I Figured It Out: The Congressional Democrats Are Imitating Saddam Hussein [PART II]

[Continued from PART I, here]

As with Saddam’s disastrous bluff, the “we have enough for impeachment but we’re not going to impeach just yet” dance involves some reckless brinkmanship and depends on corrupt and under the table alliances, with the mainstream media replacing the U.N and its complicit members. So far the media has neglected to educate the public regarding how desperate and absurd the current subpoena tactic is, with its close similarity to the Radical Republicans’ attempt to get rid of President Andrew Johnson by demanding that he obey an illegal law, the Tenure of Office Act. (“Andrew Johnson? Who’s that? You must mean Lyndon Johnson, right? No?”)

As Johnson did, President Trump has a Constitutional obligation to protect the Separation of Powers from a House majority intent on abusing its oversight powers. The House Democrats are simultaneously claiming that they have enough WMDs—lets’ call them WTDs, Weapons of Trump’ Destruction—to take down the President, while they continue to search desperately for what they are lying about having. Thus they are demanding that they see the unredacted Mueller report, which would be illegal, getting Trump’s tax documents, which would be a dangerous abuse of privacy and the oversight function, and forcing the former White House Counsel to reveal privileged information, which he cannot legally or ethically do. The idea appears to be to let these orchestrated controversies distract the public and continue into the 2020 campaign, with the Democrats running on a “he should be impeached, but it’s easier just to beat him” theme.

The only question is whether the news media will be any more successful saving the Democrats from their dishonest and dangerous bluff than the U.N.’s crooks were protecting Saddam. I doubt it. The U.N. had and even now has more credibility than  the self-flaying news media, and for good reason.

Last week, for example, two New York Times columnists made foolishly weak arguments that Trump had committed impeachable offenses. For clinically Trump-deranged Charles Blow, for whom every column is a barely restrained primal scream against Trump’s existence, the imagined offense is criticizing the press for being exactly as corrupt, biased and untrustworthy as Blow proves it is every week. His own dishonesty is what distinguishes the column; for example, he writes that a poll (Blow loves cherry-picking polls, a flaw he shares with Trump) found that 49% to 36%, Republicans agree that the news media is “the enemy of the people,” but all other groups say that the media “is an important part of democracy.” Continue reading

I Figured It Out: The Congressional Democrats Are Imitating Saddam Hussein [PART I]

I was just lying awake with a dismal headache, as  “Iolanthe’s” Lord Chancellor memorably sung, when it suddenly came to me, like a bolt from Olympus.  I realized what it was that the unethical impeachment-rattling strategy of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats reminded me of. It’s the same trick Saddam Hussein attempted regarding his elusive “Weapons of Mass Destruction” charade.

If you recall, Hussein tried to pull off a dangerous bluff. Having removed, shipped away to allies, or destroyed all of his WMDs to avoid the Gulf War against him resuming (it was only a cease fire, remember, with conditions that were supposed to be enforced by U.N. members), he flamboyantly behaved as if he still had them. The despot refused to allow the full inspections that the cease fire deal required, and also interfered with air surveillance. These were flagrant violations of the cease fire, but Saddam was certain that he could forestall any military action because the U.N. leadership, and notably Russia and France as well, were profiting from bribes and under-the-table deals to help Hussein get around U.N. sanctions, enriching both him and them while the Iraqi people suffered. His corrupt pals assured him that they were capable of keeping the United States at bay.

Why was Hussein playing this dangerous game? As he explained to his captors after his government was overthrown, he was bluffing to keep Iran from attacking, which he was certain it would do if they knew he had disarmed.

Now, you well might ask why anyone would admire a plan that not only got hundreds of thousands of people killed and wasted billions of dollars, but that also ended up with the planner being captured in a “spider hole” and ultimately executed.  Remember, we’re not talking about entirely rational people here. We’re talking about “the resistance,” and those a party that is hostage to it. The circumstances of the Democrats’ lack of metaphorical WMDs are different in their details: the “resistance” had convinced themselves  that they would get damning evidence from the Mueller Investigation (Trump is a bad guy, so he must be guilty of something), but it provided nothing useful. The Democratic leadership is now trapped in a dangerous game that they think requires them to pander to and mollify a fanatic, anti-American, anti-democracy, furiously anti-Trump base, that is, as that description might suggest, irrational and destructive. Continue reading

And “The Resistance” Jumps The Shark! Pelosi Announces Mind-Bending Impeachment Plan P, and The Washington Post Launches Plan Q

This is all so embarrassing—as an American and an advocate of Constitutional government, I’M embarrassed, and those perpetrating this fiasco have more to be embarrassed about than I do by far— and ridiculous that I am at a loss to describe it fairly. My head-exploding graphics don’t do it justice, and a mere train wreck photo is inadequate. I’m not even certain where to place the focus.

I was tempted to concentrate on the now not rationally disputable fact that if you can read Pelosi’s comments yesterday and consider Greg Sargent’s and Brian Klaas’s columns in the Washington Post and not think, “Holy Cow! These people have completely lost their minds!” you have passed, as the Phantom of the Opera was fond of saying, the point of no return, and your Trump hate and derangement have digested your brain.

This is so, so obvious now, but that’s not an ethics framing, and I’m looking for that. I was thinking about designating the entire Democratic Congress as “Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month,” but that doesn’t quite encompass the enormity of what we are  witnessing. Similarly, calling the Post’s self-evident decision to put bringing down Trump over all professional standards as well as law, justice and common sense is minimized by calling it mere “mainsteam media bias,” as the Ethics Alarms tag would have it. This is more than that. This is a public display of insanity by those incapable of realizing what craziness is any more.

Did Donald Trump really drive them to this? “Mr. [Trump], are you that smart?”

Let’s start with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said

“Don’t tell anybody I told you this: Trump is goading us to impeach him. That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like, taunting and taunting and taunting…We can’t impeach him for political reasons, and we can’t not impeach him for political reasons.We have to see where the facts take us.”

I could have made this gallactically unethical statement an”Unethical Quote of The Month,” but again, that would trivialize its significance. Of course, the statement  begins with a “Comnnie Chung,” an intentionally contradictory “don’t tell anyone I told you this”–what is that? A joke? A signal that Pelosi doesn’t take her own party’s impeachment mania seriously? I have no idea.

I do know, however, that the statement that the President is goading and taunting Democrats into impeaching him is as close as we will ever get to an outright admission that the President’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” consist of his being himself, daring to win the office, and existing on the planet. I’ve checked the POTUS twitter feed: he’s not talking about impeachment “every day” or saying anything that could rationally be interpreted as aimed at trying to goad Congress into taking that step. “The resistance”  regards the President’s existence as enough to justify impeachment. This is Pelosi’s Impeachment Plan P, a Mobius strip, alternate universe theory that says, “We have to impeach him because he’s daring us to and if we don’t, we let him win, but we can’t, but then he’ll win!” [You can find and review Plans A-O here.]

Who in their right mind says things like this in public? It’s like saying “I am  Monga, Empress of the Eels!” You only say it if you are confident your audience thinks you ARE  Monga, or you risk a visit by the men in white coats.

Yet Pelosi’s statement gets worse. “We have to see where the facts take us”—what “facts?” An excessive, disruptive, falsely-reported and dubiously executed investigation provided the facts, and because they do not support impeachment,  the Democrats want to look for more “facts,” they don’t know what, but they are sure they’ll justify impeachment. “Fariness, justice and competence” left the Democrats’ building long ago.

I’m now giving a spoiler on a post I’m working on about impeachment ethics, but this is not how impeachment works, was intended to work, or can work.

What the Constitution says and the Founders intended is that when a President, in office, commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” (“high” refers to crimes relating to the President’s high office, and also modifies “misdemeanors,” meaning that some acts by the President, because of his office and power, may be impeachable even if they are not technically crimes. They are misdemeanors in the general sense, not the legal sense: literally bad acts.), then it may be necessary to remove him from office because those acts make him inherently untrustworthy.

What the Democrats and “the resistance” have been trying to do since the 2016 election is the Bizarro World version of impeachment. Deciding immediately in the wake of their candidate’s defeat (based on no new information that the public didn’t have when it duly elected Trump) that the new President is untrustworthy and dangerous, they have been looking for something that could be used to impeach him. This was essentially what the post-Civil War Radical Republicans tried to do to President Andrew Johnson, and their near-miss failure has been interpreted by many historians (as well as “Profiles in Courage”) as saving the office of the Presidency and maybe the nation itself.

Pelosi’s statement has been mocked in various forums as “we have to pass a bill of impeachment to see what’s in it.”

Bingo.

Now let’s look at the Post’s pundits. Believe it or not, Greg Sargent makes this argument: The Democrats want to get Trump’s tax returns so they can look for something that might justify impeachment, but Trump might prevail in the courts and keep them private, because the courts could hold that Congress was “just rummaging through Trump’s returns to embarrass him and not for a legitimate legislative purpose.” That’s because this is exactly what Congress wants to do.  (I think that the courts rejecting the House’s subpoena is more than possible; it’s virtually certain.)

Democrats dare not take the chance that a court would reject its demand for Trump’s tax documents, because that loss would make Democrats look bad right before the 2020 elections. Ah, but if the Democrats start proceedings to impeach Trump first and then demand the tax returns as part of the inquiry, then they have a “legitimate purpose” to seek the returns!”

There it is: Impeachment Plan Q! Impeach Trump to get his taxes, and then use those taxes to impeach him! Brilliant!

Sargent says, in full derangement mode,

“Not getting Trump’s returns would allow him to get away with one of his most blatant acts of contempt for transparency, for the separation of powers and for the notion that basic accountability should apply to him at all.”

What? When did not providing the public with tax returns become an impeachable offense, since every President before Nixon did exactly that? Accountability for what? The IRS under multiple administrations examined Trump’s returns, and did not find any crimes. Sargent is just giving us “resistance” blather. Ann Althouse calls it “histrionic,” also a good word, and nicer than “nuts.” She writes,

“If the courts took the position Sargent is afraid of, it would be because the court was enforcing separation of powers, limiting Congress to the legislative role and protecting the Executive power from encroachment. Trump isn’t showing “contempt” for separation of powers. He’s taking a position on separation of powers. That position would either win or lose in court, and the court would give the final answer on the meaning of separation of powers.”

Greg Sargent is the model of rationality, however, compared to colleague Brian Klaas, who issues one false theory after another:

“So here’s a question for congressional leaders: Precisely how many crimes does someone have to commit before impeachment hearings are warranted? Does the person in question get a pass if it’s three or fewer? Was there some clause in the Constitution that I missed that says it’s okay for the president to direct a criminal conspiracy in certain circumstances? Is there a Federalist Paper that says the president can commit tax fraud so long as it was years ago, or that obstruction of justice is fair game so long as it happens on Twitter? To oppose impeachment hearings now, you have to believe that the president allegedly engaging in three separate categories of criminal acts isn’t serious enough to even consider impeachment. Really?”

How did a Post editor let this get published? There was no “conspiracy”; the Mueller report was unambiguous on that accusation. The “resistance’s” response is denial at this point, and to keep repeating Big Lies.

Where’s the “tax fraud”? The IRS’s job is to find tax fraud, and didn’t. Trump doesn’t fill out his own returns, and they were presumably examined with unusual care by the agency charged with that responsibility. How dare this hack state as fact that Trump engaged in tax fraud? Oh, he just “knows.” How many times have I heard that justification for impeachment?

And the obstruction claim…there’s no precedent in law or history for punishing opinions, tweeted or otherwise, as “obstruction of justice.” The Justice Department reviewed the evidence and determined that the obstruction theory was weak, ergo no obstruction of justice. Nor was there any underlying crime to try to cover-up by obstruction, and the investigation was not, in fact, obstructed in any way.

It is true that “the resistance” has become completely unhinged gradually, and it may be difficult to see the exact moment of complete detachment from reality, since the movement was hardly rational to begin with. Nonetheless,  that moment has definitely arrived

Althouse Ethics

Blogger Ann Althouse, who doesn’t write an ethics blog but does a good job flagging ethics issues and outrages, had an unusually ethics-centered day of blogging. Here are brief comments from me on four of her posts, which you should read. I had two of these in my queue, and I’m grateful to Ann for saving me some time I desperately need,

Ann notes how, in the Post comments to the article, which has nothing to do with Donald Trump, some people cannot help using the topic to attack the President, as she writes, “Trump Derangement Syndrome, symptom #1: When things aren’t at all about Trump, you visualize violence against him and get off on your vision.”

This is, in a nutshell, what Facebook is like, every day. I could spend all my time writing, “Do you listen to yourself? You’re completely consumed by blind hate of the President of the United States. Get help. You’re embarrassing yourself, and making  society divided and ugly. You, and everyone like you. Not him. YOU. “

This is why Democrats are deluding themselves if they think poor Joe is a viable candidate. They can’t possibly attack President Trump for being dumb, inattentive, incompetent, old or mentally unfit with Biden making gaffes like this—or worse—almost daily, and he will make them almost daily, Continue reading

Depressing Adventures Among The Facebook Borg

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it supposed to be the Trump supporters who were mentally dysfunctional  morons?

Consistent with my pledge to  confront my Facebook friends and their cronies when they  post “resistance” Big Lies, Democratic talking points, fake news and “Orange Man Bad” insults that are no more than gratuitous hate, I confronted a theater acquaintance this afternoons when her response to a post about the border terrorists who were allegedly  planning to assassinate Obama and Hillary Clinton. Her offensive comment (I’ll be paraphrasing these), “So I don’t want to hear any more about how  some people said mean things to people  in red hats.”

Despicable, I told her. You’re trivializing thugs harassing and in some cases assaulting law-abiding citizens based on their political views. That’s seriously undemocratic behavior, and worse, it’s a fascist tactic endorsed by leaders of the Democratic Party. I could have said, but didn’t, that hers was a fair imitation of Rep. Omar’s infamous “somebody did something” minimizing of the Muslim attacks on 9/11, and a dumb use of Rationalization 22, the bottom of the barrel, “It’s not the worst thing.”

Her reply was incoherent. Do I deny that Supreme Court Justices and other progressives  have received death threats, and if I don’t think that’s worse than the red hat incidents she referred to, then I should just unfriend her. What? What do death threats to Supreme Court Justices (or anyone) have to do with screaming at old men in MAGA hats? This more #22ing, to a demented level.Then I get the “defriend me” crap. Translation: If you insist on challenging my unfounded, ignorant and unethical comments, I don’t want deal with  it. Well, I don’t unfriend people because I disagree with  them. Friends don’t let friends post stupid. Continue reading

Harassment At Starbucks: If This Were An Isolated Episode, It Wouldn’t Be Worth An Ethics Post—But It’s Not. Now What?

At a Palo Alto Starbucks this week, a man wearing a red Make America Great Again cap, minding his own business, was confronted by a furious Rebecca Parker Mankey,  an appointed member of Palo Alto’s North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan Working Group and co-chairs the Bayshore Progressive Democrats.

She began shouting that he was a”hater of brown people” and “Nazi scum,” and exhorted the other  Starbucks customers and employees to join her in shaming him, . Mankey later said she was “heartbroken” that other “white people”—like her target— didn’t join her assault.   “I called him more names and told him to call the police. Then I yelled and asked someone else at Starbucks to call the police. He wouldn’t call the police, so I called him a wimp. He got his stuff together to leave. I followed him to the register while he complained about me. Then chased him out of Starbucks yelling at him to get the fuck out of my town and never come back,” she wrote. One he was in the parking lot, she threatening  to post pictures of him on social media—which she did—along with her version of the incident. She asked the public for help finding him so she could make sure he was harassed, saying, “I want him to have nowhere to hide.” Continue reading