Monthly Archives: November 2018

My Brother Imagines a Hypothetical World in Which Republicans Answer Hypothetical Questions

Dan has a whole bunch of sensible questions that reporters should be asking members of Congress from both parties about what they believe constitutes an impeachable offense. I agree they should be asking them.

So rather than asking Republican members of Congress about impeaching Trump, we should be getting them to say what they themselves consider impeachable offenses – arguably locking them in, when and if Mueller can prove they were committed.

These are straightforward yes-or-no questions:

  • If a president is found to have solicited or knowingly accepted help from a foreign government to influence an American election, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president fires a special prosecutor investigating him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president directly orders the Justice Department to prosecute his political rivals, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
  • If a president pardons himself, isn’t that an impeachable offense?1
  • If a president promises pardons to potential witnesses against him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?

And, bonus essay question:

  • What level of presidential lying to you consider an impeachable offense?

But I think I know what most of the answers will be: “I don’t want to get into hypothetical questions.”

Even so, reporters should be asking them. Maybe the follow-up should be: “Wait, you mean you think there’s actually a sufficient probability of this that you consider the question hypothetical?”


Bonus xkcd on hypotheticals:


  1. Note by MF: For the record, I think there are two good arguments that if a President pardons himself the pardon is invalid. First there is the idea that ‘no man should be the judge in his own cause.’ Second there’s the idea that a pardon is a thing one person confers on another, so a self-pardon just is incoherent. []
Posted in Dan Froomkin, Law: Reading the Constitution, Trump | 3 Comments

A New Low

I try so hard to ignore all of the tweets from Donald Trump.  The administration’s actions are bad enough.

But every so often one blows up my RSS feed, and breaks through.

This retweet today seems especially awful on several levels.

Posted in Trump | Leave a comment

Laughter is Precious in These Times

Onion

I knew it wasn’t real, but I laughed anyway: Depressed Mueller Wonders What It Is About Him That Makes Everyone Lie To Him

These too:

Posted in Completely Different, Onion/Not-Onion | Leave a comment

Fusion Allegedly Just Five Years Away — BBC

I’ve written before on how fusion power is always coming, never here. About a year and a half ago I posted this:

Fusion Power is Only 15 Years Away, we’re told. I guess that’s progress since in just the last few years people have said its Always 50 Years Away, or maybe Always 30 Years Away, or maybe formely 30 years away, now its more like 50 years away, or maybe just forever 20 years away, or 13 Years Away.

So ten years away is progress, right? Then again three years ago it ten years away so maybe we’re going backwards?

Or maybe we’re looking at the wrong scientific advance here: what we really have is an odd form of time travel?

But comes now the BBC to tell us that according to some startups, maybe fusion power is just five years away, which certainly seems like the frontier is getting closer…or some startups have at least got fusion going on their hype…

Posted in Science/Medicine | Leave a comment

How Europe Sees Us

Very dark humor indeed.

(Is that Patrick Stewart, or someone who just sounds a lot like him?)

Posted in Completely Different | Leave a comment

Please Don’t Get Used to This

Martin Longman at the Washington Monthly makes an important point:

So, here we have two quotes from the president. They are both short and succinct and as uncomplicated as statements can be:

“I know Matt Whitaker.” –October 10, 2018
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker.” –November 9, 2018

Those two statements would not necessarily contradict each other if they came in reverse chronological order. After all, when you spend some time with someone you had not previously met, then it’s no longer true that you do not know them, but it remains true that you didn’t know them at an earlier period of time. But you can’t know someone in October and no longer know them in November.

[…]

There are a lot of people discussing the constitutionality of putting Whitaker in charge of the Department of Justice and speculating about why it was done and what it might mean. Those are all interesting angles on this story which should be discussed. But I just want to pause for one second to point at those two conflicting statements from the president of the United States.

“I know Matt Whitaker.”
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker.”

He has absolutely no conscience or shame, no pangs of guilt or any possibility of feeling remorse when he contradicts himself like this. Say what you want, but this isn’t normal.

It is far too easy to become inured. Bad things happen if we do.

Posted in The Scandals | 2 Comments