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.

1 comment:

Clark said...

Clearly, I smoked crack last night. Or maybe the fundamental indistinguishability of of Scalia and Alito confused me. I meant Scalito. Alia. Oh hell. Those two dudes, you know who I mean.