Republican Hubris Over Supreme Court Opening

The Republican partisan strike on the Supreme Court, and in so doing, the weaponizing of the judiciary, is most troubling. The words from Senate Majority Leader McConnell in 2016 that “people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme court justice” were discarded fast when raw power was unleashed. For those who are true conservatives the irony of Republican actions and their stated principles are obvious.

What is most concerning for those who care about the process of governing and the needs of the nation can be found in the data. That damn historical data!

Over the past 28 years–or to put that into the lingo of politicos–seven presidential election cycles–Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once. Yet those white men have appointed six of the nine justices.

That is troubling and dismaying but even more so when considering the additional component of the placement of a justice on the high court being done with a senate that has a minority of Democrats which account for about 15 million more Americans than the GOP majority.

That GOP majority will cast the votes for the conservative nominee against a vastly changing nation demographically, socially and culturally. Placing a dreadfully conservative jurist on the bench without regard for a living Constitution is a slap on the face of democracy. The nation is far removed from the baby factory that has been nominated as a jurist.

No other court nominee has been considered by the Senate this close to an election. It is folly and pure hubris for Republicans to think their actions now conforms to the needs of the nation, or in any way squares with what true conservatism espouses.

But then again today’s Republican Party is not about principles, it is all about power.

Trump And Total Authority, More Like Total Diarrhea Of The Mouth

During the past several decades the most absurd comment made by any president–even when out of office–came from Richard Nixon.  Speaking to David Frost in the famed interviews Nixon stated, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Over the past days, however, Nixon’s undemocratic statement has been replaced by a new anti-Madisonian democracy  outrage.   Trump stood before God and national reporters while stating this jaw-dropping line.

“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

Not so fast, Orange Mussolini!  I am 57, but my memory of civics from my youth still informs me that our power-sharing arrangement is found in the Constitution’s 10th  amendment where it makes clear that any power not specifically given to the federal government resides with the states.  Any move by Trump to step into his self-delusional role as even more of an autocratic figure, one he pines for on a regular basis, will be met with the fastest legal roadblocks that any judge has ever fashioned.

Over the past week I have been listening to law professors on NPR, and reading Op-Ed pieces on this subject.  Almost to a person, there is an agreement that the coronavirus pandemic, though without mercy, does not meet the criteria of a war.  Therefore the National Emergencies Act under which, the autocrat to be, declared an emergency does not grant unrestrained powers.

I had to smile (and yes, snicker) when even John Yoo, the infamous creator of the legal justification for the use of torture during the George W Bush administration voiced opposition to Trump’s statement.  He even stated the “federal system reserves the leading role over public health to state governors” and only “they will decide when the draconian policies will end.”

As for my husband and me, we can assure Trump he does not have total authority over anything in our lives.  We will abide by the guidance from experts, and will not mix again in society until it is safe.  His re-election and the national economy are not anywhere near the top of considerations when it comes to our health and well-being.

After researchers have found the antidote to COVID-19 I would hope they can next find one for the second most vexing problem in this nation.  That would be the verbal diarrhea Trump spews daily, as of late in front of the national press.

But then again the voters are going to toss his large butt out of the White House come November.  Trump dithered and failed to act with this pandemic, and as a result, voters are going to make his election loss of such a magnitude that it will rival impeachment when reporters sum up his life in their lead paragraphs.

And so it goes.

Wisconsin Economy Impaired Due To Trump’s Over-Reach In Executive Office

Not for the first time to I raise concerns about Donald Trump taking actions that are both unconstitutional and that also impair the well-being of our economy.

Today there are many news reports about the impact on Wisconsin’s economy from the actions Trump has taken to further construct his needless and racist wall on our southern border.  If one were to talk to the average state voter it would not be hard to find a solid majority who would disagree with Trump pulling money, that was not allocated by Congress, to do nothing more than play to his partisan whims.

Oshkosh Corp.’s military vehicle production, work that has sustained thousands of Wisconsin jobs in recent years, is poised to take a hit from a Defense Department plan to divert $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to build 177 miles of Trump’s Mexico border wall.

A first look at the proposal shows that $101 million will be moved from the production of Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs) that the Army has relied on to carry munitions and other critical supplies.

All who follow the news know there is not now, nor has there ever been, any rational reason to construct a wall.  Such a boondoggle is not worthy of one cent of taxpayer money.  By taking this action, which is aimed at the racist and xenophobic mouth-breathers in the Republican Party, underscores his total disregard for the law.

Once again we are witnessing his acting as if the Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.  He acts like this nation could be a dictatorship if only he stomps his feet and demands to have all power ceded in his direction.  It is imperative, for institutional reasons, that there be a massive and sustained pushback on this matter until it is reversed.

What has been most distressing to your blogger is that Trump thinks he can hold the country hostage for an expensive project because he cannot get congressional approval.  Recall he could not get the wall funding for this racist move while both houses of Congress were controlled by the Republican Party.  A party, it needs to be underscored, which has repeatedly proven its dismissive feelings about brown-skinned people.  If he could not get his funding when they had both chambers of Congress what, pray tell, does he think the chances are we will allow this to be done now?

Trump in the past did not add this funding measure to his budget bills.   Instead, he just dictated what he wanted with no debate and expects Congress and taxpayers to roll over.  The bottom line is that Trump must not be allowed to lie his way to a wall built with money not appropriated by Congress.  

It all comes down to not allowing Trump to further damage the nation.  We all have seen small children act out in department stores and we know what must be done.  The offending party has to be removed so as not to do further harm.  In regard to Trump, we must vote the little brat out of the White House and remove it from the national stage as we know he can not act in accordance with social norms.  Or legal ones!

Until then we need to raise hell about undermining the intent of Congress and the over-reach of the Executive Branch.

Three Years From Inauguration To Impeachment Trial

Three years ago today (1-20-20) Donald Trump took the oath of office and then proceeded to give an inaugural address that was the most caustic and bizarre from any of the ones given by his predecessors.  Starting in less than 24 hours of this post being written his impeachment trial begins in the United States Senate.

For all the constitutional strains that our nation has confronted, along with the attempted destruction of our institutional norms, we can say with some confidence that the checks and balances of our federal system is working.  The removal of Trump from office by the means afforded to congress through the Founders will not take place.   But the harsh unrelenting attention from the press and the voters does create tension for Trump and those who do his bidding by letting them know we are not going to ease off the gas pedal of oversight.  

Part of the reason so much chaos and confusion has been created by Trump is to make the sky hazy and less clear for the light of oversight to do its job.  Keeping his base under the illusion that what he says is accurate, and all that is presented as facts and reason by everyone else is nothing but ‘fake news’ is an awful way to operate from the White House.  The demographics of his base, however, show as to why this strategy has actually worked.

But for the rest of us, there are those pesky facts.  The actual statements that Trump has made either on a stage, press release, tweet, or when speaking off-the-cuff in front of a reporter.  The statements are on tape, in print, and not able to be refuted.

Trump has used lies and false statements more than any other person who has sat in the White House.  In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.

In other words, in a single year, the president said more than total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019.

As of Jan. 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims. Only 366 days to go — at least in this term.

The president added to his total on Sunday evening with more than 20 Trumpian claims — many old favorites — during a triumphant speech at the annual conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He incorrectly described trade agreements — suggesting Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and an agreement with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was “a $40 billion deal” — and also falsely asserted that “tough” farmers and ranchers were crying as he signed a repeal of Obama-era regulations. A video of the event shows no one crying.

As with so much that happens on a daily basis from Trump’s White House there is always a way to reach back into history to find a lesson.

I am reading a book about George Washington’s efforts to ready his army to fight the British in New York in 1776.  Over and over he stresses he wants men of character and wishes for virtue to be leading them as they conduct themselves in a large city–far different than the places most of the men hail from.  He knows the temptations they face, and in many cases, the lack of training they have for the mission to be faced.  But he wishes to see them have their internal character lead them onwards. 

How far different a man Washington was compared to Trump, an ego-driven shallow man, who now faces a trial in the United States Senate for abusing his office.  How far adrift we are from the men whose names are on the streets in my  Madison isthmus neighborhood, the signers of the Constitution.  Being a life-long history buff, at times talking about the Founding Fathers by their first names, and deeply wedded to a process in governing that demands for transparency and fairness, means what has happened over the past three years due to Trump is deeply troubling.

Walking my neighborhood each day with reminders of the people who gave so much to create a nation, and a way of making government operate is no small thing.  It may seem old-fashioned to convey such thoughts as we prepare for an impeachment trial.  Or it may be that we are at this place in our nation as we have forsaken virtue in those we elect to lead us.

And so it goes.

Trump Hopes To Nix Tax Returns Going Public

It was a good day for lawyers working for Donald Trump as they will be busy due to the attempt they are making at keeping Donald Trump’s tax returns from being made public.  Many have stated, with this blogger doing so since 2015, that some interesting answers will be discovered to some national issues when they become available.

What every other presidential nominee has done for decades when releasing tax returns was the very thing Trump refused to do.  Today Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to stop a prosecutor’s investigation of his personal finances, a bold assertion of presidential power that seeks a landmark decision from the nation’s highest court.

The Roberts Court does not want to become embroiled in what would be a historical moment that would test the court’s independence.  Or bungle into the Constitution’s separation-of-powers design.  Trump may not have read his civics books over the years, and care not a wit about his lasting image for the history books.  But each justice on the high court has studied at length constitutional law, and Roberts cares about the legacy of his stewardship of the court, and how it will be viewed by history.

If the court needs to interject itself it will be with the most narrow of rulings. Roberts does not wish to go down this road and look like a partisan institution.

For the republic’s well-being, when dealing with a president’s personal conduct and illegal behavior, we must not allow presidential immunity from criminal investigations to be placed above law and order.

Trump’s Impeachment Process Makes For Front Page Headlines

Yesterday was a truly historic day in the nation.  The Hosue of Representatives passed a resolution shaping the process for impeachment hearings.  The Republicans went into their usual fall-back position of acting as if they never opened a civics book and even read the preface.

The impeachment hearings are, simply put, an inquiry to get at the truth concerning the actions Donald Trump took which run counter to our Constitution.   So with the partisan display Republicans took at every turn, they have proven again that honesty and integrity do not matter to them.   Law and order are only buzz-words they use on the campaign trail.  When it comes to the needs of the nation the GOP has proved they only care about their party.  The GOP should have bumper stickers that say simply ‘to hell with the country’.

Yesterday the Republican defense, articulated by Congressman McCarthy, is that Democrats have wanted to impeach Trump since the day he was elected.  What he left unsaid is that Trump has lied, abused the Constitution, ripped up treaties, cooperated with our enemies, disabled our intelligence services, and openly sought financial gain for himself and his family while failing to disclose his own tax filings.  Those are some of the reasons that have fueled calls for impeachment.   Had Democrats exerted the urge that McCarthy charged they would have pressed for impeachment for obstruction of justice following the release of the Mueller Report.   (Something this blog advocated.) 

Now Trump’s been caught trying to use the power of his office to force a dependent foreign country to manufacture an “investigation” against a 2020 political opponent. If Trump hadn’t been engaging in corrupt, self-serving activities in the office, impeachment wouldn’t be in play.

Anf so it goes.

Now a sampling of the front pages of newspapers around the country.

21

20

19

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

Taking (d)emocratic Steps Towards Impeachment

It was news that ‘process democrats’ in our nation needed to hear.

Later this week the House will take up a resolution, and most assuredly pass it, which will lay out the roadmap for the impeachment process.  While some within the GOP ranks have tried to politicize the lack of such a measure up to this point, there have been a number of those from the other side of the aisle who understand the necessity for the upcoming vote.

While nothing in the Constitution demands that such a vote regarding impeachment take place I would argue that it is good for our republic should it occur.  Not only does it remove a moot point from the Trump White House which they continue pressing, but it also puts on record the need of the citizenry to hold Trump accountable for his actions.  While some members of the more narrowly won congressional seats may find a need to locate their spine for this week’s vote let it not be forgotten that at some point as the impeachment process moves forward everyone will be required to cast a vote.  Ducking and hiding is not an option.  Nor should anyone desire such a hiding spot.  The stakes are too high.  The call from our Founding Fathers too loud.

Not only am I heartened by the news of the resolution, but also being mindful of the need, sooner than later, for the investigative proceedings to become public.  While knowing the deposition phase takes time and is a closed-door proceeding, it is also imperative that the public have access to the mix of information that is coming forward.  No one takes impeachment lightly, as it is the most severe avenue a congress can venture down with domestic politics.  As such,  making sure the electorate is informed and engaged with the developments that strike at the heart of our national government, only makes sense.

While the act of impeachment is handled in a public manner everything possible should be done to demonstrate it is not a partisan process.  The first and best way to achieve that end is by making it public.  Congress represents the public, hence as much as possible should be public.

And so it goes.

Democrats In Driver Seat To Stop Constitutional Crisis Caused By Trump Over Emergency Declaration

Congress will do the work of the nation in a few hours with an unprecedented effort to overturn a presidential emergency declaration. Democrats have the votes, while Republicans are working to limit defections.  Make no mistake about what this matter is all about.  This is a constitutional showdown with Donald Trump.
The Democratic-authored resolution would nullify Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Congress has never before sought to cancel a national emergency declared by the president since passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976.
The resolution is expected to pass the House easily with unified Democratic support.  But GOP leaders were urging their members to oppose it, aiming to keep the final tally low enough to demonstrate that Congress would be unable to overturn the veto that Trump has blustered about over past days.
Democrats are in the drivers seat with the law as this is a constitutional issue since Trump used an emergency declaration to get border-wall money denied by Congress. Once the House passes it there will not be any effort made to stop in in the Senate–since that body is REQUIRED to vote on it 18 days. That is based under provisions of the National Emergencies Act.  If all Senate Democrats vote for the disapproval resolution, only four Republican votes would be needed to ensure passage, since just a simple majority vote is required.
Those fours votes will be found.  Senator Collins will be one of the four.