Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Ban Sidesteps Travel Resorts

On the topic of Coronavirus and the travel ban, Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts.

The President’s newly implemented European travel restrictions to the US conveniently side step a ban on nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located. No politics there, just plain greed.

Trump has been under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president and using taxpayer money to fund his trips to and from while at his own firms. Numerous investigations have been launched and lawsuits filed  throughout his term alleging he is and has been violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by using taxpayer money to is benefit while in office other than his salary to fund his personal trips.

The newly implemented U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban does target 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom is home to Trump’s Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links while Ireland is home to a Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg. Neither Ireland or the United Kingdom participate in the Schengen Area. Additionally, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Nothing would stop a citizen of the Schengen area from traveling to the United Kingdom and hopping on a flight to the US if they had not spent time within the Schengen countries in the last 14 days. United Kingdom has logged 460 cases of the Coronavirus.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 22, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 22, 1869

On February 22, the Senate took up the revisions that the House of Representatives had made to their proposals from one week prior. The House had struck from the Senate’s version, as sent to the House, the section extending the protections of the Amendment to qualifications for office, as well as the companion Amendment reforming the Electoral College.

Senator Stewart (Republican from Nevada) proposed that the Senate disagree with the House and send back the following version:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by any State on account of race, color, nativity, property, creed, or previous condition of servitude.

The Congress by appropriate legislation may enforce the provisions of this article.

Stewart moved that the Senate ask for a conference committee to iron out their differences. There was dismay that the House was insisting on having its exact way as to this amendment, as had been the case for the past number of years as to all legislation, and that the attempt to reconcile their differences might be futile.
The Senate decided to put off voting on the proposal for a day.
Source: Congressional Globe, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, pp. 1440-42.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 9, 1869 (2) The Senate votes to reform the Electoral College

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 9, 1869 (2) The Senate votes to reform the Electoral College

As I mentioned several days ago, the Senate endured a pair of marathon sessions on February 8 and 9, 1869, and considered a variety of subjects. Perhaps most breathtakingly, they discussed further amending the Constitution to ensure that the winner of the popular vote was elected President.

Sen. Morton [Republican, Indiana]: I desire to renew the amendment I offered in regard to electing electors directly by the people…. It is very important. It will popularize the whole thing …:

Article XVI
“[As to the Electoral College,] each State shall appoint, by the vote of the people thereof qualified to vote for Representatives in Congress, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled to in the  Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States shall be appointed an elector; and the Congress shall have power to prescribe the manner in which such electors shall be chosen by the people.”

….

Sen. Cameron [Republican, Pennsylvania]: I do not see how I can vote for that amendment. If he will allow the people to vote directly for President and Vice President, I will agree to any amendment he will offer for that purpose; but I cannot see what we shall gain by this proposed amendment. If the people are allowed to vote at once for President and Vice President and you count the votes all over the United States, that will come up to the notion which I have held for a long time on the subject, for I think the people ought to be brought directly in contact with the candidates for whom they vote.

Sen. Morton:… It is now left to the legislature. The legislature may elect the electors themselves…. This amendment requires these electors be appointed directly by the people, and leaves to Congress the mode of regulating that appointment….

Sen. Harlan [Republican, Iowa]: … [is it] contemplated by the honorable Senator that an elector may be elected from each Congressional district, or by districts to be arranged by Congress in each State?

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Why You May Never Learn the Truth About Anything in Washington

I hang around some pretty intelligent people who have smart friends commenting on their facebook pages. The first part of this post is from a comment on Claude Scales’s Facebook page by William R. Everdell. I think it fits with the NYT article Claude referenced. The second part of this is a shorten version of the NYT Opinion article “Why You May Never Learn the Truth About ICE,” Matthew Connelly, Professor of History, Columbia.

George Orwell in “‘1984’, Winston Smith was dropping documents into the ‘memory hole’ by his desk at the Ministry of Truth – Minitrue

‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

The Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections and the safety of drinking water.

This turns out to be just one action in a series of Trump administration attacks on the National Archives and the laws and funding supporting it, all of them aimed at preventing citizens of the republic learning from History.” William R. Everdell, Historian – Facebook

Examples of how this is happening have yet to be examined by Congressional Hearing.

Early in the new year, a photograph of the Women’s March – 2017 was put on display for the “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” exhibit. The photo was altered to purposely distort Trump’s name and any words “referencing female anatomy” on depicted posters. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero later apologized for the distortions.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 8 – 9, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 8 – 9, 1869

Note: I fell a little behind on this project. I hope to be fully up to date by the end of this weekend.

On February 8 and 9, 1869, the Senate did something I daresay it would never consider now: it pulled an all-nighter! Despite numerous requests to adjourn, the session ran nearly 24 hours straight, only ending at about 11:30 AM on the 9th (and picked up again at 1 pm).

The text goes on for close to 100 pages, so I can only hope to hit a few highlights here. Numerous subjects were addressed.

Several members, e.g., Sen. Hendricks again posited that the Congress did not have authority even to amend the Constitution if it impinged on the ability of States to pass laws with regard to suffrage:

There is a particular proposition in the Constitution of the United States that it may be amended. Where … does the power of amendment stop? I say the power of amendment is limited to the correction of defects that might appear in the practical operations of the Government; but the power of amendment does not carry with it the power to destroy one form of overnment and establish another.

This was a small minority opinion, which was quite sensibly met with the Supremacy Clause. For example, here is Sen. Freylinghuysen:

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 29, 1869 (3)

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 29, 1869 (3)

Later in the evening debate, Representatives Boutwell (who supported the narrow 15th Amendment language) and Shellabarger (Republican from Ohio) (who supported broader “right to vote” language similar to that espoused by Bingham) had the following exchange on the issue of State voter registration laws:

Boutwell [discussing the narrow non-discrimination based on race proposal]: I am not sure that it will not go so far as to put it out of the power of States to establish a registration law. It certainly does abolish those qualifications in some States which require the voter to pay a small capitation tax …. I think that by arraying against this proposition all the peculiarities of the different States we put the proposition itself in danger. I think it better, therefore, as a matter of practical wisdom, to address ourselves exclusively to those great evils which have existed [already].
….
Shellabarger: [T]he [braoder, right-to-vote] proposition which I submit is not amenable to the objection … that by it the States would be deprived of the power of passing registration or election laws. Plainly that cannot be so. The Constitution itself in express terms provides that ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.’

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Live-blogging Congressional power to ensure fair federal elections: January 28, 1869

Live-blogging Congressional power to ensure fair federal elections: January 28, 1869

As I described in my earlier post today, the power of Congress to determine the manner in which Congressional elections are to be conducted, including power over the districting process, came up in a speech by Rep. Stewart on January 28, 1869. Since this is of critical importance as to Congress’s ability to prohibit gerrymandering of at least Federal elections, below are selections from another important speech.

James B. Beck, Democrat from Kentucky, discussing the proposed Civil Rights Act, addressed the issue of Congress having the power to set the “time, place, and manner” of voting for Representatives. After declaiming at length about the States having the right to determine who formed their electorate, and to determine the times, places, and manner for elections to the State legislatures, he turned to the issue of elections for the US Congress:

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 28, 1869

Note: I have fallen a little behind, due to traveling. My apologies! I am making a concerted effort to catch up. Today’s installment is particularly important on the issue of gerrymandering.

On January 28, Rep. Charles Stewart, a Republican from New York, spoke with reference to the proposed Amendment that had been voted out of the Judiciary Committee, which had been amended from:

No State shall deny or abridge the right of its citizens to vote, and hold office, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

to read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote, and hold office, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Here is a brief excerpt from his speech:

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Will The “Impeachment Charade Fade Quickly”?

Will The “Impeachment Charade Fade Quickly”?

We have not yet had all the final speechifying where GOP senators attempt to justify their votes to make this the first US federal impeachment trial in history (there have been 15, mostly of judges) not to have any witnesses, as well as the foregone acquittal.  But the battle over how it will be viewed in both the short and medium and long runs is already going on.  A sign of this is a column in yesterday’s Washington Post by Hugh Hewitt entitled, “This impeachment charade will fade quickly,” with Hewitt viewing the “charade” part not to mean the refusal of the Senate to have witnesses, but the entire trial itself, which he Trumpisly declares to have consisted of “fake history,”  because Trump will be viewed in 50 years as an “outsize personality” with “a growing list of achievements.”  Claims like this will clearly underpin Trump’s reelection campaign, even as several GOP senators up for reelection will probably find that their votes for the charade of not having witnesses will not “fade quickly” and may well do them in, even if Trump manages to squeak through to reelection.

Here is the list of things Hewitt things are achievements, almost none of which I think are, and most, if  not all, will be viewed as mistakes or Bad Things 50 years from now to the extent they are remembered at all, my comments in brackets.

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 27, 1869 (1)

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: January 27, 1869 (1)

I have gotten a little behind in this project. Congressional activity picked up considerably in the last week of January 1869.

Rep. Charles A.Eldridge (D-Wisconsin) addressed a civil rights bill by Massachusetts Representative Buckalew under the 14th Amendment as well as the proposed 15th Amendment:

I have not the vanity to suppose that anything I say will cause them to hesitate or consider. Party ends must be accomplished, party purposes must be carried out even though it should revolutionize the Government, overthrow the Constitution, and destroy the Republic.
….

Hamilton on the same subject in No. 59 of the Federalist … [said], ’Suppose an Article had been introduced into the Constitution empowering the United States to regulate the elections for the particular States, would any men have hesitated to condemn it, both as an unwarranted imposition of power and as a premeditated engine for the destruction of State governments?’

In those days no man would have hesitated to condemn it. The Constitution could never have been adopted if it had contained the grant of power to Congress to determine the qualification of voters for officers of the States. Such a work is left for these days of revolution and usurpation — to the mad fanatics who for particular ends would destroy our Republic of States.
….

The power to determine the qualifications of electors was, in the States conferred … by the people of the States…. All the powers of the Federal Government come up from the States and people, and it never had and never can have the rightful authority to exercise any power not granted in and by the Constitution. The exercise of any other is rank usurpation.

[I]t seems to me that this bill and resolution for the amendment of the Constitution … for the evils which exist in his judgment with reference to the persons who ought to exercise the right to suffrage, is a filo de se [crime of suicide].  If the power exists in the Federal government to pass this bill, … then I admit that Congress has the right to control the whole question of suffrage and the qualification of electors of all officers ….
….

Sir, I do not think the gentleman from Massachusetts gave a proper consideration to the fourteenth amendment, as it is called. I will not consider the question of whether this amendment is part of the Constitution; for myself I do not believe that it is….

____________________
Source: Congressional Globe,  40th Congress, Third Seeking, pp. 642-45 

What is remarkable about this speech is that Eldridge is not just addressing the Civil Rights bill proposed by Buckalew, but also claims that the even Constitutional amendments are invalid to alter Federal vs. State powers. He considers the power of suffrage in the States to be beyond the control of any proposed revisions to the Constitution itself. Even Chief Justice Roberts, who in the Shelby County case found a right of States to be treated equally in all legislation out in the Constitutional ether, did not go this far.

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