URLs du Jour

2021-01-08

  • Have you been asking yourself: Can President Trump be Impeached and Removed on the Grounds of Incitement? At the Volokh Conspiracy, Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman take a stab at answering:

    Both of us were shaken by the events of January 6, 2021. Over the past several days, President Trump has taken actions that heedlessly risked third-parties' violating trespassing laws, the destruction of public property in and around the Capitol, and the ability of federal officials and civil servants to perform their legal duties. Yet, we again feel an obligation to hit the pause button, ever so briefly, to discuss continuing, permanent, and vital principles of free and democratic self-government. Here, we write, with most immediate relevance, to impeachment—albeit similar principles apply in the context of civil and criminal law as administered by Article III courts. 

    Before the sun had set on the nation's capital, there were immediate calls for President Trump's impeachment, removal, and future disqualification. The timing of the process was not particularly important. With about two weeks until President-Elect Biden's inauguration, it is not likely that a fair investigation and trial can be held with an eye on removal from office. Even the Radical Republicans gave Andrew Johnson time to put on a defense. (The trial began on March 4 and concluded on May 16, 1868). Additionally, in the current rush to impeach Trump, the specifics of the articles of impeachment do not appear to be very important to some supporters of a renewed impeachment effort. Incitement! Sedition! Treason! When all else fails, nebulous allegations relating to "corruption" and "abuse of office" will suffice for some would-be impeachers. The details can be ironed out later. 

    Bottom line: it's a near thing, but Trump's outrageous behavior doesn't rise to grounds for impeachment.

    Bonus queries: can Trump be impeached after he leaves office on 1/20? And can an impeachment conviction bar Trump from (say) re-election in 2024? No spoilers here, click over and check it out.


  • Kyle Smith at National Review wishes to End This Republican Nightmare. Maybe via the 25th Amendment?

    Using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office is a temptation that must be rejected. It would clearly be a political move meant to extract from public life an unpopular figure. The United States of America cannot go down the road of confusing political unfitness with medical unfitness. The cabinet would simply be using the 25th Amendment as a pretext for taking down a lawfully elected leader they oppose. It would amount to an unconstitutional coup. If the 25th Amendment could be deployed in his case, it could be deployed in many other cases. How many times did their political opponents declare that Nixon or Reagan was “a lunatic” unfit to serve?

    No, the Constitution is clear about the remedy for a president who has become politically untenable: impeachment and removal. The House of Representatives could easily pass articles of impeachment declaring that the president has violated his oath of office by attempting to subvert the election results and by sedition. Most Republican senators are probably too lacking in courage to consider removal, but only 17 of them need to come on board, assuming all 50 Democrats agree. Many key Republicans, such as Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and Susan Collins, do not face the voters for six years, by which time Trump can be ancient history, if they choose to make him so. A process of impeachment, removal, and disqualification from office would render it impossible for Trump to run for president again. This ought to be an immensely attractive prospect for the Republican Party. If Trump is reduced to being just another cable-TV blowhard hawking vitamin supplements and reverse mortgages, the threat he represents to Republicans will be contained.

    So Kyle thinks not. Fine.


  • But I find myself most in tune with the WSJ editorial writers, on Donald Trump’s Final Days. They note that the people who most bemoaned Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election are the ones most enthusiastic about finding ways to overturn the 2016 election.

    But:

    If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign. This would be the cleanest solution since it would immediately turn presidential duties over to Mr. Pence. And it would give Mr. Trump agency, a la Richard Nixon, over his own fate.

    Key drawback, as the editorialists acknowledge: such an "act of grace" by Trump "isn't likely". To put it mildly. When has he ever put the best interests of the country over the needs of his own massive ego?


  • On to the real news, as reported by Live Science: Earth is whipping around quicker than it has in a half-century.

    The 28 fastest days on record (since 1960) all occurred in 2020, with Earth completing its revolutions around its axis milliseconds quicker than average. That's not particularly alarming — the planet's rotation varies slightly all the time, driven by variations in atmospheric pressure, winds, ocean currents and the movement of the core. But it is inconvenient for international timekeepers, who use ultra-accurate atomic clocks to meter out the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by which everyone sets their clocks. When astronomical time, set by the time it takes the Earth to make one full rotation, deviates from UTC by more than 0.4 seconds, UTC gets an adjustment.

    Until now, these adjustments have consisted of adding a "leap second" to the year at the end of June or December, bringing astronomical time and atomic time back in line. These leap seconds were tacked on because the overall trend of Earth's rotation has been slowing since accurate satellite measurement began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since 1972, scientists have added leap seconds about every year-and-a-half, on average, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The last addition came in 2016, when on New Year's Eve at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, an extra "leap second" was added. 

    Who can we blame this on? I suspect Dominion Voting Systems!


  • And finally James Lileks checks out some of those clickbait ads. So you don't have to. (And you shouldn't, sucker.) Sample:

    [sick burn]  

    Sick burn! Also please buy this plant-based shoe grown sustainably in Chinese labor camps.

    By the way, the author's name and picture comes back to a real person, who set out five years ago to pursue political journalism. I know work is tight for writers but this is just sitting out there for any prospective employer to google. So . . .  tell me about your understanding of the ozone layer and your recommendations for fossil fuel replacement in the 50s.

    The sad thing about clickbait: it must work. Otherwise it would die the painful death it deserves.