OPRAH: Big Mother Is Watching
History is fascinating...
History is reality...
History can be changed...
History can be forgotten...
History can be discovered...
History can be deciphered...
History can be whatever we want it to be...
History can be free...
JAMES CARROLL: Well, yes. One of the things we love about history is the way in which one event takes on new meaning when understood in the context of another event, and I was struck, not in a mystical way, particularly, but I was struck by the coincidence that the building itself, the Pentagon, the ground was broken for it in a ceremony on the morning of September 11, 1941, 60 years, perhaps almost to the minute, before the building was hit by that hijacked airplane.
Once my attention was drawn to that date, I began to notice others. On September 11, 1945, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who had just presided over the military victory over Germany and Japan, and who had also presided over the creation of the atomic bomb, proposed after Nagasaki to President Truman that, “The United States, in order to,” as he put it, “head off an armament race of a rather desperate character,” his phrase, “should share the atomic bomb with the Soviet Union and enter into an international agreement for its control.” And Truman took that memo, that recommendation from Stimson, seriously enough to make it the subject of a full Cabinet meeting. A majority of the Cabinet officers thought it was a good idea.
The person who carried the day in the argument was the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, whose paranoia about the Soviet Union soon enough showed itself to be rooted in his personal paranoia. Forrestal, the first Secretary of Defense, the man who did more to shape the American attitude toward the Soviet Union after World War II than any other single person, wound up, tragically, a suicide in 1949. Well, his suicide should have been a revelation of something to the American people that the perceptions we had put in place by then about this world enemy that threatened us so grievously that we had to then be prepared over the coming decades to oppose it in every way, including with the creation of a massive disastrously overlarge nuclear arsenal, that all of that began in an act of political paranoia that was rooted, tragically, in a personal paranoia of the man who was in charge of it.
AMY GOODMAN: So the majority of the Cabinet agreed that the nuclear weapons, so-called secret, should be shared with the Russians?
JAMES CARROLL: Yes, that some arrangement should – that we should go to the Soviet Union immediately, proposing some arrangement of joint control, joint renunciation. We will together renounce the development of this weapon and will -- and the only way that would work, of course, if there was serious structures of joint control. It's a second question whether Stalin and the Soviets would have accepted such a thing. But it says everything about the fact that we weren't prepared to even seriously attempt it, the Baruch Plan that was developed later that year was not an authentic attempt to enter into an agreement like that with the Soviet Union, because it was never serious about surrendering American sovereignty over the bomb, and it looked always to maintain the monopoly.
So – and I would just point out that one of the most important supporters of the Stimson proposal on September 11, 1945, was Dean Acheson, who was the Undersecretary of State. Acheson, at that point, was a man who was prepared to trust the Soviet Union to some extent. The significance, of course, is that his conversion to becoming the most suspicious hawk in the Cabinet by the onset of the Korean War really tells the story of the turn in American consciousness that took place there, and in House of War, I'm trying to understand how what was put in motion in these crucial post-war moments continued through the Cold War and actually have continued until today.
AMY GOODMAN: As you talk about those who promoted war, promoted peace, I wanted to talk about a figure who you honored recently, William Sloane Coffin, the legendary antiwar priest who died last month at the age of 81. You gave the eulogy at his funeral. Let's take a listen to a clip.
JAMES CARROLL: What made Bill Coffin famous was his rhetorical flair. His genius for the energetic sound bite was the solution to every reporter's deadline problem. “It is not enough to pray for peace. Work for justice!” “War is a coward's escape from the problems of peace.” “We must be governed by the force of law, not by the law of force.” Do you see what is going on here? This is the rhetoric of irony, a bringing together of polarities to see how the tensions of life can be brought to resolution. Irony of this sort is the essence of humor, which is why we remember, above all, Bill's laughter. Irony depends on an exquisite balance of language and ideas both, opposites held in tension with each other, not to split them apart -- that is sarcasm -- but to promise a new kind of unity.
SOURCE - http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/10/1345217
Irony is pretty dope too...
Irony is disappearing...
Talk show host Oprah Winfey arrives for the opening of the Broadway play 'Three Days of Rain', starring Julia Roberts, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper, in New York, April 19, 2006. REUTERS/Chip East
You gotta love Oprah...
You gotta love Oprah...
You gotta love Oprah...
The divine Miss Winfrey?
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY Thu May 11, 7:28 AM ET
After two decades of searching for her authentic self - exploring New Age theories, giving away cars, trotting out fat, recommending good books and tackling countless issues from serious to frivolous - Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru.
She's no longer just a successful talk-show host worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes' most recent estimate. Over the past year, Winfrey, 52, has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium, a moral voice of authority for the nation.
With her television pulpit and the sheer power of her persona, she has encouraged and steered audiences (mostly women) in all matters, from genocide in Rwanda to suburban spouse swapping to finding the absolute best T-shirt and oatmeal cookie.
VOTE: Is Oprah a spiritual leader for the new millenium?
"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., who has written two papers analyzing the religious aspects of Winfrey. "Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality."
On Monday, Winfrey shares one of her most ambitious events of the past year -Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball- as a special on ABC (8 p.m. ET/PT). It lets viewers in on a weekend in which she invited 25 legendary black women and other guests to her home in Montecito, Calif., for a luncheon, ball and gospel brunch in their honor.
It was something she spent a year planning and describes as one of the "greatest moments" of her life. She appears on The View on Friday to talk about the special.
"This weekend was the fulfillment of a dream for me: to honor where I've come from, to celebrate how I got here, and to claim where I'm going," Winfrey says on her website. And now, as Winfrey "lives her best life," as her TV motto says, we get to experience it with her.
Although the concept of the Rev. Oprah has been building through the years, never was it more evident than this season of her talk show, during which she conducted the public flogging of author James Frey. Feeling stung and embarrassed after endorsing his memoir about addiction, A Million Little Pieces, which turned out to include exaggerations and falsehoods, Winfrey had Frey on the show to do an about-face.
"I left the impression that the truth is not important," she said on the show. "I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe."
It was a watershed Winfrey moment, showing herself as not only a talk-show host with whom you don't want to mess, but also someone who is fully aware of the power of her own image. Think back: She appeared in New Orleans to take on the government after Hurricane Katrina hit last August, and she sent a message to us all about civil rights as she stood by the casket of Coretta Scott King in February. Last week, she shed a tear with Teri Hatcher over sexual abuse memories, and she jumped on the Darfur bandwagon, encouraging viewers to support refugees there.
"She's a moral monitor, using herself as the template against which she measures the decency of a nation," Lofton says.
But while this past year showed Winfrey at new heights, it also was a year that polarized people, particularly after the Frey incident.
"A self-righteous attack dog," wrote arts and culture critic Steven Winn in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"A sanctimonious bully," said media critic Robert Thompson on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
"She puts the cult in pop culture," wrote media critic Mark Jurkowitz in The Phoenix
Winfrey was applauded by many for her public mea culpa and for getting Frey to do the same, but her righteous demand for justice also evoked criticism.
"No one person should have that kind of power to affect markets, politics or anything else," says Debbie Schlussel, a lawyer, conservative columnist and blogger.
Love her or loathe her, Winfrey has become proof that you can't be too rich, too thin or too committed to rising to your place in the world. With 49 million viewers each week in the USA and more in the 122 other countries to which the show is distributed, Winfrey reaches more people in a TV day than most preachers can hope to reach in a lifetime of sermons.
"One of the things that's key," says Marcia Nelson, author of The Gospel According to Oprah, "is she walks her talk. That's really, really important in today's culture. People who don't walk their talk fall from a great pedestal - scandals in the Catholic Church, televangelism scandals. If you're not doing what you say you do, woe be unto you."
In Ellen DeGeneres' stand-up comedy act several years ago, she included a joke about getting to heaven and finding that God is a black woman named Oprah.
Last fall, at the start of this 20th season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, guest Jamie Foxx said much the same thing, but he wasn't joking. "What you have is something nobody can describe," Foxx said to Winfrey on the air. Then he explained about how he told Vibe magazine: "You're going to get to heaven and everyone's waiting on God and it's going to be Oprah Winfrey."
He told her she has "different gears" than most people. "You're on the top of the world, and we really do watch and listen for everything you do and say to kind of get our lives together. It's the truth."
In a November poll conducted at Beliefnet.com, a site that looks at how religions and spirituality intersect with popular culture, 33% of 6,600 respondents said Winfrey has had "a more profound impact" on their spiritual lives than their clergypersons.
Cathleen Falsani, religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, recently suggested, "I wonder, has Oprah become America's pastor?"
"I am not God," Oprah said in a 1989 story by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison that ran in The New York Times Magazine titled The Importance of Being Oprah. But at the time, Winfrey called her talk show her "ministry," Harrison wrote. It remains an interview Winfrey says she hates. In a Los Angeles Times interview in December, the talk-show host said that "at every turn everything I said was challenged and misinterpreted."
She declined to be interviewed for this story, and she declined to allow USA TODAY to cover her most recent, and now rare, Live Your Best Life seminars. Tickets, priced at $185 each, sold out in minutes.
Katrina Singleton, 34, paid $450 each for tickets to the February event in Charleston, S.C., which she purchased through a ticket broker. "For Oprah, nothing is too much," she told the Associated Press. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
At the seminar, according to AP, Winfrey repeatedly spoke of her relationship with God. She even sang a chorus of I Surrender All.
"I live inside God's dream for me. I don't try to tell God what I'm supposed to do," she told the crowd. "God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself."
Claire Zulkey, 26, an Oprah follower who has written about Winfrey in her online blog at zulkey .com, says, "I think that if this were the equivalent of the Middle Ages and we were to fast-forward 1,200 years, scholars would definitely think that this Oprah person was a deity, if not a canonized being."
Marcia Nelson says that it's not going too far to call her a spiritual leader. "I've said to a number of people - she's today's Billy Graham."
Nelson said that concept was most apparent when Winfrey co-hosted the 2001 memorial service held 12 days after the terrorist attacks in New York. She urged the people who filled Shea Stadium that day, and all Americans, to stand strong, rousing the audience by repeating the refrain, "We shall not be moved."
One of Winfrey's most appealing subtexts is that she's anti-institutional, says Chris Altrock, minister of Highland Street Church of Christ in Memphis. He says Winfrey believes there are many paths to God, not just one. After doing his doctoral research three years ago on postmodernism religion, a religious era that began in the 1970s as Christians became deeply interested in spirituality and less interested in any established church, he came up with what he calls "The Church of Oprah," referring to the culture that has created her.
"Our culture is changing," he says, "as churches are in decline and the bulk of a new generation is growing up outside of religion." Instead, they're turning to the Church of Oprah.
"People who have no religion relate to her," Nelson says.
Oprah's own evolution
When Winfrey started in the talk-show business 20 years ago, her goal was to beat Phil Donahue, then the reigning talk-show champ. As the Jerry Springer era of tabloid talk shows came into favor, she vowed to use her show to promote good, not sleaze.
By the late '90s, Winfrey's focus was Change Your Life TV, and a New Age message was more prevalent. She preached making the message of her life - take responsibility, and greatness will follow - the substance of the show. Keep a personal journal, purchase self-indulgent gifts, take time for you - because you deserve it. The notes rang true to millions of viewers.
Debbie Ford's book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, shot up the sales charts after Ford appeared on Winfrey's show in October 2000 to talk about aspects of ourselves that we deny but which can be sources of joy and strength.
"I think at the time when she had me and Gary Zukav and a lot of the other spiritual teachers on her show, it was her own journey, and she was taking all of the world on that spiritual evolution," Ford says.
Lately, Winfrey has seemed to focus more on social issues (along with the inescapable talk-show fare of celebrity guests, home and diet makeovers, and marriage and financial troubles).
"She's fabulous. She looks great and is not suffering," Ford says, so it makes sense she isn't exploring New Age philosophies anymore. Instead, Ford says, people now "look to her to find their greatness. She is so real. That's why people are attracted to her - for different reasons. Some people will say her brilliance. Others will say authenticity. Others will say her power. They're seeing part of themselves in her."
Adds Ford, "We're all on Oprah's journey, in a sense."
Maybe not quite "all" of us.
Schlussel says Winfrey followers "are incredibly gullible, bandwagon-jumping trend-slaves." Winfrey, she says, "acts as if her show has 'evolved,' but in fact, she still has the salacious sex and deviance stories, with a psychologist in the audience to make it seem highbrow and give it the kosher seal of approval. If this is the person whose morals we are putting on a pedestal, then America's moral compass is in much need of retuning."
The fact that Winfrey has never been married, never had children and is a billionaire distances her from her audience, Schlussel says. "How could anyone like this be in touch with the average American woman?"
The roots of faith
Lofton points out that any discussion of Winfrey should not be one that criticizes her or how she came to be a spiritual icon for the history books but one that examines how it came to be that way. "Why do we all need her so much? What is wrong with us that we so need this little woman in Chicago?"
Jim Twitchell, a professor at the University of Florida who has written several books about branding and describes himself as a cultural anthropologist, says Oprah reverence makes sense.
"Religion essentially is based on high anxiety of what's going to happen to you." Winfrey pushes the idea "that you have a life out there, and it's better than the one you have now and go get it."
It's most apparent in the setting of her show, Twitchell says.
"The guest is sitting beside her, but what she's really doing is exuding this powerful message of 'You are a sinner, yes, you are, but you can also find salvation.' What I find intriguing about it is it's delivered with no religiosity at all, even though it has a powerful Baptist, democratic, enthusiastic tone.
"It has to do with this deep American faith and yearning to be reborn. To start again."
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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20060511/en_usatoday/thedivinemisswinfrey
Peace thru personal pedestals...
Black Krishna Brand
Philosophy - http://blackkrishna.blogspot.com/
Music - http://www.soundclick.com/bands/0/blackkrishna.htm
Re: Fakin' with Osama...
kool meng, that's all i ask, and as long as them peepers don't narrow too sharply to see the point anyone's trying to make then i'm sure you'll figure "it" out too, and then we can just dicker over tactics... ;P
one of the stranger things i've noticed is that we'll actively and logically lower our threshold of accepted evil, like "of course they should cover the war on TV, just not that much", and stuff like that. we're justifying editorial choices that increasingly marginalize disenfranchised (and/or bombed into the stone age) groups and promote celebrity - AND normalizing it to ourselves. that this is happening in an era of more information and options than ever is shocking...
...and as usual, "so?" can be answered with a "wait for it...", as the continuation of the same further erodes overall morality and trust until we're unable to recognize them anymore, although really, who knows if we'll notice... :(
bah, let's beer it up again mate, we ain't done yet, and in fact, we're always just beginning... :)
P.S. Google and watch "Loose Change", give "9/11: The Road to Tyranny" a go, and for the coup de gras the sequel "Martial Law 9/11: Rise of the Police State" will set you straight. Things are not good, but they can get better. For now, these are too nutz not to mention again, plus check out the show, it ain't Siegfried and Roy (R.I.P.), but it could be fun...
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Iranian President's Letter Highlights 9/11 Inside Job
Ahmadinejad answers 'warning to the world' challenge
Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com | May 11 2006
Iranian President Ahmadinejad's letter to George W. Bush hit the headlines for many reasons but the most important segment, in which Ahmadinejad discusses government sponsored terror, has largely been ignored.
Here is the excerpt from the letter.
"September eleven was not a simple operation."
"Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess."
"Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial? All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens."
In July 2005 this website issued a challenge to leaders of all 'rogue states' imploring them to blow the whistle on the achilles heel of all major western government's, their propensity to fulfil geopolitical agendas by means of carrying out staged false flag terrorism.
"It is now time for all governments who still operate outside of the control of the Globalists to come forward and join humanity in unveiling the real terrorists who are attempting to deform the world into a prison planet."
"On a governmental level the challenge is here before you. Either scream from the rooftops about government orchestrated terrorism or sit back and watch your country become a victim of it as it is wrestled away from your hands and placed in the domain of a black and cancerous global dictatorship."
That challenge is now being answered not because of our article but due to increased exposure of 9/11 and a clearer understanding of how governments create crises in order to justify wars.
- INFOWARS: BECAUSE THERE'S A WAR ON FOR YOUR MIND -
REAL SOURCE - http://www.infowars.com/articles/sept11/iran_pres_letter_highlights_911_inside_job.htm
The Boston Globe
Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President cites powers of his office
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | April 30, 2006
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.
Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.
But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.
Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.
Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.
Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.
''There is no question that this administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out, systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of the other branches of government," Cooper said. ''This is really big, very expansive, and very significant."
For the first five years of Bush's presidency, his legal claims attracted little attention in Congress or the media. Then, twice in recent months, Bush drew scrutiny after challenging new laws: a torture ban and a requirement that he give detailed reports to Congress about how he is using the Patriot Act.Continued...
Bush administration spokesmen declined to make White House or Justice Department attorneys available to discuss any of Bush's challenges to the laws he has signed.
Instead, they referred a Globe reporter to their response to questions about Bush's position that he could ignore provisions of the Patriot Act. They said at the time that Bush was following a practice that has ''been used for several administrations" and that ''the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution."
But the words ''in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution" are the catch, legal scholars say, because Bush is according himself the ultimate interpretation of the Constitution. And he is quietly exercising that authority to a degree that is unprecedented in US history.
Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.
Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register.
In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.
''He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises -- and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened," said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.
Many of the laws Bush said he can bypass -- including the torture ban -- involve the military.
The Constitution grants Congress the power to create armies, to declare war, to make rules for captured enemies, and ''to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." But, citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military.
On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels.
After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.
Bush has also said he can bypass laws requiring him to tell Congress before diverting money from an authorized program in order to start a secret operation, such as the ''black sites" where suspected terrorists are secretly imprisoned.
Congress has also twice passed laws forbidding the military from using intelligence that was not ''lawfully collected," including any information on Americans that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches.
Congress first passed this provision in August 2004, when Bush's warrantless domestic spying program was still a secret, and passed it again after the program's existence was disclosed in December 2005.
On both occasions, Bush declared in signing statements that only he, as commander in chief, could decide whether such intelligence can be used by the military.
In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all. One provision made clear that military lawyers can give their commanders independent advice on such issues as what would constitute torture. But Bush declared that military lawyers could not contradict his administration's lawyers.
Other provisions required the Pentagon to retrain military prison guards on the requirements for humane treatment of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, to perform background checks on civilian contractors in Iraq, and to ban such contractors from performing ''security, intelligence, law enforcement, and criminal justice functions." Bush reserved the right to ignore any of the requirements.
The new law also created the position of inspector general for Iraq. But Bush wrote in his signing statement that the inspector ''shall refrain" from investigating any intelligence or national security matter, or any crime the Pentagon says it prefers to investigate for itself.
Bush had placed similar limits on an inspector general position created by Congress in November 2003 for the initial stage of the US occupation of Iraq. The earlier law also empowered the inspector to notify Congress if a US official refused to cooperate. Bush said the inspector could not give any information to Congress without permission from the administration.
Many laws Bush has asserted he can bypass involve requirements to give information about government activity to congressional oversight committees.
In December 2004, Congress passed an intelligence bill requiring the Justice Department to tell them how often, and in what situations, the FBI was using special national security wiretaps on US soil. The law also required the Justice Department to give oversight committees copies of administration memos outlining any new interpretations of domestic-spying laws. And it contained 11 other requirements for reports about such issues as civil liberties, security clearances, border security, and counternarcotics efforts.
After signing the bill, Bush issued a signing statement saying he could withhold all the information sought by Congress.
Likewise, when Congress passed the law creating the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, it said oversight committees must be given information about vulnerabilities at chemical plants and the screening of checked bags at airports.
It also said Congress must be shown unaltered reports about problems with visa services prepared by a new immigration ombudsman. Bush asserted the right to withhold the information and alter the reports.
On several other occasions, Bush contended he could nullify laws creating ''whistle-blower" job protections for federal employees that would stop any attempt to fire them as punishment for telling a member of Congress about possible government wrongdoing.
When Congress passed a massive energy package in August, for example, it strengthened whistle-blower protections for employees at the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The provision was included because lawmakers feared that Bush appointees were intimidating nuclear specialists so they would not testify about safety issues related to a planned nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada -- a facility the administration supported, but both Republicans and Democrats from Nevada opposed.
When Bush signed the energy bill, he issued a signing statement declaring that the executive branch could ignore the whistle-blower protections.
Bush's statement did more than send a threatening message to federal energy specialists inclined to raise concerns with Congress; it also raised the possibility that Bush would not feel bound to obey similar whistle-blower laws that were on the books before he became president. His domestic spying program, for example, violated a surveillance law enacted 23 years before he took office.
David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.
''Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional," Golove said.
Defying Supreme Court
Bush has also challenged statutes in which Congress gave certain executive branch officials the power to act independently of the president. The Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the power of Congress to make such arrangements. For example, the court has upheld laws creating special prosecutors free of Justice Department oversight and insulating the board of the Federal Trade Commission from political interference.
Nonetheless, Bush has said in his signing statements that the Constitution lets him control any executive official, no matter what a statute passed by Congress might say.
In November 2002, for example, Congress, seeking to generate independent statistics about student performance, passed a law setting up an educational research institute to conduct studies and publish reports ''without the approval" of the Secretary of Education. Bush, however, decreed that the institute's director would be ''subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education."
Similarly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld affirmative-action programs, as long as they do not include quotas. Most recently, in 2003, the court upheld a race-conscious university admissions program over the strong objections of Bush, who argued that such programs should be struck down as unconstitutional.
Yet despite the court's rulings, Bush has taken exception at least nine times to provisions that seek to ensure that minorities are represented among recipients of government jobs, contracts, and grants. Each time, he singled out the provisions, declaring that he would construe them ''in a manner consistent with" the Constitution's guarantee of ''equal protection" to all -- which some legal scholars say amounts to an argument that the affirmative-action provisions represent reverse discrimination against whites.
Golove said that to the extent Bush is interpreting the Constitution in defiance of the Supreme Court's precedents, he threatens to ''overturn the existing structures of constitutional law."
A president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him, Golove said, can make the Constitution simply ''disappear."
Common practice in '80s
Though Bush has gone further than any previous president, his actions are not unprecedented.
Since the early 19th century, American presidents have occasionally signed a large bill while declaring that they would not enforce a specific provision they believed was unconstitutional. On rare occasions, historians say, presidents also issued signing statements interpreting a law and explaining any concerns about it.
But it was not until the mid-1980s, midway through the tenure of President Reagan, that it became common for the president to issue signing statements. The change came about after then-Attorney General Edwin Meese decided that signing statements could be used to increase the power of the president.
When interpreting an ambiguous law, courts often look at the statute's legislative history, debate and testimony, to see what Congress intended it to mean. Meese realized that recording what the president thought the law meant in a signing statement might increase a president's influence over future court rulings.
Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.
In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing ''the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should ''concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."
Reagan's successors continued this practice. George H.W. Bush challenged 232 statutes over four years in office, and Bill Clinton objected to 140 laws over his eight years, according to Kelley, the Miami University of Ohio professor.
Many of the challenges involved longstanding legal ambiguities and points of conflict between the president and Congress.
Throughout the past two decades, for example, each president -- including the current one -- has objected to provisions requiring him to get permission from a congressional committee before taking action. The Supreme Court made clear in 1983 that only the full Congress can direct the executive branch to do things, but lawmakers have continued writing laws giving congressional committees such a role.
Still, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton used the presidential veto instead of the signing statement if they had a serious problem with a bill, giving Congress a chance to override their decisions.
But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.
''What we haven't seen until this administration is the sheer number of objections that are being raised on every bill passed through the White House," said Kelley, who has studied presidential signing statements through history. ''That is what is staggering. The numbers are well out of the norm from any previous administration."
Some administration defenders say that concerns about Bush's signing statements are overblown. Bush's signing statements, they say, should be seen as little more than political chest-thumping by administration lawyers who are dedicated to protecting presidential prerogatives.
Defenders say the fact that Bush is reserving the right to disobey the laws does not necessarily mean he has gone on to disobey them.
Indeed, in some cases, the administration has ended up following laws that Bush said he could bypass. For example, citing his power to ''withhold information" in September 2002, Bush declared that he could ignore a law requiring the State Department to list the number of overseas deaths of US citizens in foreign countries. Nevertheless, the department has still put the list on its website.
Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who until last year oversaw the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for the administration, said the statements do not change the law; they just let people know how the president is interpreting it.
''Nobody reads them," said Goldsmith. ''They have no significance. Nothing in the world changes by the publication of a signing statement. The statements merely serve as public notice about how the administration is interpreting the law. Criticism of this practice is surprising, since the usual complaint is that the administration is too secretive in its legal interpretations."
But Cooper, the Portland State University professor who has studied Bush's first-term signing statements, said the documents are being read closely by one key group of people: the bureaucrats who are charged with implementing new laws.
Lower-level officials will follow the president's instructions even when his understanding of a law conflicts with the clear intent of Congress, crafting policies that may endure long after Bush leaves office, Cooper said.
''Years down the road, people will not understand why the policy doesn't look like the legislation," he said.
And in many cases, critics contend, there is no way to know whether the administration is violating laws -- or merely preserving the right to do so.
Many of the laws Bush has challenged involve national security, where it is almost impossible to verify what the government is doing. And since the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, many people have expressed alarm about his sweeping claims of the authority to violate laws.
In January, after the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could disobey the torture ban, three Republicans who were the bill's principal sponsors in the Senate -- John McCain of Arizona, John W. Warner of Virginia, and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina -- all publicly rebuked the president.
''We believe the president understands Congress's intent in passing, by very large majorities, legislation governing the treatment of detainees," McCain and Warner said in a joint statement. ''The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation."
Added Graham: ''I do not believe that any political figure in the country has the ability to set aside any . . . law of armed conflict that we have adopted or treaties that we have ratified."
And in March, when the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could ignore the oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, several Democrats lodged complaints.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused Bush of trying to ''cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow."
And Representatives Jane Harman of California and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan -- the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, respectively -- sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales demanding that Bush rescind his claim and abide by the law.
''Many members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight," they wrote. ''The administration cannot, after the fact, unilaterally repeal provisions of the law implementing such oversight. . . . Once the president signs a bill, he and all of us are bound by it."
Lack of court review
Such political fallout from Congress is likely to be the only check on Bush's claims, legal specialists said.
The courts have little chance of reviewing Bush's assertions, especially in the secret realm of national security matters.
''There can't be judicial review if nobody knows about it," said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. ''And if they avoid judicial review, they avoid having their constitutional theories rebuked."
Without court involvement, only Congress can check a president who goes too far. But Bush's fellow Republicans control both chambers, and they have shown limited interest in launching the kind of oversight that could damage their party.
''The president is daring Congress to act against his positions, and they're not taking action because they don't want to appear to be too critical of the president, given that their own fortunes are tied to his because they are all Republicans," said Jack Beermann, a Boston University law professor. ''Oversight gets much reduced in a situation where the president and Congress are controlled by the same party."
Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ''Bush has essentially said that 'We're the executive branch and we're going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.' "
Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ''to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.
''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
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SOURCE - http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/
"Who knows? Maybe the press will get so squeezed by the fucked up economy that they'll have to stop lyin' and start tryin'..." - BK