One branch of Government is more equal than the others

to paraphrase Orwell. And to understand just how the President understands his presidential prerogatives read this excerpt of this article:

“The President could of course veto a bill he doesn’t like and publicly argue his objections to it. He would then run the risk that Congress would override his veto. Instead, Bush has chosen a method that is largely hidden and is difficult to challenge. As of this writing, Bush has never vetoed a bill (though he has threatened to do so in the case of a spending bill now pending in Congress). Some of the bills Bush has decided to sign and then ignore or subvert were passed over his objections; others were the result of compromises between Congress and the White House. Arlen Specter, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told me, “Under the Constitution if the president doesn’t like a bill he vetoes it. You don’t cherry-pick the legislation.”


Bush has cited two grounds for flouting the will of Congress, or of unilaterally expanding presidential powers. One is the claim of the “inherent” power of the commander in chief.

Second is a heretofore obscure doctrine called the unitary executive, which gives the president power over Congress and the courts. The concept of a unitary executive holds that the executive branch can overrule the courts and Congress on the basis of the president’s own interpretations of the Constitution, in effect overturning Marbury v. Madison (1803), which established the principle of judicial review, and the constitutional concept of checks and balances.

The term “unitary government” has two different meanings: one simply refers to the president’s control of the executive branch, including the supposedly independent regulatory agencies such as the SEC and the FDA. The other, much broader concept, which is used by Bush, gives the executive power superior to that of Congress and the courts. Previous presidents have asserted the right not to carry out parts of a bill, arguing that it impinged on their constitutional authority; but they were specific both in their objections and in the ways they proposed to execute the law. Clinton, for example, objected to provisions in a bill establishing a semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration, which set out the reasons for removing the director. Clinton objected that that impinged on his presidential prerogatives. Bush asserts broad powers without being specific in his objections or saying how he plans to implement the law. His interpretations of the law, as in his “signing statement” on the McCain amendment, often construe the bill to mean something different from —and at times almost the opposite of—what everyone knows it means.”

How convenient to have a war

One of the first things that troubled me about the Bush administration happened well before 9/11. An executive order was issued to label public records from both the Clinton and the previous Bush administration “top secret” to keep them hidden for many decades to come. Among other things, some of these records could shed light on the first George Bush’s knowledge of the Irangate scandal.

Today’s story is nothing new to those paying attention but it demostrates how convenient the War on Terror has been for an administration intent on hiding its actions from the public. It reminds me of the distopian future in George Orwell’s novel 1984 which conjured up an authoritiarian government at constant war. The war justified bugging every phone and placing television cameras in every room of its citizen’s houses to ferret out any dangerous disloyalty.

Not every bug was being listened to in the novel but this security loophole could soon be remedied by computers. All we need to keep the state’s business secret and ours public is the justification a war provides. Since no other nation presents much of a militarily threat to us these days its convenient that we have terrorists out there to menace us.

war crimes

The appologists for Malai massacre in Vietnam always irritated me. When the only man convicted of responsibility, a Lyndie England type fellow named Lt. Calley, got out of jail his hometown welcomed him back warmly notwithstanding the pictures of scores of murdered innocents.

A similar situation exists for American troops in Iraq as Vietnam. They don’t know who is friendly and who is intent on killing them. So far I’ve not heard too many stories about our troops calling Iraqi’s “towel heads” but I’m sure it happens. The military knows that its politically incorrect. That’s not how it was after WWII. When I’d play war games I’d call the Germans, “Jerrys,” just like the actors I’d heard in war movies. In Vietnam it was “gooks” which was even more dehumanizing.

We can’t treat people who gun down civilians even in panic as heroes. They should be prosecuted. But we’re so desperate for manpower that we are sending troops in who shouldn’t be there. Damn the impossible situation that has turned some good Americans into monsters. If that’s not a war crime it ought to be.


I just heard the most remarkable admission on MRP by the Democratic Senate Majority leader Dean Johnson: 

“If he was not so beholden to the extreme right, he would be the best governor probably the state has ever had.”

That almost sounds like an endorsement to me.

The DNT also weighed in with a headline a couple days ago announcing Pawlenty’s bid for reelection that was very generous “A wiser Pawlenty readies for race.”

Right wing guilt by association or not this is going to be a very tough race for a Democrat to win.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."