Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda

It has been over two weeks since the last executive action (posted February 9) and now we have a new one. With so many public comments from the president and his minions about a soon to be released new executive order on immigration to replace the disaster issued earlier, one could have expected this to be that long-awaited order. Not so. This one is about something entirely different – regulatory reform.

On first reading, I had two immediate observations: 1) the gist of this order is to review all regulations as a kind of “house cleaning” action, and 2) creating a new position – Regulatory Reform Officer – and a new Regulatory Reform Task Force in each agency of the Federal government seems to actually increase the layers of federal bureaucracy, a sort of ironic contradiction to the idea of “limited government” so commonly cited by Republicans as a goal.

On the one hand, I support careful, regular review of regulations to be sure the ones in place are needed and effective. On the other hand, I do not trust this administration to be the ones to determine which regulations are needed or to define what effective means. It is entirely possible this systematic review will eliminate very important regulations just because one or more various entities cited in the order for consultation “…entities significantly affected by Federal regulations, including State, local, and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations, and trade associations” don’t like the regulations.

It remains to be seen if some contingents of the press will be constantly monitoring regulatory changes. Most often in the past, it seems, when significant new regulations are issued, there is some attention given to them, but I do not recall the same level of scrutiny when regulations are dropped or modified slightly. Without some reporters working this beat, it will be much more difficult to track changes, but I expect some watchdog organizations will be doing so.

Meanwhile, we wait for the new immigration order yet to come. And, maybe some new proclamations. Even routine proclamations have not been forthcoming the past couple of weeks. Is February that dead a month for nation day of this or that? Or, is this administration too absorbed in its own agenda and crises to worry about such “trivial” matters? I would think advocacy groups would still be lobbying the president’s staff to issue proclamations. I’m just curious why we have seen none for so long.

Executive Order posted February 24, 2017.

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Malignant Narcissist

After yesterday’s post,  I had not expected to be following up on the topic of the president’s mental competence quite so soon, but today I ran across the most detailed and helpful explanation of POTUS 45’s mental illness I have seen to date in a blog post by Shane Snow. It states the case for why so many mental health professionals are publicly diagnosing POTUS 45 as a Malignant Narcissist in spite of their profession’s “Goldwater Rule”. A leading American psychologist, John D. Gartner, is quoted extensively in this fascinating, deep explanation of what a Malignant Narcissist is and how POTUS 45 fits.

Another article in this vein – actually it fits both the threads I’m following (mental health & impeachment) – appeared yesterday in the Independent. It is by Siobhan Fenton and is about the president’s erratic behavior causing concern enough in Congress that several members are looking more carefully at the 25th Amendment to see how it might be used to remove the president from office legally without impeachment.

[Ed. note: The rest of this post is a bit of a deviation from my blog’s stated purposes.]

For my own sanity, I need to read other takes on this president. Today I found a few helpful perspectives and I’ve decided to share them here.  The first one I offer as worth reading is by James S. Gordon published in the Guardian. In it he reminds us of the historically useful “fool” or “jester” and makes the case for considering POTUS 45 in that role. He could serve to call attention to our own failings.

A second, from the Huffington Post written by Jo Confino, is a “Zen Master’s Advice” on how to deal with the erratic president. I particularly like the focus on non-violence and mindfulness.

Finally, in the category of “what we can do about it”, an article by George Lakey in yes! magazine entitled How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State provides historical perspective that might be useful for our responses to our current danger. Once again the focus on collective, non-violent actions as being key to success jumps out at me.

Well, that’s enough for today.

Mental Competence Questions

In honor of the presidential press conference today that several media sites have labeled a “meltdown”, I am posting this brief note.

What follows is a list of seven articles from different sources, more or less randomly selected, having something to do with the mental health and/or competence of POTUS 45. I have thought for a long time – even well before the primaries – there is reason to be concerned about his capacity to function rationally, and therefore he is not fit to serve. These more recent writings are only confirming my own, admittedly NON-mental-health-expert, opinion.

Unfortunately the world, not only the country, is at high risk as a result.

The articles are listed alphabetically by source:

 

Anything But Quiet

This is day six since the last posting of any presidential action on the White House website. In some respects, it was inevitable the orders, memoranda, etc. were going to appear less frequently, but this is a precipitous drop for this president. Could it be the president is otherwise occupied (distracted)?

I don’t intend to write about every sordid detail of this administrations’ bungling activities, so will simply mention the firing of Michael Flynn, now former National Security Advisor, and today’s news of the nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrawing his name from consideration under fire from an increasing number of Republicans, as examples of the incompetence, corruption, and floundering of this administration. These are just two very recent examples of the chaos that has ensued. Today’s Non Sequitur comic by Wiley Miller seems particularly appropriate. Funny, but not funny.

Because the past few weeks have been such a disaster and it promises to get worse not better, I’ve decided to expand the topics of focus for this blog, at least for a while. In addition to writing about presidential executive actions (and in some cases consequences of them such as court cases) and a few of my own comments/observations/opinions, I intend to follow two threads of media attention that appear to be growing public concerns, or at least increasing in news coverage by many media outlets. One is the mental health or mental competence of the president. The other is the numerous calls for accountability of the president or calls for outright impeachment. Neither of these are new. In fact, both have been present in the press at least since the election, but there does seem to be greater frequency of stories being written or produced on these two topics.

While at this point much of this is speculation, ultimately either situation could lead to removal from office. The Constitution does allow for removal for incompetence, presumably including mental incompetence. The Constitution also has two Emoluments clauses that could be used to impeach the president.

In a future post, I will address some of what I have read and am following regarding the president’s mental health. It is an active topic with a number of mental health professionals taking public positions in spite of the long followed “Goldwater Rule” that basically prohibits such professionals from diagnosing anyone, particularly a public figure, without actually interviewing them personally.

Today, on the emoluments issue, I will point to an interesting article by Judd Legum of Think Progress on how POTUS 45 can be held accountable for violating the Constitution without the help of the Republican Congress that is currently a major road block. The gist of the article is a report on potential legal actions that could be taken by a state’s Attorney General. What the article points out is that public official has a much better case for proving “standing” as required by law than a private individual or corporation would. Legum also suggests the state of New York might be the ideal place for this to get done. Washington, D. C. might also be a likely success location.

I do not expect the Congress to do anything about this president’s myriad conflicts of interest anytime soon, so will be watching to see if any Attorney General decides to act on behalf of the people.

 

Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice

I find this order both routine and curiously interesting. It rescinds an order signed by President Obama less than a month previous (January 13, 2017.) As best I can tell, only two changes are made and they are in the U. S. States Attorneys listed in order of succession.

Obama’s order lists them in this order:

(a) United States Attorney for the District of Columbia;

(b) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and

(c) United States Attorney for the Central District of California.

POTUS 45 has the same one as (b) but replaces the other two as follows:

(a)  United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia;

(b)  United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and

(c)  United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Not knowing anything about these particular attorneys, I don’t know what to make of this. It may well be the two additions are for some reason more preferable to this administration.

In practical application, because several Justice Department officers would all have to be dead or incapacitated simultaneously, the invoking of this – or any succession order – is such a remote possibility, it is probably not worth getting worked up about it.

Update

In a news report by USA Today, I learned a bit more about this order. It turns out I was wrong about how unlikely the succession list would be needed.  In fact, currently all of the offices other than the newly appointed Attorney General are vacant. So the reason for the change of succession was POTUS 45’s decision upon firing the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, to name Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia to replace her. Thus the need to elevate him to the top spot behind the Attorney General.

In addition, one minor correction: The order was reportedly signed Thursday, so I changed my note below from ‘signed’ to ‘posted’ for accuracy.

 

Executive Order posted February 9, 2017.

Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking

As the title states, the order is aimed at transnational crime, especially drug trafficking. After reading it, I cannot see any reason for it being issued. As far as I can tell it does nothing more than is currently being done, creates no new task force, etc.

Either I am missing something (that may come back to haunt me later), or this is a “big splash” to send a message to his “base” that he is getting tough on international cartels.

Executive Order signed February 9, 2017.

Presidential Executive Order on Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers

There was a little more media coverage of this order than the previous, but it also has not been vetted very thoroughly by the press.

The primary gist of this order is supposedly protection of law enforcement officers. The only real remedy created by this order is:

(c)  pursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution’s regime of limited and enumerated Federal powers, that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.

That alone is, however, enough to raise significant concern. So called “tough on crime” legislation has failed before and it is highly unlikely to work in the future.

Executive Order signed February 9, 2017.