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I stumbled across the following response to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial as I browsed google hits to my pages, pointing to infamous Bush quote that the Constitution is just "a goddamed piece of paper."
The Post-Intelligencer has been a solid bastian of political and social conservatism for as long as I can remember. I grew up reading the PI on weekdays and the Orogonian on Sundays, actually.
The editorial board is conservative to a fault. Always has been. Probably always will be. So when the PI comes out against presidential signing statements, it would be a terrible mistake to consider their objection to be evidence that they have somehow embraced John Dean's brand of liberal politics.
Indeed, they object from the very roots of fundimental, Constitutional Conservatism:
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Nation Of Laws: Ignoring Congress
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
The Bush administration's disregard for the Constitution is showing.
An American Bar Association panel issued a report Monday on the administration's practice of negating new laws with signing statements that create so many exceptions the president turns congressional intent upside down. The panel, which includes prominent conservatives, said the administration has taken the practice so far that some actions are "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers."
As the White House argues, the practice isn't new. But the administration has turned the use of signing statements into a part of its broad attempt to restore presidential powers to pre-Watergate levels or beyond. By the panel's count, the Bush signing statements challenge about 800 provisions of law, more than in all U.S. history.
It's no coincidence Bush has only one veto. Panel member Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan administration, told The Washington Post a signing statement "is an absolute veto, because the Congress has no power to override him." As another panel member, former FBI Director William Sessions, wrote in a P-I Op-Ed July 12, "Our country's framers intended that no single person would have complete and unilateral control over government." Disobeying that principle threatens liberty.
You can read the full discussion here. In reading it, I got the impression that there are now two sorts of Conservatives; ones who have read the Constitution, and those who have not.
Those are referred to as "Liberals" by those who think of the Constitution as an impediment to "their side" retaining control of government. I, however, would never have in my wildest dreams considered William Sessions to be a Liberal. And while I suppose it's possible for a former Reagan Administration member to have been or have become a Liberal in the intervening years, it's not anything I'd bet money on.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Sound Off
Comment to review:
What is it with the right-wingnuts who refuse to admit the plain truth that Bush is simply and forthrightly flouting American law? They whine "Clinton this" and "Clinton that" as if that makes criminal activity somehow acceptable. True, several presidents have made use of signing statements, but Bush has used them in a far greater number and far greater frequency than any other president before him.
Over 212 years, 42 presidents issued “signing statements” objecting to a grand total of 600 provisions of new laws. George W. Bush has done that more than 800 times in just over five and a half years in office.
No other president before him, however, has used signing or issuing statements in the manner the Bush typically does: "Everyone must follow the law as written except for me and my buddies who would otherwise be jailed for criminal activity." Bush uses issuing statements as a pre-emptive pardon for constant criminality. That is not a left-wing whine: it is simply a statement of fact that the right wingers choose to ignore.
From the New York Times:
Most presidents used signing statements to get legal objections on the record for judges to consider in any court challenge. For Mr. Bush, they are far more: part of a strategy to expand presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts. His signing statements have become notices to Congress that he simply does not intend to follow the law, especially any attempt to hold him accountable for his actions.
...All serve the “unitary executive theory” cherished by some of Mr. Bush’s most extreme advisers, including Vice President Dick Cheney and his legal staff. This theory says that the president — and not Congress or the courts — has the sole power to decide how to carry out his duties. According to a study by a bipartisan panel of the American Bar Association, Mr. Bush objected to 500 provisions of new laws just in his first term — the majority of them because they conflicted with the unitary executive theory. The A.B.A. said that theory was specifically mentioned 82 times.
Right-wingers have despised the Constitution since it was first ratified and have done everything they can since then to destroy it. At times they have nearly succeeded and this time they are closer than ever to the complete destruction of American democracy.
The Constitution IS what makes America "America". Not the flag. Not Jesus. Not even a political party. An attack on the Constitution is exactly equal to an attack on America itself. Period. When the President (or any elected offical) uses extraordinary measures to circumvent it and the rule of law, one is forced to call his actions what they are: anti-American, anti-democracy and likely criminal or in the very least, complicit in criminal activity.
When Bush refers to the Constitution as "just a goddam piece of paper" and that "things would be much easier if [he] was a dictator", that tells you exactly how little respect he has for America, its Constitution and its system of laws.
His attitude alone makes him by definition anti-American. His actions confirm his anti-American and anti-democracy sentiments.
YOU can't go around saying, "well, I don't like such-and-such a law, so I'll just ignore it and me and my buddies will do as we damnwell please." See how long you stay out of jail.
Or do you despise the very thing that makes America "America" that you will blindly follow Dumya's lead right off the cliff into moral and ethical reprehensibility? Most assuredly, attacking and ignoring the Constitution is the most anti-American act any person could commit -- especially when he swore on a Bible to "protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America", which is the promisory condition to faithful execution of the office.
It also amply demonstrates how little respect he has for the Bible, let alone the Constitution. Worse than being disrespectful, he demonstrably disdains both.
Like Leona Helmsley said, "Taxes are for the little people", Dumbya is right out in the open with his notion that the American system of laws is "only for the little people".
I think not. Sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander.
If the rest of us have to follow duly-enacted American law, then the President should be THE example of upholding the law... not the First Lawbreaker or First Law-Ignorer, which has been his MO for over 30 years. He has a long, long, documented history of flouting or outright breaking the law.
Anyone who sees and rationalizes continuous criminal activity and cheers the perpetrator on likely has criminal intent as well. I am absolutely sure that anyone who sees the destruction of the Constitution and the American system of laws as a good thing is nothing less than anti-American and an enemy of the Constitution, no different than any other sort of terrorist. Homegrown or foreign, an enemy of the Constitution is by definition an enemy of America.
Again, when I volunteered for the military, I promised to "protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". The oath of service, just like its civilian counterparts, the oath of office, holds defense and protection of the Constitution as first and foremost. Neither the flag, nor Jesus, nor magnets on gas-swilling SUV's was anywhere in it or any of the things that Republicans think make you "American". The Constitution features first in all such oaths because it IS the definitive of what "America" is.
GW and members of Congress swear a similar oath which also holds the Constitution as the first and foremost thing to be defended. When a president continually flouts and even attacks and diminishes the Constitution he swore to protect, uphold and defend, that proves just how lightly he undertook the oath and promise to the American people. Remember, Bush said with his own lips that it's "just a goddam piece of paper".
By his own demonstration, it's crystal-clear that he was willing to mouth whatever ceremonial words with his hand on a Bible that it took to secure a grip on power -- for the purpose of destroying exactly that which gave him power in the first place. He lied to his employers, the American people, and he lied to G'd. While the right-wingers think that this is perfectly okay, I differ now and firmly believe that G'd will differ when Duhbya stands before Him to 'splain himself for lying.
I have put this design on many products at cafepress and priced them to compete with DIY iron-ons, simply for your convenience.
Let the Shirt hit the Fan!
tag: American Bar Association, signing statements, George Bush, false statements, ABA, commander in chief, constitution, constitutional, unitary executive, george w. bush, goddam piece of paper, scrap of paper, cause for impeachment, impeach