Ukraine: Biden’s Admission on Video

Biden on video in 2018, bragging about pressuring Ukraine to shut down an investigation involving his son. Biden boasts that he told the Ukrainian government,

“If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well son of a bitch. He got fired!”

That’s it for that.

Media notes:

For the most part they’ve been horribly dishonest, of course. Yet surprisingly, a lot of the usual suspects are letting the truth about Biden’s quote slip out.

Even the Washington Post has run this story, complete with the damning quote. Wow.

So did The Atlantic. Of course they surround Biden’s quote with “the real villain here is Trump” bullshit, but still!

Biden told the story himself at a Council on Foreign Relations event in 2018:

“I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

To summarize, Biden threatened to withhold aid if the prosecutor wasn’t fired, and he was. Importantly, Biden was not freelancing, but was acting as a representative of President Barack Obama.

Mother Jones provides the Biden quote, though again, of course surrounded by “the real villain here is Trump” agitprop:

The Hunter Biden Timeline

Joe Biden later told the story of Shokin’s firing like this: “I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.

The extended version of the video, almost an hour, is at RealClearPolitics.
Biden’s relevant statements start between the 52 and 53 minute points (the link defaults the video to a minute or so before the good stuff begins). Biden boasts that while in Ukraine,

I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.

I usually avoid the 4D chess thing, but in this case I think that’s what happened. Trump knew about this video before he spoke to the Ukranian President, of course. He was practically daring the Dems to open up this can of worms. And they did.

Leftists, firing a laser at a mirror: “Oww! Fucking Trump!”

Reforms for After the Civil War

Presuming we win, we’ll need to re-build and re-configure everything.

A preliminary note: There are silly people in the NRx part of the right who think that democracy was a mistake and that monarchy would be lots better. Really? Would you want Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as monarch? What? Monarchy doesn’t look so awesome all of a sudden? No shit! People who think that monarchy would be better are ignoring the realities of monarchy and looking at it through rose-tinted lenses of wishful thinking. I once walked through a hall of torture implements from a medieval torture chamber at a Renaissance Faire or some event like that. It was blood-chilling. That’s how kings maintained political control back then. Furthermore, if people then were freer in some ways, it was only because modern surveillance technology didn’t exist. We can’t just wing it when we’re thinking about comparative political systems since we have to live with the consequences. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

So all the following ideas are in the context of democracy.

1. Obviously we are going to have to eliminate lifetime tenure for all judges, and make them elected officials, duh.

2. We also need the death penalty for electoral fraud.

3. Here’s one that’s already on the books; it only (“only,” heh) needs to be enforced:

Any attempt to pass or enforce an unconstitutional law — especially any law that violates the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights — is a crime punishable by ten years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine for each offense (Title 18 U.S.C, Sections 241 and 242).

—From The Libertarian Enterprise 8/15/1999.

Here are some other ideas that have been implemented at one time or another in various places.

4. From Brothers Judd Blog, 1/9/03:

Folks often ask why it is that New Hampshire has remained, almost uniquely, devoted to the founding principles of the nation, with limited government, low taxes, and the like… the structure of our state government–which includes the weakest governorship in America; one of the largest legislative houses in the world; and an executive council, left over from colonial days, that wields enormous power over the governor. All of these checks and balances are designed to make it difficult for state government to do much of anything without a very broad consensus, and they generally succeed.

5. We should also limit the speed at which totalitarian crap can accrete:

Annual versus Biennial Legislative Sessions

In the early 1960s, only 19 state legislatures met annually. The remaining 31 held biennial regular sessions… By the mid-1970s, the number of states meeting annually grew tremendously—up from 19 to 41. However, several of these states used a “flexible” session format in which the total days of session time was divided between two years… Today, 46 state legislatures meet annually. The remaining four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas—hold session every other year.

6. Term limits all around! We have this for the Presidency and it has worked well. The main argument against term limits is “The vote itself constitutes a term limit already.” But without term limits, the vote is simply a choice between career politician 1 and career politician 2. A major argument for term limits is that it would change the kind of people who run for office in the first place. With term limits, being a career politician would be impossible, so the choice facing voters would be a choice between two people who aren’t career politicos.

Would that be better? I don’t know, but it could hardly be worse. And note that our two best Presidents of the last half-century, Reagan and Trump, are/were not career politicians.

There’s another argument: A study years ago (by The Cato Institute, IIRC) showed that the longer our elected reps stay in Washington, the more pro-government they become, which is really not surprising. They lose touch with their constituents; they lose touch with the fact that most of the country is private citizens and the private sector, not government; they begin to internalize the reigning meta-context in Washington, the meta-context in which what the government does is of primary importance and what private citizens and the private sector do is of secondary importance; in short they absorb the generalized non-partisan ideology of power.

Detail to be settled: The more terms a representative can serve, the higher the proportion of serving reps at any time who can serve more terms and therefore have incentive to be responsive to voters’ wishes. (Assuming terms are appropriately staggered, as in the US Senate.) I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just something to think about.

For example, suppose each Senator can serve only two terms. With appropriate staggering, and under other reasonable assumptions, about half the Senate at any moment will be eligible for another term. If Senators are allowed 5 terms, then under the same assumptions about 4/5 of the Senate at any moment will be eligible for another term. The standard notion is that you’d want them to be eligible for another term, and so responsive to voters. But this standard notion misses that the longer the reps are in the legislature, the more they absorb the ideology of power.

Maybe we should end-run around this entire problem by using…

7. Political sortition.

In governance, sortition (also known as allotment or demarchy) selects officers as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates.

In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was the traditional and primary method for appointing political officials and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy.

Sortition is commonly used to select prospective jurors in common law-based legal systems and is sometimes used today in forming citizen groups with political advisory power (citizens’ juries or citizens’ assemblies).

More on Athens:

The reason why ancient Athens is an interesting society for anarchists to study is that the citizens really did have a lot of power and it didn’t all depend on being wealthy. For example, the main officers for the city were chosen strictly by a lottery and they served a term of one year. Laws, foreign policy and other legislative matters were settled by the direct vote of an assembly, and if you were a citizen you could go and vote in the assembly if you wanted. Ordinary citizens had a lot of responsibilities and a lot of power.

…However, Aristotle was pretty familiar with the city-state system in Greece at that time and he figured you couldn’t get that model to work very well for anything above 30,000 citizens. That is a lot smaller than the cities or countries where most Americans or Europeans live today.

Of course, the very first thing the left will do is try to subvert the random process used, so as with electoral fraud, subverting the random process would have to be a capital crime.

8. Making things more complicated might just make subverting the process too difficult and risky to be practical. Note the procedure used for more than half a millennium to select the Doge of Venice.

New regulations for the elections of the doge introduced in 1268 remained in force until the end of the republic in 1797. Their object was to minimize as far as possible the influence of individual great families, and this was effected by a complex elective machinery. Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge.

A major problem with government in the U.S., and the Founding Fathers’ worst oversight in writing the Constitution, is that there is no punishment for government agents who violate the Constitution. Venice back in the day had a hard-core solution to that problem:

9. Venetian Gallows. This is a gallows that stands outside the major residence of the head of state; it’s where he gets hung if he violates the highest law of the land (in our case, the Constitution) or if he signs off on a law violating it. This gallows is not used for normal executions; it’s reserved especially for our head of state—and he knows it. It’s from an account of travels around Venice by Thomas Coryat, an Elizabethan Englishman:

Near to this stone is another memorable thing to be observed. A marvailous faire paire of gallowes made of alabaster, the pillars being wrought with many curious borders and workes, which served for no other purpose but to hang the Duke whensoever he shall happen to commit any treason against the State. And for that cause it is erected before the very gate of his Palace to put him in minde to be faithfull and true to his country, if not, he seeth the place of punishment at hand.

NB: This reform only makes sense if judges are elected officials. If the Supreme Court consisted of Presidential appointees approved by the Senate, as now, then the President would have incentive to appoint indulgent justices to the Supreme Court, so that he’d never be convicted of such treason. Another possibility: The people who decide on the constitutionality of federal law in such cases must be a jury selected randomly from the entire adult population.