Impeaching Trump: What would the Founders say?

Impeachment, or as Trump calls it, “the I-word”, is on the minds of many of us these days. It is debatable whether impeachment would be successful at this juncture, hence the caution being exercised by Speaker Pelosi. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has done his homework and pondered the situation from the perspective of how the framers of the U.S. Constitution might have viewed it, and I think the results of his pondering are worth sharing. Thank you, Jeff, for this thoughtful work and for allowing me to share …

On The Fence Voters

In the course of any given day lately, I find myself grappling with the following question: What would the Founders do about it? Or, even better—what were they thinking and what were their arguments as they went about writing that sacred document we call the United States Constitution?

Actually, it’s a practice I’ve been doing for quite some time. I mean, between gun rights, abortion rights, immigration, and so many other issues, our Constitution is the basis for trying to figure out how to deal with these controversial issues. Often, we try to gauge what the intent of the Founders was. We can read their words in such publications like The Federalist Papers, and other discussions and arguments they were engaged in, that have been documented in letters, debates, and of course, The Constitutional Convention itself.

Currently, though, the impeachment process is front and center. Ever since the Democrats took…

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On Stripping The Rights Of Women …

Today I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial, to say the least:  abortion.

A number of states, the most recent being Alabama, have recently passed highly restrictive and misogynistic abortion laws.  Anti-abortion evangelicals are patting themselves on the backs thinking, no doubt, that they have once again proven themselves the rulers over women’s bodies.  But make no mistake … these laws are only a tool.  The legislators and governors who have passed these laws are well aware that they don’t hold water, for when there is a conflict between federal and state law, federal law trumps state laws, no pun intended.

The federal law on abortion was established in 1973 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade in which the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  It is not within the rights of the State of Alabama or the State of Georgia to change, ignore, or override that ruling.  Period.

So … why are they passing these ‘illegal laws’, you might ask.  Because … long story short, they are hoping for a lawsuit against them that will reach the Supreme Court.  And when it does, they are hoping, believing, that the Supreme Court will then use that lawsuit as a basis to overturn Roe v Wade.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises that gained him a large number of followers was that he would put justices on the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v Wade.  It is an emotional issue that gained him the support of the evangelicals.  However, the Supreme Court cannot simply say, “Let’s overturn a decades-old decision because the president would like us to.”  A case must come before them that challenges that decision before they can take it under advisement.

You might notice that the states did not pass these dranconian abortion laws when President Barack Obama was in office and the Supreme Court was still largely apolitical.  You’ll also notice that Trump was in such a hurry to appoint a second justice to the Court that he had a quiet little talk with Justice Kennedy, and shortly thereafter Justice Kennedy announced his imminent retirement.  And you’ll further notice that there was a mad dash by Trump and his boot-licking Senate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, thereby giving the court a 5-4 right-wing, conservative majority, despite the fact that the Court is intended to be apolitical.

The stage is set … now the states who have passed these anti-abortion laws that rob women of their rights to have control over their own bodies will sit back and wait for the inevitable lawsuits claiming, rightly, that the states have no right to restrict a woman’s right of choice.  Then will begin the inevitable back and forth through the courts until sometime next year, perhaps even sooner, the cases will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump is relying on the five conservative justices to vote in favour of overturning Roe v Wade.  Those justices are:

  • Clarence Thomas
  • Samuel Alito
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice)
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Brett Kavanuagh

Justice Steven Breyer warned in a dissent to another decision earlier this week …

“Overruling a case always requires special justification. I understand that, because opportunities to correct old errors are rare, judges may be tempted to seize every opportunity to overrule cases they believe to have been wrongly decided. But the law can retain the necessary stability only if this court resists that temptation, overruling prior precedent only when the circumstances demand it.”

The Alabama bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into ‘law’ by Governor Kay Ivey, bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison.  The Georgia bill, recently passed and signed by Governor Brian Kemp (remember him … the guy with the gun pointed at his daughter’s boyfriend?), is only slightly less restrictive, banning abortion after about 6 weeks, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those who are so dead-set against a woman’s right of choice, call themselves “pro-life”, but this is a misnomer, as I have noted before.  They are often the same people who support the death penalty.  They are often the people who protest their tax dollars going to help feed and clothe the poor.  Many are the same ones who fought so hard against ACA, which provided affordable healthcare to those who would not otherwise have any.  Pro-life?  No, only anti-women’s rights.

If people are so against abortion, doesn’t it make sense to support such things as birth control, family planning and counseling, and other measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies?  But no, the evangelicals are against all of those, too.  They support de-funding such organizations as Planned Parenthood who help with all women’s health issues, and they argue against company-sponsored health insurance plans covering birth control.  Sorry, folks, you cannot have it both ways!

Thus far through the years, state laws attempting to restrict abortion have all been struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.  Will that precedent hold?  I cannot say for sure, but I’m less confident now than I would have been two years ago.  More than 60% of the people in this nation support a woman’s right of choice, but these days it seems that the minority is the only voice that is heard.  If the Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe v Wade, it will be a slap in the face to every woman in the U.S.  What will be next?  Will they take away our right to own property?  Our right to vote?  Think about it.

Above The Law???

Trump says the Mueller report exonerates him, that it proves there was ‘no collusion, no obstruction’.  Those of us who can both read and think know better.  We know the Mueller report, in fact, proves that at the very least, Trump did attempt on multiple occasions to obstruct justice, to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Today, Trump is still obstructing justice with his refusal to turn over his tax returns or financial records, his threatening and bullying those who have been subpoenaed by congressional committees, and more.  As usual, Robert Reich chimes in with words of wisdom …

In Fighting All Oversight, Trump Has Made His Most Dictatorial Move

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

The president is treating Congress with contempt. This cannot stand – and Congress must fight back

Sun 28 Apr 2019 01.00 EDT

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” says the person who is supposed to be chief executive of the United States government.

In other words, there is to be no congressional oversight of this administration: no questioning officials who played a role in putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census. No questioning a former White House counsel about the Mueller report.

No questioning a Trump adviser about immigration policy. No questioning a former White House security director about issuances of security clearances.

No presidential tax returns to the ways and means committee, even though a 1920s law specifically authorizes the committee to get them.

Such a blanket edict fits a dictator of a banana republic, not the president of a constitutional republic founded on separation of powers.

If Congress cannot question the people who are making policy, or obtain critical documents, Congress cannot function as a coequal branch of government.

If Congress cannot get information about the executive branch, there is no longer any separation of powers, as sanctified in the US constitution.

There is only one power – the power of the president to rule as he wishes.

Which is what Donald Trump has sought all along.

The only relevant question is how stop this dictatorial move. And let’s be clear: this is a dictatorial move.

The man whose aides cooperated, shall we say, with Russia – the man who still refuses to do anything at all about Russia’s continued interference in the American political system – refuses to cooperate with a branch of the United States government that the Constitution requires him to cooperate with in order that the government function.

Presidents before Trump occasionally have argued that complying with a particular subpoena for a particular person or document would infringe upon confidential deliberations within the executive branch. But no president before Trump has used “executive privilege” as a blanket refusal to cooperate.

How should Congress respond to this dictatorial move?

Trump is treating Congress with contempt – just as he has treated other democratic institutions that have sought to block him.

Congress should invoke its inherent power under the constitution to hold any official who refuses a congressional subpoena in contempt. This would include departmental officials who refuse to appear, as well as Trump aides. (Let’s hold off on the question of whether Congress can literally hold Trump in contempt, which could become a true constitutional crisis.)

“Contempt” of Congress is an old idea based on the inherent power of Congress to get the information it needs to carry out its constitutional duties. Congress cannot function without this power.

How to enforce it? Under its inherent power, the House can order its own sergeant-at-arms to arrest the offender, subject him to a trial before the full House, and, if judged to be in contempt, jail that person until he appears before the House and brings whatever documentation the House has subpoenaed.

When President Richard Nixon tried to stop key aides from testifying in the Senate Watergate hearings, in 1973, Senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Watergate select committee, threatened to jail anyone who refused to appear.

Congress hasn’t actually carried through on the threat since 1935 – but it could.

Would America really be subject to the spectacle of the sergeant-at-arms of the House arresting a Trump official, and possibly placing him in jail?

Probably not. Before that ever occurred, the Trump administration would take the matter to the supreme court on an expedited basis.

Sadly, there seems no other way to get Trump to move. Putting the onus on the Trump administration to get the issue to the court as soon as possible is the only way to force Trump into action, and not simply seek to run out the clock before the next election.

What would the court decide? With two Trump appointees now filling nine of the seats, it’s hardly a certainty.

But in a case that grew out of the Teapot Dome scandal in 1927, the court held that the investigative power of Congress is at its peak when lawmakers look into fraud or maladministration in another government department.

Decades later, when Richard Nixon tried to block the release of incriminating recordings of his discussions with aides, the supreme court decided that a claim of executive privilege did not protect information pertinent to the investigation of potential crimes.

Trump’s contempt for the inherent power of Congress cannot stand. It is the most dictatorial move he has initiated since becoming president.

Congress has a constitutional duty to respond forcefully, using its own inherent power of contempt.

I leave you to ponder.

Be Angry … BE VERY DAMNED ANGRY

A day or two ago I received the following ‘breaking news’ update from Politico:breaking-news

I impatiently cleared it from my phone, saying, “Yeah, yeah, I already figured that”.  And then today, Robert Reich posted this on Facebook:

breaking-newsSure, it came as no surprise, for it has become obvious that the congressional investigations are not being taken seriously by Trump and his minions. But, if we keep doing as I did, treating it as just another day, another abomination, ho-hum … then we have lost, and he has won. And the result of his winning will be that the United States of America will become yet another dictatorship in the Western world, like Turkey, like Russia.  Perhaps we are already on the brink … it very much feels as if we are.

And then this, from Amy Siskind, also on Facebook …

“Okay folks, the FBI is heading to meet with Gov Scott about Russia having hacked at least on [sic] county in Florida during the 2016 election and this story isn’t even trending or getting attention. This is how our democracy gets extinguished in the chaos and broad daylight.”

She is right.  Spot on, in fact.  This is how democracy dies.  We tune it out, we turn it off, we close our eyes and our minds, for it is too much, just too much.  Surely the dam that was built in 1787 to protect us from evil fascist leaders will hold, right?  We can simply go on playing games, posting pictures of our regurgitatable lunches on Facebook, and let the politicians deal with it all, right?  Yeah, right … that was what the German people thought in 1933, too, and look how well that worked out.

Not only has Trump blocked the release of the six years’ worth of tax returns requested by Congress, but he has filed a lawsuit against the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, in order to delay or block the release of his company’s financial records.  He has ‘forbidden’ former White House security official Carl Kline from answering the subpoena serviced upon him.  He is currently threatening …

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Which just proves what I have said for two fucking years now … the ‘man’ does not even have the foggiest concept of how our government operates!!!  Nothing in the Constitution or American legal history gives the Supreme Court a role in deciding whether Congress has misidentified what counts as a high crime or misdemeanor for the purpose of impeachment.  It matters not how many of his sycophants he has managed to insert into the Supreme Court, by law … BY LAW … they cannot quell a Congressional move to impeach!

But folks, the law only applies to the extent that We the People give it legitimacy.

Thus far, I have urged caution on the impeachment path, felt it was better to have our ducks in a row first.  But, my patience has run out, for Donald Trump is attempting to poison the ducks before we can bring them into the row, and it appears the only means for obtaining the information the Congressional committees are seeking is going to be via the impeachment process.  He is forcing our hand … he has made his own bed.

Robert Mueller himself, and former White House attorney Don McGahn are expected to testify within the coming month.  Trump has zero control over these two, for they no longer work for or owe allegiance to the administration.  Their testimonies will likely remove all doubt that Trump has obstructed justice, but even if they don’t, he is blatantly obstructing justice today … now … right this minute, by interfering with a legitimate investigation by Congress.  He claims “executive privilege”.  There is no such thing when it comes to treason, when it comes to turning a democratic republic into a dictatorship.  No, Donnie, you have no fucking executive privilege!

Per our friend Gronda, from the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1974:

Article 3: Contempt of Congress.

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of the President of the United States, and to the best of his ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, had failed without lawful cause or excuse, to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgement as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.

(Approved 21-17 by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 30, 1974.)

Can we re-write this for our current situation?  I think so … what do you think?  Need I say more?

We must not, under any circumstances, become complacent to the atrocities being committed by not only Trump, but his hired thugs such as Stephen Miller, Steve Mnuchin, William Barr and others.  We must not turn the page of the breaking news update with naught but a sigh and a roll of our eyes.  We must demand an accounting in the press, we must stay on top of the day-to-day atrocities, and we MUST make our voices heard, else all is lost.

What’s Next???

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That is the oath that every president must take before taking office.  Donald Trump took that oath on 20 January 2017.

On Monday, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that existing law did not give Mr. Trump the power to enforce the policy, known as “migrant protection protocols”, that would force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed.

Sunday night, Trump fired his hard-nosed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, because she had refused to engage in activities that were illegal, activities in which Trump was overstepping his authority.

Last June, Judge Dana Sabraw ruled against Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children at the border, and yet recently Trump has said he plans to re-implement that policy.

And last Friday, Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who was placed into office by the auspices of the electoral college despite losing the election, gave a little speech to Customs and Border Patrol agents, telling them not to allow any migrants into the country:

“We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple. If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.’”

After Trump left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.  Okay, it’s nice to know at least somebody has some good sense, but still … the person who took the oath of office had the gall to blatantly and publicly violate that oath.  He is thumbing his nose at not only the Constitution, but at We the People.

In order for the system of checks and balances as defined by the U.S. Constitution to work, the executive branch must respect the prerogatives of Congress, from appropriations to oversight, and the interpretations by judges of the law and the Constitution.  What does it say about a ‘president’ who defies the rule of law, who defies the very Constitution he took an oath to uphold?  And what does it say about members of Congress who continue to allow such perfidy?

There have been a number of areas in which Trump has defied the Constitution during his nearly 27 months in office.  Just two examples …

  • Trump is violating both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution, by accepting payments from foreign and state governments at the Trump International Hotel in DC.
  • Trump’s first executive order banning travel from six Middle Eastern countries was in violation of the establishment clause of the 1st  Amendment.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

“When someone becomes president, that person’s responsibility is to the country and doing what is in the best interest of the American people and, at that point, business interests need to be put aside because people need to have faith that their leaders are working for them, not that their leaders are working for their own financial benefit.” — Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

It is painfully obvious that Donald Trump has absolutely no concern for the people of this nation.  And yet, some 40% of the people in this nation support him.  The current ‘president’ of the United States violates his oath of office on a regular basis, his speech is more fitting for a trucker’s hangout than the White House, he incites white supremacists and supports anti-LGBT groups … and 40% of the nation still love him.  I’m stunned, but that isn’t my point at the moment.  My point tonight is something I want you to really think about.  What’s next?

If he feels so emboldened that he can blow off the U.S. Constitution, that he can defy the orders of federal judges, then where does he stop?  Is there any limit to what he will do?  Yesterday he signed more executive orders taking away state’s rights to halt oil pipeline construction – construction that would harm the environment and wildlife.  Yes, there will be lawsuits and the courts are unlikely to rule in Trump’s favour, but he has already shown that he does not respect the courts.

Until the last month or so, although I was frustrated and sometimes enraged by his behaviour, I felt that the courts and Congress would keep him somewhat in check.  I no longer believe that.  I now think that this ‘man’ envisions himself as a ruler, a dictator, perhaps even a king.  And what choice do We the People have?  Congress has proven useless, the courts are being proven useless … where does that leave us?  I ask again … what’s next?

The Electoral College … Keep, Abolish, or Circumvent?

One of the big debates in Washington and around the nation is whether it is time to get rid of the electoral college.  It’s funny in retrospect, but after President Barack Obama won his second term of office, Donald Trump tweeted this …

trump-tweet

But, when the electoral college put him, against the majority vote, into the Oval Office, suddenly he didn’t mind it so much anymore.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

trump-tweet-2.png

One of Elizabeth Warren’s talking points as she campaigns for next year’s presidential election is the abolishment of the electoral college, and it seems a majority in this country are in agreement.  A Pew Research Center poll last year found that a 55% majority support picking presidents by popular vote, compared to 41% who prefer keeping the electoral college.  The usual 4% were asleep … again.

Most of the candidates from both political parties, a number of members of Congress, and others have opined on this issue in recent weeks, but I don’t really care about any of that right now.  I prefer to talk facts … you know, those pesky statements that are supported by hard data?  Let’s first take a look at the rationale behind the electoral college as it was first written into the U.S. Constitution.

There were two primary reasons for the electoral college.  The first was to ensure that only a qualified person becomes president (are you laughing yet?).  The framers of the Constitution believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped.  The founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.

The second reason for the electoral college system was to mitigate the disadvantage of states with smaller populations.  That, however, is rather a myth, as I will show in a bit.

Now, the majority in this country believe the electoral college has outlived its usefulness.  I have to agree … it is obvious that in the 2016 election it did the exact opposite of what it was intended to do and put the candidate who actually lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, or 2.1%, in office.  This was the least qualified candidate imaginable, yet he now sits in the Oval Office.  It is time for a change.

However, the only means to repeal or abolish the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment, which is not even remotely likely to happen at this point.  But … there is another option.

Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not mandate that the winner take all in each state … that was the decision of the individual states over the course of the 19th century.  A state can decide, as 12 states plus the District of Columbia have recently done, to essentially bypass the electoral college.  The states that have signed onto this plan, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, are …

  • District of Columbia – 3 electoral votes
  • Colorado – 9 electoral votes
  • Connecticut – 7 electoral votes
  • Hawaii – 4 electoral votes
  • Illinois – 20 electoral votes
  • Maryland – 10 electoral votes
  • Massachusetts – 11 electoral votes
  • New Jersey – 14 electoral votes
  • Washington – 12 electoral votes
  • Vermont – 3 electoral votes
  • California – 55 electoral votes
  • Rhode Island – 4 electoral votes
  • New York – 29 electoral votes

If enough states pass the bill to account for 270 electoral votes, the bill will become law of the land and as a result, would ensure that every vote will be equal throughout the U.S. and that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.  Not only would this bypass the electoral college, but would also make gerrymandering* pointless.  There are 8 additional states, totaling 72 more electoral votes, where the bill has passed one chamber of the state legislature.  If all 8 pass the bill and the governors sign it into law, added to the 181 electoral votes above, that accounts for a total of 253, a mere 17 short of the magic number.

Under the compact, states pledge to allocate all their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote in presidential elections.  While this would not abolish the electoral college, it would guarantee that the candidate with the most popular votes would win the election.  Seems to me there can be no logical argument about that … it is as it should be.  We the People are supposed to elect a president, not the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party … We The People!

The argument against this compact mainly comes from the Republican Party, and their argument is that a popular vote system would encourage candidates to only campaign in the larger (population) states, and the smaller states would suffer.  The reality is that in 2016, two-thirds of the visits by both Clinton and Trump took place in just six states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan), and 94 percent of the visits went to just 12 states. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia got zero campaign visits.  Kind of puts that argument to rest, don’t you think?

I’ve put together a chart showing each state’s population and electoral votes (electoral votes, by the way, are equal to a state’s representation in Congress).

State Electoral Population # of people represented by each elector
Number of Electoral Votes % of Total Population % of Total
Alabama 9 1.67% 4,874,747 1.50%          541,639
Alaska 3 0.56% 739,795 0.23%          246,598
Arizona 11 2.04% 7,016,270 2.15%          637,843
Arkansas 6 1.12% 3,004,279 0.92%          500,713
California 55 10.22% 39,536,653 12.14%          718,848
Colorado 9 1.67% 5,607,154 1.72%          623,017
Connecticut 7 1.30% 3,588,184 1.10%          512,598
Delaware 3 0.56% 961,939 0.30%          320,646
District of Columbia 3 0.56% 702455 0.22%          234,152
Florida 29 5.39% 20,984,400 6.44%          723,600
Georgia 16 2.97% 10,429,379 3.20%          651,836
Hawaii 4 0.74% 1,427,538 0.44%          356,885
Idaho 4 0.74% 1,716,943 0.53%          429,236
Illinois 20 3.72% 12,802,023 3.93%          640,101
Indiana 11 2.04% 6,666,818 2.05%          606,074
Iowa 6 1.12% 3,145,711 0.97%          524,285
Kansas 6 1.12% 2,913,123 0.89%          485,521
Kentucky 8 1.49% 4,454,189 1.37%          556,774
Louisiana 8 1.49% 4,684,333 1.44%          585,542
Maine 4 0.74% 1,335,907 0.41%          333,977
Maryland 10 1.86% 6,052,177 1.86%          605,218
Massachusetts 11 2.04% 6,859,819 2.11%          623,620
Michigan 16 2.97% 9,962,311 3.06%          622,644
Minnesota 10 1.86% 5,576,606 1.71%          557,661
Mississippi 6 1.12% 2,984,100 0.92%          497,350
Missouri 10 1.86% 6,113,532 1.88%          611,353
Montana 3 0.56% 1,050,493 0.32%          350,164
Nebraska 5 0.93% 1,920,076 0.59%          384,015
Nevada 6 1.12% 2,998,039 0.92%          499,673
New Hampshire 4 0.74% 1,342,795 0.41%          335,699
New Jersey 14 2.60% 9,005,644 2.76%          643,260
New Mexico 5 0.93% 2,088,070 0.64%          417,614
New York 29 5.39% 19,849,399 6.09%          684,462
North Carolina 15 2.79% 10,273,419 3.15%          684,895
North Dakota 3 0.56% 755,393 0.23%          251,798
Ohio 18 3.35% 11,658,609 3.58%          647,701
Oklahoma 7 1.30% 3,930,864 1.21%          561,552
Oregon 7 1.30% 4,142,776 1.27%          591,825
Pennsylvania 20 3.72% 12,805,537 3.93%          640,277
Rhode Island 4 0.74% 1,059,639 0.33%          264,910
South Carolina 9 1.67% 5,024,369 1.54%          558,263
South Dakota 3 0.56% 869,666 0.27%          289,889
Tennessee 11 2.04% 6,715,984 2.06%          610,544
Texas 38 7.06% 28,304,596 8.69%          744,858
Utah 6 1.12% 3,101,833 0.95%          516,972
Vermont 3 0.56% 623,657 0.19%          207,886
Virginia 13 2.42% 8,470,020 2.60%          651,540
Washington 12 2.23% 7,405,743 2.27%          617,145
West Virginia 5 0.93% 1,815,857 0.56%          363,171
Wisconsin 10 1.86% 5,795,483 1.78%          579,548
Wyoming 3 0.56% 579,315 0.18%          193,105
Totals 538 100.00% 325,727,661 100.00% ————–

As you can see, the smaller states are better represented in the electoral college than the more populous ones.  Take a look, for example, at California, the most populous state, that gets only 1 electoral vote for every 718,848 people, versus the least populous state, Wyoming, with 1 electoral vote for every 193,105 people.  Something doesn’t seem quite fair here, don’t you think?

It is my belief that the electoral college has been proven not only unnecessary, but a direct impediment to a fair and honest democratic election.  Since at this juncture it is virtually impossible to pass an amendment to repeal it, the next best thing is to pass legislation to make certain that every vote counts equally.  I also think this might go a long way in overcoming voter apathy, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have.  Let us hope that enough state legislatures and governors will see this as the best way and choose to do the right thing.

* This small graphic explains the effects of gerrymandered districts as well as any I have seen.gerrymandering

Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

On The Fence Voters

Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald…

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Don’t Look Now, But …

It is the job of the free press to keep the people of this nation informed.  In order to do so, they must be given access to our government, they must be allowed to ask questions and expect to receive honest answers.  Yesterday, that freedom was cut short by Donald Trump, the bully-in-chief.  It would be a mistake to let this slide, for it is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that Trump has curtailed the freedom of the press.

It all began with a photo op with Trump and Kim Jong-un when a reporter for The Associated Press, Jonathan Lemire, asked Trump to comment on the congressional testimony of Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.  Another reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, had asked Trump a question about his commitment to de-nuclearization.  Note that this is common practice and every president in modern history has submitted to such questions.  But Donald Trump took umbrage.

As a result, mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that reporters from Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times would not be allowed to attend the dinner with Trump and Kim.  Sanders said that only photographers and television-camera operators would be allowed in … in other words, the American public would be allowed to see, but not hear.  Lauren Easton, spokeswoman for the Associated Press objected …

“The Associated Press decries such efforts by the White House to restrict access to the president. It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad.”

Trump eventually allowed one reporter in … a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, owned by Trump’s good buddy Rupert Murdoch.  Whoopee.  Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, called foul …

“This summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage.”

Methinks the American presidency has no strength to display, as became obvious when the summit became a bust and Trump flew home with his tail tucked between his legs, for he refused to compromise.  But that is a story for another time, as today the more important story is this one, the curtailment of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by Donald Trump.

In recent months, the White House has sharply reduced the number of press briefings it gives and has cracked down on reporters who call out questions during the president’s public appearances. Reporters have publicly and privately been warned by White House aides that it is inappropriate to ask Trump questions in that context.  No, Sarah … No, Donald … it is NOT inappropriate!  There has been so much secrecy, so many blatant lies told to We the People, that reporters must work twice as hard to dig a rare gem of truth from this administration.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Denying access to an important … nay, crucial … summit meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Hand-picking reporters who will be allowed to attend that aforementioned meeting is an abridgement of the right to freedom of the press.  Donald Trump and his mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders have stomped on our right to know what our government is doing.  We cannot … we simply cannot ignore this!

This is a clear-cut case of retribution and revenge taken on reporters for asking legitimate questions of the ‘man’ who is tasked with leading the nation.  Asking those questions was not harassment, but rather an attempt to get answers that We the People need, want and deserve.  Throughout history, the only presidents who have attempted to curtail the right of a free press have been those who had something to hide, such as Richard Nixon who, in 1971 attempted to prevent the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam.  The Supreme Court, by the way, ruled against the government and in favour of the free press in that case of New York Times v. United States.

To wrap it up, I direct your attention to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.  A brief excerpt …

“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters “enemies of the people,” the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”

Need I say more?

We The People — A Letter

Dear Attorney General Barr,

I write to you on behalf of the majority of We the People of the United States of America.  You may recognize that line from the Preamble to the United States Constitution. Or perhaps not, though I believe this is a document that, as Attorney General of the United States, you have sworn an oath to uphold.

My reason for writing today is that we … that is We the People … are concerned that once the investigation by the esteemed Robert Mueller is complete, we (the People) will not be privy to the results and final report of said investigation.  This, Mr. Barr, is … unthinkable.  Simply put, it will not be accepted by the majority … of We the People.

Since early in 2016, we (the People) knew that something fishy was going on with Trump’s bid for the highest office in the land.  His calls for protestors to be beaten, his chants of “lock her up”, and his brazen calls for violence set our noses to twitching. Then there was the day that, on national television, he called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails!  Some people thought it was funny, but to the vast majority of us, it was a defining moment … one that defined Trump as mafia-esque, as a brute.

When the investigation into Russia’s attempts (successful, obviously) to meddle into our election was announced, we all applauded … well, most of us applauded.  Some of those who knew Trump to be a criminal but voted for him anyway kept their hands in their pockets.  And then came the incontrovertible evidence that some in Trump’s inner circle had helped Russia, and we were … what?  Appalled?  Certainly.  Horrified?  Without a doubt.  Pleased?  Yes, even that, for if it would lead to the downfall of the Idiot-in-Chief, it was worth having been played for fools.Robert-MuellerRobert Mueller is the person most qualified to have led this investigation.  He is a man of good conscience (a word vastly misunderstood in the Trump administration), and a man of ethics.  Personal feelings aside, we knew from the start that he could be trusted to do the right thing.  For nearly two years we have patiently waited.  As I often told friends who wanted to rush the process … it is a very tangled web and it will take time to sort through all the filthy filaments.  And so … we waited … mostly with patience, for the outcome would surely justify the wait.

But today, we are in doubt whether we will ever know the truth.  Why?  Because it is said that you may or may not allow us (that’s We the People to you) to know the full truth.  Or even part of the truth.  Let me make something perfectly clear to you, Mr. Barr … We the People will settle for nothing less than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!  The ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office is a shyster, a crook!  We all know this, but what we need is verification to convince the not-so-bright among us.  You know it too, but you … well, you owe your job to that ‘man’, so your view is not without prejudice, is it?  That said, though you may owe Donald Trump for your job, your allegiance, lest you have forgotten, is to We the People, not to the faux president who occupies the Oval Office.

We (the People) demand a full accounting.  We demand to know what Robert Mueller has found – every last dirty detail of it.  We demand truth and justice.  If we don’t get it … if you withhold certain facts and evidence from us (that’s us, as in We the People), there will be a hue and cry, the likes of which have not been seen in this nation since, perhaps, the Vietnam War. For there is no longer a nation if Donald Trump remains in office.  If you withhold Robert Mueller’s report from us, then there is no longer a Department of Justice, by the very definition of the word, “justice”.

We have heard that you are a good man, an intelligent man, and that you can be trusted to do the right thing.  When you declared that you might not be willing to share the results of the Mueller investigation with us (the people), my level of trust in you dropped quite significantly, and I think I can say the same for a majority of the people.  Make it right, Mr. Barr.  Do the right thing.  Remember the Constitution that you swore to uphold.  Remember the people who work hard every day to pay your salary.  Restore our trust, not only in you, but in the laws of this nation, in truth and justice, for that trust has been gone for more than two years now and if this nation is to survive, the people must be able to trust their government.  Restore that trust, please, else suffer the consequences along with the rest of the dirty blokes in Washington.  We the People have had enough.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, on behalf of We the People