WHAT TRUMP HAS TAUGHT ME

Little Donnie Dictator & the Sycophants

It might be funny if this fiasco of a president didn’t hurt so many with his words, actions and policies. The lunatic in the White House has clearly shown us that we have some serious flaws and cracks in our democracy that need to be repaired and reformed. I do think Little Donnie Dictator & the Sycophants would make a great name for a punk rock band.

Little Donnie Dictator

If I stand far back from the vapid and endless discussions on cable news, which they’ve perfected into an art form, I can objectively see some strategies for making America stronger. Here are some starting points.

First, it’s time for us to review the distance between our Founders’ intent and the reality of life today in the United States of America. We should think about the three branches of government and do everything we can to preserve the checks and balances while establishing clear definitions of the duties of each branch.

Here’s a short civics lesson. The Legislative Branch makes the laws. Congress is made up of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, with a slight whiff of checks and balances between the two. The Executive Branch enforces the laws and spends the money appropriated by Congress in a legal way that benefits the citizens. The Judicial Branch interprets the laws as they apply to disputes in the nation, but If the Judiciary gets out of its lane then Congress should step in and make a law. The president has the power to veto if Congress goes too far, but the genius of the Constitution gives Congress the power to overrule the president. Both the Congress and the Judiciary have the power to check a president’s unconstitutional acts. The Supreme Court can rule and the Congress can impeach.

The always polite and positive first leaders of our nation never thought that a president was a king so they gave the holder of that office an amazingly long arm. Part of this stems from a belief that a president would never be so ruthless as to work with a foreign power to undermine our country. The intent of the Foreign Emoluments Clause was making sure Congress knew about any titles granted, money given or valuables exchanged for something from another country and, in a sense, either approved or disapproved. The lack of teeth in this clause must be reformed. By law, any member of the federal government, including the president should be compelled to give up any ownership or financial connection to another country or even donations which could be exploited for favor.

Because Donald Trump withheld his tax returns, we don’t know if he owes money to a foreign entity. We need a new tax law to insure all presidents and candidates for the office release the last ten years of their tax returns. The need for such a regulation shows the current president’s lack of respect for that custom. When a tradition doesn’t work, we must make a law. We cannot afford to have another Trump. Ever.

Like the power of transparency, oversight is a good thing, but it must now be redefined with the current experience in mind. Congress has the power to ask for a person’s legal testimony, and they have the power to subpoena a person to appear before them, but we need to establish a hardline on compliance. The evil corruption of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy may have made Congress more careful about “witch hunts” and federal interventions, but the pendulum has swung too far to the other side.

Think about this. According to Forensic News, “The White House leads the count [of those who refused to appear], followed by personal associations of Donald Trump and the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr refused to comply with five demands addressed directly to him, three of which were subpoenas.” So, the man in charge of the Department of Justice refused three subpoenas. If you or I did that we’d be arrested and put in jail. The Trump administration has blocked or refused to comply with 82 House Committee requests for testimony and/or documents.

This must be changed, and anyone subpoenaed who refuses to appear before Congress should be charged and jailed. They are free to plead the Fifth, but they must appear. It’s time Congress gets some respect, even though many say they don’t deserve it. We should be a country of laws.

Now let’s look at reform of the Supreme Court. Those who work in law and order might say that nothing is broken, but over time its appointed justices seemed to be stamped for life with a certain political bias or leaning. Just as I am writing this piece, the Supreme Court sent a ruling back to a lower court regarding a lawsuit filed by a police officer who claimed he deserved damages from the man who led a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The BLM leader countersued, claiming his protesting was protected by the First Amendment. The Court sent it back to the state, giving Louisiana the opportunity to decide if their constitution would allow recovery. Why? If this lawsuit is permitted to go forward, wouldn’t anyone be able to sue Donald Trump for everything he has done to gin up the power of right-wing militias and white neo-Nazi groups?

The court wants to move slowly, and that is probably good. They shouldn’t care who the president is, but they also should not allow their political viewpoints to guide their rulings. For example, Brett Kavanagh doesn’t like Hillary Clinton. How do I know this? He admitted it during his hearing, which should have disqualified him. That brings us to this harsh reality. No job in any of the three branches of the federal government should be for life.

The California Constitution provides a term of twelve years for state judges. That makes sense. In Pennsylvania, voters narrowly agreed to raise the age limit of judges from 70 to 75, but Oregon voters handily defeated a proposal to repeal the age limit entirely. It will stay at 75 in Oregon. So, the notion of age limits for government workers, like age restrictions for drivers, is not an unreasonable provision. Had there been an age limit, the Supreme Court would have been changed long before Justice Ginsberg passed. Also, the Senate Leader should never be able to stop a nominee’s hearing after being appointed by the president. That is tantamount to one-man fiat without representation, which is certainly unconstitutional, at least in spirit.

Finally, we must resolve this lying thing. Maybe we need a permanent special counsel to challenge any lie being perpetrated a member of Congress or the White House. Yes, we have Inspectors General, but even when they disclose an event that harms another what happens to the wrongdoer? If the president, who is also a liar, doesn’t fire that person our only current recourse is voting him out of office in the hope we can trust his replacement. There must be a better way.

More than anything else, Donald Trump has taught me the true meaning of the word “charlatan.” He has enticed his followers to believe the centuries old myth that Black people are not as smart as white people. His base may not be dumb, but if they cannot see beyond his lies then they are at least not paying attention. If they really believe all of us are better off than we were four years ago, then perhaps they are stupid. Can’t they see that this colossal failure of a man has killed hundreds of thousands of people? If they don’t care about death, they must be a little bit dead already. I know you’re not in that camp. You are smart and have a solid understanding that TRUMP MUST BE DEFEATED!

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