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.


DoTheLeftThing said...

You pose an interesting question, Doug.
Who are the stakeholders here?
Our legislators, faced with a choice of either providing honest leadership or getting re-elected, are unwilling to get between a porcine and apathetic constituency of the individual citizen and the trough of unrestrained consumerism which seems to pass for the “pursuit of happiness” these days. For many, if not most politicians on both sides of the aisle, loyalty to the party comes first, and then loyalty to the constitution.
The capacity of the corporate citizenship to fund, influence and direct public matters through the legislative “farm system” is without question; and the corporate loyalty lies not necessarily with its countries’ constitution, but with its own self preservation and aggrandizement, to the delight of its majority shareholders, often multinational interests.
As you point out, any action taken by the Judicial Branch occurs long after the damage to our national fabric is done, and even then it takes blood in the streets, or the threat of it, to force the judicial inertia out of its natural inclination to preserve the status quo and do the right thing with respect to our unalienable rights.
Add to this mix the Religious Right, the American version of mullahs and ayatollahs, who disdain the logical and scientific approaches to our problems because those approaches contradict their emotional interpretations of mythical, apocryphal and misquoted scriptural texts, while ignoring the texts’ central messages of love and charity and nonviolence.
This leaves us with the aforementioned constituency of the individual citizen. As Joseph de Maistre said, and Thomas Jefferson amplified, “Every country has the government it deserves.” We have already foolishly subrogated out of largely manufactured and irrational fear many of our constitutional rights through the FISA and Patriot Acts in an effort to enhance our national security. Benjamin Franklin warned, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
It may be that we are travelling down the same path as great societies before us: corpulent and complacent, believing our own press releases of infallibility, destiny, and some deity’s love of our nation over the rest of his children. It seems that our American Neros provide us with 7-11 stores well stocked with sweets and tabloid titillations of Paris and Brittany and Brett, of sports steroids and politicians’ sexual escapades, much in the way the Roman emperors provided bread and the Circus Maximus. Just as our Roman ancestors, we risk being distracted as the plutarchs enrich their coffers while the strength of the nation declines and the barbarians gather at the gates.
Without a renewed sense of purpose by the individual citizen, a sense of the common good before the wealth of the individual, we cannot turn the scoundrels out of office and reclaim the goodness and pride of a nation striving to live up the highest ethical standards.
Your Pal, and Doin’ the Left Thing

Clark said...

That's a fairly accurate assessment of the state of affairs in my opinion, but I was getting at something more structural...regardless of whether the reason the Executive is acting up is because special interests are impelling it, voter apathy is enabling it or little green men from Mars are beaming thoughts into its brain there is NO real "Check and Balance" to what the Executive does. (Other than shame and one thing Bush can't be accused of is having much, ANY, sense of shame.)

In a sense you're talking about is what's making the patient sick and I'm talking about how to design a better MRI to get at the disease.

Both are valid and needed. For what it's worth, the last holiday dinner I (gently for me) laid into some relatives for their "They're all the same, so what difference does it make," cop out re: voting for the Idiot ManChild. "Sure I voted for that moron," (TWICE) they implied, "but they're all crooks so what difference did it make?"

I said, with great restraint (The LATMP can verify) that the most important duty a citizen has is VOTING and if "they're" (the candidates) both bad, then you think of what is best for the country and pick the least bad option, regardless of party. Something that my relatives-in-law had failed to do in 2004...since by then the rot of Bush the Lesser was obvious to all but the self-deluding.

DoTheLeftThing said...

What I was pointing at was that it will take a sea change to really get things moving in a different direction, and as pessimistic as it sounds, I think it will require a national crisis, or two, to precipitate. The best that we can hope for in the short run is to elect a succession of Executives that refuse to trample the Constitution, while seating some Supremes with a sense of enlightenment.