Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Emperor strikes back.

Unless people pay close attention it is possible for them to not realise that George Bush, more than any president in recent memory, holds the Constitution of the United States in utter contempt. The Constitution creates an legislative branch to write law and an executive branch to enforce it and a judicial branch to interpret and review law in light of the Constitution. Together these three equal branches form the government. In the Imperial Presidency of George Bush there is one superior branch of government not bound by the other two. George Bush believes he is a power above the Congress, above the courts and above the constitution.

You may remember the controversy over the extension of the authoritarian "Patriot Act". Congress was especially concerned when it discovered that Bush was using wire taps illegally. When Congress gave the president the right to use wire taps it specifically required court orders to be sought in advance. Bush ignored the law, an impeachable offense.

When Bush's illegal violations of rights became public Congress threatened to refuse to renew the Patriot Act. They felt that their had to be oversight over the newly expanded police powers that Congress had granted. And so they explicitly put clauses into the renewal requiring the president to inform Congress regularly as to how often the law is being used and under what circumstances. Bush signed the bill into law. He made his typical fear-mongering speech and assured Americans that this expansion of his powers, and the erosion of liberty, was a good thing.

And when the cameras were turned off and the other officials went home then Bush signed a memo which he sent to Congress. In it he said that he is not bound by the law and can ignore it whenever he thought it necessary. When the Roman Republic degenerated into an empire it practiced "compassionate conservatism" or what one author called The New Deal in Old Rome and the Emperor ignored the Senate. Welcome to the Imperial Presidency.

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