12 April 2017

Camels, Tents, and our Democracy.

I know, I know, taking a position, even a non-political legal one, in agreement with the likes of Rand Paul and Pat Buchanan may be the sign of limited blood flow to the brain. I blame the whole thing on my trainer. She is gracious, beautiful, and smells good too, but she killed me in our gym session on Tuesday morning, and the result is I am once again pinned to my recliner with an angry L4 disc, and actually thinking about stuff, and now impose that stuff on you. 

Bottom line, I submitted the below letter to the NYTimes. Of course, they won't print it, but it makes me feel better to have written it and sent it off.


To the Editor:
I am a so-called Liberal, who believes our Constitution is vital to our Democracy. So I double checked: Yes, the Constitution says Congress has the power to declare war, and yes, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy. But it does not say "Congress is the only body that has the power to declare war," and it does not inform as to what are the limits of the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief. So I went back to the Federalist Papers. No better "originalist" source exists. In Federalist Paper # 69, Hamilton made it elegantly clear. He compared the powers of the President, in what was then the draft constitution, to the power of the King of Great Britain. He wrote,

"The President is to be Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect, his authority would be nominally the same with that of the King of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. and It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and Admiral of the Confederacy: while that of the British King extends to the declaring of war to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the Legislature." [Emphasis mine]

To argue that the President has the power to institute even a little bit of wartime hostilities, is to argue that our Commanding General of the Army or the highest ranking Admiral in our Navy could choose to bomb Syria because he or she was of the opinion that "it was the right thing to do in the circumstances." That is downright subversive. It may well have been "the right thing to do in the circumstances," but it was for Congress to make that call, not some General or Admiral. The defense that "Well, Clinton did it, Bush did it, Obama did it," doesn't fly. Prior constitutional violations do not justify new assaults on our Democracy.

Where are the impeachment petitions coming out of the conservative House of Representatives, the outcries from the conservative Senate that just confirmed an "originalist" Supreme Court Justice, the outraged editorials and reports from the national media?

Who is coming to the defense of our Republic?

Martin London

Citizens!  The alarm bell is ringing. It's time to wake up! Write your Congressperson, light up your Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Bazinger, Whatever, accounts! Our Constitution is a carefully designed tent that has sheltered our Democracy for 230 years. Our current Camel-in-Chief may have small hands, but he has a big nose, and if we let him push it into our shelter-tent, we will soon be out in the cold. Do something please. I'm busy.

A bientot!

07 April 2017


Waiting for a book proof to come back from the printer, I have time to address the nation's problems.

First, what is Trump's authority to declare war on a sovereign nation, no matter how disreputable, without a Congressional declaration of war?  Did Syria attack a U.S. Navy ship in the Tonkin Gulf or something? Did Congress grant him authority to bomb Syria? What did I miss here?

Putting that question aside for the moment, if the talk radio host and blogger Alex Jones, whom President Trump openly admires, can promote conspiracy theories such as, for example, that it was our own government that took down the Twin Towers, and the Sandy Hook school child massacre was really the work of anti-Second Amendment liberal activists, etc., can I put the following far less fantastic theory in the hopper? It goes like this: 

1. Trump is in deep shit over Russian help to get him elected. The only question that remains is whether the Trump campaign colluded with Putin. This remains, day after day, a front page story. Mutterings abound re the possibility of impeachment, talk of treason, etc. A disastrous first 90 days for the new President.  Trump nevertheless continues to make pro-Russian statements, and recently said Assad was invincible. Only slightly more than one third of U.S. citizens approve of the President's job performance. This is a record low.

2. Needing a distraction, he launches tweet campaign saying Obama wire tapped him.  It backfires. FBI and intel agencies tell Congress his claim is"bullshit," and, what's more, Comey reveals the FBI is running a criminal investigation into the possibility of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians. Story remains on front page. Trump’s poll numbers decline some more.

3. Trump administration does a "document laundering" exercise to buttress his wire tap accusations, using puppet Nunes, who is supposed to be running a neutral investigation over Trump campaign collusion with Russia.  Plan is laughable, Nunes is a moron, and he crashes and burns. Trump's polls sink even further. More front page stuff.

4. Republicans launch Trumpcare bill. House conservatives kill the bill. Trump names names and threatens the hard right reps with reprisals. They tell him to piss off. More failure. Trump’s polling numbers decline some more.  Russian collusion issue won't go away, and indeed becomes even more threatening as Trump stature shrinks.

5. So Putin and Assad have a conversation, after which Assad  openly and notoriously deploys poison gas, kills Syrian babies, and the world reacts with predictable horror. New front page story.

6. Trump immediately makes a speech saying he has changed his mind about Assad. Without going to Congress, he gives the Russians advance notice to get their planes and personnel out of a specified Syrian airbase, (but the Russians apparently don't tell the Syrians, who leave their planes there to be destroyed.) Trump then fires missiles at the airbase and Syrian planes are destroyed. So far, there are no reports of casualties, Russian or Syrian.

7. The President announces the missile strike with his Chief Strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, at his side. The U.S Secretary of State praises his boss for taking “decisive" action, and yesterday's critics now praise the President’s decisiveness, determination, and executive prowess.  Putin issues a mild rebuke saying the action “deals a significant blow to relations between the U.S. and Russia, which, (in case you did not know!) are already in a poor state.” The Russian collusion issue is finally off the front page, doubtless Trump will get a bump in his poll numbers, and Assad puts a credit in his Putin favor bank.  Brilliant. Everybody wins except the dead babies.

What, you want more proof? Read this again. It’s all there. Besides, as the conspiracists are wont to say, ''Can you prove I'm wrong?"

A bientot.