Supreme Court declares Trump emoluments lawsuits moot

It would appear that the Supreme Court has little concern for Presidential Emoluments violations. Unfortunately this sets a bad precedent for what future presidents have to consider when they take the oath of office to uphold the constitution and faithfully executed the laws, for example, by accepting emoluments. Tossing suits for being moot because Trump is no longer in office, fails to recognize that the Maryland and DC suit filed in 2017 near the end of Trump’s first years in office suggests that Trump’s legal strategy of causing delay paid off. In effect the Supreme Court by dismissing a case for not being moot because conditions have changed (the person no longer occupies the office) suggests that the Court itself can utilize delay to avoid making decisions. (Note, delay was often the case in abortion cases). It may be a way the Court can avoid fashioning a penalty or remedy for an emoluments violation. While there are federal laws that prohibit government employees from accepting gifts from foreigners and foreign governments, I doubt that there are laws on the books dealing with the President or entities owned by him doing business with foreigners or foreign governments.

When the issue of emoluments first arose, one may recall the debates over the meaning of the term. In the 18th Century emoluments seemed to have a broad meaning including profit or gain from a transaction. Unlike the Trump lawyer’s claim that emoluments did not include business transactions. It would appear the Supreme Court did not want to get into the business of translating the 18th Century English into modern English.

Other than the fact that by throwing cases out for being moot so there is no name to the non-decision such as Dread Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, or Citizens united, the Court’s decision of “mootness” does not share the same level of bad decisions the aforementioned cases, but belongs rightfully in the same category as those badly thought out decisions that sought to avoid a decision consistent with the Constitution.

What is the connection between the institution of slavery in America and poverty, white and minority, in America today?

This is a draft intended for reviewers comments only. T. Edward Westen 01/24/2021

What is the connection between the institution of slavery in America and poverty, white and minority, in America today?

The American economy was built on slavery. In 1619 the White Lion arrived in Virginia with the first score of slaves sold to Americans. This was 12 years after the first English colony established at Jamestown and a year before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.

Eventually slavery benefited the “non-slave” states through the triangle trade that we learned about back in high school history classes. One of the variations of the triangle trade involved manufactured goods from Massachusetts and surrounding states shipped to Africa where the goods were traded for slaves who were carried to the southern, slave holding states. Agricultural goods from the southern states were sent north where the ships exchanged the agricultural products from the south and picked up manufactured goods only to begin the triangle route again. So, part of the raw materials going into northern manufacturing were produced by slave labor. Clearly ship owners made a profit at each corner of the triangle trade. Every participant in triangle trade, except for the slaves who made the arrangement possible, financially profited from the arrangement.

For 11 years after the Civil War, Reconstruction attempted to integrate former slaves into the socioeconomic and political system. But with the 1876 Presidential Election dispute and subsequent compromise in the US House of Representatives, Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow laws all but re-enslaved those freed by the Civil War and the 13th through 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Jim Crow insured a pool of unskilled labor for the next 90 years (and longer). This pool of low wage laborers left a legacy of cheaper labor in the states of the former Confederacy to this day. To verify this look at which states have no or low the minimum wage laws across the states and the prevalence of Right to Work laws in those same states. For further evidence also look at patterns of where corporations locate manufacturing in the United States prior to them locating off shore where wages are even lower.

If a political unit (American State) maintains a pattern of low wages based primarily upon race, one insures a climate in which racism can flourish and grow. Hence, the legacy of slavery in America is one of racism manifest as white supremacy along with poverty, a poorly paid labor pool.

“I am just exercising my rights.”

A contemporary member of either the House or Senate remarked recently (in last six moths or so): “We never use to question another member’s motives. But that seems to be the norm today.” I regret that I did not make a note of who said it, when I heard it. However, that statement came to mind when I heard that Senators Cruz and Hawley explained their challenge of the votes in a swing state by saying, “I am just exercising my rights.”

Both men are aspirants for their party’s presidential nomination in 2024. Depending upon what Trump is able or not able to pull off between now and then, there is a chance the Trump base is up for grabs. I suspect given the kinds of things both Senators have said in the past year, they are wooing the Trump base without putting themselves in danger of running afoul of Trump himself.

Both Senators have made what to them are reasonable explanations for challenging the swing states’ votes, Arizona and Pennsylvania. I shall paraphrase ‘Given the large number of concerns about the elections in the swing states, their fairness and legality need to be examined.’ The problem with this argument is that all the concerns about the elections in question came from Donald Trump and his lawyers and those concerns were passed on and amplified by a large number of House Republicans and the two senators, among other senators, themselves. These concerns were then further amplified on social media. However, other than a handful of individual instances of voter fraud, two of which were in Pennsylvania by a Republican voter, no evidence of widespread fraud or problems was, or is now, cited. I doubt that either Senator could have given evidence the back up the concerns that they claimed were widespread. And to repeat, all the concerns that the two Senators alleged were started by Donald Trump or his legal team which the senators in question did amplify those Donald Trump assertions.

So when either senator says, “I am just exercising my rights,” given the ambitions of those two senators and their participation in the promulgation of the Trump false claims (by false I mean there is no evidence in over 50 court filings to support the cases even being heard); I think we need to examine the use of the word “just.” If the senators in question, or any other Member of Congress, meaning “just” surely they would have no motive other than seeking the truth.

Clearly the exercise of free speech can result in people uttering lies. However, one should note that uttering lies to separate people from their money, false claims for a product, are jusdiciable (against the law). One should note that uttering lies in a court of law when under oath is punishable (perjury). One should note that by uttering false statements about a person’s honesty, one can adjudicate (slander and liable). And, one should note that falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech (reckless endangerment). So, while the exercise of free speech can result in people uttering lies, there are a variety of sanctions for lying. So, if the two senators in question are “just” exercising their First Amendment Rights, perhaps they would send me the evidence upon which they based their claims that the Arizona and Pennsylvania elections were defective. And I do mean evidence and not just accusations.

Indeed, I would encourage anyone with evidence of fraud, irregularities, or other illegalities in the election of 2020 in any state or the District of Columbia. The claims or assertions are out there, send me the evidence and I will publish the evidence.

To be clear, I am questioning the motives of Senators Cruz and Hawley along with Donald Trump and all of those who propagated his claims the election was stolen from him. (Given the mounting evidence ranging from DeJoy as Postmaster General making the mail move slower to the early January attempted Coup of the US Attorney General to get the Department of Justice to fool Georgia into thinking there was an investigation into that state’s election and the Trump sponsored insurgency on January 6th, it looks like the attempted steal was by Trump himself.)

But I digress, send me the evidence and I will publish the accumulated evidence that all of you send.

Explaining the Republican Senate Response to People in Need

The Republican Senate response to a second stimulus (Covid19 relief) package highlights a view of American workers as needing to be kept “hungry” or they will not go to work for wages. Indeed, in the face of staggering hunger statistics (and lines at food pantries), massive evictions held in abeyance, more people unemployed since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and thousands daily dying from Covid19 the Senate Republicans did not act for 7 months after the House passed the Hero’s Act, and then after very hard bargaining, it allotted $600 in individual relief.

While the Senate Republicans, several years earlier, did not hesitate to pass a massive tax cut for the wealthy and corporations which drove up the national debt, the Senate Republicans were afraid a payment to workers would be too much of a burden on taxpayers to pay off the debt it would generate. Never mind that their tax cut to the rich and corporations ballooned the national debt higher than in any non-war-time period in our history.

The Senate Republicans view of workers smacks of a class distinction normally seen in societies with a monarchy and aristocratic class or in an autocracy based upon wealth, not a society in a modern democracy. It also smacks of the kind of inequality we experienced after 1876 when Jim Crow laws became the law of the states formerly in the old Confederacy for 100 years (and beyond).

To no small extent, this inequality is dependent upon the trickle-down monetary creation system we have and the way we finance elections. Senate Republicans are kept in power by wealthy and corporate campaign donors.

The wealth of campaign donors is based on the productivity of employees who work for low wages relative to their productivity. While capital is evaluated by ROI, return on investment, there is no comparable measure of workforce productivity in terms of cost of the workforce. Rather, accountants measure labor-to-revenue ratio. This will typically average under 30 percent for a manufacturing firm and 50 percent for a service firm. Since these ratios of labor costs to revenue are not clearly tied to an investment as ROI is they are more than flexible for adding to the employer’s wealth over time. Then too, given employers might finance their payroll with loans, thus, the employer is using new money to pay the wages, salaries, and benefits used to generate revenue. This further increases the employer’s wealth without putting any of his or her capital (wealth) at risk. A doubling of an employer’s wealth accumulation abilities due to the labor of employees.

Based upon any given labor-to-revenue ratio, it is in the employer’s wealth accumulation interests to find the lowest possible ratio. Lower ratios exist when the labor pool larger than the available jobs. Lower ratios exist when the employees are not represented by a union. Lower ratios exist when individuals in the labor pool are desperate for an income. Thus, it would appear that employers would prefer conditions that favor the existence of a lower labor-to-revenue ratio. Should it then surprise anyone that campaign donors (AKA employers) donate to political candidates who will provide policies that foster any conditions that promote a lower labor-to-revenue ratio? And that explains the Senate Republican position on the $2000 payment in the Covid19 relief package at the end of December of 2020. Keep the unemployed and desperate workers in the worker pool desperate so they will be thankful for taking any job at any wage.

Why wouldn’t there be systemic racism in law and its application?

I watched the Kentucky Attorney General’s news conference yesterday in which he, more or less, explained, maybe more that he justified in his context, the charges being brought in Kentucky as a result of Breonna Taylor’s death. My reaction to what he said is that the pursuit of the truth in the context of criminal law is elusive for when the law is applied the truth is colored by the definitions of acts under the law. The law is made by human begins who write the law with their points of view and histories (experiences). The law is amended over time by more human beings who may or may not bring new points of view and histories to the revisions. One has to also remember our criminal law is built upon the edifice of English common law which came out of a class structure in Merry Old England. I rather suspect there is systematic racism in this whole lawmaking process. For the law, as we know it was built, after all, by white males from the English Common Law, to our Constitution, through reconstruction and Jim Crow right down into the modern Civil Rights Era.

Is it no wonder that blacks are disproportionately shot and killed by police? Blacks constitute 13.4 of the US population. White represents 60.7% of the US population. (Hispanics represent 16.7% of the US population.) Of deaths by police shootings where the victim’s race is known 52% are white, 26% were black, 17% were Hispanic, and 3% were other races. (All are based upon 2020 data to date.) We could show the same pattern with incarceration, poverty, single-parent families, homeownership and any socioeconomic or political measure one would care to use. They all show something is amiss. Quite frankly it would end up boiling down to attitudes and predispositions held by a significant number of white members of society—systematic racism that is rooted in the law and its application.

Imagine an amendment to all statutes and pertinent articles in The Constitution that asserts “All people are equal under the law.”

Plot to steal the Presidential Election

Yesterday (9/23/2020), Trump refused to say he would guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.  He is claiming that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.  He will take this to the Supreme Court.  Parenthetically this is why he says there needs to be a replacement for the late Justice Ginsburg.  Never mind that his challenge to the Affordable Care Act will be argued before the Supreme Court starting November 10 this year.

An Atlantic article yesterday

reported a plot by Trump and his minions. The plot is to have states with Republican majorities in both chambers of their legislatures, after the election, if Trump does not win, have the states’ legislatures send Trump electors to the Electoral College.  Since all the “swing states” have Republican legislatures  this would steal the election from the voters.  State legislatures have the power to choose electors. (Article II Section 1 paragraph 3) 

There is one small glitch.  Since state laws have designated elections as a means of choosing electors, if after an election is held the state legislature changes their way of choosing electors  that state would be enacting an ex post facto law.  The Constitution in Art. I section 10 prohibits states from enacting ex post facto laws.  It is, however, important to note that not all ex post facto laws passed by states were invalidated on the grounds of violating this article. 

The Atlantic article was based upon interviews with at least one Trump reelection campaign official.   Why would Trump and his campaign official both tell anyone what evil lurked in their hearts? I do believe they are serious.

In a strange way the Trump  plot to steal the election is an extension of systemic racism and the attempt to keep America white and male-dominated.  And to think Thomas thought he lived in times that tried people’s souls.

I add that last sentence, for Trump and his minions already have started the process of delaying the count of mail-in ballots, among other complaints he has, by initiating legal actions in several states. The courts act incredibly slowly and can tie up actual vote counting if they choose to do it. Trump is banking on that for his plot to steal the election for if the votes are not counted by December 8 and Electors named, Congress may refuse to accept the state’s electors. The plot is to put the Republican legislatures between a rock and a hard place to force them (as if they will need forcing) to become partners in the theft of a Presidential election.

If you are not registered to vote, register

then vote. Vote as if your life depends upon it, for surely the country’s existence as a democratic republic is. Then, too this may be the last time you are able to vote in a free election if you don’t vote this time.

It is time to think outside of the box.

It is time to think outside of the box. Whether or not you believe climate change is caused by human activity is not terribly important because climate change or rather global warming is already underway and the climate will continuously heat up. Hitherto we have lived with the fiction that we could halt or even reverse it.

In the early 1960s I worked two summers at Commercial Solvents Corporation’s Terre Haute, Indiana plant. The plant produced some pretty toxic waste which it piped across the Wabash River to a series of sewage lagoons. Once in the sewage lagoons the sewage was aerated and it’s stench was camouflaged with perfume sprayed on the surface of the lagoons.

As the sewage worked its way through the lagoons pipes near the bottom releases air to aerate it. Once the sewage reached the last lagoon it had sufficient oxygen that it could, regardless of its other contents, be legally discharged into the waters of the Wabash River.

Commercial Solvents Corporation found it more cost effective for its bottom line to mix its chemical byproducts (waste) with river water and aerated the sewage than to remove hazardous materials and dispose of them in a manner that did not transfer disposal costs to people both down river and who came decades later. The transfer of costs to non-consenting others economists call a negative externally.

Dumping waste in rivers, lakes, the air, landfills and in some cases the oceans of the world always generates a negative externally, or to put it another way a cost in money, health, death, or clean up that people (and other living things) must bear even though the people bearing the cost did not consent, and in most cases were not even aware when the waste (negative externality) was dumped in the river/lake/air or the like.

The box in the case of Commercial Solvents Corporation was that it was acceptable to transfer some costs of production to unsuspecting neighbors, future generations, and even employees.

Commercial Solvents Corporation was not unionized. At the time I worked there, federal minimum wage was $1.15/hour. Commercial Solvents Corporation paid me, a summer son of an employee while a student laborer, $1.65/hour. The corporation paid regular employees benefits. I know their retirement was an annuity based on retirement at the age of 65 that the actuarial estimate was a payout for an a garage of 13 months. The health insurance was family based. It was a plan that paid all but $17 for a three day hospital stay and the birth of my first child, Kirk. However, older employees I knew experienced respiratory, heart, and neurological problems having worked in a chemical soup enviromnent for decades.

This is all caused by accounting and lack of regulation. Accounting do not have to enter the externalities they generate on any set of financial or social books. The costs, externalities, never exist in an accounting sense. Mandating firms to manage their by-products (waste) would require regulations. However, firms through a variety of means coop bodies that could regulate them from legislatures through campaign donations, to regulatory bodies through what is called the revolving door (former industry managers become regulators and vice versa), and firms that pollute (that is what dumping waste is called in the real world we live in) run massive advertising campaigns to cultivate a positive public image.

I worked for Commercial Solvents Corporation in the summers from 1962 through 1965. By 1975 the firm ceased to exist when it merged with another corporation and the Terre Haute plant was shutdown in 2000.

One has to wonder where all the millions of dollars the corporation earned ended up for it is apparent that subsequent to 1975 there was a change in wealth distribution in American.

Regardless of where the money landed, it is effectively laundered so Commercial Solvents Corporation profits, built partly on the externality costs it imposed on workers, neighbors, down stream residents and the world today can not be used to pay restitution for the damage done by those externatilities it imposed on all of us.

The saddest part of the Commercial Solvents Corporation story is that Commercial Solvents Corporation is a very small player in the damage done to the world by not accounting for the costs imposed by industry on the world and by not regulating industry properly and making it a good neighbor. These failings were not mistakes or simply not understanding what industry was doing, the imposition of externalities on the world was driven by the greed for more profits regardless of how those profits were obtained.

The irony of all of this from my prescriptive is I thought I had it good in those days. Relative to today, I did. While I worked on the Commercial Solvents Corporation sewage lagoon, literally on a tank on pontoons driven by an outboard motor, spraying perfume, I only had the barest inkling of how bad my $1.65/hour was making things for other people then and me and the rest of the world today.

“The $2.5 Trillion Annual Theft” — Blog For Iowa

The Most Revolutionary Act

That is an estimate of how much the annual theft is from America’s workers.

A study came out this week that astounded nearly everyone. While everyone knows that workers have been left behind in the economic race since the early 70s, there had never been a study to put a real number on it. The RAND corporation undertook that challenge. The numbers they came up with caught most everyone by surprise:

Rick Wartzman at addresses that with his opening paragraphs on the findings:

“Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning.

A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the…

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Trump supporters should avoid reading this. Biden supporters already know it. That leaves folks who think they are undecided. It is information they may wish to consider.


I revived this from a retired Naval Officer who got it from his old shipmate, Steve Jackson who lives in South Carolina. The gentlemen are older than I am, and I am 76.

We are all in such a mess. What are we waiting for for it to “go away, disappear”?

There was a time not so long ago when the actions of our leaders would not have a direct impact on how we live our daily lives. We may disagree with an action but our lives continued. Those days are clearly gone. The misguided and dangerous actions of one man has directly impacted the way we live and can determine if we will be here to talk about it tomorrow. Attempts are being made to change our electoral process to make it difficult for certain people in certain areas to vote or force them to wait long hours in…

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Today, more evidence that creating money based upon debt is a bad idea.

I got an email this morning asking me to sign a petition to insist Congress help levitate the student debt crisis. This is at a time when there is a home mortgage (debt) crisis with so many unemployed, and I would guess an ongoing cred card and other consumer debt crisis. The email sparked my interest for it highlighted for me the extent to which this modern economy (and I assume other national economies) is based upon debt.

I don’t think this is all by design. No, I think it is an artifact of moneyed interests seeking ways to put their money to work making more money. For example, as paper currency began to represent gold and became a more convenient way to carry large amounts of the equivalent of gold coins, moneyed interest set up banks to issue paper currency. {especially see the free banking era }This allowed them to issue more currency than they held in their vaults by making loans—inadvertently (perhaps by design it is hard to know) inventing fractional reserve banking. Thus the profit motives of those setting up banks lead to increased economic activity and the resultant economic growth over time (not without periodic setbacks because of the economic contractions caused by bank panics or financial crisis, for fractional reserve banking systems, depend upon fewer withdrawals of gold then the value of the currency a given bank issues and from time to time that assumption was violated. I suspect that assumption was most often violated when the bank issued more currency without making loans, for example, printing money willy-nilly.

The problems of banking crises due to bank-issued currency were ameliorated by the nationalizing banknote printing and the Federal Reserve System. However, I should note the Federal Reserve Bank adopted a modified system of currency creation based upon debt—the Federal Reserve would buy debt issued to the public by the Treasury but buy it from the public and not directly from the Treasury. So, money creation, at the source, so to speak, was no longer based upon gold reserves, but based upon the debt the Federal Reserve held that was issued by others (primarily by the US Treasury). We have reached a point where new money needed to make the economy grow is based upon debt instruments like Treasury Bills and Notes and other debt instruments the Federal Reserve Banks purchases in open market operations.

Credit, the ability of a person or entity to borrow money, over time became the foundation for homeownership, automobile ownership, educational attainment, and a big percentage of consumer purchases of goods and services. Without going into the history of the expansion of debt markets into each of housing automobiles, education, and personal consumption markets, suffice it to say that each dollar borrowed was a newly created dollar. Since spending that new dollar on a house, automobile, education, or personal goods or services stimulated the economy, the greater the market for debt the faster the economy grew. This bears out in looking at what is referred to as the business cycle,,boom%20and%20contraction%20in%20sequence.

the periods of expansion and boom during which the economy grows as a result of new (debt based) spending or contracts because of not only less spending but also foreclosures, repossessions, and bankruptcies (education debt does not contract it is either repaid or is defaulted when the borrower dies without an estate sufficient to cover the debt). So built into new money based upon debt is the possibility of massive suffering when the business cycle takes a downturn—look around today at food lines, and shortly foreclosures and evictions if Congress does not pass a 2nd relief bill. While this downturn was not caused by “economic misdeeds,” it is a product of an economy that is built on debt and more debt to create value.

As an alternative to crating money based upon loans, consider creating the lion’s share of money by monetizing citizens. In short democratize money. I would assert that the suffering one sees today would be far less and grown would be more uniform and we would see fewer contractions were citizens monetized. The premise is simple, a steady flow of money is needed to support more economic transactions (growth) and to stabilize citizens finances.

Democratize Money Monetize Citizens A Proposal: (And A Way to Pay for Universal Basic Income)
Democratize Money Monetize Citizens A Proposal: (And A Way to Pay for Un…Democratize Money Monetize Citizens A Proposal: (And A Way to Pay for Universal Basic Income)

T. Edward Westen

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