If Impeachment, then Trial.

There’s a lot of questions floating around the journals of late about impeachment. The basic flavor, from both the left in fret and the right in hope, is will the Senate shrug? The majority leader has said they will take them up, but then came suggestions of the inevitable motion to dismiss.

The first thing is that you will never see articles move out of the House unless Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues find them damning enough for four or more Republicans to vote with the Democrats against dismissal on at least one of the articles. Perhaps the only way the House moves on articles without that locked down is if the Senate Republicans signal they have given up entirely on their oaths and take to the Mall to fly kites. At that point, the House would vote articles to place an asterisk on this chapter in American history so that future generations will note how craven a party can become under the poison spell of a filthy fool like President Donald John Trump.

To go through preliminaries—which they’ll need to before they can receive a motion to dismiss—and then accede to such a motion would be disastrous. They would have set the stage for a trial, with the public’s understanding already formed, and then said there’s nothing to be done about that understanding. It would speak against the entire purpose of the separation of powers—that, the executive being unable to properly investigate and indict emself, must have eir actions subject to review by a separate branch. If that separate branch cannot bring itself to successfully review executive actions, we have a whole systemic breakdown.

From the timber of the Trump–Ukraine (now –China?) scandal to-date, at least a handful of Republicans should vote against dismissing some of the articles. Such motions are a low bar in all but the most worthless cases, whether civil or criminal. The fact of the coverup using the code-word NSC system, the fact of the attempts by Secretary of State Pompeo to block testimony, the facts of Attorney General Barr and the citizen Giuliani jetting about and phonecalling to dig up dirt, all point to there being enough witnesses and awareness of the wrongdoing to push this into the territory of impeachment. There was something else…. Oh—the call itself, where the President directly asked a foreign government for dirt on a political opponent!

The other reason that the Senate would want to hold a full trial is that they should want the thing put to bed, either way. If they refused to hold a real trial upon the basis of valid and dire articles of impeachment, the House could simply reissue them again and again, to drive home the point much the way that parents waking their children find particularly grating ways. If the Senate dispensed anything approaching real justice, allowing for the case to be presented, and then decided to acquit, at least history would be served, if not justice.

Which brings us to Chief Justice Roberts. He will preside over any presidential impeachment. He represents the third branch, but the main reason for his presence is that a removal of a president automatically elevates the vice president, which means the vice president has a natural conflict. To obviate the conflict, the chief justice presides in his place. And in that role, he is the presiding officer of the body, including the fact that he may break ties on votes requiring a majority. Under Senate precedents, Roberts will offer preliminary rulings on legal questions before the body, subject to reversal or affirmation by a majority of the body. He also reads out the questions posed by senators, in writing.

All of which is to say that the Senate has that extra reason to behave in the midst of an impeachment trial. They will not want to make Roberts look bad. They will not want to cast a bad reflection upon our judiciary.


A reminder: impeachment and removal are there to fix the government. They are not punishment; any criminal behavior can be prosecuted after removal and punished accordingly. The question of removing President Trump boils down to the fact of his abuse of our standing in the world to seek personal benefits, which is a matter that surely harms our national interest and our security particularly.

For now the matter remains in the House, where the inquiry is getting started. It’s unclear how the House will proceed, with some folks on the right calling for it to be formally voted as an inquiry and held inter partes as the Nixon and Clinton inquiries were. If the House Republicans wish that vote so badly, they are free to push a resolution to that end and vote for its adoption (rather than the feckless resolution they’re seeking on Representative Schiff for paraphrasing the readout of the Trump–Zelensky call). Instead, their entire strategy seems to be more about the lack of any defense for the president’s wrongdoing. That said, one expects a vote at some point, and that the president’s counsel will be allowed to participate, if only to ensure the get a close-up view of the grave position this White House is now in.

This Trump–Ukraine Business

There is a myth in the media about impeachment, that it’s some state of being rather than a particular act by the House. It’s not. Impeachment happens when the House approves one or more articles of impeachment against any officer of the executive branch or judicial branch. That’s it. That’s all impeachment is.

Impeachment inquiries are oversight that someone has decided looks like it will probably end in a vote on at least one article of impeachment.

There are no additional powers unlocked by calling oversight an impeachment inquiry. Those who say there are do not know what they are talking about. The House can empower and entrust committees with additional powers or modify their processes, but that has nothing to do with the constitutional power of impeachment and everything to do with the clause that gives the chambers of the legislature control over their own rules.

Now, this business with Trump and Giuliani and a whistleblower (House Intelligence Committee: 26 September 2019: PDF of IC Whistleblower Complaint) and a coverup and seeking dirt on Joe Biden from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Is it impeachable conduct, to send your personal attorney under quasi-diplomatic cover to work on getting dirt on a political rival and precondition a phone call with a foreign leader on discussing said dirt, and dangle nearly half a billion dollars and a visit to the White House during that call?

I don’t know. I mean, what is the purpose of government if not to bribe, to conspire to defraud your fellow citizens, to abuse your power? That would be rather boring, wouldn’t it, to have a non-corrupt government that simply did its best to clear away the bullshit in peoples’ lives and let them get on with living? That glowed bright against corruption and stood for justice and democracy? So, yes, obviously it is impeachable. And no, it wouldn’t be boring in the least. It would be a welcome fucking change.

There are those who are afraid the Democrats are moving too fast on impeachment. We’ll see. There are those who worry it will help Trump electorally. Could be, but if we’re going to keep going on with having a country, we have to actually adhere to the law. If the nation decides it yearns for corruption and poison air and all those flavors of hell that so many fought, toiled, and died to stop and avoid, then that’s what it decides. A large number of us will never agree to such regression.

But we’re a country that supposedly cherishes justice, and that means we have to have trust in our executive. We do not have that trust. He has lied at every turn, burned every bridge, and he will be held to account under the law.

So, go ahead and play count-the-votes on your abacus, while the Democrats under Speaker Pelosi try to keep the Republic. They aren’t to impeachment yet. The probability they get there is much higher today than it was a week ago. The new conduct is more damning than anything we’ve seen before.


The charges, as they stand:

  1. President Trump’s administration withheld fund appropriated by Congress from Ukraine to leverage that government to aid Trump’s reelection by gathering or fabricating evidence on a political rival. (He may have also been dangling a White House meeting to further entice President Zelensky.)
  2. President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, repeatedly sought that same goal.
  3. President Trump conducted a telephonic conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky that had as a precondition the discussion of working on gathering that political fodder.
  4. President Trump’s administration fraudulently employed the classification system to cover up the call.
  5. President Trump’s administration violated the law by not forwarding the whistleblower complaint and by actively and willfully minimizing it in the face of stark evidence.
  6. President Trump’s administration did not employ proper recusal procedures in evaluating criminal complaints that were forwarded to the Department of Justice.

And that’s just for starters. We do not know the extent of the involvement of some figures, including Secretary of State Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr. We do not know the exact nature of Giuliani’s work—who paid for it, and whether any of it was officially sanctioned by the State Department. We also know that Vice President Pence was blocked from attending Zelensky’s inauguration, and the president has insinuated that Pence’s own conversations with Ukrainian officials may be incriminating, but we do not know any details yet.

To be perfectly clear: the ask for targeted prosecution itself, without any promise of payment, is impeachable. But: due to the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, it is impossible to make any such request without it being a de facto quid pro quo—the United States is obviously in a powerful position compared to Ukraine, and Ukraine is reliant on the United States to help protect it. All the more reason that the USA has a duty to such foreign governments and their people to be an honest broker and not add to the woes of corruption and stressors that they have to deal with. The very fact that President Donald John Trump would attempt to take advantage of that country is dirty and corrupt.


The 2020 election takes place in 57 weeks. Keep following the candidates, as we all have a duty to try to pick the best of the lot.

They Elected Trump To Erase Obama….

In 2015 and 2016, opponents of President Obama’s administration and its legacy backed Donald John Trump as a repudiation and erasure of Obama. They didn’t like Obama, they wanted him to be forgotten and nullified. Donald John Trump was the man for the job. He would renounce everything that Obama stood for.

But to renounce President Obama was to renounce the entire system that afforded him his office. Everything from the Constitution to Christian values to capitalism. And so, they set out on that task. “In case of a black president,” it said on the sign above the glass with a red steel hammer dangling by a chain, “break everything.”

President Obama stood for the rule of law, so it had to go. He stood for kindness and good humor. Who needs those? Get ’em out! Obama wanted people to have healthcare, and so the party and Trump must be opposed to healthcare. And so on. Everything from climate to Christmas. “Tear it all down,” they said.


The phenomenon is most often seen among disillusioned extremists of all stripes. The cult failed them, and now everything connected must be jettisoned. The problem, of course, is that cultists never had a strong philosophy, any kind of foundational outlook on the world. Otherwise, the cult never would have duped them to begin with.

The cult strips away associations with outside influence, much like the media bubbles that various tribes wrap themselves in today. The cult seeks to supplant the individual’s identity, usually with the identity of the cult. Wear a red hat. Chant the slogan. That’s who you are now. Reject the way of the outsiders. Reject the rule of law. Reject allegiance to the state. You’re on a new team, now. We’re a family. Don’t sleep, practice owning the libs. Don’t question, there’s a new message from the messiah coming soon, and you must be ready to accept it.

The cult scam only works as long as its members keep believing. Once they stop, the cult only lasts as long as it takes for enough of the members to jump ship. They will remain if they believe they’ve locked themselves in, which is why more extreme cults push for criminal activity or other threshold-breaking behavior. Make them think they’ve crossed over, that they’re past the point of no-return.


But most of the supporters of Donald John Trump were never that far gone. Most of them thought Hillary Clinton would win, and if he won, he’d turn out to be a regular Republican or maybe a little bit of a windbag, but nothing crazy. He wouldn’t really try to erase Obama and everything that entails, right?

We will see. He’s suggested as ruined about everything in the Constitution except the Second Amendment, and even that he’s flirted with on occasion.

It reminds me of “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”

We’re 61 weeks from the 2020 election. The next Democratic debate is in just under two weeks (12 September 2019).

What Trump Ought to have Said

Disclaimer: I didn’t actually listen to or read what Trump said about racism, xenophobia, (apparently not guns), video games, mental illness, etc. in the wake of the terrorist attack in El Paso, Texas, or the other shooting (as yet no clear motive) in Dayton, Ohio. I did pick up a few bits of what he said through hearsay and headlines, but I didn’t read any articles specifically about his speech.

I tried to roughly replicate the style and tone of the president, but not so much the content. Instead I wrote what I think he ought to have said, if he were honest, accepting the limitations, in something like the way he might have said it.


My fellow Americans and guests in our nation, I rise today to speak to you about one of the dangers of our time. The danger of violent hatred, which I am more responsible for than most. I own it. I did it to get elected. I did it because there’s a whole media industry built up around it, which made it easy to join in and win the affection of the millions who buy into that tripe. I followed in the sick tradition of George Wallace, who started out his political career moderate, but found his meal ticket in being a race-baiting schmuck with no shame. It’s a time-tested strategy, and it’s not like I’m a particularly creative guy.

The fact is, yes, I, Donald J. Trump, helped continue this horror. I didn’t mean to. It bothers me. I can’t stop, though, for a variety of reasons. I won’t stop. It’s just the way things are going to be, see? We all have our roles to play, and I’m stuck playing this racist gasbag you see before you.

But the problem has never been a lack of losers to try to ride the wave of hate to bigger paychecks. Oh, no. We’re a dime a dozen. The problem is that there are so many who so readily buy in to the racism. You’d think it’d be harder, but people are easy to swindle if you push the right buttons. Some use religion, others use race.

There are people who live lackluster existences, and they need something to make their brains work. Their vapid sitcoms-and-fast-food existence is so meaningless they might as well not exist. But you can wake them up if you plug them into racism. Suddenly things make sense. The juices flow. It’s a lump of clay, ready to mold into any problem they encounter.

It’s not just poor people, either. There are plenty of lucky people who found their way to riches but never had to develop much understanding for the world. You’re looking at one right now, in fact. We skate through life by the law of averages, by the fact we can be useful to others who are happy enough to cover for our foibles if it enriches them.

It’s so easy. Whatever your problem, you can always link it back to someone else, and say it was race. But it’s usually some other problem entirely unconnected to race, like lack of effective social assistance. The politicians have messed up the safety net and the people have got no basic security in society while I cut taxes for the rich.

Point is, sitting ducks, all these people left behind by a system that has no empathy any longer. The forgotten man. Remember him? The one I forgot about the day I was elected? He’s still forgotten, and he still wants to be remembered. He wants to be heard. I’m not listening to him, but maybe racists in some chat room or some forum are.

Most of them have problems with violence. The domestic violence problem. They don’t know how to cope. They get frustrated and snap. They have this lingering doubt in their heads. Even on the good days. They see the shadows in a fully lit room. And then any small thing confirms their doubt, and they’re ready to go full rage. Most of them learned it from their home life growing up. But we can’t fix physical healthcare, so any talk about mental healthcare is pretty much a joke, right?

And the guns. Let’s talk about the guns. The Republican party—Democrats, too, I guess—have made it a mission to prevent Iran from having the bomb. They didn’t set up a red flag law. They didn’t say, “Let Iran get the bomb, then we’ll go take it away after three days if they don’t appeal a court order.” They said: “No bomb for Iran.”

I mean, it’s really that simple with the guns isn’t it? The high-powered rifles. Or no guns if they don’t pass a check. Right? The red flag thing, maybe it works, but maybe gun owners should have a little bit of a check before. No loopholes, none of that. A check, okay? Are you able to be responsible? I mean, it’s not like I can give the name of every would-be gun owner to the media and let them run each name down like I can with my nominees.

And some guns, we just can’t do it. Some of them, with the hundreds of rounds in a magazine, and they might as well be automatic, right? No good. You know how we do with explosives? We don’t mess around with that. Nobody’s just walking around with explosives. No one is open carrying explosives. People go to prison just for mistakes in paperwork with explosives.

And I know, you have these places with so much violence, systemic they call it. In the cities. Cyclical, tit-for-tat violence. And it’s handguns. And most of those places, the gun laws, someone is buying guns and bringing them in. But if you look, those places need more than just gun laws. They do need gun laws, of course. Violence only makes everything harder. But they need—when you have a broken situation, you have these buildings that make people sick. Sick building syndrome. You have to do a major renovation. You can’t just go in and put a few plants in there. You have to tear out and rebuild and revitalize. Or sometimes, the land itself. They built housing on top of polluted places that used to pollute so much you’d have to change your shirt at mid-day because it would change color. That’s what the places, these places where children live. I mean, little ones that play peek-a-boo, all of that, they live in places where there’s systemic violence and deterioration. We have to do better. Remember “No Child Left Behind?” For school, but they left them behind in their neighborhoods and in all these other ways, including healthcare. Left them behind. It can’t be fixed just by getting rid of the guns—guns that people are bringing in from across state lines—but we do have to get rid of the guns. Where they’re paying another state’s sales tax to bring guns in where they shouldn’t. Bet those folks would like to build a big, beautiful wall to keep the guns out. But it wouldn’t work, so we have to try something else.

But the racism, it’s got to end, folks. It’s so stupid. I can’t end it. I’m part of it. If I weren’t racist, my base might actually look at what I am. George Wallace’s voters used to say “He tells it like it is,” too, you know. The only difference was he ran as a Democrat by the time that most Democrats wanted to go straight. He won Florida and it scared the Democrats so bad they nominated George McGovern, who got creamed by President Nixon.

That was over 40 years ago, but the modern Republicans just scooped me into their arms. Right into their bosom, folks. They’ll defend me, no matter what stupid thing I do. But I can’t stop the racism. Even if I tried, I can’t. I can’t stop the racism for the same reason the Republicans go along with every blunder I make. There’s no blueprint. I’m not that creative. And neither are they.

I guess maybe the only way to stop the racism is to spread the wealth, not just money but knowledge and caring, those are forms of wealth too, and to integrate society. If everyone’s got neighbors who are different, being different is normal. If everyone’s got security in society, they know they aren’t going to be starving and homeless because they’re five minutes late—if the elevators have emergency brakes to prevent these people, so vulnerable, so fragile, from suddenly plunging to their dooms. . . .

That’s how you stop the racism. The guns thing? Do like we do with Iran, folks. Like we do with explosives. Stop selling them so easily. Stop selling the worst of them entirely, maybe. Maybe. But at least do backgrounds. Have to at least check. If someone hunts, great, but they have to do it responsibly. People with guns have to do it responsibly. It’s really common sense is what it is.


Something like that, anyway.

Most folks want to see something done about these acts of terror. They don’t want to stop a hunter from being able to help keep the deer population in check. They don’t want to stop people who enjoy the hobby side of guns, or the history side. But they don’t want these shootings to continue like they have done for decades at this point.

Some politicians, mostly Republicans, bring up video games. I play video games and have done for most of my life. If I honestly thought that undergoing a background check or getting a license or such to play them would make anyone even a little safer, I’d be more than happy to. If the Republicans want to pass a law to that effect, I’ll gladly do so. I don’t think video games have anything to do with these violent assholes. It’s also noteworthy that as recent as 2013 the US Army published a video game called America’s Army, which had a combat component (i.e., violence). I don’t recall any Republicans criticizing that effort.

Other solutions outside of guns include mental healthcare. That means we would need universal coverage, which, again, Republicans have opposed. If they don’t think it’s worth it, they should say so. I think it’s worth it even setting the gun violence aside, for the peace of mind and the general welfare that people shouldn’t suffer needlessly.

On the side of guns, most people will accept an incremental approach. Increased background check coverage, for example. Do that. If it’s not enough, we will do more later. But to keep doing nothing, to sit on our hands, is not enough. We will either have a government that will work to improve our society or we will surely cease to have government at all. I favor the former, hands down.

What to Do If Your Leader is Racist?

There are a few different elements to the recent racist display by the president. For one, it was an offense against Massachusetts’ 7th district, Michigan’s 12th district, Minnesota’s 5th district, and New York’s 14th district. The people there chose these representatives, whom the president is free to have political disagreements with, but he’s injuring the basic principles of the nation when he disrespects their constituents.

More importantly, the president is supposed to serve those constituents as much as anyone, so his disrespect is doubled (once for the direct offense and again for the failure as one of their leaders). While some representatives sometimes have reason to be condemned by colleagues or the president, those condemnations must always be careful not to diminish the rightfully owed respect to the constituents.

There are a few noble Republicans who have stood up in objection to the president’s racism. Good on them. Whatever your politics, it’s self-evident that racism has no place.

The racism of the president and the support of those Republicans who backed his statements including Lindsay Graham and Kellyanne Conway are unacceptable. All people have the right to criticize the government. They have the right to prefer different policies, even communism if they choose. While the racists have every right to be racist, racism is stupid and they are stupid for being racist.

The third set of Republicans bothered to condemn the racism but stopped short of calling it racist or pulled out the same both-sides-bullshit that Trump has used before. This is also wrong. It is wrong not to recognize it as racist, because it disconnects the act from the series of acts that constitute the racist legacies of the nation and the world. It is wrong to engage in both-sides because it pretends that the president’s offense was at all justifiable. There is no excuse for his stooping.

The final group of Republicans have stayed silent. This is the group I find most curious. The title of this piece poses a question that I mean. The prospect of confronting a racist president of their own party is not what anyone imagines going into politics. It is surely a difficult position to be in.

As we have seen with the likes of Paul Ryan, once out of office the attitudes of Republicans tend to shift in curious ways. But while in office, for a variety of reasons, they tend to be comfort creatures, closely following what they believe is the politically correct path. I honestly believe most Republicans would jump at the chance to change course, if they knew how and if it weren’t particularly risky to their careers.

Doing the right thing is often risky. It means, for example, that you might end up with a racist president when you share the choice of government with your fellow man and they completely fuck it up. But there is justice in error, that sooner or later the mistakes will cause sufficient motivation to correct course. Which doesn’t answer the question. What do you do?

Quit the party? Go the way of Justin Amash (who also condemned the president’s racism, but had earlier quit over the president’s well-documented instances of obstruction of justice in the Mueller Report)? He’s lonesome, for now. Maybe he’ll be in a position to redecorate the Republican cloakroom when the party finally collapses.

You could seek legislative common ground with Democrats focused on issues of racial and economic justice. Find ways to fight racism one paycheck, one housing bill, one voter registration measure, one educational program at a time.

What else? Ask your colleagues. We know you talk. Talk to the Democrats. Tell them you can’t but you want to do something. I’m sure they’ll be sympathetic, if not a little pissed off you won’t condemn racism. Politics is hard, but the alternative is monarchy, which sucked far worse.


I was reading a ProPublica piece with some first-hand color from a border patrol agent (ProPublica: Ginger Thompson: 16 July 2019: “A Border Patrol Agent Reveals What It’s Really Like to Guard Migrant Children”), and it reminded me a lot of George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” (maybe it was the reference in the piece to Benjamin the donkey in Animal Farm).

I think that’s a lot of what the Republican problem is. While they’re in office, they’ve got that elephant rifle, and there’s the elephant. They do not know better than to shoot the elephant. The lack of imagination, of any other option that they have any idea how it could turn out. They shoot the elephant.