MoveOn.org, the progressive "netroots" outfit that was launched to defend what it felt were spurious impeachment charges against then-president Bill Clinton, is now agitating for spurious sedition charges to be filed against Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.
In a petition with the admirably direct title of "Arrest and Try House GOP Leadership for Sedition," those champions of democracy are clamoring for the following:
I call on the Justice Department of the United States of America to arrest Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and other decision-making House Republican leaders for the crime of seditious conspiracy against the United States of America.
The website claims that there are currently more than 25,000 signatories, which I guess speaks well for the other 300 or so million of us.
The behavior of the House GOP in the current showdown—whether or not they reach some sort of deal—makes them guilty of sedition. […]
The definition of sedition says among other things that "If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire… by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States… they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
And in case you hear that "force" means physical violence only, here's the legal definition of extortion (a felony): "The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right." "Official right" means a government official claiming he or she is acting under the law to commit extortion.
The law that probably applies here is 18 USC 1951, the Hobbs Act, which deals with extortion–a felony, as per the sedition statute. While Hobbs deals mainly with injury to individuals, it seems to me to be a small step to observe that every citizen of the United States is an individual, and the United States is being harmed—although whether prosecutors would find it an exact fit is up to them, and not mere journalists like myself.
These are not the only liberals hankerin' to lock up their domestic political adversaries. Here's former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer:
Conservative opposition to Obamacare has transitioned from obsessive to treasonous. Here is the simple definition of treason: the betrayal of allegiance to the United States. One caveat: treason applies only to acts committed during times of war. Well, we are in the middle of the war on terrorism, no? So that qualifies. The GOP could point to a fuller definition of treason to argue their actions are not treasonous: "the betrayal of one's county by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies."
Well. How could anyone argue that willingly damaging the good faith and credit of the United States is not purposely acting to aid our enemies? The shutdown and impending default already caused Obama to miss a critical meeting in Asia, allowing China to dominate; an outcome clearly aiding our enemy. How could our enemies not benefit from a weakened and insolvent United States?
And MSNBC anger-bear Ed Schultz:
They will shut down the government and they will not pay the bills to get their way. The word is treason, the treasonous John Boehner.
* UPDATE: I see now at the top of the MoveOn page the following note (which I've updated the headline to reflect):
MoveOn volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it may not reflect MoveOn members' progressive values. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site. Click here if you think MoveOn should support this petition.