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January 05, 2006

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Bill

Don't confuse the unitary executive with imperialism or dictatorship. Unitarian powers are essential to a strong executive branch. What we're seeing is a very bad president, owned by ultra right zealots, abuse those important powers. They abuse all executive powers, and when threatened by law they use lawyers to say it isn't really law. Don't blame the power, blame the abuse.

Separation of powers was essential when we were a democracy, and unitarian powers are essential to a strong Executive branch. If electronic voting machines somehow went down in the next election, real votes were counted, and a Democrat was elected to office, how would he defend himself against a hateful Congress who considered him an enemy to be crushed. Clinton used the powers of the unitarian executive - to the disgust of the neocons.

Separate the American democratic system from the abusive neocon overthrow. Protect checks and balances, even if it seems to hurt. Hate the destruction of our democracy, but defend what is left of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a moral, ethical society. We may get a chance one day to fight back and rebuild a respectable democracy. We may need unitarian executive powers.

mattcalarco

Jodi,

excellent posts lately as usual! I really liked the one on Zizek, Agamben, and Paul. I haven't read _Puppet_ all that carefully, but it's on my list.

As for this post, I think it relates closely to the issues you posed in that other post. I'm not sure how you (Jodi) would respond to Bill's post, but the concern I would have is that it is not altogether clear to me that the unitary executive is a necessary part of what you (Bill) call a "moral, ethical society." In fact, it might be antithetical to it. Certainly any sovereign power structure has the (virtual) possibility of becoming a dictatorship, and checks and balances are necessary for preventing such excesses. But why *must* we stick with a model of (sovereign-based) politics that constantly runs this risk?

Jodi

Matt--I agree with your response to Bill. If our government is to rely on constitutional separation of powers, if that basic idea is worthwhile, then the power of the executive has to be checked--what's weird to me is that I thought this was done after Nixon. So, I was asleep at the wheel on this score under Clinton.

There is something appealling about absolute power or 'enough' power to get one's agenda through. I like that very much. But that means that I would be advocating something like a dictatorship I agree with (the rule of the party of Jodi). So, I can imagine a revolution where this party takes over--and I wouldn't want to share power with any opposition at all.
So, I want power for me--not them, the bad guys. If this won't happen or isn't likely in the near future, then it's suicidal madness to advocate a form of power that lets the bad guys get stronger and stronger and stronger.

Jodi

Oh, Matt, thanks for your kind words!

Virgil Johnson

It seems as though many are missing an obvious point on this subject. The point is - the court(FISA)which was assigned this task is not cumbersom in any form - you could look at it like a monkey with a rubber stamp. In fact, all the action necessary to execute this clandestined activity can be done before addressing the court - after doing what is necessary to stop the so-called terrorists.

If this is true it brings us to another possibility - can these acts of domestic spying not stand the scrutiny of the court? Are they obviously illegal - the wrong use of the power, etc? This can be the ONLY reason why the court was not informed before or AFTER the act (which can be a number of days) - which is an option of the spying official.

In other words, this administration was abusing the power. If the court was never informed before or after the act, what has this administration been doing? Are they doing something that would even alarm this trained monkey with a stamp (FISA)? The possibilities are both endless and ominous.

warisforsuckers

some "good" posts, some very scary posts...
can't believe even knowledgeable people are willing to trade democracy for dictatorship if it's "their dictatorship" (call it unitary executive if you want but if there is a disproportionate holding of power by the executive branch it mirrors very much the structure of totalitarian government)
what we need in America (and what the future will inevitably bring) is more separation of powers - more branches of government (what the hell, say 8, or 11 branches)
that will balance out the exponential growth and accelerated consolidation (nsa, dod, "homeland security") of a centralizing executive (the very antithesis of democracy)

state power is an old, destructive idea... corporate power is becoming an old, destructive idea, it's time for new, even more individualistic bases of power (yet to be created - have fun) that at the same time maintain a balance between all people, and on purpose because we realize the dissipation of power as a benefit and not a 'bad thing' (as if we're losing power by spreading it - it actually accelerates the net gain)

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