Category Archives: Joe Biden

The Fawlty Towers kerfuffle should be a Biden disaster

BBC’s attempt to cancel Fawlty Towers’ funniest episode may have been the worst “cancel culture” decision ever because it could (and should) hurt Joe Biden.

The big non-Wuhan Virus, non-protest kerfuffle over the past few days was the decision that UKTV, a BBC-owned television network, make to delete the funniest Fawlty  Towers episode ever, the one called “The Germans.” For those unfamiliar with either the show or the episode, here’s the briefest rundown possible.

Fawlty Towers ran on the BBC in 1975 and 1979. John Cleese played Basil Fawlty who, with his wife Prunella, ran a hotel on Britain’s southwest coast. Basil is a combination of incompetence, pomposity, ignorance, condescension, and inferiority, all of which are powered by his endless rage.

The hotel also employed Polly, a sensible housekeeper, and Manuel, a sweet, hapless dogsbody from Spain who never mastered English. There were a few permanent guests, one of whom was Major Gowen, a doddering, senile, racist remnant of Britain’s lost empire.

In the episode “The Germans,” filmed in 1975, thirty years after WWII ended, Basil is overwhelmed by the fact that German guests will be coming to his hotel. He’s desperate to ensure that no one makes them feel uncomfortable, so his oft-repeated warning is “Don’t mention the war.” That all changes when a moose head falls on Basil. Rather than staying in the hospital, Basil staggers back to the hotel’s restaurant, where he relentlessly and hysterically keeps mentioning the war to the Germans. It is one of the funniest moments ever put on television:

The above scene, though, was not what triggered the censors at the BBC. Instead, what got the censors going was when Major Gowen, a dotty old relic, made racist comments:

When John Cleese heard about UKTV’s move, he immediately pointed out the central problem with the BBC’s censorship (emphasis mine):

“The Major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them,” said Cleese, who knew nothing of UKTV’s move until this masthead contacted him. “If they can’t see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?

The BBC/UKTV responded to public outrage by reinstating the censored episode. The important lesson here is that the normals can push back against cancel culture.

Still, while the kerfuffle was hanging out there, it occurred to me that the BBC and UKTV did a terrible thing to Joe Biden when they pushed Major Gowen to the forefront of everyone’s mind just months before the November election. Think about Major Gowen. Look at his racist comments in the above clip. Then compare them to America’s real-life Major Gowen (and the Democrat party candidate):

It’s not just the racism, though. It’s also the . . . is dodderingness a world? If not, it should be. Here you can see Major Gowen stutter and dodder his way through the show:

Those moments too should remind you of someone:

The reality is that Biden and the Major are one and the same. If you’re a fan of really bad puns, you could say that, while Biden has always been a dimwit, in old age he has morphed into a Major dimwit. The BBC and UKTV were doing racial virtue signaling when they pulled the best Fawlty Towers episode ever, but what they really did was remind me (and, I hope, others) that Joe Biden is the living incarnation of one of the most stupid, senile, racist characters ever immortalized on film. And while he’s funny in an old TV show, the thought of Major Gowen as President of the United States should put the fear of God in everyone.

Every black progressive should watch PBS’s Clarence Thomas bio

Dear @cthagod, now that you’ve interviewed Joe Biden, I suggest that you learn about Clarence Thomas to clarify your thinking about blacks and Democrats.

In the past two days, two things collided in my brain. The first was the interview that Charlamagne tha God did with Joe Biden, from which emerged Joe’s epic gaffe telling blacks that they’re black only if they vote for him. The second was Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, which I believe is still available for viewing for another week.

You’ve all heard about Biden’s utterly tone-deaf statement, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” There’s no doubt in my mind that Joe thought he was funny. He did not intend to be either offensive or racist. Biden either thought he was making a “no true Scotsman” joke, or he believed that his lifetime of race-based politics makes him some sort of honorary African-American. If he thinks the latter, he also probably thinks he can use the “n” word too, which is a scary thought, especially since incipient dementia has a way of leeching away a person’s social controls.

That Joe was stupid and offensive was the least interesting thing to me about the interview. Charlamagne is a decent interviewer. He was polite, but he called Biden out on the things that concerned Charlamagne and his audience. He then sat back and just let Biden talk. The only problem is that I don’t believe Charlamagne knew quite how many lies or – let’s be kind – distortions Joe included in his wandering narrative.

He distorted his record on the coronavirus response. He would have people believe that he handled things better than Trump did. His January 27 article, though, did not have any useful concrete statements. Instead, he ultimately insisted that America needs to work with (and, of course, fund) the international community. Biden also conflated two different things: A runaway virus in the only country in the world that is as globally connected, if not more globally connected, than America, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a scary disease in a thankfully small and quarantinable corner of West Africa.

On January 31, when Trump ignored the WHO’s continued attempts to downplay the Wuhan virus and closed our borders to China, Joe promptly lambasted Trump as hysterical and xenophobic. Biden then did nothing concrete until mid-March, when he finally released his plan.

Aside from echoing much that Trump had already done, the plan was the equivalent of Anne Elk’s theory about dinosaurs, for what Biden basically promised was to create an infrastructure that would create a plan.

Having lied, er, distorted his record, Biden tripped lightly over to systemic racism. He noted (accurately) that blacks are harder hit by the Wuhan virus. Doing so ignored the fact that blacks are concentrated in Democrat-run urban areas, which have been hit harder than most places anyway.

This is especially true for New York, where both de Blasio and Cuomo continued to let packed subway trains run. While more affluent whites were working from or sheltering at home, less affluent blacks were packed into underground moving Petri dishes. That’s not on Trump.

Blacks also have more risk factors for dying from the Wuhan virus, such as obesity and the diseases of obesity – Type II diabetes and heart disease. What no one will admit is that, just as the Japanese as a culture eat that super-healthy diet that has them routinely living into their 90s, blacks in America eat traditional Southern food, much of it a fusion of African and American cuisine.

Although Southern food is some of the most delicious food on planet earth, it’s also some of the least healthy. I have heartburn for days after eating a Southern meal. Sure, you can blame poverty, but culture and food choices matter too.

And then there’s Vitamin D. More and more studies are showing that Vitamin D is critical to people’s immune function. Elderly people and blacks are chronically low on Vitamin D.

Blacks also metabolize Vitamin D differently, because they can draw from it a subset of the vitamin that helps build strong bones. This does not mean, however, that this same vitamin subset helps black people’s immune systems.

Indeed, if they are other deficient in Vitamin D, that may also help explain the problems of obesity, Type II diabetes, and heart disease. Skin pigmentation meant to filter out the African sun beating down on people who lived outdoors for tens of thousands of years may not serve people well in northern climates or living life indoors.

Still, as far as Biden is concerned, the black mortality rate is all Trump’s fault because . . . systemic racism.

And that’s where I want to jump from talking about Biden and get to Charlamagne tha God and Clarence Thomas.

Charlamagne tha God didn’t start life out as a hip talk show host. Instead, he was born Lenard Larry McKelvey in 1978, just outside of Charleston (i.e., coastal-ish South Carolina). Clarence Thomas was born in 1948, in truly coastal Pin Point, Georgia, before moving as a child to Savannah. The two men, therefore, were separated by thirty years and about 120 miles. Those 120 miles don’t make a big difference, but the thirty years sure do.

In the 1990s, when I was in my thirties and a Democrat, Thomas was the black sellout who did mean things to Anita Hill. Today, I’m in my 50s and a conservative. Until this afternoon, all I knew about Clarence Thomas was that he is a strict constructionist and originalist on the Supreme Court whose writing and thinking I deeply admire. He is, I believe, the unsung intellectual genius on the court.

What changed this afternoon was that I watched that PBS special about Thomas. Everything in it was new to me because I had not read My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir, Thomas’s autobiography. Watching the show was a revelation. Thomas has lived an extraordinary life.

Clarence Thomas was born into rural poverty in the Jim Crow south. His first language was Gullah, a dialect unique to coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Shortly after Thomas was born, his father left, so his mother was raising three children on her own. She eventually relocated with her two younger children (Thomas and his younger brother) to Savannah. They lived in segregated squalor that modern Americans cannot even imagine.

Eventually, Thomas’s grandparents stepped in, taking him and his brother into their clean, shiny, new home. His grandfather was a semi-literate, incredibly hard-working, God-fearing martinet. During the school year, the boys attended a primarily black parochial school where the Irish nuns made it clear that the black children under their care were all children of God. During the summer, their grandfather had the boys working on an old-fashioned family farm, one without any modern farm implements. Thomas’s grandfather infused his life with meaning, discipline, and faith.

At sixteen, Thomas decided he had a calling and entered a local seminary. His grandfather told him that, having made this choice, Thomas must stick it out. If Thomas didn’t become a priest, said his grandfather, he would be on his own, without his family’s support.

After two years there, Thomas heard a fellow seminarian celebrate Martin Luther King’s assassination. Disgusted, Thomas turned his back on becoming a priest and on God. His grandfather, terribly disappointed, kicked him out, telling Thomas that, having made a man’s decision, he was now responsible for himself.

The only lifeline Thomas had was that he had been admitted to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Because Thomas had grown up in segregation and lived through the traumas of MLK’s death, Robert Kennedy’s death, and the hideously ugly fights about school segregation, he was deeply disenchanted with America. He became a hardcore leftist and instantly fell in with the school’s black student movement, which was a leftist, indeed, communist movement. So involved was Thomas that he helped found the Black Students Union there.

What changed Thomas was the night he went to Boston to participate in protests. He was so appalled by the unbridled violence of the night (and, he suggests, by what he did), that he prayed for the first time in two years. He renounced violence and hatred, and put his life on a new track.

Thomas had always been interested in the law, which he understood controlled the world and controlled blacks. As I argued in an older post, the problem in the South was the law as laid down by the government:

Civil rights mean small government, with the government limited primarily (although not entirely) to protecting citizens from itself.

Martin Luther King understood this.  The Civil Rights movement was a stand against overt government encroachment on the rights of black people.  The Southern States, ignoring the Declaration’s acknowledgment that all meninherently possessed civil rights, used the government as a weapon against the black people within its borders.  The real problem blacks faced wasn’t that their fellow white citizens behaved hostilely, and even murderously, towards them.  Had the government fulfilled its policing responsibilities and stepped forward to protect those citizens, Jim Crow would have been a short-lived phenomenon.  The real problem was that Southern government itself encroached on citizens’ freedom.

It was Southern government that legislatively segregated schools, segregated housing, segregated business establishments, segregated marriages and enacted barriers between blacks and ballots.  It was Southern government that was a “Form of Government [that had become] destructive of these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for black people],” making it the civil  “Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

I figured the above out through aging and brute intellectual work. Thomas figured it out because he lived it. He realized that some people are good and some are jerks, but that it’s the government, acting through the laws it enacts, that forced upon blacks the rules that made their lives miserable. With this belief, and with good grades, Thomas chose to go to Yale Law School.

I’ll skip over the middle parts, which you know: After Yale, Thomas finally got a job when a Republican politician, John Danforth, hired him to work in Missouri. He ended up in Reagan’s EEOC, became a respected judge, and got nominated for the Supreme Court. (The documentary covers all this; I’m the one skipping it.)

The documentary covers quite well that disgraceful episode in America’s political life. As I said, back then, I was too stupid to understand. I got all my news from NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New Republic. I was pro-abortion and thought it was splendid that the Democrats were making abortion a litmus test for the Supreme Court and that Anita Hill conveniently emerged to take out a pro-Life black man.

I am only grateful that I have lived long enough and become wise enough to understand the terrible thing that the Democrats – led by Joe Biden and Teddy “Kopechne killer” Kennedy – did to a conservative black man. (Thomas’s only comment about Biden was that then, as now, Biden made no sense.) I’m also, as I said, wise enough to know that Thomas will go down in history as one of America’s greatest legal minds.

So let’s go back to where I started, to Charlamagne tha God and Clarence Thomas. The younger man grew up geographically near to Thomas, but in a world that wasn’t just thirty years away, it was a universe away. I don’t doubt that Charlamagne’s experiences as a black man in modern America were troubled. He hints that he had run-ins with the law before he found his way.

Having said that, Charlamagne did not, could not, experience the degradation that was visited upon Clarence Thomas, a black man raised in a grotesquely racist, segregated community; a black man who was brilliant and graduated from America’s top law school, only to find himself unemployed; and a black man whom Democrats attacked by pinning on him one of the oldest racist tropes, which is that black men were unable to control their animal sexuality.

So here’s my question for Charlamagne: Is it possible that Clarence Thomas’s belief in the wisdom of the Founders — imperfect men who nevertheless had a brilliant vision — is of more worth than your ingrained support for the Democrat Party and progressive politics? And is it possible that Clarence Thomas’s belief in the individual rather than in divisive labels and powerful government entities is at least worth your consideration?

I urge you to watch the PBS show (with “you” being Charlamagne and everyone else who reads this) and to think long and hard about how Thomas, slowly and very painfully, reached his conclusions about conservativism. You might find that you view differently how the Democrat party uses and abuses American blacks, so much so that Biden thinks it’s funny to tell blacks who they are for political purposes.

This year’s race for president is an eerie repeat of the early days of the 1920 election season

A corrupt politician, a communist, a “government by expert” guy, and a pro-American iconoclast are running for president. This is 1920 all over again.

The presidential election in 1920 was a very interesting one. At the end of the day, the race boiled down to a contest between the Republican Warren G. Harding and the Democrat James M. Cox. However, in the lead-up to the election, a more interesting field was in play. Here were four of the candidates:

Woodrow Wilson, the current president, wanted to run again despite the fact that he had been felled by a stroke. For obvious reasons, the Democrat party didn’t want an ailing man who was, by then, quite unpopular.

Eugene V. Debs, a hardcore socialist, made his fourth run for president, something he did from inside a prison cell.

Warren G. Harding, a former U.S. Senator, was the quintessential “smoke-filled room” candidate.

Teddy Roosevelt, a colorful character who had been president from 1901 through 1909, also wanted to run again.

That’s the short version about those men. Here’s the longer version, along with a little bit about their modern political cognates in the presidential race.

Woodrow Wilson was America’s first progressive president. He represented the culmination of an upper-middle-class movement that believed in better living through expertise. Not just any expertise, though, but government expertise. An academic who was certain that he knew best, he believed that the Constitution was a limiting document that prevented him from micromanaging the American people for their own benefit.

Randolph J. May sums up nicely Wilson’s approach to government:

Wilson was convinced, in no small measure by his admiration for prominent late 19th century German social scientists, that “modern government” should be guided by administrative agency “experts” with specialized knowledge beyond the ken of ordinary Americans — and that these experts shouldn’t be unduly constrained by ordinary notions of democratic rule or constitutional constraints.

So, in his seminal 1887 article, “The Study of Administration,” published in the same year that the first modern regulatory commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission, was created, Wilson explained that he wanted to counter “the error of trying to do too much by vote.” Hence, he admonished that “self-government does not consist in having a hand in everything,” while pleading for “administrative elasticity and discretion” free from checks and balances.

[snip]

Wilson well understood that his notion of Progressive governance by “fourth branch” administrative experts was constitutionally problematic. In 1891, he wrote that “the functions of government are in a very real sense independent of legislation, and even constitutions.” Regarding this view that the Constitution was an obstacle to be overcome, not a legitimate charter establishing a system of checks on government power, Wilson never wavered. He complained in 1913 as president: “The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of ‘checks and balances.’ The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live.”

Once Wilson decided that America needed to be the world’s policeman (because, again, Wilson knew best), he created the Wilson doctrine that has dominated American politics right up until the Trump presidency (even, in a screwy way, the Obama presidency. I’ve written about it here and won’t repeat myself. It’s enough to say that Wilson used the excuse of war to expand government power beyond anything seen before in America, reaching a point almost equal to martial law.

Wilson’s heir in the 2020 election is Mike Bloomberg. Like Wilson, Bloomberg believes in better living through government micromanagement. He trusts his own judgment about all things is better than the judgment of the American people. He believes that his expertise will make Americans so happy that they won’t notice the loss of their freedoms (especially the Second Amendment). Unlike Wilson, Bloomberg comes out of the business world, not academia, but his approach is the same. Incidentally, despite Bernie’s win in Nevada, creating momentum, don’t count Bloomberg out. Bloomberg believes (probably correctly) that Bernie can’t win. Moreover, he loathes Trump so much that he’ll throw any amount of money at defeating Bernie either before or at the Democrat convention.

As an aside, Adolf Hitler greatly admired Wilson’s approach to governance, including his racial and eugenic policies. After all, once you’ve set yourself up as a bureaucratic, administrative god, you start to see yourself as unconstrained by mere conventional morality.

Eugene V. Debs was a deeply committed socialist and, indeed, was one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international labor union you may remember from your high school history class known as the “Wobblies.” It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Debs that Howard Zinn greatly admired him: “Debs was what every socialist or anarchist or radical should be: fierce in his convictions, kind and compassionate in his personal relations.”

Bernie Sanders is Debs’ heir in this election. Indeed, Sanders has always been a Debs’ acolyte. In 1979, he made a documentary dedicated to Debs. (The Stanley Kurtz article from which I’m quoting, by the way, is from 2015.)

It’s true that this is a documentary about Debs’s socialism, not Sanders’s. Yet in his 1997 memoirOutsider in the House, Sanders proudly invokes his Debs documentary and declares that Debs “remains a hero of mine.” Sanders himself plays the voice of Debs in the film. Sanders’ documentary lacks any hint that Debs might have either made mistakes or taken positions that may seem troubling in retrospect. Debs is Bernie’s hero and Bernie clearly wants Debs to be your hero too.

Nowadays, Sanders points to Scandinavian welfare states as the embodiment of his democratic socialism. I don’t doubt that Sanders would like to see America move in that direction, and that is troubling enough. Yet the Debs documentary suggests that Sanders’s ultimate goal lies beyond even European social democracy. The man who made this documentary was pretty clearly a classic socialist: committed to relentless class struggle, complete overthrow of the capitalist system — preferably by the vote, but by violence if necessary — and full worker control of the means of production via the government.

There’s plenty of continuity with Sanders’s current rhetoric here, like his controversial remarks decrying the number of deodorants consumers get to choose from in capitalist society. These days, Sanders calls for a “political revolution,” and the Debs documentary clearly admires labor unions and politicians who seek to bring about revolution by peaceful democratic means. Yet just as clearly, Sanders admires Debs for saying that, in the last resort, violent revolution remains an option.

Sanders’ treatment of Debs’ support for Russia’s communist revolution of 1917 is particularly striking. Here, at least, you might expect a bit of distancing or criticism from a truly “democratic” socialist. Yet Sanders obviously admires Debs’ decision to give “unqualified support to the Russian Revolution which had just taken place under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky.” When Sanders turns to explaining the decline of Debs’ Socialist Party after 1917, he attributes it to the party’s opposition to World War I and to fear of persecution. Nowhere does Sanders suggest that the Russian Revolution and its aftermath may have raised legitimate concerns about socialism. Sanders’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union and his trips to Cuba and Nicaragua make a lot of sense in light of his documentary on Debs.

I recommend reading Kurtz’s entire article. It explains a lot about what Sanders is hiding in this election cycle, especially with his pretense that Denmark, a capitalist state with a strong welfare sector, is what socialism looks like.

Incidentally, I believe that both Buttigieg, the son of an open Marxist college professor, and Amy Klobuchar, a true daughter of leftist Minnesota, hope ultimately to achieve Debs’ goals from 1920. They’re Fabians, though, believing that slo-mo socialism is more palatable than a rush into total socialism.

Warren G. Harding was the establishment favorite. An amiable, corrupt dunce, the Republican party put him in place because they knew they could control him and because his fuzzy politics and his willingness to say whatever it took to win aligned generally with Republican party goals in 1920. Eventually, his corruption caught up with him, ending in the famous (or infamous) Teapot Dome Scandal.

One hundred years later, and the amiable, corrupt dunce is Joe Biden, who entered the primary season as the Democrat establishment’s favorite. Nobody expects much from Joe Biden, other than to just do whatever leftist initiative the backroom boys and girls tell him to do. In the unlikely event he becomes president, his inevitable corruption scandal will easily eclipse anything attached to Harding. Moreover, while Harding may have been a pawn, the Hunter Biden story says that Joe Biden is an actor, not a pawn.

And finally, there’s Teddy Roosevelt. From the first day he hit the American political scene, Teddy Roosevelt was a happy warrior — a truly larger-than-life character. He had a ferocious love for America, was brash and blustery, came up with innovative ideas, and was a fierce warrior against corruption and monopolies. He also had a big, colorful, successful brood, including (by his beautiful first wife) his brilliant, charismatic daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth. He was an American original in every way.

We currently have such an American original in the White House in the person of Donald Trump. He too is a happy warrior — a brash, blustery, larger-than-life character who loves America ferociously and has a big, colorful, successful brood, including (by his beautiful first wife) his brilliant, charismatic daughter, Ivanka Kushner. And Trump, of course, is nothing if not an American original.

Like Trump, who is the most pro-Israel president since 1948, Teddy Roosevelt was deeply philo-Semitic and pro-Zionist:

[T]he president was a profound supporter of Jews and their needs and interests, both at home and overseas, and he was much beloved by the Jewish people. Roosevelt had visited Eretz Yisrael, then under Ottoman rule, in 1873 as a teenager and written about the trip in his diary, including a description of Jews at prayer at the Kotel.

As regimental commander of the famed Rough Riders leading the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, he developed great admiration for the bravery of the 17 Jews under his command. Praising them, he said, “One of the best colonels among the regulars who fought beside me was a Jew. One of the commanders of the ship which blockaded the coast so well was a Jew. In my own regiment, I promoted five men from the ranks for valor… and these included one Jew.” The first of the Rough Riders to be killed in action was a Jew, 16-year-old Jacob Wilbusky of Texas (and the first to fall in the American attack on Manila was also a Jew, Sergeant Maurice Joost of California).

As police commissioner, Roosevelt developed a special relationship with Jews, praising them for their dedicated service to New York City. In one celebrated incident, the bravery of a Jewish policeman racing fearlessly into a burning house convinced Roosevelt that Jews could make outstanding contributions to America and that discrimination against them could not be tolerated.

In his autobiography, he tells the amusing tale of a Pastor Hermann Ahlwardt, a German preacher who had embarked on an anti-Semitic crusade against the Jews of New York; Roosevelt specifically assigned 40 Jewish police officers to protect him, writing that the “proper thing to do was to make [Ahlwardt] ridiculous.”

(Do read the whole article from which I quoted because it’s a fascinating look at the last president before Trump who supported Jews and the State of Israel — although Israel was only an idea, not a state, at the time.)

Roosevelt famously believed in speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Trump has changed that a bit. In dealing with America’s enemies, he speaks jovially, even in a very friendly fashion, but he makes clear that he has a big stick. Remember how, while dining with Chinese President Xi, Trump excused himself to order a missile strike on Syria. Trump has also rebuilt the American military, decimated by eight years of Obama policies. Trump makes it clear that he prefers peace but is ready for war.

Naturally, there are differences between Roosevelt and Trump. The most substantive is that Teddy’s crusade against corruption was against corruption in the private sector. Trump, of course, is waging an equally fierce war against corruption within the government itself.

But back to the 1920 campaign season. In 1919, Roosevelt died right as the campaign season began and Wilson was rejected by his own party. In 1920 itself, Debs got less than 4% of the vote, and Harding won.

This time around, things are different: Trump, the Roosevelt cognate, is thankfully not dead but is thriving in the White House. Bloomberg, the Warren cognate, is falling in the polls. Biden, the Harding cognate, almost certainly won’t win the election because he’s cratering in polls and primaries. And Sanders — the Eugene V. Debs of 2020 — is soaring to wild success in the Democrat primary.

In 1920, American voters did not choose wisely. Harding went on to become one of the least successful, most denigrated presidents in American history. Had he not died in office, leading to Coolidge’s hands-off, constitutional presidency, there’s no telling how far off the rails America might have gone.

Now, in 2020, Americans have another chance to choose wisely. As matters are shaping up, they can hand the presidency to our 21st century Teddy Roosevelt or they can give it to the 21st century Eugene V. Debs. We are being reminded that, while history may line up the same playing pieces, voters do not have to make the same moves.

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The Four C’s Of The Impeachment Sham — Constitution, Corruption, Comity & Coup (by Wolf Howling)

The House is considering three articles of Impeachment.  The Constitution is at issue in questions of Obstruction of Justice, Contempt of Congress and the form of the Senate Trial.  Comity and Corruption are at issue as to the Bidens and Abuse of Power.  And is this is an unlawful attempted coup?

The Constitution

The House is considering three Articles of Impeachment, one of which is expected to be for contempt of Congress.  The House claims that Donald Trump refused to honor lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents as pertains to the Ukraine. Was Trump within his rights to do so?  That is wholly a Constitutional question.  It is also closely related in at least one relevant part to a likely Second Article of Impeachment, namely Obstruction of Justice as to the Russian Hoax inquiry.

The only vote the House of Representatives has held to authorize an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump was defeated overwhelmingly in January, 2017.  In response to the Ukraine IC IG matter, Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker, unilaterally declared an “impeachment inquiry” on September 24, 2019, and the House immediately began issuing subpoenas for witnesses and documents.  As to the latest vote held a week ago to formalize the procedures being used in the ongoing Star Chamber, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was adamant that the Resolution was not an authorization of an “impeachment inquiry.

Can anything less than a vote by the entire House of Representatives to authorize an “impeachment inquiry” be considered Constitutionally valid?  As I’ve discussed before, this is far from mere form.  If the House of Representatives approves a resolution for an impeachment inquiry, the House gains a power that it, by the explicit terms of the Constitution, does not otherwise possess — the judicial power to enforce subpoenas and requests for documents on matters outside its Art. I, Sec. 8 enumerated powers.  Without that power, the White House was acting lawfully when it refused to cooperate.  Tellingly, the House, rather than take those subpoenas to a Court to enforce them — and risk having a Court declare their proceeding unconstitutional — appears to be simply rolling all but one of their refused “subpoenas” into an contempt of Congress charge.

Then there is Part II of the Mueller Report.  We can expect the House to adopt Part II virtually in toto as an obstruction of justice charge.  There is a twist on this, however, and it is where this overlaps with the Contempt of Congress charge.  Without the judicial power of an impeachment inquiry, the House has no power to subpoena the Grand Jury testimony that Mueller referenced in his report.  The House subpoenaed the Department of Justice for that information and got the matter heard before an Obama judge (yes, John Roberts, there are progressive judges who rule by ideology, not the law) who ruled that the House was authorized to receive the material — and thus that their current “impeachment inquiry” was constitutionally sufficient.  The White House made an emergency appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court, which granted a stay, and the matter is now to be heard on November 12 before the D.C. Circuit. If the D.C. Circuit affirms the lower court’s ruling, the Trump administration will assuredly bring it to the Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will take up the case.

All of this brings up a huge, core Constitutional issue:  Which branch of government has the power to determine the meaning of the Constitution — specifically in this case, when the question is whether the House may claim judicial powers without a vote of the House of Representatives to authorize an impeachment inquiry? There is no doubt that Articles of Impeachment (other than Contempt of Congress) that the House votes upon would be facially constitutional.  So this question applies only to whether the President may be validly held in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry that was never authorized by a vote of the full House of Representatives.

The Judicial Branch long ago claimed for itself the power to definitively interpret the Constitution, but that right to do so appears nowhere in the text of the Constitution.  Can the Senate summarily dispense with any claim for Obstruction of Justice as to this “impeachment inquiry” because the Senators believe that the House acted “unconstitutionally?”  Can the Senate do so in the face of a D.C. Circuit Court opinion to the contrary?  Could the Senate do so in the face of a Supreme Court refusal to hear an appeal from the D.C. Circuit?  And lastly, could the Senate do so even if the Supreme Court hears an appeal and concludes that the obscene House Star Chamber proceeding meets the standards for constitutionality?  Those are all valid questions that I believe should be answered in the affirmative, but that could have long term ramifications for how our nation operates.

A second Constitutional question that touches on this and all of the Articles of Impeachment concerns whether Donald Trump will be afforded the same due process rights at trial (rules of evidence, right to bring definitive motions, etc.) that are afforded all Americans in court?  As Supreme Court Justice Story said, in 1833 when remarking on impeachment:

It is the boast of English jurisprudence, and without it the power of impeachment would be an intolerable grievance, that in trials by impeachment the law differs not in essentials from criminal prosecutions before inferior courts. The same rules of evidence, the same legal notions of crimes and punishments prevail. For impeachments are not framed to alter the law; but to carry it into more effectual execution, where it might be obstructed by the influence of too powerful delinquents, or not easily discerned in the ordinary course of jurisdiction, by reason of the peculiar quality of the alleged crimes.

Under current Senate Rules, the President does not explicitly have those protections.  Under the modifications suggested here, he would gain them.  Assuming that the Senate does adopt those changes then before trial begins President Trump should move to dismiss Contempt of Congress Charges for failing to state a legal claim — i.e., the House did not vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, and thus the President did not obstruct a lawful process.  As to the obstruction of justice charge, President Trump should make a motion to dismiss the claim on the grounds that, even assuming all of the facts alleged in the Mueller Report to be true, it does not as a matter of law show a violation of the law or a political offense for which impeachment is warranted.  President Trump committed no underlying crime.  President Trump substantially complied with the investigation and he committed no act that resulted in the investigation being hindered.

Corruption & Comity

A third Article of Impeachment, according to Breitbart, will be for Abuse of Power.  The House’s Star Chamber proceeding is likely to result in a claim that President Trump abused his power by withholding aid from Ukraine subject to them investigating Joe and Hunter Biden for corrupt practices.

This is yet another Article that should be dealt with on a motion to dismiss.  The President’s practice and authority to negotiate with foreign countries for the aid they may receive from America is a well-established power of the Presidency, one that has been exercised by numerous other Presidents.  Thus negotiating foreign aid with the Ukraine cannot itself, be grounds for impeachment.  It is axiomatic that, to again quote Justice Story, impeachment may not be used tomake that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time, or in another person.  And in fact, the aid was ultimately released in full to the Ukraine in September, 2019, so there is no Constitutional concern with Congress’s power of the purse, nor any legal concern with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

That leads to the next question, whether what Trump was negotiating for — the facts surrounding Joe and Hunter Biden in the Ukraine and whether it involved corruption — was an improper purpose.  (It should be noted that Trump never in the transcript explicitly said that Ukraine’s receiving the money hinged on looking into the Biden matter. Indeed, it’s a stretch even to read into the transcript his having said such a thing implicitly.) As a textual matter, Article II § 3 of the Constitution requires the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  So when the President looks into possible legal violations, he is acting in fulfillment of his Constitutional duties.

That leaves the last question: Did President Trump have reasonable grounds to suspect that Joe Biden violated federal rules of ethics, and perhaps American laws, regarding corrupt practices?  That is a factual matter. Trump does not need to show actual guilt.  But he needs to be able to show that, based on the facts as he knew them, a reasonable person would suspect that there was enough evidence of corruption that further investigation was warranted.

As a threshold matter, the Joe and Hunter show went far beyond Ukraine.  It was both foreign and domestic.  As to the former, when Daddy became Vice President and was given control of foreign affairs in certain countries,  Hunter Biden became Joe Biden’s little lamb.  With apologies to Sarah Hale and a hat tip to the poetess Bookworm:

Joe Biden had a little Hunter,
That filled its nose with snow,
And everywhere Joe Biden went
Hunter was sure to go;
He followed Joe to Ukraine,
Romania & China too;
He sold his daddy’s name there,
But saying so sparked a coup.

Hunter Biden’s escapades are well documented in the Ukraine, Iraq, China and Romania, for we know that he followed his father into those countries (sometimes flying into them with his father on Air Force Two) and immediately struck lucrative deals with corrupt politicians or, in the case of China, the government itself.  Standing alone, these undisputed facts stink to high heaven.  The mere appearance of corruption is an ethical problem for Joe Biden.  It becomes a legal problem for Joe Biden if he used his position as Vice President to further his son’s enrichment or to protect him from investigation. And to be clear, based on the facts as we know them, if Trump and Trump’s children had done what Joe and Hunter Biden did, the call to impeach and jail him would be deafening.

When it comes to Ukraine, we know Hunter Biden was hired to sit on the Board of Bursima, a Ukrainian energy company owned by a man who is a suspect in billions of dollars of government corruption.  We know that Hunter Biden was not qualified for such a seat beyond his familial relationship to Joe Biden.  We know that people associated with Bursima then dropped Hunter Biden’s name to lobby the State Dept. in order to quash the corruption probes targeting their client.  We know that at least one American official raised this as a problem to Biden’s office.  And we know . . .

It is in fact an open question, not yet definitively answered, whether the prosecutor whom Joe brags about getting fired had an active corruption investigation into Bursima — and perhaps Hunter Biden as well.  That was the question Trump seemed to be asking the President of Ukraine to find an answer to in his 25 July phone call.  If so, there is more to investigate, such as what did Joe Biden know and when did he know it.

But according to Democrats, it is an abuse of power even to ask those questions.  They can go pound sand.  No one is above the law, not even a Democrat candidate for office.  The only thing Trump asked for is information from an investigation.  Was that pretextual or warranted?  The first might arguably be grounds for impeachment, the second cannot be.  Thus the only factual issue to determine whether to proceed to a full impeachment trial on abuse of power grounds is whether Trump was justified in seeking an investigation of Biden’s seemingly corrupt dealings.

Bottom line, we need to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, under oath at any Senate trial, to determine whether there was sufficient appearance of corruption for a reasonable person in Trump’s shoes to investigate.  Indeed, the rule changes I suggested for the Senate’s impeachment trial are in anticipation of precisely that reality.

Democrats are going nuts over that issue.  This from the Daily Beast, warning that “comity” in the Senate would be irreparably damaged by forcing the Bidens to testify:

Senate Democrats issued stark warnings on Wednesday that Republicans would severely damage the institution of Congress if they acquiesced to a push from Trump allies to haul former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for testimony about their actions in Ukraine.

A top Biden ally, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), told The Daily Beast that calling the 2020 presidential contender—who served for 35 years in the Senate—and his son for testimony “would be literally rolling a grenade down the aisle of the Senate” that would have “lasting consequences” on the upper chamber’s ability to work together.

“Look, Joe Biden is well known, widely respected, and frankly beloved by many in the Senate on both sides of the aisle,” said Coons. “The impeachment process is already disruptive enough. I think we should be approaching it with seriousness, not by entertaining conspiracy theories that are utterly unfounded. And I think it would be a very unfortunate move.”

Right.  As if the left overturning an election and pushing us to the brink of a second civil war over the proposition that they are above the law while the rest of us are below it is not exponentially beyond concerns of “comity” in the Senate.  Truly, screw these people.

Coup

And finally, here’s a question to pick up after what promises to be a failed impeachment attempt.  Mark Zaid, attorney for the whistle blower who orchestrated this Ukraine madness, tweeted in 2017:

#coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately. #lawyers https://t.co/FiNBQo6v0S

— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) January 31, 2017

Zaid has since claimed that what he meant only a “legal” coup. There is no such thing. A coup is, by definition, an “illegal seizure of power from a government.” Now, if what Mr. Zaid had in mind was an unlawful abuse of the laws of this nation to effect a coup . . . that is still not legal. It is an act of sedition punishable at law.

We certainly now have evidence of Mr. Zaid’s state of mind. We have reason to suspect that his client was likely previously involved in the leak of classified information to the press in order to damage President Trump and may have spied on Trump on behalf of the FBI, both illegal acts.  Then we have long standing ties between the whistle blower and Adam Schiff’s staff and we have Adam Schiff’s own statement that they coordinated filing a whistle blower complaint.  Lastly, we have a grossly legally deficient whistle blower complaint that should never have been filed as such, and certainly never should have been addressed to Congress as a finding of urgent concern.  The IC IG did not conduct due dillegence in his investigation.

Now, that could all mean nothing.  Or, it could mean that certain people were conspiring to effect a bloodless coup.  There is enough here to warrant an investigation to determine the truth.  And prosecution would be warranted if what we discover is in fact a seditious conspiracy rather than a series of simple errors.  That would in fact be an unlawful coup.

The post The Four C’s Of The Impeachment Sham — Constitution, Corruption, Comity & Coup (by Wolf Howling) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Part I: The faux grounds for Trump’s impeachment and his perfect defenses

The Dem’s have no statutory basis to demand Trump’s impeachment — and Trump has valid defenses to charges that his Ukraine dealings were an abuse of power.

This will be a two part post.  Part I deals with the law relating to impeachment.  Part II will deal with how the Senate should handle the trial of any Articles of Impeachment that come out of the House’s Star Chamber impeachment inquiry.

Introduction

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the Democrats running the House’s Star Chamber impeachment inquiry do in fact come up with Articles of Impeachment.  What will they be?  And will the President have any affirmative defenses?

No less a legal and historical scholar than Maxine Waters claimed in 2017:

Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment. What the Constitution says is ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and we define that.

If true, that would leave the President with no defense other than that the Democrats are wrong on the facts.  Thankfully, Waters is  wrong.  To the contrary, the parameters for impeachment are defined at law and, because of that, the Democrats face insurmountable obstacles in impeaching Donald Trump for any and all acts related to his July 25 phone call with President Zelenksyy of Ukraine.

First, the House cannot validly impeach Trump for using the same powers other presidents traditionally wielded. Thus, if it has been custom and practice for presidents to negotiate using foreign aid as a tool, then Trump’s doing so is similarly beyond a valid impeachment charge.

Second, the House cannot validly impeach Trump for asking a foreign power to aid him in the legitimate exercise of his constitutional authority. Leaving aside whether Trump might personally benefit from the investigation, no American citizen (even, theoretically, Hillary Clinton) is above the law. The fact that an election looms does not change that fact. In other words, Democrats cannot avoid criminal culpability by insisting that investigations are illegal as an election draws near.

The Law of Impeachment

The Constitution, Article II, § 6, states that impeachment is a remedy that can be used to remove “civil officers” for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Founders, writing a Constitution and not a hornbook, did not further define “high crimes and misdemeanors,” because they did not need to define it for it was a phrase well defined in British common law of the era.

Note: For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “common law” is nothing more than “judge made law,” as opposed to legislatively-created statutes. Past judicial decisions are looked to as for future decisions, a practice that, in 18th Century Britain, created most of the “law of the land” and defined many rights vested in British citizens.  Much of our Constitutional provisions and our rights as Americans come out of British law as it existed in 1787, and the “common law” is still an element of law in Britain and the United States today.

When the Founders relied upon recognized “common law” principles related to impeachment, they looked to the 500 years of British judicial history before 1787 (See John Hatsell, Precedents and Proceedings In The House of Commons, Vol. IV (Impeachment) (1796)).  It is that body of common law that defines “impeachment” as the term is used in the U.S. Constitution.  In his seminal study of the Constitution, Commentaries on the Constitution, 3 Volumes, (1833), Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story examined impeachment in Vol. II (§§ 794-96). He opened his examination by acknowledging the role common law played in understanding the doctrine:

The only practical question is, what are to be deemed high crimes and misdemeanours? Now, neither the constitution, nor any statute of the United States has in any manner defined any crimes, except treason and bribery, to be high crimes and misdemeanours, and as such impeachable. In what manner, then, are they to be ascertained?

After dispensing with commission of crimes in office as an obvious grounds for impeachment, Story addressed “political” offenses as grounds for impeachment, as well as the limitation upon those offenses:

. . . [T]here are many offences, purely political, which have been held to be within the reach of parliamentary impeachments, not one of which is in the slightest manner alluded to in our statute book. And, indeed, political offences are of so various and complex a character, so utterly incapable of being defined, or classified, that the task of positive legislation would be impracticable, if it were not almost absurd to attempt it. . . . Resort, then, must be had either to parliamentary practice, and the common law, in order to ascertain, what are high crimes and misdemeanors; or the whole subject must be left to the arbitrary discretion of the senate, for the time being.

The latter is so incompatible with the genius of our institutions, that no lawyer or statesman would be inclined to countenance so absolute a despotism of opinion and practice, which might make that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time, or in another person.  [Emphasis added]  The only safe guide in such cases must be the common law, which is the guardian at once of private rights and public liberties.

(At the bottom of this post, you will find a handy-dandy poster reflecting this principle, which you can share with friends on social media.)

Story then lists a wide range of offenses for which officials were impeached in Britain since the 14th century. almost all involving neglect, oppression, or exercise of arbitrary power.  Thus, contrary to what Maxine Waters claims, there are limitations on what constitute impeachable offenses. The official charged must have deviated from a historically established pattern and practice.  Democrats cannot validly impeach the President for duly exercising the powers of his office, nor for reasonably acting to advance malfeasors’ punishment for breaking the laws of the land.  Indeed, the President is bound by his office to enforce the laws of this nation.

More recently, Alan Dershowitz has also weighed in on what can legitimately constitute a charge of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  His view is more restrictive than Story’s, but the two agree that there are outer boundaries and that simple political offenses or, as Dershowitz frames it in the language of Madison, “maladministration,” do not constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors.

There is a debate among students of the constitution over the intended meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Some believe that these words encompass non-criminal behavior. Others, I among them, interpret these words more literally, requiring at the least criminal-like behavior, if not the actual violation of a criminal statute.

What is not debatable is that “maladministration” is an impermissible ground for impeachment. Why is that not debatable? Because it was already debated and explicitly rejected by the framers at the constitutional convention. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, opposed such open-ended criteria, lest they make the tenure of the president subject to the political will of Congress. Such criteria would turn our republic into a parliamentary democracy in which the leader — the prime minister — is subject to removal by a simple vote of no confidence by a majority of legislators. Instead, the framers demanded the more specific criminal-like criteria ultimately adopted by the convention and the states.

Of course, since 1789, it is U.S. History that defines impeachment in our country.  Notably, in the three past instances in which the House has impeached a president, each has been for an actual crime committed by the President.  The House impeached Andrew Johnson for violating a law of dubious constitutionality when he removed the Secretary of War. The Senate refused to convict.  The House impeached Bill Clinton when he committed a crime in a civil case by perjuring himself when asked about his having had sex with a White House intern. The Senate refused to convict.  Lastly, the House voted to investigate Richard Nixon, when he was an accessory after the fact to the criminal Watergate Hotel break-in. Nixon resigned.

The bottom line is that there are limitations on what grounds exist for impeaching a president, that a president cannot be impeached for engaging in a historically established pattern and practice, and that past presidential impeachments have revolved around criminal acts. So what have the Democrats got?

The possible bases for the Democrats’ Articles of Impeachment

I. Statutory bases for impeachment

When trying to predict the Democrats’ future actions, only three possible laws or legal conflicts come to mind — that Trump violated campaign finance laws, that he obstructed justice, and/or that he interfered with Congress’s power of the purse. As set forth below, however, none of those are applicable.

A.  Campaign Finance Law

The Whistle Blower asserted that Trump’s July 25 phone call, in which he sought information about the 2016 Russian hoax and potential corruption by Joe and Hunter Biden, broke two laws relating to election campaigns.  He cited 52 U.S.C. § 30121, which makes it illegal to accept any “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national.  But no court has ever interpreted the term “other thing of value” to include mere information.  Even the highly partisan Mueller team, when explaining their decision not to prosecute Trump Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower with Russians for the express purpose of obtaining facts detrimental to Hillary Clinton, stated at Vol. I, p. 187:

[N]o judicial decision has treated the voluntary provision of uncompensated opposition research or similar information as a thing of value that could amount to a contribution under campaign-finance law. Such an interpretation could have implications beyond the foreign-source ban, see 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a) (imposing monetary limits on campaign contributions), and raise First Amendment questions. Those questions could be especially difficult where the information consisted simply of the recounting of historically accurate facts.

B.  Obstruction of Justice

The House may go so far as to claim that Trump obstructed justice by refusing to cooperate with the House’s “impeachment inquiry” regarding the Ukraine matter.  This will not fly.

The House doesn’t normally have judicial power for the Constitution, at Article III, explicitly provides that the “judicial power” resides in the Courts.  The House can assume “judicial power” for a limited period of time only if and when the House of Representatives authorizes it.  Trump maintains that the House, which has repeatedly voted not to open impeachment inquiries against him, is operating unlawfully and his administration has no duty to comply.

Importantly, even as Trump has refused to respond to subpoenas, the House has assiduously avoided testing its subpoenas in Court.  Law professor Alan Dershowitz dealt with this issue in a recent article at Gatestone Institute, Impeachers Searching For New Crimes:

This brings us to President Trump’s directive with regard to the impeachment investigation. Under our constitutional system of separation of powers, Congress may not compel the Executive Branch to cooperate with an impeachment investigation absent court orders. Conflicts between the Legislative and Executive Branches are resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by the unilateral dictate of a handful of partisan legislators. It is neither a crime nor an impeachable offense for the president to demand that Congress seek court orders to enforce their demands. Claims of executive and other privileges should be resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by calls for impeachment.

C.  The Withholding of Aid

Aid for Ukraine was part of Public Law 116-6, which Trump signed on February 15, 2019.  Nothing in the law states specifically when the funds must be released (just as there was none in the 2016 law), with the only proviso being that the administration disburse before the fiscal year in question ends.* When it comes to Trump and aid to Ukraine, his administration transferred or otherwise made the 2019 funds available to Ukraine by September 10, 2019, well before the end of the fiscal year.

One can argue whether any president has inherent power to withhold aid permanently from a foreign country once Congress has authorized the money — something President George H.W. Bush did when he unilaterally cancelled aid appropriated for Yemen in 1991 — but that is not a question applicable to this situation.  Moreover, as David Rivkin points out at WSJ and in his blog, “Congress attempted to curtail this power [i.e., the President’s power over foreign aid] with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, but it authorizes the president to defer spending until the expiration of the fiscal year or until budgetary authority lapses, neither of which had occurred in the Ukraine case.”  Thus, nothing President Trump did conflicted with Congress’s Constitutional power of the purse.

II.  Non-statutory basis for impeachment

Leaving the law behind, there seems to be a wide range of possible grounds for Democrats to impeach Trump (GrabieNews has so far compiled a list of 95 bases), almost all of which are ultimately nothing more than “orange man bad and we disagree with his policies.” That said, the only one that would pass the laugh test would be a charge that the President abused his power by conditioning foreign aid to Ukraine on opening investigations relating to the Russia hoax and to Joe Biden, a 2020 candidate for President.  This is the “quid pro quo” that will almost surely be in any Articles of Impeachment. Passing the laugh test, though, so that the media can relay it to a credulous public with a straight face, still does not make it a valid impeachment charge.

There are multiple problems with this quid pro quo argument, the first being that presidents have primary authority over foreign policy.  Historically, presidents have regularly used foreign aid as leverage when negotiating with foreign countries.  As David Rivkin explained:

More fundamentally, the Constitution gives the president plenary authority to conduct foreign affairs and diplomacy, including broad discretion over the timing and release of appropriated funds. Many presidents have refused to spend appropriated money for military or other purposes, on grounds that it was unnecessary, unwise or incompatible with their priorities.

Thomas Jefferson impounded funds appropriated for gunboat purchases, Dwight Eisenhower impounded funds for antiballistic-missile production, John F. Kennedy impounded money for the B-70 bomber, and Richard Nixon impounded billions for highways and urban programs. Congress attempted to curtail this power with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, but it authorizes the president to defer spending until the expiration of the fiscal year or until budgetary authority lapses, neither of which had occurred in the Ukraine case.

Presidents often delay or refuse foreign aid as diplomatic leverage, even when Congress has authorized the funds. Disbursing foreign aid—and withholding it—has historically been one of the president’s most potent foreign-policy tools, and Congress cannot impair it. Lyndon B. Johnson used the promise of financial aid to strong-arm the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea to send troops to Vietnam. The General Accounting Office (now called the Government Accountability Office) concluded that this constituted “quid pro quo assistance.” In 2013, Barack Obama, in a phone conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, said he would slash hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance until Cairo cooperated with U.S. counterterrorism goals. The Obama administration also withheld millions in foreign aid and imposed visa restrictions on African countries, including Uganda and Nigeria, that failed to protect gay rights.

So, all things being equal, Congress has no right to curtail the Executive’s historic powers. Again, to reiterate what Story said, Congress may not “make that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time, or in another person.” Moreover, under the statute as written, Trump had authority over the timing of aid to the Ukraine at least through the end of the fiscal year.

That being the case, we are left with one remaining question: Did Trump use his legitimate power towards an end that was itself an abuse of power?

The Democrats desperately want to answer that question affirmatively. They insist that asking for any investigative assistance into crimes that may have been committed in the 2016 Russia Hoax and any crimes committed by Joe Biden are so beyond the pale as to justify impeachment and overturn an election.  Their problem is that nothing that Trump did is an abuse of the power because the Constitution imposes upon the president the obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Indeed, it is ludicrous to suggest to the contrary, at least unless we are to amend the Constitution, explicitly or implicitly, to hold that progressives are above the law.  We will be in a shooting civil war before that happens, whether in fact or in deed.

Consequently, as Rivkin further states at the WSJ and in his blog,

Investigating Americans or Ukrainians who might have violated domestic or foreign law—and seeking the assistance of other nations with such probes, pursuant to mutual legal-assistance treaties—cannot form a legitimate basis for impeachment of a president.

Or as Andrew McCarthy states:

It is common for presidents to ask their foreign counterparts to assist Justice Department investigations. House Democrats will not acknowledge this because they seek to delegitimize the Barr/Durham probe as a Trump 2020 campaign initiative; but it is not.

The sole factual issue for this defense will be whether Trump had valid reason to request Ukraine’s assistance in investigation the Russia hoax and whether Trump had a reasonable basis to inquire further into Joe Biden’s possible criminal acts, specifically whether he violated 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-3 (Prohibited foreign trade practices by persons other than issuers or domestic concerns).

As to the former, the mere fact that the DOJ is reviewing the origins of the worst political scandal in our nation’s history, namely the attempted coup that was the Russian Hoax (let alone that it is now a criminal investigation), was a valid justification for Trump’s request for assistance from the Ukraine.  Moreover, President Trump had a predicate — i.e., a reasonable indication to believe that a crime may have been committed — to ask for assistance investigating whether, when Joe Biden demanded that the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor be fired as a non-negotiable condition for receiving American aid, the Prosecutor was investigating Hunter Biden directly or indirectly through his Burisma ties.  Cry as the progressives might, this is a legitimate issue, one raised at the time internally during the Obama administration, one that Joe Biden proudly boasted about and, nevertheless, one that the Obama administration never investigated.

I can think of no other grounds for impeachment, though I am sure Schiff & Co. will have some inventive surprises.  In the next post, I will deal with how the trial in the Senate should proceed, given that the House has denied any due process rights, including the right to be represented at the hearings, to the President.  There are more than ample ways — fully Constitutional — in which the Senate can vindicate the rights of the President, hold a fair trial, and make the House Democrats rue their sins in the process.

____________________

*The law in 2016, which has the identical fiscal year proviso, was the law that applied when Biden was the Vice President. Thus, his threat to withhold the money did not violate the law. It was his threat to withhold the money to protect his son’s dubious business practices that raises eyebrows.

Impeachment

The post Part I: The faux grounds for Trump’s impeachment and his perfect defenses appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Bombshells But No Wrongdoing In Trump Phone Conversation with Ukraine’s President

Alternate title:  Ukraine, Donald Trump and Joe Biden — Quid Pro No

First, for all those of you deep in a dark fantasy of impeaching Trump, an oldie but a goodie

Watch.  Recapture the excitement as you waited expectantly for impeachment to overturn the election results but a few months ago.  This one has it all.  Progressive politics as religion.  An indictment of Trump for the high crime and misdemeanor of winning the 2016 election, of being the “worst” and, in addition, committing almost all forty of the fantasy crimes and wrongs articulated by the NYT that Bookworm addressed in her post yesterday.   After you’re done with the sing-along, might I suggest a safe space and some My Little Pony coloring books.  Hold on tight to your dreams.

For the rest of us . . .

President Trump this morning released the transcript of his phone call with President of Ukraine.  The transcript of the entire conversation is below.  A few comments on it first.

The Bombshells:

It appears that the DNC Server — the one that was hacked and set off the whole Trump-Russia mania — is in the Ukraine.  This from the memo (emphasis mine):

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.  There are a lot. of things that went on, the whole situation .. I think you’re _surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.

Holy smokes!!!  What in the world is going on with that?  This stinks to high heaven.

One of the most corrupt aspects of the entire Trump-Russia coup attempt was the FBI’s failure to secure and investigate the DNC server. You remember, of course, that the DNC claimed Russia hacked its server. The DNC based this claim upon a report from Crowdstrike, a computer analytic firm that Perkins Coie hired on the DNC’s behalf. Because the DNC refused to hand its serve to the FBI / DOJ, those agencies could only clutch to their collective breasts a redacted, draft version of the Crowdstrike report. It was this report, based upon a server they never analyzed, that the FBI / DOJ used as a foundation for the Trump investigation.

What’s staggering is that the above conversation strongly indicates that the DNC server, which the DNC refused to allow even the FBI or Special Counsel Robert Mueller to examine, is being stored outside U.S. borders and in the Ukraine.  What the hell?

Further, it seems from what Trump said that people in the Ukraine were involved both in the hoax and in meddling with the 2016 campaign.  That was news to me.  I haven’t seen that information before, but here is the Washington Times today verifying it:

U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating Ukraine’s role in the 2016 FBI probe of President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, the Department of Justice confirmed Wednesday. . . .

“A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

Ms. Kupec said Ukrainians who are not government officials have already volunteered information as part of the probe. She also said that Mr. Barr has not yet contacted the Ukrainian government over the investigation. . . .

A few points: One, this is starting to sound like a Tom Clancy novel.  Two, it is no wonder that some people are near frantic to impeach Trump and short circuit the investigation into the Trump-Russia coup.  Three, the MSM is studiously ignoring any part of the transcript Trump released that doesn’t deal directly with Biden. This means that the MSM’s audience, unless its members are curious enough to read the transcript themselves, will never know about the peculiar relationship between the DNC and Ukraine or about the missing DNC server that triggered the whole Russiagate hoax. So, for example, you get this from the NYT:  Trump Asks Ukraine’s Leader to ‘Do Us a Favor’ and Also Urges Inquiry of Biden

Quid pro NO

Sorry, progressives, notwithstanding all your swamp fever dreams of impeachment, Trump did not propose a quid pro quo nor did he commit any wrongdoing vis-a-vis his phone conversation with Ukraine’s president.  Biden predicated previously-agreed-upon financial aid to Ukraine by demanding at the last minute that Ukraine agree to fire the prosecutor general investigating his son.  (“Nice little country you’ve got here. It would be a same if something happened to it.”) There is nothing in the transcript that sees Trump saying “I’m doing nothing for you unless you first do this for me.”

Nor did Trump propose aid in return for investigating Joe Biden’s corrupt act.  It is apparent that, while Trump’s request for a follow-up investigation occurred in the context of other agreed-upon exchanges of goods and services (so to speak), none of these other arrangements were contingent upon Ukraine agreeing with Trump’s request.

Most importantly, perhaps, as to those things the President of the Ukraine indicated that he intended to investigate, the only promises he made to President Trump were to conduct open and fair investigations and to provide honest information.

Crazy Nancy has given in to the radical fringe of her party (as an aside, it was not long ago that she was the radical fringe) and is still trying to keep the dream alive.  She issued this statement today, as slanderous as it was based on falsehoods:

The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security.  The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad.

“I respect the responsibility of the President to engage with foreign leaders as part of his job.  It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign.  Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities.

“The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry.  Clearly, the Congress must act. . . .

You decide how far out of touch with reality she is.  This from the memo (emphasis mine):

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it  There are a lot. of things that went on, the whole situation .. I think you’re _surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended
with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is. very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. . . ., I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly .. That I can assure you.

The President: Good because I· heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.  A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. . . .  The other thing,
There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the
prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so
whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

President Zelenskyy:  . . .  The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.

This is Biden’s Waterloo

Biden is already in trouble, running a moribund campaign and falling behind Sitting Bull in the latest national poll.  This transcript turns the spotlight onto Biden’s corrupt act in the Ukraine, a topic that will be invoked endlessly as long as it is in the news.  And it is just going to get worse when all of the China corruption involving Hunter Biden is forced into the mainstream.  I can’t see how Biden survives it.  And the real irony of it all is that the “whistleblower’s” lead attorney has donated to Biden.

——————

Here is the memo of the conversation released today in it entirety:

Telephone Conversation with President
Zelenskyy of Ukraine
Pre·sident Zelenskyy of Ukraine
Notetakers: The White House Situation Room
July 25, 2019, 9:03 – 9:33 a.m. EDT

Residence

The President: Congratulations on a great victory. We all watched from the United States and you did a terrific.job. The way.you came from behind, -somebody who wasn’t given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It’s a fantastic achievement. Congratulations.

President Zelenskyy: You· are absolutely right Mr. President.  We did win big and we worked hard for this. We worked a lot but I would like to confess to you that I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge and were able to use it as an example for our elections and yes it is true that these were unique elections. We were in a unique situation  that we  were able to achieve a unique success. I’m able to tell you the following:  the first time, you· called me to congratulate me when I won my presidential election, and the second time you are now calling me when my party won the parliamentary election. I think I should run more often so you can call me more often and we can talk over the phone more often.

The President: [laughter] That’s a very good idea. I think your country is very happy about that.

President Zelenskyy:   Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. You are a great teacher for us and in that.

The President:  Well it’s very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should ·really ask them about. When I.was· speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do  anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way, so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very  good to Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy: Yes you are·absolutely right. Not only 100%, but actually 1000% and I can tell you the following; I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine.  It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest· partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than.the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation.  I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense.  We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United· States for defense purposes

The· President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it  There are a lot. of things that went on, the whole situation .. I think you’re _surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is. very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President,-· it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to· open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United· States and Ukraine.  For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will. personally tell you that one· of my assistants· spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also· wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly .. That I can assure you ..

The President: Good because I· heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.  A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor bf New York Ci:ty, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General.  Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States,· the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that  The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

President Zelenskyy:  I wanted to tell ·you about the prosecutor. First of all I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament; the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make· sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one. who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree·with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.

The President: Well, she’ s going to go through some things. I will. have Mr. Giuliani.give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to· the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot· of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible ·people.

President Zelenskyy: I would like to tell you that I also have quite a few Ukrainian friends that live in the United States.  Actually last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower. I will talk to them and I hope to see them again in the future. I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC.  On the other hand, I also wanted to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. As to the economy, there is much potential for our two countries and one of  the issues that is very important for Ukraine is energy independence.  I believe we can be very successful and cooperating on energy independence with United States. We are already working on cooperation. We are buying American oil but I am very hopeful for a future meeting. We will have more time and more opportunities to discuss these opportunities· and get to know each other better. I would like to thank you very much for your support

The President: Good. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call. Thank you. Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.

President Zelenskyy: Thank ·you very much. I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet with you personally and I . . . get to know. you better. I am looking forward to our meeting arid I also would like to invite you to visit Ukraine and come to the city bf Kyiv which is a beautiful city. We have a beautiful country Which would welcome you. On the other hand, I believe that on September_l we will be in Poland and we can meet in Poland hopefully. After that, it might be a very good idea for you to travel to Ukraine. We can either take my plane and go to Ukraine or we can take your plane, which is probably much better than mine.

The President: Okay, we can work that out. I look forward to seeing you in Washington and maybe in· Poland because I think we are going to be there at that time.

President Zelenskyy: Thank you very much Mr. President.

The President: Congratulations on a fantastic job you’ve done. The whole world was watching. I’m not sure it was so much of an upset but congratulations.

President Zelenskyy: Thank you Mr. President bye-bye.

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Your truth? My truth? What about THE TRUTH?

It’s common to hear truth spoken of as something personal — “your truth” or “my truth.” That degrades the notion of truth to the point of meaninglessness.

Contrary to what might be implied in this post’s title, I am not going to be talking about Jesus (“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:16). Instead, I’m going to be focusing on the incredibly irritating misuse of the concept of truth in today’s discourse.

The trigger for this post (yes, I was actually triggered) is the blog post that Stephanie Carter, wife of Ashton Carter, wrote to defend the famous — or infamous — photo that appears to show Joe Biden nuzzling her ear while rubbing her shoulder. You know the photo:

Joe Biden Stephanie Carter

It’s one of the more famous photos making the rounds showing Joe getting very friendly with a woman. I’m not going to use this post to go into whether Joe’s touching is appropriate or not. That’s a subject I already covered here, in case you’re interested. Instead, as I said, I want to talk about the use and abuse of the word “truth.”

When Lucy Flores accused Joe Biden of grabbing her from behind and nuzzling her hair, although they’d never even met, the mainstream media finally took up the subject of Joe’s predilection for getting his hands, nose, and lips on women and little girls. With the above picture once again getting air play, Stephanie Carter finally stepped up to say what was really going on: Joe is a close friend to both the Carters. When Stephanie’s husband was getting sworn in as Secretary of Defense, she was unbelievably tense and her old friend Joe was just trying to calm her down. She was grateful, not upset.

That’s all well and good. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that with us. Hearing your facts about the picture was helpful.

That’s not what triggered me. What triggered me was this paragraph, in which I’ve highlighted the language that made me crazy:

Last night, I received a text from a friend letting me know that picture was once again all over Twitter in connection to Lucy Flores’ personal account of a 2014 encounter with Joe Biden. Let me state upfront that I don’t know her, but I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed. But her story is not mine. The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.

Stephanie Carter is not the first to confuse truth with facts. It’s just that her statement really hit me the wrong way.

Back in the old days, when we still learned things in school, we were taught about the difference between objective and subjective facts. The former are data points that can be proven and are not up for debate. For example, it is an objective fact that bees make honey. It is an objective fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It is an objective fact that dogs bark, cats meow, birds tweet, cows go moo, and sheep say baa. Don’t quibble with these statements. They are all objectively true.

Subjective facts are those facts that depend on a person’s perceptions. Thus, on a day when the sun rises in the east and continues to shine throughout the day, were you to ask me, I might say the day was hot while my sister might say it was pleasantly warm. Both of us are stating a fact as we perceive it. Both of us, were we in court, would willing take the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and then proceed to state our subjective version of that fact.

And there’s the difference between facts and truth. Facts are data, whether they can be objectively confirmed or are run through an individual’s perception. Truth is an intention. The opposite of truth is a lie. Were I in court and asked, under oath to describe the weather on a specific day, if I subjectively perceived the weather as warm, but nevertheless testified that it was cold, that statement would have been an out-and-out lie, which is the opposite of truth.

By conflating “truth” with facts, whether subjective or objective, modern language effectively erases the notion of lying. If everyone has their own truth, there is no truth. And unlike a subjective fact, which one can challenge, it is impossible to challenge “your truth” or “her truth” or “his truth” or “my truth,” because we’re all entitled to whatever the Hell truth we want.

Regarding Lucy Flores, whether Biden grabbed her shoulders and kissed her hair is an objective factual matter. Flores is either speaking truthfully or not when she says it occurred.

Absent witnesses to the alleged behavior (or a photograph, as in Carter’s case), we may struggle to determine whether that interaction happened. Given that there are myriad photos and videos of Biden behaving in precisely that way with other females, that might make it easier for us to say that this event occurred and that Flores is telling a factual truth. On the other hand, given Biden’s reputation, this interaction may never have happened and Flores may be telling a bald-faced lie knowing that Biden’s reputation makes people more likely to believe her. We don’t know what the truth is. We can only guess.

When it comes to Flores’ perceptions about what happened, that is purely subjective. She could say it gave her a thrill. She could say it frightened her, or creeped her out, or didn’t bother her at all. What we don’t know now is whether she is telling the truth about her subjective facts at the time. Maybe at the time it thrilled her but now that she’s supporting Biden, it creeps her out in retrospect, in which case she’s lying about her past feelings but telling the truth about her current emotional state. When it comes to Flores’s truthfulness, it’s not “her truth” versus another’s, it’s whether Flores has a reputation for honesty and is in fact now speaking honestly.

The exact same analysis holds true for Stephanie Carter. The photograph definitely shows Biden with his hands on her shoulders and his mouth at her ear. I don’t think anyone quarrels with those facts. Carter now claims that she was good with it. Maybe that’s true; maybe it’s not. I don’t know Stephanie Carter. Do you? Do you know her reputation for speaking truthfully?

I know I’m sort of stumbling around in the verbal weeds here, but to the extent I believe in truth as the opposite of a lie, and as a different animal from objective and subjective facts, I’m very ruffled. I feel that our culture is losing something important if we blend all those concepts into one giant thing that is predicated solely on someone’s feelings.

Incidentally, my obsession with being honest about truth means that I’m not a fan of the fact that we no longer have people swear on a Holy Book when they testify in court. In California, the first-listed oath on the books still calls upon God as a witness: “Do you solemnly state that the evidence you shall give in this issue (or matter) shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” However, I’ve never heard anyone asked to swear under that oath. Instead, the norm in both courtrooms and depositions is the alternative oath: “Do you solemnly state, under penalty of perjury, that the evidence that you shall give in this issue (or matter) shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

To me, there’s a world of difference between the two oaths. The first puts your immortal soul in peril if you lie. The second says that you risk being prosecuted for perjury, something I’ve seen happen only once in 32 years of practicing law. The first says truth means something; the second says “yeah, whatever.”

By the way, if you think from this screed that I never lie, think again. I do lie, but I hope that my lies are about inconsequential things, not consequential ones. Or that, if there are consequences, they err on the side of good, not evil.

“Does this dress make my butt look fat?” “No, of course not. But I think the color makes your skin look a bit yellow.” (Of course the dress makes my friend’s butt look fat.)

“How did you like the soup? It was my grandmother’s liver dumpling recipe and took five hours to make.” “It was delicious.” (I thought I’d barf, but I’m not telling you that because you obviously went all out to please me.)

“Do you want to go out?” “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I have other plans.” (My plans are not to go out — and, depending on who you are, my plans are not to go out with you.)

Here’s the thing, though. I never confuse my lies, whether they are borne of expediency or kindness, or my specific perceptions, as “truths.” Facts are facts, although some must be understood to run through my personal filter. And I either tell the truth about them or I lie — always intentionally.

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Creepy Joe Biden gets no pass for being “handsy” or “old-fashioned”

Conservatives who resent the Left’s making men toxic are erring when they speak out for Joe Biden. He’s a garden-variety creep and predator, and deserves to be taken down.

Now that the Left finally has its sights aimed at Joe Biden, I’m seeing a lot of conservatives, along with old-line Democrats, come to his defense. I get why: Years of watching the Left chip away at every cultural value, in true 1984 fashion, means that conservatives feel compelled to man the barricades hollering “Stop. Leave something of our culture.”

One of the important aspects of our culture, back in the days when “normal” meant something, was the fact that not every interaction between men and women was rape or sexual assault or harassment or toxic masculinity. One of the signs of normality was that, even though people were less sexually promiscuous than they are today, there was also a more natural ease of social intimacy.

What the Left is doing is not normal. Instead, it’s created a situation that’s like a fun house, reverse mirror image of the Muslim approach to sexuality. Muslims, rather than cultivating a normal balance of sex and sexuality, opted to label women as entirely toxic and then locked them in rooms or swathed them in burqas to protect men.

Leftists, by contrast, than cultivating a normal balance of sex and sexuality, first experimented with insisting that women could treat sex in exactly the same way as men; that is, as something that satisfies a purely physical itch without any intimacy. When that failed, because women do crave intimacy and meaning to an act that can produce a child that needs a father, the Left completely bypassed traditional Western sexual mores of flirtation, courtship, respect, and affection. Instead, it leapfrogged in the mirror image of Islam: It now declares that men are entirely toxic and seeks to swath them in social humiliation and criminal actions.

So yes, I get why conservatives are rallying to Biden’s defense. It’s a way of saying to the Left, “Stop with the crazy. Just stop!”

Except Joe Biden is the wrong person to get the benefit of that “Stop.”

You see, even in normal times, Joe Biden’s handsy behavior was not normal. He’s always been a masher. He’s always been the creepy uncle. He’s always been the guy women avoid in tight spaces or on the bus. Even in Samuel Pepys’ day, in the mid-17th century, women tried to avoid men who got too touchy (emphasis mine):

After dinner comes Mr. Pelling the Potticary, whom I had sent for to dine with me, but he was engaged. After sitting an hour to talk we broke up, all leaving Pelling to talk with my wife, and I walked towards White Hall, but, being wearied, turned into St. Dunstan’s Church, where I heard an able sermon of the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand and the body; but she would not, but got further and further from me; and, at last, I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again — which seeing I did forbear, and was glad I did spy her design.

Of course, there’s a problem when the guy groping you is a powerful Senator or even the Vice-President of the United States. In that situation, the average woman is loath to say, “Get your hands off me, you masher.” Instead, the women take it.

This “suck it up, buttercup” attitude on the women’s part is not affected by the fact that Joe’s blatantly public with his groping. That is, I’ve read some people say that Biden can’t be doing anything wrong because, heck, he’s doing it in public, in front of the world. If it were wrong, Biden would never be so blatant.

That’s absolutely the wrong defense. First, Joe knows that his preeminence means that women are going to be even less likely to make a scene if the eyes of the world are upon them. They’ll doubt that they’re really being felt up because nobody, especially the Vice President, would feel them up in front of the world. This means that what he’s doing to them is a form of gaslighting, where he’s using a public forum to challenge the women’s reality.

Moreover, a lot of sexual predators get a real thrill out of acting out in public where they might get caught. Other’s get a thrill from sheer exhibitionism. It’s fun for these guys to flash someone, or push up against them on a bus, or, in Biden’s case, feel them up, with everyone watching, or at least the potential to have people watch.

Also, have you noticed how the current debate is only about Joe’s hands-on approach to women? Within that sphere maybe you can say he’s just a cuddly, huggy guy. But the real sickness in Biden’s behavior is the way he fondles little girls. What he’s doing is just wrong, wrong, wrong:

I certainly remember from my childhood the creepy “honorary uncle” whose hand would always slid up my butt when he hugged me. No, I’m not traumatized. No, I don’t have PTSD. No, I wouldn’t resurrect him from the grave so he could be prosecuted for sexual assault. But what that honorary uncle did was wrong. I knew it was wrong and avoided him when he came at me.

My Mom knew it was wrong too and, while she had no vocabulary to challenge him and did not feel socially confident enough to bar him from our house, she sure knew never to leave me or my sister alone with him. Copping a feel on a little girl is never appropriate no matter how “huggy” or “affectionate” or “cuddly” you are.

I’ve also seen people say Bad Touch Biden can’t be doing wrong because he’s fondling children right in front of their families. That’s no excuse. Please go back a few paragraphs to my point about (a) Joe’s status making him untouchable and (b) Joe’s sexual thrill doing creepy, nasty things like this in public.

I’m not arguing for Joe to be arrested or sent to prison. He hasn’t broken laws; he hasn’t destroyed lives. But he’s a creepy, inappropriate, entitled, sick, lecherous masher and he most certainly should not be elected to the office of president.

Lastly, for those who try to liken his conduct to Trump, no, just no. As the following excellent video shows, Trump was doing some locker room boasting in which he said (a) that he made the moves on a woman by buying her things but backed off when she rebuffed him and (b) that women let billionaires and other famous people get away with all sorts of things. If you listen to the video, you’ll note that Trump doesn’t say he grabs women (although one could say he implies that he does). He just talks about women and fame. In my mind, I’ve always had him making that “grab them by the pussy” statement and then, if he hadn’t been cut off, following it up by saying, “I know this because Bill Clinton told me so.”

Trump’s admittedly foolish boasting and even his affairs and peccadilloes are not the same as using his fame for decades to molest women and children in public. Trump is a playboy. Biden is a sicko. I don’t care that the Left is finally attacking him simply to clear the field for more viable political candidates. Biden was way too close to the Oval Office before and he shouldn’t get a second chance.

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I don’t want Hillary to drop out of the race!

Rumors are circulating that the Democrats are frantically looking for a way to displace Hillary from the top of their ticket. That assumes, of course, that it’s even possible to do so at this late date, with states already having locked in the primary winners. The obvious people to fill Hillary’s spot are Joe Biden (feckless), Bernie Sanders (hypocritical), and Tim Kaine (a hard-Left nonentity), with Sanders being the only one who has some legitimacy, given his second place finish in the primaries. Sanders, because of his rabid base, and Biden and Kaine, because of their lack of scandals, all have the ability to defeat Trump.

What concerns me is that if the Democrats succeed in their machinations, Sanders, thanks to his rabid base, and Biden and Kaine, because of their lack of scandals, all have the ability to defeat Trump. Hillary, however, may forever have lost that ability — at least that’s what the prescient Scott Adams thinks. In addition, Hillary is hampered by the mounting evidence of Borgia-esque corruption and the constant threat that Wikileaks or some other entity will release embarrassing material.

Once I started thinking about Hillary replacements who may be more successful than Hillary, I arrived at a surprising conclusion: I no longer just want Hillary to lose; I want Trump to win. Having adjusted to Trump, and having seen his remarkably quick learning curve and his willingness to cater to hot-button conservative issues (e.g., Supreme Court, radical Islam, illegal immigration), I’m beginning to think that he might be a decent president.

One of the main reasons I’m almost craving a Trump presidency is because of his catch-line on The Apprentice:

“You’re fired” — powerful words and words that career politicians avoid like the plague.

To read more, please go here.