Conservative Columnist: Trump’s Job Is To Defend Freedom Of The Press

Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby who I enjoy reading hits his latest column out of the park with the following paragraph.

It is commonplace for critics to lecture journalists about their obligation to cover the news fairly. Rarely is it noted, especially by politicians, that freedom of the press — a liberty explicitly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights — is not contingent on media objectivity. The First Amendment protects the freedom of journalists to practice their profession as they see fit. It imposes on them no obligation to protect or defend the president’s interests. On the other hand, presidents do have an obligation toward the press. Trump, like the 44 chief executives who preceded him, swore a solemn oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution — including the Bill of Rights that empowers the news media Trump despises.  Whether Trump likes it or not, defending freedom of the press is part of his job description. When he uses his bully pulpit to demean the press, to insult journalists, or to threaten retaliation against media outlets he doesn’t like, he isn’t just being inimical. He is violating, or at least undermining, his oath of office.

Trump’s Disregard For The Rule Of Law

From The New Yorker.

Clearly, Trump’s disdain for judicial authority should trigger alarm, but it is far from the only constitutional concern implicated by the Arpaio pardon. To start, Trump has smashed through an even more basic set of norms that apply to the Chief Executive, who is tasked with serving as a role model on—and initial interpreter of—what the law requires. In a July 28th speech on Long Island, Trump made clear that he has no problem with officers roughing up suspects. “Please don’t be too nice” to arrestees, he urged the police in his audience, and instructed them to feel free to stop protecting a suspect’s head when placing them in a patrol car “if they just killed somebody,” prompting applause from some officers standing behind him. The White House later said that Trump was joking, but the remark rightly triggered a wave of rebuke from law-enforcement officials across the country and from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Now, by pardoning Arpaio—shortly after a rally where he suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job”—Trump has committed an official act that serves to confirm his views on the permissibility of law enforcement’s use of excessive force. That act does not merely undermine the courts’ ability to serve as a check on police misconduct from the back end. It is a move to redefine what constitutes legitimate law enforcement from the front.

Where Was Zoning Policy In Houston Before Hurricane Harvey?

There is no doubt at all that emergency money will need to be appropriated to help rebuild Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, after this massive storm.  While compassion and dollars are most needed at this time we also must be aware of the decades-long lack of regulations regarding zoning in Houston. Some consequences of this storm are now playing out which were created due to past scorning of policies which could have alleviated some of the current suffering.

Regulations are a good thing, and now some are becoming painfully aware of that fact. Perhaps even some conservatives in congress will now understand as they provide large amounts of money to rebuild and restore people’s lives how much smarter and cheaper it would have been to not have willfully destroyed wet lands and allowed for pavement to be stretched over a massive area without regard to proper zoning.

Voters have elected to reject any efforts to pass zoning laws in Houston three different times in the past century. Today, Houston is the largest city in the country with no regulation.  Those votes against regulations were selfish and allowed for that city to be one of the most poorly designed in the nation.

Now Houston is in dire need of the nation’s help.  I fully grasp that need and the human pain that people there are feeling.  But should not the nation that now will pay for the process of renewable also have a right to demand accountability and demand that Houston have a zoning policy moving forward?

Hurricane Harvey By The Numbers

FiveThirtyEight has one of those interesting must reads today on the most amazing weather system playing out in Texas this week.  The results of this hurricane are nothing short of stunning.

3 miles per hour

Tropical Storm Harvey is very slowly creeping back toward the Gulf of Mexico. But it was moving at only three miles per hour as of early Monday, so Southeast Texas, where Harvey made landfall, is still in danger. At least five deaths, and many more injuries, have been attributed to the storm. [Dallas Morning News, The New York Times]

50 inches of rain

With Harvey expected to remain around Southeast Texas for the next several days, cumulative rainfall in isolated parts of Texas could reach 50 inches. This would be the highest ever recorded in the state. The National Weather Service is describing the storm’s effects as unprecedented. [The Washington Post, NWS]

15 to 25 inches of rain

Additional rain forecasted to fall in the Houston area through Friday. [KHOU]

18 counties

As of Sunday, 18 counties in Texas were covered by the federal disaster declaration. Nearly 7 million of the state’s 27.8 million residents live in those counties. Fifty counties have been declared state disaster zones. [The Associated Press]

56,000 calls to 911

The city of Houston had received some 56,000 calls to 911 as of mid-day Sunday. Houston did not issue an evacuation order — it was decided that moving the 6.5 million people who live in the metro area by roads one day ahead of a major hurricane was unrealistic, and risked greater loss of life than the alternative. [The Daily Beast, The Atlantic]

About 9 trillion gallons

Harvey isn’t finished, but that was the estimated rainfall in Southeast Texas and the greater Houston area as of 12 p.m. Sunday. If it were all collected, you’d have a cube of water two miles wide and two miles tall. [The Washington Post]