Category: Politics

“What have you got to lose?”

Trump asked the undecided voters; “Vote for me, what have you got to lose?”

Well, some people lost their lives and jobs, some are losing their businesses, their homes, and their health care. Then there are some who are spending their retirements to provide food for their families while many who never dreamed they would wind up on food assistance lines must cry themselves to sleep at night. But trumpy does not care as long as he is safe. Then everyone of us are losing our Justice Department, our Education Department, even that sometimes Environmental Protection Department and the State Department is but a shadow of itself. Out great transportation system is near bankruptcy. States face disastrous expenses.

The greatest military forces ever created, Army, Navy and Air Force, are virtually immobilized with troops locked down on bases and infected ships at sea. Oh say did you have an elderly mom, dad, favorite uncle or disabled sister in a nursing home? Too bad, so sad, but trump goes marching on.

Well at least we have baseball, maybe football and a few other sports to entertain us while we wait for the credit card or rental company to come and remove that 6o inch color high definition screen TV. And elections just might be decided in Moscow. So yes, truthfully, soon what will we have left to lose?

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Focsle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

What is Executive Privilege?

What is executive privilege? If someone wishes to explain something as being, or not being, covered by the poorly understood doctrine of executive privilege, it ought to be well understood first. To begin, it is not written anywhere in the US Constitution, but has always been respected as a part of Common Law (U.S. Common law is, or was, derived from British Common Law) and is based on court decisions, and opinions developed going back to the frightful events of 1215 in the Runnymede Meadow.

George Washington claimed such a privilege but it was not called “Executive Privilege” until the mid 1950’s when the phrase was coined. But the concept had been used all along by many presidents, and accepted, more or less by our Congresses.

So what is it ?

The idea is that when an executive such as the president is conferring with his adviser or advisers or other high officials about items of national importance that the president is using as a basis for a decision those discussions and the individuals involved might be best kept secret so that political pressures would not taint the truth and usefulness of the information.

Generally the presence of a disinterested party would negate the concept of a private conversation. A trivial subject or one already well known publicly, would also compromise that assumption of necessary secrecy.

How has it usually worked ?

When a committee of Congress requests or subpoenas information as to how a decision was reached and who presented that information, a president might well claim the conversation with and between those advisers to be in the national interest and private.

Almost always either house of congress has accepted that claim. Quite often as a compromise the president will provide all, or enough of the information to selected members of Congress so that they, being above reproach can explain to their peers that the claim is valid. That has worked out fairly well for two hundred and forty years with possibly some exceptions.

Back to the previous comments. So Hunter Biden has absolutely no right to claim excessive privilege and I doubt that he ever tried to do so. Attorney-client privilege, spousal privilege and usually the religious confessional privilege are similar and almost always honored.

Similarly the current president can invoke the privilege but it never has been used to cover up all information passed between all members of an administration.

That is significant due to an important exception. Executive privilege does not and never has been allowed to cover violations of the laws, rules,or regulations, implicit or implied, of this nation, anyway not until the current administration decided to challenge the right of Congressional oversight that is written into the Constitution. But that is another interesting discussion.

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

Ways to Improve Our Government

There are so many things that need change in this country, whether by election, revolution, or the natural efforts of Mother Karma doing her spring cleaning a few months early. One is to recalculate the minimum wage so that a person can support his or her family (1.67 children) in a decent manner, live in fair housing and afford a pleasant week or two vacation every year.

Obviously the laws need updating so that medical care is available to all, either by supporting optional private insurance or a single government pays-all system, possibly some balance of both.

The office of Attorney General must be removed from the Executive Department’s control. Also, after a president’s or cabinet secretary’s term ends any asset, or funds, gained through violation of laws, including the written Constitution, must be recovered by seizure of those assets.

Candidates must release three or four years of tax returns plus the results of a independent physical examination conducted within the year preceding their nomination. It should include the standard tests that can disclose dementia.

The Second Amendment must be clarified and strengthened to protect every citizen’s right to own firearms, except rapid fire military weapons, subject to reasonable local safety and perhaps insurance strictures. Notice, local, not federal.

All government officials, including Congress, with executive powers must move their assets into real arm’s length blind trusts until their term ends, they resign, or are fired. Purchase of property, especially stocks or bonds, must be done by the trust company independently of the principle during the term, except the disposal of the family farmland or home. Of course dying in office would be considered to end one’s term.

Senator’s terms must be capped at two six year terms. Representatives at three four years terms in total. No public official may be allowed to lobby Congress for a term equal to the number of years they held office. The Citizen’s United decision must be replaced by an amendment declaring that Corporations of any kind are not people under the Free Speech Amendment, or any other construction.

Political campaigns must be publicly financed by the government and limited private (1040) donations, perhaps $3,000 or $5,000. Tax forms should have a section where the payer can designate which political group his donation or deduction should receive it.

Every effort must be made to insure that within some measurable number of months the entire nation is powered by dam fed water generators, solar panels or wind turbines. Other environmentally neutral processes, e.g. tide, can be added.

Every effort must be made to make the United States the world’s leader in environmental clean air, clean food, and clean water protection laws.

Public education K-12 must be afforded to all minors, college and trade school education should be provided via earned public or private scholarships and or grants in the national interest.

The situation with the Electoral College must be worked on and probably modified so that a minority president will never win the Executive Office.

People, we can now see the results of abuse of power. I am sure that some can offer added thoughts, pro or con, but I think the things that are the source of most problems that have nearly brought the nation to its knees are covered.

I do believe that some clever people can come up with appropriate language to achieve similar goals. A commission of fifty seven, one from each state, chaired by a former president, two Federal judges, one for the federal territories, and three drawn by random lot from social security numbers of actual taxpayers could be assembled to sit in a non-air conditioned room all summer at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia to work out details of amendments to put before the people and not be allowed to go home except on weekends until they have considered each and every issue on the public docket. Hell, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 57 (56) delegates, and the Constitution by thirty eight two hundred and thirty years ago.

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

Rest in Peace John Peter Zenger

John Peter Zenger

We have always supported a free press, regardless of whether it reported truth or fiction and in return most of that free pres has done a decent job of checking the facts. When an error has occurred, a correction is usually offered on page sixteen, bottom left corner. But lately a small portion of the free press has taken a page from the supermarket sensationalist press and gone beyond the bounds of credulity in reporting lies, distortions and rumors as facts.

Usually most sane people dismiss such trash reporting with a short “Where did you read that, in the World Nut Daily ?” and a mutual chuckle.

But lately sanity has taken a rain check from the minds of some 30% of our society and are not considering such news articles with a little reflection that would demonstrate that such report are and have to be political distortion. They seem to enjoy mass rallies where they can shout “Give us Barabbas” and jeer anyone who tries to inject the least bit of sanity.

The question on my mind is, assuming we are able to install a reasonably honest administration that is willing to deal with difficult problems and subjects fairly, what can we do to reverse this foolish acceptance of scrap paper news as valid reporting without removing or reducing the protective safety net we have given the free press for two about hundred years, and not be putting a tombstone up “RIP John Peter Zenger.” And dear friends, if you need to look up John Peter Zenger, you should.

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

Was Elizabeth Warren the best qualified candidate?

Many well-meaning citizens feel that Elizabeth Warren is the best qualified candidate. Qualified in what way, Professional knowledge of the workings of the financial details? Compassion for the helpless? Imaginative?

Qualified in some or even several ways, yes, absolutely yes, but there are alternatives who seem to be better, or, to be fair, at least as well qualified in similar or, other ways. So we have invented this “horse race” that judges candidates by added characteristics, one of which is electability. Those qualities are often offset by counter indicators so a balance is made by voters and supporters and Liz, while very high on the positive qualification scale carries a significant impediment, her nomination and election might just tear the country apart even further. And Sanders, with his unbudging stubbornness is thwarted in a similar way as well. His extreme views will prevent him from putting “United” ahead of “States.”

I remember a candidate, in fact, I cheerfully voted for the candidate who proudly said; “Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Ringingly deathless words, but sadly not likely to mend the fracture that was then, as now, ripping the nation apart.

And he lost in a landslide. His opponent was a somewhat crooked candidate of one party who could and so often did work with members of the other party and for all his faults went from horse thief as a congressman to a rather successful president.

The thing that so many people fail to acknowledge is that an election, is a compromise in which the best winners are often the candidates who are acceptable to the most voters. Warren could serve the nation as a whole by working to elect one of those types less doctrinaire candidates who stands that best chance of hearing the country, and perhaps working from within effectively to bring about the goals she is known to have.

Think about Gerald Ford as an example of one such uniters in the days after Nixon was drummed out of office. “…. My friends, our long national nightmare is over etc. ……”

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved