#25thAmendmentNow – Not Likely, and Not the Best Path

On July 2, 2017, the Boston Globe published a piece discussing the Twitter trending #25thAmendmentNow. The idea that Trump is unfit for office, or much else other than a very short Pro Wrestling career, makes sense. It even feels good, as if its authors anticipated a lunatic could one day slither his way into the White House. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind. Nor does it seem likely that the 25th would be a viable path to pursue.

Unfit For Office

The phrase “unfit for office” seems a perfect fit for Trump. From psychosis evident to lay person, to his deeply disturbing aberrant  and abhorrent behaviors, his is what I’ve taken to call a “malignant presidency”.

When considering this under the 25th Amendment, you should look to the constitutional language. Section 4 states “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” as the condition to report by the Vice President and the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Read the amendment and its historical context and I believe you will agree that in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination Congress created a well defined path of power transfer for use in the event the President is incapacitated.

Trump Is Unfit For Office

Indeed, he is, but the path to removal prescribed by the amendment is far too onerous given the political makeup of Congress. John Legum, in his ThinkProgress articleThe 25th amendment is a fantasy” does a fine job of describing the path the 25th Amendment requires, and the reasons it can’t work now.

Impeach The Bum

Politically, impeachment is dicey, but not impossible. Given Trumps behaviors and level of public dissatisfaction, impeachment seems a much more viable path than #25thAmendmentNow.


Donald Trump, the Wedding Planner and the Runaway Trolley

Trump, who is known to reward loyalty, has made a number of terrible appointments for which the only justification for selection is personal loyalty. Loyalty is a desirable quality when making personnel choices. It does not, however, confer the ability to manage large, complex government enterprises absent any qualifying experience, training, and skill set.

One of his recent appointments is that of Lynne Patton to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New York and New Jersey office. Ms Patton is reported to have organized Eric Trump’s wedding and Trump golf tournaments, but I have seen nothing to qualify her to manage a large piece of the HUD enterprise.

It occurs to me that Trump’s behavior would be easy to predict in the ethics thought experiment of the runaway trolley. It goes like this:

There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  • Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
  • Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the most ethical choice?

Imagine Trump in control of the track lever. Imagine the group of five as at risk Americans. Now imagine the person on the side track as a Trump loyalist.

Which is the Trump choice?

We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
4 April 1967
“Beyond Vietnam”



Angry White Men – A Meeting of Minds

We were at a day long gathering of friends. There was ample food for a brigade and whenever the door bell rang more friends and more food were welcomed. Four generations of friends and family of friends were present, and while almost everyone was acquainted, there were enough unfamiliar faces to keep conversations interesting throughout.

In the afternoon a handful of folks gathered on the patio. I wondered into the group, taking a chair next to a gentleman I had yet to meet (I’ll call him Bob); a relative of a friend, I believe. I settled into an ongoing discussion of social assistance programs, their cost and their abuse.

Bob was leading the group in a rant about “them”. You know who “they” are. They’re the lazy people, mostly criminals, with drug dealer being the profession of choice. Those not dealing drugs support the illicit trade through their addiction.

Bob’s sharing of what can only be divine insight into a segment of society he has no real first hand knowledge of was well received among his like minded listeners.

I listened quietly as the group entered into their emotionally charged descriptions of the how and why of “them” feeding at the teat of government. Apparently vacation cruises, new cars, and per newborn income increases are the norm.

The obvious solution to end this problem of dependence (i.e., stealing from the wallets of hard working white folk) is to drug test everyone benefiting from assistance programs. Bob is big on this remedy, and he’s rewarded with smiles all around as he regurgitates the conservative party line. Drug testing is sure to eliminate a great deal of fraud “they” commit.

There were retirees among us. Some were Social Security recipients, I imagined. Championing their cause, I acknowledged we can no longer support from our own pockets those receiving money from the government. Wholeheartedly agreeing with drug testing, I suggested we need to go further. Everyone receiving government benefits of any kind must be regularly drug tested.

I was surprised. It seemed they hadn’t considered extending their perfect remedy beyond the problem of social assistance. I realized that in the moment I had won the room.

I casually observed that, of course, social security recipients will have to be tested. “They” get social security, too. I expressed my confidence that Bob and the others wouldn’t mind submitting to recurring drug testing, then looked across the group as if seeking supportive acknowledgement. They were hesitant, unsure; feeling inconvenienced, I suspect. Bob said nothing.

What about military retirees and disabled veterans? I reminded him that “they” serve in the military, too. We’ve all heard the reports of the Veterans Administration driving veterans into addiction. “Should they be tested, also?” I asked Bob.

I perceived some tension in the group. I presume the discussion crossed out of their comfort zone of attacking those they perceive as beneath themselves and into the realm of disrespect for a group they champion at every opportunity. I wondered if, outside of their immediate discomfort, they had an inkling of the dichotomy of their positions.

I think not. That would require their acknowledging of, and accepting responsibility for, their racism. They would have to stop blaming the victims. Then who would they hate? Who would “they” be?.

Bob will always be that angry white man. I hope, though, the next time he’s railing on “those” people he’ll remember there’s more in play than his anger and false sense of being wronged. “They” are people. They live, love, and feel, as do we all.

This is a recounting of a discussion that took place in late 2014.

For anyone unfamiliar with such discussions, I assure you they are not at all uncommon. The participants are not white supremacists, Klan members, or anything so interesting. They’re working and middle class folks ranging in age from 20’s to 70’s.

They are everywhere. Look around.