Archives for February 2017

196: Jeffrey Tucker vs. Richard Spencer – The Alt-Right Melts Down

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Brett Bittner, Tad Western, Seth, and Harry Price discuss the alt-right’s recent issues.

195: Michael Flynn and Russia

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, and Seth discuss the Michael Flynn resignation and the growing Trump/Russia controversy.

Show Notes:

General Flynn’s verifiable Russian ties:

1. On December 10, 2015, RT (which was previously known as Russia Today) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala event. Flynn was there, just 18 months after he stepped down as the Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, a role Obama nominated him for. He sat next to RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan and was just a few seats away from Putin.

Politico reports that Flynn has since made several appearances on the network, typically arguing that the U.S. and Russia need to work more closely together to fight the Islamic State and trying to find an end to the Syrian Civil War.

2. Flynn’s typical RT talking point is that the U.S. and Russia have to work together to end the civil war in Syria.

“When we play this sort of bully game against each other, between the United States and Russia and that’s going to achieve nothing,” Flynn says in the segment above. “I mean, it’s actually going to achieve more conflict.”

The reason why the U.S. and Russia haven’t seen eye-to-eye on Syria is because the U.S. believes that Russia is helping dictator Bashar al-Assad stay in power.

“Russia has its own national security strategy, and we have to respect that,” Flynn once said on RT. “And we have to try to figure out: How do we combine the United States’ national security strategy along with Russia’s national security strategy, despite all the challenges that we face?”

3. In the January 2016 London Review of Books issue, Seymour M. Hersh wrote that Flynn told him that he sent a “constant stream” of warnings to the Obama administration about how dangerous it would be to topple the Assad regime. He said that “jihadists” controlled the opposition and Turkey wasn’t stopping the smuggling of foreign fighters into Syria. Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel, told Seymour that Flynn was “shoved out” by the Obama administration. Flynn himself said that the civilian leadership “did not want to hear the truth.”

After he left the Pentagon, Flynn began offering ideas for how to solve the crisis in Syria, and not just on RT. In a November 2015 interview with Der Spiegel, Flynn said:

“We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there (in Syria) and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad, they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.”

4. In an interview with Politico in October 2016, Flynn said that he does think Putin is “a totalitarian dictator and a thug who does not have our interests in mind” and called Trump’s praise of Putin “overstated”
However, he continued:

“But Putin is smart and savvy, and he has taken actions in Ukraine and elsewhere that have limited our options, and the U.S. and NATO response has been timid. I think Trump’s strength lies in being a master negotiator, and he wants as many options as possible in dealing with Russia”

5. Flynn has been advising Trump since February 2016, Reuters reported at the time. In August, after Trump officially became the Republican party’s presidential nominee, Flynn was with Trump at his first classified briefing. On November 16, NBC News confirmed that Flynn already has security clearance to sit in on future briefings, now that Trump is president-elect.

From the Houston Chronicle (my opinion too):

General Flynn’s error was not that he discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian before the inauguration — a potential violation of a rarely enforced law — but the fact that he denied it for weeks, apparently misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump aides about the nature of the conversations. White House officials said they conducted a thorough review of Flynn’s interactions, including transcripts of calls secretly recorded by U.S. intelligence officials, but found nothing illegal.

Pence, who had vouched for Flynn in a televised interview, is said to have been angry and deeply frustrated.

And Trump lashed out at the news media Wednesday morning, sending out a tweet berating some news organizations for focusing on “This Russian connection non-sense.” In a post on his verified Twitter account, Trump said, “The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred.” He added that the news reporting was “merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.”

Trump also asserted in a tweet: “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia.”

“Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia.”

At the White House Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: “The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation.”

Key Points & Timeline

  • The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.
  • Although Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were listened to, Flynn himself is not the active target of an investigation, U.S. officials said. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that U.S. counterintelligence agents had investigated the communications between Flynn and Kislyak.Of particular note was a Dec. 29 telephone conversation, initiated in an exchange of text messages the day before.
  • Trump officials previously had said the call took place on the 28th. On the 29th, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia and expelled 35 officials from the Russian Embassy in response to what the U.S. intelligence community has said was interference in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf.
  • In remarks when the Dec. 28 call was first reported this month, Spicer and other officials said there had been no mention of the sanctions that were announced the next day. On Monday, he said he was unaware of any other conversations between Flynn and members of the Russian government. Spicer said he asked Flynn if there had been conversations with any other Russian officials “beyond the ambassador. He said no.”
  • Although Flynn has written critically about Russia, he also was paid to deliver a speech at a 2015 Moscow gala for RT, the Kremlin-sponsored international television station, at which he was seated next to Putin.
  • The FBI’s counterintelligence agents listen to calls all the time that do not pertain to any open investigation, current and former law enforcement officials said.
  • After that, the F.B.I. asked the N.S.A. to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.
  • The F.B.I. has closely examined at least three other people close to Mr. Trump, although it is unclear if their calls were intercepted. They are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign; Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative; and Mr. Flynn.
  • As part of the inquiry, the F.B.I. is also trying to assess the credibility of the information contained in a dossier that was given to the bureau last year by a former British intelligence operative. The dossier contained a raft of allegations of a broad conspiracy between Mr. Trump, his associates and the Russian government. It also included unsubstantiated claims that the Russians had embarrassing videos that could be used to blackmail Mr. Trump.
  • The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims.
  • The acting attorney general, Sally Yates who refused to defend Trump’s immigration executive order, informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.
  • Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the ­Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said.
  • In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House. They feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled.
  • In a Feb. 8 interview with The Washington Post, Flynn categorically denied discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
  • One day after the interview, Flynn revised his account, telling The Post through a spokesman that he “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
  • Flynn told The Post earlier this month that he first met Kislyak in 2013, when Flynn was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and made a trip to Moscow.
  • For Yates and other officials, concerns about the communications peaked in the days after the Obama administration on Dec. 29 announced measures to punish Russia for what it said was the Kremlin’s interference in the election in an attempt to help Trump.
  • After the sanctions were rolled out, the Obama administration braced itself for the Russian retaliation. To the surprise of many U.S. officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Dec. 30 that there would be no response.
  • Intelligence analysts began to search for clues that could help explain Putin’s move. The search turned up Kislyak’s communications, which the FBI routinely monitors, and the phone call in question with Flynn.
  • From that call and subsequent intercepts, FBI agents wrote a secret report summarizing ­Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak.
  • Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of an obscure U.S. statute known as the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country.
  • At the same time, Yates and other law enforcement officials knew there was little chance of bringing against Flynn a case related to the Logan Act, a statute that has never been used in a prosecution.
  • White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in a conference call with reporters on Jan. 13, said that the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak had “centered on the logistics” of a post-inauguration call between Trump and Putin. “That was it, plain and simple,” Spicer added.
  • On Jan. 15, Pence was asked about the phone call during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Citing a conversation he had with Flynn, Pence said the incoming national security adviser and Kislyak “did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
  • Before the Pence statement on Jan. 15, top Justice Department and intelligence officials had discussed whether the incoming Trump White House should be notified about the contents of the Flynn-Kislyak communications.
  • Pence’s statement on CBS made the issue more urgent, current and former officials said, because U.S. intelligence agencies had reason to believe that Russia was aware that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions in their December call, contrary to public statements.
  • The internal debate over how to handle the intelligence on Flynn and Kislyak came to a head on Jan. 19, Obama’s last full day in office.
  • Yates, Clapper and Brennan argued for briefing the incoming administration so the new president could decide how to deal with the matter. The officials discussed options, including telling Pence, the incoming White House counsel, the incoming chief of staff or Trump himself.
  • Yates stayed on as acting attorney general until Jan. 30, when Trump fired her for refusing to defend his executive order temporarily barring refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim countries
  • A turning point came after Jan. 23, when Spicer, in his first official media briefing, again was asked about Flynn’s communications with Kislyak.
  • Spicer said that he had talked to Flynn about the issue “again last night.” There was just “one call,” Spicer said. And it covered four subjects: a plane crash that claimed the lives of a Russian military choir; Christmas greetings; Russian-led talks over the Syrian civil war; and the logistics of setting up a call between Putin and Trump.
  • Trump declined to publicly back his national security adviser after the news broke.
  • On Monday afternoon, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said Trump had “full confidence” in Flynn. Minutes later, however, Spicer delivered a contradictory statement to ­reporters.
  • “The president is evaluating the situation,” Spicer’s statement read. “He’s speaking to Vice President Pence relative to the conversation the vice president had with Gen. Flynn and also speaking to various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is: Our national security.”
  • And then late Monday, Flynn resigned.

194: Addi’s Story – Healing Epilepsy with CBD Oil

John and Jess Hooker join Chris Spangle for a conversation about their daughter’s epilepsy and the improvement in her symptoms since introducing her to CBD oil.

A new podcast: Maranda’s World

We have a new podcast on the WAL network: Maranda’s World featuring Maranda Barnett. This is the third episode with her boyfriend Joey. Get the podcast here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MarandasWorld

Chris Spangle on Tad Talk with Tad Western

Chris Spangle is Tad Western’s first guest on Tad Talk. You can find Tad Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or using this RSS feed.

Greg Lenz on Rob Kendall’s CIT

A Year in Review: Central Indiana Today’s 365th episode. Rob Kendall invites Greg Lenz on to discuss 2016, the Indiana Gas Tax, and Rob plans to attack in 2017.

193: SCOTUS Nominee Neil Gorsuch and Trump’s Executive Orders

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Tad Western, and Chris Mayo separate facts from hysterical hyperbole (about 30 minutes in) on Trump’s first actions as President. We also introduce our new “Dear Leader” segment where we help the audience solve problems.

Show Notes:

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch

  • Widely acclaimed jurist, a favorite of conservatives and libertarians but also very respected by liberal colleagues. He’s exactly the kind of elite, educated figure who’s traditionally made it onto the Court.
  • His mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, was Ronald Reagan’s director of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1981 to 1983. A graduate of Columbia (where he was a Truman scholar), Oxford (where he got a doctorate under the acclaimed Catholic legal philosopher John Finnis as a Marshall scholar), and Harvard Law (which five other members of the Court attended)
  • Gorsuch clerked on the DC Circuit and then for both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy
  • President George W. Bush appointed to him to the 10th Circuit
  • Speech he gave to Case Western University’s School of Law on Scalia:

“But tonight I want to touch on a more thematic point and suggest that perhaps the great project of Justice Scalia’s career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators. To remind us that legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future.

But that judges should do none of these things in a democratic society. That judges should instead strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be— not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.”

“The text of the Constitution leaves room for term limits. Article I, section 4, explicitly grants the states wide latitude to determine the times, places, and manner of congressional elections. This provision, in our judgment, fully empowers states to enforce term limits on members of their congressional delegations. Moreover, a term limit is harmonious with our constitutional guarantees of free speech or equal protection.”
Gorsuch, who wrote a full book on assisted suicide and euthanasia that, while fairly recapping both sides, came down decisively against legalizing the practice.

  • In the book, Gorsuch offers a detailed critique of Peter Singer’s influential utilitarian argument for allowing euthanasia and of a similar one from fellow Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner, as well as critiques of autonomy-based arguments from philosophers like Ronald Dworkin.

Excerpt: “Human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

  • Backed religious challenges to the Affordable Care Act: “No one before us disputes that the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg,” he wrote in a concurrence. “No one disputes that the Greens’ religion teaches them that the use of such drugs or devices is gravely wrong.”
  • Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gorsuch argued, the government must give broad deference to religious groups’ explanations of what their beliefs entail, even if those explanations seem inconsistent or unscientific.
  • Like Scalia, he has shown a willingness to occasionally side with defendants on criminal law matters. He sided with a Albuquerque middle schooler who was strip-searched by his school, dissenting while his colleagues ruled that the school police officer and other employees are immune from lawsuits.
  • 2012 dissent, he argued against applying the federal law banning felons from owning firearms to a defendant who had no idea he was a felon. And he’s expressed concern with overcriminalization, saying that states and the federal government have enacted too many statutes forbidding too much activity.
  • Shown support for federalism by arguing against the idea of a “dormant commerce clause,” or the idea that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause not only allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce but bans states from doing so.
  • Biggest difference between Gorsuch and Scalia is on matters of administrative law. Gorsuch has suggested that he thinks Chevron v. NRDC, a foundational decision that gives regulatory agencies broad deference in determining rules, was wrongly decided.

Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, is a law professor at Georgetown and a partner at Hogan Lovells

“I was an acting solicitor general for President Barack Obama; Judge Gorsuch has strong conservative bona fides and was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush. But I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court.”fides and was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush. But I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court.”

“I have no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him. “

“In a pair of immigration cases, De Niz Robles v. Lynch and Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, Judge Gorsuch ruled against attempts by the government to retroactively interpret the law to disfavor immigrants.”

“In a separate opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela, he criticized the legal doctrine that federal courts must often defer to the executive branch’s interpretations of federal law, warning that such deference threatens the separation of powers designed by the framers. When judges defer to the executive about the law’s meaning, he wrote, they “are not fulfilling their duty to interpret the law.”

Trump’s Controversial Executive Orders

1.  Executive Order on Immigration

First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.
Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
The ban is in place while the Department of Homeland Security determines the “information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” It could, however, be extended or expanded depending on whether countries are capable of providing the requested information.from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” It could, however, be extended or expanded depending on whether countries are capable of providing the requested information.

The ban, however, contains an important exception: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”

The order itself provides for the necessary case-by-case exemptions to the temporary blanket bans.

There are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication

Third, Trump’s order also puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” This is a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014.admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” This is a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014.

Fourth, there is a puzzling amount of outrage over Trump’s directive to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims..religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims.

The ban is deeply problematic as applied to legal residents of the U.S. and to interpreters and other allies seeking refuge in the United States after demonstrated (and courageous) service to the United States.

Alan Dershowitz on Yates: “She instructed the entire Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s wrong-headed executive order on immigration. The reasons she gave in her letter referred to matters beyond the scope of the attorney general. She criticized the order on policy grounds and said that it was not “right.”

She also referred to its possibly being unconstitutional and unlawful. Had she stuck to the latter two criteria she would have been on more solid ground, although perhaps wrong on the merits. But by interjecting issues of policy and directing the Justice Department not to defend any aspect of the order, she overstepped her bounds.

An attorney general, like any citizen, has the right to disagree with a presidential order, but unless it is clear that the order is unlawful, she has no authority to order the Justice Department to refuse to enforce it.

In my view she was wrong. She should neither be lionized nor accused of betrayal. Nor should President Trump’s critics, and I include myself among them, accuse him of doing anything even remotely close to President Nixon’s infamous “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Nixon fired the very officials who were seeking to prosecute him. That constituted a personal and unethical conflict of interest. President Trump fired Yates over policy differences. It may have been unwise for him to do so, but it was clearly within his authority.unethical conflict of interest. President Trump fired Yates over policy differences. It may have been unwise for him to do so, but it was clearly within his authority.unethical conflict of interest. President Trump fired Yates over policy differences. It may have been unwise for him to do so, but it was clearly within his authority..unethical conflict of interest. President Trump fired Yates over policy differences. It may have been unwise for him to do so, but it was clearly within his authority.unethical conflict of interest. President Trump fired Yates over policy differences. It may have been unwise for him to do so, but it was clearly within his authority.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly issued her injunction over the government’s objection during an emergency hearing Saturday night as several hundred people opposed to Trump’s order chanted and milled about outside the Brooklyn, N.Y., federal courthouse.

During the brief court session, the judge said it was difficult to see the harm in allowing the newly arrived immigrants to stay since they were being routinely admitted just a couple of days ago.

“If they had come in two days ago, we wouldn’t be here, am I right? … These are all people who have been through a vetting process,” the judge said. “Explain to me how these petitioners won’t suffer irreparable damage if I don’t grant this stay?” Donnelly asked.
Donnelly’s order does not appear to interfere with most of Trump’s directive, since the judge only moved to protect a limited number of individuals who were already on or were about to board flights to the U.S. when Trump signed his measure. Now, such travelers will likely be blocked from boarding flights in the first place.

Additional orders issued by federal judges in New York, Boston, Alexandria, Virginia, and Seattle helped bolster the resolve of anti-Trump protesters who flooded airports over the weekend and turned up by the thousands at the White House Sunday.

One Muslim-rights group, the Council on American Islamic Relations, said it planned a new federal lawsuit Monday charging that Trump’s order is unconstitutional because it amounts to thinly veiled discrimination against Muslims.Monday charging that Trump’s order is unconstitutional because it amounts to thinly veiled discrimination against Muslims.

That suit could face an uphill battle because courts have rarely accorded constitutional rights to foreigners outside the U.S. However, foreign citizens who are permanent U.S. residents generally have a stronger claim to recourse in the courts. In addition, legal experts say U.S. citizen relatives of foreigners could have legal standing to pursue a case charging religious discrimination.have rarely accorded constitutional rights to foreigners outside the U.S. However, foreign citizens who are permanent U.S. citizen relatives of foreigners could have legal standing to pursue a case charging religious discrimination.have rarely accorded constitutional rights to foreigners outside the U.S. However, foreign citizens who are permanent U.S. residents generally have a stronger claim to recourse in the courts. In addition, legal experts say U.S. citizen relatives of foreigners could have legal standing to pursue a case charging religious discrimination.

Still, presidents have broad discretion over the nation’s immigration and refugee policy. A 1952 immigration law gives the chief executive the power to bar “any class” of immigrants from the country if allowing them is deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”allowing them is deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”allowing them is deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”allowing them is deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Protesters rallied against the order in dozens of cities and at airports, where lawyers and members of Congress worked to free detained travelers who had boarded flights with valid U.S. visas.visas.visas.visas.

President Donald Trump on Monday accused Sen. Chuck Schumer of crying “fake tears” at a news conference criticizing his controversial executive order on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

“I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears,” Trump told reporters at a listening session with business leaders in the White House on Monday. “I’m going to ask him who is his acting coach.”

2. Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory CostsExecutive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory CostsExecutive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs
Requires agencies to repeal two regulations for each new one they propose.

Imposes a regulatory budget come Fiscal 2018, which would limit the amount of new regulatory costs agencies can impose on individuals and businesses each year.

What constitutes a regulation? The executive order imposes a strict numerical limit on regulations: one in, two out. Sounds simple, but in fact there’s no accepted definition on what constitutes a regulation, so there’s no real way to count them.

The executive order takes a stab at this, defining a regulation as “an agency statement of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy or to describe the procedure or practice requirements of an agency.”

What agencies are covered by this new policy? According to its text, Trump’s order applies to any “executive department or agency,” so it would not touch the legislative branch — which runs the Government Accountability Office, Library of Congress, and more — or the judiciary. The order also explicitly exempts regulations dealing with “military, national security, or foreign affairs” and regulations affecting agencies’ “organization, management, or personnel.”

What work is the 2-for-1 regulation requirement doing? It is unclear why the order employs both the 2-for-1 requirement and the regulatory budgeting requirement. If the point is to reduce costs, why should the number of rules matter?

Cramming two different policies (regulatory budgeting and 2-for-1) into the executive order does not make it twice as powerful. As writer Robert VerBruggen has observed, “An agency making $5 billion worth of new regulation doesn’t have to repeal $10 billion worth — it just has to offset the $5 billion while cutting twice the number of regulations. It could enact five $1 billion rules and repeal 10 $500 million rules.”rules.”rules.”rules.”

How will “costs” be defined under the order? As with counting regulations, it’s not at all clear how you tally their costs. The order requires agencies to offset new “incremental costs” from regulations by repealing old regulations, as well as allowing OMB to set a regulatory budget that sets the total amount of “incremental costs” each agency can impose. Again, this creates more questions than answers.

For one, will benefits be considered in addition to costs, or are “incremental costs” supposed to mean “net costs” (i.e., costs remaining after benefits have been accounted for)? Will costs encompass indirect costs from regulations, or just the direct costs?

Does the president even have the legal power to mandate the number of regulations? The president’s authority to issue executive orders to mandate the process for issuing regulations is indisputable. But does he have the power to determine how many regulations may be issued consequent to law?

The order cites the president’s authority to submit a yearly budget, as well as his power to delegate presidential power to agency heads. Neither of these provisions explicitly grant the president power to mandate the number of regulations, which calls into question the legal grounds for the order’s 2-for-1 requirement.

3. Presidential Memorandum Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed three new executive actions to reorganize the National Security CouncilTrump on Saturday signed three new executive actions to reorganize the National Security Council

The president named Bannon to the council in a reorganization of the NSC. This gives Bannon a seat on the “principals committee” He also said his chief-of-staff Reince Priebus would have a seat in the meetings.

Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence, two of the most senior defense chiefs, will attend meetings only when discussions are related to their “responsibilities and expertise”

The reorganization of the National Security Council principals committee, and the participation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, is a duplicate of what George W. Bush did in February 2001 when he issued his NSC directive.

In February 2001, his first full month in officer, Mr. Bush issued his own reorganization. Regarding the principals committee, the wording is identical:
“The Director of Central Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.” The director of National Intelligence did not exist at the time.

The Trump principals committee will include as regular members the secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, and Homeland security as well as the Attorney General, the chief of staff, the chief strategies, the national security adviser and the homeland security adviser.

 

Others:

  • Impose a five-year ban on lobbying for administration appointees and a lifetime ban on lobbying the government for other countries
  • Order the Department of Defense to come up with a plan within 30 days to defeat ISIS.

 

 

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