Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sex and the Unitary Executive

Well, THAT got your attention.

OK, now that I have proven my marketing expertise with the equivalent of "Live Nude Girls" at the header, let's discuss what I alluded to in a previous post: ways in which to contain an out of control President from within his (or her) term.

First, let us dispense with, as my brother assumes, the ability of Congress to send out the Sergeant At Arms and arrest persons who display Contempt of Congress. While IN THEORY this might be effective, in practice...not so much. Any attempt to arrest, say Karl Rove or John Yoo to make them testify about who exactly gave the order to fire the US Attorneys, or what exactly was the expression on Dick Cheney's face when he ordered people tortured (glee, unbridled malice or some combination of both), would of necessity run up against either the FBI (Justice Department) or the Secret Service (Treasury Department) or both.

While a running gun battle between an aging federal pensioner and some FBI HRT gunslinger might be amusing (in a morbid curiosity sense) the obvious outcome to the standoff is...a trip to the Supreme Court. With the Justice Department lawyers (answerable to the EXECUTIVE branch) as Congress's lawyers. Yeah, I'm willing to bet they'll get RIGHT on that case...

And the Supreme's, who last bestirred themselves to alacrity in Gore v. Bush, will no doubt be inclined to let the lower courts have their way first. At length. For ten or fifteen years.

This is not a solution. It's a very long running Abbot and Costello routine ("Who's sued first?" "Exactly!")

Let us also dispense with, "Waiting until the bastard is voted out." Bush has shown us, among all the OTHER things he's done (signing statements, signing bills with Takesie-Backsies, claiming CinC powers confer the ability to not have to even listen when everyone around you says your idea is the dumbest fucking thing to come down the pike since Prohibition), exactly how QUICKLY you can pack the Voting Rights Office with Young Republican Lawyers of the opinion that Blacks and Poor Folk have NO voting rights.

Makes it kinda hard to elect Democrats when two groups routinely shat upon by Republicans can't, y'know, actually VOTE. Eventually God-Emperor McCain or Romney or whoever the hell it is will, like Gaius Octavian Caesar before him, decide to dispense with the troublesome need to even PRETEND to go through an election.

Now, and this is IMPORTANT because I don't want to wade through emails (all three of them) saying, "That's unconstitutional," what I am about to suggest will require amendments, because I must, perforce, screw with the current constitutional balances BY DEFINITION.

One: If Congress is to have the "Power of the Purse" then they need to have the fucking Power of the Purse. CONGRESS should set Department internal budgets, rather than giving the Executive the power to slosh one big honking wad of tax dollars around any way he sees fit within the 13 Appropriations Bills Congress approves. The goddamn President doesn't need a line item veto...CONGRESS does.

If they want to defund Iraq, under this scheme, then they just line out all the requests related to Iraq and the President can't shitcan all VA benefits to then restore funding for Iraq. This one, is at least arguably constitutional. The Constitution is pretty much silent on internal budgets for the various Departments of the Executive.

Not so much for my next suggestion, phrased in the form of a question: Why, in the name of Beelzubub's Big Brass Balls, is the JUSTICE Department part of the Executive Branch rather than the JUDICIAL Branch? Yes, yes. I know: "The President shall ensure that the laws be well and faithfully executed."

Is it the Framer's fault that we elected a Texan, who judging by the number of inmates he sent to "Ol' Sparky" while he was the Governor, has one, and ONLY one, definition of "executed"? Well, no.

But since Bush has shown us what it looks like, I think maybe we should take the lawyers in charge of enforcing laws governing the Executive away from an Executive who thinks laws controlling the Executive are an annoyance, rather than say, the only thing differentiating us from that we eighty-sixed the whole, "Doesn't attach electrodes to political prisoner's balls," thing.

Yes, the Supreme's are annoying. But there's NINE of them. With about as much common purpose as a room full of cats. Plus one loud rabid nutjob of a dog, whose name rhymes with Frito. Seriously, even most of the conservative nutjobs at least care about the law, except for Thomas who, judging by how active he is on the bench during oral arguments, is mainly interested in a NAP, and Frito, I mean Alito, who's mainly interested in how many different ways you can screw the country while remaining at least arguably within the framework of the Constitution. Kinda sorta. If you squint just right.

That still leaves seven people who care about the rule of law. Who might receive a contempt of Congress citation without viewing it as another in a long series of opportunities to expand Executive authority without regard for the other two branches. Or reason. Or decency. Or anything other than an overwhelming desire for power. Unlimited, unfettered, unequaled remorseless force.

That one does require an amendment. And a respect for the principle of good government. Which is why it'll never happen.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back...Kinda Sorta...But I Am In Good Company

Back, after an extended hiatus that mainly consisted of perfecting diaper changes on the Wee Pedant. Seriously. When she turns sixteen and we have an argument and I tell her she's full of shit, I will know what I am talking about.

So I am back. And as it turns out, I'm not the only only one back. Yes! Fafblog has returned! Let the rejoicing commence.

Brief pause while I let the joyous news sink in.

Now I can commence the rant that's been building for many a week. Let's start with something the Lovely And Talented Mrs. Pedant is fond of saying, "Those Founding Fathers were geniuses."

No. No they weren't. Do you know how I know? George W. Bush. And not the way you're thinking. I am sure that they knew that second rate (and third rate) men would occupy office. Hell, half of them THOUGHT the other half were second rate men.

No. It is this: George Bush in his abuse of Executive Authority has in NO WAY clearly violated the Constitution. Sure, his (or Dick Cheney's) interpretation of "Commander In Chief" powers is, shall we say, generous...but his seeming conviction that he was elected God-Emperor of the US is not inconsistent with what Alexander Hamilton was pushing for back in 1787. He hasn't tried to eliminate the Congress...just completely and utterly ignore it. And there's nothing in the Constitution that requires him to pay any attention to Congress.

"But what about 'Checks and Balances'?" I hear you say. Let's look at the "checks" to unfettered Executive power. The Supreme Court? Yeah, maybe, except that we'll probably have colonies on Mars before that collection of egos first hears and then rules on any cases of Executive abuse. If they decide to punt it back to a Circuit Court first because the original ruling was missing a dotted "i" we could be looking at Alpha Centauri before there's a ruling. The Executive branch can do something tomorrow, the Judicial branch takes forever. The court is not capable of being a check on the Executive because the repair takes too long.

Congress. Yeah. Congress wields the "Power Of The Purse". And that, my friends, is ALL Congress wields. Subpoena? Not if the Justice Department doesn't want to enforce it, as they have refused to do on a Contempt Of Congress cite on Karl Rove. Testimony? Oversight? Not likely. (See above, Rove, Karl, Asshole, One Each)

Let's take a hypothetical, say, highly unpopular not to mention strategically disastrous war in Southwest Asia. Congress can stop that war ONLY BY CUTTING OFF ALL MONEY TO THE MILITARY ENTIRELY. Make no mistake. The Executive allocates money within the Defense Department. If Congress were to "defund" Iraq tomorrow, the ONLY thing that would happen is say, all military dependant dental care would get canceled or something like that. Unless Congress cuts off ALL money to the military the Deciderator can just shuffle funds from something else in the DoD and drive on his merry way in Iraq, like some modern Caesar hellbent on over-extending the Legions.

The "Check" Congress wields is FAR too blunt an instrument to stop a President like Idiot Boy, willing to basically say "Fuck You" to every consensual limit on his power.

George Bush has shown us a festering gaping SORE in the basic structure of our Government. Namely, that the Executive Branch has all the available moves.

I have some thoughts on this, but would like to hear comments first.