GUEST ARTICLE: The First American Dictator

The First American Dictator

by

Kenneth R. Mackie

            The people of the United States of America, the first democratic republic the modern world has ever known, have ceded rule to a dictator for the first time in its 200+ year history.

            A dictator is “one holding complete autocratic control: a person with unlimited governmental power” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary); “a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession” (Dictionary.com).

            A dictatorship is, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, a

form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator, which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises. Modern dictators, however, resemble ancient tyrants rather than ancient dictators. … Dictators usually resort to force or fraud to gain despotic political power, which they maintain through the use of intimidation, terror, and the suppression of basic civil liberties. They may also employ techniques of mass propaganda in order to sustain their public support.

            No one becomes a dictator without help. A cadre of loyalists is essential to grab and keep power. And support amongst a sizeable portion of the populace, even a sizable minority, can propel a would-be demagogue into power.

THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE

            Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, is attributed with saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” This has been taken to heart by Republicans since the days of the “Christian Coalition”, who found that they only needed to fool enough of the people at the proper times (elections). And faith-based voters belong to the ‘some of the people all of the time’ group. The conservative “Evangelical Christian” block can be counted on to vote Republican for the foreseeable future. Throughout 2109, Republicans approval of the First American Dictator ranges in the upper 80s to low 90s percent[i]. The approval rating among highly religious, white and Protestant Republicans is 92% over the past two years[ii]. This translates into millions of faith-based voters who support the First American Dictator.

            Among these is a growing cadre of white nationalists, encouraged to take up arms against all enemies of the current Administration. When “God’s Chosen[iii]” encourages violence, it is a statistical certainty that some will take up arms. Hence the mass murders of Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc.

            The First American Dictator enjoyed sufficient support among a mobilized and armed minority to be propelled into power.

THE POWER OF LOYALISTS IN GOVERNMENT

            In the unique structure of the United States government, all one party needs is 51 Senators to control the Senate (or just 50 Senators, plus the Vice President as a tie-breaker), hence the entire legislative branch, and give carte blanche to a dictator to ignore the Constitution. A bare majority of Senators allows a party to block all legislation, or ram-rod bills through regardless of any opposition. Even a minority of only 41 Senators is all it takes to prevent an override of a presidential veto.

            While the Constitution was designed to establish a legislative branch with the power to check a renegade President, it was not drafted to prevent a political party from obtaining enough power to allow the Constitution to be ignored.

            The First American Dictator enjoys the support of a majority in the Senate. As a result, the legislative branch is incapable of forcing him to act within the powers granted to him by the Constitution.

THE POWER OF LOYALTY OATHS

            It has been widely reported that Trump demands a “loyalty oath”[iv] from subordinates[v].

            The 25th Amendment provides that the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can declare the President unfit for office, at which time the Vice President becomes the Acting President. A “loyalty oath” to Trump, and not to uphold the Constitution, ensures that Trump is protected by loyalists to him. Trump has surrounded himself with loyalists that put loyalty to a dictator above loyalty to the Constitution, or to the country. The First American Dictator enjoys the support of an inner circle of loyalists.

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

            Fox News and the network’s opinion shows are widely seen as the propaganda arm of the Trump administration[vi]. One Fox newscaster in particular, Sean Hannity, is seen as an unofficial advisor to Trump[vii]. While Trump lambasts CNN as “fake news”[viii] it is Fox which has the worst track record for making false or misleading statements, whereas CNN ranks the best[ix].

            A majority of Republicans for whom Fox News is their primary news source solidly support the First American Dictator and there is nothing he could do that would make them lose their approval[x].

            When it comes to faith-based voters, nearly all who identify as white evangelical Protestants for whom Fox News is their primary news source oppose Trump being impeached and removed from office[xi].

            The First American Dictator has a propaganda machine spouting falsehoods to help keep him in power.

UNCHECKED POWER

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM HIS OFFICE

            Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, in disregard of the Constitution.

THE POWER TO PROFIT AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

“The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased (sic) nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.[xii]

            Any profit arising from the possession of a public office is an emolument.[xiii] Trump profits off his office in many ways. He still owns numerous hotels and resort properties. He has taken numerous trips to his resorts, billing taxpayers millions of dollars[xiv]. He has directed members of the armed forces to stay at his property in Scotland, at taxpayers’ expense[xv]. His Vice President and members of his administration stay at his properties[xvi], again lining Trump’s pockets.

In using taxpayer funds to pay for golfing trips and hotel lodging at his properties, Trump is causing the United States to pay him over and above his compensation as set for his office by Congress.

THE POWER TO PROFIT FROM FOREIGN STATES

No person “holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.[xvii]” Foreign governments that make use of Trump’s properties are putting their money into Trump’s pockets. In addition, China has granted Trump or his companies about 40 trademarks since he became President. Congress has not given its consent to foreign money flowing to Trump either directly or through his corporations’ profits. Members of Congress filed a lawsuit in June of 2017 seeking an injunction to bar Trump from further accepting emoluments from foreign governments without first seeking Congress’ approval[xviii]. Trump is currently appealing the finding that members of Congress have standing to seek a court order compelling Trump to comply with the Constitution. Meanwhile Trump does not have to produce any documents showing which foreign governments have paid to stay at which of Trump’s properties, nor how much they paid, nor how much of that has gone into Trump’s pockets while he is in office.

Trump has the unchecked power to profit from his office, billing taxpayers for his vacations at his resort and collecting payments from foreign governments for their rents of his properties.

THE POWER TO DIVERT FEDERAL FUNDING AT WILL

            Congress has the “power of the purse”, that is, to pass legislation to raise revenues, and to appropriate funding[xix]. Trump wanted money for a wall between the United States and Mexico. Congress considered, but did not fund Trump’s request. So the First American Dictator declared an “emergency” that didn’t exist, and diverted funds from congressionally approved projects to his border wall[xx]. Congress responded by passing a bill rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration, which Trump vetoed[xxi]. Thirty-six Republican Senators supported Trump and his veto was not overridden. Trump has the power to divert federal funds at will.

THE POWER TO IGNORE INTERNATIONAL LAW

            The First American Dictator inherited the power to ignore international law prohibiting torture, “secret rendition” aka kidnapping, holding prisoners in undisclosed prisons indefinitely without charges, and invading a country for the purpose of regime change.

            This power has been expanded to include separating children from their parents[xxii], and ignoring international law regarding refugees seeking asylum[xxiii].

THE POWER TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE

            The First American Dictator used the power of his office to obstruct investigations into allegations of misuse of power, first in the Mueller probe looking into potential collusion between his campaign for the office of President[xxiv], then by refusing to let former and present members of his administration testify before Congress as the House investigated possible acts giving rise to an impeachment proceeding[xxv].

            Acting under the First American Dictator’s orders, and without a claim of privilege, Trump’s present and former subordinates have refused to comply with a subpoena to testify before Congress[xxvi]. The First American Dictator has been seen to dangle a potential pardon to influence testimony[xxvii].

Trump’s messages on social media are seen as attempts to intimidate witnesses[xxviii]. He is so bold as to disparage a witness even as the witness testifies before Congress[xxix]. Likewise his administration uses an official social media account to disparage a witness while testifying[xxx].

            Ordering percipient witness to refuse to comply with a Congressional subpoena without a claim of privilege, dangling the possibility of a pardon for witnesses accused of providing false testimony, and disparaging witnesses while they are testifying all point to obstruction of justice.

THE POWER TO BRIBE JURORS

            Republican Senators will make up the majority of the jurors in an impeachment trial of the First American Dictator. “President Donald Trump—who is facing a formal impeachment inquiry in the House—has leveraged his fundraising network to boost the campaigns of struggling Republican senators who have signed a resolution condemning impeachment proceedings.” [xxxi]

            Thus members of the jury who have already come out in support of the First American Dictator are being rewarded with campaign cash to help them keep their jobs. The First American Dictator will not be facing an impartial jury in his impending impeachment trial.

THE POWER TO USE CONGRESSIONALLY APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR PERSONAL POLITICAL GAIN

            The First American Dictator leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to coerce a foreign government to announce an investigation against a political rival[xxxii]. The ramifications of this unchecked power cannot be understated. With foreign aid tied to political favors, foreign governments will be highly motivated to comply. Indeed, it does not take too much of an imagination to see federal dollars allocated to the various States withheld unless the State agrees to investigate political opponents. This power, the power to generate countless investigations into political opponents, combined with the power of the propaganda machine and the power of loyalists, is the power to destroy all opposition.

THE FIRST AMERICAN DICTATOR

            President Donald Trump is the First American Dictator. By all indications, he won’t be the last. If, and it appears likely, the Republicans in the Senate refuse to remove him from office, his successors will enjoy the same powers – as long as they have enough loyalists in the Senate[xxxiii]. The courts won’t be able to constrain these powers, as the courts have no power to enforce their rulings[xxxiv]. If Trump is allowed to remain in office because the Republican Senate acquits him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” the above enumerated powers will be ceded to the office of President. The crowning achievement of the Republican Party will be to turn a constitutional republic into a dictatorship, with them in control.

Trump will be known as the first of a long line of American Dictators.

Kenneth R. Mackie is a former educator turned attorney. He studied Constitutional Law under Professor John Cary Sims at University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and “Fundamental Rights in Europe and the United States” under Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Sionaidh Douglas-Scott at the Salzburg Institute in Salzburg, Austria.


[i] https://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

[ii] https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/248384/highly-religious-white-protestants-firm-support-trump.aspx

[iii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/25/why-evangelicals-like-rick-perry-believe-that-trump-is-gods-chosen-one/

[iv] https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-demands-loyalty-oath-from-job-seekers-who-criticized-him-during-election

[v] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-grip-on-the-republican-party-just-got-even-tighter

[vi] http://hillmanfoundation.org/sidney-awards/jane-mayer-wins-april-sidney-elucidating-how-fox-news-became-propaganda-arm-trump

[vii] https://political.com/is-sean-hannity-one-of-trumps-unofficial-advisor/

[viii] https://fortune.com/2018/06/09/donald-trump-cnn-fake-news-g7/

[ix] https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2015/jan/27/msnbc-fox-cnn-move-needle-our-truth-o-meter-scorec/

[x] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xi] https://www.prri.org/research/fractured-nation-widening-partisan-polarization-and-key-issues-in-2020-presidential-elections/

[xii] United States Constitution, Article 2, section 1.)

[xiii] https://thelawdictionary.org/emolument/

[xiv] https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2019/07/10/trumps-golf-trips-could-cost-taxpayers-over-340-million/

[xv] https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/18/military-trumps-scottish-resort-1501877

[xvi] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/3/20847247/mike-pence-ireland-doonbeg-trip-180-miles-away-trump-hotel

[xvii] United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9.

[xviii] https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/trump-and-foreign-emoluments-clause/

[xix] https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Power-of-the-Purse/

[xx] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/04/trump-diverts-3-6-billion-military-projects-build-more-border-wall/2208166001/

[xxi] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-emergency/trump-vetoes-measure-to-end-his-emergency-declaration-on-border-wall-idUSKBN1WV06P

[xxii] https://ilg2.org/2018/06/10/trump-administrations-family-separation-policy-violates-international-law/

[xxiii] https://time.com/5626498/trump-asylum-rule-international-law/

[xxiv] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obstruction-of-justice-10-times-trump-may-have-obstructed-justice-mueller-report/

[xxv] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/12/impeachment-report-trump-obstruct/602938/

[xxvi] https://www.lawfareblog.com/revisiting-criminal-obstruction-justice-impeachment-inquiry

[xxvii] https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-pardon-paul-manafort-obstruction-justice-1237150

[xxviii] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/20/20970572/impeachment-hearing-judiciary-committee-trump-obstruction

[xxix] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2019-11-15/trump-tweets-on-impeachment-witness-yovanovitch-during-testimony

[xxx] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/19/white-house-twitter-attacks-vindman-during-trump-impeachment-testimony.html

[xxxi] https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2019/10/31/trump-accused-of-bribery-after-urging-donors-to-support-senators-defending-him-against-impeachment/#21b769013eb5

[xxxii] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-house-impeachment-report-highlights-trumps-ongoing-abuse-of-presidential-power

[xxxiii] https://origins.osu.edu/review/imperial-presidency-pushes-back

[xxxiv] https://sustainatlanta.com/2015/04/02/remembering-the-time-andrew-jackson-decided-to-ignore-the-supreme-court-in-the-name-of-georgias-right-to-cherokee-land/

Rachel Maddow blasts Republican hypocrisy on stimulus

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The myth of bipartisanship:  Like toddlers, if President Obama endorses Republican ideas, then they’re against them.

Every Republican in the Senate voted against the stimulus — a stimulus that seems to be working for Americans.  However, these same Republicans have no problem whatsoever taking credit in their home districts for stimulus funds.  Time after time after time, they prove what hypocrites they are.

Then she went further with: “It’s already IN the bill!” Rachel and Ezra Klein make it pretty obvious that the Republicans have no interest whatsoever in fixing healthcare, even with their ideas included in the healthcare bill. They are interested in obstructing — first and last. They want to make sure the bill does not pass — in any form — so they might have a chance at winning the next election by pointing out what ‘failures’ the Democrats are. (The desperate needs of Americans be damned..)

Grow a pair, Democrats!  Republicans will never vote for good policy, even if they think it’s a great idea — NOT EVER.  That may be why they were sent to Washington, but that’s not why they’re there.

Schumer Guarantees Public Option in Senate Plan, but with Caveat

From a diary over at Daily Kos.  Includes video.  It’s great to hear, but Sen. Schumer leaves a little too much wiggle room qualifying his statement with “some form of it.”  Well, there are some forms of the public option that I’d frankly rather not see.  It needs to be a national plan.  It needs to be big.  Some proposals have been floated around to break the plan up into several regionally based public options.  This would, of course, dilute the power such programs would have to drive down costs in the private sector.  They just wouldn’t be big enough to take on the multi-billion dollar private firms that right now — according to the AMA — have basically exercise a monopoly (and a growing one at that) on the care we give (bolding mine):

“The remarkable reduction in the number of competing health plans is troubling for doctors and patients, as competition drives innovation and efficiency in the health care system,” said AMA Board Member J. James Rohack, M.D. “Most alarmingly, in the combined HMO and PPO markets, 95 percent of metropolitan areas have few competing health insurers.”

In addition, the study found that in 95 percent of markets, a single insurer had a market share of 30 percent or greater, and in 56 percent of the markets, a single insurer had a market share of 50 percent or greater.

<snip>

“Patients do not appear to be benefiting from the consolidation of health insurance markets,” said Dr. Rohack. “Health insurers are posting historically high profit margins, yet patient health insurance premiums continue to rise without an expansion of benefits.”

The AMA findings must be viewed in the context of the unprecedented consolidation of the health insurance market, Rohack said. Between 1995 and 2005, there were more than 400 mergers involving health insurers and managed care organizations, according to a researcher of merger and acquisition trends in the health care industry.

Which is just to remind you the monster we’re up against.  While I’m heartened to hear Schumer come out and say there will definitely be a public option the “in some form” disclaimer makes me worry that these insurance companies may very well succeed in making such a public option weak enough that it poses no real threat to their market dominance, which if that were the case, means the entire plan would fail in its quest to finally contain health care costs.

The ramifications of such failure would set back the progressive agenda for decades.  If we fail at this, it will be a long time before America is ready to again allow government to take on the largest and most urgent problems facing us — and in health care, the environment, and the economy, private industry has made it clear that they have no intention of tackling those problems on their own.

What can I say?  I think capitalism is a great system, but if you don’t harness its power and turn some of it toward the public good, then the animal of industry will trample over anyone not lucky enough to be riding in the saddle.

UPDATE: I guess I should note the enormous progress that’s been made in the last few years.  We’re no longer worried whether Congress will tackle health reform, we’re worried about how strong they’ll make those reforms.  It’s, of course, a legitimate concern, but as the Bard says, “the times they are a-changin’.”

Times are Tough

Opinion piece by Cats

The job situation is becoming worse. Each day, news outlets are reporting another Corporate lay off effecting thousands of people’s lives. When I drive around my neighborhood, I see more and more “For Sale” signs in front of houses.  I even saw one house that had a “For Sale” sign and a “For Rent” sign in front of it. Either option was acceptable to the homeowner.  Now that’s desperation.

President Obama created a stimulus plan that would help put Americans back to work. He presented this plan to the House of Representatives hoping that Congress would write a job stimulus bill. After a few days of discussion, the House passed a bill which removed some of the spending and added more tax cuts.

The House stimulus bill is now with that elite group, the Senators, and the so called “Moderates” or “Centrists” have brutally chopped away at the “spending” and added more tax cuts. For 8 years, the Republican mantra has been tax cuts and more tax cuts. Since our economy is taking a nose dive over a cliff (h/t Daily Kos), it is obvious that these tax cuts didn’t save us. So what do the Republicans want more of in this stimulus bill? You guessed it, more tax cuts. They want to continue doing the same thing over and over again even though it never worked in the past. There is a word for this behavior. It is called insanity.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Continue reading

Jeb Bush will not run for Senate

Jeb Bush has decided not to run for the Florida Senate seat:

Jeb Bush has decided not to run for the Senate in Florida, according to former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

“He said it just wasn’t the right timing,” Rubio said, recounting a phone call he received this afternoon from the former Florida governor and presidential brother.

I’m afraid there will not be such a thing as “the right time” for a Bush in the near future, if ever again. George W. Bush saw to that effectively.

GOP Ties To Bush Kill Chances

With 23 Republican Seats up for grab this November, polls are showing GOP candidates are plummeting. The likelihood of the Democrats getting a 60 seat majority looks very possible. Best news I’ve heard in eight years.

Rasmussen Reports show that Bruce Lunsford (D) is leading Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) 49-44 for McConnell’s Kentucky seat. Kay Hagan (D) has been leading Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) is the North Carolina race. These two races in particular are going to be close; but the Democrats seem to be gaining steadily every week since the economic meltdown.

Democrats have now polled ahead or within the margin of error in 11 Republican-held seats, as polls conducted in recent weeks show openings in second-tier targets including Mississippi, Texas, and in other states.

“I don’t know whether to put too much stock or too little into one given poll; each poll is a piece of data,” DSCC spokesman Miller said. “But those certainly aren’t the only polls that show these incumbents in trouble.”

Democrats have also polled ahead in at least some of the polling in Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Virginia, polling substantial leads in the latter three. They have also been within the margin of error in Minnesota and Oregon.

If these leads hold or continue to grow the Senate race this year could be the most important change we have seen in a long time. The magic number is 60, the closer the Democrats get to that, the more political strength they will have next year to make the changes this country so desperately needs.

Continue reading

Senators plan “embarrassing” votes to derail candidates

The Raw Story

This is just completely insane.  Senators of BOTH parties are introducing “divisive” bills in an attempt to damage the candidacy of  of their colleagues running for President.

“Senate Democrats are looking at holding votes related to the environment, health care or even the war that could force McCain to take politically toxic positions, miss key votes or reconcile previously held stands,” Roll Call’s Erin Billings writes Monday. “Republican Senators also are hoping to do the same to the Democratic contenders, particularly on issues related to national security, taxes and spending, where they believe McCain has the upper hand against either Democratic rival.”

Republicans, meanwhile, hope to paint Obama as a “tax and spender” by introducing controversial amendments. While in the minority, Senate procedure allows the party more leeway for introducing measures than in the House.

According to one senior GOP aide, the Republican leadership hopes to drive a wedge between the Democratic nominee and members of his own party in the chamber.

“There are lots of things that Obama has proposed out on the trail … there’s going to be opportunities for us to take those and introduce them as amendments,” a senior GOP staffer told Billings. “And Obama’s colleagues in the Senate are going to be put in a very tough position of having to vote against their nominee.”  (emphasis added)

Come on, Senators.  Nothing better to do?  Maybe bring the troops home from this disgusting occupation in Iraq?  Investigating the horrendously expensive no-bid contract process?  IMPEACHMENT?

No, our Senate would rather pull dirty political tricks on their fellow Senators, than actually do their jobs.

They work for US, remember?  Hello…? 

Read the whole article here.