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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bad Times



Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), a confidant to Donald Trump, acknowledged late Saturday that he advised the president on how to carry out his desire to enact a “Muslim ban,” making it significantly harder for the administration to deny that the new executive order is anything but that.

“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Giuliani said in a Fox News interview. “He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare:
The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.
NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)
This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.
Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
"NOT THIS TIME, M-F-"

Natasha Bertrand reports at Business Insider:
President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum Saturday that removed the nation's top military and intelligence advisers as regular attendees of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, the interagency forum that deals with policy issues affecting national security.
The executive measure established Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon as a regular attendee, whereas the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence will be allowed to participate only "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed."
"The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history," Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday.
"The one person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view," McCain added. "So it’s of concern, this 'reorganization.'"
John Bellinger, an adjunct senior fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations and former legal adviser to the National Security Council, wrote on Saturday that the change is "unusual."
"In the Bush administration, Karl Rove would not attend NSC meetings," Bellinger said. "According to former Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, President Bush did not want to appear, especially to the military, to insert domestic politics into national security decision-making."
Trump issued a statement observing Holocaust Remembrance Day. It did not mention Jews. John Podhoretz writes at Commentary that he initially thought it was a sloppy error.
I won’t be making that mistake again.

Jake Tapper of CNN reported Saturday night that Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks defended and even celebrated the White House statement. The decision not to mention the Jews was deliberate, Hicks said, a way of demonstrating the inclusive approach of the Trump administration: “Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered…it was our honor to issue a statement in remembrance of this important day.”
No, Hope Hicks, and no to whomever you are serving as a mouthpiece. The Nazis killed an astonishing number of people in monstrous ways and targeted certain groups—Gypsies, the mentally challenged, and open homosexuals, among others. But the Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews. The Holocaust was about the Jews. There is no “proud” way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact. To universalize it to “all those who suffered” is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.