Friday, May 30, 2008

The job of reclaiming the Justice Dept. from the Bush regime's wrecking ball is too big and too important to wait for a Democratic administration


As wacky as any of the other Federalist Society
wackos: Chief Justice John Roberts

On the one hand, you could argue that the executive-power-grabbing megalomaniacs of the Bush regime, while undeniably ruthless and insatiable in their lust for power, are in the end clueless morons. Because what happens if they actually succeed in overturning the Constitution and piling up all the power of the federal government in the executive branch -- and then have to turn all that power over to a Democrat when the country turns them out of office?

The other hand would be, I guess, that they don't worry because: (a) they don't believe any Democrat would dare try to assert the powers they've gathered unto themselves, which are actually for use only by far-right-wing Republican presidents, and (b) in any case they're prepared to turn on a dime and argue with equal ferocity and ruthlessness that for a Democratic president even so bold an act as drawing a breath would represent an intolerable usurpation of constitutional authority.

After all, we're not talking about people who are known for either rationality or consistency. They're only about getting their way, and I've got a feeling the day Chimpy the Prez ends his eight-year illegal squat in the White House, that will be the last we hear about the mystical -- and wholly mythical -- Unitary Executive, the all-powerful executive branch, until the next time wingnuts feel the Oval Office is again within reach of their beady clutches.

"Unitary Executive" -- or don't the wingnut law-mongers call it "the Doctrine of the Unitary Executive"? The better to make it sound as if there actually is such a thing. A "doctrine" indeed! Except that there is no such thing, not in or in any way connected to the Constitution. It's just a sick fantasy made up by dangerously psychopathic right-wingers, an authoritarian melange of bogus constitutionalese, gobbledygook, and garden-variety megalomania. What it seems to come down to is that these people for whatever reasons would like to recontour the model of government outlined in the Constitution to something closer to what you can find in Mein Kampf, with a president who's more or less interchangeable with the Reichsfuehrer of the Third Reich.

Apparently this is the sort of thing that passes for serious legal philosophy among the increasingly influential membership roster of the loony-tunes Federalist Society, which under the Bush regime has become, appallingly, a breeding ground not only for federal judges at the district and appellate levels, but for the Supreme Court itself.

I can't help feeling that most of this legal insanity is being let loose on the land because growing numbers of terminally repressed men have no safer or saner outline for all those raging hormones. In other words, the Republic has been put in peril because all these closet cases -- hetero as well as homo, they seem equally ashamed of and self-loathing over their sexual impulses -- need to be reintroduced to their trusty right (or left, as the case may be) hand?

Well, to judge just by Dick Cheney, he apparently doesn't get enough reinforcement of his manhood from hunting. Probably not enough, you know, release -- at least not of the kind he needs, not to be confused with the kind that puts his victims in the hospital.

Which brings me back to the U.S. attorney scandal. (Oh, you didn't realize that's what this was about?) For me, one of the greatest outrages of the Bush regime has been the systematic polliticization of the Justice Department, and one of my most agonized sources of frustration has been the inability to make this the raging issue it should be to ordinary voters -- why they should care, for example that U.S. attorneys, the legal point men who supervise the cadres of federal prosecutors in their districts, who oversee the administration of federal law, apparently have been transformed into bone-cracking enforcers, not prosecutors of the law but persecutors of the regime's political enemies. (And from what statistics we've been able to see, the Bush U.S. attorneys have gotten the message that their job is to prosecute almost exclusively Democrats.)

It's not an easy concept to define, this "rule of law" that we know instinctively is one of the fundamental components of our freedom. But it's pathetically easy to establish that when enforcement of the law is based, not on the fairest and most uniform possible application of law, but on the wishes of the people who control the legal system, you the rule of law is kaput.

No thanks to the regime's customary penchant for secrecy, we know by now that the wholesale firing of U.S. attorneys was pure and simple a political purge, and that it was moderated only by the realization that too flagrant a sweep of the "undesirables" among the USAs would draw the public attention that the firing program managed for so long to escape. But from what has been revealed, we have abundant indications that the only considerations according to which USAs were put on (or, rarely, taken off) the famous List were political.

And as many people have pointed out, the only thing scarier than the thought of purging competent USAs for insufficiently zealous political partisanship is the thought of what the un-purged ones did to keep their jobs. There are probably some honest and competent USAs who escaped the vengeance of (as best we can tell) Karl Rove, and if I were one of them, I would be as outraged as the good men and women who were improperly fired, because surviving the purge should be a mark of shame.

Oh, there are hardy warriors who haven't given up the fight, including watchdog groups like CREW and Judicial Watch. And the House Judiciary Committee is still trying to enforce its subpoenas of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten to probe the firing process.

Yesterday the AP reported that "twenty former U.S. attorneys from both political parties sided with Congress and asked a federal judge on Thursday to settle a subpoena fight with the White House."

Ex-prosecutors side with Congress in subpoena case


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Twenty former U.S. attorneys from both political parties sided with Congress and asked a federal judge on Thursday to settle a subpoena fight with the White House.

The former prosecutors filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit over whether Congress can demand documents and testimony from President Bush's closest aides.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to know whether some U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons, an issue that helped lead to the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House says the president's former counsel Harriet Miers and chief of chief of staff Josh Bolten do not need to comply with the subpoenas, citing executive privilege, the principle that one branch of government can't make another branch do something.

Congress wants a judge to settle the issue but the Bush administration says the courts should not wade into a political dispute.

The list of former U.S. attorneys who filed the documents in U.S. District Court includes David C. Iglesias, who says he was fired as New Mexico's top prosecutor for political reasons. The prosecutors said that, without congressional oversight, presidents would be free to meddle in prosecutorial decisions.

"If permitted to enforce its subpoenas for documents and testimony, Congress has a unique ability to address improper partisan influence in the prosecutorial process," the former prosecutors wrote. "No other institution will fill the vacuum if Congress is unable to investigate and respond to this evil."

The prosecutors who signed on to the document are: Steve Sachs, who was appointed by President Johnson; George Beall, an appointee of President Nixon; Roxanne Conlin, James K. Robinson, Atlee W. Wampler III and Edward G. Warin, appointees of President Carter; Leon Kellner, Dan K. Webb and J. Alan Johnson, who were appointed by President Reagan; William Braniff, an appointee of the first President Bush; Zach Carter, Edward L. Dowd, B. Todd Jones, Doug Jones, Donald K. Stern, Sheldon Whitehouse and Alan Bersin, who were appointed by President Clinton; Bush appointees Iglesias and Matthew D. Orwig, and Richard Rossman, who was appointed by the court in 1980.

Four watchdog groups filed their own court papers Thursday also siding with Congress. Conservative groups Judicial Watch and the Rutherford Institute joined the Brennan Center for Justice and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, both liberal groups.

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At 11:01 AM, Blogger Hunter said...

Because what happens if they actually succeed in overturning the Constitution and piling up all the power of the federal government in the executive branch -- and then have to turn all that power over to a Democrat when the country turns them out of office?

What makes you think they're going to allow a Democrat to take office?


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