Thursday, May 15, 2008

King George, The Madness of

This article is entitled, "The rebirth of the Imperial Presidency or how to run an administration by employing the Hermann Goering approved tactics of lies, fear and intimidation".

The Republican party is supposed to be the inheritors of the legacy of the Anti-Federalists (I speak of the Anti-Federalism of Jefferson and not the various groups that opposed the Constitution on various grounds and came to be know collectively as anti-federalist). Meaning that they favor small government, states rights, low or no taxes and strict interpretation of the Constitution (Religion was not a part of the equation in those days as there are some who would argue that Jefferson himself was an atheist). Under the original purpose of what became the original opposition party (the Democratic-Republican party), was to oppose the over broad (in their minds) policies of Alexander Hamilton who was the first Treasury Secretary under George Washington. However when Jefferson became President he took full advantage of his "executive" powers when he negotiated and completed the Louisiana Purchase. There is nothing in the Constitution which grants the President the power to take such an action, but despite being a strict constructionist, he felt that it was in the best interest of the country to proceed with the purchase none the less. This is a very simplified version of the events that took place and the positions that were taken, but I think it actually serves as the first example of a the Imperial Presidency in action (Imperial Presidency meaning extending the powers of the office beyond those that are defined in the Constitution).

I won't bore you with all the examples during history but a couple of highlights include Lincoln suspending Habeus Corpus during the Civil War (which he had the right to do under the Constitution, but was supposed to wait for approval from the Congress before taking the action) and FDR threatening to pack the Supreme Court in order to get his New Deal legislation approved. All of these actions from the Louisiana Purchase through FDR are looked upon favorably by history because they all proved to be beneficial to the country. However, the extraordinary use of Presidential power can also lead to extraordinary abuses as well. In theory, the Congress of the United States has oversight of the Executive branch. The President is immune from lawsuits and prosecution while in office, but he is not immune to review and removal by the Congress. The President can be impeached for treason or high crimes or misdemeanors as defined by the Congress at the time to the incident.

There have only been two impeachment trials in the history of the United States (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) and neither ended in the President being removed from office. In fact the most famous Impeachment actually never took place. Richard Nixon resigned under the threat of impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee had approved the articles of Impeachment, but those articles were never voted on by the House of Representatives. Nixon, who was pardoned by his replacement, engaged in any number of illegal acts while in the White House. These acts are minor compared to the previous invocation of the Imperial Presidency. Wiretapping, burglary, illegal campaign contributions, bribery and obstruction of justice seem fairly minor when compared to the acquisition of fully 1/3 of the land mass of the entire country. However, Nixon felt that as the President, he was above the Law. And while not as lofty a use of the Imperial Presidency, assuming that the laws of the country do not apply to you, certainly counts as trying to use the office in that manner.

The current administration has seen a return to the glory days of the Imperial Presidency (along with a healthy dose of the Nixon brand paranoia thrown in for good measure). The basic tenants of the Republican party's Anti-Federalist roots are now just given lip service (although the low taxes are still a major talking point). Smaller government (what a joke), states rights (yeah right), strict interpretation of the Constitution (as long as that interpretation means that affirmative action and abortion are limited or eliminated), are no longer goals of the administration. This administration has engaged in a systematic process of propaganda in order to further their agenda that would have made Goebbels blush. In an excellent article by my co-contributor on this blog, he recounts a conversation by Göring (the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe) in which he laid out the process by which any nation (including a supposedly Democratic one) can be led to war:

Göring:
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

This administration realized that easiest way to bring about an Imperial Presidency was to find or create a common enemy, rally the public to action through lies, eliminate dissension through intimidation and then maintain public support through fear. And amazingly it has worked. The President has practically limitless power and the people have (willingly, I might add) handed over all their rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

This administration has authorized the use of torture (the President has even had his legal staff write papers that rationalize the use of the torture against American citizens), engaged in massive campaign of propaganda in support of an unwarranted military action, hired and fired people based not on merit but on party allegiance, funneled untold billions of taxpayers money to their friends and allowed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals to die BECAUSE THEY COULD. It only took about 230 years, but the United States has managed to put King George back in power. If Jefferson were around today he would be aghast at what is being done in the name of his party. Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus in order to save the Union, George Bush did it in order to save his ass. Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR are probably spinning in their graves (Nixon too, probably because he wishes that he would have thought of it himself) over the current state of the Bill of Rights brought about by this administration. They simply would not believe that the precedents that they set would lead to the current state of affairs.

Yesterday, King George showed that he does have some heart however. He is after all a "compassionate conservative". When asked about why he doesn't play golf anymore, he said that it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. He didn't want the mothers and relatives of dead soldiers to see him playing golf. Wow, That is quite a gesture from a monarch (of course he is too incompetent to rule alone so while he is the figurehead, we are clearly under the rule of an Oligarchy). American citizens lose their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and friends and the President, who would be King, gives up his golf game. That sounds like a fair trade to NO ONE. But then monarchs don't have to justify themselves to their subjects, do they. He might as well have said, let them eat cake.

8 comments:

Guy Fawkes said...

"Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot." -Codename "V"

Sandy Jimenez said...

Right on, V. Right on.

plf said...

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state." Joseph Goebbel, a 'contemporary' of Goering. A government, however, can't act alone. It needs at the very least, complacent partners. In the time of Goebbel's and Goering's war rule it was the propaganda machine that reported the 'truths of the regime'. One would think in this age of 24 hour news channels, the liars would be outted. It seems another lesson of Goebbel's hasn't been forgotten: "Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play."

Michael Hew said...

I got this response recently and I am posting with my comments:

"What a narrow minded article.
You forgot to mention:
The millions that have been liberated in Iraq and Afghanistan by King George (it's a fact, regardless of your opinion on the war)".

My response: Imperialism at it's best and only goes to back up my argument. I don't remember at any point, the people of either Iraq or Afghanistan asking for our assistance. And if the goal was simply humanitarian then, there are tens of millions in Africa who have it as bad if not worse than those in Iraq ever did.

"The Billions that have been sent to victims of the Tsunami and other international disasters.
The billions that have been sent to Africa by President Bush and his Administration."

My Response: I doubt that we sent "billions" to the tsunami victims, however I applaud the Bush administration for their humanitarian aid to foreign countries especially in the times of natural disaster, but perhaps you weren't paying attention when the President flew over New Orleans and lamented the loss of the places that he used to "party" as a young man while thousands of Americans went without food and water for the better part of a week.

"King George's desire to spread freedom & liberty in the world.
And, Yes!! Torturing Terrorist to protect millions of Americans."

My response: Are the people in Iraq better off because we went there? I'm sure the hundreds of thousands who have died and their families would beg to differ. And when this government can justify the torture of someone, they are just one step away from justifying the torture of anyone.

I have a policy of not printing things that are left annoynomously (as this one was), but this respondent was persistant. Anyway, if you would like to engage me in genuine debate over anything that I've written here, please leave a return email address. I am happy to debate anyone, at any time, about anything that I've written here.

Anonymous said...

Gosh! Your twisted mind didn’t even let you post it in its entirely...

Anonymous said...

"And when this government can justify the torture of someone, they are just one step away from justifying the torture of anyone."

Well, listen what your Lib hero said in 2004.
SCHUMER: "There are times when we all get in high dudgeon. We ought to be reasonable about this. I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never, ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake."

http://abcrad.vo.llnwd.net/o1/levin/rss/schumer060804.mp3

Michael Hew said...

Sorry, I left this wonderful tidbit out of the comment from our faithful friend "anonymous". Here is his closing statement:

"King George must be turning in his grave when reading how he is being compared to one the most honorable freedom fighters, GWB!!!"

I don't really have anything to add to that. I'll just let the statement speak for itself.

Sandy Jimenez said...

@ Anonymous:
Fighting the urge to condescend to you is harder than I thought. When you respond to a post with sentences like:

"Well, listen what your Lib hero said in 2004."

Bad grammar aside, -which I’m assuming is just a careless typo, you may want to abstain from using "Lib" as an abbreviation for "Liberal" since it's been used by journalists to indicate "Libertarians" as well. Regardless of what objections you may have to the progressive agenda in America, you don’t want to come off like all the “news analysts” on Fox and personalities on other right wing media outlets like Rush Limbaugh who use the term “Democrat Party”. While purposeful malapropos and abbreviations like “Democrat Party” and “Lib” are meant as putdowns, they actually make the speaker sound stupid, ignorant and ineloquent. For my part, I guess I have to insist on identifying myself as a Liberal because this administration has shifted our country's priorities and posture so far to the Neo-conservative/religious right’s locus that any citizen with legitimate questions about this administration’s intentions and competency is deemed un-American. Sorry I’m not buying it.
I’m an American. I pay taxes. I vote. The Bush administration is made up of a bunch of fuck ups and crooks. I don’t need to quote Republicans or Democrats for that matter, who have come to the same conclusion. This is my own judgment as a citizen of the job they have been doing for the past eight years.
I can't pretend to know what's really on your mind. Maybe, like many of my fellow Americans you actually believe that the war in Iraq was a justified preemptive strike, despite the lack of credible evidence. -To that, I say “fair enough”, you are entitled to believe that. What you are not entitled to do is tell lies on this post:

Millions have not been liberated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Living in a warzone is not freedom or liberation. If you really believe that’s freedom, go to either country and see how free you are to just move around.

President George Bush only says he has a desire to spread freedom and liberty in the world. Neither you, nor I, know if that’s actually the case. Neither of us can read his mind. All we can do is look at his actions. Ridding Afghanistan and Iraq of their respective homicidal rulers has made the US armed forces into beat cops in the region. That’s not spreading freedom and liberty, that’s called “occupation”.

You wrote:
“King George must be turning in his grave when reading how he is being compared to one the most honorable freedom fighters, GWB!!!"

George W. Bush is not a freedom fighter.

George W. Bush is the very rich son of a former president of the United States. He is a graduate of Yale. He is a veteran of the Texas Air National Guard who never saw combat or inconvenience from his post at a Texas air base. He is the current president of the United States. George W. Bush has not fought for anyone’s freedom, ever. He didn’t even fight against the Viet Cong in the war he was supposedly a part of. Those are the facts.

It saddens me that so many Americans still support a man who has clearly done a terribly job of leading the nation. While I don’t blame President Bush for 9/11 (I believe that culpability lies with his staff and administration) it happened on his watch. He’d been president for 9 months, during which, his constant vacations were an embarrassment to the nation. While I don’t find him alone at fault, he certainly shouldn’t be applauded for the most colossal security failure in the country’s history.
These wars and conflicts haven’t made us safer, and they have in fact, opened the way for a dangerous new status quo in the region where Iran will have more influence over its neighboring country Iraq (Which it tried to annihilate in an eight year war that nobody seems to remember even though it ended only 20 years ago), than would have ever been thought possible. Ask any Iraqi how they feel about that.
Ask them if that feels like freedom.
-SJ