Emil Guillermo: After Trump declares national emergency–my Rx: Ken Jeong

Image for Emil Guillermo: After Trump declares national emergency--my Rx: Ken Jeong

Heading into the Presidents’ Day Weekend, there’s nothing to celebrate.

Unless constitutional crises are your cue to party down.

Given all that, boy, could we use a laugh. Enter Ken Jeong a/k/a Leslie Chow, Dr. Ken, hardest working ex-HMO doc turned comedian with his new Netflix special.

But first…. We’ve got a president who doesn’t know how funny he’s being.

Trump has desperately created a fake crisis, declaring a national emergency in order to suit his political needs. He promised a wall, so he continues to lie and exaggerate the seriousness of the problems along the southern border. Instead of facts, he panders to his base and parades sobbing “Angel Moms,” who have lost sons and daughters at the hands of undocumented criminals.

Sure, it’s sad. But as I mentioned in a previous column where are the “Angel Asians,” the families of the victims of the Seaport Buffet triple-murder, hatchet job in Brooklyn? Far more brutal and despicable, it’s a hate crime whose perp is a white immigrant from Estonia.

What about us, Mr. President?

The fact is, there is no emergency on the southern border.

Trump’s like a fireman with his hose unfurled and no fire to put out. But since he’s rolled it all out, he feels compelled to shoot water on something.

How about the Constitution? In his mind, it could use some watering down.

And that’s the real emergency: A bona-fide constitutional crisis.

Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, cites three sections: (1) Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives…,” (2) Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law…,” and (3) the Federal Anti-Deficiency Statute.”

These provisions could be the cornerstone for a Bill of Impeachment.

“This should be initiated immediately, “ Boyle told the Institute for Public Accuracy. “All you need is one brave member of the U.S. House of Representatives to meaningfully assert that body’s Power of the Purse.” He added that overriding legislative power is “illegitimate and dangerous and subverts a fundamental premise of the Constitution.”

That’s how serious we should take the declaration of the fake national emergency. It was a way around another Trump dilemma–how to explain away agreeing to a compromise that gave him less border wall money, but prevented another government shutdown. The emergency declaration allows him to get his border wall money by taking already appropriated money from the military budget, something that actually could cause a national security concern.

Put it all together and it’s a patchwork Trump “victory.”

All he had to do was lie a little bit and trample on the Constitution.

That’s not what we do in a democracy.

Pelosi and Schumer are livid. Neither is gung-ho on impeachment. But there’s a clear pathway, and it has nothing to do with Russia or Mueller. It has to do with a president who thinks he’s above it all ignoring Congress’ power of the purse.

Is there one brave legislator out there willing to challenge a president whose actions defy the basic principles of our Constitution?

Not sure on the House side. But Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is looking for a bipartisan response to Trump.

“Donald Trump is putting his vanity wall above the Constitution and the American people,” said Senator Hirono. “Let’s call today’s action what it is: a blatant, illegal power grab that steals money from our military to advance Donald Trump’s personal agenda.”

There are enough Republicans concerned with the precedent Trump is setting. Works both ways. What if a future Democratic president wanted to declare climate change or gun violence a national emergency? Republicans wouldn’t like that. Hirono may get bipartisan recognition that the emergency declaration must be terminated.

But if there’s one brave member in the House, why stop there?

It’s too painful when the president is the laughing stock of the world.

So my Rx for this Presidents’ Day Weekend is Ken Jeong.

He’s on a Lunar New Year high right now. CBS announced Jeong will star in a new comedy pilot, “The Emperor of Malibu,” from “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. He’s popping up on TV shows and commercials. And then there’s his new Netflix special, “You Complete Me, Ho,” that came out on Valentine’s Day.

It’s the perfect antidote to all the sobering news of our Republic..

You’ll recall Jeong was discovered by producer Judd Apatow and then took the leap to quit his day job—as a doctor at Kaiser Permanente.

In the special, Jeong tells the story about his rise to fame. But it’s really a pep talk for Asian American creatives who must make the choice to be the good Asian and become Mommy and Daddy’s doctor, or go after their own dream to make it in the arts.

Jeong’s choice was to take the bold risk. He notes that support from family usually comes after success, when the once-shamed father turns to freeloader and starts asking for an S-Class Mercedes instead of the E-Class (said to be for farmers).

Jeong is funny, crude, and profane, which is not so offensive–more like getting a Sriracha spike in your food. He even has some of the best Asian penis jokes I’ve heard in a long time.

And believe me, I’ve heard a lot of them.

I mostly related to his “Hangover” stories because that’s when most of us first noticed Jeong as Mr. Chow.

Jeong talks about all the “self-hating Asian trolls” who came after him with a vengeance for doing the accented Chow character.

I was one of the few who actually supported and defended Jeong’s laugh-out-loud portrayal when I wrote about the movie in the now defunct KoreAm Magazine. Some of the trolls came after me too.

Since then, Jeong has done more movies, produced and starred in his own TV series, “Dr. Ken,” and, along with Awkwafina, was the best thing about “Crazy Rich Asians.”

I’ve gone on to do some comic bits in my own solo performance shows on stage. Believe me, I know how hard it is to get a laugh. As Steve Martin has said, “Standup is the ego’s last stand.”

Jeong manages to deliver some big laughs, as well as tell some revealing personal stories in his first one-hour special.

And he makes the case that Mr. Chow is a social justice warrior.

Check out the Netflix special when the news of the day gets you down.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.
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