Three themes from the week ending April 29th, 2017

What’s 100 days?

There’s some truth that this is an arbitrary marker. FDR planted the flag as he took office picking up the pieces after the Great Depression. He wanted the American people to know he was on the job and it’s a marker we’ve observed ever since. Trump isn’t the first to feel the pressure so why should we forego the ritual and the fun?

With a particularly apropos approach, The Telegraph turns to the new President’s Twitter feed to reflect on his first 100 days. It appears that he has been getting up earlier in the morning. The New York Times had some fun sharing their Opinion pages with readers who offered their own assessments of the administration’s fresh start. A Senior Lecturer in History compared the flurry of activity this week to her students’ rush to complete unfinished assignments at the end of a semester.

Five Thirty Eight offers more measured reflections on the moment with  10 lessons from 100 days, including a reminder that “Trump isn’t the only story.” The Monkey Cage answers that reasonable account with more reasonableness, pointing to the two factors a President needs to turn up the fire on first 100 Days: a congressional majority and a national emergency (or other call to action).

The problem for today’s Republicans is that the social and economic context is relatively calm. There is no recession, bank crisis, terrorist attack or war. An election by itself is not enough. A 100-days legislative binge would have been astonishing.
–David R. Mayhew, The Washington Post

Whose Court is It Anyway?

While political observers watch for every wink, nod or nudge suggesting congressional Republicans have grown weary of President Trump, judges across the country are saying as much. Chief Justice Roberts issued an “oh come on!” in response to an attorney defending the administration’s rationale for deporting naturalized citizens. Justice Kennedy added his own remark, “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship.”

For a look back at the trouble with the travel ban, revisit Washington Post’s “Federal Appeals Court Rules 3 to 0 Against Trump on Travel Ban.” That saga alone might explain the President’s willingness to look at breaking up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but another court has now blocked his Executive Order cutting off federal funds to “Sanctuary Cities.” The courts’ decisions keep returning to this idea that sounds familiar: limited government.

Writing for the New York Times, Adam Liptak observes that partisanship and precedents get tricky given that, “Trump’s Losing Streak in Courts is Traceable to Conservative Judges.”

The Trump administration’s losing streak in courts around the nation has in large part been a product of precedents established by conservative judges in the Obama era. It turns out that legal principles meant to curb executive overreach are indifferent to the president’s party.
–Adam Liptak, New York Times

A Swarm of Scientists Strike D.C.

Earth Day shared the stage with the March for Science last weekend. While you might think activists should have these public marches down to a science by now, this was a remarkably different kind of march. Maggie Koerth-Baker writes that “there haven’t been many protests that addressed the repetitional concerns of a single occupation.” Results still depend on convincing legislators that science is something people care about when they vote.

The nearest match for the potential of the moment involves angry farmers who marched to Washington in the 70’s (and released goats on the capitol steps!). The audience for silly signs and viral videos aside, the March for Science has provoked discussion about science as the “secret sauce of Western civilization,” and its ancient opponent, fear.

The very existence of science is disruptive—because the tool is designed to undercut belief, to challenge both the sacred and the prosaic. The aim of science is disprove the comfortable assumptions of life, not to reinforce them. And since the time of Galileo, it has been seen as a threatening interloper to those in power and to everyday living.
–Clifton Leaf, Fortune

Leaf also points to the antidote for fear: creativity. We’ll add civics. 😉