(Boy, am I glad this week is almost over…)
1 There is an Ethics Alarms category for incompetent elected officials like Maxine Waters, but in general I try not to state the obvious, and Rep. Waters has been an embarrassment to her district, her party, the House of Representatives, her party, the Congressional Black Caucus, her gender, her race and democracy generally for decades. Her latest statement that “Impeachment is about whatever Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment” is an especially striking example of her ignorance, her defiance of her ethical duties, and her sick partisan extremism, but still: Who that has watched this woman can be shocked at this?
During a Congressional Black Caucus town hall yesterday, Waters called on the black community which, to our pity and its shame, trusts this despicable woman to support impeaching President Donald Trump because “there is no law” restricting the practice.
Waters either is unaware of or chooses to defy the Constitution’s Article II Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
A. That’s law. In fact, it’s the law of the land.
B. “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not synonymous with “Anything Congress decides”
One of the worst things about Waters is that she makes citizens who trust her more ignorant about their own country. Her characterization of impeachment is simply false. It is also a prelude to an anti-democratic, ant-Constitutional system in which the Legislative Branch can veto the results of an election as long as one party has a sufficient majority. In this regard, Waters is not alone: this has been a theme of the Democratic “resistance” since the election. That alone is just reason for any rational American to vote against the Democrats, and this would be true if a werewolf were President.
It’s always fun to guess whether Waters is stupid, or lying. I vote stupid. “Bill Clinton got impeached because he lied,” Waters said yesterday. “Here you have a president who I can tell you and guarantee you is in collusion with the Russians, to undermine our democracy. Here you have a president who has obstructed justice, and here you have a president that lies every day.”
Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, which made him unfit to be a lawyer, much less make the laws. He was also impeached for lying to a grand jury, another crime, and obstructing justice for real, not by firing his own subordinate.
An ethical party would censor Waters the way Republicans supported censoring Joe McCarthy. At this point in its history, the Democratic Party is closer to following Waters’ unethical conduct than opposing it.
2. Major League Baseball is now scrambling to lock a barn door after a completely predictable and avoidable tragedy, with a toddler in the stands being seriously hurt by a line drive foul ball during a game in Yankee Stadium. For over a century, spectators came to games understanding that balls (and sometimes bats) flew into the stands, and that they could cause injuries, so fans had to be alert, bring gloves if they chose, or sit further away from the field. The legal principle is “assumption of the risk,” and it was a condition of entry, written on the back of every ticket. I had, and have, no problem with this. Proximity to the field is one of baseball’s charms, and when someone is hit by a ball because they were looking at their cell phone while the game was going on, I am less than sympathetic.
A few years ago there was a spate of young children hit by balls—Think of the children!-–and MLB directed teams to install netting protecting the stands to the dugouts. This diminishes the quality of the game experience, but MLB was frightened to death that a lawsuit would prompt an activist, baseball-hating judge to void the “assumption of the risk” provisions entirely. The toddler was sitting just beyond the netting, so now it is inevitable that MLB will direct teams to extend the netting, because, again, Think of the children!
The teams, however, not to mention parents, should have thought of the children long before this happened. Babies and toddlers who are incapable of watching the game or protecting themselves shouldn’t be seated near the field. Parents who take children that young to baseball games and sit near the foul lines are endangering them, and obviously so. Many years ago I was sitting in field box seats at an Orioles game and noticed that the women behind me was holding sleeping infant less than a year old. Finally I turned around and in the subtle, diplomatic mode of expression readers here know well, I said, “All it will take is a hard line-drive into this section and a bad luck, and your baby will be dead. I sit here a lot. The balls come screaming into this section. If your child isn’t hit by a ball, it will be pure luck. Do you understand? I don’t want you to feel you weren’t warned, and I don’t want to feel responsible when you are screaming and crying as you hold your baby with a crushed skull.”
She left, surprisingly. And a ball did come screaming into our section. It would have missed her baby, but not by much.
Now that we have set out of this slippery slope because teams were too stupid to place restrictions on where irresponsible parents could sit with small children, a precedent has been set. Some kid will be hit in the head by a home run in Fenway Park’s bleachers because Dad was texting (home runs take a while to get out there), and next there will be netting between the bleachers and the field too. All because nobody considered the worst case scenario, a key feature of playing Ethics Chess.