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With acquittal a foregone conclusion, the real drama is what Trump does next: Goodwin



With acquittal a foregone conclusion, the real drama is what Trump does next: Goodwin

Given that there have been only four presidential impeachments in American history, and given that only one man has twice suffered the indignity, viewers who tuned into the start of Donald Trump’s second Senate trial had a right to expect a buzz of excitement and a sense of drama.

What they got instead was buzz-kill and all the drama of watching paint dry. Who knew impeachment could be so lifeless and history so meaningless?

Certainly Chief Justice John Roberts knew. His refusal to preside reveals the exercise to be a cheap knockoff rather than the real thing.

And it’s impossible to believe the Founders would approve of Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont acting as both a juror and presiding officer, a conflict of interest so large that it alone renders the trial out of bounds, as Trump lawyer David Schoen effectively argued. His display of Leahy tweets calling for conviction sealed the argument that Leahy cannot be viewed as neutral.

For viewers, Day One was mostly a dud, in that they didn’t even get a trial, only a debate about whether there should be a trial. The dueling videos were the most interesting part, but they were also irrelevant to the threshold question of constitutionality.

Although it passed in a late-afternoon vote with six Republicans joining all 50 Dems, the impeachers’ victory will be temporary. Their fundamental problem is that there can be no tension about the proceedings because there is no tension about the outcome, and thus no logical reason for the trial.

Trump is a private citizen in Florida, Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office and acquittal is rightly a foregone conclusion. The smart idea would be to call the whole thing off, on both constitutional grounds and common sense.

As I have said, Trump’s speech to the enormous rally on Jan. 6 was reckless in that it was too angry and too bitter. But there is no honest way to conclude he intended to incite the Capitol invasion and riot.

The only way Dems could argue otherwise was by omitting his line to the crowd that “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

The real question, then, is why Dems are putting the nation through the exercise again, just a year and five days after Trump was acquitted the first time.

To say they hope for partisan advantage is obvious because nothing unites their party like hating Trump. It’s the glue that holds them together and prevents the factions from breaking into civil war.

That makes Biden the chief beneficiary and explains why, despite his calls for national unity, he gave his approval to the unprecedented trial of his predecessor. If it weren’t for the endless flogging of Trump, his left-wingers would be fighting with the far-left wingers over which socialist programs to ram through now and how many dimes they can wring from taxpayers.

But Dems also perceive another, longer range advantage in trying both Trump and Americans’ patience. For at its heart, the second Trump impeachment trial is exactly like the first in that both aimed at voter suppression.

Although the very definition of impeachment focuses on past acts while in office, the twin Trump impeachments have been about looking forward to the next election. The aim has been to knock him off the ballot if possible, but if not, dirty him up so he could be defeated.

The talk about Ukraine in the first trial and about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot now is a pretext. The real driver has always been the fear of what Trump will do, not what he has done. Neutralizing him as a political force and dividing the Republican Party are the ultimate aims.

Once you see that pattern, everything else makes sense. The flimsy evidence about withholding aid to Ukraine, based largely on a single phone call where Trump released the transcript, never had a chance of success in the Senate, and the impeachers knew it. Their aim was to beat him in 2020 and they did, though it’s unlikely that impeachment made much of a difference.

Having beaten him once, you might think the Dems would no longer be afraid of Trump. But they are, which is why they are desperate to keep him off the 2024 ballot. They probably won’t succeed but their endless effort to find a mechanism reveals their fear.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, assuming he is acquitted again, even floated the idea of censuring the former president, then concocting a way to turn that into a ballot ban. Politics doesn’t get any more devious and destructive.

Trump, meanwhile, has been shockingly silent. Knocked off social media, he can’t tweet and he’s been avoiding interviews until the trial ends.

The real suspense is what he will do after that. For as much as Dems and some Washington Republicans despise him, Trump remains extraordinarily popular with GOP voters.

Polls show that a big majority of the 74.2 million voters who backed him last year would do so again, with a YouGov survey showing that 80 percent of Republicans would definitely or probably support him for president in 2024. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others are furious with Trump, but they can read the polls, too.

The last thing they want is to have Trump turn that firepower against the GOP for the 2022 midterms or possibly even start a third party.

As usual, Trump’s decisions will be far more interesting and consequential than anything likely to happen in the Senate over the next week.

Pravda in the US

Reader Svetlana Shapiro left the Soviet Union for the US, but sees eerie parallels, writing: “The media are on Joe Biden’s side as well as the Internet giants. They would follow the best traditions of the main Soviet newspaper “Pravda” (The Truth).

Trump as well as Republicans will be blamed for every failure of the new government. This gives me a very pessimistic prognosis for our democracy.”

Exporting ‘woke’

Headline: Woke American Ideas Are a Threat, French Leaders Say

Tell us about it.

The Cuomo coverup

Before Attorney General Letitia James issued her report accusing Gov. Cuomo of undercounting nursing home deaths by 50 percent, the state was claiming that about 8,700 residents of those facilities died of the coronavirus.

Ten days later, the number is now approaching 15,000 dead, meaning James underestimated the scope of the coverup. And still Democrats in the Legislature can’t summon the courage to subpoena the State Health Department for a full accounting.

Their fear of Cuomo comes at the expense of the dead and the living.

Thankfully, the Empire Center for Public Policy filed a lawsuit, and most of the added numbers have come in response to a judge’s ruling. It makes you wonder what the state is still hiding.

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America’s elites are waging class war on workers and small biz




America’s elites are waging class war on workers and small biz

In America, class warfare is often disguised as culture war, and culture war is often cloaked by talk of race. But underneath it all, the class warfare is still there. Whether accidentally or intentionally, America’s upper classes seem to wind up harming the working class and small businesses, always in the name of some high-minded cause.

On immigration, for example, the go-to move is to call people who object to open borders racists and nativists. But what’s behind it? As Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein commented: “A tight job market pressures employers to boost wage offers . . . One equally surefire way to short-circuit this useful dynamic is to turn on the immigrant spigot every time some group’s wages go up.” Immigration as a way of keeping working-class wages down.

Likewise, efforts to defund police or de-police neighborhoods are treated as anti-racism, but their actual, predictable effect is to make poor and working-class neighborhoods much less safe, in order to make wealthy woke activists feel good about themselves. Similarly, Anthony Lukas’ classic book, “Common Ground,” told the story of how wealthy white activists placed most of the burden of desegregating Boston’s public schools on poor black and white families, while those behind the policies retreated to leafy suburbs, far from the problems they had created, or made worse.

Now a report in The New York Times captures a microcosm of the class war that race-talk obscures. A black student at Smith College reported being abused because she was black, saying she was treated as if she didn’t belong on campus by a white janitor and campus police officer. Her complaints produced a speedy apology from Smith (“We always try to show compassion for everyone involved,” said Smith President Kathleen McCartney) and mandatory sensitivity training for staff, as well as — ironically — the creation of all-black and minority dormitories. As part of the anti-bias training, the school’s blue-collar employees, the Times reports, “found themselves being asked by consultants hired by Smith about their childhood and family assumptions about race, which many viewed as psychologically intrusive.” 

Then an outside investigation determined that, basically, it never happened. The campus police officer, the janitor and a cafeteria worker had been falsely tarred as racists, but they were not the beneficiaries of apologies, “compassion for everyone involved” or anything else. 

“Check your privilege” is a common term around higher education, but the notion that white janitors, cafeteria workers and campus police are “privileged” in that environment is not simply absurd, but monstrous. As Smith janitor Mark Patenaude told the Times, “We used to joke, don’t let a rich student report you, because if you do, you’re gone.”

Privilege is the ability to get an employee of many years punished simply by making a complaint, even a false one.  

Universities, and especially the woke parts of universities, speak of race more than class. And as the Smith incident illustrates, they seldom extend the exquisite sensitivities displayed on matters of race to questions of class discrimination. They barely admit such questions exist.

And yet class war rages, even if people don’t want to talk about it. It’s not the Soviet-style class war, with “capitalists” on one side and “workers and peasants” on the other, but rather the educated “gentry class” (as demographer Joel Kotkin calls it) making life tough for the working class.

The gentry class is in firm control of most of the institutions in America, from big corporations, to media organizations, to, most especially, colleges and universities. The Democrats are the gentry class’ party, as the GOP increasingly becomes a diverse coalition of working-class and small-business people. And the gentry class is letting the working class have it.

Barack Obama boasted about driving coal mines into bankruptcy; Joe Biden tells miners they need to learn how to code. There’s talk of forgiving student-loan debt, which would effectively transfer wealth from high-school educated truck drivers to social workers with graduate degrees. Biden’s open-borders immigration policy will once again open the “immigrant spigot” to push working-class wages down. Piling ruin upon ruin.

And just as at Smith, they don’t care who’s hurt, so long as they can strike a pose. Is all this accidental? Or is it the product of hostility toward what Hillary Clinton called the “deplorables?” On the receiving end, does it really matter?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the blog.

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a crisis of Biden’s own making




a crisis of Biden’s own making

A crisis is a terrible thing to create. This, nonetheless, is what President Biden has done at the southern border.

His rhetoric during the campaign suggesting an open-handed approach to migrants coming to the US, and his early moves to undo Donald Trump’s border policies, are creating a migrant surge that risks running out of control.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the situation isn’t a crisis, but “a challenge” — an “acute” and “stressful” challenge with some “urgency,” but merely a challenge all the same.

Consider the contours of this challenge. Twice as many people, about 80,000, tried to cross the border illegally in January of this year as compared with January a year ago.

Even though it isn’t peak traveling season yet (that traditionally comes in May and June), the US Border Patrol has already begun releasing migrants into US towns on the border.

Axios reported on a briefing prepared for Biden that warned that the number of migrant kids is on pace to set a record, and there aren’t nearly enough beds to accommodate them.

Biden officials tend to discuss the “push factors,” the conditions that prompt migrants to flee their countries in Central America. But changing those underlying conditions, even if doable, is a long-term proposition. What we have much more direct control over is the “pull factors,” our own policies and practices that create an incentive to come here.

Trump had a number of false starts at the border, but, by the end, had created an entirely reasonable system based on his lawful authorities to impose order at the border. There is no good reason to rip up much of this arrangement, though that’s exactly what Biden has done.

During the pandemic, Trump turned around illegal crossers at the border on public-health grounds. Biden has created an exception for unaccompanied minors, which is an obvious incentive for families to send children under age 18.

Under Trump, the Migration Protection Protocols, also known as Remain in Mexico, ended the practice of letting Central American migrants into the US while their asylum claims were adjudicated.

This was crucial because, under the old arrangement, asylum seekers were allowed in while their claims were considered. Even if the claims were ultimately rejected, as the vast majority of them were, the migrants overwhelmingly ended up staying anyway. This was a huge magnet to migrants — get to the border and claim asylum and you’re in the United States, very likely to stay.

Biden has trashed the Migrant Protection Protocols. No new asylum seekers will be enrolled in the program, and the backlog of people who had been waiting in Mexico are being admitted into the United States.

He’s also suspended the so-called “safe third-country” agreements that Trump forged with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to get asylum-seekers to apply in one of those countries.

The premise of the overall Trump approach was that people who feared for their lives in their home country because of persecution don’t necessarily need to come to the United States to escape. It should be enough for them to go to another country in the region, or if they are indeed applying for US asylum, to stay in Mexico while doing so.

Allowing them into the United States, with no reliable internal enforcement mechanism, constitutes an end-run around our immigration system. Because migrants, like anyone else, respond to incentives, the more who are allowed in, the more will come. And, since our resources aren’t infinite, if enough families show up at the border, it inevitably overtaxes our personnel and facilities.

Even if Biden has different priorities, it makes no sense to create a willy-nilly rush at the border before a supposedly better system is in place (whatever that might be).

Mayorkas blames Trump for having “dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety,” a claim as absurd as the notion that the Biden administration started from scratch on vaccinations.

Trump got a handle on the border, which in 2014 and 2019 had spun out of control. Call it what you will, a crisis or a challenge, but Biden is on a path to heedlessly repeat this experience.

Twitter: @RichLowry

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Anti-Cuomo Johnny-come-latelies and other commentary




Anti-Cuomo Johnny-come-latelies and other commentary

Conservative: Anti-Cuomo Johnny-Come-Latelies

New York’s liberal political class, including Mayor de Blasio, are turning against Gov. Cuomo and calling for his emergency powers to be revoked — “but why now?” asks The Federalist’s Christopher Bedford. De Blasio and others cite Cuomo’s withholding of nursing-home death data, but “that fact, you might notice, has been in the media spotlight for weeks now,” and outlets led by The Post have been probing the issue for nearly a year. The left cites the recent sexual-harassment allegations against the gov, “which are indeed terrible. . . . But what about spending months lying and blaming others for 15,000 deaths in vulnerable elderly care facilities? Was that not enough to immediately end emergency authorities when it was exposed and then admitted?”

Media watch: The ‘Invented’ Andrew Narrative

At The Daily Beast, Ross Barkan wonders what “took so long” for the press to wake up on Andrew Cuomo. A year ago, pundits and reporters elevated the gov to “hero” status, failing to ask why “he kept comparing coronavirus to the flu and insisting that ‘fear’ was more dangerous than the virus itself” as the pandemic began. Or why he “dismissed the idea of shutting down New York City as late as March 17,” simply because “his nemesis, Bill de Blasio,” suggested it first. But “reporters crave narratives” and opted to cast Cuomo as the “foil” to the dark President Trump. Leave that tactic to fiction: “Novelists invent; reporters report.” The same media are now introducing “Cuomo the Consummate Creep,” but “it should’ve happened a lot sooner.”

Foreign Desk: A Transformed Middle East

In The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman considers the early fruits of President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords, such as: “In the middle of a global pandemic, at least 130,000 Israeli tourists and investors have flown to Dubai and Abu Dhabi since commercial air travel was established in mid-October.” And: “A new Hebrew language school that holds classes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been swamped with Emiratis wanting to study in Israel or do business there.” In short, “tourists, students and businesses” are now driving “the openings between Israel and the Gulf States.” If it keeps up, “we are talking about one of the most significant realignments in modern Middle East history” — with Israel and its new allies standing out for no longer “letting the past bury [the] future.”

Conservative: Amazon Suppresses Black History

During Black History Month, Amazon’s streaming service removed “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” a documentary showing the justice’s “rise from poverty in segregated Georgia to Yale Law School and, eventually, to the Supreme Court,” reports The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley. With “plenty of demand these days for positive assessments of black conservatives,” this is just the latest proof that “one of the country’s most popular streaming services is ambivalent about showcasing them.” “Wittingly or not, Amazon has used its power to abet” the growing effort to expunge from history those “more focused on black development than on black victimhood” or “more interested in the results of a policy than in its intentions.”

2024 Watch: Trumpism Without The Donald?

Ex-President Donald Trump remains enormously popular with the GOP’s populist base — so, observes The Washington Post’s Marc A. Thiessen, “it was stunning that when Trump’s most fervent supporters were asked whom they would support in 2024 if Trump were running, only 55 percent said they would vote for the former president.” That bare majority suggests that almost half of the base wants “someone else to carry the banner of Trumpism into the next election. . . . It’s a grudging recognition by many of his most ardent loyalists that, despite their adoration of him, there might be better candidates to advance his ideas.” With four years to the next election, much is in flux; the only certainty is that “it is highly unlikely” an anti-Trump Republican will win the GOP nomination.

_— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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