Saturday, February 22, 2020

The American Situation

THE SENATE EXCUSED the gentleman from New York.  But an acquittal applies to a trial, not to    proceedings in which there were no witnesses.  Thus, an acquittal is one thing, an excusal another.  And the image is a sight to behold, because, as Alexander Hamilton observes, “it would generally be impolitic beforehand to take any step which might hold out the prospect of impunity.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 74)
     There were only two charges—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.  But there could have been more.

     During the transition, the gentleman from New York was warned about the Constitution’s conflict of interest provision by Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer to Bush the Younger, and Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, among others.  Despite the warnings, he ignored the offer by Walter Shaub, then Director of the Office of Government Ethics, to help him divest his holdings and place them in Treasury securities to avoid the taint of foreign influence.  Despite the warnings, the gentleman from New York ignored them and violated the emoluments clause.  (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8)  By doing so, he immediately failed to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”; and because he failed in that regard, he was in violation of the oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the supreme law of the land, which means he was in violation from the moment he said, “So help me God.”  (Article II, Section 3 & Article II, Section 1, Clause 8)  And those failures meant that he was in contempt of the Constitution.  ALL OF THOSE ARE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES.
     An adult with a case of the terrible twos believes he can do anything.  So the spoiled brat soils his diaper and does the same to the Constitution. 

     The gentleman from New York claims he has “the complete power to pardon.”  Yet immediately after the grant, the Constitution states a limitation—“except in cases of impeachment”; and in The Federalist Papers, Hamilton shows how the power is to be used in extreme and mundane situations, consistent with the standards of the Preamble—to “insure domestic tranquility” and “establish justice.”  (Article II, Section 2, Clause1 & The Federalist Papers, No. 74)  

     The gentleman from New York likes to brag about how he “won” the Electoral College.  Little does he know that the institution has two functions—popular choice and national security—neither of which concerns nor justifies him.  For the supreme irony is that the Electoral College was designed to keep a demagogue out of the highest office of the land.  Therefore, to avoid another lightning strike, the press and the politicians need to educate the public, before the 2020 election, about the role of a misunderstood, misrepresented, and misused institution.  Anything less by candidates for the Presidency is gross dereliction of duty.

     It would seem that someone in occupation of the Federal City due to a political discontinuity—a     misalignment of means and ends where a minority rules the majority—would proceed with caution.  But the man with a thin veneer of legitimacy heads a gang, not a government.  And this is what he fails to understand:  All the powers of the Presidency are to be used for the benefit of the Republic and, even in an emergency, they are to be exercised within the parameters of the Preamble.

     The American Presidency was to be, according to Jacob Needleman, “a mirror reflection of the character of Washington”—a position for those who are profiles in courage.  Cowards need not apply.  Thus, the words in the report, which President Washington had Secretary of War Henry Knox send to Congress in support of Universal National Service, are striking:  “Therefore, it ought to be a permanent rule, that those who in youth decline or refuse to subject themselves to the course of military education, established by the laws, should be considered as unworthy of public trust or public honors, and be excluded therefrom accordingly.”  

     The Chief Traitor is a certified sissy, a thug who is a threat to our survival.  For all the bravado, the gentleman from New York is a-has-been-who-never-was, doing tough guy schtick, and talking about yesterdays-and-used-to-be’s.  And we are going to lose the Republic to this guy?

(c)2020 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

An American Agenda

My fellow citizens:

SOMETHING HAS BEEN LOST, and it must be found.  “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”  Thus, Thomas Jefferson reminds us of what we forget at our peril:  Knowledge is the foundation of the American Republic.

     By remembering who and what we are, this nation can complete the mission Alexander Hamilton   described on the first page of The Federalist Papers.
     “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really    capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

     “Reflection and choice” or “accident and force”?  The stakes are high.

     The nation that masters the interplay between domestic and foreign affairs—with the economy on the cusp—commands the future.  And, in the nature of things, a republic has a better chance of getting the right balance and blend.  But first one has to exist.    

     The lofty principle about “governments…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” must be put into practice.  And Thomas Paine noted its significance.

     “The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.  To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”

     According to Article IV, Section 4, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government,” which is clarified through brief remarks by James Madison.  “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place….”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 10 and No. 39 provides a longer definition)

     Relying on the Constitution itself is a powerful response beyond the remains of the Voting Rights Act.  The Executive can go to a District Court and couple Article IV, Section 4 with Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Fusion that is the true nuclear option.  But the time has come to threaten recalcitrant States with loss of representation in the House, which simply adheres to the old adage—Where there is a right, there is a remedy.

     Internal and external threats can be met.  Separate Federal paper ballots are needed to insure the integrity of the voting booth, which shall be maintained by a simple rule:  Count, by hand, where cast—before the public, the press, and the parties.

     The contours of the campaign are clear.  National security, properly understood, is the issue.

     “A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life,” said Michael J. Morrell, former Acting Director of Central Intelligence.  “To me, and this is to me not an overstatement,” he said, “this is the political equivalent of 9/11.”
     The Russian Connection gets all the attention, but what also had an impact on the election was Operation Crosscheck.  And while that may sound like the authorization included plausible denial—“As always, should you or any member of the I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions”—it was a domestic effort to deny certain American citizens their right to vote.

     Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, was the commander.  His faulty list of approximately 7 million voters was used by GOP counterparts in 27 States to remove Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters from the rolls by claiming they were voting in multiple States.  A first and last name was enough for a match.  Jr. & Sr. did not matter, nor middle names, nor different Social Security numbers.

     “The program’s method of identifying and purging voters especially threatens the registrations of minority voters who are…67% more likely than white voters to share America’s most common names: Jackson, Washington, Lee, Rodriguez and so on,” according to Greg Palast.

     In the three crucial States that were supposed to be the Democratic firewall, the gentleman from New York “won” by 44,000 in Pennsylvania, 11,000 in Michigan, and 23,000 in Wisconsin.  Crosscheck removed up to 344,000 in the first and 449,000 in the second.  In the third, Photo ID, which is used to stop non-existent “voter fraud,” made the difference by depressing turnout in Milwaukee.  Thus, the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, 16 in Michigan, and 10 in Wisconsin went to the Republican instead of Mrs. Clinton.  And so, the legitimacy of the gentleman from New York goes beyond the question of foreign influence.

     The misunderstood, misrepresented, and misused Electoral College has two functions.  They are popular choice and national security.
     At the time of the Federal Convention, there was no way to reduce, as James Madison noted, “the   different qualifications in the different States to one uniform rule.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 52)  But that barrier has been removed.  Thus, the complete transition from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution is at hand.  For the original intention is clear.  “The President of the United States,” as Alexander Hamilton noted, “would be an officer elected by the people.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 69)  And the National Popular Vote would insure the protection of popular choice—for reasons of national security.

     The contours of the campaign are clear.  National security, properly understood, is the issue, and the definition is hardly mysterious.  Its key elements are in plain sight, as they have been for over two centuries, in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1—taxes, debt management, the common defense, and the general welfare.  Thus, it cannot be denied that the Framers understood domestic and foreign affairs and the economy are intertwined.

     “Taxation without representation is tyranny” was one objection to be overcome during the Revolution.  Yet there was also opposition when the situation changed, as if to say, “Taxation with representation is terrible.”  But after attempts to reach an accommodation failed, President Washington mounted up and reviewed the Militia “called into the actual service of the United States” to put down the insurrection known as the Whiskey Rebellion, making it clear that taxes are the dues of citizenship, and they have to be paid.  (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1)  For the cry during the troubles with King George III was “No taxation without representation,” not “No taxation.”

     The President who had the first income tax fades away as the apostle of tax cuts steps forward.  The party of Lincoln has forgotten him but remembers Reagan.  The party of TR, who supported progressive taxation and the estate tax and conservation, favors the flat tax, hereditary wealth, and denies climate change.  The supposed party of fiscal responsibility is out of touch with physical reality.  And their insurrection is the Whiners Rebellion.

     History tells the tale, and the numbers tell the truth.  The purpose of taxation is to raise revenue for Government operations in a manner consistent with the system it supports.  Concentrated wealth, which tends toward monopoly in economics and politics, and usually benefits a minority, is antithetical to a republican form of government that exists to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”  Effective taxation provides inoculation against such a threat to national security.

     Sufficient revenue is the first principle of tax reform, not “revenue neutral.”  The measure must take into account the recent tax cuts, the wars unpaid for, the corporations which benefited from them, and then set appropriate rates to restore the status quo ante—the surplus and paying off the national debt.  In the interest of bipartisanship via a time warp, let us examine progressive and estate taxes.

     “No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned.  Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered—not gambling in stocks, but service rendered.  The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means.  Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective—a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

     So said Theodore Roosevelt.

     Corporations cannot claim to be persons and then pay less than flesh and blood people because of a privileged position at odds with the Revolution.  The Constitution’s prohibition on granting any titles of nobility—a step toward equality—was not about a label but the display of distinctive traits, hereditary succession and an enormous disparity of wealth.  (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 & Section 10, Clause 1)  Otherwise the “artificial aristocracy,” of which Thomas Jefferson spoke, whether actual or artificial persons, becomes de facto royalty, a way to make the world safe for feudalism or mercantilism, as was the case with the East India Company.

     Corporations must be subject to a head tax so that, regardless of tax credits, they make a minimum payment.  And, unlike real human beings, they do not possess “unalienable rights.”  But corporations have duties.  Executive action must be taken in regard to offshore parking and inversions, for they must be viewed as tax evasion.  Senator Sanders’s bill to stop them from getting Government contracts, when they use a phony overseas address, is another way of getting their attention.

     From 1914-1966, a Wall Street transaction tax was in effect and it needs to be reinstated, perhaps based on the average State sales tax throughout the Union.  To prevent a reoccurrence of the events which contributed to the Great Recession, the President must have standby authority to increase the regular tax by up to ten percent.

      Social Security can be made solvent and sustainable by two related adjustments.  First, adopt a Carter Administration proposal that would use general revenue, if unemployment reaches a certain rate, to make up for the projected shortfall.  Second, raise the income ceiling.  Not doing so makes the payroll tax regressive.

     A critical factor respecting income inequality is ignored.  Too often, taxation is discussed, understandably, in terms of details—rates, credits, depreciation.  But the question of sovereignty must not be overlooked:  Is the GOP’s States’ rights position a cover for divide and conquer?  For the party that is opposed to centralization of power, specifically, in the Federal Government, whose policies they abhor, has no problem applauding that condition—in economics and politics—when created by a corporation.  Accordingly, there must be acknowledgement and action as to the impact of tax policy in that regard.  Furthermore, instead of just the minimum wage, the pay gap between employers and employees must be addressed in terms of the maximum wage—or ratio.

     Taxes were necessary “to pay the debts…of the United States” because, according to Article VI, “All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.”  As Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton observed in a report to the House of Representatives:

     “If the maintenance of public credit, then, be truly so important, the next enquiry which suggests itself is:  By what means is it to be effected?  The ready answer to which question is, by good faith; by a punctual performance of contracts.  States, like individuals, who observe their engagements, are respected and trusted, while the reverse is the fate of those who pursue an opposite conduct….
     In nothing are appearances of greater moment than in whatever regards creditOpinion is the soul of it; and this is affected by appearances as well as realities….”  (Emphasis added.)

     Alexander Hamilton gave force and effect to Article VI.  His measures made meaningful the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.”  (Article I, Section 8, Clause 2)  He established the good faith of the nation and gave us our good name.

     Now, when Republicans have a majority in the House, there is a debate over the advantages of debt management versus default, something which was settled in the beginning.  James Madison dismissed “…the pretended doctrine that a change in the form of civil society has the magical effect of dissolving its moral obligations.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 43, JM on “All debts and engagements”)  So if the original intention was to make our word true, can we now act in a way that makes our word worthless?  And should that even be a consideration?  Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment is a reaffirmation of Article VI.  And, therefore, all debts and engagements entered into shall be valid against the United States under the Constitution.

     Although the appearance of an issue has been created by the House Republicans’ periodic threat not to pass the debt ceiling resolution, after careful examination and review, their arguments are, upon mature reflection, as empty as the cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard.  In actuality, there is no debate, if the words of James Madison and the deeds of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton are accepted as precedent.  On the one side of the scale is the debt ceiling, a statutory provision, the technicality of technicalities and of dubious constitutionality.  On the other is the Fundamental Charter itself, The Federalist Papers, the reports of the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Chapter XIV of the Second Treatise of Civil Government.  Therefore, the Executive, if forced to choose between the Constitution and the statute, shall faithfully execute the supreme law of the land.  Accordingly, after giving due notice to the press and the public and a delinquent Congress by a Proclamation on Public Credit, the President would issue an Executive Order on the Means of Extinguishment and invoke the Gephardt Rule.

     In the early days, “the common defense” was a meaningful phrase.  Yet, today, some—who never served in the Armed Forces, the Intelligence Community, or the Diplomatic Corps—are all in favor of the common defense, as long as it is the common people who do the defending.  They want to shoot first and ask questions later.  But diplomacy was not a dead letter to President Washington.  The father of our country used the Proclamation of Neutrality and the Jay Treaty to teach his infant how to walk on the world stage.

     Originally, the common defense was to be a common experience, a constant reminder that citizenship consists of rights and duties.  And while the common defense meant the protection of the Union as a whole, it also concerned that of the several States, as the Second Amendment attests, and referred to a civic duty—active participation in the same. 

     In the old days, David, Alexander, Scipio, Arthur, Henry V, Napoleon, and Washington were in the field with their troops, a place the gentleman from New York will never be found.  For he is the type of guy that will fight to the last drop of your blood.

     Strutting and posing does not a leader nor an effective policy make.  Tough guy schtick is entertainment.  Toughness is a quality of the mind empowered by the spirit.    

     As Secretary of War Henry Knox reminds us in the report President Washington had him send to Congress in support of Universal National Service, much is required of those who aspire to leadership:  “Therefore, it ought to be a permanent rule, that those who in youth decline or refuse to subject themselves to the course of military education, established by the laws, should be considered as unworthy of public trust or public honors, and be excluded therefrom accordingly.”

     Taxes, debt management, and the common defense are the foundation of the general welfare, “the permanent and aggregate interests of the community,” to use Madison’s words—the very reason a republic exists, and which the Knox Report addressed.  (The Federalist Papers, No. 10)  Universal National Service, as envisioned by President Washington and set forth in that message he had the Secretary of War send to Congress, dealt with more than an order of battle.

     “If the United States possess the vigor of mind to establish the first institution, it may reasonably be expected to produce the most unequivocal advantages.  A glorious national spirit will be introduced, with its extensive train of political consequences.  The youth will imbibe of a love of their country; reverence and obedience to its laws; courage and elevation of mind; openness and liberality of  character; accompanied by a just spirit of honor.  In addition to which their bodies will acquire a robustness, greatly conducive to their personal happiness, as well as the defense of their country.  While habit, with its silent, but efficacious operations, will durably cement the system….”

     A return to the national security policy of the Framers will be a blessing—an opportunity to see that no one is left behind—because of jobs, healthcare, and education; and with alternative service available to conscientious objectors, the New American System picks up where Henry Clay left off.  So, it is time to get America moving again.    

     Knowledge is the foundation of the American Republic.  By strengthening the intellectual and the interior lines of defense, Universal National Service increases the synapses and the sinews of our power.  For national security is about survival, and the ability to adapt involves playing to one’s strengths.

     Memories must light the corners of our mind.  According to an ancient Chinese proverb, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”

     If America were a movie, George Washington would be the above the title star.  He was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces, the President of the Federal Convention, and the first President of the United States.  He is in a class by himself.  Therefore the airport that serves the Federal City, which honors him, should bear his name—alone.
     Treason and patriotism are like oil and water.  They do not mix.  Both are bad for the environment.

     George Washington's endowment rescued Liberty Hall Academy, and it was renamed in his honor.  But after the Civil War and Robert E. Lee’s tenure as president of Washington College, the name was changed to Washington and Lee University.  One was a patriot and the other was a traitor, which does not justify the latter’s elevation.  So, instead, why not honor the man who accompanied the Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces to New England when the troops of the North and South were to be reviewed for the first time?  That gentleman's name was Billy Lee, someone the Father of the Country remembered in his will.  Is that too much to ask of a private college?

     Misty water-colored memories of our history…  Destroying another’s identity is a means of conquest.  For those who do not know who they are offer less resistance.  By definition, a nation of immigrants cannot be an h_ _ _land—a place for a particular ethnic or racial group—also referred to as motherland or fatherland.  “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer” belongs elsewhere.  But here, we sing The Star Spangled Banner, not H_ _ _land Uber Alles.  Thus, a constitutional phrase provides the proper name for the most recent Cabinet post—the Department of Public Safety, a phrase also used in nine times The Federalist Papers.  (Article I, Section 1, Clause 2)

     Furthermore, Social Security—and Medicare and Medicaid—are not entitlements.  They are insurance—a whole life policy that helps to promote the general welfare.

     Finally, restoration of the fairness doctrine will help in calling things by their proper names.  The broadcast press will not be beyond challenge.  There will be a check on inaccuracy.

     Once established, free states have a tendency to take their liberty for granted.  While enjoying the benefits, some neglect the burdens.  Such an imbalance cannot continue.

     The greatest threat to the survival and the success of liberty is the attitude of those who do not comprehend that the United States of America is a country, not a country club.  For privilege tends toward cognitive dissonance and the fate of Sisyphus.

     The would-be gods are impediments to progress.  Their attitude was revealed in response to Eleanor Roosevelt’s desire to provide indoor plumbing to those who had none.  But those descended from on high wanted to know, How could one then tell the rich from the poor?  “In matters of such simple decency,” the First Lady replied, “we should not be able to tell the rich from the poor.”

     Until we close the gap between the nation’s ideals and the reality, until those who see themselves as more than mere mortals have to bear the burden, until they have to sacrifice, the chatterboxes are not citizens.  But they have been described by T.S. Eliot.   

     We are the hollow men
     We are the stuffed men
     Leaning together
     Headpiece filled with straw.  Alas!   

     These proposals—voting rights and the proper use of the Electoral College; national security, properly understood; Universal National Service; enforcement of the emoluments clause; the importance of names; restoration of the fairness doctrine; and others to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterityconstitute a revolution within the framework of law.  They are necessary for what lies ahead.  To travel at warp speed, the ship of state needs good shields and a sound navigation system.  Fellow citizens, it is time to batten down the hatches.

     America is under attack—at home and abroad.  Catastrophe can be avoided and the victory of our values assured.  But preparation is the prerequisite of survival.  And a leader lights the way.

     May God bless all the members of the Armed Forces, the Intelligence Community, and the Diplomatic Corps.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Monday, February 03, 2020

The McConnell Amendments

THE FRAMERS provided a way to amend the Constitution in Article V.  The standard method is by a two-thirds vote in the House and in the Senate.  Then three-fourths of the Legislatures of the several States must approve.

     The senior Senator from Kentucky and Majority Leader has laid out his way of amending the Constitution—making stuff up.  In an election year, the alternative method appears.

     On February 13, 2016, a duly elected President was not permitted to make an appointment, when the opportunity arose, based on a remarkable statement—“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice”—which was used to deny a hearing and a vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland.  But the self-styled “conservatives” again ran afoul of the Constitution, which they supposedly revere, when their actions are compared with those of the Framers in regard to “the nature of the agency of the Senate in the business of appointments.”  For Alexander Hamilton contradicts the McConnell Rule:  “There will, of course, be no exertion of CHOICE  on the part of the Senate.”  And Hamilton shows that what the Majority Leader did was an abuse of power:  “They might even entertain a preference to some other person, at the very moment they were assenting to the one proposed, because there might be no positive ground of opposition to him....”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 66; emphasis added)  Thus, the “one basic check on a runaway Court: presidential elections,” which Professor Bruce Ackerman noted, was swept aside.

     In 2020, the Majority Leader tackled and sidelined Anglo-American jurisprudence by changing the inherent meaning of a word—trial.  Henceforth, despite the centuries-old definition, there need only be opening and closing statements because witnesses and documents have been benched.

     Yet if, as Chief Justice John Marshall said in Marbury v. Madison, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is,” how can his successor sit silently—in a court of impeachment over which he presides—and watch as the senior Senator from Kentucky changes the inherent meaning of a trial?

     Nevertheless, on the thirty-first of January, Republican Senators marched over to the Archives and began spitting on the Constitution.  They ignored the Declaration and made the gentleman from New York George III.  They decided to make the world safe for monarchy—and, thereby, repudiated George Washington.

     Mitch McConnell has overturned a constitutional system of checks and balances concerned with means and ends.  He mocks the oath.

     “Life imitates art,” according to an old saying.  But Mark Twain was right when he said, “Truth is stranger than fiction.

     In “Tribunal,” an episode on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Chief O'Brien was arrested and faced   justice on Cardassia Prime.

     “Guilty,” says the Judge as she strikes the gavel.  “Let the trial begin.

      Yet, even under such a contrary system, there were witnesses.

(c)2020 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Statement on the Campaign

At the most recent debate, supposedly serious” and allegedly experienced candidates confronted each other over whether a female can be President.  So please pardon this nobody for discussing the office, its origins, its purpose, and how it is to be used.

     Another candidate at the debate last week outspent everybody else in the race combined.  So, was it his message or his money that got him on the stage? 

     My basic approach is to stand on a firm foundation.  From there, the next address will lay out the national agenda.  The serious” and experienced" candidates can have their rah-rah-rah, sis-boom-bah.  This is different.  Remember Sgt. Friday?  Just the facts, ma'am. 

     Any citizen who wants to be a part of this effort need only read, get an absentee ballot for their State's primary, and write-in: Marvin Dwayne Jones.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Presidency in the Third Century

My fellow citizens:   
WE THE PEOPLE who have raised the right hand to uphold the Constitution must take action.  America is under attack—at home and abroad.  There is no statute of limitations on the oath to support and defend the supreme law of the land “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  Thus, it is necessary to embrace what may demand one’s life; and that must resonate with anyone who seeks the Presidency.

     Those most responsible for the creation of the office had a clear vision.

     “…(T)he Executive Magistrate should be the guardian of the people,” said Gouvernor Morris, “even of the lower classes against legislative tyranny, against the great and the wealthy who in the course of things will necessarily compose the legislative body.”

     How was that to be done?

     “...(T)o be the guardian of the people,” Morris said, “ let him be appointed by the people.”  

     James Wilson was no Whig.  He agreed.

      “He who is to execute the laws will be as much the choice, as much the servant and, therefore, as
much the friend of the people as he who is to make them.”

     What was the Executive to do?

     “Be impartial…(and) promote the interests of the whole,” said Wilson.  (Presidents Above Party by Ralph Ketcham, 117 & 118)

     When an electoral system was approved, James Madison said, the Executive is “to be elected by the people.”  (The Electoral College by Lucius Wilmerding, Jr., 3 & 19)   

     On September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin and James McHenry left on the final day of the Federal Convention, they were approached by Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia.
     “Well, Doctor, what have got—a republic or a monarchy?”

     “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”    
     A monarchy is one thing, a republic another, as Alexander Hamilton made plain.

     “…(T)he king of Great Britain is a perpetual and HEREDITARY prince.  The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 69)   

     In the Framers’ day, hereditary rule was so ingrained that anything else was almost unimaginable.  Thus, even before the Constitution was approved, critics referred to the new office as “the fetus of
monarchy.”  And now, belatedly, there is someone determined to prove them right.

     During the transition, Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for Bush the Younger, and Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, warned the gentleman from New York about the emoluments clause.  Walter Shaub, the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, offered to assist him with divestiture.  But that was given no consideration and was not accepted.  And so, from the moment “So help me God” passed his lips, he has been in violation of the emoluments clause.  (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8)  The man who was supposed to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” chose to terminate “the supreme law of the land” with extreme prejudice.  (Article II, Section 3 & Article VI, Clause 2)  And the oath was dismissed with a wave of his hand.  After all, how can one “preserve, protect and defend” the very thing he upends?  (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8)  ALL OF THOSE ARE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES.  Together, they go beyond, say, civil or inherent contempt, to raise the curtain for an encore, a showstopper of an impeachable offense--contempt of the Constitution.  Thus, there have been four charges from the beginning--without even considering the Russian Connection and the related Ukraine Situation.  And he has been working on more ever since.

     The gentleman from New York claims he has “the complete power to pardon.”  Yet immediately after the grant, the Constitution states a limitation—“except in cases of impeachment”; and in The Federalist Papers, Hamilton shows how the power is to be used in extreme and mundane situations, consistent with the standards of the Preamble—to “insure domestic tranquility” and “establish justice.”  (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 & The Federalist Papers, No. 74)  He has also said, “I have an Article II, where I can do whatever I want.”  But if the gentleman from New York had studied the country’s birth certificate instead of his predecessor’s, he would have seen himself as the progeny of George III.  Furthermore, he fails to understand that the Framers saw an emergency as a bridge over troubled water connecting means and ends; for, as John Locke said, “…(P)rerogative is nothing but the power of doing public good without a rule.”  (Second Treatise of Government, Chapter XIV, 166)  Thus, an emergency does not exist simply because the House of Representatives exercised its power  over money bills and denied him a pet project.  Finally, there is the claim of “absolute immunity”—to which a United States District Court took exception.

     “Simply stated, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that
Presidents are not kings.  This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty, or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.  Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the People of the United States, and that they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States….
     “Thus, DOJ’s present assertion that the absolute testimonial immunity that senior-level presidential aides possess is, ultimately, owned by the President, and can be invoked by the President to overcome the aides’ own will to testify, is a proposition that cannot be squared with core constitutional values, and for this reason alone, it cannot be sustained.”  (House of Representatives v. McGahn, 116 & 117)  

     A monarchy is one thing, a republic another.  The former is subject to the genetic lottery.  The latter depends upon free elections, and the prohibition on granting titles of nobility reveals America’s true identity  (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 & Section 10, Clause 10)   

     “The original intention”—of Gouvernor Morris, James Wilson, and James Madison—is clear, as are the dangers when it is thwarted due to a hangover.  The result is a really bad morning after, the President being chosen with fewer popular votes.  “The right of equal suffrage among the States is another exceptional part of the Confederation….,” Hamilton reminds us, “Its operation contradicts
that fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail….  It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America; and two thirds of the people of America could not long be persuaded…to submit their interests to the management and disposal of one third.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 22; emphasis added)  It creates a political discontinuity—a misalignment of means and ends, a condition where a minority rules the majority.  But the consequences of the loser’s lottery—Bush the Younger and the gentleman from New York—will continue until the Electoral College is used to perform its proper functions--popular choice and national security.  Therefore the 2020 election must be decided by the National Popular Vote.    

     History is full of mysteries.  But despite the one who sows confusion, there is none about the position at the center of the American political system.  During the battle for ratification, Hamilton described the role of the new office. 

     “Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government.  It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy…

     “There can be no need, however, to multiply arguments or examples on this head.  A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government.  A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 70)   

     The acceptance of power and responsibility defines a leader.  Others need not apply, as Hamilton explains.  

     “The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests.  It is a just observation, that the people commonly INTEND the PUBLIC GOOD.  This often applies to their very errors.  But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend that they always REASON RIGHT about the MEANS of promoting it.  They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as they continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.  When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of  the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.  Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 71)

     The challenge was formidable.  Washington reigned in an age when monarchs ruled.  He was an exception, and the prospect of elections for the House of Commons was not a sunbeam in the minds of writers of the time, as an historian informs us.  
     “The real crisis for Pope, Swift, and their circle was the ‘corruption’ they saw everywhere in the rule of Walpole.  But for these critics corruption meant much more than the giving or taking of bribes or the taint of other forms of dishonest exchange or exercises of power by public officials.  The term corruption carried the full Classical connotation of displacement of the public good by private interest.  In this context, the phrase private citizen becomes a contradiction: to be a citizen in the Aristotelian sense means precisely and completely to transcend the private, selfish viewpoint…

     “This conception of citizenship, derived by English neoclassical writers from the Renaissance
humanists, harkened to the sternest Spartan ideals of disinterestedness.”  (RK, 31)   

     In The Craftsman, Lord Bolingbrooke said “the head of the state is responsible for the moral health of the body politic.”  In The Idea of a Patriot King, he called such a leader “the most powerful of all reformers,…a sort of standing miracle.”  Under his influence, “a new people will seem to arise with a new king.”  The reason?  “A little merit in a prince is seen and felt by numbers: it is multiplied….  A little failing…is multiplied in the same manner.”  But, said Bolingbrooke, “the character of a great and good king (must) be founded in that of a great and good man.”  (RK, 61 &64)

     Leadership comes down to intangibles, and trust is the indispensable attribute.  Pierce Butler, a delegate from South Carolina, gave testimony in a letter to a relative in England.

     “I am free to acknowledge that his powers are full great, and greater than I was disposed to make
them.  Nor, entre nous, do I believe they would have been so great had not many of the members cast their eyes towards General Washington as President; and shaped their ideas of the powers to be given to a President, by their opinions of his virtue.”

     Here was Lord Bollingbrooke’s idea of a patriot king.  As an historian attests, “The President was to be a strong, dignified, nonpolitical chief of state and government.  In two words, he was to be George Washington.”  (The American Presidency by Clinton Rossiter, 77)

     To do the job, one must know the job.  The Preamble and the oath make the point:  All the powers of the Presidency are to be used for the benefit of the Republic; and the means are directed to these ends—to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”  Then one will indeed “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”
     In the third century, those who aspire to the Presidency must take a page out of Washington’s book, for he transmuted Lord Bollingbrooke’s work and became the idea of a patriotic President.  Pettiness will not do.  The challenges—at home and abroad—demand nothing less than our best.  But they can be overcome, if the heat of battle burns off dross and leaves gold.

(c)2020 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Statement on the Campaign

This is a serious effort.  There will be no rah-rah-rah, sis-boom-bah.

The debates were avoided because the format does not allow a presentation beyond the narrow band.  Instead of posturing, my focus is on policies to "promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."  That is what the oath requires.

My next address will be on the Presidency.  Then I will lay out the national agenda.  Finally, there will be the vision.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Declaration of Candidacy

My fellow citizens:

“A popular government, without popular information,” James Madison reminds us, “or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.  Knowledge will forever govern ignorance:  And a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

     In preparation for the Federal Convention, Madison gathered together the constitutions of the ancient republics.  They taught an important lesson.  Foreign influence was the consistent cause of their demise, and it is why we have an emoluments clause—a constitutional conflict of interest provision.

     Fear of foreign influence was such a deep concern for the Framers that it affected the method of       choosing the President of the United States.  The emoluments clause was not enough.

     The misunderstood, misrepresented, and misused Electoral College has two functions.  They are popular choice and national security.

     At the time, there was no way to reduce, as Madison noted, “the different qualifications in the different States to one uniform rule.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 52)  A scholar elaborated:  “The electoral voting system was adopted instead of a direct voting system only because it seemed the most practicable way to give equal weights to equal masses of persons in a country where the suffrage laws varied from state to state.”  (The Electoral College by Lucius Wilmerding, Jr., xi)  But as Madison said at the Convention, the Executive “is now to be elected by the people” and as Alexander Hamilton later noted, “The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people…”  (LW, 3 & 19 and Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 69 respectively)  Thus, the original intention is clear, although the transition from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution continues due to confusion.

     Popular choice was to be protected—for reasons of national security.

     “Nothing was more to be desired,” according to Hamilton, “than that every practicable obstacle      should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.  These most deadly adversaries of republican      government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one          quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our          councils.  How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the Chief          Magistracy of the Union?”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 68)

     “With all the infirmities incident to a popular election, corrected by the particular mode of          conducting it, as directed under the present system, I think we may fairly calculate,” said James          Madison in the House, “that  the instances will be very rare in which an unworthy man will receive    that mark of the public confidence which is required to designate the President of the United States.”  (Emphasis added.)

     “One advantage of Electors is,” Madison later explained, “although generally the mere mouths of  their constituents, they may be intentionally left sometimes to their own judgment, guided by further information that may be acquired by them: and finally, what is of material importance, they will be able, when ascertaining, which may not be till a late hour, that the first choice of their constituents is utterly hopeless, to substitute in the electoral vote the name known to be their second choice.”  (LW, 180-181)
     The contemporary focus on popular choice must not obscure the necessity of national security and the need to reinforce the emoluments clause.  Thus, the much maligned Electoral College is an idea whose time has come.  With the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments, there is “one uniform rule”; and with public education, the transition from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution will be complete.  Then the Electoral College can perform the two functions for which it was designed—popular choice and national security—through the National Popular Vote.  Then  an institution that is the final check on fraud can suppress “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils…by raising a creature of their own to the Chief Magistracy of the Union.” (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 68)

     President Washington reinforced the importance of the emoluments clause in his Farewell Address.

     “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the 
jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful woes for republican government.”

     National security, properly understood, is the issue.

     “It is vain,” as James Madison reminds us, “to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust those clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good.  Enlightened statesmen    will not always be at the helm.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 10)

     While stationed overseas, a teacher asked me to speak to her high school about my proposal to 
improve our political system.  It had been made shortly before going on active duty and was inspired by Hamilton’s observation that “a power over a man’s support is a power over his will.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 73)   Therefore three things were needed to remove the shackles—public financing of campaigns, free air time, and a strong conflict of interest provision that required officials to place their holdings in Treasury securities.  That was nearly a half century ago, and it would have reinforced the emoluments clause.  But now an adjustment is necessary—restoration of the fairness doctrine.

     I am a nobody.  But I have had enough.  I am done biding my time and biting my tongue, for I did not take the oath to witness the liquidation of the American Constitution.  Therefore I am announcing my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

     This will be a campaign unlike any other.  It costs nothing to lay out my views on the office and the issues, so send no money.  Instead, get an absentee ballot and write-in Marvin Dwayne Jones.

     To do the job, one must know the job.  And the standard is clear:  All the powers of the Presidency are to be used for the benefit of the Republic.  The Preamble lays out markers by which we measure our progress toward a shared destiny.  Ultimately, this is the end—to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

     The hour of maximum danger is upon us.  And we cannot fail to respond.  We must rise to the occasion.

     National security is about survival, and so “an improper ascendant in our councils” must be cast aside.  Then, once again, we must have a policy our allies can support and our adversaries will respect.

     America is a child of the Enlightenment, not the Dark Ages.  Knowledge is the foundation of the American Republic.  By remembering who and what we are, this nation can complete the mission Alexander Hamilton described on the first page of The Federalist Papers.

     “It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.  If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”  (The Federalist Papers, No. 1)

(c)2020 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved.