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Rule of Law?
April 30, 2006 10:50 AM   Subscribe

...Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone ... President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. ... Long, eyeopening article laying out what laws have been ignored and why. ...Bush has cast a cloud over 'the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore. 'Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional," ...
posted by amberglow (85 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
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Yet amazingly enough, the only people with the guts to protest or speak truth to or about this administration are a fictional conservative talk show host and illegal aliens.
posted by rzklkng at 10:57 AM on April 30, 2006


The fact that this is "all okay" with Americans and Congress makes me really worried about the rulers we might end up with in 10-20 years.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2006


Well, to be fair, it's only okay with 30 some-odd percent of Americans.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on April 30, 2006


'The State? I am the State!" Bourbon King
posted by hortense at 11:03 AM on April 30, 2006


Had enough? Vote Democratic!
posted by carsonb at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2006


He also has a consistent tendency, when he desires a thing be done which the Congress alone has the power to do, not to ask Congress to do it, but instead to ask Congress to give him the power to do it. (Either that or he just goes ahead and does it, counting on their tacit approval through inaction.) Imperial Presidency indeed.

Any congresscritter who thinks it's okay to give powers to Bush that he or she wouldn't give to, say, President Hillary Clinton, doesn't understand that presidential authority resides in the office, not the officeholder, doesn't understand how government works and certainly doesn't belong in it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:10 AM on April 30, 2006


This article reminds me of a really quite horrifying post I spotted on Another Forum. It read:

"Yes, I believe in the Constitution, but I'm a Bush supporter first and a Constitution supporter second."

I had to read it over a few times to be sure I wasn't reading a knock-knock joke or some satire; further posts from that writer confirmed that he was indeed one of those freakish "Bush Can Do No Wrong" freaks. Freakish freaky freak. I wanted to clout him over the head with a brick a few million times for the sake of the children.
posted by illiad at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Step 1: concentrate all power in the President

Now, what does this tell us about plans for elections in the US?

Would this be happening if those doing it had any fear that their opponents would ever again have political power here?

First they take all the power, then they --- allow democratic elections?

What aren't we getting here?
posted by hank at 11:31 AM on April 30, 2006


This axe-grinding has got to stop, especially on MetaFilter. Any truth pretty much hysteria-offends Bush supporters. Try to watch it next time, ok, amber?

Frankly, I'm surprised AWOL has the time to ignore laws, being so busy getting tax cuts for the oil industry. Thank God the American People are now reaping the benefits of those breaks for such a overly-burdened industry.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:36 AM on April 30, 2006


All I know is that the Republicans (and probably a lot of other Americans) are going to regret it when the powers of the Monarch pass to a Democrat.
posted by three blind mice at 11:36 AM on April 30, 2006


"...many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone."

That's an interesting ConLaw theory. Now remind me, which law school he attend?
posted by GoodDesign at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2006


"Yes, I believe in the Constitution, but I'm a Bush supporter first and a Constitution supporter second."

Terrifying. Chilling.
posted by interrobang at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2006


Seriously, you guys...Take control of yer country, k?
The comedy has become stale.
posted by foodeater at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2006


three blind mice: It'll never happen. All these laws are nicely tied up in the (permanent) state of hysteria^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hemergency the Bush Administration have created. You can be assured that that state of Emergency will be declared well and truly over before a democrat gets a foot into the Oval Office.

Hey, perhaps Osama's in a CIA facility somewhere, waiting to be "found" around 2008 time :)
posted by kaemaril at 11:42 AM on April 30, 2006


>The fact that this is "all okay" with Americans

It's "all okay" with Amerikans not Americans.
posted by chance at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2006


What does it matter - Colbert bombed! The "liberals" in the other thread told me so!
posted by Remy at 11:50 AM on April 30, 2006


Republicans have no shame. If a Dem wins the presidency is 2008, expect one of the fastest meme-shifts ever--why is another wasteful, tax-and-spend liberal wasting our tax dollars and American lives in some foreign country where they don't speak english?

Remember Yugolsavia and Somalia? Those were peanut-level interventions compared to Iraq II, and Clinton was raked over the coals for his "wastefulness".

As for the monarchical powers Bush has been hoarding to the WH? Same thing--meme-shift, and one that is thorougly supported and disseminated by the so-called librul maintsream media.
posted by bardic at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2006


*that will be thoroughly supported*
posted by bardic at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2006


There has been a long-standing debate about which branch of the federal government, if any, is the final arbiter of constitutional meaning. In deciding Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice Marshall wrote, "It is, emphatically, the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is."1 In another case the Marshall Court issued an opinion the administration found unfavorable, and then-President Andrew Jackson was famously supposed to have replied, "John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it!"2

After the Court decided in McCulloch vs. Maryland that the Second Bank of the United States was constitutional, Jackson again responded, "To this conclusion I cannot assent." Instead, Congress and the president must each weigh in, and "Must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill. ... The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress has over the judges."

Lincoln would also later argue that the non-judicial branches have some power to interpret the Constitution. In his response to the Court's decision in Dred Scott, he said:
I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are entitled to very high respect and considerations, in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such a decision may be erroneous in any case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to the particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if a policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers having to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of eminent tribunal.
In any case, the notion that the Executive Branch has at least some power to interpret the Constitution and refuse to follow laws it views as unconstitutional is historically well-grounded, and bound up with the more general controversy over judicial review. Read more here. Certainly, though, Bush has exercised this potential authority more broadly than any other President in recent memory.

1 An interesting sidenote: When the case came before the Court, John Marshall was the new Chief Justice, and just so happens to be the official that failed to deliver the commissions being litigated in the case. Talk about a conflict of interest!
2 This quote is probably apocryphal, although Jackson was certainly criticized for making no effort to enforce the Supreme Court's view of the law in that case.

posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:00 PM on April 30, 2006


--- CUT HERE --

Not much intelligent commentary above to respond to.

I buy into the theory that we have 3 co-equal, synergistic branches of government. The observation that Congress has pride-of-place of Article I is interesting, but at the end of the day legislative powers do not necessarily trump executive powers, though Article II is indeed a model of brevity.

According to ConLaw 101, In a functioning system, judicial review would of course be the arbitrator for conflict.

While I believe Torture Yoo and Consigliere General Al make crap legal arguments, the President's oath of office does say to defend the constitution. So it is possible for the White House to "break the law" but still be in the Constitution's good graces.

Findlaw has some good reading on this.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2006


oops I see m.b. beat me. Without reading his post I know it's good, so move my CUT HERE up a bit :)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:03 PM on April 30, 2006


How can you defend the Constitution while you're disregarding what it says about laws and separation of powers? How is that possible?
posted by amberglow at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2006


He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
posted by EarBucket at 12:11 PM on April 30, 2006


How can you defend the Constitution while you're disregarding what it says about laws and separation of powers? How is that possible?

He's not--at least theoretically--disregarding the Constitution, he's interpreting the Constitution differently from Congress. I'm not saying that his interpretation is correct, but you seem to be saying that Congress and the courts get to interpret the Constitution, but that the executive branch does not. That's probably wrong, because the branches are co-equal. See the discussion above.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2006


The outlaw president: a national shame. And shame squared if we don't learn from this.
posted by digaman at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2006


Can't y'all hook up Dumbya up with an intern so he can be replaced?
(Oh ya, I forgot...The Penguin's next in line)
posted by foodeater at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2006


"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross"
-Sinclair Lewis
posted by SaintCynr at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2006


Of course, IMV "inherent power" only stems from the Pres's "CinC" role.

Madison, Federalist 47:
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system."
I'm not arguing that Bush is right here, I'm just observing that the comments here are kinda stupid, in that e.g. there is a difference between "regulating" and "commanding" the armed forces, and that it is possible for Congress to improperly hamstring the President in this area.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:37 PM on April 30, 2006


What always amuses me when I see people still trying to defend Bush's wholly inexcusable actions in this and so many other areas, is to imagine those same people's reactions had Clinton done exactly the same thing.
posted by Decani at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2006


Step 1: concentrate all power in the President

2) get a democrat elected
3) ???
4) profit by a) taking the white house back and instituting a dictatorship or b) pointing out that this is what the federal government inevitably leads to and weaken it to the point one can drown it in a bathtub

or

Step 1: concentrate all power in the President

2) breathe freely as you repeat over and over that you can't be held responsible because he's making all the decisions
3) ???
4) get re-elected to congress!!

or

Step 1: concentrate all power in the President

2) a) if he's in your party, get brownie points for sucking up
b) if he's not, cultivate the art of passive aggressive behavior without actually doing anything to oppose him
3) ???
4) pork!!
posted by pyramid termite at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2006


bardic - you're right.

The one thing I dread about a Democrat taking office in 2008 is all of the bitching and moaning we're going to start hearing on the "liberal media."
posted by rougy at 12:45 PM on April 30, 2006


"... it is possible for Congress to improperly hamstring the President in this area."

Which planet did you say you were from?

Bush and Rummy have turned our military into their own private mercenary force.
posted by rougy at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2006


is to imagine those same people's reactions had Clinton done exactly the same thing.

Fuck Clinton. What cheezes me off is how I suspect they would react to a Gore Admin fucking the country up half as bad as the current crew.

FBI in DC dropping the ball in 2001? USAF caught with dick in hand on 9/11 itself? The twin shots of 3-10% tax rate reductions and historically low interest rates juicing the real estate market to the point of pain? The bulk of new jobs of the "recovery" being government sector? THREE TRILLION DOLLARS OF ADDITIONAL DEBT, with no end in sight? Getting 2500+ americans killed in Iraq (Aspin had to go when we lost 18 servicemen due to poor DoD oversight of the op).

But if you're a religious conservative Bush has done pretty good I guess, what with the Roberts and Scalia appointments, the Shiavo kabuki show, etc.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2006


Bush and Rummy have turned our military into their own private mercenary force.

While oversight is somewhat sketchy here, Congress did in fact cross the constitutional t's with the requisite enabling acts, and are funding these operations (unlike in the 80s when our Republican pinheads thought it was a "neat idea" to sell missiles to Iran and use the money to fund the Contras).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2006


While oversight is somewhat sketchy here, Congress did in fact cross the constitutional t's with the requisite enabling acts, and are funding these operations (unlike in the 80s when our Republican pinheads thought it was a "neat idea" to sell missiles to Iran and use the money to fund the Contras).

The "War Powers Act" is not an act, but is actually the "War Powers Resolution" and, in fact, the constitutionality of using this Resolution to justify undeclared wars (including the broadly-defined "war on terrorism/Al Qaeda", and resulting illegal surveillance and investigation programs) has never really been resolved by the Supreme Court, which has instead opted to allow the legislative and executive branches free rein to interprete the law however they see fit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2006


carsonb: "Had enough? Vote Democratic!"

Had enough? Fucking vote, period. Half of our goddamn country doesn't give enough of a shit to even stand up and voice their opinion in the first place. I like to think that as a whole Americans are far more reasonable than the idiots we seem to be to the rest of the world, but for fuck's sake we ask for the stereotype when we can't even be bothered to care about who runs the country.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2006


Ahhhhhh....... christ.

The worst part is, you can't really move anywhere because the US is spreading its filthy pinions over the rest of the world. You can't escape its tentacular grasp.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:39 PM on April 30, 2006


Heywood, since the year 2000, according to the GAO (the government's own accountants), we will exceed fifty trillion dollars in debt sometime this year. We were at about twenty trillion in 2000. Bush has incurred more debt than all other presidents combined.

The 'debt' figure they cite so often is just money we've actively borrowed from people. 'Debt', as defined by the GAO, is computed to GAAP standards... the same standards to which publicly-traded corporations in the US must adhere. In GAAP, debt isn't just the money you have already borrowed, it's money you've promised to pay in the future.

By their computations, and these guys are as fiscally conservative as they come, the NET PRESENT VALUE of all known liabilities we have assumed was 46.something trillion dollars at the end of 2005... and should exceed fifty trillion this year. Net Present Value means we need fifty trillion dollars in the bank, right now, earning 6% interest to pay off our future liabilities.

Fifty trillion dollars is $375,000 for every working adult in this country. That's $375,000 RIGHT NOW, earning interest, not just money we'll earn someday.

Do you work? Do you own a nice house? I've got some news for you, and you're not going to like it much.
posted by Malor at 3:03 PM on April 30, 2006


Oh, the GAO says that to pay off the current debt, tax receipts would need to double, and that economic growth cannot save us.
posted by Malor at 3:05 PM on April 30, 2006


Damn the Constitution, it's just a fucking piece of paper! - George Bush
posted by wsg at 3:19 PM on April 30, 2006


I love how all the libs in this country are just sitting around waiting for the mid-term elections thinking that the Democrats Could anyone imagine a sitting President of the United states chastising people for singing the national anthem in another language? will just take over. Do you know how many people in the Bush administration are facing jail terms if the Congress goes Democrat? Since they've blatantly disregarded so many hundreds of laws do you think they have it in them to try and rig the election returns yet again? It's been proven they did it before AND after the 2000 election and 2004 in Ohio was a disgrace to even a banana republic - so why - especially now that their own personal freedom is at stake - does everyone believe they are going to just sit back and allowed an honest electoral process. When are we going to wake up? We are living in the beginning stages of a dictatorship.
posted by any major dude at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2006


Please ignore the second part of the first sentence of my last post starting "could anyone...language?
posted by any major dude at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2006


Metafilter users obviously know more than economists.

Ooh Lordy, good point. And a fat-headed, Bush-supporting ambulatory anus obviously knows enough to deserve having his opinion about other people's knowledge receive something other than a festival of derision and merriment.
posted by Decani at 3:45 PM on April 30, 2006


Guess what: we are servicing our debt, and doing so easily.

Umm, hello? We service our debt, and end up with more debt to service the next year. If the debt were decreasing, or even decreasing as a percentage of GDP (over the whole of Bush's administration, not this month), it would make sense to say we're servicing it easily. But we're not.
posted by gsteff at 5:12 PM on April 30, 2006


how's bush feel about impeachment laws?
posted by wakko at 5:13 PM on April 30, 2006


Yes, some debt is good, and can increase productivity.

But debt you cannot pay back is BAD DEBT.

PP, the GAO is saying we cannot pay our debts. They say taxes would have to double.

How much more clearly can it be said that we're really, really fucked?

All of your posturing to the contrary is just trollery. Worse, it's stupid trollery. You're spewing pure bullshit, implying that it's as valid as hard numbers from professionals.

The accountants say we can't pay our debts.

Your spew will not change that.
posted by Malor at 5:32 PM on April 30, 2006


Beware Bush's Phony Crisis on Iran
posted by homunculus at 5:36 PM on April 30, 2006


Guess what: we are servicing our debt, and doing so easily.

By floating more debt. LOL.

A large part of the debt is held by the SSTF; when we need to start cashing in those bonds in 10 years, we will need someone with cash, ie. foreigners (thanks to the trade imbalance hollowing out our economy) and will be at their mercy, at their terms, given the present structural make-up of the on-budget deficit. The point of the Greenspan budget deal of 1986 was to jack up taxes on the middle class to fund their retirement costs, but we're pissing those monies away on tax cuts for the hereditary wealthy and the Iraq misadventure.

Servicing the present debt was $350B in FY05, one of the larger line items in the budget.

When Bush leaves office in 2009, he will be leaving us, optimistically, a $500B/yr interest load ($10T * 5%). The Bushies inherited a $280B/yr interest load.

$500B/yr paying interest returns to people we should have just taxed in the first place. What a country. Thanks, Ralph.

Metafilter users obviously know more than economists.

Economists (not in the tank) have to look at the present trajectory as most troubling.

Take out government spending and the real estate ATM driving home improvement, construction, and paper-pushing (also largely driven by government tax breaks and low-interest Fed rates) and you've got no recovery at all, what with a negative savings rate going on a year now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2006


What it boils down to is this: Those conservatives who still support the President have been ignoring this because somehow, they've convinced themselves that it's not really happening. An executive who simply declared himself above the law would be a traitor to everything America stands for, and they're so used to dashing to Bush's defense and supporting everything he does and says that they're incapable of thinking about him in those terms.

And that's why the fact that the media is finally paying attention to it is so important. They've been telling themselves that if the President were really doing something that underhanded and illegal and wrong, there'd be some kind of outcry. The media would be talking about it. Congress would be standing up. People would be rioting in the streets.

Now the media's waking up. We've got work to do.
posted by EarBucket at 6:08 PM on April 30, 2006


Malor: "Here's the text of the address given by the Comptroller General of the United States to Congress, directly from the GAO's own website. Read for yourself."

Thanks for the link, Malor. Of course, a large portion of our future obligations come from future promised Social Security payments. One of the reasons more people aren't panicked over the current state of the Federal budget is that they know we will simply renege on those promises. Watch as SS taxes increase, benefits decrease, and the retirement age is increased. Problem solved! That is why PP can confidently say we will easily service our debt. Much of it will simply be cancelled.

monju_bosatsu: "There has been a long-standing debate about which branch of the federal government, if any, is the final arbiter of constitutional meaning."

Monju is correct. In case after case, the Court has insisted that the other branches' interpretations are limited by those of the Court: see, e.g., City of Boerne v. Flores ("Legislation which alters the meaning of the Free Exercise Clause cannot be said to be enforcing the Clause"). But that doesn't stop the other branches from making their own interpretations; it's just that they face the problem of having their interpretations rejected by the Court in individual cases, and occasionally the injunctive power of the Courts brought to bear to prevent enforcement of laws the Court has declared to be unconstitutional. Of course, just about every elected or politically appointed official takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, so one might hope that their behaviors would be constrained by their own good-faith interpretations of the Constitution. Whether it can be considered good faith to ignore constraints that others believe the Constitution places in their way is another question. It also raises questions of comity, deference and respect.

My question here is how Bush squares many of his "interpretations" with his Consitutional obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed...." Interpreting a law in a way that is clearly contrary to legislative intent under the guise of a Constitutional "interpretation" seems to violate plainly that Constitutional requirement to execute the laws "faithfully". I have in mind here something like Kennedy's line from Boerne quoted above: "executive" action that changes the meaning of a statute cannot be said to be executing the statute.
posted by dilettanti at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2006


If it's still possible, we take to the voting booth in November. If not, we take to the streets by December. It's come to that, face it.
posted by BillyElmore at 6:59 PM on April 30, 2006


I suspect that the entire WAPO article is deceptive, in that the number of laws (750) that Bush supposedly ignores seems to match exactly the number of laws to which he has applied a "Presidential signing statement", detailing what his interpretation of that law is, and how he intends to carry it out.

Such Presidential signing statements were only used scantily in past, but were used much more during the Bush I and Clinton administrations. The purpose seems to be to clarify, from the President's point of view, what the law says, as the clarity of complex laws is often not great.

Such signing statements are published with the signed bill, which gives not only Congress, but the courts and public, fair warning if the executive interpretation is not the same as the legislative intent.

Since Bush has not vetoed or pocket vetoed a single piece of legislation, and no one has challenged any of his signing statements in court, which any member of Congress could do, not to mention any other party with standing, I suspect that there is less here than is being suggested.

There is little doubt that the President would be taken to court over "executive privilege" disagreements, so if these signing statements are so repugnant, why has there been no effort at all to obtain a writ of mandamus?
posted by kablam at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2006


The purpose seems to be to clarify, from the President's point of view, what the law says, as the clarity of complex laws is often not great.

If the president feels the law is faulty, he should veto it. That's the executive branch's check-and-balance on Congress. Bush has never vetoed anything.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 PM on April 30, 2006


If the president feels the law is faulty, he should veto it.

What about a law passed before he took office? That might be tough to veto.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:27 PM on April 30, 2006


Had enough? Vote Democratic!
posted by carsonb at 11:08 AM PST on April 30 [!]


Oh Gee. That is useful advice.

Now, when Deompublicans are voted in you have things like the Mena drug running, Kosovo/Bosnia, scandels in the Congress allowing the 'CONtract on America' group to gain power.

The Democrats offer up different steps along the same route.

Having enough needs some other kind of change. Alas, I'm not sure what the change needs to be, but instead of swithing to different chairs on the Titanic, moving to a different boat, or placing the boat near land in warmer water so one can swim to land makes more sense.

Topics to go read: LETS, Solari, postcarbon institute for a start to try and figure out a different path.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:42 PM on April 30, 2006


Yeah, but the President also doesn't issue signing statements on those, either.

The proper way to fix a broken law would be either through Congress, or through the Court if he thought the law was unconstitutional.
posted by Malor at 7:43 PM on April 30, 2006


What about a law passed before he took office? That might be tough to veto.

Or issue signing statements on, for that matter.

I'd always thought that if a President disliked an existing law, his resort was to use his political clout and authority -- the "bully pulpit" if you will -- to go to Congress and effect a change. Much the same way as any citizen could, but from the platform of Presidency magnifying their voice.

This seems like something else entirely: a president may create or negate law as they see fit. And that seems less like rule of law than rule-of-office. Which seems remarkably like monarchy.
posted by namespan at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2006


Thank God the American People are now reaping the benefits of those breaks for such a overly-burdened industry.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:36 AM PST on April 30 [!]



“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply. Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”


Good thing for America President Bush is a good talker, because without that increased supply, just think how bad things would be!
posted by rough ashlar at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2006


Debt can be the other side of the same coin called INVESTMENT.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:18 PM PST on April 30 [!]


Iraq Liberation is an INVESTMENT?

K00!
posted by rough ashlar at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2006


Basically, you've got a crap system of government, your founding fathers got it wong, and you should have gone Parliamentary.
posted by wilful at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2006


Since Bush has not vetoed or pocket vetoed a single piece of legislation, and no one has challenged any of his signing statements in court, which any member of Congress could do, not to mention any other party with standing, I suspect that there is less here than is being suggested.

...Given the incredible number of constitutional challenges Bush is issuing to new laws, without vetoing them, his use of signing statements is going to sooner or later put him in an untenable position. And there is a strong argument that it has already put him in a position contrary to Supreme Court precedent, and the Constitution, vis-à-vis the veto power.
Bush is using signing statements like line item vetoes. Yet the Supreme Court has held the line item vetoes are unconstitutional.
In 1988, in Clinton v. New York, the High Court said a president had to veto an entire law: Even Congress, with its Line Item Veto Act, could not permit him to veto provisions he might not like.
The Court held the Line Item Veto Act unconstitutional in that it violated the Constitution's Presentment Clause. That Clause says that after a bill has passed both Houses, but "before it become[s] a Law," it must be presented to the President, who "shall sign it" if he approves it, but "return it" - that is, veto the bill, in its entirety-- if he does not.
Following the Court's logic, and the spirit of the Presentment Clause, a president who finds part of a bill unconstitutional, ought to veto the entire bill -- not sign it with reservations in a way that attempts to effectively veto part (and only part) of the bill. Yet that is exactly what Bush is doing. The Presentment Clause makes clear that the veto power is to be used with respect to a bill in its entirety, not in part.
The frequency and the audacity of Bush's use of signing statements are troubling. Enactments by Congress are presumed to be constitutional - as the Justice Department has often reiterated. For example, take what is close to boilerplate language from a government brief (selected at random): "It is well-established that Congressional legislation is entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality. See United States v. Morrison ('Every possible presumption is in favor of the validity of a statute, and this continues until the contrary is shown beyond a rational doubt.')."
Bush's use of signing statements thus potentially brings him into conflict with his own Justice Department. The Justice Department is responsible for defending the constitutionality of laws enacted by Congress. What is going to happen when the question at issue is the constitutionality of a provision the President has declared unconstitutional in a signing statement?
...

posted by amberglow at 8:06 PM on April 30, 2006


kablam: "Since Bush has not vetoed or pocket vetoed a single piece of legislation, and no one has challenged any of his signing statements in court, which any member of Congress could do, not to mention any other party with standing, I suspect that there is less here than is being suggested."

So, I'm still a student of the law, and not a particularly adept one at that, but I'm not sure who would have standing to challenge many of these signing statements. I ran a basic Google search, and the first two results, at least, are kind of scary. Under an expansive understanding of the scope of the Commander in Chief clause, the first one claims the right to withhold information required by the statute to be provided to Congress, to allocate funds to DoD in ways forbidden by the statute, to "reprogram[]" funds without Congressional approval, and "to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action" relating to certain detainees. The statute being "interpreted" is primarily an appropriations bill. Suppose the President just refused to provide the notice required by section 8011 of the bill before initiating a new installation overseas. Three questions: (1) what law is he "executing" in initiating that installation? (2) How can it be considered "execution" of the laws to ignore Congressional instructions on how to spend appropriated funds? (3) Who would have standing to challenge such a presidential action not plainly consistent with the statute? Can members of Congress individually seek a writ of mandamus (or in this case, a plain injunction), without being specially aggrieved or without suffering an injury in fact of the usual sort?
posted by dilettanti at 8:13 PM on April 30, 2006


Interpreting the Constitution: So, tell me, what language was this 'Constitution' written in? You've piqued my curiosity. Is it hebrew? I hear that's a tough one....
posted by IronLizard at 9:31 PM on April 30, 2006


In other news: U.S. Pays for 150 Iraqi Clinics, and Manages to Build 20
posted by homunculus at 9:35 PM on April 30, 2006


Well, I would have talked about the insane debts anyway, I think it's an extremely important issue.

It appears, at this point, the sole power Congress has remaining over President Bush is that of impeachment.
posted by Malor at 9:38 PM on April 30, 2006


Basically, you've got a crap system of government, your founding fathers got it wong, and you should have gone Parliamentary.

Yes, because a parliamentary system was working so well for us in 1776. At least our system allows for dissent within the party.
posted by oaf at 9:55 PM on April 30, 2006


Well, I for one have already sent letters to Nancy Pelosi and other congressmen to start the impeachment process.

They have to listen to me, right?
posted by subaruwrx at 9:56 PM on April 30, 2006


I'm still waiting to hear:

"The President is studying the Constitution for ways to protect the citizens from the outmoded language within."
posted by mephron at 10:27 PM on April 30, 2006


Those are figures from 2004. So, by now, the figure is likely closer to 15%. Sorry amberglop
posted by ParisParamus at 10:19 PM PST on April 30 [!]

So youre saying taht with the 15% growth of the GDP, our country actually brings in more money now (quite a bit more) than it did in 2001?

This is all more than any other country (Most combined)?

And with all of this excess cash, the national debt is growing exponentially? I know enough about managing budgets at work to know that just because I 2x more money than I did last year, I cannot spend 15x more,becuase that will equal a deficit at the end of the day. Poor economics starts with the WH. Bush is good for business, as the GDP shows, but he is also irresponsibly spending, as the budget deficit shows.

PP, based on the numbers you provide, using your facts, Bush is worse at managing a bank book than you or I (and I know me, and that is quite the insult).
posted by subaruwrx at 11:30 PM on April 30, 2006


Kablam,

This is just my heavily biased opinion, re your comment:

There is little doubt that the President would be taken to court over "executive privilege" disagreements, so if these signing statements are so repugnant, why has there been no effort at all to obtain a writ of mandamus?

But I think that Our Dear Leader and his administration have been operating from the principle of "Let's see what we can get away with, and if no one calls us on it, then we've gotten away with it."

And to date, they have in many instances. It's only been since El Generallissimo's approval ratings have plummeted, and many Congress Critters realized that they're (hopefully) going to have political careers far beyond Dubya's that they need to put some daylight between themselves and his Constitutional Shredding Machine (TM).

Right now, I'm just trying to be relaxed, say that this has all happened before, and there's not a heckuva lot that I can do except hope things turn out better than the current trends suggest.

Had I been an advisor to the President after the 2004 elections, I would have argued strongly for at least a little humility on his part. More than half (just slightly) of voters voted for him, but nearly as many voted for his opponent, and in record numbers.

That should have made him go, "Hmmm. Maybe I'm doing something wrong."

But as Carl Sandburg once put it (I'm paraphrasing), the people will live on, and they will endure this pathetic excuse for a President's policies. But in the meantime, he's taking them through Hell.

Cheers!
posted by Nacho Libre at 11:34 PM on April 30, 2006


Well, this did somehow turn from a thread about separation of powers to a thread about the economy.
posted by oaf at 9:58 PM PST on April 30 [!]


The rule of law matters, to be sure.

This set of links gets you to "The Myth of the Rule of Law: How the Money Works -- the Destruction of Hamilton Securities," by Catherine Austin Fitts

Now, someone go get PP his 101st keyboard badge and he'll catch up with ya all later.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:28 AM on May 1, 2006


such a big-ass thread and no Diebold mention?

bah.

what Republicans here are too ashamed to admit (yes, they still have an ounce of shame) and Democrats are too scared to admit, is that Republicans would never concentrate power this way in favor of the President if they really thought their opponents have a fair chance of winning next time, or in 2012. Diebold has secured them Presidential victory for a generation.

really, they'd never do what they've been doing these last few years if they really thought that, say, Mrs Clinton would get to disregard Congress that way one day, as President. they're too smart for them. they're taking no prisoners because they know the game is rigged

so relax, enjoy the spring, and wait for that nice Mr. McCain or for Jebby to succeed GWB.

God knows they'll have a lot of work to do, with the decade-long occupation of Iraq, the forthcoming Iran-Attack and these sweet gas prices.
posted by matteo at 3:09 AM on May 1, 2006



Basically, you've got a crap system of government, your founding fathers got it wong, and you should have gone Parliamentary.

Yes, because a parliamentary system was working so well for us in 1776.

it didn't work for us because we didn't have mp's who voted ... we weren't represented

At least our system allows for dissent within the party.

dissent? ... hell, our parties let their members do whatever the hell they want with only two limitations -

1 "don't screw with my pork and i won't screw with yours"

2 "make sure you get re-elected"

in any case, dissent often happens in parliamentary systems ... that is, after all, how governments lose votes of confidence

i think wilful has a good point

oh, and about george bush and his wonderful debt ... he hardly did it by himself did he? ... he had the assistance of those in congress, and not just the guys in his party

pp, i don't like bush ... but you know, i don't like many of the other clowns, either ... hillary? ... kerry? ... feh
posted by pyramid termite at 4:41 AM on May 1, 2006


Bringing up the names of "other clowns": Can anyone do a worser job that this guy!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Everyone should be longing for the days of Nixon or Carter!

Resolute, my ass!
posted by foodeater at 5:17 AM on May 1, 2006


Doubtless if the GDP figures were in the shitter, PP would be talking about what a great job Bush was doing on some other issue not related to the debt, the budget, the war in Iraq, FEMA, New Orleans, Iran, etc.
posted by psmealey at 6:52 AM on May 1, 2006


It'll be interesting if signing statements come up in the Supreme Court, considering who originated their modern use:
Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo [PDF] about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.

In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing 'the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should 'concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."
Background on previous presidents' signing statements, and A Comparative Look at the Constitutional Signing Statement [PDF].
posted by kirkaracha at 7:21 AM on May 1, 2006


FindLaw article on signing statements. The executive branch issued a total of 75 signing statements between the Monroe and Carter administrations (1817-1981). President Bush issued over 435 signing statements in his first term.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2006


dissent often happens in parliamentary systems

I'm talking about dissent within the party, as I said above, which parliamentary systems don't promote. The desire of everyone in the party is the desire of the leader, if the leader chooses, because they're out of the party if they disagree.
posted by oaf at 7:48 AM on May 1, 2006


In related news --

Cheney exempts his own office from reporting on classified material.
posted by ericb at 9:27 AM on May 1, 2006


May 1 is Law Day. This year's theme "honors the wisdom of the separation of powers that the Framers of our Constitution established for the Federal Government."

It's also Loyalty Day, and "and on Loyalty Day, we celebrate the gift of liberty."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:36 AM on May 1, 2006


Rerail? Demolition, by George!
posted by fish tick at 6:26 PM on May 1, 2006


What the hell happened to this thread? Did I imagine the whole PP derail?
posted by bshort at 8:43 AM on May 2, 2006


It was all a dream.
posted by fish tick at 8:46 AM on May 2, 2006


Our monarch, above the law.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on May 2, 2006


You know, I learned something from that PP derail, and I'm glad it happened. Now that it has unhappened, I've learned something about MetaFilter, and I'm unhappy that it unhappened. We probably should have brought it to MetaTalk, but the poof aspect is just eerie.
posted by squirrel at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2006


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