Because frivolousness and stupidity are neither high crimes nor misdemeanors, his decision, however contemptible because it betrays America’s Kurdish friends, is not an impeachable offense. It should, however, color the impeachment debate because it coincides with his extraordinary and impeachment-pertinent challenge to Congress’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch.
Aside from some rhetorical bleats, Republicans are acquiescing as Trump makes foreign policy by and for his viscera. This might, and should, complete what the Iraq War began in 2003 — the destruction of the GOP’s advantage regarding foreign policy.
Democrats were present at the creation of Cold War strategy. From President Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State Dean Achesonthrough Sen. Henry Jackson and advisers such as Max Kampelman and Jeane Kirkpatrick, they built the diplomatic architecture (e.g., NATO) and helped to maintain the military muscle that won the war. But the party fractured over Vietnam, veering into dyspeptic interpretations of America’s history at home and abroad, and a portion of the party pioneered a revised isolationism. Conservative isolationism had said America was too virtuous for involvement in the fallen world. Progressive isolationism said America was too fallen to improve the less-fallen world.
Hence, Republicans acquired a durable advantage concerning the core presidential responsibility, national security. Durable but not indestructible, if Democrats will take the nation’s security as seriously as Trump injures it casually.
Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility. This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump. He has issued a categorical refusal to supply witnesses and documents pertinent to the House investigation of whether he committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine. This refusal, which is analogous to an invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, justifies an inference of guilt. Worse, this refusal attacks our constitutional regime. So, the refusal is itself an impeachable offense.
As comparable behavior was in 1974. Then, the House articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon indicted him for failing “without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by” a House committee, and for having “interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas” of the House.
If Trump gets away with his blanket noncompliance, the Constitution’s impeachment provision, as it concerns presidents, will be effectively repealed, and future presidential corruption will be largely immunized against punishment.
In Federalist 51, James Madison anticipated a wholesome rivalry and constructive tension between the government’s two political branches: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected to the constitutional rights of the place.” Equilibrium between the branches depends on “supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives.” But equilibrium has vanished as members of Congress think entirely as party operatives and not at all as institutionalists.
Trump is not just aggressively but lawlessly exercising the interests of his place, counting on Congress, after decades of lassitude regarding its interests, being an ineffective combatant. Trump’s argument, injected into him by subordinates who understand that absurdity is his vocation, is essentially that the Constitution’s impeachment provisions are unconstitutional.
The canine loyalty of Senate Republicans will keep Trump in office. But until he complies with House committee subpoenas, the House must not limply hope federal judges will enforce their oversight powers. Instead, the House should wield its fundamental power, that of the purse, to impose excruciating costs on executive branch noncompliance. This can be done.
In 13 months, all congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising “the constitutional rights of the place” should be defeated. If congressional Republicans continue their genuflections at Trump’s altar, the appropriate 2020 outcome will be a Republican thrashing so severe — losing the House, the Senate and the electoral votes of, say, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and even Texas — that even this party of slow-learning careerists might notice the hazards of tethering their careers to a downward-spiraling scofflaw.
In the Midst of Clerical Misdeeds, a Crucial Moment for the Laity
It is hard to overestimate the storm that is brewing. Only penance and a complete housecleaning can restore credibility and trust.
I hope our bishops, especially the highest ranking and those closest to the epicenter of the Archbishop McCarrick case, hear just how angry the faithful are. I think it is hard to overestimate the storm that is brewing.
.. If any of our prelates think this latest storm will soon pass, they should ponder the more likely case that these are merely the outer bands of a Category 5 hurricane that is closing in and will likely make landfall in Baltimore at the November meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
.. I have never seen people so serious and determined to take actions of their own. Frankly, as the faithful often remind us, their real power is the power of the purse—that and voting with their feet. I have usually dismissed plans to refuse to give to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal or other such collections as the threats of a few on the fringes, but I am now hearing such things from far more mainstream sources who say that it is the only way to get the bishops’ attention.
.. I have learned from Church history that reform almost never comes from the top; it comes from religious life and from the grass roots, from among God’s people. Please stay faithful to the Lord and His Body the Church. Pray as never before. Realize that the devil would like nothing more than for you to walk away from the sacraments.
.. feel freer than ever to confront Church leadership and insist upon reform
.. I encourage each of you to write personally to your bishop. It is not enough to sound off on social media or in comments sections on the internet. Be old-fashioned: write a physical letter to your bishop and request a written reply, at least acknowledging receipt. Be brief and charitable, but also be clear about the crisis of trust in episcopal and clerical authority and your deepening concerns over what this means if trust cannot be restored.
.. Remember, too, not every bishop or priest is equally to blame. Some are suffering as much as you are. However, no one, clergy or lay, should exempt himself from the task of summoning the Church to reform and greater holiness.
.. To those who are inclined to use financial withholding as an expression of concern, I ask that you remember that much of these collections go to help the poor. Please consider such a method as a kind of last recourse. Use it only if you must, and as a medicine not an expression of vengeance. I ask that you consider giving an equal amount directly to those who help the poor. Also, if you choose to do this, write to your bishop explaining what you are doing and why.
.. I am grateful that many lay faithful love the Church enough to be angry. Sometimes one must be angry enough to be willing to act for change and to persevere in that work. I hope you will honor your anger and use it to creative ends: to tirelessly demand real reform in all the ways God gives you to see. Be careful to target your anger and speak it in love and for the good of all.
John Yoo: President Can Wage War Without Congressional Declaration
There have only been five congressional declarations of war in the history of the United States, with the War of 1812 being the only one that was initiated by Congress. The other four—the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II—were declared after it was requested by the president in response to an attack. Every war since World War II has been conducted without a formal declaration, though with alternate congressional consent—like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in Vietnam, or the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq.
.. Critics of Fein’s strict constitutional view, like Yoo, believe that Article II, Section 2 invests the president with the power to wage war as commander-in-chief of the military. Yoo believes that the framers, far from equivocal during ratification, deliberately created the tension between the executive and legislative branches on the issue of war and did not restrict the president’s ability to initiate hostilities without a formal declaration. That declaration merely provides the legal framework for the war, Yoo said, dictating and establishing terms with the enemy, among other conditions. And Congress has the authority to test the president by withholding the funding for it.
.. “The main check is the executive and legislative branch conflict,” Yoo said, and “the power of the purse.” “I don’t know if the president has the power or resources to run a long-term war without Congress,” he added.
.. blamed Congress for “cowardice” in hiding behind the president on issues of war.
.. “I’m not accusing the executive branch of usurpation; the legislative branch just throws [their power] away,” he said.
.. Even Yoo admits that Congress has been funding an “offensive” not “defensive” military that allows the executive to wage hostilities all over the globe without formal declaration or even its own direct authorization. “Congress gives money, builds assets, with no restrictions,” he told TAC after the debate. “If you do it this way you are not politically responsible.”
Mizzou Pays a Price for Appeasing the Left
Enrollment is down more than 2,000. The campus has had to take seven dormitories out of service.
Timothy Vaughn dutifully cheered the University of Missouri for a decade, sitting in the stands with his swag, two hot dogs and a Diet Coke. He estimates he attended between 60 and 85 athletic events every year—football and basketball games and even tennis matches and gymnastics meets. But after the infamous protests of fall 2015, Missouri lost this die-hard fan.
“I pledge from this day forward NOT TO contribute to the [Tiger Scholarship Fund], buy any tickets to any University of Missouri athletic event, to attend any athletic event (even if free), to give away all my MU clothes (nearly my entire wardrobe) after I have removed any logos associated with the University of Missouri, and any cards/helmets/ice buckets/flags with the University of Missouri logo on it,” Mr. Vaughn told administrators in an email four semesters ago.
He was not alone. Thousands of pages of emails I obtained through the Missouri Freedom of Information Act show that many alumni and other supporters were disgusted with administrators’ feeble response to the disruptions. Like Mr. Vaughn, many promised they’d stop attending athletic events. Others vowed they’d never send their children or grandchildren to the university. It now appears many of them have made good on those promises.
The commotion began in October 2015, when student activists claiming that “racism lives here” sent administrators a lengthy list of demands. Among them: The president of the University of Missouri system should resign after delivering a handwritten apology acknowledging his “white male privilege”; the curriculum should include “comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion” training; and 10% of the faculty and staff should be black.
.. Donors, parents, alumni, sports fans and prospective students raged against the administration’s caving in. “At breakfast this morning, my wife and I agreed that MU is NOT a school we would even consider for our three children,” wrote Victor Wirtz, a 1978 alum, adding that the university “has devolved into the Berkeley of the Midwest.”
.. As classes begin this week, freshmen enrollment is down 35% since the protests
.. Universities have consistently underestimated the power of a furious public. At the same time, they’ve overestimated the power of student activists, who have only as much influence as administrators give them. Far from avoiding controversy, administrators who respond to campus radicals with cowardice and capitulation should expect to pay a steep price for years.
.. William Butos: .. What they do not understand is that the people paying the freight are beginning to see through this shell game and refusing to play along.
.. Barrett McShane: The only thing that can really change a university administration’s bent towards Lefties is for wealthy alums to stop contributing. For some reason the allure of having a brick, plaque, quadrangle or building with one’s name on it is stronger than common sense, so unlikely things will change to any great degree.
.. Jeff Middleswart:
This is an important lesson to understand. Actual Americans need to realize that they still hold the purse-strings here. They also need to realize that the truly privileged in this society are leaching off the productive and getting perks that the rest of us pay for and yet do not receive ourselves.
Does the 20-year old who became a welder still get spring break and summers off? Can the welder borrow money via a school loan to pay for his vacation to Europe?
How many of you work more than 9 hours per week for 32 weeks per year?
Do you get a free pension with mandated set returns from tax payers?
Can you bill the tax payers for grant money to produce work no one will read or use?
How many of you have life time employment with automatic raises?
If your business isn’t viable anymore – does it get subsidies forever like NPR, NEA, teaching French…?
Can you mandate that people use your product? The school can require that an engineer take literature from a tenured prof and buy his book.
.. John Watson
The very day Donald Trump announced his candidacy, my liberal niece asked me what I thought about it, like it was absurd. I told her that whatever the result, one thing was for sure. Trump was going to make us talk about “uncomfortable” things. No PC BS from him. She asked with concern why that was a good thing, and I explained that we can’t fix what we can’t talk about. She agreed with that basic premise, if nothing else I said.
The PC culture has done immense damage to our nation and our society. It has created what we know as snowflakes, college students who are shielded from the real world to the extent they will never be prepared to deal with it. Free speech has been endangered to the extent some even want to criminally prosecute those who dare disagree with their view of things, such as the Climate crowd. Corporations fear the PC police and their press to the point of acting irrationally, as seen by the recent exodus of CEO from Trump’s support.
Let’s talk and fix things.
.. Hillsdale College in Michigan is one of the few institutions remaining that does not have as their mission to indoctrinate students in Leftism. Sad to say, but even the military schools have become cesspools of political correctness. One can hope this movement against Leftism that has been the guiding light for over 40 years at these schools is now going to be challenged. When you look at the cost benefit ratio of student debt versus what is taught the whole college education imperative comes into question.
.. Susan Fox: I live in Missouri. I even attended Mizzou for a summer program in high school. I am now having my first child.
Mizzou will not receive a dime of my money. If my child wants to go to a state school, they can go to Rolla or Kirksville. If Mizzou sends my child brochures, they will be returned with a “We need some muscle over here!” comment splayed across it. This is 18 years into the future we are now talking about.
I do not think Mizzou has correctly accounted for the long-lasting effects its actions will have.