"I have sworn . . . eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." (Thomas Jefferson)
George W. Bush's claims of almost unlimited executive power has no basis in the U. S. Constitution. He has no intention of backing down, so the battle must be joined. It's time we plant the flag and defend it. If not at home, where? If not now, when?
At a hearing Monday, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, trying to probe the limits of the vast new executive powers claimed by President Bush.
But the senators failed. At every turn, Gonzales refused to acknowledge any limits whatsoever to executive power in a time of war. The proceedings made it clear that the issues at stake in this constitutional crisis go far beyond the specific question of warrantless spying on U.S. citizens who might be communicating with possible terror suspects overseas. They strike at the very heart of civil liberty and of the traditional checks and balances in our government. [....]
With no judicial or congressional oversight, it is hard to know how far the Bush White House is willing to push this extreme theory, or how far it might have taken it already. It claims only to have targeted those supporting terrorists, but that's little comfort from an administration that says any American who disagrees with its policies is aiding and abetting the terrorists. [....]
"We believe that we have all the legal authority we need," Vice President Dick Cheney said.
Until Congress or the courts say otherwise, he's right.
(Bush's spying on al-Qaida not the real issue)
Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House will listen to lawmakers' ideas on legislation, but the president has indicated he would resist any move that would compromise the program. "There is a high bar to overcome on such ideas," McClellan said. [....]
As congressional debate continues, public support for the program has grown with the White House's monthlong campaign of speeches and TV appearances to make its case that the monitoring is necessary.
According to the AP-Ipsos poll, some 48 percent of Americans now support the administration's program. That's up from 42 percent last month.
Half now say the administration should have to get a warrant to conduct eavesdropping, down from 56 percent one month ago. Support for the program grew by 9 percentage points among men, but it dropped 8 points -- to 30 percent --in the Northeast.
Some noteworthy trends from Bush's political base:
- Fifty-eight percent of suburban men support the program, up 13 percentage points.
- Fifty-six percent of Southerners support the program, up 12 points.
- Republican support for the program jumped 14 points to 82 percent.
- Independent support is up 17 points, to 53 percent.
-White evangelical support grew by 11 points, to 71 percent.
(Poll: Americans evenly divided on eavesdropping)
That support for unchecked power will not weaken, and may grow stronger, minus strong voices of opposition from political leaders -- and from people like you and me. Here's why:
Republicans, unwilling to expose, challenge and stop presidential abuses, are behaving as if they will remain in power forever. And they may.
So driven are they to retain power -- and to win at any cost, the hell with governing -- they will sacrifice their own supposed principles, bankrupt the treasury, rape the environment, and screw future generations by destroying the country's foundations of liberty, equality and democracy. They eagerly embrace, for short-term political advantage, whatever cynical, unethical, or illegal abuses of power the Bush administration inflicts upon the country.
Little better are the Democrats of Congress. Too few of them are providing the leadership needed to arouse the public against an authoritarian, quasi-theocratic regime. Stories like this don't help:
Abramoff's records show his lobbying partners billed for nearly two dozen phone contacts or meetings with Reid's office in 2001 alone.
(Democratic leader Reid aided Abramoff clients)
Senator Reid is a wilting, ineffective leader who, guilty of improper conduct or not, has not been forthcoming about his contributions and contacts with lobbyists. Time for him to go, along with every other elected official who is failing America in its time of peril.
If Democrats can't find people capable of leading; if they can't cleanse their own house of every appearance of corruption; if they are unwilling to enunciate their principles and fight to the death for them -- how the hell can they expect voters to draw distinctions between their party and the "party of corruption?"
Now is the time for each of us to speak, loudly and clearly: Bush must be stopped.
For if we lose this battle, our voices may be silenced forever.