Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Executive Who Would Be King

Glenn Greenwald examines the rule of law and why the radical right needs lots of exposure.

The Wall St. Journal online has today published a lengthy and truly astonishing article by Harvard Government Professor Harvey Mansfield, which expressly argues that the power of the President is greater than "the rule of law." .....That such an argument comes from Mansfield is unsurprising. He has long been a folk hero to the what used to be the most extremist right-wing fringe but is now the core of the Republican Party. ........But reading Mansfield has real value for understanding the dominant right-wing movement in this country. Because he is an academic, and a quite intelligent one, he makes intellectually honest arguments, by which I mean that he does not disguise what he thinks in politically palatable slogans, but instead really describes the actual premises on which political beliefs are based.

And that is Mansfield's value; he is a clear and honest embodiment of what the Bush movement is. In particular, he makes crystal clear that the so-called devotion to a "strong executive" by the Bush administration and the movement which supports it is nothing more than a belief that the Leader has the power to disregard, violate, and remain above the rule of law. And that is clear because Mansfied explicitly says that. And that is not just Mansfield's idiosyncratic belief. He is simply stating -- honestly and clearly -- the necessary premises of the model of the Omnipotent Presidency which has taken root under the Bush presidency. ......In the course of explaining how the rule of law applies only in "quiet times," Mansfield also argues that "civil liberties are subject to circumstances," not inalienable, and that "in time of war the greater dangers may be to the majority from a minority." Thus, he explains -- in what might be my favorite sentence -- "A free government should show its respect for freedom even when it has to take it away." ........And for those with any lingering doubts about how repugnant Mansfield's vision is to the defining American political principle, I would simply turn the floor over to the great American revolutionary Thomas Paine (.pdf), writing in Common Sense:
The point here is not to spend much time arguing that Mansfield's authoritarian cravings are repugnant to our political traditions. The real point is that Mansfield's mindset is the mindset of the Bush movement, of the right-wing extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and governed our country completely outside of the rule of law for the last six years. Mansfield makes these arguments more honestly and more explicitly, but there is nothing unusual or uncommon about him. He is simply expounding the belief in tyrannical lawlessness on which the Bush movement (soon to be led by someone else, but otherwise unchanged) is fundamentally based. ........All sorts of the most political influential people in our country -- from Dick Cheney to Richard Posner to John Yoo and The Weekly Standard -- believe and have argued for exactly this vision of government. They literally do not believe in our constitutional framework and our most defining political values. They have declared a literally endless War which, they claim, not only justifies but compels the vesting of unlimited power in the President -- "unlimited" by Congress, the courts, American public opinion and the rule of law. ......Much of the intense dissatisfaction I have with the American media arises out of the fact that these extraordinary developments -- the dominant political movement advocating lawlessness and tyranny out in the open in The Wall St. Journal and Weekly Standard -- receive almost no attention.
While the Bush administration expressly adopts these theories to detain American citizens without charges, engage in domestic surveillance on Americans in clear violation of the laws we enacted to limit that power, and asserts a general right to disregard laws which interfere with the President's will, our media still barely discusses those issues.
They write about John Edwards' haircut and John Kerry's windsurfing and which political consultant has whispered what gossip to them about some painfully petty matter, but the extraordinary fact that our nation's dominant political movement is openly advocating the most radical theories of tyranny -- that "liberties are dangerous and law does not apply" -- is barely noticed by our most prestigious and self-loving national journalists. Merely to take note of that failure is to demonstrate how profoundly dysfunctional our political press is.


Blogger Kim said...

Test post only - please disregard.

12:01 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:02 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous Libby said...

Mansfield is an obvious wacko to be added to the other wackos on the list Ann Coulter is numero uno on. Cheney seems to be a believer in oligarchy with the idea that PNAC should have the right to run the country as it sees fit. It just boggles my mind to think that Bush ever got a degree in History. He seems to understand nothing about the principles on which our government was founded. He sure doesn't care about the checks and balances part of our Constitution.
Other than that, I always understood that America's form of government is a Democratic-Republic, but between the Cheney/Bush (and I put DC first deliberately) gang of thugs and the party loyalty above all else GOP it seems to have become a Republican "Democracy". We just don't have enough votes to override Bush's vetoes, late as they are coming. Did you see the headline about him vowing to veto a hate crimes bill? He should've made that promise on MLK Day-Not!-and why are there Blacks still supporting this creey duo who are in office because they disenfranchised so many thousands of Black voters?

11:36 PM, May 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the main issue is for the neocon administration Here. This was posted many hours before Cheney arrived.

And just after Cheney arrived This in a "peaceful" city for the first time in over 3 years.

Obvious a message was sent. Kurds should stop their own seperate oil agreements and get on board with Iraqi/Sunni power? or on board with Western Big Oil? or both?

Larry in New Mexico

6:05 PM, May 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry, I'd be surprised if Cheney'd have any concern about protecting anything or anyone unless it had to do with Halliburton and the oil fields/pipeline and the mega-bases, too, of course. I doubt very much that he's unhappy about the innocent civilians killed by suicide bombers or even gives a lot of thought to our troops. Personally, I am sick of the word "insurgent". I despise terrorists of any nationality, but not all of these Iraqis should be classified as terrorists. They want us out of their country which is understandable. I am currently reading "Schindler's List" which talks about the things that the Zionist resistance did, such as blowing up theaters, etc. frequented by SS men and other Nazis. I think the word "insurgents" is mostly another inflamatory example of the evil
Karl Rove's propaganda.
Saw the headline that
John McCain is worried that Bush's low approval rating is hurting the GOP. Well, duh! That's a real no brainer. If it's 28% for a Newsweek poll as the latter magazine is a more pro-GOP publication, imagine what it is in a liberal magazine. One would think, Bush might want to do something that would improve his image for the time he has left. Here's an idea. Why not get rid of CHENEY instead of vetoing everything the Dems pass that would actually help the country?

10:26 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger Kim said...


10:55 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to to vote in Keith Oberman's contest for best political musical performance. Contestants are
Rove (gag), Ashcraft (yuk), and Powell (wuss), Kucinich singing "16 Tons" and Bill Clinton singing "Imagine".
Rove ought to get the most votes for person most likely to be mistaken for The Anti-Christ. LOL
Now that Falwell's gone that makes one down and 2 to go. Will probably be Robertson before Dobson, tho.

9:10 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MSNBC report on first bombing in over 3 years in Kurdish city no longer links.

Larry in New Mexico

11:58 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Ron said...

Thanks for joining in Libby Have we met? I think Ashcroft had the alltime funny if that is what we are voting on. I would have to vote for Kucinich otherwise.

Larry, keep up the good work. Interesting stuff.

2:37 AM, May 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would you vote for Ashcroft for anything except for all time fundamenatlist wacko? You've been hanging around the other side too long.
I had to vote for Clinton over Kucinich due to the song he sang-gotta love any song about peace. :-)
Missed Oberman today. Hopefully, the winner was announced on the MSN site.

8:02 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looked on the countdown site-under the battle of the DC bands was Ashcroft's picture so I'm assuming that that total nut job won. I did NOT watch the video cuz it was painful enough to see/hear it on Monday's show. Since there were 3 Republicans to split the brainwashed morons' vote, I thought Clinton would win for sure. He was way ahead when I voted on Monday night. Well, it's kinda like those 2004 exit polls isn't it? It wouldn't surprise me if at least half of the Dem/Liberal vote was discarded and not counted and each of the sheeple were allowed to vote ten times. I mean, if this was Faux New, I'd expect it, but even on
MS-NBC Ashcroft should've lost!

10:00 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that'll teach me to make assumptions. Caught Obermann's Countdown after my last post and watched to see who won. Surprise! Surprise! Bill Clinton singing "Imagine" with 38% of the vote. Can not understand why it wasn't higher. Who in their right mind would want to vote for Ashcroft or Rove or even Colin Powell doing of all things The Village People's "YMCA"?
One good piece of news-Donald Rumsfeld was voted the Worst Person in the world. LOL

11:09 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron-have heard you on the radio.
From Field Notes from a Catastrophe... by Elizabeth Kolbert

She wrote that Clinton supported the Kyoto Protocol in theory but not in practice. It was never submitted to the Senate where it wouldn't have gotten the 2/3 needed to ratify it. The 1990s were the hottest decade of the millennium and CO 2 emissions went up 15% from '90 to 2000.
Dubya, while campaigning, said that he was highly concerned about climate change and promised that if he was "elected he would impose federal regulations limiting CO 2 emissions." (Oh, sure just like the VOLUNTARY compliance that made TX one of if not the most polluted state in the country!)
After he was inaugurated, he sent Christine T. Whitman to a meeting of environmental ministers from around the world to present what she thought was his position on the issue.
Ten days later, Bush withdrew from the Kyoto negotiations saying "he had changed his mind about federal curbs on carbon dioxide."
"(Former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, who backed the president's original position, has speculated publicly that the reversal was engineered by Vice President Dick Cheney.)"

The latter part does not surprise me at all and if Bush would start listening to people whose bottom line wasn't to line their own pockets and that of their rich friends and to avoid paying taxes on their billions of dollars in windfall profits like the oil and gas industry, for instance, the country wouldn't be in the mess it's in.
And as for personal responsibility, you're talking about the guys who either used family connections to get into the National Guard or avoided military service entirely while cheering on the Vietnam War. Cuz, you know, it was a great war as long as poor kids were fighting it and not
Rush Limbaugh or
Dick Cheney. You know, the same guys who so enjoyed destroying the reputations of the guys who actually went to Vietnam (Max Cleland, John Kerry, and even John McCain who's turned out to be such a wuss.)
Personal responsibility? What a joke! These guys are the biggest bunch of unethical thugs since the days of the Robber Barons. Congress needs to impeach 'em all and try Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. for war crimes while they're at it. That won't happen until we get 2/3 majority, tho, cuz the Republicans can't do anything but kiss Cheney's backside-right?
There may be a 10% chance that Gore will run again.
We'd get out of this war and actually do something about global warming and alternative energy if he won. Other than that, Kerry's not running, I like Edwards, but his wife has cancer* and I think he'll have to withdraw, I like Obama, but I think a black candidate will probably lose, and I like Kucinich and I don't think he has a chance. I'm not thrilled with Hillary Clinton at all, but will vote for her if I must.
*Why do good people like Elizabeth Edwards get cancer and that vile beast Cheney gets to escape terrorists and live on and on when many people doubted he'd last six months into his first term?
Just doesn't seem fair to me!

11:56 PM, May 19, 2007  

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