Harmless Fun Edition
#10 — We cover the scandal of the century (it’s not impeachment)
Thiel Capital math guy Eric Weinstein comes out boldly for the intelligence-gathering theory of what Jeffrey Epstein was really all about. I suppose there are two versions of the theory: a Weak Version, in which Epstein at some point offers his services to a spy agency as a way of gaining protection, and a Strong Version, in which his whole operation was set-up from the git-go by some country’s spooks. Weinstein seems to go for the Strong Version. Of course, if the Strong Version’s true you’d expect someone to leak the Weak Version. (‘Yes, Mr. Epstein suggested he could help us but the relationship was not productive and we discontinued contact.’)
Bill Gates had some splainin’ to do regarding his Epstein contact. He’s not doing a very good job. “I wish I hadn’t met with him,” Gates says. Well, duh! In fact, Gates apparently met with Epstein more than once (he says “meetings”—plural). He also flew on Epstein’s jet to Palm Beach. Gates says he did this because“There were people around [Epstein] who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people..” This doesn’t add up. Epstein (worth half a billion) was an annoying gnat compared to Gates ($105 billion). Epstein was a convicted sex offender! Gates “wanted nothing to do with” him but changed his mind after an “aggressive lobbying campaign” by Epstein? Really? There’s something Gates isn’t telling us, no? My theory: Gates met with Epstein (to recruit philanthropists) because one of Epstein’s lobbyists was … Bill Clinton. It’s just a theory—but Clinton seems like the only tenth planet in the neighborhood with enough mass to pull this disastrous match-up off. You can understand why Gates wouldn’t now want to finger Clinton, even if it means Gates looks bad. After all, the obvious next question is why would Clinton go to bat for Epstein? (There is also an obvious answer.)
Meanwhile, lawyer Brad Edwards, who represents several Epstein victims, took billionaire Leslie Wexner off the hook on the sex front: “We have not seen where he is in the company of Jeffrey Epstein at the time when he was engaging in these things.” So if it wasn’t the girls, what was it? Wexner claims that Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family”— more than the $46 million Wexner got Epstein to pay back. Yet Wexner never sued Epstein or tried to have him prosecuted. This also doesn’t add up. Sure, maybe Wexner was scared of the publicity — but as Josh Barro notes, at some point tens or hundreds of millions of dollars outweighs a bit of embarrassment. Warren Buffett got some bad publicity when he turned against a trusted aide, claiming he’d been misled. Buffet got through it. Seems as if Wexner would have gotten through it too. Here again there are two species of speculation: Wexnercentric scenarios, in which there’s some kind of ultra-embarrassing news about Wexner that Wexner is willing to forgo a good chunk of his fortune to keep secret, and On-Beyond-Wexner theories, in which Wexner was really the de facto conduit for some other person or persons who wanted to fund the Epstein operation. (See #1 above). Maybe he didn’t try to get the money back because it wasn’t his money.
Unfit! Did Epstein have children? Hard to believe a guy who had sex with hundreds of women batted .000 on the paternity front (unless he had a physical problem or a vasectomy). The existence of unknown Epstein heirs might affect the distribution of his estate, and some people may be interested in finding out the truth simply in order to complete the tale. The MSM doesn’t seem to employ any of those people, though. I suspect the press would prefer not to disrupt the current story, with its neat moralistic ending: A man obsessed with the Darwinian goal of getting his genes into a new generation broke every rule in the book in his quest and … failed.
The headline for this piece should clearly have been “HOLD THE WOOD.” I mean, it’s not even close.
Don’t Eich me, bro: Earlier this year, I tried to help raise money for an immigration-control politician. The effort turned out to be a success, but for a while I worried that donors weren’t contributing for fear of being Eiched—that is, for fear that once their contributions were known they’d face retaliation from loose-immigration colleagues, or employers, or customers, much as respected tech executive Brendan Eich faced denunciations and was forced to quit as head of Mozilla when it was discovered he’d given $1,000 to support Prop. 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative in California. Does this mean there’s a legitimate free-speech reason for allowing anonymous donations? Seems like it. Law prof Rick Hasen argues that there’s no constitutional
requirement that donations be allowed to remain anonymous , in part because most current anti-donor harassment — in particular, economic boycotts — is constitutionally protected. Well, so it is, but so what? Why can’t we protect one form of First Amendment activity (donating) when it is threatened by another form (protesting donations)? To his credit, Hasen does propose allowing “small” donors — $1,000 or less — to remain anonymous. And Norman Ornstein agrees. It’s practically a done deal! It’d only barely have saved Eich, but it’s a start. Common ground solutions: What kausfiles is known for.
[Are you ducking the impeachment issue-ed.] Why yes, I am. But while the details change hourly, this is my basic orientation:
1) It should take a lot to impeach and remove a president. I remember during the Lewinsky scandal—when it became clear that President Clinton had lied to a federal judge—I called up a young innovative legal scholar to ask if this was impeachable. I got back an elaborate theory that said, in effect, “Hey, I’m a young, innovative legal scholar.” Then I called up Lloyd Cutler, the by-then elderly dean of the DC establishment bar, who had been scorned by the left in the 70s but by this point didn’t need to establish or burnish his reputation. ‘It’s a crime, but not a high crime,’ he said. I came to see “not a high crime” as a wise conclusion — in Clinton’s case, and (so far) in Trump’s. Leaning on a foreign government to investigate a former VP who’s now a rival candidate is unsavory and Nixonian, and perhaps in this case also deluded. But unless Trump was intentionally trying to fabricate evidence it doesn’t seem a “high crime.” That takes more than we’ve learned so far, unless we want impeachment drama to be a regular feature of every president’s term in office—including Presidents Biden or Warren.
2) In part because the public understands this very traditional argument, it seems a blunder for the Democrats to pursue impeachment on the current facts. Charlie Cook, among many, makes this point. Dems will be susceptible to the charge that they’re more obsessed with expunging the Great Humiliation of 2016 than solving the public’s problems (gun control, immigration, infrastructure!, health care). The only logic I can see behind the current rush to impeach is that if Dems move quickly, and the GOP Senate promptly fails to convict, it will all be over by early next year, leaving plenty of time (under sound Feiler Faster principles) for the public to forget about the whole thing by November 2020.
But of course the GOP Senate might not fail to convict, in large part because many GOP Senators hate Trump. They’d rather go back to the comfortable pre-Trump status quo, when donor-pleasing loose-border votes and trade capitulation reliably secured their re-elections. Like the U.K.’s current anti-Brexit maneuvering, impeachment gives distinguished elites in both of our parties cover to reverse a democratic decision they find deeply threatening. The voters — and history — will not be kind to them if they do.