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Trump’s National Emergency and Blazing Saddles

Friends Of Padre Steve’s World,

Today President Trump declared a National Emergency, though in his own words “he didn’t need to do it, he just wanted to do it faster.”

A couple of days ago I wrote about the great and trailblazing Mel Brooks film, Blazing Saddles. 

It was a film way ahead of its time and two of its characters, Attorney General Headly Lamarr, played by Harvey Kormann, and Governor William  Lepetomaine, played by Brooks himself are a startling premonition of the current President, in their lust for power and incompetence, wrapped in ignorance and racism.

Of course the President’s decision impacts military readiness, infrastructure, and the service men and women who work and live on the bases that will now be deprived of billions of dollars of badly needed infrastructure repairs and improvements just to remain operational. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the President, nor does the Constitutional separation of powers that gives to Congress, and Congress alone the power of the purse. But I digress…

The fact is that the President is doing his damnedest to undermine the rule of law by finding some kind of precedent for something that amounts to an unprecedented federal land grab on the basis of an unprovable national emergency.

Now all the President needs is men to carry it out. Of course, there will be no want of volunteers.

So anyway, as this cracked up Operation gets underway, just remember, Trump won’t be the first nor the last to try find a way around the law and the Constitution to fulfill his agenda, but none will be as funny and to the point as Headly Lamarr and William Lepetomaine. Compared to them, Trump is a pathetically clueless, humorless, and soulless rank amature who believes that he is both witty and smart.

All that being said I cannot beleive that he won’t get away with it. The GOP Senate majority has shown no courage when Trump walks on their Party beliefs and Constitutional responsibilities, and the Courts at this point, God only knows. I hope to be wrong but I don’t expect them to exercise any judicial independence in support of the Constitution and the powers granted to them within it.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under civil rights, film, History, laws and legislation, leadership, movies, News and current events

Waiting for the National Emergency

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am musing about President Trump’s treat to declare a National Emergency if Congress does not bend the knee and surrender it’s Constitutional powers under Article One of the Constitution by not appropriating funding for the construction of his border wall, the one that he promised that Mexico would pay for on many occasions.

Honestly, I have always believed that Trump will declare a National Emergency to consolidate dictatorial powers. However, I did not believe that he would use such a poorly concocted plan to do so. I realize that his contempt for the Constitution, our system of government, the Congress, the Courts and all of our institutions runs deep in him, but if he attempts an end run around Congress by doing this I am positive that the Court challenges will doom it, were emergency powers restricted to finding a way to build his Wall, however, a state of emergency proclamation gives the President nearly dictatorial powers should he or maybe in the future, she decide to use them. Congress needs to reign those powers in, but that won’t happen anytime soon.

Declaring a state of emergency simply to bypass Congress for a pet project will create a Constitutional crisis, and if you can imagine it, throw the country into chaos.

It is not enough that the government shutdown has been going on three weeks. It is not if that the global and the United States economy is not showing signs of weakness.

It is not as if foreign powers, real enemies such as Russia are continuing to attack our institutions at home and interests abroad.

It is not as if authoritarian regimes are taking over power in former democracies, with President Trump’s full approval.

Likewise, it’s not as if that the administration is not in chaos, that the resignation of the last remaining adults in the room, and the indictments, or coming indictments of Trump allies by the investigation of Robert Muller, and the coming hearings in the House Of Representatives will not cut the President’s feet out from under him.

He will be fully revealed for what he is and always has been, and what his most faithful supporters have excused and ignored.

The President is habitual liar, a narcissistic sociopath with delusions of Godhood, and a two bit owner of a family business who has destroyed every business he has led, bamboozled and defrauded and every investor or contractor who put their faith in him, and betrayed every one of his wives. Though he avoided military service, he has derided and mocked honorable military men, men who fought in combat, put their lives on the line, and even were wounded or taken prisoners. To Trump, men like James Mattis, John McCain, Stanley McChrystal, William McRaven, John Allen, John Kelly, H. R. McMaster, John Kerry, and so many others were failures, and he, who dodged the draft, bragged that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases was his personal Vietnam.

So I await his declaration and I hope that the Republicans in the Senate will finally grow a set of testicles and remember that their oath is to the Constitution, not the President. I hope that the courts will stop it, and I hope that military leaders will put their feet down and not obey an unconstitutional and unethical order.

Again, let me reiterate that I have always believed that Trump will try to use a state of emergency, his Reichstag Fire moment, to secure his hands or on power, but I thought he would use a war, a major terrorist attack, financial collapse, or natural disaster to do it. In those kinds of events he would probably have the support of the majority of Americans and Congress, but for this ham fisted attempt to bypass Congress and defy the Constitutional separation of powers should be his undoing if he actually tries it.

Regardless of if he does it or not, it is important for every man and woman who has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic also applies to defending it against a rogue President who defies the Constitution and collides with foreign powers against his own country. Until Trump such was unthinkable, no President, even the most callous or criminal has ever sank to the moral, legal, and ethical depths of this President.

So, I wait to see what happens. As I do I remember and reflect upon the words of German General Ludwig Beck:

It is a lack of character and insight, when a soldier in high command sees his duty and mission only in the context of his military orders without realizing that the highest responsibility is to the people of his country.”

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Shades of Gray

“ASSUMED? Brother, I’ve seen all kinds of dishonesty in my day, but this little display takes the cake. Y’all come in here with your hearts bleedin’ all over the floor about slum kids and injustice; you listen to some fairy tales; suddenly you start gettin’ through to some of these old ladies… well, you’re not getting through to me, I’ve had enough! WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU GUYS? You all know he’s guilty. He’s got to burn! You’re letting him slip through our fingers.” Juror Number (Lee J Cobb) Three Twelve Angry Men

I have had a very busy and stressful few days and I am finishing this article before boarding a flight home to the United States from Europe.  In that time I have come to appreciate our system of justice especially that found in our civil and criminal courts.  I have also come to believe over the course of years that no matter what court system, civilian, federal, state local or military that sometimes there are situations where injustice occurs within the system because people are people. No matter how hard we try to make the system perfect and just there are times when it doesn’t fully work.  Innocent people are jailed and guilty people go free. It happens at every type of court of justice simply because imperfect people with all of their attendant life experience, prejudices and emotions must determine the guilt or innocence of people beyond a reasonable doubt.

Those prejudices can be seen all the time. Some people because of race, gender, status in life or sexual preference do not receive the same measure of justice as others. Certain ethnic groups can receive different measures of justice based on where the trial is held while others may not even be prosecuted for crimes that elsewhere would land people in jail.  Prosecutors and media can demonize the accused before and during a trial process so badly that even if the accused is acquitted he or she may still bear the guilt the rest of their life in the eyes of his or her fellow citizens.

Sometimes our justice system works well and sometimes, at least in some of our views it doesn’t.  At the same time it is usually far better than the systems of most of the rest of the world.  For the most part our judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys and juries selected from our peers do a good job and try hard to find a good and just verdict.  At the same time our system is not perfect. As I mentioned sometimes the guilt go free while innocent people are convicted. Other times certain prejudices override the nature of a crime while even more common now are the mandatory sentencing guidelines that condemn people convicted of certain crimes, even when those crimes have little impact even on the alleged victims to consequences that last far beyond the actual sentence imposed. Of course those guidelines, regardless of the type of crime committed usually were legislated because someone got away with something and legislators decided that they would shackle courts with guidelines which took away from judges and juries any leeway to do differently.

This week I saw some very good men and women in our military justice system wrestle with the guilt of an officer and a friend.  I think that the judge and members of the jury took their job seriously and worked hard to do the best that they could with what was a very convoluted and complicated case, one that I think never should have gone to trial.  I think that with what they had as evidence they did their best and acted with integrity. I cannot question the integrity or honor of the military judge or the jury, but I do wonder about the case itself and the motivations of the young prosecutor who I think was out not to serve justice but to build a resume. However, my friend was found guilty but the prosecutor did not get nearly what he asked, and that was a good thing, and hopefully as he gets older, becomes more experienced in life and law he will be more judicious in how he handles such cases.  I do think that my friend stands a good chance of prevailing in the appellate process do the elements involved in the case and how the government put it together, but in the interregnum my friend will have a difficult time.  Thankfully he will not be alone. As a Christian, friend and Priest I cannot abandon someone simply because they have been found guilty of a crime.

Back when I was a young Army Officer I was a company commander and served as a personnel officer.  In both capacities I was involved in the military justice system. As a commander I actually had to make decisions about the guilt or innocence of soldiers or refer their cases to commanders or courts higher than my level of authority. As a personnel officer I was often involved in the administrative and investigative process.  In those days as a young officer I saw things in a very black and white manner, no shades of gray. The prosecutor in those days was was always my friend and defense attorneys were simply impediments to convictions.

I have grown up and in life have discovered that things are not nearly as clear cut as I would have like to have believed when I was young.  In fact now I am a big fan of defense attorneys because in many cases good defense attorneys are a last bastion against a society and criminal justice system that is ever more ready to presume guilt even before a case is adjudicated.  Sometimes even after an acquittal the public will never be persuaded that someone is innocent.

There are shades of gray that sometimes are not addressed in the system and sometimes do to well meaning legislation keep judges and juries from making decisions in those gray areas because elected officials have decided that there can be no gray areas.  I think that such laws sometimes do more harm than good to our justice system. But then what do I know?

Sometimes I hate being a historian. I know that in other countries where people are frustrated and use the law as a tool for vengeance, retribution and settling scores with people, parties and groups that they blame for their own woes, real or imagined.  So I do worry about the future of justice in our country when I see laws passed that bind judges, juries which seek not only to ensure that a person convicted of a crime repay his or her debt to society, but suffer for it the rest of they lives even after the actual punishment is served.

But then what do I know?

Peace

Padre Steve+

Padre Steve+

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