Newsletter February 2017
KEEPING IN TOUCH
In order to control our own futures on a personal basis, one of the critical issues is to understand the overall picture. This means we need to understand both our government and our economy and how they affect our personal finances.
With the election of a new president there is a great deal of hope springing up around the nation that we may have a brighter future than expected.
If you would take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which are the foundations for American government, you will recognize that we have not followed those documents or the ideas in them for more than a hundred years now.
If you then take a quick look at the ten planks of the communist manifesto you will understand that for more than a hundred years our federal officials have been following the ten planks of the communist manifesto with gusto. During that same time, the problems the manifesto was purposely created to generate have been blamed on the Constitution. It’s my hope that the change in the public attitude will soon begin to lead us back to the America which was founded at such great price by our founding fathers.
P. J. O’Rourke has a marvelous mind and a great sense of humor. I sense that this quote could be helpful to point your understanding in the direction of our marvelous Constitution.
The Inaugural Address I’d Like to Hear a President Deliver
By P.J. O’Rourke
On Friday morning, President Donald Trump will deliver his inaugural address.
This is not the kind of thing Trump is very good at. But it’s a low bar. Most presidential inaugural addresses stink.
There’ve been a few exceptions. Lincoln’s second inaugural address was a model of soaring rhetoric: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right…”
Washington’s second inaugural address was a model of how all elected officials should speak. Which is briefly. His speech was 135 words long.
Most other inaugural addresses weren’t memorable. Or if we do remember them, they don’t stand up to scrutiny.
FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What does that even mean? A more reasonable statement at the time of Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1933 would have been, “We have nothing to fear except being broke, out of a job, shoeless, hungry, and having the bank foreclose on our mortgage.”
If we hadn’t been afraid of all those things, FDR would never have gotten elected.
JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” That’s worse than nonsensical. It’s wrong. National service may be an obligation during periods of extreme crisis. But the early 1960s wasn’t one – until Kennedy made it so by bungling the crisis in Cuba. Nations exist to serve people. People do not exist to serve nations.
So I won’t listen to Trump’s inaugural address. I mean, I’ll watch it on TV. Like any good reporter, I’ve got to keep my eye out in case Trump does or says something outrageous. (He has been known to do so.) But I won’t really be paying attention.
Instead, I’ll be working on an alternative speech, my “Inaugural Address I’d Like to Hear a President Deliver.” And not just President Trump, but any president from either party.
It will go something like this:
My fellow Americans…
I want to thank the people who voted for me. I also want to thank the people who voted against me. Democracy is meaningless if it doesn’t result from a meaningful competition between ideas – the way the college football national championship game would have been meaningless if Clemson had played the tailgaters in the Raymond James Stadium parking lot.
Furthermore, I want to thank the people who didn’t vote. It’s not wrong to not vote. A person who doesn’t vote is reminding us all that there’s more to America than its government.
And there’s more to America’s government than the man who’s the head of it. In fact, it could be that America has been giving too much power and privilege to the man who is the head of its government.
I’m the new president. But I am only an individual. And we are a nation of laws, not men.
Because we are a country guided by rules instead of by personalities, I’ve been reading the rule book. I’ve been studying the Constitution for the United States of America.
I intend to play by the rules. I’m the president, but you the people own this country. You are the stockholders. Your elected representatives in Congress are the board of directors. And the chairman of the board is, again, you the people. I just work here.
In the Constitution, the president of the United States isn’t even mentioned until Article I, Section 3. And the only reason that he’s mentioned there is to explain how Congress can impeach him.
Actually, the vice president is mentioned before the president. That’s because the vice president holds the office of president of the Senate, where he has a tiebreaking vote.
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” To judge by that, our Founding Fathers were more concerned with what goes on in Congress than what goes on in the White House… which, incidentally, they didn’t bother to build until 1800.
The Constitution doesn’t get around to listing the powers of the president until Article II, Sections 2 and 3, and the list is only four paragraphs long.
I’m “commander in chief” of the military. But in Article I, Section 8, the Constitution says Congress has the power to “declare war,” to “make rules concerning captures on land and water” and to “raise and support armies.” So I guess “commander in chief” really means that when the Marines yell “gung ho!” and charge, I’m supposed to go first.
I’m not looking forward to this part of the job because I’m a little concerned that the huge Secret Service motorcade with all the flashing blue lights that follows me everywhere I go will attract enemy fire.
Some people think the president is in charge of America’s foreign policy. I don’t know where they got that idea.
Yes, I’m allowed to make treaties but only “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” And two-thirds of the Senate has to agree to the treaty. Two-thirds of the Senate can’t agree on what they had for lunch in the Senate Dining Room.
And notice that while the Senate has the “consent” thing covered – it loves to vote on stuff – it tends to come up short on the “advice” part. The only advice a president gets from a senator is, “You should help me raise funds for my reelection campaign.”
By the way, if you’d like a little advice and consent of my own, I’d advise you to consent to be more careful about who you elect to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
We’ve got some real nut-buckets up on Capitol Hill.
Anyway, as I was saying, I also get to appoint ambassadors, my Cabinet, and when the occasion arises, Supreme Court justices. Unless, of course, the Senate advises me that they won’t consent.
I have the “Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” Although, by custom, my major campaign donors won’t get out of jail until the very end of my second term.
But I can fix my teenage son’s speeding tickets – if he’s careful to do his speeding only inside the District of Columbia and not go over to Virginia and get arrested for speeding under a state law.
However, that huge Secret Service motorcade usually has traffic tied up in the District. So I’m afraid the kid won’t get much of a chance to speed.
Mostly what I’m supposed to do as president, according to the Constitution, is “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” I’m the national hall monitor.
The rest is paperwork. I can “require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.”
And under the Freedom of Information Act, so can the New York Times. A fat lot of good it does either of us.
Now let’s all go have some fun at the inaugural balls. I’m attending all of them and will have a few drinks at each. If I wake up late tomorrow with a bad headache and don’t feel like working, don’t worry. My job isn’t all that important.