Saturday, September 8, 2018

A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS




The anonymous senior member of the White House staff along with the many staffers who spoke under conditions of deep background to Bob Woodward for his book have been widely criticized for undermining the presidency. Nikki Haley said, “When I challenge the President, I do it directly. My anonymous colleague should have done it too.”

The President, after all, was elected by the people. It is his constitutional duty to perform the duties of his office. When unelected staffers go out of their way to stymie the orders of the President, something is seriously wrong. If White House employees believe that what the President is doing is seriously wrong, even dangerous for the country, there are other actions they can take. They can resign and tell their story. Unfortunately, many people who have worked in the White House in the last year and a half have resigned. The only impact of their resignations was that they were often replaced with someone who was less competent.

The crisis in the White House is not that many members of his staff are trying to undermine him. It is that the President himself is intellectually, morally, and temperamentally unfit for office. No one is coming to the President’s defense. No one in the midst of things in Washington or aware of them is saying, “The President is doing a great job.” It is well known that he is not capable of performing his duties.

Some are saying that those White House employees who are leaking to the press are doing so to protect their reputation. After everything falls down, as it will, these people will be able to say, “I stayed in that awful job to minimize the damage that the President would do.” That may be true, but working around the President to limit the harm he inflicts on the country, may not be the ideal way to resolve the predicament in Washington. But in one sense, it is the only thing they can do at this point. Resigning in protest does nothing to solve the problem.

The Constitution offers two means to remove the President from office: impeachment and Article 25. Articles of Impeachment can be approved by a majority of the members of the House. If the Democrats win a majority in the House, it seems likely that they will vote for impeachment. The leaks from White House insiders seem likely to increase votes for Democrats. Once drawn up, the Articles of Impeachment go to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to confirm the impeachment. It seems unlikely that the Democrats will even have a simple majority in the Senate. Although some Republican members of the Senate have been critical of the President, the GOP leadership is so frightened of the Republican base, it seems highly improbable that the President will be removed from office by impeachment.

Invoking Article 25 is not initiated by Congress, but by senior members of the executive branch, the very people who have been whispering to the press. If the Vice President and a majority of the principle officers of executive departments decide that the President is not able to perform his duties, they can inform the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. After that both houses of Congress have to vote to remove the President. The Vice President would then become President. Such an action would be incendiary. It has never been done before.

For either impeachment or Article 25 to work, Republican members of Congress would have to support the action. In order to get their support, they would have to be persuaded that this President is a danger not only to the country and to Democracy, but to the Republican Party itself, as in the long run it will be.

There are some (and I am among them) who think that Michael Pence would be a terrible President. But at least he would not be disastrous one.








Wednesday, August 8, 2018

THE GREAT PREVARICATOR




Although the Great Prevaricator has elevated disinformation to an art form, he did not invent it. Lies and Liars have always been with us. In the last century people would support their false statements by saying, “I read it in the newspaper,” making no distinction between such rags as The Enquirer and the New York Times.

With the internet, widespread misinformation has become more prevalent than ever. Professional liars such as Alex Jones spread their mendacity throughout the world. What can stop them? How can citizens know whom to believe?

Recently some steps have been taken to rein in some of the deception that runs rampart on the internet. Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify have removed Jones’s venom from their sites. However his garbage was not removed because it was false. It was removed because it violated their policies about hate speech.

Facebook has also deleted some accounts that were spreading falsehoods. These accounts are similar to the covert Russian accounts that are believed to have influenced the 2016 American election.

I am glad that something is being done about these fonts of poison, but two questions come to my mind. Are we playing whack-a-mole? If we chop off one toxic head, will two more arise someplace else? The second question concerns: who decides? Who determines whether a particular piece of information is harmless or a piece of trash that should be thrown out with the rest of the rubbish?

I certainly don’t want conservatives deciding what I can and cannot read. I don’t want liberals making the decisions either. Sometimes we need to be politically incorrect. We need to raise and discuss issues that some people find uncomfortable.

The decision about whether a bit of information is valid and worthy of consideration must be left in the hands of the people. Yet many of the people have shown themselves to be incapable of making informed decisions about the value of all the data that streams to them every day.

Therefore, it is our responsibility to give the people the skills they need to make knowledgeable decisions. From an early age children need to be taught to think scientifically. They need to learn to evaluate the fact statements that come to them. They need to be able to evaluate the evidence that is presented to them and to think critically.  

If we can open the minds of the new generation coming up, they will be less likely to fall for the toxic dishonesty of the Great Prevaricators of the future.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Allow little children, and forbid them not





When questioned about the barbarous policy of separating children of immigrants from their parents at the border, Jeff Sessions quoted the Bible: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

Sarah Sanders backed him up by citing the Bible: “It is very biblical to enforce the law, that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” Sanders said.
Perhaps these so-called Christians should read Matthew 19:14: 

Saturday, February 17, 2018



How long are we going to let the NRA hold Congress hostage?
   Any member of Congress who promotes or even votes for common sense gun control laws will be met at the next election by the NRA. The gun lobby will do its best to prevent such Congress members from being elected. At the same time, the NRA will contribute some of its blood money to the reelection campaign of candidates who vote against gun control measures.
   What we need is anti-NRA lobby. A group that will use the NRA tactics against it. A group that will come to the defense of the Congress members who support reasonable gun control and attack those who vote against gun control.
   We need to act now. We need to harness the grief and anger created by the latest outrage. We need to force the do-nothing Congress to act before more American school children are murdered.

Sunday, February 11, 2018






GENIUS
            A lot of people snickered when Donald Trump proclaimed himself to be a genius. But recently we have seen just how clever the man really is. With his unconventional hair style, it has seemed that he has enough hair to cover two heads, at least.
            A recent photo, however, show the Donald boarding Air Force One. As the wind blew away his carefully coiffed dome, we could see a vast bald spot on the back of his head.
            This is how we know he is a genius. With the vast area of his head follicle free, the man has created the illusion that he has more hair than God. But here is the really brilliant touch: To hide the embarrassing bald spot, he combs his hair foreword and then covers the spot by combing over it from the sides. Combing forward is counterintuitive, and it shows how intellectually clever he is.
            New Jersey socialite Carl Perrin reluctantly admits that Trump has inspired him. If Donald can cover his bald spot with a few clever strokes, might Perrin be able to use similar tactics to conceal his follicle embarrassment?
            The entire top of Perrin’s head is as naked as a new-mown field, so he would have to use a slightly different tactic. What Perrin has in mind is to part his hair on both sides and then comb the remaining hair up and over on both sides. Then he would hold it in place with some super heavy-duty hair splay. Do you think that would work? Let us know.




Saturday, November 11, 2017

I am thrilled to know that the Russians didn’t interfere with the Presidential election. Donald Trump has Putin’s word for it. If you don’t believe Putin, you can certainly believe Donald Trump, can’t you?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

OPEN LETTER TO REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS


Writing in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen called Donald Trump “intellectually, temperamentally, and morally unfit to be President of the United States.

Stephen Stromberg called him “dangerously incompetent.”

Anne Applebaum referred to Trump’ “willful ignorance, impulsiveness, and inexperience.”

The Washington Post editorial boards wrote that Trump “can’t be trusted with sensitive information.”

James Clapper, former Director of National Defense, stated that “our institutions are under assault internally.” [by the President]

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said, “Trump proves that he’s Russia’s ‘useful tool.’”

It is not only liberals who are worried about Trump’s danger to the country and our system of government.

Conservative writer Ross Douthat said, “Maybe it’s time for the 25th.” (The 25th Amendment to the Constitution would enable the government to remove the President from office if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”)

Another conservative writer, Jennifer Rubin, said that Trump is “so inept and unfit that national security is at risk.”

Rubin also wrote, “Unfortunately for all these reasons, the current crew may be the best staff Trump an ever assemble. What the country really needs is a new president, not new functionaries.”

One GOP figure wondered privately about whether Trump was “in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion.”

Mike Gallagher, a Republican congressman, tweeted, “Our allies and partners must have the utmost confidence that sensitive information they share with us will not be disclosed.”

Barbara Comstock, another Republican member of Congress, stated, “Once again we are faced with inexplicable stories coming from the White House that are highly troubling.”

Republican Senator Bob Corker stated, “The chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes—it creates a worrisome environment.”

A former aide to Presidents Nixon and Clinton, David Gergen, said, “We’re in impeachment territory.”

Senator John McCain called the situation “Watergate size and scale.”

The Republican leadership in Congress of course is aware of Trump’s unfitness to be President. Unfortunately, through cynicism or naiveté or both, they are willing to put up with the President’s shortcomings because they believe they can use him to achieve their legislative goals.

They are wrong.

Donald Trump is not only a danger to the country and to democracy; he is a danger to the Republican Party.

Throughout the Obama administration, Republicans complained about his health care act, but they never had an alternative.

And they still don’t.

Trump and the Republicans in Congress wanted to get a new health care act in place during his first 100 days in office. He sent Bannon over to try to bully Republicans in Congress into voting for the act. (You remember Bannon, don’t you? I wonder why we haven’t heard much about him lately.) As we all know, the House did not vote on the proposed act. The “Freedom Caucus” wouldn’t vote for it because it wasn’t bad enough. So much for the Donald’s great negotiating skills.

The revised bill was even worse, but it just barely passed in the house after one day’s consideration. Many, probably most, of the members of Congress who voted for it, didn’t know what was in it. Now Republican members of Congress are afraid to meet their constituents because the People keep yelling at them over their votes on healthcare. The People will remember those votes in November next year. Trump didn’t really get behind the bill. He doesn’t understand it, and the only thing he really cares about is the promotion of the Great Glory of Donald.

Every day Democrats get new ammunition for the 2018 election. Washington cannot focus on any issue until “the Russian thing” is cleared up. Trump isn’t going to help the GOP. But if it stands by him, the GOP has everything to lose, including one, possibly both houses of Congress next year.