What Happens When Top Rival American Politicians Compete to Jail Each Other?
It's been more than two years since the Belmont Club article predicting a political showdown after the election of Donald Trump was written. Since then, its scenario of top rival American politicians trying to jail each other has become an actual possibility. "Will impeaching Trump lead to indictments of Obama and Biden over Ukraine?" says an article in the Spectator. Rudy Giuliani asks: 'Shouldn't Biden be investigated over Ukraine if Trump can be impeached over it?' Hillary's in the mix too:
As President Donald Trump's presidency is threatened by an impeachment inquiry, the Republican chairmen of two Senate committees, Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, are asking Attorney General William Barr to investigate any ties between Ukraine and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.
To use a World War II analogy there are torpedoes in the water going in opposite directions at each fleet's battlewagons. If all strike home, a lot of damage will ensue as the different parts of the bureaucracy act against rival leaders. Not surprisingly, the term "civil war" actually began trending on Twitter. CBS News reported: "'Civil War 2' trends on Twitter after Trump quotes speculation that impeachment would spark 'civil war.'"
The very mention of the term is itself an impeachable offense according to Harvard Law professor John Coates. "This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment - a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power." The fact that it was Pastor Robert Jeffress who said the offending words on a TV program -- Trump was merely quoting him -- is of no moment. The impeachment devil who no one professed to believe in has appeared at Nancy Pelosi's prayers.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that she is heartbroken and prayerful as House Democrats move forward with their impeachment inquiry and that President Donald Trump's actions left her no other choice.
There is frank hostility. "Joe Biden's campaign wrote to executives at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News to 'demand' that Rudy Giuliani not be invited on the air to discuss Ukraine and President Trump because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family," according to the New York Times. Giuliani responded indignantly: "Think of the Biden arrogance and entitlement to protection. They believe they own the media and they are demanding that they silence me. They know I have incriminating facts, not hearsay, because they know what they did in selling Joe’s office to a Ukrainian crook."
Politicians could be psyching themselves into the very thing they purport to abhor. If they sincerely want to step back from the brink now's the time. Otherwise, their actions may at some point unleash a runaway train. As a Harvard symposium noted, World War I started by miscalculation.
Dems Target Mike Pompeo
With the whistleblower's complaint coming up short, Dems aim for "corrupt" officials.
In an effort to prop up their “whistleblower’s” false allegations, House Democrats have lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his refusal to submit to their subpoena demands. Following Pompeo’s statement that he would not let State Department staff be bullied by Democrats into testifying, three Democrat committee chairmen led by Rep. Adam “B Movie” Schiff cried foul, disingenuously claiming that this was evidence that Pompeo was the one who was “intimidat[ing] witnesses.” They warned, “Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”
Naturally, the mainstream media is taking cues from Democrats and is now framing the normal job-related actions of high-ranking White House officials like Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr as somehow being evidence of corruption. For example, Pompeo is alleged to have engaged in misconduct for simply listening to President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Why would this be wrong? As The Wall Street Journal notes, “Shouldn’t a Secretary of State be on a call to the new President of an important country? U.S. foreign policy is the secretary’s job.”
Why are Democrats playing this vilification game? Because their “smoking gun” whistleblower complaint failed to expose any impeachable offense. In all likelihood the Democrats knew that going in, but with a friendly press they calculated that it would serve to provide just enough of a cover story to justify acting on their long-running impeachment obsession. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and company know they don’t have any actual evidence of a crime, so they’re vilifying anyone near Trump to create the air of corruption around any action. Even innocuous job-related activities can be said to have been done with corrupt motivations to cover up Trump’s crimes. This is an effort to keep the narrative alive through the election.
Trump sees this, which is why he’s calling it what it is: “a coup.” On Tuesday, he asserted, “As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their Vote, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” He’s right.
There may be another motive for the Democrats’ vilification of Pompeo and Barr — they don’t want them investigating the origins of the 2016 Russia-collusion hoax. In fact, The Washington Post suggests as much in an article titled, “Democrats’ worst fears about William Barr are proving correct.”
Trump Reshaping Ninth Circuit Will Be Felt for Decades
In May 2016, Donald Trump was close to securing the Republican presidential nomination but needed to shore up his support among skeptical conservatives to have even a remote chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election. In an unexpected but brilliant move, candidate Trump released a list of judges that he promised to choose from in selecting a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, beloved by conservatives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had infuriated Democrats by refusing to hold hearings on Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, so the next president would fill that vacancy. Trump’s list had been compiled with heavy input from the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society. Proving him right, conservatives rallied to Trump’s banner (even if cautiously), based on this promise.
The result has been far better that conservatives could have imagined. As president, Donald Trump has nominated two solid conservatives (an originalist/textualist in Neil Gorsuch, and a conservative institutionalist in Brett Kavanaugh) to the Supreme Court, and recently passed an impressive milestone — more than 150 nominees confirmed to the federal bench. The positive repercussions of this will be felt for decades to come.
Arguably, even more impactful than Trump’s Supreme Court appointments (replacing originalist Scalia with originalist Gorsuch, and moderate Kennedy with conservative Kavanaugh) has been his reshaping of the notorious Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, nicknamed the “Ninth Circus” because of its penchant for ultra-leftist rulings.
A week and a half ago, President Trump nominated Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke to fill vacancies on the Ninth Circuit. This was the second time Bumatay has been nominated to that court. Trump nominated Bumatay — a Filipino-American federal prosecutor from San Diego and former counselor to the U.S. attorney general — in October 2018, but after strenuous objections by California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, the nomination lapsed without action.
VanDyke is an attorney with the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, having served previously as the solicitor general of both Nevada and Montana, where he incurred the wrath of Democrats and radical environmentalists for litigating against Obama’s abusive land- and water-use policies.
If these nominees are confirmed, it will make the ninth and tenth Trump-nominated judges confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, meaning Trump will have appointed more than a third (10 of 29) of the judges on that bench.
The long-term benefits are enormous.
First, the Ninth Circuit is the nation’s largest circuit court, with a jurisdiction covering nine states and two island territories (40% of U.S. land mass). Its rulings impact more than 60 million Americans (roughly 20% of the U.S. population).
The importance of placing Trump’s nominees on the Ninth Circuit — judges who understand their proper role is to interpret the law as written, not twist it into what they want it to be — cannot be overstated.
Of the 7,000-8,000 cases appealed to the Supreme Court each year, only about 80 receive plenary review and are heard by the nation’s highest court.
By contrast, the Ninth Circuit last year received nearly 11,000 filings and “terminated” (rendered final judgments on) nearly 12,000 cases. Meaning, no matter how obviously unfair, ludicrous, or unconstitutional a ruling of the Ninth Circuit may be, the ruling stands and applies to 20% of the American population unless it is one of the precious few taken up by the Supreme Court.
Of its cases reviewed by the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit is reversed a staggering 82% of the time. Yet only a tiny fraction of those cases will ever be reviewed by the Supreme Court, so the lunatic rulings stand in the vast majority of cases.
And the Ninth Circuit judges are well aware of that, and take advantage of it.
Stephen Reinhardt, appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Ninth Circuit in 1979, served until his death in 2018. Known as one of the most leftist judges in the nation, Reinhardt once said of his high reversal rate at the Supreme Court that he would keep issuing leftist rulings because the Supreme Court “can’t catch ‘em all.” It was Reinhardt’s Ninth Circuit Court that ruled in 2002 that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because of the words “under God,” a ridiculous ruling unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court.
There have been calls over the years to split the Ninth Circuit into two courts, a position supported by most of the members of the Supreme Court. Aside from its far-left rulings, the Ninth is simply too big and unmanageable.
Until then though, it is undeniable that President Trump’s efforts are significantly impacting the structure and leanings of the Ninth Circuit. With a third of its judges now Trump appointees, it greatly improves the odds that a panel of Ninth Circuit judges will include those with a more conservative, originalist philosophy.
Just this year, in what would have previously been unfathomable, the Ninth Circuit handed Trump major victories in a border-wall battle with environmentalists and in upholding his “remain in Mexico” policy of dealing with asylum seekers.
Decades from now we may very well look back and see that Trump’s influence on reshaping the federal judiciary, especially the Ninth Circuit, did more than anything else to save the Constitution and uphold the Rule of Law.
ANTI-NRA U-TURN: "Remember last month when San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization and ordered city employees to 'take every reasonable step to limit' business interactions with the NRA and its supporters?" asks Jim Geraghty of National Review. "... The NRA sued, and lo and behold, San Francisco is backing down, before the suit even went to court." The mayor in a new memo states, "No [municipal] department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA." Meanwhile, says Geraghty, "The NRA is challenging a similar law passed by the Los Angeles city council that requiring city contractors to disclose any ties they have to the gun-rights group."
DEATH AND TAXES: "Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. ... The $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and 'other taxes.'" (Terence Jeffrey)
NET-NEUTRALITY REPEAL UPHELD: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission was mostly lawful in its rollback of Obama-era 'net neutrality' guidelines, while offering a glimmer of hope to proponents of the guidelines. In a 2–1 ruling, the court said the FCC had acted lawfully in its decision to stop regulating broadband like a utility or a 'common carrier' such as a phone service. But it said the FCC had exceeded its authority in attempting to block states from passing their own rules in contradiction of the net-neutrality repeal, as California did in 2018." (National Review)
TANTAMOUNT TO A WARREN ENDORSEMENT: "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in July that an Elizabeth Warren presidency would pose an 'existential' threat to the company, according to over two hours of leaked audio published by The Verge." (National Review)
PRO-LIFE SETBACK: "A federal judge handed an early win to abortion rights activists Tuesday by blocking Georgia's restrictive law from going into effect — but it is only the first step as a lawsuit makes its way through the court system. District Judge Steve C. Jones' ruling stops House Bill 481 from taking effect Jan. 1 while the case plays out. Anti-abortion activists are hoping the case winds up in the U.S. Supreme Court." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
MURDERS DECLINE: "Murder is on the decline in America, according to a new FBI report. The nation's top federal law enforcement agency found that homicides fell by 6 percent in 2018. The decline in homicides is part of a 3 percent drop in the violent crime rate, according to the Uniform Crime Report, the FBI's annual tally of crimes reported to local police departments. The 2018 decline follows several years of slight increases in homicide and violent crime, driven largely by spikes in major cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C." (The Washington Free Beacon)
FAIRFAX FOLLY: The Daily Caller reports: "A county police department in Virginia announced Tuesday that one of their officers was suspended for turning an illegal alien over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after determining the individual had dodged a deportation hearing. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said the officer in question had a 'lapse in judgment' when he called ICE about the illegal alien. ... Fairfax County has a policy that limits the police department's cooperation with ICE." The "lapse in judgment" here is being directed at the wrong person.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.
Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here
Trump's exploitation of his position and its authority is precisely what presidents are supposed to be impeached for.