What Is Impeachment Anyway And Can You Even Sack A President?

In the immortal words of Run DMC, it's tricky. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House in the US Congress, has announced plans for a formal impeachment inquiry into US president [checks notes] Donald Trump.

This follows claims that he withheld military support to Ukraine in an attempt to force its President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into investigating former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who has business dealings in the country.

And before you either start rejoicing about justice finally being done or howling about yet another of those witch hunts which seem to surround America’s current leader, it’s worth knowing what that actually means.

And the TL;DR answer is “a holding of the leader to account, but not as much as you’d think-slash-hope”.

What grounds does impeachment cover?

The blanket term used in the US Constitution is “high crimes and misdemeanours”, but the problem is that it’s never been clearly defined. So there’s the first legal hurdle.

Joshua Matz, co-author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, describes impeachable offences as involving “an abuse of power, a betrayal of the nation or a corruption of the office for private benefit that poses a substantial and ongoing risk of harm to the ongoing constitutional order if the president is allowed to remain in office.”

So you can see how that might not be great for Trump, really.

And you get fired as president as a result, right?


In fact, the only impeachment proceedings which have resulted in someone losing their job in the US have been federal judges, and even that’s only happened eight times.

Oh. So what does an impeachment prove, exactly?

It’s the same thing as being found to have charges to answer – think of it as being like an indictment in US criminal law. So once Congress has impeached the matter then goes to trial in the Senate, and that’s probably where matters would get stuck.

Which presidents have been impeached?

Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and Bill Clinton was impeached 130 years later in 1998.

And they didn’t lose their jobs?


Wait, didn’t Richard Nixon get impeached?

No. He was going to be, but quit before it actually happened.

So would Trump lose the presidency if he was impeached?

It’s possible, but it’s literally never happened before.

The two successful impeachments didn’t end with the president being removed: Clinton had a safe senate buffer, although Johnson only survived by a single vote.

Another cool pres.

It would require the charge to pass through the Congress (which it most likely would, given that the Democrats have control of the House) and then move to trial in the Senate where it would likely fall over, as the Republicans have the majority.

In Trump’s case, a vote to actually remove the president from office following that unlikely guilty verdict would need to be passed by a majority of the senate which, in the current make up, would require 20 Republicans to back their president being dumped. And that feels… look, it’s a long shot.

Following that, there would be a ruling by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that would actually remove the president.

Man, they really DO predict everything!

Also, there’s an election next year so things would have to move awfully fast. And obviously both sides will be using this as a way to galvanise their voting blocs – to remove a potential criminal in the Democrats’ case, and to protect a great man from the forces of the Establishment in the Republicans’.

In other words: impeachment is just the first step if you want to sack a president, and it’s very hard to do.

How is Trump going to address this?

Probably on Twitter, in all caps.

No, The Simpsons Didn't Predict Trump Would Try To Buy Greenland

Mind you, if he's suckered by a smooth-talking conman into building a national monorail…

It seems like the sort of ridiculous thing that the Simpsons would absolutely have made a plot device but sadly we are here to demolish your hopes that they had a joke about Trump buying Greenland.

Sadly, heartbreakingly, it is not true because nothing in the world is good and pure anymore.

Life is pain.

When in doubt about whether something on the internet is accurate, it is best to consult Snopes – the web’s most reliable factcheckers – who covered this very matter and traced the claim back to a tongue-in-cheek tweet by Democratic senator Chris Murphy

…and a similar joke by TV host Rachel Maddow:

Except people didn’t think it was a joke, and started claiming that it happened for realisies and then it took on a life of its own – not unlike the idea that the Simpsons predicted the presidency of Trump (true: it was a throwaway joke in the 2000 episode Bart To The Future) and even his ride down the escalator at Trump Tower (false: it was drawn after the event).

Twitter and Reddit started discussing the veracity of the claim and the Simpsons’ ability to predict the future, despite the fact that a good slab of the population have 1995 Simpsons indelibly embedded in their brains and can quote entire series’ word for word.

Just me, huh?

Anyway: the Simpsons did have a Greenland gag, but it was not Trump related.

It was in 2013’s The Saga Of Carl, about Carl Carlson’s family home in Iceland, about how the Vikings supposedly swapped the names of Greenland and Iceland because one was green and the other icy.

And that’s why Lenny only brought shorts. See? Hilarious.

It also had Sigur Ros in it! SIGUR ROS!

In related news: I remember a lot about things from the Simpsons and I am therefore super cool.

The World's Oldest Webcam Is About To Be Switched Off

B-but how will we know what's going on in the treacherous world of fog?

Sad news for those os us who spend our days spying on San Franciscan weather, for the world’s oldest still-operational webcam is about to be switched off forever.


In a world where planned obsolescence is part and parcel of every new technology, FogCam is still out there, updating every 20 seconds with views of a street outside San Francisco State University.

It went live in 1994 thanks to Jeff Schwartz and Dan Wong, and has changed location a couple of times to avoid university-related shutdowns.

But now it’s faced a university-related shutdown which it can’t escape. “We felt it was time to let it go,” Schwartz told SF Gate, the web version of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The bottom line is that we no longer have a really good view or place to put the camera. The university tolerates us, but they don’t really endorse us and so we have to find secure locations on our own.”

There’s an off chance that the university will opt to maintain it all on their lonesome, but that seems optimistic. And while people have expressed disappointment that the world’s oldest webcam is shutting after 25 useless years, it’s hard to see a compelling reason to keep it running.

And that’s exactly what the fog wants.


Anyway, the big worry is that the only thing stopping the fog from taking over was that vigilant surveillance.

And now that no-one is watching, who knows what it will get up to?

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