About Trump

Brett Kavanaugh’s (impending) arrival on the Supreme Court is like Donald Trump’s attainment of the presidency, in this important way:

By the rules of politics that prevailed until 2016, neither of them would have come close to consideration for their respective offices. For Trump, the reasons are obvious; for Kavanaugh, they’re brilliantly summarized by one of Kavanaugh’s long-term friends here, and discussed below.

“Thus, the ascent of a man like Kavanaugh necessarily changes the public sense of what is within bounds, and not, for the most powerful jurists in the nation—just as the ascent of Trump has changed assessments of what is within bounds for a president, and how much protection long-standing norms can supply.” [From an article by James Fallows, 10/6/18]

Donald Trump gets low marks for a variety of personal traits but on one important characteristic he does extremely well – 68% say he “stands up for what he believes” and on a couple of others he does okay.

On the balance of the list he is in negative territory with a majority of
people saying that a particular phrase does not describe him.

  Describes Does not describe
Stands up for what he believes 68%  
Able to get things done 50%  
Keeps his promises 49%  
Strong leader   54%
Well – informed   57%
Cares about people like me   61%
Trustworthy   61%
Even-tempered   70%

Even Democrats give him a 52% rating for standing up for what he believes. The next highest positive rating by Democrats is 22% for keeping his promises. [Pew 10/1/18]

Following in his father-in-law’s footsteps, Jared Kushner has apparently paid little or no federal income taxes for a number of years. There is no indication that he has violated any rules or laws. Apparently, it is the result of a tax benefit that lets real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year.

Interestingly, when the administration pushed through a substantial revision of the tax laws, the changes expanded many of the benefits enjoyed by real estate investors, resulting in even larger potential deductions. [New York Times, 10/13]

President Trump’s “preferred network”, Fox News, which has regularly covered his rallies from beginning to end, has begun cutting back on coverage of his rallies around the country. During a recent week in which Trump had three rallies, Fox News showed clips and highlights. The issue seems to be that the TV/cable audiences for his rallies have sometimes dipped below the network’s regular programing. Regular viewership of the rallies in 2017 averaged 4 million viewers. An August rally had just over 2.5 million viewers.

CNN and MSNBC have never covered his rallies from beginning to end. Fox does continue to live stream the events. [Politico, 10/12/18]

“I have covered a lot of Trump rallies, but never seen press pen as locked down as it is here in Council Bluffs. Have now been escorted to the bathrooms and yelled at by advance team for attempting to talk with Trump supporters in the crowd.” [Eli Stokols, LA Times]

Trump has now appointed as many Supreme Court Justices as any of the last seven Presidents other than Ronald Reagan who appointed three.

Brett Kavanaugh is the 114th justice in American history. 111 of the Justices have been white, 110 have been men and the past 112 justices including all those currently on the bench attended Ivy League law schools. [NYT, 10/19/18]

There are 9 Supreme Court Justices, 167 Appeals Court Justices and 667 District Court Judges.

The following are the current members of the Supreme Court, the dates on which they were confirmed and the number of votes on their confirmations.

Clarence Thomas 1991 52-48
Ruth Ginsburg 1993 96-3
Stephen Breyer 1994 87-9
Chief John Roberts 2005 78-22
Samuel Alito Jr. 2006 58-42
Sonia Sotomayor 2009 68-31
Elena Kagan 2010 63-37
Neil Gorsuch 2017 54-45
Brett Kavanaugh 2018 50-48
  Total Supreme Ct Appeals Ct District Ct
Trump – thru 10/11/18 84 2 29 53
Obama – 8 years 329 2 55 268
GW Bush – 8 years 327 2 62 261
Clinton – 8 years 378 2 66 305
GHW Bush – 4 years 193 2 42 148
Reagan 383 3 83 290
Carter 262 0 56 203

There are currently 11 vacancies on the U.S. Courts of appeals, 108 vacancies on the U.S. District Courts and 2 vacancies on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Nominations pending are 7 for the Courts of Appeals, 48 for the District Courts, 2 for the Courts of International Trade.

Late last month, as the Kavanaugh conflagration ignited, Justice Elena Kagan noted that “the court’s strength as an institution of American governance depends on people believing it has a certain kind of legitimacy — on people believing it’s not simply just an extension of politics, that its decision-making has a kind of integrity to it. If people don’t believe that, they have no reason to accept what the court does.”