Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush's New PR Offensive: Old Lies Die Hard!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush has thrown down the gauntlet yet again! And congress continues to let him get away with it. Once again, the "rule of law" takes a beating. Bush repeats a fairy tale about Iraq and cites it as justification for his thumbing his nose at the Constitution. This is circular, delusional thinking at its most egregious.

The reality in Iraq is a stark contrast to Bush's PR version. Numerous writers in Iraq describe a "...a country convulsed by fear" where sectarian killings are commonplace; the scale of violence is largely unseen. It is most certainly undescribed or referenced by Bush! In a nation —still largely without lights or running water —civilians flee old neighborhoods desperately seeking safer ground —IF it can be found. Death squads roam the streets. Bush never talks about this.

And even as Bush has created chaos and civil war in Iraq, he cites Iraq as justification for his crackdown on civil liberties and the rule of law at home. That, in and of itself, should be grounds enough for impeachment and removal from office immediately.

Socrates said that the good was good not because the gods approved it but that the gods approved because it was good. Bush and his party have reversed the logic of Socrates. The GOP reverses thought processes, thinking backward to make legal crimes already committed, rationalizing bad decisions after the harm has already been done. Fast forward to G. W. Bush, who, like Richard Nixon before him, has said that if the President does it it's legal. If Socrates were alive, he would say that both Nixon and Bush had it backward. Socrates is right; the GOP is dead wrong.

Backward thinking is not uncommon in the ranks of the GOP but it seems to have reached epidemic levels with the ascension of George W. Bush. Before the Supreme Court handed down Bush v Gore, the most infamous 5 to 4 decision in its history, Antonin Scalia had already given the game away. Continuing the recount, he said, would be harmful to Bush.

On still another occasion, Scalia said:

Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.

—Antonin Scalia, U. S. Supreme Court Justice

Backward thinking! It assumed that Bush had already more votes than Gore. We know now that such was not the case. Had the court ordered recount continued as it should have, Gore would surely have won the White House. Take Scalia to his logical conclusion and the actual counting of votes need never be done again. Counting votes is sure to be harmful to someone. Last time I checked, the candidate getting the fewer number of votes was supposed to lose.

Ironically, it was Scalia who had said that it was not the court's job to hand down decisions applicable only in single cases; it was, rather, the job of the court to make precedent, establish case law. But, guiltily, the Bush v Gore court added a hasty, guilty proviso limiting Bush v Gore to one case and one case only. This would seem to be, in itself, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment cited so fallaciously and disingenuously by the five vote ideological majority.

And lately Bush crows about "Inherent" powers" and "implicit" authorization! It makes one long for the good old days when President Bush pledged his allegiance to a philosophy of "strict" construction. I've never seen anything in the Constitition about "inherent" or "implicit" powers and, if the GOP had not been disingenuous about "strict constructionism", they would have to admit that they haven't either.

President Truman claimed to have "implicit" or "inherent powers" to seize U.S. steel mills during the Korean War. But, in a landmark decision, Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court rejected Truman's argument, ruling that his seizure was unconstitutional.

When the United States signs agreements like the Geneva Conventions, they become the law of the land. Congress is therefore allowing Bush to circumvent the law with his unilateral re-invention of both law and language. Bush has invented new descriptions of "enemies", and he has arrogated unto himself the power to define what he unilaterally chooses to call "enemy combatants". He assumes the power to hold this "class" of his invention incommunicado indefinitely —even if they are American citizens. Though the Supreme Court has said that this is outside the law, Bush would have you believe that he is above the law. If Bush is correct, SCOTUS is moot. Have the justices on the court been given two weeks notice and pension?

If Bush is allowed to interpret the laws, then the independent judiciary is no longer required. Bush has denied authorizing the torture of captives, but when Congress proposed to outlaw the practice, he threatened to veto their efforts. That would seem to be, in itself, evidence that he had ordered torture knowing that it was a violation of the law. Then Bush compounded his crime; when a ban was passed with a veto-proof majority, Bush signed the measure but added a memo that said, in effect, that if he felt the need, he would not obey it, "it" being the law.

It is not Bush's job to decide which laws he will enforce and which laws he will not. I don't give a damn about how Bush "feels" about the law. If he wants to talk about his feelings, let him join a support group! "His "memo" is a challenge to the separation of powers and more evidence that the quote attributed to Bush is accurate:
The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!

—George W. Bush, as quoted in Capitol Hill Blue

On yet another related issue, Bush has acted in a manner consistent with the quote that is attributed to him. For example, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act states —without ambiguity —that domestic phone surveillance could not be conducted without a warrant. A special court [FISA] was set up by Congress so that Presidents could obtain court approvals in a timely manner. Bush, however, chose to ignore and violate the law setting up the FISA court.

It was not only Democrats who were alarmed:
We have not just allegations, but proud admissions by the Republican Administration of George W. Bush that it has been conducting surreptitious electronic surveillance of American citizens, without court approval, in obvious contravention of an explicit federal law to the contrary.

Bob Barr

Meanwhile, Bush continues to thumb his nose at Congress, wiretapping, bugging and spying on American citizens and boasting about it —though he is violating the law daily! NOTHING said by Bush has in any way refuted the law or rescinded it.

Where is the Congress when the President of the United States thumbs his nose at the rule of law, the Constitution, and the separation of powers? Everything done by Bush over the last several months has supported the charge that Bush exploits terrorism in order to maintain the U.S. presence in Iraq —in itself an ongoing war crime. [See:325 000 names on terror list ]

Bush's subversion of our laws erodes Democracy and the rule of law. Our Chief Executive has become an outlaw, and, in the process, we have ceased to be a Democratic Republic.


benmerc said...

Great post Len,
It’s not enough to harbor backward or reverse thinking, Scalia’s regressive mind-set is also bolstered by the unspoken authoritarian Republican rule:” Do as I say, not as I do” This is proven by Scalia’s disingenuous alliance to state’s rights and that advocacy. In fact, he was tooting that horn just the other day on a recent C-Span taped event he had attended. He mentioned a few times his belief in state's rights. To bad no one brought his lack luster record, but judging by the negative response to any question that affronted his opinion or authority, well you get the picture, most were loath to confront him (one student got under his skin so bad an issue that Scalia had him removed from the room).

In 2000 Scalia had the opportune moment to implement his belief in state’s rights, instead he simply went with the immediate need or political want at hand. This decision of course removed the Florida Supreme court and their manner of jurisdictional control by over riding with the Federal Court mandate ( which I am still not clear on…as we don’t need to count all the votes?). Talk about trading off ideology for opportunity, to be sure there is some long winded excuse that Scalia has reasoned into his breech of commitment to state’s rights. Another benefit to being a Republican: no chance of being called a flip flopper, basically no accountability necessary. “Feeling” your way through re-interpretation of the law is a good thing… woo who, where do I sign?

Unknown said...

Yep! Scalia can't handle the truth and, unfortunately, he's begun to believe his own PR about what a giant intellect he is. Intellect, my ass! My own high school debate team would have sliced and diced him and had him for lunch!