Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is our constitution suspended during times of war?

A sobering article appeared in many news outlets today wth a title similar to this: "Bush Administration Memos Claims Vast War Powers"

Is this stuff going to just dribble out until we are so used to it that when the really outlandish stuff (beyond this?) comes out like: Bush Administration Memos Claim President Can Suspend Constitution, disband Congress, and make Military loyal to him"

It will be interesting to see how far the Bush Admnistration thought about going in all of this.

What a pathetic, scared boy Mr. Bush is. He lacked faith that our hallowed institutions could survive terrorism. It stood against a civil war, two world wars, the spectre of MAD with the Soviets, yet, 20 guys with box cutters in an audacious move caused Mr. Bush to lay aside our way of life.


Barbara said...

Was it really Bush or Cheney/Rumsfeld who were determined to undermine our way of life? Seems to me Bush was just a stupid pawn, and Cheney was the real evil. Anyone see the bumper sticker "Cheney/Voldemort '08"?

Tom Steiger said...

Barbara, thanks for commenting. Few do, but I appreciate it when someone does.

The idea that it was Cheney or others who really were in control, that President Bush was just the front man, (think Wizard of Oz: "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain") has always struck me as a weird defense of Pres Bush (those who voted for him but became disappointed) or a weird attach on him, like how pathetic he really is. But in either case, it deflects holding him accountable. We are really good at that in the US, finding ways to deflect accountability for folks in high status positions. I'd argue that Pres Bush was in charge, yes, Cheney had considerable influence, but Pres Bush rebuffed Cheney on the Scooter Libby pardon, which I think held merit. It was Cheney who orchestrated the outing of Ms. Plame. Scooter just took the sword for it.

With all the moderates and conservatives in the Obama Administration, liberals, I suspect, will begin doing the same to him, when he doesn't follow the line that supporters hope he does, they will blame others, but not the one who is making the decision. Is it any wonder that our politicians don't really seem to care what the voters think?

Barbara said...

your message makes me wonder about "innocent by reason of insanity" defenses. On the one hand, I think that anyone who commits crimes like murder is crazy (that's the Quaker in me), but on the other hand I think that there are folks who do harm without being "sane," or in Bush's case, "smart" enough to be aware of what they are doing. Of course, we do hold people accountable for their own stupidity most of the time, so I suppose Bush shouldn't be let off because of that. I guess I don't really think that he is not accountable, I just don't think that he was the driving force behind all the insanity the last 8 years. He simply didn't know any better. The one who was held accountable was his party, and we should all be grateful that Bush was so bad that it allowed someone like Obama to be President.

Tom Steiger said...


thanks again for commenting. In our legal system, being crazy is not a defense. Plenty of people are crazy, but not all of them are insane (legal definition) or incompetent to stand trial.

President Bush is neither crazy nor incompetent.

As to his "smarts," well, he does not appear, at least to me, to be a particularly curious person and his style was that of a happy CEO who thought he had surrounded himself with very competent people (as Ronald Reagan and his father, had). He hadn't. I'd say President Bush is a poor judge of talent, favoring "likability" over anything else. Within the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement, the "neocons," who eventually won a struggle for credibility in the Administration (Cheney and his ilk) on foreign policy issues, are now pretty much discredited. Most Democrats and Independents aren't clued in enough to see the nuanced differences among Republicans and Conservatives. The neocons are seemingly finished right now. And because of their seat at the right hand of the Presidency (I don't believe Bush is a neocon, despite following that line--he is a republican policitican) the neocons have caused Republicans and conservatives to out of favor at this point in time.
I still hold President Bush responsible. He may be dumb as a post, but he still is making choices, even when he chose not to.

By the way, did you know that Nixon was a Quaker?

Barbara said...

I did indeed know that he was a Quaker. But Quakerism, like all religions, have a convoluted pedigree. My family and I attend a "unprogrammed" Meeting, while Nixon attended a "programmed" Quaker church when he was younger. He did not appear to follow many of the core Quaker values and practices in his political life. Nixon's mother was a very conservative Quaker. As with any religion, there are those who claim to hold that religious belief but don't seem to practice it! How many Christians have fought wars and killed in the name of Christ, a man who preached love and forgiveness?
As for Bush, I know conservatives who have been deeply disappointed by his actions. His war against Iraq and subsequent huge military spending did not endear him to conservatives.

Tom Steiger said...


I think your comments have now doubled the total number of comments this blog has received!

President Bush billed himself as a compassionate conservative. I suppose his Medicare Part D was the compassionate part and a windfall for drug companies the conservative part. Not sure what the conservative part was for his help with AIDS in Africa (he is seen as an unqualified hero there). Libertarians (ala Bob Barr) certainly disagree with Mr. Bush. And he does have that conservative base still thumb upping him.

I have had several Quaker students over the years. They all came from Plainfield, IN, just about an hour east of here on US 40. The Western Conference or Meeting is there, a large facility in the middle of town.

I don't know much about the Quakers, I am guessing that the programmed Meeting would be more like a typical church service with a leader/minister, similar to Phil Gulley (I think for a time there was such a Meeting in Terre Haute). An unprogrammed Meeting would be what Quakers are more known for, the meeting in silence to listen for God's voice? We could use more of that in our lives.

Barbara said...

Yes, Tom, an unprogrammed meeting is a silent one. We sit in what is called "expectant waiting." We believe that there is the seed of God in each of us (hence our opposition to killing)and therefore we have an unmediated relationship with God. That is why we do not have anyone preaching to us, we minister to each other with our own testimony that comes from within us and presumably from that of God within us.
I wasn't born a Quaker, I married into it, but it really fits me well. I was born a Catholic and the notion of guilt was never really appealing. Quaker values appeal to folks of many religious faiths. We are a Christocentric faith, however, our members and attenders can pretty much believe what they like about Jesus. My own belief is that he was a man, but a very special person. There are many branches of Quakerism out there; I think the Indy branches are all programmed Friends. We attend Meeting in Bloomington, IN, which is an unprogrammed Meeting.

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