Was the Constitution written in vain?

MSNBC is reporting that Tom Ridge wants to suspend the election in November if a terror attack occurs near that time.

Setting aside the obvious fact that, short of a Constitutional amendment, nobody has the authority to do such a thing, I’m continually astounded by the pervasive culture within the present administration of utter lack of respect for the law. The Justice Department has spent its time producing reams of analyses indicating why this, that or the other point of law should not apply to their actions “in the course of investigating terror” – investigations to be described as such by the Justice Department, and without any possibility for external review. The Pentagon has done the same, establishing facilities which they claim are outside both military and civilian jurisdiction and using them to do whatever they want. Now the DHS, an organization whose main output seems to be vague warnings to the effect of “Be afraid!,” wants the authority to suspend the basic processes of the Constitution sine die, apparently with only the unilateral action of the executive branch.

There has been a growing theme in American politics in the past several decades of seeing the Legislature as a far second in power to the Executive, and (especially among conservatives) to see the Judiciary as being a distant third, something whose only purpose is to interfere with the functioning of the nation, perhaps to keep drug addicts locked up but not to enforce any of the basic laws of the nation when the Executive objects. It’s a notion which sounds ridiculous on its face; that the President should have the authority to tell the Legislature and the Judiciary what to do, and that they exist in fact to exercise his will. This is not the American Way.

The conduct of these organizations, in my opinion, has moved beyond the unprofessional and into the reprehensible. They each took an oath “to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States” – and they are each acting systematically to thwart and to weaken it, and to make certain that their agendas can be achieved in spite of it rather than in concordance with its principles. This is a desecration of the documents which have made us what we are, and they deserve nothing better than the bottom of my foot.

Published in: on July 11, 2004 at 15:32  Comments (8)  
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  1. They’re doing a good job of making conspiracy theory look legitimate, neh?

  2. Oh, fuck.
    I was hoping worries about this happening were just conspiracy paranoia. Damnit.

  3. Yeah, I *so* called that.

  4. As was I, and I still don’t think he could get away with it. But the fact that he’s thinking about it is bad to begin with.
    I’m somewhat more concerned that the fears of a terrorist attack are well-founded. Hamas tries to vote in every Israeli election by staging a bombing at the right moment, and they always vote for the right-wing candidate; Sharon is just their kind of guy, the sort of person that will keep the war going for as long as necessary. I can’t imagine why al Qaeda wouldn’t think the same thing, and cast their ballot for Bush.
    (I’d say this Doonesbury is a fairly good summary of why – and their past experience of causing mayhem in Israel is good history as to why they would want to do this.)

  5. Conspiracy theory died the day this administration took office.
    I was talking with a friend a few months ago, someone who’s a bit too into these conspiracy theories overall. She was telling me about some ideas about an elaborate conspiracy involving money and foreign powers… and I had to interrupt her, because something even more egregious had been in the news a few months prior.
    It seems like every conspiracy theory I’ve heard in a long time that didn’t actually involve aliens from Sirius has been outdone by the simple news reports lately. Secret societies of east-coast aristocrats taking over government positions, funneling money into their pockets, broadcasting “Be Afraid!” propaganda to keep a population cowed enough to accept broader police powers and starting strange wars which sound like they were copied out of bad pulp evangelical novels about the Apocalypse?
    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the anal probe.

  6. werd!
    Tho I often sound like one, I am not a conspiracy theorist; I don’t need to be. My first major was international policy studies, at a graduate school famous for turning out people prepped for diplomacy, government appointments, translation/interpretation and the CIA (a regular recruiter on campus!). A private school that contracts professors who work in the field, write the books that field agents use… they teach history and how to gauge the future in ways not allowed in public institutions.
    Like I said, I don’t need conspiracy theories; I already know the truth is stranger and more terrifying.

  7. The Republican party would split if they delayed the elections. That’s the first thing. If you check out the moderate Republican media, and talk to Republicans at large–my dad is one and so is my step mom and so are all their friends and the charity groups with which they work and then I did a little foot work with my Republican brother and his connections in Texas and some friends here in Seattle…it all adds up to a schism in the party if they do it. Some are lovers of Bush; some are haters of him. But all agree that mucking with that is a BAD idea, virtually handing the victory for the next white house contest over to the other party.
    Second, and more on a limb here, is that we’re due for a revolution. Sociological political theory has this concept that about every 300 years, major governments go through upheaval of the violent kind. So if this did somehow pass, we’d be ripe for it. We’re already mildy overdue for our upheaval.
    Third, yes, this scares the crap out of me, too. My Dad has sufficient connections in the military to keep us appraised, and it seems unlikely that the White House would hold control of the armed forces for long. Soldiers have been prosecuted for following illegal orders before, and there are some actually thoughtful, patriotic guys in there.

  8. Not supprised.. I said they would try to call the election 3 – 4 months ago. Lets just *hope* they cant pull it off with the support of Congress, and if they dont get the support that they wont do somthing drastic anyway. I wount put anything past this administration at this point.

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