Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another power grab

If you're wondering, as I am, what Bush could possibly say that's new in his grandiose "Address to the Nation" tomorrow night from Louisiana you're in good company. After all, he's already given us an inventory of the number of blankets sent to a semi-tropical region in one of the hottest months of the year, told us repeatedly how rebuilding the region will be 'hard work', we've already seen him look bored and indifferent during one of his many photo-op briefings, and I think we've seen him hug enough carefully chosen and appropriately screened for political background black children.

It might be time for us to prepare for yet another disaster tomorrow night. If 9/11 taught us anything (and it hasn't, not at all) we know that Bush and his cronies use these events and the ensuing public fear/worry/concern/apathy to attempt to seize more power for the executive branch, as they did with the Patriot Act. Tomorrow might well bring even more disaster down upon our Constitution and our civil liberties.

Why, you say? Weill, check out a trial balloon dropped by the Hearst newspapers yesterday:

Bush says he may need more power in disasters

He wants Congress to look into whether presidential authority should be expanded in times of catastrophes like Katrina


Hearst Newspapers

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Monday urged Congress to examine whether the White House needs stronger powers to deal with catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina.

Bush’s backing for the congressional inquiry raised the possibility that lawmakers might expand presidential authority to:

• Order mandatory civilian evacuations

• Dispatch U.S.-based armed forces for emergency search-and-rescue operations

Grant wider leeway for active-duty U.S. military personnel to carry out law enforcement operations.

“It’s really important that as we take a step back and learn lessons — that we are in a position to adequately answer the question: ‘Are we prepared for major catastrophes?”’ Bush said during a tour of hurricane damage in New Orleans.

He said if there was a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction, such as germ-warfare agents, “we’ve got to make sure we understand the lessons learned to be able to deal with catastrophe.”

Asked whether the federal government needed broader authority to “come in earlier or even in advance of a storm that (is) threatening?” Bush replied: “I think that’s one of the interesting issues that Congress needs to take a look at.”

There's a reason why our Constitution forbids the military from being used as a domestic law enforcement agency, and that is to prevent the president from using the military to establish a police state or overthrow, say, a State government or even the Congress.

For Bush to seize on his own incompetence (or was it deliberate?) to now howl for more power, more power, more power is sick and unacceptable. The question now is will a rubber stamp Republican congressional majority give this president - the worst president possible to trust with such authority, as he proved with the Iraq War Resolution - the power to use military troops as law enforcement within the United States? Will he be able to call out the Marines in the event of, say, civil unrest in San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York or YOUR CITY?

I'm guessing that tomorrow night will be yet another power grab, a "give big daddy a bigger stick and I'll keep you safe" moment. There's really no other reason for him to give a prime-time address regarding a momumental failure in his personal leadership.

Be wary, be on alert, and if he does call for increased executive branch power be sure to give him the answer he must have: NO.


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