Tag Archives: Presidential Powers

165. Mueller Report Raises Constitutional Questions.

25 Apr

The Mueller Report and all of the gov investigations have made apparent, weaknesses in our system of government. Our system is better than most, but still could be improved.

First, consider that the USA Congress has 535 members. The Supreme Court has nine members. Universities have several regents. Corporations have a board of directors. The Federal Reserve board has seven members.  Yet, the USA has ONE President with great power (to possibly cause harm). Why don’t we elect a small group to make presidential decisions. For example, five “directors” could make all major decisions and the group could choose one member as “chairman” or President for ceremonial or communication purposes.

There are many parts of our governmental structure that could use revision. The above is one issue. Here are some others. There are two Senators from each state, regardless of state population. This is unfair to the people of California and other large states. We elect a president using an old system, the “electoral college.” Each voter in the USA should have an equal say in a presidential election, regardless of state borders. We have Congressional “grid-lock” because there are two houses of congress instead of one. We don’t need two houses to be cautious, we can simply have one body and adjust the number required for passage of a bill.

I am not going to make a detailed proposal for gov restructure in this blog. And, I know that major change is extremely difficult and unlikely in the near future. One reason why change is difficult, is that current leaders were elected under this system and so they favor the system that got them elected. And yet, unlikely things can happen, especially if the voters protest enough. 12 years ago, I would have said that a black president was very unlikely.

More closely related to the report, is the relationship between the President and the Department of Justice.  The DOJ must be more independent. One answer might be to elect the attorney general instead of the President appointing him/her.  Maybe the same for the Fed Reserve board chairman.

Another thought would be to have an “Independent Group” (IGroup) that would appoint federal judges, Fed Reserve members, the A.G., and maybe other positions. A state “IGroup” could also do state redistricting (Michigan is working on creating this kind of independent group). Any position that must be independent of the President should by chosen by that group. This IGroup could be elected, or could consist of reps from Repub and Dem parties chosen by nominated by party leaders. More IGroup members could be appointed by Universities. The duration for participation in this group could be short, say, 1 to 2 years. Shorter durations tend to prevent corruption. After completing this blog I was pleased to see reports on the Michigan “Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission” mentioned above. Do a search on this commission to see how this type of independent group might be composed.

We could certainly improve some legal definitions and procedures for dealing with impeachment and other issues of the presidency. Some of the areas needing better definition are “emoluments,” divesting business interests, nepotism, presidential obstruction of justice, conspiracy/collusion, rules for pardons, and rules for security clearance. Perhaps a President should not be able to override the decisions of career employees. Special Congressional committees or “IGroups” could play a more active role in these controversial issues.

Maybe the first step would be the formation of a group (from Congress and/or Universities) to start formulating a new more appropriate 21st Century system of government. Our current US Constitution is a great work, but it originated 1787 and has had 27 subsequent amendments. The aberrations of the current administration suggest all of the considerations listed here.

 

141. Recent Events Suggest Government Improvements

27 Jan

The recent government shut-down, the election of Donald Trump, and changes in the Republican party, all suggest the need for gov reorganization and  revision. Below is a discussion of troubling events and possible solutions. The unfortunate thing is that fair and reasonable system changes maybe nearly impossible under the current political climate (but we must still try).

In the past, our USA government has worked so well that many of us have ignored it. This general lack of concern, which is entirely understandable, has led to serious damage to our country. The emergence of a president totally unsuited for office is one result. Another result (maybe more serious) is the gradual shift in the Republican party from ordinary limited greed and self-serving interests — to those factors in the extreme. More responsible Republicans have gradually left the party and those remaining, cowardly and foolishly devote themselves to Trump. This is not currently the party of men like John McCain, who was highly respected by almost everyone.

Looking back on where we went wrong, here are some observations. Our gov system needs some fundamental changes. The executive branch has too much power and we might do better with a small committee instead of a president. Perhaps a committee of five persons should make executive decisions. The chairman of that committee could assume some special (presidential) functions, but all major decisions would be based on a group vote. And the “executive committee” could change the chairman at any time. The five men of the executive committee would be elected by all  USA citizens (independent of state).

We need a special non-political group to control elections. Our elections are extremely important and must be protected from foreign and all other illicit influence. All USA elections must also be reliable, efficient, inclusive for all citizens, and must provide good methods for any needed recounts.  Currently, in the USA there are hundreds of different systems for voting, which vary from good to dangerously vulnerable. Voting machines should be standardized and carefully selected and monitored.

Understanding Trump is important for dealing with his chaos. Commentators emphasize and search for strategies, because that is what they know. But it must be recognized that he does have serious mental problems (like ‎narcissism) and probably moderate Alzheimer’s syndrome. I think he has some strategies, but also memory loss and confusion. Trump’s doctor Ronny Jackson reported that he only gets four to five hours of sleep per night. This can account for much of the “demented” action and can promote Alzheimer’s disease (according to recent research). He could be called a sociopath and has no empathy for struggling people. I think more philosophical orientations have come from close associates like Bannon, Stone, and Manafort. But there also are influences by others like family members, and extremists like Rush Limbaugh. He is like a billiard ball bouncing off various “advisors” and also generating his own whims and egocentric thoughts. An “executive committee” (see above) could prevent this kind of problem.

Like the presidency, there is too much power given to individual leaders of the Senate and House. In terms of the bringing bills to the floor, there should at least be an override for the judgment of a leader.

In the Senate, some western states with a small population have equal representation with California and New York with huge numbers of citizens. Having two legislative bodies definitely leads to gridlock. Why not have one very  fairly composed legislature make all decisions. And as a safeguard, say 54% yes votes would be required. By careful structuring the one-body could represent all concepts of fairness (with very little gridlock).

Our whole governmental system could be improved based upon almost 250 years of experience. The original US Constitution was a wonderful thing. But, it is foolish to think that rules developed that long ago are still perfectly applicable to today, with our:  Internet, jet airplane travel, TV, complex trading systems, international monetary systems, mult-national stock markets, computer viruses and hacking,  many cultural changes, drug epidemics, nuclear bombs, Facebook, climate-change dangers, multi-national alliances, etc., etc. The body of case-law helps, but only in certain areas. One of the impediments for this kind of change is that current leaders were elected with this outdated system and so are not interested in change. In a recent TED talk, Katharine Hayhoe said that the best thing the people can do about remedying climate-change is to keep talking about it. It may not be the only good solution to all our governmental problems, but definitely could help. Better education will help. Ultimately, if a large majority of people want something, there is a good chance that legislators will take note.