Saturday, May 10, 2014

Next Time, Boehner, Put the Potato in Front!

There's a somewhat colorful joke involving two guys exchanging ideas on picking up women at the beach:
The more successful fellow told the other that one of his secrets was to put a good sized sweet potato in his Speedo and then strolling the beach.  Thinking it sounded like a plausible plan, the second fellow did just that.  After walking the beach for an hour and meeting with nothing but raucous laughter or looks of disgust, he returned to where he and his friend had set up on the beach.  He told his buddy how disappointed he was that this seemingly fool proof method of garnering the gals had such a major glitch.  His buddy retorted, next time, put the sweet potato in the FRONT of your swimsuit!
If you are offended, you've probably moved on.

If you aren't, then perhaps you've noticed that the person with "an artificially inflated masculinity" just might be the Republican House leadership.  They've organized the Benghazi Select Committee AND they've held Lois Lerner, IRS corruptician, in contempt.  These stunningly, seemingly, forceful actions they took in a matter of hours of each other.  But watch out where the sweet potato goes!

Congress demanded Lois Lerner's testimony.  Lerner had waived her privilege against self-incrimination when she took a testimonial oath in a hearing before Congress, offered an opening statement in which she denied wrong doing AND THEN asserted her right against self-incrimination.  Lerner failed and refused to testify.  Because she disobeyed a Congressional subpoena to testify, the House voted to hold her in contempt.

By itself, it may seem of small moment that the Congress held her in contempt.  It MAY SEEM that this is just some sort of honorific that belongs to a select few (former) government officials that occasionally find themselves between the Devil of Presidential directives and the Deep Blue Sea of Congressional commands.  And, as it turns out, it actually MIGHT JUST BE of small moment ... unless the next steps are taken.

So what are the next steps?

Two avenues of action follow the failure and refusal to answer questions of Congress. 

First, such willful failure CAN be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under federal law.  Conviction can result in fines and imprisonment.  But such a prosecution would take place under the direction of the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, who, of course, answers to the Attorney General, Eric Holder.  So it remains to be seen whether Holder will allow, let alone require, the US Attorney in Washington, DC, to prosecute Lerner.  The likelihood that Holder will authorize such a prosecution, with its likely production of embarrassing exposures of the Obama administration’s political abuses by the IRS, seems quite small.

Second, Congress has inherent authority to enforce its subpoenas and, in execution of that authority, the Speaker of the House can order the Sergeant at Arms of the House to accomplish the physical arrest of Lois Lerner ANYWHERE in the United States, and her incarceration in House facilities in the Capitol building.  This latter approach might strike some harshly.  After all, we are accustomed to the arrest and investigation process to be entrusted to law-enforcement personnel, not law-enactment personnel.  Still, the precedent exists, and a House that would not be further diminished in stature must look to maintaining its powers and prerogatives, including the power to compel testimony in furtherance of the House’s constitutional duties.

Now we can sit back and watch as, by turns, Holder and Boehner jockey for position as least mindful of the House’s judgment that Lois Lerner deliberately committed contempt of the Congress.  Don’t expect much from Holder, he’s got to plug holes in the Obama Ship of State, not drill new ones.  And be surprised at any positive step from Boehner because he is from the Limp Noodle Wing of the GOP.