Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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Some LPR Reflections


May 19, 2019 --

On Presidential Succession

Perhaps Democrats would prefer that we switched to a parliamentary system, like the system be broke away from in 1776. That way, when the House of Representatives gets a Democrat majority, the prime minister's term is up and a Democrat would succeed a Republican. And so, there would be no speculation, with House Democrats in the majority, whether Mr. Trump would stay in office. He would have been gone since last election day.

In any event, history suggests that Democrats do not have to worry about the re-election of President Trump. Presidential elections have given us three successive two-term presidents twice. From 1801 to 1825, Thomas Jefferson served from March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1809; James Madison served from March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817, and James Monroe served from March 4, 1817 to March 4, 1825. Thereafter, John Quincy Adams served one term, from March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1829. (The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1933 changed Inauguration Day to January 20.) The next time three successive presidents served two terms was from 1993 to 2017: Bill Clinton, from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001; George W. Bush, from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009; and Barack Obama, from January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017. Thus far, it has been unprecedented for the U.S. to have four successive two-term presidents. Will Donald J. Trump go the way of John Quincy Adams, or will he win re-election to mark the first time in U.S. history that the voters chose four two-term presidents in a row? History suggests that the odds do not favor Mr. Trump. But, then., he has defied the odds all his life.

On the Twenty-fifth Amendment

The Twenty-fifth Amendment was adopted in 1967. During the past two and a half years, it has drawn attention for Section 4, which states that the president can be replaced by the Vice President as Acting President should the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet "or such other body as Congress may by law provide" transmit to the House Speaker and the Senate president pro tempore "their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office...." LPR calls attention to Section 2 of this Amendment: "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

From time to time, anti-Trumpists cite Watergate as precedent for the impeachment of President Trump. (See for example, Elizabeth Drew, in The New York Times, April 26, 2019, "The Danger in Not Impeaching.") Would President Richard M.Nixon's removal from office have been considered if Vice President Spiro T. Agnew had not resigned October 10, 1973? In retrospect, it could be argued that President Nixon had his fate sealed when Mr. Agnew resigned in a bribery scandal and was succeeded, pursuant to the Twenty-fifth Amendment, by Rep. Gerald R. Ford, who became president when Mr. Nixon resigned. Thus far, even Democrats hoping against hope that President Trump can yet be removed from office are not calling, first, for the resignation of Vice President Mike Pence.

On the Subpoenas to the Trump Administration and to Trump interests inter alia

"It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it." Federalist Paper No. 48

Federalist Paper No. 48, attributed to James Madison, is concerned with protecting each of the three departments of the federal government - legislative, executive and judiciary - from "an overruling influence over the others in the administration of their respective powers." Madison indicated that "in a representative republic" the people should be most concerned about "the enterprising ambition" of the legislature. LPR suggests that the blizzard of subpoenas sent by the Democrat chairman of the committees of the House of Representatives amount to the use of power for encroaching purpose. The apparent aim seems to be to bait and harass the president, in hopes that he will misstep for impeachment purpose ("self-impeachment," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it) or be so weakened as to fail in his bid for re-election.

Thus far, LPR understands that the subpoenas issuing forth from House committees to the Trump administration, and associated parties, lack the support of Republican House members. And so these subpoenas, seeking information stemming from Mr. Trump's activities as a private citizen as well as from issues arising during his presidency -- plus, of course, the subpoena to Attorney General William Barr for an unredacted copy of The Mueller Report -- represent the allegations of just one political party and, by definition, are partisan. Arguably, the partisan tone might impress a judge to decide that she is dealing not necessarily with "a constitutional crisis," but with a matter that, belonging in "the political thicket," is not justiciable, but is for the contending departments to work things out among themselves, taking care, however, not to encroach on the powers given to each department the Founding Fathers.


Red Line

Loan Shark Prevention Act

May 19, 2019 --

LPR has long been opposed to predatory free enterprise. One example is high interest rates on credit cards. Well, LPR has not been a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders, nor of freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but LPR supports their Loan Shark Prevention Act, which would set a cap of 15% on credit cards. President Trump, in his Inaugural Address noted, in part: "For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reapd the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost." That certainly seems the case with people who live paycheck to paycheck and find thy can only make partial payments on their credit cards, with the result that their payments balloon well above the purchase price of the item purchased with the credit card.

According to "The Week," the median interest rate on credit cards is 21.36 percent. Whatever happened to usury as a legal principle? In the wake of the trade dispute with China, which has resulted in the imposition of 25% tariffs on Chinese goods, critics of the president call this a tax on the American people. What are interest rates above 15% if not a tax, with the proceeds going to financial institutions, on people with modest -- or lower-- incomes who cannot afford to pay in full for credit card purchases.


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Red Line

Will We Ever Know What Russiagate Was All About?

May 19, 2019 --

Well, whatever it was about, The Mueller Report, appearing in different editions, has made The New York Times best seller list. The Washington Post edition lists at $15 but sells at Walmart for $9. Another edition with commentary from Alan Dershowitz is available at Barnes & Noble for $6.94. LPR is more interested in the forthcoming report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and from the report that Attorney General William Barr is said to be working on. The latter is said to be concerned with the origins of Russiagate and the IG report may shed light on former FBI Director James Comey's role in the affair. ( Comey, you will recall, originally was sharply criticized by Democrats for his handling of the Hillary Clinton server matter, and again for reopening the Clinton case briefly in the weeks before the November 8, 2016 election. He subsequently gained plaudits from the left when he expressed his distaste for President Trump.)

LPR is eager to learn what set off Russiagate which, it is generally agreed (with the exception of hardcore anti-Trump zealots), did not involve "coordination," quoting the guidelines issued for the special counsel May 17, 2017, "between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Democrats have focused their attention to the second volume of the report which is said to leave open some ten possible instances of obstruction of justice by the president. It should be apparent that for members of the resistance, including House Democrat committee chairman, the very presence of Mr. Trump in the White House constitutes a political obstruction that must be removed -- an obstruction to the goals of Democrat hegemonyh in Washington.

One alleged instance of obstruction is said to be the president's desire to remove Robert S Mueller III as special counsel. If Mr. Mueller had been removed for cause, arguably he could have been replaced. If so, where is the obstruction. Mr. Mueller was not replaced. Again where is the obstruction. As others have also pointed out, however, if there was no coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, what wrongful conduct was there to obstruct -- or cover up? And as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out on the John Batchelor Show, to require that Mr. Mueller have exonerated the president is beyond the responsibility of a prosecutor because it would imply that the burden of proof had shifted to Mr. Trump -- that is to say, he would be presumed guilty unless he could prove otherwise, which is contrary to our jurisprudence.

It remains unclear to LPR how the Russians meddled in the 2016 election. It is further unclear to LPR what form the alleged meddling took and what impact said alleged meddling had on Hillary Clinton's Electoral College defeat. It is, however, quite clear that the Trump resistance, ipso facto, undermines our democratic tradition and it is apparent that the resistance can only be encouraged to oppose the Constitution's process for electing a President when Speaker Pelosi can say, as she said recently, "We cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump." What does that mean if not continued refusal to accept the will of the voters and what is such refusal of not an attempt to undermine representative, republican government.

"A vote that represents free will is never wasted"
-- David Zukerman
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May 19, 2019 --

Mark Twain Explains Some of the Hostility to President Trump

While writing "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," Mark Twain put this in his notebook: "Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense." LPR believes that candidate Trump was irreverent when he said, July 27, 2016, that he hoped the Russians would hack Hillary Clinton's emails. Of course, the resistance took him seriously, and some even accused him of treason. Recently a poll of Democrats found that 57% thought President Trump was a traitor.

In an article in The Hill, May 1, 2019, Paul R. Gregory, discussing Ukraine President-elect Vlodomyr Zelensky's sense of humor noted, in part: "Dictators fear being ridiculed with humor..." The same might be said of anti-Trump ideologues, LPR thinks.

Random Thoughts

Trey Gowdy, as a Republican congressman from South Carolina's 4th district, suggested last year to Martha McCallum on Fox News, that Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, was linked to the Steele dossier. Mr. Gowdy, now a Fox New contributor, and also practicing law , spoke with Ms. McCallum, May 15 and said, in part (via a transcript provided by Real Clear Politics) that he has seen the factual assertions in the Steele dossier cited by the FBI to obtain a warrant from the FISA court, "And when the name Sidney Blumenthal is included as part of your corroboration, and you're the world's leading law enforcement agency, you have a problem."

If Mr. Blumenthal, who among other things served President Clinton as a senior advisor, was indeed involved in putting forth the Steele dossier, will U.S. attorney John Durham, placed in charge of probing the origins of Russiagate, follow a trail the leads to Ms. Clinton?


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