Mudcat Café message #1661497 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1661497
Posted By: Amos
04-Feb-06 - 03:19 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration

Presidential signing statements are more than just executive branch lunacy.

By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Monday, Jan. 30, 2006, at 5:32 AM ET

There are two ways President Bush likes to wage war on your civil liberties: He either asks you to surrender your rights directly—as he does when he strengthens and broadens provisions of the Patriot Act. Or he simply hoovers up new powers and hopes you won't find out—as he did when he granted himself authority to order warrant-less wiretapping of American citizens.

The former category seems more benign, and it's tempting to lump Bush's affinity for "presidential signing statements" in that camp. It's tempting to believe that with these statements he is merely asking that the courts take his legal views into account. But President Bush never asks anything of the courts; he doesn't think he has to. His signing statements are not aimed at persuading the courts, but at reinforcing his claim that both courts and Congress are irrelevant.

Many of us had never heard of a presidential signing statement until last month, when Bush used one to eviscerate the McCain Anti-Torture bill he claimed to endorse. We all saw the big Oval Office reconciliation with McCain; we heard Bush say he was dropping his opposition to the bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support (90-9 in the Senate, 308-122 in the House) and made it illegal for Americans to engage in the "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of detainees held here or abroad. What we missed was the actual signing ceremony, which took place two weeks later, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 30.

Unless you spent New Year's weekend trolling the White House Web site or catching up on your latest U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News as you waited for the ball to drop, you probably missed the little "P.S." the president tacked onto the McCain anti-torture bill. The postscript was a statement clearly announcing that the president will only follow the new law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president to supervise the unitary executive branch ... and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power." In other words, it is for the president—not Congress or the courts—to determine when the provisions of this bill interfere with his war-making powers, and when they do, he will freely ignore the law.

In other news, various writers fro around the nation offer their thoughts:

Linda from Aurora, Colo., writes:

"Those in the Arab world are not alone in seeing Bush as stubborn and confusing. I think more and more Americans are also seeing him as such, in addition to being dishonest. His story is ever-changing, and that has eroded his credibility here and abroad. It has also eroded the credibility of the United States across the globe."

Yolande, writing from Port of Spain, Trinidad, agrees:

"It is painful to see the country losing credibility at an alarming rate, worldwide, in countries rich and poor, developed and developing. America under Bush is seen as ruthless, bullying and dictatorial, not really interested in true democracy but in other nations following its decrees. Truly, there is no longer a superpower to whom the world could rely in times of crisis. America has lost it."

Mike from Cleveland presents a different view:

"I wonder about your assertion that anything the U.S.A. supports becomes unpopular in the Middle East. By extension, are you suggesting the U.S.A. not voice support for anything it wants, or even to support the opposite of its desires? I sympathize with your viewpoint that the world is far more complex than the worldview our present administration projects, but I don't clearly see what you are recommending our country do."

But in Denver, T.J., who says he is a veteran of Iraq, disagrees:

"I have noticed an implied rhetoric from the current administration that shows an ignorance of Arab culture and a disregard for their views," he writes. "I learned a lot about the culture and our societal differences while in Iraq, and I hope that somehow our government will recognize these and make decisions that are grounded in acceptance and humility. The arrogant, imperialistic approach has done nothing but fuel anti-American sentiment and certainly has not made America a safer place, nor the world a better place."

George, a Vietnam-era veteran from Anchorage, Alaska, poses a similar view:

"This is very hard for me to express," he writes. "I [have] always had a great deal of pride in being an American. I am, as of right now, still proud. I was also a Republican until 1999 … Mr. Bush and his cronies, I feel, are an embarrassment to the ideals and makeup of our great nation. Americans are not just deceived but boldly lied to. Before we can get respect from the world, we have got to clean up our own mess. I think the president means to do the right thing, he is just caught up in his own image of glory and power. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about staining a young lady's dress. Mr. Bush, however, is killing a lot of people with his spin. Can't we as a nation take our place among the proud who walked before all of this mess?"

William from San Diego is on Bush's side. "It isn't about the Arab people. It is about the American people," he writes. "Our president looks out for the United States, our allies and our best interest."

(Both offered without comment)