Five Proclamations

Proclamations signed May 19, 2017

Iranian Oil

The title of the memorandum gives no clue as to what it is about, but following is the relevant section of the only major paragraph.

…there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions.  As my Administration conducts a review of its Iran policy, and consistent with United States commitments specified in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, however, the United States is not pursuing efforts to reduce Iran’s sales of crude oil at this time.

Other issues have dominated the news cycle, so I have not seen anything about this, but it appears to be a continuation of current policy. This report is required as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

Official Title: Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Treasury, and the Secretary of Energy

Memorandum signed May 17, 2017

Comey Firing, Intel Leak and More

For several days I’ve been mulling over what I might say about this presidential action – the firing the FBI director. Although when I started this blog last November I did not think about hirings and firings as part of what I would review, now it seems obvious that this type of presidential action can be even more consequential than the other official acts such as executive orders, memoranda, or proclamations.

With this president, it is going to be important to pay some attention to nominations, hirings and firings. His consistent obeisance to autocratic governance demands close scrutiny of everything he does.

Needless to say, the firing of the FBI director has received voluminous media coverage. And, it will continue to be a central story for some time to come as part of the Russian hacking of the election investigations. What more is there to say than what is already being said? Maybe calling the firing of Comey a clear signal that autocratic rule is a real and present danger is not a completely original statement, but I do not think enough journalists are connecting the dots yet.

One of the best writers on authoritarianism I follow, Masha Gessen, has written another excellent article entitled The Autocrat’s Language. It is well worth reading for a better understanding of what we are encountering in this presidency.

I would also like to see more serious treatment of the total unfitness of this man to serve in any capacity of government. For some reason, the media are reluctant – too much so, in my opinion – to delve into the mental health issues. One reason seems to be they feel like they have to follow the ethics rules of the mental health profession (not diagnosing a person who is not a patient) or the “Goldwater Rule”. That is an utterly bogus argument. Journalists do not have to be professionals in another discipline to write about it. Even if more journalists would write about the psychologists and psychiatrists who have publicly declared POTUS 45 to be a malignant narcissist or otherwise mentally ill, it would help. It is important for more of the general public and especially more members of Congress to be better informed on the grave dangers we now face because of a mentally ill man in office.

I’ve written some earlier about this here, but I have kept a now three-week old article about mental health professionals’ comments at a Yale conference in my Pocket list so when I got back to writing about this topic I would have it available as a reference. It confirms my own observations from following election coverage last year and myriad journalists, writers, etc. since. This man is mentally incapable of any semblance of normal behavior.

Just yesterday a different speculation surfaced again. It is not the first time I have seen concern about POTUS 45 having advancing stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but maybe with this speculation we will finally see more journalists beginning to delve into the mental health angle.

The recent blurting out by POTUS 45 of some “code-word” intelligence to the Russians in the Oval Office is a prime example of an unhealthy mind, whatever the illness, that is a serious danger to the nation and in fact to civilization. [Ed. note: It looks like I may need to add another category of presidential actions for monitoring – unilaterally declassifying classified information.]

POTUS 45 should never have been nominated, let alone elected. It is imperative that we as citizens continually contact our senators and representatives to urge their action to initiate proceedings for impeachment. Given that Republicans hold the power positions right now, they are the ones we need to keep reminding as forcefully as we are able that they are responsible to the nation as a whole not just their constituents or “base”. Nothing short of the survival of this democratic republic is at stake. We must not wait for the 2018 election to “sort things out”.

Extension of Iraq Emergency

Dating back to May 2003 when a state of emergency was declared with regard to Iraq, this memorandum simply continues it for another year as the two previous presidents did.

Official Title:

Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Stabilization of Iraq

Memorandum signed May 16, 2017

1st Signing Statement

What happened? As far as I can tell, there were few high-profile national media reports noting the first official signing statement by this president. It could be my own “controversy fatigue” resulting from trying to follow this president’s executive actions has contributed to my missing this earlier, but at least I finally woke up. After more or less on a whim deciding to check for signing statements, I found this one.

I now have only a vague recollection of reading or hearing something about medical marijuana and federal law enforcement, but I seem to remember it as a decision of the Justice department rather than the president. Anyway, upon signing the appropriations bill to extend funding of the federal government, POTUS 45 attached a signing statement.

Before posting my thoughts here, I decided to do some cursory looking at some previous appropriations bills and any accompanying signing statements to see how frequently such statements were issued and to see if other presidents (and their legal counsels/Justice Departments) had objections with some of the laws’ provisions.

It turns out signing statements are fairly common for appropriations bills and it appears sometimes for very good reasons. Some provisions in these omnibus bills are obviously inserted to secure certain legislators’ votes in favor of the bill whether or not they are wise or even legal provisions. When provisions are unconstitutional, they should be flagged. Most often the presidential objections have to do with limitation of the power of the president. That is true of this signing statement as well.

However, this statement includes some sections that are less justifiable. For example, the following paragraph:

Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories.  I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

I read this to mean “You (Congress) may say we cannot spend money to stop implementation of state laws allowing medical marijuana, but I intend to ignore that part of this appropriations bill under the guise of “faithfully executing laws”.

There are other equally or more alarming parts of this current statement. It makes me wonder why this was not a bigger story on May 5 and the days following. So far my best answer to that question is the media were too focused on the threats to shut down the government to pay close attention to the bill itself or the signing statement that came with it. It’s almost as if as soon as it passed both houses of Congress the media breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to other things.

It looks like I am going to have to pay closer attention to the Statements and Releases section of the White House website even if it means wading through a bunch of stuff of far less interest or relevance to my relatively focused blog.

Official Title:

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Signing H.R. 244 into Law

Signing statement dated May 5, 2017