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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our Lords and Masters Command Us.


“"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men." -Samuel Adams”


Is this Congress or Parliament?

By Paul Greenberg, Washington Times
June 18, 2007

Where do these people think they are, the House of Commons? The other day the U.S. Senate, sometimes laughingly referred to as the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, considered a motion of no confidence in the country's attorney general.
To what end? There is no constitutional provision for a vote of no confidence. It's a parliamentary, not congressional, maneuver. And should remain so. Let's leave it to the Brits -- like cricket, haggis and toad-in-a-hole.
In a parliamentary system, a government that loses a vote of no confidence is toppled and may even have to face new elections. Here our chief executive serves for a fixed term -- four years, for all you civics students out there -- and the members of his Cabinet, including the attorney general, and, yes, all those federal prosecutors who just got fired, serve at his pleasure. Not at the pleasure of the U.S. Senate. So what was the point of this motion of no confidence? The short answer: none at all.
The news stories kept referring to the vote as "symbolic." It would have been a way to signal the Senate's displeasure with the current attorney general. A particularly pretentious way. Like putting on an English accent. Like the ones you hear these days on tonier office receptionists and National Public Radio. Trendy bunch, these senators.
Why not just pass a good ol', all-American resolution of censure? That's what the Whigs did to Andrew Jackson -- before the Jacksonians came back in the next election and expunged the resolution from the Senate journal in a boisterous ceremony. Resolutions of censure can backfire.
Even if this vote of no confidence had passed -- instead, it failed to garner the 60 votes required to proceed -- the effect would have been the same: nothing at all. Symbolic votes are just that, only symbolic.
It's the president of the United States, one George W. Bush, who gets to pick the members of his Cabinet, including the attorney general. Here's what he had to say about the Senate's action, or lack of same, last week: "They can have their votes of no confidence, but it isn't going to make the determination about who serves in my government."
Linguistic note: In his typical (awful) way with words, the president tends to use the terms administration and government interchangeably, but that's a whole other problem. The problem with the Senate is that it seems to have confused itself with a European parliament.
There is no shortage of paeans to the Constitution of the United States in senatorial speeches, but any senators who think it contains a provision for a vote of no confidence might need to study it some more. Some senators seem to think it's their confidence in a Cabinet officer -- or lack of it -- that should determine whether he continues to serve. They are, to put it mildly, dead wrong.
No doubt about it, Alberto Gonzales wouldn't win any popularity contests in the U.S. Senate -- or in the country. For that matter, neither would Mr. Bush. But maybe that's one reason the Founders settled on a fixed term for the president, so that the executive branch wouldn't come to resemble a revolving door, with its chief officials leaving office whenever their popularity waned. The Founders took pains to separate the executive and legislative branches of government, rather than allow one to dismantle the other.
Here is what Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, told his colleagues as they solemnly debated a parliamentary vote of no confidence: "This is a nonbinding, irrelevant resolution proving what? Nothing." And then he added: "Maybe we should be considering a vote of no confidence on the Senate or in the Congress for malfunction and an inability to produce anything." A decent immigration bill, for example.
Expressions of no confidence, like resolutions of censure, can backfire. And at last report, Congress was doing even more poorly than the president in the polls. The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll just found Congress' approval rating had fallen "to its lowest level in more than a decade" -- 27 percent, down from 36 percent in January. Compare that showing with the president's 34 percent approval rating, which is no great shakes, either, but it's better than Congress'.
Yet the Senate is inviting a constitutional confrontation with the executive branch by issuing subpoenas for former White House officials like presidential counsel Harriet Miers and political director Sara Taylor -- the kind of subpoenas a long list of presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Harry Truman have stoutly resisted. And for good reason. For the power to subpoena is the power to destroy, and once the executive branch submits to such inquisitions, its independence is compromised. It becomes answerable to the legislative branch, which is not how America's system is supposed to work -- as opposed to a parliamentary system.
No wonder the American people are losing confidence in this Congress.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.

21 comments:

  1. The Bush administration is laying the groundwork for an announcement of Tony Blair's appointment as a special Middle East envoy for Palestinian governance and economic issues after he steps down as Britain's prime minister, following two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, according to U.S. officials.

    Blair would report to the Quartet overseeing Middle East peace efforts -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia -- and focus on issues limited to the internal workings of a future Palestinian state. Political negotiations involving Palestinians, Israelis and the Arab states would be left to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the officials said.

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  2. "Where's the fence?"
    is airing ion FOX News Channel

    Me oh my ...

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  3. Kyle say NO Additional Fence!
    Chertoff, a perfect pick by W to be as big a loser as himself, says it would cost WAY too much to try to build it faster:
    "16 Months,"
    Regularize Now,
    A 300 mile fence in "16 Months" (at best ho ho ho)

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  4. That melted multilevel freeway spaghetti mess took TWENTY NINE DAYS!

    Gov Pete Wilson waived all restrictions under his emergency powers in the Sepulveda Quake, let out a contract with incentive bonuses for early completion, and the 5 Freeway was up and running Pronto, ahead of schedule.

    A fence for the mere purpose of defending our border, and keeping out HUNDREDS of terrorists per year (confirmed) is of course not a high enough priority to devote one week's spending in Iraq to.

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  5. I listened to Cherkoff being interviewed by Roger__________ on Rush Limbaugh's show. He was confronted by a questin about a gap in the fence called smugglers gap. It has been two years and they have yet to complete it because of "engineering difficulties"....For the record from conception to completion, it took 23 months to build the New Jersey Turnpike. We need to take Washington apart and start all over.

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  6. So we're stuck with the "breaking up families" argument, for the foreseeable future.

    Immigration reform has become the Gordian knot of our time. The public demands it, but every solution has a serious political, economic and practical argument against it.

    It's one of those rarefied topics like abortion and gun control. People feel strongly about it - so strongly that neither side can admit the other side even has a point.


    No Easy Answers

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  7. Well, sam, I do not think that is true. As Charles Krauthammer said so plainly.
    We Agree On Border Security, Don't We?

    No one stands against border security, they just want it later.

    Even if it does not pass, silent amnesty and loose borders are the status que.

    Mr Bush will not watch a fence go up, to be beaten by vigilantes.

    Not going to happen.

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  8. So, yes, the US and the British system are fundamentally different. Bush and crew have really pushed the limits of the 'Imperial Presidency'. The authoritarian nature, the concentration of power in the administration is quite remarkable. If the person executing the authoritarian power is good then things might go just swimmingly - Musarraf (or lord I've got to speeelll) has used similar excuses to extend his power, as all dictators do.

    So, on one hand, we have the Boltonesque mantra of a Presidency that should be partisan, wholly committed to pursuing its agenda, not the American peoples agenda, but its narrow partisan goals. On the other we have a President who presides over Republicans AND Democrats. All the american people.

    Gonzales is a great example - he is a partisan rube parroting the law to favor his patron, the president. It has little to do rule of law and much to do with what the King wants. Is this the vaunted nature of American democracy? A system better than all others?

    naw, it is a slave to vested interests and has little to do with the will of the people. Right Doug? Think immigration and fences and all that stuff...

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  9. Depends on the people in office, of course.
    Whether GOP or Dem, if they are true patriots, and have the best interests of the country in mind, the results are quite different.

    John Roberts makes a good counterpoint to Gonzo, someone with some principles, tremendous knowledge of the Constitution, and dedication to be true to it.
    Bush on the oth, does not care for various aspects of the law and his responsibilities of office, and from his Morally Superior Position, informed and protected by his very own 12 step Jesus, he does as he pleases, er, the lords work, which just happens to coincide with his corrupt business crony contributors, and his globalist plans for our futures.
    Whataguy!

    Like a stopped clock, W got 2 things right:
    Roberts and Alito

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  10. China has overtaken the United States as the world's top emitter of carbon dioxide, an environmental research group said Wednesday, June 20, 2007, driving home dire warnings of the country's hefty contributions to global warming. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

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  11. We agree on Border Security, don't we?

    You know, I don't think those guys in Washington do.

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  12. It doesn't matter. We're all going to Freeze to Death, Anyway.

    Except for the Mehicans, of course.

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  13. The Dems promised to bring transparency:
    Already the have changed things to better cover up conflicts of interest involved in earmarks.
    Pelosi is as Greedy and Corrupt as they come.

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  14. Jeez! Da Dems are Crooks, Too?

    I just don't know what to do.

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  15. I read the sunspot article, Rufus. Good read. Thank you.

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  16. What we gotta do is not let Ash forget.

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  17. Let Ash forget what, Doug?

    I Forgot.

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  18. Now, THAT is a "BAD BEAT." A woman has a rather overgrown garden in her back yard which contains 5, count'em, 5 marijuana plants. How in the world would SHE ever get caught? Impossible, Right?

    NOT, if some asshole Crashes His Airplane into your garden, and the first responders, and cops, and all come running out there.

    Yeah, the guy walked away, And She's in Jail.

    Man, wasn't for Bad Luck, that baby wouldn't have Any Luck at All.

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  19. Doug:That melted multilevel freeway spaghetti mess took TWENTY NINE DAYS!

    Because it was snarling traffic and preventing the illegals from reporting to their 18 hour shifts at the sweatshops. The corporations almost broke out in sweat.

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  20. Desert Rat: China has overtaken the United States as the world's top emitter of carbon dioxide, an environmental research group said...

    How can that be?

    China's Approves Kyoto Protocol

    September 3, 2002

    Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji announced on September 3, 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that China has approved the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


    [eye roll]

    ReplyDelete