“But Donald Trump…”

But Donald Trump…

The instant progressive rejoinder to almost any criticism of Joe Biden’s shambolic presidency is “But Donald Trump…”. Which in turn is followed up by a litany of accusations about Mr. Trump’s conduct in office. Many of these accusations are unquestionably correct. Trump was, and is, appallingly ignorant about—well pretty much everything. And he routinely lied about pretty much everything as well. 

But through it all there were some policy successes, some important.  The rapid development of COVID vaccines is a notable one. The signing of the Abraham accords is another. The reduction in tax rates and the appointment of 3 originalists to the Supreme Court should be counted as well. But none of the constructive things Trump did strayed very far from what used to be called Republican orthodoxy. 

The two questions Republicans need to ask themselves are these: (1) were the costs of the Trump presidency worth the benefits, and (2) what is the path forward? Those are the questions the party has to sort out by 2024. Although it is virtually certain that the Republicans will re-capture the House, and possibly the Senate in 2022, such a result would simply represent a typical “throw the bums out” mid-term reaction against the party on power. It will not reflect a Republican governing philosophy simply because they don’t have one, or at least haven’t annunciated one this side of sanity. 

While the Republicans lack even a semblance of coherence, the Democratic leadership has enforced a brutal consistency across the party. Elected Democratic office holders and activists are passionate and committed believers who are pretty much wrong about almost everything. Since a good many of them are facing tough re-election fights, they are finally waking up to the fact that the party’s approach has been thoroughly rejected by the vast majority of independents and Republicans, not to mention a substantial minority of registered Democrats. 

Hence the “But Donald Trump…” dodge designed to rally the base and remind suburbanites what they revolted against. But it is a dodge not least because it implies that all questions are at root binary. One answer is to embrace Donald Trump in full; the other is to embrace progressive politics. That formulation is simply nonsensical. 

More importantly, the “But Donald Trump…” motif is an exercise in turning off any semblance of critical thinking in favor of cartoonish framing of policy issues. In the minds of committed partisans, every question implicitly becomes one of comparing two (and only two) possible outcomes. The first is the End-of-Democracy presided over by Donald Trump and a coterie of White Supremicists. The alternate is a just and progressive society informed by science and reason, governed by all-knowing and benign experts. 

With respect to the (alleged) pending extinction of democracy it is worth reflecting on what the term democracy is supposed to mean. For instance, the Washington Post, which has made a habit of publishing Democratic talking points and referring to it as journalism first began running the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” on its front page in February of 2017, shortly after Donald Trump took the oath of office. 

It is a slogan that perfectly captures the mindlessness of the zeitgeist. Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, commented rather insightfully, that the slogan “sounds like the next Batman movie”. As to its meaning, well, who knows? All we can deduce is that its focus group inspired virtue signaling has been enthusiastically embraced by proponents of right-think.

But what does the term democracy really mean, or more to the point, what is the proper definition when used correctly? First, what it does not mean is that temporary majorities just get their way on any and all matters by the simple expedient of controlling 50% of the vote plus 1. Or to put it more bluntly, mob rule is not democracy. 

Second, Democracy spelled with a capital D is part of a process—but only a part—whose purpose is to protect liberty. Other factors that come into play are the rule of law, norms, culture, values, a separation of powers, property rights, free markets and a legal system independent of politics. 

Here is where it gets interesting. Interesting because those factors and values are part and parcel of classical liberalism but antithetical to progressivism. Consider for instance that classical liberalism is concerned with individuals and their natural-law rights and obligations. Progressivism on the other hand, is concerned with (ever shifting) group rights and outcomes. Consequently laws that are neutral on their face have to be evaluated with respect to their distributional impact on favored and disfavored groups. Which is to say, it encourages legal rent seeking.

By the language of the 14th amendment all Americans are supposed to enjoy equal protection of the laws. (Technically a better statement of equal protection is found in the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV. Not only is it is direct; it avoids the clash between the administration of equal rights legislation and the Bill of Rights). 

Leaving aside the technicalities, the question remains, are all U.S. citizens equal under laws that are neutral on their face?  Obviously not. The new segregationists, otherwise known as social justice warriors, proponents of affirmative action, woke activists etc, favor actions by the administrative state specifically designed to achieve desired racial, ethnic and gender based outcomes in things like college admissions, the acquisition of broadcast licenses and access to capital. Hardly equal protection.

Or how about what progressives insist on referring to as “reproductive rights?” The way the law is currently interpreted, women, compliments of the so-called living constitution, have a court manufactured right to abort their unborn children without so much as a second thought about the father of the about to be extinguished child. Much less the child. However impolitic it is to mention it, women don’t get pregnant by themselves, a fact the law seems to think is irrelevant. 

How about the administration of vaccines? It may be foolish in the extreme to refuse vaccination, but that doesn’t necessarily give the federal government, which lacks the police power reserved to the states, the right to impose vaccination mandates. 

Not only are the unvaccinated treated like second-class citizens, they are rapidly approaching the point where they will be denied the possibility of earning a living or traveling in public unless for a state sanctioned activity. Remember during the lockdowns that social justice demonstrations were just fine, but going to church wasn’t? Even now, the unvaccinated are treated like lepers even thought the vaccinated can infect others as well. It is increasingly clear that the chief benefit of vaccination is not that it prevents infection, although it may reduce the odds; it is that vaccination mitigates the severity of potential infection.  

And while we are on the subject of unequal treatment, let’s not forget that the right to bodily autonomy (see abortion above) suddenly goes right out the window when it comes to vaccination. It seems that bodily autonomy only counts for abortion. Progressives seem intent on acquiring the power to make a person’s life and livelihood dependent on the whims of administrative agencies. Run by non-political experts of course. 

And how about those political norms that Donald Trump routinely violated? Progressives certainly wouldn’t do that. Or would they?

Well, the Biden Administration with an able assist from AG Merrick Garland and the Teachers Unions decided to start treating parents who objected to the indoctrination of their children as potential terrorists. 

Or the Biden Administration’s take  on the legality of vaccine mandates. After the 5th circuit  Court of Appeals blocked Biden’s order, the administration decided to carry on anyway hoping to buy time to accomplish its objectives despite the Court’s observation that “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.” And not to put too fine a point on it, the Biden Administration issued the order through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citing an emergency, but didn’t get around to specifying rules for a solid three months after the supposed emergency was declared. 

Then there is the Biden Administration’s flatly illegal extension of the eviction moratorium issued through, of all places through the CDC. It should be noted that the eviction moratorium was first started by that constitutional scholar, Donald Trump. And let’s not leave out the filibuster that the progressives are trying to dismantle as they continue their penchant for changing the rules when they can’t otherwise get their way. 

Let’s not forget the Great Gerrymandering Scare of 2022. It now turns out that, despite previous claims of the pending End-of-Democracy as we know it due to Republican Gerrymandering, it is Democrats who may very well benefit from redistricting as a result of the 2022 census–and wait for it–Gerrymandering. All of a sudden the dire threat seems to have receded in press coverage. (Then again, when the Democrats do it, it’s redistricting; when the Republicans do it, it becomes diabolical and racist Gerrymandering.)

I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that as the facts change, the Red and Blue teams do not change with them; they merely adjust their arguments (if they do even that) to accomplish their pre-ordained political goals. Facts are utterly irrelevant to their policy arguments.  

And first among the progressive arguments is “But Donald Trump…” which serves to turn off the brain (a necessary pre-condition of progressivism) and allow the faithful to believe what they wish to believe despite actual conditions here on planet Earth.  And let’s not leave out the Republicans. Their first argument is: I am not a Democrat. Which may be enough to get them elected in 2022, but not in 2024. Just like Biden’s argument: I am not Donald Trump was enough to get him elected in 2020 as a caretaker, but not to actually govern as anything more than that. That is a lesson he is starting to learn the hard way.


Prosecute Steve Bannon

Congress recently voted (229—202) to hold sometime Trump whisperer Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena to testify in the Congressional investigation of the January 6 riot. In refusing to comply, Mr. Bannon asserted executive privilege. All but 9 Republicans voted against holding him in criminal contempt. 

Steve Bannon

It is certainly true that partisan motives were behind at least some of the votes in favor. And it is also true that members of both parties have ignored Congressional subpoenas in recent years without penalty. The Department of Justice has repeatedly declined to prosecute criminal referrals for contempt of Congress. 

Making things worse, Congress has studiously ignored dealing forcefully with officials who lied under oath at Committee hearings. James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, and James Brennan, former CIA Director come to mind. Then there are lesser figures like Lois Lerner whom the Justice Department refused to prosecute after a criminal referral. 

In the case of Steve Bannon we have an open and shut case of criminal contempt. Bannon argues, along with former President Trump, that he is covered by executive privilege. That argument is without merit. Bannon came and went as a member of the administration long before the events of January 6, 2021, the subject of the subpoena. His conversations with Trump during the time he was a civilian are simply not covered by executive privilege. And pretty much everyone knows it, including the invertebrate Republicans who voted against issuing the contempt citation. 

If Bannon is not held to account for his willful refusal to comply with a lawful subpoena, the power of Congress to hold the executive branch to account will be diminished even further than it already is. It would be nice to think that more than 9 of 211 Republicans would be capable of figuring that out, but apparently they suffer from the paralyzing fear that Donald Trump will belch forth disapproval of them for not being sufficiently obsequious.

Mr. Bannon may invoke his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. Should he decide to do so Congress could be faced with the interesting issue of whether to grant him some sort of immunity in order to compel his testimony. 

It should also be noted that there is a jail cell in the Capitol building where Congress could legally order Mr. Bannon be held until he testifies before the House committee. In the event that Mr. Bannon continues to defy the subpoena and Justice declines to prosecute, that would be a fitting solution to Bannon’s ongoing defiance of a legal order. 


Indicting The Trump Organization

In the matter of the indictment of both the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, the Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Weisselberg is charged with illegally avoiding taxes on $1.76 million he allegedly received in benefits over 15 years. These untaxed benefits included the use of a company car and apartment. 

It is entirely possible that prosecutors brought low level charges against Mr. Weisselberg in order to pressure him to cooperate with the investigation of Mr. Trump. If he cooperates he gets some sort of immunity deal; if not, the threat of more serious charges hangs over his head. In any event prosecutor Carey Dunne said in court that “It’s not about politics”. 

Except that it obviously is.

If the whole affair were not about politics serious indictments would have been handed down a long time ago. Remember that the indictment charges that the tax evasion scheme—more akin to a parking ticket—has been going on since at least 2005.  Add to that the fact that Weisselberg has been working for Trump for 50 years. And we are to believe that prosecutors suddenly discovered that the Trump organization committed the unspeakable crime of not paying withholding taxes on a company car and apartment? 

Consider. Somehow or other those very same prosecutors, along with their friends in the press, managed to turn a blind eye to the financial machinations of the Clinton Foundation. Nor could the press get very interested in the ongoing Hunter Biden saga, even though Hunter Biden admitted that he was (and is) under investigation by the prosecutor’s office in Delaware. For that matter, most of the press (we don’t know about the DOJ) remains remarkably incurious about the extent to which Hunter Biden’s finances were mixed  in with his father’s when he needed extra cash to pay Russian hookers. See story here. 

In addition, there are technical issues here that strongly suggest this exercise is political. First, it is clear that the prosecutors are squeezing Mr. Weisselberg to turn on Mr. Trump. That implies that they can’t make a case solely with the documents. The fact that they need a star witness suggests a weak case.

Second, the charges that are being so enthusiastically reported in the press are federal offenses. So why is the case being prosecuted in state court? New York is barred from prosecuting if federal authorities bring charges on the same facts. Moreover, it is far easier to prosecute a case in federal court. The most likely explanation is that the feds are not interested because they don’t think much of the case. 

Third, it would be much easier to make a federal conspiracy case against the Trump Organization than go the state route. Again, why is NY State leading the charge? Probably because NY Attorney General Letitia James thinks she has a shot at Andrew Cuomo and this case would be the way to capitalize on that. (For more on the technical aspects, see this story.)

There is another question that must be asked. Why is it that after a summer of rioting, arson and looting, not to mention a surge in murders, the state decided to expend its resources on what is sure to be a political spectacle rather than the pursuit of serious wrongdoing?  (Note: not for a minute do I doubt that Weisselberg  and the Trump Organization are guilty of the charges). 

To answer the question: There are two reasons why these charges are being pursued. The first is tribal hatred, pure and simple. New York City is a seething cauldron of Trump hatred and anything that hurts Trump is good. Second, as the policy prescriptions of the national Democratic Party become more widely known, and the public begins to recoil, the first order of business is to change the subject. And what better way than to gin up some Trump hatred in the belly of the beast?

I have little doubt that Donald J Trump and his ilk have played fast and loose with the rules, and maybe committed crimes, for decades.  Just like the Clintons. But this action by NY State reeks of selective prosecution. It represents the continuing and  disgraceful politicization of the justice system. In the end,  perverting the justice system to seek revenge on political enemies is what you expect from a banana republic, not a liberal democracy. And a prosecutor who does that is far more dangerous than a loser like Donald J Trump. 


The Unbearable Incompetence of Mr. Biden

During the presidential campaign of 2020 the argument was being made that candidate Joe Biden was at heart a moderate who would guide the ship of state back to normalcy. Biden, who ran as not-Trump, asserted that all the talk about radicalism and “The Squad”was nonsense. He dismissed the idea that his party had become radicalized and sought to reassure voters that he represented the traditional values of his party. “I am the Democratic Party right now” he intoned in a debate with Donal Trump.

Well, how is that working out?

Let us consider what Biden and the Democratic Party have been up to since his election in November of 2020. 

The Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has announced that she will only grant one-on-one interviews with “black and brown reporters”. In a way this does represent traditional Democratic thinking. Individuals don’t count for very much, only the tribe matters. 

That, and anti-semitism, are very much the drivers of the policy preferences of the Squad and the rest of the increasingly ascendant hard left of the Democratic Party. As Hamas rains rockets down on civilian population centers of Israel, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the Squad are calling on the Biden Administration to halt arms sales to Israel. 

Then we have Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) an acolyte of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has condemned Israel for the “infringement of human civil rights” of Palestinians. For her part, Ilhan Omar said “Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism.” She somehow neglected to mention that if a nominally civilian structure is targeted by Israel, they are given warning to evacuate before the attack is launched. On the other hand, Hamas, an arm of Iran, deliberately targets Israeli civilians. And as for human rights in Palestine, pace Rep. Bowman, compliments of Mahmoud Abbas and his government, there aren’t any. 

For his part, President Biden, only reluctantly defended Israel’s right to defend itself from attack, presumably out of deference to his Party’s left wing, increasingly the only wing the Party has.  And let’s not forget that the aggressor here is Iran acting through its proxy Hamas, with the stated intention of wiping Israel off the map. 

President Biden does have an ally here—the mainstream press, which covers virtually every story through the lens of Trump hatred. It reduces to Biden good, Trump bad. And so every story is either framed in that light or simply ignored in order to keep the Biden ship and its progressive allies afloat. 

Consider the recent NY Times column by David Brooks, the thrust of which is that, since his election, Biden hasn’t changed at all. He has always been a progressive, he is just bolder now because the times demand it. Brooks is correct about the first part; Biden always has been a progressive albeit with his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. But his policy agenda has  nothing to do with what the times demand; it’s what his party demands. 

In short, the Biden campaign was a scam, another example of bait-and-switch, designed to suck in moderate voters blinded by Trump loathing. 

That’s what explains why Biden and his allies in the press have gone quiet on the border situation in which the number of minors held in detention by the Federal Government is about double what it was at is highest point during the Trump years. The same deplorable conditions in which they were being held still prevail. Not a peep from the usual suspects though. 

The same can be said about why public schools, owned by the Teachers Unions, have remained largely closed to in-person teaching in urban areas, especially in blue states.  It explains why elected Democrats are, at best, quiet about urban rioting and calls to defund the police even as crime rates skyrocket.  

It explains why, through executive order, climate risk is being added to the remit of supposedly independent regulators like the Federal Reserve. It explains why the Administration is pushing for the PRO-Act which seeks to force people to join unions by eliminating right-to-work laws and allowing card check unionization. It explains the constantly shifting mask mandates. 

The same dynamic explains why Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is routinely excoriated in the press for producing results that range between pretty good and exemplary, but Andrew Cuomo of New York is increasingly handled with kid gloves. This despite his catastrophic handling of the Covid pandemic in nursing homes, his deceit in reporting data, his use of state employees to work on his self-congratulatory book, complete with a $5 million advance fee. 

And, oh yes, remember when Mr. Biden referred to Texas Governor Abbot’s Covid policies as representing “Neanderthal thinking” that would lead to a surge of infections. A surge that, as it turns out, never happened. Or the “impending sense of doom” that CDC Director  Rochelle Walensky warned about a mere 45 days ago? 

We are only 4 months into the full 48 months of a Biden Presidency. Mr Biden is already displaying indications that his  presidency will rival that of Jimmy Carter’s for incompetence. Perhaps before the whole sorry spectacle is over the Republicans will abandon the circular firing squad to which they have become so attached. That would allow them to act as the loyal opposition. With the emphasis on loyal. 


The Liz Cheney Affair

In 1860, on reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species, it was reported that the wife of the Bishop of Worcester said “Let is hope it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known”. If, as seems likely, Liz Cheney (WY -R) is summarily tossed out of the Republican Party leadership, the Bishop’s wife would make a fitting replacement. 

After all, Liz Cheney is about to be sacrificed because she is telling the truth about the 2020 election. And a solid majority of House Republicans know it; they just don’t want it to be widely known—even though it already is among the community of the sane. 

The reason why Liz Cheney is a problem for the fanatics in the Republican Party is that she insists on telling the truth, and telling it out loud. Donald J Trump, she says, lost the election of 2020. Well, that should be as controversial as asserting that gravity exists. Cheney also famously voted to impeach Mr. Trump for his use of violence and intimidation when he stoked up a mob on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congress from performing its Constitutional duty to count the votes in the electoral college so that Vice President Pence could declare Joe Biden the winner. 

Of course Liz Cheney was right on both counts. Mr Trump, like all schoolyard bullies, is just a sore loser. And loser is the operative word here. He lost the popular vote by 7 million votes, and he lost the electoral college by getting only 232 votes to Joe Biden’s 306. Not that mere facts matter very much to the luminaries leading the fight to overthrow Cheney. 

The leaders in the fight to overthrow her include such notables as Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-R) who, among other things, is (allegedly) the subject of a sex trafficking probe by the Department of Justice. Then there is the delusional Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA – R), a QAnon conspiracy theorist who continues to insist that Trump won the 2020 election. 

Here is where we come to a critical difference between House Democrats and House Republicans. House Democrats actually believe the nonsense that they routinely assert, about…roughly everything. Which is not to deny that as Democrats move forward with their legislative agenda they are capable of inflicting massive damage on the body politic, precisely because they believe in what they are doing. Ignorance and enthusiasm always make a bad combination.

The vast majority of Republicans on the other hand do not actually believe the baloney about Trump “really” winning the 2020 election that was stolen from them. They are simply cowards. They are quaking in their boots, fearful of being politically injured by a school yard insult hurled at them by the World’s Biggest Loser.  Their claim to leadership is that they don’t actually believe a word they are saying. 

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Republicans could do simple arithmetic. That time has past. They are apparently clamoring to get on board a train driven by a man who lost what should have been an easily winnable Presidential election. And he did lose—to a 78 year old political hack whose campaign consisted of reading banalities to a teleprompter set up in his basement. 

Meanwhile the Republican Party as a whole ran considerably better than Trump did. They picked up House seats whittling down the Democratic majority to one of the smallest on record. They only lost control of the Senate because The World’s Biggest Loser made sure of it in Georgia by discouraging Republican voters in the suburbs in the January run-off.  The Republicans also picked up the Governor’s office in Montana; and they won new majorities in the New Hampshire Assembly and Senate. Democrats won no new majorities in State legislatures. None. 

Republicans are about to commit political vandalism on a grand scale. Not only are the Republicans on the cusp of voting to institutionalize the big lie; they are doing it to curry favor with a loser. A big loser, who wallows in grievance; a loser who has displayed stunning incompetence; an ignoramus who has demonstrated he is  incapable of comprehending truth, much less telling it. 

It is beyond comprehension why Republicans would expect that they will earn the confidence of the voting public by signaling support for Trump and Co. It is clear from the election returns of 2020 that the Republican Party didn’t lose; Trump did. He lost by alienating highly educated suburban Republicans.  By supporting the ouster of Liz Cheney for the sin of telling the truth, the Republican Party is turning itself into a smoking ruin led by…losers.  


Senator Mitch McConnell Excoriates Donald Trump

In the aftermath of the Senate vote that acquitted former President Trump in his second impeachment trial, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he explained his vote to acquit. His rationale was procedural; he argued that the Senate lacked jurisdiction to convict because Trump is a now a private citizen and no longer President. If the Senate has the power to impeach a private citizen, which would then allow the Senate to bar that private citizen from ever holding public office in the future, the impeachment power has no limits.

That, it seems to me, is both a close call and a perfectly reasonable position.

We should also note that McConnell pointed out that the matter does not stop here. Trump is still answerable for his actions in both the criminal and civil courts.

Most important is what McConnell said about the substance of the matter. He said what is obviously true, but needed to be said by the ranking elected Republican. In fact, it should have been repeated by all the Republicans. He said that there is no question that Trump provoked the mob into a foreseeable response. In addition, Trump was both practically and morally responsible for the result, which was the storming of the capitol building on January 6.

Senator McConnell’s speech is presented in its entirety in the YouTube video below.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell.


Trump Impeachment Redux

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D. MD) led off the proceedings with a video montage that included some footage of Donald Trump’s incendiary speech and the subsequent attack on the capitol by an enraged mob. The video, shown below, is devastatingly effective. It really says all you need to know. The rest is sophistry.

Attack on the Capitol


Ben Sassse

The Nebraska Republican Party is set to censure Senator Ben Sasse. Again. The charge is that he has not, and will not, bend his knee to Donald Trump in the upcoming impeachment trial. Like Liz Cheney, Sasse has stuck to his guns.

If the Republican Party is ever going to reclaim the mantle of Lincoln and once again become a governing party it is going to need leaders like Sasse and Cheney. The alternative is the road to hell. It is a road shared by Trump fans as well as pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Party. They just don’t realize they share the same underlying collectivist assumptions about the role of government and the use of government power. But they do.

Ben Sasse recorded a short video statement for the Nebraska Republican Party that can be seen below. It is a statement of civic responsibility that, if people paid attention to it, could (and ought to) go a long way toward getting U.S. politics back on the road to reason.


Same Circus, Different Clowns

As roughly everybody knows, on January 6, 2021, then-President Donald J Trump stirred up a crowd by claiming that the most recent presidential election was stolen from him, implying that  Joe Biden’s ascension to the office was illegitimate.  Immediately thereafter a crowd of Trump supporters, some of whom were armed, attacked the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress from carrying out its lawful duty in counting the electoral votes of the several states. Counting those electoral votes was the last formal step in certifying the election, paving the way for Mr. Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.  

In the aftermath, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell pinned responsibility for the attack on Trump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Senate minority leader Charles Schumer demanded that Trump ether step down or be forced from office immediately. As in right away, without delay. (See the You Tube video below dated January 12, 2021.)

In the event, Pelosi and Schumer demanded, naturally enough, that someone else take action. When that didn’t work, the House impeached Trump for the second time. The vote came on January 13, 2021, a day after Schumer’s speech. But then a funny thing happened. Speaker Pelosi didn’t get around to sending the article of impeachment to the Senate for 12 days, by which time Biden had been sworn in and Trump had become a private citizen. 

Not only that, the article of impeachment was for incitement. Trump could easily have been impeached for dereliction. He, as Commander-in-Chief, refused to respond to an attack on the seat of government. Moreover he rebuked his own Vice President for refusing to tamper with the states’ electoral votes. Not only are those surely impeachable offenses; the evidence is unassailable.  

As it now stands, after insisting on the immediacy of the situation, Speaker Pelosi took her time sending over a deeply flawed article of impeachment. The trial is not scheduled to begin until February 8, 2021. Moreover, the article she sent over contains two important constitutional issues. The first has to do with the definition of incitement—at what point does a political speech become incitement to violence? The second has to do with impeaching a former president. 

The balance of the evidence suggests that a former president may be impeached, paving the way for a majority vote that would prohibit him from holding office again. But there is sufficient ambiguity to make the case less than clear cut.  

The issue of incitement is more problematic. Did Trump incite his followers to violence? It is my opinion that he did. But having said that, we need to acknowledge several factors. First, restricting the political speech of a sitting politician sets a dangerous precedent when free speech is already under attack. Second, the incitement charge was totally unnecessary to achieve the desired goal, namely securing a conviction in the Senate. Third, because of (presumably) sloppy drafting and the constitutional issues involved, Republicans can dodge the underlying issue. In effect they are being given a low cost opportunity to vote for acquittal. 

An acquittal would allow Trump to argue that once again, he has been exonerated. That is surely not an outcome to be welcomed. But it sure looks like the path of least resistance, due in part to the handiwork of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer. As always they have quashed the national interest in favor of their own narrow political interests.  


Impeachment Redux

Clowns to the left of me, 

Jokers to the right…

From “Stuck in the Middle With you” written by Gerry Rafferty. 

It seems reasonably clear that Donald J. Trump, who has by now passed Richard M Nixon in the proverbial race to the bottom, has undoubtedly committed an impeachable offense. It is also reasonably clear that the Democratic Party, in its ongoing love affair with incompetence, is regrettably about to go out of its way to make removing him from office nearly impossible.

The single article of impeachment they are poised to pass is going to accuse Trump of inciting an insurrection. The problem is that the wording is an invitation to partisan sniping and the making of legal arguments that conflate Trump’s political offense with the criminal law. Not only is this going to make a conviction impossible, it is entirely unnecessary. 

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests language that avoids these traps and gets to the heart of the matter. He writes: 

“If what the Democrats truly want is bipartisan consensus in the service of national security, rather than political combat, the articles of impeachment they plan to file should charge the president with (a) subversion of the Constitution’s electoral process, particularly the Twelfth Amendment counting of the sovereign states’ electoral votes; (b) recklessly encouraging a raucous political demonstration that foreseeably devolved into a violent storming of the seat of our government; and (c) depraved indifference to the welfare of the vice president, Congress, security personnel, and other Americans who were in and around the Capitol on January 6.”

The charges contained in McCarthy’s language appear to be beyond dispute. Congress could (and should) pass such an article with dispatch and send it along to the Senate. If the Senate wants to pretend it can’t find a way to vote on the article before January 20, or at least vote to censure Trump, so be it. What had heretofore been known as The Party of Lincoln, will have shown itself to be largely populated by cowering fools, utterly unwilling to stand up to mob violence, and incapable of protecting liberty and our institutions. 

Add to that the cynical calculations of the Democrats, some of whom wish to delay an impeachment trial until after Trump has left office, a course of action Jim Clyburn has suggested. The stated reason for this is that Trump could then be barred from office in the future. 

That is nonsense, for two reasons. First, the impeachment power was designed for removal from office, not punishment. After removal, punishment can be meted out the usual way. Second, As Bruce Ackerman points out in the Washington Post, Congress can ban Trump from holding federal office in the future using Section 3 of the 14th amendment. They could do so by finding that he engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, such a finding would not require an impeachment conviction. It would require a simple majority in both houses of Congress. That should be doable. 

If Congress decides to wait months to hold an impeachment trial (at which time Chuck Schumer will be majority leader) it will be simply because they wish to use it as a partisan cudgel while they pass the Party’s progressive wish list, including trillions in new “stimulus” that doesn’t stimulate.  All the talk of getting rid of Trump “immediately” will have been shown to be just that. Talk. And it will be politics as usual.