"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

February 27, 2006

Steve Clemons on "Dictator Bush" (excerpt):

....I know Bush is the big boss, but Bush's tactic has been to allow two -- and perhaps three -- contending groups inside his White House to wage war with each other while he tilts in the final analysis towards the group that seems to win out in these private gladiator contests. Most often, the winning tag-team has been Cheney-Rumsfeld over all others.

Cheney's team have been the architects of both a kind of Presidency that is exactly what the Roman "dictatorships" were defined as -- a temporary provision of unchecked executive power to a ruler -- as well as the mercurial rise in power of the Office of the Vice President. And Cheney's team is the scary sort of lot that is hell-bent on establishing a kind of permanence to their power that threatens in very, very real terms the genuineness of our democracy.

Roman dictators still had constraints on what they could do. For instance, absolute authority was granted for distinct periods of time. Certain informal norms of continued consultations with the Roman Senate continued during the period of dictatorship.

The word "dictator" in modern language implies far vaster power and many negative connotations than the Roman application of the concept carried with it.

Nonetheless, Bush has become the epitome of a Roman dictator in the 21st century in his assertion of "unitary executive" authority which this White House has argued has "inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances." The problem is that unlike Rome, where the Senate granted the dictator great powers, Congress has not -- in fact -- given Bush the authority to operate beyond his Constitutional authority. Bush has, instead, asserted that authority and taunted Congress to stop him.

This power grab should dominate our media and our civic discourse. Our President -- via a deranged, anti-democratic team of power-obsessed thugs in Vice President Cheney's office -- is engaged in a clear assault on the core architectural joists of American democracy....

I marvel at both the arrogant, abusive and total resolve of the Neocons, and the total disregard by the American public.

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