Some Background On The Law Of Presidential Elections

I thought my non-American readers might appreciate a (decidedly non-expert) brief outline of US law on presidential elections, in light of President Trump’s unprecedented suggestion that he might seek to delay the US presidential election—an idea so outlandish that when the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph Biden, suggested Trump might try it, provoked outraged claims of scaremongering from the right. Let’s start with the basics: when must the election be held? (more…)

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See Something, Say Something: Letters Blogatory on Trump

If you see something, say something

I am re-upping this post from December 10, 2015, in light of the resignations at the Department of Justice yesterday. What do you think?

Readers abroad, you may not have heard the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” It’s something we here in the U.S. see all the time in public places and on trains and at airports. The idea is that if you see an unattended package on a seat in your train car, let the conductor know. This idea is part of the response to the new threats we face in the post-9/11 world.

I want to put the saying to another use today. We’ve all read about Donald Trump’s recent outrageous statements. (more…)

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A Profile In Courage

Mitt Romney
Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

As a citizen of Massachusetts and someone who pays attention to politics in the Commonwealth, I’ve had my eyes on Mitt Romney for a long time. After his turn in the private sector and his work with the Salt Lake City Olympics, he had a moderately successful term as governor of Massachusetts in the early 2000s. He was a classic New England Republican, focusing on balancing the budget, enacting what were then thought of as Republican ideas for achieving universal healthcare coverage in the Commonwealth (the basic idea later became known as Obamacare and therefore became anathema to the Republican Party), and appointing technocrats rather than ideologues to head the departments of government. Later, his national political ambitions got the better of him, and he became infinitely malleable in the way that presidential candidates often do. Yes he was a little odd—he would talk about how much he loved “sport,” he took a cross-country trip with the loyal family dog riding in a carrier on top of the car, and he once said, “I’m not suggesting for a moment you don’t have a wonderful and warm relationship with your family and your grandchildren in these open-space areas” that, as Jon Stewart said, ordinary human beings call “parks.” And he was no match for the deeply thoughtful and eloquent Barack Obama in the 2012 election. But no one ever doubted that he was a fundamentally decent and public-spirited person and a good family man.1 (more…)

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L’état, c’est Trump?

Louis XIV, the Sun King, led France in an age of diplomatic and military triumphs and state centralization. In a simpler age, he ruled personally, without a prime minister, and he mastered the French aristocracy. He is said to have declared, “L’état, c’est moi,” which would have been a ridiculous thing to say, except that he was a great king. His descendant, Louis XVI, isn’t remembered that way. As the well-known historian Allan Sherman wrote, he was worse than Louis XIII, he was worse than Louis XIV, he was worse than Louis XV, he was the worst since Louis I. (more…)

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Thoughts On Impeachment

I called for Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal from office more than a year ago and I haven’t written many political posts since then. Once you’ve said the President should be impeached, there’s not much room left! But last week’s news seems so consequential that I think another post is in order. I am not going to review the facts as we know them—plenty of others are doing that better than I could. Instead, I want to offer two thoughts about what comes next, after Trump. (more…)

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Everything About The Tlaib/Omar Story Is Terrible

Everything about the story of Representatives Omar and Tlaib’s aborted visit to Israel is terrible. No one in the whole affair has acted well. And the political motive for the whole fiasco—Donald Trump’s attempt to drive American Jews into the arms of the Republican Party—is so venal, so transparent, and, I hope, so doomed to failure that it makes me despair. (more…)

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I Was A Sucker

I remember the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998. I had just started law school. I was basically a supporter of the President’s political agenda—I had voted for him twice. And I did not like what I saw as the overreach of the Independent Counsel, Ken Starr. Starr had been appointed to investigate the Whitewater scandal, and yet at the end of the day the main point of the articles of impeachment was that the President had lied under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. And yet I was persuaded that the impeachment, no matter how tacky, tawdry, politically motivated, and inappropriate, was right. Lying under oath—perjury—is a serious crime, after all. We can’t have a perjurer as president. This is America! (more…)

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Trump: Immorality, Degradation, Cynicism, Humiliation

I’ve stopped writing about President Trump. How many times can one say that he’s unfit for office? But this latest story, the story of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is so awful. A Washington Post journalist enters the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and doesn’t come out. The Saudi government says he left and that they don’t know where his is. But wait! Turkish intelligence shows that he was killed in the consulate. But wait! He wasn’t just killed, he was killed and dismembered. But wait! He wasn’t just killed and dismembered, he was killed, dismembered, and tortured in the presence of the consul general. But wait! He wasn’t just killed, dismembered, and tortured in the presence of the consul general, he was tortured and dismembered while still alive, and then killed. But wait! The “top Saudi doctor of forensics” brought in to supervise the dismembering told the agents, as they “cut off Mr. Khashoggi’s head and dismembered his body,” to put on their headphones and listen to some music “to ease the tension when doing such work.” The story is a bottomless pit of immorality and degradation. (more…)

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