Impeachment is the purview of Congress

Trump’s lack of ethics are a solvable problem, if we had a functioning Congress

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Impeachment is a political act, not a criminal one. If the House majority is more enamored of their prospective legislative agenda than a President’s criminal or unethical activity, then that activity is by definition not sufficient to lose the office. The President can do whatever he likes until the House decides it’s Too Much™. Calling unethical behavior “not obstruction of justice” is a canard; the real question is if Paul Ryan cares more about creating an Ayn Rand wonderland than suffering a Keystone Kops Executive. He clearly does. 

Once upon a time, “it’s not illegal if the President does it” was a joke on its face for its hubris. The truth we’ve been reminded is, “it’s not functionally illegal for the President if Congress abides it”. Certainly the President can hire and fire who he wants in the Executive; the check against abuse of that power is impeachment. The President could systematically fire every federal investigator and prosecutor probing them, FBI, CIA, NSA, DoJ, whoever – they all serve at the behest of the President, and he can functionally dismantle pretty much any investigation of his conduct the moment he’s aware of it. Again, the only check on that is impeachment, or a Cabinet-level 25th Amendment revolt.  

Congress didn’t abide Clinton’s weasel answers about blowjobs. They apparently are much more comfortable these days with the President strong-arming the heads of the FBI, CIA, and the DNI about on-going investigations involving close allies of the President. The sad fact is that the American federal legislative body is so moribund and rotten through that it can no longer be counted on to fulfill any of its roles, compromising itself, the Executive, and the nation itself.

Maybe I should re-read The Fountainhead. I don’t remember it being THAT good.

Selling Out to Win

What does it mean to win the world and lose your soul?

We start here:

https://mobile.twitter.com/brianklaas/status/837600751950131201

We know there was some kind of Ukrainian peace deal passed around, discussions of sanctions, some dead Russians peripheral to those conversations… but the talks look to be all over the place. It doesn’t look like one agenda getting pushed, it looks like Russia just fully supporting Trump with everything they could… the way the US typically does in foreign elections.

I think that might be the bigger story here. Susceptibility to foreign meddling in elections via broad support (and some dirty tricks, such as the DNC hack) is something typically ascribed to weak nations and not the US. The question appears to be, “Is this acceptable in the US”? It’s clear that Trump and the Russians were up to SOMETHING, but what, and proof that “what” is more illegal than Logan Act violations doesn’t seem imminent.

This seems to me to a fight about propriety, and pride, and not outright treason. The hurdle of actual treason doesn’t look to be met any time soon, and the Presidency itself probably doesn’t qualify as enrichment under the Enoulments Clause. They’re foreign agents. They probably were happy for the help and, I believe, are still pro-American. That said, anyone who was willing to cut deals with aggressive foreign kleptocrats in order to win wanted to win so bad they forgot what they were fighting for.

And it may still yet be treason. We’ll see.

Mesbwhile, what will we accept? What will the world accept?

Leaks and the horrible burden of responsibility

We need leaks because we’re not trusted, and maybe we shouldn’t be

This is what it’s like in America these days:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/trump-decries-leakers-for-leaking-that-he-asked-them-to-leak.html?mid=fb-share-di

Leaks occupy a strange place in American politics, governance, and media. So many big decisions get made in secret, decisions that are momentous and important and for all that hidden as well. We’re not supposed to know what’s going on, and leaks are weapons in that cultivated ignorance: if it was only official leaks, we’d only hear the inside story from one perspective – the one that wants to hide the decision-making process yet still make it seem like it isn’t hidden. So we need unofficial leaks as well… and sometimes it’s just gossip, sometimes it’s lies, and sometimes it’s truth, and there’s no immediately easy way to discern between them.

Transparent governance would address a lot of this, but no one in power likes to shine a light on the sausage making process. They don’t think we can handle it. Maybe we can’t. Maybe we need immaculate leaders in high towers that make us trust they know what they’re doing. I don’t buy that though… but even then, if someone up top was honest with everything,that it was hard and mistakes get made and the complexity was mind-boggling, you know all it would take is one jerk with a loud mouth or a smooth delivery to tell us that he’s got all the answers and we can get rid of those poor flawed mortals up top, and you just know people would fall over themselves to fawn for the hustler.

Maybe we’re not better than that. Maybe. I’d like to try, all the same.

You can’t Tweet from the SITROOM

Crisis response requires preparation, and is the President’s most unique role. It does not appear Trump is interested in preparing.

We’ll start with this:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58ae0acbe4b057efdce8c07c?

Trump was Tweeting during the Yemen raid, which you can’t do from the Situation Room.

I don’t believe anyone in the SITROOM would’ve been able to react to events in Yemen in any direct fashion, but they certainly can do so indirectly. I don’t know what it’s like to be President, and I don’t think that a President should need to monitor every military operation they order; goodness knows I hope the career professionals would have a better grasp on events as they happen than the latest popularity contest winner.

Still, something about this doesn’t sit right. It seems callous. I would’ve thought that a first-time President would’ve wanted to see this, to get walked through it all by the professionals, to get context on what’s involved, to learn what it is that he actually ordered. The logistics, background on the planning, the reality of execution… all the myriad bits that make the difference between a plan and a reality, especially in a situation like this.

It’s one thing to muck around with executive orders, or sign bad laws. They’re reversible, mistakes can be corrected, courts have a role if things are bad enough. But crisis response is probably the one thing the President does that’s supreme in authority, immediate, and irreversible, and there are many, many hints that a crisis under Trump would not be reacted to with wisdom, grace, or coordination.

Hacks talking about serious topics unseriously

Take a look at this thing:

http://thefederalist.com/2017/02/20/barack-obama-welcomes-donald-trumps-imperial-presidency/#.WKyTW1sLuFo.facebook
I want to use the word “shocking” to describe an article covering this topic that would mention Bush only once, for the surveillance powers he doled out, and only to praise them. I can’t, because it’s not surprising at all.

The USA PATRIOT Act was the real first shot fired in the modern Imperial Presidency (back when it was just the “Unitary Executive” according to Cheney). Under that, the NSA lied to Congress and the American people and conducted flatly illegal surveillance – and Congress saw no reason to challenge any of that and still doesn’t. In fact, the only reason we know about such abuses is due to Snowden’s leaks… which this article feels were unnecessary and totally should be prosecuted.

Remember, this is an article warning of the Imperial Presidency. It doesn’t excoriate Congress for inaction. It goes out of its way to praise Bush, and then specifically Obama’s prosecution of leaks. It never mentions Cheney.

Articles like these are the reason why people can read extensively about serious topics and not have much to show for the effort. The Imperial Presidency is a real danger to the Republic, but it’s a symptom of a weak Congress and a divided nation with little capability for discourse. Articles like these are one reason why that divide exists.

Stop calling half of America racist

Trump is racist. His supporters? All of them? Really?

Anyone lambasting Trump’s supporters as racist xenophobes need to consider:

Were the votes for Clinton cast because her supporters wanted closer ties between Washington and Wall Street? Because they felt like a two-tier justice system is something to strive for? That more wars, and especially poorly-chosen and poorly-executed wars are good? That international trade agreements focusing on intellectual property rights are more important than climate accords?

Or was that support given for Clinton’s professed support of LBGT+ rights? Her stand against misogyny? Her promise of the status quo against what appears to be reactionary chaos? For women’s sovereignty over their bodies?

Trump offered up racism and nativism, sure. He also offered up a sledgehammer to the existing Washington elite. His support wasn’t about one thing; it wasn’t just “I hate minorities so Trump gets my vote” from Florida to Idaho. This election wasn’t just Trump’s nativism, it was also Establishment v Washington Sucks, and pretending it was only one thing or the other isn’t a full or reasonable accounting of what America currently is dealing with.

If this country is going to heal itself and stand firm against what I assume is a coming tidal wave of federal bullshit, people need to realize that there are actually rational reasons why the supporters of the opposing candidate exist. Imagine Clinton won, and the reaction in Dallas and Ft Lauderdale was for thousands of people to take to the streets chanting, “lock her up!” and posting online about how Hillary’s supporters just want the Washington consensus to send us all to war against Russia. Toss in a few burning effigies. That was the literal fear, right? That the election results wouldn’t be accepted by Trump? Remember the Tea Party? Do you think that kind of my-way-or-it’s-treason attitude has done America a lot of good?

People have allowed themselves to believe in their own virtue and denounce their opponents as immoral degenerates for way too long. I know maintaining civil discourse is hard when you only see the rotten in others, but no one is a caricature.

We have to love each other. We have to turn the cheek.

#partycrasher

American race and identity politics

The GOP just ran a platform of identity politics for whites. We all need better.

More post-election thoughts.
 
The American right has been complaining about Democratic invocation of identity politics for some time now; basically, catering to a demographic slice without much seeming consideration for the rest of America. To date, it’s only hit a few snags: racial minority opposition to same-sex marriage is probably the biggest snag to date, internal to the various factions the Democrats cater to.
 
Well, Trump’s nativism is what identity politics looks like to the right. He went out, targeted the concerns of a demographic in the white working class, and gave them exactly what they wanted without consideration for the rest of America.
 
I’m not saying that the concerns of the Democrats’ favored factions aren’t real – LBGTQ+ rights have always been lacking, police violence against the black community is a real thing, etc – but without being able to display comity to all while also pushing for faction-specific rights, such work is always going to come off to white America as special privileges rather than equal rights, political correctness rather than courtesy and respect.
 
America has lots of whites. They’re losing out in terms of electoral power, demographically, and America is changing around them in ways that they’re not being consulted on. Yes, American white supremacy is a thing… but even more so is the mere fact of the American white population. America is a democracy, and white people are a large and wealthy portion of it, carrying a disproportionate weight of taxation owing to their wealth in the favored society they’ve created. White America cannot be ignored simply because it has, at times, played the role of oppressor; it cannot be discarded or assumed loyal.
 
American democracy is wide, and for all the reasons the GOP morally needs to appeal to minorities and their concerns, the Democrats need to appeal to whites as well, because clearly they don’t think they’re part of the Democratic party’s plan any more.
 
If we’re going to have two major parties, it is morally imperative that those two parties do not define themselves by race. We did that once in America. We cannot do it again.