New highpoint in American culture: “Quid pro quo?”

How long has it been since most of the country was using Latin in regular speech? How long since the meaning of a Latin phrase has been hotly disputed? Americans, usually disparaged for their mono-liguisim, are consumed with an ancient and consequential language; one could think Donald Trump is responsible for this.

Who woulda thought? Who would have seen him as a force for cultural restoration? Musta been some subtle Trump strategy, ya think?

NYTimes misses Trump story, finds “shiny object”…

The New York Times nailed it and then went on to another tale of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (and Presidents).” Tell me when presidents and rich people didn’t meet.  From the New York Times article here on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club: (italics mine)

Mar-a-Lago has never been snooty in the manner of some private clubs in Palm Beach; under Mr. Trump, it has long welcomed Jews, gay couples, Republicans and Democrats. (So long as they could afford the entry fee, that is: Mar-a-Lago doubled that fee to $200,000 shortly after Mr. Trump was elected; members also pay $14,000 annual dues.) Mr. Trump spent years populating his club with people rejected by rival clubs, while also urging his friends to join.

@realDonaldTrump wasn’t, no matter how successful he became, “good enough” to be admitted to the best social circles, most exclusive clubs, “he don’t get no respect.” He attacks elites for failing to recognize his value.

He’s shown them!

Are you surprised that he decided the best way to “beat the system” was to vault over it into the presidency where he would have to be taken seriously?

Are you surprised that many decent hard-working blue- and white-collar American families found his disdain for “elites” described their own sense of having found “the system” rigged to deny them the fruits of their compliance only to see others, unlike them in opportunity and metier, enjoy them?

Are you surprised that they are enjoying his “sticking it to the elites?” Has he done things they don’t like? Sure they disagree on some specifics but the large argument of “smacking down” the “superior” types is deeply satisfying to them, just as it is to him.

Hillary Clinton went to Wellesley and Yale Law School, Bill to Georgetown, Yale Law School, and Oxford. The Obamas to Columbia, Princeton, and Harvard Law School. Had they chosen business or a profession, they would be the well-compensated types a Donald Trump might hire to help him build a billion-dollar-plus business. He’d be the brains and boss at the top, taking or rejecting their advice.

It’s understood that Trump appeals to a “rage” among his supporters. At a much higher economic and visible level of success than they’ve achieved, he understands what it is to find that some other group is enjoying the benefits he expected and earned.

But no one can ignore the POTUS, president of the United States, not even those elites who’ve treated him arrogantly and condescended to him. (Before you say that he “inherited” his success, ask how many others have done as well with what they were given.)

This is, of course, speculation. It’s been a long time since I knew anything about the hierarchy of clubs in Palm Beach and New York, and I do not know Trump’s memberships. Still, even if he broke through old bounds, his sense of his victimhood (they took forever to invite him to apply?) and lashing out at those he perceives to be enemies makes me think there is more to this than I’ve seen explored.

Donald Trump is the kid from Queens who couldn’t gain acceptance to the real estate royalty of Manhattan. He is the successful deal-maker who wasn’t invited into the top New York clubs.

He is the “white knight rescuer” of “Mar-a-Lago.” It became a “white elephant” after the National Park Service and the Town of Palm Beach found they had no use for it and could not afford to keep it. He got a good deal and made a club out of it for, among others, social outcasts like himself.

He probably wasn’t invited to join the Bath & Tennis Club, Everglades Club, or the Palm Beach Country Club (membership there may still require a review of the applicant’s record of philanthropy).

(If I’m right, he’s enjoying the discomfort at the Bath & Tennis which is across the curve from Mar-a-Lago to the south. All that traffic, security, and hoopla created by his being president can’t go down well at the B&T.)

Does understanding all this make anything any better? Only if those who cannot imagine his presidency become more strategic in dealing with him. Only if his opposition recognizes that racist bigots are not a big enough group to have elected him. Some of their neighbors did too. Only if the media becomes more adroit in determining which tweets to cover seriously.

Only if, the biggest “if” of all, the opposition takes stock of its relationship to all those people it has been dismissing lightly for a long time.

I’m not optimistic about that.

And, I’m not optimistic that his smackdown of the elites will bring him the satisfaction he seeks.

Executive Orders and Directives Trump Might Modify or Rescind, based on his comments (Reference documents from

Since the election Lawfareblog co-founder Bobby Chesney has posted two articles under the heading “Annals of the Trump Administration” that are handy references -or checklists if you wish- for executive orders and presidential directives that President Trump might change or rescind, based on his campaign statements.  I thought you might find them as valuable as I do.

The first deals with interrogation:

“…given candidate Trump’s repeated endorsements of waterboarding or worse, it seems very likely that sometime next January we’ll see action repealing President Obama’s executive order 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogation“), accompanied by renewed talk of taking the gloves off when it comes to interrogation.”

The second includes interrogation, Guantanamo, signals intelligence, and policy on terrorist targeting.  Here is an example of the kinds of questions raised:

“Section 3(c) of 13491 bars reliance on Bush-era Justice Department interpretations of interrogation-related federal statutes and treaties (you know the ones).  Will a revocation order from Trump explicitly reinstate the authority of those memos?”

I cannot commend Lawfareblog to you highly enough.  National Security and the issues surrounding it lead me to read it daily.  Along with reading Just Security, my other “go-to” site for similar issues, it is as routine for me to read it as to drink my coffee while doing so.

While it is “lawyerly” and scholarly, it is only rarely inaccessible to a lay person.  It has won my interest because it takes a more thoughtful approach to my issues.  My biases run much more toward civil liberties and retaining “speed bumps” for the government in its dealings with individuals but I’ve found most of the civil liberties sites to be more “hair on fire” commentary and less scholarly than I can take regularly without spilling coffee on my computer.

I impose my civil liberties skepticism on articles from time to time while I enjoy them all the time.  You might enjoy the site; it contains a growing array of subject fields related to national security, understood broadly.

I thank Ben Wittes, editor, for permission to make these available through this blog.