Saturday, December 17, 2005

NYT: "Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives" (Scott Shane)

From the government's detention of Americans as "enemy combatants" to the just-disclosed eavesdropping in the United States without court warrants, the administration has relied on an unusually expansive interpretation of the president's authority. That stance has given the administration leeway for decisive action, but it has come under severe criticism from some scholars and the courts.
With the strong support of Vice President Dick Cheney, legal theorists in the White House and Justice Department have argued that previous presidents unjustifiably gave up some of the legitimate power of their office. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made it especially critical that the full power of the executive be restored and exercised, they said.

[. . .]
"Obviously we have to do things differently because of the terrorist threat," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former general counsel of both N.S.A. and the Central Intelligence Agency, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. "But to do it without the participation of the Congress and the courts is unwise in the extreme."

The above excerpt is from Scott Shane's "Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives" in this morning's New York Times. Overall, it offers perspective. Left unstated is that Bully Boy came into office spoiling for a fight. The three branches always attempt to grab power for themselves. (Which hopefully will bode well for civil liberties regarding some of the cases winding their way through the courts.) However, it's rare that someone so antagonistic to the system he (and it's been a he thus far) wants to represent as "leader" gets away with so little comment for so long.

You've seen that hostility in play with the executive orders (such as the one regarding presidential papers -- good thing Bully Boy was able to issue that order just as Poppy's papers were set to become public!). You've seen it with attacks on Congress and, more often, on the Court. Think of the nonsense involved in the two "Justice Sundays" and how there was no effort made to distance the administration from those events. Think of how some 'vangicals aren't kept at arms length despite wishing death on on some sittings Justices.

Before 9/11, the mainstream media as a whole was content to lightly josh the Bully Boy, after 9/11 they attempted to canonize him. But the thing that puts the bully in the Bully Boy has been evident all along. It's very sad that a supposed free press has failed to extensively examine the hostility he's exhibited to all branches of government.

Recent history would carry it back to Nixon and his "crippled presidency" (corrupt presidency is far more accurate) and the retaliation for what was done to a 'poor' man who never wanted to do anything but spy on people, undermine elections, circumvent the rule of law and pull the rug out from under democracy. Certain people on the right came out of Watergate spoiling for a fight with reality and, in Bully Boy, they found their bully. Only someone with so much disdain for the workings of democracy would welcome criminals (pardoned, yes, by his father) back to public life.

We'll also note this, from Shane's article, because someone who should have known better made a dithering idiot out of herself:

William C. Banks, a widely respected authority on national security law at Syracuse University, said the N.S.A. revelation came as a shock, even given the administration's past assertions of presidential powers.
[. . .]
Professor Banks said the president's power as commander in chief "is really limited to situations involving military force - anything needed to repel an attack. I don't think the commander in chief power allows" the warrantless eavesdropping, he said.

Get it, Diane Sawyer? Your nonsense in an attempt to shame the Dixie Chicks, in service of the Bully Boy?, was embarrassing for a chattering head, it was all the more shameful coming from someone calling herself a journalist. How many times did she repeat "commander-in-chief"? The Dixie Chicks didn't enlist in the armed forces. Apparently Sawyer believed that she herself had. Years from now that interview should haunt Sawyer, someone who damn well knew better, because it so crossed the line. And it didn't cross it because she was attempting to do journalism so there's no "I may have overstepped" excuse. She threw journalism out the window with that interview and her right to represent herself as a journalist without being greeted with snickers.

Sadly, another interview will haunt her (one in the nineties) and probably overshadow this one. (Gossip usually trumps serious criticism.) But the shaming of the Dixie Chicks should be remembered and used as a case study for how not to conduct an interview unless you are working for state controlled media.

Dallas highlights BuzzFlash's interview with Gary Hart, "Senator Gary Hart Challenges the Unholy Alliance of 'Faith' and Government:"

BuzzFlash: You have a section in God and Caesar in America called the "Awful Warmth of the Gospel of Jesus." Drawing on your background -- Bethany Nazarene College, Yale Divinity School, and the Church of the Nazarene -- you seem extremely comfortable talking about Jesus. But you’re very uncomfortable with how Jesus has become a political football. You comment that we’ve gotten to the point that there are arguments over what political party He might belong to if He were around today. Can you embellish that a little bit more?
Gary Hart: I made that comment with my tongue in my cheek. I'm not "uncomfortable" with the way Jesus is being tossed around -- I'm angry about it. I'd go well beyond discomfort. I think the religious right is making Jesus into some kind of Old Testament wrathful prophet who is judgmental, divisive, and opposed to any notion of liberalism, whereas the teachings of Jesus tell quite a different story. He was tolerant. He was forgiving. He preached love, not hate. In many ways, the literal reading of the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, particularly not filtered through the later apostles in the New Testament, but the literal teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels, are almost totally at odds with the teachings of the present-day religious right.
[. . .]

BuzzFlash: America is composed of many different faiths. Even within Christianity, there are many different denominations and viewpoints. Sometimes we lose sight of that, because the far right -- the Pat Robertson right and the Jerry Falwell right -- tend to assert themselves as though they’re speaking for all of Christianity. They’re really speaking for a small segment of Christianity.
Gary Hart: No question. It's not that they tend to -- it's that they assume to. It's an assumption that they are the spokespersons for all Christianity, and that's underwritten in everything they say. There's a man who appears on TV from the Southern Baptist Convention -- when you listen to him talk, he positions himself as a spokesperson for all Christianity. This is not true, and I think it's particularly dangerous for people who are not Christians and who do not quite understand the complexity of, first of all, the Reformation and the split between Protestantism and Catholicism, and then the multiplicity of Protestant denominations. There are lots of variations, by the way, in Catholicism, as well. But among the Protestants, each tends to design his own church. And clearly the people on the right had no authority to speak for other Christians.
On the other hand, part of the blame rests with the so-called mainstream Christian churches that haven't done a very good job of communicating a different message to the public at large. If you asked a hundred Americans what the Methodist position on the war was, they'd probably guess it was in support.

BuzzFlash also has a strong editorial that we're going to cite at The Third Estate Sunday Review. You can read it now but since the piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review's not written yet, I don't want to pull quote and comment on something that others might be wanting to. Back to Dallas, who choose an excerpt and wanted to add his endorsement for an organization or outlet worthy of noting this month.

Dallas: I was linked to by BuzzFlash so I'll note that upfront in case anyone's thinking, "Didn't they link to him?" They did link to the thing I wrote on their NCR CDs. I had given to NPR in the past. The NCR CDs and their refusal to listen to the request that they offer Democracy Now! were my reasons for ceasing my contributions to my local NPR. This year, instead of giving to NPR, I gave to Pacifica. But I also "give" to BuzzFlash. I say "give" because it's not really a hard gift to make. I'm sure that many BuzzFlash readers give money with no return other than knowing that they're helping one of, my opinion, the best online sources of news available. I'm a little more "selfish." I "give" by purchasing premiums. The NCR CDs are one example. I also have DVDs and books I've purchased through BuzzFlash. It's a way to show some support and to get something I can keep or share or give as a gift. Why do I give to BuzzFlash? One reason is it's easy to give. They make it easy to order and pay online (which is how I do it) or to do it by sending in a check or money order. They also offer a wide range of premiums. Some of them, I see and know that's not for me and others are very much things I'm interested in. The point there is that there's a huge variety in the premiums, so you should check it out. You have no idea what you'll find until you do. A book, a DVD, a CD, a tote bag, a bumper sticker, you never know until you check it out. When you purchase one of their premiums a small portion of the cost stays with BuzzFlash. I have friends who will point to a book and say, "Well it's on sale at Borders." It is on sale at Borders. But what's Borders really doing for you? Are they writing strong editorials? Are they pouring all over the web trying to find the news you need to know and providing it to you? BuzzFlash does that. They offer original content and I'm really excited about the return of Maureen Farrell. I know that everyone in the community has an organization that they are partial to. For me, it's BuzzFlash. I also know that we're highlighting worthy sites that, if you have the money, are worthy of making a contribution to. You might not have the money. If so, you should note that BuzzFlash is up there free for everyone. It's not the New York Times asking that you subscribe in order to read "premium content." And the content includes interviews like the one with former Senator Gary Hart. Naomi Klein, Molly Ivins, Danny Schechter, Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman, Jesse Jackson Jr., Robert Parry, Bernie Sanders, Randi Rhodes, Gloria Steinem, Greg Palast, Margaret Cho, Jim Hightower, Cindy Sheehan, Joe Wilson and many others have also been interviewed. Did you hear Naomi Klein interviewed on NPR by an NPR show? Maybe you're lucky and your NPR carries Democracy Now! and you heard her via that Pacifia show. But NPR didn't book her on the "news" shows while I was still listening. BuzzFlash did provide an interview with her. In their original content, they provide a space to discuss issues that you may not find on TV or radio unless you really work hard to hunt them down. With BuzzFlash, you're just a click away from the voices that you can't find in the mainstream media. Gina and Krista are reminding everyone to pick their selections for the year-in-review and they're noting that you better be prepared to say something if you want your choice noted here. I agree with that. There are too many members and just saying "BuzzFlash" or something else and expecting C.I. to come up with a commentary for all the choices is expecting too much from one person. So I've already made my selection and written my commentary and, no surprise, it's BuzzFlash. I think that's going to go up on Christmas. [C.I. note: That is the plan. No later than the evening of the 25th.] While I was writing that, I thought about the fact that I purchase premiums from BuzzFlash throughout the year and thought that might be a point to make to the community. With Christmas a week away, most people who might think of giving may be tapped out. If that's the case, and if you have money to give, I'll make a different suggestion. Think about what BuzzFlash provides and think about it throughout the next months. Check out their premiums and see if there's not something offered that you can purchase. It may mean you pay four dollars more than at Borders if they have the book, DVD, CD or whatever on sale, but I think it's worth a few dollars more to show support for an organization that provides so much. So just think about it, if you have the money to spare, and see if there's not a way for you to support BuzzFlash. Lastly, as C.I. noted last year between Christmas and New Year's, BuzzFlash wasn't on vacation. They're up seven days a week, posting new links and new content all the time.

Dallas hunts down his own links (and the ones for The Third Estate Sunday Review as well as ones here anytime I'm backed up -- all of which is appreciated) but if you're not sure how to do links, you can write your commentary, as Dallas and others have, and I (or Dallas or Martha) will hunt down the links for you. Again, due to some feeling that their own favorites are short changed, I'm not going to write your endorsement for you. Dallas noted the round-robin and, for the few members who didn't sign up for that, I'll note that Gina and Krista are reminding everyone to write their own commentaries for the year-in-review. That decision was made by our ombudsperson Beth in a column she wrote two Fridays ago responding to Bonnie's question. There should be at least two sections where we can just cite things so if you're not comfortable with writing a commentary, you can weigh in on that. But Beth's correct that these are members noting what stood out to them and if it stood out to you enough to create a category, it should have a commentary of some form from you.

Beth noted her question to me of, "Is there a limit?" and my response of no. But there is a cut off date. That's tomorrow. And Gina and Krista have noted that in the round-robins. Unless you don't get the round-robins, that will be enforced. If you don't get the round-robins, you've got until Wednesday (my decision and Beth can evaluate the wisdom of that if she wants). That's due to the fact that there's been no note here. There's been so much else to note that I've failed on that. I'll also note that last year, Keesha's award didn't make it into the first published version. That might happen again. If you submitted something and, when it goes up, don't see it noted, please e-mail so we can get included. I make mistakes all the time and could overlook something again this year.

Beth's doing a year-in-review for her column in the round-robin next Friday. In addition, she hopes to be able to pull together something for the year-in-review. (Something original, not a summary or excerpt of her ombudsperson columns.)

The e-mail address for this site is