Guy McLendon's Comment on Article In Houston Chronicle
FYI … I just posted the message below to this article:
Good government depends first upon the goodwill of politicians to respect the Rule of Law. That is, the concept that the citizens are the ultimate sovereign, and that power exercised by politicians are subject to the constraints placed upon them by the owners of this nation - US citizens. The Supreme Court disagrees with this definition, and considers government officials to be the ultimate sovereign. They subscribe to a philosophy akin to a modern version of the “Divine Rights of Kings”.
One such constraint is the nature of the design outlined in our Constitution ... including a system of Checks & Balances. Through many decades, generations of politicians have progressively twisted this system to favor a shift in power towards the Executive Branch. Today, our President disregards limits placed upon his power. His actions even appear to be vindicated by opinions of the Supreme Court that subvert the original intent of America ’s founding fathers. Even the Congress disregards limits on their own power. Under such a twisted scenario, the Congress must somehow correct transgressions made by the other branches just as the other branches must somehow reign in Congress. Members in all branches of our government are failing to duly perform their duty. American politicians in all branches currently enjoy a free-for-all lust-grab for power, and observe no limits on that power. This lust for power is aligned with allegiances of politicians to their political parties, so the politician’s resolve to benefit their parties takes precedence over their oath to duly perform their constitutional roles.
The persons serving in Congress are a mixed bag. Some are noble citizens who seek to maintain operation of a government that serves the General Welfare of Americas . Most are in Washington to serve themselves. It’s clear now to most Americans they were tricked into supporting this war by politicians who have abused their influence over our broadcast media. There is much to say on that & other topics, but let’s not digress on a tangent.
After the fall of Hussein in Iraq , the residual Republican support to maintain US presence in the Middle East is being maintained primarily by a President who is twisting arms, and calling favors. This President has allegedly taken criminal actions in context of illegal surveillance programs that Congress wishes to investigate, and this administration has allegedly obstructed justice using “executive privilege” to excuse their actions. Per the Rule of Law, no one should be above judicial review … including the President. So, it’s in this surrealistic context that Congress must act – dealing with a President who is allegedly operating outside the Rule of Law. The allegiance to political parties referenced above makes it impossible to remove the President from office.
The scary fact is that the very lives of American soldiers in Iraq do indeed hang in the balance. Certainly, this is no game. Only the citizens of America , acting through Congress, have the power to declare war. This is proper since We the People, not the President, are the persons who pay the cost for war … in dollars, limbs & lives.
It is for Congress to decide whether to go to war. In our surrealistic situation, we in a quagmire in which an official declaration of war was never been made, and that’s primarily due to the President’s improper meddling in the legislative process. Even today, the President continues to use arm-twisting tactics to interfere with the Congress authority of continuing this undeclared war.
So, what’s a Congress person to do? Impeachment requires 2/3 vote of the Senate, but exercising their power of the purse requires only a majority vote. Certainly, I understand the Democrats reluctance to use their power of the purse as a means to bridle this uncontrolled President. Ironically, it was Bill Clinton who taught this lesson that’s available to all future Presidents - the President’s “bully pulpit” can be used to thwart a Congress that attempts to limit funding. IMHO, the Congress has only two options available if they would bridle this uncontrolled administration – either impeach both Bush & Cheney at the same time, or exercise their power of the purse.
Of course, while the decision to declare war belongs to the Congress, the power to execute war belongs only to the President. Any President who is not subverting the will of Congress will be given ample time to perform an orderly withdrawal, so the safety of our troops should not be in question. The only reason an orderly withdrawal could not be exercised would be if the President were to defy Congress, and leave the troops in harms way until the last gasp of funding were depleted. Such a disregard for the lives of Americas is an issue of the execution of war. Any lives lost as a result of such Administration’s failure & disregard of the Rule of Law would be the fault of the President.
Here’s my personal advice to Congress: proceed with using your power of the purse that is based upon your having a majority vote. If the President disregards the Rule of Law resulting in the loss of life of US soldiers in battle, then he should be prosecuted by an unbiased court for criminal misconduct after he leaves office.
Chair Harris County Libertarian Party
Houston , Texas