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The Method and the Madness of King George

By       Message Len Hart       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Recently, with his pet poodle Tony Blair in tow, Bush said he regretted having said "Bring it on!" He called it "tough talk". Is this mere alcoholic's remorse publicly confessed until he can spin and sin again? It is more accurately described as "misdirection". He is publicly contrite to disarm opponents while he spoils for a showdown that will have the effect of consolidating power already claimed for himself.

A raid on congress, for example, is not a "big deal" if you buy Bushco's logic that the executive can routinely raid an independent and equal branch of government. A raid on congress is not a "big deal" —if one buys the Bush/Gonazales re-write of the Fourth Amendment. It is a "big deal", if you don't.

I don't buy the Bush rewrite of both history and Constitution; and I deny that Bush, Gonzales and Hayden have the authority to rewrite the Bill of Rights. The standard is "probable cause" —not "reasonableness". I don't care what Gonzales or Hayden may say to the contrary. They are either wrong or lying or both. There is no excuse for Hayden's not having read the Fourth Amendment and his ignorance of it should have disqualified him from heading the CIA where his pig-headed ignorance will further harm the nation.

What Bush has really done is to throw down the gauntlet. The range of issues taken together makes a sinister mosaic.

  • Bush has apparently completed what many of the right wing have desired: an unconstitutional usurpation of Congress' sole authority to wage war:
  • The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.

    —James Madison

  • Bush has both defended and denied a campaign of wide spread domestic surveillance;
  • The Bush administration is most certainly continuing —amid world wide outrage —a policy of outsourced torture —called "rendition" in our Orwellian world. Contrary to administration obfuscation, lies, and spin, this program thumbs its nose at international principles that the United States itself insisted upon at the end of World War II;
  • And, at last, Presidential "signing statements" —Bush's way of reminding Congress and the nation that it matters little what Congress has done; the law is what Emperor Bush says it is.
It all takes on the appearance of a well-organized plan. Bush is spoiling for a judicial showdown —but only because he thinks the fix is in! "Rendition" seems to be the only issue to have surfaced prominently prior to the confirmation of Alito.

My memories of Bush v Gore are too vivid to desire a resolution of this issue in a court that I no longer trust to rule upon the Constitution but upon a Bush/Scalia/Gonazales perversion of it. Certainly, the GOP seems eager to get the recent raid on Congress to SCOTUS.

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Too eager!

There is little downside risk for Bush. The worst that could happen is that SCOTUS slaps his limp wrist and tells him to make nice-nice with Congress. On the other hand, Bush is willing to gamble that he will come away with a novel NeoCon friendly interpretation of the Fourth Amendment that only Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft or Michael Hayden could love. There is a reason the right wing wanted to pack the court.
Like Ashcroft, Gonzales favors greater executive branch secrecy. Like Ashcroft, Gonzales favors the centralization of presidential power -- as well as its expansion. Indeed, Gonzales provided the legal arguments used to claim that the president has the power, under the Constitution, to order torture, despite the fact that torture violates the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements the United States has ratified and implemented.

Indeed, Gonzales deemed international law -- which becomes the law of the United States, under our Constitution, when properly ratified by the Senate -- to be "quaint" and outdated when applied to the war on terrorism. To say this, is to say, in effect that the Constitution itself is quaint and outdated.

Unsurprisingly, Gonzales -- like Ashcroft -- has been a strong supporter of the Patriot Act, and the president's recent calls to renew its key provisions which are set to sunset next year. And Gonzales, like Ashcroft, has been a proponent of the administration's policy of detaining any person it labeled an "enemy combatant" without giving them access to the courts to make an effective determination of their status.

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According to Gonzales -- and to Ashcroft before him -- even judicial review to determine whether the facts support the "enemy combatant" designation should not occur. Gonzales, like Ashcroft, believes that the president's -- and attorney general's -- kingly power trumps even some of the most prized of American's basic rights, the rights to physical liberty, and to due process of law.

—CNN: Alberto Gonzales, a gentler(?) Ashcroft

The two words —probable cause —seem more precious than ever when they are so ominously threatened. A favorable ruling for Bush could all but consolidate his dictatorship. Just two words —probable cause —now stand between us and tyranny.

 

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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The (more...)
 

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