Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Hundred Days

I'm faintly amused by the already-swirling speculation surrounding President-elect Obama's first "Hundred Days". What will he do? What will he UNdo? What will his priorities be: health care? The economy? Wars? Should he "reach out" to moderate Republicans or does he need to give the Democratic base some of their wish-list..? Should he kill Joe Lieberman and, if so, where should he bury the body? What kind of puppy should be the new First Dog?

ISTM that there's a hell of a lot of tempest for what has yet to be even the beginning of a teapot (and, let's not forget, we have another seventy-so days of Pot Bush and Kettle Cheney yet to endure...). But speaking as another one of those Palin-hating bloggerssitting in his basement in his pajamas, I have a handful of modest proposals for the first Hundred Days that would help ratchet my confidence in the incoming Administration a notch.

1. Rescind Executive Order 13292, and any and all other EOs transferring additional powers to the Vice President. The VP needs to be reduced to what he has traditionally been; an opener of county fairs and the bored president of the Senate. If the Framers had intended a "co-President", they'd have given us one.

2. Rescind Executive Orders 13425, 13440 and any and all other EOs and internal directives relating to secret detention, incarceration, prosecution, rendition and interrogation of individuals foreign and domestic.

The closure of Gitmo and the "black sites" is going to be extraordinarly difficult and probably not for the announced reasons. The intelligence value or loss of same from a bunch of raggedy-ass Islamic (if that is in fact what they are) neoconservatives is hardly going to be the functional equivalent of catching-and-releasing Joe Goebbels.

But ISTM that there are a hell of a lot of U.S. government officers, from CIA interrogators through senior military officers and, particularly, Democratic Senators and Representatives (i.e. some of the incoming President's own partisans and supporters) who are dirty; dirty as hell. Torture dirty. War-crimes dirty. International Criminal Court dirty. I suspect that there's a LOT of this filthy iceberg hidden below the troubled waters, and people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and people like Waxman, Rockefeller, Bond and the other intel committee chairs are probably included in the group that, in the parlance of criminal prosecution, have "guilty knowledge" of this illegal torture, imprisonment and rendition.

The revelations we will see and hear will be revolting and will hurt us internationally. But the alternative is little better, and is toxic for the Republic. The Obama Adminstration MUST daylight this disgrace or risk contaminating itself and disgracing our country further. We need to reject these foul means of "fighting" the Phony War on Terror and expose them for what they are: our own moronic, militarily and politically worthless version of the Bloody Assizes and the Court of Star Chamber.

3. Recind any and all Executive Orders and internal regulations that increase and extend government secrecy. Declassify everything but that which is genuinely critical to national security. I'm not sure how you do this, but starting with the simple guideline that probably 90% of everything a bureaucracy writes down is just a matter of making a note to file, you can then start dealing with the remaining 10%.

4. Publicly reject "signing statements".

Officially and publicly restrict the use of Executive Orders, these 20th and 21st Century lettres de cachet that have become such a toxin on the body politic and played strongly in the reduction of the Legislative Branch to its current shadowpuppet condition, to matters not amenable to legislation.

And that's just off the top of my head.

There has been a lot of loose talk about what Obama can "do" with the power of the Executive once he attains it. But IMO that isn't a solution - that's part of the problem. For too long too many people have looked to the Executive to act like our king; to save us from ourselves and take the burden of government off of our shoulders. But the very purpose and promise of the United States is and was that we, the People, are DEMANDED to rule ourselves. We must be involved, informed and intelligent, in that as much as Natural Law demands that you are punished for everything you believe that is not true our stupidity, detatchment and greed will bring in their own revenges.This is not without risk. In the delightful old PBS adaptation of "I, Claudius" (and how many of you little rascals remember that, eh? God, I'm older than dirt...) I remember the BBC cast conveyed Robert Graves' intriguing (and probably bullshit) hypothesis that the emperor Claudius was not, in fact, a feebleminded idiot but was a secret Republican (!?!) determined to force the Senate to resume its ancient and long-abandoned role as the government of Rome. To that end he forces hard choices on the Senators, sharpens the contradictions of a single man ruling a supposed "republic" and tries to show the Romans the worst side of imperial rule. According to the Graves book he practically forces the Senators to choose between despotism and the Republic.And in the end came Nero.

13 comments:

Lisa said...

I wholeheartedly agree with 1-4. This should be sent off to a metro paper as an OP-ED "My Word" column. If Obama's organization is really so netroots, maybe he'd get word.

"I, Claudius" was wonderful. I remember my mom eagerly anticipating Sunday night for the next installment. (It's on DVD now.)

...and I never knew the Roman soldiers wore Gold Toe socks. . .

sheerahkahn said...

I would say that nothing like releasing the past 8 years worth of Presidential malfesance would be appropriate.
All the secret memos, all the EO's...just out it all.
No official charges of misconduct, but rather a bright eye-opener for the American people to see what their elected President did while they all drummed their fingers on their lips, pissing themselves because they actually f~~king believed OBL was going to fly a 747into their paper-mache corn edifice for the local county fair.

FDChief said...

Lisa: Not a bad idea. Local fishwrap has a 150-word limit, so I'd have to edit the hell out of it. What a crap paper we have.

I loved the old BBC series, too; Derek Jacobi kicked ass and I loved the actress who played Livia (Mrs. Augustus) as a supremely upright, utterly amoral Bitch Queen of Patrician Evil.

Those Praetorians! The ultimate kingmakers and here they are prancing around like (in the words of Mel Brooks) a bunch of Kansas City faggots! Who knew?

Sheerah: That's what I'd do, if I were Obama-for-a-day. Fuck 'em; let the chips fall where they may...

mike said...

He needs to do a lot more than "publicly reject" signing statements. He should issue an executive order that clearly states that all former signing statements are null and void and that public (or secret) servants shall follow the law as passed by Congress and not as per any previous 'signing statement'. Then he should publicly state that he will never use a signing statement no matter who is in the majority in congress.

As for Reid and Granny Pelosi, there is no need for us to turn on them. Bush is the guilty one. So are you suggesting that we let him skate and go after our own?

FDChief said...

mike: I'm saying that the problem with opening the doors and telling the whole truth about Gitmo and the black sites is gonna tar a lot of people with the torture, rendition and false imprisonment brush. Most of them are going to be Bushies, but this stuff can't have gone as far and as long as it has without prominent Congressional Democrats knowing about it and saying and doing nothing. The Bushies are authoritarian scum who will be proud and unashamed of their roles in disappearing and mistreating people, guilty and innocent alike. The Dems have claimed to take the high road on this issue. I suspect that revealing who knew what and when will show many of our Congressional "leaders" were in on the crimes, at least in the sense of "guilty knowledge".

And you're right about the formal process of invalidating these loathesome "signing statements". But part of my point is that the job of restricting these damn things isn't really the President's. Congress should have jerked his chain in LONG ago; it shouldn't be a matter of regulation, amenable to the whims of the Chief Executive. It needs to be a matter of law; the Congress makes the law, the President executes it. Not his "version" of it, not the parts he likes based on some blather he spouts while signing the damn thing. If he doesn't like it, he needs to veto it. It's sad to think that we need a law to make the President obey the law. But there's Bush's Legacy!

FDChief said...

I'd add that I have very little hopes that anyone in our country will be able to "go after" Bush and the other criminals using the U.S. statutes. That was the vicious genius of the Newtster's impeachment of Clinton: it took impeachment (or prosecution) off the table for Dems as a "partisan" ploy. For the next generation any Democrat attempting to bring in a bill of impeachment against a Republican President NOT caught sodomizing an underage male while on the phone with Vladimir Putin discussing selling the nuclear codes will be accused of trying to settle the score for the Clenis.

If only Tricky Dick had been that tricky!

No, my hope is that one of the disappeared goes to the ICC and the Obama DOJ cooperates in delivering these shitheels to justice in Brussels. It's serve Dick Cheney right to occupy the cell next to Slobodan fucking Milosevich.

Lisa said...

Chief,

You say "any Democrat attempting to bring in a bill of impeachment against a Republican President. . . will be accused of trying to settle the score for the Clenis."

And why not? It's rather like Bush going after Saddam b/c he tried to kill his daddy. So be it if it's seen as settling the score -- that's become de riguer today. FOX viewers would understand. "Settle the score for the Clenis" -- it's a great battle cry --I'd wear it on a T-shirt!

If we got Cheney, maybe he could get a cell near Karadžić who could, you know, help him with various New Age interventions re. his problem with asymmetry. At least he'd look less scary. . .

FDChief said...

Lisa: Radovan and Dick: a couple for the ages.

Ewwwwww!!!

Lisa said...

"Radovan and Dick: a couple for the ages"

--I'm smiling at the thought of new franchise: the chums could have their own "On the Road" movie series, recounting their unspeakable offenses. Sure to be big with the Soldier of Fortune crowd.

Just a thought. . .

FDChief said...

"We're off on the road to the prison,
These manacles are tough on the spine.
(hit me with a band-aid, Dad)
Where they're goin', why we're goin', what do we care,
I'll lay you eight to five that we'll meet Turdblossom there! (yeah, get in line!)"


Apologies to Bing and Bob...

Lisa said...

:)

srv said...

Well said. My fantasy is that Yoo and Addington disappear on Jan. 22, 2009.

After a few months of rumors, the Obama WH releases a terse statement that two unamed US citizens are being detained offshore. Obama asserts his authority as the Unitary Executive for justification.

By 2011, it reaches SCOTUS. The administration then uses the exact arguments of Yoo/Addington to Scalia.

Clown Car lawyers disgraced, Article II defined, no worries about Cheney Jr. dusting these policies off in 2020.

Lisa said...

srv,

Re. Yoo/Addington: turnabout is fair play.