And he’s sensitive about it. (And he’s stupid about it. The perfect response to news of a smaller inauguration crowd: Yeah, my supporters are at work on a weekday.)
Yesterday saw the confirmation of two retired Marine Corps generals, James Mattis and John F. Kelly, as secretaries of our Defense and Homeland Security departments respectively. Mattis needed a waiver because the law prohibits that job to anyone who served in the military within the preceding seven years. That law is rather silly on its face—would we hire an Attorney General from outside the legal profession/academy?—and reflects a distrust of an institution in which the American people themselves have a unique trust.
Meanwhile, Kelly needed no waiver to run a department with broad domestic law enforcement powers, which would appear contrary to the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act if one applied the same misguided logic.
Posted at 11:54 AM | Permalink
“Mad Dog” Mattis has been confirmed and sworn in as our new SecDef. His first message to the DoD demands “full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense,” a nod to his boss, but has this as well: “Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation.” He’s provided no daylight between himself and the spooks, who’ve been on bad terms with the new president.
Posted at 11:24 AM | Permalink
Trump will get most of the big things right. Here’s one:
President Trump signed an executive order late Friday giving federal agencies broad powers to unwind regulations created under the Affordable Care Act, which might include enforcement of the penalty for people who fail to carry the health insurance that the law requires of most Americans.
The executive order, signed in the Oval Office as one of the new president’s first actions, directs agencies to grant relief to all constituencies affected by the sprawling 2010 health-care law: consumers, insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, states and others. It does not describe specific federal rules to be softened or lifted, but it appears to give room for agencies to eliminate an array of ACA taxes and requirements.
However, some of these are embedded in the law, so it is unclear what latitude the executive branch will have.
“Potentially the biggest effect of this order could be widespread waivers from the individual mandate, which would likely create chaos in the individual insurance market,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, he said, the order suggests that insurers may have new flexibility on the benefits they must provide.
“This doesn’t grant any new powers to federal agencies, but it sends a clear signal that they should use whatever authority they have to scale back regulations and penalties. The Trump administration is looking to unwind the ACA, not necessarily waiting for Congress,” Levitt said.
The order, several paragraphs long, does not identify which of the many federal rules that exist under the ACA the new administration intends to rewrite or eliminate. In general, federal rules cannot be undone with a pen stroke but require a new rulemaking process to replace or delete them.
But in giving agencies permission to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay” ACA rules, the order appears to create room for the Department of Health and Human Services to narrow or gut a set of medical benefits that the ACA compels insurers to include in health plans that they sell to individuals and small businesses.
Expect the first sob story about lost medical coverage in 3, 2, 1 ...
Posted at 11:03 AM | Permalink
Steve Hayes on Trump’s speech:
Trump promised to work to get people off of welfare, and to employ them with new spending on government jobs.
“We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor,” he declared.
There was one mention of “freedom” and “liberty”, saving them from going unmentioned altogether. By contrast, George W. Bush mentioned “freedom” 27 times in his second inaugural address and “liberty” 15 times. In his first inaugural address,
Ronald Reagan mentioned “freedom” eight times and “liberty” three times.
And speaking of mentions, apart from his introductory remarks and a brief thanks to the Obamas regarding the transition, he didn’t quote or mention anyone by name. Past presidents have. Reagan made room for the Founders each time he was sworn in. Both Bushes managed to acknowledge those who came before them. Trump’s world consists of himself and two shapeless groups: his enemies and the victims who will become his beneficiaries.
On trade and the economy, Trump offered a zero-sum approach – with winners and losers, domestic and foreign. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” Trump said. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.”
Yes, he rick-rolled himself.
Posted at 05:22 PM | Permalink
Okay, all those people who said Donny didn’t write his own speech were wrong. The vast conspiracy of furriners and elitists against ordinary ’murricans has been exposed! “America First!” repeated ad nauseam ten different ways.
This was manipulation, pure and simple. He knew his audience: No one standing for hours in January in Washington was a doubter. He couldn’t stand to disappoint them. The billions of people listening around the world? He’ll deal with them later.
There was no mention of either his predecessor (other than with respect to the transition) or his general election opponent, for which he will be wrongly criticized. The only possible reaction of that crowd to their names would be booing and catcalling. He did them a favor by leaving them out of this.
We may yet be a great nation again, but we have another small-minded president.
Posted at 12:35 PM | Permalink
Donny responded to the news that he was the least popular new president of the last four decades by questioning (“rigged”) the polls. Better approach: Just point out that the most popular presidents when inaugurated were Carter and Obama, arguably the worst presidents of all time.
Posted at 09:15 PM | Permalink
I’ve gone easy on the “leftist media frenzy over Trump” stories, but in the last 24 hours they’ve gotten the vapors over his Agriculture nominee praying to end a drought, falsely accused his Energy nominee of not knowing that that department runs nuclear weapons program, and called his possible science adviser nominee, a pioneering computer scientist and Ivy League professor, of being “anti-intellectual.” Criminy.
Posted at 11:10 AM | Permalink
No, Donny, the American military doesn’t show its greatness by marching through Washington or flying over New York. It has shown its greatness by doing those things where we’ve liberated our allies (Paris) or defeated our enemies (Berlin). How about Havana?
Posted at 12:17 PM | Permalink
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said he was “sobbing with gratitude” about the news that President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera and said he would play Alexander Hamilton at a Chicago performance for Lopez Rivera.
Posted at 12:08 PM | Permalink
On January 24, 1975, these self-styled freedom fighters planted a ten-pound dynamite bomb in a dining room at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan because, they said, “reactionary corporate executives” would be dining there. Harold Sherbourne, Frank Connor, Alejandre Berger, and James Gezork were killed that day. Civilians all, they lost their lives to the revolutionary vanity of López Rivera and his bandit friends. Then, as now, a tiny fraction of Puerto Ricans support the FALN’s nationalist ambitions.
If Donny had any guts he’d do two things: First, tell Obama his presence at noon on Friday is not required. Second, ask Congress to curb the pardon power, which is clearly being abused, through Constitutional amendment. I expect neither will happen.
Posted at 12:07 PM | Permalink