Monthly Archives: May 2017

Donald J. Trump, Defendant

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.
        –  Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8

Since he was sworn in, Donald Trump has violated the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, based on a plain reading of its text.  That seems clear, but what is less clear is what the consequences will be for the Trump Presidency or, more critically, the future of the American Republic.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause is one of the more arcane provisions of the Constitution, with no meaningful court decisions and few legal opinions addressing it. But Donald Trump, with his various domestic and international business interests and many potential conflicts, is bringing the ancient word “emoluments” into common parlance.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has sued him in federal court in New York for violating the Clause. 

While other matters, such as firing the FBI Director, dominate the headlines, the CREW lawsuit quietly abides, the pleadings not yet joined, and no motions or discovery requests filed.  However, the lawsuit may tread uncharted Constitutional territory that can shape the Presidency for decades.  Whether we regard the President as a public servant or monarch may be determined by its outcome.

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Cold Wet Gnosis

If James Comey, the recently fired FBI Director, doesn’t have a dog, he should adopt one.  There’s a well-known trope of undetermined origin that states, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog!”  While Comey is, by all accounts, a stand-up guy who continues to be liked and respected within the Bureau, he was friendless in the political community.  Republicans didn’t trust him because Barack Obama appointed him and Democrats were seething over a gratuitous rebuke on his part that may have cost them the White House.  Donald Trump doesn’t like him because he was being investigated by Comey and Trump desperately wants the investigation to end.  When that many knives are unsheathed, the chances for survival are pretty much zero.  Comey is now a private citizen.  A dog would not care.  A dog would be loyal, would love him unconditionally, would jump and wag enthusiastically when he saw him, would gaze at him adoringly and carefully sniff him up and down — a dog’s way of asking:  “How was your day?”

Donald Trump doesn’t own a dog.  He has people for that.

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Let’s Get This (Deleted) Thing Done

by Mike Tully

Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally has jeopardized her political future by violating the trilogy of governance that applies to elected representatives:

  1. First do no harm. This phrase, a fundamental principle that guides medical ethics, is based on the words of Hippocrates, who is regarded as the “father of modern medicine.”  The same principal should guide Congress.
  1. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The novelist George Santayana’s quote is one of the most profound, widely repeated, and frequently ignored statements in human experience.  It applies equally to history and politics.
  1. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. This Bob Dylan lyric is directly applicable to Congress, home to many notorious weathervanes.

McSally violated all three principles by voting for H.R.1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA)…

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You Will Not Quiet Us

by Mike Tully

With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make
bruise or break of exit for his life;
but is that a quietus, O tell me, is it quietus?
Surely not so! for how could murder, even self-murder
ever a quietus make?

–  D. H. Lawrence, “The Ship of Death”

Donald Trump’s recent appearance before the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) convention was his usual combination of pandering and self-adulation, although one comment was noteworthy.  “(W)e have news that you’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” he thundered.  “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”  That statement drew applause and nobody stopped to ask the obvious question:  what assault

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