you think it should… and then at the last second, without telling you, the president changes his mind and goes in the opposite direction.
Glenn Reynolds: I’ll believe it’s a crisis when they start acting like a crisis
For years, professor Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a., the Instapundit, has examined high-profile climate-change activists and responded skeptically, “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when they start acting like a crisis” — i.e., they believe the problem can only be solved with punitive measures like higher energy costs, but refuse to make any discernable sacrifices themselves.
There’s no shortage of glaring contradictions. When the Paris Conference certified itself as carbon-neutral, they didn’t count the carbon emissions of the 40,000 attendees traveling to and from the conference. One round-trip flight from New York to the West Coast or Europe has a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person. Richard Branson, who owns an airline, spoke at a march about climate change recently. Self-described environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio continues to crisscross countries in his private jet. Al Gore made $500 million selling his television network to Al Jazeera, a network owned and funded by the Qatari royal family, which enjoys the world’s third-largest oil and natural gas reserves. Gore has a giant home in Tennessee, although maybe not as big as Thomas Friedman’s 11,000-square-foot mansion in Maryland; he wrote in one of his books the construction of the giant house “prevented it from being redeveloped into a subdivision of a dozen more houses.” He’s willing to live in luxury to avert the carbon footprint of those other families.
The celebrities are the most glaring examples, but you can find non-famous cases of environmentalist hypocrisy, too. Residents of Park Slope, Brooklyn, filed a lawsuit against a bike lane. Cape Cod, Mass., residents fought the construction of a wind farm off the coast. Berkeley, Calif., residents fought the establishment of bus-only lanes on roads.
Now, in the years and years Americans have been debating climate change and what to do about it, have you ever heard an environmentalist say, “You know, you’re right. We really do look like we’re not practicing what we preach. We really do look like we’re telling other people to make sacrifices we’re not willing to make ourselves. The glaring hypocrisy of these figures really undermines the message we want to communicate”? If so, please point out those statements; I haven’t found many.
.. Environmentalists fume at the average voter’s inability to see the big picture and the long-term consequences. They think Americans are insufferably entitled, way too focused on their own individual material and financial circumstances, unwilling to see how their decisions collectively impact everyone else, and stubbornly resistant to data, numbers, and bad news. They insist that the collective shrugging belief that someone else will solve the problem someday is willful blindness. They fume that the status quo is one of worsening circumstances, but moving so slowly and gradually that most people can ignore it. By the time the crisis is really visible, it will be too late; the only way to mitigate the problem at that point will be drastic, unpopular action and widespread sacrifice. They believe that whatever pain they’re proposing now, it’s exponentially milder than the pain that awaits us if we do nothing.
Perhaps we should have a little sympathy. When they talk like this, they sound a lot like us conservatives when we talk about the ticking time bomb of our entitlement programs and the need for reform