Checks and balances.
A concept at the heart of our democracy, dreamt up by the Founding Fathers to help keep tyranny at bay. Wander the halls of just about any middle school in America, and you?re bound to run across a fair number of 12-year-olds that can tell you exactly what checks and balances means, and possibly, why it was put in place.
So you?ve got to wonder why President Bush can't wrap his head around the idea.
Maybe it?s because he didn?t have to worry about it when the Republicans were in charge of Capitol Hill. Now that the Democrats are running the show, Congress is once again asserting its Constitutional oversight authority, and not a moment too soon.
But officials in the Bush administration apparently don?t see themselves as accountable to anyone or anything. Laws, the people who write the laws and the people who elect the people who write the laws all take a back seat to partisan political considerations.
President Bush?s domestic spying program was unlawful, and he knows it. He just doesn?t care. Neither does Vice President Cheney nor Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. To them, laws are only loose guidelines that can be ignored when they become inconvenient.
There?s no telling exactly how far the president and his sycophantic minions took the program. Did they use it to monitor political opponents? I wouldn?t put it past them.
Did they abuse the dubious ?authority? in any way? I wouldn?t doubt it for a second.
We know that the FBI abused their expanded power to issue national security letters. We also know that the Pentagon has been unlawfully surveilling American citizens engaged in peaceful political protest.
And we're supposed to trust the president with warrantless wiretaps?
Americans have no reason to trust anyone in the Bush administration with expanded power. Too many abuses have occurred and too much incompetence and deceit has been uncovered.
Not to mention America wasn?t built on the idea of trusting our leaders with absolute authority. The Bill of Rights and a little thing known as checks and balances are proof positive of that.
Two quintessentially American institutions that are under a daily siege by the Bush administration.
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Rahm, some guy, Steny and a somewhat disguised Blunt
I wonder how many Americans think Congress should get a $4,400 annual pay raise. Not me-- and judging by the low esteem with which all Americans of all political persuasions hold Congress, I feel safe to wager that almost as few Americans would vote for a pay increase as would claim to approve of Dick Cheney's role in the U.S. government for the last 7 years.
Last year there was no congressional pay raise because Democrats put their feet down and said until there was a rise in the minimum wage for American workers, they would vote against a pay raise. Yesterday Inside the Beltway power-mongers Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), two hideous K Street-walkers, worked together to make sure another million and a half dollars went into congressional salaries this year. Congressmen now make around $170,000 a year, quite a bit more than most Americans. How can they represent us?
On a 244-181 vote Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans alike killed a bid by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Lee Terry, R-Neb., to get a direct vote to block the cost of living allowance, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it. The Senate has not indicated when it will deal with a similar measure.
...The annual vote on the pay hike comes on an obscure procedural move-- instead of a direct up-or-down vote-- and Democratic and GOP leaders each delivered a majority of their members to shut off the move to block the pay hike
So many civics lessons in today's show: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas believes high school students have no freedom of speech, even if they are adults. Vice President Dick Cheney is suddenly not part of the executive branch, though clearly he runs it. And Ann Coulter decides to chip in and help John Edwards raise money for his campaign.
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"An upsetting but mesmerizing series of interviews with veterans of the Iraq war." "'The Ground Truth' is an emotionally potent work."
- David Denby, THE NEW YORKER
dKos Reader Poll. 6/27. 17,382 respondents (as of 6.27.07 9:44 p.m. PT)
Edwards 40 39 42 38 26 35 28 15 8 7 8 12
Obama 22 24 25 26 25 28 28
Other 9 6 5 9 8 * * 3 6 3 6 2
No F'ing Clue 7 7 5 8 6 * * 3 4 6 6 6
H. Clinton 6 6 3 3 4 4 5 2 2 2 3 6
Richardson 5 8 13 8 6 5 4 2 1 2 3 5
Kucinich 3 2 2 2 4
Gravel 1 3 0 0 0 0 0
Dodd 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Biden 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
-- not running --
Bayh - - - - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1
Clark - - - - 14 17 26 17 15 15 22 26
Daschle - - - - - - - 0 1
Feingold - - - - - - - 38 44 48 30 19
Kerry - - - - - 1 1 2 1 1 3 2
Vilsack - - - - 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Warner - - - - - - - 10 10 11 12 14
Not much analysis since I'm headed out of here in a few hours. But in short, the Gravel boomlet is over. Richardson continues to tank. He had his own serious boomlet here while his poll numbers were non existent. Now, as his candidacy gains steam in the early states, he fades here. I'm surprised Obama isn't doing better than this and I suspect his numbers will improve. Still, the Daily Kos primary is a two-man race.
Oh, and 516 people don't care that Kucinich has become Fox News strongest defender.
Evil is as Evil does
This morning's NY Times makes a great deal about reading between the lines of supposed dischord between a sour old fascist who fears his own mortality will overtake him before he overturns the last vestiges of all the social justice that came from, and flowed after, the New Deal and a much younger, but no less fascist Chief Justice who feels he has plenty of time to work the poison they both plan to administer to our nation through the packed judicial system. "Openly overturning numerous precedents early in his tenure would invite criticism that the Roberts court has an agenda to 'radically shift American law,' said Thomas C. Goldstein, a student of the court who argues there often. The conservative alliance at the court may be fractious but not fragile, strong enough to withstand Justice Scalia?s 'tweaking and needling,' as Prof. Richard W. Garnett of Notre Dame Law School describes it."
In light of this I look with trepedation at what is likely to come out of the Court today. This isn't something anyone should blame on anyone but the cowardly and purile Democrats who voted to confirm Alito and, especially, Roberts. As we explained yesterday, there are six Democrats who saddled us with this Supreme Court who are up for re-election next year: hideously reactionary Max Baucus (MT), Tim Johnson (SD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Carl Levin (MI), Mark Pryor (AR) and Jay Rockefeller (WV). I wouldn't vote for any of them. And on the Republican side... well they all enthusiastically supported the confirmations of Roberts and Alito. But there are 5 who are in electoral trouble and have been making the case in their home states that they are moderates and independents. None of them are; voting for these two radical right extremists should prove that. The 5 vulnerable Republicans who can be made to pay for the outrages of the Court are
John Sununu (NH)
Joe Lieberman's Susan Collins (ME)
Norm Coleman (MN)
Gordon Smith (OR)
Chuck Hagel (NE)
Now, about that trepedation I mentioned above. SCOTUSBlog has what to watch for. There is some talk about the conservative majority overturning the anti-segregation decision, at least partially, made in Brown v Board of Education. That would put a smile on Scalia's sour face. I wonder how Carl Levin will think about it. It would never have happened without him. Mary Landrieu is hoping African-American absentee voters displaced by Katrina will save her ass next year in the Senate race most likely to see a switch from Democrat (of sorts) to Republican. Any African-American who votes for Mary Landrieu deserves exactly what they get.
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Yesterday, Matt Yglesias noted he was taken to task by Red State and other Right blogs for being a pointy-headed Harvard grad pontificating about things military. So it was great irony today to see, as reported by The Angry Rakkasan, General John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, being lectured to by pointy-head AEI scholar Frederick Kagan on things military. Rakkasan links to the Chicago Trib blog which reported:
Major Gen. John Batiste (ret.) who commanded the Army's First Infantry Division in Iraq, and is a respected critic of the war, said the insurgents have the initiative since they can pick where and when to explode a truck bomb for instance. But Frederick Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, rejected that view, saying that under the new strategy being executed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, the initiative was on the U.S. military's side. . . . It was one of those strange Washington moments where the military expert with real experience as a combatant commander in the battlespace at issue was being told he was wrong by an Inside-the-Beltway expert who likely never fired a weapon at anyone in anger.
I expect outraged posts throughout the Right blogs to protest this lack of respect for military experience. No I don't.
New Amy video![...]
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video details and more
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Whether the GOP, Cheney, Bush, Inhofe or John Dingell like it or not, this is going to happen. Americans are more interested in what's in the best interest of the country and the future of our world and not just what Detroit and Big Oil wants.