Archive for July, 2017

A new Declaration of Independence

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers enumerated 27 abuses by King George III against the people of the colonies. It is interesting how many of those very same transgressions can be laid at the feet of the current administration in the White House and of the Republican Party in general. The text in italics is directly from the transcript of Declaration of Independence at the web site of the National Archives.

 

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

In fairness, Trump has not yet vetoed wholesome and necessary laws, but only because the Republican Congress has not enacted any.

 

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Republican-led grid lock is widespread in those state legislatures not under GOP control.

 

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

The GOP has been adamant that undocumented immigrants be denied any representation in local governments.

 

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

Keeping Congress in Washington during the heat and humidity of August can only be described as cruel.

 

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

Although this is not directly applicable to the current situation, the failure of the Trump administration to fill hundreds of key government positions clearly is an abuse.

 

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

Trump’s animus toward immigrants is well known.

 

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

Neil Gorsuch.

 

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Neil Gorsuch.

 

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Commission on Electoral Integrity, aka the Kobach Commission.

 

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

American police today dress and act like an occupying military force.

 

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

Secretary of Defense General James N. Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security General John F. Kelly, White House Chief of Staff General H. R. McMaster.

 

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Police routinely get away with murdering civilians, mostly in Republican-led states.

 

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

Trump opposes NAFTA, TPP, and international trade in general except, of course, when it benefits him or his family.

 

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

The perfect description of a Trump rally.

 

Maybe it is time for the citizens of these United States to declare our independence of Republican abuse of our rights and institutions for these are surely “times that try men’s souls.”

The Trumpanos

To understand the Trump White House, one needs only remember whence Mr. Trump hails. He is the quintessential New York City and New Jersey real estate mogul and casino magnate. As such, he has had a long and close relationship with organized crime. It is not surprising that he is running the government the way Tony Soprano would. Here are some facts, based in part on an article that appeared in Politico in May 2016.  

Trump’s links to organized crime date back to the early 1970s when he befriended Roy Cohn, a mob consigliere whose clients included “Fat Tony” Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul Castellano, head of the Gambinos. Both families were deeply involved in the concrete business that supplied material for Trump Tower. The indictment that led to the imprisonment of Salerno 1988 listed $8M of concrete provided for Trump Plaza, another of the Don’s projects. Before Trump Tower could be built, the old Bonwit Teller department store on the site had to be demolished. That work was done by illegal Polish immigrants working for contractors under the protection of the Genovese crime family. Eventually, Trump was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the workers and paid $325,000 under a sealed settlement.  

When Trump decided to build his first casino in New Jersey, his license application was approved in far less time than was usually the case. He denied any wrongdoing when questioned by the FBI and allegations of improprieties quietly disappeared. Trump was widely believed to have cut an under-the-table deal with then NJ Attorney General, John Degnan. Although probably unrelated, in 2014 NJ Governor Chris Christy appointed Mr. Degnan, retired chairman of the Chubb insurance company, to head the Port Authority of NY and NJ in the wake of the Ft. Lee lane closure scandal.

In the mid-1980s, Trump’s helicopter pilot, Joseph Weichselbaum, who had a record for embezzlement, was indicted for trafficking in marijuana and cocaine. Trump defended him as “a credit to the community.” After he was released from prison, Weichselbaum and his girlfriend “bought” adjacent apartments in Trump Tower for $2.4M. However, there is no evidence that any money actually changed hands raising the question of whether Trump was paying him for some services. By 2016, Trump appeared to have forgotten that he ever knew the man even though Wiechselbaum has said that he tried to convince the Don to break off his affair with Marla Maples.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Read the Politico article for more details on Trump’s close association with the underworld. When you do, the fact that the Trump White House resembles the Bada Bing will make much more sense.

The great American reset

It now appears all but certain that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and may well have even altered vote counts to put Donald Trump in the White House. Perhaps even more alarming is the emerging evidence that Russian intelligence had been grooming Trump to become president since at least 2015 and quite likely some years earlier, a possibility I discussed in a post last February, Agent Trump. There is no question that Trump was aided immeasurably through the primaries and the general election by a well-fed right-wing propaganda machine. Still, for a political novice to win the nomination over a field that included three sitting Governors, six former Governors, four sitting Senators, and one former Senator is unprecedented. And for a candidate to win the election against an opponent who on the eve of the election led in national polls by three percentage point and who was judged to have an 84% chance of winning is mind-boggling. The fact that Mr. Trump won by small margins in a relatively small number of precincts he was not expected to win fuels speculation of vote-tampering. So too does the confirmed Russian hacking of election systems in 39 states. The oft-expressed claim by the GOP that those hacks only targeted voter registration records is simply ludicrous. The outlines of an illegitimate election are clear.

The wheels of American justice turn slowly, especially when the Party that controls both Houses of Congress has a vested interest in gumming up the works. And while there are mechanisms for dealing with violations of election laws and a process for removing a President guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, whatever those might be, there is no Constitutional provision for dealing with a fraudulent election. Some might suggest that the 25th Amendment could be invoked but if the election was tainted, so too is the entire chain of succession provided for in that Amendment. Rather, I propose the following:

The Democratic National Committee and other interested parties bring suit against the Federal Election Commission challenging the legitimacy of the election. The matter would go to the Supreme Court which could, if the evidence were compelling, order the results of the election voided and the Trump administration, in its entirely, removed from office. At this point, the House of Representatives could elect an interim president to serve until a new election is held. It is worth nothing that nothing in the Constitution requires a popular vote for the President. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that each state choose Electors by whatever means its legislature directs. For that matter, nothing in the Constitution requires that the Electors from each state vote unanimously or that their votes reflect the results of the election. Assuming that having the interim President serve until 2021 is not desirable, that leaves several possibilities.

1)     The Electoral College empaneled in 2016 could be reconvened to elect a new president and vice president to serve out the term. This has the advantage of being quick. However, the legitimacy of Electors chosen in a fraudulent election could be in doubt.

2)     The states could be directed to appoint a new College of Electors to elect a new president and vice president to serve out the term. Again, this could be done fairly quickly. However, the direct selection of the Electoral College by the state legislatures, while Constitutional, would be unprecedented and almost certainly controversial.  

3)      A new presidential election could be scheduled for 2018. This is the option I call The Great American Reset. Henceforth presidential elections would be held on even-numbered years not divisible by four.

After that, when the disaster of the Trump election is behind us, perhaps the Congress will see fit to propose a Constitutional Amendment reforming our badly flawed system for electing presidents, a system that is far too easy for a hostile foreign power to subvert. Naturally, I have an opinion of how that system should function, but that is a different post.