"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Scared Yet?

It takes a fairly strong constitution these days to seriously investigate the state of the American Experiment as we now find it. I’m often struck by the sheer indifference of so many Americans to what may very well be the last days of this nation’s nominal republic. At first I was tempted to attribute the phenomenon to the characteristic self-absorption for which we Americans are famous, however, further reflection revealed to me another possibility—fear. Many of us are afraid to look too closely at just how much damage the Bushites have done to the country, and threaten to do to the rest of the world. To do so would challenge on a fundamental level what we have been raised from birth to believe about America as a beacon of freedom and defender of democracy.

As Americans we are accustomed to thinking of Other Places where the rule of law goes unacknowledged or where the writ of habeas corpus is held in such trivial esteem as to be non-existent. Certainly OUR president would never authorize the domestic wire-tapping of American citizens without a court order as required by law. Surely there is a LEGITIMATE explanation for why our elected officials ratified the radical and Orwellian-titled legislation known as the Patriot Act which so fundamentally undermines our Bill of Rights without bothering to READ IT first.

I sometimes feel as though I’ve awaken from a bad dream only to discover that yes…both houses of congress did in fact pass the terrifying Military Commissions Act of 2006—virtually without debate. In a stroke, extraordinary powers were granted to the President the likes of which the founders never intended for his office as Amnesty International’s report on this legislation makes plain.

The Unitary Executive

The founders understood that there existed no greater threat to the republic than the unchecked power of an Executive who would be King. As a precaution they unambiguously enshrined in our Constitution critical checks and balances designed specifically to separate the powers of government into clearly delineated spheres from which neither institution could come to dominate and thus draw to itself the power of Cesar. The Bushites would change all of that. Legislation such as the Patriot Act which serves to undermine our Bill of Rights and the Military Commissions Act which so radically challenges James Madison’s separation-of-powers concept and basic tenants of liberty such as habeas corpus goes a long way towards completing their project.

The Bush administration has aggressively pursued its “unitary executive” theory since its first days in office but following 9/11 and the subsequent “war on terror” this agenda has taken on a heightened urgency. In brief, the unitary executive theory posits that the president enjoys far greater authority over regulatory agencies (originally conceived and designed to be independent of politics) such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) than has heretofore been acknowledged. Furthermore, according to its proponents, the Executive has tremendous leeway in his interpretation of legislation passed by Congress and its applicability to his chosen course of action.

Let’s turn now to the subject of this post, one George W. Bush. Recently the good people at Consortium News.com (Robert Parry, et al) had a psychological profile of our Commander-in-Chief drawn up and folks, the results are frightening.

No comments: