Emolument

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Source: giphy

emolment

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From the Heritage Foundation, about as conservative as it gets:

Similarly, the Framers intended the Emoluments Clause to protect the republican character of American political institutions. “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” The Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton). The delegates at the Constitutional Convention specifically designed the clause as an antidote to potentially corrupting foreign practices of a kind that the Framers had observed during the period of the Confederation. Louis XVI had the custom of presenting expensive gifts to departing ministers who had signed treaties with France, including American diplomats. In 1780, the King gave Arthur Lee a portrait of the King set in diamonds above a gold snuff box; and in 1785, he gave Benjamin Franklin a similar miniature portrait, also set in diamonds. Likewise, the King of Spain presented John Jay (during negotiations with Spain) with the gift of a horse. All these gifts were reported to Congress, which in each case accorded permission to the recipients to accept them. Wary, however, of the possibility that such gestures might unduly influence American officials in their dealings with foreign states, the Framers institutionalized the practice of requiring the consent of Congress before one could accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from…[a] foreign State.”

Meanwhile I read the news:

China awards Donald Trump valuable trademark deal

Donald Trump sons set for UAE visit to open Trump International Golf Club Dubai

(A fun aspect to the Trump deal is: feels like every Joe and Josephine on Twitter is rapidly presenting themselves as a self-taught expert on like intelligence practices and the Ninth Circuit and what “emoluments” means.)

A thing I don’t understand: there must be at least one or two of the 248 Republican congressmen who’ve fantasized since youth about a chance to go full Profiles In Courage.

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Here’s your chance bro!  Take on your scumbag President, go down for it, live on!  Are they all too lame? (Update: a possible candidate)

Anyway.  A chance to revisit famous mills of my youth:

Wayside Mill, Sudbury, MA

Wayside Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA

 


Well? Did I?

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MVB is today’s Met Artwork Of The Day, snapped by Matthew Brady.


Cambridge Analytica

from CA's website

from CA’s website

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts.

Interested by this article by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus in Motherboard about mysterious data company Cambridge Analytica. These don’t seem like especially amazing conclusions to draw.

What about this:

The 70-year-old Trump is not digitally savvy—there isn’t even a computer on his office desk. Trump doesn’t do emails, his personal assistant once revealed. She herself talked him into having a smartphone, from which he now tweets incessantly.

History’s greatest criminal?

Wild to think of this dark force coming out of Cambridge University.

And how does this outfit connect to Oxford Analytica, founded by Kissinger assistant David Young?

Not loving the news I see on the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief lately.


Let’s keep this simple

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[National Security Advisor Michael] Flynn repeatedly called the Russian embassy in Washington to discuss the transition. The White House has denied that anything substantive came up in conversations between Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

That was a lie, as confirmed by an extensively sourced bombshell report in TheWashington Post, which makes clear that Flynn grossly misrepresented his numerous conversations with Kislyak—which turn out to have happened before the election too, part of a regular dialogue with the Russian embassy. To call such an arrangement highly unusual in American politics would be very charitable.

so says The Observer which is controlled by the President’s son in law?

What the fuck is happening?

 


A real shot

Ryan then took questions. This was the first one: “The President made some new false statements yesterday, notably that there are major terrorist attacks that the media, essentially, isn’t covering. Are you getting concerned at all about his grasp of the truth?”

Ryan shrugged his shoulders.

[…finally he answers]

“Look,” he said. “I’m going to do my job. I’ll let you guys do yours with respect to how you report, or what you don’t report. The problem is we do have a war on terror in front of us. We do have isis trying to conduct terror attacks across the globe. This is a real serious problem. And what I am focussed on is doing our job and making sure our law-enforcement authorities, our military, have the tools to keep us safe.”

from this NYer piece by the great John Cassidy.

Paul Ryan has a real shot at going down in history as a pristine example of cynical soul-selling.

Are the Republicans really for:

  • the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual
  • sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”
  • the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia
  • societal norms and public order
  • the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society
  • the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions
  • a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere

I didn’t pluck those out of thin air, those are exactly what Michael Anton, Bannon advisor, says conservatives should be for in this essay, The Flight 93 Election, his pre-election argument for DT.

Is DT making things better, stronger, or greater on any of those fronts?  How’s his prudent statesmanship?  What message does he send on virtue, morality, character, stability?  He’s rich (maybe) but does he demonstrate industry and thrift?  How’s he on education to inculcate good character and teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia?  “Family values?”

The Republican Party did this to us.  Reince Priebus, Trump chief of staff, is an old Wisconsin buddy of Paul Ryan.

The best case is Paul Ryan is trading all the other values for fighting “the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions” but even he must know by now he’s fighting cannibalism by signing up with a bigger, worse cannibal.

Best case for Ryan is he makes it harder for people to pay for health care first.

Good luck!  Get ‘im, Scott Pelley!


We are better than this

User magicpiano on Wikipedia

User magicpiano on Wikipedia

NOTE: Per a conversation with a Catholic sister in New Hampshire who sometimes teaches Helytimes posts to her advanced English class, I’ve cleaned up some language here. 

The goal should be to raise the discourse.  

62,418,820 Americans voted for him.  All those people are not dumb jerks.

c5fd02cf-8ada-4829-9a84-04085f0f2f74

 

Many bad people in my experience end up with exactly the punishment they deserve

Many bad people in my experience end up with exactly the punishment they deserve

This is a mess and a shame.

Part of our job as citizens for the rest of our lives will be undoing this disgrace and bringing some honor back to this country.  USA has done much that’s staggeringly, tears to your eyes amazing and heroic and noble.

800px-john_w-_young_on_the_moon

photo of John Young by Charlie Duke

This work sucks, because I’m very lazy and have other things I’d rather do and preferred when my civic responsibility was minimal.

 

Counterpoint from Rabih Alameddine about whether we are better than this or not.  He tells a beautiful story at the end.


Buffett

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Warren Buffett’s advice always sounds simple, which isn’t the same as easy to follow.
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Loved the doc about him on HBO.  The first scene is him advising high school kids to take care of their minds and bodies.  The second scene is him in the drive-through line at McDonald’s.