Peter Suderman writes at Reason that it's pretty simple:
By Withholding Funds to Ukraine, Trump Broke the Law.
One argument that President Donald Trump's supporters have employed in the impeachment debate is that it was merely a "policy dispute." Yes, Trump held up aid to Ukraine last summer, this line goes, but he did so in pursuit of his agenda in the region.
There are several problems with this argument. One is that it has become increasingly clear that the president was pursuing a personal political agenda through his personal lawyer, not a national agenda through the formal diplomatic process. Another problem, arguably more serious, is that even if Trump was pursuing some less blatantly corrupt goal, what he did was still illegal.
That is the conclusion reached by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a sharply worded letter released this morning. The letter raises serious questions about whether the Trump administration violated the constitutional separation of powers.
That's a point. For a counterpoint…
… check out the WSJ's James Freeman, who is dismissive:
Trump Receives Another Postcard from the Swamp.
Traditionally GAO does its best to serve its congressional bosses. This is not a swipe at these particular swamp dwellers. Yes, the current head of GAO was nominated by President Barack Obama after a congressional commission presented a list of candidates. But the Supreme Court has explicitly found that GAO is subservient to the legislative branch. The 1986 decision is called Bowsher v. Synar. GAO staff try their best to satisfy requests from legislators.
At the urging of Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Maryland), GAO now says that Trump administration delays in sending aid to Ukraine were illegal. For people who aren’t students of the Washington bureaucracy, it should be noted that few people consider GAO the authoritative word on legal issues. The Justice Department and ultimately of course the federal courts make the big calls.
James goes on to note a number of times GAO found the Obama Administration running afoul of the law. (And this doesn't even count Biden's threat to withhold aid to Ukraine aid until a prosecutor was fired.)
At Instapundit, David Bernstein notes, with respect to one of those GAO findings: "If you can find me a Democratic House member or Senator who denounced Obama for that move, I’ll concede that he is sincerely interested in presidential lawfulness and the separation of powers."
Let's grant that there's a surfeit of hypocrisy here.
One additional source of irritation is spotlighted by Kevin D.
Williamson at National Review (an NRPLUS article, and I don't know what
Supreme Court’s ‘Endangered' Reputation: Democrat Warnings Entirely Political.
The Democrats are great defenders of American institutions — provided those institutions serve their interests. In October 2016, the po-faced defenders of all that is good and precious were wearing themselves out demanding that Donald Trump and his supporters make a pledge to “accept the results” of the presidential election, a demand that was predicated on the assumption that Trump was going to lose. After making those demands, the Democrats have spent every single day refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election. They don’t give a fig about the credibility of our electoral processes — they care about winning. The Electoral College, the Senate, the Bill of Rights — when the Constitution itself gets in the way, they are ready and eager to gut it.
Yesterday, Democrats were willing to slander a Supreme Court nominee, and then to continue slandering him as a justice; today, they are very, very concerned about the delicate reputation of the Supreme Court. Yesterday, Democrats were working to advance a court-packing scheme that would seal and certify the politicization of the Court; today, the Court is so sacrosanct that we must move heaven and earth to fortify its perceived legitimacy. It is difficult to take seriously the notion that they are moved by tender concern for the reputation of an institution that they insist is staffed by political hacks and rapists.
Did I already mention hypocrisy? Oh, right, I did.
In unimpeachable news, Cato's James Knupp and Christopher A. Preble
have a suggestion:
When Debating Base Closure, Look at the Data.
And there's a local connection.
Despite years of calls from the Pentagon for a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), Congress has refused to authorize one since 2005. With the Department of Defense running at 22 percent excess capacity and constant calls for more money for operations and modernization, Congress should allow the Pentagon to reallocate funds away from unnecessary bases into more urgent projects. But fears of communities losing their bases and watching their local economies suffer as a result has kept talk of a new BRAC off the table.
BRAC opponents should take a look at some of the data measuring the economic health of post-BRAC communities. Research shows that while there may be some short-term pain, in the long run most communities rebound -- and oftentimes end up in a much stronger position before. A presentation last year at the Association of Defense Communities’ Base Redevelopment Forum looked at three very different cases: Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (1988); Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas (1991); and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (1991). With both large and small communities represented, the evidence reveals BRAC’s actual effects.
Our local legislators from both parties are hyper-vigilant against any waste-cutting move that might possibly endanger Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Back in 2017, I looked at PNSY through Bastiat's eyeglasses, and I think it holds up pretty well.
The WaPo has a fun interactive article:
of these 2020 Democrats agrees with you most? You provide your
twenty policy issues, and the Post tallies up which
candidates took an identical stance.
You might, correctly, suspect that zero candidates agreed with me on more than a few questions.
Question 17 got my goat a bit:
The government should make four years of college ________________ for all families, including the wealthy.
And your (only) choices were: "free", "debt-free", and "affordable". If you favor government letting colleges and students come to their own mutually-agreeable terms without meddling, you are a non-person on this issue.
New Hampshire magazine editor Rick Broussard triggered our
LFOD news alert with:
Our Declarations of “Zen-dependence”.
It's a musing on our state's motto:
Typically, when people want to define the uniqueness of our state, they go to the most public evidence of it, the one that appears on our license plates and on the signs that greet all visitors: our state motto, “Live Free or Die.”
Of course, not everyone “gets” Gen. John Stark’s pithy bumper sticker’s worth of wisdom and not everyone appreciates the sentiment. For those still scratching their heads whenever they read it, here’s my take. The message is not that life would not be worth living without freedom. It’s just that there are worse things than being dead. This in turn suggests that there is more to our lives than just living; that we are larger beings than is suggested by our contentious featherless-biped existence on this rough mortal coil. In other words, Gen. Stark’s philosophy goes a bit deeper, perhaps, than some people think. That’s probably why it is still repeated 200 years after the event at which it was originally read as a toast to fellow veterans of the Battle of Bennington, Stark’s last hurrah.
I'm pretty sure Rick's take is mistaken, sorry. It's not deep, it's simple: your freedom is something worth risking, and even losing, your life.
He also seems to think LFOD was original with General Stark. I think it's generally (heh) accepted that he cribbed it from French Revolutionaries' Vivre Libre ou Mourir.
Still, Rick's take is worth reading, if only for the idea that LFOD have a backup slogan: "Be Here Now". Can you imagine the thoughts of an incoming tourist seeing that on a "Welcome to New Hampshire" sign?
"Be here now? Well, of course I am. Where else could I be?"