Our President Is Way Too Much Uninterested And Way Too Little Disinterested

The first part, i.e. “uninterested,” hardly needs elaboration: President Trump shows so little interest in learning the details that his tweets on Obamacare make little sense.  Could he explain to us what his beautiful Trumpcare would look like?  No.  He can threaten, but his threats have become self-contradictory.

Regarding the second part: Why would I accuse our 45th president of being way too little disinterested?  “Disinterested” means impartial; it means not having an axe to grind, not calculating to seek personal advantage.  Disinterestedness is thus good because a government of “laws, not men” (as they used to say) won’t work well at all without it.  The structure of the Constitution accounts for interests and factions and strives to control and limit them.  But if the executive acts like a thug, and the other branches don’t act decisively to repudiate the bad actors, we are in trouble.  I am not expecting the 71-year-old man to change or learn.  Actually truth be told I am worried that if he did learn any new tricks we would be in even more of a fix.

Note: I am interested in upholding the distinction between “disinterested” as unbiased and impartial, i.e. not moved by consideration of personal advantage, and “uninterested,” which means “not interested” or “unmoved.”  I realize that usages change, but maintaining the distinction with a difference serves a good purpose here.

Advertisements

Corporations Are Manslaughtering People Too

The United Kingdom has had a Corporate Manslaughter Act for ten years.  Isn’t it time we got up to speed on this in the United States?  But instead we have bosses who want capitalism for themselves and feudalism for their workers (h/t Washington Post Wonkblog).

 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/27/met-says-grenfell-council-may-have-committed-corporate-manslaughter

What Excuses Will They Make When Trump Shoots Pepe The Frog On Pennsylvania Avenue?

Well, I am very concerned.  It is a distraction.  The President would probably be well advised to refrain from shooting frogs.  At least in daylight.  But at the end of the day, it is what it is, and it’s just Trump being Trump.  Plus the President said many people told him Pepe was transgender, so there’s that.  And what about the time Obama and Hillary fecklessly…

Did Trump Sr. Pay Donald Jr.’s $7 Boy Scout Membership Fee With Money From His Nonprofit Foundation?

Donald Trump Sr. was never a Boy Scout, though his son Donald Jr. was.  It looks as if Sr. paid the seven dollar enrollment fee not out of his own pocket but with money from his nonprofit Trump Foundation.  Seven dollars.  Most of us have money problems sometime or other.  But Donald J. Trump is not just impoverished, he is destitute.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/politics/trump-boasts-of-his-philanthropy-but-his-giving-falls-short-of-his-words/2016/10/29/b3c03106-9ac7-11e6-a0ed-ab0774c1eaa5_story.html

Will McConnell Be Remembered As The American Version Of Franz Von Papen?

Franz von Papen, through dithering and denial. allowed Hitler to seize power in 1933.  Von Papen did not foresee that norms would be no protection against a tyrant determined to seize all the levers of power.  Does McConnell realize that if he lets the Senate recess, giving Trump the chance to appoint a new attorney general without Senate confirmation, he will have allowed Trump to shut down the rule of law?  And that he, Mitch McConnell, in spite of mainstream media both-sidesism and what=aboutism, will not be remembered as anything but an enabler of dictatorship?  I bet he does have an inkling of all this, but is still pretending to himself that he can somehow “drop Trump like a hot rock,” as he promised his Senate colleagues not too long ago.  Good luck, Mitch.  You will be remembered, one way or the other.

BTW if McConnell really wanted a “robust debate” on our healthcare system, he might try starting with public hearings, a Senate committee process, and “regular order” instead of the extreme secrecy (that Democrats have also used but never on an issue nearly this big).  That is if Sen. McConnell actually cared about a robust debate.

Trump Deploys New Justice Department Forfeiture Policy To Seize Jeff Sessions’ Dignity

Could not have happened to a more deserving, or innocent, victim, depending on your POV.  Just as soon as Attorney General Sessions announced his plan to reinstate civil asset forfeitures on the grand scale he has been dreaming of since he was an Eagle Scout, President Trump turned the tables on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions by seizing his dignity.

It’s nice that Sen. Lindsay Graham has tweeted a persuasive defense of Attorney General Sessions.  But if Sen. McConnell allows the Senate to go into recess, enabling Trump to make a recess appointment who will fire Mueller, McConnell will be remembered for that cowardly act as much or more than anything else in his long Senate career.  And it’s nice that Rush Limbaugh finds the way Trump is treating Sessions to be “discomforting” and “unseemly.”  But Rush, is that all you got?  Are you really “sending your best” against Trump’s attack on our constitutional republic?  Rush, why not man up and call out Trump for the unpresidential and un-American tyrant he is?  Trump is no friend of principled, limited-government conservatism.  Wake up and smell the tyranny, Rush, before it’s too late.  When Trump comes for you, will you have any legs to stand on?  By the way, if this were just about warfare between Democrats and Republicans, enabling Trump would be less odious and cowardly.  But Trump could care less about loyalty to a political party or a governing philosophy or an ideology.  It’s all about him and his money and his glory and his vengeful self.  Enabling a person like that has little upside, to say the least.

“Pardon” Is So Low Energy–Let’s Go Full “Indemnity And Oblivion”

Remember the Indemnity and Oblivion Act of 1660, aka “An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion”?  Well, let’s dig it out.  You want “beleaguered”?  They had it in spades.  Just watch yourself and don’t commit murder, piracy, buggery, rape, or witchcraft, or else you might not be granted oblivion after all.  Our presidential hemming and hawing over pardon is so weak and low energy compared to what the English Parliament did after their Civil War.

Speaking of spades, I am waiting for Jared Kushner to come up with a more poetic defense of himself than the tedious boilerplate we got today.  Let Jared take a page from Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman.  Page 1, in particular: in sum, sure I killed old Phillip Mathers by smashing his jaw with a spade, but it was Divney’s fault.  He knocked Mathers down first with a bicycle pump.  And Divney was “personally responsible for the whole idea in the first place.  It was he who told me to bring my spade.”  I never bothered to read the subject line in his emails.  Or words to that effect.

Excuse Me, I Am Not A Colluder. Pardon Me, Could You Say That Louder?

The president has declared that he has “complete power to pardon,” which may be almost true in a narrow legal sense (asserting power to judge his own case is dubious).  He may yet pardon his son, son-in-law, and who knows who else.  He may be able to remove Robert Mueller, and that would be a major crisis if Congress did not respond forcefully.  But the larger issue for a democratic republic in which consent of the governed is inalienable is this: what’s our next move as citizens?   We who are citizens and voters have the final power to grant reprieves and pardons in the larger sense.  Some of us, perhaps clinging to a confirmation bias, believe the president is trying to make things better, if only it weren’t for the swamp-dweller lobbyists/Democrats/leftists/snowflake slackers/deep state.  Some of us, that is, are not yet ready to let go of our pleasant fantasy of victimhood, even when our political party controls the presidency, the House and Senate, and the highest court.  Others of us, suffering from unpacified forgetting, are still fighting over the 2016 Democratic primaries.  My hope is that most of us, who are hoping above all that the government will be focused on serving, protecting, and increasing opportunities for as many Americans as possible, will bother to let our representatives know how we feel, and then vote at every opportunity to renew and refresh our government, showing no reprieve and no pardon for those who have unrepentantly abused the public trust.

Is Trump Articulate Bright And Clean Enough Yet?

Am I disappointed that Anthony Scaramucci is not letting us know anything at all, in his first White House briefing, about what stocks to buy.  Sad, and low energy.  President Trump, on the other hand, is getting brighter, cleaner, and more articulate every week.  His interpretation of the Napoleonic wars, for example.  Long story short, “Napoleon ended up a little bit bad,” or words to that effect, per his New York Times interview this week.  Trump is way too articulate, bright, and clean to end up like Napoleon.  No freezing Russian tundra for him, no way.  Trump will never end up stuck to the seat of a frozen Siberian toilet.  Believe me.   The system works.  Only the very shiniest golden toilet.

Trump To New York Times (And All Of Us): Checks And Balances Are For Losers, Don’t F— With Me!

If President Trump ever paid hypocritical tribute to checks and balances or any other virtues of our constitutional republic, he gave them up today.  At lunch, he insulted Senators, which he is welcome to do, since they are a separate branch.  But when he attacked the independence of the Department of Justice, and the integrity of Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions, and James Comey, he stomped all over the checks and balances that keep tyranny at bay.

 

 

Why Did President Trump Just Declare That President George Washington Was A Crazy Loser?

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that “the Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes.  Even parts of full Repeal need 60.  8 Dems control Senate.  Crazy!”

He may be right that our system of checks and balances, and our tradition of separation of powers, is crazy.  It is certainly inconvenient right this minute for a Republican president and a Republican House and a Republican Senate.  The Republicans control the Supreme Court too.  But their control is apparently not yet solid enough to erase “Obamacare.”  (Their control over the hearts and minds of Americans is also apparently not solid enough for them to take a real stand against foreign hostile powers such as Russia hacking our next election.)  So Mr. Trump in effect calls George Washington a loser and a fool.  Really, you may say.  Yes, really: according to Moncure Conway, writing in 1872, “there is a tradition that Jefferson, coming home from France (after the Constitution had been drafted), called Washington to account at the breakfast table for having agreed to a second, and, as Jefferson thought, unnecessary legislative chamber.  ‘Why,’ asked Washington, ‘did you just now pour that coffee into your saucer, before drinking?’  ‘To cool it,’ answered Jefferson, ‘my throat is not made of brass.’  ‘Even so,’ rejoined Washington, ‘we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.'”

The Senate was not designed to achieve the rapid resolution of conflicts possible in a parliamentary system.  Our second legislative chamber’s “cooling saucer” has blockaded and obstructed plenty of social progress (civil rights being Exhibit A) but it has also slowed or stalled plenty of horrible ideas, as 2017 (so far) shows.

If the president is fed up with all the obstacles to absolute rule, and wants to toss the Resolute desk over and go home to Manhattan, I say let him go .  If, however, he can overcome his snowflake personality and offer any ideas whatsoever that would improve upon the many flaws in the delivery of health care in this country,  let him speak now.  Let him spell out in detail just how he proposes to reshape the American healthcare system, or else be judged as the shallow and vindictive blowhard he now appears to be.  George Washington is watching him–and the rest of us too.

P.S. Donald Trump on Twitter, September 26, 2012: “Obama’s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS since he had full control for two years.  He can never take responsibility.”

Is Mitch McConnell More Like A Slime Eel, Or A Turtle?

Getting tired of the McConnell-as-turtle memes? Me too.  Did you see the story about hagfish, aka slime eels, overturned on a highway in Oregon? Me too.  Did you read the link to a blog explaining that slime eels are, shockingly, not invertebrates but rather “degenerate vertebrates”?  Did you think, what a perfect way of describing the people who now hold power in the U.S. Congress?  Especially the Senate Majority Leader?  And perhaps even more so the so-called “Republican moderates” who are waiting for somebody, anybody other than them to kill off the new, even harsher version of the Senate tax-cut/healthcare bill.

 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/14/15969674/slime-eels-hagfish-oregon-highway-truck-accident-slime-mucus-goo

If Republicans Really Wanted To Stop Health Care Mooching And Taking And Scamming

Maybe we will never be able to stop health care mooching and scamming.  But if Mitch McConnell really wanted to cut down on the unfair way millions of Americans are getting over and leaving their fellow Americans in the dust, they could get rid of one of the biggest breaks of all.  That is the writeoff, which benefits wealthy elites the most, of employer-subsidized health insurance.  That’s right, people who get employer-provided health plans get a $300 billion a year (more or less) tax break.  In itself it’s not as big an annual benefit, or cost, as Medicare or Medicaid.  But those who get Medicare, and many who get Medicaid (especially nursing home care) have paid taxes for decades before they receive any benefit.  But the subsidy, or tax expenditure, that excludes health insurance from taxable income is immediate gratification.  And this immediate gratification is greater the closer you get to being part of the privileged 1%.  Who’s winning the class warfare?  Is Mitch McConnell looking out for you as he scrounges for something he and Trump can call a victory?  They seem to think anything they can pass and sign is a “win”–but maybe not for you.

By the way I do think there is just one good idea in what I’ve heard from McConnell: replacing the mandate with a “nudge” in which you don’t have to buy anything, but do have to wait several months to get re-enrolled if you can afford it but are pretending to yourself that you don’t need health insurance.

Junior Did Not Deny Telling Dad About The Meeting–Just Listen Again

Like many people I do not have time to watch TV.  But I do try to read sometimes.  I did not hear Donald Jr. say “no, I did not tell my dad about that meeting.”  I heard him say “why would I have?” and so forth.  I do not understand why some news organizations, mainstream or not, are so eager to jump to conclusions not actually based on careful sifting of evidence.

Also, Mike Pence’s spokesman, speaking today, did not deny that the Vice President may have met with Russians.

Finally, I do not need any more smoking guns.  It’s a political process, not a strictly legal process.  The president, if not an agent of a foreign adversary, is giving us a pretty good imitation of somebody who’s been turned.  Do we really need more than that–assuming we are putting country first, that is.

McConnell’s “Responsive Health Care Market” Not Good News For Actual Living Persons Or Their Bodies

Senator McConnell spoke a few moments ago on the Senate floor.  He wants to promote a more “responsive health care market.”  That might be good news for some corporate persons, and even some actual persons who stand to profit from health insurance company profits.  But a more responsive health care market may or may not mean more responsive health care.  Health for actual human beings does not and cannot function as a perfectly efficient “free market” in which an “invisible hand” guides us to “optimal” outcomes.  Yes, incentives can and should be set in better or worse ways.  But Senator McConnell’s and Paul Ryan’s vision of “responsiveness” and “freedom” does not take into account that actual health care is care for us, and we are all more or less “used cars.”  A more responsive bazaar for used cars is not reassuring.  Something like a buy-in to Medicare for all to cut down on overhead and middleman profiteering is looking more and more appealing to actual persons–will our representatives take note and be responsive to that?

Too Soon For A National Day Of Fasting And Humiliation?

If the president of the United States is about to go down, I hope that we, the people, do not lose track of our role in enabling him.  The English and New English Puritans may have overdone the hair shirt sometimes, but this is a moment when the Puritan custom of days of fasting, prayer, and humiliation might well be good for us.  Some of us might wish to skip straight to the Day of Rejoicing over the downfall of Trump, but today should not yet be that day.

Maybe a few of us are not to blame for the low-rent mobster government that is now in place.  But many if not most of us did too little to protect American democracy and our constitutional republic.  That goes especially for the Republican Party, which suffered a hostile takeover and an astonishing loss of dignity.  But the Democratic Party and the apathetic nonvoters and the many millions of political independents–can we really say we are not at least partly to blame for the Wrestlemania presidency?  Are we embarrassed?  Do we want to look away?  Yes, but we also need, for our own sake, to reckon with our own failure to do enough to promote and defend civilization and culture and decency.

P.S.  I am not saying that those who voted for Trump are necessarily more blameworthy than those who voted for Clinton or someone else or no one at all.  Trump was garish and bombastic and offensive to many Trump voters, who nevertheless believed him the lesser evil.  That was then, Hillary is not the issue anymore.  She is not next in line if and when Trump goes down.  That would be Pence.  I only hope he turns out to be no worse than a conventional rightist meathead.  And some victims of Trump’s seduction may not yet or ever be penitent.  But we as a people (or we as an electoral college) might all do well to consider ourselves penitent victims of seduction, as we try to rehabilitate our democratic constitutional republic.

Video Of Putin Laughing At Trump Is Not Fun To Watch, But How Else Are We Going To Become Penitent Victims Of Trump’s Seduction

There used to be homes for penitent victims of seduction.  The whole United States is, or probably will soon be, such a home–for just about all of us.  I am not sure what the true story behind Trump’s utter loss of dignity vis-a-vis Vladimir Putin really is.  I do know that Mr. Putin is openly laughing at Trump. H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, and Steve Mnuchin did not deny Putin’s claim that Trump accepted Putin’s denials of election hacking.  Of course Putin is happy to pocket his victories and move on without “relitigating the past,” as Russian award-winner and U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson put it.  And of course no one wants needless confrontation much less war with Russia.  But when the president of Russia treats the president of the USA the same way Trump treats his own “lickspittle toadies” (as Josh Marshall writes) it is not a happy day for any American.  At least not any American not getting lots of Russian cash.

June 1987: “Tear Down This Wall”; July 2017: “We’re Moving Forward”

What if President Ronald Reagan had gone to Berlin and said “we’re moving forward” instead of “tear down this wall”?  “Not a lot of relitigating of the past,” reports Rex Tillerson about today’s meeting between the leaders of Russia and the United States. It’s hard to be at all sure about what happened today, but President Trump’s idea of how to represent America (and Western civilization?) is very different from that of Reagan and every other president in my lifetime.  Is our president an accessory after the fact (or worse) to Russian espionage and subversion of our constitutional republic?  Matt Yglesias has thoughts on that:

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/6/15928782/trump-accessory-after-the-fact

 

Meanwhile the best leader of the free world we have, Angela Merkel, rolls her eyes at Putin and Trump.

 

 

 

Someday My Fresh Prince Trump Will Come And Write A Symphony Defending Western Civilization

“We write symphonies,” said President Trump today in Poland.  Some headlines said he was “defending Western values.”  He began his “defense” of Western values by saying he was proud that so many Polish-Americans have enriched the United States and voted for him in 2016.  He named “radical Islamic terrorism” as a threat, as well as the “destabilizing activities” of Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere (is he afraid to just come out and say the Russians invaded Ukraine? why not have the courage to call things by their right names, Mr. Trump?).  He noted the “new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare.”  All true enough, and one can only hope Trump has paid attention to his aides when they tried to prepare him for his meeting with Putin.  The survival of Western civilization certainly depends partly on willpower, as Trump asserted, but maybe as much or more on the hard work of planning, the diligence it takes to study one’s adversaries as well as understand and promote values broader and deeper than one’s own advantage.  Western values, contra Trump, are not just the values of Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic.

According to Mr. Trump, “Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty.”  That might sound like boilerplate, but if you think about it for a few seconds there is an unresolved puzzle–what is in between individual freedom and sovereignty?  In classical terms, there is a “one and many” problem that I fear Trump, in his innermost tyrannical being, doesn’t really get.  Western values and Western civilization have an uncertain future, for sure; and they have a complicated history.  How do the “few” (our representatives) mediate between the one (monarch or executive) and the many (“the people”)?  Tough questions!  Back to Trump’s speech: “If we don’t forget who we are, we just can’t be beaten.  Americans will never forget…. We are the fastest and the greatest community.  There is nothing like our community of nations.  The world has never known anything like our community of nations.  We write symphonies…We celebrate our ancient heroes…We reward brilliance…We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success…And we debate everything.  We challenge everything.”

He may be onto something.  In fact I would be happier if Mr. Trump would devote himself to writing a symphony.  I would very strongly consider paying to download his first, second, and third symphonies, which will almost certainly take lots of time and undivided attention to write.  Mr. Trump, you possess the brilliance to write the greatest symphonies ever, symphonies that will defend Western civilization more than anything else you could possibly do.  I really mean that, believe me.  Do not let any Russian tricks and maskirovka fool you into doing anything else for the next three and a half years.  The time is gonna fly by.

Does Western Civilization Have The Will To Suppress The Freedom To Loot Artifacts (Or Tile Samples)?

The president may have a point, asking if Western civilization possesses the will to survive.  But Hobby Lobby reportedly has the will to loot the artifacts appertaining thereto and pass them off as “tile samples.”  So much maskirovka, as the Russians might put it.  This could be a two-Tum day.

Babyface Trump, Meet Babyface Kim

Some people still see a true babyface wrestler when they see President Donald Trump on TV.  Many others see a heel. But let’s assume for the moment that Trump is still a good guy, that is a “babyface.”  How will he get along with Kim Jong-Un, a true babyface.  Trump would like a script in which after some brief preliminary hype and posturing, somebody else (Xi Jinping, for example) does the hard work of negotiating with the young North Korean leader.  Then Babyface Trump gets all the glory, with little to no risk.  But Babyface Trump is not in a great position to leverage the Trump brand in this game the way he did in his previous lives in real estate, reality TV, and pro wrestling.  The kayfabe, the cheap heat, the dusty finish–are we Americans confident that Trump’s undeniable talents as BS artist and ratings machine are going to keep us safe from a North Korean missile?  In fairness, the past several presidents, from both political parties, failed to disarm North Korea.  Maybe Trump will succeed where others have failed.  But he is the first president I have seen actively provoke and insult the North Korean leader, as if it’s all a sporting match in which the outcome has been rigged in Trump’s favor.  I am concerned that Kim Jong-un has even more of a devil-may-care “sucks to be you” attitude than Chris Christie, and that we the people are in a more precarious position because Trump does not seem to realize that his life skills may not have prepared him very well for North Korea.

What Does The Federal Government Need To Know So Badly About States’ Voter Rolls?

So Republicans believe in “sovereign states.”  Right.  Unless Donnie and Kris and Hans want to poke their bloody noses into states’ voting records.  So they can “attaint” and target everybody who is not yet loyal to His Excellency Mr. Trump?  And only 24 states have flipped off the Voter Suppression Commission so far?  Shame on you, states who have not stood up for your voters yet.  If Mississippi can tell Trump and Company to go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, so can you!  If Kris Kobach qua Kansas Secretary of State can flip off Kris Kobach qua Vote-Suppresser-in-Chief, there is still hope.

Would it be too much to ask to look at the president’s 2017 tax returns?  Got something to hide, guy?

Update July 5: over 40 states have now said “hell yes, we have something to hide from the feds.”  President Trump has not yet threatened them with intracontinental ballistic missiles.

Whose Blood Is Really Corrupt In Washington?

There are several ways the Trump presidency may end, and not one of them is likely to be remotely normal.  How citizens should deal with a problem like him without becoming dragged down into his mess is a challenge.  Impeachment seems to me much too good for the 45th president. Beyond that it gets complicated.

Some people of good will (but who may not be paying close attention, perhaps because they have lives to live and problems to solve) may still say, give him a chance.  Yeah, I did that.  It has not gone well.  With his low-class tweets about the Morning Joe hosts, he may or may not have been trying to distract us from his voter suppression commission and the apparent flameout of the Senate tax-cut/repeal of Obamacare bill.  Or maybe he had no four-dimensional plan, and just flew into a rage at another rebellious, uppity woman on TV.  Whatever was in the president’s mind, it is hard to imagine that he is anywhere near prepared to represent the United States of America properly next week when he is scheduled to meet with Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit in Germany.  Trump seems far more interested in being a king or a czar than in serving the sovereign people of our country as the head of an executive branch constrained by checks and balances in our constitutional republic.  Whose interests is he going to be serving next week?  Has he any clue that he is standing up for values and traditions any different than, for examples, those of the Russian or Ottoman Empires, or is just going to act naturally and channel Caligula or Elagabulus?

Corruption of blood was outlawed by the United States Constitution over 200 years ago.  Bills of attainder were specifically forbidden.  We have a president who swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution.  But he seems to inhabit a mental world where corruption of blood is more real than any fluffed-up enlightened notion of liberty and equality before the law.  Trump’s defenders, when he goes way off the deep end, resort to saying that he is a “counterpuncher” who “fights fire with fire.”  Maybe Trump should be given a taste of his own preferred medicine.  That is, maybe we should bring back the bill of attainder to restrain and neutralize the damage he has been doing.  Trump’s stance toward people in his way who are US citizens but whose ancestors were darker than his skin is often to attack them with attaint of otherness.  He has little to no feel for the spirit of the 14th Amendment, which granted equal citizenship rights to all persons born or naturalized in the United States.  Trump’s voter suppression commission looks to me much like a backdoor weapon to “attaint” voters who were disloyal and disobedient to the “I alone can fix it” man now occupying the presidency.  Why not resist his attainder with a “people’s attainder”?  How else can we restrain the entire Trump family from continuing to violate the clear words of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution?  Fancy word, emoluments, but to break it down, it means corruption.  If you violate it over and over it means you are not a public servant but no better than a gangster and a thug.  In Blackstone’s Commentaries On The Laws Of England, we read (Chapter 7, Of The King’s Prerogative, section 241) that “in the king also can be no stain or corruption of blood; for if the heir to the crown were attained of treason or felony, and afterwards the crown should descend to him, this would purge the attainder ipso facto.  And therefore when Henry VII, who as Earl of Richmond stood attainted, came to the crown, it was not thought necessary to pass an act of parliament to reverse this attainder.”  Can we agree that our 45th president came to the presidency deeply attainted, and that he seems to have expected that ascending to the presidency should absolve him and purge him and make him clean; but that to many of us who live here the presidency feels horribly tainted and polluted?  Also that a minority of Americans, though many millions, feel that the president hasn’t been given a fair shot?  (May they take a closer look at what he is doing against much that has made America as great as it is?)  And by the way, Blackstone also comments (7:241) that “the law determines that in the king can be no negligence….Nullum tempus occurrit regi [no time runs against the king] is the standing maxim upon all occasions; for the law intends that the king is always busied for the good.”  If only!  If only we could recognize in Mr. Trump even a little fragment of this idealized picture of the monarch.

Is President Donald Trump guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors?  That is a political question more than a strictly legal question.  Should he be removed under the 25th Amendment?  That is also primarily a political question, though medical, psychological, and psychiatric expertise could be brought to bear.  I am ready to cry uncle and say I am ready for President Pence, rightwing meathead though he may be.  But first, why not ask the question, is our president guilty of misprision of treason if not treason itself?  I agree there is no conclusive proof of this now, but there are tantalizing hints and clues and circumstantial evidence all over the place.  Again, this is not a strictly legal question.  And we are not, thank goodness, at war with Russia today (though the climate is worse in several ways than during the Cold War).  But if misprision of treason is on the table as a live possibility, as I think it should be,  no effort should be spared to purify our country of the taint of corruption.

I seem to have woken up from a bad dream.  Was I really thinking that bringing back “bills of attainder” makes any sense at all?  Could bringing back accusations of “corruption of blood” serve any good purpose?  Confiscate President Trump’s property without judicial trial, and leave his wife, children, and grandchildren without any inheritance?  Seems crazy.  But crazier than a Trump-sponsored “voter fraud” commission getting states to hand over private information about 200 million voters?  Crazier than casual suggestions that if 22 million people can’t be tossed off their healthcare plans, why not strip 33 million of health insurance?

This thought experiment is not meant to draw any firm conclusions.  It is a snapshot of just how ominous the political situation in Washington seems to be today.