Trumping The Constitution

I’m not one of those old people who is always looking back in time through rose-colored glasses–“remembering” that families were closer, people were friendlier, children were seen and not heard, etc. etc. Those memories are highly suspect, if not deliberately dishonest.

That said, I do miss the Republican Party of my younger days. It’s true that it always had a right-wing fringe, but before that fringe took control and ran reasonable people out, the GOP I worked for was filled with admirable, public-spirited men and women.

I thought about those “good old days” when I read that a group of former GOP lawmakers had written a letter to Republicans in Congress, urging them to void Trump’s “Emergency” declaration.

A group of 23 former Republican lawmakers, including former Defense Secretary under the Obama administration Chuck Hagel, signed a letter urging Republicans in Congress to pass a joint resolution that would terminate President Trump’s emergency declaration over the border wall.

In an open letter to GOPers, the former lawmakers argued that Congress should not allow the President to “circumvent congressional authority.” They also questioned how willing lawmakers are to undermine the Constitution.

“How much are you willing to undermine both the Constitution and the Congress in order to advance a policy outcome that by all other legitimate means is not achievable?” they wrote.

One of the signatories to that letter was former Indiana Senator Dick Lugar.

The contrast between the Republican Party of Lugar and Hudnut and the party of McConnell and Trump is devastating. The Republicans who currently “serve” Indiana in the House and Senate (please note quotation marks around the word serve) are a sorry group of wanna-be’s, terrified that they will run afoul of the party’s rabid, racist base if they confront a President they know to be corrupt, ignorant and dangerously incompetent.

The letter from party elders was blunt: support for Trump’s “Emergency” is an attack on the Constitution. Failure to oppose it is failure to serve the national interest. And yet, every single Republican member of Indiana’s House delegation caved. Faced with a choice between serving their country and falling into line for Trump, they chose Trump.

Emergency powers are intended to allow Presidents to act when there is not time for Congress to do so. If the President can overrule Congress when it has acted, simply by declaring an emergency, there is no longer a separation of powers. Congress is neutered.

The lawyers in Indiana’s delegation, especially, fully understood the import of their votes. (And yes, Susan Brooks, we are looking at you.)

In an eloquent essay in the Atlantic, Eliot Cohen described these Republicans.

Talk to them privately, and they will confess that there is no emergency at the southern border—there is a problem, to be sure, but one whose seriousness has actually diminished over time. They know that the congressional leadership had the votes to build walls there for the first two years of the administration but did not manage it. They know, for that matter, that border security involves much more than walls. They know that the president is invoking emergency powers as an electoral ploy, and because he is impatient.

They know, in their timid breasts, that they would have howled with indignation if Barack Obama had declared a national emergency in such a circumstance. As they stare at their coffee cup at breakfast, the thought occurs to them that a future left-wing president could make dangerous use of these same powers—because Speaker Nancy Pelosi rubbed that fact in their face. Some of the brighter ones might even realize that emergency powers are a favored tool of authoritarians everywhere.

 But they are afraid. They are afraid of being primaried. They are afraid of being called out by the bully whom they secretly despise but to whom they pledge public fealty. They are afraid of having to find another occupation than serving in elective office. And the most conceited of the lot—and there are quite a few of those, perhaps more in the Senate than in the House—think that it would be a tragedy if the country no longer had their service at its disposal.

I didn’t always agree with Dick Lugar’s policy preferences. (I didn’t always agree with Bill Hudnut’s, and I worked in his administration.) But I respected them both, and I respected the many, many other persons of integrity and intelligence who called the GOP their political home before it devolved into a cult composed of racists and moral midgets.

I miss them.


  1. I don’t miss any of the hacks on the right, but, if it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, the word is the Koch’s have been booted from the national @GOP.

    There is also a rumor that the Koch brothers are working on polishing their image as they explore Educational Technology. Apparently, they want to embrace more than extremists.

    The political spectrum is really a fraud spectrum. It’s a hoax. Just like the concept of democracy or republic–doesn’t exist.

    These bastards intentionally make poor decisions and let the lawyers and judges sort it out. It’s why they stack the courthouses with money accepting puppets. It’s a charade.

    Social and alternative media (like this blog) has exposed this country for what it is–a fraud. We also have a trillion dollar military that has bases in how many countries??? 😉

  2. The old Republican that I remember:
    Did absolutely nothing while a generation of Gay Americans died from AIDS
    Supported Prisons for Fun and Profit and passed laws to keep them full of minor drug offenders
    They supported war after war to support those who profit from war
    Voted against most attempts to clean up the environment
    Voted against equal rights for women, gays, etc etc
    Voted against Social Security
    Voted Against Medicare
    Voted Against — well you get the picture
    I don’t miss them too much
    The current crop are CRAZIER but they still vote the same (Susan Brooks)
    It seems to me that the biggest difference is their STYLE – not their votes

  3. Well, big f…ing deal. After over two years of the gangster presidency of Donald Trump 23 former Republican lawmakers are now taking a stand? 23??? Wow! Sorry folks, but the time for taking a stand has passed. The opportunity to make a difference was in 2016, and no one is going to be moved by this “day late and a dollar short” move by a bunch of conservative has beens.

    Some are saying that the Republicans have lost their souls… I say they never had one. see patmcc above.

  4. “I didn’t always agree with Dick Lugar’s policy preferences. (I didn’t always agree with Bill Hudnut’s, and I worked in his administration.) But I respected them both, and I respected the many, many other persons of integrity and intelligence who called the GOP their political home before it devolved into a cult composed of racists and moral midgets.

    I miss them.”

    patmcc; you are talking federal level Republican, Sheila is talking local level…watermelons and apples. I served in local government much longer than Sheila; beginning under Mayor Richard Lugar, through Mayor Bill Hudnut’s administration and into the beginning of Herr Goldsmith’s rapid decline of the local Republican party, the beginning of what we have today. One city and one state that has festered into the bright red boil on the ass of the contiguous United States of America that it is today. Of course there were issues which were not quite right and other issues which were drastically wrong. The same was and is true of the Democratic party here and throughout this nation. That is life, that is the basic “law of averages”. I miss the “good stuff” but I do remember the bad stuff like the racism, closeted LGBTQs, poverty levels, police brutality “–well you get the picture.”

    I woke up to CNNs reports of the situation in Syria, Trump’s mental rampage at CPAC and reminders of the past disastrous week for this county. I switched channels to Sundance in time to catch the last 30 minutes of the movie “Hoosiers”; the scenes in Butler Fieldhouse, glimpses of then well-known radio and TV announcers, Ray Crowe and Tony Hinkle, all brought tears to my eyes for that part of the “good stuff”. A scene from the movie, no way to know if it actually happened but it fits with the vast differences between than and now; when the minister led the Hickory basketball team in prayer before that final amazing game, one of their players “took a knee”. It was accepted by all who were in that locker room and would have been accepted by the crowd in Butler Fieldhouse had it actually happened. Part of the “good stuff” which has become an ugly national racial issue under current Republican leadership.

    Yes, Sheila, I remember and I miss them, too. Watching the film clips from Trump’s CPAC tirade against all that is American instilled a deep, deep fear within me that he will actually be reelected (however the hell the Republicans of today manage it again) in 2020. Before seeing those films I had high hopes of him being a one-term president and booting Trump, Pence, McConnell and their entire administration out of what was once OUR White House…today the name “White House” has a different meaning.

  5. Patmcc@6:26am:
    “Republicans did absolutely nothing while a generation of Gay Americans died from AIDS”.

    Some did worse than nothing. Remember addle-headed Saint Ronald Reagan; never forget his shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS. History may ultimately judge the GOP by the thousands who have and will die of AIDS.
    Who was it who said Gays deserved to die of AIDS? Who attributed AIDS to God to punish behavior?

  6. It should be obvious to anyone that no party is perfect, no system of government is perfect, and no single economic system is perfect. It should be just as obvious that “we the people” get better outcomes when Dems are in charge.

  7. While I appreciate your grace, Sheila, citing a too-late letter from a mere 23 former office holders is giving way too much credit to any Republicans. That spirit you suggest died with Lincoln. Virtually EVERY Republican administration has worked toward increasing the power of oligarchs and diminished the equality and fair-sharing of the middle/working classes.

    Class warfare? It began in 1776 – and perhaps it was actually inherited from the British colonization – and hasn’t abated since. Today’s GOP is merely the latest – and most craven – iteration of the ruling class wanting it ALL at the expense of everybody else.

    In my book, “Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third-World Status”, I summarize the history of the major events that caused people like Todd to preach dystopia. In the strictest sense, he is right, but then I dare anyone to find the perfect system run by perfect leaders. Even the tortured mind of Karl Marx could see where our system was headed by the 19th century. Well, it’s here. Now what?

  8. “Emergency powers are intended to allow Presidents to act when there is not time for Congress to do so.”

    Congress grants a specific declaration for up to 12 months. It does not define “national emergency”. It can be, and is routinely renewed and extended annually. It can be repealed by joint resolution. It passed the House as amended 388-5.

    I concur it is being misused but was poorly crafted, and absent the countervailing explicit will of Congress to repudiate, grants sweeping powers. I am worried about what other “national emergencies” Trump might declare.

  9. “While I appreciate your grace, Sheila, citing a too-late letter from a mere 23 former office holders is giving way too much credit to any Republicans.”

    Vernon at 8:17; we work with what we have at hand. Peggy Hannon’s statement says it all and as I stated in my comments that is life and the “law of averages”. Would you rather the 23 former office holders remained silent? “Better late than never.” Maybe – a big MAYBE – maybe their words will entice those in office who give lip service to take action when it matters. If you are looking for perfection; you must wait for the Second Coming but I really can’t imagine you among the evangelicals now in charge of us.

  10. It isn’t that some of us “are looking for perfection” so much as it is that we are demanding better…. much, much better. And as I posted earlier, the letter from 23 former Republican legislators is too little too late.

  11. Not all of the vulgarian’s GOP enablers are base-fearing hypocrites. Many of them are true believers. We need to remember that because we won’t see any conversions to sanity from them. What’s more disturbing though, is that the GOP extremist base is big enough to scare so many of those who might take a sane path.

  12. Eliot Cohen said it for me. He covered the bases well. Republican office holders prize their reelection over country, the Constitution, or anybody or anything else that would detract from a continuation of their little power base niche, but it wasn’t always this way. It was Republican senators who brought Nixon down at Watergate, Republicans who treasured the Constitution over political advantage. They were patriots, but their numbers have evaporated in today’s battle for pretense and power, a battle that has given us a RICO case in the Oval Office, one in which their silence in the face of massive criminal conduct at the highest level tells us all we need to know. They need to be removed from office as soon as possible since they have not lived up to their oath of office – to defend the Constitution.

  13. Wingnut dominated legislatures should be neutered and that should be statute law.

  14. The “good ol'” Republicans — including those who used to be Republicans — were just as evil as present Republicans; their advocacy of “trickle down economics” encompassed ALL of the vice and hate and prejudice brandished by today’s Republican Party. The difference, as someone said, is style, the difference between clandestine and brandished. It could be argued that the brandishing style is easier to combat, because we at least know it’s there. Failure to combat it will be inexcusable.

  15. One aspect of two years with complete Republican control of federal government is that the only thing they “accomplished” was a wealth redistribution tax adjustment that has driven the deficit through the roof in the best of times, those good times created by Obama.

    Also the consequences of a solutions deficit is that at a critical time in the history of humanity the US is a dropout.

    I’m not convinced that after two years of that and two years of stasis we stand a chance of returning to the world stage.

    Liberals will try though. The wealthy will learn that their vacation from paying their share is over. It’s the wealth creating worker’s turn, it’s education’s turn, it’s our home planet’s turn, it’s we the people’s turn.

  16. I am in agreement with many of the sentiments expressed here that old GOP was not all that user friendly to the working class (Proles) in the past. They opposed the New Deal, and were anti-union at their core. McCarthy added the new dimension of the witch-hunt for Communists.

    The tactics and style of Joe McCarthy never left the Reactionary Republican Party, although it was considered fringe by so-called moderate Republicans. It was moderate Republicans, like Goldwater, Nixon and Raygun that invited the Jim Crow Democrats and the Bible Thumper’s into the GOP.

    The old GOP, which has been run out of the Rabid Reactionary Evangelical Republican Party, now struggles to find a home.

    We have some elected Democrats who fear the change toward Progressive Policies and caution us to be Pragmatic or Centralist. Just go away, I say. Now is not the time for caution or fence straddling.

    Getting back to Joe McCarthy, our President Agent Orange is Joe McCarthy, he employs the same tactics: President Agent Orange equates Social- Democrats (like Bernie) with Communists (the broad smear campaign), those that oppose him are smeared with being unpatriotic and anti-American. President Agent Orange like Joe McCarthy sees plots by the traitors within the deep state to undermine him and thus undermine America. President Agent Orange like Joe McCarthy will also employ the personal attack (albeit more colorful descriptions: Little Marco, Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary, etc.

  17. after clintons omnibus crime bill,communications bill,hard to give credit anywhere,though obama may have had, a diffrent outcome,but he was served a plate of wall streets greed for an opening run,(resession)we may never have seen what may,have become from a stable,president. we would like to imagine a constitutional president again. but WE have allowed the congress and its messangers to subvert,the truth,and ongoing scam against the people. we now have a new congress,on the fringe of bring back,what we hope is a new begining. the right is slamming the newbies,and fair so, its what they expected. but,we as citizens should push,shove,reneg,and do whatever is possible to allow these newcomers,to practice,what we have lost. AOC isnt some dumb,,,,,, she actully lived in the city where she worked,and has,hands on experience in walking with the people, and talking with them. as a fromer rez of a nearby burg, i see the educated against the bubbas.we have screwed up public ed so bad,bubbas are now born,and bred,for their knowledge?,,(o.k. im being statical) keep the knowlege legit,and never look back from today, we need a nation of educated,progressives,to at least.catch up to europe..

  18. Though nothing useful is likely to result from Trump’s emergency declaration, it may shed some light on where the Supreme Court stands on the country’s most important issue – whether it is nobler to support Trump or to support the Constitution. Our only hope rests in John Roberts, a prideful conservative, who has shown more flexibility recently than anyone could have anticipated. If these men can shun a lifetime of legal training and side with Trump, it will indicate their disdain for the rule of law and their solidarity with the Senate’s cringing majority.

    Unless the American voter or Robert Mueller or the Southern District of New York jumps on a steed and rides to the rescue, we can then declare “game over.” We will be well on our way to a fascist dictatorship which doubles as a sociopathic kakistocracy surrounded by a big, beautiful, useless wall.

  19. Recently, I’ve heard it said that the Republican party is no more; it’s now the party of Trump! Republican congress going along with & covering up Trumps many transgressions is they’re m.o. They’re synonymous with the White House crime family. They welcomed supported & are complicit in his flagrant disregard for the law! They are derelict of duty & deserve the same outcome, to be removed from office & charged with High Crimes & Misdemeanors!

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