The Political Science Of Science Policy and a Trump Administration

What happens when you imagine the worst case scenario. Then the thing happens, but it was worse than you thought it could be. What is that called? Worchester isn't just a city west of Boston anymore.

We have a new Ikonokast podcast out, and in it, we speak with Shawn Otto about what happened on November 7th 2015 and what it means. And, what you can do about it.
Click here and enjoy.

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I listened to the podcast.

A couple of thoughts.

Disinformation is in the eye of the beholder.

For example, CO2 is not a pollutant.

In my opinion, to call CO2 a pollutant is disinformation.

I assume you disagree.

That is because we disagree about the meaning of the word "pollutant".

You have your opinion and I have mine.

When something is a matter of opinion, reasonable minds can differ.

A dictionary definition of pollute is "contaminate (water, air, or a place) with harmful or poisonous substances."

So our disagreement boils down to whether CO2 is "harmful".

At 400 ppm, CO2 is clearly not poisonous - so I assume we will disagree about whether CO2 is "harmful".

Again, you will have your opinion and I will have mine.

I think CO2 is greening the planet.

I don't think the sea level rise is harmful.

The last 8 inches is nothing compared to the 120 meters we have experienced over the last 20,000 years and I don't think the 120 meters was harmful.

Now it is true that CO2 will cause some warming.

Mostly at night in the winter.

And that will have some consequences.

But I don't think that CO2 is "harmful" as that word is used in the definition of pollute.

I think poisonous and harmful are referring to health effects on humans or animals. The kind which are caused by ingesting something like mercury or lead - you know, birth efects, IQ loss, getting sick and dying.

In the context of "pollute" - we are not talking about delaying the next ice age, or very very slightly increasing the rate of sea level rise, or very slightly increasing the average global temperature.

But that is my opinion - which you are free to disagree with.

But you see that our opinions very much depends on our understanding of the meaning of words - which is subject to disagreement and how we understand words.

If you took a poll and asked is CO2 of 405 ppm in the atmosphere harmful I do not think you would get an extremely high "yes" response.

Evidence of this is how climate change polls as an issue - it is at the bottom of the list.

People are not concerned by climate change.

Why? In my opinion it happens to slowly to even perceive.

We had weather before the planet warmed and we have weather now - most people cannot even tell the difference.

Summer in Minnesota (where I live) just isn't that much hotter.

Winter has warmed - but most Minnesotans think this is a good thing, not a harmful thing.

If you took a poll and asked if lead of 10 ppb in the water is harmful I think you would get a very high "yes" response. People have been taught that no level of lead is acceptable (which is of course not true - but I digress).

Lead and mercury are recognised as pollutants, while CO2 was just recently given an endangerment finding by the EPA (after the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to make a ruling on the issue).

Why are lead and mercury different than CO2?

Because if you ingest it you will get sick and die - while our bodies produce CO2 as part of living (respiration).

In my opinion, the EPA was wrong to make their finding regarding CO2.

First, they don't have jurisdiction over CO2. To get it the clean air act needs to be amended. The endangerment finding will be overturned - first because CO2 is not within the EPA's remit and secondly because it is not a pollutant as that term is used by the EPA.

Second, they didn't do their own science, but relied on science done outside the EPA - a clear violation of their mandatory process.

I believe that a Trump administration will appoint a person who will have the EPA reconsider its CO2 endangerment finding.

I believe that finding will be rescinded.

CO2 is not dangerous at the levels we currently have in the atmosphere - not in any way that the EPA is authorised by law to regulate.

Could the law be changed to permit the EPA to regulate CO2 - of course.

Does the current law allow it - NO (in my opinion).

Everything Obama did related to climate change will get rolled back by the new administration.

Why? Because it wasn't done properly.

If you want to change something as big as regulating CO2 emissions you need a law.

This is true for clean power and it is true for CO2 from buildings - an actual law needs to be written, passed and signed before regulation of CO2 can legally be done.

It was a mistake for Obama to just do it by executive order and get the EPA to try to extend its reach over CO2 by fiat and not be changing the law.

The EPA might as well tried to regulate water vapor - which is also a greenhouse gas.

Neither water vapor nor carbon dioxide are pollutants which can be regulated by the EPA.

So - disinformation is in the eye of the beholder.

Not everyone agrees on what the "facts" are.

It is not settled yet.

Oh - by the way - qualified in the context of President means only two things:

1. At least 35 years old.
2. A natural born citizen.

Having conflicts of interest does not disqualify a person who meets those criteria.

Yes - a President who takes a bribe or breaks the law can still be impeached (if you can get the house and senate to cooperate).

I did enjoy the podcast.

P.S. I thought you three might be in your own bubble - but thats ok - I might be in my own as well.

...what happened on November 7th 2015 ...

Ancient history, in another world, far away, never to be seen again.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 08 Dec 2016 #permalink

"In my opinion, to call CO2 a pollutant is disinformation."

As has been pointed out many times before, that is because you are an ignorant and dishonest scumbag.

Greg, have you seen his suggestion for the person to lead the FDA? Thiele, the libertarian shit-hole who doesn't believe drug companies should be required to show their drugs work? His most famous comment is "Let consumers take them at their own risk." Letting people sell organs to make money is another one of his views. (I realize, as RickA has demonstrated, libertarian and shit-hole are often redundant, but it's used here for emphasis.)

dean #3:

Your first impulse is always to name call.

How old are you? Just curious.

Is water a pollutant?

Should swimming be regulated by the EPA?

If radiation a pollutant?

Should sun bathing be regulated by the EPA?

CO2 is not a pollutant and that is my opinion.

Why do you think CO2 is a pollutant?

Really - I am curious.

“In my opinion, to call CO2 a pollutant is disinformation.”

And some are of the opinion that the earth is flat, held in a glass sphere.

Nobody cares what your opinion is. The fact of the matter is that it is a pollutant, since a pollutant is anything that is produced as a waste product that isn't wanted.

Faeces are a pollutant. Try emptying a septic tank in the public space to find out how many people would agree. However, the "opinion" that we use it on crops to grow things means it cannot be a pollutant does not mean it's fine to dump it in the streets.

"Your first impulse is always to name call."

No, his first impulse is to accord you the correct moniker, in my opinion.

What are you? Retarded?

Sitting here somewhat west of Boston, I can promise you that "Worcester" doesn't contain an 'h', but rather is spelled exactly the same as the English city after which it was named. And pronounced about the same, too, leaving out the first 'r', although this being Massachusetts, there is a tendency for *all* of the r's to disappear.

By Lowell Gilbert (not verified) on 09 Dec 2016 #permalink

"Not everyone agrees on what the “facts” are.
It is not settled yet."

Everyone being - whom?

Imprecise language undercuts your argument.

Just because about 1% of scientists - the people who are actually qualified to understand the problem - still have some doubts, that does NOT mean the science is not settled. It IS settled for all practical purposes, as 1% is essentially statistical noise.

The opinions of nonscientists are basically irrelevant and do not contribute to the meaning of the word "settled."

Perhaps even worse, you mix up your denialism, as do so many others. You are really not allowed to have multiple perspectives on this problem, aka spaghetti throwing, if you wish to make a coherent and logical argument, which you do not. You cannot say on one hand 'I think sea level rise is OK' (essentially a tacit admission it is happening) and then turn around and pretend that 1% disagreement is somehow a big red flag for the whole shebang (essentially a claim that it is not happening and we should not be concerned). Pick one and then hew to it; otherwise, eat your spaghetti instead of flinging it. I recommend a nice PEST-o sauce.

There are multiple other problems with your arguments, but my time is limited and you are now in a smaller than ever minority - so that's enough here.

By Bruce Jensen (not verified) on 09 Dec 2016 #permalink

Oh, and BTW -

1 - There are laws not in the Const. that affect elected public officials. Ethics laws among them.

2 - If those conflicts of interest are international, then it IS a Const. issue. Check Article 1, Section 9 of the Const., and then check to see how this has been interpreted by the courts over time.

In brief:…

By Bruce Jensen (not verified) on 09 Dec 2016 #permalink

"Everyone being – whom?

Imprecise language undercuts your argument."

And the indefinite article "It".What "It" isn't settled? String Theory? Yes, we can agree it isn't settled. Dark Matter? It's *fairly* settled, but still a lot of competition in the other theories (and note that there ARE other theories, not just guesses and hoping).

Greenhouse effect? No, that's settled.
Burning FF produces CO2? Settled too.
Climate sensitivity somewhere around 3C per doubling? Settled too. Heck, even it being exactly 3C per doubling is settled: No.
Otherwise inexplicable warming trend? Settled.
Effects of an increase in global average temperatures resulting in land ice melting? Settled. Just get an ice cube out of the fridge to prove ice melts above 0C.

Bruce #8:

Thank you for your comment.

I agree sea level rise is happening and did not say it wasn't.

The sea level has risen 120 meters over the last 20,000 years and I think some portion of the 8 inches we have experienced over the last century is due to humans.

How much of the 8 inches is due to humans I do not know.

I do not believe it is the entire 8 inches, and if I had to guess I would say 1/2 of it, or 4 inches is due to humans (CO2, methane, carbon black, land use changes, etc.).

So I agree sea level rise is happening, and we are probably about 1/2 the problem.

Bruce #9:

Thank you for the cite.

Yes - I am aware of the clause you cite.

However, that clause has nothing to do with the qualifications to BE the president - but only applies after someone actually IS the president.

I have another post on this clause on a different thread - but in short, I don't think this clause will be much of a problem for Trump.

1. Any gift he receives will have to be received by the Office of the President and left behind with the government when Trump leaves office. This is what all Presidents do now. So I agree, Trump cannot accept a jewel or money or stock or whatever from a head of government and keep it after he is done being President. If he did, he could be impeached for bribery or whatever.

2. When a business does business it is not a "present" to Trump. So I don't see any issue with a head of state staying at his hotel or buying a Trump steak or golfing at a Trump golf course or whatever. Others might and it will be a case of first impression (as far as I know) - so we will see how it is handled - but I don't see a problem.

Of course CO2 is a pollutant if it's present in amounts that are not desirable. That the turn of phrase sounds peculiar to your conventional ear is irrelevant. What if they just said 'contaminant' would that sound better? 'Adulterate'? 'Defile'? 'Taint'? Would it be disinformation if they said 'harmful' or indeed if they said anything that your ideology caused you to disagree with? Does presentation = disinformation when it's convenient for you?

As usual, it all comes down to driving the discussion into a thicket of idiotic word games with you. Are you polluted when you defecate your comments here? I hope it's not Thunderbird or Mad Dog 2020.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 09 Dec 2016 #permalink


Here is an interesting story about Hillary after the Clintons left the White House.

I didn't read all of it - so I don't know if any of the stuff was a gift from a head of state - but that would raise the same issue.

If a China plate (for example) was a present from a head of state, and then it was taken after Bill Clinton's term was over, that would be a problem (unless Congress said it was ok).

Similar issue and will probably be handled the same way - Trump will have to pay for whatever presents the office of president receives during his term, and which he wants to keep.

"Would it be disinformation if they said ‘harmful’ or indeed if they said anything that your ideology caused you to disagree with?"

Oh, totally that one.

"I didn’t read all of it "

Hah, I can go one better: didn't read any of it. 'cos it didn't seem relevant in response to Bruce's post.

OA #13:

You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to mine.

According to the Wall Street Journal's reading of the EPA decision, CO2 is not a pollutant:

Carbon dioxide is not in the list of pollutants:

How do CO2 emissions "endanger public health or welfare"?

Under the rational that CO2 endanger's public health or welfare, what doesn't?

Does not the very water of the rising ocean therefore meet this definition?

So the EPA should regulate water?

Humans consume O2, which lowers O2 in the atmosphere - should the EPA regulate O2?

What about nitrogen? I think nutrient pollution is regulated under the clean water act - but maybe we should be regulating nitrogen in the atmosphere - are we not affect that in some manner?

Personally, I don't think CO2 endangers public health or welfare as that phrase is used by the EPA - because CO2 at the level of 400 or even 700 doesn't create any health issue for humans.

But we will have lots of opportunity to discuss this as the EPA, under a new administration, takes a second look at CO2 regulation.

I predict the regulations currently under way will be withdrawn or rescinded.

If we want to regulate CO2 we need to actually pass a law explicitly allowing it.

There I do not believe that the issue of whether CO2 is a pollutant is settled.

"You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to mine."

Thank you Mr Tautology. Try something with actual information content.TIA.

"How do CO2 emissions “endanger public health or welfare”?"

Climate change ring a bell??

"So the EPA should regulate water?"

Why? It's AGW causing raising sea levels. When your car breaks down, do you start digging up the roads?

"Personally, I don’t think CO2 endangers public health or welfare as that phrase is used by the EPA"

And personally, you can die in a fire, but this isn't what is really happening, is it,just like your "think" is wrong.CO2 is a pollutant, which has already been agreed.

"because CO2 at the level of 400 or even 700 doesn’t create any health issue for humans."

Climate change ring a bell?

"If we want to regulate CO2 we need to actually pass a law explicitly allowing it."

No, the EPA has already the power to do this regulation, as ratified by the supreme court and both houses for well over a century now.

IF you want to stop that, you need to issue an amendment to the constitution removing powers from EPA, ATF and all the other government departments, and demand that congress must pass every law specifically.

We now have a president elect who is showing sadistic and sociopathic tendencies. He is a terrorist in that he is willing to draw attention to anyone who opposes him, and he will then sic the dogs of the internet them. He knows or should know that his Trumpist followers have enough rabid haters among their numbers to ensure that death threats against any of his targets will follow, and that has been happening for over a year already. There can be little doubt that the trolls of the Russian troll farms are able and willing to help him in this endeavor to sow discord in America. What Trump is doing is already cruel and unconscionable. But he is doing it. He is squelching free speech by his abuse of twitter.

We should expect that he will do the same to any scientist who stands up to him and calls out the stupidity of his twisted egotistical psychology, or who points out that the surface temperature of the Earth is rising due to the infrared absorbing and emitting properties of the waste product gas known as carbon dioxide.

The sadistic qualities of the modern conservative are now nearly a given. Cruelty appears to be one of the truths of modern conservatism. The knowledge that cruelty, or at least a deadening of empathy and sensitivity, is necessary for primitive survival, has, in the hands of the modern conservative, morphed into a malignant belief that cruelty is a virtue. Enthusiastic support of torture, of corporal and capital punishment, of war, of racists, of dictators, of vicious racism, of deceitful vilification of political opponents, of guns and gunfire as a solution to human problems, these are all part and parcel of the cruelty of modern conservatism.

If the electors can't stop Trump, or if Congress will not impeach him in short order, you all can kiss freedom of speech and freedom of expression good bye, because big brother Donald doesn't like either of those. Praise the emperor, praise his flag, praise the Lord, or you will be .........punished. Fortunately, he will not be able to stop freedom of thought as easily, and hopefully, that will be his downfall.


Ugh, more of same.

You are a pollutant.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 09 Dec 2016 #permalink

christ rick, you seem to be too lazy to even read the article about the furniture just so you can pass it off as attempted theft.

There is a rule about the size of gifts a sitting president can accept: under it fine, over it it goes to the archives. It was first passed in 1966, and sets the monetary value at (as of January 2014) $375.

Remember, Joseph, deniers only want the de-politicisation of science when the science isn't what they want to hear. When it comes to silencing or hiding the science they don't like, well, that's just dandy!

dean #20:

So now we know that presents to a President aren't a problem.

That just leaves business - which I don't believe are a "present" even if a head of state plays a round of golf at a Trump course or stays at a Trump hotel.

But we will have to see what the opinion says (if there is one from White House counsel or the AG).

But that would be my opinion - business isn't a "present".

By the way - I never said the Clinton's attempted theft - it was just on point.

Off topic

I listen to both a progressive radio station and a conservative radio station - to get both perspectives.

AM950 is progressive and AM1280 is conservative.

I have noticed that when power switches, the radio stations also switch.

The conservative station has switched from offense to defense and it is the opposite for the progressive radio station.

This could be good for progressive talk radio, which struggles a bit.

Rush rose to fame during the 40 years that the democrats controlled Congress (except for two interruptions), from after the Great Depression until 1994. I think Rush's show started in 84, so he had 10 years wandering in the wilderness and being on offense.

I think it is easier to be on offense than defense and now progressive talk radio has its opportunity to rise and shine!

"So now we know that presents to a President aren’t a problem."

No, now YOU do. And you seem to have forgotten there are limits.

Not much for the memory, are you?

"But that would be my opinion – business isn’t a “present”."

Then it's not covered by the rules allowing presents, is it?

Wow #25:

I think we are in agreement.

So we agree that Trump's actions are quite corrupt.

OK, I must admit I didn't think you would, given your political opinions, so sorry for thinking that you were ideologically blind because of party affiliation to a candidate so bad, not even the party he stood for wanted anything to do with him.

Wow #27:

I thought we agreed that "business" isn't a present under the Emoluments Clause. Maybe not.

PS the reason why I told you "No, now YOU do." was because one very cheap and silly rhetorical trick for someone who knows their claims lack any substance is to replace "me" with "us" and either

a) make people infer that this is from a majority (argumentum ad populum fallacy is ignored by the proponent)
b) pass blame on to "someone else", who remains nameless, as if it's not right to disagree with someone who is "just the messenger"

"I thought we agreed that “business” isn’t a present under the Emoluments Clause. Maybe not."

No, we do.

We also therefore necessarily agree that it’s not covered by the rules allowing presents for that reason.

Wow #30:


Do you think when a foreign head of state stays at Trumps hotel down the street from the White House that this violates the Emoluments Clause?

I do not - but just wanted to circle back to see what you thought.

"Do you think when a foreign head of state stays at Trumps hotel down the street from the White House that this violates the Emoluments Clause?"

Uhm, are the only corruptions and bribery laws "the emoluments clause"? Because if not, there's no difference between saying yes or no to that question.

And it's oddly specific, as if you're trying to pretend that there's nothing wrong with corruption, unless it falls foul of some law that denotes where a present doesn't have to be handed back to the people or refused.

Rather like defending spying by asking whether it breaks copyright law (where you know that copyrights don't apply to government text) or not.

Excellent illumination of RickA's character and M.O., Wow.

And RickA doesn't pretend that there's nothing wrong with corruption.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 10 Dec 2016 #permalink

This article starts out with a lying tweet from the T.I.C. (Tweeter In Chief) . We can give any one of a number of citations show that the basic concept of global warming ( by atmospheric gases ) was known and promulgated at least since the early 1800's ( Joseph Fourier). However, to the authoritarians in the the crowd,, I suspect that this will make absolutely no difference. They will toe the ideological line that global warming is a hoax quite possibly to the day that they die. They are like adolescents arguing with their parents. Reason, to someone whose emotions are raging, is typically not an option.

So it is time to recognize that science has not merely lost this election, but that it has lost the battle for a place in the minds of Americans. Tribal ideology has successfully trumped the tools of reason. People trained to see immigrants as a threat will not willingly change their attitudes just because it makes sense to attract smart and brave people to America. Appeals to psychology will fall on deaf ears. It will be called Psycho-babble!

So we are about to become a state with more similarities to Iran or Saudi Arabia than to the land that the founders envisioned. Religion and ideology now trump science. Stupidity will trump intellectualism. Smart people will be less willing to immigrate here. Muslim STEM talent will end up somewhere else.

In future generations, American immigrants to other lands will be treated like dirt. Some of the descendants of American migrants will remember and try to remind people that air travel was invented in America, or that the integrated circuit was invented in America. American immigrant children will be laughed at in school for saying such things! America? That down trodden hell hole of primitive barbarism? Please. Tell me another lie, American! You are so amusing!

"So it is time to recognize that science has not merely lost this election, but that it has lost the battle for a place in the minds of Americans."

Welp, for all the shit I think USians deserve, even *I* don't agree with that. And that's merely the "place in the minds of Americans" bit. There's fuck all to do with science losing the election.

Last I looked, science didn't have voter registration.

But science doesn't really matter to people when the first two levels of the dependency pyramid (food and shelter) are at risk, and the complete fuckup that capitalism is making as the wealthy find out that they have to move higher and higher up the chain to find some more blood to squeeze out has placed the majority of people in a place where the risk of life is becoming enough of an issue that they can't afford to listen to their intelligent reflection.

Try and consider preserving endangered species when a poisonous (but rare) spider is about to bite your child.

"Do you think when a foreign head of state stays at Trumps hotel down the street from the White House that this violates the Emoluments Clause?:

Yes, it does, and that is why high level federal employees including the president can't be invested in businesses that stand to gain (or lose) based on decisions they make, or that their co-workers make.

Just as a reality check, I thought that I would review Dr. Lawrence Britt's list of the The 14 Defining 
Characteristics Of Fascism to see if we were near the threshold of being a fascist state... or over it. Well, we Murkans are now officially all in a fascist state according to my calculations, because America now has all the officially recognized characteristics of a fascist state. Here they are. Read them and weep.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

So now what? I guess that there is no law against the USA being fascist. I mean how bad could it be? OK, so it is more than a little painful to realize that only government science in the service of the Reich will be tolerated from here on in. And it is painful to realize that the USA will no longer be the preferred destination for smart people fleeing fascism. It is just a bit discomforting to realize that the cruel, the sadistic, the primitive, and the reptilian among us will now have the chance to destroy lives, love, harmony, and beauty. It is discomforting to know that cruel violence against other human beings is going to rise now. It is discomforting to know that many many scientists are going to lose their jobs. It is discomforting to know that climate science will be suppressed. And many many much worse outcomes are assured. So how bad can it be? It is going to be very very bad.

10 of those have been there or building since the Reagan/Thatcher era.

IMO a lot of why Trump got in was because of that. F'd either way, but if you chose Trump, it won't change the outcome: more facism. And even the majority not bothering, a lot of THAT is because it was either more facism or, um, more facism.

Note that many of the things Trump was lauded for by voters were quite leftwing (at least according to current standing on the Overton window). Kill TPP, force repatriation of jobs, penalties for corporations taking money and jobs out of the country, and so on.

I've been reading the above and I have a question for RickA.
RickA, do you really not understand the concept of Conflict of Interests?

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 10 Dec 2016 #permalink

Only if it conflicts with his ideological interests, Julian.

RickA never met a conflict he wasn't interested in. And he's a solicitor. Ergo, he's an advocate for conflicts of interest. But that's a foundation of right-wing ideologies, so I doubt anyone is surprised.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 11 Dec 2016 #permalink


Since we cannot depend on the electors to do the right thing, we had better start planning for our next line of attack. So here, to get the ball rolling, I am listing some reasons why Donald Trump should be impeached the moment he takes office. We need to start and support a movement involvving any Senators and Congressmen who are still on the side of the Amereican people, and begin impeachment proceedings against Trump as soon as humanly possible.

Here are the reasons that immediately come to mind. Hopefully the constitutional scholars in our midst can tell us how we can turn this list of accusations into a solid legal argument to impeach the son of a bitch.

He has misled, and continues to mislead, the American people. His dishonest. He is also not transparent about his true long range interests, having hidden his tax returns from the public, and having set up an interlocking international network of shell companies to hide his actions.. There is no unimpeachable evidence that he has the best interested of the United States of America at heart because of these two things.

He is weakening the intellectual strength of America by creating an environment that is hostile to all but a small segment of the world's population. Talented people from other nations who do not meet a strict set of criterion for appearance , ethnicity, or belief will not be allowed into or will be dissuaded from coming to the United States to add their skills and talents to the pool of workers in America.

He has allied himself with the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. We don't know why this is. He is effectively acting as an agent for the benefti of that nation. In return, he has benefitted from the RDFR's ability to influence  the outcome of the recent American presidential election.
He is creating an environment that is hostile to science and scientists. Again, this will weaken the United States rather than strengthening it.

He is stifling the creation of American jobs in the alternative and renewable energy industry at the behest of a global fossil fuel loigarchy.

He is acting in concert with and at the behest of a global fossil fuel oligarchy consisting of American and Russian petrochemical roporations and interest groups (e.g., Gazprom, Exxon, CEI) and he is putting their interests ahead of the long range interests of the American people.

He has voiced nearly continuous support of and admiration for dictators and strong men around the world.

He is not a democratically elected leader. He is a minority leader who is bent on destroying the American democracy by creating a power structure which will not allow dissent. If he is not stopped immediately, he will be able to launch wars and set up a police state to consolidate his power, at which point, nothing short of cosmic catastrophe will be able to dislodge him

He is violating the constitution by maliciously and sadistically applying media pressure to stifle dissent.

Is that enough, or do we need more?

If we do not stop Trump and stop him soon, he will destroy the United States of America and replace it with wreckage.

Julian Frost:

Did you listen to the podcast?

There discussion was that Trump wasn't qualified to be president because of his conflicts of interest.

They are wrong.

Sure - once he is president he can get into trouble for breaking the law, for example by taking a bribe or such.

But none of the businesses or alleged conflicts of interest are disqualifying for Trump to BECOME president.

That was my point.

Also - none of the laws related to conflicts of interest (for when Trump actually takes office) apply to the President or Vice-President - so he cannot break the law via conflicts of interest. It will have to be something else - such as bribery or such - not owning a hotel.

But yes - I understand about conflicts of interest.

I am a lawyer - so I have those issues in my own practice.

Unlike the President - there are rules in place which I have to follow - not just custom and practice which Trump may or may not chose to follow.


You need more.

None of those reasons are relevant at all.

For a starter - you cannot impeach Trump for anything that happened before Jan. 20, 2017.

He can only be impeached for some act he commits while he is President.

You are going to have to wait until at least Jan. 20th to try to list something he has actually done while President, and which is sufficient to give rise to impeachment.

Impeachment isn't easy - so good luck!

Bill Clinton was impeached (the House passed articles of impeachment) - but the Senate didn't convict Bill Clinton.

That was because there was no article of impeachment for what he actually did wrong - which was lie under oath. So it is pretty easy to use the political process to shape the articles of impeachment to have a trial on something a person is not actually guilty of - while ignoring what the person is actually guilty of - so watch for that under your hypo. Try to head it off if you can.

stevep, it isn't clear that anything you list would qualify as grounds for impeachment. Most of them are of the level of the tea baggers' "obama shouldn't be president because he isn't white" whine (which was at the base of all of their complaints about him).

Whether he could be impeached for things prior to taking office is open to question. There have been a couple instances of lower-level folks having exactly that happen. Most recently was in 2010 when a federal judge, G. Thomas Porteous was convicted Senate vote of 96-0 on four articles of impeachment. Two of them addressed investigations of financial issues that began while he was a state court judge in the early 90s (maybe 80s, I don't remember). Another addressed lies that he told to the FBI during the processing of his appointment to his federal court position.

Could the same thing be done if something truly illegal be found for Trump? Ask a lawyer (a real one, not the one that posts here.)

"There discussion was that Trump wasn’t qualified to be president because of his conflicts of interest.

They are wrong."

You are wrong. Those were YOUR words, not theirs. Those two things were in the podcast two different, but equally deserving in their minds of being reasons why Trump is worthless as presidential material.

Just a thought for you, rick. If trump enterprises do well without trump in charge, in what way can he be credited with doing a good job in it?


Also – none of the laws related to conflicts of interest (for when Trump actually takes office) apply to the President or Vice-President – so he cannot break the law via conflicts of interest.

Are you kidding me?
You have just conclusively demonstrated that you have no idea what you are talking about. Conflict of Interest rules apply to EVERYBODY, even the President.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 11 Dec 2016 #permalink

Julian Frost:

Cite please.

Show me the law which applies to the President.

wow #48:

It doesn't matter whether or not Trump did or did not do a good job running his companies. He got elected whether he had anything to do with his companies success (or not).


dean is right - get a different lawyer.

I am a patent lawyer, not a constitutional or impeachment lawyer.

dean is probably also correct about the timing of impeachment.

In checking into this further I have decided I agree with dean.

It is possible to remove Trump from office after he takes office, if he is found to have committed treason, bribery or another high crime or misdemeanor - without regard to whether he committed the act prior to becoming President.

So if Trump murdered someone between now and Jan. 20th, the House could pass articles of impeachment and the senate could have a trial, and if they found him guilty he could be removed from office.

So it is possible.

I was wrong and I admit it.

I don't think anything on SteveP's list rises to the level needed to impeach - but in theory it could be argued for.

"Cite please.

Show me the law which applies to the President."

Uh, didn't you just tell everyone that he wasn't president? Obama is still prez.

And corruption laws apply to presidents. It's why impeachment is there: because the president (who, as we know is Obama still) cannot be arrested whilst in office.

Hows about citation for Trump being president?

Or where it says that corruption and bribery doesn't apply to a president?

"dean is right – get a different lawyer.

I am a patent lawyer, not a constitutional or impeachment lawyer."

So you don't know the law there much, if any, better than anyone else does.


Trump is not President yet - you are correct.

Your right - my opinion is not an expert one, just an opinion.

Here is a law with an exception carved out for some Federal employees:

(c) Except as otherwise provided in such sections, the terms “officer” and “employee” in sections 203, 205, 207 through 209, and 218 of this title shall not include the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, or a Federal judge.

"Trump is not President yet – you are correct."

Didn't I just say that you said that? Lets look

Uh, didn’t you just tell everyone that he wasn’t president? Obama is still prez.

Yup, sure did. Why did you feel the need to tell me I was right that the president wasn't trump? I think that's the reason why you're a patent lawyer: you'd be crucified in court.

"Here is a law with an exception carved out for some Federal employees:"

President? Doesn't say. Including corruption and bribery? No. There are laws SPECIFICALLY against those for officeholders.

And didn't you just agree that trump WASN'T president? Lets check:

Trump is not President yet – you are correct.

Yup, sure did.

You're not a patent lawyer, are you? You watched that Manga where the lawyer goes "OBJECTION!!!!" in that hero pose, and thought "I'm that guy!".


I implied Trump was President already.

You called me on me vague language.

I agreed with you.

I am not sure why you object to that.

I find that when someone points out I am wrong or my statements are vague, and they are correct, that admitting that moves the conversation forward.

I am a patent attorney. And an electrical engineer (which some have also accused me of lying about).

But I have already admitted I don't know any more about impeachment than any other lawyer who doesn't specialise in that subject. No arguments from authority from me on this topic or climate change.

The laws of "18 U.S. Code Chapter 11 - BRIBERY, GRAFT, AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST" don't apply to the President (when Trump is President).

But of course the Constitution applies to the President (if that is what you are talking about).

There is nothing in the constitution about conflicts of interest.

Just treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors.

Owning a business, such as a hotel is not treason, bribery or a high crime or a misdemeanor.

Good luck with your impeachment theory.

I will be reading with interest.


I implied Trump was President already."


"You called me on me vague language."

Not about trump not being president. On things like this, though I didn't comment, I very much could have called you out on BS:

"It doesn’t matter whether or not Trump did or did not do a good job running his companies. He got elected whether he had anything to do with his companies success "

His plank was he was a great businessman, ffs, you blithering dunderhead.

Jesus christ, you rightwingnutjobs are fucking stupid.

And just when I thought RickA couldn't get worse, he says:

Show me the law which applies to the President.

The POTUS is a Federal Employee. Admittedly, the highest ranking one, but still a Federal Employee. The rules about Conflicts of Interest apply to him. Or is RickA seriously implying that unless a law specifically mentions the President, then said law does not apply to the President?

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 11 Dec 2016 #permalink

It's not illegal if the president does it. Where have we heard that before?


The law (18 USC 202) DOES specifically mention the President.

It says "(c) Except as otherwise provided in such sections, the terms “officer” and “employee” in sections 203, 205, 207 through 209, and 218 of this title shall not include the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, or a Federal judge."

So the conflict of interest law which covers federal employees specifically EXEMPTS the president, VP, members of congress and Federal Judges from its provisions.

^Grave implications there. Seriously worrying.

Also RickA is still allowed to post here? Wow, Greg Laden, you're one very patient man and he's one very lucky - and pushing at that undeserved luck - one.

Probably asked RickA before & not had a proper answer but, geez dude, what would it take before you recognise that the climatologists might actually know what they're talking about on this issue and also a lot more than you do?

Morbidly curious as to what might actually convince the Deniers of reality? Only having it actually affect them directly and terribly maybe?

PS. One other news item also via the CO2 earth facebook page :…

For the purposes of sections 205 and 207 of this title, the term “official responsibility” means the direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final, and either exercisable alone or with others, and either personally or through subordinates, to approve, disapprove, or otherwise direct Government action."

And that's 202, so doesn't exclude El Prez, which Trump isn't at the moment.

You keep forgetting that, despite reminding everyone of it when it avoids trump culpability.

Oh, and mr lawyer man, what are sections 203, 204, 205, 207, 208, 209 and 218 are about.

Because not all of those are about fraud and conflict of interest in business ownership/operation, are they.

You wouldn't be trying to mislead us about the law, would you? Doesn't the bar association have rules against misrepresentation of the law?


Here are the titles of the chapter and the subsections:


Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)
US Code

§ 201 - Bribery of public officials and witnesses
§ 202 - Definitions
§ 203 - Compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matters affecting the Government
§ 204 - Practice in United States Court of Federal Claims or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by Members of Congress
§ 205 - Activities of officers and employees in claims against and other matters affecting the Government
§ 206 - Exemption of retired officers of the uniformed services
§ 207 - Restrictions on former officers, employees, and elected officials of the executive and legislative branches
§ 208 - Acts affecting a personal financial interest
§ 209 - Salary of Government officials and employees payable only by United States
§ 210 - Offer to procure appointive public office
§ 211 - Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office
§ 212 - Offer of loan or gratuity to financial institution examiner
§ 213 - Acceptance of loan or gratuity by financial institution examiner
§ 214 - Offer for procurement of Federal Reserve bank loan and discount of commercial paper
§ 215 - Receipt of commissions or gifts for procuring loans
§ 216 - Penalties and injunctions
§ 217 - Acceptance of consideration for adjustment of farm indebtedness
§ 218 - Voiding transactions in violation of chapter; recovery by the United States
§ 219 - Officers and employees acting as agents of foreign principals
§ 220.. - Renumbered §§ 215 to 217]
§ 223 - Repealed. Pub. L. 87–849, § 1(c), Oct. 23, 1962, 76 Stat. 1125]
§ 224 - Bribery in sporting contests
§ 225 - Continuing financial crimes enterprise
§ 226 - Bribery affecting port security
§ 227 - Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch

"Here are the titles of the chapter and the subsections:"

Well, among other things #203 includes representing your family as a solicitor when they are in court. Not really much to do with corruption, is it.

And that fact isn't included in your list, is it.

Try again. Remember, bar association.

Indeed the only one that seems applicable, but is mentioned in the crib you did about "doesn't include the president" is #208.

However, as 202(c) shows, it DOES include "the direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final" which would appear to be the prez. Unless he's not the final authority in the executive... Which if it were the case, what the hell is the job for? Sitting in cavalcades and waving at the proles?

But there are other sections that also include what could be fraud. Ones outside the list of exclusion in 202.

Moreover, the definition that excludes president is only where the group term "special employee". Snowden was one of them. Apparently he's committed treason, even though war has not been declared.

StevoR #62:

"Also RickA is still allowed to post here? Wow, Greg Laden, you’re one very patient man and he’s one very lucky – and pushing at that undeserved luck – one."

Yes - Greg has been very patient with me.

I am sure I piss him off - but he still allows me to post.

And I do appreciate that.

His blog - his rules.

I know most of my comments are not greatly appreciated by the other posters - but I do feel it is good for Greg's readers and lurkers to hear an opposing viewpoint occasionally.

Wow #67:

You are free to interpret these subsections anyway you wish.

You asked "what are sections 203, 204, 205, 207, 208, 209 and 218 are about."

If you click on my link in #54, you can click on the chapter link and actually read each of the subsections (if you want).

I am not even arguing with you. I am simply providing this information to respond to Julian Frost in #58.

I am not sure what you are so upset about.

"If you click on my link in #54, you can click on the chapter link and actually read each of the subsections (if you want)."

But you're making claims on it. We'd ALL like to know what your claims are based on.

Because to date, it looks like you're basing it on a definition of a group that doesn't include the president as proof the president isn't bound by corruption laws.

All you appear to have done is looked for whatever looked to you like disproof of a proposition without checking further.

Is that what law school taught you, rick?

So, the exception you're talking about in #54 is how a term defined doesn't include president,and instead specifically excludes the meaning of president.

But is he excluded from any corruption charge? Your exclusion only talks about the collective name definition, not the laws.

So, try again.

Are the laws against corruption (and there are many of them) excluding the president from being bound by them?

We don't care if he's a special employee or not, we want is he defined as above the corruption laws?

Wow #71:

I am only aware of 18 USC chapter 11 (201 - 227).

Give me a cite to another corruption law you think applies to the President (once Trump takes office of course) and I will take a look at it.

@68. RickA : I note you didn't answer this question I asked you :

Probably asked RickA before & not had a proper answer but, geez dude, what would it take before you recognise that the climatologists might actually know what they’re talking about on this issue and also a lot more than you do?

Care to do so now please?

StevoR #73:

I would need to see a validated global climate model. Then I would recognise that climate scientists understand the climate and can make long term predictions of a future climate.

So far the climate models track record is dismal.

"Wow #71:

I am only aware of 18 USC chapter 11 (201 – 227)."

So you don't know what the laws are, but you DO claim to know that the president is pardoned from corruption laws....

Ever tried not pontificating when you don't know something? Especially if you're going to be claiming yourself a label that would imply competency.

"Ever tried not pontificating when you don’t know something? "

RickA justifying his denial that humanity is likely entirely responsible for the recent warming trend @ ATTP:

"It has been warming for 20,000 years, after all.

We are in the middle of an inter-glacial."…

Informed that this was a nonsensical comment in light of the evidence, RickA now appears to be deflecting to a critique of the short-term projection skills of long-term climate models. Not a new strategy, even for him.

Not a shred of integrity.

Corey #76 says I am deflecting.

No - I was just answering a question.

Natural warming didn't stop in 1950.

The el nino of 2015-2016 is evidence of that.

The warming from 1905 - 1945 is evidence of that.

Yes - humans are causing part of the warming.

But just a part - not all of it.

That is my belief, based on how I read the evidence.

Feel free to read the evidence yourself and reach your own conclusion - I am not stopping you.

Yeah, he should know better, because he's been repeatedly schooled. Why to no effect? Apparently because the only people he listens to are people who don't know or don't care that they're not providing, and can't provide, an alternative model for how climate works -- anymore it's just supposition, innuendo, confusing science with politics, magnifying the importance of minor points and rhetorical tricks.

Also old canards about validation have been discussed elsewhere, which he well knows but ignores for the sake of his thought stopping talking points.…

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Dec 2016 #permalink

"Yes – humans are causing part of the warming.

But just a part – not all of it."

How do you know? Every natural change has us cooling for 8000 years, and if we're actually warming, then MORE THAN ALL THE WARMING is due to something else.

"That is my belief, based on how I read the evidence."

But not the evidence of how we should have been continuing the cooling. And without any evidence that anything else is causing the warming.

RickA: "Natural warming didn't stop in 1950."

Again with this straw man, addressed in the aforementioned thread:

"No-one is arguing that natural influences have stopped. People are arguing that there is no evidence for natural influences being able to cause a warming trend of the observed magnitude over the past 60 years or 100 years or 200 years, or even half the observed magnitude."…

No integrity.

OA, RickA doesn't have thought-stopping talking points... He has stopped-thoughts talking points.

RickA is a talking head. An empty, self-centered, self-serving talking head. Callous, too. Sliding into craven, even.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Dec 2016 #permalink

Brainstorms, they're probably not mutually exclusive. He throws out specious statements intended to interrupt the flow of conversation or to send it into disarray.

Note also that he often tries to end an argument by conflating his propaganda with "opinion". He does this in order to validate it in people's minds with false balance. It's an attempt to put an emphatic, face saving period on his blethers.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Dec 2016 #permalink

Being trained to skillfully and quickly subvert logic, truth, justice, and propriety, as all lawyers are, I'm sure RickA excels in whipping out any one of the many logical fallacies as "arguments" to try to inveigle and manipulate his way to a "win".

Poor chap... He's totally clueless to the fact that no amount of lawyerly argumentation will subvert the laws of nature. He can't tell the difference between a physical law and a municipal law, and thinks that both can be changed by the same techniques of political maneuvering and devious persuasion.

You've lost before you even started, RickA. Truths are damned stubborn things. And you are a weakling when coming up against them.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 14 Dec 2016 #permalink