As for the GAO claiming that Trump violated the law by withholding funds from Ukraine to advance his personal policy agenda (funds that were delivered within Congressional deadline, and that Ukraine wasn’t even aware were on hold), that has more holes than a truckload of Swiss cheese.
The GAO is under the oversight of Congress and led by an Obama appointee. The Office of Management and Budget, which is under the executive branch, disagrees with the GAO’s opinion, which seems to be based on the GAO's psychic ability to divine Trump’s motives as other than what he’s publicly stated and what he said in his call to the Ukrainian President. That was to insure that American tax money wasn’t being given to corrupt politicians who would steal it – which is his responsibility under a treaty with Ukraine signed by Bill Clinton in 1998.
Here’s a little history of the law Trump allegedly broke; and how the law or the idea behind it was opposed by Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Incidentally, the GAO found that Obama broke the law in the same way on more than one occasion, but the Democrats made zero calls for his impeachment over it.
When you take all of this – the “impeachment articles” that cite made-up, non-impeachable offenses (“obstruction of Congress”) based on third-hand hearsay contradicted by facts; handwritten scratch-pad notes passed off as documentary evidence; the GAO and others claiming their disagreement with how the President uses executive power is proof of illegality; laughably unsupported claims from a dodgy source on a discredited partisan cable show – and add it all up, what does it amount to?
It strikes me as a perfect illustration of a well-known logical fallacy: that if you have a weak and unconvincing argument, bolstering it with more weak and unconvincing arguments will somehow make it more believable just from the sheer quantity of weak and circumstantial evidence.
It’s nothing new in politics, although it does take it further than ever before. Back in 1990, there was a patently ridiculous claim that George Bush flew to Paris in 1980 to secretly meet with Iranians to convince them to hold the hostages until the election to help Reagan defeat Jimmy Carter – you know, because Iran really wanted to deal with Reagan instead of Carter. Then-Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley gave a famous quote that’s since apparently become the motto of his Party:
"Even though there is no evidence, the seriousness of the charge is what matters. The seriousness of the charge mandates that we investigate this."
Well, to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Victor Davis Hanson at National Review gives us a chilling look at what our political world will be like from now on, not because (as we’re constantly told) Donald Trump is a danger to our Constitution, but because his political opponents are so frenzied with hatred for him that they tossed the Constitution, the law and over two centuries of American democratic traditions and practices into a wood chipper.
For those who would read this and scoff that this bleak, post-Constitutional future can’t possibly happen, please note that everything he describes has already happened and is continuing to worsen even as I type this.
Meanwhile, back in Realityville…On Thursday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA. Among its provisions: prohibiting currency manipulation, protecting intellectual property rights, requiring that 75% of parts in cars assembled in member countries be made in North America, and opening up more of Canada’s agricultural market to US farmers.
Only 10 Senators voted against it, nine of them Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, who opposed it because it doesn’t address climate change – a priority that Iowans might remember as they gather for the Democratic Caucuses.
Thursday was National Religious Freedom Day. President Trump observed it with an Oval Office ceremony in which he signed an executive order protecting the right of individuals to pray in schools and rolling back federal regulations that discriminate against people of faith. He was surrounded by Christian, Jewish and Muslim students who had all faced discrimination because of their religious beliefs.
Trump said, "In public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith or following their religious beliefs. It is totally unacceptable. You see it on the football field, you see it so many times where they are stopped from praying. We are doing something to stop that." He added that "there is a cultural war" and a "totalitarian impulse on the far-left that seeks to punish, restrict and even prohibit religious expression."
Trump also unveiled new proposed rules to protect staffers at medical facilities from being forced to participate in procedures such as abortions and gender reassignment surgeries that conflict with their religious faith. LGBTQ activists claimed that this would endanger the lives of women, gay and transgender people, a claim that defenders of religious freedom dismissed as nonsense.
Here’s more analysis of Trump’s executive order from Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, about how it actually benefits all Americans by protecting First Amendment rights and reestablishing the principle that all forms of discrimination and intolerance are wrong.
A reminder to our pompous overlords in Washington of just how important they really are to most Americans: On a taping of “Jeopardy!” the category was “U.S. Representatives.” The answer: “One-fifty-third of California’s House delegation is this House Intelligence Committee chairman.” The contestants even got to see his photo.
Not a single one of them recognized Adam Schiff.
But really, why should they? As “Jeopardy!” noted, he’s 1/53rd of the Representatives from just one of 435 Representatives of 50 states, so why should he think he’s more important than the President? And why should most Americans need to have any idea of who he is?
Incidentally, most Americans also have no idea how lucky they are to have jobs that allow them never to have heard of Adam Schiff or seen his face.
Rand Paul is threatening to teach his fellow Senators a new meaning of the term “nuclear option” if they agree to start calling more witnesses for the impeachment trial.
Arizona Sen. Martha McSally responded to a question from CNN’s Manu Raju with a reply that has the media up in arms, and that I predict will result in a big boost to donations to her reelection campaign. I detect the welcome, rising influence of Ricky Gervais.