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Jeremy Essig's Blog in 2009
Cleaver part of Copenhagen CODEL

Posted 12/16/2009:  According to POLITICO, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City area, will be part of a congressional delegation that will visit the Copenhagen Climate Conference on Thursday.

Cleaver, whose Missouri 5th district encompasses the majority of Kansas City and a part of Independence, is a member of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. According to the Almanac of American Politics, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made Cleaver the liaison with mayors and religious leaders on global warming issues. The Almanac said Cleaver has proposed changing U.S. House rules to require members to lease energy efficient cars while in their districts. Cleaver's car runs on used cooking grease according to the Almanac.

In a statement reported by POLITICO, Pelosi said "we see Copenhagen as a meeting about job creation - how do we move forward to create millions of clean energy jobs and new technologies to keep America number one."

The Copenhagen Climate Conference is the fifteenth meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Background information on the conference's Web site refers to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty designed "to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable," according to the site.

Global warming claims have been questioned recently after hackers uncovered e-mail messages from British and American climate scientists. The hackers said these e-mails display overstatement on the part of climate scientists in regard to human causes of climate change, according to The New York Times.

Last month, MU President Gary Forsee said he was against federal cap-and-trade legislation designed to combat global warming. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch blog post, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said Forsee had overstated the financial impact of cap-and-trade legislation.

Cleaver, a former preacher, has represented Missouri's 5th Congressional District since 2004. He defeated Republican Jacob Turk by a margin of 64-36 percent in 2008.


Twitter and Emolument
Posted 10/17/2009:  Twitter, if you haven't picked up on it yet, is all the rage in MDN land.

Initially vehemently opposed to a service that seemed only to provide daily lunch order updates of people I casually know, I've begun to come around to a technology that requires me to use the phrase "tweeted".

If nothing else, I've begun to enjoy the "tweets" of the small handful of Missouri governmental officials who use it for personal, but legislatively relevant issues. One such example presented itself last night.

Returning to my hotel, I noticed that Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Jackson County, posted the following "Fascinating article on the little known "emolument" clause of the Constitution and how it relates to Nobel Prize. http://tinyurl.com/ygcrh7o". Moments later, Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, posted an identical tweet. Answering the question before I had a chance to ask it, Silvey followed Parkinson's post by tweeting "@markparkinson No love for plagarizing (sic) my tweet? Doesn't that violate some kind of Twitter protocol? tsk, tsk, Marky Park. tsk. tsk."

Inter-House twitter plagiarism protocols aside, the article one (or both) had found was an opinion piece from yesterday's Washington Post entitled "An Unconstitutional Nobel."  In the piece, authors Ronald D. Rotunda and J. Peter Pham argue that the emolument clause, found in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, prevents President Obama from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.  It's an interesting argument, unfortunately one that Rotundaand Pham manage to debunk by the third graph in their piece.

For context reasons, Article I, Section 9 (specifically Clause 8) of the Constitution reads "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."  If I may digress for a moment, this is the second time Article I, Section 9 has been a topic of discussion this year.  Clause 2, having to do with bills of attainder and ex post facto laws was oft cited as the reason laws could not be made to punish financial executives at bailed out financial firms who took bonuses.  Sorry, that was my ADD moment for the blog, thanks for entertaining it. As Dr. Dre would say, back to the lecture at hand.

Rotunda and Pham's argument is that since the Nobel committee is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, President Obama's acceptance of an award from "a body representing the legislature of a sovereign foreign state" would be illegal under Article I, Section 9, Clause 8.  The Peace Prize, according to the article would be an emolument - - "the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites," according to Merriam-Webster Online.

One problem with this argument - as Rotunda and Pham note in their third graph - is other sitting Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson) have won the award. Rotunda and Pham contend that this was permissible because Roosevelt and Wilson won the award for "past actions" while Obama's award is "intended to affect future action."  My question - and I think where the piece lost me - is where does it draw this distinction in the Constitution?

It seems to me convenient equivocation to cite the Constitution when it serves your argument, but then throw out the same strict constructionist interpretation when history does not bear out one's point of contention.  In other words, you can't use exact wording at one moment but then infer meaning at another. In doing so, one leaves their argument open to the counterargument that "the framers did not anticipate such an award when writing the Constitution."  I suppose a third, strict constructionist argument also exists that Article I is not applicable to the executive branch as the article was meant to deal specifically with the legislative branch. All prohibitions on the executive branch need to be spelled out in Article II.

I've done no research, but I wonder if similar emolument issues brought up when Wilson won his award?  Neither Wilson nor his League were universally accepted in 1919, even within Wilson's own Democratic party. Perhaps this speaks to the differing political climate today as opposed to ninety years ago.

The stronger argument Rotunda and Pham's make in their editorial relates to the $1.4 million that accompanies the award.  While Obama has promised to give the money to charity, the authors - quite correctly in my view - argue that the money isn't his to give.  Quoting a federal statue, Rotunda and Pham write that "if the president accepts a "tangible or intangible present" for more than a minimal value from any foreign government, the gift "shall become the property of the United States.""  They argue that this money - since under the statute is not Obama's but rather the property of the United States - should be applied by Congress to reducing the deficit.  A drop in the bucket some might argue, but then again I pay the minimum on my credit cards every month, so who am I to argue.

All this from a simple tweet..

JGE

twitter.com/jgessig



Reporter Blog
Posted 10/13/2009:  My first seven weeks in Jefferson City have been a blur of activity.  So much so, it seems I have neglected to blog.

First and foremost, I've had to get used to wearing a tie.  While this may sound odd coming from a man of 31 years, as of Aug. 21 I owned one tie.  A tie bought by my wife as a joke.  To quote a friend who saw me after work one day, "wow, you didn't get this dressed up for your own wedding."  No, no I did not.  The look must have taken, however, for as I type this I'm buying a new suit in a different window.  Adulthood is not nearly as frightening as I assumed.

As to the work itself - although I'm sure you would rather read about my fall fashions - I requested and was assigned to revenue this semester.  What I've come to find working on revenue is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, money is everywhere.  My stories have crossed into pensions, broadband and access to the capitol dome.

The "dome-key" issue was part of the veto session which was one of the many highlights of the last few weeks.  Covering the House, I witnessed Minority Whip Jeff Roorda, D- Barnhardt, shake his arms over his head in victory upon getting a Republican member to withdraw a motion to override one of Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes.

More specific to revenue, a brief look at anything I've written will show that Missouri is in sad, perhaps even frightening shape.  State revenue collection is down 10 percent so far this fiscal year, and no one I've spoken to expects a rebound anytime soon. In the next few weeks, Gov. Nixon will announce more spending cuts, likely in the form of job cuts.

I become more comfortable with this new phase in my life, I promise more frequent blogging.  If for no other reason, well, I'm required to.  Plus, true believer, do you really think I would leave you in the dark about my new suit?

JGE


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