Monday, July 14, 2014

Bob Goodlatte vs. Alexander Hamilton: Why Obama Can Be Impeached

So the thinking is, among some Republicans, including Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, that Obama has not committed acts that warrant impeachment, that his record is free of the kinds of crimes warranting impeachment.

Beg pardon, but the Constitution is where Congressman Bob Goodlatte should start a search for the scope, meaning, and application of the Constitution’s provisions regarding impeachment. There, in plain language, impeachment is allowed for treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. And if Goodlatte demurs that he cannot find a meaning of "high crimes and misdemeanors," then I would direct him to a source undoubted in its standing as the First Word, if not the last one, on the meaning of the Constitution. That source, of course, is the Federalist Papers.

In The Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton, writing as Publius, turns to a question of the decision by the Constitutional Convention to assign to the Senate the power to serve as the "Court for the Trial of Impeachments." He wants it to be understood why the Senate, not the House, not the Courts, not some other body was to be preferred for trials of persons impeached by the House. To move to that question, he first takes note of what manner of questions and conduct would bring an officer of the United States, even the Chief Executive, before such a court.

And it is answering the answering of that question that Publius clarifies the matter for Goodlatte:
"those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."
If you don't have your own copy of the Federalist Papers, but want to scope out Hamilton's argument in full, it is available online in many locations, including at Yale University's online Archive, The Avalon Project. You can view The Federalist No. 65 here.

For now, though, I thought it sufficient to begin re-thinking the error of Goodlatte's assertion with Publius/Hamilton's own careful construction of the offenses that fall within the scope of impeachment. Publius explained, again, that impeachable offenses are ones that "proceed from the misconduct of public men ... from the abuse or violation of some public trust[, t]hey are of a nature which may be ... denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."

While Goodlatte seems focused on the absence of some video of Obama taking a multi-billion dollar bribe from George Soros or the like, or of using an electrical prod on a helpless child as a means of feeding some twisted sense of sexual delight, or perhaps even of swiping candy from a baby, THAT IS DECIDEDLY NOT with what the impeachment power is principally concerned.

Instead, in the view of Publius/Hamilton, the nature of the wrongs to be accounted for in impeachment are those that:
  1. proceed from misconduct
  2. of public men
  3. by the abuse of some political trust or
  4. the violation of some public trust, acts that can and will be, in the main,
  5. denominated POLITICAL in nature and which
  6. relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to our society itself.
Now, if Goodlatte thinks that Obama's actions do not qualify for impeachment, then, to be honest, the voters of Virginia can do nothing better to improve the common lot of us all than to vote for someone other than Goodlatte in the fall.

So what injuries, denominated as political, has Obama inflicted on our society?

Begin with the retooling of the Internal Revenue Service as a tool for the suppression of disagreement with the President, as a tool for the prevention of education about the Constitution, its meaning and its application to our times and troubles.

Continue with the likely actual crime of the destruction, not of one or two IRS computer hard drives, but of SEVEN; the naked cover up of criminality by the Chief Law Enforcement officers of the United States is a grave injury to society itself.

Continue from there.

What about Obamacare, the so-called Affordable Care Act. Even if all that it represents is the bumbling and abysmal stupidity of putting in charge of the start up of a national program for the federal insurance exchange a Canadian company that lost contracts in their home country for the same reasons of unpreparedness, indolence, and failure, it is too much.  Having as our Chief Executive one who hires buffoons and incompetents suffices to state the ground of injury to society itself.

Do not stop with the terribly incompetent roll-out of Obamacare. Because there is more to the problem than that sign-ups for Obamacare were frustrated by the fifth-rate incompetence of the website designers. We were, as a Nation, sold this bill of goods on the claim of its essentiality to our national economic health. We were told of the importance of this NATIONAL MANDATE, of the harms that having such uncertainty govern the affairs of an economic enterprise that constitutes one sixth of our entire national economy. As it turned out, however, the Chief Executive immediately began doling out exceptions and exclusions from mandates in the act, and delaying implementation of provisions of it.

Exclusions and exceptions went to industries and unions whose cooperation are/were essential to the success of the Administration's ongoing enterprises. A simple matter of quid-pro-quo lifting of requirements based on claims of need. Delays, as we know, were imposed in order to give the Democratic Party what it really needed: a time machine. They needed then, and need now, NOT TO HAVE a bruised and broken electorate going to the polls on November 4, 2014, remembering who it was, which party it was, that single-handedly delivered our health insurance, our health care, into the maws of the great leviathan, the federal government. So delay, delay, delay.

What is missed for many though is the meaning for the whole enterprise of Obamacare to be drawn from delays, exceptions and exclusions. An enterprise that is so swiss-cheesed on the basis of partisan interests of industries, unions and politicians may be many things, but it is hard to argue that it is an essential one.

No sense stopping at Obamacare, given this Administration's decisions to run guns. Fast and Furious, of course, run by Attorney General Holder, put guns into the hands of Mexican cartel drug lords. Some of those guns came back to the United States and were even used to kill American federal employees. Just as evil, others of those guns stayed in Mexico; in one of the most heart-rending instances, the guns were used to slaughter 12-, 13- and 14-year old girls attending a birthday party. 

But Obama's gun running extends beyond Fast and Furious. The Benghazi story, when it is fully told, will detail the movement of arms from us, to Libyan based affiliates of al Qaeda, and across the northern coast of African to al Qaeda affiliates in Syria responsible for killing other Muslims, Christians and Christian clerics, occasional beheadings, the bizarre scene of man taking a bite out of another man's heart, and the rest.

There is more. Frankly, there is too much more. That Goodlatte believes that the basis for impeaching Obama does not exist leaves me with a dread sense that the one truly representative body of our federal government is captained by the ignorant or the damned.