Friday, February 12, 2021

Remembering Lincoln's Birthday

 On the 212th anniversary of his birth, here is a re-enactment of Abraham Lincoln's brief Second Inaugural Address, delivered on March 4th, 1865, less than six weeks before he was felled by an assassin's bullet.

If only blue and grey partisans had taken Lincoln's words urging reconciliation to heart.  Instead we had twenty years of antagonistic Reconstruction and nearly a century of  Jim Crow laws.

These noble words are poignant today for real efforts of national unity. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Remembering Ronald Reagan's Birthday


 Happy Birthday to the Gipper!  His favorite candy were Jelly Bellys, which inspired artist Peter Rocha to  to use 10,000 little candies when making his portrait. 

If the mural that was made out of Jelly Bellies, Reagan's favorite candy, wasn't sweet enough, let them eat cake.

Friday, January 22, 2021

A Gaffe That Will Be Hard For Schumer To Live Down


During his first days as the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), preened over his newfound power to set the agenda.  But Schumer's smarmy remarks about the snap Second Impeachment of Donald Trump will be hard to live down.


 Smooth move Chuck. Are you vying to replace President Biden as a walking gaffe machine?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Considering the Consequence of the Snap Second Trump Impeachment


On January 13th, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump for a second time in a mostly party line vote 232 to 197 (with ten Republican voting aye).  This second Snap Impeachment in H. Res. 24 (117th Congress)  was on a single charge of “Incitement of Insurrection”, predicated on remarks made at a political rally at the Ellipse on January 6th, 2021 as Congress was set to certify the Electoral College results for the Presidential Election.   

After certification of the November 3rd election results, President Trump’s term ends on January 20th, meaning that the snap Impeachment, which only acts as a judicial equivalent of an indictment, was in the last seven days of President Trump’s term of office.  The Senate was not scheduled be in session until January 19th and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was unwilling to convene in emergency session, so the earliest that the Senate could take up an Article of Impeachment (presuming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promptly send it over this time) is 1 p.m. on January 20th, one hour after newly inaugurated President Joe Biden takes his oath of office. 

Any astute political observers understand that this Second Impeachment was not meant to evict Mr. Trump out of the Oval Office but to besmirch his place in history and seek him from exercising any political power after January 20th.  Unfortunately, this political stunt has some serious repercussions for the polity, the rule of law and even the Constitution.

Firstly, there was a rush to remove President Trump.  When the Capitol Siege occurred on January 6th, Trump was only going to be in office for less than two weeks.  When the Snap Impeachment was passed, the 45th President would leave office in seven days. But that perspective only looks towards part of the consequences and not the cause.  Facts about the violence on Capitol Hill have been fluid.  Vital questions such as who were the instigators of the insurrection and why a couple hundred agitators were allowed inside the Capitol.  Thus is seems unwise to rush to judgment, but that did not deter Nancy Pelosi’s drive to impeach Trump again.

A day before the Impeachment vote in the House, the House passed a Resolution (on a purely party line vote) which implored Vice President Pence and the Trump Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would (temporarily) remove President Trump and make Pence Acting President pending Congressional assent.   The 25th Amendment was intended for instances when the Chief Executive was incapacitated, not for policy disagreements or “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. 

 The proper Congressional role in the 25th Amendment is to ratify the Acting President, not to instigate his or her installation.  This Resolution abrogates the Separation of Powers, namely having part of the Legislative Branch leveraging the Vice President with a threat of an Impeachment vote unless Mr. Pence invoked the 25th Amendment.  That kind of sounds like Speaker Pelosi was drunk on power for countenancing that Constitutional breach. 

The Snap Impeachment of 2021 was done at super speed in less than seven days from the Capitol Siege to passing the Article of Impeachment.  The charge “Inciting an Insurrection” is a serious charge, verging on treason, thus one might try to justify an accelerated procedure.  But it that were the case, then why didn’t the House stay in session to actuate the Impeachment.  Instead, the House took the weekend off. The Impeachment was delayed by a voice vote on Monday January 11th rejecting the 25th Amendment Resolution and then passage of the unconstitutional 25th Amendment Resolution on January 12th before proceeding to the Snap Impeachment on January 13th.

 In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee labored seven months drafting the first Article of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon (who resigned before any final Congressional vote). The Impeachment process of President Bill Clinton lasted four months.  Even President Trump’s first Impeachment took three months.  Yet, the slim Democrat majority in the House lead by Speaker Nancy Pelosi managed to pass an Article of Impeachment with three HOURS of floor “debate” and no committee work. 

Unlike in the Impeachment of 2020 when some of President Trump’s staff were allowed to offer some positive input, there was no fact finding or committee hearings before the Impeachment Debate. So the Snap Impeachment ignored precedent.

 It can be argued that an impeachment is like an indictment. Some cynically say that a Prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich with a Grand Jury, as the defendant is not entitled to counsel in that forum.  

But at least in a Grand Jury there is fact presentation rather than ramrodding a predetermined outcome. No fact finding and just a three our debate?  So much for Due Process.

Part of the animus against President Trump is for his brusque manner which agitates people.  The Article of Impeachment which passed cited “Inciting an Insurrection” and pointed to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric as part of the charge.  With that in mind, it was curious that the rules for debate on the 25th Amendment and Impeachment resolution lifted decorum prohibitions.  This allowed members like freshman Representative Cori Bush (D-MO 1st) slanderously referred to the gathering on the Ellipse to the White Supremicist-in-chief addressing White Supremicists (sic).  Not surprisingly, this comes from the same Member who proposed expelling any Congressmen who voted against certifying electors (N.B. bill was dropped on January 5th, the day before the ruckus). With actions and language like Rep. Bush, one wonders who is inciting unrest.

One of the things that were done on the first day of the 117th Congress was rules in the House which barred Members from using gender specific language in legislative business.  Yet when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) gave a rare floor speech in favor of the snap Impeachment, she proclaimed  “I stand before you as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a daughter...” 

Guess that rules are only intended to be applied for peasants or the opposition, even silly ones.

Even though the Snap Impeachment was done in an expedited fashion, it was not immediately walked over to the Senate.  While Impeachment Managers were named, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA 15th) who was recently exposed as having involvement with Chinese spy Fang Fang, the Article was not conveyed to the Upper Chamber for trial. It is unclear when Speaker Pelosi will send over the Article of Impeachment.  For the 2020 Impeachment, Pelosi held the Articles of Impeachment for a month before sending them to the Senate.  So much for a supposed clear and present danger.

With these facts in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that essentially this was not a second impeachment of  impeachment of Donald Trump but more of a show trial, Soviet style which gave the illusion of some system of justice but had a predetermined outcome dictated by the ruling House legislative majority.  Aside from exercising its rightful impeachment power, there were attempts at Congressional dominance over the Executive branch and eschewed principles of due process which have influenced America’s common law heritage. 

But that is only considering the ramifications from one chamber of Congress.  The Senate is where the Impeachment Trial occurs.  This will be made complicated due to timing.  Again, it is unclear when the Article of Impeachment will be transmitted.  If the House Majority truly wanted to eject President Trump from office, it would be immediately sent. The snag with that is the Constitution requires that the Senate immediately take up the Impeachment and can conduct no other legislative business.

The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until January 19th, and won’t be put into emergency session sooner.  Current Senate Majority Leader McConnell is circulating a draft rule which requires unanimous consent to doing business aside from Impeachment. It is improbable that in such a contentious environment that all 100 Senators grant such a deviation from customary procedure.  So when the Impeachment Article is conveyed, it will dominate Senate business. 

It is conceivable that if House Impeachment Managers present themselves with House Res. 24 to the Senate on January 19th, that McConnell could press the Senate to immediately consider a Motion to Dismiss which could pass by simple majority vote.  Looking at it politically, Democrats can crow that Trump was impeached twice and Republicans are forced to indicate if they still support a besmirched President Trump.  But it is unclear if the Republican caucus in the Senate could hold firm to dismiss. If it is a razor thin vote, it might require current Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie.  If the motion fails, then the Senate would immediately be broiled into an Impeachment trial.

When the inauguration occurs on January 20th, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) will become Vice President and surrender her seat in the Senate, but constitutionally she will become President of the Senate.  This role will allow her to break tie votes, which will be crucial in a 50–50 split Senate, thereby giving Democrats the majority.  This means that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) becomes Senate Majority Leader and will call the tunes for the Impeachment trial, but changing the operational rules again could be a sticking point.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC 6th) has suggested that the Impeachment trial be delayed to give President Biden his 100 day honeymoon.  That won’t be possible if the House rushes the Article of Impeachment, but that is unlikely.  Presuming the Impeachment is held until May, it will hang over the new President’s head and may well force involvement, either to allay the situation or verbally stumble into taking a stance.

There is a significant Constitutional question as to the propriety of the Impeachment of a President after he or she has left office.  Impeachment is a process in which the legislature brings charges against a civil officer of the government.  Well, after Noon on January 20th 2021, Donald Trump becomes a private citizen again.  It is moot as to whether it would be proper for the Senate to try a private citizen.  Prominent contemporary legal scholars like Cass Sunstein, Alan Dershewitz and Jonathan Turley argue against impeachment of an ex President.  But there is a little historical precedence for it. 

In 1876, there is the example of Secretary of War William Belknap who was investigated by the House for corruption.  But minutes before the Impeachment occurred, Belknap submitted his resignation to President Ulysses S. Grant.  However, the House impeached him anyways and the Senate tried him but failed to get the 2/3ds majority. This issue is not clear cut and would probably prompt judicial consideration which will likely be rejected as a political issue. Then again, it might force Chief Justice John Roberts to consider a difficult issue while proceeding over a Senate trial.

 Why would Democrats go through all of the trouble to impeach a President who was essentially a short timer anyways?  Aside from trying to blot out a Trump presidency either with black marks or essentially cancel him, it would seem that they are scared about his future viability.  Post Presidency Impeachment may not be able to remove Trump but would also barr him from ever holding federal office again.  Considering the 74 million plus supporters who seem undeterred by bad press or even a snap impeachment, Democrats do not want strong opposition in 2024 to a weak Biden Administration featuring Kamala Harris.  Some establishment Republicans would feel safer if the Populist America First movement goes away with Donald Trump. Thus they might encourage impeachment to dampen his pull on the party and they can continue unimpeded in their quintessential District of Calamity (sic) cocktail party.

There is a practical political consideration about a Senate Impeachment trial.  Namely, are there the votes?  Unlike procedural issues, the Senate is required by the Constitution to garner a 2/3rds majority to succeed.  While there may be a few Republicans who despise Trump enough to vote for Impeachment, it would be hard to win 17 GOP votes. Even if Senate Democrats abolish the filibuster and push through Puerto Rican and Douglass Commonwealth (a.k.a. DC)  statehood, they would still have to sway 15 Republicans.

Turncoat Republicans had better hope for success, because an enraged and engaged MAGA wing will primary those who vote for a snap impeachment of Donald Trump.

Then there are the procedural problems with Trump’s second impeachment.  There is only one Article, and that cites “Inciting an Insurrection”. Aside from the plain language of Trump’s Ellipse speech which never incited his audience, it can be shown that trouble was occurring 1 ½ miles away on Capitol Hill before the President finished his speech.  Furthermore, facts from the FBI and mainstream media sources reveal that some agitators who have radical BLM and Antifa connections had been planning for trouble prior to the Capitol Siege.  This information will have to be fleshed out in a fair trial.

Moreover, the Resolution’s language points to Trump’s citation of false information about winning the election. Of course, all Americans (even a President) have the Freedom of Speech, even if it is demonstrably wrong. But by citing Trump's prior speeches and claims, that opens the door for Trump’s defense team to further expose and substantiate all of the election irregularities that state courts, Article III courts and the Supreme Court declined to hear on their cases merits.   That may take a long time and could upset the apple cart about the 2020 elections, further throwing doubt into the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency.  

Then there is the matter of Big Tech.  Social Media giants like Twitter and Facebook censored President Trump when questioning the election.  To add injury to insult (sic), these Social Media Cyber Nannies banned President Trump from even making statements to tell his supporters to go home peacefully.  That may open the door to expose collusion amongst internet companies in Election 2020.  

As the Article of Impeachment proof texts Trump’s remarks to find the most inflammatory takes, context might examine social media’s role in the matter.  That avenue of defense open the door to expose collusion amongst internet companies in Election 2020. If incoming Senate Majority Leader Schumer resists allowing the Trump team a vigorous defense, it will become clear that it is a show trial worthy of a Soviet state or a banana republic (not the kind selling safari clothing).

Since the first FDR term, Presidents have been historically measured by their accomplishments during their honeymoon period (i.e. the first 100 days).  If the second Trump impeachment goes to a real Senate trial, it will overshadow everything.  Thus the Biden honeymood will be like looking at a postcard of Niagra Falls and wondering: "If only..."

However, if some wild cards come up during the trial, such as obvious election fraud or collusion, some may prefer visit Niagra Falls over a barrel, with or without Dr. Jill.

Just as the Biden campaign was not about him but all about Donald Trump, the second impeachment trial of Trump may well overshadow the early Biden presidency.  While the will to get Trump might be widely held among Democrats (and some establishment Republicans), actuating this animus may well impede the ambitions of “The Great Reset”.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

On Polity and Media

Perhaps this illustrates a less cynical vision on preserving American Free Speech in a Democratic Republic 



Thursday, January 7, 2021

Trying to Make Sense of the Capitol Siege on the Epiphany

On the Christian calendar, January 6th was the Epiphany, a day of illumination.  In the Constitutional process, it was the day when Congress would consider and ratify the results of the Electoral College.   As President Donald Trump was convinced that election irregularities had stolen his victory from November 3rd, he called for a big Save America rally on the Ellipse to #StopTheSteal. 

Instead of being remembered as a time when defenders of the rule of law in Congress put forth a case that some of the state’s election results were invalid, most people will remember a Siege of the Capitol, in which Congress left in haste, troublemakers overtook part of the building and one woman was shot and killed.  Conventional wisdom will link the rioting with the Deplorables’ March on Washington, and establishment opinion makers will use it as a means to discredit the populist political movement, or even to remove President Trump by a late day impeachment or the 25th Amendment.

In the fog of war, there is a lot of confusion.  So when trying to make sense of the Capitol Siege, there are some things that do not add up.   A basic question is how could agitators so easily breach the Capitol building?  After all, the date was when all federal lawmakers and the Vice President would be gathering at the Capitol for what is usually a pro forma ceremony. It was clear that some objections would be raised and there would be debate over certification. Surely, security plans would afford added protection for the lawmakers.   In addition, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D-Washington, DC) had requested (and received) help from the National Guard while warning residents to stay home.  With that in mind, how did the Capitol so easily find itself in peril?

Deployment of forces certainly was part of the problem.  The National Guard called up was initially tasked with directing traffic around many of the blocked off streets around Capitol Hill and downtown DC.  National Guard typically does not get front line security deployments because of posse commitatus concerns and letting local law enforcement take the lead. In retrospect, it seems silly to have troops play traffic cops when there were a half million protesters going to march up the National Mall to the Capitol to protest “Stop the Steal”.  

One also has to wonder about the Capitol Hill police.  Video from when protestors breached the West lawn perimeter does not depict officers with full riot equipment as they clashed with troublemakers wearing helmets and carrying shields  who later broke into the Capitol.  But there are videos videos both on the West exterior stairs  and the West entrance  which give the impression that agitators were let into the complex by Capitol Police. This seemed strange.

Then one must consider the timing of the Capitol Siege.  President Trump was still speaking on the Ellipse at 1 PM when the Joint Session of Congress met for Electoral College Certification.  Shortly after certification began (ironically when the Arizona objections were raised), was when serious challenges of the Capitol building entrances began.  The Ellipse is at least a mile and a half away from the Capitol. It seems like troublemakers were pre-positioned on Capitol Hill to riot.  Adding to that conclusion is that the House Cannon Office Building and Library of Congress Madison buildings had been evacuated earlier in the day for security concerns.  Moreover, law enforcement found potential pipe bombs near the RNC which had to be detonated.  Kind of odd for conservatives and populists who needed Republican support to air their objections to physically threat the Republican National Committee.

To make sense of the Capitol Siege, it is incumbent to examine who perpetrated the breach.  A facile answer is MAGA types.   While there is no doubt that a multitude of passionate protestors came to Capitol Hill to exercise their First Amendment rights, most milled around the Capitol steps and did not go inside.  But that's hardly the whole story.

Many who were photographed trespassing in legislative chambers or the Rotunda did not fit the bill as quintessential MAGA rally attendees. Giving the BLM salute while sitting in the Senate President pro tem’s seat is incongruous with Trump supporters.  Jake Angeli (aka QAnon Shaman), an agitator dressed like a Viking had been seen at BLM and Climate Change rallies, again not run of the mill MAGA issues. 

 There was an
agitator which investigative journalist Ian Miles Cheong identified as an actual white supremecist.  

A rioter who assumed the seat of the President pro tempe of the Senate made the quintessential BLM power gesture. 

Pro Trump protestors stopped Antifa agitators when caught ransacking the Capitol.  At prior DC MAGA rallies in November  and December, Antifa had counter-protests and assaulted peaceful MAGA protesters on the streets.  Where were such agitators on January 6th?  Nonetheless, it seems that fringe elements and agitators were the instigating the violence. 

This is not to imply that some Trump supporters did not participate in the unlawful Capitol Siege.  Leo Kelly, a Capitol Siege participant interviewed by LifeSiteNews  gave an interview saying that he participated in a communal prayer while trespassing in the Senate Chamber.  A West Virginia State lawmaker recorded his storming the Capitol and  was heard directing people in the Rotunda not to do any damage. Ashli Babbet, the woman who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer, was a 14 year Air Force veteran who had flown into Washington for the rally. Capitol Police report that three other people died at the Capitol. But some of those casualties may well have stemmed from ordinary health maladies.

It is a reasonable presumption that a relatively small group of Antifa types created chaos on Capitol Hill, breached the Capitol and egged the many disgruntled MAGA demonstrators to participate.  With the prior soft barricades being removed, many from the Ellipse surrounded the Capitol, probably with the attitude that “it’s the peoples’ house”.

In trying to make sense of the fallout from the Capitol Siege, it was easy to see how this violence overshadowed any objections to certifying some of the Presidential Electors due to election irregularities.  It was clear that the 117th Congress was unlikely to accept any objections, considering the slim Democrat majority in the House and Republican Senate leadership coming out against them.  Moreover, Vice President Pence issued a statement claiming that he had no power in the matter other than acting as a ceremonial manner, quashing hopes that some certifications would be sent back to the states. However, the objections to certification would have given a public forum to show the facts in a formal setting, so they would not be dismissed as conspiracy theory.  Alas, debate on the first set of objections in Arizona was interrupted by the Capitol breach.  

When Congress reconvened that evening, some lawmakers who previously considering joining the objectors switched sides, and in general consensus Congress rushed through the certification. Those who wondered about the propriety of certifying states with voting and election irregularities will be left unsatisfied and will likely conclude that President-elect Biden holds office under questionable legitimacy.  Seeing how quickly Republican establishment lawmakers folded under pressure gives the impression of being quislings.  Those groups who make trade of violent street protests as a vehicle for change will feel empowered.  The establishment in the media and on Capitol Hill may well use this as the pivot point to discredit populism and re–establish Deep State authority.

President-elect Biden gave a speech imploring President Trump to condemn the violence and demand an end to the siege. At the same time, President Trump was recording a message for social media urging people to go home and be peaceful.  But tech oligarchs on Twitter and Facebook interfered with distributing President Trump's message and later suspended Mr. Trump until he withdrew that message because it might incite violence and questioned the election results. Now our cyber betters have indefinitely banned the 45th President from Facebook  

It is also odd that more National Guard troops were called up and their mission was changed by Vice President Pence and the Acting Secretary of Defense in conjunction with Congressional leaders. Isn't the President Commander-in-Chief?  If one takes the rumors that Cabinet officials were talking (but not with Vice President Pence) about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump, doesn't this lend credence to something resembling a coup? 

In the aftermath of the Capitol Siege, many details are distorted or undiscovered so there is not a true Epiphany.  One ought to give some consideration that these events may have been an attempt to actuate a Color Revolution and progressive forces use the chaos to make a play and power and cement their dominance over the body politick.   As noted before, Antifa was not present in their typical garb, but their tactics and some mannerism seemed evident amongst some rioters.  On January 5th, there were caches of bricks, lumber and propane tanks stowed on the street near Freedom Plaza, close to MAGA protest sites.  Those supplies have the hallmarks of Antifa or BLM rioting tools. But with the Capitol Hill Siege being successful, they were not deployed.  

Time will tell if such kinetic tactics will continue in the 46th President’s Administration or will markedly expand to other fringe groups. Moreover, it is unknown if the civic response to this anarchistic agitation create crackdowns on civil liberties or against voices which challenge the Establishment "mainstream".

Post Scriptus 01/12/2021 

There have been indications that there were Antifa Agent Provocateurs who planned to create chaos and egged passionate Pro-Trump protestors to storm the Capitol.

In an extended interview with the Epoch Times, war correspondent Michael Yon noted how organized Hong Kong tactics were evident outside of the Capitol during the siege. In addition, Yon observed how peaceful Pro-Trump demonstrators tried to stop these agents provocateurs and sought to separate themselves from their anarchy.

h/t: The Epoch Times