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Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary during the Iran Contra Scandal, said in her testimony during the Congressional investigation of Iran Contra:

[T]here were "times when you have to go above the written law."

And defenders of President Bush's disregard of FISA have adopted this Fawn Hall defense. Of course, Vice President Dick Cheney does not put it exactly that way. Instead he argues that the President is above the law:

Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said he found the issue straightforward, at least as regards surveillance by the National Security Agency. "Some legal questions are hard," Stone said. "This one is not. The president's authorizing of NSA to spy on Americans is blatantly unlawful and unconstitutional."

Cheney took the opposite view, noting that he has been expressing his views on the subject as far back as 1987 when, as a member of the House, he contributed to the minority views in the congressional report on the Iran-Contra scandal. "Part of the argument in Iran-Contra was whether or not the president had the authority to do what was done in the Reagan years," he said. "And those of us in the minority wrote minority views that were actually authored by a guy working for me, one of my staff people, that I think are very good at laying out a robust view of the president's prerogatives with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters." Asked if the proper balance had been restored under Bush, he said, "I do think it's swung back."

There it is. Cheney is not only unapologetic or circumspect about breaking the law, he is PROUD of it. He thinks that the Congressional condemnations of the Reagan Administration for the Iran Contra Scandal were not only wrong headed, they were harmful! And that's not all:

Cheney suggested that Democrats who push to reduce the powers of the presidency in the wake of the disclosure of the eavesdropping program would pay a political price. "Either we're serious about fighting the war on terror or we're not," he said. "Either we believe that there are individuals out there doing everything they can to try to launch more attacks, try to get ever deadlier weapons to use against us or we don't. The president and I believe very deeply that there is a hell of a threat."

Well, Mr. Vice President, either we are serious about following the Constitution and the law or we are not. Either we believe the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no person is above the law, or we don't. I believe the Bush Administration is a hell of a threat to the rule of law and the Constitution. And I don't care if there is a political price for saying so.

Here are the REAL questions the Media needs to ask: How long will the War on Terror last? And what laws are applicable during this period? The Bush Administration gave this answer on how long the War on Terror will last:

Given the chance to talk to the defense secretary, one solider from the 101st Airborne Division asked what was on the minds of many: When will the worldwide fight against terrorism be over? "I mean, should I get my 3-year-old ready for air assault school?" the soldier asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during an Iraq tour last month.

"I wish I could give you a date, but I can't," Rumsfeld said. That would be like estimating when a town will no longer need firefighters or police, he told the soldier.

Privately, administration officials have said for months that they see the anti-terrorism fight as a decades-long struggle similar to the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.

So the question the Media needs to ask is 'is the Constitution now indefinitely suspended?' And when did we decide to do that? Is that what the Congress did on September 14, 2001 when it passed the AUMF? Is that the Bush Administration's argument? The authorization says:

[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

So does the Bush Administration think that was Congress' suspension of the Constitution? Actually, the answer is no:

[I]t should be noted here that the Joint Resolution is somewhat narrower than the President's constitutional authority. The Joint Resolution's authorization to use force is limited only to those individuals, groups, or states that planned, authorized, committed, or aided the attacks, and those nations that harbored them. It does not, therefore, reach other terrorist individuals, groups, or states, which cannot be determined to have links to the September 11 attacks. Nonetheless, the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the Nation, recognized by the Joint Resolution itself, would allow the President to take whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters.

"Whatever action [the President] deems appropriate." Including disregarding the law and the Constitution. Those are chilling words. The Bush Administration's views are indefensible and unsupported. I'll explain again why below the fold.

In a series of diaries, here, here,  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, I explained in detail that the assertions of Bush, Cheney and Yoo - and all the Fawn Hall Republicans, are preposterous.

The sum of this analysis is best exemplified by this quote from the Hamdi case:

[The Government's position] cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of the separation of powers, as this view only serves to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens. Youngstown Steel and Tube, 343 U.S. at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in times of conflict with other Nations or enemy organizations, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.

And indeed, the cases and opinions most favorable to the Administration's case NEVER even consider the preposterous Fawn Hall Republican view that the President can disregard federal law. For example, in Dames & Moore v. Regan, Justice Rehnquist wrote:

Justice Jackson in his concurring opinion in Youngstown, supra, which both parties agree brings together as much combination of analysis and common sense as there is in this area, focused not on the "plenary and exclusive  power of the President" but rather responded to a claim of virtually unlimited powers for the Executive by noting:

The example of such unlimited executive power that must have most impressed the forefathers was the prerogative exercised by George III, and the description of its evils in the Declaration of Independence leads me to doubt that they were creating their new Executive in his image.

Pretty clear why Bush's defenders do not cite this case.

In United States v. Midwest Oil, where a Presidential action not in conformance with Congressionally mandated procedure was reviewed, the Court said:

Congress not only has a legislative power over the public domain, but it also exercises the powers of the proprietor therein. Congress 'may deal with such lands precisely as an ordinary individual may deal with farming property. It may sell or withhold them from sale.'

. . . The Executive, as agent, was in charge of the public domain; by a multitude of orders extending over a long period of time, and affecting vast bodies of land, in many states and territories, he withdrew large areas in the public interest. These orders were known to Congress, as principal, and in not a single instance was the act of the agent disapproved.

It's pretty obvious why defenders of the Bush Administration do not cite this case also. The idea of the President as an agent of the Congress, subject to its direction, is precisely what they argue against.

The dissent in Youngstown also offers no solace to Bush defenders:

In passing upon the question of Presidential powers in this case, we must first consider the context in which those powers were exercised. Those who suggest that this is a case involving extraordinary powers should be mindful that these are extraordinary times. A world not yet recovered from the devastation of World War II has been forced to face the threat of another and more terrifying global conflict.

Accepting in full measure its responsibility in the world community, the United States was instrumental in securing adoption of the United Nations Charter, approved by the Senate by a vote of 89 to 2. The first purpose of the United Nations is to "maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, . . . ."  In 1950, when the United Nations called upon member nations "to render every assistance" to repel aggression in Korea, the United States furnished its vigorous support.  For almost two full years, our armed forces have been fighting in Korea, suffering casualties of over 108,000 men. Hostilities have not abated. The "determination of the United Nations to continue its action in Korea to meet the aggression" has been reaffirmed. Congressional support of the action in Korea has been manifested by provisions for increased military manpower and equipment and for economic stabilization, as hereinafter described.

. . . Our treaties represent not merely legal obligations but show congressional recognition that mutual security for the free world is the best security against the threat of aggression on a global scale. The need for mutual security is shown by the very size of the armed forces outside the free world. Defendant's brief informs us that the Soviet Union maintains the largest air force in the world and maintains ground forces much larger than those presently available to the United States and the countries joined with us in mutual security arrangements. Constant international tensions are cited to demonstrate how precarious is the peace.

Even this brief review of our responsibilities in the world community discloses the enormity of our undertaking. Success of these measures may, as has often been observed, dramatically influence the lives of many generations of the world's peoples yet unborn. Alert to our responsibilities, which coincide with our own self-preservation through mutual security, Congress has enacted a large body of implementing legislation. As an illustration of the magnitude of the over-all program, Congress has appropriated $130 billion for our own defense and for military assistance to our allies since the June, 1950, attack in Korea.

. . . Congress also directed the President to build up our own defenses. Congress, recognizing the "grim fact . . . that the United States is now engaged in a struggle for survival" and that "it is imperative that we now take those necessary steps to make our strength equal to the peril of the hour," granted authority to draft men into the armed forces. As a result, we now have over 3,500,000 men in our armed forces.

Appropriations for the Department of Defense, which had averaged less than $13 billion per year for the three years before attack in Korea, were increased by Congress to $48 billion for fiscal year 1951 and to $60 billion for fiscal year 1952. . . . The bulk of the increase is for military equipment and supplies - guns, tanks, ships, planes and ammunition - all of which require steel.

. . . Congress recognized the impact of these defense programs upon the economy. Following the attack in Korea, the President asked for authority to requisition property and to allocate and fix priorities for scarce goods. In the Defense Production Act of 1950, Congress granted the powers requested and, in addition, granted power to stabilize prices and wages and to provide for settlement of labor disputes arising in the defense program. The Defense Production Act was extended in 1951, a Senate Committee noting that in the dislocation caused by the programs for purchase of military equipment "lies the seed of an economic disaster that might well destroy the military might we are straining to build." . . . Since Korea, the tremendous military demand for steel has far exceeded the increases in productive capacity.

. . . The President has the duty to execute the foregoing legislative programs. Their successful execution depends upon continued production of steel and stabilized prices for steel. Accordingly, when the collective bargaining agreements between the Nation's steel producers and their employees, represented by the United Steel Workers, were due to expire on December 31, 1951, and a strike shutting down the entire basic steel industry was threatened, the President acted to avert a complete shutdown of steel production.

. . . After bargaining had failed to avert the threatened shutdown of steel production, the President issued the following Executive Order:

"WHEREAS on December 16, 1950, I proclaimed the existence of a national emergency which requires that the military, naval, air, and civilian defenses of this country be strengthened as speedily as possible to the end that we may be able to repel any and all threats against our national security and to fulfill our responsibilities in the efforts being made throughout the United Nations and otherwise to bring about a lasting peace; and

      "WHEREAS American fighting men and fighting men of other nations of the United Nations are now engaged in deadly combat with the forces of aggression in Korea, and forces of the United States are stationed elsewhere overseas for the purpose of participating in the defense of the Atlantic Community against aggression; and

      "WHEREAS the weapons and other materials needed by our armed forces and by those joined with us in the defense of the free world are produced to a great extent in this country, and steel is an indispensable component of substantially all of such weapons and materials; and

      . . . "WHEREAS a work stoppage would immediately jeopardize and imperil our national defense and the defense of those joined with us in resisting aggression, and would add to the continuing danger of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen engaged in combat in the field; and

      . . ."NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

      "1. The Secretary of Commerce is hereby authorized and directed to take possession of all or such of the plants, facilities, and other property of the companies named in the list attached hereto, or any part thereof, as he may deem necessary in the interests of national defense; and to operate or to arrange for the operation thereof and to do all things necessary for, or incidental to, such operation. . . ."

The next morning, April 9, 1952, the President addressed the following Message to Congress:      

"To the Congress of the United States:

      "The Congress is undoubtedly aware of the recent events which have taken place in connection with the management-labor dispute in the steel industry. These events culminated in the action which was taken last night to provide for temporary operation of the steel mills by the Government.

      . . . "[I]t was my judgment that Government operation of the steel mills for a temporary period was the least undesirable of the courses of action which lay open. In the circumstances, I believed it to be, and now believe it to be, my duty and within my powers as President to follow that course of action.

      "It may be that the Congress will deem some other course to be wiser.

      . . ."It may be that the Congress will feel the Government should try to force the steel workers to continue to work for the steel companies for another long period, without a contract

      . . . "It may even be that the Congress will feel that we should permit a shut-down of the steel industry, although that would immediately endanger the safety of our fighting forces abroad and weaken the whole structure of our national security.  

      "I do not believe the Congress will favor any of these courses of action, but that is a matter for the Congress to determine.

      "It may be, on the other hand, that the Congress will wish to pass legislation establishing specific terms and conditions with reference to the operation of the steel mills by the Government. Sound legislation of this character might be very desirable.

      "On the basis of the facts that are known to me at this time, I do not believe that immediate congressional action is essential; but I would, of course, be glad to cooperate in developing any legislative proposals which the Congress may wish to consider.

      "If the Congress does not deem it necessary to act at this time, I shall continue to do all that is within my power to keep the steel industry operating and at the same time make every effort to bring about a settlement of the dispute so the mills can be returned to their private owners as soon as possible."

Twelve days passed without action by Congress. On April 21, 1952, the President sent a letter to the President of the Senate in which he again described the purpose and need for his action and again stated his position that "The Congress can, if it wishes, reject the course of action I have followed in this matter." Congress has not so acted to this date.

. . . Plaintiffs do not remotely suggest any basis for rejecting the President's finding that any stoppage of steel production would immediately place the Nation in peril. . . . Plaintiffs' counsel tells us that "sooner or later" the mills will operate again. That may satisfy the steel companies and, perhaps, the Union. But our soldiers and our allies will hardly be cheered with the assurance that the ammunition upon which their lives depend will be forthcoming - "sooner or later," or, in other words, "too little and too late."  

Accordingly, if the President has any power under the Constitution to meet a critical situation in the absence of express statutory authorization, there is no basis whatever for criticizing the exercise of such power in this case.

Consideration of this view of executive impotence calls for further examination of the nature of the separation of powers under our tripartite system of Government.

. . . In passing upon the grave constitutional question presented in this case, we must never forget, as Chief Justice Marshall admonished, that the Constitution is "intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs," and that "[i]ts means are adequate to its ends." Cases do arise presenting questions which could not have been foreseen by the Framers. In such cases, the Constitution has been treated as a living document adaptable to new situations.

It's quite clear why this opinion is not cited by Bush's defenders. At the height of the Korean War, with a draft instituted, with the United States having suffered 108,000 casualties, with the Cold War in full roar, with a clear finding that steel production was essential to the national defense -- even with all that - the President of the United States and the dissent defending his actions, acknowledge that his actions were subject to Congressional restraint.

The dissent took the position that, absent Congressional prohibition, given the state of emergency prevalent, the President could act as he did. The opinions in the majority believed that the Congress had prohibited the President's action by implication.

No one, including President Truman, argued that the President could act contrary to federal law. No one ever has in serious fashion.

Until now. Until the rise of the Fawn Hall Republicans, led by Dick Cheney.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 02:52 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lying for Jesus (none)

    What we keep forgetting is that "lying", at least as we understand the definition (the intentional misrepresentation of facts) doesn't even exist in the true believer mind-set.

    To these deluded anti-American so-called "republicans", lying for Jesus means it isn't lying at all.  

    Breaking the law is acceptable too.

    We believe in logic, facts, the rule of law and the Constitution.

    But when "Jesus" is behind you, you can do no wrong.  

    So how do we fight back?  We find those who still believe in the rule of law in the judiciary and we prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

    You don't have to believe in the law to still have it affect you.

    •  Cheney is an insane and corrupt (4.00)

      He is a bottom feeder par excellance.

      Pond scum is a higher form of life than he is.

      One of the eternal mysteries that has plagued humans throughout time is why pieces of scum like this are allowed to exist on this planet with the power they have, such that they can wreck havoc upon their fellow humans and upon the planet?

      This piece of biological plasm is beyond the ability of words to accurately describe how reprehensible he is.

  •  I find it amazing (none)
    that anybody would expect Lon Cheney to behave other than he does.

    In the beginning there was nothing...which exploded.

    by lucysdad on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 02:56:34 PM PST

    •  whoa... (none)
      that's an insult to a fine old actor to call that bastard "Lon" Cheney.

      (Actually, an insult to two fine old actors, Lon Sr. and Lon Jr.)

      I will admit, though, that Cheney bears a slight resemblance to Lon Chaney Sr.'s "Phantom," if that Phantom had put on about 30 or 40 pounds.

      -8.25, -6.26 ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:21:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We Wolfmen (none)
      are offended.  Dick "The Prick" and Lon, Lon Jr. are world's apart.

      ARRROOOOO!! Go Wolves!


      Howlin' at the World from the Left Side of the Planet

      by WolfmanSpike on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:39:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  IN spite of all (none)
    the blah blah on this subject by conservative lock steppers, I think, generally speaking people are not happy with this spying thing for our own "safety".

    My biggest worry is that this is a wet dream for Dick Cheney and friends...... a war that will never end. And I am so sick of the spin as they march us down the path of fascism.

    inspire change...don't back down

    by missliberties on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 02:58:44 PM PST

    •  Magic or slight of hand? (none)
      I continue to be amazed at the neat trick Cheney et al. have wrought:  they use lies and fake "evidence" to get the country into a war, then they use the "fact" that we're in a war to justify all sorts of illegal moves.

      Could there be ANYONE ought there in the media who'd like to point this out?

      And BTW, has there ever been a formal "declaration of war" or is this another Administration myth?

  •  Thanks, Daschle and Gephardt (none)
    A year after the AUMF, the White House demanded yet another blank check from Congress. And what did the so-called leaders of the so-called opposition do? They rolled over and play dead.

    I only hope that the damage that those two condoned in 2001-02 can be undone.

  •  Why make this a religious issue? (none)
    I read through Armando's fine presentation and did not discern that he was claiming that Bush used a religious defense for his actions. Instead, it seems to me that Armando sticks to legal precedence and arguments. Maybe I missed something, but I haven't heard the "Jesus defense" even from the Bush administration with respect to the NSA issue. If you have evidence that Bush feels Jesus told him to wiretap legally or illegally, I'd like to hear it. If not, I'll have to reject your hypothesis as mere speculation by someone with a grudge against 1) Jesus 2) Bush 3) Armando's legal expertise 4) All of the above?
    •  I believe he was merely using Jesus (none)
      as shorthand, so to speak, for the idea that a great and good and imperative goal (in their eyes) justifies anything in the way of tactics.
      •  Maybe more like back of the hand ... (none)
        ... to Christians who participate here. It was wrong to introduce the idea that Bush was "Lying for Jesus" without offering any evidence, so I'm calling the commenters hand on it. I'll guess that he will be unable to provide any evidence. Consequently, we will be left to assume that Bush and his handlers thought up this NSA mischief all on their own, without any thought of Jesus one way or the other, and with no need to be "lying for Jesus," who, once again, is innocent of any wrongdoing, unlike Bush.
      •  you got it (none)

        "Jesus" doesn't mean the actual idea of Jesus.  Only the idea that they are so "right" in the eyes of God/Government/Morality that they never need to worry if they break a few eggs along the way.

        This about the danger of a complete lack of self criticism.  But I do think this mentality does emerge from the fundie certanties of the born-again even if it isn't explicitly stated.

        •  We're right with God, so nothing else matters (4.00)
          Jimmy Carter makes this very criticism of fundamentalists in his latest book.

          He also makes the point that these folks don't accept criticism/judgment from "mere mortals" since they're operating on God's wavelength.

          And he's a born-again Christian.

          •  So am I ... (none)
            ... and every bit as qualified to speak on this matter as my brother Jimmy Carter. Carter makes his comments when addressing the issue of use of religion by the Republican Party for secular purposes. He says that such use is inappropriate.

            That's the same point I am making. It is inappropriate to explain the actions and denials of the Bush administration about the NSA wiretaps as being motivated by allegiance to Jesus. There is no evidence that is the case, unless I've missed something in the news recently.

            Armando correctly sticks to the legal issues in this diary, without introducing the spurious issue of faith to explain the Bush administration actions and denials.

            •  I'll bite on this... (none)
              and may regret it.

              But what I'm seeing in that comment is that there is a strong undercurrent message in the Bush admin and their apologists, especially the religious right (I'm distinguishing from evangelicals in general), that the ends justify the means, cuz "I believe in Jesus, so I can do no wrong (or at least, I'm forgiven for it)."

              There's a conflict between those who feel they are justified by faith (implicitly they can do anything they want and faith in Jesus will get them into "heaven"), and the alternative message that "Faith without works is dead" (I think that was St. Peter, and is a strong current running theough the Catholic Church).  I much prefer the second message to the first; I see the first too often used as an excuse.

              •  You may be right in general ... (none)
                ... but I don't see any evidence that is the case with respect to the NSA wiretapping. I can explain the Bush misdeeds as plain and simple hubris of the privileged-kid-frat-boy mentality. Of course, unlike many folks, I don't think the Bush faith runs very deep, at least in his executive actions. I hear the words he speaks but see little evidence that faith is his driving force. It is more a political tool-of-convenience than a policy shaper, imo. I just don't see the motivation for bypassing the FISA court to do illegal wiretaps as anything more than a presidency operating in a political vacuum where there is little or no worry about oversight by the Republican-controlled Congress.
                •  But in terms of PR spin (none)
                  (which is what I believe the original poster was referring to), it is not spurious to wonder when the adminstration will play the "faith-card".

                  Bush claims he was "chosen by God" to lead the war on terror, and the administration has most definitely defended the NSA wiretaps as necessary in fighting the war.

                  I guess "Live Free or Die" was just an expression.

                  by Siminon on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:40:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  well, if you believe that (none)
              It is inappropriate to explain the actions and denials of the Bush administration about the NSA wiretaps as being motivated by allegiance to Jesus. There is no evidence that is the case

              then you have, indeed, missed plenty in the news.  or logic 101.  if shrubya believes he's god's preznit and he's fightin' god's war against the brown peoples, it follows that the NSA infractions are also in god's name.  

      •  or, to put it as succintly as possible.. (none)
        ....the ends justify the means?
  •  If they never admit fault (none)
    and claim they have the right to a dictatorship then that's their defense against impeachment. "Hey you can't impeach me because I didn't do anything wrong".

    So far, most people outside dKos are buying that line.

    -4.25, -6.87: Someday, after the forest fire of the Right has died we'll say "Whew, I'm happy that's over."

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:00:44 PM PST

  •  this is an excellent analysis (4.00)
    And while I'm not a lawyer, it seems you have the case law down cold.  

    The intro to your more substantive analysis lays it out well:

    "Well, Mr. Vice President, either we are serious about following the Constitution and the law or we are not."

    That's it.  We're really down to it now.

    The Republicans have flat-out said that the United States is now a monarchy. They have said that the law of the land is suspended for as long as they decide to suspend it.  And the final say in all matters is the President, who is in reality a king.

    That's it.  That's their view of America as we head into 2006.  They can justify it however they want, but that's what they believe America is now:  a land ruled by a king.  

    They believe the United States of America is dead.  And as we see from Cheney's statement, they celebrate that fact.  

    They never liked this country anyway.

    •  The notion (4.00)
      that nobody is above the law is contingent on the implicit belief that nobody has more or fewer basic rights than anyone else. We authorize the president to exercise certain powers in the governing of the country, but we authorize these powers to the presidential office as a legal entity, not to the president as a lionized superman.

      Unfortunitely, I think* this runs mostly contrary to basic human instincts regarding authority. At the level at which feelings like obedience to (or resentment of) tribal leaders are encoded, we don't really have the capacity to distinguish between abstracts (the office of the presidency) and concretes (the president himself). Thus, over time, if it is not kept very, very clear that our president is a citizen inhabiting a legal entity, with no more basic rights than any other citizen, many people will eventually grant him kingship unconsciously. Even some those who mistrust and oppose the man will think of him as though he were more than drab human. This is why it never serves to become emotionally involved with politics: dry,  soulless legalism is what protects us from the demon in our own pattern.

      * Disclaimer: I'm aware that many of my theories on humanity have more in common with outdated schools of thought than they do with the more acceptable traditions such as cognitive behaviorism and socio-linguistics. Fie upon young whippersnappers and their trendy theories.

      •  I'll say it again... (none)
        The United States does need a King.

        ...a modern King, that is. A King with zero political power -- a human ritual-keeper who personifies the power and majesty of the... well, I guess in your case it would be the Constitution.

        This business of reverence for a thing as abstract as an "office" is not working. It's too hard a concept for the average American to grasp. (I know -- it didn't use to be too hard a distinction, but that was before the dumbing down of America.) The American impulse to create a king to satisfy the desire for a human symbol of the nation was already apparent in the way people regarded Jack Kennedy, but it's getting worse, and has been accelerating throughout my lifetime.

        Divide the office of the Presidency.

        Let the revised President have no power, not even a teensy bit -- but by all means let him receive all the patriotic sentiment a proud country wishes to bestow.

        Create a new directly elected office, maybe call it the "CEO." (No reason to reproduce the electoral college here.) Make sure that no-one holding it is ever given one iota more respect than he or she can earn on his or her own merits. And, that not respecting this CEO is not only not unpatriotic, it's considered the normal state of affairs.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:02:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Go Monarchy? (none)
          You've just made the point why myself and most of my fellow Norwegians on the left wing support the constitutional monarchy.

          We run the thought-experiment on abolishing it. Would it make us any more democratic? No, not really, as the real power is in the hands of parliament and the Prime Minister anyway.

          And if we did have a republic, who might end up as President? My side imagines Nor-Bush and shudder, while the conservatives have a vision of Nor-Dean (only ten degrees to the left) and get the heebie-jeebies.

          All in all, both sides can live with the King/Queen as figurehead and umpire.

        •  I'd suggest you make (none)
          that CEO a PM. And scuttle your Congress for a parliamentary system. At least that would resolve the strangling phenomenom your two-party system and winner-takes-all mentality of yours.

          Restore Democracy! Denounce the GOP (George Orwell's Party)!

          by high5 on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 04:21:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  winning war and protecting Consitution (none)
    As Colin Powell said it is relatively easy to get the FISA courts to provide warrants for surveillance.  There is, as I understand it, a provision in the law to start the surveillance and then go get the warrant, if done within 72 hours.

    Americans should respond to the Republicans false choice of winning the war or protecting the Constitution by putting the forth the positive statement that we can do both. The law already allows for a vigorous defense of terror while protecting innocent Americans. Its a simple balance that protects freedom to the fullest.

    We can win the war and protect the Constitution. Its a straightforward statement that most Americans understand.

  •  But (none)
    I am confident that they will be proven to have done wrong.Then it won't matter what they say.

    it tastes like burning...

    by eastvan on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:06:04 PM PST

  •  The Constitution: (none)
    "Love it or Shove it."

    My vote's for the former.

  •  Of course (4.00)
    All of these questions must be posed to ScAlito during the SCOTUS hearings starting on the 9th.  While I'm sure Roe will take center stage, the shooting match will be whether ScAlito subscribes to Cheney's view of executive power.  All of these Cheney quotes must be read ScAlito, and he must be asked whether he agrees or disagrees,

    Of course, if he agrees, we may need to change his nickname from ScAlito.  Scalia, for all his problems, ruled decisively in Hamdi that the President's power is constrained by Congress, at least in the case of Habeous Corpus.  If ScAlito subscribes to Cheney's view, then his only analogue on the current COurt (besides Roberts, who is an unknown), is Thomas, who took the broadest view of executive power in Hamdi.  Perhaps we will then have to start calling him ThomAlito.

    Oh when the frogs. . Come marching in. . Oh when the FROGS COME MARCH-ING IN!

    by pontificator on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:06:37 PM PST

  •  It's here right now (none)
    the GWOT will never end....

    the Presidend is granted whatever powers he needs to protect us during this war....

    he and only he will determine what powers he needs....

    Vice President Cheney will help....

    Are you prepared to live on your knees?

    I'm not.

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

    by Nestor Makhnow on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:06:41 PM PST

    •  Suppose he deems it appropriate (none)
      to designate himself "Protector of the People" for life? Too risky having elections every four years, you know.
      •  especially if 2006 goes poorly n/t (none)
      •  Yeah.... (none)
        worrisome indeed. The fallacy here is that he is protecting us. He's not according to everything I read his administration is just as inept as it was before 9/11.

        The big disconnect in this country is between the fact that Bush was "in charge" on 9/11 yet paid no political price for failing to protect us even thought he could have.

        His God won't be able to help him if  OBL attacks in the continental U.S. again.

        "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

        by Nestor Makhnow on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:05:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Cheesy as it sounds, but (none)
      didn't George Lucas try to squeeze a dumbed-down account of this very situation of corrupted politicians giving extrordinary power to a corrupt leader in a war purposely with no end? Does this really go over so many average Americans heads as far as it appears? How much further dumbed-down does it have to be presented for Americans to get it? Democracy and the Constitution have been reduced to little more than a facade.

      Can anyone tell me why my American flag was made in China?

      by Skid on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:53:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  no worship (none)
    but that wuz yer best title.
  •  Line (none)
    I can only think to myself where will America draw the line with this President. Honestly and truly, when or if, and it is a big if, will America say enough is enough. Does anyone really think at this point they won't keep going until Bush is impeached, and that may not even slow them down.
    •  Arctic Drilling (none)
      Since Cheney and Bush so passionately believed that domestic spying statutes were worth defying, what exactly is preventing them from allowing drilling in the ANWR?

      Or any other statute which they feel doesn't fit in with their plans?

      The GOP, the Law and Order Party, has COMPLETELY LOST ITS SHIT.

  •  Thank you, Armando (4.00)
    For your superb series on this topic, and especially for this:

    Well, Mr. Vice President, either we are serious about following the Constitution and the law or we are not. Either we believe the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no person is above the law, or we don't. I believe the Bush Administration is a hell of a threat to the rule of law and the Constitution.

    What Democrat (or, for that matter, Republican) in national office has the cojones to say this?  
    Because that's precisely what's needed right now.

    Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. -Voltaire (tx Cartoon Peril!)

    by mspicata on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:10:51 PM PST

  •  I remember those shirts that said (none)
    Better Shred than Red

    What would this Admin's T-shirt slogan be?

    Better Scerror than Terror

    I am so far to the left I can almost see the right again.

    by beagleandtabby on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:11:47 PM PST

  •  George III (none)
    After George Washington  and George H. W. Bush, the current resident of the White House is  in fact George III.
  •  If this country survived a Civil War (none)
    two World Wars and the Cold War without shredding the Constitution, we should make it throught his period of our nation's existence without doig so as well.
  •  Armando for POTUS !!!!!!! (none)
    Nothing else to say.

    "A man who chooses not to read, is just as ignorant as the man who cannot read."

    by TexDem on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:15:17 PM PST

    •  Or better yet SCOTUS (none)

      "now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill

      by Thor Heyerdahl on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:29:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Armando wants to replace (none)
        Scalia or Thomas.

        There are those among us who still find the memory of the trumpeting of Thomas as taking the "Thurgood Marshall" seat a hideous memory.  Of course, Armando wouldn't be the first self-proclaimed "asshole" on the Court. John Marshall beat him to it.

        Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

        by Rolfyboy6 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:56:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How about SCROTUS? (none)
        I haven't bothered to think up anything it could stand for, but all these acronyms that end in OTUS sound off color anyway.

        We're all pretty crazy some way or other; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is just a setting on my dryer.

        by david78209 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 06:59:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Glad to see Geoff Stone weighing in (none)
    He was the dean at the University of Chicago Law School while I was there and is one of the country's top legal minds.

    But Geoff, how about walking down the hall and knocking some sense into Cass Sunstein? Professor Sunstein has suddenly become the "liberal" law professor who comes out in defense of the Administration, first on Alito and now on spygate.

  •  Jan 2009 (none)
    And just what does the current regime expect to happen on inauguration day in 2009?  Are they planning to install their own shadow govt to keep their little secret operations up-and-running (I suspect Diebold can come up with some interesting hacking software for them)?  Or are they counting on sheeple to plead for a coup?

    The adminstration's insinuations that no other adminstration in the future will ever be able to govern as well as it has or take security as seriously as it does (cough, cough) should be another Dem screaming point actually to illustrate Bush/Cheney absurdities.

    •  You think (none)
      there actually is going to be an inauguration day, 2009? Mighty optimistic of you, I must say. Me, I figure George will have deemed it appropriate to become Protector of the People, for life, way before then.
  •  Ahhh. (none)
    The Repug's limitless paranoia regarding terrorism/national security as justification for illegal power grabs.  It's a power grab for grabbing power and for no other reason.  Do it because you can.  

    Fear will keep the local systems in line. -Grand Moff Tarkin Survivor Left Blogistan

    by boran2 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:27:59 PM PST

  •  Fawn Hall Republicans !!!!!!!!! (4.00)
    excellent meme

    this is beautiful

    time to start sticking the appropriate labels on these weasels:

    "WARNING - Fawn Hall Republican...sense of integrity and ability to follow the law may be flawed -- use proper precautions"

    •  But will Cheney pose (none)
      nude in Playboy like Fawn Hall did?  This story may not have legs.

      Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

      by Rolfyboy6 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:50:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not Cheney's Legs, Anyway. (none)
        And not Fawn's either, NOW.

        "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

        by martyc35 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:58:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This bunch of scandal (none)
          hasn't thrown up a trash queen heroine yet.  Where are the Fawn Halls and Paula Joneses of the Abramoff lobbying efforts?  With all the junkets there had to be some Abramoff divers.

          Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

          by Rolfyboy6 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:10:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  They want the war on terror to go on forever (4.00)
    One of my buddies is an ex-cop. Not just any cop, he was SF, Security Forces in the Air Force. He joined up back during the Clinton years and after seeing some of how Bush operated, didn't reenlist.

    One of the main missions of Security Forces is Force Protection and Anti-terrorism operations. From day one as a cop, he was taught that you can wipe out terrorism. It will never be done. It is impossible to end all acts of terrorism. That is why Force Protection at the base level is so important, because there's really no way to predict what will happen and when it will happen, so you have to react when the act is in progress to stop it. For us, after the Khobar Tower bombings, we established standoff zones for important buildings. There's barriers in place to prevent vehicles from getting close enough to do significant damage. Stops worrisome truck bombs.

    You can't have a war on terror for the purpose of actually beating or wiping out terror. If nothing else, every person you capture, detain, torture, or kill, in "fighting" the war on terror, has a family. They have friends. They have people who will want revenge for their loved one. Killing a man just makes more enemies for you. Our current way of fighting is only going to feed the flames, any idiot can see that.

    To go to extremes (because every asshole moron redneck Republican fucktard always wants to nuke any country giving us trouble), we could wipe out every country where Muslim extremism is present. Hit them all with one f thse great big penis shaped nukes that the Repubs love so much. In so doing we would have a few scattered individuals all over the world from those countries devoted to eliminating America. See, there'd be people in America and elsewhere from those countries. Their families dead in an act of injustice, they would very easily consider it their righteous duty to hurt our country in any way popular. What danger could they be?

    How many hijackers were there on 9/11?

    Killing begets killing, and you can't just grind through our people and their people forever. The Republicans would like to, because they can suspend freedom indefinitely to ensure they stay in power. The simple fact is that the war on terror can never end, not the way we've been fighting it. The worrying part is that I don't think that makes a difference at this point.

    We're at war with Eastasia. We've always been at war with Eastasia. We'll always be at war with Eastasia.

    Somebody really needs to tell the White House that "1984" is a cautionary tale, not a political guidebook.

    by jabbausaf on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:32:01 PM PST

    •  Very much on point. (none)
      A minor correction, though... if the US ever did nuke every country where Muslim extremism is present, it would have more to deal with than a few leftover relatives. Terrorism would in fact be the least of its worries. It would find itself in a state of officially declared war with, well, pretty much every other nation in the world.

      Including Canada.

      Because... a US that could do that, would be so completely out of control, so utterly not the US that we had thought of as our neighbor, that self-preservation would require all other nations to unite to pull it down.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:17:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very true (none)
        Figured it was too obvious for me to have to worry about pointing that out.

        Obvious to us anyway, I'm amazed at how many other people can't pick up on that, or think "we could take them".

        Somebody really needs to tell the White House that "1984" is a cautionary tale, not a political guidebook.

        by jabbausaf on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:30:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I hope the "War on terror" goes better (none)
      than the "War on drugs" or the "War on poverty".

      They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve to be known as Republicans

      by Jlukes on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:35:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Take heart (none)
    Cheney will be dead soon.

    Considering that there's a God.

    Let's hope that his defibrillator is the kind that has to be recalled.

    Anyway, as long as I'm here, the first of 11 installments of 2005 in Review is just up, for your amusement, bemusement or edufication. Over the holiday w/e, I hope to cover all 11 months that my blog's been up.

    Is we bloggers being educated? I'll do my bestest. All that plus a new kick-ass caption!


    Defending bad taste and liberalism since 2005.

    by jurassicpork on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:33:08 PM PST

  •  Technically legal (4.00)
    Technically al-Qaeda was training inside the United States prior to 911 so it could be argued that America was harboring terrorists in the same way Iraq was and therefor is subject to the rules provided under the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

    It seems pretty clear to me that not only is the Bush administration within its legal right to authorize warrant-less surveillance against American citizens but could, at its discretion, declare war on America. After all, there were al-Qaeda training camps in Iraq with no connection to Baghdad and we had to remove that regime.

    I think there's only one course of action the president can take at this point. For consistency sake he must declare war on America and remove himself and his regime from office and try to establish a western-style Jeffersonian democracy that's friendly to America.

    The president is either with himself or he's against himself , er ... something.

  •  Democrats & media also have their Fawn Halls (none)
    Bush/Cheney have filled the air with lies with a tacit nod from leading Democrats and Media. Bush never said 'war'. The catch words were 'serious consequences'. If Bush wanted the country to go to war, he should have said so.

    Those unwilling to stand against Bush's unconstitutional invasion of Iraq are willing to accept anything. They would likely go for a Bush third term.

  •  If I recall the history... (none)
    ...of the Iran-Contra scandal correctly, Fawn Hall was pretty hot.  Therefore, I would argue that the Constitution may only be suspended by women who are pretty hot.  Clearly, Bush does not fall into this category.  Therefore, he has abused his authority.  QED.

    Hey, it's every bit as valid as Cheney's reasoning!  And probably less harmful in the long run....

    "...the big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    by Roddy McCorley on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:44:06 PM PST

  •  POTUS then SCOTUS (none)
    His successor makes the appointment.

    "A man who chooses not to read, is just as ignorant as the man who cannot read."

    by TexDem on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:45:00 PM PST

  •  Cheney can eat a dick... (none)
    the problem isn't that Bush/Cheney were spying on terrorists. And Cheney knows this. His is a strawman argument.

    Spying on suspected terrorists is what we expect these idiots who let 911 happen to do.

    The problem is that they were/are wasting officers to spy on Quakers, Vegans, and Homosexuals for political reasons.

    And that's the problem with giving guys like Cheney and Bush too much power.

    I trust the CIA to go on doing what they've always done... keep terrorists from attacking us.

    I trust the CIA to go above the law like they've always done up until Bush and Cheney started mucking around with them... which led to 911.

    The point is that Bush and Cheney aren't to be trusted.

    I don't mind fiddling with the Consititution as a principle. Times change.

    But I just find it ironic that the Conservatives... the ones who want to obey the letter of the Consitution when it comes to Gays, Gods, and Guns... they don't believe in their own principles when it comes down simply to political spying.

    Cheney's put up a strawman argument. I have no problem with spying on suspected terrorists if they run it by the CIA and the Justice Department and get a warrant.

    The problem is that Bush/Cheney used our agents to safeguard their re-election campaign.

    That's not only illegal... it puts us all in danger. Puting more power in Cheney's hands=taking agents away from spying on who they should be spying on... who they were spying on under Clinton.

    That's why we got attacked on 911. Because of Cheney. So fuck him and his bullshit scare-tactics. The sooner he's out of office and dead, the sooner he'll no longer be engineering ways for us to get attacked so he can go to war in Iraq and re-align power structures to suit his people.

    U.S. blue collar vs. CEO income in 1992 was 1:80; in 1998 it was 1:418.

    by Lode Runner on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:45:50 PM PST

  •  Whatever happened with her anyhow? (n/t) (none)
  •  Fawn Hall..Armando you are really (none)
    doing your research! As much of my Fawn Hall gray matter has ceased to exist..didn't she have a secretary job but couldn't type?? and had a cocaine problem?? Sounds like a Republican to me..
  •  Oh, Cripes. Fawn Hall. (none)
    Although I knew I'd never forget Oliver North, I had managed to forget Fawn Hall. Thanks, Armando. It's going to be like having a bad song stuck in my head. Good imagery, though.

    Okay. I think we all agree that you have the right arguments. But what do we do about Bush's (Gonzales's) attempt to turn the tables by starting a criminal investigation into the leaking of the NSA program? I don't think he gives a shit about the leakers. He just wants to scare reporters, since begging them not to publish didn't work. And I can see him plotting with Karl: "See, if we go after them about these wiretap leaks, they'll be too damned scared to say anything when you get indicted for your leaks, kinda catapultin' them indictments, ya know?"

    Wake me when it's 2006--not tomorrow, next October.

    "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

    by martyc35 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:52:13 PM PST

  •  Is Bush going for a third term? (4.00)
    Think about it.

    The only thing limiting a president to two terms... is an amendment in the Constitution.

    It's not even one of the original ones, it was added after the last great Democrat president died in office.

    What if the President declares that, to fight the war on terror, he needs to stay in office?

    It depends a lot on the 2006 elections and how they go. Even then, if Scalito goes through, they hold the Supreme Court forever. Regardless of a Democrat complete re-taking of the House and Senate in 2006, which isn't by any means a sure thing, the Republicans, and specifically the administration, will hold the other two branches of government. If there is a Republican win in 2006... we're all fucked. There won't be anything to stop the Republican party from staying in office and in power indefinitely.

    If the Constitution does not apply during the duration of the War on Terror, and the War on Terror is indefinite, where does that leave the Constitution?

    Somebody really needs to tell the White House that "1984" is a cautionary tale, not a political guidebook.

    by jabbausaf on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:52:55 PM PST

  •  About Yoo. (none)
    Digby found this snippet about Yoo.

    Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush's legal policies in the "war on terror" than John Yoo. This is a remarkable feat, because Yoo was not a cabinet official, not a White House lawyer, and not even a senior officer within the Justice Department. He was merely a mid-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel with little supervisory authority and no power to enforce laws. Yet by all accounts, Yoo had a hand in virtually every major legal decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same-- the president can do whatever the president wants.

    That shows how desperate they were to find someone to agree woth their views. And you have to wonder how many people they searceh through before finding that piece of scum in the first place.

    "I was Rambo in the disco. I was shootin' to the beat. When they burned me in effigy. My vacation was complete." Neil Young. Mideast Vacation.

    by Mike S on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:00:24 PM PST

  •  False Dichotomy (none)
    It's not a question of fighting terrorism vs. obeying the law.

    How can we protect ourselves against Al Qaeda moles, for example, unless we have search warrants and checks and balance?

    Break a law to protect us? Go to trial and plead exegent circumstances.....see what a judge and jury do about it.

    But claiming to do heroics in secret, with warrantless searches_ NO WAY!

    Bush and Cheney should prove that they need to do searches.

  •  The actual Franklin quote: (none)
        "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
            Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
            US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees"

    by Blutodog on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:11:33 PM PST

  •  Armando On the subject of Article II powers (none)
    and Article 1 Section 8 powers, per Bojess' request on the Volokh Conspiracy thread where you also posted, I did some research on the Law of Nations because Article 1 Section 8 authorizes Congress to define offenses and set punishments under it.

    If you read my posts you will find that the Law of Nations was a treatise by a Swiss legal philosopher published in 1758.  It is five books in length and has an entire book on the subject of war.  

    When you see what the Law of Nations covered and when you begin to understand the global scope of its coverage, I think the fair reading of the Constitution is that the executive, on war matters, could only operate within the parameters set by Congress.  I think a fair reading of the Constitution, is that the Law of Nations reference, reduces the President as Commander in Chief to little more than a military figurehead unless the Congress gives him more power.

    The Law of Nations is a fascinating read and it is quite curious as to why it has dropped off the jurisprudental radar.

  •  Political Comics by HL (none)
    Check out The best Political Comics of 2005 by
    The Hollywood Liberal

    Happy New Year

  •  telling the truth (none)
    for Darwin, there all happy now? If jesus is good for you...great, but NEVER apply your rules on others. Freedom FROM religon,FROM speech etc. Get it? *How come you never see any 'amputees' on thoes 'healing' preacher shows'? They always heal things you can't SEE. They never 'GROW BACK MY LEGS! LORD!....just show me some proof...I've been waiting all my life.
  •  off topic (none)
    has it been announced who the new frontpagers will be? I've been away and may have missed it.


  •  1987 Cheney quotes (none)
    Somebody please explain why we didn't hear his express advocacy for Presidential lawbreaking on radio spots during the 2000 campaign.

    A Senator YOU can afford
    $1 contributions only.
    Masel for Senate
    1214 E. Mifflin St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    by ben masel on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:35:41 PM PST

  •  Senate Weasel 2005 (none)

    The 2005 Senate Weasel of The Year Award  by Bob Gieger
    Here's how the top five weasels looked at year-end along with their number of lousy votes:

    Ben Nelson (D-NE) 41
    Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 19
    Kent Conrad (D-ND) 18
    Max Baucus (D-MT) 17
    Mark Pryor (D-AR) 17
    So who would meet that standard? Who would vote with George W. Bush and the GOP so often that there are actually Republican Senators who have a better record of voting in a "Democratic" way?

    It's Ben Nelson, of my own home state of Nebraska!

    Nelson's work on behalf of the Republican party would be impressive, were it not so downright disgusting and infuriating. Blowing away the competition with a whopping 41 GOP votes - for an 82 percent weasel rating - Nelson voted with Bill Frist on most critical issues including the following:

    Voted for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
    Voted for cloture and for an end to debate on John Bolton and to deny Democrats information they requested.
    Voted for the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)
    Voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act -- AKA, the NRA bill

    Voted for Energy Policy Act of 2005
    Voted no on bill to provide funding for interoperable communications equipment grants for first responders
    Voted no on general relief bill for Katrina victims that included a critical exemption from new bankruptcy laws to take effect in October.
    Voted to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of Supreme Court
    Voted twice against money to provide for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
    Voted against increasing the maximum Federal Pell Grant award by $200
    Voted against increasing appropriations for Head Start programs
    Voted against funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program within the Health Resources and Services Administration.
    Voted for Republican budget reconciliation bill (the one Democrats tried to rename the "Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act")
    Voted against establishing a national commission on policies and practices on the treatment of detainees since September 11, 2001.
    Voted against providing for judicial review of detention of enemy combatants.
    Voted against sense of the Senate amendment concerning the provision of health care for children before providing tax cuts for the wealthy.
    Voted for the Tax Relief Act of 2005
    Voted to invoke cloture (end filibuster) on USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005

    Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!!

    by timber on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:40:57 PM PST

  •  Let's not fall for this false choice (4.00)
    This is not a question of national security vs. civil liberties, as both sides, ironically, seem to be positioning it as. It's actually a choice between defending national security AND civil liberties on the one hand, and diminishing BOTH on the other.

    Among its MANY other illegal if not unconstitutional policies, the administration's policy of spying on Americans without FISA court warrants or congressional oversight and approval is actually HURTING national security, as well as, of course, civil liberties.

    The threat that this policy poses to civil liberties is pretty obvious and has been amply laid out. However, the threat that it poses to national security is just as grave and needs to be emphasized by Democrats, especially given how they're being painted as anti-national security liberals by the administration for opposing it.

    It threatens national security in several ways:

    1. Because it's not subject to oversight, it runs the risk of being ineptly conducted--as is virtually every other administration policy that has not been subject to oversight.
    2. By creating yet another unnecessary politically divisive issue that takes attention away from actually defending national security.
    3. By, as has been pointed out recently, providing potential terrorists with legal grounds to avoid prosecution and imprisonment, even when it's fully justified and necessary.

    By adopting such an idiotic and illegal policy, the administration has actually hurt national security, not helped it.

    So let's not let the right OR the left allow this issue to be wrongly cast in a false and misleading light. This issue is very much one of protecting national security AND civil liberties vs. hurting both. It's yet another example of how we allow the right to "frame" issues in ways that serve THEIR interests, but not OURS--i.e. not just the left, but ALL Americans.

  •  So, Armando... (none)
    you're spending the weekend preparing your IMPEACH signs, right?
  •  Wht can't there be more Ron Paul Republicans? (none)
  •  Call me crazy (4.00)
    Cheney said:

    Either we believe that there are individuals out there doing everything they can to try to launch more attacks, try to get ever deadlier weapons to use against us or we don't. The president and I believe very deeply that there is a hell of a threat.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that this might be factually incorrect?

    I mean, what if 9/11/2001 was an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind event?

    What if... call me crazy... foreign-sponsored terrorism is not our most pressing problem?

    •  call me crazy two n/t (none)
    •  it IS a concern... (none)
      and one that should be taken seriously. And, sadly, it will probably be an ongoing threat, for a number of reasons. (Really, there has been some form of terrorism for centuries, if not for the entire recorded history of humanity.)

      But you're right - at its worst, it's still not our most pressing problem. In the hands of this regime, it's a boogeyman.

      -8.25, -6.26 ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:49:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Aren't These Guys (none)
    strict Constitutionalists? Don't they abhor those who would adopt anything but a restricted interpretation of a written law. Funny how these pricks can stretch the law when they want to crush civil liberties or refuse to allow a state to recount its own ballots. Fucking fascists.

    Canada - where a pack of smokes is ten bucks and a heart transplant is free.

    by dpc on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:09:13 PM PST

  •  The rain in Plame falls mainly on... (none)
    Well, you get the idea.  It's probably been noticed but with the call to investigate the 'leak' to the NY Times about the secret and illegal eavesdropping on 'murkin citizens, the funny thing that stands out is this...

    Georgie brings in the NYT to the 'oval office' last week so they can chat about this article and get them to not publish it, DAYS before it's to be published EVEN THOUGH the bushCo regime ASKED the new york times A YEAR AGO not to publish it, to which the NYT OBLIGED.

    I mean if you KNEW ABOUT THIS A YEAR AGO wouldn't you want to investigate WHO LEAKED IT TO THEM a year ago?

    The answer?  Plame.  They couldn't on the one hand say we don't need an investigation into this whole PLAME  matter BUT we do need an investigation into this TRUTHFUL new york times matter RIGHT AWAY...  nah, let's wait a year.   Plus the revelation of this during an ELECTION YEAR kinda puts the whole armstrong williams/Judith Fucking Miller thing into perspective.

    That the 'public editor' of the times bring up the whole 'book deal' as the reason for the revelation, NOT the fact that it was bushCO that TOLD THEM they could not print it OVER A YEAR AGO seems kind of self-serving on BOTH sides, don't you think?

    That the NY Times editorial board itself won't comment on this just weeks after the washington post was CAUGHT knowing about the plame investigation and it's involvement with the other 'liberal journalist', Woodward, just shows you how in the pocket the entire 'liberal media' is with the gop/bushCo regime.

    God help those prosecuting the abramoff scandal and GOD HELP anyone 'real' journalists left who begin to report more and more on this whole Teapot Dome II scandal.

  •  '06 is gonna be a great year (none)
    for America but a SHITTY year for the gop and the bushCo regime.

    I have the feeling it finally wakes up from this deep slumber and realizes what has been happening.

  •  They're on a MISSION... (none)
    ...From God.

    Actually, recall that the hallmark of Civil Disobedience is that you are willing to take the penalty offered by the law, in order to bring to light the greater injustice being done under the unjust law, or unjust situation sustained by that law.

    You take the punishment in order to educate your fellow citizens, and their jurists and legislators, in the moral course of action you believe the society should move toward.

    These guys duck and weave, and attempt every evasion.  They have nothing to show us except the corruption that "absolute power" absolutely brings...

    CLEAN SWEEP 2006.


    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:14:57 PM PST

    •  yes, Mr. Thoreau... (none)
      if Bush wasn't such a little punk, he'd go on national TV and say, "ya know what? I broke the law. There, I said it. I did. And I'll accept whatever ramifications that leads to. But, I believe in what I did, that it was right, and I'd do it again if I had to. In fact, I still AM doing it."

      But no. He's a little coward.

      -8.25, -6.26 ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

      by snookybeh on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:53:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, are we? (none)
        We expect those who've attained high office -- by whatever means -- to somehow absorb the aura of courage and responsibility that are supposed go with it.  That, somehow, the "greatness" of America will somehow rub off on them.

        Somehow. Or not.

        Well.  That l'il chestnut's been dis-proven, once and for all time.  Now we've seen proof, in our lifetimes, that mediocrity can survive attainment to the White House.  Indeed, even increase while in office!

        So, what do we find in all this? -- we find a man no greater than ourselves.

        Know what?  That leaves each of us out in front to display the Courage our Maximum "Leader" lacks.

        No-one has pre-empted your ability to be The Most Courageous American.  What are you waiting for?!?  (Just don't do anything tonight under the influence you'll regret in the A.M. ;-)

        If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

        by HenryDavid on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 06:03:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The WOT is their excuse for every last (none)
    venal, fascist, corrupt thing they do and I have come to the conclusion it is totally bogus. There is a genuine war on terror that could be waged but this is not it.

    Who gained from 9/11? Follow the money and power arrangements to get the answer.

    by lecsmith on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:33:18 PM PST

  •  Ya know what? (4.00)
    We lived for over 40 years with the very real threat of nuclear annihilation, and we didn't need to give the president the powers of a king one time.

    FDR was president during perhaps the greatest threat to civilization on earth, and he even had to run for re-election. He certainly didn't place himself above the law.

    somehow, I don't think that this so-called WOT is reason enough to suspend the Constitution.

    -8.25, -6.26 ain't "schadenfreude" if the bastards deserve it. this is infidelica...

    by snookybeh on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 05:56:41 PM PST

    •  FDR worried he'd become a dictator (none)
      He had the decency and sense of proportion to worry that about himself, since he broke the traditional limit of two terms in office.  

      Try to imagine Dubya worrying about getting too much power.  My mind doesn't stretch that far.

      We're all pretty crazy some way or other; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is just a setting on my dryer.

      by david78209 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 06:37:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, some of us were arguing (4.00)
    at the time that this man, this regime, should NOT under any circumstances be granted such sweeping, unfettered power as that enunciated in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force -- specifically, he should not have been granted authority to use force "against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines..." At the time such language was seen to be dangerous because Bush was seen to be dangerous.

    Any time a Congress gives sweeping authority to a President to do what he determines to be necessary, at his sole discretion, watch out. In the case of Bush, it was obvious to a lot of people that he should not be granted any sweeping authority at all, partly because of his "jokes" about becoming a dictator, partly because of his indifference to pretty much everything but "clearing brush" that summer -- and that overwrought stem cell business --  and his general frat boy ridiculousness, enhanced by his sitting dumb and lost in a child's chair in a Florida schoolroom as planes crashed in NYC, then running like a scared rabbit to one hidey-hole after another.

    Who in their right mind would give this frat boy cheerleader authorization to "determine" anything?

    And we see the result: the wholesale trashing of the Constitution, the very fabric of the Republic itself. And we hear him shout, "You told me I could!"

    Yeah. Well. That isn't what we meant.


  •  Slap them down HARD (none)
    It's a shame Poindexter wasn't still in jail after his Watergate era convictions.  It's a shame Cheney, Oliver North, and all the Fawn Hall Republicans aren't still in jail.  We wouldn't be fighting to prevent a dictatorship now.  There needs to be a way to banish all these clowns from ever participating in politics again.  One way is to impeach them all.  Anyone impeached and convicted is disqualified " hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States..." (Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution).

    When Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon I was alarmed enough by the possibility he might try to make a comeback that I thought congress should have finished impeaching him.  I think anyone who accepts a pardon should also be disqualified from 'any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States'.  It's bad enough they're all guaranteed a nice living as a talking head for Fox News.

    We're all pretty crazy some way or other; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is just a setting on my dryer.

    by david78209 on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 06:33:32 PM PST

  •  Cheney (none)
    Cheney and his testy-child-puppet might as well eliminate Congress as long as they're destroying the Constitution.  Honestly, who needs Congress when the Vice President/President have the sole power and authority to make the law?  Think of the money we could save if we didn't have Senators and Representatives!

    ...and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.

    by rlharry on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 06:44:23 PM PST

  •  Osama bin Laden still free! (none)
    Why? Because if he were captured back in 2001, most Americans would say: " War's over!" and that would not have helped keep the Bush/Cheney "War on Terra" going. They never had any intention of getting bin Laden.
  •  It all boils down to this ... (none)
    "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; ..."

    That says that Bush has command authority over the military, and that's all it says.  There's nothing there that provides breadth of power beyond that, nothing that allows Bush to exceed any limit placed by the Constitution or through authority of the Constitution by the legislative and judicial branches.  The Constitution vests the executive power in the President -- the power to implement and enforce laws, not to make them or exceed them.  The founding fathers gave the President narrow powers, not broad.

    It's time for the House of Representives to exercise their Power of Impeachment.

  •  the key word is POLITICAL (none)
    Read this weekend's New York Times article about Bush's plans for the new year to also see Cheney's goal.

    Cheney isn't defending what they're doing based upon legal arguments. He's saying Rove will make this a political issue and base a Bush campaign around it.  We all know that when Rove builds a campaign the truth disappears and his black and white choices demonize all opponents. Cheney is boasting that they'll use raw political power to beat back any opposition.

    They're saying we're on the side of the terrorists.

    Since when is defending the US Constitution a terrorist act?

    And yes, the concerns in this thread about the permanent war give the president permanent war powers - which it's obvious he thinks only HE can repeal.  In short, we are operating under martial law without the declaration.

    It's time for congress to act. Impeach Cheney now. Impeach Bush  next.  

  •  Another thing they took advantage of 9/11 for? (none)
    At its outset in 2002, the surveillance operation was so highly classified that even Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general to Mr. Ashcroft, who was active in most of the government's most classified counterterrorism operations, was not given access to the program.

    How does the White House communicate a request to the Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Department for opinions on programs without Deputy Attorney General Thompson being informed? Was it all communicated after the government buildings were evacuated on 9/11, when John Yoo was one of the few people left at work at the Justice Department?

  •  This is worse than Iran-Contra. (none)
    In Iran-Contra, government funds were not used for the program prohibited by Congress.  Rather, other sources were found for funds.

    Here, I think we can assume government funds were used for the program that Congress explicitly prohibited.

  •  Please Freep this Secret Wiretap poll (none)
    Sorry to put this in with these comments but I need your help. I am tired of ignorance almost always winning here in Pennsabama. This is done by my local newspaper (Dover, PA area)

    In last weeks poll 61% said Bush was doing well in Iraq.
    Was President Bush justified by the war on terror in using the secret wiretap program to spy on Americans?

    please copy and open in a new window

    thank you for your help

    I would have put this in a diary but I thought too many responses would cause the paper to delete most recent votes.

  •  "Fawn Hall"? Get a better adjective! (none)
    Ummm... we really need a better one here.  Most of America has no idea who she is, and those of us who do remember (especially those of us who were adolescent teens at the time) are simply not going to have negative associations -- but rather warm memories of a fairly stunning woman who stood out big time from the craggly old Senators questioning her.

    Sorry dude, but it's the truth.  

    Stick with "Nixon Republicans."  

  •  Another Point Of Comparison (none)
    Fawn Hall, like the Republican Party of the present, battles a crack cocaine addiction in the 90s.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 08:36:01 AM PST

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