Winding up their third hapless week, the Trump Administration did not disappoint onlookers, crashing and careening through statecraft, free enterprise and the constitution before skidding to a steaming rest in front of Nordstrom’s. Trump’s greatest gift to make us all great again is to repeatedly demonstrate that no amount of reckless speed and utter bullshit can negotiate the learning curves of good governance. And as a must, I again ask how NASCAR nation and the rest of us would be assessing this demolition derby were Barack Obama behind the wheel.
Biff Tannen has returned, back from the future
Reliably channeling every crass bully we ever knew, Trump continued his ignorant sniping at new nemesis Federal District Judge James Robart last week, in one sweet tweet going so far as to say “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril . . . if something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Trump’s tirades about the “so-called judge” left SCOTUS-nominee Neil Gorsuch “disheartened . . . disappointed” and yet not disqualified. After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard Team Trump’s appeal from their embarrassing defeat on his Muslim travel ban, Trump used more Biff Tannen tactics in public, stating “If these judges wanted to, in my opinion, help the court, in terms of respect for the court, they do what they should be doing . . . (A) bad high school student would understand this.”
Notwithstanding such crude attempts to work the refs, the 9th Circuit ruled 3-0 against the Trump travel ban in a stinging rebuke. Batting away all nettlesome arguments, the Court ruled it did indeed enjoy appellate jurisdiction, that the States of Washington and Minnesota indeed had standing and further, a likelihood of success; the three-judge panel was not amused by most if not all Trumpian arguments.
The Government indeed asserts that it violates the separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge,” said the kindly Court, “(T)here is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.” This is the analog of all three judges telling a litigant, “Man, are you stupid.”
“SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE” tweeted Trump within seconds of his humiliation, proving the Court 100% correct yet again.
From Russia With Love
While the legal dog-and-pony disaster occupied the center ring all week, off to the extreme right we found national security adviser Mike Flynn potentially caught in a snare of criminally large proportions. As reported and sourced nine times in the Washington Post “(F)lynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.” Ruh-roh.
While I’ve previously written fine detail on this area in The Blue Route (Logan’s Runaround, the GOP’s Atomic Amateur Hour, 3-16-15), suffice it to say what the genius General here did caused the first high-profile departure from Team Trump, to say nothing of chancing a stay in Leavenworth. As it so happens, its now verified Flynn has been having very cozy phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak dating back well before the November 8 elections.
It further appears Flynn began his flirtation with Russia and their military intelligence, the infamous GRU, back in 2013 when director of our own Defense Intelligence Agency. Pushed out of that gig in 2014, Flynn became a rabid anti-Islamist and Obama-hater, going so far as to appear in Moscow on behalf of the state-run propaganda arm Russian Television (RT), and dining at a lavish ceremony next to Vladimir Putin himself.
Perhaps most embarrassing to the new in-crowd, Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and VPOTUS Mike Pence all initially went on live feeds weeks ago, denying the subject of sanctions was every discussed pre-inauguration, and vouching for Flynn.
While the FBI and related investigators mull all this Flynn mess over, and he finds a ghost-writer for his memoir, I’m again compelled to wonder aloud what type of treatment the previous POTUS or any of his personnel would have suffered under similar-smelling circumstances,
White House to America: go buy Ivanka’s stuff
For our purposes, the last shoe to drop this week was coincidentally at Nordstrom. In response to the retailer’s business decision to drop Ivanka Trump-labeled clothing and accessories, Daddy Trump tweeted “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
Naturally causing a small stir, as this kind of thing hasn’t happened with a POTUS since 1789, or, like, ever. Pugnacious spox Sean Spicer dived into the fray, claiming “This was less about his family’s business and an attack on his daughter . . . this is a direct attack on his policies and her name.” Nordstrom is attacking Trump’s policies?
Never to be outdone, very special counselor Kellyanne Conway made things worse by standing in front of the official White House logo whilst telling America, through Fox & Friends, “Go buy Invanka’s stuff . . .it’s a wonderful line, I own some of it.” They know we can hear them, right?
Conway’s HSN moment got her a written rebuke from the GOP chair of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), but she was dismissive, asserting “the President supports me 100%.”
Speaking to the Nord-storm from a respectable perch, George W. Bush’s most senior ethics lawyer Richard Painter called the episode reprehensible and egregious, referring to Trump’s remarks as intimidation. “We haven’t elected a king or a führer or whatever. He’s a president. There’s a Constitution,” said Painter, now a law professor at the University of Minnesota, “And the problem is the members of Congress are not willing to, at least the Republicans are not yet willing, to face the fact that there needs to be a fundamental attitude adjustment on the part of the President if he wants to keep this job.”
So then, at the close of week three, huge chunks of the federal government seems to be in the hands of folks with near-zero knowledge base or legal skills, yet convinced rules are for other people.
Tune for next week’s hot topic, How Dunning-Kruger Destroyed America in Just 30 days
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