Ramblings From the Ragged Crumbling Edge Of The Reality-Based Community

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Exigent Circumstances 

...on what should have been one of those truly great days, a day where at least some of the madness promised to be forestalled by the installation of Democratic majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress, we are once again drawn back to the grim reality of an out-of-control executive branch running roughshod over a legislative branch that - for one or another reason - doesn't have the guts to stand up and say enough is enough. Today we find that, in it's 7 hundredth and some odd signing statement reinterpreting passed legislation to its own means and ends, the Bush Administration (not Bush; it's been clear for a long time that he is little more than a figurehead for a cabal that desires an imperial presidency approaching dictatorship) has interpreted the broad right to steam open personal first class mail far beyond what any members of Congress thought they were authorizing when they passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act last month. Here is an excerpt of the important segments of the section of H.R. 6407 in question:



(b) SIZE AND WEIGHT LIMITS- Section 3682 of title 39, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

e) AUTHORITY TO FIX RATES AND CLASSES GENERALLY; REQUIREMENT RELATING TO LETTERS SEALED AGAINST INSPECTION- Section 404 of title 39, United States Code (as amended by section 102) is further amended by redesignating subsections (b) and (c) as subsections (d) and (e), respectively, and by inserting after subsection (a) the following:


`(c) The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant to the authorization of the addressee.'.

If you wish, and it is important that you do so, here is the entire text (in html) of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (H.R. 6407)

Here is what the previous existing law under Title 39 U.S.C. had to say on the matter of "classes of mail sealed against inspection:

Title 39 USC, Ch. 36, Subchapter II, Sec. 3623
(d) The Postal Service shall maintain one or more classes of mail
for the transmission of letters sealed against inspection. The rate for
each such class shall be uniform throughout the United States, its
territories, and possessions. One such class shall provide for the most
expeditious handling and transportation afforded mail matter by the
Postal Service. No letter of such a class of domestic origin shall be
opened except under authority of a search warrant authorized by law, or
by an officer or employee of the Postal Service for the sole purpose of
determining an address at which the letter can be delivered, or pursuant
to the authorization of the addressee.

...full text of Sect. 3623 here...

Notice any difference in the two entries? No you didn't. For the really tired or drunk or stupid, let's make this little signing statement of last month as clear as we possibly can: The President of The United States has taken advantage of a reshuffling of certain items of existing United States Code - little more than a bit of bookkeeping to make sure that certain pieces of the old law didn't inadvertently disappear - to REWRITE the laws of this country to his benefit. George W. Bush's overseers have no opportunity whatsoever to play their totalitarian "unitary executive" games against the United States Code without citizens taking to the streets with all those firearms that the National Rifle Association keep telling Republicans the people need to possess (a notion to which I am growing increasing sympathetic), but they apparently have no qualms whatsoever about taking advantage of a Postal reform bill that has nothing whatsoever to do with secure personal mail, except to move the passage from one place to another, to create by signing statement the right by "exigent circumstances" to ignore the previously-existing clause to their own advantage. This isn't just rewriting the laws passed by Congress that come across the Oval Office desk; this is about taking every possible opportunity to rewrite previously existing law to keep snatching away - one cinderblock at a time - the very foundation of the freedoms on which this country has been based for two hundred and thirty some years...

While legislative majorities are a wonderful thing, one of their failings is the combination of a lack of straight-up numbers and lack of will to actually call a halt to patently unconstitutional behavior by an out-of-control presidency, through impeachment if necessary. The true lay of the land is far too easy to see:
Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution says that Congress will make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof and Article 2, Section 3 of the US Constitution says that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed". Signing statements as practiced by Bushco serve to interpret the law, a right reserved solely to the Supreme Court and other courts authorized by Congress. Unfortunately for the American people, there is a living political continuium regarding impeachment that began with Nixon that carried its ugly weight through the Iran-Contra hearings of the Reagan administration (where impeachable offenses were probably committed at some level) - all under Democratic Congressional leadership - and reached it's ugly conclusion with the "Impeachment In Search Of A Reason" presidency of Bill Clinton that had little more than a 'tit for tat' feel to it when the final reason for impeachment was finally arrived at by the Rabid Republican Right. This whole history has created some strange bleak sort of uneasy truce about when and where Congress might choose to impeach a member of the ruling Executive branch, although the poll numbers that Clinton enjoyed at the height of his impeachment nightmare should suggest where the American people are with regard to cheap political attacks. This time around, however, we're not talking about blowjobs; we're talking about - at the legislative level alone; forget about all the Iraq War nonsense - a sustained and continual effort to issue statements interpreting laws passed by Congress in ways that twist the original legislative meaning into shapes unrecognizable to the crafters of those laws. An impeachment effort under the terms offered by Bushco would be nothing like a cheap political attack. More to the point, in this most recent Presidential Signing Statement, we are talking about introducing an invasive reinterpretation of a paragraph that isn't a new addition to the United States Code but is instead the moving from one place to another of an existing piece of US Code, a reinterpretation that turns the plain meaning of the clause on its head because there is simply no limit to the meaning behind the concept of "exigent circumstances". The raw, bleak, audacioius duplicity of this effort all by itself, should be sufficient grounds for freedom loving Americans of all political persuasions say that it's time to sent this current gand of clowns down the road. Sadly, in the current climate, there is no recourse to us little people in this stupid game. Congress isn't going to impeach this President until he is - in the phraseology of Texas politics - caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman. All we are going to be able to hope for is that control of one or both houses of Congress (and control of both houses over the term of the 110th Congress is still up in the air because of the serious medical plight of Sen. Tim Johnson) will help to keep the monster more or less in it's cage until January of '09. Otherwise, it may be necessary, under the terms of exigent circumstances, to run down to the local sporting goods store and snap up a few semiauto .223 rifles and every extra clip and box of ammo you can get your hands on. If this current Democratic leadership can't control the extra-constitutional behavior of Bush 43 and his cabal of despotically-inclined handlers, preparation for the new American Revolution may be the only game in town....

Monday, January 01, 2007

43 - 42 

...I wouldn't want it to be known that I laughed and cheered and cried tonight. I am a native of North-Central Idaho and a graduate of the University of Idaho. I am a Vandal, and I have a long, celebrated history - especially during the football season - of rooting against the hated rival at what we now call Boise State University. But I am, more than anything else, an Idaho native and tonight, during the Fiesta Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the decidedly underdog Boise State University Bronco's, I had to cross an old, dustly line and root for the guys with the silly Smurf-blue football field from the state capitol...

...a few years ago, the Bowl Masters were shamed into allowing the Oregon State Beavers of my adopted state into this same Fiesta Bowl, even though the entire football world felt that to do so was an insult to the other team, the legendary Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Beavers, coming off a series of losing seasons longer than a horse's life,
ran the Irish out of town. This year, the Bowl Masters decided to make the so-called mid-major football teams from lesser conferences like the Western Athletic Conference shut up once and for all by throwing them a bone and letting the best of them, Boise State, be featured in a major bowl game against a major college opponent. The result wasn't as dramatic as the Oregon State - Notre Dame contest, but the result - for a Pacific Northwest boy - was just as gratifying. For one night, I could put a lifetime of local prejudice and pride behind me and be not just a Vandal but a supporter of an Idaho team. I would never want it to be known to my friends, fellow alum's, and neighbors across the border to the east of here, but for tonight it was "Go Bronco's"...BSU 43, UO 42...

A New Voice From the High Desert 

...now that I have finally wrestled some dial-up internet time away from my contribution to the nation's future so that I can actually access my e-mail, I find a missive from long-time internet friend Thomas Ware, who first began ranting at me when I was renting space at Ruminate This, about a new progressive FM station in Bend, Oregon, which those of you who have never spent any time here should understand is about as common 'round these parts as roaming herds of free-range flamingo's. KPOV, at 106.7 on your FM dial (ok, so long as your FM dial is somewhere in Central Oregon), provides a progressive alternative viewpoint with music and talk and demonstrates that some of us out here east of the Oregon Cascades know more than spittin', shootin', and cussin' out them pointy-headed liberals. The merry gang of rebels running this show have even set up a link on the intertubes so you can live stream whatever seditious content they are letting loose on the simple conservative folk of this peaceful region. Stop by and give them a listen here...

Too Many Hats, Too Few Rings 

...for the life of me, I just don't know what to think of some of these people. Whatever it is in the D.C. water or that rarified Georgetown air, or whatever strange subliminal messages a few successful Senate campaigns burrow into deeper regions of the cortex, a madness seems to overcome far too many members of the upper house of Congress when they see an upcoming Presidential campaign with no obvious insider on the playing field. There are always usual suspects in the Senate: in the upcoming round we have Obama and Clinton, for completely unrelated reasons; Joe Biden seems to be a perennial presidential weed the way Kennedy used to be until the years and personal baggage began to weigh too heavily on his aging political legs; John Kerry seems to feel that his 2004 beatdown was some strange aberration that can't possibly be repeated. And now we have Christopher Dodd...

Look, you need to be honest with yourself here. When was the last time you had to squeeze the arms of your chair to keep from leaping up and charging into the streets shouting for the crying need for a "Draft Dodd" campaign for the 2008 presidental election? I didn't think so. While I can't think of why a person would have any particular objection to Dodd trying to get his own hat to perch on top of the teetering pile already in the 2008 ring, the fact remains that there is a growing problem for Democrats in all of these Senators being seduced into trying to grab the big golden ring. It's not a problem of the presidency; it is a problem of the Senate majority. The long-understood problem for Senators running for the presidency is that they have a record that must be defended. The risk for any hope of a continued and increasing Democratic majority is that too many majority Senators with somewhat different political temperments trying to make a distinguishing mark on the legislative front will create the same sort of majority party gridlock that - in part - cost the Republicans their majority in the recent elections. While 2008 holds some promise for more Democratic gains in the Senate because of the majority of seats up for election being Republican, it won't take all that much infighting amongst presidential candidates looking to gain an edge to give the bad guys sufficient ammunition to point at a dysfunctional Democratic majority and fire away: "See, you gave these muttonheads a chance, and you got bumpkiss for it"...

It's a free country, though, where "any kid can grow up to be President". Who knows, maybe Chris Dodd will connect with the American people in a way that no
elite, taciturn, colorless Northeasterner ever has. Lightening could strike, and I might have to lick these words off of my computer screen. Somehow, though it seems like more bad than good can come from all these Democratic Senators thinking that they are "The Answer"...and last time I checked, "The Answer" had been traded from the Philadelphia 76'ers to the Denver Nuggets, and he isn't talking about his proposals on education reform...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?