Alito’s ugly association
His membership in a racist, reactionary group at Princeton reveals the unsavory face of conservatism.
By Joe Conason
Jan. 13, 2006 | It’s easy to tell when conservatives feel most embarrassed by a particular political revelation because indignation immediately swells while memory grows dim. Whatever the outcome of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination, his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton is the kind of issue that conservatives clearly prefer to avoid.
They don’t like to be reminded of their historical opposition to civil rights, their continuing hostility to the advancement of minorities, or their bad habit of coddling and cultivating bigots.
That is why Sen. Orrin Hatch angrily demanded to know why anyone would dare ask Alito about CAP, why Sen. Lindsay Graham theatrically apologized to Alito and his family about the controversy, and why author Dinesh D’Souza, who once edited the organization’s magazine, dismissed the subject as a “diversion.” That is why Fox News and the conservative media are exploiting his wife’s tears to suggest that those questions were somehow illegitimate.
That is also why Alito himself has claimed to be unable to recall his decision to join the reactionary group of wealthy Princeton graduates (founded in 1972), which became notorious for its opposition to women and minorities on campus, its vicious bigotry against homosexuals, and its defense of the interests of affluent white male alumni and their sons. A convenient credential back when he was applying for a post in the Reagan administration, where his rÃ©sumÃ© would be perused only by like-minded right-wingers, membership in CAP became troublesome under the hot lights of a Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Together we are stronger, more powerful, reach more people than moveon.org or any other organizations.
Let’s make it happen. I wrote an article a few days ago along these lines. I’ve emailed to a few leaders in the progressive movement. They agree. Let me know if you’ll get on board. We need to pick a day, a time and then let our readers know about it. If we pull together on this, we can show the media, show the congress that we’re serious. Please contact me if you have any ideas, if you’re willing to get on board! for this.
As usual, I’ve inluded links to new articles we’ve run.
Rob Kall, OpEdNews.com
Bush Could Seize Absolute Control Of U.S. Government
President George W. Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits deployment of U.S. troops on American streets. This would give him absolute dictatorial power over the government with no checks and balances.
Grandmothers Against The War Go To Criminal Court
These brave women were arrested after they attempted to enlist in the military.
Do The American People WANT A King?
The ancient Israelites chose to have a king “to lead us in warfare and fight our battles”. Is this what the American people are doing?
Hugh Thompson And My Lai, Broke Ranks And Did The Right Thing
Hugh Thompson rescued Vietnamese victims of infamous William Calley, who was tried for war crimes.
Why Did Bush Run Around The Low-Hurdle Of FISA And Wiretap Without After-the-fact Permission?
Stop Being A Whiny Defeatist And STOP ALITO
What we must do to defeat all Alito is simply to DO something about it. Talk has no value whatsoever unless the person you are talking TO is a United States senator.
Those Despicable, Cowardly Democrats What Ever Happened To Separation Of Church And State?
I cannot understand why not one of the Democrats raised the critical issue of separation of church and state! Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room!
Every Generation Has Its Heroes, And Every War Wants Them
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, Ã£Immoral means cannot bring moral ends, for the ends are pre-existent in the means.Ã¤ The brief statement goes beyond making judgment calls about moral and immoral methods. It reveals a plainer truth that explains the movementÃ¢s commitment to nonviolence: means and ends cannot be separated.
Mrs. Alito Sheds A Tear, And Another Repug Hides Under His Wife’s Skirt
Martha-Ann Alito comes to Sammy’s rescue and takes the heat off the nominee, rousing sympathy and support for Bush’s lying future justice.
Bush And Republicans Vs. Rule Of Law
Article responds to the spin campaign by Bush Republicans of White House illegal wiretapping. It puts the scandal in historical and Constitutional context.
Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought – Part 2
It’s 1967. Classicalism and the Moody Blues commence the nuptials that spawned a genre now slowly, painfully, re-emerging.
The Erosion Of Trust
Today, when we desperately need to trust our government, trust, that essential moral resource has, like the federal surplus, been squandered to serve private greed and ambition.
The US Is A Laughingstock
Our pResident shamelessly declares that he is above the law, and no one does anything about it.
ATroop Withdrawal Argument — Tailored For George Bush
Gerald Rellick postulates that King George will put an end to the madness in Iraq if it means saving face (and his miserable skin)….
‘Daily Voting News’ For January 12, 2006
a run-down of the days elections/voting news from across the country and overseas.
War Lies And Journalistic Constipation
So, what would we have to think if we were to discover that the New York Times has been sitting on a story about who it was that Dearlove met with Ã¶ and that it was not “national security aides”?
The Countdown To War With Iran
Behind the nonsense about IranÃ¢s Ã£nuclear weapons programsÃ¤ is the vital need of the western financial system to underwrite its burgeoning $9 trillion in debt with the one commodity that will keep the listing Greenback afloat… oil.
CHENEY/BUSH NEOCON EXPERIMENT HAS FAILED
An out-of-touch leader presides over a lost foreig
n war and a mo
rass of influence peddling and bribery, as the secret police struggle to keep a lid on growing dissent: Eric Margolis, Toronto Star
Jonathan Simon is spot on.
Surely one of the most amazing aspects of the election fraud issue is how so many otherwise smart liberals and progressives fail to see what is right in front of their faces — this includes Al Franken, Paul Begalla, Arianna Huffington, Bernie Sanders, every Democrat in the Senate, and with the exception of Rush Holt, John Conyers and a very few others, virtually every Democrat in the House. And so the Democrats, and allied organizations such as PFAW and Move-On prattle on about how they will surely take over the Congress “next time.”
So once again, Lucy props up the football, and says, “c’mon, Charlie Brown, let’s see if you can kick it this time.”
What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know how to recognize plain-fact evidence? Can’t they follow a simple argument to its compelling conclusion? Answer: yes they know, and yes they can. They just refuse. My best guess is that they simply can’t bring themselves to face up to the enormity of the Bush/GOP crime against our democracy.
Germany, c. 1938: “Yes, I know things are tough for us Jews, but surely you can’t believe those stories about death camps. After all, this is our country too!” Some of those who believed the stories and who acted accordingly are now, along with their descendents, our neighbors and compatriots. Those who “couldn’t believe,” perished in the holocaust.
Don’t get your hopes up. The suits against Diebold are going nowhere. Remember the right-wing judiciary? If the plaintiffs win, the case will be thrown out on appeal. Even if a judgment for the plaintiffs is upheld, who will know about it? Sure, Fitrakis and Wasserman, bless ’em, will crow about it, and the progressive blogosphere will shout about it. But what difference will that make?
If we managed to crawl out of this hole, this is how it will happen: it will finally dawn on the poobahs on Wall Street, and through them a few significant voices in the MSM, that they are sinking the ship that they are riding on. And when the great ship goes down, those in the luxury cabins will be as doomed as those in steerage.
Bush’s “pioneers” are, in their own way, as blind to the economic shipwreck ahead as the aforementioned progressives are to election fraud. But the evidence in both cases is compelling. The housing bubble is about to burst, China is abandoning the dollar, we are at peak oil and energy prices are bound to skyrocket. And the 95% of humanity living outside our borders has just about had it with our imperial fantasies and may, at any time, decide to shut down our economy without firing a shot. Europe, OPEC and the Pacific Rim can do it, and they know it even if the Busheviks don’t. (See “The Vulnerable Giant” www.crisispapers.org/essays/vulnerable.htm ).
All this is slowly dawning on a few fat-cat movers and shakers, a very few of whom seem to realize that all their wealth is derived, ultimately, from the education, skill and labor of the rest of us, and from our shared infrastructure, institutions, and political traditions, most notably, the rule of law — all of which are being outsourced, dismantled, and “drowned” in Grover Norquist’s “bathtub.” The recent impeachment editorial in Barrons may suggest that this realization may be dawning on a few of the elites. And so, where the law, the Constitution, simple justice and morality have failed, enlightened self-interest by the powerful and wealthy may yet bail us out. If and when these powers-that-be finally decide to pull the plug on Bush, Inc., they can bring it down, simply by spreading the word, far and wide, that since 2000 (and perhaps before) elections have been irrelevant and that the regime no longer governs “with the consent of the governed.” They, unlike us, have the media access and control to do just that.
But will they wake up in time to rescue our common political-economic enterprise? That’s where we in the progressive blososphere come in. Our voices of protest are weak, but they are grounded in evidence and hard reality. We must write and publish relentlessly, wake up our sleeping and credulous “allies” (Franken, Huffington, Sanders, MoveOn, et al), tell the Democrats that they will get no support from us unless and until they address and deal with the ballot fraud issue, and we must encourage and then publicize any defections from Bushism in the media and among the affluent elites.As I have noted many times before, the Busheviks and their allies have the wealth and the power, and they control the message. Thus the cause of us dissidents is hopeless: as hopeless as the causes of General George Washington, of Mohandas Gandhi, of Nelson Mandella, of Andrei Sakharov, of Martin Luther King. Somehow, mysteriously, unexpectedly, the forces of history provided opportunities, and they had the wisdom to take advantage of these opportunities. I find no leaders of such stature and wisdom in evidence today, and yet those opportunities may soon be before us.
“The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Martin Luther King).
I couldn’t agree with you more, which is why massive organizing on the grass roots level is required.
The Leon County Florida hack of Diebold’s Central Tabulator on 12/13/05 (which our “Votergate” documentary team shot and facilitated by providing the hacker, Harri Hursti) was featured in the Sunday, NY Times editorial of 12/18. The hack was also carried by AP, leading to national and regional coverage including USA Today.
Credible actions like our hack fuel the election reform movement, engage and enrage otherwise quiet citizens, stimulate legislators, and alert establishment entities to the realities you so eloquently describe in your response to Tom Englehardt.
More and more of us are organizing for election reform, peace, social, economic, environmental justice, and true democracy. Our ranks are swelling as never before. As Paul Hawken has demonstrated, this is happening worldwide, and it’s happening in unprecedented numbers. Change will come from the bottom up. It always has. It always will.
Alas, this administration will do anything to consolidate power. Do not underestimate the number of wildcards they hold. Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is now rumored in Washington and in Europe. Another domestic terrorist attack could befall us. Jonathan, should something of that magnitude happen, the result could be, “the full-blown nightmare of American fascism come true” that you describe.
As Americans, organizing to save democracy at home remains our best and only recourse. This administration has clearly lost respect abroad. It’s incumbent upon us to demonstrate to the world that Americans are not in lockstep with our administration. World opinion coupled with massive dissent at home is the one wildcard that can trump everything. The stakes have never been higher. The more engaged citizens we bring to the table, the better our odds to win back our stolen democracy.
So ante up, take courage and organize like there is no tomorrow — or there might not be one.
On Sunday, January 15 and Monday, January 16, come to a FREE showing of the landmark documentary:
“Invisible Ballots: A Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud”
Voting machines ARE changing soon! Will our Commissioners choose the only curently-certified machine with a Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot?
A federal government report from the GAO recently found that “significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems” have been raised.
Become informed. Get the facts. Save your $$$
Bristol Township Senior Citizens’ Center
DATE: Sunday, January 15, 2006
TIME: 3:00 pm
LOCATION: 2501 Bath Road
DATE: Monday, January 16
TIME: 3:00 pm
LOCATION: 120 N. State Street
DATE: Monday, January 16
TIME: 3:00 pm
LOCATION: 150 S. Pine Street
Michener Library (two showings)
DATE: Monday, January 16
TIME: 3:00 pm AND 7:00 pm
LOCATION: 401 W. Mill Street, Quakertown
DATE: Monday, January 16
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: 7311 New Falls Road
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
DATE: Monday, January 16
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: 301 N. Main Street, Doylestown
Sponsored by the NON-partisan citizens’ group: Coalition for Voting Integrity
I also want to take the time here to thank all of the election integrity activists who are working night and day to raise public awareness to this issue, and apply public pressure to get elected officials to take it seriously. Thanks, from the bottom of all of our hearts.
ACTION: a thank you
Please send co-sponsors Steve Gallardo email@example.com and Phil Lopes firstname.lastname@example.org , both Democrats, a brief note of thanks.
Please send Karen Johnson and Jack Harper your appreciation for working across the aisle with Ted Downing on this TRANS-PARTISAN American civic issue. (email@example.com * firstname.lastname@example.org )
On our website, www.progressiveazdems.org in the section entitled “Support our elected progressives,” there is a button entitled : “track bills, contact legislators.” Click that, and when you get to the legislative page, there is a link entitled, “How do I find my Legislators?” simply enter your zip code, and “voila: your elected representatives! Simple. (Same process works on the Senate page.)
And, if you believe your representative or senator might be interested in joining the progressive caucus, please invite them to go to our website to sign up for updates. Have them contact Rep. Downing about furthering the legislative progressive caucus, and contact me ( email@example.com ) to be added under “Profiles in courage” on the AZDPC website.
Soon, we will be asking for regular updates from these progressive elected officials, through our caucus, to all of you, their consituents, on the important work they do on our behalf. This way we can provide support with research, issue promotion, public meetings, and the like.
Although she is brand-new on the job, beyond congratulating her on her new post and offering her any assistance she may need, I hope you will also ask her to work with Senators Johnson and Harper to move this issue forward. firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to working on other issues of interest to us as progressives, on electoral reform, Paula has has already signed on to co-sponsor a bill allowing a mail-in-ballot only election by any jursidiction (SB1108), a bill to institute a permanent list of persons who wish to vote by mail (SB1106), and one to require that if someone requests an early ballot in one election, they automatically be sent for the following two.
Please contact them and request they also work with Republican Senators Johnson and Harper to co-sponsor strong election integrity legislation. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for all you do.
In peace and solidarity,
Gerry and Sherry
Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, MSW, and Sherry Bohlen
Co-Chairs, AZ Democratic Progressive Caucus
Feds warn state over vote systems
Tomgram: The Year of Living Dangerously
Bush v. Reality
War, Trials, Leakers, Investigations, Packed Courts, and a Constitutional Crisis
By Tom Engelhardt
2006 is sure to be the year of living dangerously — for the Bush administration and for the rest of us. In the wake of revelations of warrantless spying by the National Security Agency, we have already embarked on what looks distinctly like a constitutional crisis (which may not come to a full boil until 2007). In the meantime, the President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State, various lesser officials, crony appointees, acolytes, legal advisors, leftover neocons, spy-masters, strategists, spin doctors, ideologues, lobbyists, Republican Party officials, and congressional backers are intent on packing the Supreme Court with supporters of an “obscure philosophy” of unfettered Presidential power called “the unitary executive theory” and then foisting a virtual cult of the imperial presidency on the country.
On the other hand, determined as this administration has been to impose its version of reality on us, the President faces a traffic jam of reality piling up in the environs of the White House. The question is: How long will the omniscient and dominatrix-style fantasies of Bushworld, ranging from “complete victory” in Iraq to non-existent constitutional powers to ignore Congress, the courts, and treaties of every sort, triumph over the realities of the world the rest of humanity inhabits. Will an unconstrained presidency continue to grow — or not?
Here are just a few of the explosive areas where Bush v. Reality is likely to play out, generating roiling crises which could chase the President through the rest of this year. Keep in mind, this just accounts for the modestly predictable, not for the element of surprise which — as with Ariel Sharon’s recent stroke — remains ever present.
Who, after all, can predict what will hit our country this year. From a natural-gas shock to Chinese financial decisions on the dollar, from oil terrorism to the next set of fierce fall hurricanes, from the bursting of the housing bubble to the arrival of the avian flu, so much is possible — but one post-9/11 truth, revealed with special vividness by hurricane Katrina, should by now be self-evident: Whatever the top officials of this administration are capable of doing, they and their cronies in various posts throughout the federal bureaucracy are absolutely incapable of (and perhaps largely uninterested in) running a government. Let’s give this phenomenon a fitting name: FEMAtization. You could almost offer a guarantee that no major problem is likely to arise this year, domestic or foreign, that they will not be quite incapable of handling reasonably, efficiently, or thoughtfully — to hell with compassionately (for anyone who still remembers that museum-piece label, “compassionate conservative,” from the Bush version of the Neolithic era). So here are just four of the most expectable crisis areas of 2006 as well as three wild cards that may remain in the administration’s hand and that could
chase all of us through this year — adding up, in one way or the other, to the political tsunami of 2006.
Unwilling to face the realities of its trillion-dollar folly of a war and dealing with presidential polling figures entering free fall, the administration did the one thing it has been eternally successful at — it launched a fantasy offensive, not in Iraq, but here at home against the American people and especially the media. A series of aggressive speeches, news conferences, spin-doctored policy papers, and attacks on the opposition as “defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right,” all circling around an election likely to put an Islamic theocratic regime in power in Baghdad, pumped up the President’s polling numbers modestly and, more importantly, caused reporters and pundits to back off, wondering yet again whether we weren’t finally seeing the crack of light at the end of that tunnel. (Wasn’t the President implicitly admitting to the odd mistake in Iraq policy? Wasn’t he secretly preparing his own version of withdrawal? Weren’t the Iraqis turning some corner or other?)
However complicated the situation in Iraq may be, here’s an uncomplicated formula for considering administration policy there in the coming year. After every “milestone” from the killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons and the capture of Saddam himself through the “handing over” of sovereignty and various elections, things have only gotten worse. Remind me why it should be different this time? In fact, while the President warned endlessly about violence before the recent election, the violence since has been far worse with 28 Americans and hundreds of Iraqis dying in just a single tumultuous four-day period. Or put another way, whatever government may be formed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, it will preside over a Bush-installed failed state, utterly corrupt (billions of dollars have already been stolen from it) and thoroughly inept, incapable of providing its people with anything like security. In fact, just the other day, two suicide bombers, dressed in the uniforms of “senior police officers” and with the correct security passes, made it through numerous checkpoints and into the well-guarded compound of the Interior Ministry where they blew themselves and many policemen up. Iraq’s government, such as it is, has also proved incapable of delivering electricity or potable water, or of running its only industry of significance, the oil business (overseen by, of all people, Ahmed Chalabi), which is now producing less energy than in the worst moments of the Saddam Hussein/sanctions era. The country is already in a low-level civil war; its American-supported military made up of rival militias preparing to engage in various forms of ethnic cleansing; its police evidently heavily infiltrated by the insurgency; and its most important leaders are Shiite theocrats closely allied with Iran. The insurgency itself shows not the slightest sign of lessening.
Iraq is a minefield for the Bush administration. Prepare for it to blow this year.
2. Trials (and Tribulations) of Every Sort. Of course some of the description of Iraq above has become increasingly applicable to the Bush administration as well. It is, after all, run by fundamentalists and presidential cultists, presiding over what increasingly looks like a FEMA-tized, failed state, riddled with corruption, and at war with itself. In 2006, Bush and his associates face a quagmire of potential scandals, exposures of corrupt and illegal practices, and trials and tribulations of all sorts. There is, as a start, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, still on the Plame case job.
After a brief flurry of activity in November when the National Law Journal’s 2005 “lawyer of the year” convened a new grand jury to hear further evidence, the Fitzgerald investigation dropped off just about everyone’s radar screen. Fitzgerald, however, is a dogged character, playing things very close to the vest. No one can know what exactly he will do, but he is reportedly preparing material on Karl Rove for the new grand jury. It would be reasonable to expect that, sometime in the next two or three months, he might indeed indict “Bush’s brain” and then, rather than winding down his investigation, turn from those who attempted to obstruct his view of the Plame case to the case itself. In other words, if you happen to be a betting soul, you might consider putting your money on the possibility that the Plame case investigation will reach ever higher in the administration — and Fitzgerald seems carefully shielded within the Justice Department from administration tampering.
Republican Congressional Committee and linked to the Abramoff case. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who plied endless (mostly Republican) congressional reps with favors and perks in return for influence, pled guilty last week to public corruption charges and turned state’s evidence. He has claimed he possesses incriminating material on 60 congressional lawmakers (as well as many of their aides).
Last week, the Washington Post reported, federal prosecutors turned “up the pressure on a former senior aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in the clearest signal yet that the sprawling public corruption investigation is now focusing on House Republican leadership offices.” Though the career prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity who turned Abramoff, seem to have been reasonably insulated from administration pressure, the case threatens to hit the Republican Congress hard, just as the Plame case threatens to empty the higher realms of administration power. It looks like at least a limited number of cases will be brought against lawmakers this election year. Unlike Fitzgerald, however, the career prosecutors in the Abramoff case are overseen by a notorious Bush recess appointee, Alice Fisher. Her nomination was opposed even in a Republican-controlled Senate as she is without prosecutorial experience (though she has some experience in the subject area of Guantanamo interrogations and is tied to Tom DeLay’s defense team). So look for future fireworks, conflicts, scandals, and plenty of leaks on this one.
3. War with the Bureaucracy. Until quite recently, with an oppositionless Congress, increasingly right-wing courts, and a cowed media, traditional Constitutional checks and balances on administration claims of massive presidential powers and prerogatives have been missing in action. However, the founding fathers of this nation, who could not have imagined our present National Security State or the size of this imperial presidency, could have had no way of imagining the governmental bureaucracy that has grown up around these either. So how could they have dreamed that the only significant check-and-balance in our system since September 11, 2001 has been that very bureaucracy? Parts of it have been involved in a bitter, shadowy war with the administration for years now. It’s been a take-no-prisoners affair, as Tomdispatch has recorded in the first two posts in its Fallen Legion series, focusing on the startling numbers of men and women who were honorable or steadfast enough in their governmental duties that they found themselves with little alternative but to resign in protest, quit, retire, or simply be pushed off some cliff. This administration has done everything in its power to take control of the bureaucracy. As hurricane Katrina showed with a previously impressive federal agency, FEMA, Bush and his officials have put their pals (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”), often without particular qualifications other than loyalty to this President, into leading positions, while trying to curb or purge their opponents. At the CIA, for instance, just before the last election former Representative Porter Goss, a loyal political hack, was installed to purge and cleanse what had become an agency of leakers and bring it into line. Administration officials have, in fact, conducted little short of a war against leaks and leakers. To give but a single example, the origins of the Plame case lie in part in an attempt by top officials to administer punishment to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for revealing administration lies about an aspect of Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction program. What those officials (as leakers, of course) did to his wife was clearly meant as a warning to others in the bureaucracy that coming forward would mean being whacked.
The war with the bureaucracy and even, to some extent, with the military — high-level officers, for instance, clearly leaked crucial information to Rep. Murtha before his withdrawal news conference — will certainly continue this year, probably at an elevated level. The CIA has been a sieve; the NSA clearly will be; at the first sign of pressure, expect the same from career people in the Justice Department; and an unhappy military has already been passing out administration-unfriendly Iraq info left and right. Administration punitive acts only drive this process forward. Any signs of further administration weakness will do the same.
4. Election 2006. Count on it being down and dirty. This could be a street brawl because, with the Republican loss of even one house of Congress, the power to investigate is turned over to the Democrats as we head into a presidential election cycle.
Consider points 1-3 above: Iraq as a rolling,
roiling, ongoing disaster, Republican congressional representatives and administration figures under indictment, bureaucrats leaking madly, possible seats put into play in Texas, presidential polls dropping — all having the potential to threaten an administration already filled with the biggest gamblers in our history and capable of doing almost anything if they think themselves in danger. So what can the President and his pals draw on?
Court-packing: As Noah Feldman pointed out recently in the New York Times Magazine, the rise of the imperial presidency has a history that goes back to Thomas Jefferson’s decision to conclude the Louisiana Purchase, while the presidency’s outsized “war powers” go back at least to Abraham Lincoln. The President has long had powers unimagined by the founding fathers, but the Bush administration still represents a new stage in the obliteration of a checks-and-balances system of government. Last week, in an important, if somewhat overlooked, front-page piece in the Wall Street Journal (“Judge Alito’s View of the Presidency: Expansive Powers”), Jess Bravin reported on a speech Sam Alito gave to the right-wing Federalist Society in 2000 in which he subscribed to the “unitary executive theory” of the presidency (“gospel,” he called it) which puts its money on the supposedly unfettered powers of the President as commander-in-chief. This theory has been pushed by administration figures ranging from the Vice President and his Chief of Staff David Addington to former assistant attorney general and torture-memo writer John Yoo. As Alito put the matter in his speech: “[The Constitution] makes the president the head of the executive branch, but it does more than that. The president has not just some executive powers, but the executive power — the whole thing.” And Yoo put it even more bluntly while debating the unitary executive theory recently. In answering the question, “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?” he responded, “No treaty.”
Terrorism: From September 11, 2001, the terrorism/fear card has certainly been the most powerful domestic weapon in the administration’s arsenal. In the event of a major (or several smaller) terrorist strikes in this country, the Bush administration could certainly be the major beneficiary, but even that is no longer a given. History tends not to happen quite the same way twice and no one knows whether, under the shock of such an event or events, the post-9/11 moment would simply be repeated or whether Americans might feel that this administration had completely betrayed them. A terrible war, lousy government, hideous crisis management, and then, on the one thing they swore they did best — protecting the country from terror — failure. Still this is certainly an administration wild card.
Is a Constitutional Crisis in the Cards?
Until 2005, it wasn’t that the Bush administration didn’t make more than its share of mistakes; thanks to 9/11, it simply had plenty of wiggle room. It could always turn attention elsewhere. It always had the fear and terror cards ready to be played. These days, turn people’s attention elsewhere and they’re likely to see yet more disaster, corruption, incompetence, and illegality. In 2006, the administration has a lot less wiggle room than it used to. Polling figures reflect that vividly. When new disasters hit, whether in Iraq or New Orleans, it’s becoming harder to take American eyes off them.
Let me then offer one of those predictions — surrounded by qualifications and caveats — that all writers should be wary of. If in a bitter, dirty mid-term election, filled with “irregularities,” one house of Congress or both nonetheless go to the Democrats, which I believe possible (despite their low polling figures at the moment), expect the investigations to begin. Expect as well that the Bush administration will then trot out that “obscure” presidential philosophy of power and claim that the Congress has no right to investigate the President in his guise as Commander-in-Chief.
That is why the Alito nomination is so crucial and why 2007 may prove the year of constitutional crisis in the United States.