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Is the GameStop stock run collusion and conspiracy?

Posted in analysis, corruption, ethics, government by commorancy on January 27, 2021

This is exactly what Wall Street and SEC regulators are now trying to determine. Let’s explore.

Reddit and GME

A subreddit named wallstreetbets has surfaced and it appears to be the location where a large group of people (on the order of 250k or more people) are congregating. The difficulty is, it seems that this subreddit is being used to coordinate efforts to manipulate the GameStop (GME) stock to affect the following:

  1. Lose money for the hedge funds which are shorting this stock
  2. Manipulate the price upward heavily to make money

The question remains, is this considered a form of market manipulation, collusion and/or conspiracy?

What is Collusion?

Investopedia states:

Collusion is a non-competitive, secret, and sometimes illegal agreement between rivals which attempts to disrupt the market’s equilibrium. The act of collusion involves people or companies which would typically compete against one another, but who conspire to work together to gain an unfair market advantage.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/collusion.asp

 

The subreddit has, so far, been a public forum that anyone can join. It was private for only a very brief period of time on January 27th, 2020. As a result, it doesn’t fall under the ‘secret’ category.

The Oxford Dictionary defines collusion as:

secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.

Oxford English Dictionary

 

This is minimal in terms of what it says, but one thing it does clarify is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘secret’.

Wikipedia defines collusion as:

Collusion is a deceitful agreement or secret cooperation between two or more parties to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading or defrauding others of their legal right. Collusion is not always considered illegal. It can be used to attain objectives forbidden by law; for example, by defrauding or gaining an unfair market advantage.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collusion

 

Based on all of these definitions above, it does appear that “gathering a group of people together” to “gain an unfair market advantage” is probably enough to be considered collusion. As Wikipedia states, not all collusion is illegal. However, defrauding or gaining an unfair market advantage IS illegal.

Sticking It to the Man

While the wallstreetbets subreddit believes they are “sticking it to the billionaires”, they may, in fact, be sticking it to themselves. I see this situation as the virtual equivalent of the mob insurrection on Capitol Hill. While that situation wasn’t considered ‘collusion’, it does bear a lot of similarities to the Capitol Hill situation.

How? This GME reddit is 250k people all congregating to a achieve a common goal… to raise the price of the GME stock and, at the same time, stick it to the hedge fund investors who were heavily shorting the stock.

Stock Shorting

I’m going to take a little bit of a detour here to explain stock shorting. When a hedge fund shorts a stock, they are “hedging” that the stock’s price will go down. If the stock price does go down, the hedge fund makes money through borrowing, selling, then buying back the stock and then returning the stock to the lender. If the stock price goes up, however, the hedge fund must still buy and sell the stock at a loss (see below).

Stock shorts are actually buying and selling of borrowed stock. The hedge fund borrows a specified number of shares from a broker, then sells the stock immediately at the current price. For example, they could borrow 1 share and sell it at $100 market price. $100 goes into their brokerage account. When the price goes down to $50, they buy the stock back at that $50 price ($50 goes out of their brokerage account), then they return the stock to the lender and keep the $50 difference in their account. It’s a way for the hedge funds to make money without ever having to own that stock. Technically, you could do this with anything, such as a car, but the odds of a successfully shorting with a car are much lower.

Now that we understand how you can make money on shorts, let’s apply this to what the redditors are doing with GME and find out more about whether this is collusion, conspiracy or both. Someone in the wallstreetbets subreddit thread determined that GameStop, AMC Theaters, Bed Bath and Beyond and perhaps even other stocks were heavily shorted by hedge funds.

Hedge funds typically place a lot of stock shorts on companies that are on the verge of collapse. It makes sense. If a company is on the verge of going out of business, the odds of the stock dropping go up dramatically. Therefore, hedge funds heavily short the stock to make money. By ‘heavily’, they borrow as much stock as they can get their hands on. The more they borrow, they more they can make if the price drops.

What happens if the price goes up?

This is where shorting stock becomes a big, big problem. Should the price go up, the hedge fund is now responsible to pay for the loss. Let’s go back to the example above.

  • Borrow 1 share and sell it for $100
  • Market price goes up to $150
  • Hedge fund must buy it for $150 and loses $50 in addition to the $100 they gained in the first sale.

Here is what the subreddit people are attempting to do by forcing these hedge funds to lose money. With stock shorts, there is no limit on the losses. As the stock price is driven ever higher, the hedge funds lose more and more money when their short position comes due and they are forced to buy it back at a loss. For example, if they borrowed and sold 1000 shares at $3 (1,000 * 3 = $3,000) and stock price goes up to $300 (1,000 * 300 = $300,000), when they are forced to buy it back because the lender wants it back, they are forced to pay $297,000 (in addition to the $3,000 they gained by selling it initially) to cover the cost of buying that stock at its current price. Because hedge funds buy these low priced “in danger” company’s stock, they bet that the stock price will go down. This proves that there is no cap on losses when shorting.

Because of the market forces with the wallstreetbets subreddit, this very large group of people have worked together (colluded) to ensure the price goes up to an extremely high price… one that forces the hedge fund to cash out and lose money (conspire) and also force the stock price higher so those who got in first can make a lot of money (market manipulation to an advantage).

Collusion, SEC and DOJ

Here’s where this situation becomes a problem in the same way as the Capitol Hill mob. Social media allows people to post anything they want and discuss whatever is on their mind. It’s very freeing, but it can also be equally damning. In this case, both the SEC regulators have a reason to go looking in much the same way as the DOJ went looking for Capitol Hill mob participants.

People participating in the wallstreetbets subreddit have left breadcrumbs to their person. Meaning, by writing into that thread, it gives the SEC regulators a way to track down who you are, where you are and whether you participated. For those not living in the United States, the DOJ might not be able to do much. However, for those who are in the United States, the DOJ can lay claim on you.

Collusion and conspiracy isn’t taken lightly. In this specific case, the wallstreetbets subreddit had the ability to push the GME stock from less than $10 to over $300 in about a week. That’s definitely market manipulation. If using this subreddit to tell everyone hold or sell or buy, that definitely manipulates the market and because all people are doing it at once can be seen as a form of collusion and market manipulation. Manipulating the market to gain an advantage is illegal. Doing it using collusion makes that collusion illegal. On top of that, attempting to force a bad outcome on someone else is considered conspiracy.

Penalties

Let’s understand now what the penalties for collusion are:

Most criminal antitrust prosecutions involve price fixing, bid rigging, or market division or allocation schemes. Each of these forms of collusion may be prosecuted criminally if they occurred, at least in part, within the past five years. Proving such a crime does not require us to show that the conspirators entered into a formal written or express agreement.

https://www.justice.gov/atr/price-fixing-bid-rigging-and-market-allocation-schemes

 

From the above DOJ’s web site, we can see that market division or allocation schemes may be prosecuted criminally. Further, the DOJ doesn’t have to show that the conspirators entered into an agreement. The word conspirators is the noun form of conspire. Also, because it states “Most” to open this paragraph, it means the DOJ is open to other forms, not just those listed.

Definition of conspire:

(of events or circumstances) seem to be working together to bring about a particular result, typically to someone’s detriment.

Oxford English Dictionary

 

In this case, the conspiracy is to bring down the hedge funds by forcing them to lose money. That definitely wreaks of conspiracy. At the same time, the conspirators gain a market advantage by driving up the price to make money.

Let’s go back to that DOJ article from above and describe what the penalties actually are:

Enacted in 1890, the Sherman Act is among our country’s most important and enduring pieces of economic legislation. The Sherman Act prohibits any agreement among competitors to fix prices, rig bids, or engage in other anticompetitive activity. Criminal prosecution of Sherman Act violations is the responsibility of the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Violation of the Sherman Act is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10 million for corporations, and a fine of up to $350,000 or 3 years imprisonment (or both) for individuals, if the offense was committed before June 22, 2004. If the offense was committed on or after June 22, 2004, the maximum Sherman Act fine is $100 million for corporations and $1 million for individuals, and the maximum Sherman Act jail sentence is 10 years. Under some circumstances, the maximum potential fine may be increased above the Sherman Act maximums to twice the gain or loss involved.

https://www.justice.gov/atr/price-fixing-bid-rigging-and-market-allocation-schemes

 

That means that anyone who is found to have participated in this scheme, which should be readily apparent by reading comments on that subreddit, may be liable for $1 million for EACH violation and up to 10 years in prison. The fine could be well more than this if the gain from the market advantage ended up more than the fine itself.

Participation?

If you participated in this, don’t think that the Department of Justice can’t find you. They most certainly can. Think about all of the people they have found from the mob on Capitol Hill. The DOJ can subpoena reddit for the IP address used, then trace it back to your ISP also with a subpoena, then trace it back to the household where that IP resided at that moment in time, then send someone to the home. It’s only a matter of tracking the specific person who posted on reddit which can be easily done by reviewing the devices in the household (via warrant confiscation). Yes, they can confiscate your devices including your phone.

If the SEC regulators determine collusion and conspiracy were involved (and it looks more and more likely), then every individual who participated may find themselves in court, fined at least $1 million, have a felony on their record and may face up to 10 years in prison.

The hedge funds may or may not get their money back. The government could distribute the collected fines to the hedge funds to help offset their losses. However, the hedge funds may also be able to bring their own lawsuits against each individual separately should the SEC find foul play in this situation. That means that in addition to the DOJ’s own penalties, the hedge funds may also have legal recourse against every individual who participated.

Social Media

When participating in such actions, social media is not your friend. It holds onto and remembers everything you say and do. Because you volunteered that information to that social network, you gave up the right to the privacy of that data by posting it. That means that you brought the wrath down upon yourself by participating.

Investing and Collusion

Investing alone with no participation in the subreddit thread may not be seen as collusion by the SEC. People have the right to buy and sell stocks at any time. So long as they’re buying and selling stocks on their own and those sales cannot be traced back to participation in a wider collusive conspiratorial effort, then it shouldn’t be considered collusion or conspiracy. Though, you might still be called or visited if you bought into GME stock and have been determined to have visited reddit or Twitter or discussed anything about this situation.

However, those people who can be definitively traced to both bumping the stock price up AND participating in the subreddit to affect others to “do the same”, particularly with regards to conspiring against the hedge funds, these people may be brought up on charges of collusion, conspiracy and market manipulation.

If you’re reading this article and you’ve participated, deleting your posts may not protect you. If your post has lived for more than 24 hours on reddit or Twitter, it’s very likely on a backup that the DOJ can request. Deleting the post from the interface may not be enough to prevent the DOJ from finding your involvement.

Just Starting

The SEC investigation into collusion, conspiracy and market manipulation is just beginning. The SEC and DOJ will take their time before they start tracking down individuals and arresting them. Just as it has taken weeks to track people down to arrest the mob on Capitol Hill (which is still ongoing), it might take weeks or months to track down everyone involved in the GME market manipulation. Don’t think you’re safe if the DOJ hasn’t visited you yet. The DOJ isn’t under any time constraint to round up and charge individuals in any specific time frame. They will do it on their time, which could be months or even years later.

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Countdown: 100 days of Mask Wearing

Posted in government, Health by commorancy on January 24, 2021
Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Are Trump’s final Pardons legal?

Posted in analysis, government by commorancy on January 22, 2021

The United States Constitution has very specific language defining how and when the Presidential power of pardons and reprieves can and cannot be used. Let’s explore.

Constitutional Language

From Article II, Section 2, here is the language that defines the President’s powers. Note, styles have been added for clarification purposes.

 

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

U.S. Constitution => Article II => Section 2

 

At the end of this paragraph, we have an exception to and limitation of the previous power, “grant reprieves and pardons”. Some might argue that this exception covers the entire paragraph describing his powers as a whole, but this exception immediately follows the definition of the President’s aforementioned “grant reprieves and pardons” power. While the exception may cover all of his power in a logical sense after full impeachment AND conviction and having been removed from power, it doesn’t make sense to cover all of his powers while he still holds office after impeachment, but before the trial. He must still remain commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, for example.

Instead, I believe that this specific language, because it appears directly after the “grant reprieves and pardons” language is intended to narrowly apply solely to the power of granting reprieves and pardons, not to the entire paragraph.

Logically, this interpretation makes the most sense because you wouldn’t want a President who is in the process of being impeached to flurry pardon both himself and those who might have been involved, thus nullifying the entire impeachment proceeding. Meaning, the power given to Congress to impeach the President must not be allowed a loophole by the President to avoid impeachment.

Trump’s Pardons and Reprieves

While the language of the constitution is clear on what powers the President has, it has exclusions when specific powers are unavailable to the President as defined just above.

Let’s examine Trump’s flurry of pardons on the way out of office. Because of the way the constitution language is written, it seems that Trump’s final flurry of reprieves and pardons on the way out, but which occurred after his second impeachment on January 13, 2021 may not be constitutionally valid or legal. According to the constitution, the President forfeits the power of reprieves and pardons “in cases of impeachment” or, more specifically, during impeachment proceedings.

One can argue that Trump lost this power during his first impeachment. He did. However, that impeachment ended in acquittal… thus restoring all powers to him that he would have lost between the House’s impeachment, but before the Senate trial concluded in acquittal. If he had made any pardons during that impeachment period in 2019, those would also be constitutionally invalid.

Our Framers’ Logic

The framers of the constitution would have logically understood the impeachment process fully. After all, they designed it. The framers understood that impeachment is a two step process requiring both the House and the Senate to participate. They also understood that because these two houses must work together to complete the process, there could be delays between the time the House approves their impeachment resolution and the time the Senate begins and concludes the impeachment trial.

These same framers also understood that because of the time required to complete the impeachment process in full, the President could use his power of pardons and reprieves to nullify the very reason for the impeachment itself. To avoid this design flaw in the process, the framers included the clause ‘except in cases of impeachment‘ to limit the use of this Presidential power during impeachment proceedings and thus avoid the possibility the President could pardon himself or others and nullify the entire impeachment.

Legal vs Illegal Pardons

The point to all of this is that President Trump, at the time before he left office, was still under impeachment proceedings. This clause in the constitution would then suspend Trump’s power of reprieves and pardons until the impeachment had reached full conclusion: acquittal or conviction.

Because Trump’s impeachment is still ongoing as of this article (and was at the time of his exit from office), any reprieves and pardons he signed after the House passed its Article of Impeachment would be constitutionally illegal and thus, null and void.

If Trump had remained in office after conclusion of the Senate’s impeachment trial AND if the trial resulted in his acquittal, his power of reprieves and pardons would be restored. He could have then reissued those reprieves and pardons to make each of them legal and valid. However, Trump is no longer President as his term has ended. His ability to reissue those reprieves and pardons has ended. This means that all of the reprieves and pardons that Trump issued after January 13th, 2021 are constitutionally invalid and must remain invalid in perpetuity.

President Joe Biden, the now current President, could reinstate those reprieves and pardons on Trump’s behalf if he so chooses, but that would require Joe Biden to agree to reissue those specific reprieves and pardons on behalf of Donald Trump.

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Should the Senate conclude Trump’s Impeachment Trial?

Posted in business, government by commorancy on January 21, 2021

Now that Donald Trump has left office, some Trump fans believe the completion of the impeachment process is now “unconstitutional” and “null and void”, since Trump is no longer President. Let’s explore if this is true.

In or Out of Office?

Let’s understand the laws of our land to understand better the constitutionality of the impeachment process. While the constitution is mostly clear on impeachment, it’s not 100% clear on when and how impeachment may occur under ALL possible circumstances and conditions. This is why interpretation must occur in these special cases. However, interpretation doesn’t mean pulling conclusions out of the air. Instead, it means looking for existing precedents of law in which to guide that interpretation to logical and legal conclusion.

Constitution Excerpts

Let’s look to the United States Constitution (link to a PDF version) to read its language regarding impeachment:

Note that any italics, bold, highlights or <sic> have been added by this author for clarification purposes.

The House of Representatives shall chuse <sic> their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

U. S. Constitutution => Article I => Section 2

The above section defines which arm of the government handles Impeachment… The House of Representatives. So let’s learn about the Senate’s role in the impeachment process.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

U.S. Constitution => Article I => Section 3

The above section defines the Senate, its powers and how the Senate handles cases of Impeachment. Clearly, the Senate is defined to ‘try‘ (or perform a Trial) for all Impeachments. It also explains how the affected Party will be handled by law upon conviction. This section also defines the requirement of a two-thirds agreement in the Senate for the Senate to convict an Impeachment. Less than two thirds agreement and the trial concludes in acquittal. The two-thirds is strictly for agreement on removal of the President. A simple majority is required to agree on whether the person can hold office again. Both votes are separate. This does mean, then, that it is possible to acquit for removal, but convict for preventing the person from ever holding office again.

To recap so far, the House of Representatives is given the power of Impeachment solely. The Senate is given the power to preside over the Trial of that Impeachment solely. To clarify further, the House performs the impeachment and the Senate performs the Impeachment trial AFTER the House adopts the Articles of Impeachment and hands those approved articles to the Senate. The Senate puts forth and votes on the remedies should conviction occur.

These excerpts above describe the overview of Congress’s responsibilities and role for impeachment, but not the exacting details of how the process operates. We’ll dive into the details shortly below.

Just below, these excerpts describe Presidential responsibilities, powers and, yes, impeachment.

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

United States Constitution => Article II => Section 2

The above section and article is intended to describe the President’s extent of powers… “except in cases of impeachment“. This means that the President’s powers do have constitutional limits “, specifically in cases of impeachment.

Because this is both the United States Constitution and a legal body of law combined, it must be interpreted not only by constitutional standards, it must also be interpreted by legal standards. Unfortunately, the above isn’t the only mention of the term impeachment within the United States Constitution. Thus, we must press on to better understand how all of the sections together both combine and define what impeachment is, but also the extent to which it functions. With that in mind, I’ll come back to describe more about the constitutional language after all articles and sections have been quoted both above and below.

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

U.S. Constitution => Article II => Section 4

This section describes to whom impeachment applies and under which specific circumstances.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed

U.S. Constitution => Article III => Section 2

The above section describes to which Trials a jury applies and where those Trials should be conducted. Clearly, impeachment is excluded from trial by jury and also excludes holding it in a state venue, choosing to hold Impeachment Trials in the Senate chambers. Note that this language incidentally also defines powers of the Judicial branch of government by describing the Executive and Legislative branches. Because all three sections of government are so interlinked in each other’s processes, it would be impossible not to describe portions of the Judicial branch when discussing the powers and responsibilities of those in the Executive and Legislative branches, which is why this Judicial language is included in these sections.

This clear intent here is that the framers did not hold any branch of government above the laws of the land, but instead chose to institute a separate trial process when the President has willfully broken laws. One can argue the ultimate intent of the framer’s wishes here as “special treatment”, but the constitution is specific on these matters.

Before I continue quoting sections from the Constitution, let me stop here and discuss this “special treatment”. The framers clearly missed here. I understand that they felt that the best Trial by the President’s peers was via Congress, but “special treatment” does, in fact, tend to hold the President above the laws of the land. Where an ordinary citizen is granted no such special treatment, the President is given this “special treatment” after having broken laws of the land. Not only can’t the President be held to the laws of the land, the only power with which to uphold the laws of the land on the President is solely through the House’s Impeachment and Senate’s Impeachment Trial powers. Barring these specific actions and remedies, the President’s actions cannot be held to the general laws of the land, thus the President is essentially given prosecutorial immunity while he holds office, “except in cases of impeachment“. Impeachment is, then, the only legal action and remedies afforded the Legislative branch to remove a willfully criminal President.

Let’s keep in mind that the House’s successful Impeachment and the conclusion of the Senate’s Impeachment Trial are both separate, but part of the same process. The Senate’s Trial portion is simply an extension of the House’s Impeachment resolution. The Senate’s Impeachment Trial cannot exist without the House’s Impeachment. Likewise, the Impeachment process is incomplete without the Senate voting to convict or acquit. In other words, it is a misnomer to call successful Impeachment of a President when the Senate’s conviction has not yet occurred… only half of the process has been completed. Impeachment means both the House’s portion of Impeachment AND the Senate’s Trial to convict or acquit. Only after completion of both houses together is this considered successful Impeachment (regardless of outcome).

However, many believe that completing the successful adoption of the House’s Articles of Impeachment alone is enough to call the President Impeached. No. You can’t call the President Impeached when only half of the process has been completed. The term, Impeached should only be used to describe a President after both portions of the impeachment process (the House and Senate) have successfully fulfilled their duties and obligations to the constitution and both the House and Senate have agreed and Convicted (or Acquitted) the President, thus removing him from office and voting to rescind that person’s ability to ever hold office again or, alternatively, allowing him to continue to serve acquitted. That is what both Impeachment and Impeached should mean. Anything less degrades the Constitution and dilutes its power as a Constitutional body of law. Unfortunately, even the framers have chosen to ambiguously use the term “impeachment” within its text, such as the ever-vague “except in cases of impeachment” phrase.

Dictionaries, however, believe that it is enough to “charge” (accuse) someone of wrongdoing to use the word Impeach. I disagree with this Dictionary viewpoint. The United States was founded on “Innocent until proven Guilty”. Accusing someone of something is tantamount to “Guilty until proven Innocent”. Without successful completion of the Senate’s portion of an Impeachment Trial, the person is being stated as guilty without having been given a fair trial.

Let’s also understand that for a trial to be fair, it must also be expedient. Our constitution requires not only Trial by Jury (“except in cases of impeachment“), there is no specific definition in the Constitution of how fast the Trial must be conducted, just that it is “speedy”. However, we already know that without verbiage stating exceptions in the Constitution, everyone has the right to an expedient trial, which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. <sic>

United States Constitution => Amendment VI

As we know from far above, Impeachment is given certain legal exemptions. However, barring specific exemptions, the rest of the Sixth Amendment’s provisions still apply to the Impeachment trial. This is a basic tenant of law. Thus, this Amendment specifically includes the right to a “speedy” and “public” trial. These provisions are not explicitly excluded in any of the Articles above. As we know from Articles above with regards to Impeachment, a “Trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed” IS excluded by Article III, Section 2, which empowers only the Senate to perform this Trial. All else remains in full force and effect.

As for “speedy”, as I’ve said above, there is no specific amount of time set by the framers. This is left up to interpretation. Speedy might be a month or two tops. After six months, that would be considered by most as no longer speedy. No one wouldn’t consider ‘years’ as speedy. Common sense here must prevail. Speedy should be defined as whatever it takes to conduct the trial in a fair manner so long as the process is not interrupted by unnecessary and foreseen procedural or logistical delays. It is then on the Court, or in the case of Impeachment, to perform and conduct a Senate Impeachment Trial expediently once all conditions have been satisfied to begin the trial.

Constitution Verbiage

Here we end all the constitution’s language regarding Impeachment. From here, we must consult the House’s and the Senate’s rules to learn more. Here are the House’s rules. Specifically, here’s the preamble of the House’s rules on impeachment…

Impeachment is a constitutional remedy to address serious offenses against the system of government. It is the first step in a remedial process–that of removal from public office and possible disqualification from holding further office. The purpose of impeachment is not punishment; rather, its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government.

Deschler Ch 14 App. pp 726-728; 105-2, Dec. 19, 1998, pp 28107-9.

Lewis Deschler admits that the House’s portion of Impeachment is the “first step” in the Impeachment process. Because there are multiple steps, that means that until all steps are completed, the process is and should be considered incomplete. It also states that Impeachment is not intended to be punishment, but to uphold (and protect) the constitution.

I’d additionally argue that no one is above the law. Impeachment firmly placed within the Articles upholds that viewpoint. The bar for Presidential crime is obviously much higher than those of ordinary citizens, but Impeachment is a power given by the framers to Congress to remove someone who is willfully criminal while holding the office of President.

Some might consider this a naïve point of view. To some extent it is. Assuming that a person elected President won’t and can’t willfully damage to the Constitution is naïve. To diverge a little, the framers are overly trusting. They believe that people placed into these higher levels of power won’t do damage to the very voters who voted them into office. As I said, naïve. The constitution isn’t, by any stretch, a perfect document. The framers were also well aware of this fact, thus the reason it can be amended. The point wasn’t to make the initial document perfect, but to make it passable by those in power at the time. Viewpoints, even then, made it difficult to achieve consensus. Thus, the Constitution is the very definition of a set of compromises which all of those compromises achieved the signing of the Constitution. That’s why it’s not a perfect document. That’s why there are holes. That’s why some aspects are left ambiguous and left open to interpretation.

Lewis Deschler

So, you’re probably asking, “Who exactly is Lewis Deschler?”. Wikipedia describes him best:

Lewis Deschler (May 3, 1903 – July 12, 1976) was the first, and longest-serving, Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives. He started his term on February 1, 1927,[1] during the 70th United States Congress following the retirement of Lehr Fess. Prior to Deschler becoming Parliamentarian, the position was referred to as the Clerk at the Speaker’s Table.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Deschler

Wikipedia goes on to say:

Deschler served as the Parliamentarian from 1927 until his retirement on June 27, 1974, during the 93rd United States Congress.[2] He was an important advisor to many congressmen during his employment, including advising House Speaker Carl Albert on the tax fraud investigation of Vice President Spiro Agnew[3] and the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Deschler

While in office, Lewis Deschler authored and modified many of the House’s rules on impeachment and how the House conducts the Impeachment process… which has significantly influenced this process and how our present House today manages and conducts Impeachment proceedings. I’ll leave you to search for and find out more about both Lewis Deschler and his contributions to see how the U.S. House manages not only Impeachment proceedings, but other House proceedings.

Senate Rules

Now that we’ve reviewed the House Rules (you have haven’t you?), we need to review the Senate Impeachment Trial rules. More specifically, this section from the document, RULES OF PROCEDURE AND PRACTICE IN THE SENATE WHEN SITTING ON IMPEACHMENT TRIALS:

Upon such articles being presented to the Senate, the Senate shall, at 1 o’clock afternoon of the day (Sunday
excepted) following such presentation, or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration of such articles and shall continue in session from day to day (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/SMAN-104/html/SMAN-104-pg177.htm

This is the section that discusses a speedy trial… or, at least, how quickly the Senate must act after receiving the Articles of Impeachment from the House of Representatives. It doesn’t state how fast the trial must progress, but it at least states when the Article of Impeachment must be acted on by the Senate.

Double Jeopardy

Someone asked me, “Why isn’t there double jeopardy on impeachment?” Let’s understand double jeopardy. Double jeopardy excludes a person from being tried twice for, and here’s the important point, the same or a very similar crime.

Trump’s first and second impeachments are not for the same crime nor are they similar. So, even were double jeopardy applicable to the impeachment process, double jeopardy wouldn’t apply in this case. Both impeachments are for entirely separate crimes.

Though, I’m not sure why Congress would ever vote to impeach a president twice for the same crime in two separate impeachments. It doesn’t make sense why this would ever happen. I’m not even sure that congress would ever attempt to do this simply because of double jeopardy.

Congressional Failure

With the above said about double jeopardy, part of the problem that leads to this thinking is the failure of congressional leaders to do their own jobs. For example, if the Speaker of the House fails to submit the Article(s) of Impeachment to the Senate, the process cannot conclude.

This leaves the impeachment process incomplete. Such a failure doesn’t allow the accused to prove their innocence on the charges. Not only may this violate the right to a speedy trial, it leaves the accused effectively marked as guilty. That’s not how our system is supposed to work.

If Congress is serious enough to bring Article(s) of Impeachment against the President, then they should be serious and professional enough to see the process through to conclusion. By not completing the process, those responsible should be held liable and penalized for their failure. Specifically, if the Speaker of the House fails to submit the successfully passed impeachment documents, that should jeopardize their Speaker of the House standing. Meaning, they should be deposed and see another representative appointed. If the Speaker of the House fails to do their job, then it’s important to replace that person with someone who will do the job. It is every representative’s responsibility (and oath of office) to uphold the constitution. Failure to uphold the oath of office means the representative needs to be held accountable for that failure including censure or removal from office or position.

Unfortunately, because congress tends to vote on their own matters to affect how they perform their own jobs, checks and balances tends not to apply in these types of votes. This means we usually see Congress fail to apply such penalties that would ensure people do their jobs while in office. Yet another constitutional failure by the framers to prevent conflict of interest problems like this. I digress.

Exceptions, Pardons and Interpretation

Here’s one big last thought before I end this article. Above, there is an excerpt that defines Presidential powers. Specifically:

… [The President] shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment

United States Constitution => Article II => Section 2

This portion is mostly self-explanatory. Again, the President is given the power to grant reprieves and pardons… except in cases of impeachment. Again, unfortunately, the framers left this statement mostly ambiguous. There are several possible interpretations of this verbiage:

The first interpretation suggests that a successful House impeachment alone rescinds the President’s power to “grant reprieves and pardons”. This means that ANY pardons or reprieves that the President attempts to grant AFTER a successful House impeachment is no longer legal. In other words, the President forfeits his power of pardons and reprieves after a successful House impeachment. I believe this interpretation is only partially correct, so let’s continue.

The second interpretation suggests that the text “except in cases of impeachment” suggests the word impeachment to mean that it requires both the full House and Senate processes to conclude in both impeachment and a conviction. The constitution is unclear on this usage and definition of the word ‘impeachment’, but this is also where logic fails.

The second interpretation then suggests the following conditions must be met:

  • A house impeachment must occur
  • A senate conviction must occur
  • Once a conviction occurs, the sitting President will be removed from office
  • A conviction might also prevent the then former President from running for office again

Once a President is convicted and removed from office, there’s no need to request surrender of the pardon power.

This third even more narrow interpretation of “except in cases of impeachment” applies only to offenses covered by the impeachment itself. That’s not specified in this clause. That’s an interpretation and that interpretation seems incorrect. Applying the second interpretation to the third, a President who is fully impeached and convicted can no longer issue pardons and reprieves anyway because they will have been removed from office. Therefore, there is no logic to this interpretation. Again, the framers would have realized this glaring logic error. So…

A fourth interpretation strongly suggests that the framers did realize the above logic error in the second and third interpretations AND they further understood that there is a delay between the time the House passes the impeachment article(s) to the Senate. The framers understood this two house setup can cause delays in the process. This delay leaves the President in power to continue office duties until the Senate Trial begins and concludes. A trial is a trial and can last weeks mulling over evidence. Thus, forfeiture of the power of pardons and reprieves is intended not narrowly for offenses related to the impeachment itself, but for all pardons and reprieves of any kind until the Senate trial concludes. This logic makes the most sense from the framers perspective to prevent the President from passing a flurry of pardons of any kind, which may conceal pardons and reprieves related to the Impeachment. This surrender of power also renders self-pardons for any reason impossible. It the trial acquits, there’s no need for self-pardon. If the trial convicts, the President is removed from power.

This clause’s verbiage then fully implies that the power to grant pardons and reprieves is entirely surrendered after a successful House impeachment. I believe that this is truly what that the framers had intended. Why? Because without this clause, an impeached President can pardon not only themselves for their impeachable offense(s), they can pardon anyone else involved in the action that caused the impeachment. The point here is to stop the President from using pardons and reprieves to avoid Senate prosecution for themselves and their accomplices, regardless of whether the pardon or reprieve appears related or not. This clause additionally prevents “out of sight, out of mind” and “flurry” pardons and reprieves after the House successfully impeaches, but before the Senate trial concludes. The House and Senate should be focused on the Impeachment process, not on reviewing every pardon and reprieve for relationships to the Impeachment. Halting all pardons and reprieves until the Senate’s trial concludes makes the most logical sense and keeps Congress’s focus on the Impeachment, not on Presidential diversions.

Clearly, if the Senate trial concludes in acquittal, then the impeachment is nullified and all powers are restored to the President. If the Senate trial concludes in conviction, then the President is removed from office thus preventing any further pardons and reprieves by that action.

Currently, I believe that the “except in cases of impeachment” verbiage is being taken too literally to cover only and narrowly such pardons and reprieves that appear directly related to the specific “case” of the impeachment itself. I don’t believe that this extremely narrow interpretation was the framer’s intention. Instead, as in the fourth interpretation, I believe the framers intended this phrase to see the President fully surrender the power pardons and reprieves until both the House and Senate conclude both portions of the impeachment and conviction process. This does two things:

  1. It forces congress to abide by a “speedy trial” to…
  2. Quickly give the President back all powers afforded the position or remove an offending President from power

One last word for this verbiage. This verbiage appears intended as a forward looking statement. Meaning, it halts future pardons and reprieves from the date the impeachment is passed by the House. It isn’t intended to touch past pardons or reprieves issued prior to the date of successful impeachment. This makes logical sense because it is assumes that the President’s actions prior to successful impeachment are sincere and trustworthy. That means all past pardons and reprieves should be left standing. Nullifying past pardons and reprieves prior to impeachment could be exceedingly difficult to “undo”. I don’t believe the framers intended for this exception to encompass past actions and/or retroactively apply to all past pardons and reprieves.

Putting it all Together

What does all of the above really mean for Donald Trump’s second impeachment? Some have theorized that because Donald Trump is no longer president that the Impeachment proceedings should be dropped and/or isn’t constitutional. That’s not how legal agreements work. They don’t just disappear because one small piece is unenforceable. Typically, if a condition presents that nullifies a portion of an agreement, the remaining portions of the agreement remain in full force and effect. To extrapolate that to the constitution, stating that because Donald Trump is no longer President means that the impeachment section is no longer valid. Let’s understand why this argument might or might not apply.

That argument would be true if the impeachment proceedings were to begin AFTER his exit from office. However, even though Donald Trump’s presidency has ended, this fact doesn’t nullify the impeachment proceedings that constitutionally began while he was still in office. Because the two constitutional remedies for impeachment include 1) removal from office and 2) prevention of holding future office, only one of these two remedies is nullified by Donald Trump’s exit from office.

What that means is because the process began while Donald Trump was still President, the process is still valid after his exit from office. To say otherwise is like saying that because you ran a red light and because that condition no longer exists, you aren’t in violation. No, you’re not presently in violation, but you WERE in violation at the time you ran the red light. Not being in violation now doesn’t absolve you from having been in violation at the time that you ran that red light. If law allowed for a “now” concept only, no one could ever be held accountable for past deeds. This is why this legal precedent, usually defined by a statute of limitations, is applicable in nearly every legal circumstance. Not all crimes have statute of limitations, however. Those that don’t usually mean you can be tried for that crime at any point in time. Thus, this legal concept is applicable to Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Additionally, law doesn’t allow for the “now” argument. This argument doesn’t apply to running a red light (unless the statute of limitations has expired) and it doesn’t apply to Donald Trump’s change in President status. He WAS President at the time when his “high crimes and misdemeanors” occurred. That’s what matters. His change in status does NOT matter. Further, because “step one” of the Impeachment began while Trump was in office as President, Congress must now do their duty and complete this process regardless of Donald Trump’s change in status. This process is now (and was then ) already underway .

Sure, Trump can no longer be removed from office as one of the two remedies, but the remedy to prevent him from ever holding office again must still be decided by the Senate. For the Senate to not to do their duty to uphold the remaining “in force” portions of the Constitution means those Senators are not upholding their constitutional oath and duties of office. Regardless of the Senate’s outcome of the Impeachment trial, it must be urged to complete this process. Without completion of this process, the constitution is weakened. The point to the constitution is to empower those who are tasked to do the will of the people to uphold the will of the people and simultaneously uphold the statutes defined by the United States Constitution.

To do otherwise, such as not completing the impeachment, only diminishes the power of and serves to dilute the function of the Constitution as the heart and soul of our democracy.

Flurry of Pardons on the Way Out

As for Donald Trump’s over 100+ pardons on his way out of office, these pardons and commutations should be considered invalid based on the fourth interpretation (above) of Article II, Section 2’s “except in cases of impeachment” clause. Since he had been impeached by the House prior to his final flurry of pardons and reprieves, all of those pardons and reprieves should be invalid because this clause sees to his surrender of that Presidential power for the duration of the Senate’s impeachment trial. Further, since Trump is no longer in office, he won’t be able to redo those 100+ pardons and reprieves, even should the Senate trial conclude in acquittal. I won’t get into what this interpretation means for his first impeachment as that only serves to heavily muddy these already extremely muddy waters.

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Who is the worst President in U.S. History?

Posted in history, presidential administration by commorancy on January 14, 2021

There’s a clear answer here. Donald J. Trump… who is yet again self-writing the pages of the history books. Let’s explore why.

The Big Lie

While this isn’t the first lie Donald Trump has told, it is certainly one of the longest running lies repeated over and over and over. What was this “big” lie? Donald Trump perpetuated over and over that the election was stolen from him. In reality, the election has been proven time and time again to have been the most secure election ever.

While Trump was busy making up fake and fraudulent information about how election centers “rigged” the election against him, the election centers diligently counted the votes received 3, 4 and 5 different times… all in proving the vote was in favor of Joe Biden.

Worse, the election fraud argument was not only baseless, it was delusional. Claiming that an underdog had enough money, people and resources to enter election centers and modify voting equipment was not only statistically improbable, this claim was outright insane.

This continual lie perpetuated to Trump’s very own supporters which led to the very insurrection he incited on Capitol Hill… but I get ahead of myself.

Other Lies and Conspiracies

When COVID-19 hit U.S. soil in January of 2020, Trump began perpetuating the lie that COVID-19 is not at all dangerous. That perpetuated lie, while only somewhat smaller than the lie told about the election, has led to many thousands of deaths in the United States. Instead of taking action and making a plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, Donald Trump instead decided to visit Mar-A-Lago to golf, golf and yet more golf.

Because of his “COVID-19 isn’t dangerous” rhetoric, not only did Trump not do anything until mid-February (ensuring the virus had ample time to spread across the United States and in large metropolitan areas), he espoused fringe science and chose never to wear a mask and did not mandate mask requirements at all.

When Trump claimed to have gotten COVID-19, he was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment prior to the election. While many thousands of people were dying because of inadequate treatments due to Trump’s lack of enthusiasm to admit the dangers of COVID-19 and take action, Donald Trump received extraordinary special world class treatment using various experimental drugs. Even after this, he (and the people around him) STILL chose to not wear masks at rallies, still didn’t espouse the dangers and still has not provided any positive plan to help reduce the spread.

Vaccine

Trump loves to take credit for everything even when he had nothing to do with that thing’s success. The vaccines were developed in spite of Trump, not because of him. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization prompted the vaccine creation. Trump, by far, almost completely ignored COVID-19 unless it gave him a feather in his cap… which was almost never. Until the vaccines arrived, he didn’t do shit to manage the COVID-19 spread. During the summer, the spread began to level off, but not because Trump did anything. It was happenstance alone that tapered it off. As the holidays arrived, COVID-19 ramped up big time… and that’s where we are right now.

As COVID-19 began surging, the vaccine arrived. Yet, the rollout plan is not a plan. In fact, it’s just a suggestion. As a result of the lack of planning, the vaccine has only been given to around 4 million people when Trump promised 100 million would be vaccinated by the end of 2020. Yet another lie that Trump perpetuated.

Even while the virus was surging out of control, Trump all but ignored this fact and focused almost with blinders on his “Big Lie” (see above) to the exclusion of all else. His “rigged” election rhetoric not only got old, those of us who had seen through this blatant lie continually wonder what Trump is smoking.

Suffice it to say, while the vaccine has been mostly a flop… not from a functional perspective, but from a rollout perspective. So now, Biden will be left with the task of finding a way to innoculate millions more in record time since Trump failed to make this task a priority.

Insurrection

Trump tried very hard to convince us all of his “big lie”. Most of us were not having it. However, he did manage to rope in a bunch of like-minded thinkers who, for whatever reason, allowed Trump to pull the wool over on them. These people, unfortunately, also tended to be gun toting, irrational extremists. As a result, when Trump a rally in Washington DC at the Ellipse, he incited his crowd to “fight like hell”. These specific words and those of similar style out of his cabal riled up the crowd into a frenzy.

As they marched their way down to Capitol Hill, they began surging into the building, making their way into offices, damaging windows, doors and even defecating and peeing along the way. As a result of this violent mob, it left 5 people dead, including a DC officer tasked with protecting the building.

Again, those of us out here not under the influence of Trump’s lies, realized that Trump now poses a significant threat to the United States. No sitting United States President has ever attacked the very buildings and constitution that they have sworn to uphold. This left Congress in a quandary.

Congress is given limited options to remove a sitting president from office. These include invoking the 25th amendment, impeachment and requesting resignation. Unfortunately, Donald Trump sees no benefit in resigning, so that option was flat off of the table. The only other two were request Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and declare Donald Trump unfit to lead or impeach Donald Trump.

Speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi gave Pence adequate time to choose invoking the 25th amendment, to which he declined… at which point Nancy Pelosi drafted one Article of Impeachment and began the process of seeing this article through to passage.

On January 13th, the Article of Impeachment passed with 232 votes including 10 Republican votes. Though, the vast majority of the Republican party voted against passage.

With the passage of this impeachment, that totals two (2) successful impeachments by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the first impeachment did not reach conviction in the Senate. Hopefully, this second impeachment will. While conviction would be another first for Donald Trump, the most historical fact is that Donald Trump is the first president to have been successfully impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

It’s not over yet

We’re still living history in the making with Donald Trump. Not only does being impeached twice make him the obvious choice for worst president, but inciting an insurrection on Capitol Hill is entirely unprecedented. Not only was there an insurrection, the intended goal was to stop the electoral vote counting, but worse, sway Pence to count the electoral votes in Donald Trump’s favor… an act of sedition.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s extremist cabal is now firmly unleashed. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what they have planned. However, the current intelligence is that they plan to have armed “protests” at not only all 50 state capitol buildings, but again in DC to block Joe Biden’s inauguration. However, there are now at least 15,000 troops occupying Washington DC until the inauguration is over. That’s more troops than are deployed in parts of the middle east… to protect against Donald Trump’s incited extremists. If those extremists attempt another incursion in DC, they’re in for a rude awakening.

You just can’t make this shit up!

For now, we’re under wait and see for exactly how this article ends. However, one thing is absolutely certain. Regardless of what happens between now and inauguration day, Donald Trump is now officially the Worst President in the history of the United States.

Such a dubious distinction, Donald.

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The Rise of the Sociopaths

Posted in mental health, security by commorancy on January 10, 2021

While this title above might seem like the name of a fiction novel, it isn’t. It’s actually what is happening in the world and specifically in the United States today. Yes, mental illness is on the rise, but so is COVID. Let’s explore just how COVID is playing a part in this.

COVID-19 and Sociopaths

Let’s lead this article with the primary explanation of what is occurring in the world. It is estimated that at least 1% of the United States population is psychopathic, which includes sociopaths. Sociopaths are one subset of mental health. However, this is a subset of mental health that allow people suffering from it to do a lot of damage very quickly when placed together.

When COVID-19 arrived, those who do not suffer from mental health issues feared (and continue to fear) for their their own lives and safety and thus, retreated to their homes. These same sane people who are cautious of getting COVID, are particularly fastidious about washing their hands, are limiting their exposure to others and are only shopping when necessary. Basically, these people are staying home and not being reckless with their own health, their family’s health or of those around them. They take all precautions, wear masks, order take out only, visit stores rarely and refrain from heading off to shopping malls, crowded movie theaters or hanging out in large crowds.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, don’t care about any of that pesky ‘safety’. Not only have they been told by Trump that the virus simply isn’t that dangerous, they personally choose to believe that themselves. The sociopath believes only what benefits them or their ego and discards all else. Being constrained by wearing a mask, staying at home and not being able to socially gather isn’t of benefit to a sociopath. Sociopaths actually need others around them to do their bidding, stroke their ego and to interact. A sociopath who doesn’t have “friends” to hang out with isn’t really a sociopath. Sociopaths appear to be extroverts even though they are technically loners. Though, the word ‘extrovert’ doesn’t accurately describe how a sociopath operates. Suffice it to say, a sociopath requires people to manipulate… and manipulate them they do. We’ll come back to this aspect shortly.

Because COVID-19 has shut in so many, those who are still running around with careless abandon primarily consist of sociopaths… or rather, those people who have sociopathic tendencies. Like pretty much anything, there are degrees of sociopathic behavior… which means a person can be a little sociopathic or extremely sociopathic with added traits like narcissism. Before COVID-19, society consisted of both normal mental health individuals and those with mental health disorders. Because sociopaths can blend in and appear normal, their behaviors were mostly kept in check by those “normal” people around them. Sociopaths deeply wish to fit in with a crowd so they can have their ego stroked. To do that, they adopt behaviors that appear to be the same as those of their sane friends around them. This reinforcing behavior keeps many sociopaths in check.

Since COVID-19 and the loss of so many “normal” people being out and about, the sociopaths have lost their reinforcing behaviors… yet they still need their egos stroked, still need to be able to manipulate people and still need all of the satisfaction they had prior to COVID-19. As a result, like attracts like. Because those who are running around are primarily sociopaths, they tend to gravitate towards like minded sociopaths. This firmly leaves sociopaths, who were formerly able to keep their mental health state in check with their sane friends, with their mental state unchecked and unbounded.

Trump

Donald Trump has shown himself to be a nearly text book narcissistic sociopath. What does that mean? It means never a hair out of place, an orange complexion, always dressed in a suit or another “smart” outfit… all the way down to his trophy wife. He surrounds himself with things and people that not only stroke his ego, but support his personal agendas.

Because he’s a sociopath, he doesn’t have a conscience… which means he’s brutally honest to a fault, he doesn’t tolerate people who won’t do his bidding and he will just as easily tell you off as act like your friend. In short he will do whatever it takes to get his agenda accomplished. If a sociopath doesn’t get their way, they will throw a tantrum. Narcissistic sociopath tantrums don’t usually include self harm, but they may harm possessions, animals or people around them both verbally and/or physically.

When their tantrum is over, they will act as though nothing ever happened. They won’t talk about it and they don’t want to talk about it. Instead, they are still laser focused on getting their way using whatever means is required.

Sociopaths always seek popularity, which is why Trump was so in love with Twitter. Having over 70 million followers is a HUGE ego boost for anyone. Being able to spout a message and instantly see thousands of responses is mesmerizing and incredibly satisfying to a sociopath… which is why Trump tweeted so frequently. Unfortunately, that satisfaction is fleeting. Like a meth user needing his next fix, sociopaths need their next ego fix constantly…. why Trump tweeted so much every day. Sociopaths have an insatiable ego-boost appetite.

If that’s where Trump’s sociopathy ended, I might not even be writing this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. Sociopaths are also expert at manipulating people by using lies, boasting, blackmail and fakery. There is no measure considered too extreme by a sociopath to get someone to do something for them. In fact, the more you tie yourself to a sociopath, the more they will use you for their own benefit. Unfortunately, to manipulate someone requires pathological lying. Both sociopathy and pathological lying go hand-in-hand. This type of lying means tricking someone into believing something that is untrue and then having that person act on that lie.

Conscience is non-existent by a sociopath. This means that they simply cannot feel sorry for, empathize with or in any way feel for someone else’s plight. They simply don’t have this ability. Because of this lack of empathy towards others, they will do and say anything without remorse. Just witness some of Trump’s speeches for various examples.

In short, a narcissistic sociopath like Trump, needs others to help him and stroke his ego at the same time. If they stop helping, they are summarily cut off. To invite a sociopath into your life is to invite a toxic relationship that will end badly.

Followers and Sociopaths

Trump’s goal is to not only stroke his own ego, but gain as many followers to do his bidding. In fact, he has done this. He has used lies to manipulate his followers into action. His latest action, unfortunately, went horribly awry at the Capitol Hill building. Unfortunately, when cornered, a sociopath begins making mistakes… which is exactly where Trump is. On January 6th, he was cornered. He either had to accept his loss (which is of no benefit to him) or he had to manipulate people in an attempt to change the outcome.

He attempted to manipulate Mike Pence into this, but that effort failed. He then resorted to inviting (and inciting) a crowd to Capitol Hill that turned into insurrection. Because his desperation level, as a sociopath, is increasing, so is his ability to rationalize outcomes. Typically, sociopaths are able to play out scenarios in their heads and see the outcome they desire. As long as they follow a specific set of lies and manipulation, they can usually affect that outcome. Unfortunately, these outcomes require unlimited amounts of time for the outcome to finally occur.

When tight time constraints are in place, the ability of a sociopath to see and plan for everything needed becomes clouded. They can’t manipulate and lie fast enough to get people to believe those lies and affect their goals. This then leaves the sociopath desperate and flying by the seat of their pants. Desperation only leads to instigating rash, difficult situations and mistakes… and in the case of Trump, with inciting insurrection. Because January 6th had arrived, he didn’t have enough time to plan a way to engineer a successful coup. Instead, he left it up to the crowds by requesting they do this work by “fighting”.

Trump knew very well the type of people he had invited to Capitol Hill and he was well aware of the types of paraphernalia they would bring with them. He didn’t have to explicitly tell his cabal to storm into the building as it was all subtext to be read between the lines. His mostly sociopathic cabal was well aware of exactly what he wanted done and attempted to execute it on his behalf. Unfortunately, because his cabal was a loose set of people rather than a cohesive group, no planning was initiated between those who breached into the building. Because of the lack of planning, they all did whatever they pleased as his cabal was mostly loner sociopaths themselves who can’t work together as a team. Thankfully, however, his cabal wasn’t organized enough to lay siege, occupy or hold its occupants hostage on Capitol Hill.

Election Rigging

Though, that didn’t matter. Trump has had 4 years to gather, indoctrinate and manipulate his cabal into doing his bidding through lies, lies and more lies. Remember that sociopaths are almost always pathological liars. His most blatant lie being that he won the 2020 Presidential election, when he clearly had not. Of course, his second lie was that since he didn’t win the election, the election must have been rigged. Nevermind the fact that rigging a Presidential election is basically impossible, which this fact has since been proven that no rigging was found. Trump continually cited counting irregularities, ballot counting issues and people’s anecdotes (lies from even more sociopaths) as rigging, but never actually provided any proof of that fact… to which nearly every court case Trump has created was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Nevermind that voting irregularities do occur in most every election, but are eventually found and reversed through proper vote counting and procedures long before the state certifies its counts.

Worse, he claimed that many dead people voted. Hello! The world is presently under threat of COVID-19. We’ve had 373,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States to date. As of this article’s publish day alone, we’ve had 4,112 deaths from COVID-19. On November 3rd, we lost people to COVID-19. On November 4th, we also lost people to COVID-19. That means that every day since the 2020 Presidential election, people have died to COVID-19… many people who voted. So, yes, there will have been people who are now dead who voted in the election. That’s not fraud. That’s not rigging. That’s statistics.

Further, if a candidate wished to perpetuate fraud in an election, why would he or she do so with such a narrow margin? It doesn’t make sense. If you are intent on winning an election through fraud, wouldn’t you bump the numbers up to a least 60:40 or 70:30 so that there was no question about who, in fact, won? Why would you leave the win at almost 50:50 with such narrow margins in some states that it required recounting 3, 4 and 5 times?

No, I contend that someone intent on rigging an election would do so to such a degree that there would be no question about who won and who lost… and more specifically, who won immediately. With a 60:40 split, that would mean news services could call the election within an hour or two, not days.

Is rigging even possible?

Let’s understand that rigging an election would require access to not only one state of systems, but 50 states worth of independent systems. None of the each state’s voting systems are linked together. That means that Florida’s systems do not talk to systems in California or Idaho or anywhere else. This means that if someone wanted to rig an election, they would have to physically visit the voting centers in all 50 states and in all cities in all of those 50 states.

We’re talking about thousands and thousands of people all over the country simultaneously touching thousands of voting machines and making changes. It’s simply not possible or even feasible. Biden’s team and even the Democratic party doesn’t employ that number of people. Let’s forget all about the fact that Republicans and Democrats alike operate these election centers.

Worse, if an election were rigged, that also means that every race is suspect… not just the Presidential race. But no, the Republicans weren’t having any of that nonsense. They only blamed the Presidential race, but not the other election races on that same ticket. It doesn’t work like that. If an election is being alleged as rigged, all elections held that night are suspect. No candidate can win if even one race is under investigation for having been rigged. You can’t cherry pick what you want and leave the rest out. This is a classic sociopath behavior. Choose only the things of benefit, ignoring all other things. Logically, you can’t do that when calling out election rigging. Either all election races are suspect to fraud or none are.

Yes, it gets worse

Because the sociopaths of the world are out in full force due to their lack of conscience and empathy, they don’t care if they get COVID-19… or, more importantly, if they give COVID-19 to others. For this reason alone, the primary people attending Trump’s rallies and gatherings are very likely sociopaths, just like Trump. Like minds attract and all that.

That’s not to say that everyone attending is a sociopath, but the vast majority of those people attending his rallies are almost assuredly sociopaths… because those who don’t want to get COVID-19 are not heading out to his rallies, let alone large gatherings. That’s why Trump’s attendees almost never wear masks. That’s an ego thing, too. To wear a mask hides the very thing that allows the ego to be stroked. Anyone who is a narcissistic sociopath won’t wear a mask because it hides the ability to have the ego stroked… something a narcissistic sociopath desperately needs at every moment.

Because Trump’s followers… or more specifically, his rally attendees are primarily sociopaths just like he is, they have no moral compass. That’s why so many were willing to bring weapons AND grin for the camera within Capitol Hill. That’s ego at work. A sociopath needs to be praised for sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, for pulling her plaque down smiling at the camera, for stealing her lectern, for breaking windows, for taking selfies with a cop. Anyone who does not have a mental health issue doesn’t need to do any of these things. These people doing this at Capitol Hill don’t have a moral compass, which very heavily implies every one of these people are a sociopaths.

Yes, there were people who were not entering the building. Yes, there were people who may have shown up simply to stand in protest. However, there were also thousands who crowded the steps, broke down doors and windows and allowed themselves to be photographed while grinning. Perhaps not everyone in that crowd was a sociopath, but those who don’t have a moral compass, who yell out death threats and who beat up cops, these are not sane people. Sane people don’t behave like this.

Trump has rallied and goaded people who are just like he is into these actions through lies. His sociopathic followers choose to believe his lies because it benefits them to do so and helps stroke their own egos.

This is the danger and risk COVID-19 and, by extension, sociopaths poses to society. By keeping the sane people at home, it leaves those with mental health issues running amok on the nation. This is why this article is entitled, “The Rise of the Sociopaths”. Our country is now under siege by these mentally challenged people. As long as Trump still has a mouthpiece to lie to them, he can incite his sociopathic followers further into action. The problem is, with Trump’s loss of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, this is leaving him even more desperate and in need to reach out his followers to have them do even more damage. Trump will be required to take desperate measures to mobilize his cabal. The country is truly in peril by sociopaths.

We’ve only got 10 more days until the inauguration. However, Trump has 10 days to plan something big with his sociopathic cabal to not only undermine that inauguration, but perhaps damage the United States and democracy beyond repair. For this reason, it is imperative that Trump be removed from office immediately. He is a danger to not only himself, but to the United States and to the rest of the world.

Why not simply ask Donald Trump to resign? That won’t work. He’s a sociopath driven by ego. Voluntarily giving up his Presidential power isn’t something he can do. He has no moral compass or empathy. He simply can’t feel for the predicament he has placed the United States into. In fact, a sociopath cannot ever place blame for a problem on himself… even if he caused it. Donald Trump simply can’t see that he has done anything wrong by inciting insurrection. As a result of feeling like he’s done nothing wrong, he won’t give up his office. However, Trump does understand prosecution…

If I were on Capitol Hill, I’d be immediately offering Trump a deal in exchange for his resignation. While such a deal may be distasteful overall, the important national security part is that Trump is removed from office and can do no further damage. What deal is that? Offer Trump prosecutorial immunity with permanent exile outside of the United States in exchange for his immediate resignation. To negotiate with a sociopath, you must offer a deal that greatly benefits them and one that they can’t refuse. This offer greatly benefits Trump and the United States. It offers Trump a way out without any penalty of legal action and it forces Trump to leave the United States so he can’t possibly mobilize local crowds ever again. Secondarily, by enforcing permanent exile, it doubles the stakes by preventing him from ever holding public office again, without the need for impeachment.

As long as Trump remains in the United States, he remains a threat to national security in or out of office. The only way to stop that is to send him packing. I honestly don’t care if Trump ends up in jail or not. He just needs to be prevented from doing further damage to the United States of America and, sadly, prosecutorial immunity is actually a small price to pay to make that happen.

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