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The Madness of King George
March 24, 2006 4:46 PM   Subscribe

George Bush is exempt from the parts of the much reviled Patriot Act that he doesn't like -- by decree of George Bush. He signed the bill with pomp and circumstance. But after the reporters and guests went home, he issued a "signing statement" that he can withhold information from Congress in violation of the law.
posted by hipnerd (86 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
these signing statements don't mean anything when the bill, like the patriot act passes with a veto-proof supermajority.

The patriot act had only one decenting vote in the senate, Russ Feingold I belive.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 PM on March 24, 2006


is he ?

no he isn't.

next

(bored silly)
posted by Substrata at 4:57 PM on March 24, 2006


It gets ever more odious . . .

Bush obviously doesn't have the wherewithal to write, much less come up with, these signing statement loopholes. Who orchestrates this stuff? Cheney? Rove? Card? Some combination thereof?

Further, is it possible for congress (were it to have any backbone) to override these signing statements? Where are the checks and balances? The president is effectively changing the acts passed by congress!

The linked wikipedia article states: Signing statements have an uncertain legal status but do not appear to have legal force by themselves other than to acknowledge the responsibility to approve the law and take care that it be faithfully executed as written.

If they have no real legal force why are they going unchallenged? Forgive all the questions here - I'm hoping a legal/constitutional scholar can weigh in with some context.
posted by aladfar at 4:57 PM on March 24, 2006


@delmoi -- They mean whatever the President says they mean... whenever he says it. Where have you been?
posted by incongruity at 4:58 PM on March 24, 2006


If they have no real legal force why are they going unchallenged?

Because I don't think there has yet been cause to challenge them.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 4:58 PM on March 24, 2006


The patriot act had only one decenting vote in the senate, Russ Feingold I belive.

That was the original. The renewal had more opponents. Not many, but more than one.
posted by theonetruebix at 5:01 PM on March 24, 2006


A government without extensive oversight scares the ever-lovin' shit out of me. A president that doesn't understand why such oversight is essential scares me even more. A president that doesn't care that such oversight is essential is a dictator in the making... or is setting the stage for one to follow after, at the least.
posted by incongruity at 5:08 PM on March 24, 2006


delmoi writes "The patriot act had only one decenting vote in the senate, Russ Feingold I belive."

The original Patriot Act of 2001, yes. But the FPP refers to the Patriot Act Reauthorization, which passed the Senate 89-10 with one Senator not voting.

(The Senators voting against were: Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Byrd (D-WV), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Jeffords (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Murray (D-WA) and Wyden (D-OR))


Bush's signing statements don't turn on the number of votes; Bush claims that the certain provisions of the Patriot Act Reauthorization that seek to constrain the Executive are unconstitutional limitations of the powers that Article One of the Constitution confers on the Executive Branch.
posted by orthogonality at 5:09 PM on March 24, 2006


Said the Texas Oilman
If Pensylvania Avenue I cou'd see
Then King of America I shou'd be
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:16 PM on March 24, 2006


And people really think we'll vote these guys out in two years.

Ain't gonna happen, kids. They're in, and they're staying in. Behold your new king(s), and rejoice!
posted by zoogleplex at 5:20 PM on March 24, 2006


Signing statements should have all the legal force of any other presidential press release. Or a statement by Scott McClellan. (I wonder if there's a way to make an APA challenge)

It isn't legislation (it would have, among other things, presentment and bicameralism requirement problems, U.S. Const. Art. I, s. 7, cl. 2. ).

As for any effect on the interpretation of a statute, I'm not sure if a signing statement could even be relevant. "Legislative intent" is just that--the intent of the (Art. I) legislature that passed the bill, not the intent of the sitting President that signed the bill. As an ironic aside, ignore a signing statement entirely is consistent with Justice Scalia's anti-"legislative navel-gazing" jurisprudence.
posted by soda pop at 5:33 PM on March 24, 2006


ortho: I think you mean Article II.
posted by aaronetc at 5:38 PM on March 24, 2006


You know, i can't help wondering.... back in the "good ol days" J. Edgar Hoover was said to have a secret dossier on just about eveyone in government.. And it was this that kept everyone in line. Does anyone think that our current administration wouldn't take a similar tack? I mean, it might even extend to the media pack this time around. So the spinelessness of members of congress and of the msm may be a fear of something more than just losing their seats or their jobs. I don't know, just wondering.
posted by donfactor at 5:39 PM on March 24, 2006


Yes, my mistake. Thanks.
posted by orthogonality at 5:39 PM on March 24, 2006


From the Boston Globe article: 'The signing statement makes clear that the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Bushco can says this with a straight face because they get to decide what "consistent" means. Well, they get to decide what everything means in this brave new world.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said [...] the statement illustrates the administration's 'mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

'On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.

I'm tired of sitting here watching the US slowly morph into a dictatorship. The Congress is not going to stop Bushco. The judiciary is not going to stop them. Fuck Bush. The revolution starts now.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:44 PM on March 24, 2006


oncoqenesis: To have a revolution you need revolutionaries. America has none.
posted by ?! at 5:47 PM on March 24, 2006


oncogenesis writes "The revolution starts now."

I begged my liberal friends to dress up as Indians with me and dump tea in Boston Harbor, but they said it was "Native Americans" and that dumping tea would hurt the snail-darters.

Then they all started arguing whether "Native American" or "First Nations" was more politically correct.
posted by orthogonality at 5:49 PM on March 24, 2006


Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, if then.
posted by Dareos at 5:52 PM on March 24, 2006


Orthogonality, I hope you're joking . . .?
posted by undule at 5:54 PM on March 24, 2006


To have a revolution you need revolutionaries. America has none.

Envy the country that has heroes, huh?

I say pity the country that needs them.
posted by frogan at 5:57 PM on March 24, 2006


I begged my liberal friends to dress up as Indians with me and dump tea in Boston Harbor, but they said it was "Native Americans" and that dumping tea would hurt the snail-darters.

Heh.

I used to think that when US government fucked its people too hard there would be a revolution. I was quite the naïf. The American people very clearly like it rough with no lube. They're a spineless dessicated lot who've been fellating the feds for nearly a century and they show no signs of getting tired. When the camps and the curfews and the summary executions come, which they surely will in the end, even then they won't complain.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:02 PM on March 24, 2006


That I'll agree with.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:05 PM on March 24, 2006


The American people very clearly like it rough with no lube.

Whuh? Get things in proportion here, for chrissakes. If Americans start feeling pinched, shit will happen. But maybe Americans don't feel pinched?
posted by undule at 6:06 PM on March 24, 2006


oops, didn't preview... I agreed with frogan about the pity.

I think once the camps start up that we'll complain. Oh wait, isn't Halliburton building them already? Yeah, maybe you're right, Ishmael.

Undule, that's exactly what's happening. Nobody's feeling a pinch yet, we all still have cable and fast food and cars, plus nobody we know has been disappeared yet. Also, the people who will feel the pinch first are people that most people in America either don't give a crap about or who many Americans think are The Enemy.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:08 PM on March 24, 2006


How much longer is America going to tolerate this? No government is perfect, but Bush's administration is selling out the constitution in plain view, and all everyone's doing is writing about it. Perhaps this is one case where the sword would be mightier than the pen.
posted by chudmonkey at 6:10 PM on March 24, 2006


frogan: Not a trace of envy. Just a soupçon of reality.
posted by ?! at 6:12 PM on March 24, 2006


That Americans haven't risen up in protest is just too depressing. We've accepted warrantless searches. We've accepted massive debt. We've accepted an endless war on an unidentified enemy. We've accepted a presidency that is unaccountable and above the law. We've accepted that manufacturing, biotech, and computer technology will all go to other countries. We've accepted that the government won't save us from natural disasters. Basically, we've all just given up.

So this is how it will be? We'll talk a good game, but when we actually do something we'll screw it up. And eventually we'll just lack the resources to do much at all. We'll brag about democracy, even though we loath our government. We'll shake our fists at those damn terrorists, but we'll know in our hearts we aren't doing much to about them. We'll blame it all Clinton and the media, because we're too ashamed to admit we just sat on our ass and watched Bush piss it all away.

One of the things that brought down the U.S.S.R. was the Moslem "dead-enders" in Afghanistan who didn't realize they couldn't beat a nuclear superpower with small arms and improvised explosives. The Soviets failed to put enough troops on the ground, failed to win hearts and minds, and just kept pouring money into the war until they ran out of money.

And here we are in Iraq, fighting Moslem "dead-enders" who only have small arms and improvised explosives. We failed to put enough troops on the ground, failed to win hearts and minds, and we just raised the debt ceiling so that we could borrow more money from China to keep the war going.

Do people even think about that? We can't keep fighting the war in Iraq unless we borrow more money from China. Right? And in Iraq we're fighting the same people who beat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Right?

And we all sat on our asses and watched it happen.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:14 PM on March 24, 2006


Well, I think the problem is that there isn't a monolithic culture, really. In the U.S. we have partisans lobbying from every possible political niche. And some of those partisans are just fine with Bush and his odium. I mean who would rebel? This is the same crowd who calls the MinuteMen loons and rednecks right? What if the blacks rebel, like in a huge LA style riot? Whites will become counterrevolutionaries in a second. Or what if, say, the Religious Right takes over the White House is a coup of some sort? (Not that such a thing could ever happen, mind you.) America is too divided to do anything but squabble.
posted by undule at 6:18 PM on March 24, 2006


Whuh? Get things in proportion here, for chrissakes. If Americans start feeling pinched, shit will happen. But maybe Americans don't feel pinched?

Presumably not. Americans these days value "freedoms from" more highly than "freedoms to," and since the feds have generally done a decent job keepin' them Moto RAZRs and iPods and plasma TVs on the shelves, and since most people out in the burbs don't have to worry too hard about what some desperate person's going to do to them since we've now got the poor people and the dirty people and the freaks and the weirdos and the riffraff and the pervents safely ensconced in that crowning achievement of a bowdlerised world that is the US penal system, no, I don't imagine most decent God-fearing Americans are feeling too pinched at all.

And if in a couple years Uncle Ron gets disappeared for shooting his mouth off in front of the wrong people around election season, or the neighbors' kid gets herself shot because she flinched a little too hard when the SWAT team broke down the door looking for drugs that weren't there, well, that's the cost you got to pay for living in a free country like the good ol' US of A, right? And anyway Ronnie always did drink too much and talk too loud, and the neighbors, well, they looked a little ethnic, you know?

I suppose I can't hold it against people that they'd prefer security to freedom. I just wish the fuckers weren't dragging me down with them.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:26 PM on March 24, 2006


IshmaelGraves writes "And if in a couple years Uncle Ron gets disappeared for shooting his mouth off in front of the wrong people around election season, or the neighbors' kid gets herself shot because she flinched a little too hard when the SWAT team broke down the door looking for drugs that weren't there, well, that's the cost you got to pay for living in a free country like the good ol' US of A, right? And anyway Ronnie always did drink too much and talk too loud, and the neighbors, well, they looked a little ethnic, you know?"

"We didn't know where the trains were going, and besides, it was illegal for the Cohens to keep living in our neighborhood anyway."
posted by orthogonality at 6:28 PM on March 24, 2006


Well there ya go, that's pretty much what I meant.
posted by undule at 6:29 PM on March 24, 2006


Okay, I have to go out, but let me throw this out. We have lots of historical models for how dictatorship starts: Rome, Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Franco's Spain, Mao's China.

And for how corporatism arises, many in South America, where people are nominally free but the poor and the dissenters disappear: Argentina, (to a lesser extent) Brazil.

Which of those models do you think the best fit? And how do you predict things will diverge from the model you pick as the closest fit?
posted by orthogonality at 6:34 PM on March 24, 2006


Also undule, I don't think that anyone who is freaked out about this administration's actions thinks that there are enough other like-minded people to really put together a real opposition. Plus our representatives are either cowed or in collusion with the administration, very hard to tell which, since no matter how many letters we write and phone calls we make, they do absolutely nothing to even slow the bastards down, Feingold being a notable exception.

There's no "core" on which to base an opposition, as you say, so anyone who'd really like to do something probably feels they have no place to go, no one to turn to. I sure don't.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:35 PM on March 24, 2006


zoogleplex writes "so anyone who'd really like to do something probably feels they have no place to go, no one to turn to"

And figures half the other "radicals" posting here are Federal agents provocateur. And is probably right.
posted by orthogonality at 6:39 PM on March 24, 2006


There is that, too. If they don't balk at warrantless wiretaps, they're sure as hell monitoring public internet sites like this one.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:44 PM on March 24, 2006


Zoogle, that pretty much nails for it me. I had this very same discussion with a coworker today -- and afterwards we both sort had this droopy dog look about us. What the hell are we going to do? Yell out the window? If this is all a plan to disengage the public from political life, it's genius.
posted by undule at 6:45 PM on March 24, 2006


That Americans haven't risen up in protest is just too depressing. We've accepted warrantless searches. We've accepted massive debt. We've accepted an endless war on an unidentified enemy. We've accepted a presidency that is unaccountable and above the law. We've accepted that manufacturing, biotech, and computer technology will all go to other countries. We've accepted that the government won't save us from natural disasters. Basically, we've all just given up.

Nah you never accepted all of that, because you weren't asked. Were you asked if you wanted to outsource to China or someplace else ? No and the excuse is you should have "voted" by not buying chinese product..as if you really could tell, as if you always had a similar choice avaiable.

As for the police-state laws, they are noticed only when they become annoying on a scale that involes enough people. Suppose there was a law allowing casual rectal examination in public by police officers behind some kind of towel screen or whatnot. What if terrorist hide antrax in their ass ? I know they hide E.Coli over there !

We must spelunc that ass ! It's for the Us of fucking A !

As a matter of fact, so as long as it's not applied widely _that law will survive_ , expecially if vociferous oppositions like the ACLU are routinely ignored both by public, politicians etc. Even more if right wing (or left wing) spin doctor say they are good. Similarly anti-sodomy laws or laws dictating sexual behaviors aren't routinely applied.

Yet they still are enforceable !
posted by elpapacito at 6:46 PM on March 24, 2006


Wow, papacito, I knew this post would eventually turn into a discussion of ass-play -- but that was a staggering manuever. Nice aim!
posted by undule at 6:49 PM on March 24, 2006


"What the hell are we going to do? Yell out the window?"

Well, the logical place to start is with your friends whom you really trust. My problem there is that none of those friends will listen to me when I even hint that something is wrong.

They just don't want to know, and they certainly don't want to hear it from me. Most people out there really just have no clue how far this is going, because they're not willing to do the homework and pay attention.

They don't even want to hear why gas is getting so expensive. They've decided that ExxonMobil et. al. are to blame, or OPEC for cheating on the prices. If I can't talk to them about that, I certainly can't talk to them about the government. Even my girlfriend doesn't want to know.

Droopy dog, indeed.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:59 PM on March 24, 2006


Almost worth a FPP... Bush Co. just gave a no-bid contract to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. to search cargo travelling to the U.S. from the Bahamas for nuclear materials. Unfortunately, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. is a company out of Hong Kong with close ties to the Chinese military and "... a U.S. military intelligence report, once marked "secret," cited Hutchison in 1999 as a potential risk for smuggling arms and other prohibited materials into the United States from the Bahamas."

Who cares about the law and civil liberties, just so long as you keep your billionaire friends happy.
posted by Nquire at 7:01 PM on March 24, 2006


That brings up another point - until the news media stops being a paid parrot and grows their cojones back, nothing is going to happen at all. We need them to speak out as badly as we need our representatives to.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:07 PM on March 24, 2006


If Americans start feeling pinched, shit will happen. But maybe Americans don't feel pinched?

So now you know the beauty of a well-executed totalitarian movement. A video game in every home, American Idol on every set and millions upon millions of Americans on mood altering drugs. Now you know why Rumsfeld spent so much time working in the pharmaceutical industry before his current post.
posted by any major dude at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2006


How Bush tries shaping new laws to his liking

Bush Flouts McCain Anti-Torture Law
posted by taosbat at 7:23 PM on March 24, 2006


When they write the history books, this will be the era they point to and say "right there, that was the tipping point". And, of course some dumb-ass will write a dissertation on why we didn't see it coming.
posted by TorontoSandy at 7:30 PM on March 24, 2006


That brings up another point - until the news media stops being a paid parrot and grows their cojones back, nothing is going to happen at all. We need them to speak out as badly as we need our representatives to.

bring Pacifica onto your community's radio station and TV.

start your own low-power station.

organize! learn to organize, teach others.

all of these things are very necessary, before anyone starts talking about guns. the other guys got a lot more guns than you. How you gonna 'bite and run' when there's no place to run to?
posted by eustatic at 7:35 PM on March 24, 2006


The Return of Black Bag Searches? Oregon Attorney on Why He Feels Federal Agents Broke into His Home and Office to Conduct Clandestine Searches
posted by homunculus at 7:35 PM on March 24, 2006


did someone post this already?
posted by eustatic at 7:37 PM on March 24, 2006


Relax. It could be worse...
posted by fleetmouse at 7:51 PM on March 24, 2006


Why did I ever think he was a cryptofascist?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:00 PM on March 24, 2006


bring Pacifica onto your community's radio station and TV. start your own low-power station. organize! learn to organize, teach others.

all of these things are very necessary, before anyone starts talking about guns. the other guys got a lot more guns than you. How you gonna 'bite and run' when there's no place to run to?


"Organize." I love these fuckin' threads, they're all the same — "Something must be done!" "Americans have got to stand up and fight back!" "We're made as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore!"

...

"But not violence." "Oh, no! Eww, guns!" "No, what we really need are more hippie radio stations." "I've got it — how about a protest! It'll totally work, this time for sure!" "And maybe some direct mailings!" "Now you're talking! That'll show 'em who's boss!"
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:00 PM on March 24, 2006


Waiting for the non-existent NSA investigation...
posted by homunculus at 8:05 PM on March 24, 2006


And we all sat on our asses and watched it happen.

We couldn't handle the work, guv'nor. We know our place.
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on March 24, 2006


What do you suggest IshmaelGraves? I'm down.
posted by AllesKlar at 8:21 PM on March 24, 2006


One day I'm just gonna break down and start shooting all those that are "Against Us (me)"
When you see me comming, please state your with me-against me status clearly, as it will be hard for me to hear you over the gunshots.

You guys are with me, right?
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 8:32 PM on March 24, 2006


It just hurts my head. Over and over it hurts my head.
posted by JWright at 8:41 PM on March 24, 2006


"But not violence." "Oh, no! Eww, guns!"
heh. silly troll.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 8:48 PM on March 24, 2006


Im just waiting for the day there is a revolution, Ive left for Canada and then I move back to California after its its own (corrupt) country.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:13 PM on March 24, 2006


I used to think that when US government fucked its people too hard there would be a revolution. I was quite the naïf. The American people very clearly like it rough with no lube.

Your 'revolution' will only happen when the people who will be 'rising up' have nothing else to loose.

Right now, many Americans have food in their bellies, TVs that glow with the latest soma, and heat in their homes.

When welfare ends and high energy/food prices make the bellies empty and homes cold - then you will have fodder who feel things can not get worse.

BUT

Any 'revolution' will just be a reason to 'invoke additional restrictions for safety' - so I'm not sure what will be accomplished. Other than a bunch of us (ok, me) needlessly in the crossfire.

Now, if the lower class just stopped going to work, the lack of clerks, food prep and grocery store staff would bring the well off to their knees......all that money and no one to take it from them in excange for goods/services. The rich need the poor more than the poor need the rich. If the poor ever figure that out.....
posted by rough ashlar at 9:20 PM on March 24, 2006


what's bound to happen is that some very angry or messed-up vet--or more than one-- is going to pull a Hinkley--or worse. Or a draft will be called and that'll do it--impeachment will start the next week, no matter who's in control of Congress.

(we're almost all lower-class now, rough, and certainly all dispensable)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM on March 24, 2006


Let's hope that the blogosphere continues to grow as an alternative and powerful news source. We are making a difference!...or am I naive? No! I'm not. We are.

Whatever you do, don't shut up. Keep bitching, posting, writing letters and signing petitions - only LOUDER.
posted by wsg at 9:30 PM on March 24, 2006


And we all sat on our asses and watched it happen.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:14 PM EST on March 24 [!]


but... we have iPods!

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.


oh, blow me.
posted by quonsar at 9:30 PM on March 24, 2006


"We" accepted the War on Drugs. That opened the door for the government to stomp all over the 4th-6th amendments. What you see now is a further erosion based on another boogeyman known as terrorism.

What thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us couldn't do, our own internal insanity and a couple guys with box cutters can. Bush is just exploiting the door that's been opened by the previous statists in charge. Government always seeks more power.
posted by ryoshu at 9:41 PM on March 24, 2006


I wonder if these "faithful" folks will stop it all, since now we have sharia law in both Afghanistan and Iraq? ... This is a HUGE story for the wingnut theocratic base of the corrupt Republican establishment. I won’t link to them, but they’re talking about it at hate sites like freerepublic and Redstate. Because of all the disaffection among members of its "governing" coalition, the foundations of the conservative establishment haven’t been weaker in decades.
BushCo. is losing the support of its base for its Global War on Terror™. As Perkins points out elsewhere in his Hardball appearance, this is a "culture war" to them, which is 21st Century lingo for the contemporary theocratic crusade. With serious doubts surfacing about the ability of the American crusade to deliver the theocratic goods to the base, BushCo. has real trouble.
These divisions will be clear during the ‘06 midterms and even clearer in the runup to the ‘08 Republican presidential nomination.
It has not been a good week for the theocrats. In the wake of all the publicity surrounding Kevin Phillips’ book, American Theocracy,the party that can’t handle the truth is being exposed to sunlight. More and more, people are picking up the rock for a little look-see at all the creepy crawlies underneath. What are they finding? Naked, antidemocratic extremism, lust for power and hatred for those who oppose them.
Currently, political and economic pressure is forcing Afghanistan to create a figleaf, declaring christian convert from Islam Abdul Rahman to be insane and therefore unfit for trial. But it won’t make a difference. Once he is released, he will be killed. The clerics are calling for it, and they’re quite aware of this fact over in the extremist hate fever swamps.
The lesson here is one the crusaders, neocons and many elected Democrats refuse to acknowledge: you cannot change cultures at gunpoint....

posted by amberglow at 9:52 PM on March 24, 2006


you cannot change cultures at gunpoint....

Or at the point of a bayonet. Alot of the genuflecting Reagan worshipers never see the irony.
posted by ryoshu at 9:55 PM on March 24, 2006


(we're almost all lower-class now, rough, and certainly all dispensable)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM PST on March 24 [!]


If "we" (anyone making less than 80K a year) all up and decided to sit on our hands, the 'rich' and their political servants would have no food to eat or people to clean up after them. (What would the governemt do? Order everyone back to work under gunpoint?) ONLY in that way are we 'indespensible'. But most of that 'we' have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and need to keep being part of the machinery.

And so long as 'we' feel the need to keep paying our debts, 'we' are 'dispensable'. But at the point where the 30+% credit card debt load AND cheap energy/cheap food come to an end, the ideas that drove Mr. Byck will drive others to a similar place.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:25 PM on March 24, 2006


these signing statements don't mean anything when the bill, like the patriot act passes with a veto-proof supermajority

They should. He's objecting to the bill that passed Congress with a supermajority.

If they have no real legal force why are they going unchallenged?

Technically the signing statement is the executive equivalent of the Congressional Record of the debate surrounding the passage of a law. The federal courts have longstnading tradition of giving weight to the "intent of Congress" when deciding tricky questions; the advocates of signing statements are essentially arguing that the executive branch is losing influence to the legislative when laws go to the courts.

A particular signing statement may take the appearance of an executive assertion of a law (cf. an executive order), but the authors would likely defend it as merely stating their interpretation of a fuzzy issue in the law. The courts may well take this interpretation into account when a provision is litigated.

If the provision and the policy as delineated by the signing statement is never challenged, it makes no practical difference -- it has the practical force of law.

A signing statement by itself however has no role in the legal system, and there's little point to a specific challenge of a signing statement. The challenge should be (and for constitutional, structural reasons ideally always will be) about a specific way in which the policy has unconstitutionally violated the rights of someone such as an American citizen.

Bush claims that the certain provisions of the Patriot Act Reauthorization that seek to constrain the Executive are unconstitutional limitations of the powers that Article One of the Constitution confers on the Executive Branch.

Nobody remembers "no controlling legal authority".

What the hell are we going to do? Yell out the window?

Voting is a start. If people voted who answer opinion polls, Bush wouldn't be in office in the first place.

"No, what we really need are more hippie radio stations. And maybe some direct mailings!"

I dunno. The Dems are a shambles as they've been for years, and they're still up in the polls by 15 points. If this continues through November, the traditional midterm losses for the White House (which average roughly 10 seats) will be huge -- perhaps enough for a Dem majority in both houses (the Senate's a bit less likely).

The media continues to buy into the Rove-generated spin that talks down any event as a potential loser for Democrats and a winner for Republicans. Personally, I think the public is waiting out there for somebody to start talking sense to them -- and with the bones to stand up to BushCo.
posted by dhartung at 10:45 PM on March 24, 2006


Technically the signing statement is the executive equivalent of the Congressional Record of the debate surrounding the passage of a law. The federal courts have longstnading tradition of giving weight to the "intent of Congress" when deciding tricky questions; the advocates of signing statements are essentially arguing that the executive branch is losing influence to the legislative when laws go to the courts.

Which is why Congress should write what the mean and do it in as few words as possible.

But then you can't have weasling, can you?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:56 PM on March 24, 2006


fucking hell

Durbin and Obama just lost my votes forever

weak-minded fucking faux-liberals
posted by elr at 12:23 AM on March 25, 2006


the voters don't really run this country and never will. but personally, i think bush is starting to scare those who do. my prediction is that the next words out of this guys mouth will be "et tu brute?" he's going down. and it's entrenched power that's going to do it, not us. why? the lords of america - who do not benefit from a tyrannical king - are much too smart and powerful to put up with it much longer.
posted by muppetboy at 12:48 AM on March 25, 2006


god fucking help us if they don't understand that they're next.
posted by muppetboy at 12:58 AM on March 25, 2006


i think bush is starting to scare those who do. my prediction is that the next words out of this guys mouth will be "et tu brute?" he's going down.

If it becomes a choice of being tossed under the wheels of the bus or throwing Bush under the wheels of the bus, you know what postion his handlers will choose.

god fucking help us if they don't understand that they're next.

Do you really think this group will fall on its sword?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:23 AM on March 25, 2006


>To have a revolution you need revolutionaries. America has none.

Envy the country that has heroes, huh?

I say pity the country that needs them.


I say pity the country that doesn't have them.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 AM on March 25, 2006


Durbin and Obama just lost my votes forever

Obama's been on my shitlist ever since he supported Condi for Secretary of State and "Careful with that Axe, Alberto" Gonzales for Attorney General.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:35 AM on March 25, 2006


Durbin and Obama just lost my votes forever

That's why the Dems keep losing, and aren't going to get Congress back this year. Even Kos is starting to see this.

The people abhorred at all that is being done see that they can either vote for the Republican who is creating all of this -- or the Democrat who either refuses to challenge the GOP, or is actively helping them.

Why vote when that is your choice? When Feingold stood up and said that we needed to at least censure the president, Dems in congress fell over each other running away from him -- turning only to suggest that he was helping the terrorists.

So, why support the Democratic Party anymore?
posted by eriko at 8:44 AM on March 25, 2006


So, why support the Democratic Party anymore?
Many of us aren't anymore. We're only supporting the local people we know are fighting and doing the right thing--for me, it's Spitzer. We're not giving a penny to any national Dem org anymore, not until they stop the shit the GOP is doing, and stand up for rights, and the Constitution's promises of justice and equality, and restore checks and balances. Just Feingold and a few others standing up just once in a while is not enough. It's not enough. You're going to see a very low turnout in November unless they radically change their behavior.

And the national party is running away from the fights over civil rights, and my rights nationwide--i'm disgusted, and many of us feel our place at the table has been removed.
posted by amberglow at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2006


Obama has always been a 'middle of the roader', although hardly a member of the DLC, the DLC has prased him.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 AM on March 25, 2006


Find the good local people, and support them. Don't continue to enable the spineless wimps already in office.
posted by amberglow at 9:28 AM on March 25, 2006


Administration tells Congress (again) - We won't abide by your "laws"
posted by taosbat at 10:10 AM on March 25, 2006


orthogonality for President (amberglow for Chief Justice)
posted by matteo at 10:31 AM on March 25, 2006


Ok that Glenn Greenwald post linked by taosbat scares the crap out of me. Taken to its logical conclusion, Congress couldn't even impeach the President. Or, more accurately, they could impeach but the President could refuse to leave office by claiming that contravenes national security.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 11:19 AM on March 25, 2006


Review Sought of Classified NSA Surveillance Order in Albany Mosque Case

Update to this post.
posted by homunculus at 1:37 PM on March 25, 2006


The administration now claims it has the authority to listen without warrants to conversations between lawyers and their clients and doctors and their patients. Only if a connection to Al Qaeda is suspected, of course.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:39 PM on March 25, 2006


" I'm a king! I'm king! Ha ha !"
posted by troutfishing at 9:18 PM on March 25, 2006


Those Dem's In Name Only....they don't care about not getting "our money" they are after the same things the Republicans are....Corporate money. They are not by any stretch of the imagination Liberal's or Conservatives either nor are the Republicans Conservative...unless you count conserving Corporate interests conservative....and most of the House and the Senate now fall into that category both the Dems and the Republicans. We need to stop calling them Dem's at all....what we need to do is start campaigning for Liberal's and Liberal's alone....It's Liberals who brought us the "New Deal" and only through Liberalism can me emerge from this sad state of affairs. All you have to do is point out what's happening throughout the world in more "Liberal" countries....are living conditions improving there or not?
posted by SweetIceT at 11:00 AM on March 26, 2006


[snark]
There are only two possibilities here:

1. The "signing statement" means something. If that is the case, then it is clearly an unconstitutional act.

2. The "signing statement" means nothing. If that is the case, then it is merely a vanity piece of legislation (on par with celebrating curling). If it is just a vanity political move, then I think it is as disgusting as it was when the Republicans went after Clinton. Matters of grave Constitutional import--and the ability of the president to be held accountable to the law cannot be divorced from the Constitution--should not be left to politicians trying to play partisan games.
[/snark]
posted by Freen at 1:17 PM on March 26, 2006


Keeping America Safe from Raging Grannies
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on March 26, 2006


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