Thursday, August 18, 2011

Of Course, This Is Not True

" Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous, or treasonous, in my opinion."- Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Governor and Tea Party Presidential candidate Rick Perry gives us the opportunity to resurrect the first of what undoubtedly will be the first of many OCTINT posts during this political season.

Gov. Perry's remarks concerned the possibility of the Federal Reserve, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke,  qualitatively easing the money supply to help stimulate the economy.  Perry, and many others, may believe that this is a bad idea and they are entitled to their opinion.  But it ain't treason.  Says who?  The Constitution of the United States and the United States Criminal Code.

The Founding Fathers, oft misquoted by the Tea Partiers, defined treason in Article III, Section 3[1] as follows in pertinent part (or in pari materia as I like to say frequently in casual conversation at the grocery store):  "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them,or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." (emphasis supplied). 

Maybe I missed it but I didn't see in the paper where the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors attacked Kansas.  Or that Mr. Bernanke was caught giving lemonade to members of the Taliban.

Turning to my home edition of the United States Criminal Code, the one that I stole from the Office of the Inspector General (I have a home version of the United States Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as well.  While these tomes are not on my nightstand, the question of why I live alone is something of a moot point given the reading material I possess.) we see the codification of the definition in the Constitution.

18 U.S.C. 2381 states, " Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

Which is pretty screwed up if think about it.  The range of penalties if you are convicted of treason is death toooooooooooo 5 years, a 10k fine and you can't run for County Judge.  No matter.  Uncle isn't really going to fool with you for this reason unless you are Tim McVeigh.  And you will note that he is usually referred to in the past tense.

But I digress. 

Do I really think that Rick Perry believes that Ben Bernanke deserves the death penalty if the Federal Reserve "prints more money?" No.  But treason is not a word that should be bandied about in political discourse.  Treason is not only, well, treason but it is a legal concept first defined with acute precision in the Constitution.  And to equate the Fed's exercise of its legal authority to regulate the banks and execute the monetary policy of the United States is palpably irresponsible and panders to the lowest common denominator in the electorate.  Which, of course, seems to be working. Which is why I'm fixing to ask my old Hendrix College buddy over in New Zealand who coaches track if he needs an assistant. 

 But is "printing money" an act of treason?  No.  Of course, this is not true. 

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