The Imperial President (The Madness of "King" George)

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Adam Cohen's July 23 opinion at NYTimes.com pretty much speaks for itself. But for those who need a bullet-point summary to help cut away those "extra" words that make reading such a burden, I shall try to accommodate.

    • The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown regarding the war.
    • The Bush administration insists Congress does not have the power to limit or end the war.
    • The war is not the only issue through which the Bush administration is warping executive power beyond recognition.
    • An "imperial presidency" is especially dangerous in times of war; the founders and framers recognized this.
    • The Constitution, and history, are on Congress' side.
    • The framers were revolutionaries who feared establishing a new monarchy.
    • The framers limited presidential authority, called "the foetus of monarchy".
    • Critics of the war are afraid to suggest bad faith on Bush's part in pitching the war.
    • Madison--the "father of the Constitution"--would be skeptical.
    • Madison and his fellows specifically rejected the head of state's power to declare war, investing that authority instead in Congress.
    • "Commander in Chief" is a term much exaggerated since it was penned in the Constitution.
    • The founders would be shocked by Bush's assertions about the Congressional role in the war.
    • Congressional control over spending, said Madison, is the "most complete and effectual weapon" of the people's representation.
    • Congress limited military spending to two-year blocs in order to keep the President on a short leash in military matters.
    • The administration response to waning support of the war has been dismissive of the Congressional role.
    • The administration's contempt of public discussion about ending the war strikes after both Congress and the Constitution.
    • It is not surprising that the current debate about the war arises in the context of a spending bill; this is what the founders intended.
    • Congress should not be intimidated by Bushspeak.​

    Or, I suppose, you could just read the article:

    As opinion turns more decisively against the war, the administration is becoming ever more dismissive of Congress’s role. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman brusquely turned away Senator Hillary Clinton’s questions about how the Pentagon intended to plan for withdrawal from Iraq. "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he wrote. Mr. Edelman’s response showed contempt not merely for Congress, but for the system of government the founders carefully created.

    The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.
    (Cohen)​

    I don't think there is much there that should surprise people. Whether or not one appreciates the article is left to them, but the history involved reconciles well with both the record itself and the popular distillations of academia over the years.

    And this is part of what frustrates the left about the war. The people are not powerless before the administration, but rather choose to forfeit their authority. Perhaps this is a matter of ignorance, perhaps it is a matter of exasperation. Indeed, perhaps it is a matter of sloth and arrogance: it is easier to complain than to do anything about the problem.

    Perhaps what is needed is a good, old-fashioned dose of revolutionary tantrum. In 2004, I did not join the state's Democratic Party caucus. I had all sorts of excuses: it snuck up on me, I had arranged no child-care, the ticket was pretty much set, and my candidate would not win the nomination ....

    This last is the one that nags at me even now.

    American Democrats have walked into the trap, and be there a God in heaven, may It help us all and bring failure and ruin to the GOP strategy. After all, the GOP thinks it can beat Clinton, and judging by the behavior and attitudes of the American people over the last couple decades, they may be right. Hillary Clinton has two strikes against her in this context: (1) She's a woman, and (2) she's a Clinton.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I voted for Bill twice, and if his wife is the nominee, she will, barring unforeseen and extraordinary events, get my support. As much as I'd like to enjoy the notion of a female president, though, I feel obliged to ignore her womanhood. However, I'm often surprised when certain conservative streaks light up in the people at large. And I do think her gender will count against her come election day. So will her name. Put the two together ....

    Regardless of whether it's Hillary or some other candidate you support, though, I can only urge liberals in caucus states to do two things. First, attend the caucus. Secondly, throw a fucking tantrum. What? If you're like me, and your chosen candidate seems a lost cause and therefore nobody will listen to a reasonable argument, make them listen. Get thrown out. Get arrested if you must. But maybe, just maybe, you can shame the hell out of enough people that they will wake up and remember why Democrats are Democrats.

    It's not about stopping Hillary. In the first place, I simply prefer Edwards. Beyond that, though, there is a whispering voice in my mind that tells me the country will bail on Hillary. 'Nuff said 'bout her.

    Don't just throw a tantrum on behalf of your candidate. Pitch a raging fit about what you expect of Democrats. Imagine when the word gets out that disorderly-conduct arrests took place at Democratic caucuses in all fifty states, and the only common thread seems to be that liberals are furious at being abandoned by their party.

    FOX News will choke on itself figuring out what to say. On the one hand, they love the chance to tag Democrats as evil liberals. To the other, though, they'll lambaste Dems for meeting the people at least halfway. Add to that the opportunity to be upset with liberals for being liberal, and the FOX chatter corps might actually be struck dumb by the smorgasboard. If we're lucky, they'll take up all three points at once and their master control microchips will overload and flame out.

    The Democratic candidates will be against the wall facing questions they don't understand and couldn't foresee. The smart candidate will ask for a blindfold and a cigarette.

    The spectacle shouldn't be enough to tip the outcome of the election, but it might be enough to seed some genuine liberalism in the party. The Bill Clinton/DLC crop rotation has left liberal lands barren, and few seeds are hardy enough to take root in such hostile soil. Truth, compassion, and hope, however, are the hardiest of seeds, give the most beautiful and fragrant flowers, and offer the most delicious and sustaining fruits.

    This is our garden, too. Where have all the flowers gone? How can we possibly call something so sterile a garden?

    We can only clean up the litter, till the soil, and plant the seeds. Rain and sunshine are left to the will and ways of nature. But we owe it to ourselves, and our neighbors, to at least try. We may suffer hunger pangs, but there will never be a feast to harvest if we're too busy weeping and wailing to sow the seeds.

    American liberals, your country is calling. If we must take down our Party in order to answer the call, then our duty is clear.

    The only real question is how far gone are the local Democrats. If they cannot answer the call to justice, they ought not be left relevant. If we can't get a proper Democrat in 2008, we need to sack the Party in time for 2010, and sow the seeds for a 2012 harvest.

    The sooner, the better.
    ______________________

    Notes:

    Cohen, Adam. "Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War". NYTimes.com, July 23, 2007. See http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/23/opinion/23mon4.html
     
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  3. Cottontop3000 Death Beckoned Registered Senior Member

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    My opinion, tiassa, is that the Democrats don't really want to stop the war. I think that many of the Democratic plans for pull-out still leave anywhere from 20,000-70,000 troops on the ground for the forseeable future. There is just too much money at stake with regard to the privatization of the oil resources of Iraq. I also think Democrats are salivating over the potential power they will be able to wield after 2008 if they don't check Bush on his Constitutional abuses now.

    Bruce Fein (former Reagan DOJ appointee and member of The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute), as you may know, said last Friday on Bill Moyers' Journal that if this congress doesn't check Bush's constitutional abuses, they will potentially be a part of presidential power forever.

    I think we're screwed.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Absolutely.
     
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    That's why we need to hit the caucuses. Challenge the locals.

    All the more reason to go after the local delegates and get their attention.
     
  8. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    What, you can't trust the intellectual veracity of your collective's minions?

    you have to resort to flash cards?

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    Funny how the presumed most intellectually rigorous and most nuance-capable community needs guidance counselors and cheer leaders to stay on message.

    Attack of the Drones.

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  9. Cottontop3000 Death Beckoned Registered Senior Member

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    I'll think some more about this. I'm not sure what I think.


    Your way is certainly more legal, but I'm not sure I care about "legal" anymore.
     
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Fire in the belly ....

    It is a difficult consideration. Certes the GOP and FOX will have a field day, but that's actually part of the point. Like someone noted in one of the other topics, the Democrats seem to be in a damned-no-matter-what-you-do position, but that is only because people continue to pay attention to the GOP and its mouthpieces. Imagine the exchange:

    O'Hannity: This is a disgrace. The liberals are showing how disgraceful they really are.

    Guest: Wait, Shill. You're upset at the liberals because they're uncompromising. You blast them for having no integrity when they compromise. You're disgusted by liberals, now, because they've stormed their own delegates and told them to get their stuff straight? Which disgrace are you talking about? The disgrace of holding the line? The disgrace of compromising? The disgrace of the people standing up and asserting their voices? Which one is it?

    O'Hannity: ... (silence) ... It's disgraceful.

    Guest: Which part?

    O'Hannity: All of it. They're liberals. They're disgraceful, unpatriotic, child-molesting, drug-dealing, retirement-stealing, homosexual terrorists.

    Guest: Well, that's an answer, I suppose.

    Colmes: Um, Shill? Can I please have my penis back? I'm going out to dinner with my wife tonight. And, well, you know ....​

    The problem is that the office-holding Democrats are caught up in the Capitol Two-Step. To the one, this happens; unfortunately, it's how the game is played. The local delegates, though ... many of them still think they can make a difference, except they'll be pressured to jump on the bandwagon. Hit 'em where it hurts--their egos and consciences. Were it, say, a family discussion, the delegate might--probably would--break under pressure at the caucus. But spotlighted for the world to watch ....

    It's a gamble. It could shatter the electoral run for the Dems, and that's a huge risk for everyone. Between the various caucuses and the convention, though, a candidate might emerge with an honorable response, and even if the candidate called up to the Show doesn't get it, the Party will have had time to figure out which way the wind really blows.

    If the candidate blows it, the Party is useless.

    If the Democratic voters don't make some noise in defense of liberal principles, at least we'll know where we stand with them.

    And even if such an action backfires, and we lose everything--the Party, the voters, our criminal defenses--at least we will have gone down fighting.

    Consider, analogously, my former partner: If I didn't make a furious point of it, she didn't seem to understand that I was upset. If I did make a furious point of it, she took offense to my tone and refused to consider the point.

    It will be a huge risk with the people; they're thick as hell, sometimes. And if you holler at them, they only get offended. But, damn it, we're liberals, and liberals need to remember what that means. If we don't make a stand at some point, we've betrayed the principles that compel us to call ourselves liberals.

    In this, it's best to go down fighting. Because at least then we have a chance of winning. And on this, if we win, everyone wins.

    And, who knows? Maybe we won't have to pull a stunt like that at all. Between Edwards, Obama, and also Clinton's political agility, perhaps that infinitesimal probability of Democrats acting like they're supposed to will be realized without an intra-party uprising.

    I mean, sure, I realize it won't go that way. But still, we can be optimistic, right? Especially since hope will be all we have to stoke the fires in our bellies if we storm the caucuses.

    More legal? Less illegal, but still ....

    We'll be prosecuted as terrorists, most likely. (What are the odds the government will be smart enough to avoid that fight?)
     
  11. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    Um, Congress has only one Constitutional role in the war once it voted for it: Defund it.

    Congress has no other war powers, beyond the purse, in this situation.

    Defund it, or stop with the whiny tantrums.

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  12. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

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    OK, G. Watch what happens.
     
  13. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    You haven't been watching?

    What's been happening?

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    Much of what was needed to be accomplished has been. Not everything. But much.

    More still must be done.

    Or not. You decide. And then you'll own it. Capital "Y" you.

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    Then watch what happens.

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    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  14. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

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    "What's been happening?"

    The Bush Administration is breaking down.

    "More still must be done."

    There will be progressively less decorum as Americans turn on the present Presidency. The US occupation of Iraq has been similarly disgraced, and will be defunded.

    "Or not. You decide. And then you'll own it. Capital "Y" you."

    Nonsense.
     
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    The Democratic Congress may not be able to stop the war without the aid of the Supreme Court.

    And we all know how that would end.

    The problem as I see it is that the authorization given by Congress for the Iraq War was constructed in such a manner that it has been widely accused of violating the Separation of Powers.

    This is the Constitutional issue that can bring this war to an end.

    The reason I doubt Congress can stop the war is that, while Democrats hadn't the power to stop the bill from being passed, many were dumb enough to vote for it. While some accuse that the 373 members of Congress who voted for the bill violated their oath, the fact is that the bill was signed into law by President Bush.

    It seems to me that any action by Congress to repeal that law must also be signed by President Bush. We know that will not happen.

    Thus, it's left to the Separation of Powers argument to destroy the law authorizing the President's disastrous war. Given the attitudes and dubious integrity of the Supreme Court's two newest members, the chances of the Court agreeing that the law violated the Separation of Powers clause are cloudy at best.

    Did the law violate the Separation of Powers clause?

    • Chief Justice Roberts: Predictable "No"
    • Justice Alito: Predictable "No"
    • Justice Souter: ???
    • Justice Thomas: ???
    • Justice Scalia: Predictable "No"

    • Justice Kennedy: Probable "Yes"
    • Justice Ginsberg: Predictable "Yes"
    • Justice Stevens: Predictable "Yes"
    • Justice Breyer: Predictable "Yes" ​

    We've got a 50/50 chance at best by that scenario. Of course, now we only need several hired-gun lawyers willing to pro bono for the People, and to craft a lawsuit against both the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States of America.

    As a side note, perhaps FOX News and other propaganda outlets should stop spreading the rumor that Democrats are liberals.

    I reiterate my call for a liberal uprising at the Democratic caucuses in the 2008 cycle.

    So who's left in the candidate field? Obama? Who else? Gravel, Richardson, Kucinich?

    All is not lost on the Presidential front, but that's small comfort, considering the war.
     
  16. Nickelodeon Banned Banned

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    The Democrats are not interested in stopping this war. Too much to lose.
     
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    You don't get it yet, do you, Nick?

    Even if the Democrats buckle under the pressure of thousands of people protesting outside their offices in DC and local headquarters back home, it would appear they can't.

    Democrats are politicians, too. The people can put enough heat on them. Look at how easily the rolled after 9/11. And look at how many of them were scared by the magnitude of jingoism when they handed Bush his permission slip for disaster. What they thought they had to lose was their popular support and therefore their offices.

    Politicians are known to roll over, sit up, beg, or play dead, depending on what they think will get them votes. We cannot call out the GOP on principles; it has none.

    But the Democrats, who are supposed to be the liberal party, can still be called out on the basis of their liberal values.

    However, it doesn't seem as if that will do any good for stopping the war.
     
  18. Cottontop3000 Death Beckoned Registered Senior Member

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    tiassa, I'm with you. A mass uprising at the Democratic caucuses calling for Democrats to take firmer stands on issues is a great place to start. Demand ACTION, with much less consideration for political fallout, for that is the trade-off. However, I think the net result of taking ACTION over worrying about political fallout will be a huge plus for DEMS. The only thing the Republican party has going for them right now is that a majority of Americans think that they have more backbone than DEMS. Take that away from them, and they have nothing, and I mean nothing. They are the PARTY OF THE PAST. I hope people will stand up in their state caucuses, if they have them.

    One thing that's made me hopeful recently is listening to all the callers calling into C-SPAN on Washington Journal every morning from 7 AM to 10 AM (Eastern ST). Even Republicans are calling in mad as hell at Bush and the current neo-con-dominated Republican Party. This gives me hope. This morning, you couldn't help but see the hypocrisy of the Republican party when it comes to health-care issues. Caller after caller confronted this Repuplican Representative with facts from Michael Moore's SICKO and lambasted him and Republicans in general over their support for the private insurance companies (read "for-huge-profit insurance companies") that have so destroyed the American health-care system.
     
  19. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

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    What a bunch of BS.

    Congress could defund the war, tomorrow.

    End of war.

    Democrats don't want to own the consequences of their Congress doing what is well within their power.

    So they hope to put the blame on the Supremes because Dems haven't the gonads to own up to their own brand of silliness.

    Funny, you folks think that Overlord is a title you deserve by effort, if not by actual prowess.

    Funny. No, laughable.

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  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    The illusion of your purported wisdom

    For all you like to portray yourself as wise and sophisticated, G, that's quite naîve.

    Would you like to explain the process for how the Democrats do that, or should I?

    How about if we both give it a try. We can compare versions and perhaps work constructively to clear away any misperceptions. I'll even go first:

    (1) House Democrats propose de-funding bill, achieves quorum.
    (2) House passes bill.
    (3) Senate considers bill. Democrats attract enough GOP for cloture.
    (4) Senate passes bill.
    (5) Bill forwarded to President Bush for signature into law.
    (6) President Bush vetos bill.
    (7) Can Democrats gain enough GOP votes in both houses to override veto?​

    The Democrats currently hold 231 House seats. Presuming party unanimity for the Democrats, 68 GOP votes are needed to override the veto.

    Senate Democrats hold 51 seats in their caucus (49 + Lieberman and Sanders). Presuming caucus unanimity, the Democrats need sixteen GOP votes to override the veto.

    In addition to de-funding the war, Congress must also repeal the authorization of the use of force in Iraq, else the situation could get truly ugly. Would Bush leave the troops out there if only the funding was cut off? It's seems a hypothetical and useless question; it is doubtful that the Democrats could attract 84 GOP votes.

    Additionally, Senator Clinton is a question mark. Most likely, she would vote with the party, but her current stance on the war as expressed through her presidential campaign gives cause for at least some doubt. Can the Democrats get 17 Senate votes?

    Sixteen or seventeen, it doesn't matter. I doubt they could get the votes. Perhaps this is where we differ on the matter of cutting off funds for the war.

    Your turn.
     
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    We must also remember that the last attempt to end the war died when Senate Democrats failed to achieve cloture. At 52-47, can we expect that an attempt to end funding for the war or repeal of HJR 114 (2002), which authorized the war, will do any better?
     
  22. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

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  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    (Insert title here)

    Indeed, Hype. I raise a glass to that point.

    I will go so far as to note that what really disgusts me right now about the conservative line in the United States is that it gambles on the idea that people will forget about things they watched happen in front of them, and will furthermore aim to convince people that it is so.

    What disgusts me about the relationship between my American neighbors and politics is that they seem to accept this. The great example, really, is the Swift Boat controversy in 2004. Even after the whole thing was shown to be absolute crap, conservatives continued to push the line, and the people decided to believe it.

    Now we have the GOP scrambling to prevent the Democrats from doing anything to stop the war, and then blaming the Democrats for not stopping the war. That tactic might still work.

    Additionally, this does come down to the people. So for as much "polite" political discourse is supposed to avoid comparisons of the Iraqi Bush War to the debacle in Vietnam, it may well be that "liberals are to blame" for not filling the streets and tearing things to pieces. Of course, then we're supposed to blame the liberals for filling the streets and tearing it all up, and in the end, nobody is supposed to give a damn that the American people, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and our international neighbors and partners were all lied to--by conservatives.

    And yet another layer? Why not. Strangely, it is conservatives in American politics who rail against the UN most often. And yet, suddenly, when it came to Iraq, the UN was the object around which we were supposed to rally. Saddam eventually coughed up a mass of documents, we chose to not believe them, went riding in and found nothing. In the long run, it's just another argument pointing out the inefficacy of the UN.

    And the people believe it.

    I was disconcerted, on and after 9/11, at the number of people who couldn't imagine that the U.S. might have done something to piss people off in other parts of the world. (There was a topic back in October, 2001, that saw one of our members absolutely determined to hold that line: "We are utterly blameless.")

    When we get hit again, if people are so stupid as to believe the U.S. is blameless, they will have no excuse whatsoever for their ignorance. Then again, if supporting tyrants like Saddam Hussein, and using our influence to exploit people and keep them suffering in poverty means we're blameless, I can't imagine that a dishonest, brutal invasion of another nation will make much difference to that crowd.

    But at some point, these people need to be held accountable for their contributions to empowering terrorism.

    And, strangely, it's always conservatives. There are reasons I'm not a conservative. One could be the selfish, hurtful presuppositions of conservative politics, but I admit that the conduct of conservatives is the more powerful argument. Certes, some liberals end up making themselves look foolish, but at least they haven't the stigma of being cruel, hateful, greedy liars to compound the problem.
     

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