Four separate and recent actions by the Bush regime spark the musings:
(a) Gonzales' denial that habeas corpus and fair trial is a constitutional protection;
(b) his replacement of career prosecturors with partisan hacks relying on heretofore unheralded provisions in the Patriot Act;
(c) the FBI's massive Internet surveillance program revealed by ex DoJ officials to be akin to the NSA's illegal activities; and
(d) a new Executive Order installing de facto political commissars in every cabinet department and agency to oversee regulatory matters.
Each of these acts is eminently predictable. Why? They are consistent with the essential character of the Bush regime (the term 'regime' on this blog here used precisely in the way Nick Xenos at MIT correctly points out the Neocons intend its use). Yet people still seem surprised by it all. Even when declaiming over a house chardonnay how 'radical' or 'reckless' the Administration is.
Of course, on one level, they may not be truly surprised. Affectation is not merely a wing nut affliction. One supposes that expressions of 'surprise' might be designed to appeal to an audience, generate web traffic, spike comments and all that. John Dvorak, the computer pundit, deconstructs his manipulation techniques to spike web traffic by generating outrage (in this case the Apple fanbase). His 'deconstruction' of the technique — although he is a bit self-congratulatory there — is followed by alot of wingnut pundits themselves in various guises. Surprise can lead to outrage and more web hits. This is true whether one is progressive, liberal, libertarian, conservative or totally in the tank for the regime.
Which brings us to The American Prospect's item suggesting that the Administration is carefully preparing to throw Cheney under the bus. This one actually surprised the Stiftung. In a normal landscape of partisan political calculation, the logic is not bad. You know, record low opinion polls, loss of the Hill, a failed war, disasterous personal media appearances, etc.
Cheney, of course, is not an employee. He was co-elected with the Warlord. So the idea of simply asking for his resignation is not particularly applicable. Moreover, he is even more valuable now to the Movement core of the regime. He has already fought the imagined heroic last stand against Democrats in 1974-76. He has seen 'the enemy' (not 'terrorists' but secular progressive Democrats) once before undermine Amerikuh and the presidency. Who better to know what to look for, what to avoid, for those in a bunker mentality.
Is there tension between POTUS staff and the EOVP apparat? Undoubtedly. Does he help himself going public? Even among the Kool Aid set? No. But to remove Cheney is not to remove one man — it is to remove the intellectual soul and raison d'etre of this regime. Consider the Times item about political appointees now vetting regulation. It's not really about policy, even. The Bush regime never let cabinet-level departments develop policy. Cabinet secretaries are and were largely martinets. Instructions and decisions came from the White House — DoD being the exception because of the Rumsfeld-Cheney nexus.
The White House is pushing forward and down its historic 2001-2006 contempt for the cabinet departments past the cabinet level to supervise regulatory policy. To mark a new line of trench warfare with the Democrats on the Hill. The equivalent of 'not one step back.' It is all about control. Per Balkinization:
Interestingly, the Bush Administration has built on the Clinton model more than the Reagan model. Instead of trying to halt regulation, it has sought greater political control over advisory documents and required a greater showing that regulation addresses a genuine market failure. It seeks to use political appointees to act as gatekeepers for the content of advisory documents before they are published.
The reasons why Bush has followed Clinton more than Reagan flow from the rise of Bush's big government conservatism, a conservatism that happily uses all the levers of federal power to benefit his political allies, including most particularly business interests, who remain central to the Republican political coalition. The Bush Administration does not so much seek to stop regulation as to mold it in a decidedly business-friendly way.
Expect more of this. Both new and old being uncovered. Don't be surprised. Which again raises the question we've put before. Besides food fights about who voted for Iraq in 2002, are the Dems capable themselves of fully understanding what has been done to our constitutional republic? Not just in rhetoric but in the granular details, in the Federal Register and the U.S. Code? To put the mosaic together and thus begin to unwind it in 2008? What other obscure lines in U.S. Code have been deliberately crafted for vagueness to allow the FBI to do “full pipe” Internet surveillance? To authorize Gonzales to purge federal prosecutors?
This provision of the Patriot Act was inserted by the House in conference committee. If you've been involved in conference negotiations before, this is where real mischief occurs because almost no one bothers to read a bill emerging from conference, let alone conference reports. Those who have stacked the decks by arranging for or helping to place friendly Senators or House members on the Committee can literally go to town. Here is what was tucked in:
of SEC. 502. INTERIM APPOINTMENT OF UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS.
Section 546 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:
''(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title.''
Until this proivision, if a United States Attorney resigned before the end of his term, the judicial branch would nominate an interim US attorney until the Senate acted on a Presidential nomination. An interim US Attorney by law could only be in place 120 days. As Gonzales made clear, the new law allows the President to makes the appointment. Moreover, no time limit exists for the appointment and there is no Senate oversight function at all. Diane Feinsein, for example, who has denounced all this recently on the Senate floor, of course, voted for the Patriot Act Re-Authorization in March 2006 with this language in it. Apparently, she too is “surprised” — six plus years into the Bush regime.
And so on. It's all of a piece. Staring Democrats and the rest of us in the face. For six years Cheney and the regime have been surgically altering the constitutional fabric of our society. Who knows what else has been churned through the Congress of Peoples' Deputies through the years? What TAP doesn't get is for the Administration to jettison Cheney is to disavow the architect and spiritual source of this enormous undertaking. This, even more than Iraq, is the Bush Administration's legacy.
Unfortunately, to understand the totality of what has been done, one must have a coherent philosophy or ideology of one's own. If the Democrats unveil one or discover one, that would indeed be a most pleasant surprise. If they then acted on it, even more so. Here's to hope.
Tags: Cheny, EOVP, Addington, separation of powers, Patriot Act, US attorneys, FBI, Internet, surveillance