503 days to go

Post-Mortem America...
from Chris Floyd @ Empire Burlesque

. . . the United States is no longer a democratic country, or even a degraded semblance of one.

It is well-nigh impossible to imagine a force in American public life today rising up to thwart the Administration's will on any element of its militarist and corporatist agenda, including the arbitrary launch of an attack on Iran. What's more, even if some institution had the will -- and made the effort -- to balk Bush, it wouldn't matter. As the New York Times noted a couple of weeks ago:

. . . Bush administration officials have already signaled that, in their view, the president retains his constitutional authority to do whatever it takes to protect the country, regardless of any action Congress takes. At a tense meeting last week with lawyers from a range of private groups active in the wiretapping issue, senior Justice Department officials refused to commit the administration to adhering to the limits laid out in the new legislation and left open the possibility that the president could once again use what they have said in other instances is his constitutional authority to act outside the regulations set by Congress.

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do. They have not changed their position that the president’s Article II powers trump any ability by Congress to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence.”

Thus the Administration's own spokesmen are now saying openly, in plain English, what they once only insinuated beneath layers of legal jargon: that the president of the United States does not have to obey the law of the land. He does not have to obey acts passed by Congress. He is free to act arbitrarily, to do anything whatsoever that he claims is necessary to "defend national security," in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. There is literally nothing anyone can do – not Congress, not the courts – to stop him.

That is Bush's claim -- and it has been accepted. The American Establishment has surrendered to an authoritarian takeover of the American state. If this was not the case, then Bush and Cheney would have been impeached long ago (or least months ago) for their treason against the Constitution, their coup d'etat against the Republic. At the very least, they would have been mocked, scorned, censured and shunned for their ludicrous and dangerous pretensions to royal power. All manner of institutional, legal and political fetters would have been put upon them, as happened in the last days of Richard Nixon's presidency.

Instead, Bush's power has only grown with each new outrageous claim of unchallengeable presidential authority. It is too little understood how vital -- and how fatal -- Congress' acquiescence in all of this has been. By continuing to treat the Bush Administration as a legitimate government, to carry on with business as usual instead of initiating impeachments or refusing to cooperate with a gang of usurpers, Congress instead confirms the New Order day after day. Some Democrats may grumble, whine or bluster -- but they DO nothing, and their very participation in the sinister farce ensures its continuance.

Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead

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