The President did not “order [a] ban on bump stocks” today (Washington Examiner). He did not “move to ban ‘bump stocks'” (CNN Politics). Nor did he “take executive action to ban bump stocks” (USA Today). He did not “say he signed [a] memo to ban bump stocks” (Bloomberg). In fact he directed Attorney General Sessions to propose regulations on bump stocks, in other words he ordered up a commission to study the issue, with no deadline for action. Maybe it will come to something, but very likely not. For some reason, headline writers from CNN to Bloomberg to USA Today–as mainstream as it gets–are still giving President Trump more than the benefit of the doubt. They are jumping far beyond what he actually announced, which is not helpful to anyone hoping for actual changes in laws. The misleading headlines might even be unfair to NRA executives hoping for a good night’s sleep, because the president, as far as I can tell, gave them no real reason to toss and turn.
Update: Shame on the NY Times, which now has this as their top website headline: “Trump Calls For Ban on Bump Stocks.” The news story itself makes clear that he did not do that.
Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions spoke some truth yesterday in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. He remarked that while the Trump campaign was sometimes “brilliant,” it was also “a form of chaos every day from day one.” He did not say and hardly needed to say that the chaos has not yet stopped and is unlikely to stop so long as Trump is president. The chaos has taken a particularly ominous form: judicial integrity and independence are clearly unacceptable to our president. Corollary to that: Trump seems unable to either imagine or accept that we Americans are citizens, not his vassals or supplicants. The Fourteenth Amendment spoke of the “privileges and immunities” that everyone born in the United States possesses, but Trump has apparently either not heard of this part of the US Constitution or not accepted that it is more than “flotsam” (as Scalia flippantly and disgracefully claimed). Will the “system” work, that is, will legitimate moral and political authority be able to reestablish itself? That depends on hard choices being made by members of the legislative and judicial branches to check Trump’s abuses, and also on the capacity of principal players within the executive branch (Rod Rosenstein comes to mind) to act with integrity and compel Trump to acquiesce to their integrity or else fire them. And then the survival of our republic will depend on Congress and the people, very likely in public protests, to denounce and oppose Trump with enough force to restore just order from chaos.
One reality of chaos in 2017 America is that we all risk whiplash from Trump’s daily assertion that his personal will and whim must be obeyed. Our duty as citizens is to do our part to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitutional democracy and our republican, little r, form of government. Trump’s agenda is personal arbitrary rule. He claimed that he would put his business expertise and dealmaking excellence to work on behalf of the “forgotten men and women.” Well, the stock market is certainly up, so some have benefited (so far) but Trump’s focus and happiness and glee seems mostly about being head of a crime family, as far as I can tell. If I get arrested for shoplifting in China and he personally intervenes on my behalf (see the UCLA team members who returned to California today) I would owe him a personal thank you. Otherwise, I owe him no special loyalty and no thanks until he actually does his job as a public servant. My debt, like his, is to the principles and ideals of our “lively experiment,” as historian Sidney Mead put it. And as M.L. King wrote in his last book, “where do we go from here: chaos or community?” We are capable of better, capable of moving toward community, and there are some reasons for hope, but I expect our president (and his enablers, including foreign bots) will exploit every last opportunity to increase grievances and rub salt in wounds. It will be up to us to keep our sense of proportion and good will towards one another, and resist the false choices and poison chalices Trump will surely place before us.
According to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the President, of course, “weighed in” on a public statement that misled (that’s polite language) the public about his son Donald Jr.’s meeting with Russian and Russian-American operatives (spies, perhaps). Trump Sr., reports say, dictated a very inaccurate statement, “as any father would.”
So, to retrace, 1) no collusion; 2) uh, maybe we talked about adoptions; 3) oh, OK, we tried to collude but so what because we failed; 4) who among us would not collude! #MAGA!
Points for consistency, though: it’s all in the Family, which liberal snowflakes don’t understand, and quibbling about obstruction of justice is disloyal and ungodly. How dare anybody question the legitimacy of #45? The big issue for August, so far, seems to me to be whether the Senate will go into official recess and thus let the president fire and replace his loyal but not bada-beep loyal enough Attorney General.
Could not have happened to a more deserving, or innocent, victim, depending on your POV. Just as soon as Attorney General Sessions announced his plan to reinstate civil asset forfeitures on the grand scale he has been dreaming of since he was an Eagle Scout, President Trump turned the tables on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions by seizing his dignity.
It’s nice that Sen. Lindsay Graham has tweeted a persuasive defense of Attorney General Sessions. But if Sen. McConnell allows the Senate to go into recess, enabling Trump to make a recess appointment who will fire Mueller, McConnell will be remembered for that cowardly act as much or more than anything else in his long Senate career. And it’s nice that Rush Limbaugh finds the way Trump is treating Sessions to be “discomforting” and “unseemly.” But Rush, is that all you got? Are you really “sending your best” against Trump’s attack on our constitutional republic? Rush, why not man up and call out Trump for the unpresidential and un-American tyrant he is? Trump is no friend of principled, limited-government conservatism. Wake up and smell the tyranny, Rush, before it’s too late. When Trump comes for you, will you have any legs to stand on? By the way, if this were just about warfare between Democrats and Republicans, enabling Trump would be less odious and cowardly. But Trump could care less about loyalty to a political party or a governing philosophy or an ideology. It’s all about him and his money and his glory and his vengeful self. Enabling a person like that has little upside, to say the least.
General Sessions says nobody has a sense of humor any more. Not true. Says folks oughta give him a break. Also not true. If he would lay off the sativa, which apparently riles people up, and tried some mellow indica, he might settle down and quit disrespecting places and preferences that make him say “ick.” Some of us laugh and also say “ick” the minute we see Jeff Sessions’ face, but do we make a big fuss about it and try to lock him up?
I have followed the advice of many talking heads and taken a deep, deep breath. Then I exhaled. Now Jeff Sessions should give it up. Zero tolerance for lawbreaking , and zero tolerance for whatever he thought deviant, have been Sessions’ way of life. Just roll the tapes from the late 1990s of Sessions fanning himself over Bill Clinton’s turpitude. So, see you later, you bad dude, you’ve maxed out your moral credit and exhausted the tolerance and patience of sensible freedom-and-justice-loving Americans.
Attorney General Sessions, we now know, is a bad hombre. If he is a true Southerner and has any sense of honor, recusing himself from investigations of Russian ties with the Trump campaign is not enough. He must self-deport pronto. Senator Al Franken did not force then-Senator Sessions to be a lying liar by asking him questions about Russia. Sessions’ false statements are all on him, and to say otherwise buys into the kind of permissive relativism that Mr. Sessions has attacked for many years. The happiness and perhaps even glee of Democrats here is nevertheless not relevant to the problem: if an Attorney General is not believable as the champion of impartial justice, the jig is up.