Nel's New Day

December 19, 2019

Conservative, Evangelical Support for Impeachment

Bret Stephens may be one of the most conservative columnists in the mainstream press, but he defended impeachment. His recent column started with a discussion about Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general “Laurence Silberman, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a man widely admired by conservatives for his wisdom and rectitude,” talking about “the secret files of F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover.

“’Accompanied by only one F.B.I. official, I read virtually all these files in three weekends … Silberman, who was then President Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general, recalled in a speech to a judicial conference. It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service…’

“’As bad as the dirt collection business was, perhaps even worse was the evidence that [Hoover] had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes. I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends.’”

Stephens then wrote about the impeachment of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“According to the public transcript of Donald Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Trump said: ‘The server, they say Ukraine has it …. I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.’

“Trump also said: ‘There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.’

“Here is a textbook case of Judge Silberman’s ‘most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage.’ The president is unambiguously proposing to employ his chief law-enforcement officer to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump hopes will burnish his political legitimacy. And he also proposes to use the attorney general in an attempt to investigate a political opponent for undeniably political ends.

“That Trump didn’t get away with it is a relief, not an exoneration. That he continues to insist the call was ‘perfect,’ as he did Tuesday in his letter to Nancy Pelosi, means that he is likely to do it again. That he attempted to subvert the will of Congress by impounding congressional funds for his political ends threatens the separation of powers in ways that will haunt a future Republican Congress. That he was prepared to endanger an ally and benefit an enemy is not treason, as the Constitution defines treason, but it is a travesty, as any American ought to understand travesty. That Republican leaders are cheering him only serves to define deviancy down and debase our political norms. That conservative pundits claim to be outraged at the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Trump campaign — or the smearing of Carter Page — while being indifferent to Trump’s attempt to investigate Joe Biden — and the smearing of Hunter Biden — marks a fresh low in rhetorical sophistry.

“There are people who believe that law, morality, traditions and institutions are at least as important to the preservation of freedom as the will of the people. Such people are called conservative. What Republicans are now doing with their lock step opposition to impeachment — and with their indifference to the behavior that brought impeachment about — is not conservative. It is the abdication of principle to power.

“I might think differently about impeachment if Trump had shown any sense of contrition. Or if Republicans had shown any inclination to censure him. But Trump hasn’t, and they haven’t. Whatever the political ramifications of impeachment now, history will judge members of this Congress harshly if they fail to state their revulsion at the president’s behavior in the strongest terms they can. Impeach and convict.”

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded by televangelist Billy Graham, called for impeachment and described DDT’s actions “immoral.” [DDT’s photo for the article.] Editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote:

“In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment….

“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

“Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

“This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:

“The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.

“And this:

“Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.

“Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president….

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?…

“To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.”

Galli erroneously wrote that DDT was not allowed to give his side in the impeachment inquiry. He was invited to send witnesses and lawyers but refused. But his other information is right on target.

DDT’s base sometimes seems deeply entrenched in its cult-like behavior, but a few votes can make a different. He won the Electoral College by under 80,000 votes, a small number in the approximately 138 votes cast for the 2016 presidential election.

May 1, 2017

Three Massive Protests, NYT’s Paid Climate Denier

Donald Trump Jr. is known for killing large animals in Africa such as elephant, leopard, kudu, civet cat, waterbuck, crocodile, antelope, buffalo, and great warthog. Last weekend he changed his sights to Montana and the fierce prairie dog, a species that supports entire ecosystems. They can’t be used for food, and killing them doesn’t provide wildlife management. Right now is the breeding system when female prairie dogs are most likely to be pregnant or nursing. For fun, Jr. went killing with U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte, who thinks it’s fun to use high-powered rifles that make the animals explode with “body parts severed and sent flying.” That’s what the son of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did on Saturday, the same day that 200,000 marched in Washington, D.C. for the People’s Climate March.

 

The People’s Climate March was the second of three massive marches in the nation in just nine days, following the March for Science on April 22, Earth Day. The city was hot—91 degrees that tied the record high for April 29 in 1974—but people joined the 300 other marches in the United States and around the world. Here are photos of signs from WaPo.  The size eclipsed the crowds from the March for Science, one week earlier. Paul Getsos, the national coordinator for the People’s Climate March, said:

“It’s not just an enviro event. We have 43 labor union buses, we have indigenous [groups], we’ve been organizing communities of color, we have a big faith and youth contingent. … we are part of a larger resistance.”

A visual time-lapse of the march in Washington is available here along with more signs.

Science supporters are always important, but this year more than any other time in the modern era they are vitally needed. The Republican president, 142 representatives, and 38 senators who reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity causes climate change have received a total of $82,882,725 in donations from coal, oil and gas industries. Only seven states have no climate deniers in their delegations, and I’m proud that Oregon is one of those seven. The other six are five New England states and Delaware.

The Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the week after Earth Day “updating” its website with “language to reflect the approach of new leadership.” The Secretary is a permanent climate denier, and DDT thinks that the Chinese perpetrated the science of climate change as a hoax. This ideology will be reflected in the EPA’s “to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first.”

Adding to climate denial promotion, the New York Times has hired a known climate denier, Bret Stephens, to write about the climate. Stephens came from the Rupert Murdoch-owned, climate-denying Wall Street Journal where he was deputy editorial page editor. It’s expected that the conservative publication would hire a climate denier, but the NYT has long been considered so progressive than my Republican friend wouldn’t read it.

James Bennet, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, justified the action by saying that there are “millions of people who agree with him.” He added, “There’s more than one kind of denial,” indicating that he might agree with more than one kind of truth. Millions of people, many of them DDT-supporters, deny climate change, but far more believe that climate change exists and it’s caused by humans. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55 percent at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008. In addition, 68 percent of people think that there is climate change and that it’s caused by humans.

Pro-Israel war hawk Stephens once wrote a column on “the disease of the Arab mind” and thinks anti-racists are the real racists. He said that people who accept climate change science are motivated in part by the “totalitarian impulse” and they worship “a religion without God.” According to Stephens, “global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time.” In 2015, Stephens described climate change a “mass hysteria phenomenon” for which “much of the science has … been discredited” and that global warming — along with hunger in America, campus rape statistics, and institutionalized racism — are “imaginary enemies.” He dismissed the well-documented “vanishing polar ice” as based on “flimsy studies.” The NYT itself has documented the problem of melting ice at the poles.

Stephens started his first column for NYT by explaining that scientists could be wrong about climate change because the polls projected a win for Hillary Clinton. First, the polls were right on target with their projections, but the Electoral College process put DDT into the presidency. But more important, scientific analysis isn’t the same as taking surveys. Science isn’t about opinions, it’s about evidence.

In an interview with Vox, Stephens explained that he doesn’t worry about climate change because he knows a climate change activist who “just had a baby.” His belief is that “if he thinks in 20 years we’ll be heading toward unsustainable climates and there will be tens of millions of people being displaced, presumably including himself, at the most apocalyptic level, then presumably he wouldn’t be having children.” So there you have it: people who have children know that climate change doesn’t exist.

His column was so bad that reporters and news editors from the NYT have panned it. Andy Revkin, former NYT climate reporter and blogger quoted twice in Stephens’ first column as justification for his ideas, tweeted that the column featured “straw men” and other flaws. Stephens used reports to support his position, but the report was opposite to what Stephens wrote. The rate of warming, cited by Stephens as “modest,” is 50 times greater since 1880 than the rate of cooling in the previous 5,000 years and drastically increases to probability of destructive catastrophes such as Superstorm Sandy.

The degree of global warming in upcoming decades depends on carbon pollution. Taking immediate action to cut these emissions can limit the warming to perhaps four degrees along with the accompanying climate consequences. Stephens, however, discourages people from doing this by cutting off any discussion about future climate crises.

Both the liberal and the conservative sides of media criticize people who slam the NYT for presenting Stephens’ columns as valid for debate. Yet how far are those “free speech” arguers willing to go in supporting the employment of people who present “alternative facts”? Would the NYT give space to columnists who argue that the world is flat? Or that the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were faked by the government? At one time, the NYT provided credible journalism. Now it seems to just go with the flow—and the flow is sharply downhill. As Matt Gertz wrote about the NYT after DDT’s election, “The paper sold new subscribers on providing vigorous resistance to the ‘alternative facts’ that fueled his rise. Now, it’s publishing them.”

More protesters marched today, May Day. The White House website noted May 1 as “Law Day” and touted the importance of the Constitution and the partnership of law and liberty. It ignored the theme of the American Bar Association for this year’s Law Day, “Transforming American Democracy,” celebrating the 14th Amendment that “advanced the rights” of all people in the United States “through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses” as well as “extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states.” And it ignored other meanings of May 1, for example International Workers Day and the labor protests in the United States that go back to Haymarket Square 131 years ago.

Although the White House website made no mention of any other meaning to May Day, it might take note because of the huge and angry protests in the United States joining those around the world. This year, the focus was a denunciation of DDT’s crackdown on and deportation of undocumented immigrants, many of them working in low-paying, non-unionized jobs—agriculture, fast-food, hospitality, child care, and other services. Others attacked his Muslim and refugee ban. Some protesters didn’t go to work today, and immigration-run convenience stores and other businesses closed in solidarity. A rally in front of Manhattan offices of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase protested their dealings with private companies that build and/or manage government detention centers.

The term Mayday is also used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure. Considering DDT’s actions in his first 100 days, people may need the term.

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