The news yesterday included images of the Dalai Lama blessing Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at his temple in Dharmsala, India. Pelosi gave a rather rambling statement but denied to criticize China because the Dalai Lama had removed her negativity. My only thought however is why the public continues to pay for these congressional junkets where members go to exotic locations on the public dime. The trip was attended by both Republican and Democratic members.
With the firing of FBI Director James Comey, politics seems to be following art in one important fashion: your work becomes more popular after you’re dead. Jim Croce was barely known as a singer until his plane crashed and burned. Van Gogh sold only one picture in his lifetime . . . until he shot himself. Comey’s work appears to be on the same track of retrospective popularity. He is now the rage. Democratic Senators and liberal commentators who only recently denounced him as a political hack and manipulator were suddenly speaking of Comey as the second Publicus. More importantly, news outlets like CNN went into a virtual echo chamber with their experts, like Jeff Toobin, declaring that the President was lying and that there was no other explanation for firing Comey other than that fact that the Russian investigation was “getting too close” to Trump. One CNN guest historian, Douglas Brinkley, even declared, from a purely historical perspective of course, that the firing shows that Trump acts like a “tyrant.”
Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the implications of a rumored retirement by Justice Anthony Kennedy. If nothing else, it allowed me to discuss the anniversary of the Ypres Salient explosion in World War I — the mining of the German line with massive bombs. While we often discuss how a nominee could change the Court on issues like Roe v. Wade, the replacement of either Kennedy or Ruth Bader Ginsburg would potentially collapse the long static lines on the Court. Like trench warfare, the 4-4 split on the Court has moved little in areas like abortion. It could now evaporate in the flash of a confirmation (assuming that Chief Justice John Roberts does not step into the role of swing vote on the Court).
Here is the column:
Below is my column this week on the confirmation from both Trump’s Chief of Staff and the White House Spokesperson that the Administration is working on possible changes in our libel laws — changes that by definition would require altering the First Amendment. The decision in New York Times v. Sullivan is decades old and celebrated as one of the Court’s greatest decisions. It has never been challenged by a president . . . until now. The case clearly states that the libel standard is a constitutional rule and thus the Court would have to overturned the decision or the President would have to amend the First Amendment. Whatever must be shown under the “actual malice” standard of New York Times v. Sullivan, it pales in comparison to the actual malice shown by this Administration toward the free press. Here is the column:
In a week, the first appellate hearing will occur in the review of the second Trump immigration order. In the meantime, the Administration is appealing the latest legal setback with the injunction of Trump’s sanctuary city order. Below is my column from the Hill Newspaper on the decision of District Court Judge William Orrick.
Harry Truman famously said that “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Trump campaign counsel Don McGahn appears to have given the same advice to international businessman Carter Page, who is at the center of the Russian influence scandal. While Page was referenced as an adviser during the campaign, McGahn sent him a letter telling him to stop calling himself “an advisor” — current or former. In other words, he was now not just a non-adviser. Page was now a non-entity for the purposes of the Trump team. As continued denials this week of any role of Page confirm, he has now joined a rather lamentable group in Washington: political orphans who wander the Beltway without a home or a friend. They are our untouchable class; people who move from high-profile existences to utter non-entities in the space of a news cycle. Continue reading
Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the investigation of former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill), who attracted notoriety for his use of a Downton Abbey motif for the decoration of his office. Obviously a preference for haughty interiors should not be enough to generate a massive criminal investigation. However, the prosecutor in this case has pursued Schock with utter abandon, including trampling over long-established protections accorded to Congress. Regardless of the merits of the fraud allegations against Schock, the investigation raises troubling questions of constitutional law and Congress should hold hearings into the violation of Article I.