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Executive Privilege and Contempt Prosecutions:
The Washington Post has a front-page story reporting the Bush Administration's view that once the President has ordered a subordinate to exert executive privilege, a U.S. Attorney can't bring a criminal case against that subordinate when Congress refers the case to the U.S. Attorney for a contempt prosecution. It's not clear to me if "can't" means "won't," or if the claim is that if he does, the courts must dismiss the prosecution; I gather it's the former, although presumably the difference doesn't matter here.

  I have no expertise in this area, so I don't know how significant this story is. My amateurish guess is that this just adds another layer of litigation to the coming legal battles: it means that after the U.S. Attorney refuses to prosecute, Congress has to file a civil action seeking an order compelling the U.S. Attorney to refer the case to the grand jury. Courts then have to deal with that issue first, which could take a while as it works its way through the appellate process. That's my guess, at least; I'm sure Marty Lederman and others will be able to say much more.
ATRGeek:
If I am reading the article correctly, this is supposedly a quote from the OLC opinion in question:

"The President, through a United States Attorney, need not, indeed may not, prosecute criminally a subordinate for asserting on his behalf a claim of executive privilege. Nor could the Legislative Branch or the courts require or implement the prosecution of such an individual."

This could get very ugly.

The first sentence seems to suggest the answer to Orin's question is definitely "can't" (ie, "may not").

The second sentence's claim that the courts could not "require" a prosecution seems to suggest that even if Congress got a court order directing the US Attorney to refer the case to a grand jury, the Administration might direct the US Attorney to ignore that order in an executive privilege case. Consider, for example, that Miers was directed not only to invoke executive privilege, but also to refuse to even appear before Congress.

Finally, as the article discusses, Congress also could initiate inherent contempt proceedings without going through the US Attorney. But the second sentence from the opinion also seems to suggest that the Administration would take the view that Congress was not allowed to "implement" such a prosecution in an executive privilege case (I'd be interested to see the reasoning for that, since that would not involve requiring an executive officer to prosecute a case against the will of the President, and hence it would not raise a unitary executive issue).

So what happens if Congress sends a Sergeant at Arms to arrest Harriet Miers? Will the Administration initiate a habeas action on her behalf? Send the Secret Service to physically protect her from being arrested?

Orin's assumption seems to be that in the end this will be resolved by the courts. Given the Administration's stance, I am not so confident.
7.20.2007 7:16am
The Good Democrat (mail) (www):
This should really not be surprising, everybody. This administration either clearly has something disturbing to hide or they have tasted raw unchecked power and will willfully ignore the Constitution they swore to uphold. They have absolutely nothing to lose in these next 18 months because they know Congress has no raw power over them.

Hubris indeed.
7.20.2007 7:43am
Rodger Lodger (mail):
The manual might mean an impliedly valid claim of privilege, not a mere utterance "I assert privilege." And civilly compelling a prosecution? New one on me, although I recall a racial case from decades ago where a southern federal district judge ordered a grand jury foreman to sign an indictment.
7.20.2007 8:14am
Greg Beck (mail) (www):
Obtaining an order directing a U.S. attorney to refer the case to a grand jury could be difficult given normal doctrines of prosecutorial discretion, but maybe it would be possible to obtain a declaratory judgment that the president cannot prohibit such a referral.

The Washington Post article also notes another option: Congress has the power to hold its own contempt trials, although it hasn't used that power for many years.
7.20.2007 8:37am
PersonFromPorlock:
What's the problem? Where there's no law, the President has the discretion to run the executive branch as he sees fit; where there is a law, he can be impeached and removed for ignoring it. This may be high stakes political poker but the rules are clear enough.
7.20.2007 8:59am
Oren (mail):
I think at this point it's fairly obvious that the White House will be able to run out the clock, as it were, before Congress can get anywhere with this.

The precedent for future presidents is pretty bad - if you can get away with it until the mid-term elections of your second term Congress can't act fast enough to hold you accountable.

If Congress were serious about oversight, they would pass (scratch that, amend to a must-pass spending bill that is immune to filibuster) a bill directing swift deadlines on these sorts of things, priority hearing at the DC Circuit and direct appeals to the SCOTUS on an expedited basis.

My reasoning is thus: the claim of executive privilege is essentially procedural and, as any good computer scientist knows, procedural blocks ought to be given priority so that they do not deadlock the entire process. A committee should not be expected to hold off its proceedings indefinitely while such a claim is resolved. OTOH, these are important legal proceedings and should not be rushed - I defer to the legal minds on this website to determine exactly how much time should be allotted.

Incidentally, can someone in-the-know explain why $Environmental_Group vs Cheney took forever? IANAL, so let me clarify: I'm curious as to your best guess on time spent in the following catagories (total time ~ 1000 days)

(1) Substantive deliberation/preparation e.g., it reasonably takes 90 days for the plaintiff to draft a brief in response to X and another 90 days for respondent to draft a response - wait 180 days while they write it up). Of course, time in session counts towards this too.

(2) Procedural Delay (non-intentional) : those briefs would be done on March 1 but court is in recess (or busy) until May 1 - 60 day wait.

(3) Procedural Delay (intentional) : Attorneys doing non-legally-substantive things to drag things out (if at all)

Sorry for the super-long-winded question but these sort of nuts-and-bolts questions interest me. Furthermore, identifying and studying bottlenecks is the first step towards a more efficient system.
7.20.2007 9:08am
Oren (mail):

What's the problem? Where there's no law, the President has the discretion to run the executive branch as he sees fit; where there is a law, he can be impeached and removed for ignoring it. This may be high stakes political poker but the rules are clear enough.


Congress, in having the discretion to make laws, also implicitly has the discretion to investigate whether or not a new law is needed. Since this is a heavily fact-bound inquiry, this discretion must logically extend towards compelling the disclosure of the facts relevant to the operation of the law.

Linguistically, we can say that "X has the power to change Y" implies "X has the power to poke around to see how Y works now, in order to understand how to change it".
7.20.2007 9:11am
Jack S. (mail) (www):
What I find interesting is the article suggests that the Administration is relying on an opinion from the DOJ in the Reagan era. Mortals coming into court with such weak authority as their only source would get them thrown out on their ear.
7.20.2007 9:39am
paul lukasiak (mail):
"So what happens if Congress sends a Sergeant at Arms to arrest Harriet Miers? Will the Administration initiate a habeas action on her behalf? Send the Secret Service to physically protect her from being arrested? "

firat things first. The House must institute impeachment procedings, thus making it impossible for Bush to use his pardon powers once inherent contempt is cited.

next thing, amend the Miers subpoena to include a reference to the impeachment procedings, and give her 48 hours to show up and testify. If she doesn't, find her in "inherent contempt", and have her thrown in a local DC jail (since Congress has authority over DC, and Bush has authority over federal prisons, DC jails are the only option.)

Then the House needs to assert "Congressional Privilege" that far outweighs "Executive Privilege", insofar as Congressional privilege has a Constitutional basis in Article II, Section 8 -- and assert that Federal Courts have no jurisdiction over inherent contempt procedings initiated by Congress under both Act II, Sec 8 as well as the Constitutional provisions regarding Impeachment of a President.

Finally, every bill that goes to Bush's desk must include a provision forbidding the use of Federal funds to resist an inherent contempt citation issued pursuant to an impeachment proceding.

If Bush wants a constitutional crisis, give him one.
7.20.2007 9:45am
HypoHypo:

So what happens if Congress sends a Sergeant at Arms to arrest Harriet Miers? Will the Administration initiate a habeas action on her behalf? Send the Secret Service to physically protect her from being arrested?


My understanding is that the Segeant at Arms power stops at the walls of the Congress (Please DO provide a cite if I'm wrong. I could well be in error here, but I couldn't find anything that would indicate that). So I don't think he can be sent outside the walls and do anything. I suspect one of the reasons Miers was told not to show up was because by entering the building there was that 0.1% chance that she
could be held.

I doubt either branch wants an armed confrontation, so I can't believe this will ever happen. I don't honestly know if Miers has any kind of law enforcement protection, but if she does, that makes this scenario even less likely
7.20.2007 9:46am
Lloyd George:
I think at this point it's fairly obvious that the White House will be able to run out the clock, as it were, before Congress can get anywhere with this.

The precedent for future presidents is pretty bad - if you can get away with it until the mid-term elections of your second term Congress can't act fast enough to hold you accountable.

I think you mean the precedent for future Congresses. No oversight because of an overexpansive view of executive privilege and no criminal liability because of the pardon power.

The unitary executive theory is becoming reality and it's becoming far bigger than just that. I thought we had removed the possibility of a Monarchy, but looks like we're recreating the absolutist version of a monarchy.
7.20.2007 9:47am
Steve:
The next logical step is an inherent contempt proceeding by Congress, which wouldn't require any of the instrumentalities of the Executive Branch.

After Clinton's top advisors testified before Congress dozens and dozens of times, this situation is truly unbelievable. Clearly they're hiding something big.
7.20.2007 9:49am
paul lukasiak (mail):
on the question of a Habeus petition --- Congress should assert that the courts have no jurisdiction over such a petition, and that it must be submitted to the House of Congress that has taken the individual in question into custody pursuant to an inherent contempt citation.
7.20.2007 9:49am
Justin (mail):
This is the equivalent of pissing on the Constitution and the courts.

I wonder what PfP would think of the bringing of impeachment proceedings? Would they be justified? Would they show that Democrats are extremists? Would he personally support them?

His answer seems simply to avoid the question by providing an almost worthless answer, particulrly in the days of extreme partisanship. One can be impeached, practically, for committing a serious crime, and one can be impeached for committing a crime in hiding an investigation, but John Q. Public won't understand the concept of impeaching a President for refusing to allow an investigation.

And if PfP is right, the Constitution is meaningless, and has survived so long only because the public was lucky enough not to elect someone as vile as this man.
7.20.2007 9:55am
paul lukasiak (mail):
My understanding is that the Segeant at Arms power stops at the walls of the Congress (Please DO provide a cite if I'm wrong.

I believe that you are wrong here...see Anderson v Dunn (1821), (http://supreme.justia.com/us/19/204/case.html) which is the first Supreme Court case dealing with inherent contempt, and which includes the phrase...

"that the said Speaker should forthwith issue his warrant, directed to the Sergeant at Arms, commanding him to take into custody the body of the said John, wherever to be found, and the same forthwith to have before the said House, at the bar thereof, then and there to answer to the said charge,"

now, the language in this decision is pretty incomprehensible to me, but the descriptions I've read said that the Courts upheld the "inherent contempt" powers executed by Congress in this case, so it sounds to me like Congress can have people arrested "whereever [they] are to be found."
7.20.2007 9:57am
neurodoc:
I don't see a WWJD question in this; I do see a WWNWD* one here.
And of all the "gifts" this Administration might give us, this one is most unwelcome. The more I think about it, the more it strikes me as shameful. What a "legacy" Bush will leave, and I say that as someone who voted for him over Kerry in '04.

[*What Would Nixon Do]
7.20.2007 10:02am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Neurodoc: what's the extra W?
7.20.2007 10:10am
Lloyd George:
George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The fight over the president's powers, i.e., unchecked executive privilege, use of the pardon power, detention powers, surveillance, is all too reminiscent of the English Civil War in the 17th century, between Parliament and Charles I. Our founding fathers imposed limitations on the power of the executive precisely because they were wary of unchecked executive power. It looks like a lot of folks have forgotten their history.

In practical terms, accepting the president's arguments means accepting the fact that the executive branch is far more important than the other two branches, legislative and judicial. In other words, a de facto monarchy.

The 17th century was an interesting time. Will the 21st century be also interesting?
7.20.2007 10:17am
clkirksey (mail):
Orin:
Once the House has sent the contempt citation to the DOJ for referral to a grand jury as the LAW requires, if the DOJ refuses to do this as the LAW requires then the process has a logical conclusion.

Begin impeachment proceedings IMMEDIATELY against DOJ people starting with AG. As part of this action congress should simple not fund any DOJ appointed official and not fund the executive office officials in the legal office.

Congress clearly has these powers and the execution does not require any executive approval or aid.
7.20.2007 10:17am
Steve:
on the question of a Habeus petition --- Congress should assert that the courts have no jurisdiction over such a petition, and that it must be submitted to the House of Congress that has taken the individual in question into custody pursuant to an inherent contempt citation.

I would feel very uncomfortable trying to keep the courts out of the process. And since the ultimate remedy is political, I really don't think this is the way to claim the political high ground.
7.20.2007 10:18am
Keyes:
And to think these people ran on a platform of restoring honor to the White House.

I can't wait to read how the next Democrat[] President's assertion of executive privilege is not only outrageous and unconstitutional but the basis for a bill of impeachment and conviction.

Yes, the Supreme Court did America a huge favor in 2000. They picked someone who pulled back the curtain on the handshake that held the Constitution together for 200+ years to reveal that, really, we live in a monarchy.

Great. Just great.
7.20.2007 10:20am
rarango (mail):
Re impeachment, I do think that the executive is playing high stakes poker here and basically telling the house to impeach him. Given what I consider to be the frivolent Clinton impeachment, Justin has it about right. I dont see any way the congress could impeach the president with popular support. Given what seems to be an unusually poisonous situation in Congress I don't even see any respected voice that could make the case for impeachmenet that would address Justin's concerns.
7.20.2007 10:25am
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Well, I hope those who voted for Bush are enjoying this.
Best,
Ben
7.20.2007 10:28am
Adam White:
If anyone actually wants to read the opinion, then they can find it at 10 Op. OLC 68 (1986).
7.20.2007 10:32am
Balthi:
Proponents like Scalia of "careful adherence to the text of the Constitution of the United States" must be roiling over the latest argument advanced by the White House.
7.20.2007 10:34am
Adam White:
Didn't the nation spend a good chunk of the spring listening to lectures on the dangers of Congressional influence on prosecutorial decisions?

And now we're hearing that Congress has indefeasible power to command prosecutions?
7.20.2007 10:35am
paulm (mail):
The Good Democrat:

I thought, for some time, that this was evidence that the administration had something very, very bad to hide. I no longer think that.

It's political. They are practically forcing Congress to bring contempt proceedings that will make Congress look impotent if they fail and petty if they succeed. As someone pointed out, above, it probably is not very clear to the average person why any of this matters.

Re impeachment, I do not see Congress having the will or the votes to bring an impeachment (assuming it is justified on these facts), and even if they succeeded in the alloted time, we'd be left with Cheney in charge and Bush out on the campaign trail explaining to everyone why we need to vote out the imperial Democrats in Congress, who impeached him just for invoking his privilege.
7.20.2007 10:48am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Begin impeachment proceedings IMMEDIATELY against DOJ people starting with AG. As part of this action congress should simple not fund any DOJ appointed official and not fund the executive office officials in the legal office.


I don't know how feasible these approaches are, but this is a good reminder from clkirksey of the fact that Congress has options beyond pursuing their own inherent contempt power. Whether or not they will do so is a matter of politics. It's clear that the Bush administration wants to "run out the clock" as other commentators state. Congress is likely to respond, but the White House seems to think they can stall for just enough time. Of course, that may save Bush from further humiliation, but I don't think Republicans in Congress will be too happy about robust claims of executive privilege that aid in their being voted out of office in 2008.
7.20.2007 10:49am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I would feel very uncomfortable trying to keep the courts out of the process. And since the ultimate remedy is political, I really don't think this is the way to claim the political high ground.

I'm equally uncomfortable with it, but if Bush wants to assert monarchal authority, then Congress must use every means at its disposal to resist such authority. This includes keeping control of the entire process -- and especially keeping it away from the same breed of corrupt Supreme Court Justices that handed Bush the presidency in the first place.

And the fact is that logically, the Court are not the appropriate venue in which a Habeus petition would be considered when it is Congress that has ordered the detention.

The saddest part is that in order for Congress to stop Bush's abuses of power, it will require the establishment of precedents that are equally damaging to "checks and balances". Hopefully, once this crisis is resolved, and Bush is gone from office, laws can be passed that are designed to ensure that Congress will be able to exercise appropriate oversight while limiting Congress' own power to imprison people at whim -- because while use of inherent contempt appears necessary at this point, after witnessing the abuse of power of both Bush and the GOP in Congress, it is obvious that we need legislation that will prevent the abuse of power by either the executive or legislative branches.
7.20.2007 10:58am
neurodoc:
David M. Nierporent: "Neurodoc: what's the extra W?"

A typo. Sorry for that, but my meaning is still clear, isn't it?
7.20.2007 11:01am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Re impeachment, I do not see Congress having the will or the votes to bring an impeachment (assuming it is justified on these facts), and even if they succeeded in the alloted time, we'd be left with Cheney in charge and Bush out on the campaign trail explaining to everyone why we need to vote out the imperial Democrats in Congress, who impeached him just for invoking his privilege.

WHo says we can't do a two-for-one impeachment proceding?

As for people "not understanding what is going on" -- Bush's approval ratings are in the dumpster. 45% of Americans already want him impeached, and that is with most people "not understanding what is going on."

I don't think it will be that hard to explain what is happening to Americans if Democrats have the sense to keep it simple. All they need to do is point out the enormous number of lies told by administration officials with regard to the Justice Department investigation -- in other words, "its about the cover-up, not the crime."

That being said, as much as I'd like to see Bush and Cheney shackled and forced to do the perp walk they so richly deserve, the reason I advocate impeachment procedings right now is because it strenghtens Congress' hand in dealing with Executive Overreach. The formation of an impeachment committee in the House with subpoena power weakens any case for "Executive Privilege" that Bush tries to make, because subpoenas would be issued pursuant to an investigation of "high crimes and misdemeanors", and not just with "garden variety" congressional oversight.
7.20.2007 11:08am
neurodoc:
It occurs to me that two of the most serious contenders for "Worst Ever President," the former governor of Georgia and the former governor of Texas, have been abstemious (at least while occupying the White House), non-philanderers. Based on these unfortunate experiences, ought we be reluctant to vote for any notably "virtuous" presidential candidates? I am not suggesting that excessive drinking (RMN) or infidelity (WJC) recommends anyone for the job, but personal probity has meant less than might have been anticipated.
7.20.2007 11:23am
Crust (mail):
Orin, you've stated in the past that you don't believe Gonzales should be impeached, but I don't think you've explained why. May I ask whether you still oppose impeaching Gonzales and on what grounds? It is quite possible that the threat of impeachment would prompt Gonzales to resign, but short of that it's hard to imagine what would at this point.
7.20.2007 11:23am
neurodoc:
LLoyd George: "The 17th century was an interesting time. Will the 21st century be also interesting?"

I expect you know that "may you live in interesting times" is supposed to be a Chinese curse. (I am told that it is not true that the Chinese use the same word for "crisis" or "chaos" and for "opportunity.)

paul lukasiak: "If Bush wants a constitutional crisis, give him one."

Yes, a Constitutional crisis, just the thing that most of us want for Christmas this year.
7.20.2007 11:33am
Justin (mail):
"It occurs to me that two of the most serious contenders for "Worst Ever President," the former governor of Georgia and the former governor of Texas, have been abstemious (at least while occupying the White House), non-philanderers)."

The idea of Carter as a serious contender for worst president ever is laughable in my opinion. I'm not putting him on a pedestal, he certainly was below average, but he neither compares with the "incompetent" allstars at the position (Harding, Hoover, Andrew Johnson), the "abuse of power" allstars (Nixon, Bush II, perhaps John Adams, Harding again), or the "humanitarian crisis" allstars (Jackson, LBJ, Bush II again) on any of those fronts. So what exactly is the case for Carter to be included in such a question, other than he didn't do a very good job (in which the list of serious contenders will involve a substantial percent)?
7.20.2007 11:42am
rarango (mail):
While Bush's popularity rating are low, a congress with a 14% approval rating is going to be hard pressed to generate a lot of popular support for impeachment methinks. And a 2 for 1 just might impress the American public as a coup given that the speaker is on deck. I'm sure thats part of the political calculation.
7.20.2007 11:44am
Lloyd George:
"LLoyd George: "The 17th century was an interesting time. Will the 21st century be also interesting?"

I expect you know that "may you live in interesting times" is supposed to be a Chinese curse. (I am told that it is not true that the Chinese use the same word for "crisis" or "chaos" and for "opportunity.)"

This obviously goes without saying. Remember the English Civil War, Cromwell and the Commonwealth, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution, all on issues over executive and legislative power. Our founding fathers remembered these disputes and imposed limitations on both the executive and legislative resulting in our system's checks and balances. This latest overreach by the President is un-American and, if unchallenged, effectively transforms our country into a quasi-absolutist monarchy.
7.20.2007 11:45am
Justin (mail):
7.20.2007 11:52am
markm (mail):
If the employer tells the employee to refuse to honor a subpoena, shouldn't it be the boss that's prosecuted, not the employee? Of course, in this case the boss can only be impeached - until Jan 21, 2009 - and in a case as muddy as this, 18 months isn't long enough for impeachment proceedings to reach a conclusion.

But can't Bush be criminally prosecuted for his acts in office once he leaves office? If not, then why did Ford need to pardon Nixon?
7.20.2007 12:00pm
Adam White:
Whoops. I referenced the wrong one. I meant 8 Op. OLC 101 (1984).
7.20.2007 12:06pm
paulm (mail):
paul lukasiak:

What rarango said...
7.20.2007 12:06pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

While Bush's popularity rating are low, a congress with a 14% approval rating is going to be hard pressed to generate a lot of popular support for impeachment methinks.


I'd be inclined to agree with you but for two reasons. First off, polls show a substantial number of Americans are not opposed to impeachment (something approaching 50% if my memory serves me correctly.) Second, Congress' unpopularity numbers are also influenced by Democrats who are unhappy about Congress not pushing the Bush administration enough. Impeachment proceedings, or a tool like the inherent contempt power, are not as unpopular as they might seem at first.
7.20.2007 12:24pm
Lloyd George:
It is also possible that the popularity of Congress will experience a surge once it determines to proceed with impeachment proceedings. If Congress puts itself forward with specific, credible articles of impeachment, the public will follow.
7.20.2007 12:32pm
rarango (mail):
Any speculation on who would be making the case for impeachment in the congress? I can't believe it would be John Conyers who would be the appropriate person. The public would fall asleep before he finishes his first sentence! Who would be the public face of impeachment as I think that would be critical to the enterprise.
7.20.2007 12:37pm
rarango (mail):
Herewith the latest gallup poll (july 2007) on impeachment: 36% in favor.
7.20.2007 12:41pm
Mark Field (mail):

I'm sure Marty Lederman and others will be able to say much more.


See here.
7.20.2007 12:42pm
Lloyd George:
People are confusing impeachment with removal from office. It is possible, as Clinton showed, to be impeached and remain in office. The key is the Senate. A 2/3 majority of the Senate refused to remove Clinton from office.

Judging from the fact that the Senate cannot even muster 2/3 of a vote to get the troops out of Iraq, and from the fact that the Senate is just barely Democratic controlled, I'd say that removal from office is not an option.

So, the question remains, is impeachment worth it knowing that removal from office is not at all guaranteed -- indeed, very unlikely? This is the political calculation that Pelosi and Reid must face every morning.

We are indeed in the throes of a constitutional crisis, with an administration acting like an absolute monarch, and a fractured opposition barely in control of Congress. There is no answer short of the nuclear option of impeachment and removal, but, .. at the same time, we desperately need more options than that. This is where our founding fathers failed -- they failed to consider the possibility that this situation would occur.
7.20.2007 12:49pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The House needs to actually refer the matter, and then impeach Gonzales if the referral isn't timely &favorably addressed. That seems the best option.
7.20.2007 12:51pm
Mark Field (mail):

Based on these unfortunate experiences, ought we be reluctant to vote for any notably "virtuous" presidential candidates? I am not suggesting that excessive drinking (RMN) or infidelity (WJC) recommends anyone for the job, but personal probity has meant less than might have been anticipated.


Consider the Presidents whom historians generally suspect to have strayed sexually during their lives (not necessarily while in the White House): Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Clinton. I don't know about Reagan, but given the Hollywood crowd of the 30s and 40s, it'd be surprising if he didn't. I think you're on to something.
7.20.2007 12:56pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Consider the Presidents whom historians generally suspect to have strayed sexually during their lives ...

This suggests an interesting campaign commercial, in which sexual infidelity is touted as a plus.
7.20.2007 1:04pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
"So what happens if Congress sends a Sergeant at Arms to arrest Harriet Miers? Will the Administration initiate a habeas action on her behalf? Send the Secret Service to physically protect her from being arrested?"

Can the Sergeant of Arms grab the President for being considered in contempt of Congress and hold the President in the House prison? Then we can have high-noon between the Secret Service and the Sergeant of Arms.

Best,
Ben
7.20.2007 1:09pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Can the Sergeant of Arms grab the President for being considered in contempt of Congress and hold the President in the House prison? Then we can have high-noon between the Secret Service and the Sergeant of Arms.
Except that the Secret Service has much superior weaponry, and can probably call in the military if needed. Congress might be able to enlist the D.C. cops on their side, but it would still be an unequal fight.
7.20.2007 1:24pm
John Herbison (mail):
As to this administration's ability to run out the clock on impeachment, a literal reading of Article I, § 3 of the Constitution suggests that there is less than meets the eye as to the efficacy of tonewalling.

Impeachment does not necessarily become moot at the end of the impeached official's term. Article I, § 3 states that "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States" [emphasis added]. The latter remedy remains available even after expiration of the official's term or resignation from office.

Even if the current Congress lacks the testicular fortitude to pursue impeachment of these clowns, nothing prohibits a future Congress from doing so.
7.20.2007 1:27pm
Lloyd George:


As to this administration's ability to run out the clock on impeachment, a literal reading of Article I, § 3 of the Constitution suggests that there is less than meets the eye as to the efficacy of tonewalling.

Impeachment does not necessarily become moot at the end of the impeached official's term. Article I, § 3 states that "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States" [emphasis added]. The latter remedy remains available even after expiration of the official's term or resignation from office.

Even if the current Congress lacks the testicular fortitude to pursue impeachment of these clowns, nothing prohibits a future Congress from doing so.


I like this very much. This explains why Ford felt the need to pardon Nixon.
7.20.2007 1:30pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The problem I see is that this is political on both sides. Waxman, Conyers, et al. made it clear before the last election that if they regained control, they would spend the term investigating the Administration for whatever they could, regardless really of merit. In short, most of this is political harassment on the part of Congress. Does anyone really believe that a crime was committed by firing politically appointed AAGs? If Congress actually got its witnesses, and then tried to force the DoJ to prosecute anyone, it is likely that the Administration could run out the clock on any such prosecution, even if one could be forced, and even then, they would likely lose to the president's appointment power.

No, this is not really a question about Executive Privilege or power, but is rather hard ball politics between the Republican Administration and the Democrats in Congress Their goal is to make the President look bad, regardless of merit, and to increase Congressional power. And the President's, at this point, is in protecting presidential power for his successors.

It is also very high stakes poker. Yes, the President is intentionally risking impeachment. Not removal, as that would be almost impossible given that the Democrats would need 1/3 of the Republicans for that, and they are unlikely to comply, since the Democrats in the Senate voted on party lines not to convict Clinton, plus unless much much more is proven, no Red State Republican who voted for conviction could expect reelection (except for John McCain).

The bottom line is really the 2008 House elections. The Democrats regained the House, and the ability to do this sort of thing, by winning a small number of swing districts - most of which went for Bush in 2004. I would suggest that if the House impeaches for the crime of firing political appointees, the House will very likely switch back. If they even vote out Articles, I think this almost as likely.
7.20.2007 1:46pm
abb3w:
paul lukasiak: WHo says we can't do a two-for-one impeachment proceding?

Three for one. If it's in this scenario, taking out the AG for following such an order is also appropriate.

I also see one more even nastier possibility. "Inherent Contempt" has been mentioned, and only requires a simple majority in one house of Congress. Would the House dare try to invoke it against the President, as a measure short of full impeachment, intended to induce compliance? "Oh, he's not worth throwing out of office. We're just going to sit on him until he sees sense and stops this 'executive privilege' nonsense."

It would make for an interesting Habeas hearing before the SCOTUS....
7.20.2007 1:46pm
Justin (mail):
"The problem I see is that this is political on both sides. Waxman, Conyers, et al. made it clear before the last election that if they regained control, they would spend the term investigating the Administration for whatever they could, regardless really of merit."

Really? You have evidence of this?
7.20.2007 1:50pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I find it interesting that so many here are enthused about the possibility of impeaching Bush (and presumably also Cheney) and then removing them from office, etc. But they will not be convicted, regardless of how many wet dreams the possibility may elicit in this audience. There is no conceivable way that 1/3 of the Republican Senators will vote for conviction, absent convincing proof of the commission of serious felonies by the President and VP. Nothing seriously alleged yet comes anywhere close to that level. At a minimum, I wouldn't expect more than a couple of the RINOs to vote for conviction unless much more than Clinton's lying under oath, etc. were proven. Like it or not, the Democrats in the Senate set an effective floor for the next generation or so for impeachment convictions. No Republican is going to be convicted there for less legally than what they let Clinton get away with. Whether their vote was good or bad, it remains an operant political fact as long as many of those same Democrats sit in the Senate.
7.20.2007 1:58pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Really? You have evidence of this?
Ok, the regardless of merit was my interpretation of their repeated comments before the election.
7.20.2007 2:01pm
Justin (mail):
Bruce makes my previous point by example in his last point, but I still haven't heard PfP (or the Redstate crowd)'s response. If impeachment is the only solution, and impeachment is a "wet dream," then obviously the "impeachment only" crowd is not trying to provide a useful deterrent towards illegal executive activity.
7.20.2007 2:03pm
Justin (mail):
Bruce,

it was your interpretation only to the degree you've already prejudged Bush innocent. And that's the problem.
7.20.2007 2:03pm
Morat (mail):
Funding is the real key. Bush is, in effect, claiming Congress' entire power is the power of the purse and nothing more.

Show him that power. Start zero-funding everything non-vital in the Executive branch, starting with Gonzalez's office and the Office of the Presidency.

No secretaries, no assistants, no aides. No press office, no cookies. Hell, fire the chef. Zero it all out except vital aides and civil servant positions, and label the appropriated money as non-fungible.

Appropriations bills cannot be filibustered.
7.20.2007 2:04pm
rarango (mail):
Morat: you are certainly correct in theory; however, the political questions arise. the Congressional Republicans in 1994 and government shutdown; also, who are the essential bureaucrats? I somehow suspect we would not even know who was essential in a government the size of ours until they stopped functioning. And while appropriations bills cannot be filibustered, they can be vetoed and we are back to that 2/3 thing.
7.20.2007 2:15pm
SJE:
Bruce Hayden wrote: the Democrats in the Senate set an effective floor for the next generation or so for impeachment convictions. No Republican is going to be convicted there for less legally than what they let Clinton get away with. Whether their vote was good or bad, it remains an operant political fact as long as many of those same Democrats sit in the Senate.

Do you believe that the current administration has not provided more than ample cause for impeachment?

The Clinton impeachment turned on a perjury charge. This is serious, and grounds for impeachment. However, I do not think it a serious threat to the constitutional balance of power.

By contrast, the acts of the current administration present a present and serious threat to the constitution and the republic.

I contend that, if the Democrats can present the issue to the people in a more cogent manner, they will get the Republicans on side. The Republicans do not want to be left with a Democratic President asserting the power to do as he (or she) pleases.
7.20.2007 2:22pm
Birdman2 (mail):
Many commenters have gone off the deep end here. Regardless of what you think of the Bush Administration -- and I think it's been basically a disaster despite my pro-Bush votes in '00 and '04 -- the issue here is the position stated yesterday regarding prosecution of an Administration official for following the President's directive. Ted Olson, author of the OLC opinion on which the Admionistration basis its position, is a superb lawyer. Marty Lederman says Olson's conclusion is "contestable," but not that it's absurd or baseless. I haven't read the OLC opinion, but I just printed it off and will do so. Why has this triggered such a rant?

Maybe the answer -- and I'm sympathetic to this to a degree -- is that regardless of the legal merits, the Administration is just refusing to compromise in a murky Constituional area where compromise has historically been the way inter-Branch disputes have been settled.
7.20.2007 2:23pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
If the employer tells the employee to refuse to honor a subpoena, shouldn't it be the boss that's prosecuted, not the employee?

Both should be prosecuted. An employee who does something illegal at the behest of his employer is still a criminal.

*******************
So, the question remains, is impeachment worth it knowing that removal from office is not at all guaranteed -- indeed, very unlikely? This is the political calculation that Pelosi and Reid must face every morning.

I'd have to say yes, because the struggle over "Executive Privilege" makes instituting impeachment procedings more than just a symbolic gesture -- it strenghtens Congress' hand in any battle over "inherent contempt." And while I think that Congress should be able to invoke Art II Sec 8 in order to keep the courts out of an "inherent contempt" struggle, the courts should be even more reluctant to intervene if an "inherent contempt" citation is issued pursuant to the investigation of "high crimes and misdeameanors" as part of an impeachment proceeding. And the courts have already sided with Congress with regard to Executive Privilege claims when impeachment is involved.

IMHO, the House should follow a two-track strategy following institution of impeachment procedings -- use "inherent contempt" to imprison those not currently in the White House who do not co-operate, while going to the Courts to challenge Executive Privilege claims related to current White House employees. Once the courts decide that the WH privilege is not applicable, if Bush continues to resist, then use "inherent contempt" powers against people in the White House, and follow through on impeachment based on White House defiance of the Courts.

(I don't think inherent contempt can be used against the President himself -- at least not until after he is out of office. Impeachment is really the only remedy for out-of-control Executives themselves.)
7.20.2007 2:26pm
rarango (mail):
SJE: lets assume you are correct--who is going to make the case for impeachment to the republicans and to the american public. Put a name(s) on that person. Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton? GHW Bush? Bob Dole? I dont see elder statesmen out there that could carry the ball, and I don't see the American public agreeing with Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.
7.20.2007 2:29pm
Morat (mail):
And while appropriations bills cannot be filibustered, they can be vetoed and we are back to that 2/3 thing.

Let him. You don't have to explicitly zero-out funding. Just write the appropriations bill to fund everything else with non-fungible money.

What's Bush going to do? Veto an entire appriopriations bill because it doesn't fund everything he wants? Let him. Let him keep doing it.

I bet the Democrats win that PR battle.
7.20.2007 2:32pm
uh clem (mail):
...while appropriations bills cannot be filibustered, they can be vetoed and we are back to that 2/3 thing.

But if Bush vetoes a bill authorizing zero funding for program X, he's still looking at zero funding.

In the case of the Iraq war, he could play chicken because he knew the Democrats would cave - they can't be seen as defunding the war.

But the WH chef? Or any of a hundred other things? Sure they can. All it takes a the gumption.
7.20.2007 2:34pm
Dave N (mail):
In a discussion on impreachment, Lloyd George wrote:

I like this very much. This explains why Ford felt the need to pardon Nixon.

Um, Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon prevented criminal charges. It had nothing at all to do with impeachment of someone already out of office. That has never happened in the history of the Republic.

As for impeachment itself, Bruce Hayden hit the nail on the head. It will not happen. Also, defunding of executive agencies will not happen.

What will happen is an election in 2008--and I predict the toxicity evident in American politics for most of the last 15 years will continue unabated.
7.20.2007 2:35pm
rarango (mail):
Re my 1:29 above--sorry for the multiple posts, but I got to thinking--does the USA have any credible elder statesmen now? I am hard pressed to name any.
7.20.2007 2:35pm
Dave N (mail):
Oh, and for those who think defunding is just a great idea--I would remind them that the Republicans tried that as a tactic in the Clinton years.

In that situation, the President was the one that looked like a statesman and the Congress looked like petty partisans. Doing something moronic like not allowing a federal employee to be paid because he works in a non political job in the White House would really play well. Congress would be seen as petty and partisan--and deservedly so.
7.20.2007 2:40pm
Lloyd George:

In a discussion on impreachment, Lloyd George wrote:


I like this very much. This explains why Ford felt the need to pardon Nixon.

Um, Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon prevented criminal charges. It had nothing at all to do with impeachment of someone already out of office. That has never happened in the history of the Republic.



You are missing the point. Criminal charges are possible after a president leaves office. Ford's pardon averted any such criminal charges AFTER Nixon left office.
7.20.2007 2:43pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Maybe the answer -- and I'm sympathetic to this to a degree -- is that regardless of the legal merits, the Administration is just refusing to compromise in a murky Constituional area where compromise has historically been the way inter-Branch disputes have been settled.

That is part of the reason for "the rants." The other part is that while Olsen's opinion is legally defensible (as Chief Executive, Bush has the power to tell the DoJ what to do) it is an affront to some of the founding principles on which this nation was based -- stuff like "checks and balances", "equal (non-partisan) justice", etc. Olsen's opinion is, at its center, an endorsement of the abuse of the powers granted to the President under the constitution.

Faith in our system of Justice relies upon an assumption that prosecutions will take place when the facts warrant, and the people who make those decisions will do so impartially and without outside influence. What Olsen is asserting is that prosecutions can be stopped at the whim of the President for any reason whatsoever --- and that would include covering up criminal actions by himself or his associates. And purely in Constitutional terms, Olsen is probably right because the Constitution includes a remedy for this problem in the form of impeachment.

Its a serious flaw in the Constitution itself, because it assumes that Presidents will generally act in good faith, and more critically, that Congress will act in good faith when the President does not do so. But we've already seen the GOP majority abuse its impeachment powers with Clinton, and its pretty obvious that the current GOP Senate minority will not fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities, act in good faith, and provide the necessary votes to convict Bush regardless of the extent to which he abuses his powers.
7.20.2007 2:46pm
SJE:
I agree, Rarango, that the people you mention would be unable to do it. At the same time, I dont believe it needs to be one person who needs to take the ball: in fact, I think this would be bad. The Congress needs to send a message. If there was a relatively consistent, and articulate message coming from the Congress, there would be enough traction to force a consensus for change. Unfortunately, I think that the Democrats lack the balls and the cunning to do this.
7.20.2007 2:47pm
Dave N (mail):
Lloyd George,

I apologize if I missed your point. I probably misread your post. I took it that you were suggesting that Congress could have impeached Nixon after he resigned and the Ford pardon averted it.

Ford himself has written that he pardoned Nixon because he wanted to put the Watergate issue behind and wanted America to move forward. It certainly was an act of political courage on his part--and probably cost him the 1976 election.
7.20.2007 2:47pm
Lloyd George:

Ford himself has written that he pardoned Nixon because he wanted to put the Watergate issue behind and wanted America to move forward. It certainly was an act of political courage on his part--and probably cost him the 1976 election.


While I don't question Ford's sincerity and the happy outcome in general, I wonder if the nation, especially now, would have been better served had there been criminal charges pressed against Nixon?
7.20.2007 2:50pm
Morat (mail):
In that situation, the President was the one that looked like a statesman and the Congress looked like petty partisans. Doing something moronic like not allowing a federal employee to be paid because he works in a non political job in the White House would really play well. Congress would be seen as petty and partisan--and deservedly so.

Yes, that's why I suggested selective defunding of non-critical Executive staff. Gingrich shut down the government -- refusing to fund the White House Press Office doesn't really rise to the same level, nor does refusing to fund Gonzalez's personal staff of hanger's on.

And -- not to put too fine a point on it -- when Gingrich shut down the government, people liked Clinton and already thought Gingrich was a bit of an ass.

Right now Bush is only slightly more popular than a dose of the clap, and Congress' unpopularity is due to a lack of standing up to Bush.*

In the end, though, all that can be done is to bring pressure to bear on Bush. If he wants to claim Congress has nothing but the power of the purse to work it's will, I think Congress can happily sell the public on forcing the President to live without the luxuries he's used to having, so long as he (and the Executive) have enough to do the job.

I wouldn't suggest defunding any civil servent or appointee position, but there's no reason they need all those secretaries, catered lunches, personal drivers, etc. Gonzalez, at least, could do his job with nothing more than a single assistant. It's not like he really works anyways.

* Trace the polls. Congress a whole is never popular. Think about it -- Republicans hate it because it's controlled by Democrats, then hate their own Republicans for refusing to stand up to Democrats, and Democrats hate it because Democrats aren't standing up to Bush and because there's a bunch of obstructing Republicans. You have to look at breakdowns, where you see that -- Republicans just dislike Democratic Congresses (duh!), and that Democrats got sour when Congress folded to Bush. Luckily, there seem to be a lot more Democrats these days...
7.20.2007 2:50pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Oh, and for those who think defunding is just a great idea--I would remind them that the Republicans tried that as a tactic in the Clinton years.

George Bush isn't Bill Clinton.

Also, the Gingrich strategy was seriously flawed, because the GOP refused to submit a "revised budged" after Clinton vetoed the original one -- in other words, it was the GOP that shut down the government, not Clinton.

Hopefully, Democrats will be smarter, and simply submit the same budget to Bush over and over again -- letting Bush take the blame for any government shutdown that occurs because of his refusal to sign a bill sitting on his desk that would fund the government -- and letting GOPers in Congress take the blame for not over-riding Bush's vetoes and allowing the government to function.
7.20.2007 2:56pm
Lloyd George:
With impeachment off the table, and de-funding the government a non-starter, the only other option that remains appears to be some sort of criminal charges after President Bush leaves office.

But then again, what happens when Bush does the politically impossible and pardons himself?

And, no, I'm not going to buy into the left-wing fantasies of a permanent coup d'etat by Bush and his Republican pals. I think Bush will leave office as planned in January 2009.
7.20.2007 3:12pm
paulm (mail):
"And while I think that Congress should be able to invoke Art II Sec 8 (sic) in order to keep the courts out of an 'inherent contempt' struggle, the courts should be even more reluctant to intervene if an "inherent contempt" citation is issued pursuant to the investigation of 'high crimes and misdeameanors' (sic) as part of an impeachment proceeding."

I assume you mean Section 8 of Art. I. I am interested to know which clause among the many clauses in that section you think insulates the exercise of inherent contempt powers by Congress from judicial review, by habeas or otherwise. I can see some potential arguments lurking in there, but none of the arguments based on that section that I can imagine are especially convincing to me. I can also maybe see the Court declining to review the action that you are advocating as a matter of deference, absent some authority that I am not aware of, but that seems to me to be different from what you have in mind.
7.20.2007 3:21pm
GlenO (mail):
Isn't the key issue here that the administration is asserting a theory of prosecutorial non-independence for the AG? Whatever the merits of the accusation of contempt, how is it not a problem that the AG is presented as simply an employee of the President, with no right to question assertions of executive privilege? I'm no expert, but this seems like strong grounds for impeachment of the AG, for abrogation of his duties as a prosecutor.
7.20.2007 3:28pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Arrest the President. Defund. Show trials on the floor of the House. Impeach, impeach, impeach.

Congress needs to be seen as solving the nation's problems. Look at the rapid decline in its poll numbers after the Iraq and immigration failures so far this year. Spinning its wheels on this issue will not help the Democrats increase their majorities in 2008. Is not that what most posters here want?
7.20.2007 4:12pm
Justin (mail):
"And, no, I'm not going to buy into the left-wing fantasies of a permanent coup d'etat by Bush and his Republican pals. I think Bush will leave office as planned in January 2009."

Bush lacks the political support. And to be as popular as necessary to pull this off, it would be easier to have Dick Cheney run, or at least some puppet that shows they are going through the motions. So yea, that's the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Now whether we're going to be able to fix the military, budgetary, and constitutional crisies that Bush will leave us with, that's a different story.
7.20.2007 4:12pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
I assume you mean Section 8 of Art. I. I am interested to know which clause among the many clauses in that section you think insulates the exercise of inherent contempt powers by Congress from judicial review, by habeas or otherwise. I can see some potential arguments lurking in there, but none of the arguments based on that section that I can imagine are especially convincing to me. I can also maybe see the Court declining to review the action that you are advocating as a matter of deference, absent some authority that I am not aware of, but that seems to me to be different from what you have in mind.

first off, thanx for the correction. re the right article.

I think that a strong case can be made that the doctrine of separation of powers precludes most court review of the rules and procedures of Congress...and IIRC, the courts have shown such deference in the past. When one adds to that the courts traditional (and wholly appropriate) deference to Congress when it comes to impeachment questions, and its longstanding acknowledgement of Congress' "inherent contempt" powers, I find it difficult to formulate an argument that would justify Court interference in these matters.

This, of course, applies to Habeas petitions -- the furthest the Courts would probably go is in requiring that those detained under "inherent contempt" have be provided an opportunity by the House to exercise those rights. (This would extend to other rights as well -- provided that Congress provides those detained under inherent contempt, with some reasonable form of due process, I don't see much of an argument to be made that the Courts should intervene)>
7.20.2007 4:25pm
Milk for Free:
I love the idea of inherent contempt proceedings, but I'm doubtful that we'll see any. I also think it's very likely that President Bush will pardon himself and key members of his administration as his last official act.

But that doesn't mean we can't imprison them! If the country elects a Democrat in '08, Bush et al. could be doing 4 to 8 years in Guantanamo Bay. Waterboarding optional. Now that would be sweet.
7.20.2007 4:59pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
This is another example of the overhyping of everything. The Democrats are piling more phony controversies on existing phony controversies. Given the law of diminishing public attention, this one looks mostly like another fund-raising vehicle.

Tell us again how Congress can force the Executive branch to hold the Executive branch in contempt of Congress.

Perhaps the Democratic majority in Congress does not want to hold Executive branch officials in contempt of Congress the way the Constitution provides - either because they don't have the votes, or perhaps they don't want a resolution of the controversy because then they could not use to advance their real objective of motivating the gullible to give them campaign contributions.
7.20.2007 5:02pm
neurodoc:
"The idea of Carter as a serious contender for worst president ever is laughable in my opinion."

Joshua Muravchik did a good job of presenting the case for Carter as the worst, especially in foreign affairs. (Commentary, February 2007)

Jay Nordlinger was less thorough in his presentation of the case, but quicker and funnier about it 5 years before Muravchik undertook it.
www.nationalreview.com/impromptus/impromptus050302.asp

Be assured that we are not overlooking the fact that Carter, like Arafat, won a Nobel Prize for Peace, nor that as an ex-prez he has lent his name to Habitat for Humanity.
7.20.2007 5:08pm
paulm (mail):
paul lukasiak:

Not sure I agree. The only relevant case that I am at all familiar with is US v. Nixon, which was an appeal of an impeachment trial by a federal judge who claimed that his trial was improperly conducted. In that case, the asserted error was essentially procedural. More importantly, the case involved an impeachment, which is clearly assigned to the legislative branch as it's province in the Constitution.

Not sure that this deference would extend to an exercise of inherent contempt powers in a case involving a dispute between coordinate branches.

I am not saying that judicial review is the right outcome, just that your confidence in deference may be misplaced. Moreover, given that the administration is apparently prepared to ignore anything that the courts say on the matter, at least if the Washington Post is to be trusted, I suppose that there is nothing much standing in the way of Congress taking the same position and just doing whatever they think is right under their own interpretation of Article I.

Sigh.
7.20.2007 5:14pm
paulm (mail):
Thomas Holsinger:

Um, Congress telling the executive branch what to do is, well, sort of how it works. It's called legislation. The question, which is an open question, is whether Congress can legislatively compel a prosecutor, by the mandatory language in the contempt citation statute, to bring contempt proceedings. Which cuts both ways, because there are those who would question whether it is appropriate for the White House to tell a prosecutor how to exercise his discretion in this matter.
7.20.2007 5:23pm
Mark Field (mail):

Joshua Muravchik did a good job of presenting the case for Carter as the worst, especially in foreign affairs.


I haven't read this, but it strikes me as implausible. LBJ lied us into and micro-managed the disaster of Vietnam. It's hard to imagine Carter could have done anything WORSE than that in foreign affairs. As for domestic policy, there's just no way to be worse than Buchanan (himself pretty inept at foreign policy as well) or A. Johnson (too drunk to concern other nations).
7.20.2007 5:29pm
neurodoc:
This suggests an interesting campaign commercial, in which sexual infidelity is touted as a plus.

A Madison Avenue type copywriter would have to polish it, but the subliminal message might be one to the effect that we can rest assured the candidate does not seek to screw the country or public at large, just a relatively few members of the opposite sex when not occupied with the country's business.

I don't know what weight to give Eisenhower's alleged war-time infidelity, and I would give little or none to any candidate's dalliances prior to marriage.
7.20.2007 5:29pm
theo (mail):
neurodoc:


Joshua Muravchik did a good job of presenting the case for Carter as the worst, especially in foreign affairs.


Sorry, but Joshua "BOMB IRAN" Muravchik is unqualified to comment on foreign affairs, on account of insanity.

Why should I believe the evaluation of anyone who views Carter only through Israel/Palestine colored lenses? He's a litmus test for such people.

There was a lot more to his presidency than the Camp David Accords.

For example, SALT II. But I guess we're supposed to forget about the Cold War because terrorism is the new worst thing ever.
7.20.2007 5:35pm
Mark Field (mail):
For those who are interested, though it's off-topic, Wiki provides a nice chart of various presidential rankings. See here. Carter seems to generate disparate ratings: as high as 19 and as low as 34. That's not surprising -- it takes quite a while for all the issues to play out and for historical evaluation to replace politics. My personal rule of thumb is that 30 years is the absolute minimum for that to happen; if someone said 50 years, that would be reasonable. It's too soon yet to get a real fix on Carter.
7.20.2007 5:39pm
Mark Field (mail):

I don't know what weight to give Eisenhower's alleged war-time infidelity, and I would give little or none to any candidate's dalliances prior to marriage.


If before marriage doesn't count, then you can delete Washington from my list above.
7.20.2007 5:42pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Buchanan was clearly the worst President, while neither Carter nor Nixon are even close to Buchanan.

While I agree that Carter edges out Nixon for second worst, the reasons why cannot be discussed in a public forum. The Constitutional system worked on Nixon. It was inoperative against Carter.

While Carter was our worst President in terms of national security and foreign policy, and we're still paying for that, those pale by comparison to domestic matters he covered up, and which IMO make Nixon a saint by comparison.
7.20.2007 6:14pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Justin:

I don't know what I said that's so siezed your attention, but all I meant was that there's no lack of process to deal with a 'monarchical' presidency.

I do think tension among the branches is built into the Constitution and isn't meant ever to be fully resolved; rather, there're irreconcilable issues, with pressures brought to bear, 'fixes' and compromises that let the government function until the next election puts the voters' stamp of approval on one or another of the contending factions. It's a way of ensuring that We The People don't get aced out of our central role by a too-smooth running Establishment.

So far as Mr. Bush is concerned I'm his defender on the grounds that he's done nothing impeachable (feckless arrogance being a political offense). Other that that, I'd be happy to see the back of him.
7.20.2007 6:21pm
RealityCrutch (mail) (www):
I'm confused by all these Blue State Posters references to historical issues. What the Constitution was 'Supposed to do' here 'What the intent was' there. Why this emotional rejection of 'novel' executive branch interpretations? Isn't it a 'Living Constitution'? Isn't Bush just updating it for the modern context?

Oh and please drop the 'Monarchy' silliness. The Founders had a hell of a lot better understanding of the potential abuse of power by the executive than I wager any of us has. But they understood that the amount of trust placed on the executive must necessarily be proportional to the level of power they hold. Not a flaw in the Constitution but a necessary evil. I do recall a number of libertarian warnings about this scoffed aside by Demos and Repubs.

And as to the few really ludicrous English Civil war references....I somehow doubt that the Blue States would ever do anything other than complain and litigate if ever the fever swamp worse case scenarios mentioned here came to be. The Red States, maybe, but isn't Bush more to their liking? And don't humans tend to want their guy to have more power anyway? And can you Blue Staters really pass up an opportunity to see yourselves as the new Pompey, or Brutus, or even Cassius?
7.20.2007 6:26pm
GlenO (mail):
For those who are unconcerned with the removal of checks on the Executive branch, imagine a future ultra-liberal or Chavez-like populist president who wields these powers against you, your colleagues, and the causes you find dear. Who knows? We might see socialistic redistribution of wealth, the required teaching of atheism/humanism to your children, the military dismantled. There is no guarantee that a "dictator elected every four years" will necessarily be on your side.
7.20.2007 7:09pm
Public_Defender (mail):
I can see why Congree might be reluctant to send in the Sergeant-at-arms. Could you imagine, an armed group of Congressional cops trying to arrest Miers from the protection of an armed group of FBI agents?

We expect that kind of thing to happen in banana republics. But maybe that's where Bush is taking us.
7.20.2007 7:44pm
Smokey:
''Arrest the President. Defund. Show trials on the floor of the House. Impeach, impeach, impeach.''
Add to this the insistence by a number of posters here that the country is run by a Monarchy, and *voila!* we see that BDS has claimed more victims. Maybe one of those victims could explain to us which Bush daughter will inherit the King's throne? And, when will the Monarchy announce that elections are canceled? [Some folks -- even here -- actually believe that!]

Clinton, IMHO, was not a bad president overall. But Carter? C'mon. The Secret Service is still laughing at Carter's terrified flailing away at what he thought was a killer bunny rabbit. And I still recall the Boston Globe headline following Carter's State of the Union speech: Mush From The Wimp. [OK, it was an editor's headline not intended for release -- but some 900 copies got out by mistake]. And didn't Jimmuh teach the Russians a lesson for invading Afghanistan? He turned off the White House Christmas lights.

Behind that stupid grin lies an evil mind.
7.20.2007 8:16pm
ROA:
If Bush and Cheney are impeached and convicted would Nancy Pelosi become president?
7.20.2007 9:05pm
Mark Field (mail):

If Bush and Cheney are impeached and convicted would Nancy Pelosi become president?


Under current law, yes. That can be changed. Also, if, say, Cheney were impeached first, Bush could nominate a new VP, who would then succeed when Bush had to leave office under your scenario.
7.20.2007 9:22pm
KingOfMyCastle:
Why is it that in the second term of a president, the other party turns into complete crazies?

You had the rightwing wackos salivating over impeaching Clinton, now you have the leftwing crazies salivating over impeaching Bush.

Is everyone on this blog completely divorced from reality? I'm sorry but I can't help but laugh at the shrill alarms about a 'constitutional crisis'. Please, give me a break.

Most of the country doesn't care about pissing matches between a Republican president and a Democratic congress. Only the deranged losers who live their life for their silly political parties care about this in even the slightest.

Just for fun, I asked around in the office today to see if anyone had heard or cared about this 'constitutional crisis'. Strangely enough, they didn't. Hmmm. Guess the republic is safe for now. But you better stock up on emergency supplies just in case!
7.20.2007 9:30pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Just what is it in their water that makes Liberals prefer fantasy to...just about anything else ? Bush will not be impeached, or arrested, or any other mental masterbatory fantasy that his haters can think up. The right and the left only own 30-35 % of the political power. Neither can convince the middle to crush any branch of government. You don't get to play rock-scissors-paper in the real world, but that's where most of the posters here want to dwell.
7.20.2007 9:33pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Not sure that this deference would extend to an exercise of inherent contempt powers in a case involving a dispute between coordinate branches.

I agree that (especially with the kind of corrupt justices we now have on the supreme court) that it remains an question for which there is no specific precedent. (I would, however, cite various instances where Congress instituted inherent contempt procedings as "suggestive" precedent favoring congress in these matters.) That is why I advocate that the House institute impeachment procedings, and amend all subpoenas to include language referencing those procedings --- the Congressional case becomes much stronger, and the likelihood of judicial deference much higher, if impeachment is involved.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the whole idea of executive privilege, except in cases where foreign policy or personnel decisions are involved -- and only as it pertains to advice given directly to the president. If someone is offering good advice, they should not be afraid that people will know about it. (its the old "well, if you've got nothing to hide, why do you object to having your phone tapped" argument, I suppose --- except that when it comes to public policy, democracy requires an informed citizenry, and that would include disclose of as much information regarding the formulation of policy as possible.)
7.20.2007 9:39pm
Kee (mail):
Was directed here through a blog -- thanks for some specifics. It's nice to have a few subsections to reference when writing your own idiot rep and senators.

I notice people keep saying "If" someone will introduce a motion for articles of impeachment. Hasn't this already been done? It's currently in the bog of a sub-committee, but thirteen co-sponsors have signed on. Pebbles, when we need an avalanche, perhaps, but H.R. 333, Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors was filed back in April.

Here are the "footnotes":

http://kucinich.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=3750

I would love to see a block of moderates, both Repubs and Democrats, sign on to this en masse come Monday. They have almost nothing to lose and everything to gain -- as true conservatives are practically foaming at the mouth over Bush's fiscal fiascoes, his leaving the USA in greater danger because of their warmongering, and his suspending habeas corpus.

If this is not a valid filing, I'd like to know. Whether it can be effective is another thing entirely.

But, as the bumper sticker says, Impeach Cheney First. And though I do not look forward to President Pelosi with any enthusiasm, I'd take Mickey Mouse as VP right now. At least Mickey would be polite when addressing the Senate.

Thank-you for a courteous and spirited discussion.
7.20.2007 10:40pm
Hrm:

Impeaching Richard B. Cheney



as true conservatives are practically foaming at the mouth over Bush's fiscal fiascoes


Except that "true conservatives" generally think very highly of Darth Cheney. Even if some could be counted on to vote against Bush, I doubt they'd go for Cheney. Hell, I suspect many of them would like to see him in the drivers seat instead.

The reality, though, is probably that striking down Bush will only make him more powerful than anyone realizes (ha! two star wars references!). If you impeach him, the great wave will start about it all being political and payback for Clinton. And of course, the fundraising opportunities, and the sympathy, will help republicans in the next round of elections. Even those who are unhappy with Bush or republicans may see him as the underdog and begin to feel like he's getting the shaft..

On the other hand, if instead of impeaching him you decide to try to cut all the non-essential funding, you may help him in a different way. Some suggest Bush would be harmed by the loss of support staff such as gardeners and chefs, and functions like press relations and the like. I'm sure the white house would LOVE a reason to ignore the press "Sorry, democrats didn't fund us talking to you".. And I can totally see Bush out there on the white house grounds mowing and gardening. I can envision photo-ops with him making his own sandwiches, and possibly even making sandwiches for others. Real man-of-the-people type stuff :)

And of course as commander-in-chief, he is entitled to dine on the military dollar at will. And we know congress won't touch that. So get ready for tons of time Bush gets to spend dining with the local troops. All those military photo-ops, so many more troops meeting and deciding they really do like Bush :)

I know this is all conjecture, but congress would have to be even dumber than they get credit for if it hasn't occurred to them that this may be the outcome. Better for them to make a lot of threats, to continue to hold their hearings and such.

Otherwise, they may find that they put Bush back upwards in approval ratings, revitalizing their own foe :)
7.20.2007 11:14pm
Smokey:
''...as the bumper sticker says, Impeach Cheney First.''
Well, that makes it crystal clear that this BDS/CDS is all political, doesn't it?

If Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House instead of Nancy Pelosi, that bumper sticker would not exist. Liberals, as always, would be happy to upend elections by hook or by crook, whenever they don't get what they want. Since they're smarter than the rest of us and all. Communists are just socialists in a hurry -- and socialists are just libtards in a hurry.

And now, Supreme Court justices are corrupt, just because some whacked out libs don't want them there?? Well, let's just impeach them, too. But only the perceived conservative ones, huh?

To help derail that type of rampant anti-American thinking, I recommend that they utilize this essential protection. It may be their only hope.
7.21.2007 12:20am
Harvey Mosley (mail):

But we've already seen the GOP majority abuse its impeachment powers with Clinton, and its pretty obvious that the current GOP Senate minority will not fulfill their Constitutional responsibilities, act in good faith, and provide the necessary votes to convict Bush regardless of the extent to which he abuses his powers.


especially with the kind of corrupt justices we now have on the supreme court


Wow.

Impeachment against Clinton for lying under oath (you know, like Scooter did) is an abuse of power. Even when his own testimony showed he was lying.

Again. Wow.

Republicans not voting to convict in an impeachment is "not acting in good faith." What about the Democrats not voting to convict Clinton for perjury? Was that "acting in good faith"?

Once again. Wow.

And lets not forget the most persuasive part of the argument:

"especially with the kind of corrupt justices we now have on the supreme court"

Ok, I'll bite. Can you cite specific instances of corruption with sources?

Until you do, all I can say is (sorry to be repetitive) wow.

By the way, I will be glad when Bush leaves office. I think he's arrogant. I don't like the way he is running the country. But impeachment? Because he won't let one of his advisors (an attorney, no less!) testify?

Sorry, I can't help it.
Wow.
7.21.2007 7:46am
paul lukasiak (mail):
RE: Clinton.... Clinton's deliberate evasions first occurred when he tried to keep a private matter from being publicly disclosed that was immaterial to a lawsuit whose sole intent was to harass the President. An overzealous, completely partisan prosecutor then set up a "perjury trap" to bring down that president. The entire process was corrupt, because neither the wingnut-funded lawyers for Paula Jones, nor Ken Starr and his team, respected the confidentiality of court and grand jury procedings -- and Clinton knew this. His evasions were understandable, and justifiable -- and the American people understood this, which is why they never supported the impeachment of Clinton.

Clinton's misdeeds did not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, because they were not about substantive matters, unrelated to official conduct, and were not motivated by a desire to obstruct justice. They deserved, at most, censure. (Bush's misdeeds are, on the other hand, substantive, related to official conduct, and motivated by a desire to obstruct appropriate congressional inquiry.)

As to the presence of corrupt Justices, one need only remember that three of the five justices that handed Bush the Presidency in Bush v Gore remain on the bench.
7.21.2007 8:44am
markm (mail):

Consider the Presidents whom historians generally suspect to have strayed sexually during their lives (not necessarily while in the White House): Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Clinton.

and Grover Cleveland.
7.21.2007 10:11am
ATRGeek:
The OLC opinion is as broad as I feared, and to me makes little sense. Their essential argument is that there should never be criminal sanctions for contempt when it is an executive official citing executive privilege (no matter whether it is a valid claim of executive privilege or not) because even the possibility of criminal sanctions would somehow chill the ability of the President to invoke executive privilege in valid cases.

That is a dubious argument to begin with, but makes even less sense when the OLC argues that civil contempt is a reasonable alternative. The problem, of course, is that civil contempt in cases like this can only result in the court or Congress again ordering the official to comply with the subpoena. If they still refuse, the normal next step would be criminal contempt. But the OLC wants criminal contempt completely off the table.

So, in truth the OLC is basically arguing that if an executive official cites executive privilege, then no matter how unmeritorious the claim (eg, Miers refusing to even appear before Congress), in the end there will be no way for a court or Congress to enforce their orders.

Yikes.
7.21.2007 3:15pm
neurodoc:
Because he won't let one of his advisors (an attorney, no less!) testify?

At issue is the claim of "executive privilege," a very different matter from "attorney-client privilege," I believe. And while Harriet Meiers may be an attorney, Karl Rove isn't one, is he? (Maybe with Rove, Bush would rely on a claim of priest-penitent privilege.)
7.21.2007 3:32pm
Smokey:
Paul L. said:
''[Clinton's] evasions were understandable, and justifiable...''
Understandable, yes. Justifiable? No.

Clinton lied under oath. All he had to do was say it was a private matter, and refuse to answer. But he lied. And he lost his license to practice law as a result of his lying. The Supreme Court upheld his law license revocation.

Ever since Clinton was impeached for lying under oath [not for his sexcapades], Democrats have been trying desperately and impotently to pin the same judgement on Bush. I'm no Bush fan, and I thought Clinton was a pretty good president. But in this country we have the presumption of innocence, and liberals seem more than willing to discard that basic tenet in the interest of political revenge.

But the average American doesn't see it that way.
7.21.2007 4:04pm
John Herbison (mail):
Regarding President Ford's pardon of former President Nixon, that was unrelated to impeachment. Article II, § 2 of the Constitution specifically exempts impeachment from the presidential power to issue pardons and reprieves.

The Ford pardon was intended to foreclose criminal prosecution. While in office, Nixon had been named in indictments as an unindicted co-conspirator with the accused person(s). After his resignation, prosecution was at least a realistic possibility.

President Nixon's resignation did not render the impeachment effort completely moot, in that a judgment of disqualification from holding any future federal office was still (at least theoretically) available to the Congress. While it is true that impeachment of a former official had never occurred, it is also true that impeachment of an elected president had not occurred during the first 222 years of American independence.
7.21.2007 5:44pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Neurodoc,

Regarding Rove, you are correct. I was referring to Miers, since she seems to be the target of choice in this thread.

paul lukasiak,

Let's see. A woman who was under the authority of Clinton sues because she says she was raped by him, and when he lies under oath about sex with another woman under his authority that's
not about substantive matters, unrelated to official conduct, and were not motivated by a desire to obstruct justice?

And a decision you disagree with proves the Supreme Court is corrupt.
Well, I guess you're right. I disagreed with Kelo, among others, so they must be corrupt!

Wow.
7.21.2007 5:49pm
neurodoc:
Harvey Mosley, I could be wrong, but I think it has no bearing on the question of executive privilege whether any of them are attorneys or not. That is to say, it would neither bolster, nor undercut an assertion of that privilege if some or all were attorneys. And though some may be attorneys, I don't think that sets up a possible claim of attorney-client privilege here either. (I wouldn't expect a court or any legal scholars to agree, but I do like "priest-penitent" for Rove and Bush, even if I am not sure which is which in that relationship.)

And which woman "under the authority of Clinton" sued, claiming that "she was raped by him"?
7.21.2007 7:44pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Neurodoc,
I apologize to both you and President Clinton. I was in the middle of a real life conversation ablout a rape case when I typed that, and did not proofread my post. I should not have said raped. That was wrong. I meant sexual harrassment, which, of course, is a far cry from rape.

Again, my apologies. I was wong.

As to Miers, I realize he is asserting executive privilege. However, if that claim is defeated, I would assume he could use attorney client privilege.

As to Rove, I think it might be better to call it a penitent-penitent relationship :)

Again, I apologize for saying "rape". That was wrong.

Also, just a reminder, I'm glad we have a two term limit for president, and Bush makes me wish it were one. I just don't see anything that rises to the level of impeachment, so far.

(Pause while I hit the preview button...

...OK, I THINK it safe to hit the post button.)
7.21.2007 8:50pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
"Clinton lied under oath. All he had to do was say it was a private matter, and refuse to answer."

and be held in contempt of court.

I mean, come up with a serious argument, please.
7.22.2007 12:54am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Let's see. A woman who was under the authority of Clinton sues because she says she was raped by him,

lets see if you can get your facts straight, before I engage in discussion with you.
7.22.2007 12:55am
neurodoc:
As to Miers, I realize he is asserting executive privilege. However, if that claim is defeated, I would assume he could use attorney client privilege.

Someone more knowledgeable than I should answer this one. I think, though, that some of those involved may in fact be attorneys, there is less to support a claim of attorney-client privilege here than for a claim of executive privilege.

When citizen Clinton turned to Robert Bennett to defend him against civil and/or criminal charges that were brought or might have been brought against him, their communications were covered by attorney-client privilege. Bennett was representing Clinton then, not serving the US government. I don't believe that President Clinton could claim attorney-client privilege to cover communications between him and other federal employees though they might have been attorneys of whom he was asking advice about his personal matters or anything else. Though Clinton might have been their ultimate superior in government service, those federally employed attorneys were not representing him in his personal capacity and they owned him personally no professional duty, hence attorney-client privilege did not pertain. (Nor do I think it would pertain to communications between Bush and Miers or other government attorneys, though those same communications might be otherwise protected from disclosure.) [Note, attorney-client privilege would be there for public defenders representing private citizens or JAG officers representing military members being prosecuted.]

That is my minimally informed understanding of attorney-client privilege. If I am wrong, I expect someone(s) will say so.

I apologize to both you and President Clinton. I was in the middle of a real life conversation ablout a rape case when I typed that, and did not proofread my post. I should not have said raped. That was wrong. I meant sexual harrassment, which, of course, is a far cry from rape.

Readily understandable for a number of reasons, including that Christopher Hitchens, then still on the Left, maintained that Clinton raped that school teacher admirer. I doubt that there was ever solid enough evidence to indict and convict him if it had been pursued, but it is not as though we are talking about Jimmy Carter and could dismiss it all out of hand as simply unimaginable.

(Glad to hear it was only a "real life 'conversation' about a rape case" that you were engaged in when you posted.)

Bush, Clinton, and Carter - all "problematic," but each in their own signular ways. (And I do think Clinton the least "problematic" of the three.)

Well, only 18 months to go. But who among us knows what will follow then?
7.22.2007 1:47am
Harvey Mosley (mail):
paul lukasiak,

Yes, I screwed up. Please see my post of 7:50pm.
7.22.2007 1:49am
vinnie (mail):
O.K.I am not a lawyer but the best advice I have ever been given:
1) Never pet a burning dog
2) Everybody lies about sex. You accept that from your grandmother and your priest you might as well accept it from your politicians.
Clinton was impeached because he didn't have th balls to say "none of your damn business"
If you had asked Jefferson the same question you would have had an invitation to repeat the question with your weapon of choice and your next best friend in the morning.
The main point here is that Bushes actions effect MY LIFE. These attorneys hold a LOT of power over some of MY everyday activities. If you put a "ken Starr type" out after anybody, They are gunna find something.
The Bush administration would not survive that kind of scrutiny. He is running the clock out, as has been mentioned above.
7.22.2007 2:12am
Harvey Mosley (mail):
neurodoc,

You appear to have a much greater understanding of the ins and outs of privilege than I do, so I will defer to your opinion.

Nice that there are some people to have an intelligent conversation with. (I'm not including myself in that category yet, but I'm working on it :)
7.22.2007 3:54am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Clinton was impeached because he didn't have th balls to say "none of your damn business"

Clinton was compelled by the court to testify about Monica in a deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit. The same republicans who went after him for not being totally truthful about sex would have gone after him for contempt of court.

The main point here is that there are very, very few cases where a federal prosecutor will ever get involved in setting a perjury trap based on testimony in an ongoing civil suit --- especially when the questionable testimony is immaterial to the claims being made in the civil suit. (If that weren't the case, federal prosecutors would spend all their time setting perjury traps in divorce and child custody cases.}

Clinton's less-than-honest answers in the Paula Jones case were motivated not because it was "none of Jones' lawyers business", but because it was none of the public's business --- and Clinton knew that anything he said in the supposedly sealed deposition would find its way into the papers immediately, because the Jones case wasn't about sexual harrassment of Paula Jones, it was about political harrassment of Bill Clinton.

Under ordinary circumstances, questionable testimony in a civil deposition would be handled by the judge in the civil suit -- if shown evidence that a deposed witness had not testified truthfully about something material to the lawsuit, the judge would warn the witness that he risked being held in contempt of court for falsified testimony, and ordered to give another deposition. Only after a contempt citation had been issued would this kind of matter ever be referred to federal prosecutors -- and that referral would come from the judge.

But Ken Starr didn't wait until he got a referral from a judge -- he took the "referral" from Linda Tripp -- someone with her own credibility problems. And when Starr hauled Clinton before a grand jury, Clinton readily admitted to sexual contact with Lewinsky --- the grand jury transcripts, and the accusation of "perjury", demonstrate that Starr was obsessed with the question of Clinton's intention in touching Lewinsky's breasts and vaginal area -- Clinton testified that he did so not for her pleasure, but for his own, and THAT is what the basis of the perjury charge. (In other words, he was accused of perjury for asserting that he got off on fondling Monica Lewinsky for his own pleasure, and not for hers. It never ceases to amaze me that a sexually normal male would find this unusual.)

When Reagan deliberately ignored the law forbidding funding of the Contras in Nicaragua, and then lied about it, Congressional Democrats chose not to impeach him because of the harm it would do to the country -- even though what Reagan did was clearly an impeachable offense. GOP partisans had no such scruples, and instituted impeachment proceedings against Clinton for an infraction that was far less significant, and whose circumstances demanded censure of Ken Starr for over-zealous prosecution, not impeachment of a President.

Partisan Republicans -- from the people who funded the Jones lawsuit, to Ken Starr, to the Gingrich gang in congress -- were motivated solely by a desire to destroy Bill Clinton. No one involved in Clinton's persecution had every demonstrated the kind of absolute fealty to principles that would have justified their demands for Clinton's prosecution.
7.22.2007 9:07am
Heh:

No one involved in Clinton's persecution had every demonstrated the kind of absolute fealty to principles that would have justified their demands for Clinton's prosecution.


That's funny. I would say the exact same thing about the people who are after Bush right now. I can't think of a single one of them who has ever demonstrated "absolute fealty to principles" that would justify their prosecution of Bush.

I'm not sure if that's a problem with "absolute fealty" or a problem with blanket statements ;)
7.22.2007 1:21pm
WR Everdell (mail):
Smokey wrote:

''Arrest the President. Defund. Show trials on the floor of the House. Impeach, impeach, impeach.''

Add to this the insistence by a number of posters here that the country is run by a Monarchy, and *voila!* we see that BDS has claimed more victims. Maybe one of those victims could explain to us which Bush daughter will inherit the King's throne? And, when will the Monarchy announce that elections are canceled? [Some folks -- even here -- actually believe that!]



It won't be easy, but it's possible that it's been discussed seriously by the Bush administration insiders--just as it was by Mayor Giuliani between September 11, 2001, and the mayoral elections in November, from which he was barred by a New York term limit law.

And there is no need for the title to be inherited in order to make a monarchy, by primogeniture or otherwise. Monarchy means rule by one person and his or her appointees, one person who both makes and enforces the law, if any. Absolute monarchs are those who need not obey the laws they make for others; they are leges absolutus--absolved from the laws. A dictator is a monarch for an emergency, an invention of the Roman Republic whose short term Sulla extended to make a conservative counterrevolution--and made a precedent for Caesar.

Some monarchs are elected, as dictators were by the Roman Senate. Some are elected by the people. The central point is that they answer to no other person for anything. In a republic, every magistrate (of many) must answer in some way or other to every other. We call it checks and balances.
7.23.2007 2:36pm