Democrats & Liberals Archives

President Bush Reserves the Right to Repeat Hurricane Katrina Response

Most of the time President Bush believes that the Constitution is ” just a God damned piece of paper.” The only exception? When it comes to his Constitutional authority, real or imagined, then all of a sudden it becomes America’s cherished document.

Congress put into effect new congressional rules that would require the next head of FEMA to have 5 years of emergency management experience. Such a rule is common sense and would hopefully weed out incompetent crony appointments like "Heckuva job Brownie."

The Bush Whitehouse, however, says they reserve the right to ignore such requirements as an encroachment on Presidential Constitutional authority to appoint anybody the President so chooses. Whether that appointment is in the best interest of the country or not.

Bush's appointee "Brownie" to head FEMA, whose tenure ended with the bungled Hurricane Katrina response, had no emergency management experience, but did have extensive experience as a horse show judge.

Why in the world would the Bush Whitehouse buck the Congress on such a common sense requirement? Bush has never had a problem disregarding the Constitutional authority of Congress in the name of supposed national security. Now, when the tables are turned, suddenly he is throwing that "God damned piece of paper" up as a roadblock to the best interest of the country.

Has the President's assault on the Constitution really been about national security and what is best for the protection of the country, or has been about a power grab for the Unitary Executive all along?

Posted by JayJay Snow at October 27, 2006 2:37 PM
Comment #190826

Jay Jay:
“Why in the world would the Bush Whitehouse buck the Congress on such a commonsense requirement?”

Hi, Jay Jay. My guess? Because he’s The Decider, because they have no common sense, and because rewarding loyal cronies is considered more important than the American people.

“Has the President’s assault on the Constitution really been about national security and what is best for the protection of the country, or has been about a power grab for the Unitary Executive all along?”

Power Grab. Most definitely.

Posted by: Adrienne at October 27, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #190827

So, it’s a power grab by the president to reject an unconstitutional law by the Congress?

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 27, 2006 2:52 PM
Comment #190832


I didn’t say that, you need to go back and read what I wrote. It’s about the hypocrisy of this president.

Posted by: JayJay at October 27, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #190836

Ah, thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 27, 2006 3:05 PM
Comment #190838

First, if he believes it to be constitutional, he shouldn’t be signing it. He should be vetoing it. Second, if he’s telling congress it’s unconstitutional, is that based on the court’s opinion, or just his own? Beyond his veto, the president has no authority to determine what is constitutional or not. That’s the court’s role in government: interpretation of the law.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 27, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #190840

So in your opinion, President Bush ignores the Constitution and is a hypocrit for using it to define his Constitutional authority?

Posted by: kctim at October 27, 2006 3:22 PM
Comment #190848


What Stephen said:

Bush shouldn’t have signed it if he didn’t agree with it.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 27, 2006 3:40 PM
Comment #190850

The only reason why I disagree with this legislation is that it attempts to legislate common sense.

Bush should nominate someone with experience to begin with. He should learn from that mistake.

If Congress is going to go down that road (Legislating qualifications), then I’m going to ask my Congress rep and Senator to introduce a bill to require all candidates to have taken Macro and Micro Economics college courses and passed them. That way when they talk about taxation and the economic effects, they will actually be speaking from knowledge. Most legislators are lawyers and have no economic experience, yet they make economic decisions that impact all of us.

This way, they’ll know what equilibrium means, what a price floor and price ceiling does to supply and demand, the effects of setting prices to a market (such as OPEC), how taxation effects the economy, how long taxation takes to impact the economy, and also they should know what diminishing returns are and the impact on pricing.

From now on, I’m also going to demand the State University Leaders have financial and economic experience. The rising cost of college education has far exceeded inflation. No one is asking why or what is being done to mitigate it.

I just don’t think common sense should be legislated. I think the candidates should be appointed and rise and fall based on their experience and knowledge and performance.

Posted by: JEiden at October 27, 2006 3:44 PM
Comment #190854


Legislators represent the people. They don’t have to be experts in particular areas (but it can help). The qualifications for their jobs are well defined inthe constitution.

People like the Director of FEMA, OTOH, are not legislators, but instead carry out the laws Congress passes. In that regard they need to have certain qualifications and a certain level of to do the job. (Yes, sometimes they interpret the law, too.)

The Surgeon General has to be a physician. The Solicitor General has to be an attorney. To be on any number of government bodies or panels you have to be a scientist, physician, or what not. I see no reason why the person responsible for emergency prepareness should not have experience in — emergency preparedness.
The president has every right to disagree with this. He should just spell it out.

Posted by: Steve K at October 27, 2006 3:54 PM
Comment #190856

JJ did not speak of whether Bush should have signed it or not.
I just wanted to make sure I was understanding the point of JJ’s post before I commented on it.
If he is saying he thinks President Bush has ignored the Constitution in the past and he thinks it to be hypocritical for him to use it to his advantage now, then I would have to say I probably agree with him.
Doesn’t mean President Bush is wrong in using the Constitution to define his authority though.
But if he’s saying this so as to convince people to vote Democrat, because THEY would never do that (lol), then he is WAY out there.

Just didn’t want to jump to any conclusions.

Posted by: kctim at October 27, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #190857

Jay Jay,

This was an interesting link. All I did was search “Presidential Constitutional Authority” and I found this incredible article written 11/2/94 (before GW).
Have fun!

Posted by: Ilsa at October 27, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #190858

Steve K:

And I see no reason why our legislators shouldn’t have an academic foundation in economics. Especially when they are making economic decisions. NAFTA, Trade laws, Tarriffs, adding taxes, repealing taxes.

Or how about this….

Earmarks and Pork Projects. If our legislators had economic experience, they have some insight on what these earmarks and pork projects do to the local and national economies.

How are the aging baby-boomers going to impact social security?

I’m sorry but I don’t want the same people who brought me the IRS, the Post Office, and the response to Katrina to be responsible for my Social Security.

By the way, I don’t expect my Socvial Security to be there anyways. Either it will be bankrupt, or some illegal will be getting my benefits from stealing my number.

Posted by: JEiden at October 27, 2006 4:08 PM
Comment #190860


If he is saying he thinks President Bush has ignored the Constitution in the past and he thinks it to be hypocritical for him to use it to his advantage now, then I would have to say I probably agree with him.

That is exactly what I am saying. I do not think that Democrats would not engage in such behavior. Bush’s rally cry all along has been that the Constitutionally questionable things he has done are in the best interest of the country and national security. Here, all of a sudden the Constitution is important and the good of the country can be damned for it. That is a mixed message at best.

Posted by: JayJay at October 27, 2006 4:12 PM
Comment #190864

Have you heard the term “government for the people, by the people”? The Constitution clearly defines who can and cannot run for public offices - and no where does it contain a provision for education or experience - just minimum age, residency and in the case of the President, nationality. If you’re so worried about how things are run, then maybe you should run for office. It’s your right.

Posted by: Ilsa at October 27, 2006 4:17 PM
Comment #190868
But if he’s saying this so as to convince people to vote Democrat, because THEY would never do that (lol), then he is WAY out there.


Actually, my greatest wish would be that people would vote Libertarian. Since I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I do think it is vitally important for our democracy that Democrats take at least one house of the Congress to restore some sort of Check and Balance on the Unitary Executive and rubber stamp Republicans.

Posted by: JayJay at October 27, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #190870

I am so glad to know that all democrat presidents appointmented people to jobs they were experienced in.

Posted by: Cliff at October 27, 2006 4:40 PM
Comment #190872


That’s not what I’m saying. Of course the constitution defines the requirements for office.

What I’m saying is if we are going to legislate common sense like Congress did for FEMA, then we might as well go all the way and legislate common sense for Congress. I see all this as a slippery slope that one branch of government tries to micro-manage the other branches.

But to get to your point. Ask yourself this question…

Do you need to be a mechanic to drive the vehicle?

For President, I think it is important. Teddy Roosevelt had combat military experience in the SPanish American War. Truman commanded an artillery unit. Everyone who served under Truman survived WWI. Kennedy had WWII combat experience in the Pacific (PT109). Jimmy Carter served on a Nuclear submarine. George H.W. Bush served in WWII in the pacific and was shot down in combat. Nixon served in the Navy during WWII. FDR did not have military experience. Lincoln had militia experience.

If we start micro-managing these requirements that could exclude truly great leaders. FDR, Clinton, and possibly Lincoln would be excluded from being President if there was a requirement that Presidents had military experience.

In some cases, being a mechanic does help give you insight when driving the vehicle. If the vehicle breaks down, you know how to fix it. You also know how to get it to run at optimal performance levels.

But should we demand Congress legislate that the President have military experience? It is common sense that they should have some military background, but does it need to be requirement?

One more thing. This legislation that requires the head of FEMA to have 5 years experience would exclude Rudy Guliani from being an appointed head of FEMA.

We all know how he managed in crisis during 9/11. Guliani should be the head of FEMA, but he doesn’t have 5 years FEMA experience. By trying to legislate common sense, you exclude a perfect candidate.

Posted by: JEiden at October 27, 2006 4:43 PM
Comment #190873

It just shows how arragonat Bush is, even when his own party set’s the rules for who runs FEMA. Maybe he wants to throw in a good old dog show judge now since horse show didn’t make it.

Posted by: KT at October 27, 2006 4:49 PM
Comment #190874

Actually, I don’t believe that the Surgeon General actually does have to be a physician, even though they always are. As a cabinet level office, though, they have to be confirmed by Congress and an unqualified person wouldn’t make it through.

There is a Constitutional problem with Congress making up requirements for Executive appointees. Should the President be allowed to set rules about the qualifications for Congressional staff? No. There are separation of powers issues here.

A better way to handle it would be to make the FEMA head a cabinet level position which would allow Congress the ab to confirm him.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 27, 2006 4:50 PM
Comment #190875

Make that “appointed”…(long day)

Posted by: cliff at October 27, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #190876

JayJay, thank you for taking the time to clear things for me.
And while we may differ on the Democracy or Republic type of things, its nice to know we share a Libertarian wish.

Posted by: kctim at October 27, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #190877
A better way to handle it would be to make the FEMA head a cabinet level position which would allow Congress the ab to confirm him.

I’m pretty sure it is a confirmable position already. There are a lot of executive appointments that have to go to the confirmation process well below the cabinet level.

Posted by: LawnBoy at October 27, 2006 4:54 PM
Comment #190885

Lawnboy, that’s correct. The Deputy Director of FEMA already does have to be confirmed by Congress.

That should be the end of it.

Congress gets its say, and whoever gets appointed by the President to that position will have their qualifications reviewed and then given an up or down vote by Congress. There’s no good reason for adding yet another level to the process—especially one that raises thorny questions about the separation of powers.

Let the administration appoint anybody they want. If that person is unqualifed or raises other problems, Congress is under no obligation to confirm them.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 27, 2006 5:10 PM
Comment #190906

Neo-Con Pilsner-
You do understand, don’t you, that Bush has just kicked the problem down the road in that case? If it is truly unconstitutional, he should either veto it, or sign it and bring suit on the issue. If he did that, he could define it more permanently.

However, these options don’t give Bush weasel room on plausible deniability. Somebody can actually say, then, that Bush chose to use his veto, or a lawsuit to do away with the restriction.

Bush is essentially using an unconstitutional means of disagreeing with what he claims is an unconstitutional provision.

Thank you for the red herring of the day. We shall cook it up and serve it with a nice red wine. The previous administrations could have put in a metric ton of unqualified appointees, but in those cases, they would be obviously wrong, and Bush would still be wrong for it.

Apart from politics, let’s put it plainly here: It’s practically wrong, as well as politically. Having an underqualified FEMA chief was a disaster in and of itself, and it made Katrina much worse of a problem.

Politically speaking, though, you should not be attempting to give your people rhetorical breathing room on this, as this was one of the hammerblows that shattered support for Bush after his win in the election.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 27, 2006 6:31 PM
Comment #190907

Neo-con Pilsner: The President has a way around that as well. If the Congress refuses to approve one of his appointees he can wait till they adjourn and appoint the person to an interum term. I don’t know for how long they can serve in the position but I think it can be for more than a year in some instances. The president has done this quite a few times. I think that John Bolton is one of them.

Posted by: jlw at October 27, 2006 6:39 PM
Comment #190917

I think this goes to a larger problem, actually, which is the tendency of Congress to attach all manner of things—including pork and distracting, irrelevant regulations—to every major bill that makes its way through Congress.

I agree completely that Bush should use the veto more, but we all know that it would have been both practically and politically impossible for him to veto the homeland security bill to which this was attached.

In any case, this is a pretty cosmetic point since the FEMA director has become such a political lightning rod. Should Bush need to nominate a new one, there’s no way he could get somebody through who has no more background than Brown had.

Perhaps Stephen is right and Bush ought to bring suit on the issue since his concern seems to be a Consitutional issue and not a desire (which would be impossible to achieve anyway) to just ram through any theoretical new FEMA director.

On this case (though not some others) I don’t think that issuing a signing statment is the best way to address the problem. But neither do I think that Congress should take it upon itself to start drawing up additional requirements for presidential appointees—especially when they already have the option of stopping cold any unqualified appointees during confirmation.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 27, 2006 7:28 PM
Comment #190924


” just a God damned piece of paper.”

Didn’t I just read a blog here in the blue column about the “oreo” deal with Micheal Steele and how it seemed to be nothing more that an urban myth. Well what do you think this is. All links go back to a column in 2005 in the Capitol Blue a left wing blog. There are no corraborating quotes except for those infamous unnamed white house aides.

Posted by: Keith at October 27, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #190928

We also have the right to not vote for candidates we feel are not qualified and vote against any party headed by someone that appoints unqualified people. Heres hopeing Americans are going to do just that this Nov.
I also want to add the name of a website that is monitoring the election. They are setting up a text message network for people that will turn out for protest etc. in regions where it looks like something fishy is going on. It is called “working assets” Sorry I do not know how to paste it.

Posted by: BillS at October 27, 2006 8:28 PM
Comment #190931

If the appointment to head FEMA doesn’t belong in the homeland security bill, where does it belong? Isn’t FEMA still part of homeland security?

Posted by: womanmarine at October 27, 2006 8:34 PM
Comment #190935

“Actually, my greatest wish would be that people would vote Libertarian.”


Ouch! I respect your opinion and your choices, but ouch! Have you really taken a long hard look at the Libertarian party?

When we, among others, were quite upset about the DNC treatment of Paul Haskel, I gave a long hard look at various third parties. I’m sure at that time I read their 2005 platform which I can’t find on-line now, but there’s some scarey crap in there.

Their 2006 Platform is toned down a hell of a lot, I assume to attract newcomers, but I did still find a copy of their 2004 Platform (although some of the “buttons don’t work”).

Regarding education the Libertarian platform says: “We call for the repeal of the guarantees of tax-funded, government-provided education, which are found in most state constitutions. We condemn compulsory education laws…and we call for an immediate repeal of such laws. Until government involvement in education is ended, we support elimination, within the governmental school system, of forced busing and corporal punishment. We further support immediate reduction of tax support for schools, and removal of the burden of school taxes from those not responsible for the education of children.”

“removal of the burden of school taxes” bears repeating!

Their platform regarding labor law: “We support repeal of all laws that impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws, so-called “protective” labor legislation for women and children, governmental restrictions on the establishment of private day-care centers, and the National Labor Relations Act.”

Regarding OSHA: “The arbitrary and high-handed actions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration invade property rights, raise costs and unjustly impose upon the business community.”

Holy crap! “unjustly impose upon the business community”.

Of course the Libertarian Party is at the forefront in abolishing Social Security and Welfare. Maybe their ideas seem like freedom to some but they spell “CHAOS” to me.

I must add this “doozy”: “We support the right of political entities, private groups and individuals to renounce their affiliation with any government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those governments, while in turn accepting no support from the government from which they seceded.”

IMO we must be careful what we wish for.



Posted by: KansasDem at October 27, 2006 8:56 PM
Comment #190939

Brownie was a boob, but also a scapegoat. Bush is the moron-in-chief. How do we fix that mistake?

Posted by: gergle at October 27, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #190945

Regarding executive powers I’m amazed that both Bush and Cheney are so confident that the Republicans will maintain control of both houses of congress.

The conspiracy theorist side of me can’t help but suspect something foul is in play here, and only time will tell, but I’d like to go out on a limb here:

I predict that, if both houses remain in Republican control, we’ll see a very strong push to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. Golly gosh, gee whiz, then we can have GW for another freakin’ four years.

I know that’s a real stretch of the imagination but I’ve come to expect the worst from this bunch.


Posted by: KansasDem at October 27, 2006 9:43 PM
Comment #190946


Where should I send the aluminum foil?

Posted by: Keith at October 27, 2006 9:46 PM
Comment #190947

Oops, just noticed a boo-boo.

Paul Haskel should have been Paul Hackett. My personal aids last name is Haskel.

My apologies to everyone and especially to Paul Hackett.


Posted by: KansasDem at October 27, 2006 9:47 PM
Comment #190949

Kansas: I doubt they would go out on a limb for GWB. They would just put in another boob they control.

Posted by: BillS at October 27, 2006 9:57 PM
Comment #190998

“Where should I send the aluminum foil?”

1600 Pa. ave?

Posted by: KansasDem at October 28, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #191009


What part of the street will you be protesting on?

Posted by: Keith at October 28, 2006 12:54 AM
Comment #191010


I agree, some of the Libertarian platform is horrible, as is some of the Democratic platform and much of the Republican platform. No single political party can be everything to everyone.

I too think the Libertarian party goes too far on certain issues pushing things towards anarchy. However, I think they also have alot of good in their platform as well. The major attraction of the Libertarian party for me is that they advocate a small government that stays out of our personal lives. The Republican party may have believed in such things at one time, but no more. IMO, the Republican party has become the most intrusive.

One of the reasons that I continue to support the Democratic party is because I still believe in the common good. Society as a whole benefits from a healthy, well educated population and I support public education as well as national healthcare.

I do not believe that it is healthy for our democracy to have one party rule, whether Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian. The more parties that represent differing viewpoints the stronger our democracy will be. Some will say that such a government causes bickering and gridlock. I say sometimes gridlock is just what we are in need of most.

Posted by: JayJay at October 28, 2006 12:55 AM
Comment #191158

BillS… is your site, and thanks for the info..

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at October 28, 2006 3:34 PM
Comment #191478

Do we really expect the Republicans EVER to give over to Democrats the power Bush has amassed for the presidency? November is a trial-run for their voter fraud tactics. I fully expect the Republicans to keep control in what essentially will be a one-party system of government in America. Read a forward-looking book published in the 70’s by Organsky (Organski perhaps) The Stages of Political Development. I read it in an undergrad poli sci class. It seems to be right on—the Russians are more like us & the U.S. is more like them as time passes. Sorry but I see doom & gloom ahead.

Posted by: BarbyAZ at October 30, 2006 12:55 PM
Comment #191786


The Presidency has asserted and gained power. My jpersonal opinion is that the pendulum swings from one end to the other. I think the pendulum will swing Demorcrat for the next Presidential election.

When that happens, the next Democrat who assumes the office of the President will be able to excersie those additional powers / authority gained during this administration.

And that new Democrat President is going to need it. My Mom brought up a great point to me over the weekend. Al Qaeda is going to test the next President just like they did the Bush Presidency, and the next President Democrat or Republican will need all the possible tools they can to prevent something and pursue those who are planing more attacks on our soil.

Those powers don’t just dissipate when Bush leaves office.

Posted by: JEiden at October 31, 2006 11:02 AM
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