“When in turmoil, when in doubt/ Run in circles, scream and shout!”
That bit of doggerel came to mind today as I reflected on the riotous state of the half of the country that won’t accept the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Three weeks into Mr. Trump’s term the country is in a complete uproar, with no sign of abatement.
College kids are throwing fire-bombs, smashing windows and defying campus-cops because…why? They say they “hate” Mr. Trump. But what has he done to them? Or what do they think he will do? That’s not very clear – not even to them. He wants to keep terrorists out? Oh no! Not that! Actually, college-age kids – if memory serves – just get a charge out of skipping class and turning things upside down to relieve the tedium of dorm-life. Reports have emerged, however, that paid demonstrators are showing up at some campuses and cities. Who’s paying them? Could it be far-left megalomaniac billionaire George Soros? Not beyond possibility, as I see it.
Resistance to Mr. Trump extends as high as the U. S. Senate, where the president’s appointments are being subjected to elaborate slowdown tactics and outrageous smears on their character. Each candidate finally gets confirmed – often by a party-line vote. The uproar mirrors the rest of the country. Senators once regarded as serious public servants are breaking longstanding rules of decorum, skipping committee meetings, holding all-night sessions, and spouting witless things on camera about impeachment. One senator has been called a racist by another senator. The cherished comity of The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body seems kaput. One doubts if we’ll be hearing “I yield to the honorable gentleman…” very soon. I can’t validate Mr. Trump’s claim that this is the slowest confirmation-rate since George Washington – although a few senators might know about this, first-hand – but it is certainly molasses in January (February, actually).
At the state level, anti-Trump mania has produced a serious case of California Dreamin’. Cheered on by stoned potheads who couldn’t name the three branches of government if their lives depended on it, a petition-drive has actually been launched to put a secession-initiative on California’s November ballot. (Cosmic, dude!) Supporters cite polls showing that 32% of Californians want their state to leave the United States and form a separate country. Some 7,000 activists are said to be collecting the 585,407 signatures needed to put the initiative to a vote. Advocates love to cite the fact that California’s economy would be the sixth-largest in the world, if the state were a country.
Being a Virginian, I am naturally sympathetic to – and somewhat supportive of – secession, although my state’s experience with it might throw cold water on the idea. (The 1860s experiment didn’t end well for Virginia and the other ten states of the Confederacy.) Has anyone thought about how California might build armed forces, and what that might cost? Would it purchase weapons from Iran or Russia? Will Californians be ready to fight for independence? (Where is Robert E. Lee when you really need him?)
But not to worry – Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and “Moonbeam” Brown will answer the call. Under their inspired leadership, how can the enterprise fail? Besides, Arnold Schwarzenbanger, Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson and a host other action-film heroes will be ready to take the field against the “deplorables” of the other 49. (John Wayne, we need you now, more than ever. Hey! Which end does the bullet come out of?)
Resistance to Mr. Trump has also extended to the courts, where a Federal judge in Seattle, Washington, issued a temporary restraining order on the president’s executive order of January 30. Mr. Trump’s order had barred entry to the USA by individuals from seven countries, for a period of 90 days. Other immigration-restrictions were also specified in the order. (See “Obsession;” Atlantic Highlands Herald, 2 February 2017; http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/at-large/23628-obsession )
At this writing, news has emerged that the Ninth Circuit Court has upheld Judge James Robart’s stay – not an unexpected result, since the Ninth Circuit is the most liberal of the 13 Circuit Courts. It is also the Circuit most reversed by the Supreme Court.
As numerous legal analysts have pointed out, both the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 clearly give the president full authority to block entry by any person or class of persons he deems inimical to the country’s interests or safety. But both Judge Robart and the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel ignored this unambiguous presidential power and ruled on Mr. Trump’s policy. (Hint: they didn’t like it.) This means the courts have assumed authority to rule on presidential policies, instead of confining themselves to determining if his actions fall within legal and Constitutional bounds. Policy-critique has never been a court-power before, but apparently it is now.
A school-child whose brain hasn’t been turned to mush by leftist educators could see that this is a very dangerous precedent. If it continues, a president’s ability to act quickly in an emergency could be hamstrung – indeed, blocked altogether – whenever some judge takes a notion to disagree. Anyone wishing to stymie a president they dislike will need only to find a judge of like mind to obstruct nearly any policy. Our system of government wasn’t set up to work that way. Courts were never given such sweeping powers. Under such a construct, government would break down entirely, resulting in court-engineered chaos. That, in fact, is exactly where we are heading right now.
Of course, this dire assessment will be labeled “alarmist” by those who applaud the Ninth Circuit’s curb on the president’s “extremism.” In a true national emergency, arm-chair liberals will say, no judge would stop a president from taking appropriate military actions. Secure in their gated communities, these people see no “emergency” at present. In their judgment, the president’s immigration-order was unreasonable and extreme, and the courts were right to stop him.
Are they correct that there is no emergency? The millions who voted for Mr. Trump because he promised to control our borders and protect us from foreign enemies would beg to differ with the judicial and political grandees who regard the president’s order as mean-spirited, unnecessary, discriminatory and certainly racist.
These judicial rulings were not made on points of Constitutional law. They were merely expressions of resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump, thinly-cloaked in robes of the law. They are perfectly aligned with the student-riots at UC-Berkeley and the Senate’s resistance to Mr. Trump’s cabinet-nominees.
In other articles I have said that I have never seen such resistance to a new president in my 65 years of observing politics. One can reasonably argue that it is the worst national schism since Abraham Lincoln’s time. His1860 election produced secession by eleven states, followed by a disastrous civil war that killed 600,000 citizens. What’s driving today’s division? That’s the question that troubles me and millions of fellow countrymen who want just to get on with life and help the country move ahead. I heard a senator say his Democrat colleagues have “lost their minds.” Some radio talk-jocks and pundits concur that a “collective dementia” has afflicted the American left.
I don’t know about that, but there’s no doubt that something very disturbing is going on across the country. By my assessment, the movement is an unholy alliance of worried riders on the federal “gravy train,” witless students who enjoy raising hell, and frustrated Democrats who simply can’t adjust to the reality that they are no longer in charge.
Dems owned the presidency for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and they had great fun thumping George W. Bush during his eight years. They passed the “miracle” of Obamacare, and they gave the messianic Barack Obama anything he wanted. (Well, almost anything.) They are enraged that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans somehow grew enough backbone to resist confirming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court – thereby enabling Donald Trump to put a conservative in the vacant seat.
Although rarely mentioned in the media, there is precedent for a president to ignore a court ruling that has blocked his executive order. After a New Orleans judge struck down Barack Obama’s 2011 executive order that had placed a moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Obama Administration defied the court by re-instituting policies that essentially continued the moratorium. The judge found the Obama Administration in contempt, but no repercussions or penalties resulted for the Obama people. Because of Separation of Powers, no president is bound to obey a court’s summons or other order, except when it pertains to a Constitutional issue. Even then it’s a crap-shoot.
Legal scholars differ on this point, but some do agree that Mr. Trump can ignore a court ruling if he believes national security is at stake. If he should do this, an almighty political stink would result, of course, with threats of impeachment flying like mosquitoes in the summer air. Could he be impeached over this? Maybe – but probably not, if his party has a solid House-majority. If he were impeached, could he actually be convicted and removed from office? This is very doubtful on three grounds:
- Impeachment and removal of a president is an intensely political exercise. A 2/3 vote in the Senate is required to convict. This is nearly impossible to achieve, as the attempt to remove Bill Clinton showed. He handily beat a rap consisting of serious crimes that would have jailed any ordinary citizen.
- High crimes. It’s not clear if “disobeying a court order” is actually a crime when a president does it. There’s no clear Constitutional direction on it.
- In 1868, Congress impeached and tried President Andrew Johnson for not obeying a law they had enacted over his veto. Although a strong majority favored removal, a senator rose from his sickbed to cast the decisive vote to acquit Mr. Johnson.
The jury is still out on whether the Republican Congress and Mr. Trump’s supporters will hang together in the face of Democrats’ (and their media-allies’) war on Mr. Trump. If they can hold on, this will be a Winter of Discontent for all the demonstrators, officials, judges, state attorneys general, potheads, girly-men, and disgruntled congress-persons who won’t be able to stop the Normal Culture’s march back into the halls of power.
Millions of Americans wondered if this day would ever come. Now, perhaps it has. Mr. Trump is no angel (who is?) but he’s tough and he wants to help the country. The Lord works in His own mysterious ways.