The Daily Dog: DNR for GOP Trumpcare Bill

In an appropriate twist of irony for the Trump regime, at roughly the same time Trump was tweeting about his successful day the White House Monday and boasting about his healthcare bill being passed, Trumpcare was dying on the table. Two more senators defected on Mitch McConnell’s bill to strip millions of Americans of their health coverage, killing the most recent attempt to revive the Frankenstein patchwork law.

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Wooden stakes and silver bullets finally killed McConnell’s Trumpcare bill.

Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) announced late Monday that they would not support the bill and joined holdouts Susan Collins and Rand Paul. A vote on the bill already had been postponed to allow Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to recover from emergency surgery and return to Capitol Hill. However, without the support of Lee and Moran, McConnell’s Trumpcare fiasco is predicted to garner only 48 votes — not enough for the simple majority the senate is relying on to pass the legislation.

Though Monday’s defeat is another nail in the coffin of Trumpcare, as long as Donald Trump and his republican henchmen continue to dominate Washington politics, the fight is far from over. Already, McConnell and his supporters have made several, albeit short-lived, efforts to force the legislation through the senate. It is almost as if McConnell’s paycheck is dependent on his ability to destroy one piece of Obama-era legislation and he is likely to try again.

Under McConnell’s so-called leadership of the Senate, it appears that the U.S. government has no priorities other than repealing Obamacare. Of course, the Senate’s inability to move beyond its contempt for President Obama is commensurate with the slow moving progress of the Trump regime and its comparable political sentiment.

Every administration since George Washington’s presidency has left a mark on America. In our nation’s succession of representative government, the federal government progresses by building on the foundations established by each predecessor — not by destroying the accomplishments of previous leaders.

Though incoming administrations may not always agree with a former policy, it is unbecoming for the current heads of government to constantly demean and ridicule another group of American leaders. It is almost like the Trump regime and its associates are looking at our country’s recent history as — dare we say it — enemies of the state. They are so vehemently opposed to practically everything established in the past 25 years that Trump and company have become un-American.

America has always been a nation proud of innovation and individuality. It is a place where men and women make their marks with their own ideas. They forge new paths and create successes from nothingness.

With the rise of Trumpism, those values and expectations have evaporated along with national unity and spirit. Pseudo-leaders like Trump and McConnell cannot use their own ideas and positive goals to foster progress because they do not have ideas or goals. They revert to leading by destruction, by taking credit for what others have done, and by using fear to control the public’s perception.

There is nothing American or normal about the manipulative state of politics in Washington, D.C. America has seen good and bad presidents alike. It has witnessed poor choices, inept leaders, and civil war — all in the name of democracy.

What our nation has never witnessed, however, is a government so unskilled and lacking in thought and ideas that it arrives in the capital with no signature direction, agenda, or future. Moreover, Trump has failed to grasp the gravity of Washington’s role in America. The Oval Office is a not an uncensored boardroom from which Trump can issue edicts based on personal preferences.

While Trumpcare is headed for the morgue this morning, its failure leaves Americans in a more precarious situation as Trump begins calling for the repeal of Obama’s health plan with no replacement. Trump and McConnell are creating a healthcare disaster that will have far-reaching and detrimental effects. Without a coherent plan of his own, Trump is proving only that he cannot choose on his own what is best for America because America is not a kingdom of one.

The Daily Dog: Drowning in the Swamp

As Washington, D.C. swelters through the dog days of summer, the atmosphere in the Trump royal residence must be approaching pressure cooker status. Donald Trump went to the capital bragging about how he was going to “drain the swamp.” The way things are looking for his regime today, it may turn out to be the other way around when Trump finally drowns in the muck of his own making.

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Trump is learning how dysfunction takes the fun out of family politics.                     Photo: Albert H. Teich

This week has begun as one of the lowest weeks of Trump’s novice attempt at government leadership and parenting. While he solicits loyalty pledges from complete strangers, Trump clearly has a trustless relationship with his son, Donald, Jr., who in the past few days just cannot keep from spilling the rotten beans on dear old dad.

The spotlight of scrutiny is focusing more closely on Trump, Jr. after he revealed how he would have loved it if Russian government agents provided dirt on Hillary Clinton during a meeting last June. In the midst of the political turmoil in the White House, old Trump family stories are beginning to recirculate.

Last November, a Miami area realtor and DJ who attended University of Pennsylvania with Donald Trump, Jr. recounted a troubling incident on Facebook. Scott Melker said that he posted the account before the 2016 election because of his concerns about Trump’s erratic temperament. According to Mekler, Trump entered his son’s room and brutally slapped him for not being dressed appropriately. The force of the blow was so hard, that Melker alleged it knocked Trump, Jr. to the floor.

Considering Trump’s frequent tirades and lashing out at opponents, the incident does seem a likely scenario in the context of Trump as not only a bully in politics, but a bully patriarch, too. His temperament shows in angry morning tweets and a loose grip on the realities of government.

Watching Trump’s personal interactions with his children, his spouse, and even world leaders, one can almost imagine a strained and even abusive relationship coming from the man with a short fuse. Trump does not exude warmth or humanity — that a man so fake is constantly attacking the “fake media” is an irony in itself. From his plasticized hair and his orange hue to elementary vocabulary and aggressive yanking handshakes, Trump is a man whose ability to communicate eludes him.

Trump functions on threats and force — whether that force is a slap, a shove, or a misogynist tweet attacking a morning show host.

The discussion about Trump must cease to be one of leveraged blows between liberals and conservatives; democrats and republicans; or any other faction versus any other group. The discussion must be unified by the fact that Trump is simply un-American. He is un-American in a way that has not been cool for over sixty years.

We do not live in 1950. It is not okay to deride women, slap a secretary on the ass, or make lewd comments about a woman’s appearance. It is unacceptable in today’s cultural mix to discriminate against a person because of their skin color, disgrace their religious beliefs, and refuse to accept their identities. The days of hitting children are over, and being a good father has nothing to do with being strong, or silent.

How is it that the man who demonstrates every terrible masculine trait and stereotype of the 1950s is so comfortable embracing America’s biggest enemy from both then and now? Trump should be building bunkers in the White House and screaming about Red invasions.

It is time to let go of the Trump idea, America. There is nothing red-blooded about his actions, his manners, or his leadership and parenting. Trump does not represent left or right when he is abusive — physically or verbally. It does not matter if you are a Trump fan or foe — when he bullies and assaults his own children, that kind of man can never be a president.

The Daily Dog: A Complicit Warning

In 1972, two Washington Post reporters investigating the Watergate scandal relied on an anonymous source to break one of the most meaningful news stories in American history. The nameless person close to the investigation, dubbed “Deep Throat” by Post editors, turned out to be Mark Felt, the associate director of the F.B.I. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s dogged efforts contributed to exposing President Richard Nixon’s involvement the Watergate break-in and led to a Pulitzer Prize.

How times have changed. Forty-five years later, with a more serious and far-reaching scandal value clouding Washington, D.C. politics, the Department of Justice is issuing warnings to the American public and, ironically the press, to beware anonymous sources.


Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Statement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Anonymous Allegations

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today issued the following statement:

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”

Component(s): 

Office of the Deputy Attorney General

Press Release Number: 

17-665


 

The statement by the deputy attorney general is another ominous twist in the Trump administration’s attempts to shape public opinion. Relying on anonymous sources is a long-standing policy of journalists across the country. It is also a practice subject to scrutiny and specific ethical and procedural rules to ensure quality journalism and reliability.

Every media outlet has guidelines on the use of anonymous sources. For example, the Reuters Handbook of Journalism advises reporters “Unnamed sources must have direct knowledge of the information they are giving us, or must represent an authority with direct knowledge.”

A professional journalist’s richest currency is fact-based information. Moreover, unlike the current examples from the Trump government, reporters and editors maintain integrity and trust by following rules. The Justice Department’s feeble effort to delegitimize news sourcing is not a warning, but another base attack on the First Amendment and the fundamental necessity of a free press in democracy.

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“Anonymous is lying about Beloved Leader!”

Additionally, Rosenstein’s warning seems to contradict DOJ internal policy on nameless allegations vis-à-vis federal whistleblowing. In October 2013, the DOJ Office of Inspector General published a policy video that specifically addressed whether relators could remain anonymous. According to Senior Counsel at the time, Rob Storch, the DOJ’s own policy is to protect privacy:

“If you are willing to identify yourself, but you want to maintain your confidentiality, we’ll make every effort to honor a request for confidentiality and would only disclose your identity if it became inevitable that we had to do so. We would make every effort to maintain your confidentiality.”

While anonymity and confidentiality carry different levels of disclosure and reliability, it seems rather disingenuous for Rosenstein to issue warnings to the American public about the press. There appears to be no more than a semantic difference between confidential disclosure of federal wrongdoing to authorities and anonymous sourcing of illicit activity to a reporter, especially based on other aspects of DOJ’s disclosure policies.

Considering the outcome of the Watergate investigation and President Richard Nixon’s resignation, the press’ policies on anonymous sourcing served the nation well. There is little reason to believe that the same practices exercised in 1972 are not being applied in 2017.

By advising the American public to guard itself against the media, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has shredded the thin veil of impartiality that needs to exist between him and the president. He and his department now carry the appearance of complicity in Trump’s continued efforts to deflect attention from an ongoing investigation.

Donald Trump attacked the media and the free press from the onset of his term. He has called the mainstream media fake and an enemy of the people. Last week, Congress attempted to rescind rules governing press interviews and access. This week, Rosenstein issues a propaganda statement to warn the public about press rules of sourcing.

The current administration is easily embarrassed by Donald Trump’s ignorance of office — his lack of experience, efficiency, understanding, and respect in relation to America’s democratic values and procedures. He is a man ill prepared to lead a country and he is a man without the mental capacity necessary for the enormity of his job. It is the press’ responsibility to expose truth — no matter how painful or embarrassing it may be to the president and his administration.

Whether it takes the form of a rash early morning tweet, or an officious warning from a supposedly independent agency, attacks on the press are attacks on the Constitution, and thus democracy. In the end, the anonymous sources protecting America’s democratic values are less of a threat than the leaders making vainglorious attacks on the country’s most basic guiding principles.

#Covfefe Solved!

On Monday, the White House claimed that it was “utterly ridiculous” for anyone to infer that President Trump attacked London’s mayor because the mayor is Muslim. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders was too quick to respond when asked about Trump’s tweets criticizing Mayor Sadiq Kahn. The knee-jerk denial was strong enough to kick her credibility out the door where it almost hit a cowering Sean Spicer.

Trump and Kahn have been sparring in the media since the beginning of both their political campaigns almost two years ago. Kahn took early exception to Trump’s “ignorant” view of Muslims; and Trump took an exception to…well, Kahn’s religion. Then candidate Trump intimated that Kahn was an “exception” to the rule among Muslims and how the Travel Ban would affect him if the mayor visited the United States.

Yet, the White House continues to treat the American public like a mindless herd that will eagerly consume and digest any statement, opinion, or denial coming from on high. Trump has not only insulted Mayor Kahn and other European leaders, but he humiliates every person in the United States daily in assuming they are not intelligent enough to connect the dots in the administration’s path to ruin.

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Tiny hands and a big mouth make Trump a double threat in the Twitter dominated media world.

It was only a few weeks ago that the president wished the “many losers” in the country a happy Memorial Day on Twitter. On the heels of his criticism and “pathetic” tweet regarding Kahn, it is neither ridiculous nor a stretch to see the president for what he is: an inflammatory blowhard — the original agent provocateur.

Trump ramped up to his hasty presidential campaign crushing dreamers on national television by yelling, “You’re fired!” Millions of Americans tuned in each week filled with glee and anticipation to see which apprentice’s failings merited Trump’s ire. How happy they must be now that Trump is calling them losers and heaping his scorn on the public. America created this monster, and America must work together to contain him.

Once in office, Trump continued his role as the inciting agent by encouraging his appointees to do his bidding and then disowning the consequences. For Trump, failure is familiar and embarrassing, and he is fearfully incapable of owning it. He is never at fault and has an answer for every moronic debacle — or he sends one of his minions to their doom in having to lie and make excuses for him. (Try saying, “Cover for Me,” after a shot of tequila or when you are exhausted.)



#Covfefe launched the Twitterverse into a bigly Conundrizzy…


Contrary to the White House propaganda, what is utterly ridiculous at this early point in the Trump presidency is that it is not ridiculous to assume or infer anything. In almost every instance of Trump’s incoherent tweets, unscripted speeches, and blustery promises, the not-so-hidden meanings eventually turn out to be quite transparent and true. A ban that is unequivocally not a ban is later proclaimed loudly and openly…as a ban.

Trump is raw, unfiltered, frustrated, and spoiled. He has difficulty containing his intentions and emotions. He is driven to express what Trump wants to say because he believes that he is right, everyone else is wrong, and he is thus superior.

A majority of his tweets contain emotional language, capital letters, and exclamation points. It is not at all unreasonable for the public to interpret the meaning of his excited utterances as what is most obvious the truth at the moment. However, what is unreasonable in this new era of political chaos is for the president and the White House staff to assume that Americans are somehow less intelligent today than yesterday. Simply because an idiot leads a nation (or pretends to), does not make it a country of idiots — the same way not every American is a bigot, racist, or even a small-time orange billionaire.

Mythical Gryphon Slays Trump

On Wednesday morning, it was evident that America’s Tweeter in Chief was off his meds again. Following a convoluted drunk-text shortly after midnight that resulted in the “#covfefe” intrigue, Trump went on an early morning rant against comedian Kathy Griffin. Earlier, Griffin had posted a tweet in which she held an effigy of a wigged and bloody orange head. It bordered on tasteless, but was in all honesty obviously fake. With the Trump family’s keen ability to sniff out fakeness, the photo should have been quickly identified as not the real Donald Trump.

An effigy of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is burnt as part of  bonfire night celebrations in Edenbridge
This is a FAKE Trump. No Trumps were harmed in the making of this photograph.

Instead, during one of his first tweets of the morning, Trump said, “My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” First off, most of Trump’s children are gown adults who, recently appointed to security-clearance level White House positions, are surely able to distinguish an effigy from the real thing. Secondly, those same adult children must, in the wake of the administration’s circus-like criminal conduct, understand politics is ugly. If they are unable to accept the harshness of politics, then they have no place in Washington, D.C.

For Trump’s offspring born to privilege, pampering, protection, and private schools, it is likely Griffin’s comedic attempt did push the envelope of their delicate sensibilities. To Griffin’s credit, she apologized shortly thereafter, admitting that perhaps her parody had gone too far. Her apology is more than the American public can expect from Trump for his indiscretions and the damage that he is doing daily to children across the nation.

In the context of leader of the country, Trump has an assumed moral duty to act in the best interests of the nation’s children. They are the weakest, often without voices, and in greatest need. However, as he has with almost every issue of importance, the president instead demonstrated that the only concern in Trumpington is Trump.

Trump rebuked Griffin for her lack of taste because it may have marred his youngest son. The reprimand comes from the same leader who has refused to protect the interests of America’s poorest children. By not demanding a balanced budget that includes fully funded public welfare programs to families, Trump committed 15 million times more harm as Griffin. In demanding the repeal of Obamacare and coverage for low-income families, the president turned his back on those who need him most: the ailing children of America who live in poverty.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, a joint organization of Columbia University and the Mailman School of Public Heath, almost 25% of all American children live below the federal poverty line. When the government’s outmoded poverty standard is adjusted to account for the necessities that a family of four requires to subsist, the percentage of at-risk children rises to 43%.

In America, living in poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s welfare. Children represent one-third of all people in poverty — the largest group of any age category. For them, a “hard time” does not include seeing a violent effigy of a parent, but it may mean being witness to a parent’s violent death. Those children do not worry about their parent’s safety in the most secure mansion in the world, but wonder if the gunfire outside will reach them while they sleep.

For children in poverty, bloodied effigies of loved ones are not fake news: they are the reality of life. Living in poverty stunts a child’s ability to learn, thrive, and succeed. Insufficient income contributes to children having to confront a broader range of physical and psychosocial stressors — violence, in and out of the home, drugs, residential instability, and a lack of food and nutrition.

The president’s agenda and programs offer no support, solutions, or even diffident concern for millions of children who will suffer a hundred times what Barron can only imagine because of a fake photo. They will suffer more than Chelsea Clinton did when Donald Trump called for fans to exercise their second amendment rights against her mother. They will suffer more than the Obama daughters did when the Trump assailed their father and cheered rallies for admirers who burned Barack Obama in effigy.

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Griffin: fierce, but apologetic.

It is difficult to feel sorry for any of the president’s children because of a cartoonish image of Trump in a photo. Moreover, it is even more difficult to generate sympathy when Trump is shamefully using his son as a shield to deflect his detractors instead of bearing the burden of criticism like a man. It is a sign that Trump will sell out anyone.

Kathy Griffin may have crossed a line, but it was a very fine line. The country is staring down its worst crisis in nearly a century. Griffin at least had the conviction to express herself without hurting anyone, which is more than can be said for the unprincipled damage Trump’s policies portend for America’s forgotten children.

The Spewer in Chief

Not since George H.W. Bush’s infamous trip to Japan 25 years ago has a U.S. President made such a poor impression with America’s overseas allies. When Bush vomited on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa in January 1992, the press reported the incident as one of the most embarrassing moments in U.S.-foreign diplomacy. Many thought Bush would never be out done.

That was before Trump arrived and opened his mouth. In what is likely to go down as the longest episode of remedial retching in political history, Trump’s verbal vomit is a national embarrassment that has not let up since he took office.

Trump had barely returned from his jaunt through the Middle East and Europe when he reignited his insane pattern of dementia-ridden tweets. In the boorish manner America has come to expect from its so-called leader, Trump renewed his shouting on Twitter with attacks on the media. In what has become a common fascist Trant for the past six months, Trump again tried to convince America that all news that he disagrees with is “fake.”

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Who has a bigly barf bag? Photo: Evan Vucci/AFP/Getty Images

He crowed about his “great” accomplishments in the Middle East and Europe, too. In typical Trump fashion, his tweets are failing in concrete facts, and bigly on simple abstract hyperbole. Trump let America know that “money is beginning to pour in” (to where?), and that he was “bringing hundreds of billions of dollars back” (to his bank account?). Then there were “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” (how many and what kind?) and, of course, the all-encompassing, “big results!”

Most of his announcements convey a certain hollow meaninglessness since Trump’s vocabulary is limited to a few emotion-driven monosyllabic words intended to capture his audience’s attention before he moves on. The president is an elementary school huckster peddling snake oil on the playground. Like all of his Trants and Tritters, most end with Trump’s guaranteed truth serum — an exclamation point.

If the Washington Post or New York Times added myriad exclamation points to their well-investigated and trusted journalism model, Trump loyalists might finally see the truth!

The truth is ugly only five months into Trump’s term. That was evident in the speeches, body language, and photo-ops throughout the president’s first foreign tour. His addresses seemed poorly written and divergent from any core policy. European leaders grimaced in Trump’s presence — when he wasn’t riding in a private golf cart or shoving them aside. Even the Pope stood by glumly while Trump grinned like a Cheshire cat. Never mind the glowing orb of death in Saudi Arabia. From Melania’s hand slaps, to Trump’s pawing gropes at Sara Netanyahu; everywhere Trump went, there seemed to be an awkward churlishness conveyed in videos and accounts of his visit.

Back home in America, it was a week when — despite the administration being embroiled in controversy — everyone seemed breathe a sigh of relief while giggling lightly and saying to one another, “It’s okay…he’s not here.”

The problem with Trump remains that he simply is not presidential material. The office of president is a humbling job where personal gain takes a back seat to altruism, which is a trait Trump could not possibly buy with all his billions. It is a leadership position that requires dignity, self-respect, and tact — each of which was demonstrated by Trump’s hosts throughout Europe and the Middle East.

It is ironic that Trump’s loyalty base is the same demographic that can remember more than just one past president and how they have acted. As far back as Presidents Reagan or Carter, voters should recall how every president of the past 40 years carried himself. They should consider the calm and dignified manners. Think about the thoughtfulness of speech and the use of vocabulary. They should examine how each conducted himself in awkward times. Every single president before Trump has had an awkward moment, but has recovered from it because of their presidential nature.

Trump just gets louder, more obnoxious, and less dignified.

George Bush vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan and made a poor impression across Asia, but he did it humbly and while heroically fighting his body’s natural reaction to illness and stress. If Trump vomited on a world leader, he would do it with anger, blame, and ridicule, followed by loud guffawing like a bad stand-up at his own jokes. At least Bush had an excuse for what came out of his mouth. Sadly, there is no excuse, either for the bile that spews from Trump’s mouth, or for the crude impression that he leaves wherever he goes.

Family Feud

Since taking office, President Trump has launched vicious attacks on the media and the fundamental constitutional right of a free press. He has called the media an enemy of the people. This week’s events, however, have proven the value of the free press as part of the effective political checks and balances machine that America’s founding fathers envisioned.

Press 05182017The Washington Post’s exposé of Republican elites Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and others enjoying a mafia-style family moment on Capitol Hill has shed a much-needed light on the true nature of modern American politics. In front of cameras and reporters, leaders like Ryan pledge to pursue the finest in health care plans and tax reforms for their rally-attending constituents. They smile and shake hands. They promise to do “what’s best” for the “deserving people” of America.

Then the doors close, and they check to make sure no one is listening…

If the country learns anything from the revelations of the last 24-hours, it should be that it is clear that Washington is no longer pursuing an American agenda — or even a Republican or Democratic agenda. Instead, the 1% club sits in secrecy, joking about issues and the American people. They pledge loyalty to one another while playing God with the nation’s health, money, and security as part of their individual agendas.

The Post’s revelation is not an act in the single largest political “witch-hunt” as the president described it in an early Tweet, but it is the media’s patriotic condemnation of the entire government condition. It may be unfair to categorize the whole of Washington, D.C. based on one report, but Americans from coast to coast must be making the inference this morning: this is the unfortunate situation of how things are done in the hallowed halls of the Hill.

Much discussion has been made overnight about Ryan’s lack of denial in regard to McCarthy’s statement concerning Putin paying Trump. Ryan’s response, or lack thereof, does increase his level of complicity in the scandal. Even more so, when Ryan instead responds, “We’re a real family here,” there is a more troubling connotation to his choice of words.

If Ryan and McCarthy, et al. are the real family, then what do the American people represent? Are they stepchildren, “fake” family, foreigners, or worse — servants to the Washington leadership?

Lincoln 05172017Has government of the people, by the people, for the people, finally perished?

America is a family of 325 million men, women, and children of various races and religions and socio-economic strata. America is a family that — from the poorest hungry child, to the richest mogul lavishing himself in excess — shares the benefits of equality, fairness, opportunity, and the absolute right to be respected by elected leaders. The real family is the population that struggles every day to make ends meet, to build a future, and to watch and listen to the unapologetic in fighting and self-destruction of Washington politics. The real family is the millions who feel a kick in the gut learning who the real family thinks they are.

Ryan has made it clear that he is not so much worried about leaks, as he is about mocking American rights and values. In five words, Ryan reduced the public to a horde of chumps who voted for him and other thugs. He implies that Americans as a whole are a population to which the leadership no longer owes any allegiance.

Therefore, while liberals trumpet victory this morning, and conservatives begin to whisper “President Pence,” there are no real winners. Donald Trump may eventually become the thrown out baby, but a giant tub of filthy bathwater will remain as a reminder to soil Capitol offices and chambers. Paul Ryan and his cohorts will call it their own Mar-a-Lago swimming pool — for family members only — but thanks to the Post and a free press, the rest of America will know better what it really is.

A Beacon of Hope…

Yesterday, the municipal comptroller of the nation’s largest city made a bold announcement. During a news conference — with the Statue of Liberty struggling to stay proud and relevant as a background photo op — New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer unveiled a proposal to waive the $725 federal naturalization fee. The humanitarian plan will assist 35,000 New Yorkers on the difficult road to permanent citizenship.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Of the city’s 8.5 million residents, almost a quarter million are eligible for naturalization. However, for many, the cost of the naturalization application prevents them from applying to become legal citizens. Under the proposal announced by Stringer, prospective applicants who earn between 150 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible to apply for a waiver.

Financial hardship has always been associated with attaining American citizenship — early immigrants liquidated entire households to pay for the journey and establish themselves on the continent. None-the-less, poverty should never be the qualifying obstacle to those who wish to contribute to the ever-evolving American experiment, especially in a gateway city ranked ninth in the world for cost of living.

Liberty
Lady Liberty remembers a time when she was closer to America.

At a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is running high in the White House, New York’s waiver program sends a timely and powerful message to the nation on a contentious and current policy issue: America is not an anti-immigrant nation. Friday’s bold policy statement hearkens to a time when the nation’s largest city for the past 240 years was also the country’s first capital — a city of progressive and positive thinking leaders who, themselves, were foreigners building a new land. Two centuries of time highlight the difference between the mouthpiece leadership of Washington, D.C. and the day-to-day reality leadership examples being exercised in New York City.

Surprisingly, the White House has been slow to tweet about the press conference, despite Stringer’s assertion that “President Trump’s misguided immigration policies” motivated him to adopt the proposed action. In addition to Friday’s policy announcement, New York City remains a sanctuary city with steadfast support from Albany to resist and fight the federal crackdown on sanctuary cities.

While there are different programs to offset the cost of naturalization for low-income and indigent citizenship applicants, the waivers offered on Friday target a middle-group caught in between those who cannot afford the fee and those who can. Typically, a family of three with a household income of less than $62,000 annually would be eligible to apply for the new waivers. According to Stringer, funding for the waivers will come from both taxpayer dollars and private contributions. Regardless of the source, the feds should have no complaints since they will still reap the fees for each person naturalized.

In a time when the nation is increasingly fractured over policy issues and political dissension, New York City is leading the way to unity and offering a constant reminder of what America is. It is a place where, regardless of race, religion, culture, heritage, sex, or income, a tiny, seemingly insignificant, individual can join a momentous, recognized, nation.  New York remains a place where every resident proudly proclaims, “I am a New Yorker.”

By the close of Stringer’s press conference, Lady Liberty appeared to be smiling just a little brighter — pleased that she watches over a place in the country where America is still great.

Finding Sanctuary in Greatness

On Tuesday, a United States District Court Judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against another of President Trump’s recent executive orders. This time, the court struck down portions of a Jan. 25 Trump order that would deny federal funding to those municipalities considered “sanctuary cities.”

At least four states and scores of counties and cities across the country have declared themselves sanctuaries for enacting policies that shelter illegal immigrants from deportation and other targeted anti-immigration actions.

According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, at least 35 cities have joined the movement to adopt pro-immigrant policies. Most of them are major metropolitan areas like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. However, smaller municipalities such as Springfield, Ore., Milwaukee, Wis., Ithaca, N.Y., and East Haven, Conn., are included in the growing list of sanctuary cities.

Responding to news of the latest blow to President Trump’s bigoted agenda, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) declared, “There is only one federal government.” Sen. McCain and others who rely on the “one federal government” justification are only fractionally correct in their half-hearted defense.

The Constitution does provide for a federal government among all the states of the Union. However, to advance that theory idly and argue that the Constitution dictates only one government fails to embrace the more complex understanding and reality of federal government.

The federal system is frustratingly simple and composite alike. We can all recall the elementary school lesson about checks and balances. The three branches of government that deliver the checks — executive, legislative, and judicial —may be construed as one unified entity under the umbrella of the “federal government.” However, there has rarely been an era in American history when the three acted as one and to expect them to do so now would defeat the very purpose of the three branches.

The triumvirate of the federal system rarely functions in harmonic unison. More often, instead of working as a single federal government, an argument may be advanced that the three branches are, each in themselves, an individual government. Each branch owes allegiance to the same Constitution, but not the same constituency — in effect giving each a separate functional directive.

Throughout the course of American history, both the people and leaders have learned that unity among the three branches is difficult and rare. For our one federal government to function successfully, it is a given, a planned silent endorsement of the founding fathers even, that our nation be governed by three bodies — by three distinct forms of government.

It is a grave disappointment then, when members of one of those governments rely on the triteness of the “one government” answer in awkward defense. Sen. McCain, especially, who is a long-standing member of the legislative body, an educated man, and a generally fair-minded and well-spoken one-time candidate for president, should exercise a more historical and comprehensive assessment of his disappointment in Tuesday’s court ruling.

Thought not well expressed, Sen. McCain’s anguish over the injunction is appropriate and fair. In a system of checks and balances, disappointment among the three governments and their supporters (four if you wish to consider both the House or Representatives and Senate individually) is understandable and necessary. Disappointment though, however frequent, is an accurate barometer that, not one, but three governments are continuing to function properly — over two-centuries after their inception.

President Trump is learning a fundamental and elementary lesson in American governance. He is learning that the country is not governed by one man, one executive order, or one government. Instead, America is a country that has multiple governments — three at least — that somehow keep the country in a state of stable equilibrium and its people, if not happy, content. That, Mr. President, is what makes America great…before, now, and again.