Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sign This

The endless posturing by the Il Douchebag in Chief has now entered stratospheric levels of hilarity and he is now his own parody.

The most recent executive order regarding H1B1 Visas was about commissioning a study and that was it. Wow some heady shit there!

I am amazed at the idiots who still believe or simply refuse to actually believe the alternative fact they elected a puppet. Whose however is just emerging. Is is in fact Putin or whomever has his good ear on that day? Note the confirmations of how things are "harder" "more complicated" than he thought until he heard/saw/was told it. My favorite was his 10 minute conversation with the Chinese, through interpreters (meaning that it was less time than that given the lag time being exchanged vi languages) learned everything he needed to know about the history of North Korea and China. Well that ought to shorten the lectures in Asian History classes in Universities across the globe!

Perhaps he was simply paying better attention as there were no distractions as we learned when Trump met with the Japanese PM as he had a much more bustier interpreter. I think Putin might want to remember that for their next meeting. It would be more Penthouse over White House.

Posing and posturing is Trump's trademarks. We have learned that repeatedly through numerous lawsuits and depositions and yet the great unwashed truly believe he is shaking things up. Yes that pen and its inkwell.

Trump's 25 executive orders in 100 days: more cosmetic than substantive

The president’s 25 executive orders, 24 memoranda and 20 proclamations establish big goals, but few provide legislative prescriptions

Sabrina Siddiqui and Lauren Gambino in Washington
Guardian UK
Sunday 23 April 2017

Since taking office on 20 January, Donald Trump has rolled out dozens of executive orders – aiming to fulfil a campaign pledge to undo what he called his predecessor’s “unconstitutional” acts and take unilateral action on the economy and immigration.

From the desk of the Oval Office to the podium at rallies filled with throngs of supporters, Trump has hailed his executive actions as “big stuff” and “very, very important”. The flick of his pen is promoted by the White House a major “win” and a promise kept to voters.

“TRUMP TAKES ACTIONS TO GET WASHINGTON OUT OF THE WAY,” blared the subject line of one email blast touting a rollback federal regulations.

But an analysis of Trump’s executive actions as he nears the 100th day of his presidency on Friday – which thus far includes 25 executive orders, 24 memoranda and 20 proclamations – show that Trump’s actions are more cosmetic than they are substantive.

Many of the actions establish big goals, but few provide legislative prescriptions. They order agency reviews and studies, ask for recommendations or tinker at the margins of existing law.

“A lot of it is for show,” said Cristina Rodríguez, a professor at Yale University who covers constitutional and administrative law.

“Those orders don’t mean anything right now, necessarily, but it really depends in many cases on what the agencies come back with and whether the administration goes forward with and actually implements the recommendations,” she added. “Often the reviews result in a lot of paperwork.”

In many ways, Rodríguez said, Trump’s use of executive authority to break ground on his platform is hardly unusual. But the pomp and pageantry is uniquely “Trumpian”.

One such instructive moment arrived last Monday, when Trump visited Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to unveil his so-called “Buy American and Hire American” executive order with trademark showmanship.

At the rally, Trump promised to take a “sledgehammer” to what he said were job-killing regulations as he signed an executive order that would tighten rules around foreign worker programs. Flanked by factory workers, Trump raised the signed order for all to see as the crowd showered him with applause.

At first glance, the move appeared to enact a critical portion of the populist agenda that resonated with the blue-collar workers who propelled him to victory. But for all the fanfare, there was little in the order that paved the way for substantive changes.

The action directed federal agencies to “assess” the enforcement of existing guidelines that prioritize the use of American firms and goods and to then “submit findings” within 150 days. It similarly asked a group of relevant cabinet secretaries to “as soon as practicable, suggest reforms” on eliminating fraud and abuse of the H-1B program that awards visas to highly-skilled foreign workers.

In essence, the action amounted to a self-assessment by government agencies and a request by relevant cabinet officials to look for ways to reexamine and consolidate existing rules.

The theme was set in motion on Trump’s very first day in office, when he issued an executive order before the cameras that was billed as a major step toward dismantling Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

But far from making good on his campaign vow to repeal Obamacare on “day one”, the action called on the Department of Health and Human Services and federal agencies to weaken health care requirements “to the maximum extent permitted by law”. It provided no additional powers or authority, however, to the federal government to follow through on its mandate.

A subsequent effort by Trump and Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the health care law was thwarted by members of their own party. A second attempt is already facing the same obstacles.

“This president does not have a single legislative achievement to promote right now,” said Mark Rozell, the dean of the government school at George Mason University and author of Executive Privilege.

“Therefore, to show that he’s getting things done he’s showcasing his executive actions.”

A series of orders pertaining to financial regulations have also served as statements of intent, more so than concrete action.

During a visit to the Treasury Department on Friday, Trump signed what he declared to be an “unprecedented action” by his administration to ease rules on American companies.

“We’ve lifted one terrible regulation after another at a record clip from the energy sector to the auto sector,” he said. “We’re now in the process of rebuilding America, and there’s a new optimism sweeping our country that people have not seen in decades.”

Based on briefings provided by the White House, the latest executive order and memoranda seeks yet another review of Obama-era rules that sought to better regulate Wall Street and tax avoidance by US companies.

If anything, Trump’s stated priorities would contradict his insistence that he would “stand up for the little guy”. While they won’t yet have any tangible effect, if Trump were to eventually follow through and actually rescind Obama’s regulations he would open up the door for banks and the private sector to potentially engage once more in the same practices that led to the financial collapse of 2007-08.

Some of Trump’s executive actions, however, have had far-reaching and immediate effects.

On 23 January, Trump withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership brokered by Barack Obama. While the landmark 12-nation trade agreement was already regarded as dead on Capitol Hill, foreign allies such as Japan were dismayed to to see the new inhabitant of the White House formally place the final nail in the coffin.

Days later, Trump issued arguably his most consequential executive order to bar refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. That action, which also attempted to temporarily suspend the entire US refugee program, prompted chaos at airports nationwide and was subsequently blocked by courts despite an effort by the Trump administration to implement a revised version.

The Department of Homeland Security has additionally pursued stricter guidance that advocacy groups have decried as an immigration crackdown. The sweeping guidelines, revealed in February, put in motion the prospect of widespread deportations and closed the borders to migrants fleeing violence in Central America.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to learn more about enhanced enforcement activity by the DHS and US Customs and Border Protection. Anecdotal reports have indicated enhanced interrogation at the border and in some cases the seizure of electronic devices and questioning about religious or political beliefs.

“The bluster itself isn’t inconsequential,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, the chief of staff for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, who wondered how individual border agents might be altering their behavior based on the Trump administration’s declarations of “extreme vetting” and “keeping the bad guys out.”

“A government is supposed to act in an impartial manner, but when you have this kind of encouragement from the commander in chief, don’t you think that’s going to have some impact on the border agent?”

Trump has also taken initial steps to undermine Obama’s climate legacy, for example the gutting of a rule in February that had been designed to protect American waterways from pollution.

As of now, Trump has signed more executive actions in the same period than his recent predecessors.

If he keeps up his current pace, Trump is on track to sign 96 executive orders by the end of the year, according to the American Presidency Project – far more than George Washington, who signed just eight, but far fewer than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed a staggering 3,721 orders as he imposed his sweeping New Deal program in response to the Great Depression.

Republicans, including Trump, routinely denounced Obama for what they claimed was unprecedented unilateral action and often honed their campaign messages around ending Obama’s “overreach”of the executive branch. But Obama signed the fewest executive orders per year, 35 on average, since Grover Cleveland in the 1890s.

In total, Obama signed 277 executive orders during his two-term presidency, lower than the tally of his two immediate predecessors. George W Bush signed 291 executive orders over eight years, while Bill Clinton finished his two-term presidency with 364 such actions.

Experts warn that the statistics alone don’t necessarily measure how a president is exerting power.
Congress returns to face daunting tasks: avoid a shutdown and an angry Trump

“It’s not the numbers that matter,” said Ken Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power.

“It’s the content and the substance of the orders and few of the unilaterally implemented orders change policy.”

Mayer nonetheless echoed other presidential observers on Trump’s penchant for exaggerating his actual accomplishments.

“This is a president who likes the idea of using the power of the office to drive stakes in the ground on his agenda,” Mayer said.

“But he is discovering, as presidents before him have discovered, that checks and balances are a very real thing.”

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