Foolish Blogger!

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment Can't Save You Now!

Background: Last Tuesday I blogged about Charles C. W. Cooke's comments about Jonathan Martin's Politico article that essentially admitted that Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. lacks the "capacity to do the job."

That job being POTUS.

In my comments I briefly mentioned my longstanding political-thriller fantasies about section four of the 25th amendment. Andrew McCarthy now throws some cold water on that: Feeble Biden Faces Little Threat from the 25th Amendment.

Strange as it seems, a person who lacks capacity to govern is not thereby disqualified from being president of the United States — at least in the constitutional sense.

If Biden’s condition is as Martin describes (and I don’t doubt that it is), then that is, as Charlie puts it, “disqualifying.” There’s a big difference, though, between disqualifying and disqualified. Biden’s straits (meaning ours) are analogous to the situation in which a president has committed impeachable offenses. This is disqualifying behavior. Yet, the constitutional qualifications for one to serve as president, and to maintain the office once elected to it, do not include refraining from disqualifying behavior. The same is true of incapacity to govern. It triggers not removal but the mere possibility of a removal process. That process is political, and whether it is invoked is a matter of political calculation, not legal obligation.

If you're concerned about having an incapable figurehead president, McCarthy's (NRPlus) article is worth checking out.

How did the betting markets react to the past week's antics?

Candidate EBO Win
Donald Trump 37.3% +1.0%
Joe Biden 29.0% -1.1%
Gavin Newsom 10.7% +0.3%
Nikki Haley 6.9% +1.2%
Robert Kennedy Jr 3.7% unch
Michelle Obama 2.7% -0.5%
Ron DeSantis 2.5% -0.2%
Other 7.2% -0.7%

If I may summarize: they are increasingly thinking that Trump might beat Biden; Newsom is increasingly seen as the Democrat saving us from Biden; Haley is increasingly seen as the Republican saving us from Trump; Ron DeSantis is toast; some continue to entertain RFKJr or Michelle Obama scenarios (or, more accurately, "fantasies").

Also of note:

  • I remember 2017… or is that an acid flashback? Nope, Google confirms that Donald J. Trump called my state a "drug-infested den" in a phone call with president of Mexico back then. PolitiFact notes that he's still hitting that theme, and rates his latest claim "False":

    Former President Donald Trump claimed during a New Hampshire rally that the state has an unexplained drug problem. But his claim hinges on outdated data.

    "I don't understand New Hampshire for whatever reason, you have a worse drug problem per capita than any other state," Trump said during a Nov. 11 rally in Claremont. "Nobody's explained that."

    TL;DR: ranking drug overdose deaths on a "per capita" basis, New Hampshire is around the middle of the pack. Go pick on West Virginia, Donald.

    Pun Salad value-added: WalletHub did one of its multi-factor state comparisons on illicit drug use/abuse. New Hampshire's overall score there puts it in a mediocre 37th place. (At the top drug-denwise: New Mexico, In the cellar: Hawaii. All other New England states score above New Hampshire.)

  • Reductio ad Hitlerum. Or: Playing the Hitler card. Or: Confirming Godwin's Law. Whatever you call it, the WaPo does it, headlining its article: How Trump’s rhetoric compares with Hitler’s.

    Donald Trump has long toyed with the language of famous autocrats, authoritarians and fascists. Think: “enemy of the people,” “retribution” and the frequent, years-long allusions to political violence.

    But even by his standards, the former president is now mining darker territory — with overtones of some of the ugliest episodes in recent world history.

    The Washington Post this weekend summarized Trump’s Veterans Day speech in a headline thusly: “Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini.”

    You know what? I don't disagree. Trump's rhetoric is disgusting, stupid, and borderline dangerous.

    But what's new?

    Related fun fact: Trump Brags: ‘I Had a Disease Named After Me’

    Donald Trump bizarrely bragged at a rally on Saturday that he has the “great honor” of having a disease named after him. Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Iowa, the former president said: “Every sane person, without what they call Trump derangement syndrome—do you know what that is? It’s a great honor, I had a disease named after me: Trump derangement syndrome—wants to get back to how great we had it under the Trump administration.” He was referring to a derogatory term for people who criticize Trump that is used by Trump supporters to refer to what they view as an irrational dislike of Trump and all of his policies. In 2016, Trump tweeted about the supposed syndrome, writing “Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”

  • Pun Salad fave goes off the rails. According to Nick Catoggio, Nikki Haley is advocating A Different Kind of Identity Politics. Sounds bad! And it is:

    Man, they really caught her in crazy-eyes mode there.

    Her proposal annoyed right-wing populists, a group not normally given to principled defenses of liberal values. “Nice try, Nikki,” Turning Point USA poohbah Charlie Kirk responded. “Anonymous speech is a core part of free speech—which the founders would know, since many of them (including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) wrote anonymously.”

    Charlie Kirk is correct. How often do we get to say that?

    Dangerous and unconstitutional, like the man said. If Alabama couldn’t do it then, it’s hard to see why a Nikki Haley administration could do it now.

    I suppose our GraniteGrok contributor Steve MacDonald could be pigeonholed as a "right-wing populist", and he's also rightfully peeved (but perhaps also gladdened): She Didn't Mean to But Nikki Haley Just Ended Her Campaign for President.

    Nikki Haley has been as on the rise as a candidate can be in this primary cycle, gaining ground on Ron DeSantis and making big media buys with all the swampy Neo-Con money she’s been getting. And good for her. That’s all part of the process. But it may have all been in vain. She just ended any hope she had of winning the nomination.

    Emphasis, mine.

    “When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media companies have to show America their algorithms, let us see why they’re pushing what they’re pushing,” Haley added. “The second thing, every person on social media should be verified by their name. First of all, that’s a national security threat. When you do that, people have to stand by what they say and it gets rid of the Russian bots the Iranian bots and the Chinese bots, and then you’re going to get some civility when people know their name is next to what they say.”

    So, no! And I am a big fan of standing behind what you write and say, but anonymity is essential to the right to Free Speech. In its absence, there is no path for insiders and whistleblowers to reveal unpleasant truths, greed, corruption, malice, fraud, and even tyranny. Pseudonyms protect speakers and sources, neither of which should be unmasked by authors, editors, social media companies, bureaucrats, politicians, or presidential candidates promising to scratch a totalitarian itch.

    Eloquent and (ignoring the neo-con slur) accurate. Back to Catoggio:

    We’ve arrived at a weird point in the campaign where Nikki Haley, the great classical-liberal hope, sounds authoritarian while Ron DeSantis, the great authoritarian hope, sounds classically liberal.

    It's a funny old world. I'll have to hold my classical liberal nose a little when I vote for her in the primary on January 23. I'll just have to keep reminding myself: Even as President, she wouldn't have the power to decree that. And even if she managed to get it legislated, it would be struck down in the courts about 30 nanoseconds later.

    Finally, Chris Stirewalt has some analysis: Nikki Haley’s Unproven Reserves.

    Other than getting herself whopperjawed over an ill-conceived and poorly launched proposal to end online anonymity, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has been having a helluva good run in recent weeks.

    Indeed, her social media blunder is evidence of how well things have been going for her. When you’re in fifth place, a half baked idea served up on daytime television doesn’t get much attention. But as Vivek Ramaswamy can attest, the wacky ideas that can help get you the celebrity you need to be competitive promptly become liabilities once you arrive.

  • But speaking of Vivek… CoinDesk has the latest news: Ramaswamy Shares Crypto Plan, the First Among Republican Presidential Candidates.

    Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has a message for most of the employees at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if he's elected to the White House: You're fired. And everybody still left at their desks would need to back off the crypto industry, according to the candidate's new policy strategy for U.S. digital assets.

    Most cryptocurrencies are commodities that are none of the SEC's business, according to Ramaswamy's crypto plan shared with CoinDesk on Thursday and set for public release at the North American Blockchain Summit in Texas. The pharmaceutical entrepreneur remains among the top four GOP candidates, maintaining 5% support in a dwindling field dominated by former President Donald Trump, according to polling data.

    One issue that separates him from other candidates is his enthusiastic support of crypto as a financial innovation. He argues that the sector needs to have several freedoms protected: the right to code as a First Amendment freedom that should shield software developers from criminal or enforcement vulnerability, the right to maintain self-hosted digital wallets outside the reach of regulators and the right to know how each new virtual asset will be treated by the government.

    Refreshingly laissez-faire! Not at all wacky! And I assume not just shameless pandering to possible campaign contributors attending the "North American Blockchain Summit".