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Posted by gustav at 12:01AM, Thursday, December 08th, 2005

The Dangers of the Activist Executive: Bush "has lodged more challenges to provisions of laws than all previous presidents combined"

The Washington Post reports 'a bipartisan panel of legal scholars and lawyers assembled by the American Bar Association is sharply criticizing the use of "signing statements" by President Bush that he applies as a means of ignoring or not enforcing laws passed by Congress... 'The panel members described the development as a serious threat to the Constitution's system of checks and balances, and they urged Congress to pass legislation permitting court review of such statements.'

The trick to understanding those currently in power in this country is this: when they attack another individual or group, it's to distract us from noticing that they're doing exactly what they are, in their most shrill, Rove-ian hysteria, criticizing. Every time Bush invokes the phrase "activist judiciary," to denigrate judges carrying out their Constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, it's a fair bet his own administration is exceeding its own Constitutionally-mandated authority, whether it's attempting to change the legal definition of torture, giving itself the supposed right to ignore the Geneva Conventions, or declaring itself above the rule of law and the Congress.

It's naive to assume that this administration does not understand the separation of powers - the roles the Executive, Judiciary, and Legislative branches of the Federal and state governments play and how they interact with and balance one another. It has become increasingly clear over the last couple of years that Rove, Gonzalez, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. know exactly what they're doing. They just don't care about the balance of power that Jefferson etc. saw fit to put in place. Those at the top of the neo-con food chain know this, but cleverly disseminate the meme that to follow the structures of power as mandated in the Constitution is un-American. Sadly, shrill idiots, who appear never to have passed 8th-Grade Social Studies, but now sit on both sides of the aisles in Congress -- and in the media -- believe this meme, and start shrieking about "activist judges" and the will of the people.

This should not be the American way. But the national media outlets go ahead and report administration statements without assessing them critically. For instance, this Washington Post article parrots the administration line that Bush didn't really make that many more signing statements than other presidents -- ignoring the crucial distinction that Bush is unique in using this many of his statements to attempt to change the way bills passed by the Congress will be enforced, rather than simply commenting on them. This is happening at a time when the President's approval ratings are at historic lows, and poll after poll shows that most Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. So why do the corporate media continue to provide cover for the Bush Administration? At this point, I find it hard to believe that the media, or the Congress, are still awe-struck by presidential glory, or too frightened by the President's flaccid poll numbers to question the veracity of his statements. I must assume that they, too, don't care about the Constitution, and want it done away with, for the betterment of their stockholders.

We've already seen the erosion of First Amendment rights with the 1984-esque "Free Speech Zones." Unreasonable search and seizure is now A-OK, with the limp Congressional reaction to the NSA scandal. Treason -- disclosing the identity of undercover operatives, placing our intelligence networks at risk -- is now fine, when performed by the Bush Administration. Serious questions about how and whether votes are counted in America remain unanswered -- and even un-asked -- by the Congress. As Bush stands up every day and lies to the feeble but supportive Washington press, our nation slides back into a pre-1776 world-view, a lens through which tyranny is acceptable, as long as it's the right kind of tyranny, and justice is to be lauded, as long as it's on your side.

This activist executive's assault on the United States Constitution has already had profound and tragic effects. If left unchecked by the Congress and the Judiciary, American Democracy, what remains of the Bill of Rights, and the Republic for which our once-proud flag stands will be nothing more than utopian memories to pass down to our grandchildren as they labor in serfdom. It's long past time for Congress to fulfil its duty and call for impeachment of this criminal president.
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