Reindeer Games

Reindeer Games by James Howard Kunstler

The WashPo staffers had barely finished toasting “merry impeachmas” — and then quickly deleting the incriminating tweet + photo that signaled their self-owned chagrin — when the implications of the day’s solemn work started sifting through those quarters of the alt-news media where the chronically self-owned don’t dare to go, or even look: Nancy Pelosi and her too-clever-by-half Lawfare grunts had engineered a Hanging Chad Impeachment.

Apparently, Mrs. Pelosi wants to play Hide the Salami with the impeachment bill. She invoked some slippery procedure to stash it where the sun don’t shine in the hope that the senate won’t be able to follow through with its duty to try the very charges set out in the bill. How’s that gonna go over when the details are actually sorted out?

So far, there are just opinions a’plenty. One was offered by Noah Feldman of Harvard, the very fellow who testified last week fervidly in favor of impeachment before Mr. Nadler’s Judiciary Committee. He wrote, in a Bloomberg op-ed, that the action would signify that the president had not, in fact, been impeached, that it would only be so if the bill were conveyed to the senate. The issue of conveyance looms large in the present kerfuffle.

The constitution says nothing about such conveyance, whether by errand boy, postcard, mounted messenger, dog-sled, palanquin, trumpet blast, Morse code, pneumatic tube, hog-call, smoke signal, telephone, FedEx, DM, skywriting, or a girl popping out of a cake with an envelope. It just states that it’s the sole power of the house to draft the charges and the sole power of the senate to conduct a trial of the charges. Of course, the charges have been published in the Congressional Record, which one might think is sufficient “conveyance” of the house’s action and intent — though other voices claim not even that is required for the senate to act.

The matter of conveyance derives strictly from precedent, tradition, and rules accrued over the centuries in legislative practice. But these, of course, are not stipulated in the supreme law of the land, the founding document. Since the house made up its own rather unsportsmanlike rules for assembling the charges, first in Adam Schiff’s Intel Committee and then in Mr. Nadler’s HJC — deviously disadvantaging the defense with star chamber subterfuges — the senate can follow its own rules, too, including the option to dismiss the bill summarily as devoid of merit. After all, “abuse of power” has no criminal specificity, high or low, and “obstruction of the house” refers fallaciously to the president’s right to seek relief from the supreme court in a procedural disagreement with another branch of government.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.