Monday, May 1, 2017

How far would Trump go?

He has already gone very far.

The administration’s hard line on the standard for criminalization has gone so far as to alarm several members of the Supreme Court, as demonstrated during an argument before the Court last week (Maslenjak v. United States), in which a Justice Department lawyer argued that, as The Times reported, “the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings,” including not disclosing a criminal offense of any kind, even if there was no arrest. To test the severity of that position, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., confessed to a crime — driving 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone many years ago without being caught. He then asked if a person who had not disclosed such an incident in his citizenship application could have his citizenship revoked. The lawyer answered, yes. There was “indignation and incredulity” expressed by the members of the Court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told the lawyer, “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship.” Roberts put it simply. If the administration has its way, he said, “the government will have the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want.”
Timothy Snyder, who I have written about before, says he believes Trump is ready to go much further.

Snyder writes in his book that Trump will likely have his own conflict that brings about the “massive reckoning” Bannon seeks. Something like Hitler’s Reichstag fire that is either a war with North Korea, Iran, China, Russia or any of the other countries he’s antagonized over the last 100 days. In fact, Snyder said that it was “inevitable” that Trump and his team would try such an obvious stunt.
“Whether it works or not depends upon whether when something terrible happens to this country, we are aware that the main significance of it is whether or not we are going to be more or less free citizens in the future,” Snyder explained. “My gut feeling is that Trump and his administration will try and that it won’t work. Not so much because we are so great but because we have a little bit of time to prepare. I also think that there are enough people and enough agencies of the government who have also thought about this, and would not necessarily go along.”


  1. So far, the nativist faction in Trump's circle has been losing influence and positions.

    After much fury and sound, Trump is poised to deliver, in the end, just another vanilla republican admnistration.

  2. The NY Times article is completely bogus. Note that the only actual quote by government lawyers is "[i]f we can prove that you deliberately lied in answering that question, then yes" but then leaves out the rather important context:

    "I do want to point out, though, that there are a number of other protections built into the system, that would prevent this sort of problems that the Chief Justice has raised; and one of those is that we would have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that -- that this was a deliberate lie. I think that convincing a -- a unanimous jury of that, is very difficult."

    In other words, the whole exchange is ridiculous.

    This is just more NY Times BS.

  3. Yet there have already been convictions (eg, Kansas ballot law) where that (deliberate lie) was exactly the issue.

    Clovis, do not be misled by the incompetence and confusion of the Trumpeters. The man who gets to sign the executive orders keeps reverting to the nativist points; but more alarming is the constant probing to see how much of the constitution the public is willing to give up.

    That's how the classic totalitarians got their start

  4. Yet there have already been convictions (eg, Kansas ballot law) where that (deliberate lie) was exactly the issue.

    Prove it.

  5. Clovis, the attack on the American system continues every day:

  6. Harry,

    I don't doubt Trump and some of his guys have totalitarian instincts.

    It is just that, compared to proper fascists of olden days, they are so incompetent I don't think they will achieve much.

  7. Once again, Harry, you over egg your case, and have failed to understand, or completely ignored, opposing points of view.

    Many people believe, I think rightly, that secularism is a religion in favor of which the government, particularly Democratic administrations, strongly lean.

    Many religious people believe, and please do try to come up with a coherent rational argument otherwise, that government diktats to religious organizations significantly impede freedom of religion and association.

    So what Trump is doing is supporting the American system against governmental imposition.

    Thankfully, the article is far more balanced than your fulmination:

    Mr. Trump’s executive order on political activity, which he will sign while hosting conservative religious leaders, tries to overcome a provision in the federal tax code that prohibits churches and other religious organizations from directly opposing or supporting political candidates.

    Officials said Mr. Trump will direct the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” so that religious organizations and other nonprofit groups are not subject to punishment for expressing political views during campaign seasons.

    The move is likely to be hailed by some faith leaders who have long complained about ominous — but rarely enforced — threats from the I.R.S. that they could lose their tax-exempt status, costing them millions of dollars in fines. They said such actions unfairly stifle their voices.

    Imagine that. Restoring freedom of speech. Oh what will Trumphitler think of next to impose the Fourth Reich.

  8. I'm not sure that I see what this particular issue has to do with "freedom of speech," at least in the Constitutional sense. Churches and religious organizations are perfectly free to engage in political speech, including endorsements, if they so desire. It's not as though the political leanings of most of them aren't already well known. What they are bargaining for, however, is maintenance of their tax-exempt status. There is nothing in the Constitution that dictates how we should or should not tax a church.

    I'd be fine with churches explicitly mucking around in politics if they were taxed like every other organization.

  9. Exactly, M.

    What Skipper is demanding is taxpayer subsidized speech. It is curious that people who claim to despise taxes forget that when it's religious propaganda

  10. 'It is just that, compared to proper fascists of olden days, they are so incompetent I don't think they will achieve much.'

    I don't think the fascists of old were all that competent. Trump's approach is the same.

    If you want to boil a frog successfully, you must raise the temperature gently

  11. What is wrong with churches engaging in political speech when extensively taxpayer subsidized universities openly engage in progressive indoctrination?

  12. Harry,

    We may say many bad things about Hitler, but 'incompetent' wouldn't be my first choice.

    And Trump has clearly not raised the temperature gently enough, as his main EOs on barring immigrants were so not gently that the frog leapt away pretty fast.

  13. I could go on and on about Hitler's incompetencies but if we stick to economics, he had bankrupted the state within 5 years.