The Trust Problem

Listening to the news this weekend, it occurred to me that my standard lecture on Marbury v. Madison highlights why Trump is unlikely to get a deal with North Korea. (Bear with me here.)

As most readers of this blog know, Marbury  established that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutionality. The case arose because President Adams–in the last hours of his term–nominated a number of people for judgeships (packing the courts ahead of Jefferson’s assumption of office). In those days, these “commissions” had to be delivered to the appointee to take effect, and due to the timing, Marbury didn’t receive his. Jefferson refused to honor his predecessor’s appointment by having his Secretary of State, James Madison, deliver the commission.

Justice Marshall, who authored the opinion, was between the proverbial rock and hard place. If Jefferson didn’t have to honor the commitments of his predecessor, the new government would be weakened; if he ordered Jefferson to deliver the commission, and Jefferson refused (which was likely), the Court’s authority would be permanently compromised.

I’ve always thought Marshall’s solution was on par with that of Solomon and the baby. He ruled that a commission properly made must be delivered–but he also found the law under which the appointment had been made constitutionally defective, and the commission null and void. Jefferson (I’m sure grudgingly) acquiesced to the decision–including the proposition that the Court was the final voice on constitutionality– since he got the practical result he’d wanted.

When we discuss this case in class, I usually pose a scenario: I have a student assume he owns a car-towing business. He just got a contract with the city, and in order to service it, hired two new people and bought a new truck. Business is great. Then a new Mayor is elected, and refuses to honor the contract.

I ask the student “Would you ever do business with the city again?” The answer is always no. (Sometimes, “hell no!”)

Which brings me to Trump and Korea. And Iran. And the Paris Accords.

At the same time Trump is bragging about his deal-making prowess and suggesting that only he can get a binding agreement with North Korea, he is hell-bent on rejecting the United States’ “binding” commitments to Iran. He has previously refused to honor his predecessor’s decision to join the Paris Accords. (For purposes of this discussion, I will omit mention of the numerous “deals” he reneged on as a private citizen, and the myriad times he stiffed people to whom he owed money. I will also forego discussion of the times the U.S. has bailed on its promises in the past.)

If I were Kim Jong Un, I wouldn’t trust the word of a President who is currently demonstrating that the nation’s word is worthless.

Kim’s hair may be as silly as Trump’s, but I get the impression that he is a whole lot smarter than the un-self-aware ignoramus who currently shames all sentient citizens. Trump is likely to get rolled–and unlikely to realize it.


  1. “If I were Kim Jong Un, I wouldn’t trust the word of a President who is currently demonstrating that the nation’s word is worthless.”

    I wouldn’t trust the word of the Supreme Leader either, as he has agreed and cheated multiple times in the past.

    What we are likely to get is a sham agreement politically expedient to both persons and equally dangerous to both nations.

  2. It won’t matter how this negotiation with N. Korea resolves, it will be trumpeted as a WIN. And Trump’s voters will smile and applaud.

    What happens with the caravan of asylum seekers is the more portentous of this country’s future. It is the made for TV moment that will reveal our character. VP Pence with his praise of Law should more closely examine the Gospels he so prodigiously exploits. Reactionary Caucasian politics never misses an opportunity to sow fear and feed jealousy.

  3. …and not only would nobody trust Trump, how could they now trust the United States, with such current and blatant demonstrations that no branch of our government will enforce agreements a prior administration has entered into?

  4. Bravo Sheila and always feel free to bring up your standard lecture on Marbury v. Madison whenever you feel it is appropriate.

    With Trump, Bolton, Pompeo and others being held bent to find some reason for going to war with Iran and also being a hell bent on abrogating the multilateral agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Kim Jung Un will not be the only one that sees the word of the United States is being worthless. If this is indeed how this is going to play out, especially given the fools that are leading this parade, Trump, et al, could be wrecking our ability to negotiate as an honest broker or as a negotiating partner in any multilateral agreements for years to come which will have profoundly negative impacts on this country’s position in the world in terms of national security, trade policy, and a whole host of other issues that none of them apparently have given any consideration to.

    It is getting increasingly hard to contemplate the actual level of stupidity that exists both in the White House and in the Republican led Congress today but if this ends up being the course they take it will make it a lot easier to see the damage they are doing each and every day they stay in power. This will do great long-term damage to this country’s international position and standing. For this country to be an active international partner there has to be a modicum of trust that permeates all of our international dealings and this would completely betray that trust and wreck our ability to influence events worldwide in a constructive way.

    These fools act like deranged kamikazes on steroids.

  5. It seems obvious that the rest of the world has cracked the Trump code: flattery and ego massage will work with this “world leader” when reason, facts and strategic long-term shared goals will fail due to his willful ignorance.

  6. One of the best videos I’ve seen on social media is where Fox News explodes over Obama’s plans to talk with Kim. Then they showed video of Fox News actors applauding Trump’s plans to talk with the North Korean leader.

    This is political theater presented by the media onto a populace who sits in line for 20 minutes to eat fast engineered processed food. What do you say about oppressed people who have no clue they are being oppressed or screwed?

    The Korean unification is all about Asia…or mainly China who wants the US military out of South Korea. Everything else is the media creating “wins” for all those involved. Watch closely over the coming months.

    Megyn Kelly interviewed Vladimir Putin after she left Fox News. This is another video everyone should watch, repeatedly. She asked about Russia influencing the election and did he care who won over Clinton or Trump. His reply was, “The President of the United States doesn’t dictate policy for the government. The Deep State controls the United States of America.”

    Putin is brilliant and Trump is a buffoon. The leader of China is also brilliant. Don’t you think these world leaders know that Trump and his cabinet are an embarrassment?

    Meanwhile, while nobody is looking, the FED and central banks have created another bubble in the process of funneling trillions to the 1%. As Nomi Prins recently wrote:

    “They would be comforting words for the financial moguls. For the top 10 percent of the country that own 84 percent of the stock market, her remarks invoked confidence that the status quo of cheap money flowing from the Fed would be preserved.”

    Ah yes, we the people meant the Top Ten Wealthiest. And guess who owns all the media which presents our “reality” 24/7 on cable news? 😉

  7. Todd,

    “The Korean unification is all about Asia…or mainly China who wants the US military out of South Korea. Everything else is the media creating “wins” for all those involved. Watch closely over the coming months.”

    I’ll bet you’re right on that one.

  8. I shake my head in disbelief at those who expect one wit of truth out of this white house in this administration, such as it is. Commitment? Honesty? Integrity? not to be found in the drumpf crowd! I am glad that all these wannabe despots are tying their hitch to the trump wagon, because when the shitwagon hits the ditch, we can get rid of the whole lot in one fell swoop!
    and good riddance!!!

  9. Life is certainly interesting with Trump and crew in office.
    I have a question about banks and ownership. I know that GP/ Koch bros is solely owned and is it true they don’t have to disclose holdings ( feeling my way along). I’ve noticed lately that my bank where I’ve banked for 20 years is solely owned. I’ve also noticed that the staff is shrinking. The bank used to have several members I knew. Today (yesterday) there was a manager, a teller and and officer to handle investments. Is this the sort of thing that Elizabeth Warren. gets riled about? I wish I knew more about banks. Are y’all encountering that sort of situation? The officer tried to explain what’s going on but it was closing time. I’ve always trusted them.

  10. “…a commission properly made must be delivered–but he also found the law under which the appointment had been made constitutionally defective, and the commission null and void. ”

    The above quote is blatantly cherry-picked by someone unschooled in the law but…wasn’t President Obama’s recommended nomination to the Supreme Court in essence a “properly made commission” to Congress to put his nominee before them for a decision – which is REQUIRED by the Constitution? The deliberate refusal by McConnell to honor this requirement resulted in the eventual speedy appointment by Trump’s nominee, thereby putting SCOTUS in the current imbalanced position favoring the far right-wing “conservatives”.

    “Which brings me to Trump and Korea. And Iran. And the Paris Accords.”

    “The Trust Problem”; leading to the above specified ego-inspired Trump decisions (due to his vast knowledge of everything) and too many other destructive decisions to list here, can be traced back to the SCOTUS decision to enact Citizens United…putting this government on the auction block. The entire Congress daily ignores its Constitutional requirement to remove Trump from office due to his “…Inability to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office…” (see Article II, Section 1, paragraph 6 of the Constitution).

    How much of this current JUSTIFIED lack of trust in our government can be blamed (for want of a better/legal term) to Citizens United, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, the order by the American Psychiatric Association to abide by the Goldwater Rule which has proven to be ineffective, the entire GOP, the Kochs, Mercers, Princes, the NRA and/or the lack of action by the Democratic party and inaction by its voters?

    We know Trump cannot be trusted on any level and any decision because he is allowed to run this country as he ran his life. marriages, womanizing and all business transactions based on the endless supply of family money. He is beginning to panic as the Russian issue creeps closer. But why the sudden unexplained total turnaround by Kim Jong Un who is no more trustworthy than Trump? Did he use all of North Korea’s available nuclear power showing off before the world? Is the appointment of Rudy Giuiliani to one of his many teams of attorneys a legal decision or Trump’s need for a scapegoat? Will Giuiliani’s words last night instill Trump’s trust or will he be booted out today? No one is more afraid of treachery from others than those whose life is built on treachery.

    To return to yesterday’s blog; none of us can feel secure…except Trump’s neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, KKK supporters, too many of whom are well established within our government. Given a choice; I wouldn’t “do business” with them again.

  11. Lets give Trump credit for one thing it’s UNIFICATION. He now has the whole world starting to unify against us. In that regard he might even eventually outdo Adolph Hitler.

  12. Kim Jong Un is not going to give up his nukes. They make him a player on the world stage. He has ceased testing, which 45 thinks shows that he is being a faithful partner in the proposed talks. What it does show is that Kim’s testing site has collapsed and he is currently unable to test his weapons. The best we can hope for is that 45 doesn’t agree to remove all troops from South Korea, leaving the South vulnerable to being overrun by the North.

  13. From the response I’ve had to my website, over 2,000 visitors this month, the overwhelming majority coming from FOREIGN visitors to, can only mean that this blog because of Sheila’s commentaries is becoming something akin to RADIO FREE AMERICA.

    My sites are monitored daily by Godaddy. Last month the five leading visitors to my site were from the following countries: Bucharest, Romania; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; Mumbai, India; and Islamabad, Pakistan.

  14. Nancy,

    “Interesting info re your blog followers.”

    The followers are almost all from foreign countries. I believe most Americans (I’m not talking about the majority of the contributors to this blog) are scared to go very deep into the political situation in the U. S……….Just look what happened to an NFL quarterback who refused to KNEEL, or a comedian who joked about the TRUTH. They just don’t want to deal with the hard facts we are facing here in the U.S. It’s FEAR.

    With out the benefit of this blog, I probably would only average 150 visitors a month. I don’t pay to enhance my exposure with Google. Last month I had 1675 visitors. So I had a significant increase this month.

    On a day that I don’t participate on the blog I generally average about 5 visitors. Yesterday, I made no comments and thus received only 5 visitors. Without Sheila’s blog my website would be almost useless.

  15. The pie crust of “trust” was not broken under The Trumpet (Agent Orange). Going back in the history of the USA even the 19th Century , why would any country “trust” the USA. Broken treaties with the Native Americans, periodic invasions by the Marines in Latin America – Manifest Destiny and Imperialism all rolled into one.

    Kim Jong Un can look back and see US Aggression concerning Regime Change from Iran in 1953, various Latin American countries, Chile, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

    The guiding light of US Foreign Policy is Imperialism. I do not think this is lost on Kim Jong Un.

    Benjamin Netanyahu is now urging The Trumpet (aka Agent Orange) to scrap the Iran Nuclear Deal. The Neo-Cons here in the USA share Netanyahu’s bellicose attitudes toward Iran. The Neo-Cons are not shy about their goal of regime change in Iran.

    Iran and Russia both have elections. That is far more than you can say about our Allies that make up Gulf Oil States. Then again the Gulf Oil States are good stooges for US Policy. Kim Jong Un is not going to be a stooge.

    It is possible the Chinese and Russians have suggested to Kim Jong Un, that he play along and flatter Agent Orange – Flattery will go a long with Agent Orange.

  16. While I refuse to underestimate our president, I see him as the dupe, with reference to the Korean “negotiations”. The trumpets blaring to give Trump credit for their reconciliation and to nominate him for a Nobel prize is sickening and worrisome. Kim is playing the long game here, while he uses Trump to validate his existence. It’s all a sham and the poor people in South Korea are about to be betrayed by Trump and his policy staff.

    The world already knows how shallow we are, but the Trump phenomenon has proven, even to the most dense in THIS country, that Trump is the symptom of our basic ills.

  17. I personally don’t see that what happens in Korea is any business of ours. We know that Kim Jong Un will not initiate a missle attack on the US or Japan or anybody, he just wants it known that he could, and he has accomplished that goal.

    The only thing that would benefit Korea, keeping in mind that it is as much one country as the US was in Civil War times, is reunification. It seems like most days the only leader who realizes that is Moon Jae In of South Korea. Reunification structured properly would benefit the entire world except for the family of Kim Jong Un unless the two leaders can find a role for them in the reunified Korea. The challenge Moon Jae In has is the same as the rest of the world has with us – how to manage a massive power besotted ego. The difference between their problem and the rest of the world’s problem is that the Korean problem is not anywhere near as incompetent as Agent Orange.

    As it’s popular now to express uninformed opinions I would guess that progress will result but not complete success: Moon Jae In will deserve and get credit (Nobel Prize would certainly be appropriate); but there is no way to give Kim Jong Un the absolute power that he believes himself entitle to; and we will solve the world’s problem with us this year and in 2020.

  18. Marv,

    re your comment: “They just don’t want to deal with the hard facts we are facing here in the U.S. It’s FEAR.”

    It is much easier for people to put their heads in the sand than to deal with reality. The fear of having to actually do some work to uncover the truth or to actually fight against the demise of our democracy is stronger than the will to take action.

  19. Vernon; I think I understand your reference to Trump being the “dupe”. That might answer my repeated question as to why the 1% and the GOP nominated him; if he lost there would be no damage to other party members and if he won they could use him to complete their agenda of destruction of President Obama’s administration’s progress and push their own agenda. While the choice was limited regarding qualified (safe) Republican nominees; there has to be a reason – however unreasonable – for dropping 16 other possible candidates. They knew the basic racism and bigotry in this country would suck in those who rarely, if ever, bothered to vote before. But; did they realize the dangerous position their decision would put this country – and our former allies around the world in?

  20. There’s no question that the deification of Agent Orange serves a purpose if not the intended purpose.

    He and his clown car are the (hopefully) dying gasp of minorities who couldn’t keep up with progress creating a new functional world to replace what became obsolete.

    While the rest of the real world is modernizing over these few years we a stuck in the mud of zero learning of and building for the inevitable future.

  21. The search for truth, problematic long before Diogenes tried shining a light on it, has at last been simplified by our current president. Whatever Trump says, one need only look 180° in the opposite direction and there lies truth. It now appears that Mayor Giuliani plans to further simplify the process.

    In all of world history, have there ever been two men more worthy of each other’s company? Giuliani’s inexhaustible penchant for osculating Trump’s steatopygous nether regions makes him an ideal companion.

  22. as the world turns,, im sure the pres of n korea is aware,and not holding much for trumps crap. kim is western educated,and has a feel of whats real. though he posses his goal, moving on is probably his future. im sure after being surrounded by western influences,he will, like fidel, and others,find the market place a far better need for,maybe himself,but im sure after talkingnwith china,trade is and will be a foundation. looking forward here, hes probably on the way to money,and personal reconition,in his own country.. look at russia, and cuba, they did better when they took to capitalism…
    trump,is,a,menace, and has given our country a real black eye. last night while driving the heart land,i was listening to one of the many religeious stations,(must be a lot of sinners here,with all,the lower band full of) anyway,the woman whos show i didnt catch,but had what i hear is the usual. someone who wouldnt do well,in a debate with a noodle,and had only his so called credentials!(whatever they were) to keep the republicans agenda in a fair light. they themselves ruled,the present congress is not corrupt,or against the rule,of law.trump is only,mind you ,,,only being chased down for,,collusion…..maybe if they looked at,and read the facts,trump is under many other questionanable acts,from way back. they continued to rail on this collusion as if that was the only issue….no,others… as usual,we have the religieous right pandering trumps innocence,while,the country burns…… nero couldnt have done better,l

  23. Patmcc: “Yep – Nobody with a brain would EVER trust Trump

    Tim Kaine? I guess it’s good to see bipartisanship at work,eh?

    {Snip} But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever..

  24. William. I’m trying to figure out the motivation behind your search for politicians more corrupt and incompetent than Agent Orange. It seems most here are searching for the most competent least corrupt replacements for those people.

  25. A contract that violates the Constitution is void. Contract that is legal in all respects must be enforced and met. Trump cannot legally leave Paris accords without violating his oath. His ability to abrogate the Iran Pact is much more limited than he pretends. If he enters into a Treaty ending the Korean War and denuclearizing peninsula ratified by the Senate non compliance is another impeachable offense.

  26. Pete:”William. I’m trying to figure out the motivation behind your search for politicians more corrupt and incompetent than Agent Orange. It seems most here are searching for the most competent least corrupt replacements for those people.”

    I guess the innumerable posts from you repeatedly stating the importance of saving Democracy was just empty rhetoric? After all, Tim Kaine was your presidential candidate’s choice for VP. Now, here is that choice giving even more power to “Agent Orange’. It would be so amusing if it were not so serious. That’s why Democrats cannot be trusted any more so than Republicans. They’re crazy,but Republicans mean what they say. Democrats? They’ve got a trust problem and this is just one example. And Kaine’s actions make your efforts here at the forum to support Democrats look futile,empty and silly.

    It’s really pure unadulterated kayfabe. Anyone that accuses the sycophants of the DNC and DCCC of not walking the walk and not willing to talk the talk are absolutely correct.
    If it wasn’t for Trump,the Democrats have nothing at all.

  27. William,

    Save your breath on criticizing the Democratic Party. The same thing happened at the beginning of W.W. II. After the fact, it was described as the PHONY WAR. The French weren’t willing to put up an honest defense and thus allowed for the German Blitzkrieg. It’s the same thing here in the U.S. with the DNC controlled Democratic Party. They are the ones most responsible for the creation of the TRUMP MONSTER.

  28. The DNC led Democratic Party is MORALLY BANKRUPT. It needs to go into REORGANIZATION NOW. If not, the only answer is for another party to take its place. Neither choice will do much good against the FASCIST TAKEOVER at the present time. At least some of the populace will maintain their self respect and will, at least, have the necessary CIVIC COURAGE to take advantage of the situation if a legitimate opportunity should arise in the future.

  29. Marv; (4:19 a.m.) I’m going to argue with you here. Your statement that the Democratic party is the one most responsible for creating the Trump Monster is off target. That monster was created early in his life by a super wealthy, strong-willed father with Fascist leanings; he was raised with the belief that money is the center of the universe and it was a “no holds barred”, life-long process to increase personal wealth. “The Donald” has played both sides of the political scene; going with whoever is the easiest to fool and provides the best source to rip-off at the time. We have watched “The Donald” in news broadcasts steadily rise to the top for almost four decades through dirty business deals and his womanizing; this history was either ignored or made use of by the 1% and the Republican party. The Democratic party is NOT the one most responsible for creating the Trump Monster; they are without a doubt the party which DID get him elected. How much of that blame can be laid at the feet of the many racist and bigoted Democratic voters? The Republican party is not the only one harboring racists and bigots.

    Marv; (5:36 a.m.) The Democratic party is not morally bankrupt; they are weak and ineffectual. They ignored their own questionable leadership by the DNC Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz openly and illegally support Hillary Clinton and openly and illegally refuse to provide Bernie Sanders with the voters registration list he was entitled to. Was the election/appointment of Perez as DWS replacement as DNC Chairman an attempt to appease the Hispanic voters to offset Trump’s hatred of them as an entire race? This is NOT the time for reorganization; we have found ourselves in the middle of another Civil War internally and another Cold War internationally; we need to make use of what is available within the Democratic party at this time to get through this vital mid-term election year. If/when the party has regained some element of power is the time to use that power to reorganize internally. That old adage, “Never change horses in mid-stream.” holds true at this time.

  30. JoAnn,

    “That old adage, “Never change horses in mid-stream.” holds true at this time.”

    I agree with you on “that old adage,” except that doesn’t include DEAD HORSES.

  31. The Democratic Party was SUBVERTED by at least one member, Ambassador Robert Strauss, who helped created the now defunct DLC which has morphed into the DNC. Strauss was beholden to President George Bush and the Republican Party because of the illegal activities of his son, Ricky Strauss. Bush withheld prosecution of his son. Shortly thereafter, Strauss met with the newly elected President Bill Clinton and convinced him to accept the strategy of TRIANGULATION, which in effect is nothing more than CAPITULATION, the END GAME of which we are now experiencing.

    This episode was featured in “Forbes Magazine” at the time in the early 90’s. See my website on the political activities of the Strauss family and the attempt to muffle me at another website of mine at

  32. I wonder what the Democratic party and the Republican party will look like when the dust settles after this mess is over.

  33. Backing out of previous treaties is guaranteed to show that the U.S. is not to be trusted. I once saw a t-shirt that said, “Trust the government? Ask any Indian.” ‘Nuff said.

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