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The Root Of Political Evil

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Money is seen by too many as an expression of free speech, but when did the size of a candidate's campaign fund become the votes necessary to bestow political office?

The fact that Mrs. Clinton's campaign accounts are bulging doesn't mean that the American people would select her as their candidate, much less their president, despite all the hype about her "winning" in the media lately. It's as if the alleged "original intent" – holding that only those owning large properties of value being allowed to vote – was put quietly into force, negating almost a century of near-universal suffrage. Sadly, the Democrats appear to be complicit up to their necks in this morass.

The situation has Dave Lindorff asking Can the Democratic Party be saved? He notes that the "Democratic" Congress has continually voted to make legal the numerous predations on the freedoms of American citizens in the name of security, and also to approve additional war funding despite the view of a majority of American voters to the contrary. Add in the refusal of the top three Democratic presidential candidates to pledge to remove all U.S forces from Iraq by 2013, and one has to wonder just whose side the Democrats are on.

Ed Martin launched his J'accuse at the Congressional Democratic leadership:

Our leaders in Congress have been collaborators with George Bush in his crimes… I don't think that Pelosi or Reid…. understand that they could be remembered in history as the people who stood up to George Bush and saved the United States instead of being remembered as the people who collaborated with him and destroyed it.

Instead, it seems that Reid and Pelosi are doing their level best to protect the Havemores.

Christiane Brown of KJFK, Reno caught Senator Reid short when she was interviewing him regarding impeachment. You can read the summary – or you can listen directly – and note how What-the-heck Harry is unable to produce a good reason for not pursuing the impeachment of Bush administration officials.

Across the Capitol, his House counterpart let slip her disdain for We, the People of the United States of America, when she complained that First Amendment rights prevent her from removing protesters from her property. "If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering," she sniffed to Dana Milbank of the Washington Post.

Well just who the hell is she, then – Nancy Marie Antoinette? Let them eat yellowcake?

Despite her brash assertion to Milbank that "We are leaders", Ms. Pelosi doesn't seem to want the responsibility of her position. She is quoted telling David Cook of The Christian Science Monitor that activists should persuade GOP lawmakers to end the war. She's far too busy holding lots of meetings while on the national dime to do the work of the people she nominally represents.

According to Ryan Grim of politico.com, Pelosi has converted the Democratic caucus into a 'meet market'. Grim relates how the former Republican leaders made decisions at the top, where "consensus is generally reached with a hammer" and then informed the members how to vote. This is still going on, as demonstrated by the failure of the Democrats to peel off Republican votes for veto-proof passage of their measures.

Instead of following the GOP model of leadership – not always a bad thing in and of itself – Grim quotes former Rep. Marty Meehan, who observed that "The speaker is trying to develop a consensus.”

A House GOP leadership aide said, “That explains why they can’t get anything done.”

But I find it much more telling as to where House-Made [sic] Nancy's allegiances do lie, as revealed through this article about Pelosi's sponsorship of the use of public property for private profit from the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.

Pelosi is the "personal friend" of Don Fisher, the multi-billionaire founder of Gap, Inc., who is among the nation's top donors to Republican candidates and causes. With Nancy's assistance, Fisher is seeking to plant his "massive collection of international investment-grade modern art" inside a Wal-Mart-sized Big Box – joining the Disney Family Museum, the Lucasfilm corporate headquarters, numerous privately-owned high-end restaurants, and a new privately-owned luxury hotel – on the public lands of the Presidio National Park. None of these private entities pays one red nickel-copper sandwich cent in property tax to California or to San Francisco.

This travesty of the public trust was legalized by Pelosi's Presidio Trust Act" of 1996 [PDF], which took control of the property away from the National Park Service and awarded it to a federal government-owned corporation called the Presidio Trust to be managed as an "innovative public/private partnership".

It gets better!

The Presidio Trust's current Executive Director is Craig Middleton, a former senior aide to Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi isn't the only Democrat lost to the Dark Republican Side of massively corrupting wealth. Citizen William T. Drake recently remonstrated to The Reporter of Vacaville, California: "I am really quite disappointed in Sen. Dianne Feinstein and cannot help but wonder whether she really is a Democrat."

I'd like to direct the attention of Mr. Drake – and anyone else who is interested – to page A-3 of the San Francisco Chronicle dated April 22, 2003, which reported that URS Corp., a San Francisco planning and engineering firm partially owned by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum, was awarded an Army contract in April, 2003 that could bring in $3.1 billion over the eight year life of said contract.

That's a gigantic amount of "free speech" protecting personal interest, which in turn would motivate loyal support of Bush administration initiatives, such as those presented by Mr. Drake in his letter cited above:

Sen. Feinstein recently joined with the Republicans in voting to pass the Kyle/Lieberman amendment to the Department of Defense Budget, which essentially gives Bush the authority to attack virtually any country that he decides should be attacked…

[S]he was one of 22 Democratic senators who joined the Republicans in condemning the MoveOn.org ad in the New York Times that portrayed Gen. David Petreaus for what he really is, just one more of George Bush's military hacks who will do and say what he is told to do and say…

She also recently voted to approve Bush's appointment of Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, as one more in Bush's efforts to stack the judicial system with right-wing zealots. She did this, in spite of Southwick's judicial history of favoring special interests against workers and consumers, his demonstrated bigotry against racial minorities and women, and his homophobic judicial decisions based on sexual orientation.

DINO Dianne isn't the last Democrat whose loyalty to the traditionally populist values of the 99% of America's population who don't make up Bush's "base" produces suspicion. There is Hillary and her long-standing ties to corporate America and to supporting the Bush administration's wild-eyed dreams of international dominance.

In New Hampton, Iowa, on 10/07/07, Senator Clinton "sounded defensive and paranoid" when she was called to account by an Iowa Democrat for her votes to authorize the use of force in Iraq and in support of declaring Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. New York Times Op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd opined in this report that "Hillary’s hawkish Iran vote was an ill-advised move…" considering Hillary's animus toward the "untrustworthy" Dick Cheney, who was revealed as promoting the fabrication of a casus belli against Iran by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker.

Is Dowd's snarky comment the reason why Hillary opened herself to future charges of being a flip-flopper when she reversed her position concerning diplomatic solutions concerning Iran? The Times will tell.

I opened this post with the observation that "free speech" in the form of lots of money was not of the same legal status as votes for a candidate to win office. I'm very disturbed that our "liberal" media is already touting Hillary as the Democratic nominee due to her large campaign funds despite not a single vote being cast for her. I believe that to be the reason that Mrs. Clinton is piling up the endorsements (Google "endorse Clinton" on the news page and you'll see what I mean.).

It's my opinion that it is far too soon for anyone to be endorsing anyone. The voters are not being given the chance to test the candidates – yes, all of them, even the Republicans – to see if any of them meet with the criteria each voter deems important prior to voting.

But what is important to Hillary? Hillary's ambitions clearly drive her more than party affiliation or the good of the national commonweal does. In an interview with the Washington Post, Mrs. Clinton declared, "I intend to build a centrist coalition in this country that is like what I remember when I was growing up."

The Nation points out the reason questions should arise from this statement: "In case you don't remember, Hillary grew up a Goldwater girl."

Because questions abound for all of the candidates of both major parties, I support the positions of both Sen. Tom Harkin and the Service Employees International Union: No Endorsement. Not for anyone. But the fact is that the Hillary bandwagon is rolling onward at ever-higher speed. Is there a rock in the road that can bring her to a stop? Some believe that rock is Al Gore.

Despite the popular buzz that Al Gore should be drafted to run in 2008, I am against that notion. Gore displayed a serious lack of political leadership in 2000, and that personal shortcoming hasn't changed despite his receiving an Oscar, and an Emmy – and now a Nobel Peace Prize – all in one year.

Certainly, these prestigious and variegated awards confirm that Al Gore is an achiever, but such awards don't bestow the leadership qualities necessary to run this nation, especially after the Bush cabal gets done with it (assuming they ever do). And, from recent comments from former aides, Gore may well understand that he isn't The One.

Gore's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider said, "He has no intentions of running for president in 2008." Long-time adviser Carter Eskew said, "I can tell you he's making no moves and no sounds to indicate to me that he's going to run." Former aide Julia Payne says, "The last time I talked with the Vice President, we talked light bulbs, not politics."

But someone is going to run, and yet there is great distress in the membership of both the progressives and the religious which currently see no relief in the candidates of their nominal parties. Dave Lindorff speaks to the progressives, saying:

[Progressives] should cut their ties to the Democratic Party that is ignoring them and their key issues. I am proposing that progressives quit the Democratic Party — actually go down to their local voter registrar's office, and re-register as independents. They are also signaling, by quitting, that if the Democratic Party doesn't come around, they are open to the idea of a new party. And if large numbers of progressives cut their ties to the Democratic Party, that is a threat that should really scare party leaders.

That is the same motive being promoted by the membership of Will Durst's "God's Only Party", which he describes as "a clandestine cadre of controlling conservative Christian captains" who "[threaten] to run from the GOP if any infidel they don't anoint is nominated for president. [Because]…evangelicals are sick and tired of being taken for granted, and count on party bigwigs to remember how Ross Perot threw the 92 & 96 elections to Bill Clinton."

That could be a real threat, for the GOP ranks are seen as no match for the Democrats' legions. Thus the GOP has less room to lose supporters, yet another motive for why the GOP seeks to constrain or eliminate Democratic voting rights in order to tilt the electoral battlefield back to their advantage.

Speaking of battlefields, I wonder how the barbed-wire bastioned Texas Airstreamer Irrational Guard might feel about a candidate who expressed that "freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want [or] be anything they can be."

Would you vote for such a candidate? Then you better look more closely at Rudy Giuliani. Back in 1994, he also said, "Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."

If Hillary wins, by definition she is the lawful authority. Are you ready to cede "a great deal of discretion about what you do" to her? Me neither! Nor to Rudy, nor to Mitt, nor to anyone in the media who is trying to convince me that the presidential election sequence is a waste of time, and that they will decide for me. I don't believe that "Freedom is about authority", nor that media moguls have the authority to tell me who my representatives will be.

I believe that Freedom is about Freedom. Authority is about the will of the Majority.

Anything else sprouts evil.

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About pessimist

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Y’know, Realist. I almost kinda 3/4 agree with you on much of this. It’s the usual mishmash of half-facts, innuendo and unsupported assertions, but you do have some valid points.

    Let’s get the Progressives out of the Democratic Party and let the Democrats go back to being a populist party representing workers and unions and farmers and the interests of common folk.

    Then we can purge the religious nutjobs from the Republican party and let it go back to being the party of business, entrepreneurs, free trade and limited government.

    And the Progressives and the Theocrats can form their own new political parties and we’ll see how the next election shakes out.

    I know for damned sure that if Congress were split 35% Democrat, 30% Republican, 20% Theocon and 15% Progressive we’d end up with much better legislation based on real consensus building and old fashioned horse trading. I bet we’d also see a lot less rabid partisanship.

    dave

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m pretty much with you, Dave. As usual, Realist’s plethora of URLs (it is possible to over-cite, you know) made my eyes glaze over after a few sentences, but I would say he’s pretty much caught the general mood of those Democrats who are outside Congress and the presidential race.

    I do, however, take serious issue with the concluding couple of phrases: “Authority is about the will of the Majority… Anything else spouts evil.”

    Which is exactly why no country on Earth practices direct democracy.

    Just scary.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I do, however, take serious issue with the concluding couple of phrases: “Authority is about the will of the Majority… Anything else spouts evil.”

    As we all know, the will of the majority can be oppressive if it violates the rights of the minority, a fact which the left regularly chooses to overlook, and one of the cornerstones of what makes them the main likely agents of oppression in the US in the future.

    And MR, one of the reasons we don’t want Hillary elected is that one of the things she would make war on is our basic rights.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    As we all know, the will of the majority can be oppressive if it violates the rights of the minority, a fact which the left regularly chooses to overlook

    So is it the left or the right, Dave, which has been the most vociferous in supporting the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, although the majority opinion in this country is apparently against?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Oh, it’s the left, Dr. D. No question. I don’t think they have done so as a matter of principle, however. More as an effort to cement a political alliance.

    Their record is a lot less positive on recent property rights and free speech issues, I’m afraid.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    one of the reasons we don’t want Hillary elected is that one of the things she would make war on is our basic rights.

    Will you ever stop writing this type of overheated hyperbolic bullshit? You are capable of better. It’s destructive and despicable.

    If you’re going to accuse someone of making war on your basic rights [a year before the election!], cite some specifics and some evidence, other than your own bias.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Will you ever stop writing this type of overheated hyperbolic bullshit? You are capable of better. It’s destructive and despicable.

    No, Handy. I think Hillary Clinton is dangerous to the Republic and to the rights of every citizen. If you saw a threat like that would you feel you ought to remain silent just to be nice?

    If you’re going to accuse someone of making war on your basic rights [a year before the election!], cite some specifics and some evidence, other than your own bias.

    “Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

    “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.”

    “Merit pay to individual teachers would discourage teachers from helping troubled students and would create a distorted competition among teachers. I don’t think that’s a very good way to inspire teachers.”

    “I know there are some who believe that vouchers are the way to improve our public schools; I believe they are dead wrong.”

    “I stand in support of this common sense legislation to license everyone who wishes to purchase a gun. I also believe that every new handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry.”

    “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few and for the few, time to reject the idea of an ‘on your own’ society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity. I prefer a ‘we’re all in it together’ society.”

    Ok,, those are just some quotes, and there are plenty of other issues of concern where good quotes are less easy to come by.

    Now what you’re going to say here is that well gee, lots of democrats believe those same things. To which I have to respond that those democrats aren’t as likely to get elected president as Hillary is. Of course, you probably don’t find some of those quote – like that first one – as blood chilling as I do, but that’s where we’re going to have to differ.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    “As we all know, the will of the majority can be oppressive if it violates the rights of the minority, a fact which the left regularly chooses to overlook…”

    Yes, for example, all those fundamentalist, anti-gay, prolife Christians who inhabit the left.

    Oh and don’t forget this kind of leftist legislation.

    Why bother making empty statements?

  • Cindy D

    Oh, I see you were thinking more along the lines of how the majority who have less might oppress the wealthy minority.

  • moonraven

    Dave,

    I despise Hillary–but that doesn’t mean I have to become a fucking LIAR in response to her candidacy.

    War was made on the basic rights of US citizens by this rancid group of shitkickers currently in power there. Remember the Patriot Acts, the illegal wiretapping, the stool-collecting from your toilet?

    Oh, sorry, in your case I guess access to the outhouse down int he back field is a little more dubious.

    You ALREADY sold your basic rights for a plate of lentils.

    Not that I give a shit about YOU–but there are others in the US about whom I COULD give a shit.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    DN–
    There’s a rather wide – light-years wide! – difference between opposing someone’s tax policy and declaring her an enemy of freedom who makes your blood run cold.

    Tax policy also has to be passed by both houses of Congress before it becomes law; it is not proclaimed by presidential fiat. And HRC, like any other politician, will be looking to get re-elected once she’s elected. I believe you know that will moderate her actions – even if she is the stealth radical wealth-distributor you believe her to be. [I consider her a moderate, as do most Democrats.]

    The other quotes on your list are more likely to provoke yawns than outrage. And more important than any of them is the fact that she’ll appoint non-reactionaries to the Supreme Court and federal judgeships. That will benefit us all.

    Bush and Cheney have spent 7 years trying to massively expand the power of the executive branch. I don’t expect HRC or any other Dem to continue down that path. I would think it’s the Bush-Cheney power grabbing that ought to be chilling the blood of you and other libertarians who distrust centralized authority.

  • moonraven

    But Nalle LOVES suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous treason.

    That gives him a pretext to come on this site and whimper like a yellow texas dog about his heartfelt pain and outrage–while wildly distorting the SOURCE of it because it conflicts with his faith-based political beliefs.

    It’s called Cognitive Dissonance–and it is right up there with OBESITY as being the biggest health problem facing folks in the US of Assholes today.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Realist’s overall point seems to be that Democrats should be more assertively leftist and should shout back at the Bush administration more forcefully. Little or no legislation would get written or passed this way, but maybe that doesn’t matter to the never-satisfied left wing of the Dem party.

    As James Carville once said, the special interest groups on the left are never satisfied. Nothing is ever enough for them. [By the way, this is also apparently true of the religious fundamentalists on the other side of the political landscape. Thus, James Dobson’s dumbass remarks about running a 3rd party presidential campaign. Talk about a sure way to get Hillary elected.]

    The insinuations that HRC, Pelosi and Feinstein have been corrupted by money and power into compromising leftist principles is interesting but far from convincing or conclusive.

    Realist’s complaints about the media’s ‘annointing’ HRC as the Dem nominee are somewhat inaccurate, too. This is not based on money, but on poll numbers. Obama is not very far behind in money, but double-digits behind in polls.

    It has rightly been pointed out that John Kerry was in fourth place in the polls four years ago and that Howard Dean was the presumed nominee. Iowa and New Hampshire upset that applecart.

    But if that happens again next year, I hope to God Iowa and New Hampshire pull someone out of the pack who is more electable than John Kerry turned out to be. We Dems are not very good at spotting ‘electability’ because we have won so seldom in the last 35 years.

  • Clavos

    “As James Carville once said, the special interest groups on the left are never satisfied. Nothing is ever enough for them. [By the way, this is also apparently true of the religious fundamentalists on the other side of the political landscape. Thus, James Dobson’s dumbass remarks about running a 3rd party presidential campaign. Talk about a sure way to get Hillary elected.]”

    Quoted for Truth.

  • bliffle

    “…it’s the Bush-Cheney power grabbing that ought to be chilling the blood of you and other libertarians who distrust centralized authority.”

    Indeed.

    And where were the “libertarians” when they were grabbing that power? Content to get table scraps, I suspect.

  • Lumpy

    What Bush-Cheney power grab? Spying on a few terrorist fundraisers is hardly a power grab. Maybe you could list for us the specific ways in which presidential power has been expanded on a permanent basis.

  • Martin Lav

    How about these for starters:

    Military rules and regulations.
    Certain affirmative-action provisions.
    Requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems.
    Whistle-blower protections for nuclear regulatory officials.
    Safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

  • Baronius

    The press is, as usual, completely wrong on their campaign coverage. Someone told them that the 2008 race was starting early, so they’re doing their horse-race narrative every day. They’re not blinded by money, or influenced by a candidate’s war chest; they just don’t have anything else to talk about.

    As Handy notes, there’s no reason to track polls (or even fundraising) this far out. But there’s nothing else for them to do. Well, there’s enough time for an in-depth discussion of the issues, but what reporter is going to do that? They’ll make some great graphics though, of donkeys and elephants running toward a red-white-and-blue finishing line.

  • Lumpy

    What Bush-Cheney power grab? Spying on a few terrorist fundraisers is hardly a power grab. Maybe you could list for us the specific ways in which presidential power has been expanded on a permanent basis that actually effects anyone in the US.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Here are a few. I’m astonished that even Lumpy would try to deny this. I’d expect him to say he’s proud of Cheney and Bush for the following outrages:

    1. Bill “signing statements” that indicate the president will refuse to enforce the law or parts of the law he disagrees with – he has appended these to over 750 bills! Far more than any previous president. Example: Congress approved an amendment banning torture over the objections of Vice President Cheney. Bush signed the legislation but issued a “signing statement” in which he reserved the right to waive the ban

    2. Political firing of prosecutors who failed to indict enough Democrats

    3. Warrantless wiretapping [if you think this is only of ‘terrorists,’ then you are gullible and naive]

    3. Guantanamo

    4. Holding US citizen Padilla in solitary confinement without charging him, until it became obvious this would be declared illegal by the courts

    4. The administration has bypassed the intelligence committees to inform only eight congressional leaders about warrantless wiretapping and other ‘sensitive issues’

    5. The energy task force Cheney chaired went to court to avoid disclosing the names of industry executives it consulted.

    6. Enabling past presidents and vice presidents to restrict release of their papers after the 12-year period set in law has expired.

    7. Refusing to allow aides to testify before Congress about the federal response to 9/11 and to Hurricane Katrina [and many other matters], arguing that might discourage staffers from providing “unvarnished advice” in the future.

    8. Asserting wartime powers to ignore federal laws and international treaties when the president says national security is at stake.

    9. Cheney has stated that he believes Congress cannot pass laws that place restrictions or requirements on how the president runs the military and spy agencies. Nor can it pass laws giving government officials the power or responsibility to act independently of the president.

  • Martin Lav

    For starters look at the 750 challenges Bush has put on the bills he’s signed. Basically he’s got a condition that only the President can determine what oversight he will abide by based on his own judgment on National Security. While these challenges don’t expire when he leaves office, then I’d say those are permanent changes that effect us all.

    One that may worry any US citizen would be:

    March 9: Justice Department officials must give reports to Congress by certain dates on how the FBI is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.

    Bush’s signing statement: The president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Military rules and regulations.
    Certain affirmative-action provisions.
    Requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems.
    Whistle-blower protections for nuclear regulatory officials.
    Safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

    Um, Martin. These all sound like good things, not bad things. And none of them have anything to do with presidential power grabs. More like the opposite.

    Or hmmm…was someone impersonating you in #17?

    As for the signing statements, only a handful of them in any way try to contravene the bill in question. Most of them are what they are supposed to be, instructions to executive offices on how to implement the law.

    Dave

  • Martin Lav

    Um Dave…

    “Um, Martin. These all sound like good things, not bad things.”

    I presume they are, since they’re laws that have Bush’s X on them.

    “And none of them have anything to do with presidential power grabs.”

    However, next to his X he and his attorney cronies wrote in innumerable (I mean 750) clauses such as executive privilege and in the interests of National Security blah blah blah…..

    This regime can not be trusted.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    I thought you were done with your endless rationalizing of the failed and wrongheaded Bush administration, Dave. Guess not.

  • bliffle

    Dave likes this admin.

    No matter what they do.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Military rules and regulations.
    Certain affirmative-action provisions.
    Requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems.
    Whistle-blower protections for nuclear regulatory officials.
    Safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

    [Dave:]Um, Martin. These all sound like good things, not bad things. And none of them have anything to do with presidential power grabs. More like the opposite.

    Dave, those are provisions the President said he would not enforce. What is good about this?

    The list comes from a knockout of an article published in the Boston Globe last year. It has a long list of Bush’s signing statements, and Dave’s benign description of them is blatantly untrue. This administration has taken a radical line on presidential power in relation to the other government branches. If you agree with this, say so. But don’t pretend it’s not what it is.

    Your shamelessly disingenuous tactic of pretending something is ‘just not important’ may work for you sometimes. But I intend to point it out now every time I see you do it. If you really believe what you say you believe, you can win by fighting fair. You don’t have to resort to fuzzing up the truth. Why do you do it?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    PBS’s superb Frontline series takes on this very topic tomorrow night. Anyone genuinely interested in learning more about the topic [I’m not sure whether that would include Dave Nalle] should plan to tune in. The show is always extremely well done and fascinating:

    Cheney’s Law
    Oct. 16, 2007 at 9pm
    For three decades, Vice President Dick Cheney has waged a secretive and often bitter battle to expand the power of the presidency. Now in a direct confrontation with Congress, as the administration asserts executive privilege to head off investigations into domestic wiretapping and the firing of U.S. attorneys, FRONTLINE meticulously traces the behind-closed-doors battle within the administration over presidential power and the rule of law.

  • Baronius

    Yes, Dave, YOU’RE the root of political evil. Boo Dave!

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    That’s it, trivialize a serious comment. Very useful and constructive way to react. Just what this site needs.

  • Baronius

    Calling Dave a disingenuous truth-fuzzer was a serious comment? I agree that Dave goes too far sometimes, but I wouldn’t consider it a scholarly observation. He gets more flack than any of the regulars around here. Me, Clavos, Lumpy, and Dave have all posted on this thread, but for some reason everyone dumps on Dave.

    Unless you thought that I was responding to your Frontline ad, but I don’t see how.

  • REMF

    “Me, Clavos, Lumpy, and Dave have all posted on this thread, but for some reason everyone dumps on Dave.”

    Oh, poor little Dave. After all the brow-beating and domineering manipulating he’s pulled on this site, he’s more than a deserving target…

  • Clavos

    Almost as deserving as you, shuffleboard boy.

  • REMF

    Sure, you bet, Bill Calley supporter.

  • Clavos

    It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, those are provisions the President said he would not enforce. What is good about this?

    Martin didn’t make that clear when he originally posted the list. I’d have to see a lot more detail on exactly what aspects he took exception to, but if it’s typical of signing statements I have looked over in detail it’s going to be stuff like pointing out that the agency in question doesn’t have the resources or budget to do something they’ve been mandated to do.

    Yes, a small number of the signing statements seem pretty unreasonable, but ultimately they’re just opinions and they have no real permanency. Bush is gone in a year and a half and so are they.

    The list comes from a knockout of an article published in the Boston Globe last year. It has a long list of Bush’s signing statements, and Dave’s benign description of them is blatantly untrue.

    Just my take on the ones I’ve read. Have you read the originals in the context of the acts themselves, or just some editorialists interpretation of them?

    This administration has taken a radical line on presidential power in relation to the other government branches. If you agree with this, say so. But don’t pretend it’s not what it is.

    The ‘other branches’ we’re talking about here are in fact all part of the executive branch. The signing statements are a fairly reasonable interpretation of the president’s role as head of the executive branch and responsible for how those agencies interpret the mandates given to them by congress.

    Your shamelessly disingenuous tactic of pretending something is ‘just not important’ may work for you sometimes. But I intend to point it out now every time I see you do it. If you really believe what you say you believe, you can win by fighting fair. You don’t have to resort to fuzzing up the truth. Why do you do it?

    I don’t. If I think something is trivial, then I say it. If you disagree, that’s fine. But it doesn’t make my opinion a lie, it just means we disagree. Tough.

    Dave

  • Martin Lav

    “Yes, a small number of the signing statements seem pretty unreasonable, but ultimately they’re just opinions and they have no real permanency. Bush is gone in a year and a half and so are they.”

    by Dumped on Dave

    750 by Bush II
    232 by Bush I
    140 by Clinton

    They have meaning as long as he’s the one in the Executives seat and is the sole interpreter of the statements. After all isn’t that what the wire-tapping and water boarding “interpretations” are all about?

    Additionally, the statements would remain in effect even after he’s gone and if some dangerous right-wing-nut like GuileIanni were to win the Presidency, then he would be free to interpret the conditions of when these laws apply to him and when they don’t.

  • bliffle

    Actually, of course, the president doesn’t have the right to selectively strike out parts of any law passed by congress. That would be unconstitutional, and has been so asserted by SCOTUS, e.g., wrt Line Item Veto.

    The scope of a signing statement demurrer is when the executive perceives that a point may subsequently be ruled unconstitutional by SCOTUS, so they demur on the basis that they don’t want to enforce an unconstitutional law. Usually, the executive then bears the responsibility of getting the constitutionality adjudged before harm is done.

    That’s the way I understand it. YMMV.


    ABA statement

    Is Bush articulating a constitutional objection and then assiduously pursuing remedy in each of these cases?

  • Martin Lav

    “in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution” are the catch, legal scholars say, because Bush is according himself the ultimate interpretation of the Constitution.”

    According to the Boston Globe article cited above…

  • bliffle

    If Bush is asserting that he is above the SCOTUS and Congress then he is an usurper. He is declaring a coup, a takeover, because he renders meaningless all other government.

    Is that what people believe? Is that what people want?

    Where are our defenders of the Constitution and Liberty? Nalle? Clavos?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The President is certainly equal in status to the Congress and the Supreme Court, and when it comes to the actions of the executive branch he does have ultimate responsibility.

    As for Bush as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, he’s only raised the issue of the Constitutionality of laws in a few of his signing statements. Most of the statements have been limited to instructions to various departments on how to implement the laws they are given, quite often without meaningfully challenging those laws.

    And when I said ‘relatively few’, I clearly did not mean that Bush has issued few signing statements, only that few of those he has issued in any way attempt to challenge or negate laws passed by congress on constitutional grounds.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    And Martin, you may be the only person on the planet who actually thinks Giuliani is a ‘dangerous right wing nut’.

    Dave

  • Martin Lav

    Well here’s a “few” for you Dave…..

    March 9: Justice Department officials must give reports to Congress by certain dates on how the FBI is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.

    Bush’s signing statement: The president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.

    Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

    Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

    Dec. 30: When requested, scientific information ”prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay.”

    Bush’s signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

    Aug. 8: The Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its contractors may not fire or otherwise punish an employee whistle-blower who tells Congress about possible wrongdoing.

    Bush’s signing statement: The president or his appointees will determine whether employees of the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can give information to Congress.

    Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

    Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ”as advisory in nature.”

    Dec. 17: The new national intelligence director shall recruit and train women and minorities to be spies, analysts, and translators in order to ensure diversity in the intelligence community.

    Bush’s signing statement: The executive branch shall construe the law in a manner consistent with a constitutional clause guaranteeing ”equal protection” for all. (In 2003, the Bush administration argued against race-conscious affirmative-action programs in a Supreme Court case. The court rejected Bush’s view.)

    Oct. 29: Defense Department personnel are prohibited from interfering with the ability of military lawyers to give independent legal advice to their commanders.

    Bush’s signing statement: All military attorneys are bound to follow legal conclusions reached by the administration’s lawyers in the Justice Department and the Pentagon when giving advice to their commanders.

    Aug. 5: The military cannot add to its files any illegally gathered intelligence, including information obtained about Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.

    Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can tell the military whether or not it can use any specific piece of intelligence.

    Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.

    Bush’s signing statement: The inspector general ”shall refrain” from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.

    Nov. 5, 2002: Creates an Institute of Education Sciences whose director may conduct and publish research ”without the approval of the secretary [of education] or any other office of the department.”

    Bush’s signing statement: The president has the power to control the actions of all executive branch officials, so ”the director of the Institute of Education Sciences shall [be] subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education.”

  • Martin Lav

    Nalle:
    “And Martin, you may be the only person on the planet who actually thinks Giuliani is a ‘dangerous right wing nut’.”

    Apparently he’s left-wing lunatic:

    “Rudolph Giuliani’s law firm lobbies for Citgo Petroleum Corp., a unit of the state-owned oil company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the U.S.’s chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere…

    Giuliani’s presidential-exploratory committee released a statement that didn’t address written questions asking whether he knew his firm did business with Houston-based Citgo and whether he considered it appropriate.”

    However, I thought a man was to be judged by the company he keeps:

    “One of the top foreign-policy consultants to the leading GOP candidate is Norman Podhoretz, a founding father of the neocon movement.”
    “Among the core consultants surrounding Giuliani: Martin Kramer, who has led an attack on U.S. Middle Eastern scholars since 9/11 for being soft on terrorism; Stephen Rosen, a hawkish professor at Harvard who advocates major new spending on defense and is close to prominent neoconservative Bill Kristol; former Wisconsin senator Bob Kasten, who often sided with the neocons during the Reagan era and was an untiring supporter of aid to Israel, and Daniel Pipes”

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Cheney is on record as believing presidential power was improperly diminished in the aftermath of Watergate. Virtually every article about him or interview with him mentions this.

    All or nearly all of the items I listed in #20 grew out of this philosophy, including the unconscionable signing statements. 9/11 gave him a rationale for putting his controversial test-the-limits legal perspective into high gear.

    I’m not sure this is even subject to interpretation. It is, to use an over-used phrase of DN’s, “just the simple truth.”

    Another reason for using the signing statements is to avoid vetoing bills, thus sidestepping controversy [or so it was hoped] and the potential of an override.

    Finally, young future SC justice Sam Alito wrote an opinion during the Reagan administration recommending “interpretive” signing statements because they could be used as evidence in future court challenges where judges wanted to determine the “intent” of the law.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Whatever wing you want to assign him to, Giuliani is a nasty, vituperative egoist who would make a truly terrible president. He might even end up being more divisive than the current WH occupant, if that’s possible. [I happen to believe HRC’s alleged divisiveness is overrated, and will diminish with time.]

  • Baronius

    Handy, you’ve put yourself in an intellectually impossible situation. You complain about the Gore-haters and HRC-haters. How can someone be more hated and less divisive?

    Or, you have to take responsibility for hating Bush. If it’s my fault that Gore is hated, it’s your fault that Bush is hated. Whatever you decide, you can’t always be right in hating Bush and Bush fans and sensitive to every criticism of Democrats.

  • Martin Lav

    PULEEZ,
    Comparing Bush to Gore or Hillary is absurd. The fact that neither one of them has held the post that GW has, they can’t be accused of high-crimes and treason, that Bush can be.

    Nice try!

  • Baronius

    Lav, I wasn’t accusing or defending anyone on charges of treason. I’m saying that Handy’s position is illogical. If Bush is divisive, then Hillary is divisive. If Gore-haters are bitter, then Bush-haters are bitter.

    You think Bush stole the election, and you’re mad. I think Gore tried to steal the election, and I’m mad.

    Hillary divides people, so she’s divisive. Bush divides people too.

    Or maybe we should make Handyguy the arbiter of all political feelings. He can delight when Gore-haters are sad, and hiss at Giuliani, and always be right.

  • Martin Lav

    Baron,

    I can’t fathom how anyone can make this argument.
    Gore didn’t win.
    Hillary hasn’t won.
    They haven’t had the chance to lead this country into an ill-conceived and ineptly run War. They haven’t lied to the American people about the reasons for going to War. They haven’t bent the constitution in the name of National Security. They haven’t thrown the Geneva Convention in the trash.

    It is a GIVEN that Bush and Cheney have made this country worse, than it was before they took office and worse since 9/11. No one is happy with these buffoons. Not even there own party.

    You can’t deny that, no one does anymore. That’s just silly.
    So to compare their divisiveness to 2 nobodies like Gore and Hillary, is absurd and shameful.

    Stop it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Martin, thank you for your summary in #42. I didn’t realize congress had passed some of that ridiculous, unconstitutional horseshit.

    If you can read those bill summaries and the summaries of Bush’s signing statements and not agree with his position on most (not quite all) of them, then you’ve got a screw loose.

    Several of the laws obviously interfere with the constitutionally established role of the commander in chief, one of them is a total violation of US sovereignty, and for most of the rest the signing statements don’t contradict the laws, but rather augment or detail how they can be legitimately implemented.

    ML on Giuliani: Apparently he’s left-wing lunatic:

    Well, now you agree with a large segment of the GOP. Congrats.

    It is a GIVEN that Bush and Cheney have made this country worse,

    Who exactly gives that official stamp out? Nothing is a given and the status of the country is too complex to say that it’s been made absolutely worse by the actions of the Bush administration. They’ve certainly done a few things right and those might even outweigh their numerous mistakes. It’s hardly cut and dried.

    than it was before they took office and worse since 9/11. No one is happy with these buffoons. Not even there own party.

    Actually, 33% of Republicans polled still give Bush top ratings.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The signing statement on the torture ban bill in 2004 [the one with the McCain amendment] would be strong enough evidence of how these documents have been used and abused. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    According to the Frontline program I just finished watching, Bush’s signing statements challenge the Constitutional authority of Congress at least 1,000 times – more than once per bill. Dave’s back-of-the-hand, snarky dismissal is shameful and offensive. He’s capable of better, and if he is an honorable person, he will peruse the Charlie Savage article in the Boston Globe [Savage is a great investigative journalist, not an “editorialist”], a long and expertly researched piece [9 pages on the web] that ought to convince even DN that there is a there there. There’s a link in my comment #26 above.

    David Addington, longtime associate and counsel to Cheney, and now Scooter Libby’s replacement as chief of staff, is identified convincingly in the Frontline piece as the source for most of the legal memoranda [along with John Yoo] that attempted to justify torture, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without trial and other charming highlights of the “by any means necessary” doctrine of Presidential power championed by Dick Cheney.

    Addington also wrote many of the signing statements, including the most notorious one, on torture. [He struck out the entire text of the bill in red ink, and substituted a single long sentence, which when it was picked up by journalists, started the whole signing statement controversy.]

    I urge everyone to watch the Frontline documentary, called Cheney’s War, which will be repeated on PBS all week. Frontline does investigative journalism, but only the most partisan would call it ideological. It’s hard-hitting, convincing, and based largely on interviews with principals, lawyers and journalists. It’s as riveting as a spy thriller.

    Even Cheney wouldn’t argue with the facts as presented, I think; but he would no doubt object to the appropriately doomy music that runs in the background.

  • moonraven

    Right. And 33% of denture wearers say they prefer them to teeth.

    Dave, you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into the abyss.

    But I support your right to do just that//and not a measley 33%, but the full 100.

  • Cindy D

    I watched that Frontline program you posted Handy. It was excellent, thanks for the heads-up.

    It surprises me that anyone could have no problem with the Bush administration’s wholesale claims of authority to violate the law, without having to answer to anyone.

    “Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ‘to exercise some self-restraint.’ But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

    ‘This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy,’ Fein said. ‘There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn’t doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power.'”

  • Martin Lav

    Oh, forgot to mention that BushCo almost had a mutiny on their hands, when half the Justice Department was going to walk off the job, including the Director of the FBI, unless the administration altered their interpretation of legalized TORTURE.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    There was also a near-mutiny about the warrantless wiretapping. Yet in both cases, Bush granted himself the authority to continue torture and wiretapping even without the written blessing of the Justice Dept. Anyone who doesn’t find that at least a little disturbing is part of the problem rather than the solution.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Look guys. I have repeatedly said that some of the signing statements were excessive and potentially out of line, but it’s ridiculous to condemn the entire practice on that basis, and the claim that 1000 of 750 are unconstitutional only makes sense if you declare the entire practice to be unconstitutional and then find additional reasons to declare specific stateemnts unconstitutional.

    Signing statements are an expression of the managerial responsibility of the executive. To try to say that the president doesn’t have the authority to tell his executive departments how to implement policy is blatantly unconstitutional.

    Perhaps we need to look for a happy medium and admit that the president actually does run the executive branch, but that signing statements, while a legitimate exercise of his power, should not directly contravene the intent of the law they are applied to.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Fine. And add to that: this administration has taken a more aggressive approach than any other in using the statements to undermine the laws.

    Think about it: the President is signing the bill into law, yet appending language that says the bill has unconstitutionally encroached on his authority, so he’ll limit its enforcement.

    Wouldn’t it be more honest to simply veto more of these bills? The signing statements received no publicity whatsoever until the press got hold of them at the time of the torture ban one. It’s easy to infer, at the very least, sneakiness on the part of the Administration.

  • Martin Lav

    “Wouldn’t it be more honest to simply veto more of these bills?”

    Yes it would be more honest, however, it would also bring to light that BushCo. never intended to follow the laws being enacted if they didn’t want to, or as Dave says, they encroached on his authority as the Executive Branch.

    If he had veto’d them then he would to have said why and then congress would have been fighting with him on this issue all along to restrict his power.

    Just as the Frontline show pointed out last night, Cheney prescribes to the notion that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

  • moonraven

    Nalle should compare the sheer number of signing statements by this “president” with those of the folks who preceded him.

    It’s clear that he has gone way beyond abusing this privelege.

    Even an idiot could see that.

  • Martin Lav

    Apparently not…..

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    This just in: Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are distant cousins!

    Prize for the best joke… Quick, before Leno gets there first!

    :-)

  • Martin Lav

    Some of Cheney’s Quotes abridged:

    “Except for the occasional heart attack, I never felt better.” –June 4, 2003
    Til now…..

    “I had other priorities in the sixties than military service.” –on his five draft deferments, April 5, 1989
    and apparently so did some of my cousins….

  • Baronius

    On Barack’s mom’s side, right?

  • Martin Lav

    The Dark Side of Cheney

  • Baronius

    Vote for Hillary: because with Obama, we’d just be putting the same families back in power

  • Lumpy

    How can u not like a man with a sense of humor like that?