Tag: ratification

We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy, not our own government, on July 4

We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II pictured at top), not our own government (U.S. Congress depicted at bottom)
We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II pictured at top), not our own government (U.S. Capitol pictured at bottom)

On July 4 of every year, we, the people of the United States of America, officially celebrate Independence Day, our national holiday. While people usually associate the Fourth of July with fireworks, barbecue cookouts, and NASCAR racing at Daytona International Speedway, there is an official reason why we celebrate the Fourth of July that far too many people don’t understand, including certain elected officials in this country.

One of those elected officials is Scott Walker, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin and one of many candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination. Walker has repeatedly claimed that we celebrate Independence Day as a day commemorating how we somehow gained our independence from our own government, and he took to Twitter earlier today to make that claim once again:

I don’t remember winning our independence from the federal government, and that’s because…we never did. Long before any of us who currently live in the United States were born, we won our independence from the British monarchy, not our own government. In the mid-to-late 18th Century, King George III of the United Kingdom and the British Parliament, which, at the time, controlled the American colonies that became the first 13 states in our Union, began imposing taxes on the colonies, despite the fact that the American colonies had no voting representation in the British Parliament. That led to the American Revolutionary War, which was fought between those who sought American independence and the British and began in April of 1775. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, a temporary national government established during the Revolutionary War, which had been ongoing for over a year at the time, officially voted to secede from Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, which formally proclaimed the United States of America, was officially ratified and ordered to be published. So, the Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating the ratification and publication of the Declaration of Independence, not a holiday commemorating the American people winning independence from its own government.

If it weren’t for the American Revolution, we would still be under the control of the British Sovereign, currently Queen Elizabeth II, and the British Government, currently led by Prime Minister David Cameron of the British Conservative Party, without any representation in the British Parliament. Because of the American Revolution, we have our own government, our own president, our own Congress, and our own court system, regardless of whether or not we like the people in positions of power in this country.

Many on the far-right in this country, including Scott Walker, incorrectly believe that the Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating American freedom from taxation imposed by our own government. That’s simply not true. The Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating American freedom from taxation imposed by the British government without representation in the British parliament (i.e., taxation without representation), not non-existent American freedom from taxation imposed by our own government. For Walker and others on the far-right to claim that the Fourth of July commemorates American independence from our own government is absolutely false and pure revisionist history.

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If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to trade, it’s President Obama

After over six years of, outside of a few issues like Social Security and domestic spying where he’s sided with the far-right Republicans, largely relying on progressives as a base of support, President Barack Obama has launched a full-on War on Progressives by openly antagonizing opponents of proposed free-trade agreements, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that would destroy most of what little sovereignty America still has.

This is what President Obama said at an Organizing for Action (OFA) summit in our nation’s capital:

When people say this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about…I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.

If there’s anyone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to international trade, it’s President Obama and his corporate allies in both major parties in this country. In fact, the fact that the TPP and other free trade deals and policies

For many decades, tariffs and other trade protections made America great by building a strong economy and manufacturing sector that provided middle-class jobs and American-made goods that Americans could actually purchase. Now, because of NAFTA, CAFTA, Most Favored Nation status for China, and other agreements and laws that have loosened American trade policies, most goods sold in the United States are made in foreign countries

Over the last three and a half decades, we’ve seen the effects of current free-trade agreements and other free trade policies between the U.S. and foreign countries, and they’re almost entirely negative. For several very brief periods in the early 1980’s, the U.S. actually had a very small trade surplus. Since then, because of free-trade policies that have been pushed by every president from Ronald Reagan onward and a bipartisan corporate coalition in Congress, wages in this country have been driven downward, the manufacturing sector of our economy has been annihilated, our trade deficit with foreign nations has exploded, the vast majority of goods sold in this country are foreign-made, and the American economy has become an economy full of low-wage jobs. Here’s a graph showing how our nation’s trade deficit has exploded since 1980:

U.S. Balance of Trade 1980-2015 (Graph Courtesy of Trade Economics)

For someone who professes to be a constitutional scholar, President Obama clearly doesn’t understand that the TPP itself and the fast-track authority for it are both blatantly unconstitutional.

The TPP itself is in blatant violation of Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the structure of our nation’s court system. Article III, Section 1 reads as follows:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

(emphasis mine)

While I’m not an attorney, I interpret Article III, Section 1 as allowing for the creation of a single Supreme Court of the United States and any number of federal courts that are below the single Supreme Court. Since the TPP would create the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), a de facto court system that is effectively above the U.S. Supreme Court, this means that the TPP is blatantly unconstitutional.

The fast-track authority for free trade agreements blatantly violates a different part of the Constitution, specifically, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, which reads as follows:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine)

Again, I’m not an attorney, but I interpret Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 as requiring approval by two-thirds of U.S. Senators who are present for such a vote, for ratification of any treaty negotiated and signed by the President on behalf of the United States. However, since fast-track authority, among other things, allows for free trade agreements, which I consider to be a type of treaty, to be ratified by a simple majority of members of both houses of Congress who are present for votes on such agreements, fast-track is blatantly unconstitutional.

I know I’m going to say something controversial, but I’m willing to say it: President Obama and his corporate allies in both parties in Congress have a deep-seeded hatred of the concept of American economic sovereignty, and they are pushing to enact a corporate globalization agenda in order to drive down wages, pollute our environment, and destroy the American economy without any regard for the U.S. Constitution or the American people. While some international trade is necessary due to consumer demand, globalization and weak trade protections are destroying America and our economy, and we certainly don’t need more of the same.

For President Obama to effectively claim that the overwhelming majority of those who twice elected him President of the United States are stupid is absolutely disgusting and traitorous.

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Amendment

On the April ballot in Wisconsin, there will, more than likely, be a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to give justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court the power to elect one of their own to be the chief justice to the court (currently, the most senior justice is automatically chief justice).

I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote NO on this proposed amendment.

This amendment, if ratified, would make an already polarized and politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is more concerned about implementing a right-wing agenda by judicial fiat than actually interpreting the law, even more polarized and politicized. However, unlike the corporate media, I’m not about to give up and concede that this amendment is going to be ratified with voters without a fight, and I hope Wisconsin Democrats and progressives don’t concede to the right-wingers without a fight.

Wisconsinites should send a strong message against Scott Walker’s court packing scheme, which also includes a proposed mandatory retirement bill, designed to force the lone moderate justice and the current chief justice off of the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court entirely, that will not be on the ballot, by voting against allowing the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to select their own chief justice.