Thursday, March 23, 2006

Support a National Recall of George W. Bush

By Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

The George W. Bush school of government can be summarized as follows: repeat a lie often enough and just enough people will come to believe it! Clearly —Bush is committed to repeating lies and governing with failed strategies. If the Democrats do not have the will to impeach and remove for incompetence and outright criminality of the high crimes type, then there is no other choice but to organize a national recall movement.

In November, Ted Rall made a compelling case for a national recall. At the time, Rall quoted USA today:
“When a president falls below 40 percent approval in public opinion polls–as President Bush has done twice in the past two months–it’s usually a sign of serious political danger,” —Richard Benedetto, USA Today.
It's March already! And Bush's numbers are even worse! As I recall, in November, Bush still held a slight edge on the issue of "terrorism" and/or Iraq, the two issues Bushies love to confuse in the public mind. Bush no longer enjoys an edge on either topic. And also since November Bush has continued to flout the law, assuming absolute powers and judicial authority that the founders never intended to bestow upon one branch of the federal government. Most certainly not the executive. Read James Madison and specifically his notes made during the Constitutional Convention.

Arrogating unto himself the power to define who is "terrorist" and who is not, who is an "enemy combatant" and who is not, Bush clearly seeks to render moot the independent judiciary. Bush, himself, will determine which laws he will enforce and which laws he will ignore. In other ways, Bush will replace the courts with his own Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, an arch enabler whose new job description is that of making legal what Bush has already done. There is a word for this: tyranny! Allowing a man who claims for himself the right to assassinate American citizens is inexcusable and dangerous.

Gop candidates meanwhile are well-advised to distance themselves from George W. Bush. In all but a few entrenched red states, Bush not only has no coattails, he is a liability. The GOP will never lead an impeachment effort as it would tear the party apart at the very moment of its greatest triumph: control of both houses, the High Court and the Presidency. A Democratic move to impeach Bush would be doing them a favor. Likewise, GOP candidates might support a recall movement as it would most certainly pull their own fat out of the fire.

Democratic reluctance may be understandable. They don't have the votes on a party line basis to impeach. A failed effort will only strengthen Bush. A successful effort will only embitter GOP hangers-on and radicalize them further. It is better to let the GOP do its own dirty work.

On the other hand, a national movement to recall shifts the paradigm. Millions disillusioned by Bush in both parties could support such a movement without fear. A viable national movement would also give leaders of both parties the cover they need to work for Bush's removal from office.

But punditry aside, removing Bush from office is simply the correct and morally right thing to do for several reasons:
  • Bush has set dangerous precedents not the least of which is the bogus "unitary executive" theory. How will Republicans feel about that when a Democratic President, likewise, tries to rule by decree?
  • The Constitution is already in tatters and will not survive the precedent of Bush serving out his term. Removal from office by a national recall will set the stage for a sweeping righting of wrongs.
  • Iraq is not only a failure, it exposes a fatal weakness in the American pretense of empire. The dollar will not survive another debacle of an Iraq magnitude.
  • Bush's removal now will allow some time to heal before the nation is plunged into a campaign of bitter recriminations, name-calling, and throat cutting.
According to USA Today, five of eight President since 1950 fell below 40 percent —Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. All lost their bids for reelection or opted not to seek re-election. A sixth, Richard Nixon, resigned under pressure from his own party. He would most certainly have been impeached and remove. Only two —Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton —turned things around. Clinton, however, left a mixed legacy and may have even made possible the ascension of the very worst "President" in American history, George W. Bush. Ronald Reagan is revered only by die hard Republicans who were pre-disposed to believe his lies anyway and the nation still suffers from his economic legacy.

Rall advocated setting up a "...California-style recall system on the national level". The California system requires signatures on a petition of some 12 percent of the number of people voting in the preceding election. Something like that must be set up nationwide. I urge activists to get on with it. I'm not good at that sort of thing myself; just let me know how I can help spread the word. That's something I know something about.

If Bush is removed now, there may yet be time to heal some wounds and, at least, begin to undo the damage Bush has inflicted upon legal precedent and the Constitution. There may yet be time to begin a restoration of our Democratic Republic.
Apparently the "major" media missed this one. Bush has declared that he IS the law. Bush and Bush alone will decide which laws are enforced and which are not; Bush and Bush alone will interpret the laws; Bush and Bush alone will rule by fiat:

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

In addendum to law, he says oversight rules are not binding

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | March 24, 2006

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties." ...

And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.

Past presidents occasionally used such signing statements to describe their interpretations of laws, but Bush has expanded the practice. He has also been more assertive in claiming the authority to override provisions he thinks intrude on his power, legal scholars said.

Bush's expansive claims of the power to bypass laws have provoked increased grumbling in Congress. Members of both parties have pointed out that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the power to write the laws and the executive branch the duty to ''faithfully execute" them.

It's time to bombard Congress with DEMANDS that Bush be removed from office. We might start with an actual debate on the illegal occupation of Iraq. Check out this site and make your voice heard:

Act for Change

Tell Congress to Hold an Open Debate on the Occupation of Iraq
After three years and more than 2,300 American soldiers dead, there's no end in sight. Sectarian violence rages. President Bush just asserted that U.S. forces are likely to remain in Iraq through 2009. Yet, Congress -- explicitly charged with overseeing military actions by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution -- has done little beyond rubber stamping the President's requests for more and more money to support the occupation.

It's time for Members of Congress to hold an open debate on the occupation of Iraq. But, because Speaker Hastert and the rest of the House Leadership refuses to allow measures critical of the Bush administration to the floor, a bi-partisan group of Representatives are supporting a legislative maneuver called a "discharge petition." If more than half of the members of the House sign the petition, Speaker Hastert will have no choice but to allow a 17 hour debate on the Iraq occupation -- split equally between both sides of the aisle. And members would be able to offer amendments without prior approval from the leadership.

The families who have lost soldiers in Iraq, the veterans returning with debilitating injuries, the taxpayers who are asked to pay for this ever-expanding war, all deserve a frank discussion of our country's role in Iraq. ...
Here's a relevant update from an excellent article:
Students of Western Civilization might also recall that Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 for "glory" (that's French for empire) and to restore Islam to its genuine teachings (I guess meaning to bring those misguided souls back to their Christian roots). The Little Corporal didn't fare much better there than he did at Waterloo or that a latter day Napoleon wannabe is now doing in Iraq. It's a shame he's not still around to explain that to our current "head dreamer of empire." But I doubt it would do much good as below I explain the only authority our warrior president listens to.

The point from my brief history lesson is to connect it to our own present situation. For the first time ever, we now have a president, at least the first one admitting it publicly, who also believes the Almighty speaks to him, tells him what to, and he's just following orders from that higher authority. I don't think he's kidding when he says God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. I wonder if that same God told him to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

—Stephen Lendman, Peace Journalism

Republican Congressman Predicts Bush Impeachment

Republican Congressman Ron Paul has gone on record with his prediction that the impeachment of George W. Bush is right around the corner but warned that in the meantime the US was slipping perilously close to a dictatorship. ...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush's New PR Offensive: Old Lies Die Hard!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush has thrown down the gauntlet yet again! And congress continues to let him get away with it. Once again, the "rule of law" takes a beating. Bush repeats a fairy tale about Iraq and cites it as justification for his thumbing his nose at the Constitution. This is circular, delusional thinking at its most egregious.

The reality in Iraq is a stark contrast to Bush's PR version. Numerous writers in Iraq describe a "...a country convulsed by fear" where sectarian killings are commonplace; the scale of violence is largely unseen. It is most certainly undescribed or referenced by Bush! In a nation —still largely without lights or running water —civilians flee old neighborhoods desperately seeking safer ground —IF it can be found. Death squads roam the streets. Bush never talks about this.

And even as Bush has created chaos and civil war in Iraq, he cites Iraq as justification for his crackdown on civil liberties and the rule of law at home. That, in and of itself, should be grounds enough for impeachment and removal from office immediately.

Socrates said that the good was good not because the gods approved it but that the gods approved because it was good. Bush and his party have reversed the logic of Socrates. The GOP reverses thought processes, thinking backward to make legal crimes already committed, rationalizing bad decisions after the harm has already been done. Fast forward to G. W. Bush, who, like Richard Nixon before him, has said that if the President does it it's legal. If Socrates were alive, he would say that both Nixon and Bush had it backward. Socrates is right; the GOP is dead wrong.

Backward thinking is not uncommon in the ranks of the GOP but it seems to have reached epidemic levels with the ascension of George W. Bush. Before the Supreme Court handed down Bush v Gore, the most infamous 5 to 4 decision in its history, Antonin Scalia had already given the game away. Continuing the recount, he said, would be harmful to Bush.

On still another occasion, Scalia said:

Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.

—Antonin Scalia, U. S. Supreme Court Justice

Backward thinking! It assumed that Bush had already more votes than Gore. We know now that such was not the case. Had the court ordered recount continued as it should have, Gore would surely have won the White House. Take Scalia to his logical conclusion and the actual counting of votes need never be done again. Counting votes is sure to be harmful to someone. Last time I checked, the candidate getting the fewer number of votes was supposed to lose.

Ironically, it was Scalia who had said that it was not the court's job to hand down decisions applicable only in single cases; it was, rather, the job of the court to make precedent, establish case law. But, guiltily, the Bush v Gore court added a hasty, guilty proviso limiting Bush v Gore to one case and one case only. This would seem to be, in itself, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment cited so fallaciously and disingenuously by the five vote ideological majority.

And lately Bush crows about "Inherent" powers" and "implicit" authorization! It makes one long for the good old days when President Bush pledged his allegiance to a philosophy of "strict" construction. I've never seen anything in the Constitition about "inherent" or "implicit" powers and, if the GOP had not been disingenuous about "strict constructionism", they would have to admit that they haven't either.

President Truman claimed to have "implicit" or "inherent powers" to seize U.S. steel mills during the Korean War. But, in a landmark decision, Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court rejected Truman's argument, ruling that his seizure was unconstitutional.

When the United States signs agreements like the Geneva Conventions, they become the law of the land. Congress is therefore allowing Bush to circumvent the law with his unilateral re-invention of both law and language. Bush has invented new descriptions of "enemies", and he has arrogated unto himself the power to define what he unilaterally chooses to call "enemy combatants". He assumes the power to hold this "class" of his invention incommunicado indefinitely —even if they are American citizens. Though the Supreme Court has said that this is outside the law, Bush would have you believe that he is above the law. If Bush is correct, SCOTUS is moot. Have the justices on the court been given two weeks notice and pension?

If Bush is allowed to interpret the laws, then the independent judiciary is no longer required. Bush has denied authorizing the torture of captives, but when Congress proposed to outlaw the practice, he threatened to veto their efforts. That would seem to be, in itself, evidence that he had ordered torture knowing that it was a violation of the law. Then Bush compounded his crime; when a ban was passed with a veto-proof majority, Bush signed the measure but added a memo that said, in effect, that if he felt the need, he would not obey it, "it" being the law.

It is not Bush's job to decide which laws he will enforce and which laws he will not. I don't give a damn about how Bush "feels" about the law. If he wants to talk about his feelings, let him join a support group! "His "memo" is a challenge to the separation of powers and more evidence that the quote attributed to Bush is accurate:
The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!

—George W. Bush, as quoted in Capitol Hill Blue

On yet another related issue, Bush has acted in a manner consistent with the quote that is attributed to him. For example, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act states —without ambiguity —that domestic phone surveillance could not be conducted without a warrant. A special court [FISA] was set up by Congress so that Presidents could obtain court approvals in a timely manner. Bush, however, chose to ignore and violate the law setting up the FISA court.

It was not only Democrats who were alarmed:
We have not just allegations, but proud admissions by the Republican Administration of George W. Bush that it has been conducting surreptitious electronic surveillance of American citizens, without court approval, in obvious contravention of an explicit federal law to the contrary.

Bob Barr

Meanwhile, Bush continues to thumb his nose at Congress, wiretapping, bugging and spying on American citizens and boasting about it —though he is violating the law daily! NOTHING said by Bush has in any way refuted the law or rescinded it.

Where is the Congress when the President of the United States thumbs his nose at the rule of law, the Constitution, and the separation of powers? Everything done by Bush over the last several months has supported the charge that Bush exploits terrorism in order to maintain the U.S. presence in Iraq —in itself an ongoing war crime. [See:325 000 names on terror list ]

Bush's subversion of our laws erodes Democracy and the rule of law. Our Chief Executive has become an outlaw, and, in the process, we have ceased to be a Democratic Republic.