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Suddenly, the Constitution

Updated on February 16, 2017

The Signing of the Constitution

Source

Revolutions

It is difficult to conceive of a genuine Reagan Revolution, since it was only a change in the prevailing, Republican winds, except that it was indeed significant. I would not venture to comment upon it if I had not been there. Others, like myself, remember at least a few names of the cabinet members, as well as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. They had risen in status as the country pulled out of recession and stoked the stock market. Apparently, there was more wealth lying on the sidelines than the average citizen ever noticed. Mostly the privileged or lucky gleaned the benefits, whether they worked on Wall Street or Main Street, for they were already in position. There were trust fund babies, too, or just plain folk, who had bought a house and property for peanuts in the 1970s. But undercurrents of resentment existed alongside and pure hatred on behalf of many who felt not just left out but victimized. I remember walking in the Village of New York City one afternoon with a photo of Reagan on the front of a magazine placed on a rack outside. "You see?" my friend said, "even his face looks evil."

In Revolutions, tempers run high, so maybe this was a kind of Revolution, after all. I would like for the sake of a simple hub to draw parallel lines showing a similar event taking place today, even as we speak, were it not for the differences, which are glaring. Comes along the February 23rd edition of The New York Review of Books, and an article buried within, entitled, Trump is Violating the Constitution." The author, David Cole, is a law professor and member of the ACLU. The argument devolves about an emoluments clause. Presidents must not jeopardize their oath to uphold the Constitution by making transactions with or accepting gifts from foreign powers. It seems another sort of wall, wholly figurative, has arisen. It has to do with a billionaire with global interests mixing politics and business, not that he has, by virtue of material wealth, blazed a new trail. The sole saving grace is the authorization of Congress, which, in turn, makes any such transaction involving a President (or any high ranking official) both public and approved. Now, that is not how business is done in America, nor anywhere else, except possibly in defunct, State-run Communist regimes. Well, it is unlikely the argument will proceed past an interesting Upper West Side piece of abstract conversation. The upshot of the controversy is that the President will not allow himself to be hampered by legal intricacies his own attorneys can probably handle with as much sophistication as the ACLU.


January 20, 2017

Another chance to change the world as well as America.  Especially the latter.
Another chance to change the world as well as America. Especially the latter. | Source

The Trump Movement

It all goes back to 2016, while so many scintillating if not unanimously sanctioned ideas existed in a state of potentiality. It turns out, in 2017, that Trump means to make drastic changes, not so much to further empower himself, as to literally make America great. There is more than a hint of imperialism in the attitude itself, but why not? If America must become a lone citadel of democracy in a hideously corrupt global milieu, then it should, it seems, wear the cap with the "offending" inscription. It will not be long before we find out, to paraphrase the Republican President prior to Trump, who is for us, and who is, if not, to the contrary -- deliberately glossing over the middle ground. Finally, what has been so often called the world's only superpower has found a voice with which to speak. It is still too early to tell, but if the travel ban pushes through, followed by a wall, then a new movement will posiively have arisen.

Thus far, though it has been only a matter of weeks, if not days, stalemates having to do with both issues have not yet been resolved. As to be expected, the Constitutional obligation to protect and secure borders can be argued to the point where each state bordering Mexico would have to formally and separately petition the United States. The kind of invasion experienced on an almost daily basis at the line of demarcation is probably not what the framers originally conceived. As to the elasticity of the Constitution, since nothing stays the same, this is also a subject of debate. We live in a more dangerous world, and the idea of terrorists making use of an open border, nearly 2,000 miles long, is likely hard to resist.

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The Great Wall of China

Watchtower, near Beijing.
Watchtower, near Beijing. | Source

Another Wall, Another Time

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." Extracted from the reasonably reliable Wikipedia, the above is quoted from the pen of Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to a Connecticut Baptist Association. Apparently, there are walls, and then there are walls. It is not for nothing, moreover, that I prefer Jefferson to Madison, though they were contemporaries, whose meetings in Virginia pre-date the birth of the nation. To be fair, they complement one another. Jefferson creates the fire, Madison controls the smoke. My last article had to do with theocracy, a major component of Witness theology. It envisions an exclusively otherworldly solution. I wholeheartedly agree with the separation of Church and State. It is not a problem but a solution for both. Nevertheless, Realpolitik forces the question, already debated on talk shows, of a projected war not just on terrorism, but its root causes, which contain religious or quasi-religious facets.

Other news hounds might recall the lengthy strain of coming up with an acceptable term, mainly radical Islamic terrorism. Yet, as has also been televised ad infinitum, it is impossible to overlook the fact that nearly all our enemies are either Islamic or converts. Further, by now, who does not know that Islam itself is divided into separate and distinct sects, at historical odds with one another, their feuds having gone on unabated for centuries. A wall might be considered overkill, but a travel ban is merely an experimental and relatively conservative measure, to see what does or does not happen. Its inconveniences are beyond dispute. But to secure our safety might justify as much. To be sure, there is no one-two punch to knock out terrorism. However, we have learned that it does not confine itself either to a single region or continent. It has made daring moves these last few years. It is unlikely to retreat from more shocking and abhorrent actions. Still, just as President Obama stated from the outset, America is not at war with Islam. Whether the combatants are Islamic or not hardly matters. To go farther is to sow the evil seeds of mass hysteria.


Private Citizens Protect the Border

The New American

This is really the Achilles heel in the Trump Movement, should it ever get off the ground. By now, the President realizes that he has been addressing a full range of people, diverse and undefinable. We have a secret ballot, so it is impossible to know, but it is not an unfair guess that a large percentage of Trump votes did not respond to sheer demagoguery. The "hardworking taxpayers", who never get ahead, whom Hillary Clinton repeatedly courted, came through, in reference to the popular vote. Members of the Electoral College might have been hardworking, too, and paid taxes, but other factors informed their reverse decision. Paychecks and 1040s did not win the day. By the same token, billionaire friends did not elect Donald Trump, unless one has a distorted view of how few there are, and lacking in influence, when it comes to formulating and manipulating public opinion. For a long time, frustrated voters were chomping at the bit, if not foaming at the mouth. Ultimately, they voted for change.

As to my own perspective, that is another murky matter. But the new American is anxious and impatient. He or she wants action, not talk. After a while, I got to like Obama's professorial comments, interspersed with the usual political rhetoric. I started with Fox News, then switched to CNN. But I'm back at Fox. The new American is right. Perhaps a travel ban is not the best path, but it is a decisive action. Perhaps a wall is as low as you can go in terms of neighboring international relations, but it addresses a longstanding annoyance. Trump is no Kennedy; he cannot put two words together to come out just right. He is no Reagan; he will not be the second best great communicator. But he knows his more vocal supporters, even if some are unfriendly. I cannot stress it enough: these are perilous times. There is less chanting and more testing of deadly missiles. Distant nations are ready for war. We must, therefore, not be caught either napping or philosophizing.

James Madison

4th President, 1809-1817
4th President, 1809-1817 | Source

The Constitution

One thing is certain, the Constitution is a gift given freely to all citizens. It has always been a challenge for a President to work the other side of the aisle. Reagan had a number of "crossovers" to insure legislation. But it is the people, most of all, who need to be won over. I cannot speak for everybody. Nonetheless, that is exactly what the President has to do, though it is really only an ideal that can be approached, never fully achieved. What I am sloppily leading to is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, which gives Congress the power to declare war. Article 2, Section 2, confers upon the President the burden of conducting a war as Commander-in-Chief. The world is a mean place. Here, I call upon smarter writers and better thinkers to rescue my terrifying line of thought. After all, we fight all the time. So do other countries. But if our enemies live in the cracks, as it were, hiding, then let us take note of what countries give them safe haven. Hence, a travel ban. Declarations of war are also not out of the question. How can we know if a resident of the U.S. goes overseas to visit a sick relative or receive instructions for a destructive event? At least let us cut the invisible cables that facilitate such evil contact and contagion.

Is it legal? Is it moral? Is it ethical? Is it truly American? These are the questions that have to be asked and answered. To my mind, is it effective? is best. To the radicalized, indoctrinated saboteur, it hardly matters. We, his favorite enemy, stand guilty as charged of a capital offense, be it Satanism or Western bias, where we stand. Hence, we do not want to be shot buying a loaf of bread or attending a play. This is the content of the brave new world we currently confront. There is nothing brave about it at all. It is as cowardly as can be. It is not new either. The enemy's barbarity is a distinct echo of our uncivilized past. Fortunately, we have precedents as well as documents, such as the Constitution, that point in directions by which we can both act boldly and, simultaneously, uphold our dearest values.

Paul Revere

One if by land, and two if by sea.
One if by land, and two if by sea. | Source

The Speed of War

One supposes it does not have to be this way, beginning in a flash, and ending in a mushroom cloud, that catches everyone by surprise. War obeys few rules. But it seems as though both the Chinese and Russia have a talent for crossing the seas undetected, then popping up, pridefully, as if in a Native American coup, just outside our shores. It would be a bad mistake to underestimate the U.S. military; it will not be looking up when it should be looking down. But a shared strategy between both China and Russia in order to partially paralyze the U.S. is not as futuristic as it might sound. Odds are it is in the works. I doubt the world will stand still the next four years for the sake of perhaps some of the best family photos of a first family. We just hope somebody is not asleep at the switch.

Israel's Secret Weapon: Chuck Norris

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