Archive of Articles for January, 2017

You're Fired!

[ Posted Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 – 17:45 UTC ]

It didn't take Donald Trump long before he had a chance to use his famous catchphrase as president. He has now fired not only the Acting Attorney General, but also a growing number of high-ranking federal employees in a number of departments and agencies (the State Department, and today, the immigration enforcement agency). Whether this is a good thing for the country or even a good thing for Trump politically is debatable, of course. But no matter where you come down on the Trump firings so far, they are not in any way illegal or unconstitutional. The president has wide discretion to fire people, although only down to a certain red line.

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The Unexpected Trump

[ Posted Monday, January 30th, 2017 – 17:28 UTC ]

While Donald Trump certainly had a momentous first full week on the job, none of it really should have been all that surprising. Plenty of people were downright outraged by his first actions as president, but few should have been as shocked as they seemed to be. It's finally sinking in, to put this slightly differently, that there simply will never be a "pivot" to some different, more presidential Trump. The Trump you see is the Trump you get.

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Friday Talking Points [422] -- Tiny Hands, Tiny Crowds

[ Posted Friday, January 27th, 2017 – 17:59 UTC ]

We're going to start today with a story that sounds like an urban myth, but actually happened. The state government of Indiana, 120 years ago, was almost taken in by a crank mathematician. He got them to introduce a bill he had written that would have changed state law to state that the value of pi was what he said it was. The language of the bill is inexact at best -- it might better be described as "completely incoherent" -- and actually suggests multiple ways of calculating pi, none of which are correct. The easiest to understand was to calculate it as a ratio of 5/4 to 4, which would give 3.2. The other methods are pretty indecipherable, to be polite.

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First Shot In The Upcoming Trade Wars

[ Posted Thursday, January 26th, 2017 – 17:28 UTC ]

President Donald Trump's administration may have just fired the first shot in what could become a worldwide trade war. In response to criticisms about his announcing that the border wall with Mexico will be paid for by American taxpayers (and not, as promised, Mexico), Trump has been trying to come up with an answer for how we will be "reimbursed" by Mexico. Today, apparently, he has decided on the preferred method. The White House just announced a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico.

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Taking The 25th

[ Posted Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 – 17:44 UTC ]

That headline is an obvious attempt at a play on words, but while "taking the Fifth" (refusing to testify on the grounds that it would tend to incriminate you, a right guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) happens on a daily basis in America, "taking the Twenty-Fifth" has never happened -- at least not in the way some are now contemplating. I first briefly wrote about this issue two weeks ago, but since then more and more people -- from both the right and the left -- have been noticing this constitutional oddity. But few are taking the time to read the entire section, instead quoting the start of it and ignoring the rest of it, which deals with the actual procedure itself. If you seriously are considering removing the president in a constitutional coup, however, it's worth taking a strong look at the Twenty-Fifth, in full.

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Our President's Crazy, Did You Hear What He Said?

[ Posted Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 – 19:08 UTC ]

I should begin today by explaining that that headline comes from a Talking Heads song ("Making Flippy Floppy"), which was written during the years when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. It's kind of a nonsensical song and it's just one throwaway line; it wasn't trying to make some deeper point. Back then, liberals were constantly amused by pronouncements from the Gipper (such as: "trees cause more pollution than automobiles," to give just one hilarious example), so it was a common sentiment among his political opponents.

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Program Note

[ Posted Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 – 12:35 UTC ]

My apologies for the lack of column yesterday (Monday). Our power went out at 5:30 A.M. Sunday morning, when a power pole with four transformers on it blew over in a storm, about 20 or 30 houses down our street. The power stayed off for the next 46 hours. It came back [...]

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Obama Poll Watch -- January, 2017

[ Posted Friday, January 20th, 2017 – 17:06 UTC ]

Obama's Final Honeymoon Ends Well
America now has a new president, meaning (among other things) it is time to take one final look back at the presidency of Barack Obama. The chart is now complete on the public's opinion of how President Obama performed his duties, and his final "honeymoon" period not only continued during [...]

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Four Years, Or Eight?

[ Posted Thursday, January 19th, 2017 – 18:05 UTC ]

Since we're about to leap into an unknown future tomorrow, I found myself wondering what Donald Trump's chances of being a one-term president would be. Historically, we're already in one of the longest runs of two-termers in all of American history, so if that's any indication, Trump's chances for two terms seem pretty remote.

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Cabinetmaking Season

[ Posted Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 – 17:54 UTC ]

It's cabinetmaking season in Washington again. President-Elect Donald Trump has made his selections, and they're all working their way through their confirmation hearings. The outcome, for virtually all of them, is not in doubt. Unless three Republican senators disapprove of a nominee to the point of voting against his or her confirmation, Trump will get the cabinet he desires. To the victor go the spoils, and all of that.

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