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Friday, January 15, 2021

Views of US Leadership

 Many posts have discussed international public opinion about the United States.

At Gallup, Julie Ray reports:

As data continue to pour in from Gallup's 2020 surveys across the globe, approval ratings of U.S. leadership before Inauguration Day next week are still tracking lower than they have at most points in the past decade.


While generally unpopular across much of the world and particularly among key allies, U.S. leadership did find favor among the majority of the population in seven of the 60 countries: Dominican Republic (66%), Cameroon (62%), Georgia (61%), Zambia (56%), Albania (56%), the Philippines (55%) and Uganda (53%). U.S. leadership garners the lowest approval ratings in Germany (6%), Iran (6%) and Iceland (5%). 

The global picture of the image of U.S. leadership during the last year ... is becoming somewhat clearer as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office. But until all of Gallup's 2020 fieldwork is complete in a few months, it is still too early to say that the U.S. will see its worst ranking in the history of Gallup's World Poll.

However, the picture that has emerged thus far makes the foreign policy headwinds that Biden faces as he takes the helm that much more obvious. Further, Gallup collected these data before the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol, which likely will only make the challenge of restoring the U.S. reputation abroad even tougher.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Belknap and Impeachment Trials

 Andra Belknap (Pitzer `09)  at USA Today:

Can Congress even impeach someone who is no longer in office? What’s the point of voting to impeach and try a man who is headed out the door in a few days’ time? 

The answer to the first question is an emphatic yes. I do have some expertise here; it’s in my last name. 

I was in seventh grade when my class was silently reading a section of Reconstruction-era American history. I came across the name William Worth Belknap, a former United States secretary of War impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 2, 1876. The paragraph recounted how Belknap had tearfully resigned his cabinet position to President Ulysses S. Grant just two hours prior to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. I had never heard of the man, but I was mortified. There are few things that aren’t embarrassing to a 12-year-old. 

Turns out, he is my ancestor. I learned later that Belknap was accused of effectively selling lucrative government appointments at Fort Sill in modern day Oklahoma — he received approximately $20,000 in payments in return for the appointments. Belknap’s yearly salary at the time was $8,000. Indeed, 20-grand was a substantial sum in the 19th century United States.

 Belknap faced a Senate trial for corruption in office over a period of four months in 1876 — the nation’s centennial. Notably, he was a private citizen at the time. The five articles of impeachment alleged that Belknap had, “criminally disregard(ed) his duty as Secretary of War, and basely prostitut(ed) his high office to his lust for private gain.” A majority of the Senators voted to convict Belknap for his crimes, but they failed to reach the two-thirds majority required for a conviction. 

This brings me to question two. What’s the point of such an impeachment and Senate trial? The question was debated at length by the Congress. Those in favor came to a simple conclusion: high crimes require justice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fast-Track Impeachment

A number of posts have discussed impeachment.  Today, the House will impeach the incumbent president for the second time.

H.Res. 24 is the impeachment resolution

H.Res. 41 is the rule for today's impeachment proceedings.

H.Res. 40 names impeachment managers.

From the House Rules Committee: 

1. Closed rule.
2. Provides two hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary or their respective designees.
3. Waives all points of order against consideration of the resolution.
4. Provides that until completion of proceedings enabled by the first section of the resolution, (a) the Chair may decline to entertain any intervening motion, resolution, question, or notice; and (b) the Chair may decline to entertain the question of consideration.
5. Provides that upon adoption of H. Res. 24, (a) H. Res. 40 is hereby adopted; and (b) no other resolution incidental to impeachment relating to H. Res. 24 shall be privileged during the remainder of the 117th Congress.
6. Provides that House Resolution 8, agreed to January 4, 2021, is amended by striking "January 28" each place that it appears and inserting "February 11".

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Right-Wing Media 2021

Sara Fischer at Axios:

Driving the news: Fox News said Monday it will replace its 7 p.m. evening news hour hosted by Martha MacCallum with a right-wing opinion show.
  • The move was made in response to ratings pressure, CNN reports.
  • Fox has faced growing competition from fringe-right cable news networks like Newsmax and OANN — networks that look more like Fox's opinion programming than its news shows.On the other side, Cumulus Media, home to many right-wing radio personalities, has told hosts to stop suggesting the election was stolen, the Washington Post reports.
Brian Philips, EVP of content for Cumulus, wrote in an internal memo obtained by Inside Music Media that the company “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ ”Be smart: Fox News' update is notable given that other right-wing entities owned by Rupert Murdoch have decided to publicly disavow the president.

What to watch: The increase of political money being poured into media will also impact whether and how this split evolves.

  • Epoch Times ... saw its revenues double over the past two years despite efforts by Tech platforms to limit its distribution, Axios' Lachlan Markay reports.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Religion in the 117th Congress

From Pew:
When it comes to religious affiliation, the 117th U.S. Congress looks similar to the previous Congress but quite different from Americans overall.

While about a quarter (26%) of U.S. adults are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – just one member of the new Congress (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.) identifies as religiously unaffiliated (0.2%).

Nearly nine-in-ten members of Congress identify as Christian (88%), compared with two-thirds of the general public (65%). Congress is both more heavily Protestant (55% vs. 43%) and more heavily Catholic (30% vs. 20%) than the U.S. adult population overall.


Fully 99% of Republicans in Congress identify as Christians. There are two Jewish Republicans in the House, Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee. New York Rep. Chris Jacobs declined to specify a religious affiliation. All other Republicans in the 117th Congress identify as Christian in some way.

Most Republican members of Congress identify as Protestants (68%). The largest Protestant groups are Baptists (15%), Methodists (6%), Presbyterians (6%), Lutherans (5%) and Episcopalians (4%). However, 26% of Republicans are Protestants who do not specify a denomination – up from 20% in the previous Congress. There are 15 Republican freshmen in this category, compared with three Democratic newcomers.

Now that Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico has retired, all nine members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) in Congress are Republicans.8

Democrats in Congress also are heavily Christian – much more than U.S. adults overall (78% vs. 65%).9 But the share of Democrats who identify as Christian is 21 percentage points lower than among Republicans (99%). Democrats are much less likely than Republicans to identify as Protestant (43% vs. 68%). Conversely, Catholics make up a higher share among Democrats than they do among Republicans (34% vs. 26%).

Among Democrats, 11% are Jewish, and 6% did not specify a religious affiliation. All of the Unitarian Universalists (3), Muslims (3), Buddhists (2) and Hindus (2) in Congress are Democrats, as are the single members in the “other” and religiously unaffiliated categories.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Flag of Treason in the US Capitol

Maria Cramer at NYT:
Amid the images and videos that emerged from Wednesday’s rampage, the sight of a man casually carrying the Confederate battle flag outside the Senate floor was a piercing reminder of the persistence of white supremacism more than 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

Months after statues of Confederate leaders and racist figures were removed or torn down around the world, an unidentified man in bluejeans and a black sweatshirt carried the emblem of racism through the Ohio Clock corridor, past a portrait of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an abolitionist.

The emblem has appeared in the Capitol before.

The Mississippi flag, which once featured the Confederate symbol prominently, hung in the Capitol until June 2020, when it was replaced after a vote by the State Legislature to remove the emblem.

But Wednesday was the first time that someone had managed to bring the flag into the building as an act of insurrection, according to historians.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Impeachment of Former Officials

Michael Gerhardt at Just Security:
The Constitution provides that the President “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” but it says nothing about the timing of when the impeachment and trial may take place. That omission makes sense, since presidents – and any other impeachable officials – could commit impeachable offenses at any time while they are in office, including in their last months or days in their positions. It certainly makes no sense for presidents who commit misconduct late in their terms, or perhaps not discovered until late in their terms, to be immune from the one process the Constitution allows for barring them from serving in any other federal office or from receiving any federal pensions. What’s more, litigation or prosecutions might not be able to get at the misconduct, since the scope of impeachable offenses extends to misconduct that is not an actual crime. And what if that misconduct is not discovered until after a president leaves office? There may be no practical means for holding him accountable for such misconduct, especially if he is regarded as having been immune from any criminal prosecution or inquiry while he was in office. Being president is not a safe harbor from political and legal accountability. This is why John Quincy Adams proclaimed on the floor of the House that, “I hold myself, so long as I have the breath of life in my body, amenable to impeachment by this House for everything I did during the time I held any public office.” (Michael J. Gerhardt, The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analyses 80 (2d edition 2000) (citation omitted)) Adams’s suggestion was that any impeachable official remained subject to that process well after they left office, not just presidents but those who abused power while in office.

Eugene Volokh at Reason:

In 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned as the House was considering impeaching him for a newly revealed corruption scandal. The House impeached him anyway, and the Senate rejected a motion to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction over a former federal officer. Belknap was not convicted, in part because some senators doubted their authority to do so. Condemning Belknap's actions and disqualifying him from future office seemed a sufficient reason to proceed for many in the House and Senate.

If Congress in 1974 had imagined the possibility of President Richard Nixon rehabilitating his reputation sufficiently to have a chance at holding a future office, it is not hard to imagine a bipartisan House and Senate steaming ahead with an impeachment and trial in order to bar that possibility through a judgment of disqualification. Worried that an infamous former officeholder might eventually live down his infamy, Congress might seek to make that recovery more difficult through the impeachment process.

The House practice manual accepts that the impeachment power extends to former officers, though it admits that since removal is generally the "primary objective" of an impeachment the proceedings have usually been brought to an end if the officer resigns. Brian Kalt has provided the most comprehensive analysis of "late impeachments," and I find him persuasive.