#TrumpPressConference

This is trending on Twitter even this morning. It took the two lead stories on NewYorkTime.com. Why would the so-called Leader of the Free World spend 90 minutes giving the kind of performance he gave yesterday? Why would whoever is pulling his strings, if any of the rumors on that are true, let him?

My theory is: Don’t watch Trump when he does something like this. Watch what he’s trying to distract us from. Yesterday, any of these other stories merited top news coverage:

17harward-master768Trump’s Pick to Replace Flynn Turns Down the Job. Robert S. Harward, retired Vice-Admiral and former Navy Seal, turned down the job to replace Michael Flynn, who resigned in disgrace as National Security Advisor less than one month into the job. While the official story was “personal and family commitments,” the back story is that this man steered away from working with Trump and his cronies, fearing that he wouldn’t be allowed to do the job effectively. This is another, and very serious, example of the fact that qualified people do not want to be drawn into the hot mess that’s going on in the White House.

House G.O.P. Leaders Outline Plan to Replace Obama Health Care Act.  “Outline” is the operative word here since Ryan’s press conference failed to tell us how the changes would be paid for or who would lose coverage. What is clear is that state budgets will be stressed and the plan intends to rip apart the 1960’s Great Society Medicaid program. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act’s formula for subsidizing the purchase of health insurance will be tossed out in favor of tax credits to those who purchase health insurance. And the tax credits will be based on age rather than income. So, rather than provide funds at the point of purchase, people will need to wait months to get their tax credits, and if their income is low enough, they won’t get the tax benefit at all. Big story? Not when overshadowed by a 90-minute show in the White House Press Room.

Also yesterday, Trump finally conceded his Travel Ban loss in the courts, with Justice Department lawyers withdrawing their prior plan to seek a rehearing before the full Ninth Circuit. Instead, the Administration will issue a new Executive Order next week. They are probably hoping to get more sympathetic judges in the next round.

The EPA was proposed by President Richard Nixon and began operation on December 2, 1970, after Nixon signed an executive order. The order establishing the EPA was ratified by committee hearings in the House and Senate. In 1970, Congress also enacted legislation substantially strengthening federal powers in the face of what was then a national emergency caused by air and water pollution. Many people today are too young to remember the condition of the Great Lakes, many rivers, and the air in our cities — and they would not tolerate it today. But Trump intends to remove the controls that prevent those conditions from returning. Scientists, environmental lawyers, and policy experts are taking the unprecedented step of calling their members of Congress to oppose Trump’s nominee for Administrator of the EPA – even if they are employees of the EPA. This didn’t come up in the Trump Press Conference yesterday.

Restaurants and other businesses across the country closed yesterday On A Day without Immigrants. This would have been a lead story on many days. But not with the Trump 90-minute presser.

Meanwhile, in Congress, a constitutionally co-equal branch of our government, Trump’s new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement dictated to Members of Congress who would be allowed to attend a meeting those Members had requested from the Agency.

“Later today there is a bipartisan meeting with the acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan.  ICE has told the Speaker that they will designate – you may remember, yesterday we had Members of the Judiciary Committee, the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a representative of the [Congressional] Asian Pacific American Caucus addressing some of the issues on the raids and the ban and the rest, and they were supposed to have a meeting yesterday with the acting ICE Director.  They canceled the meeting and said, “We are not having any meetings just with Democrats.  We are only having bipartisan meetings.”  So that meeting is scheduled for today, but ICE said they would designate which Democrats could attend the meeting.

It’s a stunning thing.  I mean, we’ve never seen anything like that, nor have we ever seen other issues that relate to nondisclosure agreements between people who work on the Hill and work with the Administration.  But in any event, not good.” Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House.

So, that’s what #TrumpPressConference covered up yesterday. What will his rally in Melbourne distract us from today?

 

This Is What Should Be Happening in Washington This Morning

FBI Director James Comey, his deputy directors, his IT specialists, and his Justice Department lawyers should be sitting in the Office of Attorney-General Loretta Lynch at the meeting she should have called for 8 a.m. this Saturday morning. Instead, having dumped an incendiary letter on the desks of Republican Congressmen (yes, all men) on Friday afternoon eleven days before Election Day, Comey and the rest of the crew have apparently taken the weekend off. In addition to ordering the 8 a.m. meeting, Lynch should have ordered all FBI agents up and down the East Coast to report to their offices at 8 a.m. this morning to await further orders.

Lynch shouldn’t interfere with the FBI’s investigation, but she shouldn’t allow them to slow-walk it either. When I was a lawyer and there were pressing matters, we didn’t take the weekend off. We called in more staff and got the work done. What’s more pressing than the election of the next United State President? Comey said in his bombshell letter, “I cannot predict how long it will take to complete this additional work.” Well, get to it.

Haul those FBI agents in from around the country, sit their suited butts down at conference tables in the Justice Department with sections of the email trove in front of each one of them and get on with the review. As each email is reviewed, if it does not contain classified information, release it to the American public.

Now, I read from one source that @PeteWilliamsNBC reported last night that the FBI may need to get a court order to read some of the emails. So, get on with it! There are federal judges on call all weekend. Judges issues subpoenas and warrants at all hours of the day and night. We are now 10 days from the election. Get the damn court order.

What needs to be done now: Release the new trove of emails.

What can be done later: Investigate why the FBI is leaking like a sieve.

  • Who are the “U.S. law enforcement officials” who told the Los Angeles Times  that investigators came across the emails while investigating Anthony Weiner?
  • Who is the investigator who leaked that the emails are not “to or from Clinton?
  • Why did Comey send a second letter on Friday afternoon, this one to all FBI employees, surely knowing it would be leaked to the press?

These are important questions. But they can wait until after the election. Now, the important thing is to get the new (or are they merely duplicates of previous?) emails out for review by American voters.

Admitted

I will admit it. I’m consumed by this election. And the weather has been darn good for golf. So, I’ve done no writing unrelated to the election and I’m not reading much fiction. Right now, I am reading Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, which is a pleasant distraction from current events.

If you care who I’m working for, it’s Hillary Clinton. Too bad she didn’t win in 2008, but I’m definitely up for this time around. If you wonder why, here’s just one good summary:

100 Reasons to Vote for Clinton

Now, back to it.

Update on the Work: Whew!

Sat down at 8:30 a.m.  It’s now 5:19. My eyes are tired. Wondering why my back isn’t.

(Blog break for Tylenol fix, just in case.)

Three new scenes. Maybe they will end on the cutting room floor, but two of them have been in my head since the beginning. So there.

That’s it. I’m calling up my Beta-Readers. (Shout out to Roz Morris for the term. No, I haven’t employed you but I’ve devoured your Nail Your Novel series.)

Nine hours ago, here’s what my Autocrit dashboard looked like:

Capture

And, twenty minutes ago, this is the update:

stats

(That doesn’t count the separate Grammarly runs.)

No, my momma never said there’d be days like this.

But, I’ve had them and I love them!

Now, on to the vino.

Math Problem? What an insult!

Since when did a fundamental right to personal liberty become a math problem? Since Casey (1992), that’s when.

The fundamental flaw of Casey has always been its concession that some people could suffer a 100% denial of a constitutional right so long as those people denied their constitutional right were not a “large fraction” of the people seeking to exercise that right.

Does that work for gun ownership? Of course not. But when it comes to a woman’s right to privately decide issues related to her own medical care, let’s do math!

Now a woman at the blog FiveThirtyEight has laid out the analysis in a way that should make the outrageousness of this approach apparent. Though she doesn’t seem to get it herself; she simply hopes that a Supreme Court opinion in the case heard yesterday (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) will offer a “clearer way to do the math.” Perhaps that’s tongue in cheek? Don’t think so.

Whole Woman’s Health is not a third-grade arithmetic problem. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said at oral argument, “What it’s about is that a woman has a fundamental right to make this choice for herself.”

Related:

The Women Take Over | Slate

The Supreme Court’s Test For Abortion Laws Is A Poorly Defined Math Problem | FiveThirtyEight

Kennedy Hold the Key in Texas Abortion Case | Scotus Blog, Amy Howe

Supreme Court Hears Arguments Testing Texas Abortion Restrictions | Nina Totenberg, NPR

 

Roger Pascal, 1941-2015

Mentor, colleague, partner, friend. Roger Pascal, one of the great influences in my life passed on this week.

The case described in the fourth paragraph of this obituary is the one on which I first worked with Roger. There were many more thereafter.

Thanks for the memories, the opportunities, the fun. RIP Roger.

Roger Pascal, a renowned lawyer who for 50 years served as a litigation partner with the law firm Schiff Hardin LLP and as a volunteer attorney, general counsel, and board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, died of cancer at his home on Sunday, December 27.

Source: Roger Pascal, 1941-2015