Putin on the Writs

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by lunchstealer » 31 May 2019, 13:28

thoreau wrote:
31 May 2019, 12:34
Some believe that impeachment is not only improbable but unwarranted because...well, I'm not really sure. I guess that they want to give presidents every conceivable benefit of the doubt, because we all know what a bunch of stand-up trustworthy guys presidents are.
I'm going to step in and defend Jason's view on impeachment vs electoral remedies for Trump.

His thing is not hey we should never impeach because hey trust presidents yay! It's much more, hey there was a legitimate election and we'll create so much bad blood by removal by impeachment relative to removal by election that it's a bad idea for the relatively minor obstruction high crime and/or misdemeanor that we're facing. It's more of a utilitarian argument that there are unintended consequences to impeachment that he thinks we should avoid, rather than that impeachment is to be avoided at all costs. His is a proportional response argument, I suppose.

I don't entirely agree because the obstruction crime here is a lot more significant than the obstruction under, say, Clinton WRT Blowjobgate. But his reasoning is more sound than you're saying.
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Putin on the Writs

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 13:38

Essentially yes that’s my argument. Close elections have highly agitated bases who feel they should have won. They will each pick on this or that micro thing as the reason. A high bar for impeachment mitigates the idea that losing an election just means you go to the impeachment round all the time - that no close election is ever in a sense legitimate.

You should have a plurality or ideally a dominating public consensus that specified actions are definitively crimes if proven before you try to get it done that way. Otherwise - win the next election.

Edit - if Thoreau thinks the worst outcome is he remains in office and Aresen thinks the worst outcome is a failed impeachment, I think the worst outcome is a razor thin removal.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 14:15

If the argument is that impeachment shouldn't happen unless the polling numbers turn against him, I've got some news for you: It won't happen unless the polling numbers turn against him. So relax. The powerful rich man won't suffer any consequences unless he becomes unpopular. That's um, well, it's something.

If the argument is that people shouldn't even argue for impeachment unless the polling numbers agree with them, you might as well go to a corporate advertising department and say "Hey, why are you guys running ads? Why not just let the market decide?" There's a marketplace of ideas, and the dangers of not even showing up to that marketplace are much greater than the dangers of arguing for something.

But in most of our discussions of Trump's conduct I'm not just detecting fear of rousing angry MAGAstanis. I'm detecting arguments that it's not actually that bad. If the argument is one on the merits, e.g. that running a compromised operation, benefiting from foreign hackers, and then obstructing the investigation is not bad enough to argue for removal, well, I've already said why it is bad enough. It's a fundamental disagreement, but whether such conduct is bad enough to argue for impeachment depends on each individual's value judgment. It doesn't depend on whether Trumpsters agree. Whether or not politicians act on the argument depends on whether a critical mass of moderates are swayed, but the validity of the argument hinges on your value judgments and the accuracy of the facts used to investigate it (e.g. who knew what and why didn't they call the FBI after getting the message about Natalia Veselnetskaya?).

OTOH, if the argument is that I shouldn't think Trump's conduct is bad unless a critical mass agrees with me, if the argument is that I need to only argue for things that have buy-in from a critical mass, well (1) we're back to "Why run ads? Why not let the market decide?" and (2) I guess that means that in my setting I should not only keep quiet about STEM Pipelie narratives, I should agree. I shouldn't just make a tactical decision not to argue with the PhD Pipelie shills, I should actually internalize their arguments and agree because a critical mass have bought in and something something upsetting the equilibrium. I guess that means that people at Oberlin should agree that a mediocre banh mi is not only mediocre but racist, because a critical mass believe that mediocre banh mi is racist. And so forth.

Sorry, but my brain is my own. People may not agree with what I think, and I might not argue for it effectively, but Trump's conduct needs to be evaluated by some standard beyond popularity. Of course, popularity will determine what standard prevails, but popularity is, in turn, determined by what people think, and there's nothing wrong with those people thinking on their own rather than deciding to only think something is bad if others agree that it's bad.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 15:00

Nobody said anything about what you should or shouldn't think - you keep doing that. This is not about whether you think behavior is bad or good, its if you think impeachment is the right tool. I'm arguing it's a political cluster bomb that would leave mayhem in its aftermath unless you have a bright line case. The collateral damage of a bare impeachment of a close election victor is half the country saying "ok even if we win an election they are going to keep doing this, re-litigating and seeking technicalities until they win - that's how we all need to play this game".

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 15:56

If the argument is that impeachment is the wrong tool until enough people support it, well (1) yes, that's why you need 2/3 of the Senate and (2) before enough people support it you'll need people who do support it and make the case for more to support it. You either have your own opinion on whether his conduct merits removal or you delegate your opinion to the rest of the public.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Warren » 31 May 2019, 16:40

thoreau wrote:
31 May 2019, 15:56
If the argument is that impeachment is the wrong tool until enough people support it, well (1) yes, that's why you need 2/3 of the Senate and (2) before enough people support it you'll need people who do support it and make the case for more to support it. You either have your own opinion on whether his conduct merits removal or you delegate your opinion to the rest of the public.
Are you aware of how hard you're working to misstate the argument?
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Putin on the Writs

Post by Mo » 31 May 2019, 18:22

JasonL wrote:Essentially yes that’s my argument. Close elections have highly agitated bases who feel they should have won. They will each pick on this or that micro thing as the reason. A high bar for impeachment mitigates the idea that losing an election just means you go to the impeachment round all the time - that no close election is ever in a sense legitimate.

You should have a plurality or ideally a dominating public consensus that specified actions are definitively crimes if proven before you try to get it done that way. Otherwise - win the next election.

Edit - if Thoreau thinks the worst outcome is he remains in office and Aresen thinks the worst outcome is a failed impeachment, I think the worst outcome is a razor thin removal.
Dude, razor thin removal is 2/3s not 51%. If anything, razor thin removal is far more dispositive than razor thin election loss.

ETA: 2/3s of the senate no less, which represents like 76% of the population
Last edited by Mo on 31 May 2019, 18:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Mo » 31 May 2019, 18:22

Dangerman wrote:If the last play at the buzzer matters, so does the play in the first quarter, and I don't know how to express a mathematical explanation of why the late game matters more
Sorta. If you’re down 2 with 48 minutes to go, you have a load of time to recover. If you’re down 2 with 1 second left, you get one poorly set up play.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Dangerman » 31 May 2019, 19:33

But without any of the points scored in the previous portion of the match, your last-ditch play wouldn't even matter because you're down 8, not 2, and now you can't even try to win at the last minute. I think that the, um, 'points' in our analogy, are fungible, and that any 'play' is as necessary as any other.

Also, I just spelled necessary correctly, on the first try, (and again just now), and I feel like I may never misspell it again. I am a golden god now.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 19:44

thoreau wrote:
31 May 2019, 15:56
If the argument is that impeachment is the wrong tool until enough people support it, well (1) yes, that's why you need 2/3 of the Senate and (2) before enough people support it you'll need people who do support it and make the case for more to support it. You either have your own opinion on whether his conduct merits removal or you delegate your opinion to the rest of the public.
Is your argument then that all the people you listed in the other thread should have had impeachment brought against them even knowing there's no way you get close to 2/3? Like you are going down with impeach for illegal war in syria and such?

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 19:58

JasonL wrote:
thoreau wrote:
31 May 2019, 15:56
If the argument is that impeachment is the wrong tool until enough people support it, well (1) yes, that's why you need 2/3 of the Senate and (2) before enough people support it you'll need people who do support it and make the case for more to support it. You either have your own opinion on whether his conduct merits removal or you delegate your opinion to the rest of the public.
Is your argument then that all the people you listed in the other thread should have had impeachment brought against them even knowing there's no way you get close to 2/3? Like you are going down with impeach for illegal war in syria and such?
I'm saying that they deserved impeachment and removal. Yes, I am aware that there was no way for it to happen, just as there are plenty of other unhanged scoundrels roaming the Earth. That doesn't change the fact that they deserved impeachment and removal. I know that you disagree, but at least disagree on the merits, not on the basis of "Well, people disagreed with you so they didn't deserve impeachment and removal."

It is possible for something to be both deserved and politically impossible.

I mean, if I say that the Harvard House Dean who was taken down by SJWs* shouldn't have lost his job, I am not saying that he should have stayed in the job even though his superiors had decided otherwise. I know how organizational flowcharts work. Rather, I am saying that the relevant people should have made different choices. Administrators and activists should have all taken a deep breath and thought things through more carefully.

Likewise, with Trump, I am keenly aware that a critical mass does not support impeachment and removal. I nonetheless believe that a critical mass should change their minds and inform their elected representatives accordingly. And, yes, some of them will change their minds before others, but there's no reason why everyone must wait until everyone else changes their mind. It is ok to express a currently unpopular opinion.

Do you think I should refrain from saying that there is no PhD shortage until a critical mass of colleagues have independently changed their minds, because it would be unseemly to disagree as long as some of them have PhD Pipelie grants?

*Yes, I am aware of allegations that he was a shitty House Dean. But that isn't what brought things to a head. This whole thing blew up because he is a professor of criminal law and agreed to represent Harvey Weinstein.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Jadagul » 31 May 2019, 20:03

These conversations keep conflating two or three different things.

Should Trump be removed from office when the majority of the country and the majority of the Senate thinks he should not be? Obviously not.

Would it be tactically wise for the Democrats to vote for articles of impeachment this week? Probably not.

Has Trump engaged in behavior that I, personally, think warrants impeachment? Yes.

Should those of us who believe that attempt to persuade others of that fact? Yes.

Like, the majority doesn't believe Trump should be removed from office. And that's an argument against voting to impeach him right now. It's not an argument against continuing to try to convince others to believe he should be.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 20:12

Obviously I just want to do away with the rule of law and replace it with my own personal dictatorial whim. I believe that nobody should follow any existing procedures and should instead answer to King Me. When I say that I support something that is currently unpopular I am saying that all procedures should be short-circuited because I hate the rule of law and I have no respect for anyone's autonomy. I believe that all unpopular opinions should be enforced by minions answerable to me, and I have them searching for the infinity stones so that I can make that happen.

Now agree with me or I will snap!

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 20:16

In fact, we should change the title of this thread to Doc T on the Writs.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 20:33

If I say that drug possession shouldn't be a crime, I literally mean that someone should tear up the law books, narcotics squads should be fired, and money appropriated for drug enforcement should be illegally channeled to other uses.

If I say that people shouldn't go to prison for drug possession I literally mean that armed vigilantes should break drug offenders out of prison.

If I say that agriculture shouldn't be subsidized I literally mean that the employees of the USDA should just refuse to mail the checks and instead put that money into whatever strikes their fancy.

If I say that the US military budget should be cut I literally mean that someone in the Treasury should just withhold funds regardless of what Congress says.

If I say that the National Science Foundation should not fund STEM Pipelie programs I literally mean that they should just stop sending checks for programs that were already approved by review panels. In fact, they should go to the recipients of the funds and drain their accounts. Maybe send repo men to confiscate office furniture.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 21:00

So, right. I get it now. Fist in the darkness literally every modern president should be impeached would you like to read my manifesto. Please believe me I want to sincerely convince you but yes the bar for impeachment is being the president. I’d like a policy of immediate impeachment so people know I mean business.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 21:08


JasonL wrote: but yes the bar for impeachment is being the president.
I would also like to impeach whichever Education Secretary is responsible for your lack of reading comprehension. I listed specific, serious actions that they undertook. Agree or disagree on the merits of those actions, but I didn't simply say that they needed impeaching because they were Presidents.

And I think that if Reagan had been impeached for Iran-Contra then maybe his successors would have behaved better. They have acted this way because of the incentives and disincentives that they have faced (or not faced, as the case may be).

Furthermore, the fact that I regard Trump's predecessors' actions as meriting impeachment does not change the fact that the issue with Trump is whether his actions merit impeachment, not "But it lacks sufficient support so you shouldn't support it."

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Warren » 31 May 2019, 21:16

Now I'm craving peaches in cream.
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Putin on the Writs

Post by JasonL » 31 May 2019, 22:26

If every modern president gets it your bar is low. I get it your bar is low.

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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 23:02

Fine. That's my bar. Articulate a bar for Trump's actions, and articulate it on some basis other than "Well, other people don't want to." What is your bar? What sort of action would make you say "I hope that he is impeached and removed"? What sort of action would make you say "I think that people should support impeachment and removal"? It has to be something other than the tautological "People should only support impeachment and removal if a lot of people support impeachment and removal."

If you think Trump's actions don't merit removal because they aren't so bad, say that. Don't just say "Well, a lot of other people out there don't think they're that bad, so he shouldn't be removed for them."

So far you've done two deflections from the core question of the merits. First you did the whole "It would be bad to remove him if people don't support it" which led us to this whole discussion of whether "He should be impeached and removed" implicitly means "There are good reasons why a critical mass of people really ought to support impeachment and removal" or instead means "I think this should happen regardless of what people want and regardless of what the procedures are." Now you're doing "Your bar is too low! You think Iran-Contra merited impeachment and removal!" Let's just set aside the misdeed of previous Presidents. However grave or forgivable they might have been, what of Trump right now?
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Aresen » 31 May 2019, 23:03

JasonL wrote:
31 May 2019, 22:26
If every modern president gets it your bar is low. I get it your bar is low.
Well, if they'd impeached Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs or Johnson for the Gulf of Tonkin, I think the USA would be in a much better place now.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 23:05

Aresen wrote:
31 May 2019, 23:03
JasonL wrote:
31 May 2019, 22:26
If every modern president gets it your bar is low. I get it your bar is low.
Well, if they'd impeached Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs or Johnson for the Gulf of Tonkin, I think the USA would be in a much better place now.
Welcome to the Crazy People Club.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Warren » 31 May 2019, 23:13

Aresen wrote:
31 May 2019, 23:03
JasonL wrote:
31 May 2019, 22:26
If every modern president gets it your bar is low. I get it your bar is low.
Well, if they'd impeached Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs or Johnson for the Gulf of Tonkin, I think the USA would be in a much better place now.
OMG NO
No no no no no
Impeaching the guy doesn't undo the damage. And what Jason's been saying, impeachment isn't for "this guy sucks". Those were policy mistakes. Big ones I'll grant you, but still. Giving every guy in the chair the boot half way through their first term is no way to run a country.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by Aresen » 31 May 2019, 23:27

Warren wrote:
31 May 2019, 23:13
Aresen wrote:
31 May 2019, 23:03
JasonL wrote:
31 May 2019, 22:26
If every modern president gets it your bar is low. I get it your bar is low.
Well, if they'd impeached Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs or Johnson for the Gulf of Tonkin, I think the USA would be in a much better place now.
OMG NO
No no no no no
Impeaching the guy doesn't undo the damage. And what Jason's been saying, impeachment isn't for "this guy sucks". Those were policy mistakes. Big ones I'll grant you, but still. Giving every guy in the chair the boot half way through their first term is no way to run a country.
WTF? Kennedy committed an unauthorized act of war. Johnson lied to Congress as a pretext for escalating the Vietnam war. If those are not impeachable offenses, nothing is. The point of impeachment is not to 'undo' what has happened, but to remove those who have committed crimes and (hopefully) give their successors an incentive not to repeat the offenses.
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Re: Putin on the Writs

Post by thoreau » 31 May 2019, 23:41

In order to impeach and remove over Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Iran-Contra, or whatever else, we'd have have to be the sort of country that elects the sort of Congress that sees those things as fundamental abrogations of the basic agreements underlying government. The sort of country that elects that sort of Congress would be the sort of country that would consider that sort of impeachment acceptable.

This country sees that sort of foreign policy acceptable, and sees it as acceptable for a President to carry out such foreign policy without Congressional involvement. When I say that I wish they had impeached, I'm saying that I wish we had the sort of country that agreed. I'm saying that I wish the American people had been more careful about this and had not supported that sort of executive action.

Some libertarians would point to the text of the Constitution, note that Presidents aren't authorized to do such things, and say that that's why Congress should have impeached and removed over Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Iran-Contra, etc. I say that the American people have implicitly accepted an unwritten amendment that allows that sort of executive action. They did it by spending many decades (arguably well over a century) electing Congresses that accept such executive action overseas. They could undo it by electing a Congress that decided to act against a President over such executive action. That would be another unwritten amendment.

I'm open to critiques of democracy, and would be willing to discuss that. But within the confines of the system as it currently operates, I wish the American people would elect a Congress that takes a different view of its relationship with the executive, and also elect a President that takes a different view of what a proper foreign policy is. Alas, I'm not holding my breath for these things.

Instead, I think we're moving toward a future of Congress as a vestigial organ. There will never be a day where it happens formally, but we'll see more and more shifting of power from Congress to the executive. Most steps will be small, and people will say that anyone who objects to any particular step is just a crazy person who doesn't understand that There Is A System And We Had An Election And Now You Want To Change It?!?!?!?! But we will keep going in that direction. There will always be a Congress, just as Rome always had a Senate, but it will matter less and less.
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