Loneliest Place in Washington

According to Politico, Melania’s office is the loneliest place in the White House.

Maybe, but there are other candidates, at least for the loneliest place in Washington

Meeting of Republicans for Evidence-Based Policy (although that of Republicans for Policy-Based Evidence was standing room only.)

Lecture at RNC on Side Effects of Finasteride.

Lecture at Republican Caucus on John Kennedy’s Book Profiles in Courage.  (I had forgotten that these were all about courageous senators.)

Gathering at Dulles Airport of Detained Refugees for Trump.

And, there is always, back at the White House — Melania’s Bedroom!  (only kidding.)

How About a Trump Fascism Doomsday Clock

Who knows what’s going to happen.  But I do know that it is critical to track it, and to make sure at least that we know what is happening.

Remember the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock.

Maybe we need a similar clock to track how close we are to non-reversible fascism.

For my pre-election blog post on what to watch for, go here. It seems like that post is the most frequently viewed one of my earlier posts.  Please spread it around.  “The price of liberty is . . .


Everyone, Including Trump and His Opponents are Missing the Point About Conflict of Interest Rules

While conflict of interest rules are in part designed to prevent personal enrichment, they have far broader purposes.

They are as much about protecting the quality and legitimacy of decisions.

Imagine those scenarios:

President Trump orders US troops into a country with a large Trump economic interest, and some refuse to go on the grounds that they do not want to risk their lives in order to project his hotels.

Trump follows up on his apparent change on climate policy, and decides to be aggressive in reducing carbon emissions, and some refuse to comply on the grounds that his seafront properties are increasing in value because of the change.

Trump orders torture to find out more on a terrorism threat in a city with a major Trump investment, and the operatives involved refuse.  What can be done to those operatives?  Would later litigation by the victims go further than the current Guantanamo round, when economic interest of the President could be part of the cause of action?

Trump pushes an open-skies agreement with a country that has Trump investments, and the airlines which are going to lose monopoly status challenge the process by which the decision is made.

To reiterate, the problem is legitimacy and quality.  For an incoming President already burdened by a well earned reputation for ignorance and lack of attention to detail, to have questions raised about the legitimacy of every decision in which he is involved — and to increase the chance of litigation involving questions about this role in every such decision, would be a nightmare.

Moreover, he won in part because people believed that he was not motivated by self-interest.  Any proof otherwise — particularly one that seemed to go against his pledges and the interests of his base, has the potential to be fatal.

So, if he has any sense, he puts in place a system in which the chance of such conflict is zero.  Meaning, in fact that he has to sell his current interests, and not in a way that he can get them back when he resigns, is impeached, or loses reelection.