The incendiary and uncivil politics that has gripped the nation has been a long focus on this blog. I am honestly worried about how the insulting and personal attacks from both sides will change political dialogue in this country for a generation. These include some past comments made by President Trump as well as his political opponents. As the father of four children, I emphasize the need to maintain civility, but that lesson is undermined every time the kids watch the news. The latest such incident involves Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who made troubling statements about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, including calling the highly decorated veteran a “disgrace to the uniform.” The reason was that Kelly somehow did not prevent President Donald Trump from rescinding DACA. This age of rage appears to have given people license to vent their most insulting and unfair criticisms at one another. We can no longer have a simple disagreement over issues like immigration. People have to be labeled “terrorists” or white supremacists if they think DACA should be decided by Congress or oppose amnesty programs. Calling this man (who lost a son in the military service) a “disgrace to his uniform” is a sad moment for our country.
One would think that with President Donald Trump at record low polling in the 30s (and Congress with even lower polling around 10 percent favorability), the Administration would not be struggling to find a cause further irritate the American public. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears on the brink of doing just that. Despite many states either legalizing or moving to legalize marijuana, Sessions is expected to announce a new crackdown on the multi-billion industry. Not only will the crackdown threaten billions in taxes now collected by these states, but it will contravene the wishes of roughly half of the population. Indeed, according to the latest Harvard-Harris survey 86 percent of Americans now support either legalizing pot for either recreational or medicinal use or both. Indeed, 49 percent want pot legalized outright for recreational use. The Administration however is about to go on a direct collision course with many states — including red states — that has legalized marijuana.
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us. . . . It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”
-President-elect Donald Trump, Washington Post (January 15, 2017)
Even if one supports the Affordable Care Act, there was nothing satisfying about watching the legislative circus over repeal and replacement unfold in the Senate over the past few weeks. To an outsider the entire process appeared disjointed and at times almost incoherent. It became increasingly impossible to fathom what Senate Republicans were trying to accomplish. So when the final effort, an eight-page bill apparently drafted over lunch, was rejected in a 51-49 vote, the most appropriate emotional response was neither elation nor disappointment, merely exhaustion.
Efforts to lay blame for the debacle have already begun, of course. Reince Preibus has been summarily booted from the White House and the three Republicans who defied Mitch McConnell by voting against the so-called “skinny” repeal bill have been castigated by the right. But it would be wrong to think that there isn’t a way forward. That first requires that we dispel several misconceptions. Continue reading
Below is my column in USA Today on the possibility of a “Doomsday scenario” where President Donald Trump first fired (or forces the resignation) of Jeff Sessions and then moves to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That scenario was reinforced yesterday with reports that Trump has discussed firing Sessions and giving a recess appointment to his successor — the very scenario laid out earlier in this column. In addition, Trump blasted Sessions again yesterday — this time criticizing him for not replacing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife ran for office in Virginia in 2015 and received large contributions from the Democratic Party.
Trump’s unrelenting criticism of Sessions is occurring at the same time as new leaks about his discussing not just a replacement but a recess appointment — something the Democrats have vowed to prevent. The question is whether some Republicans might join in that effort to prevent the type of Doomsday scenario laid out in this earlier column.
I have previously discussed the legendary career of Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Widely viewed as the father of Law and Economics, Posner remains one of greatest influences on American jurisprudence in the history of this country. I have long been a great admirer of his work and teach his theories as part of my torts course. It is for that reason that I was delighted when my co-counsel sent me the interview below where Judge Posner expressed support for the proposal that I have advanced for many years to reform the Supreme Court. Posner agrees with the proposal to expand the Supreme Court to nineteen members.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on how critics of Donald Trump have been calling for radical extensions or interpretations of criminal provisions against core figures. The implications for such interpretations of crimes like treason need to be considered by critics.