United States Gifted With 33rd National Emergency By President Who Says It's Not Really An Emergency

from the nation-forced-to-hold-breath-until-president-given-what-he-wants dept

President Trump has declared a national emergency.

This is a thing presidents can do. And they’ve been doing it since 1979 when President Carter responded to a hostage situation in Iran by declaring a national emergency. We’ve spent four decades in perpetual emergency mode. With Trump’s announcement, this makes American subject to 33 concurrent national emergencies, all of which grant the president a bunch of extra (and surprising!) powers, and encourage the government to start clawing back rights and privileges from the American people.

The declaration on the White House website is at least mostly coherent. It says there’s a national security/humanitarian crisis at the southern border because, um, immigrants are still trying to migrate to the United States.

The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch’s exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. In particular, recent years have seen sharp increases in the number of family units entering and seeking entry to the United States and an inability to provide detention space for many of these aliens while their removal proceedings are pending. If not detained, such aliens are often released into the country and are often difficult to remove from the United States because they fail to appear for hearings, do not comply with orders of removal, or are otherwise difficult to locate.

This statement may be coherent, but it’s also mostly untrue. Southern border apprehensions are down to a quarter of the peak they reached in 2000. There have been increases in recent years of families seeking entry, but how that translates to a national security emergency is anyone’s guess. The claim that immigrants blow off hearings is completely false. The DOJ’s own data shows that 60-75% of non-detained immigrants show up for court appearances.

The other fudged claim — somewhat muddied in the White House statement but somehow made more clear during the President’s rambling press conference — is the assertion that a porous border without The Wall/Fence is allowing drugs and trafficked humans to come pouring into the United States. The DEA has repeatedly stated that most drugs make their way into the US through legal points of entry. Why? Because it’s way more efficient to move drugs with large vehicles, rather than a handful of mules walking through unguarded areas.

President Trump completely undercut his own national emergency declaration during his Rose Garden press conference. Trump said he didn’t actually need to declare an emergency to secure border wall funds, but thought this would be faster than the usual appropriations process.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

We are subject to a national emergency that isn’t an emergency, based on assumptions made by a president who refuses to listen to the government agencies he’s involving in his manufactured crisis. On top of that, this is only the second declared national emergency that actively involves the military. This should be of great concern to all Americans, including Trump supporters, as it involves the siphoning of resources usually deployed elsewhere in the world and directs them towards a domestic crisis that isn’t actually a crisis.

The only other national emergency to involve the US military was the one George W. Bush issued three days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. We’ve all witnessed the explosive expansion of government power flowing from this declaration and other Congressional responses to the terrorist attacks. Here we are with no attacks, living in an era of unprecedented safety, and the president of the country has just invoked expansive powers to deal with an immigration influx that has been trending downward for nearly two decades.

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Comments on “United States Gifted With 33rd National Emergency By President Who Says It's Not Really An Emergency”

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201 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

9/11 was a national emergency

An example of a true National Emergency was 9/11/2001.

Everyone gathered behind the president, whether they voted for him or not. Both political parties stood on the steps of the capitol building together and sang God Bless America.

The true nature of the emergency brought Americans together rather than dividing them further.

Everyone recognized the nature of the emergency without being told or convinced that it was an emergency.

A jackass not getting its way does not constitute a national emergency. I’m hungry now, so I’ll declare a national emergency.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ssssh

There’s no point in trying to win Trump cultists over as long as they think he’s the Bringer of Rain, or something. He’s got a whole media network and a shedload of dark money behind him. If Hannity and Limbaugh decided they’d have enough of him tomorrow, he’d be over and done with in a week — and everybody knows it.

Bitter? I’m embarrassed for the intelligent Americans on both sides of the aisle who are watching this fiasco unfold between their trembling fingers.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ssssh

Is not the more "causal-like relationship" in this case the reluctance of Congress to take an action for which they might be held responsible. The whole crux of this problem is that for at least the last century the Congress has steadily empowered the executive branch with its powers.

It used to be Congress that wrote laws, now they write the barest of frameworks, often contradictory, and tell the executive to make sense of what they wanted. And their oversight of the interpretation of those laws into regulations that are the actual law is practically non-existant.

And all this so that Congress doesn’t have to to the hard and responsible work of actually governing. They’d rather spend their time passing resolutions naming local post offices after various local folk. They get much more praise for that work than for actually doing the heavy lifting of really governing. At a minimum any change in regulation should require a positive approval by the Congress before becoming law. That would strip much of the power of the executive branch to make arbitrary decisions without consulting Congress. But that would make Congress actually responsible for how the country is governed and that would result in risk to their phony-baloney jobs so it’ll never happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 9/11 was a national emergency

An example of a true National Emergency was 9/11/2001.
Everyone gathered behind the president, whether they voted for him or not.
The true nature of the emergency brought Americans together rather than dividing them further.
Everyone recognized the nature of the emergency without being told or convinced that it was an emergency.

I didn’t. I’m not some conspiracy theorist or anything, but I knew at the time that W would fuck up, that the government at large would fuck up, and that it would result in a horrible overreaction that would be worse than what happened. 9/11 was a heinous crime but beyond the temporary measure of shutting down civilian air traffic briefly (which turned out not to have helped — the order came in after the last hijacking had occurred) it was not a national emergency.

Sok Puppette (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 9/11 was a national emergency

No, it was fucking not.

It was terrifying to see people acting like panicked sheep.

It was horrible to see every moronic fascist legislative proposal that had been in every authoritarian’s spank bank be thrown together and passed with no meaningful debate.

It was mind-boggling to see people seriously spouting Orwellian language like "USA-PATRIOT act" and "Department of Homeland Security".

It was scary to everybody yelling about how "the world had changed", when all that had changed was that reality had made itself hard to ignore for ignorant morons.

Fuck "coming together".

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: 9/11 was a national emergency

"Everyone gathered behind the president, whether they voted for him or not. Both political parties stood on the steps of the capitol building together and sang God Bless America."

…which allowed things like the Patriot Act to be pushed through with little to no resistance, declaring wars on people who had nothing to do with 9/11, and which have had far more negative consequences in the long term than that one devastating incident. Had it been acceptable for people to oppose those actions without being accused or being traitors or attacked for being on the side of terrorists, a better outcome would likely have been reached.

"The true nature of the emergency brought Americans together rather than dividing them further."

I’d definitely disagree with that. From the outside looking in at least, the country seems rather more polarised than before 9/11, even if for a few weeks you were working together to remove the initial threat.

"A jackass not getting its way does not constitute a national emergency."

This is true, and if you’d like an illustration of why it would be a bad thing to pretend that it does, see above.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: 9/11 was a national emergency

**"Everyone gathered behind the president, whether they voted for him or not. Both political parties stood on the steps of the capitol building together and sang God Bless America."

…which allowed things like the Patriot Act to be pushed through with little to no resistance, declaring wars on people who had nothing to do with 9/11, and which have had far more negative consequences in the long term than that one devastating incident. Had it been acceptable for people to oppose those actions without being accused or being traitors or attacked for being on the side of terrorists, a better outcome would likely have been reached.**

Cynics will be cynics. I remember Bliar, AKA Teflon Tony’s little minion announcing it’d be a good day to bury bad news. I know it was a leak of a private conversation but …dayyyyummm!

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

No. No, I will not. I will not get over the fact that a lunatic is running this country based on the White supremacist whispering in his ear (’sup Miller), the conservative pundits on Fox News telling him what to say and think and do, the Russian president who basically has his hand so far up the POTUS’s ass that it basically counts as a dental exam, and a heaping helping of American greed. (His whole candidacy and administration has been a grift from day one, after all.) I will not get over the fact that a man who lost the popular vote by three million votes is in the White House because of the gotdamn Electoral College. I will not get over the fact that a lying, adultering, race-baiting, Nazi-sympathizing (“very fine people on both sides”) ignorant authoritarian who never held a public office before January 2017 is running the country in a way that rips migrant children out of the hands of their families, tries to ban Muslims from travelling into the country, tries to ban transgender people from serving in the military, tries to gut the Affordable Care Act without any sort of solid replacement in hand, shuts down the goverment on the basis of a conservative pundit saying “your base will think you caved if you don’t push for the wall”, and creates a “national emergency” out of thin air for the sake of diverting money into a wall that won’t ever be paid for by Mexico or look the way all his sycophant followers imagine it will look like.

The moment I “get over” all of that is the moment I give up fighting, criticizing, mocking Donald Trump and his administration. It is the moment when I grow so cynical and so empty that I would rather sit on my ass and let things go even more to shit than they are right now because doing anything else involves effort that might not ever pay off even in the long run. Fuck that philosophy. I would rather fight without results than sit back and watch the world burn. The only way you lose is by giving up, so I leave you with one question: At what point in your life did you decide to lose?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Still wrong. It is not half the country. It is over half of the electoral college voters who barely resemble the populace at large in either political affiliation, district representation, or any other way to break them down.

It is the equivalent of saying half of your entire school voted for the class president for prom when only the cheerleaders were allowed to actually vote.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

  1. In principle, because it keeps a small handful of cities from dominating electoral politics and running roughshod over the legitimate concerns of rural folk with completely different priorities.
  2. In practice, because it managed to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House, and that is unequivocally a good thing! As bad as Trump is, the Clintons are even worse. (Just for starters, let’s not forget that essentially every bad thing Trump has been accused of, the Clintons have actually been caught doing.) I know the phrase "the lesser of two evils" is a trite cliche in electoral politics, but 2016 gave us the real deal. Trump is evil but Hillary is even worse.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

As bad as Trump is, the Clintons are even worse.
How?
Seriously. I’m not looking for a big list. Just name one thing the Clinton presidency did that is worse than Trump (needs to obviously be an equivalent item of actual policy, law, or action while in office. So the impeachment/Meuller investigation should not count for either).
Then name one thing Hilary did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Just for starters, let’s not forget that essentially every bad thing Trump has been accused of, the Clintons have actually been caught doing.

And yet, despite having Republican control of government during most of the Bush years and for 2 years under Trump, she’s been convicted of nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I guess she’s just that much smarter than you since you can’t even manage to secure a conviction, hell, even an INVESTIGATION with a Republican Congress and executive branch who routinely called on the chimps at his rally to yell "Lock her up!"

Just talk I guess. Like Mexico paying for your wall.

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The House is investigating your boy. Enjoy!

Over 100
"Trump’s Russia Cover-Up By the Numbers – 101 contacts with Russia-linked operatives"
https://themoscowproject.org/explainers/trumps-russia-cover-up-by-the-numbers-70-contacts-with-russia-linked-operatives/

Most recent finding…
"On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report that showed there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. Trump and many of his senior advisors and close associates have repeatedly denied any connections between the two campaigns, despite the fact that they were working towards the same goal, at the same time, and utilizing the same tactics."

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The House is investigating your boy. Enjoy!

Nope. Not a one. As long as you ignore all the best people he hired that are now arrested.

You know what else I haven’t seen despite all the big talk? Hillary being locked up.

What happened there? No locked up, no investigation, nothing.

Just more talk I guess. Like Mexico paying for your wall.

bob says:

Re: Re:

Just because he became president doesn’t mean he is infallible. He’s still a human (a pretty childish one at that) and so each one of his decisions should be analyzed before carrying them out. Just like this time, declaring an emergency when there is none. So instead of letting him act as a dictator people and especially Congress should push back and tell Trump, no we will not do this bull crap.

DannyB (profile) says:

anyone's guess

There have been increases in recent years of families seeking entry, but how that translates to a national security emergency is anyone’s guess.

I don’t have to guess when it is perfectly clear, like the emperor’s new clothes.

Most (all?) of those families seeking entry do not have white skin. That MAKES it a national emergency in the eyes of some.

That’s blunt. But I said it. The ugly truth nobody wants to talk about. Oh, and they might also be poor rather than wealthy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: anyone's guess

Anyone coming into this country Illegally is, in fact, a CRIMINAL!!!

The #1 Job of the President and Congress is protecting this country. We are in fact getting Invaded. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t a Welfare state. All these Illegals is costing this country over 100+ billion per year. The price for a wall is a tiny fraction of that.

These Illegals have ZERO right to come over here. ZERO!!! It is, in fact, cutting the line from everyone else around the world that also want to come here. If they want to come to this country, they need to do it in a LEGAL way. That may take time and money, but that is how it works.

No one bitches on what Mexico Immigration laws are. No one complains about Canada. Both of which are far stricter than the U.S. The fact is these people have NO RIGHT to come into this country just because they want to. It doesn’t matter their skin color. I say the same for Canadians or anyone else of any color. There is nothing racist about it. In fact, many Mexicans that have come to this country agree. My Mom was married to a Mexican for many years until he passed away last year from cancer. He was a great guy, but he came to this country legally.

A country with no borders is not a country anymore.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

We are in fact getting Invaded.

Oh no~! Several thousand people are entering a land filled with over 300 million people~! This really is an emergency~!

…only it’s one largely of the United States’ own making thanks to decades of interference (sometimes military interference!) with Central American politics and the subsequent nothing it does when a country in that region destabilizes. The people who want to live in their home countries but come here do not come here just because “America is awesome”, but because it represents a much more stable life than one in a country such as, say, Venezuela.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t a Welfare state.

You know what? You have a point.

We need to take the billionaires off their welfare and use the money that would otherwise flow into their wallets to help other, worse-off countries so no one will want to leave said countries.

…shit, that wasn’t your point, was it?

bob says:

Re: Re: Re:4 beware Canadia

This bias against Mexicans/Latinos is nothing new. They just happen to be the latest whipping boy that is a "scary" threat to US citizens.

Before latinos there was propaganda against immigrants from Africa, Ireland, Russia, western Europe, eastern Europe, China, etc. Heck, even religious groups take their turns, Jews, Muslims, Mormons to name a few.

Eventually a different group took the place of the last one. What’s sad is how Americans don’t seem to be learning from history. Instead each generation blames a new group for all their woes.

Maybe Canadians will be the next target of bigoted idiots in America?

https://youtu.be/hzCoZB6iLQg MC frontalot Canadia.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

the Democrats get plenty of new voters

What proof do you have — independently verifiable proof offered through a source other than Infowars or Breitbart or whatever — that undocumented immigrants vote in any kind of U.S. election, let alone the presidential election? And what proof do you have that, if they do vote, they generally (if not uniformly) swing toward the Democrats?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I posted my opinion, I don’t claim to have a pile of facts to pull from, nor do I care enough about this issue to spend any more time than I already have on it. But for what it’s worth; I lived in Florida and worked for a company that employed illegal workers. My proof is first hand. They talked about it openly during breaks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"I lived in Florida and worked for a company that employed illegal workers. My proof is first hand. They talked about it openly during breaks."

What is "it"? That they employed illegal workers, or that they voted. That they actually voted, or they just registered in some way to get another benefit?

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but the thing with illegal immigrants voting is that it really doesn’t make sense. The immigrant doing the voting stands to gain virtually nothing from the single vote, but getting caught pretty much guarantees a felony and deportation. A person paying them wouldn’t be getting much value for money as the number of people he’s have to bribe is too great to avoid a leak, and he’d be far better to try and influence legal voters or commit fraud on the counting side than the votes themselves.

This is the kind of thing that makes much more sense as a "fear the brown people" misinformation campaign by anti-immigrant sources than it does as something that’s really happening. It may be that you are correct that it is happening, but there’s rarely any evidence that it does to any significant degree.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

This is complete and utter bullshit. I have actually lived in Florida and voted in Florida. In multiple counties. Your statement is about as truthful as all of those Hipster coffee shops filled with Trump loving liberal college students.

Florida has a voter ID law. otherwise, you will be on a provisional ballot that is still double checked against a valid registration. https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/election-day-voting/

Maybe you did actually work in a place where people discussed openly about voting in an election. But I think it is far, far more likely that they were legal citizens and your racist ass just assumed they were illegal because they did not look white.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 anyone's guess

It is, in fact, cutting the line from everyone else around the world that also want to come here.

This is not how immigration works. There is not some waiting line of folks who try to get in the country (like waiting for a bathroom) that these folks are skipping. A large number of them are going through the exact same process as everyone else looking for visas or premanent resident status. A large number are children who have no say in what their parents do. Many can legally work in this country under visas for a long period of time as they compelet the premanent residency process.

Immigration happens simultaneously across everyone who has applied for a visa. While there are quotas for premanent residents, you can live leggaly in this country on a visa for years (depending on the country you come from). This is also ignoring the realities of asylum status which requires them to cross the border first and is perfectly legal.

These Illegals have ZERO right to come over here.
I am so glad you have interviewed the personal situation of every single person cross the boarder. That is incredably impressive feet. Please tell us how you did this so we cna imporve our census and panel techniques.

In fact, many Mexicans that have come to this country agree.
You sure have a lot of "facts" that are completely anecdotal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 anyone's guess

Markdown fail. should be:

These Illegals have ZERO right to come over here.

I am so glad you have interviewed the personal situation of every single person cross the border. That is incredibly impressive feet. Please tell us how you did this so we can improve our census and panel techniques.

In fact, many Mexicans that have come to this country agree.

You sure have a lot of "facts" that are completely anecdotal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 anyone's guess

Anyone coming into this country Illegally is, in fact, a CRIMINAL!!!

And anyone HIRING them would also be criminally liable as well, would they not?

But where are the prosecutions for those farmers and resort owners who love their cheap labor source? Start prosecuting them like we do drug users…they’re contributing to the "problem" in the exact same way.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 anyone's guess

I catch the other end of that all the time, most especially from liberals.

I’m an old white guy, so OBVIOUSLY I must be a racist.

Well, maybe on some things. Any white guy trying to sing Ain’t No Sunshine should be taken out back and shot. Oh, wait, that’s sexist too. Amend that to any white person. Augh. Forgot the asians… Let’s try that again…

Anyone other than Bill Withers singing Ain’t No Sunshine should be shot. There, cleared that up.

For anyone thinking I’m biased towards blacks because of the above, the same holds true for anyone except Joe Cocker singing You Are So Beautiful.

But…. I’m still an old white guy, so that makes me a racist by default.

Gary (profile) says:

Critical Thinking

The Canada border is much larger than the Mexico border, therefore it is much more dangerous. Why not shut it down?
Per US Gov’t Stats provided by the DHS, almost all the drugs are coming thru lefimate ports of entry – so logically we should shut down all the airports, seaports, and existing border checkpoints. Especially those international airports that traffic in foreigners!!!

I’d go on, but we have a NATIONAL EMERGENCY and I need to stock up on bottled water and TP.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Critical Thinking

Yes, we see a lot of folks sneaking over the Canadian border daily. And those dastardly Canuks come here to settle down, bringing their piss-water we call Labatts with them. Intoxicants and illegal immigrants flow freely from Canada down here, so it must be shut down! Or at least launch a cruise missile barrage at the Labatts breweries, that stuff is poisoning our water.

(Actually, the wife and I went dancing across the Canuk border in Vermont years ago. We must have crossed the border a couple of hundred times that night. Very likely we were technically guilty of some sort of violation for carrying all that alcohol across the border, 12oz at a time. The joys of having the border running through the middle of town.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Critical Thinking

There’s not a mass of Canadians wanting to sneak into this country. If there was, I’d be for a National Emergency on the Northern border also.

Can’t tell if this is a joke or not, but in reality, Canadians are one of the biggest problems for folks overstaying visas. Far more than Mexico.
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Canadians-top-the-list-of-visitors-overstaying-13150776.php

Choice quote:

"Contrary to popular belief and political rhetoric vilifying Mexicans and other communities as the culprit of most immigration violations and social ailments, when it comes to people who illegally overstay their visas, many of which become undocumented immigrants, the crown belongs to Canadians.

Canada, by far, is at the top of the list of countries whose nationals remain illegally in the U.S. after their permit expirations, with a total of 101,281 visitors doing so last year after coming with any or the nonmigrant visas. Mexico follows, but with almost half the number of Canadians for a total of 52,859. Although the rate of Canadian overstays is lower than Mexicans’ at 1.10 to 1.81 percent, respectively, the gross impact of Canadians on this kind of unauthorized population is much higher."

The only reason folks like Trump focus so much effort and money on Mexico vs Canada is pure racism.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Here in California, we don't mind Russians and Ukranians

In California, we have a lot of illegals, and yes, while that has a lot to do with having a tuckfun of farmland for which we need cheap labor, it also has to do with having a lot of ports and coastline onto which tempest-tost homeless can wash up. As such, we get a lot of asians and no small number of Russians and Ukranians, many from the days of the USSR.

They’re still undocumented (and thereby illegal). And yet, they are rarely if ever bothered by the CBP or ICE.

It’s good to be as pale as Siberian snow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Critical Thinking

I find it interesting that the number of Canadian over-stayers is greater than Mexican. I would not, however, assume that people are more focused on Mexican illegals due to racism. Instead, I have to ask why that fact isn’t well known or why people are not citing that fact more often.

Could it be that the Canadians are better at blending into the existing population? And by that, I don’t just mean that they are white. We are a diverse society in the U.S. To blend in, you simply have to avoid drawing attention to yourself in a negative way. If one makes oneself a nuisance or burden on the society you inhabit, you WILL draw negative attention to yourself. When you start making demands that everyone else needs to accommodate your differences rather than work at assimilation, you will ruffle feathers. I would be interested in seeing some statistics that might reveal if this is actually the case here. For example:

What percentage of convicted illegals are from Canada vs. Mexico vs. other nationalities?

What percentage of illegals requesting free health care, food stamps, housing, education, and other government benefits are from Canada vs. Mexico vs. other nationalities?

What percentage of unemployed illegals are from Canada vs. Mexico vs. other nationalities?

I hope you get my drift here. It may be that the reason that immigration from Mexico is an issue is because the people arriving and staying illegally are drawing negative attention to themselves by being a bigger burden? If you come to this country and are not able to support yourself or commit crimes, you draw resources away from the country’s citizens and from other projects that might better serve the community at large. As a taxpayer, I don’t want any of my funds going to support illegal immigrants. Come in through legal channels or stay home.

Vic says:

Re: Re: Re: Critical Thinking

Comparing overstayed visas for Canadians vs Mexicans is nice, but is waaay misleading. First, the talk is about illegal border crossers, not visa over-stayers. Anybody wants to compare those numbers? Second, and maybe even more important, Mexican border is being crossed by not ONLY Mexicans. Is anybody here following news? It’s the population of almost whole Central America, plus Mexico, plus some from South American countries. So, if we are comparing the two borders, let’s get the real numbers!

David says:

Re: Re:

The national emergency is not that there is no wall. The national emergency is that Mexico has refused to follow up Trump’s campaign promises and pay for his wall. If he does not instead get the U.S. invested into building this $100+ billion project (remember that the initial $5bn he wanted is just for starting the project), the people affiliated with construction who bankrolled this bankrupteer’s election (why do you think there are no tax returns to be had?) might decide to make an example of him, leaving the U.S. in Pence’s hands.

Trump is trying his best to avert this crisis that really is Mexico’s fault. Unfortunately, it is the prerogative of Congress to declare war against foreign nations, but Trump can at least declare a national emergency.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Mar-a-Lago

Hey now, to be fair Dubya was reading the book before the attack happened.

His reaction to the actual emergency was to sit there gaping for an extended period of time, apparently under the impression that keeping a few kids entertained was more important than dealing with a direct attack on the country. Totally different.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And in fairness to Bush in that moment, it was a hell of a situation to be in. A little shock is understandable. And his choice to continue reading was less about avoidance of dealing with the attacks and more about, I would think, keeping the kids in some semblance of normalcy before everyone learned the news.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Besides which, how long was it before he got any information on which to make a decision. The emergency services do not need presidential supervision, and the generals know how to contact the president if they need authorisation. Having the boss run a round demanding intimidate answers helps no one.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

In all fairness, the State Department doesn’t need Presidential supervision to do it’s job.

Most of the 58 declared State of Emergencies have usurped State to block other countries.

Why? Because State has no Military authority.

Contrary to the article, almost EVERY SoE has required use of the military.

Blatantly, in some cases, such as the FIRST SoE issued by Smilin’ Jim Carter.

The more obvious ones are those relating to Cuba – they were dealing with the military blockade and such.

If you look up the 58, you’ll notice that more than three quarters of them start with either "Blocking" or "Prohibiting" xyz country.

State usually handles that. Putting it on SoE status means the military can get involved – and DOES, even if only as a passive threat by passage of the SoE itself.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"And in fairness to Bush in that moment, it was a hell of a situation to be in"

He asked for being in that position when he applied for the job.

"before everyone learned the news"

A loaded passenger jet had just been deliberately crashed into one of the largest buildings in the world in broad daylight. No matter what he did, everybody in the world would be learning about it before he left the building.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

A loaded passenger jet had just been deliberately crashed into one of the largest buildings in the world in broad daylight. No matter what he did, everybody in the world would be learning about it before he left the building.

True, and that will haunt him for as long as he lives. However, I’d say the biggest difference between himself and Trump is that Bush is gracious and at least tries to behave like "the good guy." This is true especially in his worst policy decisions: he honestly believed he was doing the right thing. It’s not a defense, I’m just describing my personal impression of a man I still think of as a genial chump and a bit of a glove puppet. Had he been more willing to question the people around him instead of jumping on political bandwagons, the world would have turned out to be a very different place to the one we have now.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It still doesn’t say much to me if you give him a pass because he played the lovable buffoon better than Trump.

Part of his job was to at least communicate that the government has the best interests of the country in mind, even when not true. But, between "watch this drive", "heckuva job Brownie" and what was essentially "I know thousands of Americans are dying right now, but I need to finish the goat story", he did a poor job even if you only consider his to be a puppet spokesman role.

Anonymous Coward says:

"The other fudged claim […] is the assertion that a porous border without The Wall/Fence is allowing drugs and trafficked humans to come pouring into the United States."

Say, anybody know where I can buy a rubber stamp that says "[citation needed]"? Should be of reasonable size, 6 foot 3 or so. Built-in launch capability would be a bonus.

Anonymous Coward says:

This emergency will now proceed to the courts where one set of tax payer funded lawyers will argue this is within the presidential powers, and another set of tax paid lawyers will argue that Trump has exceeded the bounds of presidential powers, and in front of tax payer funded judges. So as always the lawyers will grow fat off of tax payer money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I strongly believe it should remain as taxpayer-funded lawyers.

But I also believe that blatantly illegal bills (like the many, many state-level ones that clearly violate the first amendment) should result in direct punishment for the person who sponsored the bills. There is no harm to them at all. So they are happy to waste millions of dollars pushing these bills out to tell their voters they did something.

I am not talking about making the politician pay for the bills. But I would say a panel of non-partisan judges (like the legal bar) that have the ability to strip a politician from directly writing or sponsoring any new bills for a period of time for gross misconduct in pushing a bill that is clearly unconstitutional. One they know is unconstitutional and there is clear evidence they knew was unconstitutional prior to sponsoring or writing the bill.

It does not revoke their ability to vote or do any other of their representative functions. But it does punish their misuse of the system by preventing them from doing the same thing for a period of time.

Of course, there should be a strong and robust process for review of the decision to avoid political misuse. And this should only happen after a case has gone to the state supreme court (or higher) and been recommended by that court for review by the panel.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me- oh hell, I lost count.'

Holds the government hostage to get funding for his ego/wall. Fails to work.

Declares a national emergency because his ego/wall didn’t get the funding he demanded, treating the army as simple tools, to be used however he wants them to be used. Admits that he could have tried(and failed again) to secure funding some other way, but that this way was faster.

Everyone and anyone can be fooled, so I don’t place too much blame on a lot of the people who voted for him originally, but people who still support him at this point? I’m not sure I want to know what mental gymnastics that they have to go with to act as though he’s not a child constantly throwing tantrums, or worse, people who see him for what he is and consider it acceptable behavior for the US president.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me- oh hell, I lost count.

In what is likely to generate some negative feedback, I kinda admire Trump for sticking to his guns and forcing this issue. When he ran for office, he said he would work to get the wall built. Yeah, Mexico was going to pay for it, ha, ha, right. But in this day and age when campaign promises are quickly discarded or forgotten once the election is over, it is nice to see someone actually trying to carry one through.

And for the record, Congress could have past a budget that included the border wall funding, but didn’t. But it’s Trump’s fault the government shut down? If they can include $138 billion in aid for Israel (who already has a wall) and other multi-billion dollar aid packages to other countries, they could fund a $5B one for the U.S. I think our country is worth protecting.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me- oh hell, I lost co

" I kinda admire Trump for sticking to his guns and forcing this issue"

I can understand that generally – but this issue?

"But in this day and age when campaign promises are quickly discarded or forgotten once the election is over, it is nice to see someone actually trying to carry one through."

The thing is, he HAS discarded his promise, which was to build a wall AND have Mexico pay for it. Security without additional burden on the US taxpayer. Now, he’s promising less (the "wall" appears to be more like a fence, it’s not a big as originally promised, etc.").

He’s not sticking with his guns, he’s making you a worse offer that he’s hoping you will accept without personal cost to him.

"But it’s Trump’s fault the government shut down?"

Yes. He could have accepted the original deal he was offered and come out with more than he’s accepted now. He actually got less than he was offered to not shut down.

"I think our country is worth protecting."

…and if the wall would have done a damned thing to do that, you’d be right to criticise people for not funding it. The problem is, it won’t be effective at what he’s promising. There are a great many ways to protect your country that don’t involve a monument to stupidity, and which will cost less in the long term.

Put it this way – if you hire a company to renovate your house because he offers you a free premium security upgrade, and then turns around and says actually you’re getting the standard security package and it’ll cost you an extra $20k over his original quote, are you going to laud him for sticking to his guns or throw him to the kerb like the thieving con artist he is? If the latter, why would you accept the same behaviour from your president?

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me- oh hell, I lost co

And for the record, Congress could have past a budget that included the border wall funding, but didn’t.

And Congress could have passed that budget at any time during the first two years Trump was president and his party controlled both chambers.

American voters chose to elect a Democratic House majority in 2018. In part, this was because Trump is unpopular; his wall is even more unpopular; shutting down the government to try and get money for his wall is more unpopular still, and declaring a state of emergency to build his wall is even more unpopular than that.

He is sticking to his guns to do something that most Americans do not want him to do — "sticking to his guns" to the point of doing something that is almost certainly unconstitutional and will not stand up in court. And you think that’s admirable?

PS: It’s "passed". "Past" is the time before now; "passed" is the past tense of "pass".

TFG says:

Re: Re: 'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me- oh hell, I lost co

I think our country is worth protecting.

I agree on this point. However, the wall is meaningless theater that will do nothing to protect our country, and will instead drain funds from actually useful projects. It will additionally displace American citizens from their homes, and thereby cause actual harm to citizens.

I consider it to be a failure of a proposal, pushed forward at the expense and to the detriment of the American people, to support a racist ideology that is not grounded in fact and to attempt to prop up the ego of and consolidate the power of a man that I believe should never have entered the political regime.

If you want good border security, provide training and resources to the actual border patrol. If you want good border security, get them to respect the rights of people, so that people don’t see them as an enemy. If you want good border security, focus on actual problems, not imagined ones.

Take this idea of a wall, and chuck it into the sun, that it may never darken our stages again.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Looking for humanitarian in the action

"The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency."

I keep reading through that declaration
looking for what action he is taking about the ‘humanitarian’ part of this supposed crisis. I don’t see any. Is leaving people stranded at the border, some of whom might have legitimate asylum claims, Trump’s definition of humanitarian?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Looking for humanitarian in the action

Is leaving people stranded at the border, some of whom might have legitimate asylum claims, Trump’s definition of humanitarian?

No, you misunderstand. The crisis is not the emergency; the threat of that crisis to America’s security is. Sure, solving the crisis would eliminate the threat; so would keeping the crisis out of America, which is Trump’s plan.

(And of course, to the extent these humanitarian problems are caused by American law enforcement, keeping people out of America could help with the crisis too.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Attorney for Trump statement

President Trump completely undercut his own national emergency declaration during his Rose Garden press conference.

The attorneys for President Trump have released the following statement on the president’s press conference:
"President Trump was not under oath at the time and was using hyperbole to push the seriousness of this subject. At no time should anything he says in speeches, social media, on TV, or at the golf course should be taken as the truth or actual policy.
During these troubled times, the best thing to do when the President makes a statement is to always remember that nothing the president says is to be held as anything but fiction. But you are a traitor if you ever question the truth of those statements."

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Either way

Pretty much. If he had gotten The Wall as he wanted it right off the bat, Mexico paying or not (Mexico was never going to pay), he would have won his big fight. But then he would have had nothing left because The Wall was his big campaign promise — hell, it was really the only campaign promise he had going for him. He wants the fight more than he wants the victory; his campaign was proof enough of that.

scotts13 (profile) says:

So temporary

For now, at least, we have term limits. What’s being done can be undone, just as the current president devotes much of his efforts to undoing the work of his predecessor. Very little wall will be built in the next few years, and once we cease to maintain it, it will quickly crumble.

We’ll be left with bits and pieces of a sad, sad, legacy. Maybe our next form of government will learn from this.

A smart Democrat (or Libertarian) will already be planning to take us forward to 2010, as the current administration pulls us back to 1949.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: So temporary

You mention term limits as though they’re a positive thing, but there’s certainly arguments either way. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Obama or a Clinton who didn’t allow himself to be perjured could have taken office a 3rd time. Meanwhile, the regular party switching and different priorities mean that any legislation with an effect that takes over 5 years risks being gutted before it can be effective. It’s not just Trump’s folly that gets dismantled, but also every Democrat program that the other party disagree with.

Plus, it’s not mere money being squandered here. Other things will take a lot longer to recover from. The office might be over in a short few years, but not it’s effect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So temporary

My personal issue with term limits is that they spend half of their first term of presidency campaigning for their second term. Either at actual events or pushing policies across that will get them the vote.

Personally, I think the office would be better off if it was limited to one eight-year term and require a certain percentage of institutional overlap in staff for the first year so knowledge transitions properly.

Would that make things worse in case we get another Trump? Likely. My only hope is that Americans smarten up next time and actually pay attention when everyone says the person is an idiot. These hopes are guaranteed to fail me seeing some of the current crop of people looking to take the highest office.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So temporary

My personal issue with term limits is that they spend half of their first term of presidency campaigning for their second term. Either at actual events or pushing policies across that will get them the vote.

Congress doesn’t have term limits, and they spend even more of their time campaigning for reelection than presidents do.

My only hope is that Americans smarten up next time and actually pay attention when everyone says the person is an idiot. These hopes are guaranteed to fail me seeing some of the current crop of people looking to take the highest office.

That…seems like a pretty strong argument against your proposal.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So temporary

"My personal issue with term limits is that they spend half of their first term of presidency campaigning for their second term"

…and then the last half of the second term pushing for things that they hadn’t pushed for before that because they were worried about political pushback when they would have actually pushed for change.

"Personally, I think the office would be better off if it was limited to one eight-year term"

No, while it can be a pain in the ass, someone running the country into the ground that you can’t vote out for nearly a decade after they took office would be far worse, especially one that doesn’t have to think about long term political capital when they do things.

"My only hope is that Americans smarten up next time and actually pay attention when everyone says the person is an idiot"

Let me just remind you that 3 million more people voted for Trump, it’s just that the electoral college decided their votes didn’t count as much as they would have if they lived in other states. The issue is far more complicated than whether or not people knew he was a failing con artist.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

The claim that immigrants blow off hearings is completely false. The DOJ’s own data shows that 60-75% of non-detained immigrants show up for court appearances.

Huh?

This means that 25-40% of a group that numbers in the millions–and that’s a lot of people by any measure!–do in fact blow off hearings. That hardly counts as "completely false!"

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

and that’s a lot of people by any measure!

About 140,000 over a 5-year period, per the article at PolitiFact. I don’t know if I’d say it’s a lot of people by any measure, but it’s not nothin’.

That hardly counts as "completely false!"

"Mostly false" would have probably been more accurate (and consistent with PolitiFact’s conclusion, which describes the claim that most show up for court as "mostly true").

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What concerns me a lot more is that Trump does represent the views of a lot of Americans — not the majority, but enough to elect him, obviously. He’s a particularly nasty symptom, but the disease runs far deeper than any one man.

I want to see him out of office — whether he’s defeated next year, impeached, resigns, has a heart attack from all the KFC, I’ll accept any legal means of removing him — but getting rid of him won’t solve the deep problems he’s exposed.

David says:

Re: Re:

Our real national emergency is that we have a fake president–a traitor to everything on which this country was founded.

That’s a symptom, not a problem. Your national emergency is that you have fake citizens choosing a fake president to rightfully represent them–believers in everything on which this country was founded, from slaughtering native Americans to working slaves bought in bulk to death in plantations as long as the price is right.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ll bite.

If a president has the power to declare a state of emergency and then divert money from other government programs to fight it, then that means the next Democratic president can take office and, on day one, say "Climate change is an emergency. I am defunding ICE to pay for fighting climate change."

If you believe that Trump has a right to declare a state of emergency and divert military and disaster relief funds to pay for a border wall, then you believe the next Democratic president has the right to divert ICE funding to fight climate change.

Techdirt is arguing that a president does not have that right.

So. Which of these is a radical left-wing position?

PS: You misspelled "ideologies".

Rekrul says:

Ever since Trump first floated the idea of declaring a national emergency, I’ve been hearing that the republicans were terrified of that outcome because Nancy Pelosi would pass a resolution in the house, forcing the senate to vote for or against the president’s declaration and making them either defy him or publicly declare that they support him. Well, we’re almost a week in and there’s no sign of any resolution being passed.

As usual, the Doormats are twiddling their thumbs.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He had to declare it at the beginning of a 3 day weekend so less people would pay attention

You know, people always say that when things like this happen, and it’s possible that that actually is the reason why some of these things are happening, but considering the way this was all over the news right away, I’m starting to wonder how valid the tactic is anymore.

bob says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While news travels fast less will look at or be bothered to act on it when their "vacation time" is coming.

Friday night to Monday morning I hardly look at the news because I have lots of other distractions and family to play with than during the week.

I also don’t have a TV, so breaking news isn’t thrust into my face unless I specifically go to a news website which i tend not to during the weekend for reasons stated above. During the week I leave a browser tab open to google news (sorry Spain, but not really sorry) so that when new things happen I can be aware of it. I’m still not plastered to it every minute but i do at least check it from time to time.

This tactic may not keep people from knowing about it but it still has helped a perpetrator lessen the initial impact of their actions by doing/saying something when more people are distracted.

Ultimately you’re right it probably isn’t near as effective as it used to be but it can’t hurt either. So why not do it anyway if it helps.

carlb (profile) says:

So where's the wikivoyage.org {{warningbox}}?

Oh dear, an emergency. Wikivoyage really needs to update their [[United States of America]] article to warn voyagers of the peril:

{{warningbox|This country is currently experiencing a state of emergency; please reconsider plans to travel or choose another destination as the situation continues to degrade…|lastedit=2019}}

Anonymous Coward says:

I saw a great interview the other day that described Trump as the guy who is looking at a big whole in the ground, and saying to himself, come hell or high water, I’m going to put a Big Beautiful Building in that hole in the next eight years. He’s done that many times before, and now he’s doing that again.

Now that the Justice Department and the FBI are blaming each other for the phoney Russian investigation, the last remnant of the “insurance policy” seems to be in the rubbish bin. That’s great news.

This National Emergency is just another chapter in the book that Trump is writing and and will complete in the next 6 years. A new, Great America, Greater than ever.

You’ve got to get over the small potatoes issues, the Russia investigation, this court case or that court case, the denigration of SCOTUS candidates, the phoney “This is MAGA country” false claims of gay black assholes, none of it matters. Think big picture.

Imagine how much time and energy and focus and negotiating it takes to complete something like a Trump Tower. That was just a warm-up for Trump, he will remake the ENTIRE COUNTRY in the next few years.

Just watch and see, children. And you are children, obviously. Just read the silly rambling posts above. There is greatness all around you and you fail to even notice.

MAGA

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"This National Emergency is just another chapter in the book that Trump is writing"

That he’s writing, or that someone ghostwrote for him like The Art Of The Deal?

"Imagine how much time and energy and focus and negotiating it takes to complete something like a Trump Tower. "

Then imagine how much effort it took to screw over the contractors he refused to pay! Far more than the people who did the actual work of building it.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I like the way you think.
Trump has obviously studied past walls to know what happens later.
The Great Wall of China was built to keep invaders out, but it later fell and China became one country.
The Berlin Wall separated Berlin, but it later fell and Berlin became one city in a re-unified Germany.
So my theory is that the wall between the US and Mexico will be painful now, but with 25 years, it’ll come down and the US and Mexico will become one country.
I admire Trump for taking the long-view of history.

Sok Puppette (profile) says:

So, Trump is worthless, destructive scum. He’s an idiot, he’s a crook, he’s completely amoral, he’s entirely self-interested, and he’s a chaotic, incompetent loose cannon. I sincerely hope he gets impeached, which he deserves on several sets of independent grounds. And I don’t give a fuck what happens to him after that.

… but there’s a problem with the system that gave him the power to do this. The other 32 "national emergencies" are also bullshit.

A reasonable "national emergency" power would require each and every emergency to be actively confirmed by Congress within 10 days (MAYBE unless it was physically impossible, as certified by an identified court, to convene Congress). And every emergency would automatically expire if not redeclared and reconfirmed at 30-day intervals.

I get it that Trump is a dumpster fire, but you don’t keep laws like that around waiting for somebody like that to get power. Especially not when those laws have been continuously abused before said scumbag gets the power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, actually, there are already checks and balances on the national emergency powers. Congress can override and rescind a national emergency order by passing a resolution, which the president can veto but at that point Congress can override the president’s veto, thereby making the national emergency order null and void.

Is this likely to happen? No. But these laws do not exist in a vacuum of checks and balances. The problem is, as ever, partisan politics. While the majority of Republicans still "tow the party line" despite their personal feelings and beliefs, or that of their constituents, we will continue to get messed up situation like this.

In short, the law isn’t the problem. The people are.

Sok Puppette (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you have 33 active emergencies, that’s proof that the checks you have in place don’t work.

It doesn’t matter WHY they don’t work. The point is that they don’t work and you need to change the system.

It’s not like "partisan politics" are some unusual phenomenon that you shouldn’t take into account when you design the process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you have 33 active emergencies, that’s proof that the checks you have in place don’t work.

No, it’s really not. And no I don’t agree there should be that many active emergencies but regardless, the potential exists that there could be and the system allows for it. The fact that Congress did not stop them, and in fact agreed with them, is not a failing of the system. It’s a direct failing of the people to use the check and balance power they already have.

It doesn’t matter WHY they don’t work.

Yes, it REALLY does. Just because someone doesn’t use a hammer to fix some protruding nails, doesn’t mean the hammer doesn’t work, it just means you are failing to use the tools at your disposal to fix a problem.

The point is that they don’t work and you need to change the system.

So far all you have shown is that the tools at hand haven’t been used, not that they don’t work. A tool has to be used before it can be proven to not work. As an example, Trump could declare himself America’s first emperor for life. Nothing is stopping him from doing that. And he would succeed if Congress sits back and doesn’t use their power to stop him. Does that mean the entire Constitutional system of checks and balances doesn’t work and is worthless? No, it just means people failed to use the tools at their disposal to stop childish megalomaniac.

It’s not like "partisan politics" are some unusual phenomenon that you shouldn’t take into account when you design the process.

Partisan politics have become much more extreme in the last 20-30 years. Before that people may have disagreed on things but they could typically come together and compromise and be reasonable. When the emergency powers were put in place, no one could have imagined the country would become so divided over essentially meaningless opinions, nor that decisions would be made so completely divorced from facts and reality, not just by the government but by the population at large.

None of that is a failing of the system, especially at the time it was put in place. It’s a failing of the people to be intelligent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And no I don’t agree there should be that many active emergencies but regardless, the potential exists that there could be and the system allows for it.

I guess there could be 33 emergencies if 33 unexpected catastrophes fell out of the sky all at once. Which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the actual case.

… and NOTHING that runs for decades can ever be a legitimate emergency. The only way we got to 33 was by having them accumulate over many years.

The hard, cold fact is that the actual system has actually failed to actually preven the actual accumulation of bogus "emergencies".

As an example, Trump could declare himself America’s first emperor for life. Nothing is stopping him from doing that. And he would succeed if Congress sits back and doesn’t use their power to stop him. Does that mean the entire Constitutional system of checks and balances doesn’t work and is worthless?

It would definitely mean that it had not worked in that case.

No, it just means people failed to use the tools at their disposal to stop childish megalomaniac.

It’s nice that you could make yourself feel better by blaming people for "failing to use the tools", but the bottom line is that the system would still have failed. The people are part of the system, and if your system design expects the parts to behave contrary to their nature, then your sytem design is wrong.

What "works" is a matter of results, not who gets the blame.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The only way we got to 33 was by having them accumulate over many years.

Again, that is not a failing of the system, that is a failing of the people to either end them, or block them to begin with. That said, I could see the argument for introducing a limit on how long they can last, and at that point a review must take place and a resolution be voted on to allow the emergency to continue, otherwise it expires. That would seem to be a sensible limitation to put on it.

The hard, cold fact is that the actual system has actually failed to actually preven the actual accumulation of bogus "emergencies".

Again, no it has not. The reason why is because no one has actually used it yet. So the question becomes, why not? Are the emergencies still valid? I think we both agree they aren’t, but then that begs the question, why hasn’t government ended it since they have the tools and power to do so? Also, are you sure that the emergencies were bogus to begin with? I’m sure at least some of them could be debated.

It would definitely mean that it had not worked in that case.

So what you’re saying then is that our entire system of government is incapable of preventing abuse of any kind and the whole thing should be thrown out. Note that the example I provided had nothing to do with the national emergency powers. Instead it only relied on the checks and balances that were originally written into the Constitution.

What you want is some sort of automated system that automatically slaps government around when they abuse or overstep, what you consider, their powers and abilities. Unfortunately there is no magical system like that, since any system that could be implemented would have to be run and enforced by people. And in that case, just as this one, if the people sit back and choose to do nothing, the system doesn’t get used. Which is entirely different from "it doesn’t work".

It’s nice that you could make yourself feel better by blaming people for "failing to use the tools", but the bottom line is that the system would still have failed.

So, you’re saying that Congress DOESN’T have the power to end or block any national emergency declaration? Because I’m pretty sure the law says otherwise.

The people are part of the system, and if your system design expects the parts to behave contrary to their nature, then your sytem design is wrong.

Then we’re fucked because you can never remove the human equation from the system. As long as humans are involved in the system, the potential for them to do nothing and allow the system to be abused will always exist, and likely be exploited. The best we can do is make sure we give them the tools to prevent and stop abuse, and hope they use it. Which is what has happened here.

What "works" is a matter of results, not who gets the blame.

Correct but not relevant here. Like I said, something can only "work" if it’s used. If it’s not used, whether it works or not is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is it wasn’t used. You can’t say "well my car doesn’t work because I’ve never used it". That’s idiotic. The car could be in perfect working condition, the only reason it didn’t do what you wanted it to do (get you from point A to point B) is because you didn’t get in and start driving it. There is no difference here, the checks and balances are in place in the law, the people just haven’t stuck the key in the ignition and started the car. It’s not going to start on its own and tell the president "no you can’t do that". Though it would be entertaining to see a piece of paper march into the Oval Office and give Trump a talking to.

Anonymous Coward says:

That said, I could see the argument for introducing a limit on how long they can last, and at that point a review must take place and a resolution be voted on to allow the emergency to continue, otherwise it expires.

That is, in fact, exactly what I suggested to begin with.

Again, no it has not. The reason why is because no one has actually used it yet.

The bug is that anything has to be "used" to start with. Things should tend to fail safe. If something has to be actively done to push events in a certain direction, then that burden should be put on the unsafe direction, not the safe one.

Probably a better way to look it it is that the system is always being "used", or equally validly never being "used". "The system" isn’t some particular subset of the formal rules. It isn’t even all of the formal rules. It’s the total set of rules, customs, conditions, and predilections that lead to some set of actions and results.

Decisions are always being made, and those decisions are always creating results. Take the emergency case: at every instant, the system is in a very real sense deciding to continue or not to continue the emergency. That decision is being made even if nobody is taking any action to make it.

If you make the default decision dangerous, then you’ll tend to get the more dangerous results. But you will always get some result.

So it makes no sense to talk about the system as a whole not being used, as opposed to about specific mechanisms not being triggered during the continuous, unstoppable functioning of the system.

So what you’re saying then is that our entire system of government is incapable of preventing abuse of any kind and the whole thing should be thrown out.

Straw man.

What I’m saying is that if your scenario came to pass, the constitutional rules would have failed in that particular case. That doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in other cases. To be useless, they would have to never succeed at all.

Almost every system will fail eventually, so it’s a really bad idea to decide that every imperfect system is totally useless.

Which is not, by the the way, to say that the checks and balances in the US couldn’t be improved.

What you want is some sort of automated system that automatically slaps government around when they abuse or overstep, what you consider, their powers and abilities.

Another straw man.

What I want is a structure that configures those powers so that, in the most probable cases, abusing them isn’t the path of least resistance. Abuse should be one of the more difficult paths.

It’s not always easy, or even possible, to guess in advance which will be the safe path… but it is easy in the case of the emergency system.

It’s almost always an abuse for an emergency to continue for a long time. In the existing system, the emergency automatically continues once it’s declared, so abuse is in fact the path of least resistance. That’s one problem.

It’s not particularly hard to declare the emergency to begin with. One person can do it, at a low cost that doesn’t really prove the kind of motivation that justifies the word "emergency". That’s another problem.

So, you’re saying that Congress DOESN’T have the power to end or block any national emergency declaration? Because I’m pretty sure the law says otherwise.

In the US, Congress has the power to do pretty much anything that’s not outright unconstitutional, especially given a supermajority. Congress can dynamically change the rules for almost everything, so it almost always gets what it wants if it plays the game optimally. For that matter, Congress can sometimes get away with things that aren’t even constitutional, because the system is imperfect in enforcing constitutional limits.

However, "if Congress plays optimally" i’s a big "if". It’s really hard to actually get Congress to do much, even if you are IN Congress. Therefore, it’s a bad idea to create a law that requires Congress to take positive action to avoid a reasonably predictable bad outcome.

Then we’re fucked because you can never remove the human equation from the system. As long as humans are involved in the system, the potential for them to do nothing and allow the system to be abused will always exist, and likely be exploited.

People usually do nothing, especially if not given clear concentrated reasons. Therefore you should design the system so that , most of the time, the right thing will happen if people do nothing.

Most of the time, the right thing is for an emergency NOT to continue. Furthermore, in the rare cases where continuing an emergency IS the right thing, you actually have more hope that people will be motivated enough to act, because it’s an emergency, after all.

Like I said, something can only "work" if it’s used.

As I said, the system as a whole isn’t "used". That’s totally the wrong way to think about these things. The system always running. Things are always happening, decisions are always being made. The actions of the people are part of the functioning of the system… and the inaction of the people is also part of the functioning of the system.

The people don’t sit outside the system somewhere and occasionally "use" it. The people are components that inhabit the continuously running system.

The car could be in perfect working condition, the only reason it didn’t do what you wanted it to do (get you from point A to point B) is because you didn’t get in and start driving it.

OBCarAnalogy

Say it’s important to you that I be somewhere. Maybe more important to you than it is to me. Say that you know I have a phobia about driving, or lack a driver’s license, or something, and am unlikely to drive even if I have access to a car.

Now say you ignore that, and give me a car as a means of getting there.

If I don’t show up, then the system you created for getting me there has failed.

Whether it’s your fault or my fault doesn’t matter. What matters is that I won’t be where you need me to be… and you could easily have prevented that by using the knowledge you had.

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