Tag Archives: History

Emoluments Clause case can proceed to discovery

On Wednesday a federal judge allowed one of the three Emoluments Clause cases against President Trump to proceed to discovery — produce all of your tax returns! In Ruling Against Trump, Judge Defines Anticorruption Clauses in Constitution for First Time:

In the first judicial opinion to define how the meaning of the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses should apply to a president, Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said the framers’ language should be broadly construed as an effort to protect against influence-peddling by state and foreign governments.

He ruled that the lawsuit should proceed to the evidence-gathering stage, which could clear the way for an examination of financial records that the president has consistently refused to disclose. The Justice Department is expected to forestall that by seeking an emergency stay and appealing the ruling.

The two constitutional clauses at issue restrict a president’s ability to accept financial benefits or “emoluments” from domestic or foreign governments, other than his official salary. No federal judge before has ever interpreted what those bans mean for the president.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, say that Mr. Trump is violating those bans by accepting profits from the Trump International Hotel, a five-star hotel just blocks from the White House that is frequented by foreign and state officials. The judge earlier ruled that the local jurisdictions had standing to sue because the Trump hotel arguably siphons off business from their convention centers or hotels.

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Dezinformatsiya or doublespeak, Donald Trump is Orwellian

Russian asset Donald Trump is fully invested in Papa Joe Stalin’s dezinformatsiya (disinformation) black propaganda. He is turning America into George Orwell’s dystopian vision in 1984.

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars no less — patriots who have served their country honorably in military service — Trump slammed the news media as “fake news” for not upholding his preferred interpretation of the success of his administration. The New York Times reports:

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Mr. Trump said at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as part of the crowd booed and hissed in the direction of the press corps.

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” the president added.

Winston Smith in 1984 lamented:

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.

A spokeswoman for the V.F.W., which is nonpartisan, said in a statement after the event that organizers were “disappointed to hear some of our members boo the press.”

This is the pernicious power of black propaganda — even the minds of patriots can be confused and warped by a dangerous demagogue.

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Putin’s fifth column of fellow travelers in the personality cult of Donald Trump

I have castigated the craven cowards in the Congress who will not defend America against Russian asset Donald Trump’s traitorous act of betrayal of the United States at the Surrender Summit.

These craven cowards are more afraid of upsetting the sycophant supporters in the personality cult of Donald Trump than in performing their constitutional and patriotic duty to defend the national security of the United States.

Max Boot makes a critical observation at the Washington Post. The stench from Trump’s execrable performance grows ever more putrid:

Even Russian state television admits that Trump “really smells like an agent of the Kremlin.” The only question is whether he is a witting or unwitting agent. But if Trump is, at best, a “useful idiot” for the Kremlin, what does that make Trump’s useful idiots? All of the “conservatives” (I use the word loosely) who serve as the president’s enablers should understand the price of their partisanship: They are weakening U.S. security and facilitating foreign aggression.

The most useful and idiotic enablers are at Fox “News” Channel [aka Trump TV]. The propagandists (a category that excludes genuine journalists such as Chris Wallace) were in fine fettle after Helsinki. Tucker Carlson, seemingly intent on making America a safe space for xenophobes, claimed that Mexico is guilty of far worse election meddling than Russia “by packing our electorate.” Sean Hannity praised his idol for being “very strong,” thereby raising the epistemological question of whether strength in supinity is possible. Jeanine Pirro rebutted Trump’s critics by demanding: “What was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin?” (Was that the only alternative?) And Lou Dobbs, with elementary-school eloquence, dismissed all naysaying as “stupid stuff.”

This brainwashing is as effective as it is preposterous. In a recent Economist/YouGov survey, only 40 percent of Republicans said the United States should stay in NATO and 56 percent said that Trump’s (borderline treasonous) relationship with Putin is a good thing. In the course of my lifetime, Republicans have gone from denouncing useful idiots to becoming useful idiots.

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The Roberts Court: a new Gilded Age and a return to the long-discredited Lochner Era

Jedediah Purdy, professor of law at Duke, recently wrote at the New York Times, The Roberts Court Protects the Powerful for a New Gilded Age:

Faith in courts runs deep in the American liberal imagination. Remembering Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade and the recent marriage-equality decisions, we keep hoping that wise and fair-minded judges will protect the vulnerable and lead the country toward justice.

Recent decisions upholding President Trump’s travel ban and Texas’ racially skewed voting districts are body blows to this optimism. They are unhappy reminders that for much of American history, the Supreme Court has been a deeply conservative institution, preserving racial hierarchy and the prerogatives of employers.

When it comes to economic inequality, today’s Supreme Court is not only failing to help but is also aggressively making itself part of the problem in a time when inequality and insecurity are damaging the country and endangering our democracy.

Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has consistently issued bold, partisan decisions that have been terrible for working people. Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was one of them.

Just hours after that decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. With this “swing” vote gone, Chief Justice Roberts is now likely to take even more control over the direction of issues related to economic inequality — a direction that is earning him a legacy as chief justice of bosses, not workers.

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Robert F. Kennedy 50th anniversary of his assassination

1968 was one of the most godawful, horrible, miserable years in U.S. history. It changed who we are as Americans, and “fueled a general sense that the nation had gone mad; that the normal rules and constants of politics could no longer be counted on.” How Robert Kennedy’s Assassination Changed American Politics.

The Tet Offensive at the end of January stunned both the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies, causing them to temporarily lose control of several cities and the U.S. embassy in Saigon.  It had a profound effect on the U.S. government and shocked the U.S. public, which had been led to believe by its political and military leaders that the North Vietnamese were being defeated and incapable of launching such an ambitious military operation.

A month later, Walter Cronkite reported on his recent trip to Vietnam to view the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in his television special Who, What, When, Where, Why? He chastised American leaders for their optimism, and advised negotiation “… not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” American support for the war declined.

In February, Richard M. Nixon (R-CA) declared his candidacy for the presidency. In March, Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) and his “children’s crusade” nearly defeated President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Days later, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) declared his candidacy for president. By the end of March, President Johnson delivered his Address to the Nation Announcing Steps To Limit the War in Vietnam and Reporting His Decision Not To Seek Reelection. His Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey, would run in his stead.

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Trump’s personal animosity for Jeffrey Bezos results in abuse of power a la Nixon

Included in the Articles of Impeachment for President Richard M. Nixon adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974 was Article 2 for “abuse of power,” which included ordering the IRS to audit his “political enemies” list.

We are now confronted with a parallel abuse of power by President Donald Trump, albeit by a different federal agency. The Washington Post reports, Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

The Wall Street Journal  reported last month that White House officials, eager to help the president understand reality, have put together “PowerPoint presentations and briefing papers they believed debunked his concerns.”

Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery. See, Bloomberg, Trump Orders Post Office Review After Attacks on Amazon.

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