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Dave and Anke
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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Obstruction of Congress and the End of the Republic

Stand beside her
and guide her
Through the night
with the light
from above

The prosecution of them [impeachments][...] will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or the other.; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

-- From the Federalist No. 65 The Powers of the Senate Continued... this passage by Alexander Hamilton

Obstruction of Congress and the End of the Republic

I am writing, here, as a Citizen. A member of We the People of the United States of America. I stand in defense of our Constitution and the Rule of Law.

While I realize this has little to do with sailing barge / scows, it has everything to do with our home waters.

President Donald J. Trump has been impeached in two Articles by the House of Representatives, who as I write, is being 'tried' in the Senate.

The case for Article I: Abuse of Power should, I believe be properly tried in the adversarial, partisan Senate and full, impartial Justice be done to the best of Senators' abilities. Yes, it's messy and passionate and blood runs high. That is the nature of politics, which the Framers understood and attempted to encompass in a just and practical system.

Our own friends are divided on the issues. What is accepted as fact differs widely, even among those who agree in the main.

But our Republic can survive abuses of power as we have since its founding.

To me, the crucial issue is Article II: Obstruction of Congress.

The facts of Obstruction of Congress are public and explicit. No procedural argument can be raised against the sole power of Impeachment reserved to the US House of Representatives by the Constitution.

Here's the problem; the integrity of our system of Government laid out in the Constitution relies on checks and balances between three, co-equal branches - the Executive, Congressional and Legislative. Each are granted power to check the other two. It is this opposition - antagonistic at times - which establishes the balance which has endured two hundred years and counting.

Subpoenas are the teeth of Impeachment inquiry and trial. These are essential to the check exerted by Congress over the Executive branch. Non-compliance with House or Senate subpoenas pulls those teeth. Without them, balance is lost.

It's like the game of Paper, Scissors, Stone. As any child can tell us, if Paper cannot cover, there is no Game.

To permit non-compliance for whatever reason by the Executive of any Congressional Subpoena - whether issued by House or Senate - is to create an unchecked Executive and initiate a Constitutional Crisis.

Paper cannot cover. Stone smashes scissors. And the Game ends for good.

Rome had such a moment. The Roman Republic ended under the popular Julius Caesar,  who soon became Dictator Perpetuo. It never recovered.

Speaking as a Citizen, the Executive cannot properly refuse to comply with Congressional inquiry and judgement. To allow it, even once, is to abandon the Constitutional system of checks and balances. To abandon the Constitution itself.

Without the power of Congress to force compliance on the Executive, that power is thereafter unchecked.

Whether under this President or some other, we would set ourselves on the road to Dictator Perpetuo, that Tyrant whom the Framers so feared.

The Republic will have fallen.

Now is the time for all good Senators to come to the aid of their country.

I urge a wide margin of tolerance for petty differences and trivial irregularities.
I urge a full and impartial trial (e.g., subpoena relevant witnesses and documents).
I urge that non-compliance with Congressional subpoenas not be allowed to stand.


Since writing this, a similar conclusion is argued in this Atlantic article by Maya Wiley.


  1. Posted on behalf of JOHN:

    Hello Dave,

    I appreciate your insightful post and thoughtful analysis. I am doubtful that either charge will stick, and I sure hope you're wrong that the lack of a successful prosecution will result in the downfall of the Republic.

    With held breath and crossed fingers,

    1. Hi John,

      I agree about conviction on either charge.

      There were contemporaries of J Caesar who recognized the 'crossing of the Rubicon' as a pivotal moment. I'm not enough of an historian to get any sense of how many felt that their Republic would only be saved by immediate, resolute and successful resistance to that violation of fundamental Roman law.

      There were many abuses of power in the fall of the Roman Republic. IMHO, it ended when one citizen was allowed to put himself above the law.

      So it goes.

      Dave Z

  2. Above the law and above the citizenry.... defines large scale politics in general. I can see the concern as it eventually filters down to alaskan waters. I wonder if, on a larger scale, we are headed to a eventual dissolution of the current "Law of the Sea". If the USA empire is indeed on the ropes economically who will set the tone out on the high seas? With satellite and drone tech burgeoning what is the future of small boat voyaging? This worries this particular anti-statist anarchist sailor. Sad to say the overwhelming % of sleepwalking amurikans are gonna get the roman dictator they deserve. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. The good news? "When in danger, or in doubt, hoist the sails, and bugger off out" (T. Jones). Attack drones be damned. Lots of quiet anchorages globally.

    1. Hi Roberto,

      Y'know, I don't fully agree that that's large scale politics in general.

      Yes, there are agendas and abuses shot through the system, but the system was set up to oppose and resist runaway abuse.

      Still, the system has eroded, and we're at a point, I believe, where it's at or near its moment of truth.

      As far as freedom of the seas goes, I don't believe that the entire global industrial economy - and with it its ability to project power - can much outlast political integrity.

      We live in interesting times!

      Dave Z

    2. Uplifting opinion, Captain Dave. I hope you are right. Nice to see a defanging of the globalists. And free, unfettered sailing of the high seas for future generations.

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  4. If I didn't believe that the evidence clearly showed the American Experiment was long dead, I'd care more.

    Its final death throes happened about 18 years ago, and it was a long and painful death, starting about 3 years after World War Phase Two.