President Trump finally did it—after years of calls from blackballed conservatives, GEOTUS signed an executive order yesterday removing liability protections for social media companies that censor users based on their political views.
Here is a lengthy excerpt from Fox News‘s reporting:
The president’s order, which also cuts federal funding for social media platforms that censor users’ political views, came just two days after Twitter took the unprecedented step of slapping a “misleading” warning label on two of Trump’s tweets concerning the fraud risks of nationwide mail-in balloting. The move immediately backfired: Experts disputed that Trump’s tweet was actually misleading, in part because mail-in balloting has been linked to ongoing fraud; Twitter’s fact-check itself contained false statements; and Twitter failed to apply the standard of review to other users.
At Thursday’s signing ceremony, Trump called the fact-check “egregious,” and held up a photo of Twitter executive Yoel Roth, who heads up the site’s fact-checking and rules-making operation. Fox News reported on Wednesday that Roth has mocked Trump supporters, called Trump’s team “ACTUAL NAZIS,” slammed “scary trannies” in New York City, and called GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a “bag of farts.” (In a statement, Twitter did not dispute Fox News’ reporting, but called it “unfortunate.”)
“My executive order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it so that social media companies that engage in censoring any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” the president said.
Essentially, social media platforms have always had a choice: either act as a publisher, in which case you’re liable for what users post, but you can remove and censor content as you see fit; or act as a neutral platform, in which case you’re protected from liability for what users post. Twitter, Facebook, et. al., are trying to have the best of both worlds—ban political posts and users with which they disagree under the companies’ “Terms of Services,” while disclaiming responsibility for everything else.
In this blog’s long and storied history, I’ve been a consistent advocate of space exploration, with a particular interest in lunar colonization. An enduring frustration of this blog is that the United States has satiated its thirst for exploration with the numbing effects of consumer technologies. Yes, we can FaceTime one another from halfway around the globe and can set our thermostats remotely so the house is cooled down before we arrive—all wonderful conveniences—but is that truly the apex of human endeavor? Is being comfortable really the point of it all?
There was a time when we dreamed of exploring the stars, or at least of visiting our nearest celestial neighbors. But that drive for adventure dissipated—or, perhaps, exploded—sometime in the 1980s. The Age of The Virus further highlights our society’s obsession with safety, an obsession anathema to the derring-do necessary to explore the stars.
To paraphrase Bill Whittle, we’ll know we’re serious about space exploration when our graveyards are filled with astronauts.
One reason I’m not overly concerned about President Trump’s national emergency is because the normal constitutional order has not operated effectively or as designed for a very long time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the Constitution and the process, but there are so many extra-constitutional shenanigans going on already, it seems we’re missing the forest for the trees when we fixate on the president’s completely statutory, legal national emergency declaration.
Remember, Congress delegated the national emergency power to the executive branch in the National Emergency Act of 1976. Whether they should have done so—or been allowed to do so—is a matter of debate, but they did, and it empowered President Trump to fulfill his Article II obligation to defend our national sovereignty.
Regardless, the media and Never Trumpers’ fixation on the national emergency distracts from the real threat to our constitutional republic: the active attempt by the Deep State to stage a silent coup of the President.
Democrats and Deep Staters have made it clear they want to remove President Trump from office, not for any actual “high crime or misdemeanor,” but simply because they can if they either a.) get enough votes in the House and Senate or b.) stage a 25th Amendment, Cabinet-level coup. Both of those are extremely unlikely, but they would set a dangerous precedent: whenever there’s a president one side doesn’t like, that side can attempt to remove him from office for the flimsiest of reasons. The breakdown of our constitutional norms would only accelerate.
Andrew McCabe’s current media tour is premised on his ostentatiously prideful boasting that he encouraged a 25th Amendment removal of President Trump, or at least wanted to explore the option. Keep in mind, McCabe was considering this option even before President Trump had a chance to do anything that might be considered a “high crime.”
The accusations of “Russian collusion,” and the subsequent Mueller witch hunt, still have not yielded any actual evidence against Trump, and has only succeeded in rounding up some fringe characters on tedious process violations—they made mistakes in testimony as part of an investigation that itself is out-of-control and useless.
That a large portion of the federal bureaucracy and the intelligence community want to overthrow President Trump is not a sign of their desire to maintain a healthy republic, but is rather symptomatic of their disdain for the Electoral College and the American people—indeed, of the entire electoral process.
Put simply, their candidate lost, and they don’t want President Trump bringing their heinous misdeeds and conspiracies against the public to light.
Drain the Swamp! The sooner the better. And put McCabe behind bars for seditious activity.
One of my favorite writers, paleocon Pat Buchanan, has a piece on one of my favorite sites, Taki’s Magazine, about President Trump’s recent declaration of a national emergency. That national emergency, you’ll recall, will allow the President to use existing funds within the federal bureaucracy to build a border wall, thereby circumventing Congress’s lackluster appropriation of funds for that purpose.
Critics argue that the president is undermining our Constitution, with its careful balance of powers between the branches, specifically its delegation of the “power of the purse” to Congress. While I certainly share some of those concerns, Buchanan points out that Trump’s national emergency is only the latest (and one of the mildest) in a long line of the executive overreach.
More crucially, Buchanan places the blame for the extension of the executive power at Congress‘s feet. In this regard, Buchanan is correct: Congress, with the support of an activist federal judiciary, long ago realized that it could farm out key legislative functions to the executive branch (specifically, the federal bureaucracy), and thereby avoid catching the blame for the nation’s problems. In the process, the executive and judicial branches have arrogated greater powers to themselves (thus, the tug-of-wars between unelected federal judges and the Trump administration on virtually every policy).
To quote Buchanan at length:
Yet while presidents have acted decisively, without congressional authorization and sometimes unconstitutionally, Congress has failed to defend, and even surrendered, its legitimate constitutional powers.
Congress’s authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been largely ceded to the executive branch, with Congress agreeing to confine itself to a “yeah” or “nay” vote on whatever trade treaty the White House negotiates and sends to the Hill.
Congress’s authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was long ago transferred to the Federal Reserve.
Congress’s power to declare war has been ignored by presidents since Truman. Authorizations for the use of military force have replaced declarations of war, with presidents deciding how broadly they may be interpreted.
In declaring the national emergency Friday, Trump rested his case on authority given the president by Congress in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.
As I wrote over the weekend, I believe the president acted within his the scope of Article II of the Constitution in issuing the national emergency, as it pertains to powers inherent in the office of the executive: national defense and border security. I’m not completely comfortable with this method for funding a border wall, and I think the president and congressional Republicans blew an opportunity to build the wall during the two years of Republican control of the federal government, but action needed to be taken.
Buchanan’s piece is titled, chillingly, “Why Autocrats are Replacing Democrats.” To answer his own question, he argues that voters internationally are weary of the plodding democratic process, and are eager for leaders who will deliver solutions to their problems. Buchanan claims that republican forms of government have failed to fulfill their most basic functions—border and immigration control, national security, etc.—and the people demand solutions—action.
I don’t think President Trump is an autocrat or a fascist. I also don’t entirely blame him for using powers Congress has delegated to his office. Up to this point, President Trump has stayed very much within defined constitutional limits in the exercise of his authority.
We should, however, be ever vigilant about—and always on guard against—executive overreach. While I think the president acted within accepted constitutional bounds here—and relied upon the poor decisions of a past Congress to shore up his case for the national emergency—I hope this method of governance does not became de rigeur habit, as it did under the Obama administration.
On the plus side, we’re getting a wall!
It’s going to be a very quick post today. While I’m enjoying an unexpectedly lengthy Winter Break—a perk of being a teacher, and why our complaints, while legitimate, should be taken with a grain of salt—I’m also quite busy outside of the mildly Dissident Right/”Alt-Lite” blogosphere. I played a very fun solo gig last night at a coffee shop in my neck of South Carolina, and tonight I’ll be playing alto saxophone with an old-school, swingin’ big band. I’m heading out for soundcheck and rehearsals for that soon, thus the quick post (gotta keep the streak alive!).
American Thinker posted a piece this week on the utility of border walls—how they’re popping internationally, and how they’re incredibly effective: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/02/a_fenceless_border_is_defenseless.html
Some international examples from the piece (emphasis added):
According to a February 2018 American Renaissance article, between 1945 and 1961, over 3.5 million East Germans walked across the unguarded border. When the wall was built, it cut defections by more than 90 percent. When Israel in January 2017 completed improvements to the fence on its border with Egypt to keep out terrorists and African immigrants, it cut illegal immigration to zero. In 2015, The Telegraph reported on the construction of a 600-mile “great wall” border by Saudi Arabia with Iraq to stop Islamic State militants from entering the country. The wall included five layers of fencing with watchtowers, night-vision cameras, and radar cameras. Finally, a September 2016 article in the Washington Post reported on the new construction of a mile-long wall at Calais.
In case you missed it, the key line there is “[w]hen Israel… completed improvements to the fence on its border with Egypt… it cut illegal immigration to zero.”
Cut it to zero. No one can plausibly argue against the effectiveness of a border wall. Yes, ports of entry are a problem, too, but those are merely the documented cases of illegal entry. The reason those numbers are so prominent in the debate (besides being a useful cudgel against the commonsense of a border wall) is because we have numbers—at least, more accurate numbers—for illegal entries at ports of entry as opposed to illegal entries at the porous southern border.
Again, that’s just commonsense, but it’s easy to lose in the debate. It’s hard to fight data with data when you don’t have an accurate count—and an accurate count of illegal border crossings is, by definition, impossible!
What we do know is that illegal crossings are up—why else would there be hordes of coyote-led migrants marching en masse to the border—and a wall is a quick, cost-effective way to relieve border agents to focus on other areas.
Those hordes—as much as we can and should sympathize with their plight—represent a direct assault on our borders and national sovereignty. If we let some come through illegally, simply because they come in large numbers, then the floodgates open.
In that context—that of a foreign invasion—the President’s decision to declare a national emergency seems to be entirely in keeping with his powers under Article II of the Constitution.
While I think he should have gotten Congress to act sooner when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress (although, let’s be honest here: many congressional Republicans are doing the bidding of the US Chamber of Commerce and the cheap labor lobby when it comes to border security—they want to assure a steady stream of near-slave labor for their donors), this crisis needs to be met with the full force of the Commander-in-Chief’s war-waging powers.
For the fullest explanation of that approach, read this piece from Ann Coulter. Coulter is a controversial figure, but I think her assessment of the Constitution is accurate here.
I find “national emergencies” and broad applications of presidential powers constitutionally distasteful; however, a core responsibility of the executive is to execute the laws, including immigration laws, and to protect and guard national borders. If Congress won’t pony up for border security, President Trump must use every power at his disposal as Commander-in-Chief to defend the nation. That’s pretty much his entire job!
Well, it looks like this post was as long as any other. I type pretty quickly when I’m in rant-mode, and nothing gets me there faster than illegal invasion.
Godspeed, President Trump. Please be more attentive to this issue going forward—it’s why we elected you!
In a rare victory for constitutionalism and common sense, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld President Trump’s so-called “travel ban” on those coming from five majority-Muslim countries and two non-Muslim nations, Venezuela and North Korea.
Congress has given the President broad powers over immigration, and the Supreme Court upheld those powers, without endorsing the soundness of the policy.
The legal challenge to the ban was on the grounds that it was motivated by an anti-Muslim bias. Whether such a bias was a motivating factor or not is inconsequential; the US President has the authority to ban travel by foreign nationals to the United States on any grounds, for any reason. Any distaste for a president’s immigration policy should be demonstrated at the ballot box, not in the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, too, trying to read the mind of the president—especially if it’s President Trump—is a thorny proposition. While candidate Trump made several (accurate) remarks about the dangerous nature of radical Islam as part of a justification for a proposed ban on travel by all Muslims—an idea that is probably unworkable in practice—that’s not enough evidence to support an anti-Muslim animus.
Further, what counts as an “anti-Muslim animus”? If I criticize Pakistani-run child “grooming” gangs in Great Britain, is that an indicator? If I speak out against genital mutilation in Muslim Somalia, does that qualify? There’s a difference between speaking hard truths (for example, a substantial number of Muslims think terrorism is justified, even if they themselves wouldn’t commit an act of terror) about a group and hating it.
The legal challenges to the travel ban boiled down to feel-good emotionalism—“you can’t say anything bad about a minority group or your policy is invalid!”—not an actual constitutional argument against it. The policy may or may not be sound—I think it makes perfect sense, but others are free to disagree—but that’s for the voters to decide, not a small group of legal agitators hoping for a win in the Supreme Court.