Friday, May 30, 2008


I'm not sharing any big gubmint secret. I'm pretty sure a few hundred people in the SouthCoast received a message like the following. I had called the office in D.C. to thank my representative for trying to sort out certain economic issues (as Chair of the House Financial Services Committee) and dealing honestly with war funding. I guess he's getting some e-mails about "impeachment," and I'm pretty sure I may have signed a petition sponsored by one of his colleagues, and so...
Dear P.J.:
There is one central problem with an effort to impeach President Bush that was not mentioned in the emails I recently received: namely that the people who would have to vote to impeach him are themselves in many cases complicit in the offense for which he would be impeached. Torture did not exist in a vacuum. It was in fact implicitly and in some cases explicitly supported by Members of Congress. When Members of Congress voted, for example, to deny habeas corpus rights to detainees, over my objection, it was facilitating this process. So one of the main reasons that impeachment against President Bush would fail would be that it is very hard to get Members to vote to impeach themselves.
Some have suggested that we should go ahead because "Democrats didn't have the votes to impeach Nixon when they started, but when the House Judiciary Committee reluctantly adopted Articles of Impeachment, Nixon resigned..." The first error here is that there was nothing reluctant about the Judiciary Committee's vote. It was methodical, but not at all reluctant. Secondly, the offenses for which President Nixon was about to be impeached were offenses that he had committed without congressional involvement. This does not make them less heinous - indeed they pale in significance compared to what George Bush has done - but it makes them more impeachable, and we are back to the point I mentioned earlier, namely that we cannot get Members of Congress to vote in effect to impeach themselves.
Finally, for those who argue that it would be important to try even though we know it would fail - and we do - the point that if we did impeach both Bush and Cheney we would make Speaker Pelosi President argues against this. It would be too easy for Republicans who would rally behind the President to make the issue not whether there was torture, but whether or not Nancy Pelosi should be named President without having run for the office. This would give an undue amount of votes to the President and not only would impeachment fail, but it would appear that torture continues to be more strongly supported than I believe that it is. For these reasons I think that impeachment would do more harm than good to the cause of trying to bring the rule of law to the U.S. Executive Branch.

That was his full response, unedited by me. I contacted my representative back by using the House of Representatives' "Write Your Representative Email system" since his House website said to. Fair enough. I'm sure that some tax that I had paid years ago pays for that operation. Of course, I had paid that before the government started just giving us our and our children's money back directly, as opposed to giving it back in kind, like in services. But my grammar school sensibilities were offended that the electronic template "reminded" me to address the representative ...
To The Honorable Barney Frank:

Thank you for responding to my call to encourage you to vote against continual funding for the action in Iraq. You address the impeachment issue in your e-mail, so I will limit my remarks to that. I tend to sign petitions for impeachment whenever I am asked because I believe that we American citizens deserve some means by which we can condemn the current administration's abuse of our Constitution.
I have met you and heard you speak on many occasions, and admire your quick wit and sensible solutions to many often unfairly complex questions from interlocutors. I consider myself very lucky to live in this district, and I often have the opportunity to brag that you are my representative. [I did not mention the times that he and I were just hanging around at a radio or teevee station or some restaurant or club, waiting for an event or interview to start or end and he didn't seem to care that I had called him "Barn." I also thought it impolitic to mention his amusing habit of taking advantage of members of Congress who are clumsy or inept at, or unfamiliar with Parliamentary procedure. Which I find funny. Schadenfreude Ha-ha funny. Really. Just look.]

I continued:

I understand your reasonable and sound rebuttal of "impeachment." But, you must imagine my disappointment when I read your statement, "I think that impeachment would do more harm than good to the cause of trying to bring the rule of law to the U.S. Executive Branch." I appreciate your candor in characterizing your colleagues as conspirators who will reject justice in order to secure themselves. My call for impeachment is not a call for vengeance. I am not bloodthirsty; I know that if I break a law, I am to be held accountable. Will Bush, Cheney, Rice, et. al., ever be held accountable? Will we be able to recover the parts of the Constitution that have been lost?
(And that is the full text of the body of my missive. And, no, I did not get to edit it for clarity or sense before it was gobbled up by the House Committee on Hyperbole and Awkwardness.
I'm sure that the pre-prepared e-sponse that "addresses" my concerns will be very similar to the one above (in blue) which I have already received. Or I'll be ignored as a loony. And I also freely admit that he DID NOT characterize his colleagues as "conspirators." For that, I am sorry. But scuttle me, I was steamed. Because my representative, hamstrung by the labyrinthine machinations of absurd power, doesn't think he can get any elected official to admit that they messed up and forgot how to protect the U.S. Constitution, or even ask why -- or even how -- individual citizens' civil rights and privacy have been violated. Even if the Constitution says that the Congress is supposed to.

(Actually, the Constitution doesn't really say, "they're supposed to.") But you go ahead and define "high crimes and misdemeanors."
To that bunch.
Senators and Representatives only have to "support the Constitution." Who am I to suggest that they hold anyone accountable for anything? Even the ones who find ways to sidestep that silly oath, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." That "Best of My Ability" part is indistinct and clearly insufficiently binding. Plus: "preserve, protect, and defend." Where is there a "follow" or even a "read" in that?
Never hold up in court.
And, thus: there's no point in pursuing this "impeachment" nonsense.

I suppose it could have been worse.
The representative could have just told me to go bang my ankles because the past is the past and it's all water under the bridge. Get over it. Bygones.
General Robert is still proud.


Dr. Momentum said...

That video is hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

karie said...

With that seemingly clueless crowd, the poor Chairman doesn't stand a chance. It does become pretty comical.