The Monday Morning Teaser

For the last few days, the media has been focusing on the right story — Trump revoking John Brennan’s security clearance — but has been missing what’s really worrisome about it: An overarching theme of Trump’s actions has been to break the link between presidential powers and presidential responsibilities. That link is the key difference between the chief executive of a republic and an autocrat.

I’ll go into that theme in much more detail in the featured post, but here’s how it applies to Brennan: Presidents have power over security clearances because they bear responsibility for safeguarding the nation’s secrets. But Trump isn’t even trying to claim that Brennan has compromised classified information; he’s just striking back at people who were involved in launching the Russia investigation.

In other words, he’s treating his power over clearances as if it belongs to him personally, rather than as a trust that he holds and must account for. It’s similar to the way he has treated his pardon power and several other presidential powers. Many people talk abstractly about the “norms” of American democracy, and how the erosion of them threatens the Republic. This is a very specific and clear example.

That post should appear around 9 EDT. The weekly summary needs to cover a lot of stuff: the Manafort trial, Aretha Franklin, the continuing sabotage of ObamaCare, Warren’s vision of accountable capitalism, Turkey, and several other topics. I also ran into a lot of great amusing videos this week. I’ll link to Denmark’s sharp response to Fox Business Network, Tracey Ullman’s “MelaniaBot” series, and James Corden’s fantasy about Mueller announcing his Trump indictment. That should be out between noon and 1.

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  • James Wright  On August 23, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Since I was first led to your blog you have been “appointment reading” each Mon. morning and I feel a real loss on those infrequent weeks when you are away. I enjoy your in-depth, fact-based approach to issues in the news.

    I have discerned an apparent decrease in the number of comments after your entries. Is this something you have noticed and if so do you have any explanation (reader burnout, topics less interesting or controversial, etc.)

    Just interested, keep up the good work.

    • weeklysift  On August 24, 2018 at 6:18 am

      The traffic on this site changed significantly over the last 2-3 years, largely due, I think, to changes in Facebook’s algorithms, which a lot of bloggers have complained about. It’s gotten much harder for posts to go viral. Prior to that, most of the blog’s traffic came from a few big posts, which might get hundreds of thousands of hits. Now 5K hits is pretty rare, and most of the readership consists of regular readers.

      I had to decide how to respond to that changed environment, and I decided not to try to chase the ever-more-elusive viral posts. Instead, I just try to do a good job for my every-week readers.

      Comments have followed a similar track, though less extremely. Over time, the number of comments that a weekly summary will get has gone up, I think, though I haven’t studied numbers. A few years ago, a viral post would get a hundred or more comments, while a weekly summary might not get any. This week was a little light on comments, but weekly summaries getting 10 or more comments are not unusual these days.

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