I couldn’t resist sharing this from artist, writer and fellow blogger Art Browne. There’s an odd sense of truth to it, since just about everyone in the Trump Administration is crazy, rich and White! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being White! Or even crazy! Hell, I’m pretty much both! So is Art! I told him recently we’re both HUNG: handsome, understanding, nice guys. Love you, brother!
Tag Archives: U.S. presidency
After more than four decades of watching American politics in action – I’m old enough to remember Watergate – I’ve come to realize the U.S. Constitution is a fluid document. It’s more of a guide than a text carved into stone or marble. That’s why it’s been amended 27 times over the past 240 years. Therefore, as a devoted yet concerned citizen (meaning, pissed off at the crappy way things are going), I propose 3 additional amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
Note: This Amendment affects Section 1 of the 22nd Amendment.
Section 1: No person shall be elected to the Office of the President more than once, and that term is limited to six (6) consecutive years.
Section 2: If the Vice-President, or any other designated official ascends to the Office of President within one (1) calendar year from the day the originally elected President is sworn in, that person will be able to serve as Chief Executive only for the remainder of that particular term. That person will not be allowed to seek election as President on their own.
Section 3: If the Vice-President, or any other designated official ascends to the Office of President within no less than one (1) calendar year and one (1) calendar day from the day the originally elected President is sworn in, that person will be able to serve as Chief Executive only for the remainder of that particular term. That person will then be allowed to seek election as President on their own for only one term of six (6) consecutive years. Therefore, the longest any one individual can serve as Chief Executive is one (1) calendar day short of eight (8) consecutive years.
Section 1: All candidates for the Office of President who enter the first primary in their respective field will be subjected to a mandatory physical exam by an independent, non-partisan medical professional selected by the current Surgeon General. The results of this exam will be made public no more than one (1) calendar day after that initial primary election.
Section 2: All candidates for the Office of President who enter the first primary in their respective field will be subjected to a mandatory psychological exam by an independent, non-partisan medical professional selected by the current Surgeon General. The results of this exam will be made public no more than one (1) calendar day after that initial primary election.
Candidates for the Office of President must submit their financial records, including tax filings, to both Houses of the U.S. Congress within ninety (90) calendar days from the day they announce their candidacy. Failure to comply within the allotted period will result in automatic disqualification from the election process. That person will not be allowed to resume their candidacy, but will be allowed to seek the Office of President for the next appropriate election. That person will then be subjected to the same protocol set forth in this Amendment. Failure to comply within the allotted period for a second time will result in both automatic disqualification from the current election process and forbiddance from seeking the Office of President or the Office of Vice-President at any time in the future.
Please let me know what you folks think! We, the People, must take more and better control of our nation’s leadership – just as our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) intended.
Over the past few months the dreaded “I” word has been floating across the nation: impeachment. As in the impeachment of President Donald Trump – which sounds pretty good – because his words and actions have put the U.S. in a precarious global position – because he really wasn’t elected to the office – because he’s an obnoxious bastard. Okay, that last one is more of a personal opinion. And, of course, we all have a right to that!
But talk of impeaching the president of the United States is like warning Americans about visiting North Korea: don’t go there. Forcibly removing the president from office was a rare topic of discussion – even among politicians – until the 1970s. But, after the Watergate left a bitterly angry taste in the mouths of the American populace, impeachment has been tossed around as often as limes at a Mexican barbecue.
Since Watergate, only one sitting U.S. president has faced a concerted attempt at impeachment: Bill Clinton. And that was only because he engaged in an eel-hunting adventure with a perky, overweight intern, which culminated in a blue dress wardrobe malfunction before anyone invented the term.
Yet, as much as I despise Trump and as little as I thought of George W. Bush, I would look at anyone who talks of impeachment with concern. Do you realize how serious that is? Do you understand exactly what it takes to oust such a person from the White House? It’s almost like a military coup; the kind that occurs in third-world nations. Think Cuba or the Philippines. Yes, that kind. It’s nowhere near as bloody and violent; we use pens and roll-call votes here, instead of guns and machetes. But it remains a complex and arduous task.
Keep in mind that, aside from Clinton, only 2 other U.S. presidents have faced impeachment: Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon. The key term here is faced impeachment. To date, no sitting president has actually been removed from office by impeachment. The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeaching the president, while the U.S. Senate has the sole power of trying impeachments. This all occurs under rules of law established in the Constitution; therefore, no single branch of government possesses omniscient power to remove a sitting president.
The first step, obviously, is to identify what acts performed by the president qualify as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House votes on articles of impeachment. If there is just one article, it requires a two-thirds majority of House members. But, if there are two or more articles of impeachment, only one of them needs to garner a majority to induce impeachment. Nixon came very close to actually being removed from office. But he resigned after the House voted in August of 1974.
Second, the proceedings move to the Senate where an actual trial is held. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court oversees the case, as they would any other legal matter. Here, a team of lawmakers from the House serves in a prosecutorial role, while the Senate is technically the jury. The president has his or her own lawyers. Once all sides have presented their arguments, the matter is handed to the Senate. If at least two-thirds of Senators vote in favor of the articles, then the president is removed from office, and the vice-president assumes the presidency.
This isn’t punishment for being tardy. The U.S. likes to present itself as a beacon of democracy for the world; a master of political dignity and fairness. If we are compelled to remove our own national leader from office, what does that say about our voting system? What does it say about the concept of democracy altogether? Is the presidential vetting process so pathetic that we can’t identify someone with a criminal mindset beforehand?
Elizabeth Holtzman is a former U.S. congresswoman from New York. In 1974, she was on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Nixon. In a 2006 essay entitled “The Impeachment of George W. Bush,” she not only describes the arduous process of removing a sitting president from office, but also the emotional toll it took on everyone in both houses of congress at the time.
“I can still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach during those proceedings,” she wrote, “when it became clear that the President had so systematically abused the powers of the presidency and so threatened the rule of law that he had to be removed from office. As a Democrat who opposed many of President Nixon’s policies, I still found voting for his impeachment to be one of the most sobering and unpleasant tasks I ever had to undertake. None of the members of the committee took pleasure in voting for impeachment; after all, Democrat or Republican, Nixon was still our President.”
Curiously, she goes on to state, “At the time, I hoped that our committee’s work would send a strong signal to future Presidents that they had to obey the rule of law. I was wrong.”
In this regard, she was discussing the possible impeachment of George W. Bush. I can think of no other Chief Executive in modern times who exhibited such incompetence and corruptness as our 43rd president. That he got into office under dubious circumstances in the first place is enough to question the integrity of our electoral process. That he managed to remain there, despite mounting evidence of war crimes, is anathema to the grander concept of democracy. I’ve always said that, if the Democrats had at least made a concerted attempt to remove Bush from office, they wouldn’t just appear heroic in the eyes of their constituents; they also would have upheld the rule of law governing all institutions.
Remember that congressional Republicans tried to remove Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual dalliances. It was an incredibly one-sided, vindictive assault on democracy – all because the man didn’t want the world to know he’d screwed around on his wife and because right-wing extremists didn’t like him, no matter what he happened. You’re going to impeach him for THAT?! Then-House leader Newt Gingrich – who was married to his third wife with whom he’d cheated on his second wife – had led the cavalcade of self-righteous Republicans. He and his constituents paid for their hypocrisy when they lost their super-majorities in both Houses of Congress in the 1998 elections.
Watching the Trump presidency collapse around the real estate magnate-turned-reality-TV-star is almost laughable. But it’s not that funny. His behavioral quirks and fetish for name-calling are hallmarks of social ineptitude and, perhaps, mental instability. As with George W. Bush, that Trump actually made it into the White House is an insult to the core of the institution of democracy. Growing evidence shows that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections. Exactly how they did it has yet to be discovered – or revealed. But I honestly believe the Trump presidency is a fluke.
In his novel, “Shibumi,” author Trevanian (Rodney William Whitaker) relays the incredible tale of Nicholai Hel, a Shanghai-born spy of Russian – German heritage who is the world’s most accomplished assassin. After surviving the carnage of the Hiroshima bombing, Hel retreats to a lavish and isolated mountain citadel with his beautiful Eurasian mistress. But he’s coaxed back into the netherworld of international espionage by a young woman. Hel soon learns, however, that he’s being tracked by a mysterious and omnipotent global entity known simply as the “Mother Company.” The “Company” is a composite of corporate giants that installs leaders in key nations – even those in the developed world – manipulates the markets for such necessities as food and oil and incites wars whenever it deems appropriate. The conflict between Hel and the “Mother Company” becomes something akin to a board game, where millions of lives are used as toys for the benefit of a few powerful elitists.
I keep thinking we’re already dealing with that type of set-up; that Bush, Jr., was placed into office, so we could go to war in Iraq and gain access to their oil reserves, and that Trump was planted in the White House for whatever machinations the Russian government has underway.
But I still want everyone to be careful with the “I” word. It really is just a small step from undergoing the lengthy route of impeaching a president to rigging his limousine with explosives – like they do in those unstable third-world societies. Democracy is a difficult political state to establish. It’s even more difficult to maintain. It doesn’t function on its own; it simply can’t.
This mess we’re in may provide great material for standup comics. But it also presents us with an ethical dilemma. Again, I ask, do we truly understand how serious this talk of impeachment is?
The 45th President of the United States has achieved a previously unimaginable goal: reduce the size of the federal government. In this case, it’s the presidency, which has been downgraded to 140 characters. He has left people disoriented and unsettled; rattled and dismayed; flummoxed and constipated. Many of his most devout followers have embraced the lemming ideology of life and started following their magical penis-pied piper to the precipice of a faux utopia. And we thought George W. Bush was mentally-challenged! Well…he was. Yet Trump has taken messianic mendacity to supersonic levels. I keep thinking that someone on his staff should advise him to keep his pre-dawn twittering in the bathroom. But that would be like telling Abraham Lincoln, ‘Don’t go to the theatre! You’ll catch a cold.’ It’s virtually impossible to demand this bombastic, bull-headed businessman behave presidential.
It may be hard to imagine, but there are some logical comparisons to such a feat. But there are plenty. Therefore, telling Donald Trump NOT to Tweet is like…
- …telling the Kardashian girls not to take selfies.
- …telling Bill Clinton to honor his marriage vows.
- …telling Matthew McConaughey to keep on his shirt.
- …telling Ann Coulter to stop being such a bitch.
- …telling Justin Bieber to act like an adult.
- …telling Michael Moore to lay off the doughnuts and eclairs.
- …telling Elton John to tone down his wardrobe.
- …telling Kanye West to stop interrupting people.
- …telling Paris Hilton to get a job.
- …telling Rush Limbaugh to take a deep breath.
- …telling Caitlyn Jenner to grow a pair.
- …telling Willie Nelson to shave and get a trim.
- …telling Barbara Walters to retire once and for all.
- …telling Eminem to act White.
- …telling Pope Francis to stop wearing those designer gowns.
- …telling Bill Maher to shut the hell up.
- …telling Oprah Winfrey no one misses her.
- …telling Brittney Spears she can’t sing worth a shit.
- …telling Snoop Dogg to learn proper English.
- …telling Alec Baldwin to stop making fun of Trump.
Telling Donald Trump Not to Tweet is like… [Readers, please feel free to provide your own response]. The more fun we can have with this, the more likely Trump will get pissed off and Tweet and subsequently provide us all with more joke material. And the more we can all laugh at and ridicule our mentally-unhinged elected officials will bring us closer to that highly-coveted state of national nirvana.
In my 40-plus years of watching, studying and laughing at American politics, I have NEVER seen the country as divided as it is now. I thought things were bad in the 1990s, when conservatives tried everything they could to bounce Bill Clinton out of office – and only succeeded in proving he has a female fetish (like most straight men do), while making themselves look like incompetent assholes.
Then came these last two decades, and the country became even more divided; first under George W. Bush (the poster child for closet alcoholics) and then under Barack Obama (the poster child for grace under extreme pressure and stupidity; the latter two courtesy of the even more assholish conservatives, if that’s actually possible).
But now, with Donald J. Trump in the White House (and his third wife several miles away in her gilded penthouse loft), I’ve been surprised. Again! The U.S. even more divided than Neapolitan ice cream. If it gets any more divided, opposing sides will fall off into the oceans; thus making global warming look like a bad day at the beach. Then again, if the extremists do fall off into the ocean, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
Still, amidst the dim-bulb antics of the current presidential administration, I’ve actually found some bright moments. Yes, even with a psychologically unstable, orange-tinted, womanizing twit-master like Trump occupying the highest office in the land, there are a few positives. It’s proof that, indeed, you can make wine from prunes!
- People realize the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is just as important as the Second.
- They’ve learned the names of their local congressional representatives.
- Voting (or not) really does matter.
- Two centuries of civil and human rights progress aren’t 100% safe and untouchable.
- Not everything on Facebook or Wikipedia is true.
- Hispanics aren’t “recent immigrants.” We’ve been here longer than the Trump family.
- Neanderthals didn’t die off; they became Republicans.
- The term “alternative facts” makes less sense than “compassionate conservative.”
- The nation’s infrastructure, like dams and highways, is under greater threat than gun rights.
- The inexpensive (meaning, cheap) food we buy at Wal-Mart doesn’t grow or pick itself.
- Decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court actually do impact our lives.
- Women’s bodies aren’t “hosts.”
- Not all White males are evil.
- The British really can get pissed off.
- The Cold War didn’t end with the collapse of the Soviet Union; it moved into cyberspace.
- Reality TV is dangerous.
- Neo-Nazis remain a threat.
- Politicians who have nothing more important to do than regulate public bathrooms need to be voted out of office.
- People without English surnames often speak better English than people with English surnames.
- Building a wall along the U.S.-México border will put a lot of Mexican immigrants to work.
- Republican politicians have no qualms about eliminating healthcare for poor, sick people; while enjoying their own taxpayer-funded health insurance.
- Coal mining is as obsolete as it is dangerous and dirty.
- We need more female politicians.
- Native Americans have put up with enough shit from the U.S. government.
- The Kardashians aren’t (and never have been) relevant to anything.
- President Obama was too nice to his critics, but I still feel he should have been able to run for a third term. You know…just to piss off the Republicans.
- American was great long before Trump ran for office.
- How soon before we can fly to Mars?
Image: Gary Larson
“Before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”
– President Barack Obama, January 19, 2017
President Obama, today you officially leave the White House and reenter life as a (somewhat) private citizen. After an incredible, yet curious, eight years, you leave a unique legacy to a nation that challenged you both professionally and personally. From my vantage point as an average citizen, I feel you did as best you could do.
First, you took on the most difficult job anyone could have: proverbial leader of the “Free World.” It’s a position riddled with dichotomies: intensely powerful and emotionally draining; prestigious and notorious; riveting and excruciating; honorific and horrifying. With a glaring tone of schizophrenia, it’s not so much a job as it is a role. Chief Executive of the United States of America stretches across the horizon of humanity. No wonder you leave office looking decades older than when you first arrived!
Second – and perhaps most important – you took on this task at the start of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; when we straddled two wars that left us enraged and tired; when the richest, most powerful nation on Earth suddenly had to question its future in relation to its past. And you did it with members of the opposition who awoke each day more determined to destroy you than to ensure the nation’s success.
Your life story is fascinating. Here you are – born of a Black immigrant father who abandoned you almost from the start and a White teenage mother who nurtured you as best as her young age would allow, but who would never see your rise to fame – one individual beginning life under such duress. You attended Columbia College where you majored in political science and English literature. You moved on to Harvard University, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education and one of the most difficult to access. You were then president of the Harvard Law Review. Before that, though, you were a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles where a hint to your political ambition became apparent in a speech calling for the college to sever its investments in South Africa. None of these are small achievements.
As president, you helped to salve the damage of the Great Recession with investments in an economy that created 11 million new jobs; the longest such streak on record. Unemployment is now down to pre-recession levels. With exports up by 28% and a deficit cut by $800 billion, the stock markets have nearly tripled, the auto industry is flourishing again, and our reliance on foreign oil stands at a 40-year low. High school graduation rates increased substantially, and Pell Grants doubled. Your administration instituted new federal student loan payment plans; established a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; put in place a new mortgage refinance program; passed a Patient’s Bill of Rights; extended protection for land and water resources; and placed limits on carbon pollution.
If I have any grievances regarding your record, they are few, but noteworthy. I personally don’t care for the Affordable Care Act, as it presently stands. You and your fellow Democrats seemed to spend too much time designing and implementing this law, instead of focusing even more time and energy on the economy. Americans certainly don’t need another tax, when they’re having trouble finding stable employment! I was also disappointed in your response to threats by your Republican colleagues to withhold benefits for the long-term unemployed at the end of 2010, if you didn’t agree to maintain the Bush-era tax cuts; the very items that shoved the nation into economic jeopardy shortly before you took office. I believe you had the executive power to force the dreaded tax cuts to expire as originally scheduled and further ensure benefits for those hapless citizens – people you rightfully deemed “hostages” – remained in place. There were other down moments: “Operation Fast and Furious” and the Benghazi tragedy, in particular. These episodes may haunt you, but they don’t define you.
You withstood the worst personal attacks on any public official I’ve ever seen. From vicious protests by a band of (all-White) conservative students at Texas A & M University to a South Carolina congressman shouting “You lie!” in the midst of your first State of the Union address (something that had never happened before); the Arizona governor jutting her crooked finger into your face and later claiming you intimidated her; and finally to the asinine “birther” movement propagated by the incoming president, you’ve endured extreme social and political animosity. As someone who began following U.S. politics with the Watergate scandal, I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never witnessed such levels of verbal barbarity and recalcitrance as what your Republican counterparts slung at you.
It’s obvious you tried to restrain your frustration; fighting through the muck of political swamp water. But I still wish you had simply gotten ugly with these clowns. With each personal assault, I kept wishing you’d strip away your professional comportment momentarily and bring forth the worst parts of your personality (the kind that exists in all of us); the nigger and / or redneck sides of you – all in a concerted effort to try to communicate with your adversaries. They didn’t like you anyway. Nothing you did or said could possibly satisfy their pathetically myopic attitudes. If you tried to negotiate and compromise, they dubbed you weak and ineffective. If you dared to raise your voice and talk back to them, they declared you uppity. You couldn’t win no matter what you did. So, why remain polite and dignified all the time? Yes, I realize that’s not your nature. But, in dealing with arrogance and outright stupidity, you occasionally have to jump into the gutter with those fools, merely so they can understand you. I’ve had to do just that in my own professional life and I always hated it. I despised dumbing down my intellectual capacity just to get my point across. It’s nasty and painful to we intellects who understand the value and necessity of good dialogue. But, like cleaning a dirty toilet in your bathroom, sometimes you just have to behave in such a manner to get things done.
And, despite the blatant, unapologetically crude and juvenile behavior your opponents exhibited, you tightened your lips, held your head high and kept your back straight. You let your emotions show on only a handful of occasions; mainly when yet another deranged gunman rained terror on unsuspecting innocents. In other words, you allowed the true nature of your humanity gush forward when it really mattered.
Your poise and demeanor are unmatched among modern-day public servants. You and your beautiful family are emblematic of grace and class. Mrs. Obama, in particular, displayed personal charm and studious refinement; more so than all four of her predecessors combined.
In 2012, I published an essay on this blog entitled “Barack Obama – The Unintentional Martyr”; where I highlighted that your professional troubles were a predictable, almost unavoidable evil; a grueling necessity to compel America to hold up to its promise of dignity and equality for all citizens. You paved the way for future candidates who won’t fit into the pre-ordained mold of what an American president should look and sound like. I suspect if your father had been born in Europe, Canada or even Australia, no one would have questioned your citizenship or your legitimacy. But he was from Africa – the “Dark Continent” – that massive region of Earth that is the birthplace of humanity and whose indigenous peoples had the audacity to expel a cavalcade of brutal European colonists and – gasp! – demand they be treated with the proper deference naturally due to them as human beings.
I understand the hate that a mixed ethnic background incurs from the cerebrally- challenged. I’m White (mostly Spanish, but also one-quarter German) and Mexican Indian. I tell some people I’m justified in criticizing middle-aged White guys because…well, I’m one of them; while I told others who didn’t care for you to just vote for the “White Obama.” My ancestry in the state of Texas extends back to a time before the Mayflower pilgrims had even begun making travel plans. I celebrate my complex heritage because it ultimately spells A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N.
Unfortunately, future history-making presidents will have to face the same barrage of disquieting irreverence: the first female, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, atheist, or gay / lesbian Chief Executive. All of them will have their character questioned and their birthright authenticity shredded by those who think America’s sacred promise of opportunity and equality actually applies only to them and their ilk. These prospective White House occupants will be forced to prove their place in this great American society is not defined by other peoples’ ideals.
Sadly, you leave office – and the fate of the nation – in the lap of a maniacal, temperamental, foul-mouthed, proudly bigoted oaf; a cretin who holds no qualms in lambasting anyone who is the least bit different from or disagrees with him, yet seethes about the most diminutive of sleights. He has single-handedly reduced the prominence of the U.S. presidency to 140 character rants.
I’m trying to imagine you entering the White House with a much-younger third wife for whom you left your second wife. My brain cramps as I try to envision you standing before a crowd of thousands demanding they pummel a dissenter into the ground. I can only wonder the reaction you’d get telling a mass of financially-struggling Appalachian Whites, “What do you have to lose?”
I will miss you, Mr. Obama, along with your eloquent words and unimposing determination to make the United States live up to its full potential as a nation for all people. You can rest now, my good man; start building your library; await the days you become a father-in-law and a grandfather; and – above all – get some sleep!