Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Hits

Addendum to Previous Post
One of the common reasons profferred that Congress has not reacted more strongly to Bush Administration abuses is that Americans dislike investigations, something repeated ad nauseum by the pundit class without justification. The always-excellent Glenn Greenwald dismantles those claims here and here, arguing convincingly that Congress is unpopular not because it provides too much investigation and oversight but too little.

Cosmetic Issues
I'm playing with layout, images, etc, in an effort to make things a little more readable and attractive.

Wanted: Worker Bees

I hope to cover this in more detail but here is the quick version:

The White House is fighting disclosure of information (yet again), claiming that the Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act because it has "no substantial authority independent of President Bush." This sounds familiar because it is.

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
David B. Rifkin, who worked in the Justice Department and White House counsel's office under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, praised the position and said it is consistent with the idea of a "unitary executive." In practical terms, he said, "U.S. attorneys are emanations of a president's will." And in constitutional terms, he said, "the president has decided, by virtue of invoking executive privilege, that is the correct policy for the entire executive branch."[em. added]

According to administration officials those who work in the executive branch are simply extensions of the President. Serving the American people, tending to the good of the nation, abiding by ethics, following the law and relying on independent judgement are all simply not allowed. Mindless zombiedom is the gold standard for behavior.

When Bush ran for President he claimed he would act like a good CEO: hire competent people and get out of their way. What we've seen instead is the hiring of blind loyalists who are given strict marching orders and dismissed if they slightly deviate. One has to wonder who in the executive branch does have "substantial authority independent of President Bush"? The answer appears to be nobody. The same logic being applied to the Justice Department and the Office of Administration applies equally well to every member of the executive branch. They are all "emanations of a president's will" in that he is their ultimate boss.

Is simply following orders, no matter what they are, appropriate behavior in government? (Or anyplace for that matter) According to Bush that is not only appropriate but imperative.

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