The Weekend Hole, Sat-Sun, Nov 26-27, 2016: Have You Read The 25th Amendment?

In his series “The Resistance” (formerly known as “The Closer” until the election of Donald J. Trump), Keith Olbermann spells out how Republicans in Congress can remove Trump from office without going through the process of an impeachment. And it’s all perfectly legal and constitutional, because the procedure is spelled out in Article of Amendment 25, Section 4,of the US Constitution. It reads as follows:

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

So how would this work? Well, upon returning from the swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Pence and a majority of the heads of the cabinet departments (and it could be the ones still in office on January 20, or even the ones who act as heads of the departments should the heads all have resigned effective at noon that day) could write a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (the President Pro Tem is the oldest serving member, not the Majority Leader) simply stating the Donald is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. They don’t have to give a reason. They don’t have to prove anything. No hearings. No nothing. Just a letter.

Now, of course, the Donald could fire back a letter within minutes (and I’d bet he’ll have such a letter pre-written, ready to go) saying no such inability exists. Within four days (in case there’s a holiday weekend in there), Pence and his department heads could fire back another letter (again, they should have this one written along with the first because it would be needed) saying the inability does still exist. Then the matter would go to the Congress. It would require a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to remove Trump from power permanently.

I can only hope the Republicans in Congress recognize the danger of having Trump be POTUS and take the legal, constitutional path to remove him from being able to do damage. He could keep the title, since I’m sure that’s all he really wanted out of it, but he wouldn’t have the authority to do anything. Not that I would be much happier in a Pence administration. Unlike Pence, I actually like women and want to see them have the autonomy over their bodies that men take for granted. That’s even less likely to happen under Pence than under Trump, but at least Pence knows something about governing. Trump does not. In fact, based on his comments on the campaign trail, I’m convinced Trump doesn’t understand how government works at all. He talked as if the POTUS had powers he doesn’t really have. In fact, at times it sounded like he thought a POTUS was a dictator, possibly because a lot of Republican citizens think he is. That’s just projection on their part.

And while it is perfectly constitutional to remove Trump from power (if not office) in this matter, it’s actually harder than impeaching him. Invoking Article 25, Section 4, requires two-thirds of both Houses to remove him. But to impeach him (for Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors) would require only a simple majority of votes in the House of Representatives. It would still require a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him. But you’d have to produce actual charges and conduct an actual trial for that process to work. And while Trump will be in violation of the Constitution at 12:01 PM EST on January 20, 2017, it will not be because of a crime. Instead, and possibly among other reasons, it will be because he had a group of foreign dignitaries come to his hotel in Washington, DC, and encouraged them to stay there when they visited the United States. In other words, he would personally profit from his job beyond what the Congress provides as compensation. (It’s called an Emolument, and its definition depends on what the Framers took the word to mean, not what it may have come to mean since.) Unless, of course, he lets them and their entire staffs stay there completely free of charge, including meals. Then he might argue that he’s not receiving any emoluments. But does anyone believe a man driven by the lust for money, who campaigned on a bigoted platform designed to make white people feel good about themselves, would let foreigners stay at his hotel completely free of charge? I don’t. And I wouldn’t believe a word Trump said about whether or not he was making any money on it. He’s a billionaire because he says he is. He’s the one deciding how much his properties are worth, not an independent auditor. There is very little that Trump says that can be taken at face value. And that’s one of many reasons why he should never be allowed to be POTUS. Also, he’s a bit of an asshole, but there’s no law against that. Otherwise I’d be in a lot of trouble, too. ūüôā

This is our weekend open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish.

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The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 5, 2014: The Fault in Our Bartons

David Barton is at it again. In a span of about two minutes, the professional liar recently made several false claims, including that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is an “Atheist Mormon.” [From the audio clip on RWW’s site:]

He has actually proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would re-write the First Amendment to take away original protections and limit the protections in the First Amendment.

Actually, Senator Reid didn’t propose the amendment, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall did. And campaign finance reform was not on the minds of the authors of the First Amendment, nor was it written to protect the flow of unlimited amounts of money in the federal campaign process. Senator Udall’s amendment would protect citizens from that flow.

What it also tells me is, and he’s apparently a Mormon guy, that’s fine. He is probably an atheist Mormon, Mormon in name only and the reason I say that is that so many Mormon folks are so conservative on the Constitution and such great defenders.

There is no “apparently” about it, Harry Reid IS a Mormon. (How do you like that little dismissal of Mormons – “that’s fine.”) And while it is true that Mormons as a group have the highest percentage of self-identified Conservatives and the lowest percentage of self-identified Liberals, it is not correct to call Liberals Mormons “in name only” just because they aren’t Conservative. It would be like saying soon-to-be unemployed VA Representative Eric Cantor is a Jew in name only because he’s Conservative. And it’s thoroughly hypocritical to have such a mendacious snake oil salesman who proclaims to be a Christian question someone else’s devotion to his faith. But the Gish Galloping continued.

And so, when you look at what he’s doing, the Bill of Rights is laid out in the Declaration of Independence, you start with the first belief that there’s a Creator, the second belief that the Creator gives us certain inalienable rights, the third belief in the Declaration is that government exists to protect those inalienable rights.

Where to begin? First of all, the Bill of Rights (which usually refers to the first ten Amendments to the US Constitution) is not “laid out in the Declaration of Independence.” While there are certainly references to grievances later addressed by the Bill of Rights (which was not written by the same body of people who wrote the Constitution), they are not all individually and specifically addressed. They’re pretty much ignored completely in the Articles of Confederation, written less than eighteen months after the Declaration. If the Bill of Rights were such an important part of the Declaration (as Barton implies), then why were they not mentioned at all in the Articles of Confederation, the framework for the first United States of America? As for the sequence of beliefs laid out in the Declaration, Barton is twisting things to support his erroneous agenda that the United States was founded as a Christian Nation. The first belief isn’t that “there’s a Creator” but that all men are created equal. It’s an important distinction because it’s true that all men are born equal whether or not you believe in a God. (I don’t believe in a God, but I do believe we are all born equal and that no one is born “better” than anyone else.) In fact, this line was specifically written as a refutation of the then-widely held belief by monarchs in the Divine Right of Kings. It was a message to King George III that just because he was born into a family of nobility did not mean he was better than anyone else, or that he was born with rights others did not have. It does say that government exists to secure these rights, but he leaves out an important distinction: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed.” There is no dependence on God for our rights. Humans guarantee our rights with the support of other humans.

So eleven years later when the Founding Fathers did the Bill of Rights they said, hey, these are those rights that we were talking about that the government is not allowed to touch because these come from the Creator and government exists to protect rights from the Creator.

The “Founding fathers” did not “do” the Bill of Rights, the First Congress (a body of men elected after ratification of the US Constitution, which had no Bill of Rights when it was ratified) did. They were introduced by James Madison (one of the primary authors of the Constitution), but he didn’t think they were necessary, and that his primary motivation for introducing the original twelve amendments was so that they could tell their constituents who wanted them that they tried. In his introduction of the Bill of Rights, Madison made no mention of God or a Creator, nor did he reference the Declaration of Independence, nor any “God-given rights.”

So that’s why we’ve never messed with the Bill of Rights because they were always off limits to government because they came from God directly to man, they did not go through government to get here.

Actually, if you read Madison’s comments, he mentions that several States already had a Bill of Rights, and that the ones he proposed were similar to the ones in the States. It’s important to Barton that he maintain the fiction that our rights came only from God and not from an agreement among humans that people should be treated better than they have been.

If you don’t have the belief that you will answer to God for what you do, you will sell your country, you will sell your kids’ future, you will sell everything going on and that’s where we’re getting. And so it’s not just a belief in God, it’s the belief that you answer to God and you believe that, and see that’s where Harry Reid is not. You know, he may believe in God, he probably says he does; I don’t think he has any cognizance of having to answer to God for what he does.

Actually, Davey, Harry Reid doesn’t have to answer to God for what he does in Congress. He only has to answer to the people of the state of Nevada. And they continue to send him back to Congress despite the right wing crazies the Republicans run against him.

If the David Bartons of the world have any fault, it’s that they so badly want the United States to become a Theocracy that they’ll ignore the Ninth Commandment not to bear false witness (lie) about the intent of the people who threw off the shackles of oppression to declare the colonies free and independent states. And it’s up to the rest of us to stop them from succeeding. And that is best done by voting.

This is our daily open thread. Have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 24, 2014: Tom DeLay’s Bug Spray-Induced Delusion

It seems former Representative Tom DeLay (R-Greed), who ran for Congress because he felt the banning of DDT would unfairly hurt his pest control business, has been sniffing his bug-spraying chemicals again. In a recent interview with Pastor Matthew Hagee, (we all know Major) Tom claimed that God wrote our Constitution, and that it was based on Biblical principles. You know, that part of the Bible that said that if you wanted to amend the Bible, you needed the consent of two-thirds of the Congress, and three-fourths of the states. And gay men can be stoned. He also bragged about sealing off the Capitol Rotunda so that Members of Congress could pray together. I don’t think Tommy understands the concept of Separation of Church and State. Among other concepts.

Please believe me when I tell you that there is absolutely no truth to the David-Barton-fueled rumor that the United States, under its current Constitution, was founded as a Christian nation. None whatsoever. The United States is, and was since the day the U.S. Constitution was ratified (a document written by, and for, men; okay, white men; okay, white land-owning men; but not by any god), a secular nation. Let no one tell you differently. Especially if they’ve made a career of inhaling bug-spraying chemicals, and liked it.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Tom DeLay, bug sprays you’ve inhaled, or any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday September 17, 2012 – Happy Constitution Day, Happy 225th USA v. 2.0

The Declaration of Independence was adopted in Congress on July 4, 1776, and for this reason it is generally considered that July 4 is our nation’s birthday. Actually, that was the birth of the United States of America Version 1.0. The first version of the United States was governed under something called The Articles of Confederation. The Articles were a States’ Rights person’s dream. Under the Articles, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” The Articles required that the thirteen colonies (now called “States”) would “severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.” In Congress, each State would have one vote, regardless of the number of delegates it sent there. There was one small problem. The Articles of Confederation didn’t work.

So, in May of 1787, a Constitutional Convention was convened. The delegates to the convention, many of them the same as those who adopted the Articles, recognized that things had changed and that their country would have to undergo some changes in order to adapt. Through the summer, they came up with a Constitution that had some significant differences with the Articles of Confederation. One of the most significant of these differences is that under the constitution, there would be a strong central government rather than a weak one. I believe this is the part most States’ Rights advocates do not wish to accept.

On September 17, 1787, the Congress passed the Constitution put forth by the convention. It was ratified on June 21, 1788 and when into effect March 4, 1789. Today marks the 225th Anniversary of the birth of what is, for all intents and purposes, the United States of America version 2.0. It’s not the same country founded in 1776, and is not based on the same principles as the first one. And no matter how religious the country and states were under Version 1.0, we have a Secular government under version 2.0. People may not be aware of this, nor be able to appreciate the marvel of it, but for the first time in history, a nation was founded with no official religion. In all other countries, the official religion was whatever religion the ruler of that country practiced, and most citizens were expected to support and practice that religion, also. Along came this upstart of a republic called the United States of America, and it had the crazy, unheard of idea that people could practice whichever religion they preferred, no matter what religion the President practiced. Personally, I would have preferred that the Constitution also specify that no person’s religious beliefs would be the basis of any Law in the United States. And I would have liked the gun thing clarified a bit more.

This is our open thread. Discuss the Constitution or any other topic you wish.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

Sunday Roast: Amend 2012

Robert Reich, in his capacity as Chair of the National Governing Board of Common Cause, explains the effect Citizens United has had on our democracy.  In order to remedy this awful ruling by the Roberts Court, which drowns the political process in more unchecked money than we even know at this point, we need to pass an amendment to the Constitution.  You can find lots of information at Amend2012.

An amendment to get the money out of politics is a grand idea, but how much damage will be done between now and then — assuming we can get anything out of our broken Congress, and then get 38 states in a divided nation to agree. ¬†Seems like a pretty steep mountain, although well worth doing.

This is our daily open thread — You know what to do.

Watering Hole – Monday, August 15, 2011 – The Congressional Reform Act of 2011

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

Introducing:  The Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

(The Congressional Reform Act is not my creation.  I received this in an email.  The author is unknown).

This is our Open Thread.  Perhaps we should all send a copy of this to our members in Congress.   What do you think?  Speak Up!

Watering Hole – Monday, August 1, 2011 – Philadelphia Freedom

Today is our 30 year wedding anniversary and we will be spending the day in Philadelphia doing the “freedom tour”.

For most of my life, I have lived in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania.¬† During all these years, I have never seen the Liberty Bell.¬† With the looming shutdown of our government due to its inability to pay the bills or the closing of government buildings due to the cuts, cuts and more cuts, now could be my last chance to get to Independence square and see some of the artifacts that are part of our nation’s beginning.¬† It’s anybody’s guess as to what will happen if the US defaults on its debt.¬† One thing for sure is that government employees would be laid off, seniors would not receive their Social Security checks, veterans would not receive their benefits, and nursing homes could close which would create more job losses.¬† Basically, more people will be out of work and there will be less money to spend and BUSINESSES WILL SUFFER.¬† Default is NOT an option.¬† Our bills must be paid.

This is our open thread.¬† I won’t be around today as I will be searching for freedom. You will need to Speak Up and do all the chatting.

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