Presidential smackdown

Trump has apparently had enough of Senator Schumer’s sniping over the Coronavirus.  In response to an open letter the Senator sent the president, Trump sent this response:

SCHUMER-1

SCHUMER-2

Naturally, the news coverage of this is heavily weighted toward the perspective of this somehow being a political and “unserious” response by Trump, as if Schumer’s initial letter was anything more than a stunt the President shoved back down his throat.  The Democrats really have no room to complain here, as it was Pelosi’s shenanigans, aided by Schumer, who tied up the relief bill for several additional days.  As Glenn Reynolds says, when the Republicans make a mistake, it’s the news.  When a Democrat makes a mistake, the Republicans’ response is the news.  Schumer tried to make the administration look foolish; the administration merely responded in kind, with point-by-point precision.  Read both letters in order (Schumer’s, then Trump’s), and this is evident.

The Democrats still haven’t figured out that this sort of thing makes Trump more popular, rather than less, among those of us who are tired of our nation’s so-called ‘elite.’

The clueless would-be rulers

Today’s must-read, by Walter Mead:

This is not what his critics expected. At 49% overall job approval in the latest Gallup poll, and with 60% approval of the way he is handling the coronavirus epidemic, President Trump’s standing with voters has improved even as the country closed down and the stock market underwent a historic meltdown. That may change as this unpredictable crisis develops, but bitter and often justified criticism of Mr. Trump’s decision making in the early months of the pandemic has so far failed to break the bond between the 45th president and his political base.

One reason Mr. Trump’s opponents have had such a hard time damaging his connection with voters is that they still don’t understand why so many Americans want a wrecking-ball presidency. Beyond attributing Mr. Trump’s support to a mix of racism, religious fundamentalism and profound ignorance, the president’s establishment opponents in both parties have yet to grasp the depth and intensity of the populist energy that animates his base and the Bernie Sanders movement. . . .

That a majority of the electorate is this deeply alienated from the establishment can’t be dismissed as bigotry and ignorance. There are solid and serious grounds for doubting the competence and wisdom of America’s self-proclaimed expert class. What is so intelligent and enlightened, populists ask, about a foreign-policy establishment that failed to perceive that U.S. trade policies were promoting the rise of a hostile Communist superpower with the ability to disrupt supplies of essential goods in a national emergency? What competence have the military and political establishments shown in almost two decades of tactical success and strategic impotence in Afghanistan? What came of that intervention in Libya? What was the net result of all the fine talk in the Bush and Obama administrations about building democracy in the Middle East? . . .

On domestic policy, the criticism is equally trenchant and deeply felt. Many voters believe that the U.S. establishment has produced a health-care system that is neither affordable nor universal. Higher education saddles students with increasing debt while leaving many graduates woefully unprepared for good jobs in the real world. The centrist establishment has amassed unprecedented deficits without keeping roads, bridges and pipes in good repair. It has weighed down cities and states with unmanageable levels of pension debt…

Mr. Trump’s supporters are not comparing him with an omniscient leader who always does the right thing, but with the establishment—including the bulk of the mainstream media—that largely backed a policy of engagement with China long after its pitfalls became clear. For Americans who lost their jobs to Chinese competition or who fear the possibility of a new cold war against an economically potent and technologically advanced power, Mr. Trump’s errors pale before those of the bipartisan American foreign-policy consensus…

…the U.S. establishment won’t prosper again until it comes to grip with a central political fact: Populism rises when establishment leadership fails. If conventional U.S. political leaders had been properly doing their jobs, Donald Trump would still be hosting a television show. (emphasis added)

To reinforce the point, Exhibit A, from the just-passed Senate coronavirus relief bill:

Kennedy Center

The legacy media portion of the establishment is no better, in their deranged hatred both for Trump and those in the country who prefer risking him rather than the proven failures of past leadership.  CBS screamed in a headline recently that a man died and his wife was seriously hurt after taking an anti-malarial drug (hydroxycloroquine) Trump and Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have expressed optimism about as a possible treatment for COVID-19.  The problem?  What the Arizona couple actually did was notice their fish tank cleaner contained the chemical, and consumed it as a preventative measure, without consulting any medical expert.  Only two-thirds of the way through the story does it clarify the headline: “The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple took and the drug used to treat malaria is the way they are formulated.”  In other words, despite the headline, the couple didn’t take the drug.  They drank fish tank cleaner!  A factual headline, though, wouldn’t have been potentially damaging to Trump, which seems to be the primary goal of all mainstream journalism these days, facts and context be damned.

We’re supposed to be practicing social distancing.  But the elites in this country are (and have been for some time) so far out of touch with the common person’s daily experience that it shouldn’t be a surprise the latter has had more than enough of the former.

Eliminating political careerism

A columnist from Massachusetts points out that Elizabeth Warren’s failed run for the presidency resulted in a loss of representation for the State:

According to ProPublica, Warren has missed 53.5% of her votes during this session of Congress. This makes her the third-most absent member of the Senate. (Remember: We lowly taxpayers pay Warren $175,000 for this job.)

She clearly decided that running for president was a valid excuse to neglect and ignore her Senate duties. Yes, this despite the fact that she pretty much promised Massachusetts voters in 2018 that if they reelected her, she would not run for president. Then, of course, she changed her mind just a few months later and decided to run and skip out on her current office to do so.

This is a slap in the face to the people of Massachusetts, who elected her to a six-year term just in 2018, undoubtedly with her promise to actually serve this term in mind. Turns out, serving in the Senate was just a backup option for Warren in case her presidential aspirations didn’t work out.

In other words, it’s all about serving her interests, not those of her constituents, whom she failed to represent in Washington more than half the time.  This is a bipartisan problem, and I’ve written about it before.  Elected officials should never take their current office as a given, even while reaching for more influence. 

Aside from term limits, the best way to end political careerism is to require people to serve out the full elective term of office (barring debilitating illness, injury or misconduct), and to ban the practice of running for more than one office at once (i.e. president and senate).  It’s bad enough how much running for reelection shapes an officeholder’s term.  Trying to grab the next rung of the ladder while keeping one hand on the current one “just in case” is the opposite of public-mindedness.  Too many special elections (which cost taxpayer $$) occur because John Q. Politician was elected to two different offices simultaneously, or else was picked as a political appointee while serving in an elected office.  In a country of nearly 330 million people, nobody is that indispensable.  If someone believes they are called to greater responsibility, they should demonstrate a commitment to it by fulfilling any current public obligations, then focusing on convincing the public or an executive to give them such an opportunity.  Such an expectation by the people would mean candidates would be out of political work from time to time.  And that’s not a bad thing, considering that also happens from time to time to the citizens they allegedly represent.  Let our would-be representatives live like the rest of us occasionally.

Government by gangsterism

Senator Chuck Schumer personifies the authoritarian nature of the Left: “our way, or else.”

In front of the Supreme Court Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined pro-choice protesters on the day justices debated the constitutionality of [legislation in Louisiana] titled “Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.”

During his speech, Schumer made threatening remarks aimed at Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

“I want to tell you Neil Gorusch, and you Brett Kavanaugh, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said. “You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.” (emphasis added)

How inappropriate were these remarks?  His spokesman strained credulity to the limit trying to walk them back:

Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a statement.

A plain reading of Schumer’s remarks reveals no reference to the GOP’s political fortunes, only two Supreme Court justices being called out by name.  Nor is this the first time Schumer has engaged in marginally veiled personal threats:

The new leader of Democrats in the Senate says Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials, suggesting they have ways to strike back, after the president-elect speculated Tuesday that his “so-called” briefing about Russian cyberattacks had been delayed in order to build a case.

New Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities.

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Former Justice Antonin Scalia, often considered one of the most influential conservative jurors in the history of the Supreme Court, died in 2016 under circumstances that offered plenty of opportunity for so-called ‘conspiracy theory.’  When such public threats as Schumer’s are being issued by a ranking member of Congress, and FBI agents are revealed to have sent texts during the last presidential election worrying about a Trump victory and saying “we’ll stop it,” and a reputed pedophile with links to prominent people “commits suicide” in his jail cell despite being a high-profile prisoner, is it any wonder the public increasingly agrees there is a “Deep State” at work that ensures its own purposes regardless the expressed wishes of the American people?

For the record, the Senate should call for Schumer to resign.  His remarks are wholly inappropriate for a person in his position.  Don’t worry, though — I’m not holding my breath.

A tale of two parties

Just a brief observation in contrasts: It’s been a bad week for the Democrats: their first election event of the 2020 season was a debacle, the sham impeachment was rightfully rejected in the Senate (no thanks to Mittens, who hopefully earned his permanent exit from the political stage), and the entire party from Pelosi on down made fools of themselves during the State of the Union address.  Really, how tone deaf must a politician be to believe that looking sour at good economic news, or tearing up the president’s speech at the end of the event are good optics?  Such petty obliviousness to the public’s likely reaction just goes to show how far out of touch they are with the real America outside their bubble.  They are unfit to govern, and I look forward with anticipation to historic electoral punishment in November.  As I’ve said before, the Democratic Party needs to be destroyed.

Republicans, on the other hand, remain surprisingly focused on their priorities.  Adding further pressure to the Democrats, Senator Mitch McConnell wasted zero time after concluding the impeachment trial.  He immediately began to move forward again on confirming more judges to the Federal Courts.

Republicans who fight back and focus.  Who’d have thought we’d finally see the day?

All or nothing

The Democrats insist on dragging out the impeachment circus as long as possible by calling for witnesses that should have been heard by the House if they were so important to the case.  Naturally, the RINOs* (Sen. Romney, Sen. Collins, and Sen. Murkowski) are only too happy to help the “stupid party” prove once again it rarely knows how to use majority status to effect its goals:

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine claimed credit Wednesday morning for shaping the initial impeachment procedures resolution to require a vote adding witnesses and additional evidence. A Senate vote on whether to consider calling witnesses and allowing other new evidence is expected as early as Friday.

“I am pleased that I along with Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and others worked very hard to get into the resolution a guaranteed vote on whether or not to call witnesses at this point in the trial,” Collins said Wednesday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to ensure that if witnesses are called, it’s not a selective assortment designed solely to try to make the president look bad.  No, if we’re going to call witnesses, let’s hear from those whose activity the president was concerned about in the first place:

Even Mitt Romney, the first link to break, has said that he thinks calling witnesses should be reciprocal. That means Joe and Hunter Biden, at minimum. But calling the Bidens in exchange for calling John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney has been rejected by Democrats.

So McConnell’s way out it to force Democrats to reject a witness deal. That way, Democrats are the ones responsible for no new witnesses. It provides cover to people like Susan Collins who may be concerned how voting against witnesses my impact their reelection chances.

McConnell needs to go nuclear. Mutually Assured Destruction nuclear on witnesses — the Bidens or bust.

The GOP has become more politically assertive and aggressive with Trump in the White House, and that’s been a pleasure to see.  I’ve said before that if he does nothing else, Trump’s at least showing the Right how to fight.  That said, there are still plenty of “Republicans” who’d be happy to see the president fail.  McConnell must insure that if the investigation is going to be rehashed in the Senate, that it’s done in full, so that all the truth comes out.

Otherwise, there will be a lot of people like me who will wonder what point there is in handing the Republicans political power at all.  If they fail here, they should expect alternative political organizations to challenge for their place.  And they’ll deserve their irrelevance.

* RINO = “Republicans in Name Only,” for those unaware.  And no, it’s not a compliment.

They will stop at nothing

NBC floats the idea of declaring any reelection of Trump invalid on grounds those who support him are ‘racists:’

If the Trump era has taught us anything, it’s that large numbers of white people in the United States are motivated are motivated at least in part by racism in the voting booth…

Rather than excuse racist voters or try to figure out how to live with their choices, [Terry Smith, a visiting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law] argues that racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government, Smith says, has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.

Naturally, two of the proposed remedies are old standbys: eliminate ID requirements to vote, making vote fraud easier, and turn the Senate into another House of Representatives:

Because the majority of white voters in the South vote Republican, and because they outnumber black voters, there isn’t a single Democratic senator from the Deep South other than Doug Jones in Alabama, who may well lose his seat in 2020. Smith argues that we could remedy these disparate, racially motivated outcomes by creating Senate districts. Presumably, that would make it at least possible for black voters to elect a senator who would support their interests.

Translation: we’re not getting the outcomes we want, so let’s make it easier to commit vote fraud, and change the constitutional form of Congress so things might go our way.  I’ve said it before: the Left will delegitimize any institution they cannot control.  More importantly: who gets to determine if voters are casting “racist votes?”  Had Obama lost in either 2008 or 2012, would the learned Terry Smith say that outcome alone was proof of racist motivation (policy differences be damned), and invalidate the election?

This line of thought is very much in the mold of leftist revolutionaries who seek to have the public vote until they get it “right” — after which usually no more voting is allowed.  Ever. Make no mistake: the Left will not accept a Trump reelection, by any margin, however large.  Plan accordingly – November is not far away.

Burning down the House

Donald Trump is now the third president of the U.S. to be formally impeached by the House of Representatives.  Today the House, under Speaker Pelosi, is saying they will “delay” sending that Constitutional indictment over to the Senate until they are assured of a “fair trial.”  In other words the House has, by implication, already convicted the Senate of being governed totally by partisanship — a case of projection if there ever was one.

Under the Democrats, the House has been out of control for all of 2019.  Their crusade to fling poo at the president until something kind-of-sort-of might seem to stick is a perfect example of why our Founders created a republic, not a democracy.  Remember that generation later watched the French Revolution unfold.  They saw first hand the deadly dangers of passionate, unrestrained mob rule — which is exactly what this whole impeachment charade has been, complete with armed Antifa thugs in the streets at times.  Not content to merely be in the opposition until the next election, the House Democrats have taken it upon themselves to delegitimize both the Executive Branch and the other chamber of Congress.

Given these circumstances, it’s important to set a benchmark and declare this abuse of one of the Constitution’s most somber provisions as invalid.

Enter the Supreme Court.

The country must decide whether, henceforth, impeachment will be a routine clash between a House of Representatives and White House of different parties over policy differences or acute personal abrasions, as this is, or whether the authors of the Constitution meant, and the national interest requires, that it be reserved for accusations of high crimes on the same plane of misconduct as treason or bribe-taking…

Rejection by the majority in the Senate is not an adequate debunking of this abuse by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives of their offices. The country is at a turning point: routinize presidential impeachment or keep it as a last resort in extreme cases of wrongdoing. When the executive and the bare majority of one half of the legislative branch are so severely and antagonistically divided, the traditional tie-breaker is the judicial branch, and it should be consulted.

(emphasis added)

I agree.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should immediately request a Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutional validity of the House’s actions.  Such an examination would have to compare the way the Democrats rammed this through with the precedents of previous impeachment proceedings.  I believe such a public comparison would lay bare the manner in which the Democrats abused their majority to deny Trump and the Republicans any effective opportunity to defend the administration by presenting an opposing view of the issues in question.  As the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise noted during the pre-impeachment vote discussion, the GOP is still waiting for transcripts of interviews in which they were not allowed, or the ability to call their own witnesses.

The American people have a highly developed sense of fairness, and perhaps an unhealthy obsession with achieving it.  That usually gives an advantage to liberals when they propose heavy-handed government intervention in the name of “compassion.”  In this case, however, I believe many Americans have been turned off by what has clearly been an unfair process that demanded Trump prove himself innocent rather than place the burden of proof on the accusers.  That’s just one of many reasons thousands of people waited in freezing weather for hours to hear the president speak, even as the House marched toward impeachment.

There’s just one problem with taking this pseudo-impeachment to the Supreme Court for validation.  In the event they rule the charade for what it is and dismiss it, the Democrats will immediately claim the result is due to Trump having selected 2 of the justices, creating a slim ‘conservative’ (and I use that term loosely) majority.  They will press this hard, and in so doing, seek to damage the legitimacy the remaining third branch of the Federal Government — one whose rulings they used to consider holy writ, when it served their cause.  It really has come to this: if the liberals can’t run the machinery, they’ll sabotage it.  Having burned down the House, they’ll burn the rest of the structure, too.

But only if we let them.  The most significant result of Trump’s election in 2016 may be that the other side has dropped all masks and pretense.  Their agenda and attitudes are clear for all to see.  Come November 2020, the Democratic Party must be destroyed, not just defeated.  They need to suffer electoral loss so great that no political organization will again dare do what they’ve tried.  And we need to be ready for the inevitable temper tantrum that will result in such a case.  As they’re doing in Virginia and other States, keep your powder dry.

Request: A weekend of prayer

The next couple of days may prove to be “the deep breath before the plunge.”  Not to be melodramatic, but as Gandalf told Pippin, “the board is set, the pieces are moving.”  I believe the weeks ahead, between now and the 2020 election, are some of the most critical our country has faced.  As many of our past leaders have noted, our greatest dangers come not from external enemies, but rather from within.

So how is the board set, and what pieces are in play?  First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a public statement today, finally publicly directed her party’s committee chairs to begin drafting formal articles of impeachment against President Trump, despite the fact any fair observer of the “inquiry” thus far would note it has hurt, rather than helped, their case.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced the committee will hold hearings toward that end, beginning Monday morningBut that’s not the only piece moving on Monday.  That same day, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is scheduled to finally release the report on his investigation into possibly serious improprieties by the previous administration to justify spying on the Trump campaign in 2016.  These are suspected to include, according to many sources, FBI personnel tampering with interview documentation and concealing potentially exculpatory evidence from their requests to the FISA Court for warrants on various Trump allies.  The IG’s semiannual report to Congress at the end of September noted it had 48 open cases regarding official misconduct by Department of Justice employees.  It’s not unreasonable to think that might be related.  The new report due Monday is rumored to be around 1,000 pages.  As some commentators have noted, it doesn’t take 1,000 pages to say there was no wrongdoing.  But if one is making a detailed case… or in fact has already referred charges to U.S. Attorney John Durham for prosecution, such a lengthy report would be expected.

The release of the report will be followed by an appearance by IG Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, two days after the report’s release.  These two dates — December 9th and 11th — have been public for a while.  So it’s likely not a coincidence Speaker Pelosi told her House to get moving with impeachment today.  The Democrats’ own day of reckoning may be imminent, and it’s been clear this week they’ve been counter-programming the public narrative against any potential negative revelations.

What I can’t understand is why the Democrats would formally impeach the president, forcing a trial before the GOP-controlled Senate.  The Democrats have been patently unethical in their conduct of the “inquiry” to date, refusing to allow the GOP to call their own witnesses (with one exception), limiting GOP members’ access to interviews and documentation, and generally riding roughshod over any notions of fairness to the accused.  This, of course, is now standard procedure for the Left (see: Brett Kavanaugh).  Pelosi’s partisans deliberately have presented a warped, one-sided perspective of the issues at hand (much as they’re alleged to have done with the FISA Court), and their allies in the press have been their megaphone.  Representative Nadler’s opening assertion that “the facts are not in dispute” is about as true as “the science is settled” when it comes to global warming climate change climate crisis.

The Senate, as the Founders intended, tends to be more sober and dignified about such things, so there’s not likely to be a “payback is a b–ch” approach to their own proceedings when the ball lands in their court.  But I strongly suspect there’ll be a concerted effort to make sure America gets, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.”  That possibility alone should make the Democrats think twice about handing off the baton to the Senate.  There’s already enough evidence that’s been made public that puts the lie to the narrative they’re selling.  But as Glenn Reynolds has said repeatedly about the odds of a Trump reelection, “all the Democrats have to do is not act crazy… and they can’t even do that.”  So here’s hoping they try to hand the Senate a lit stick of dynamite, only to have it blow up in their own face, like Wile E. Coyote.

While I could be wrong, I only see two possible outcomes at this point.  One is that the president is removed from office.  Such a result will, I believe, only convince many (including me) who love this country that it no longer represents them and will not tolerate them interfering with the agenda of their self-declared betters.  The Democrats underestimated the anger that helped propel Trump into office.  I don’t think they have any notion of the anger that would result from his removal, either.

The second outcome is for the administration to successfully pull the covers off the Deep State shenanigans that began even before Trump took office, and to do so in a way the public and press cannot ignore.  There is every reason to believe that if a full public accounting took place, the outcry for justice would be deafening.

Either way, the result will occur in a nation that is armed to the teeth.  I generally see that as a good thing.  But given the chasm that has opened among us, it’s also a sobering thing to remember.  Sure, the “side” I identify with likes to joke that we have most of the guns since the Left finds them icky.  I enjoy ribbing the other side as much as the next guy.  But as a historian I also know in 1860 both the Union and Confederates held each other in martial as well as social contempt, convinced the war would be quick and easy over their “deranged” opponents.  How’d that work out for them?  Most wars start with such ill-considered bravado.

The day may come when ballots fail and bullets are required, if we are to remain free.  Americans have faced such situations before, and must be prepared to face such again.  But let no one kid themselves about what that may mean for all we hold dear.

So I ask that this weekend be one of prayer — a deep breath before the plunge of next week.  Prayer for the truth to be fully revealed, no matter where it leads.  Prayer that our country will once again value truth over shading information for partisan or personal advantage.  Prayer for our leaders — on both sides of the aisle — that they will be honest with us, sober, and careful with the governance of our nation.  Prayer that our disputes will be resolved peacefully, rather than in the streets (*).  Prayer that for each of us, God may guide our words and our actions, balancing the requirements of justice and mercy, passion and restraint.  And most importantly, prayer that the Spirit may bring revival in this land, restoring the fellowship and discipleship of repentant believers that was so vital to its founding.  For everything, we are told, there is a season.  May God show us what this season is, and what is required of us in response.

God bless you, and God bless America.

(*) I believe many in our nation fail to realize how the peaceful resolution of the disputed election in 2000 was a historical anomaly for the world, and a testament to the strength of our society.  We should never take such for granted.  

What respect for the Founding looks like

If Attorney General Bill Barr approaches his duties consistent with the philosophy of original intent he highlights here, he may be one of the best nominees Trump has put into office.  This entire speech is worth your time, either by reading or watching.

Excerpts:

“…In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implicationsThey never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.  (emphasis added)

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.  And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media…  (emphasis added)

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