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When the Right Is Right

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The right has perpetrated so many wrongs in recent years, that it's hard to remember what it looks like when the right is right. So it was a pleasant and eye-opening surprise to receive the recent Cato Institute report called "Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush." The Cato Institute FYI is a right wing libertarian think tank dedicated to "the traditional American principles of "limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace." These are the folks who seek to shrink government so small it can be "drowned in a bathtub," and who also insist that global warming is a myth.

Despite their clinging to that "flat-earth" myth-conception, the Cato folks are sticklers for the Constitution, specifically those freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. And when George Bush's record is investigated by the real Constitution police, it seems like an open and shut case for impeachment. Here are some summary quotes from the report.

In relation to what are newspeakingly called "Free Speech Zones" (where protesters are banished out of eyeshot and earshot of our Chief Executive):

"At the very core of the First Amendment lies the right to criticize officeholders. President Bush has failed to protect that right."

Regarding torture in violation of U.S. laws and international treaties:

"The Administration's legal position can be summed up starkly: When we're at war, anything goes, and the President gets to decide when we're at war."

And on domestic spying and illegal seizures:

"The President appears to believe that he is the ultimate arbiter of what is legal and what is illegal -- at least in matters related to national security."

And finally, on holding suspects indefinitely without trial in violation of "Habeus Corpus," the foundation of our legal system for hundreds of years

"Bush's attempts to undermine 'the very core of our liberty' may be his most egregious failure to protect and defend our Constitution."

Interestingly, these feisty pit bulls for the letter of the Constitutional law insist that even alleged "enemy combatants" have these Constitutional rights while on American soil:

"Reasonable people can argue about how to prosecute war criminals who are captured overseas in a theater of war, but the president cannot make himself the policeman, prosecutor and judge over people on U.S. soil. In America, the president's power is checked by the judiciary and citizen juries."

The report concludes:

"President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers."

The Oaf of Office?

Now to be fair, this duo's previous report was on President Clinton's failures to uphold the Constitution. Nonetheless, in this era of tightly-spun spin and "privatized truth" it's refreshing indeed to find someone out there who will apply a standard objectively. Reading the report helped me appreciate what conservatives bring to the conversation. They remind us what is most valuable in our traditions, what is most worth conserving. For example, the report reminds us that in the early days of our republic, the oath of office was taken quite seriously.

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Steve Bhaerman is a writer, humorist and uncommontator who's been posing as cosmic comic Swami Beyondananda for the past 20 years. He is the author of seven books including Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From (more...)

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