26. July 2018 · Comments Off on The Unconstitutional Trump · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: ,

Article 1 Section 9 of the U.S.Constitution has proved to be a law, contrary to the actions of the most recent Republican presidents.

For instance, George W Bush suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus as applied to suspected terrorists picked up in various locations throughout the world. What does Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution say about this?

Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:
2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

So to remain “constitutional” the Bush Administration would have had to qualify the terrorist suspects as threats to public safety, which may have been an easy argument to make on the momentum of their “terrorists versus the world” narrative, but there was no clear recognition of any invasion or rebellion, which the Constitution makes very clear, is the context that matters.

But whether a president is constitutional or not seems to matter less to the Republican side of the increasing divide between Americans.

Today, we have another example as Trump continues to profit from his hotels, even encouraging foreign dignitaries to stay at his hotel in Washington DC. What does Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution say about this?

Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:

8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

So for Trump to remain “constitutional”, Congress will need to provide consent for Trump to profit from the foreign dignitaries that stay in his hotel. Until this happens, Trump will be exposed to the charge of violating the Constitution and indeed it appears the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia are doing just that.

The Trump Administration has appealed to the courts with the assertion that the profits come from an exchange of services provided and therefore cannot be counted as a “present”, “Emolument”, “office” or “title”. But while the profits are clearly not a present, or an office or a title, the question remains as to whether they qualify as an emolument.

The Trump Administration has approached the courts with the assertion that “emolument” means “gift”. Of course that would suggest redundancy in the language of the Constitution since another word for “gift” is “present” which is already included in the clause. But let’s break out the dictionary…

An emolument is defined by Webster-Merriam as:

1. the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites
2. archaic: advantage

The first definition is clearly not the equivalent of “gift” but rather a description of “returns”… which is another word for “profit”.

The second definition is as broad as they come… “advantage”. It can certainly be said that Trump gains economic advantage when foreign dignitaries choose to stay at his hotel… unless the hotel room and all it’s services are provided to such dignitaries free of charge and even then the question would remain, would Trump’s business gain advantages in the form of historic significance and/or reputation? Fortunately, we don’t have to split that hair because the foreign dignitaries did NOT get free service, the foreign states that sent their diplomats paid Trump’s business for services.

And just in case anyone gets pedantic about Merriam-Webster’s “archaic” qualifier, it must be understood that Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution WAS written over two centuries ago.

Indeed, In his opinion, Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland sided with Maryland and Washington, DC’s definition of emolument as an “advantage.”

We know by now that the Trump administration isn’t one to accept the opinions of others, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they appeal to a higher court but it would be a shock to Americans if the highest courts capitulate to what I’m just going to call a ridiculous notion that an emolument can only be defined as a gift.

One more thing to point out about this particular clause is the emphasis on breadth of meaning… If you look at the language, you will notice the repeated use of the word “ANY” and the phrase “ANY kind WHATEVER”. This is not the language of narrow specifics; this is the emphatic language of inclusion… “No advantages of ANY KIND!!!!”

This is further enforced by the very purpose of the clause… to prevent Presidents from being tempted with foreign provided motives which can arrive in many forms, hence the use of a broadly defined word like emolument.

Violating the Constitution worked out OK for Bush because no one stepped up to actually prosecute him; probably because doing so would have been be a political risk given how little the American people know about obscure legal terms cloaked in Latin and how consumed they were about the “threat of terrorism”.

In contrast, I don’t see how Trump’s violation can possibly be construed as a matter of public safety or anything other than a personal gain. Trump may have to rely on the cult-like obsessions of the rabid-right to come out of this one. As long as he continues to attack liberals he can score points with liberal-haters and so long as these liberal-haters come close to 25% of the American people, there is a gaming chance that Trump will stay on top… Maybe with a little help from the Russians.

22. October 2008 · Comments Off on Vice President … in Charge? · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,


Last night I couldn’t help but notice how the evening commentaries were ripping up Sarah Palin for misunderstanding the job description of the vice presidential office. In answer to a question by a nine year old boy, Sarah Palin said… “They’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes…”

Well, before writing her off as an idiot, let’s at least pay attention to Article 1, Section 3 of the U.S.Constitution, which states…


“Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.”

According to the Senate Rules, presiding over the Senate means keeping order, so in one sense, you could say Palin was correct, that the Vice President is “in charge” of the Senate, at least while presiding, but that doesn’t suggest the kind of influence over actual legislation that Palin seemed to be implying. In fact, most Vice Presidents in the past have spent very little time presiding over the Senate, leaving that role to the President pro tempore, who presides over the Senate in absence of the Vice President, or if the Vice President assumes the office of President of the United States. In practice, freshman senators are traditionally assigned to this role in order to learn Senate procedure, which suggests a somewhat inert position. There is only one other constitutionally mandated duty of the Vice President and that is to receive from the states the tally of electoral ballots cast for president and vice president and to open the certificates “in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives,” so that the total votes could be counted (Article II, section 1). Once again, there is no actual vote or decision making in this role either, just procedure.

Perhaps…


So while it’s safe to say that our standing laws don’t really give as much power to the Vice President over the senate as Palin may have been suggesting, that doesn’t mean the office won’t develop significant power under direction from the President of the United States, which is another point that Palin brings up constantly. Historically, the role played by the Vice President varies dramatically from one administration to the next and if we look at the current administration we will notice a Vice President that many feel has more influence over the direction of the country than the President himself.

Vice President Dick Cheney hasn’t exactly been a passive standby and much of his role as Vice President has been developed as a product of his own character. In fact he has used his constitutional link to the Senate as an effective political weapon…

According to documents released in June of 2007 by a House committee, Cheney made the claim that because he is the president of the Senate, his office is not fully part of the Bush administration, but is also part of the legislative branch, therefore exempting his office from a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information. This move effectively blocked the on-site inspection of his office by National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, who in response said that the Vice President’s failure to demonstrate that his office has proper security safeguards in place could jeopardize the government’s top secrets. At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time – when Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and other aides were under criminal investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Cheney’s executive decision

So standing rules aside, we need to realize that the “flexibility” that Palin keeps talking about in reference to the office of the Vice President could be a significant political factor and as Cheney has already proven, an effective route for diabolical agendas.

25. June 2005 · Comments Off on Health Spending IS Defense Spending · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

Sometimes I hear the argument that the federal government should spend money on defense but not on health care. Since this notion seems to reside more predominately in the young conservative sectors of our population, in which the desire for beer, whooping and hollering far outweighs the need for medicine, I assume it’s self-interest that drives this consensus, but certainly, the fingers point to the Constitution to find validation.

Indeed, the Constitution strongly prescribes a military defense while making no mention of health care at all. I suppose that’s all that can be seen by those who can only read the words but fail to embrace the soul of the Constitution. For those who think of the Constitution as more than a collection of words or a mere excuse for their own self-interests, there is more to look at.

First of all, there is the core of our doctrine upon which everything else revolves… Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Secondly, there is the time at which the Constitution was ratified… 1781, that’s 224 years ago. The military was provisioned in the Constitution because it was the only weapon that our founding fathers had at their disposal to fight the only enemies of doctine that they understood. Since then, we have discovered how to fight more of these enemies, such as disease, which statistically, has always been a bigger threat to our doctrine, especially Life and the Pusuit of Happiness, than any foreign army has ever been.

Heath care was left out in 1781, because it didn’t exist back then. The closest thing they had then was leeches and prayers. If the authors of the Constitution were alive today, I bet they would be drafting an amendment right now to include provisions for healthcare, because it serves the same purpose that the military does. To defend us from the enemies of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.