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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Barr Versus Mueller

Model Post

For those of you with Twitter. Seth Abramson notes about the report:

“The already-infamous "Barr Letter" is a deeply dishonest and misleading document that richly deserves methodical public evisceration by committed journalists. So I hope you'll read on and retweet this "live" dismantling of the Trump-Russia probe's worst political hitjob.”

Note, since I published this in March 2019, we've gotten so much more information on just how misleading and dishonest Barr's Summary was.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Birth of Falange Fascism

Origins of Spanish Totalitarianism

The life of José Antonio Primo De Rivera teaches us that fascism doesn't appear out of a vacuum. Afterwards, usually will admit they ever were fascist, but during the buildup to Fascism, fascism grows out of little selfish decisions that involve using hate and fear to serve ambition. Spanish Fascism didn't start with José Antonio Primo De Rivera, it started with the dictatorship of his father. With the invasion of North Africa and with a gradual polarization between the left and the right. Primo de Rivera was later made into a hero. Why? Because he died at the outset of the Spanish Civil war and it was convenient to his fellow Fascists and their movement. He was no hero. Like all Fascist leaders, he was a ruthless, opportunist politician.

Miguel Primo De Rivera

In Hannah Arendt's "Origins of Totalitarianism" she profiles the relationship between European Fascism and its associated "eliminatist" rhetoric, and colonialism. José Antonio Primo De Rivera's father illustrates this role. Miguel Primo De Rivera was born to a wealthy family in Jerez, Spain, in 1870. Before he ever entered Spanish politics he served in the Spanish Colonial army and took part in the colonial wars in Morocco, Cuba and the Philippines, in the 1890s. After the First World War Miguel Primo de Rivera held several important military posts including the captain-generalship of Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona. On the death of his uncle in 1921 he became Marques de Estella.

What is Done to Others Abroad, Eventually is done at Home

One Inspiration for Fascism is in colonial warfare, which was far more brutal, especially to the people living in colonies, than what people experienced inside of Europe, that the habits of divide and rule, brutality, exploitation, and manipulation were developed and refined that contributed to the rise of chauvinistic nationalism at home.

Messy Democracy

Democracy is messy, and any corruption is usually out in the open where all can see. There is a tendency among authoritarian leaders to paint the problem with corrupt government as being with democratic forms. And Miguel De Rivera, used to authority and discipline reacted to efforts to establish Democratic forms in Spain with violence. He made friends with Prince Alfonso XIII.

Alfonso the XIII – Proto-Fascist

Alfonso the XIII was an autocratic ruler opposed to democratic forms in the nation. He had assumed bout in 1902, and by 1906 was the target of an assassination attempt on his wedding day. Spain was becoming unstable. Spanish wars in North Africa were unpopular at home. Abandonistas wanted to pull out of Morocco. Africanistas wanted to expand the Spanish Empire.

Launching a Coup, Monarch as Dictator

The imperialist "Africanistas" were a minority, but the King backed them.

“Blamed for the Spanish defeat in the Moroccan War (1921) Alfonso XIII was in constant conflict with Spanish politicians. His anti-democratic views encouraged Miguel Primo de Rivera to lead a military coup in 1923. Alfonso gave his support to Rivera's military dictatorship” [Spartacus]

Dictator from 1923-1930

From 1923-1930 Miguel De Rivera ruled Spain as a Dictator. Miguel

“promised to eliminate corruption and to regenerate Spain. In order to do this he suspended the constitution, established martial law and imposed a strict system of censorship.” [Spartacus-Rivera]

Of course he didn't eliminate corruption, or stay in office only for 90 days. Authoritarian rulers rarely do. He created the Unión Patriótica Española, and tried to outlaw other parties.

Colonialism and Fascism

He did ally with the French to prosecute the Rif War. Spain had proven too weak to take the Rif (northern part of Modern Morocco) by themselves. They needed an alliance with the French, but by 1925, with the use of chemical weapons (mustard gas) they'd subdued the Rifians enough to force their leader to surrender. It was General Dámaso Berenguer who used that Mustard Gas in the Rif. Berenguer was subsequently court marshaled for plotting an uprising before Miguel's coup. Miguel pardoned him. The warfare continued til 1927.

Fascists Fail

Miguel tried to raise taxes on the rich to pay for his wars, which alienated his base. When that didn't work he borrowed money. By 1930 the combination of ill health and increasing opposition forced him to resign. By March he died of diabetes. His Son would take up his mantle and continue his legacy.

Trying to Save a Flailing Monarchy

When Miguel died, King Alfonzo XIII first appointed General Dámaso Berenguer. When that failed he gave the government to Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar. Both attempts to save the crown failed, and King Alfonso had to go into exile, in April 1931. The Second Spanish Republic was born in April 1931.

Defending his Father

José Antonio Primo De Rivera would pick up where his father left off. His bios say he got into politics defending his father's ideas. Meanwhile he studied Fascism. He would fall in love with Mussolini and Hitler's ideas. But those ideas were already incipient in Spanish Culture Some tracing back to pre-Columbian times.

This narrative picks up in the post:

The Death of José Primo De Rivera
Related Posts:
Garcia Lorca
Falangist Terror versus Garcia Lorca
Garcia Lorca and Charlie Chaplin
The Death of Garcia Lorca
The Spanish Phalanx and Latin America
Garcia Lorca, A Life, by Ian Gibson:

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sally Ann Holte -- Mom

My Mom, Sally Ann Holte, 82, of Ranson, W. Va, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. We all knew she was a short timer, but that could have meant months or years to go. She seemed to be doing well and feeling rather healthy up til she passed in her sleep at my Sister's house.

Mom was born in Coronado, Calif. on November 12, 1936 to Truman E. and Marguerite Hyde Carpenter. She was the second child of her and my Grandfather Truman E. Carpenter who was then flying Patrol Bomber Aircraft off of San Diego. Around the beginning of January 1939 his plane vanished while it was on a routine patrol West of the Catalina Islands. My Mom was all of 2 years old, but it affected her whole life.

With Grandpa gone the family moved “home” to Annapolis, Md. Sally. Mom initially lived in the house that her Dad had bought, but the great depression was still on and then World War II started, so they grew up in WWII Annapolis. She graduated from Annapolis High School in 1954 and then attended Towson State Teachers College, briefly. She was already dating Dad. She also was:

“a talented singer with the school chorus performing both duets with her sister and as a soloist.”

She once sang Amazing Grace on the radio in Annapolis area. I do remember she had a lovely singing voice. Dad could sing well also. He didn't sing much.

She married Hartley O. Holte, Dad, on June 3, 1955 and they spent the next 60 years together. They raised 5 Kids. The first one being me. Then Kathy, a year later, then Susan Shortly after. Carl not much later. And 5 years after everyone else, Andy. All but Andy were born in California. Kathy remembers the Avocado Tree. I remember the Avocados. I also remember switches.

Wander Lust and Home

Dad left the Navy, but the wander-lust never left him. Their travels and career took them to live in California, New Mexico, New Jersey, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, with “hometown” always being Maryland, more for mom than Dad. We were bi-coastal when we were little. But our family was centered on Annapolis. Most of my second cousins and relatives lived there. My First Cousin and my Aunt Patty were, like us, associated with the Service. Uncle Jim was in the Air Force, but had attended the Naval Academy and met my Aunt at around the same time Mom met my Dad. A lot of our travels included stops visiting our Grandparents in Seattle, my Cousin and Aunt Patty where-ever he was stationed. Or simply going to homes near where Dad Was stationed. Once he was out of the service our travels continued to Seattle and where my Cousin Lived.

Dad and the Navy

While my Dad in the Navy he was, basically, a Nuclear Engineer. His first ocean voyage was aboard the SS Navrasota, an oiler. But his second voyage was aboard the SS. Mansfield (DD 728) where the excitement was. His first voyage took him to the conflicts at Quemoy and Matsu. His second voyage took him to the Bikini Islands. It was the late 50s and the USA was testing the big Hydrogen bombs. He was heavily involved in the operation Hardtack at Eniwetok/ Bikini, and the Chinese conflict at Quemoy and Matsu Islands. During that time mom lived in a house they'd bought near the beach in Long Beach where Dad had acquired a house and some Apartment buildings. She had me, then Kathy, then Susan. Kathy remembers the house in long beach better than I do. We were walking distance from the beach. Mom managed the apartments and then when Dad was done with his sea adventures, gave birth while he was taking us to New Mexico.

New Mexico

My first clear memories of him are him trying to feed Kathy, me and a sick baby Sue, tamales out of a can. Mom flew to New Mexico with a new baby soon after she gave birth to Carl.

We lived in New Mexico 2 years, where we all took frequent trips into the deserts and mountains. We also shared both kinds of Measles, Mumps, Chicken Pox and other childhood diseases.


In 1962 we moved to "Winchester" a small housing development right off of Route 50 and just across the (then new) Severn River Bridge, from Annapolis. Annapolis was home. Mom's Mom and Dad, my Great Grandfather and Mother, had a home there on West Street. He was a retired plumber by then. They had helped raise mom, due to the fact my Grandmother was a widow, worked full time, and had been unable to handle raising two children alone. Kathy and I both remember (she more clearly than me as usual) the Tool shed where he kept his plumbing supplies and me finding a way in. So moving to Annapolis was like a default and a refuge. Mom loved Annapolis. She thrived on her family connections during that time. She worked for Nationwide Insurance.

We were in Winchester, just across the Severn River from Annapolis for 4 years, then moved to Podickory point. Dad was working for Westinghouse and thought that the move to Podickory point would put him closer to his work. Podickory point had a swimming pool and yacht club as well as lots we built our house on. As soon as we moved there, Dad changed jobs to Vitro incorporated. He would be with Vitro for years, and Vitro made him move around almost as much as if he'd stayed in the Navy. We were in Podickory point for 4 years.

New Jersey

Then my Dad got a contract in New Jersey so we moved to Monmouth County New Jersey and a little house near new Shrewsbury. By that time Kathy and me were both Teenagers. We were only in Monmouth County for 2 years. Dad's contract got cancelled. We wound up staying with my Grandma in Annapolis while we looked for a house. I got to go to Annapolis High School for a whole 6 weeks. Mom got to deal with 5 kids and my sometimes hard to deal with Grandma.

Savage Maryland

We found a house in Savage Maryland. It was a giant house. It had been the mansion that the Factory Manager lived in, in Savage and so there was enough room for all 5 of us, Tara the Dog, Cats, Samantha, and various people my parents took in and acted as parents to. Patty and Michelle were like sisters to us. Mom became known as Me-Maw to a number of people. She was a wise counsel and cared about people. While in Savage mom worked for Schwartz Brothers Music. I never took advantage of her work at Schwartz brothers, but my sister has quite a collection of records, some of which come from that connection!

Facing the Challenges of Life

Mom had other challenges too. Besides dealing with my father, who could be a handful. She dealt with us kids. Each of whom represented unique parenting challenges. She took on those challenges with courage and rectitude. But she did develop a drinking problem for a while, which she handled by joining her Sister Patty Winters in AA. AA would be an influence on all of us. I never formally did Alanon, but its principles and mom's guidance helped me stay away from the kind of deeper trouble I might have gotten into otherwise. Dad had issues too. He had no idea how to deal with a big family, with not being the catered to center of attention, and his temper tended to have a slow burn and an anti-sociable turn to it. Mom was the kind who confronts people. They had many emotional "disussions" as they worked out their relationship. They loved each other intensely and sometimes that could be frightening to everyone.

Cobb Island

After a long time in Savage, while Dad worked near Kensington. Dad got a contract at Dahlgren. So the family moved to Cobb Island Maryland. They never were good at selling houses, but boy were they able to get deals when buying houses. The house at Cobb Island was another gigantic place. They were there a long time too. I was off on my own so I didn't get to visit that often but my brothers and sisters can tell some stories about there. Mom was able to visit with her sister and friends and they were there for a while.


At length Dad was dreaming of retirement. So his last Contract was in Indiana. He wound up living in two houses while in Indiana. The second one had a small stable and really cool geography. Dad was soon able to retire, but mom needed to qualify for Social Security so she worked for the Monroe County courthouse in Bloomington, Ind. where she performed audits and updated the financial records for the state of Indiana.


Under other circumstances she'd have made a Great CPA, teacher, manager, carpenter or plumber. But to us she was Mom.

Mom was able to fix almost anything and was quite comfortable with a toolbox. she was good with sewing and quilting. We all loved swimming, the love of which she passed to her children. We learned to swim in a variety of places. While traveling across the country and staying in Motels. While living in places that had swimming pools and other places that had hotels. And sometimes by getting to the beach. We all loved the beach. She loved Annapolis and this country. She and my Grandma were all connected to the Naval Academy. Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman" had nothing on my Dad and my Mom, or my Granddad and my Grandma. Grandma had boyfriends who were admirals. My Mom and Dad were connected to their class of 55 right up to the end of their lives. My Dad spent his retirement gathering stories and visiting classmates. Our extended family included people we'd met along the way, people my mom had fostered, as well as classmates and relatives.


We who still survive include her two daughters, Katherine A. Spitznogle of Ranson, W. Va. and Susan M. Holte of Stafford; myself and my brother Carl T. Holte of Sprague, Conn. Mom has ten grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren and their families. She was preceded in death by her husband, Hartley and her son, Andrew E. Holte of Bloomington, Ind.

A funeral service wase held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 16 at Covenant Funeral Service, Stafford. Inurnment will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3 at the United States Naval Academy Columbarium.

Poems and other stuff to follow.

One of Mom's Favorite Songs:
The Last Farewell ~ Roger Whittaker
Like an Aging Wine

Wrote this in 2017:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Rainbow Bridge

Across the rainbow bridge,
Where the limitations
Of the Saha World
Need not apply.

Across the rainbow bridge,
Where my fancies fly
Propelled by imagination
To that deathless place
Where it is always
Spring or fall....

in that breathless space,
Where only all that matters
is matter.
Free of fear
And the mindlessness
Of the human race
Racing like rats
Trapped in a maze.
Is a place
Where our souls are free,
To experience love,
& play,
& whimsy.
Cross the rainbow bridge with me.
Be free

All that we love
Never grows old
Never is cowardly
Always just enough bold.

Across the rainbow bridge
You'll see
Imagination bloom in gardens.

This saha world is our saga.
We tell tales
That weave our worlds.
Crones warp & weft
cut and trim.
But imagination
Is beyond them.

Dogs and children
Forever play
At the rainbow bridge
At the end of the day.

This Saha world
Seems to endure.
It is an ugly place
Corrupt & impure.

But the rainbow bridge remains.
It can cross impossible rivers
& unite the sundered and sad
Into new creations
Wonderful and glad.

It is time to awake
No chains
Can chain imagination.
The same stones
They intend for walls.
Can build the rainbow bridge.

Grimm citadels
Become cathedrals
Warships, Ocean liners
Streams home for happy fish.

The world is how we build it.
So let's build it better a
rainbow bridge

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Oversight of Judges

The House Judiciary Committee needs to look at Federal Judges, as part of their oversight, starting with Justice Ellis, especially with the Senate confirming so many poorly vetted & horrible people to the bench.

There is just too much evidence of wrongdoing to ignore:
Justice Thomas and his political activities off the bench,
... these need to be looked at.
Justice Kavanaugh and the information left out of his confirmation hearings.
The entire current rapid fire & corrupt confirmation process.
Please look at these subjects and call witnesses to testify:
It may be too early to impeach, but it is never too early to do oversight!

During Good Behavior

The Constitution States:

“Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior”

Gold Standard “During Good Behavior”

Hamilton put faith in this standard:

“The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.” [Fed78]

Madison Agreed. In Federalist 38 he writes:

“according to the most respectable and received opinions on the subject, the members of the judiciary department are to retain their offices by the firm tenure of good behavior.” [Fed38]

Federalist 38 and 65 Defining “During Good Behavior”

Unquestioningly the Founders intended Judges to be “regulated”, implying overseen, by the legislature. Congressional oversight of the Judiciary is for the purpose of defining & enforcing "good behavior." Which means that judges aren't to be impeached for their personal opinions or private views, but for bad behavior that leads to abuse of power, law or constitution or would make them susceptible to graft, extortion or destroy their credibility.

Madison says:

“The President of the United States is impeachable at any time during his continuance in office. The tenure by which the judges are to hold their places, is, as it unquestionably ought to be, that of good behavior. The tenure of the ministerial offices generally, will be a subject of legal regulation, conformably to the reason of the case and the example of the State constitutions.” [Fed38]

Should not be an arbitrary process

Congress has a duty to look at the behavior of judges, and to remove them from office on evidence of bad behavior, through the impeachment process. Unfortunately, historically the process for doing this has tended to be arbitrary.

“Impeachment proceedings have been brought against 12 Federal officials; only four have been convicted. Only one of the 12 was a Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase, who was acquitted by the Senate in 1805 after the House had impeached him for partisan, harsh and unfair conduct during trials.” [cqpress]

Violating the code of judicial conduct ought to be impeachable. But too many impeachment cases have been political.

John Pickering

In 1804 John Pickering was impeached on charges of “unlawful rulings” and drunkenness. The case was controversial as the Federalists claimed that the charges were political. But in the end, when it reached the Senate, the Senate ruled on the articles and convicted him.

Samuel Chase

A supreme court justice was among the first officers removed by the Early Government. Samuel Chase was impeached by Congress in 1804, by the House and acquitted by the Senate.

Arbitrary Impeachment: O'Douglas

The far right in this country was constantly trying to impeach "liberal" judges such as William O'Douglas. They also tried to blackmail or force resignations. In 1970 they succeeded in driving Abe Fortas off the bench for admittedly accepting a:

“retainer from the family foundation of Wall Street financier Louis Wolfson, a friend and former client, in January 1966.[28] Fortas had signed a contract with Wolfson's foundation. In return for unspecified advice, it was to pay Fortas $20,000 a year for the rest of Fortas's life”

This clearly violated any sane rules of ethical conduct. If he'd tried to remain on the bench he'd have been impeached in a bi-partisan fashion. Encouraged by this they want after William O'Douglas:

In 1953 the House tried to impeach O'Douglas “after he had granted a stay of execution to convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.”

In 1970 they tried again with a list of charges including:

That in 1966, Douglas dissented in a 5 to 4 decision that upheld the obscenity conviction of Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of Eros.
They alleged that O'Douglas should have recused from the case due to his relationship with Ginsburg, including publishing books and articles in his publications.
They also alleged he'd engaged in legal work for the Albert Parvin Foundation and been paid for it. The RW in congress alleged that that foundation was a left wing organization as was the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Gerald Ford tried to bypass the Judiciary Committee and do an exclusively Republican impeachment. In the end they found that he hadn't violated the law or Judicial ethics codes. It was pretty clear to all, but rw, observers that the O'Douglas impeachment had been partisan. This did Democrats no favor since everything they accused O'Douglas of doing has become a ceiling on even worse bad behavior by RW justices since then, such as Thomas, Scalia and Brown. They could point to O'Douglas and say "If he can take a 300$ payment then I'm entitled to my 60,000$ emolument from book sales (Scalia).

Defining Good Behavior

In order for Congress to do their oversight duties they must first clearly define what good behavior is and ensure that guidelines for what that behavior are established and that those guidelines apply to both the Supreme Court and its lesser courts. Currently the Supreme Court seems to think they are immune from the Code of Conduct for the Judiciary. This needs to change.

It is Congresses job to disabuse them of that conceit. "Good Behavior" standards apply to everyone. It is up to congress to codify and enforce that code.

Canon 1: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
Canon 2: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities
Canon 3: A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently
Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities That are Consistent With the Obligations of Judicial Office
Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain From Political Activity
Compliance with the Code of Conduct
Applicable Date of Compliance

And judges who engage in sexual harassment or violate that code should be impeached.

Sources and Related Posts

When Followers are the problem!

Attributes of a Dictator's Fans

The fact is that, what makes authoritarian dictatorships so maddening and difficult to handle is not the dictator. It is the people who follow him, hold him up and enable his misdeeds who drive the awfulness of authoritarian regimes. I've written on Altemeyer's book on Authoritarianism;

Authoritarian Followers
& And EMAD Dominators

But this book formulates a simplified version of how Authoritarian Followers work. Trumptater's followers perception of his 4 attributes written down and sourced. They tend to:

  1. See their leader as superhuman.
  2. Blindly believe him.
  3. Unconditionally comply with his directives.
  4. Give him unconditional support.

Author is Dr. Bandy X. Lee. Book is called

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health…

Lawrence O'Donnell and his late night News/Commentary Show on MS-NBC introduced this subject as part of a longer talk about Trump and Trumpism. We are in trouble. But it's not mortal yet. Headed there.

Of course Authoritarian systems actually have a hierarchy of leaders. The ones at the top are seen as infallible by the rank and file, they are treated as infallible by each other. But much of that middle tier's devotion is dishonest. They know the truth, it is just expedient to go along to get along.

Related Posts

Understanding Social Dominance Theory
Authoritarians and Totalitarians Reviewing Altemeyer's book
Fighting Authoritarianism
Authoritarian Versus Totalitarian
Note: I initially spelled Bandy Lee as Brandy Lee, sorry.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why the House Must invoke it's impeachment Powers

Impeachment is for stopping misuse of power

Impeachment as a tool of Oversight

There is a lot of talk of impeachment among those of us in the rank and file of our country. Much of it is emotional, hasty or based on exaggerated expectations of the powers of the House of Representatives. The impeachment power is assigned to the House. However, Trying impeachments is assigned to the Senate. Impeachment isn't solely to punish petty criminality. It is meant to punish "high crimes and misdemeanors." Early uses of the impeachment power included impeaching a Federal Sea Captain for wrecking his ship. Impeachment was:

“designed as a method of NATIONAL INQUEST into the conduct of public men? If this be the design of it, who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?”[Fed 65]

A Well Constituted Impeachment

It wasn't intended to be solely a last resort, nor a tool for disrupting the judiciary or executive, but a tool for oversight and regulation for use when dealing with naughty, corrupt, treasonous, or reckless officers – who abuse their power. Hamilton insisted that a well constituted impeachment involve the maximum number of jurors to minimize its use for trivial or purely partisan purposes. It was designed as difficult to do as it was intended to be a remedy against tyrants:

“The necessity of a numerous court for the trial of impeachments, is equally dictated by the nature of the proceeding. This can never be tied down by such strict rules, either in the delineation of the offense by the prosecutors, or in the construction of it by the judges, as in common cases serve to limit the discretion of courts in favor of personal security. There will be no jury to stand between the judges who are to pronounce the sentence of the law, and the party who is to receive or suffer it. The awful discretion which a court of impeachments must necessarily have, to doom to honor or to infamy the most confidential and the most distinguished characters of the community, forbids the commitment of the trust to a small number of persons.”[Fed 65]

Impeachment is about Fitness for Office and tyranny

Impeachment was limited, because impeachment is about the officers of the United States and their fitness for office and limited to:

“removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States:” [COTUS Article 1, Section 3, last par]

The Judiciary has a duty to indict and bring to trial

Impeachment doesn't preclude an obligation of justice to bring lawbreakers to justice, no matter how high their office. Article 1, Sec 3 last paragraph makes it clear that no one should be above the law or the "ordinary courts." Impeachment is also not a substitute for the courts except in producing evidence.

“but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.” [COTUS Article 1, Section 3, last par]

Impeachment is DESIGNED to limit the Pardon Power

The founders envisioned the impeachment power to limit the pardon power. Both impeachment and trial for crimes were explicitly envisioned to apply to the President, absurd guidelines to the contrary or not. Federalist 69 emphasized that the Pardon power applied:


A Check on the Executive

The Constitution gives the grounds of:

“treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

A quick look at the history of impeachment is that:

“The one common denominator in all these accusations was that the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.” [crf]

Malfeasance, Recklessness and Incompetence

Misdemeanors was intended to cover things like malfeasance in office, gross recklessness or incompetence as well as abuse of power.

The President Cannot Shelter Offenders!

The author, Alexander Hamilton, elaborated that the law was designed to limit the President's ability to “shelter” offenders!

“A President of the Union, on the other hand, though he may even pardon treason, when prosecuted in the ordinary course of law, could shelter no offender, in any degree, from the effects of impeachment and conviction.”[fed69]

Dangling Impeachment Should be Impossible

It is as if the founders anticipated what Trump would try to do by dangling impeachments. Hamilton, was even referring to the chance that a President might seek to use force of arms, and that people would be hesitant to back him on the fear that such a revolt might miscarry:

“Would not the prospect of a total indemnity for all the preliminary steps be a greater temptation to undertake and persevere in an enterprise against the public liberty, than the mere prospect of an exemption from death and confiscation, if the final execution of the design, upon an actual appeal to arms, should miscarry? Would this last expectation have any influence at all, when the probability was computed, that the person who was to afford that exemption might himself be involved in the consequences of the measure, and might be incapacitated by his agency in it from affording the desired impunity?”[fed69]

Presumption of a Limited Government

Of course Federalist 69 also presumed a Country where only a small portion of the militia was in the President's hands and that we had no standing army. So our situation now is much worse than it was in the time of George Washington. Still the power to impeach the President and his offices was intended as a check on the usurpation of Article 1 and 3 powers by a venal and corrupt President. And that is born out by even a cursory reading of Federalist 69.

Use it or lose it

Of course the other two checks on the President; a limited standing army and the fact that the legislature has to declare war are no longer enforced either. The British Monarch:

“possesse[d] that of DECLARING war, and of RAISING and REGULATING fleets and armies by his own authority.”[fed69]

Now Congress has ceded the rights to wage war, given the President powerful military and police powers. Impeachment is all the people have left. We need to use it or lose it.

Related Posts:

Congress Must Impeach
Giving the President Immunity from Prosecution is unconstitutional
Iran Contra and Bill Barr's Pardons
The Southern Empire Strikes Back


Federalist 65
Federalist 69: