Some Thoughts About Impeachment

Some Thoughts about Impeachment

Peggy Noonan’s column in the Weekend Wall Street Journal of January 18-19 is one of the very best summaries of the Impeachment of Donald Trump I’ve seen. Her take, in few words is this:

  • The president knew everything about efforts to lean on Ukraine. This was clear in previous testimony all through the process; his ambassador to the European Union stated it publically! The US ambassador to Ukraine was aware that she was being schemed against and she lost her job because of the president’s pressure play. She lost her job and was slimed publically. She described all this under oath. Others did as well.
  • All this is “icing on the cake,” as Noonan writes, since Trump will be acquitted since there is extreme partisanship (on both sides). Many simply think the president’s actions, accepted as true, simply do not warrant removal from office when the next election is only ten months away; let the voters decide.
  • Nancy Pelosi made the process of Impeachment in the House an unnecessarily theatrical event. Her “signing process with a pile of pens” was an unwise move, a shallow performance that underlined the Republican claims of partisan moves by Democrats who hate Trump and have never accepted his election.
  • Has Impeachment now been normalized by a party which dislikes the President while they control the House? Will this process stand the test of time?

The policy-based argument for and against Trump is simple yet complex.

  1. He has followed his campaign promises. These include never giving up on “Building the Wall,” a largely symbolic action against the “rapist and criminal immigrants” who wish to come to the US from the south. It’s easy to marginalize these people, largely brown-skinned, from three poor and violent Central American countries.
  2. He has been a bulwark of support for conservative Christians, especially those who want more federal protection and approval for the ability to express and practice their beliefs in public areas such as prayer in schoolrooms, and who abhor movements for recognition by LGBQT movements. Trump has put Islam at the forefront of threats, a broad generalization of Muslim extremists who no doubt are threats. Of course religious extremists, from The Irish Republican bombers to White Supremacists who flaunt Christianity as the basis for their justification that Blacks are inferior, come in all shapes and sizes and colors and beliefs.
  3. On the matter of unfair trade, the President has stood up to China in several ways, including their pressure on US and other foreign companies to gain access to their intellectual property, or IP. The usual way this is done is to require non-Chinese firms who want access to the huge Chinese market, or to achieve lower-costs of production, to form a Joint Venture (JV) with a “Chinese partner company.” This works well to start, and the Chinese partner helps open doors and smooths the way into the large market. Part of the JV often (usually) is a manufacturing agreement to “add local value” as well as to lower the costs of production. Along that road the proprietary production processes and specialized equipment all become known to the local partner. Somewhere in the second half of the decade, the JV partner often begins manufacturing a similar product on their own. Over time, the local partner becomes a competitor. So far, President Trump’s ability to use economic leverage, tariffs, and sanctions has had an impact, but the end results are far from sure. Does anyone really believe that POTUS and Kim of North Korea are such close friends? Trump has criticized NATO in such a way that our traditional alliances and broad leadership in the U.N. are stressed.
  4. Tax cuts have been a huge boon to companies as well as very high-worth individuals. However the promised additional revenues have not materialized and the national debt has skyrocketed to over $1 Trillion a year, completely unprecedented in a robust economy.
  5. The President continues to be a climate change denier, although the data over several decades, admittedly a short time in geological terms, show increasing temperatures, with especially devastating warming in Arctic and Antarctic regions. These changes along with the resulting rainfall patterns are driving significant population movements which in term contribute to wars and provoke resistance to immigration in several parts of the world.

Mr. Trump exhibits near genius in his ability to use the medium of television and to recognize and exploit weakness in others. He appears to have endless energy, is a canny public speaker, with tried and true punch lines and ability to connect with audiences.  He is strongest when portions of the population feel pressured, feel that they are not doing all that well, and fear that “their way of life” is under attack. Simply stated, many of his supporters feel things are changing too fast.

Nationalist agendas (Make Us Great Again) have appealed to many countries over the years, sometimes with disastrous results. History is replete with such examples. Some readers might criticize me for this, but as a student of European history between WW-I and WW-II, the example of Germany is hard to ignore.

The president is not a student of history; he does not appear to know the subject well at all. He simplifies and distorts things to his advantage. He uses fear as a weapon, both to the population in general, and to members of his political party. He is a master of cutting, cruel (and effective) nicknames: Lying Ted, Little Marco, Low Energy Jeb, etc. In private, he generally is not liked personally by many Congressional members of his own party, and his administration has had unprecedented turn-over and scandals in the first three years of his term. Nevertheless, the bulk of Republican voters like his pugilistic style (never admit you’re wrong and always hit back twice as hard) and continue so support him. To criticize the President as a Republican office holder means you will be attacked and “primaried,” probably defeated in the Republican primary election when you next stand for office.

The current Impeachment trial in the US Senate is an example of this overall scenario. At the very start of this blog, the very first paragraph summarized the case in Ms. Noonan’s words. Basically, the defense by the Republicans will follow one of two potential strategies:

  1. He did not do it. There is no evidence of wrongdoing, and there are reasons for not admitting additional documents and/or witnesses.
  2. He did it, but what he did is not a crime, and not worthy of removal from office.

It does not help the President that his personal style is so unusual and chaotic. Many key government offices are vacant or being held by “acting” heads not confirmed by the Senate. Likewise, a large number of US Ambassadorships are open. International alliances are called into question. This administration does not hold press briefings often - in fact almost never. Mr. Trump often opts to talk to reporters when he is going and coming, usually near the helicopter or on the lawn of the White House. The President tweets out not only comments and criticisms but new policies at all times of the day and night. His comments are analyzed and over fifteen-thousand incorrect statements have been verified. Some of these are minor gaffs, but many are simply not true or black-and-white falsehoods.

There is a case that Trump is a danger to the Republic. This is the essence of the Impeachment process. The guardrails set down in the Constitution are wise, but not insurmountable. We are witnessing unparalleled times in the last hundred years. History will unfold, with all the facts; it always does. Donald Trump will be judged. The Congress on both sides of the spectrum will be judged as well.


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J.K. (Jim) George


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20 Responses

  1. JK James George
    From BH: Jim I was hoping you'd write a blog on this impeachment and as usual you did an amazing job! You're always so fair mined with your opinions and I for one agree with your assessment. I plan to send it to some of my friends and relatives and will let you know their reactions 'm sure you really put a lot of time and research into your blogs and it definitely shows. After all your work, I hope you get some positive responses.
  2. Jim, you nailed it!
  3. Grant you, I don't like the way Trump comports himself, but I think a large part of our population feels that Joe Biden funnelled money to his son who was obviously not qualified to hold the position he had with the Ukranian oil company. They don't want our foreign aid going into politician's pockets and they feel what he did was illegal and should be investigated. What Biden did overshadows what trump did in holding up the aid, which might have been warranted under the circumstances. The Democrats present all this "damning" evidence against Trump while skipping over the elephant in the room, Joe Biden.
  4. JH
    > He did it, but what he did is ... not worthy of removal from office. That may be true. But how do we keep him from continuing to do it with other allies? Using taxpayer funds to coerce other nations to attack his political opponents seems very Third world.
  5. JK James George
    From JF via Linked In: This is by far the best analysis I have seen so far on this impeachment political theater. Ms. Noonan is indeed an excellent writer. Your synopsis is excellent. I frequently disagree with your political views, but this blog is spot on.
  6. JK James George
    From Anon-1: Please DO NOT ask for my opinion on the Trump situation. My thoughts are my own and will remain private. This has no place on a ham radio e-mail network!
  7. JK James George
    From Anon-2: Good summary of the state of affairs, such as it is. Always enjoy your perspective , even when the subject matter is bleak
  8. JK James George
    From Anon-3: Dear Jim, As a European it is not my right to participate in the debate about the actual president of the United States. However everybody can have an opinion. For ages we have seen the USA as an example of democracy and as the staunchest friend of Europe, a reliable ally and business partner. After all the Americans were instrumental in chasing the Nazi regime from Western Europe and were afterwards charitable in helping the beaten enemy. This has certainly changed the last years: the United States have undergone a mutation into the Divided States of America and Democracy has changed into Partycracy where truth has no longer importance. When the US Government pulled out of Syria leaving their Kurdish partners as an easy prey for Turkey they lost their fame of reliability for years to come. And from business partners the United States have become almost adversaries. It has become easier to predict the moves of the Russian President than those of his American counterpart. And finally the President of the United States has not yet understood that when every plant, tree and animal on the globe have disappeared, nobody can survive by eating money. We will not live long enough to see how history will judge this era but I am afraid it will not be a pleasant comment. With very best regards....
  9. Jim... Thanks for a well-written synopsis of this ongoing national travesty. As a life-long Republican, I am horrified by Trump and his congressional enablers. I constantly wonder what motivates these people and I keep coming back to the old dictum: "Follow the Money." It will be very interesting (and possibly table-turning) to see if just four Republican senators will step forward and vote to call witnesses, like John Bolton, in this trial. I'm sitting on the edge of my seat! Finally, I would call attention to the "Dunning-Kruger Effect," described in 1999 by two Cornell psychologists, citing people who are "too incompetent to recognize their own incompetence." I have recognized this phenomenon repeatedly in dealing with certain people (many of whom are educated in name only), who simply "don't know what they don't know." What is shocking to me now is just how many of them there are in this country, i.e, the 30%, or so, who form the so-called "Trump base."
  10. JK James George
    From Anon-4: I believe it is a mistake to view the impeachment trial as having to do with anything other than the two Articles of Impeachment. The issue is not whether Trump is a good or bad president. It is very simply this: 1. Did he use his office to promote his own interests at serious risk to the national interest? 2. Did he then set out to prevent evidence of his conduct from being considered in the House? I would only add this: Does he acknowledge that in doing so, he stepped over the line and promises not to do it again? That's the real issue that forces impeachment and justifies removal from office: he does not acknowledge this and would do it again. So, the upcoming election cannot be relied upon as a cure for the problem since it may well be tainted by additional behavior consistent with that for which he has been impeached. The purpose of impeachment is not to punish the officeholder. It is to protect the Republic. In this case, removal from office is the only reliable cure.
  11. JK James George
    From Anon-6: So...I just read your blog... As is typical of you, being the incredibly nice guy that you are, 2a) you are being far to magnanimous 2b) as well as demonstrating far more equanimity than the situation deserves. Just sayin'... Trump is Evil personified...pure and simple. And not the genius at all that you fact he's an idiot, but he is an emotional idiot-sociopath who has uncovered the significant number of other emotional idiots in the Republic. Most of them still think he's the genius from The Apprentice. That's his base, and that's also how stupid he is as well. He absorbs FOX News and believes it, just like them and just like they saw him as the Big Daddy power-broker on TV. So...The clowns all got in and it was the Russians who criminally got him in, through their FB bots, Wiki and hacking a few counties in swing states. This was a crime, but because the Democrats also sometimes benefited from hacking and such, there was no outcry of genuine outrage from their side as there should have been. Hillary hardly said squat...Glass houses. As for Pelosi...she was making history, not just handing out pens. There was no glee in what she was doing, so I totally understand the use of many pens. It was simply a moment in history and she was recognizing this is all, imho. She has done an amazing job, but she should have held out longer, imho. Time will tell. As far as theater goes, as a Theater Major, the vast preponderance of theatrical efforts has been deployed by the Republicans who have been acting and lying about everything since Day One...the Dems are just trying to pull off the cloak. They have actually done this, but the "deplorables" are still out there in numbers. Trump's only goal now is to keep these numbers as high as he can, because 1) it'a all he has...&2) if he can make it appear anywhere near a margin of error, then he will count on the same Russian hacking and lies about voter fraud to claim victory anyway. Just like last time. McConnell knows all this as well. The only explanation for his relentlessly mendacious and hypocritical behavior is that he knows the voter system is rigged in Republican favor. He knows the scales are so tipped in his favor, that he can basically do whatever he wants, and does. As a recipient of Russian money as well, his hand is revealed, but the MSM ignores this for some reason...That would be because of Citizen United. The six companies who own all the media have nothing to gain by pointing out the graft that is in the system. They practice it themselves and also benefit from it. Notice how quiet they are about Trump's newest effort to make foreign corporate bribery legal again. Seriously.
  12. JK James George
    From Anon-7: Jim, this is a great analysis and summary. Very balanced. The best I’ve read. Thanks!
  13. JK James George
    From Anon-8: Hello Jim, I hope that all is well with you and your family. I don't respond very often to blogs but have felt for some time that I should send you a private message. As an author, you have the right to publish anything that you want. in any form or forum. However, when you first started this particular political thread, I had an immediate negative reaction to the subject matter. As a young ham at the age of 13, my radio mentors told me on several occasions that there are two subjects that should not be discussed "on the air." Those subjects are politics and religion. Of course, that was before the Internet. But I also remember in those years between 13 and very recently (say the last ten years) that these subjects were also not discussed between hams when the focus was mainly ham radio. That is still my feeling today. Ham radio has enough controversy with Homeowner Associations, FT8, incentive licensing, and horrid operating practices, and more that can polarize people and separate friends. We do not need yet another non-radio subject discussed amongst us. Just my "two cents" and BTW, I am a strong supporter of the President. Please keep my comments anonymous. Best wishes and I wonder how that third novel is coming along?
  14. JK James George
    From Anon-9: And whats the alternative ? Goof ball Democrats ? No thanks Better the devil i know
  15. JK James George
    From Anon-10: It seems to me that the bottom line on Trump's impeachment is that I think the evidence is clear that he pressured, or allowed a foreign government to be pressured, to investigate a political opponent. This in and of itself should be grounds for impeachment. Yes, he's done some good things, but then so did Adolf Hitler. Honestly I'd like to see the guy out of office simply because he's a sophomoric acting character that's giving our country a bad image. I certainly wouldn't want one of my kids behaving like he does!
  16. JK James George
    From Anon-11: Hey Jim, Powerful as always. Clear and concise. You're such a good writer! I hope 2020 is treating you and your wife well.
  17. JK James George
    From Anon-12: Jim, just between us I must share my feeling that Trump is a danger to our Democracy and he is supported by people who are confused, anxious, and self-serving. It comes down to that.
  18. Nice piece Jim and it's balanced, sort of:-) It's interesting to see some commenter's who can sum up the problem with Trump in one sentence. As one said, "they don't know what they don't know" Here are some undisputed facts: Unemployment is at an all time low. There are more minorities employed now than ever. Trade deals, including NAFTA, are now more favorable to the US, see the above statistic. Trump's success in negotiating with China on trade is unprecedented, globally. The only thing his detractors can say is that, it's yet unproven. No other President nor any other world leader ever got to that point with China. The tax roll back on Corporations only put US Corporate Tax Rates in line with the rest of the developed world. So when doing the economics on whether to invest overseas or in the US, tax rates no longer determine the outcome. The net result, it makes investment in the US more favorable.This is an area that almost every commenter either misunderstands or misrepresents. We live in a global economy and we must be able to compete for business, if our government prices us out of the market with taxes, the American people will pay the price. The latest tax roll backs did not effect the highest personal tax rates, they remained the same. I'm not sure why people think the were reduced, guess they didn't research it. Oh and by the way, the top 1% pay ~40% of all income taxes paid, yet every Democratic politician say they don't pay their fair share. Very simply, they are lying. Here is a link, but please do your own research, Do I like Trumps personal approach to issues, no. I don't look to any President to be my moral leader. However, he is the first President that I can ever remember who is actually keeping his campaign promises, all of them. He said he would upset the politicians and he has and in my mind he needed to. If keeping promises makes him a threat to the Republic, what is it we expect from our leaders? America has been the doormat for bailing out others while our own economy suffered for decades, Trump doesn't like that and Americans shouldn't like it. Let's take care of home first and spend the excess on others, isn't that how we run our own finances? I appreciate the comment for European about depending on America, but I ask, what has his country done for us? While there is room for charity and we should always help others, but not with our own people going without. Using his office for political gain? What is it that Nancy Pelosi is trying to do? At the public expense pushing an agenda with a foregone conclusion. Perhaps for perceived political gain? I think this will actually backfire on the Democrats, especially after the Russian fiasco. It's been said that it's better to keep you mouth shut and let people think you're a fool than open your mouth and prove it. It would have been a better strategy to be able speak in innuendo and speculation about Trump than to have your gripes officially adjudicated against you. After this the Dems will be 0-2 in their attempts to bring down Trump. The net of this exercise is that people who dislike Trump, dislike him more and those who like him, like him more and the nation is more divided than ever. It's a no win, waste of time. In this case it's not Trump causing this broadening divide, it's the Democrats who are making the schism wider with this theatrical approach to politics. I think it helps Trump's 2020 campaign.
  19. JK James George
    From Anon-13: Congratulations on your recent comments on Trump’s impeachment. I carefully read some of it and was happy to see that you had some good points as opposed to the other democrats' take.
  20. JK James George
    From Anon-14: Thanks for this. Seems like simple things like respect, integrity, humility, can no longer be found in a successful politician.

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