Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Nation Of People

Since the Obama Administration, a few voices on the right lamented the apparent erosion of the concept of the USA as a nation of laws and not of men.

The Hoover Institution was exorcised because the Justice Department did not always choose to enforce in court a law the Administration found unconstitutional. The conservative Washington Examiner denounced regulators and "bureaucrats" in the Obama Administration for regulation of the environment and financial services sector. More recently, a writer on the right-of -center website website American Greatness criticized the effort to block President Trump's travel ban(s) as an illegal encroachment upon the power of the Executive Branch. 

Whatever the merits of these arguments, there was relatively little danger (and more likely, benefit) in letting the Defense of Marriage Act die, defending the American people against environmental degradation or Wall Street excesses, or ensuring that individuals were not barred from the USA because of their religion.

Not so this, however. Will Bunch explains

on Aug. 6, when Rosie O'Donnell and some other Broadway performers Amtraked their way down to the White House gates for a rousing night of anti-Trump show tunes. O'Donnell, longtime bĂȘte noire of the 45th president, led the troupe in "America the Beautiful" and told the assembled mass to "stand up against treason, and stop fascism before it takes over the United States."

The very next day, Aug. 7, the Trump administration's National Park Service promulgated rules that threaten protests like the nightly White House demonstrations — as well as any other would-be spontaneous large D.C. protests. The rules would restrict gatherings that now take place on a 25-foot-wide sidewalk in front of the White House to just a 5-foot sliver, severely limiting crowds. The NPS also threatens to hit political protesters on the National Mall with large security and cleanup fees that historically have been waived for such gatherings, and it wants to make it easier to reject a spontaneous protest of the type that might occur, say, if Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller.

Nation of laws, indeed. This rule contradicts the First Amendment- but only the spirit, not the letter, of the law. The law- in this case the United States Constitution- seems like it will be little impediment to shutting down a protest called if the President ramps up obstruction of justice to the nth degree.

Moreover, there probably would be no investigation of possible conspiracy of the Trump campaign with the Russian government had President Trump not committed an uncharacteristic tactical error.  Recall that 

In  May 2017, Trump fired Comey, and said a day later that Russia was on his mind when he made the decision. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was overseeing the Russia probe a the time because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigations involving the Trump campaign. (Sessions' recusal decision came amid public pressure over his failure to disclose that he met with the Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign.)

Six days later, on May 17, 2017, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel.

In ways not anticipated, and now not admitted. by the right, the bromide that the USA is "a nation of laws, not of men," turns out to be a crock. This is a nation of men (or people), not of laws- and at present, both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government are under control of men to whom you should not entrust an ice cream parlor, let alone the US government.

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