October 2, 2009

Join the Senate and Don't See the World

Hatched by Dafydd

From the very day (June 28th, 2009) that José Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales was impeached and removed from office by the Honduran supreme court and arrested by the military -- the organization tasked with removing presidents under the Honduran constitution -- the Barack H. Obama administration cast their lot with the so-called "Bolivarist." Zelaya was impeached, arrested for treason, and exiled to Costa Rica.

Like many who claim the appellation "Bolivarist," Zelaya is actually a Chavezista. Far from being a liberator from foreign domination, like Simón Bolívar, Zelaya is a pure fascist, just like his old pal (and Obama's), Oogo Chavez. (Chavez gave Obama a copy of his own book as a present; I wonder if the One is still poring over it, highlighting relevant passages and adding triple exclamation points?)

The Obamatons, aided and abetted by the congressional Democrats, insist that Zelaya was removed by a coup d'état, which is a military takeover of the civilian government; as such, they have cut off all sorts of financial aid and have leaned heavily on de-facto President Roberto Micheletti to resign and somehow reinstate the would-be dictator-for-life Zelaya. This would allow Z-Mel to continue his quest to become the Oogo of Honduras, regardless of any crybaby objections by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Honduras government.

(Micheletti is a civilian and happens to be of the same political party of Zelaya himself. Some coup! Perhaps the Honduran "coup-mongers" need to reread Edward Luttwak's operations manual on the subject.)

But this is all prologue for a different point. Anybody who travels to Honduras and honestly investigates the current situation will see that there is no military dictatorship, hence no "coup d'état." Honduras has an elected civilian government, a functioning supreme court, and it's headed for presidential elections next month. One would think that before our own Congress acts to overturn this putative "coup," they would at least send a few people there to check things out.

One would be wrong. I don't know of any congressional delegation that has journeyed to that nation to check on the claims made by Obama or his Number Two, Hillary Clinton. But of course, if a senator is unwilling even to read a bill prior to voting for it, it's ridiculous to expect him actually to look at on-site evidence before making up his mind about events in a foreign country.

But in fact, a very good senator, Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), wants to do just that: fly down to Honduras with three Republican representatives -- Doug Lamborn (CO, 100%), Peter Roskam (IL, 96%), and Aaron Schock (IL, not yet rated) -- on a fact-finding tour.

DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which has oversight over President Obama's foreign policy... including, of course, the president's attempt to withhold funding to Honduras -- in the hope, one can only presume, that Honduras will use its military to overturn its entire civilian government. (Say, isn't that just what the One accused Honduras of doing in the first place?) Since the committee might be voting on the issue, it makes some prima facie sense for members of that committee to take a look-see for themselves.

But the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee is none other than our ancient enemy, Sen. JFK (D-MA, 95%); Kerry is angry at DeMint for holding up confirmation hearings on a couple of Obamic appointees; DeMint wants an impartial investigation of the Honduras brouhaha before he'll cooperate on confirmation hearings -- a time-honored position most recently employed by, let's see if I can recall, by the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate during the Bush administration. I seem to recall quite a lot of blocked appointments; evidently, it's not such an outre maneuver, as far as Democrats should be concerned.

But it seems to have infuriated Sen. Kerry, for he canceled all funding of DeMint's trip and even ordered our armed forces not to fly DeMint to Honduras:

A simmering feud over U.S. policy toward Latin America burst into the open Thursday when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) tried to prevent a fact-finding trip to Honduras by a Republican senator who is blocking two important diplomatic appointments....

As head of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry can withhold committee funds for travel and deny permission for the use of military aircraft. But he had never before used that power to block another senator's travel, his aides said.

Kerry makes no bones that he's abusing his authority in order to extort DeMint into lifting his hold:

"These bullying tactics by the Obama administration and Senator Kerry must stop, and we must be allowed to get to the truth in Honduras," DeMint said in a statement. His spokesman, Wesley Denton, called Kerry's action "unprecedented."

Kerry fired back in a news release: "Senator DeMint's statement wins an A for 'audacity.' Thanks to his intransigence, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can't even hold hearings on our policy in Central and South America."

The statement, issued by Kerry's spokesman, Frederick Jones, added that when DeMint allows a vote on the appointment of the two diplomats, "the Committee will approve his travel to Honduras."

Kerry did not explain how blocking two executive appointments would prevent his committee from "hold[ing] hearings on our policy in Central and South America." It would seem the senior senator from Massachusetts could hold hearings anytime he chose.

Perhaps what JFK really means is that DeMint's refusal to rubber-stamp the Obamacle's oracular decree (that the legal impeachment of a president is the same thing as a coup d'état) threatens to force the committee actually to examine the issue, when all they really want to do is applaud the president and MoveOn.

This is turning into a huge and unexpectedly rancorous argument:

The administration, along with all other governments in the hemisphere, branded the action a "coup." It also cut off millions of dollars in aid and suspended the U.S. visas of Honduran officials....

DeMint and a handful of other conservative Republicans have said Zelaya's removal was legal because he had violated a constitutional ban by trying to extend his presidential term. They have protested that the Obama administration is supporting a politician with close ties to Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez.

By "a handful of other conservative Republicans," the Post means to include, without note, a certain fellow named Miguel Estrada. Estrada was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court -- his appointment was blocked by Democrats, who didn't want a conservative Hispanic on that court, whence he might rise to become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court; thus he never got an up-or-down vote -- say, there seems to be a lot of that going around!

Prior to his nomination, Miguel Estrada was an Assistant to the Solicitor General during the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is also a Honduran immigrant, born in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

He published an excellent legal analysis of Zelaya's removal in the Los Angeles Times, of all places; we covered it, of course; see "The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor," linked below. (The "traveling traitor" in question is Zelaya, not Estrada.) Estrada concluded:

As noted, Article 239 states clearly that one who behaves as Zelaya did in attempting to change presidential succession ceases immediately to be president. If there were any doubt on that score, the Congress removed it by convening immediately after Zelaya's arrest, condemning his illegal conduct and overwhelmingly voting (122 to 6) to remove him from office. The Congress is led by Zelaya's own Liberal Party (although it is true that Zelaya and his party have grown apart as he has moved left). Because Zelaya's vice president had earlier quit to run in the November elections, the next person in the line of succession was Micheletti, the Liberal leader of Congress. He was named to complete the remaining months of Zelaya's term.

It cannot be right to call this a "coup." Micheletti was lawfully made president by the country's elected Congress. The president is a civilian. The Honduran Congress and courts continue to function as before. The armed forces are under civilian control. The elections scheduled for November are still scheduled for November. Indeed, after reviewing the Constitution and consulting with the Supreme Court, the Congress and the electoral tribunal, respected Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga recently stated that the only possible conclusion is that Zelaya had lawfully been ousted under Article 239 before he was arrested, and that democracy in Honduras continues fully to operate in accordance with law. All Honduran bishops joined Rodriguez in this pronouncement.

But Miguel Estrada is just part of that rag-tag gaggle of conservative carpers against hopey-changitude.

Finally, Jim DeMint appealed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 80%); McConnell pulled some strings and got DeMint his Air Force plane. Thus was the Kerry gambit thwarted.

But this begs the question: What the heck is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee doing, preventing a member from traveling to a political hot spot on a fact-finding mission, about an issue that is certain to come up before the committee, if it's not there already?

Remember this arrogant attempt by John Kerry well: When minority members of the United States Senate are prevented from traveling to see the world -- when seeing the world might turn them against the policy of the majority -- that's just part of the "hope and change" and the "new era" of "civility" and "post-partisanship" that President Obama has promised us.

Seeing as it's not unlikely that the Democrats will find themselves in the minority in either 2011 or 2013, it's good to bear in mind the new powers that the GOP may soon enjoy.

Here are the earlier chapters of this continuing soap opera:

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2009, at the time of 6:56 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Mike K

Nice post. I've linked it at my blog.

The above hissed in response by: Mike K [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2009 1:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

Funny how unilaterally the new administration is acting...

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 4, 2009 10:15 PM

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