Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Slippery Slope of UnChecked Power

The Slippery Slope of an unChecked Government
Ever since December 2000 when the Supreme Court selected George W. Bush president (can everyone say judicial activism?) and the terrorists attacks of 9/11/01 led to the September 18, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in response to Al Aqaeda’s September 11th Attacks which somehow led to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq in October of 2002; the United States has moved from having a constitutional and democratically elected president to having an imperial one. Being commander in chief has gone to W’s head--he believes he is the all powerful ruler.
Unfortunately, W ‘s actions are eroding democracy, in fact they seem to be eroding all the progress we have made as a civilization since the Enlightenment!
True, there was no indication that W ever believed in democracy or our constitution; after all he was borne into an elite family with all the privileges thereof. He was trained to be a business man equipped with an MBA, in business the bottom line, not people, matters. Though prior to his foray into politics W was an unsuccessful businessman; thank goodness for Daddy’s friends who bailed him out.
We also know he does believe in God. And, thus has no need for scientific knowledge --he even scrapped a NASA mission that would have given us tangible evidence of global warming--besides the hurricanes, the glaciers that are melting.
But, what if he also believed in the constitution, in our democracy, the rule of law not just his own usurped power as commander-in-chief in a never ending war on terrorism? (Guess the wars on poverty and drugs are over. I think we the people lost.)
Then he would know that the president is not above the law--domestic and/or international, no matter if his non-benevolent God speaks through him. We would not be a nation that speaks of human rights yet tortures captives; as if that information pulled from the torture victims would still be valid.
W would also respect the tradition that Montesquieu set forward and our founders adopted : the separation of power, and the checks and balances of the three branches of government, so that one branch of our government would not become all powerful.
He would not have withheld information from Congress nor falsified information given to Congress thus gaining support for the Iraq war. A war that had no connection to the war on terror (BTW where is Ossama Bin Laden?), a war that destroyed the infrastructure of a country, that went against international rules of war not to mention the hundreds of thousands of lives lost or devastated--Iraqi and American.
He would not abide by any in his administration violating the law by for instance outting a CIA operative in retaliation for her husband’s public renouncement of the President’s statement that Iraq tried to purchase Yellowcake from Niger in the late 1990s. (BTW, Where is Scooter Libby now? Hint, like a cat he landed on his feet at the Hudson Institute.)
Nor would he have sought to limit the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in cases brought by the prisoners held at Guantonamo Bay. Or nominate ideologues to the Supreme Court.
Our government would not eavesdrop on American citizens without a court approved, even a Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) secret court, search warrant. The president can not so order a wiretap, as if he were King. Nor would he do so while still assuring American citizens as he did on April 20, 2004 “"[T]here are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way..."
A president who lies and disregards the law is one who threatens the very essence of our democracy, our government. The president is no Machavellian Prince where the ends justify the means, nor an imperial king (King George , hmm, sound familiar?).
So what does this all mean? Is it just part of the wild swing of the pendulum to the authoritative right as one of my colleagues has suggested, and there is still more to the arc before it reaches its zenith and starts to swing back? Where everyone who is not part of the privileged norm, or can not pass as a member of the norm, or cover is at risk until the pendulum starts to swing back towards the principles of a democratic republic? You know: equality, justice and liberty.

Or, has this brought us to a constitutional crisis, where if we do not rally around the constitution, it will be lost. But how can we, the people, rally when we are so distracted trying to make ends meet: paying over 50% of our wages for housing, figuring out which medicare prescription plan really works, trying to pay off --or at least the minimum- our credit cards which we seem to be using more and more to pay for essentials such as gas, heat, food…more people are living just one pay check from poverty. Who has the luxury to think about things such as rights, democracy, the rule of law?
When we do rally it is away from the President’s view, unreported in the media, peaceful protests are infiltrated and turned confrontational (see: RNC protests in NYC),
Perhaps it will be easier to live in an authoritarian regime, one does not have to think. Of course, most of us will be living in a gulag somewhere--if we are still alive for his culture of life does not seem to include us.

To paraphrase Thomas Paine: “the law is King” not the President.

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