Tag Archives: donald trump

The Necessity of an Impeachment Inquiry

In case you’ve been leaving on an Amish commune for the past several weeks, there have finally been moves to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.  In response, conservative political commentators (and even some left-wing commentators) have been going into overdrive to  obscure as much of the key details concerning the basis for the inquiry that it’s important to do a quick rundown of events:

Two additional facts that give context to the timeline above:

  • On July 25th, 2019, President Trump has a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  On August 12th, 2019, an anonymous whistleblower complaint cites the July 25th phone conversation as evidence of Executive abuse of power on the part of President Trump to “advance his [Trump’s] personal interests” as well as to “help the President’s 2020 reelection bid”, among several other troubling points raised concerning Trumps actions and motivations in the course of his conversation with the Ukrainian president.
  • On September 24th, 2019, President Trump released a non-verbatim summary of his phone call with the Ukrainian president, which shows that Trump does bring up the alleged wrongdoing of Hunter and Joe Biden that he would like the Ukrainians to investigate further.  There are no explicit statements by Trump in the 5 page document where he says that he is withholding the $400 million in aid until and unless Ukraine complies with his request to look into the Bidens, or to aid in his 2020 Presidential campaign.  Though one could just as easily argue that the very act of holding the aid in the first place (and lying about the reason for the hold, and then contradicting said lie when questioned), and bringing up settled legal matter with a foreign country regarding a potential political opponent–not to mention the fact that this entire document is not an official transcript of what was actually said in the conversation–makes this a very facetious Hail Mary for the no-impeachment crowd to clasp onto.  It is also of note that in his conversation with the Ukrainian president, Trump never mentions his concerns regarding corruption in that country; the primary reason he gives for holding the funds months later (which, again, contradicts the dubious interagency process reason he gave to Congress even prior to that).

The fact that President Trump lied to Congress about why he was holding the already year-long approved military aid to Ukraine is enough to warrant an impeachment inquiry.  Full stop.

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution grants the House of Representatives “sole Power of Impeachment”.  Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution lists the grounds for impeachment as “conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  The Constitution does not expand on how to define either “high crimes” or “misdemeanor,” leaving that at the discretion of the House of Representatives.  In the Federalist Papers, however, founding father Alexander Hamilton defined impeachable offenses as, “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

If you want to argue that there is nothing wrong with Trump looking into the corruption of a nation that has already been approved to receive military aid, be my guest.  If you want to argue that you just plain don’t care that he lied about his original reasons for refusing to release the aid, go ahead.  If you want to say that Trump should not be impeached at the end of it all because he gave contradictory reasons for holding the aid, you are perfectly entitled to your opinion on that  But you cannot say that the President intentionally misleading lawmakers as to the reason why funds–which they had already appropriated for a specific purpose–were not being released, does not, at the very least, warrant said lawmakers to investigate his conduct and behavior in the matter, considering a precedent of deceit and outright lying has now already been well established.  All which can be argued to fall within Hamilton’s definition of being “an abuse or violation of…public trust”; i.e. conduct that falls well within the realm of warranting an impeachment inquiry, if not outright impeachment itself.

And that is the key issue to always keep in mind when discussing this topic.  Absent of any conspiracies and deflections getting thrown around to poison the well against the legitimacy of even holding an inquiry to determine if the President’s actions merit impeachment, the fact remains that Trump admittedly lied to Congress as to the reason why he was holding the $400 million in military aid from Ukraine.

As is to be expected, the Republican members of Congress have shown no principled backbone on this matter whatsoever.  They are firmly on Trump’s side, and have remained so through every contradiction, lie, and gaffe on the part of the President and his Administration’s officials.  And will most likely continue to do so, regardless of what evidence is presented to them.

An impeachment inquiry is the bare minimal that is called for here given the facts of the case, and it is well within the rights of the lawmakers within the House of Representatives to pursue it.  Because if the established law on a President’s potential abuse of his office and position is not pursued to its fullest extend necessary, regardless of political or partisan maneuvering or concern for how it might affect the 2020 election, said law will be rendered a shameful reminder of our public servants’ inability to live up to their oaths to this nation, as well as our inability to hold them accountable to it.

To allow an executive to not even face the formality of an investigation into his potential wrongdoings, sets a precedent from which there is no return; from which only further abuse and corruption is guaranteed to follow.

2016 Election Ennui

Post-election ennui is a foregone conclusion for most sane people (like junk food is for the intestine, there’s a limit to how many bumper-sticker slogans and dimwitted soundbites our collective psyche can handle before the floodgates open).  But the results are finally in:  Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the next US President come January, and the Republicans will hold a majority of the seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  To say that some segment of the American public is caught off-guard is an understatement.

A year ago I wrote a post on Trump that summarized my views on him, vis-a-vis the average American voter:

Simply put, the man is an asshole, and people can better relate to assholes than straight-arrows.  They forget about the fact that nothing about Donald Trump is actually relatable to them personally.  You weren’t born rich.  You don’t get to walk away happily from one bankruptcy after another, after another, after another, and still be called “financially savvy”.  You don’t get to insult people on a deeply personal level, and still be seen as anything other than a sour old crank.  You are, in every way imaginable, living in a different reality than Donald Trump.  And, no, by associating with his name–his brand–you will not be granted access to it, either

To some members of the public Trump is a vicarious personification of how they wish that they, too, could behave (as they please, without fears of consequences).  To this segment of the population no deeper reason really needs to exist to convince them that Trump is the man to lead the nation.  There are a multitude of other reasons people voted for Trump, of course (worries over immigration trends, worries over big government, distrust or dissatisfaction with Democratic policies, etc.), but a too-thorough analysis really isn’t necessary since–whatever the underlying reasons are–Trump managed to actually appeal to enough members of this society to sell himself as the worthy candidate.

This brings me then to the losing side.  With the many confusing factors that made up the 2016 election, explaining why Hillary Clinton never enjoyed mass appeal is the easiest thing to pinpoint.  Again, allow me to re-post what I wrote last year:

In the past decade and a half, [Clinton] has been foolishly hawkish when she backed the Iraq war for as long as public opinion could stomach it; she currently speaks out against corporate greed, yet seems to forget that she sat in government, not proposing or supporting a single piece of legislation that might have curbed the coming market crash in 2008, or reformed the financial sector in this country in any way whatsoever; she has never given more than passive support for the rights of gays, low-income families, the labor class, or anybody else for that matter, until she was absolutely sure that such stances polled favorably with the electoral public.

In short, the conundrum that faces the Left in this country when it comes to electing Hillary Clinton is similar to the one that faced them in the 90s with the first Clinton.  Namely, the Clintons have no ideology, political or otherwise, to propose, stand, or even fall on: the sole purpose on which any Clinton campaign is fueled by is strictly the unyielding need to get elected.  All other concerns are secondary, if nonexistent to this guiding purpose.

The gamble the Democratic Party played was the hope that the American public would look past these obvious flaws in Hillary Clinton’s character, and instead galvanize around the fact that Donald Trump is an incompetent, thin-skinned, pompous, insulting, crybaby, bloated simpleton, wrapped up in a narcissistic package of a special kind of clueless buffoonery.  The problem with this line of thinking is that it blatantly illustrated a disregard for their own potential political allies (i.e. moderate and liberal Americans), as if they hoped for the average Democratic voter to be too stupid to realize when a candidate (and her entire Party leadership) were unwilling to afford them the due respect to at least acknowledge the gaping flaws surrounding their candidate’s record, and just rely on the flaws of the opposing candidate to carry them through to the finish.  While there may have been a time not long ago when this was true of political campaigns, it simply isn’t any longer.  Technology has afforded us too much access behind the veil, too much data at our fingertips, for any perceived lack of sincerity to be brushed aside as irrelevant (Trump may very well have lied about everything he said during his campaign, but the Clinton campaign’s history of trying to downplay any blemish in her political record is what disenfranchised people who may otherwise have been inclined to vote Democratic).

The core lesson that should be gained from this election is the fact that Americans no longer just believe that the political system is corrupt, but that corruption is an innate part of the system.  And when these same people say they demand change, rather than settle for hogwash establishment rhetoric, they will go out and choose whatever real change they can find–given the option, they will even choose bad change over the same old “business-as-usual” candidates.  Whether this is a lesson that the Democrats learn remains to be seen, however.  Lest we forget that the shallow brilliance of political minds lies in the infinite depth of their stupidity when it comes to deducing the reality around them.  And if you disagree with that, consult the accuracy of the political experts and pollsters leading up to this election, then revisit how my previous sentence hardly went far enough in explaining their ineptitude.

Trumping All Codes of Conduct for Presidential Candidates

Many businesses will go out of their way to have a signed document explicitly stating that if you, as an employee and representative of their company, are caught behaving in any way that is unbecoming of a sound moral character, and can be identified as a representative of said company, your employment can (and most likely will) be terminated.  If you are a cashier at a burger joint, a janitor at a hotel, or a teller at a bank, chances are you know what I’m referring to when I talk about this very specific part of a code of conduct agreement you sign upon employment.

I’ve know people who have been at the receiving end of this strict code of conduct policy, and while all of them readily griped about it, they all begrudgingly accepted it as a standard procedure of how employers taking no chances when it comes to associating with any potential negative publicity.  It is fortunate for us all, however, that we need not surrender to this sort of ethical dictation in our professional lives, for there is one job where such things are of no concern whatsoever; namely, being a presidential candidates.

Donald Trump has mocked people’s physical appearances, berated a handicapped man, asserted that a whole nationality is composed of rapists and murderers, and wants to potentially exclude an entire religious demographic from entering the country.  Imagine if their was footage of the lowly bank teller, or the Burger King cashier saying any of that, while wearing the name tag linking them to their respected places of employment?  I imagine that they would not be employed for too much longer.  Yet, the guy running for president, who–if elected–will be the public representative of you and I to the rest of the world, is judged by a lower set of ethical standards than the guy who takes your order at the drive-thru.  This should be an astounding realization, but it’s not.  Nobody really cares.  Even people who genuinely dislike Trump still treat him with a level of seriousness he has not earned.

Simply put, the man is an asshole, and people can better relate to assholes than straight-arrows.  They forget about the fact that nothing about Donald Trump is actually relatable to them personally.  You weren’t born rich.  You don’t get to walk away happily from one bankruptcy, after another, after another, after another, and still be called “financially savvy”.  You don’t get to insult people on a deeply personal level, and still be seen as anything other than a sour old crank.  You are, in every way imaginable, living in a different reality than Donald Trump.  And, no, by associating with his name–his brand–you will not be granted access to it, either

I’ve heard it said that the appeal stems from our natural disposition to be attracted to Alpha Males.  The problem is that, unlike Trump, Alpha Males don’t cry at every slight and retort that’s directed at them.  I don’t think that there’s a man in recent memory, who has taken the public stage, who exhibits a thinner skin than Donald Trump.  (Not to mention his fear of germs, and paranoia about people “being fair to him” when all he does is behave like a total jackass towards individuals who haven’t even provoked his ire.)

So am I saying that he should be disqualified from the presidency on account of being an incompetent, thin-skinned, pompous, insulting, crybaby, bloated simpleton, wrapped up in a narcissistic package of a special kind of clueless buffoonery?  Actually, no.  He’s a US citizen, who fits the minimum prerequisites to run for office, thus to exclude him from participating in the process would be a breach of his protected civil rights.  What I am saying is that the questions posed to him should address the separate standards he’s been able to enjoy, which someone in a less prestigious position  in society has not.  Or, put more eloquently:  “Why do you get off behaving like an entitled asshole?  And do you think that an entitled asshole is the sort of person we ought to have representing the United States to the world?”

Trump, being a weakling of man who has never come across a negative comment directed at him he could not hysterically bitch about long past its point of expiration, would probably respond predictably to such an aggressive question.  But hopeful the rest of American will break out of the spell, and ask itself how it came to be such a simple, simple man is being considered to ascend into the same league as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.  Despite what many liberals want you to believe, shame has a place in society, and this may very well be one of them.