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Re: VP not part of Executive Branch?

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  • Robert Seeberger
    ... You would almost think BushCo is *trying* to push us into a constitutional crisis. ******************************** frex:
    Message 1 of 63 , Jun 24, 2007
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      On 6/24/2007 8:16:26 AM, Charlie Bell (charlie@...) wrote:
      > Now,
      > I'm sure many of the finer points of the US political system are
      > beyond me... but isn't
      > this, like, basic?
      You would almost think BushCo is *trying* to push us into a
      constitutional crisis.
      The real problem with the Bush presidency is that it is conceptually
      unclear what kind of king he thinks he is -- the absolute monarch of
      the Ancien R�gime, or the Hegelian constitutional monarch who just
      "says yes and dots the i's."

      In the initial campaign (2000), it's clear they were going for the
      latter: yes, George W. is a dumbass, but he's going to be surrounded
      by all these seasoned advisors. This image of Bush persists in the
      idea that Cheney, Rove, etc., are the ones really running the show --
      or in the alternative narrative that what really matters is the
      conflict between the Department of State and the Vice-President's
      office. In both cases, George W. Bush personally is a non-factor --
      just the "public face," chosen simply for name recognition (some
      voters are even rumored to have been convinced that they were really
      voting for George Sr. again), i.e. the "biological descent" that
      provides the element of randomness in Hegel's theory of the monarch.

      On the other hand, you have the theory of the "unitary executive," the
      assertion of unheard-of "war powers," and a bunch of other indicators
      pointing toward an idea of an absolute monarch who can say, "L��tat, c�est
      moi." What is missing is precisely such an "official" pronouncement --
      all of the outlandish doctrines are "officially" disavowed, and
      situations are contrived in order to avoid a judgment from the courts
      (in the few situations in which the courts have issued a judgment, it
      has been to reject the "unitary executive"). In order for this
      absolute power to remain operative, it has to remain "unofficial" --
      even though it is all "publicly known," no official judgment has come
      down upon Bush.

      Maybe what is so frightening, however, is the way that these things go
      together -- the way that a series of "mere formalities" allow the
      quasi-absolute authority to continue uninhibited. And perhaps what
      keeps these "empty formalities" going is the fear that if the
      quasi-absolute authority entered the realm of "officiality," the
      formalities, rather than the authority, would dissolve.

      This is just an over-formalized way of saying what I've been saying
      for years: what allows the Bush administration to continue is the fact
      that everyone else is afraid of triggering an "official"
      constitutional crisis, that is, of bringing out into the open the
      actual constitutional crisis under which we live. So: vote to
      authorize the war because you don't want to find out what happens when
      the president goes ahead and starts a war that Congress rejected. And
      so on, and so on. The Democrats are now the party of continuing to
      have a constitution -- paradoxically, they think that the only way to
      do this is by refusing to face down Bush's gravest violations of the
      constitution. Hence no impeachment, no real investigation into
      intelligence manipulation, just this endless dithering with marginal
      scandals like the US Attorney thing. No one wants to "officially"
      expose the fact that the executive branch has been effectively
      treating the constitution as suspended for all this time, even though
      the information pointing to this conclusion is publicly available and

      Quite troublesome.

      Bow To The Throne Maru
    • Dan Minettte
      ... I don t think this exact thing has happened, but I already cited a precedent where Americans being declared enemy combatants, tried in a kangaroo court,
      Message 63 of 63 , Aug 31, 2007
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        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
        > Behalf Of Doug
        > Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2007 11:18 PM
        > To: Killer Bs Discussion
        > Subject: Re: VP not part of Executive Branch?
        > When has an American Citizen been held as an enemy combatant and
        > completely isolated?

        I don't think this exact thing has happened, but I already cited a precedent
        where Americans being declared enemy combatants, tried in a kangaroo court,
        and then killed. This precedent, as I stated, still stands as the law of the

        > When has torture been condoned?

        Implicitly, frequently...the last President to do it was Clinton. I'd guess
        that Carter didn't implicitly condone torture, but I think he's about the
        only one.

        >When has the kind of massive, indiscriminant wiretapping program the
        >administration has carried out ever happened?

        A far more massive program existed in the 50s through the mid-70s. Good
        Lord, there was massive surveillance (including wiretapping) of Coretta
        Scott King after Martin Luther King's death. The wiretapping by Bush is
        very restricted compared to the wiretapping done earlier.

        >What the administration has done is _beyond_ what has happened in the past
        >and the situation is far less dire than it was when similar excesses

        OK, how is wiretapping of international calls that are suspected of being
        to/from AQ, Hezbolla, etc. and data mining beyond the massive wiretapping of
        the '50s through mid 70s, which included intensive work on political figures
        because their politics is suspect?

        > Please tell me what would have been overturned.

        The WWII case for one.

        > >
        > > If you look at the Supreme Court's actions, they are clearly hesitant to
        > > define the law here....hoping that Congress would be the branch of
        > > government that would balance out the President.
        > Do you mean the previous, rubber stamp congress?

        Which was elected by the people, and pretty well reflected the will of the
        people. The fact that they, as a body, supported Bush doesn't mean that they
        are not a co-equal branch of government. The Republicans gained seats in
        the '04 election...and Bush won the popular vote.

        > I favor an activist court when the constitution is being ripped to shreds
        >and the congress is a collection of yes men for the administration. You
        > know we all hate slippery slope arguments, but doesn't it feel just a
        > little like were sliding helplessly away from what this country really
        > stands for? How do we get back to the right place if we keep letting
        > these so called precedents stand without challenge?

        OK, let me ask you a question. Did the New Deal tear the constitution to
        shreds as the Supreme Court of the time argued. Was there anything like the
        threat of court packing that caused "the switch in time that saved nine" in
        the 30s?

        Liberals have long argued that the Constitution is a living document. If
        that is true, than Bush's actions are fully consistent with the Constitution
        as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Strict constructionists, on the other
        hand, should be howling.

        I never thought of you as a strict constructionist. Was I mistaken?

        > >
        > > One thing I do, when it comes to the powers of the branches of
        > > government, I try to set forth my beliefs independent of whether my side
        > > is supported by the President, Congress, or the Courts. The same Court
        > > that can find a
        > > right to abortion in the Constitution can also decide that labor laws
        > > violate the right to freely make contracts provided for by the 14th
        > > amendment.
        > There are times for activism and there are times for restraint. When the
        > constitution is being trashed, it's the wrong time to sit on your hands.

        OK, why didn't Roe vs. Wade trash the constitution? It found a right to
        abortion in it that needed the court to read between the lines with Joseph
        Smith's special glasses.

        I try for consistency. Bad things can be constitutional; good things can be
        unconstitutional. The constitutionality of something is not dependant on
        what I want. Roe vs. Wade is now part of the law of the land. Sandra Day
        O'Conner stated that it's been the law long enough so it should stand simply
        on that basis. This is the situation with the Constitutional support for
        declaring citizens enemy combatants.

        Now, there are critical differences: there is still vast support for Roe vs.
        Wade, but even conservatives are uncomfortable with the Supreme Court's
        approval of FDR's actions. This is why Bush dropped the case as it went to
        the Supreme Court.

        > There are undoubtedly risks, but to change our way of life because of
        > those risks is a signal victory for our enemies. This is where the famous
        > Franklin quote is so apropos (Those who would give up essential liberty to
        > purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety) and
        > where our attitude has been changed from "The only thing to fear is fear
        > itself" to the only thing to fear is ourselves.

        I know that remark, but using it here assumes that one convicted criminal
        being held as an enemy combatant in a manner consistent with a standing
        Supreme Court decision represents us losing essential liberties. Given the
        fact that the President had to retreat from this, there is little risk from
        a slippery slope. He also had to retreat elsewhere.

        > This is what people like Charlie see from the outside. We're self
        > destructing because a bunch of creeps managed to blow up a couple of
        > buildings. Once. Six years ago.

        Well, the track record of Europe and the US since that time has not strongly
        favored Europe. Data are limited, so we'll need to see more.

        > Sure there's still a threat, but we're handling it all wrong. The first
        > thing you do is show the jerk offs that what they have done _won't_ change
        > our lives because while we might not be the very best at everything, we
        > were pretty damned good, we were an idea that the world emulated, admired
        > and envied.

        Your memory must be different than mine. I remember us being hated during
        'Nam, mocked during the Cold War. Heck, even Jimmy Carter was strongly
        opposed for being too militaristic in Europe.

        >Now we're a laughing stock. The second thing was
        > Afghanistan, but that should have been coupled with some kind of action
        > against those that were behind 911. The Saudis.

        What sort of action? Saudi citizens were involved, but there was no
        indication that the Saudi government was involved. Instead, we see AQ
        trying to overthrow the Saudi government and rule Saudi Arabia themselves.

        Now, the appeasement of AQ...the attempt to buy them off by the Saudis was a
        mistake. We insisted that this stop after 9-11, and it did. The Saudis
        have fought AQ fairly ruthlessly, with more success than we've had in
        Afghanistan, let alone Iraq.

        After 9-11, we asked the Taliban to hand over key AQ figures and the Saudis
        to go after AQ. The former didn't happen, we invaded. The later did.

        So, what should we do?

        And the third thing
        > would have been to make the middle east as irrelevant as possible. If we
        > can come up with a trillion dollars to fight a wildly unsuccessful war in
        > Iraq, imagine how far we could have gone towards energy independence?

        With nuclear and coal, maybe 1/4th to 1/2 of the way. With Greenpeace
        acceptable technology, not very far at all.

        > know you're going to give me a rationalization about how we could never do
        > it for this or that technical reason, but I think you're full of it.

        Out of curiosity, how much do you know about solid state physics? Or, for
        that matter, even enough classical mechanics to explain why the power of
        windmills goes as the cube of the velocity (those who know, please give Doug
        a chance to reply first.)

        I've tried hard to be polite, but I find it rather interesting to see you
        think that I am full of it when I actually know a great deal more about
        innovation and technology than you. I've hung with folks who've come up
        with inventions that have saved energy consumers about 80 billion per
        year....the head guy's office was only about 20 feet from mine. We talked,
        off and on, about the nature of innovation and have a decent mindset.

        My patents aren't quite as impressive, but I have patented techniques that
        are now the industry standard in a fairly sizeable market (e.g hundreds of
        millions). With a little luck, my latest invention will have a similar
        track record.

        This doesn't make me right, of course, but I think it tends to indicate that
        I have at least some understanding of the nature of technical innovation. I
        think that, given these facts, that someone calling me full of it should
        have at least some argument based on their intimate understanding of the
        process of technological innovation.

        > >
        > > Technically, he was not, even though he was at ORD. He was arrested
        > > outside> of the US because he had not cleared customs. I'm pretty sure
        > > that there is precedent for this.
        > Please cite.


        Abdullah Al Muhajir, 31, who officials say changed his name from Jose
        Padilla... was stopped as he tried to re-enter the USA at O'Hare
        International Airport after flying there from Zurich.


        On May 8, 2002, José Padilla, a United States citizen arrived in the United
        States via a regular scheduled commercial airliner. He was arrested under a
        material witness warrant issued by the grand jury sitting in New York. At
        that time, the court assigned counsel to represent him


        Padilla was arrested May 8, 2002, at O'Hare International Airport as he
        returned to the United States

        Those are the citations for his returning from a foreign country. Now, they
        didn't explicitly state that he wasn't allowed to clear customs first, but
        that is rarely the case when people are arrested as they arrive in the US.

        Is this what you are arguing?

        Or are you arguing that there is no precedent for not granting American
        citizens who are not in the US but found to be enemy combatants by the
        government access to the US court system? If so, the clear counter example
        is WWII, where there was no provision to grant German POWs who had US
        citizenship (Germans born in the US for example) access to courts. Indeed,
        fighting for a foreign army against the US is usually considered evidence
        that one has renounced US citizenship.

        > You don't see a problem with his rights being suspended? If they could
        > have convicted him of something four years ago, why the hell didn't they
        > do it?

        Because they wanted to establish a clearer precedent for Bush's right to act
        as he saw fit. They didn't get this, and he's now in prison, convicted by a
        jury of his peers.

        I'm not saying that there is no problem with this, but that the problem is
        not a gigantic unprecedented attack on liberty. To give perspective on
        this, let me raise some issues in the area of freedom, liberty and

        I consider the people wrongly convicted as a result of the horrible work by
        the Houston Police Department DNA lab to be a significantly worse attack on
        liberty than the declaration of enemy combatants by Bush.

        I consider the high probability that Texas is executing innocent people
        (based on those who were found to be innocent in the nick of time) a greater
        affront to liberty.

        I consider the conditions in US prisons, where rape is a matter of course,
        to be inhumane and far worse than the imprisonment of several enemy

        I consider the fact that, while whites and blacks use illegal drugs in
        relatively equal percentages, blacks are sent to prison far more often a far
        greater affront to justice than any action in the name of Homeland Security.

        I consider having DWB as an offence as a far more extensive and damaging
        attack on personal freedom than the wiretapping and data mining by Bush et.

        So, my view is that the system is working with respect to restraining Bush's
        attempt to expand his power as Commander in Chief to virtually limitless. I
        would support maintaining vigilance, but I think we have far worse problems
        to deal with in this area.

        Dan M.

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