Democrats & Liberals Archives

Bush, the Spoiler

On a day when Democrats are celebrating Nancy Pelosi as the newly-elected Speaker of the House, President Bush insinuates himself as the real Decider. In an op-ed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal he let it be known that Democrats can’t get too far because he has the veto. He also said he wants to work together with Democrats. Why not? Even if he disagrees with universally favored legislation, he can always write signing statements to approve HIS decisions.

According to the Daily News, on December 20, 2006, Bush signed into law the Postal Reform Bill, which protects first class mail from searchers without a warrant. The Daily News states:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned. The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

Another example of the president worrying about our welfare. Some mail is dangerous for any of us to receive. Even Congress does not know what it is doing. But don't worry. He, the ever-watching president, will take care of us anyway. Who needs legal mumbo jumbo when the security of Americans is involved?

Some called this by a fancy name: unitary executive. I use a less fancy name: power grab.

Remember when Bush called Tom Daschle an obstructionist because he disagreed with Bush's policies? Now we have Bush as the obstructionist. He has a right to veto any legislation he does not like. He has no right to sign a bill into law and then use a signing statement to render the law useless.

Democrats want to team with Republicans to produce good legislation, that is, legislation serving the people, not only special groups. If Bush hides behind his signing statements, he is nothing but an obstructionist - a spoiler.

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 4, 2007 4:44 PM
Comment #201504

I hope Congress passes a bill outlawing signing statements.

If the Dems can do one thing only,I pray they keep us from going to war with Iran. That may well be on Bushcos agenda.

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2007 5:34 PM
Comment #201509

Bush does have the right to veto, but Congress also has the right to override his veto.
Bush thinks he is all powerful and all knowing person, well after all these years of pain and suffering we know he isn’t

Posted by: KT at January 4, 2007 5:50 PM
Comment #201516

While Bush does have veto power, and the dems can override that veto, both of those points are almost mute when one considers that neither the Dems nor the Republicans are concerned with passing anything except blame.

Dems will engage in finger-pointing and investigations, while the other side will try to push through legislation that they know the Dems will kill - making the Dems a scapegoat for poor national security.

All the rhetoric on both sides is pointless.

Posted by: Keith Burgin at January 4, 2007 6:33 PM
Comment #201517

November 7th was a slapdown of the Bush agenda in Iraq. I truly believe he didn’t take the clue. But Congressional Dems have a six-year track record of hand-wringing and moaning over Bush’s more egregrious Constitution shredding, while assiduously avoiding presenting a comprehensive plan to get us out of Iraq, or anyone of their party that would (Rep. Murtha).

With all this talk of troop escalation (an obvious trial balloon to see where the snipers and the opposition artillery is), the time for a showdown is fast approaching. The JCS and the military, 37 Republican senators, a large marjority of the Democrats in Congress, and an even larger majority of Americans, are dead-set against throwing more gas on an already out-of-control blaze.

These platitudes about bi-partisanship are tedious and fatuous. It is time that both parties come together to save the country from an administration that is out of control. Time is running out; the neocons are casting about looking for an excuse for Israel or the US to attack Iran. This troop ‘surge’ is a way to keep us there in Iraq for another year so they can concoct some bullshit lie about Syria and Iran—and justify attacking them, too.

Can you say ‘Gulf of Tonkien’ boys and girls?

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 4, 2007 6:35 PM
Comment #201528

Tim Crow
Exactly. I hope congress takes back the power to declare(or not) war.

Kieth Burgin
Investigations are called oversite,a congressional responsibility abandoned by the Reps for 6 years.
Our national security is already poor because of a needless war,incompetently engaged.

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #201535
All the rhetoric on both sides is pointless.

Of course. Only accomplishments count — and we all know what Republicans accomplished over the last six years…

Ignore the rhetoric and watch what they do. Dems are passing an ethics bill as we speak and Bush is granting himself the power to steal my mail.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 4, 2007 7:52 PM
Comment #201546

“Dems are passing an ethics bill as we speak and Bush is granting himself the power to steal my mail.”

I think we have an instant classic. Good job AP

But I have a question. Is Bush the only one who can steal my mail, or can he make it legal for OTHERS to steal my mail.

Posted by: darren159 at January 4, 2007 9:06 PM
Comment #201559

To subvert the Constitution as Bush has done is treason. He and Cheney both, if our democracy worked as our founding fathers intended, should be brought up on charges of treason and conspiracy to undermine the Constitution of the United States and the guaranteed rights of its citizens in the Bill of Rights.

It was revealed tonight on CNN that FBI documents now reveal two Republican presidents ordered the FBI to investigate critics of Justice Rehnquist. This in addition to the FBI document’s revelation that Rehnquist had a decade long addiction to sedatives at 3 times the prescription rate of consumption while hearing federal cases on the bench.

Secrecy in government’s first obligation is to protect those in power even from their own vices. Republican presidents covered up a drug addict hearing cases of national importance, while sentencing marijuana users to years in prison.

This IS America. Corrupt, without rule of law for the powerful or privileged, and governed by self appointed kings who are above the law they make for the rest of us.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 10:49 PM
Comment #201565

I’d say just let him try a signing statement on us. Let’s see how long they survive a court challenge. If Bush wants to try this with a party far more inclined to start impeachment, or at least censure proceedings, he’s welcome to try. We’ll settle his has real quick, and the Democratic Congress will get an earful if it just lets this kind of thing go.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 4, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #201571

Stephen, why did Pelosi assign Jefferson (La.) to a committee head position knowing an indictment is forthcoming for his $90,000 in the freezer?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 11:45 PM
Comment #201572

Stephen, just make sure your ducks are in a row and you can impeach, try, and convict BOTH Bush and Cheney. Not because that would make Pelosi President, but, because removing Bush alone would achieve nothing positive for the White House or nation and very possibly do the nation far more harm.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2007 11:48 PM
Comment #201576

It will take awhile for Bush to catch up with his new reality. For starters, the Democrats are passing a balanced budget rule/amendment which will prohibit the submission of any appropriations requests that move the budget into the red. Without the money, how will the monkey conduct his 21st century christian crusades. There’s more than one way to skin a cat so pay close attention all you neocons. Polosi didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

Posted by: JC at January 5, 2007 12:09 AM
Comment #201577


“…because removing Bush alone would achieve nothing positive for the White House or nation and very possibly do the nation far more harm. “

I’ve heard this argument before, and you may be right. But, if you will (grin), try this on for size. Perhaps a President Cheney would do more to handcuff the neocons still left in the administration than anything else. Seeing a dark, manipulative, Machiavellian apparatchik as president twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Congress, the public, the media, and the real powers that be—the business interests. The MSM would be hard-pressed to make Dick fuzzy and avuncular—there are no human traits or values to work with. None. The man is as cold and creepy as they come.

Much like turning on a kitchen light and seeing the roaches scurrying for cover, the glare of the presidency might limit the scope of Cheney’s reach he enjoys now by being (relatively) under the radar as VP. Hell, the pressure alone of attending state funerals might give him a heart attack, who knows?

Of course, the biggest argument against such a ploy would be his ability to appoint a VP that would have a leg up on Democratic presidential candidates in ‘08. Still, it’s important not to underestimate Dick’s penchant for ideological self-immolation. He’d probably would appoint a neocon crony cut from the same cloth has himself—I can hear the Dems’ sharpening their collective knives and forks right now….

Just a notion.

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 5, 2007 12:22 AM
Comment #201583

Look, I’m no fan at all of George Bush or the Republicans (or the Democrats for that matter).

But I can’t help but read ALL of the dozen or so posts in this column and think of the term “incestuous amplication.” The phenonomenon wherin a group of people who all think alike and don’t entertain counterarguments start trying to outdo each other with increasingly extreme and hysterical statements.

Fact is that I don’t agree with Bush’s signing statement. I think it’s superflous because it’s simply describing—unnecessarily so—what is already the case.

Fact is, that ALL oversees mail can already be opened and inspected. Only first class mail is protected—and this was the case before Bush. If the post office wants to open your media mail or your Playboy magazine, they’ve been allowed to do that already. Complain if you want—I’m not sure I like this idea, but it’s long been the case and it was hardly George Bush’s idea.

Further, authorities CAN open even a first class letter or package without a warrant if they feel they have “probable cause.” Just as they can bust down your door without a warrant if they feel they have probable cause—i.e, if they hear screams for help behind the door.

Bush’s signing statement says pretty much exactly what’s already the case—that in a situation deemed by authorities to be extreme, they can open a package/letter without seeking a warrant. Same as always.

What concerns me about Bush’s signing statement is actually something much more mundane: and that’s what does it change? How does it effect the admissability in court of whatever is discovered in such an inspection? If it doesn’t effect that, it doesn’t effect anything, so what’s the point?

What if the authorities SAY they suspected that a package was a ticking time bomb, but they actually find kiddy porn inside? Can they prosecute?

This is an interesting legal question because it could present a troubling legal run-around for overzealous prosecuters and law enforcement.

Now, though I don’t agree with the signing statement, I DO understand why it’s there, and I hardly think it’s an occasion for the crazy talk I’m seeing here.

Fact is that if the President of the United States really is some kind of pervert, voyeaur, or miscreant who wants to get into your business for dark and illicit reasons of his own, he’d hardly need—or bother—to use a signing statement for some purpose as lowly as getting to read your mail. If he wanted to do it illegaly, he’d just do it. Not formalize it in law.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 5, 2007 1:09 AM
Comment #201586


Good comment. Personally, I do not have a problem with the concept of signing statements, as long as it represents nothing more than the Executive Branch view of a law.

Where I do have a problem is when the statement represents an usurpation of the Legislative or Judicial branches of government. The President does not have the power to enact law, or to determine its legality in constitutional terms.

In my personal opinion- and I am not a lawyer- Bush has crossed the line, at the urging of Cheney and Addington.

If Bush observes the 4th Amendment and the FISA laws, no problem. If not, then it is an extremely serious problem, warranting censure if not impeachment.

Tim Crow,

I really enjoyed your comment. However, allowing Cheney access to the Oval Office strikes me as a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Before anything happens, there needs to be investigations, and Bush must be found guilty of “high crimes.” Taking the Republican approach used to impeach Clinton is unacceptable to Democrats. We are better than that. Until then, let us keep the powder dry, exercise oversight, and investigate.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2007 1:42 AM
Comment #201587

Phx8, if Bush has crossed the line, as he may have, there are perfectly normal and routine processes for addressing that.

We don’t impeach, censure, indict or imprison our public figures for crossing lines like this one. That’s what government is all about. Frankly, each branch TRIES to push and extend their powers until they are checked by another branch.

If Congress “crosses the line” and enacts something unconstitutional, the courts strike it down. We don’t then put Congress behind bars.

If the judiciary rules in a way Congress doesn’t like, Congress can respond by passing a new law. The judges responsible aren’t then rounded up and tossed in the slammer.

The government is all about establishing, testing, and sometimes coming up against each branch’s authorities. It’s perfectly routine.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 5, 2007 2:08 AM
Comment #201588


We are on the same page. I try to take the long view, and consider the situation regardless of whether it is a Dem or Rep, lib or conservative.

The Bush administration acted with virtually no oversight from a Republican Congress. During the Clinton administation, the rules were changed so that the chair of the Judiciary Committee could issue supoenas without a vote by the committee as a whole. Over 1,000 were issued. Republicans have issued less than 10 subpoenas on Bush over the past six years.

It is high time for oversight and investigation. We have to think in terms of the long run. If the Bush administration has observed the laws and upheld the constitution, no problem. They may turn out to be fine from start to finish. But if they have crossed the proverbial line, then they must be called to account. There is nothing wrong with pushing the envelope. There is everything wrong if the envelope has been shredded.

Posted by: phx8 at January 5, 2007 2:26 AM
Comment #201593

David Remer-
Which position and when? Jefferson, as I understand it, has been kicked off Ways and Means.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 5, 2007 8:17 AM
Comment #201617


“However, allowing Cheney access to the Oval Office strikes me as a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face.”

No, actually it’s naming names—Bush is an empty suit. Cheney is the real power, and putting him in the spotlight, with his 18% approval rating, might be just the ticket to showing the neocons the door. I’m all for investigations, testimony under oath, the whole magilla. It’s important as a nation of laws not to cut legal corners.

My comment was in part an examining of David’s point that impeaching Bush would produce a Cheney presidency, with all it’s concomitant law-breaking, secrecy and arrogance. I’m saying—great! Let’s see how well it survives the light of day. The danger is the same, with Bush in office or Cheney.

It has been mentioned, I can’t remember where, that if a growing impeachment wave were to start Bush thinking, he might, as part of any future deal, throw Cheney off the train to save his skin. Some people argue that impeachment is a time-consuming, tedious process. And, usually, it is; but what if you have a president that is increasingly acting erratic, desperate, lashing out in not only inappropriate but dangerous ways? And what if the president’s policies and behaviors are costing the powers that be profits, markets, investors, capital? It’s amazing how quickly things like impeachment can move when the oligarchy sees the writing on the wall.

This isn’t about laws, politics, or national integrity, lord knows. This is about power and money and towering egos, and if a president can’t be neutered politically, or isolated, there are other methods.

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 5, 2007 1:07 PM
Comment #201621

I just finished an article entitled “Pelosi Vows Big Results” from an Associated Press writer. It mentioned something about a “pay as you go” financing policy in the House which had no explanation. Then it began touting all the exciting things Pelosi had planned for her inaugural ball, including visiting her father’s statue in Baltimore, and naming a street after herself. The story finished with her daughter talking about making life-sized gingerbread houses as a kid.
Hmm, I was hoping for a little more big result plans, but I guess a Grandma orgy was the best the Press could do!!


Posted by: JD at January 5, 2007 1:34 PM
Comment #201623

My Dr. Strangelove nughtmares are constantly interrupted by Nixon morphing into Bush and saying, “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2007 1:50 PM
Comment #201632

Okay, I don’t quite understand. Perhaps someone could explain. If passage of the bill didn’t hinder the ability to “monitor” the mail, why the signing statement? Why the need?

If the signing statement did fundamentally change the effect of the bill, why sign it?

I still don’t understand why signing statements have become so important to this president. It feels to me like an attempt to not have to fight for what he wants from congress. Just slip it in the back door.

Should any president have that power? I personally don’t want any president to have that power, no matter the party.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 5, 2007 2:44 PM
Comment #201642

“Its just a matter of time till rockets from the Mexican side of the border start hitting the U.S. as our National Gaurd were chased from the border Wensday by gun fire.Its getting closer to home every day”

Yes, it is just a matter of time JC. But tell us, what has President Bush done to stop it?
This was not the first time and it won’t be the last.
Are you going to blame Democrats for weakening Bush or are you going to blame Bush for doing nothing?

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2007 3:39 PM
Comment #201650

Tim Crow you said

These platitudes about bi-partisanship are tedious and fatuous. It is time that both parties come together to save the country from an administration that is out of control. Time is running out; the neocons are casting about looking for an excuse for Israel or the US to attack Iran. This troop ‘surge’ is a way to keep us there in Iraq for another year so they can concoct some bullshit lie about Syria and Iran—and justify attacking them, too.

My question to you and or any others willing to answer is this:

With 3 years of negotiations between iran ,germany ,england and france and then sanctions issued by the un that was a unanimous vote ,along with irans leader clearly stating that his intent is to eliminate Isreal as a nation ,that the holacost never occured i guess the democrats view is to allow them to do what so ever they decide ?….I would truly be interested in the dems view on how to deal with iran ,,,should we begin by placating thier leader ?all women in america must now wear a burka >???or simply abandon Isreal..?in Jan 02 the pentagon ordered 3000 inter service fighter planes that the remaining balance are due for delievery in 07 …perhaps our government knows things and plans that Iran syria north korea and possibly others ( hugo chavis comes to mind ) have in mind for our country…one last comment does any one who reads these blogs actually beleive Isreal will allow Iran to continue its nuclear program unchecked ?perhaps that is why in sept 04 the us sold Isreal 2500 2 ton jdams and 1000 5 ton bunker buster Jdams… few out there that post on this line really understand the importance of oil to this nation .
We currently store 760,000,000 barrels of oil in 5 strategic locations or approximatly 56 days worth of oil….it would be interesting to see some of the posters positions if Iran test fired a nucler weapon on televiv and then shut down the strait of hormoz ….perhaps when you no longer have fuel to go to the store ,work or heat your homes,(at any cost) the strategic importance of this region would become apparent.
So i would be interested in alternative solutions regarding Iran /North korea/syria ,now that both the senate and house are run by the party who for the last 6 years has made no plan other than to insult and attempt to stop anything president bush has done to safe gaurd this country….

Ps …..with some of your wonderful leaders out there openly speaking of attempting to impeach a war time president i wonder what voters reaction will be when they cut off funding the war leaving our honorable men and women to be abandoned in the field …?

Posted by: rylee at January 5, 2007 4:34 PM
Comment #201661


You sound like most of the Kansan’s I encounter day in and day out. Do you truly believe that we can just start blowing the hell out of every country that we percieve as a threat without some form of retaliation?


Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #201662

Kanas dem
That is precisly what i thought id get ,,No answers simply insults to me and the same kind of thought processes that neville chamberlin had telling all of england peace could be achieved with Hitler….That to me is the single scarest thing we now have .with dems controlling the house and senate you can bet just as several democrats have already attempted to supercede the presidents foreighn policy ,next well probibly see kerry meeting with the president of Iran and announcing how great a guy he is and that Isreal has nothing to fear from them….In the early thirtys if we had a president like president bush wed have removed Hitler, and world war 2 may never have occured instead now well take the nevelle chamberlin path and 5 or 10 years from now well have to go back and then lose hundreds of thousands to bring peace to the middle east…Truly a shame but that is what it looks like will happen…..

Posted by: rylee at January 5, 2007 6:21 PM
Comment #201676

First, we have to have an army, and the real world figures on our readiness are abyssmal, which is why even the President is now talking about expanding the military. The war in Iraq has forced us to that point, after almost four years of workaround solutions like stopgap measures, recruiting standards relaxation, calling up the guard and the reserves, etc.

Second, do we have a solid reason for hitting these people, one that’s going to tie the hands of anybody foolish enough to interfere? If what Bush had said the first time around had been true, we might have had that with Iraq, but unfortunately Bush isn’t that smart about foreign policy.

The whole Neville Chamberlain thing has been used Ad Nauseam to decry what you folks paint as appeasement- anything short of a war, it seems. You don’t seem to have a real appreciation of either our position or the fact that Neville Chamberlain never had to go to war to face down Hitler. He merely had to tell him no on his territorial expansion.

The truth here is that we likely have much better options than going outright to war. You call them appeasement because it doesn’t involve blowing people’s heads off. We can twist arms in other ways. We can give them face-saving outs the way we did with Khadaffi, who got to rejoin the rest of the world, at the price of giving up his WMD programs.

The Problem here is that you think wars are clean solutions to problems like these. Even if they go right, that typically isn’t the case. The Gulf War went Marvellously. The Allies won WWI. Napoleon lost the first round, only to come back and force that which lead to his literal Waterloo.

Unfortunately, Republicans have not been taught to look at war so systematically or skeptically. They’ve been brought up on this Neocon sensibility of cutting the Gordian Knot, of seeking out dragons to slay. They’ve not been brought up to look at things in real world terms. Unfortunately, that means Republican’s eyes are bigger than their stomachs on war-fighting, and so they naively go calling for more wars when we’re having trouble maintaining the logistics of this one.

There’s more complexity to dealing with foreign policy than a flip of the military coin between war and peace.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 5, 2007 8:15 PM
Comment #201689

Stephen D,

You’re wasting your time, and keystrokes, just as Baker, Hamiltom, et al wasted their time making a realistic suggestion to Bush. We are living in a Dr. Strangelove moment. I only hope that we live to see the aftermath.

I prefer to think we will, and we’ll look back at this time as one of the darkest times in US history.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2007 9:35 PM
Comment #201692


Your reply to rylee I second, seeing that I didn’t know where to begin with his ‘argument’.

This concept of impeaching a ‘war president’ is amusing—seeing that this war was one of discretion rather than necessity, a war based on demonstrable lies, misinformation, disinformation and wishful neocon thinking. I won’t even deign to comment on the War on Terror nonsense, a paradigm concocted to dwarf the nation’s efforts against Nazism, Stalinism, and world Communism combined. We have the ludicrous spectacle of the ‘world’s only superpower’ cowering at the viciousness of a rag-tag bunch of terrorists armed with box knives and a well-honed hate of America; a neocon minuet to convince the entire world that Islamofascism (whatever the hell that is) is going to murder us in our beds. The vast majority of Muslims the world over just want to be left alone to live in peace. They see a country, wealthy beyond imagining and loaded to the teeth with WMD that would make a rational man’s hair stand on end, acting like a victim one minute and a despicable bully the next.

This construct of war to enable the shredding of the Constitution, the magnification beyond all sane reasoning of a Supreme Executive and a trashing of the other branches of government, must come to an end. Our very lives depend on it. This fear-based claptrap didn’t pass muster this past November—perhaps the American people are finally beginning to see.

We have a problem with terrorism. It is not a military one, it is one of diligent, unglamorous, twenty-four hour, seven-day a week police work—work that necessitates teamwork with our allies and even our occasional advesaries. We cannot be effective against it unilaterally. The American people sensed this in this past election.

And they didn’t sign up for a 100-Year War at the behest of some oligarchic oil barons, despite what Dick Cheney might have told them. Americans, in the coming decades, are going to find that there are some aspects of the American lifestyle that will have to be negotiated. Whether they like it or not.

I think the world has had about enough of subsidizing Americans, who constitute five percent of the world’s population and use 25% of the world’s resources.

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 5, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #201713
What concerns me about Bush’s signing statement is actually something much more mundane: and that’s what does it change?…If it doesn’t effect that, it doesn’t effect anything, so what’s the point?

First of all, Bush’s signing statement doesn’t just apply to foreign mail. It applys to domestic first class mail as well. Second, I don’t think anyone believes Bush does anything for no reason.

Let me help out some of our less imaginative colleagues: David mentioned Nixon ordering the FBI to investigate and intimidate critics of William Rehnquist, but even Nixon wasn’t bold enough to give them the power to legally open those people’s mail without a warrant.

Obviously, the President isn’t going to look at everybody’s mail. But he now believes he has the power to open mail belonging to anyone in power who questions him.

From politicians to journalists to judges and panel members investigating the run-up to the Iraq war, President Bush granted himself the power to seriously intimidate and silence these watchdogs.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 6, 2007 2:28 AM
Comment #201760

Tim Crow, great posts, eloquently said.

American Pundit, I agree. Everything with this administration has been about gaining authoritarian-style control. This latest development is just one more example.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 6, 2007 3:32 PM
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