Monday, January 26, 2015

Boehner's Treason?

US Speaker of the House John Boehner listens as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Bloomberg)
Speaker of the House John Boehner listens as President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Bloomberg)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

25 January 15

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court....
– United States Constitution, Article III, section 3

nviting a hostile head of state to challenge the U.S. president from the shelter of the U.S. Congress may not rise to the level of “levying war” in the literal sense. But it is surely an act of virtual war that recklessly raises the stakes of drawing the U.S. into more actual wars from Gaza to Iran.

Lacking any lawful authority to conduct foreign policy, Congressman John Boehner has invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress in direct opposition to the American president. This kind of vigilante foreign policy is tantamount to a declaration of war on the constitutional authority of the executive branch. It is also a deliberate effort to destroy the possibility of peaceful relations with Iran, in the midst of serious negotiation headed toward normalization. Defending the U.S. against the threat of peace is a traditionally mindless Republican stance. It becomes an obscenity when it is rooted in nothing more substantial than Israeli intransigence.

Here’s the way Boehner failed to explain his interference in the president’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs:

I did not consult with the White House. The Congress can make this decision on its own. I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president, last night [in the State of the Union], kind of papered over it. And the fact is, is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.

First he admits he’s a partisan lone wolf. Then he lies about Congress making a decision, when he made the decision on his own without bringing it close to a vote; he also falsifies Congressional authority in foreign policy. He then either lies about poking anyone in the eye, or admits he’s in denial. Then he jumps to fearmongering, ignoring the reality that Iran has been engaged in multi-state negotiations for months now. Then he pretends to want a more serious conversation, when he and his colleagues have been crying wolf about the “Iranian bomb” for more than two decades. Then he compounds his lies and fearmongering by conflating Iran with “radical Islamic jihadists” of the sort Saudi Arabia has been cultivating for more than 40 years. Nice piece of work for a presumed “patriot.” 

Is Boehner “adhering to the enemies” of the United States? 

Since the Speaker of the House is unlikely to confess to any sort of treason in open court, as he should, the charge of treason against this Ohio Republican and his co-conspirators will be constitutionally tricky to make. But it needs to be made, no matter how belatedly.

Sacrificing our Constitution in an effort to turn American troops into Israel’s proxy army looks very much like the moral equivalent of treason.

The case of Republican treason needs to be made now, and should have been made long since, against the party that has waged metaphorical war against the United States at least since 2009. Granted, the Republican war has not resorted to the kind of military violence meant by “war” in orthodox constitutional construction. But GOP behavior has been war all the same, unrelenting and destructive, against both the president and the very purpose of the Constitution as expressed in its preamble. The only “general welfare” consistently supported by Republicans is military. The rest of their agenda is determined by sectarian spite and corruption.

While not literally “levying war,” Boehner and his party come much closer to actually adhering to the enemies of the United States. But wait, does that mean Israel is an “enemy” of the United States? Good question. We hear over and over about the United States being a friend to Israel, but how is that friendship reciprocated? Enemies of the United States have again and again enticed the United States to embrace the tar baby of endless war in the Middle East, with decades of success to show for it. Israel now entices the U.S. again toward war with Iran. When Israel wants what our enemies want, what does that make Israel? Not much of a friend.

Let’s put it another way: what other head of state from anywhere in the world would be invited to come before Congress to promote intransigence and bellicosity, in direct opposition to the White House’s policy? Boehner may not be adhering to our enemies, but he’s certainly adhering to an extreme and dangerous foreign policy that many of our enemies would enjoy watching us suffer. 

Is Boehner “giving aid and comfort” to our enemies? 

Boehner-Netanyahu hardline policies may give pause to an Iranian government, but not in a way useful to the rest of the world. Boehner-Netanyahu policies are designed to kill negotiation, kill accommodation, and if need be kill peace. There is no greater good at the end of the Boehner-Netanyahu just-say-no road. What Boehner-Netanyahu-ism wants, at a minimum, is permanent, unremediated hostility punctuated by bursts of bloodshed.

Other nations who wish the United States no good can watch the “indispensible nation” dispense itself in further futility while they enjoy their schadenfreude from a safe, noncombatant distance. Watching the United States bleed in another misbegotten crusade will almost surely give our enemies, if not aid, then considerable comfort at least.

Boehner’s traitorous embrace of Netanyahu’s assault on American governance is a betrayal of trust, whether they realize it or not, against all Americans. Boehner has launched another Republican attack on a fundamental constitutional principle – but we can count on Democrats to be brightly up in arms about it, right? No, the silence is deafening, the defense of the Constitution nil.

Referring to Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress, the most that Rep. Nancy Pelosi had to say was: “I just don’t think it’s appropriate and helpful.” Others in her party are saying less or nothing.

Why is the U.S. Congress failing to defend a basic principle of the U.S. Constitution? The key, perhaps, lies in what Pelosi said in 2010, when she was still speaker of the House:

We in Congress stand by Israel, something we have a joint bipartisan commitment. No separation between us on this subject. In Congress we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel. Together we remain committed to advancing the peace process, preserving Israel’s security, responsible sanctions against Iran, working to finalize Iran sanctions bill right now.

So the Constitution is wrong about our bi-cameral system. We don’t have a Congress comprising the Senate and the House, we have some other country’s Knesset.

It’s not enough to suggest that the Boehner-Netanyahu challenge to U.S. sovereignty is inappropriate or unhelpful. Someone should be saying it’s provocative, outrageous, dishonest, and warmongering. Anyone?

William M. Boardman has over 40 years of experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.



+83 # babalu 2015-01-25 19:03
Thank you for your well reasoned article. The Republicans once again dip their toes in Unconstitutiona l, anti-American waters! They need to be called out on it every time - Israeli or no Israeli! McCain is another one - palling around with people in Libya and Syria and then pulling a shrub-like - I looked into their eyes and I believe them when they say they are for Democracy.
+24 # ritawalpoleague 2015-01-26 05:26
In reply to babalu, thank you too, and thanks also to Wm. M. Boardman for his "...well reasoned article."

In response to Boardman's last line request, yes, I do agree that it's "... provocative, ooutrageous, and warmongering." And, also, yet more karlroving dirty trickery.

It doesn't take a prophet to predict what Zionist Netanyahu is going to ploy we the dumbed down sheeple with: need for U.S. to continue giving billions each year (war machinery galore, to the joy of the MIC) to him and his 'let's destroy Gaza' country. And, glorify 'more war against terrorists' the greedy plus and need for power over all Netanyahu will.

McCain, a puppet for the 1%ers just as is Netanyahu, will love all the $$$$$ he gets, for what the endless warmongers so need - endless war for $$$ and oil, oil,

Bushwhacked, Kochsucked, and AIPAC'd we are. Damn.
-26 # tpmco 2015-01-26 05:37
Well, doesn't democracy produce wealth? Does history have to hit you over the head with a sledge hammer?

I do take issue, however, with this notion that somehow Mr. Boner has acted against the Constitution. I see it as opening a whole new avenue into dealing with these pricky foreign policy issues. I think you can chalk one up for Obama on this trap, when it's all said and done.

Sometimes, ya' just gotta love this guy.
+4 # reiverpacific 2015-01-26 11:21
Quoting tpmco:
Well, doesn't democracy produce wealth? Does history have to hit you over the head with a sledge hammer?

I do take issue, however, with this notion that somehow Mr. Boner has acted against the Constitution. I see it as opening a whole new avenue into dealing with these pricky foreign policy issues. I think you can chalk one up for Obama on this trap, when it's all said and done.

Sometimes, ya' just gotta love this guy.

So are you one of the millions of deluded somnambulists who have been conned into thinking that "Capitalism=Freedom=Democracy?
If so, the implications of "Boner's" gesture of typical reactionary TeaThuglican reckless hubris will completely evade you!
+59 # indian weaver 2015-01-25 20:47
If this weren't my country, I'd be laughing at this wild theater. As an American, I think this is the beginning of the most significant dialogue our government has had in awhile, because the 2 major players now really hate each other (even more, to put it nicely). And these 2 players are supposed to "run America the Country"? Yikes. Gulp. Give it time ... a long fuse on this one, many fuses. We're all going to get fat eating popcorn. The damage is done. "Le Denouement" - now playing. The Congressional Republicans vs. The Executive Branch? What happened to the Democrats? Aren't they involved at all? How weird.

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