Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Executive Orders I'm waiting for

I cannot find the editorial cartoon I wanted to use to illustrate this post, but I'm sure you've seen it: it's the image of a very pensive, determined President Barack Obama taping the US Constitution back together.

I admit it, I'm skeptical that any President would willingly hand back the kinds of power that Dubya pried out of the Constitution over the past eight years.

But a year ago today I would also have expected Hillary Clinton to be awaiting Inauguration, so what the hell do I know?

Events are catching up to Barack Obama's presidential campaign as events will do, and at this point it is doubtful that his first couple of years in office are going to unfold precisely as planned.

There is no evidence that Barack Obama or his advisors saw the Great Meltdown coming, and they're going to be dealing with that on the domestic side for the foreseeable future.

Likewise, in Gaza and Afghanistan, Mr Obama is going to get a very early chance to show off that spine of steel we're all waiting to see.

So, just to insure that the raggedy-assed old Constitution doesn't get forgotten, here's a list of three Executive Orders that Barack Obama needs to sign in the first week of his administration:

1) An Executive Order forbidding the domestic use of US troops under Federal control in any capacity except disaster relief or at the specific request of a State to resist a Constitutionally recognized insurrection. This EO should explicitly countermand the newly assigned mission of the 3rd Infantry Division.

2) An Executive Order forbidding Federal agencies from employing warrantless wiretaps.

3) An Executive Order forbidding the use of torture. I won't get into defining the term here. You could go with the restriction to interrogation methods allowed by the US Armed Forces manual, or you could just go with the old if-it-walks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-a-duck philosophy.

I refuse to accept the idea that these three ideas need to be studied, that the President needs to retain flexibility, or that access to new intelligence has convinced the President to take a more nuanced course than that required by the US Constitution.

He could also take out his pen and attach a post-legislative signing statement to the Patriot Act, specifying which sections he considers unconstitutional and will instruct his agents not to employ. This would not be like Dubya flouting the law. What Obama would be doing is declining to use certain powers given him by Congress until his Attorney General can have them vetted against the Constitution in the Courts.

Here's my question for all the Bush critics/Obama supporters of the past two years: are you willing to hold your guy accountable to his own rhetoric and promises to restore the Constitution, or not?

And, if not, I'd love to hear your rationalization.

You can provide that now, or around 1 February 2009.


Waldo Lydecker's Journal said...

Absofuckinglutely. It's surprising one would need to ask. The whole point of supporting Obama was to restore government to a rational footing. The trouble will come from third party sites like this that define the world in terms of a universe where Libertarians count, rather than the binary party word we occupy. Which means we will in due course be called to account here for miniscule offenses to Libertarianism's purity where- until the LP can sort itself out into a real alternative- the d & R universe is where the deals get done.

Steven H. Newton said...

While I would agree that--at least right now--Libertarians don't count for much, I think it is an illusion that I'm surprised you bought into that we live in a binary nation.

It's pretty much only in the political process that we accept the idea of a binary dichotomy in our society--we supposedly make a virtue of social and cultural diversity, but not political diversity.

The D & R universe is where the deals (sometimes) get done--but I suspect you see that as a grim Mencken-like reality rather than the way things ought to be.

And, if not, we all need our hobbies, don't we?

Anonymous said...

Absofuckinglutely, ditto that. I also expect him to reinsitute the draft if he is going to keep on with military mid-east intervention.

Anonymous said...

One thousand times yes. If Obama does not do the things I hired him for, then I see myself having a renewed interest in writing, if only to excoriate his treachery.

And that's exactly what it would be. Obama was elected to undo the epic damage that the Bush administration did to this country. If he tries his best and fails, then fine. If he doesn't even try, I'll be one of the first to call for his removal.

Unlike many, I didn't elect him because I thought he was a cool dude, because I have faith in him that he will do what is right for this country. If he lets me down, then woe betide him!

(Woe, at least, in a way that only 20 readers can inflict! heh)

Anonymous said...

er, throw a "but" before the "because in the second section.

Anonymous said...

dammit! third section!

*sigh* I need to remember to wake up before posting...

aka rc said...

"Here's my question for all the Bush critics/Obama supporters of the past two years: are you willing to hold your guy accountable to his own rhetoric and promises to restore the Constitution, or not?"

Here's my question: Why was Bush allowed to dismantle the constitution?

If we do not understand the answer to that question it won't make a damn what Obama does or doesn't do. rc

Steven H. Newton said...

Great point.

Brian Miller said...

We don't live in a binary reality -- we live in a unitary one.

Both the Democrats and Republicans are waging war, passing FISA bills, honoring homophobia, cozying up to questionable international dictators, passing and enforcing the PATRIOT Act, and on and on and on.

I don't believe that those of us who oppose those sorts of things are going to "convince" the Demopublicans or Republicrats to change their ways. Lobbying them thusly is a colossal waste of time.

Anonymous said...

First of all, great post. Most particularly I would be happy to see all three done.

Second to respond to a tangent emerging in the comment section, which incidentally has been an recurrent theme of this blog since I have been reading it.....

I have come to the opinion that for a third party to gain a foothold, it needs a charismatic person capable of siphoning votes away from both parties....

Watching Munger in North Carolina, I became convinced that this is where Libertarians need to go...People liked him and wanted to see more of him...

Your party needs someone like that, male or female who generates likability along the lines of Sarah Palin before we knew anything real about her....and who is rich enough to buy infomercial time so Americans can really get to know them...

That is your silver bullet. Ideas are great of course, and if they get approval, the main parties can steal them for their own.... and what's the point of voting for a third party then?

But a person, cannot be stolen... You have three years to consolidate your search.... And when you pick the person, look at how they will appear to mainstream party members... will they appear "safe"?

Brian Miller said...

Kavips, what you say is true, but Libertarians are notoriously bad at selecting photogenic and charismatic candidates who are actual libertarians.

Bob Barr was, in many LPers' minds, photogenic and "electable." I don't know which is scarier.

And many LPers also think that Wayne "Come on down NOW, used cars are $2000 OFF!" Root is exciting and charismatic too.

The Mungers of the world are good, but they get worn out by the thankless campaign hoops the Demopublicans and Republicrats make them jump through -- only to get excluded from the debates anyway. The internal BS also doesn't help them.

Often, too, the people who want to run for office the most are the ones we DON'T want running (like Root, Barr, etc.)

tom said...

What the LP really needs is for people like Munger and more like him to run for offices they can actually win, and gradually work their way up to larger offices as they build mainstream credibility. Unfortunately because of the way the system is rigged against 3rd parties, we often have to waste our best candidates on impossible campaigns just to get the party onto the ballot.

Steven H. Newton said...

Actually, in 2010 Munger has announced he running either for State Senator or State Rep (I forget which). If I recall the NC voting totals correctly, he did pretty well in that district running for governor (above 7%), which hopefully means he will be a serious candidate for the state legislature.