Since Franklin Roosevelt, presidents have been evaluated at the end of a hundred days. Donald Trump drafted his own report card in a campaign speech last fall, saying what he would do in his first hundred days.
And here’s the surprising thing: he’s doing what he said.
• Appoint judges who would uphold the Constitution. Neil Gorsuch. Check.
• Construct a wall and limit illegal immigration. No wall yet, but plenty of restrictions.
• Reassess trade agreements—withdrew from the TPP, check.
• Repeal Obamacare—no check, but working on it.
• Impose term limits on Congress—no.
• Remove restrictions on energy—yes.
• Eliminate gun-free zones—not yet.
• For every new regulation, eliminate two old ones. Check, by executive order.
• Instruct the Joint Chiefs to develop plans to protect America. Check.
• Label China a currency manipulator—maybe, but doubtful.
After 100 days, he’s batting .500 or more, which is better than my teams are doing.
Where is international law when you need it? The Syrian government has again used chemical weapons on its own people, despite signing the international convention banning chemical weapons as well as a specific agreement to destroy them.
So why is this still happening? It’s one thing for countries to sign treaties but, if they turn out to be against their interest, they simply violate them later. Unfortunately there is very little enforcement of international law. The U.N. Security Council is usually blocked from acting by the veto of one or more of its permanent members.
So the U.S. is left to come to the rescue of international law and the Syrian people. One could question one nation taking it upon itself to enforce a treaty, but the soft nature of international law has never been strong on enforcement. It also doesn’t stop unilateral enforcement either if there’s a consensus that such action is appropriate.
The 2017 Index of Economic Freedom has been released and it contains some bad news for Americans. The U.S. dropped 6 positions in the ranking of economic freedom around the world to #17, its lowest level since these studies have been published. While most nations of the world increased their economic freedom, the U.S. saw a significant decline, rated now not “free” but only “mostly free.”
The main contributor was a new category in the study called “fiscal health.” This shows that a shocking 38 percent of our gross domestic product now goes to government and also emphasizes our growing national debt and deficit.
Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century, said that the country that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither, but the nation that puts freedom ahead of equality will end up with a great measure of both.
Clearly we need more economic growth, less government spending and less debt. In other words, more freedom.
Since Ronald Reagan, Republican and Democrat presidents alike have grown the federal government and its role in our lives. From No Child Left Behind to environmental laws, the pattern has been more and more federal regulation.
The Trump administration may finally swing the pendulum of government power back toward the states. As a conservative former governor, vice president Mike Pence will champion state control. The new Secretary of Education favors vouchers, which means less government power over education. The heads of Energy and the Environment are both state officials who have fought federal power.
The most important questions the Trump administration can ask are: should the government act and, if so, which branch and which level? When the federal government has taken over everything from healthcare to the environment and education, it’s high time for an administration that asks those important federalism questions and returns power to individuals and to the states, as promised in the 9th and 10th Amendments.
To the list of 23 celebrities who have said they are leaving the country if Donald Trump became President, we can now add one of the 50 states. An effort is under way for California to secede from Donald Trump’s United States. “Calexit” seeks a ballot initiative or a constitutional amendment for California to leave the Union.
Perhaps they should study their American history because the last time this was tried, by the Confederate States in the 1860s, it ended rather badly. There is simply no constitutional basis for nullification or exit from the Union.
Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Mayor said they are doubling down on being a sanctuary city, openly welcoming and harboring people who violate the federal immigration laws. San Franciscans are incensed that Trump might pull their federal money for this.
Californians live in a bit of a dream world, voting radically differently than most any place else in the U.S. But even California must learn that elections have consequences.
International courts love to take on political cases, such as those against Israel or the U.S., but when there are obvious and serious international crimes, they often take a pass. The latest examples of obvious war crimes and genocide come from ISIS … but there is no prosecution in the works.
Investigators have collected evidence of kidnapping women as sex slaves, genocide against ethnic Kurdish religious communities and other atrocities, yet no one wants to bring these matters to court. They clearly constitute war crimes of the worst sort and the ISIS leadership is nothing but a criminal syndicate.
The U.N. Security Council could refer these matters to the International Criminal Court which, frankly, needs more to do. Or a special court in the region could be established for this purpose.
It’s time for international law to stop talking and do something useful. Bringing cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity against the ISIS leadership would be a good place to start.
This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.
The first presidential debate made one thing clear: the two candidates come from two different planets. Trump is from Mars and Clinton is from Venus.
Hillary Clinton is a classic insider candidate. She’s been first lady, a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. When she debates, she has a plan or a program for everything.
Donald Trump, a businessman with no prior political experience, is a classic outsider. When Clinton says she has more experience, Trump dismisses that as bad experience. When she says she has a plan to defeat ISIS, he says so why haven’t we done that?—and why should we believe it will work?
People who want a traditional candidate for President believe Hillary won the first debate and will win the presidency. But the large number of eligible voters who are frustrated with politics as usual say “not so fast.”
Who do you want? Mars or Venus? That’s your choice.
This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.
A few years ago we reformed primary voting in California. Now we have open primaries, meaning you can vote for candidates of either party, and top two primaries, where the top two vote getters run in the fall general election, regardless of party. It was supposed to reduce partisanship and elect more centrist candidates.
Early research suggests it hasn’t accomplished either of its major goals but it has reduced voter choice. This fall in the race for the U.S. Senate, I can vote for Democrat A or Democrat B. No Republican survived the top two primary to run in the fall. I call my choice “Left and Lefter” because, really, it is no choice at all. A recent poll shows that half of Republicans don’t even plan to vote in the Senate race.
Elections should not just be contests between two people but between sets of ideas. Beware election reforms such as the “top two” primary that eliminate choices.
In a presidential campaign, it’s amazing that no one is talking about the national debt. Well, actually someone is: the Congressional Budget Office issued a report this summer and we should be shocked.
Here are the top 2 things the nonpartisan CBO concluded:
1) Deficits are growing because spending—primarily on Social Security, health care and interest on the debt—is growing faster than revenue.
2) The ratio of debt to Gross National Product has nearly doubled during the Obama administration to 75% today, and it is projected to grow to 141% in 2046.
But don’t worry, because the Democrats have a plan: spend more and tax the rich. And Donald Trump says when we go bankrupt he will renegotiate our debt.
Is anyone besides me worried about this? Are we numb to the rapidly escalating debt? Debt is not only a question of fiscal responsibility, it is a problem of national security.
Two recent court cases are a welcome reminder that the separation of powers doctrine may be slow to act, but is still alive.
A federal judge declared that the U.S. Department of Interior did not have the power to issue rules about fracking on federal land. And the U.S. Supreme Court, on a split 4-4 vote, allowed a court of appeals decision to stand holding that the president does not have the power to unilaterally allow those in the country illegally to remain. Only Congress has these powers, the courts said, not the executive branch.
The Obama administration has been pressing the envelope of executive power for years, using executive orders to carry out its agenda on gun control, immigration, environmental regulations and the like.
The founders separated powers so that no one–not even the president–could act alone on important matters. It may take years for other branches like the courts to catch up (at least in this case) but they finally have.