Yeah, You And What Army?

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Bush Administration

From the Washington Post:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, “whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.”

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming. Still, there was a vanishing hope that, given their problems with Iraq, historically low approval ratings, and a long list of scandals, the administration might choose not to provoke a Constitutional crisis.

That hope, of course, forgets the role that Dick Cheney has in running the White House agenda. Dick Cheney, as you may recall, ranks among the world’s historical sore losers. Having been on the wrong side in Watergate, he has made it his life’s mission to “restore” to the Presidency powers it never was meant to have. As if bitten by a radioactive spider emerging from Dick Nixon’s drunken dream of power, Cheney has gained powers unknown to any previous Vice President, spinning a theory of Executive power that would have been extreme at Runnymede.

As long ago as 1215, the notion that there ought to be and were limits, that others could over-rule the King, was established. No wonder Dick Cheney seems so cranky all the time; it must be hard to feel personally responsible to correct a mistake made eight centuries ago.

Still, he’s been doing his part for years. Cheney, then a Congressman, leapt to the barricades in defense of Oliver North and the Iran-Contra conspiracy, writing an infamous minority report denying the ability of Congress to limit Presidential power.

In the Cheney view of Presidential power, Congress’ role is to write the checks that pay for whatever the President chooses to do, and to smile about it. And if, for some ridiculous reason, Congress gets the idea that the Executive owes it anything, they should get over it. It’s a Congressman’s job to protect Executive authority, not to assert any independent power of his own.

And the suggestion that someone in the Department of Justice might work for the United States Government (having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution) and not just for the President? That’s a notion that really needed to be smacked down, and hard. Cheney can’t have people getting confused, like former White House aide Sara Taylor.

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7 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Pat  •  Jul 20, 2007 @3:52 pm

    To what degree will dems be willing to raise the ethical bar through legislation as they once again find themselves the majority? The party that is out of power typically assumes a newfound perspective on ethics and cooperate with Democratic initiatives to raise legal obstacles to Bush administration practices that run against the grain of tradition and even the Constitution.

    Will this latest insult change any minds in Congress regarding impeachment and push us closer to a majority that can override vetos? I’m not encouraged in that regard. The next best thing would be veto overrides on specific bills but that only limits further damage rather than stopping it.

    They will have their hands full as well as their coffers (can you say “medical insurance industry”?).

  2. marijam  •  Jul 20, 2007 @5:25 pm

    They will stall until they are out of office. Can this be continued after they leave office?

  3. Doug Hughes  •  Jul 20, 2007 @9:36 pm

    A VERY astute question, marijam. Bush will not be able to issue pardons after he leaves office. So if a Dem Congress & Dem WH were to unseal records and start to investigate wrongoing from the previous administration, folks could go to jail with no ‘Libby Free Pass’. So the Senate & House might well toss down the gauntlet NOW; appear and testify when asked (including immuity when appropriate), or EXPECT your actions to be examined for criinal aspects AFTER Bush is exiled to Crawford. Tell the truth now, or pray that everything gets shreaded. We are saving a cell for you.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 21, 2007 @1:07 am

    Would that it were come to this in January ’09, when (if ?) – Shrub reading from my favorite monologue in Shakespeare’s Richard II (BTW – I don’t underestimate thier election prowess in areas of corruption and proganda, so don’t YOU ever underestimate them):

    No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
    Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
    Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
    Let’s choose executors and talk of wills:
    And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
    Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
    Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s (Democrat’s),
    And nothing can we call our own but death
    And that small model of the barren earth
    Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
    For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
    And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
    How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
    Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
    Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
    All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life,
    Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
    Comes at the last and with a little pin
    Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
    Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
    With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
    Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
    For you have but mistook me all this while:
    I live with bread like you, feel want,
    Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
    How can you say to me, I am a king?

    I would love to have the Hauge hear this Bush monologue. If he could ever memorize it.
    It’ll never happen: I don’t think you could momorize Shakespeare, if you can’t even read The Constitution… Let alone “The Pet Goat…”
    This week, I didn’t carry my scorecard, but I’m pretty sure I watched the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendment’s be taken down. Also, there are now apparently only 2 branch’s of our government; the Executive, and the Executive. The Judicial is under the Executive, and the Legislative is there only to create law’s our Dictator/King want’s, and then pass them.
    We are beyond a “Constitutional Crisis.” We are in a full-blown Facsist Dictatorship!
    Indict! Impeach!!! Incarcerate!!!
    EACH AND EVERY” ONE OF THE BASTARD’S!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And, if the Supreme Court decides to play games, we’ll have to, “‘With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
    Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,” and take to the street’s.
    I’ve been anti-gun my whole life. I’m looking to buy one before the end of the year.
    I need to update my passport, too. May I suggest you do, too!

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 21, 2007 @1:13 am

    BTW – I forgot to mention, neither CNN, nor MSNBC, had this story on it’s news today.
    How is that possible? Oh, never mind…
    Don’t watch the new’s on TV. Read blogs and newspapers you trust.
    But, don’t even trust them. “Trust, but verify!”
    If there is a God, may He/She/It help us all!!!
    WE, the people, are seriously screwed unless my. seemingly, spineless Dem’s decide to impeach.
    WHAT THE F@*% ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

  6. mad cowboy  •  Jul 21, 2007 @11:35 am

    About making these crooks pay after they get done raping and pillaging OUR country for 2 more years. 1 Excuse me if I’m mistaken but didn’t Bush already pardon himself and his administration for any thing to do with the war ? It’s been a few years but it was just like this post there for a few minutes then on to the next scandal and power grab. 2 why are they still consolidating power, for the lamest of ducks? or for the next president, Hillary? and 3 can we the people take another year and a half wait till we start fixing the major problems most created since 2000?

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