Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Can Do Whatever I Want - I'm the Unitary Executive!

Paul Craig Roberts has written another excellent article:
The Bush administration has done more damage to Americans and more harm to America's reputation than any other administration in history. Yet, a majority of Republicans still support Bush. This tells much about blind party loyalty.By encouraging the move offshore of American jobs and manufacturing, Bush has run up tremendous trade deficits that have undermined the world's confidence in the dollar as the reserve currency. Recently, both Chinese and Russian government officials warned of the dollar's shaky status. The fall in confidence in the dollar is evidenced by the sharp run-up in the price of gold. In January 2001 the price of gold was about $240 per ounce. Today the price is $660 per ounce.The price of gasoline has risen from around $1.30 per gallon to over $3.00 per gallon. Obviously, Bush's war in the Middle East did not ensure the oil supply.

Read the whole article here:

"Runaway Bride"? How about "Runaway President"? Running away with our privacy, our safety, our money, our liberty. This "Unitary Executive" stuff - he's dead serious about it. The Boston Globe reports that
"Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution."
Scot Lehigh, a Globe columnist, says in another article:

"Bush's position reduces to this: The president needn't execute the laws as they are written and passed, but rather, has the right to implement -- or ignore -- them as he sees fit. (Were it not for our pesky written Constitution, perhaps George II could take his cue from Charles I, dismiss Congress, and rule -- ah, govern -- without any legislative interference whatsoever.)

Even members of the president's own party have balked at that claim."

John Dean and Jennifer Van Bergen also have some interesting things to say about signing statements and the concept of the "Unitary Executive".

Says Dean:
Bush has quietly been using these statements to bolster presidential powers. It is a calculated, systematic scheme that has gone largely unnoticed (even though these statements are published in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents) until recently, when President Bush's used a signing statement to attempt to nullify the recent, controversial McCain amendment regarding torture, which drew some media attention.

Pumping Up the Bush Presidency With Signing Statements

Generally, Bush's signing statements tend to be brief and very broad, and they seldom cite the authority on which the president is relying for his reading of the law. None has yet been tested in court. But they do appear to be bulking up the powers of the presidency. Here are a few examples:

Suppose a new law requires the President to act in a certain manner - for instance, to report to Congress on how he is dealing with terrorism. Bush's signing statement will flat out reject the law, and state that he will construe the law "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."

The upshot? It is as if no law had been passed on the matter at all.

Or suppose a new law suggests even the slightest intrusion into the President's undefined "prerogative powers" under Article II of the Constitution, relating to national security, intelligence gathering, or law enforcement. Bush's signing statement will claim that notwithstanding the clear intent of Congress, which has used mandatory language, the provision will be considered as "advisory."

The upshot? It is as if Congress had acted as a mere advisor, with no more formal power than, say, Karl Rove - not as a coordinate and coequal branch of government, which in fact it is.
Says Van Bergen:
When President Bush signed the new law, sponsored by Senator McCain, restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees, he also issued a Presidential signing statement. That statement asserted that his power as Commander-in-Chief gives him the authority to bypass the very law he had just signed.

This news came fast on the heels of Bush's shocking admission that, since 2002, he has repeatedly authorized the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant, in flagrant violation of applicable federal law.

And before that, Bush declared he had the unilateral authority to ignore the Geneva Conventions and to indefinitely detain without due process both immigrants and citizens as enemy combatants.

All these declarations echo the refrain Bush has been asserting from the outset of his presidency. That refrain is simple: Presidential power must be unilateral, and unchecked.

But the most recent and blatant presidential intrusions on the law and Constitution supply the verse to that refrain. They not only claim unilateral executive power, but also supply the train of the President's thinking, the texture of his motivations, and the root of his intentions.

They make clear, for instance, that the phrase "unitary executive" is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power. Bush has used the doctrine in his signing statements to quietly expand presidential authority.
So, folks - it's time to pay attention to this. Understand - he has yet to use a veto. But at the same time, he's using the signing statement as a line-item veto (which current legal understanding calls unconstitutional) He considers Congress just a pesky bunch of busybodies and spoilsports, and he's using whatever means he can find to ignore and nullify it. This is what he's doing while he's got everyone het up about immigration and gas prices.

(Of course, how would these people promoting this nonsense feel about giving away all that power if Hillary Clinton were President?)


DivaJood said...

On September 11, 2001, a good friend of mine sat in the first class seat directly behind the cockpit entrance. This was on American Flight 11, which slammed into the first tower of the World Trade Center. I only pray that Laura's death was swift and she didn't suffer.

At work, we sorted through grounded flights; people stranded all over the world, not sure how we'd accommodate them -- but all the hotels everywhere stepped up to help out.

I had a nagging sense that the attacks had been allowed to happen in order to further a dangerous agenda. A friend of mine in Redondo Beach said "We sure have the right man for the job, don't you think?" -- she was referring to Bush. I looked at her like she was insane, and said "Absolutely not. He's going to lead us into a dangerous place."

My friend is changing her tune; she no longer thinks Bush is the right man for the job.

These articles scare the bejeezus out of me.

Alicia Morgan said...

No sane person wants to believe that this is the way things are, but, likre they say, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. I just don't know how much worse it's going to have to get before people wake up and smell the corruption.

Corruption, BTW, has another use that people don't always connect it with, but it means the rotting of a corpse - in this instance, the corpse of the Constitution.

Ooh - I may have to do a post about that one...