New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Monday, July 03, 2006

checks and balances

Back to politics and a day before Independence Day seems a good time for a discussion of the Bush administration and the Constitution. Last week's Supreme Court decision, 5 to 3 to block military tribunals without appropriate governmental checks and balances, should be another wake up call for Americans.

Once upon a time, our government would have had to hide blatant grabs for dictatorship, but now they have had the support of many who used to claim to believe in the Bill of Rights. As for Bush, we already know he approves of dictatorships.

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." GW Bush (Governing Magazine 7/98)
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator," Bush joked.
-- CNN.com, December 18, 2000
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it, " [Bush] said.
-- Business Week, July 30, 2001 .

One thing to understand is he wasn't joking. He has done everything he can, using religion, patriotism and fear, to establish a secret government accountable to no one. Taking a congressional permission to wage war on terrorists as carte blanche, he has apparently decided it's up to him to decide which laws he obeys. Bush hasn't vetoed a single measure because of his signing statements (750 of them) that basically reinterpret, to suit his agenda, anything he does not like. He didn't have to go to Congress to change laws. He did it by edict. (If you would like to read more on this, check out The New Yorker.)

What is equally worrisome to me is the latest Supreme Court decision, declaring Bush over stepped his authority, was by only one vote (Roberts didn't vote because he had earlier supported the administration in a lower court decision). You can bet Bush's people are right now figuring how to circumvent it. Loudly they say, we can't have public trials of these prisoners because secrets would be revealed. It aids the enemy. Any criticism of Bush is treason in a time of war, and the time of war is going to be a long one.

But what if the unspoken reason why there cannot be public trials is not secrets, which would in many cases be four years old (assuming these prisoners had any), but maybe there simply is no evidence against too many of them? I don't doubt they have some real bad people there, but what if more than a few were ordinary people caught in a net with nobody to talk to about their innocence? Who knows, who can know given the secretiveness of who they even are?

With one more judge on that court who thinks as Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts, the federal power will be consolidated even more and not just federal power but 'correct' federal power. With that thinking, in short order, there might be no real democracy in the United States, just an increasingly federalized system under an executive with a party that cannot lose. Interesting that we are fighting overseas supposedly to establish democracies. Are those also to be democracies in name only?

There is a chance now to turn this. No matter how much someone may dislike Democrats (not like I am going to defend them), it's going to take Republicans losing their majority to force Bush to compromise. There is also no hope of an unbiased look at what he's been doing with Republicans in power.

A victorious president has every right to appoint judges of his own beliefs; but Bush barely won two times and he won by indicating he'd be a uniter, a compassionate conservative. How many, who voted for him, fully understood back then what that was going to mean? If he continues on his current path, he could be in a position to dictate the judicial agenda for the next 30 years. If someone is a Bush supporter, they better be sure they agree with that agenda.

For me, I believe it's a time to change this nation's direction from heading toward a dictatorship back to a balanced government. Sure that can lead to gridlock. Is that a bad thing?

If you disagree with my concern about Bush's intentions, consider this statement by Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887. 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.'

In this nation, we have believed in checks and balances. We used to believe in the Constitution; it will be interesting to see if that is still true.

4 comments:

Ingineer66 said...

Here we go. I dont agree with everything that is being done to the bill of rights in the name of fighting terorism, but these are not US citizens that we are talking about these are enemy combatants. There was an "ex" CIA agent on the local radio station that has been to Gitmo twice and seen what kind of people are being held there. He said they are bad people that have threatened the guards and said that if they get out they would go after the guards families. And one reason they dont want to go through the US courts is they have evidence against them but not enough to convict in a normal court system. I think the court may have overstepped its jurisdiction this time. Congress already passed a resolution in 2005 that should have overriddent the court and now it looks like Congress is going to pass another law to override the court again.

Rain said...

yep, we know we disagree before we start. You don't know what they were. 300 of them have been released without charges because there were none to be used. Some were picked up because an enemy warlord wanted their property-- sound familiar? I would not be surprised that some are bad guys down there, but I don't, nor do you, know who that ex CIA agent was or whether he was to be trusted. If one goes there and says it's terrible and all innocent people there, you say they lie, but this guy, oh he's telling the truth. Because it's what you want to believe.

Did you read the New Yorker article about Addington? Read it before you put down all of this fear over the Constitution being overridden by one party. I have no doubts the Republicans will go along with the president and that's why I say we need a new party in power. I'd be fine if it was a third party; but there is only one option for now, if we don't want more of the same-- Democrats.

robin andrea said...

Nice post, Rain. I'm not going to say much more than I agree with you, and I long for the day that this administration is a memory so long gone that it's gathering dust.

Sonia said...

I wish to you Rain a Happy Independence Day!
Happy Birthday America, Happy 4th of July!!!
I hope you all enjoy your Celebrations!