24 October 2016

Update no.775

Update from the Heartland
17.10.16 – 23.10.16
To all,

            Several public opinions were published this week in our local newspaper and seem quite appropriate at this juncture of the silly season.
-- “This isn’t ‘how men are’”
by Leonard Pitts Jr. – Miami Herald
Wichita Eagle
Published: OCTOBER 17, 2016 5:12 AM
-- “Win or lose, Trump damages democracy”
by Davis Merritt
Wichita Eagle
Published: OCTOBER 18, 2016 5:01 AM
            Yet, it was a simple Opinion Line contribution that rang the bell for me.
I’m so confused. It seems as if the Republican Party is trying to make me vote for Clinton.”
            I understand Melania’s defense of her husband, but I’m sorry, Melania . . . what was on the video tape was not “boy talk.”  She also affirmed the reality that she had two (2) boys at home – her son and her husband.  Further, I do NOT want a boy in the Oval Office.  I want a mature, calm, level-headed, contemplative person (male, female, transgender . . . well gender is irrelevant) in the Oval Office.  ‘Nuf said!

            This week, the Republican nominee Donald Trump offered his governmental ethics reform proposal.
First: I am going to re-institute a 5-year ban on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for 5 years after they leave government service. I am going to ask Congress to pass this ban into law so that it cannot be lifted by executive order.
Second: I am going to ask Congress to institute its own 5-year ban on lobbying by former members of Congress and their staffs.
Third: I am going to expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants and advisors when we all know they are lobbyists.
Fourth: I am going to issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
And Fifth: I am going to ask Congress to pass a campaign finance reform that prevents registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.”
            The next day, he added his advocacy for congressional term limits – a six-year limit for the House [three (3) terms] and a 12-year cap for the Senate [two (2) terms].  At least the Republican nominee acknowledged that a constitutional amendment would be required to impose term limits on Congress.
            A regular contributor added his opinion.
“Here is another reason I urge patriots to vote for the rogue non-politician Independent Republican who offends many with his bad habits, scares the timid with his unapologetic pride in the values that made America great, and gives us every reason to believe that he will actually begin to change things in Washington while respecting and protecting the constitution.
“Incidentally, I do not plan to vote for any Repandercrat and may actually vote this time for a Democrat for my U.S. representative, confident that the incumbent republican will win on his way to inherit Thad Cochran's revered Senatorial mantle and spend another career in Washington along with all the others that oppose term limits in favor of the status quo.
“One can hold one's nose and hopefully vote for Trump in good faith.  One cannot block the stench of corruption surrounding Clinton by any nasal pressure or other pretense at the polls.”
I could not resist responding.
            First, I must confess, I fully support Trump’s ethics and term limits proposals.  I have a long history of advocating for similar ethics reforms and especially for term limits for Congress.  The 22nd Amendment was ratified by the states in 1951, to prevent a repeat of FDR’s four terms as POTUS.  Unfortunately, the 22nd Amendment only applies to POTUS.
            I would argue that Trump’s ethics proposal does not go far enough in curtailing the influence of lobbyists and the incestuous relationship between Congress and lobbyists.  It is not clear to me how his Fifth point would play with Citizens United [558 U.S. 310 (2010)] [424], but it is still worth a shot.  Also, only partially constraining lobbyists, especially with congressional term limits, might actually make things much worse.
            Now that we have the agreements out of the way, I cannot resist responding to some of your other points.
            Re: “the values that made America great.  OK, I’ll bite.  What values are those?  I had no idea self-serving, egocentricity, narcissism and demagoguery were historic values lauded in this Grand Republic.  I have so much yet to learn.
            Re: “gives us every reason to believe that he will actually begin to change things in Washington while respecting and protecting the constitution.  I genuinely and truly wish your assessment is and would be correct.  Unfortunately, I see very little to give me similar confidence.  In fact, I see far too many signs that a Trump presidency would be the antithesis of what this Grand Republic has stood for nearly two and a half centuries.
            As I have acknowledged with other contributors to this humble forum, I offer nothing but praise for your ability to so clearly see your choice.  I have not made my choice, as yet, other than I cannot find any path to vote for the Republican nominee; his character flaws are simply too monumental and threatening for my tolerance.
            Re: “the stench of corruption surrounding Clinton.  I am no fan of Hillary – never have been and probably never will be.  There is certainly a plethora of salients to criticize her conduct.  She has clearly done some really bonehead things.  Further, we may not like the rules of the game, but we should not criticize her for playing by those rules better than anyone else.  Bernie sought to protest those rules and went a long way to doing just that; he still played by the rules.  If we don’t like the rules, let us change the rules before the next game rather than crucify a candidate for playing by the rules.

            The third and final presidential debate of this silly season was held at the Thomas & Mack Center, University of Nevada Las Vegas, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.  I will begrudgingly give Trump credit for his mighty effort to appear and act presidential, but he failed to sustain that Herculean effort for 90 minutes.  He simply does not have the maturity to keep his mouth shut and retain some modicum of discipline.
            I could offer multitudinous observations on both candidates.  I certainly have those opinions.  However, I highly doubt my opinions or observations matter a hoot to anyone.  To me, the truth-teller above all others was the Republican nominee’s response to Wallace’s query: “I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you'll absolutely accept the result of the election?
Trump answered, “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I'll look at it at the time. What I've seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad.
Trump rambled on in a valiant effort to deflect from the question.  Wallace pressed him, “Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that [the] principle [of peaceful transition of power]?
To which, he responded, “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time.  I'll keep you in suspense, okay?
While this is an abridged transcript of the exchange, it is the essence of the problem I have with the Republican nominee.  The whole election is ALL about him – not this Grand Republic, not history, not tradition, not precedent, not anything beyond himself.  His response is consistent with his “I alone can fix it” statement [762], i.e., only he can determine the legitimacy of this election.  This is NOT a reality show, Donald!  This is the presidency of the United States of America.  It is NOT about you.
            I stand squarely and solidly with Hillary; I am horrified that a presidential candidate would fail to stand with the democratic process in this Grand Republic.  Every losing candidate in my lifetime has conceded with dignity and grace.  Donald Trump has no clue – none – what those words mean.
            The Donald had not even left the stage when his surrogates rushed out to begin their work – “Of course, we’ll accept the election results.”  Thank goodness his surrogates had their decoder rings to translate his words into proper English for the rest of us.  But, no, the Donald could not leave well enough alone.  He had to double-down in the days following the debate.  His narcissism and demagoguery will go down in history as unprecedented and unequalled.
            At the end of the day, I am left with the Comment Line statement noted in last week’s Update [774].  Donald Trump is working very, very hard to make me vote for Hillary Clinton (which I absolutely resent, i.e., she does not deserve my vote).
Postscript note: FYI, Donald, the Supreme Court does NOT do anything “automatically,” no matter what you may want.  You clearly have no clue about how the Supreme Court works.  Supplemental: Sam Brownback is trying to do a similar “court packing” campaign here is Kansas.  These damnable ideologues must be stopped.

            A relevant observation:
“Republicans are so quick to use the term ‘constitutional right’ to bear arms aka 2nd Amendment.  But they won't do the same for Roe v Wade.  The same ‘constitutional right’ applies.”
To which, I replied:
            I certainly understand and agree with your sentiment.  However, we need to be quite precise and clear, especially on such volatile and polarizing issues.
            The 2nd Amendment has been and remains a part of the Constitution of the United States since 1791.  The matter addressed in Roe v. Wade [410 U.S. 113 (1973)] [319] is constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court and it is not represented or reflected in any of the articles or amendments to the Constitution.
            I will say, I highly doubt Trump has read Roe v. Wade or even has a smidgen of understanding of what the SCOTUS ruling actually says beyond what he has been fed.  I make no claim to being a constitutional scholar, but I have read the ruling (carefully).  The instigating issue in that case was abortion.  Yet, the ruling deals with a citizen’s (a woman’s) fundamental right to privacy in making intimate and very personal medical decisions.  Neither abortion nor privacy are written into the Constitution.
            SCOTUS is driven by an important, I will say essential, point of law called “stare decisis” = “to stand by a decision.”  The body of decisions regarding the 2nd Amendment is far greater than that of abortion or even privacy.  Yet, at the end of the day, SCOTUS is the sole interpreter of the Constitution since Marbury v. Madison [5 U.S. {1 Cranch} 137 (1803)] [414].  The reality is, SCOTUS can and has changed its collective mind (albeit, comparatively rarely), e.g., Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [558 U.S. 310 (2010)] [424].
            There are many such matters that remain lightning rods in contemporary society; regulation of firearms and abortion are but two of those issues.  I will close by saying the ultimate, single most critical issue that remains under constant pressure is a citizen’s fundamental right to privacy, IMHO.
            Vote wisely, my Son.
With this follow-up contribution:
“Thank you for the insight and clarity.  I knew Roe v Wade wasn’t part of the actual Constitution but your description helps provide context.
“I thought last nights debate was the best out of the 3.  It got a little much towards the end as they tried to talk over each other but overall it was good.  As for ‘wisely,’ not sure that's possible in this election.  I guess anyone but Trump will be wise in our sad state of affairs.
“We'll know in 3 weeks!”
Along with my follow-up reply:
            Debate 2 sealed and locked the door for me.  I’m still writing about Debate 3, but the truth-teller moment was “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
            The best we can hope for is an overwhelming landslide defeat (losing the presidency and both chambers of Congress) that embarrasses him so much that he disappears . . . not likely, given his character flaws, but still a nice thought.
            Yes, indeed, we shall know in 3 weeks.

            Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte [769] continues his pledged efforts to distance his country from the United States, while he cozies up to the People’s Republic of China.  It would appear the Philippines have conceded the island dispute in the South China Sea to the PRC [696].  The Philippine people elected Duterte based on his professed intentions to warm to the PRC and cool to the U.S.A.   Separately, Russia has apparently told Duterte to give them a wish list for military hardware.  This is not a good sign for open navigation of the South China Sea.

            A regular contributor added his public opinion on the impending election.
“No doubt.  Predictable Hillary Clinton, extremely wealthy and comfortable after a long controversial public-paid career, is an excellent debater.  She is the long time opportunistic presidential aspirant/politician's wife/political insider, accustomed to achieving success by defusing or defending questionable personal and professional conduct with clever obfuscation, always with careful regard for appearances and blind loyalty to the Democratic Party line.  She is still pleased with her party's efforts to keep America strong and promises more and better of the same approach along with bigger government and a more left leaning Supreme Court.  On the other hand, unpredictable Donald Trump, also extremely wealthy but after a long controversial privately paid career, is a very poor debater.   He is the long time opportunistic entrepreneur/job provider/political outsider, accustomed to achieving success by ignoring complaints of his male chauvinistic mistakes and out-negotiating or bullying weaker opponents while cleverly minimizing taxes, always with little regard for appearances and somewhat fickle support for both Democrat and Repandercrat party lines.  He is disgusted with both parties' failures to keep America strong and promises a fresh different approach along with leaner government and a Supreme Court that respects the constitution as written.  These are important differences, folks.  Clinton the experienced debater energetically prepares for television with experts and debates articulately with condescending smiles and smooth insults.   Trump the poor debater casually prepares with loyal followers and debates awkwardly, with ugly frowns and rough shotgun jabs.  No doubt, if voters believe debating skills are essential, another Clinton will disgrace the White House!  However, presidents don't debate; they lead.  More than ever in history our country needs a tough independent political outsider and private job creator, not a polished status quo politician, to lead our Executive Branch of government.  As Chief Executive, Trump would restore international respect for our country while cleaning house in the Executive Branch, protecting the integrity of our Judicial Branch (Federal Courts) by nominating constitutional scholars, and inspiring our Legislative Branch (Congress) to do its constitutional job by doing his.   Debating skills are not leadership skills.  I hope voters will think for themselves and not be swayed or scared by pollsters or talking heads who swallow smooth political rhetoric and use debates to prove presidential fitness.  Of two unpopular choices, the outsider who will shake up Washington is by far the better one on November 8, 2016.”
My supplemental contribution:
            First and foremost, thank you so very much for sharing your opinion.
            Second, since you wrote to a newspaper, I presume it is acceptable to publish your opinion in this week’s Update.
            Now, I cannot resist my urge to comment.  Please forgive me.
            Your words feature debating skills as a pivotal matter.   Respectfully, the debates rarely yield valuable insights to the candidates intended policies or potential leadership skills.  The debates do offer a graphic view of how candidates handle stress, thinking on their feet without notes and teleprompters (i.e., command of the issue at hand), and how they handle inter-personal relationships.  They are unscripted moments that reflect commitment and preparation, which presumably will indicate how they will perform as POTUS.
            Re: “respects the constitution as written.  Interesting topic for public debate.  We have touched upon this issue many times.  SCOTUS has existed to interpret the words.  So much comes down to the question: did the Founders / Framers intend the Constitution to be interpreted in the context of 1788?  In those days, only white, male, property owners had the right to vote, and slavery was codified in the Constitution.  Strict constructionists demand interpretation ONLY in the context of 1788 and only the articles as written in the King’s English.  Thus, contributing words, e.g., the Preamble, the Declaration, the Federalist Papers, et al, have no bearing upon constitutional interpretation.  I am not and never have been a strict constructionist.  Case in point, privacy is never mentioned in the Constitution, and yet, I truly believe the Founders / Framers understood and espoused a citizen’s fundamental right to privacy.
            I do not share your appreciation of Donald Trump.  To me, he is a huckster, selling snake oil, and a lot of people have bought the snake oil.  He is only interested in himself – his image, his brand, his success – NO ONE ELSE’S.  I say, as long as each individual is happy with the snake oil he is selling, then all is right with the world.  I have not and will not buy his snake oil.
            That said, contrary to the Republican nominee, I shall accept whomever is elected POTUS and do my best to support the new president to the best of my ability.

            A quiet, calm footnote to all of this silly season vitriol: no matter who is elected and becomes the 45th President of the United States of America on 20.January.2017, I am certain I will agree and disagree with the positions, conduct and actions of the new president, as I have with every president since I became politically aware of the Constitution, the governance of this Grand Republic, and the contributions of the person who is POTUS.  We are about to elect a president . . . not enable a dictator or crown a king.  It is simply the nature of the beast.  So it shall be when all of this is said and done.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.774:
“Good day Cap from an Autumnal England.
Mein Gott! What an update! I thought we had some problems this side of the pond but they fade into utter insignificance compared to your Grand Republic’s.
Will it all settle after the election? Will the people of your Republic accept the results or can we expect post-election chaos and revolution? Some of those comments must border on invective broadsides surely. I wouldn’t risk making such statements over here without fear of a writ coming through the letterbox. Is that all acceptable your side Cap?
"However I have said before I cannot understand your electoral system-as you are well aware here our Prime Minister is automatically placed as head of government as he or she is the leader of the governing party therefore carries the majority in Parliament. Not so state side I believe.  It appears to me after all that diatribe that you have two candidates who are plainly unfit to govern especially as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Do put me down my friend if my understanding is flawed. We can enjoy that beer together one day.
My response:
            Tats├Ąchlich!  Mein Gott!
            Oh, my friend, we all have problems.
            Re: “Will it all settle after the election?  The optimist in me would answer, yes, of course; it always does . . . the nature of the beast.
            Re: “Will the people of your Republic accept the results or can we expect post-election chaos and revolution?  The Republican nominee has already begun setting up his version of Hitler’s “Nero order” [19.March.1945].  He is blaming anyone and everything for his dropping poll numbers.  It would be entirely consistent with his personality and character to publicly demand his supporters “burn the house down,” if he is not elected.  We shall see.  He has tapped into and encouraged some very ugly forces that have always existed in this Grand Republic.  The reality about freedom . . . it is not always pretty.
            Re: “invective broadsides.Wieder einmal, in der Tat!  The tone of this silly season has been like none other in history.  Again, the optimist in me will say, this too shall pass.
            Re: “Is that all acceptable your side Cap?  Short answer, under the law, yes.  In my opinion and in my life, absolutely and categorically NOT acceptable.  What he has and is doing is very disrespectful of other citizens and the very diversity that is essential to this Grand Republic.
            As history has recorded, the Founders and Framers of this Grand Republic rejected the parliamentary system from which they had come, for very real and valid reasons.  As Sir Winston so eloquently observed, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”  His wisdom and statement plays out every day, especially in this Grand Republic.

Comment to the Blog:
“As with another contributor from last week, I find it irrational that we are not discussing national and world issues. The specific item that person mentioned, Secretary Clinton's unfortunate record as Secretary of State, ought to at least be in the discussion, along with her campaign resources. Senator Sanders, if he did nothing else, proved that such funding is not necessary.
“(I think I've caught on to Sanders' approach. He wants to re-take the Congress with progressives and work from there.)
“Mr. Trump's personal failings, at this level of severity, are worthy of discussion, but so is the question of exactly how he lost $915 million in a time, place, and business sector where big money was often made. The details of his blowhard policy statements need examination, too.
“One of Trump's dumber notions is that building a physical wall will keep out undocumented immigrants. What is sending them home is the U.S. economy. (There's a net migration to Mexico from here.) Have he and his supporters heard of air and sea travel? Are they aware that the valuable jobs taken by immigrants are mostly going to Asians and Russians working in computer-related fields?
“I'll say it again. With either of the major-party candidates for President, the U.S. is driving steadily over a cliff. The only question is how heavy a foot will be on the accelerator.”
 . . . to which the contributor added:
“Here's a link to Snopes.com's story concerning the re-filing of a lawsuit concerning Trump and another man, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, accused of raping the plaintiff when she was 13 years old in 1994.”
My reply to the Blog:
            Re: Hillary Clinton.  Point made.
            Re: Sanders.  Perhaps.
            Re: the business failings of the Republican nominee.  Spot on!  Yet, he has successfully stonewalled virtually all efforts to expose the details of his business failures.  I certainly believe those failings (and his successes) are valid topics.  The only means we have to rejecting his selfish stonewalling is our vote.  We can only hope he is defeated in a landslide to reject his conduct for history.
            I do not concur with your “cliff” assessment.  This too shall pass . . . no matter who is elected.
            The case noted is a civil case, not a criminal one.  The statute of limitations for rape varies from state to state – four to ten years.  The alleged incident(s) occurred well beyond criminal prosecution.  My opinion of retrospective remorse / accusation remains the same.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)