Perfect President

If your goal is to destroy the administrative state, end all regulation and stop the enforcement of coercive laws that protect only the poor, those demanding and parasitic “takers”, while ensuring maximum liberty for the most privileged to enjoy the unfettered pursuit of happiness, the shambolic [1] Mr. Trump is the perfect president  for you.  Mr. Trump, shameless showman and all-star sower of chaos, is the perfect president for those interested only in preserving, or enhancing, their own vast privilege.   

Trump’s manifest lifelong unconcern with law, rules and norms, his constant pursuit of self-interest above everything else, his mania for “winning”, coupled with his very limited attention span,  makes him the perfect man for the job.   His inattention to detail is catnip for those who have specific targets of  attack to cripple the impediments to their complete freedom from government coercion.  He is always happy to do nothing, if it benefits his biggest donors.   The devil in any regulatory scheme is in the details, as any high-stakes white collar criminal knows, so create enough havoc and certain key details will get lost in the shuffle.  Leave open appointments for agency heads, don’t fill government jobs as they become vacant, employ acting-directors so as not to require Senate confirmation, and so on. 

For example, we learn (from the excellent investigative podcast Trump Inc.) that the Federal Election Commission is currently unable to enforce federal campaign finance law.  All the perfect president has had to do to ensure this is nothing.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency whose purpose is to enforce campaign finance law in United States federal elections. Founded in April 1975, after adoption of the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Washington, D.C. based agency employed 339 Americans as of 2006 and, as of 2017, an annual budget of $79,000,000.  Its six commissioners, three from each major party, are appointed by the President.      See: Wikipedia

In order to vote to refer a criminal prosecution for violations of campaign finance law, a law the president himself appears to have violated when he was named as Individual One in a campaign finance violation that put his personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen in prison, the six commissioners, three Democratic, three Republican, must vote do do so [2].  Republicans have been historically reluctant to bring these complaints to enforce campaign finance laws, which require, at minimum, a quorum of four to vote on.  

There are currently only three FEC commissioners, making it impossible to have a quorum.  No quorum, no vote to enforce the federal campaign finance laws.   So all Trump had to do to ensure that there is no enforcement of federal campaign finance law, and, obviously,  no penalty for its violations, was — nothing.   Which he always does with aplomb.   He has been otherwise very busy, since the day he was inaugurated in 2017, focusing on his reelection campaign and driving huge rally crowds into continual frenzies.

Interesting note: Don McGahn is a former FEC commissioner, nominated by George W. Bush in 2008 and confirmed by the Senate for his six year term.  He was elected FEC chairman soon after his confirmation.   Read all about it:   Here is a  beautiful example of Mr. McGahn’s legal prose, an opinion in a 2013 enforcement case ruling that Trump, Michael Cohen and the Trump organization did absolutely nothing wrong in connection with the 2012 presidential campaign.

 

As Wikipedia puts it: Due to multiple members resigning and no confirmed replacements, the commission lacks a quorum and cannot conduct most of its regulatory functions.[5]

Before we get too excited, there is powerful criticism of the FEC, summarized here:

Critics of the FEC, including campaign finance reform supporters such as Common Cause and Democracy 21, have complained that it is a classic example of regulatory capture where it serves the interests of the ones it was intended to regulate. The FEC’s bipartisan structure, which was established by Congress, renders the agency “toothless.” Critics also claim that most FEC penalties for violating election law come well after the actual election in which they were committed. Additionally, some critics claim that the commissioners tend to act as an arm of the “regulated community” of parties, interest groups, and politicians when issuing rulings and writing regulations. Others point out, however, that the commissioners rarely divide evenly along partisan lines, and that the response time problem may be endemic to the enforcement procedures established by Congress. To complete steps necessary to resolve a complaint – including time for defendants to respond to the complaint, time to investigate and engage in legal analysis, and finally, where warranted, prosecution – necessarily takes far longer than the comparatively brief period of a political campaign.

My advice to anyone outraged by the kind of nonchalantly autocratic moves Mr. Trump routinely makes to weaken regulations, oversight and democracy itself, look away, vote for whoever the DNC puts up as a “centrist” presidential candidate.  Nothing you can do about any of it anyway, you powerless, worried citizens, short of doing the near impossible thing of figuring out how to join with others to organize and have a voice.  Just keep looking away.  You’ll hardly feel it when the bottom drops out from under us all.   The world is being destroyed anyway, and will be beyond salvaging shortly at the present rate of destruction, so no worries.

 

[1]  Just learned this great word from James Risen.  Shambolic:  chaotic, disorganized or mismanaged, (syn: muddled, confused, in total disarray).

[2] National disgrace Bill Barr (who recently joined the line of bagpipers at a police rally, so help me God) made the case against Trump in the Southern District go away, though Cohen, now in federal prison,  was reimbursed the $130,000 he paid porn-star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 (the campaign finance crime) and produced the $130,000 personal check Trump signed in his now familiar jagged Sharpie scrawl to reimburse him for the criminal act.  Oh, well.  That’s the Unitary Executive for you!

 

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