Wednesday, July 06, 2005
The Bush administration has begun the process of integrating military and domestic intelligence agencies. Another post-911 "necessity". But there are serious problems with this.
The Constitution clearly forbids the military from working as domestic police. And this administration has not done a good job of engendering the confidence of the people. Quite the contrary.
The key to this new policy is that the military would be called upon to assist in defending the homeland against "threats".
Based on what the current administration has considered "threats" thus far, I think handing the military...i.e., the Pentagon...powers to police our shores is a huge mistake.
Let's see...the "threats" asserted thus far...
Iraq was an imminent threat requiring immediate military action.
Judicial activism is a threat to American values.
Gay marriage is a threat to the "Christian" institution of marriage.
The Kyoto Treaty is a threat to our economic solvency.
To the Bush administration, and the cattle who buy anything they say, these might be valid arguments.
To the rest of the world, and to the majority of the American people, they are something else...a political agenda, which can only be bolstered by military involvement in domestic security.
Another troubling aspect of this new policy is the enabling of the President to send troops into American cities and towns when a "threat" is determined.
The Constitution clearly does not provide for this over-reaching policy, regardless of the "good intentions" of its promoters. Posse Comitatus is the concept at play.
Just as the majority of Americans feel that this administration misled us into war, the majority of Americans no longer feel confident in the secretive, counter-intuitive policies of this administration.
For the President to declare martial law is now nothing but a formality.
So, imagine that it is a month from the next presidential election, and another 911 type attack takes place. The President declares martial law, elections are postponed until the "threat" of additional attacks is over. But as we know, the President believes that the War on Terror is an eternal war that can "never actually be won" (his words).
So, martial law can be declared in virtual perpetuity, and even if elections are held, the administration can declare a perceived threat to elections, and station soldiers at polling places. This would hinder the election process, and most likely keep many from the polls altogether. Or, the results of an election can be called into question, and a redux of the 2000 Supreme Court appointment would ensue, with the victor all but pre-ordained since Bush will appoint at least two additional Justices before he leaves office. Is the result of any election dispute resolved by the Supreme Court even an argument?
This administration has done more than any since perhaps the Nixon administration to bend the rules, mislead, hide, ruin others' careers (Valerie Plame), and otherwise undermine the credibility and stature of the American Presidency. The effect is clear from current polls.
This new set of rules is a threat to our Constitutional heritage, and a threat to freedom.
The truly troubling thing is, you'd think this president would realize his unpopularity and refrain from such power-grabs. That he obviously does not should trouble us all.
In America, the only real power the people have is our vote. Mid-terms come up next year. Unless a clear message is sent to Washington that such breaches of our Constitution are not ok, especially when the confidence of the people has already been lost, we are doomed to more of the same.
I wouldn't worry too much - Canada actually declared martial law back in the 1970s to respond to a terrorist threat (the "dreaded" FLQ). It was a huge mistake, and was quickly seen as such.
Incidentally, it wasn't a right winger like Bush who invoked the War Measures Act up here - it was Pierre Trudeau, the most left-wing Prime Minister we've ever had. Just goes to show that no one side of the political discourse is immune from the temptation to over-react to a threat, whether perceived or real.
I'd trust the War Powers Act to Trudeau LONG before I'd trust it to our current POTUS.
Obviously Trudeau did not keep martial law in effect indefinitely. I think most would agree that while the conservative "strong on defense" mantra often results in laws like the War Powers Act, they would also agree that the one they'd most TRUST in using the law would be a liberal.
It must have been very difficult for Trudeau to institute martial law.
I don't trust that it would be the nearly such a difficult decision here...with this crew.
Bush has said that being a dictator would make his job much easier.
That, I believe.
Actually, liberals often make pretty good authoritarians, usually under the rationalization that they know best for everyone. The true essence of a conservative (which is really just a small "l" liberal in the truest sense) is that people should be left to make decisions for themselves. One of the reasons that GWB isn't really a conservative.
As for Trudeau, don't bet on it. Here's what he said to a CBC reporter at the time:
"Trudeau: Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed. But it is more important to keep law and order in the society than to worry about weak-kneed people...
CBC reporter (interrupting): At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?
Trudeau: Well, just watch me."
He showed the same respect for the democratic process when he rammed through Canada's Constitution Act, over the vehement objections of Quebec, or when he spent years ignoring the concerns of the Western provinces.
And, unlike your current President, who will be gone in two + years, we were stuck with Pierre for a grand total of 15 years.
I'll defer to your insights into Trudeau if you'll defer to mine about Bush.
I don't want to see what Bush's brand of "authoritarianism" entails, regardless of his intentions.
In the end it is not a liberal versus conservative issue. It is a me versus Bush issue.
I am liberal, but I'm not averse to true conservatism. Quite the contrary.
What passes for conservative here now is a sham.
Shame about 15 years of Trudeau, if he was that bad.
Our longest serving president (FDR...4 terms almost) is reviled or worshipped, depending on the end of the ideological scale from which you hail.
And so it goes
I never defer to anyone, nor ask them to defer to me!
Seriously, though, I don't know where people got the impression that I was a Bush supporter, other than on the war in Iraq (which I admit is a significant issue), and BMD. His domestic policy is a mess, and the way he has handled relations with his allies has been... er, well, the less said, the better (however, some of those allies, namely the French and Germans, have been just as bad, perhaps worse).
Of course Bush isn't a true conservative - nobody who spends that much money (and not just on military expenditures) can be a true conservative. And I am defintitely "liberal" on social policy, which puts me at odds with his agenda. Trudeau was right about one thing - the government has no business in the bedroom (I paraphrase).
As for FDR, he was a great President, but he and Bush were similar in certain ways - they both tended to do what they thought was right, no matter what anyone said, and they both came from privileged backgrounds. And that's about it.
For the record, I would've voted for Gore in 2000 if I was an American (I still think he would have made a good president - much better than Clinton, who was a foreign policy disaster), and Bush in 2004, only because I think he got Iraq right.
All things considered, however, with 300 million people or so down there, it boggles my mind that you can't find better candidates than guys like Bush and Kerry.
With any luck, you'll elect a moderate Republican or Democrat in 2008, and the world can move on.
Iraq was a no-brainer since Gulf War 1.
GW told his memoir writer (Houstonian Mickey Herskowitz) he was taking Saddam out...before he was ever elected President...and he stated publically that "after all, this is the guy that tried to kill my daddy".
A vendetta, plain and simple.
But enough American politics.
I agree wholeheartedly with your post comments.
Looking forward to meeting you and Stan in Round Top.