Sunday, January 15, 2006

Is The President's Signature Worth The Paper It's Written On?

The Imperial Presidency at Work - New York Times:
"you cannot deal in good faith with a White House that does not act in good faith"

‘Mr. Bush made a grand show of inviting Mr. McCain into the Oval Office last month to announce his support for a bill to require humane treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and other prisons run by the American military and intelligence agencies. He seemed to have managed to get Vice President Dick Cheney to stop trying to kill the proposed Congressional ban on torture of prisoners.

The White House also endorsed a bargain between Mr. Levin and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, which tempered somewhat a noxious proposal by Mr. Graham to deny a court hearing to anyone the president declares to be an "unlawful enemy combatant." The bargain with Mr. Levin removed language that stripped away cases already before the courts, which would have been an egregious usurpation of power by one branch of government, and it made clear that those cases should remain in the courts.

Mr. Bush, however, seems to see no limit to his imperial presidency. First, he issued a constitutionally ludicrous "signing statement" on the McCain bill. The message: Whatever Congress intended the law to say, he intended to ignore it on the pretext the commander in chief is above the law. That twisted reasoning is what led to the legalized torture policies, not to mention the domestic spying program.

Then Mr. Bush went after the judiciary, scrapping the Levin-Graham bargain. The solicitor general informed the Supreme Court last week that it no longer had jurisdiction over detainee cases. It said the court should drop an existing case in which a Yemeni national is challenging the military tribunals invented by Mr. Bush's morally challenged lawyers after 9/11. The administration is seeking to eliminate all other lawsuits filed by some of the approximately 500 men at Gitmo, the vast majority of whom have not been shown to pose any threat.

Both of the offensive theories at work here - that a president's intent in signing a bill trumps the intent of Congress in writing it, and that a president can claim power without restriction or supervision by the courts or Congress - are pet theories of Judge Samuel Alito, the man Mr. Bush chose to tilt the Supreme Court to the right.’

I didn't notice many questions about these theories in the committee hearings. Maybe they're telepaths and don't need to verbalize these things. I do know one thing, while pro-choice and pro-life debate abortion, the bill of rights is being crumpled up and urinated on.

One of my favorite authors, Ursula K. LeGuin in ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ wrote, “There is nothing as perfectly useless as the right answer to the wrong question.”

Boy have we been hearing the wrong questions from all sides and all parties.

What does it take to get these people to do their jobs? Alito is, like me, 55 years old. At the least, the next 30 years of our liberty is at stake. Yet here we are judging candidates for the Supreme Court on how well they duck and dodge issues. How many points does he get for not remembering anything about an organisation important enough to put on his employment application.

How many for obfuscating the meaning of the Constitution.

Who gets to yell out ‘Bingo!’?
con·cept: Is The President's Signature Worth The Paper It's Written On?