getting rootsy with norman ‘astroturf’ solomon

Democrats need to stop throwing everything they can at Trump
Norman ‘Astroturf’ Solomon, The Hill, Jan 18 2017

Thirty-five Democrats in the House have sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to appoint an independent Special Counsel because Donald Trump “has repeatedly engaged in actions constituting unauthorized foreign policy in violation of the Logan Act.” Dating back to 1799, the law has resulted in a grand total of one indictment (during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency) and no conviction. But the Logan Act remains a convenient statute to brandish against disruptors of foreign policy orthodoxies. The Jan 12 letter, relying on an arcane and wobbly relic of a law, is an example of opportunism that isn’t even opportune. Worse, it’s an effort to spur Justice Dept action that would establish a dangerous precedent. The letter charges:

In several cases Mr Trump’s actions directly contravene and undermine official positions of Pindosi government.

But the complaint rings hollow. In our lifetimes, countless private citizens and quite a few Congress critturs have sought to contravene and undermine official Pindosi positions. Often that has been for the better. The Congress critturs who signed the letter should know that. Many are ostensibly aligned with the kind of dissent that has been and will be essential to pull this country away from disastrous wars overseas. More than half of the letter’s signers, 19 of the 35, are in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It should be obvious that the Logan Act is antithetical to free speech and other vital liberties. The law provides for up to three years in prison for any citizen of Pindostan who without authorization from the government, “directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government,” with intent to influence that government “in relation to disputes or controversies with Pindostan.” Steve Vladeck of the University of Texa, points out:

The First and Fifth Amendments do not look too kindly on either content-based restrictions on speech (which the Logan Act clearly is), or criminal laws that do not clearly articulate the line between lawful and unlawful conduct (which the Logan Act may well not do).

In recent decades, the specter of the Logan Act has been used to threaten Congress critturs who go off the reservation. In 1975, Sens George McGovern and John Sparkman faced accusations that they’d violated the Act by going to Havana and talking with Cuban boxtops. In 1984, Reagan said that Jesse Jackson’s efforts in Cuba and Nicaragua might have violated the Logan Act. Later in the 1980s, Reagan’s NSC considered invoking the Logan Act to stop House Speaker Jim Wright’s involvement in negotiations between the Sandinistas and the Contras in Nicaragua. In 2007, House speaker Nancy Pelosi faced accusations that she’d run afoul of the Logan Act by going to Damascus and negotiating with Assad. Now, it’s sad to see dozens of Democrats trying to throw the Logan Act at Trump when there are so many crucial matters to address: healthcare, civil rights, environmental protection, social programs, and much more. While a multitude of legitimate and profound issues are at hand, with an urgent need to concentrate on blocking the GOP’s legislative agenda, the letter clamoring for a Logan Act investigation of Trump is an instance of counterproductive partisan zeal run riot. The idea that a Pindo serf, whether Donald Trump, Jesse Jackson or anyone else, does not have a right to dialogue with foreign boxtops is pernicious and undemocratic. We should assert that right, no matter who is in the Oval Office. While some Congress critturs are indignant that Trump’s actions “directly contravene and undermine official positions of the United States government,” the history of Pindosi foreign policy warns against automatic deference to official Pindo positions. The serfs have often been wise when they sought to contravene and undermine their government’s positions. Today, entrenched forces in Faschingstein remain committed to foreign policies more in line with what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism” than the statecraft of real diplomacy. Citizens should push back against officials at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue who cite the Logan Act as an argument for conformity or use it as a tool for intimidation.

One Comment

  1. L
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    These Congressional dip shits are all silent as concerns Obama Administration Treason as asserted by the Stop Arming Terrorist Act of Tulsi Gabbard (DHI). Stopping arming terrorists implies that we are
    are arming terrorists. arming terrorists is treason. Rep. Barbara Lee signing this letter about Trump is co-sponsor to the Stop Arming Terrorist Act, that acknowledges that the U.S. is arming terrorists.
    Let us point out that identifying treason but doing nothing is Misprision of Treason!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s