I must have too much time on my hands because on Friday I watched Donald Trump’s entire statement and press conference from the Rose Garden. It went on for about an hour. The speech, if you can call it that, was an oral flatulence word salad that often failed to make sense, contained a plethora of long debunked lies which have earned bottomless Pinocchios from the Washington Post and resembled watching the ball in a pinball machine careen off objects on its inevitable plunge toward the lowest point available. Let’s explore.
Like any Trump oration we were treated to tales of how great Trump is; in his mind anyway. The purpose of the appearance was supposed to be informing the nation that he was signing the legislation to keep the government open (he never did actually get around to saying that – a very telling tale) and that he was declaring a national emergency so he could move funding around for his wall (which he repeatedly said Mexico would pay for – I guess I wasn’t aware that Mexico is an American taxpayer).
Trump’s “justification” is that the situation on the southern border constitutes a national emergency which threatens American national security. The press challenged him on the facts since statistics generated by federal agencies defy that “logic”. (In plain English Trump is lying.)
In his own rambling he contradicted the emergency status. Just off the top of my head I quickly came up with ten existing situations that could much more justifiably be portrayed as a national emergency. They are in no particular order and I’m certain these are not even the ten most glaring examples. Here they are: mass incarceration, incompetency in the White House, climate change, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, “low level” white collar crime (i.e. payday lenders), affordable housing, a living wage, mass shootings and foreign interference in elections.
What brought this about was the spanking he received from Nancy Pelosi over the last two months or so. In late December both chambers of Congress passed legislation keeping the government open and giving Trump $1.6 billion toward border security. Senate Republicans went along with the deal because they had received assurances that Trump would sign it. When the right wing media got ahold of the proposal and criticized Trump he caved leading to the longest government shutdown in American history. That’s right; this self-proclaimed brilliant businessman, deal maker and “Very stable genius” caved to a bunch of TV talking heads and went back on his word to his enablers. The shutdown ended without a cent of additional border security funding and a conference committee was put in place to come up with a deal. That deal included $1.375 billion in border security funding; $225 million less than the deal Trump welched on. The bottom line is that Trump shutdown the government for 35 days, disrupted the economy for at least 60 days and got $225 million less in the shuffle. That was a spanking from Nancy Pelosi that cost his cause $225 million. On the bright side at least it’s not a campaign finance violation, is a lot less than $130,000 and we weren’t exposed to the sight of an obese old man in his tighty whities.
There is a substantial chance Trump’s plan will be stopped. By the time you read this there may be multiple lawsuits filed and there certainly will be more before the week is out. There is also the very real chance that Congress will take action to stop Trump. Trump outlined a possible legal path that will end in the Supreme Court where he felt comfortable that he would prevail. I wouldn’t be so certain!
I envision him losing 5-4, 7-2 or 9-0 in the three most likely scenarios. The Constitution and the applicable statute are clearly on the side of the four liberal justices who will want to rule against Trump. John Roberts, like almost all chief justices, is concerned with the legacy of “his Court” that gets me to 5-4. Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito may well be thinking of the future. Upholding Trump’s action effectively negates Congress’ power of the purse and creates an imperial presidency. Unlike Trump, they have been around for a while and are long term players. They know what comes around, goes around. If this becomes precedent what would stop a future Democratic president from simply moving money around to fulfill a campaign promise that the right found ridiculous? I’m certain Trump feels that Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh owe him and are therefore in his pocket. They may not be on an issue with such profound and fundamental repercussions. They already have the lifetime jobs they wanted. Trump’s not going to advocate their impeachment (there are ground to impeach Kavanaugh on) so what can he do to hurt them?
As further proof of the seriousness of the emergency on the southern border after Trump embarrassed himself in the Rose Garden he ducked into the Oval Office for a few minutes to sign a few documents and then hopped Air Force One for a trip down to Mar-a-Lago. I’m sure the trip will include golf in which score is kept by counting the number of strokes. This will only add validity to one of the new truisms in America: when Trump mentions a number he is lying.
Here is my bottom line advice to Trump. It is a Harry Truman quote, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
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