Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Authoritarianism Watch

As if more evidence was needed to add to the case I started to build below that the Bush administration and other top Republicans are making our democracy into an authoritarian playground.

But in the interest of being thorough, here's an article in TIME Magazine by conservative political commentator Andrew Sullivan on Bush's extensive and highly questionable use of "signing statements."

These statements are a means for presidents to lay out their attitude on laws written and passed by Congress. Since presidents agree to most legislation through their signature (veto-overrides being the exception), these signing statements were used only sporadically by the previous presidents. Between the 42 presidents to come before Bush, less than 200 of these signing statements were ever issued. In Bush's five years as president, he's already issued nearly 500 of them. According to Sullivan, "more important than the number under Bush has been the systematic use of the statements and the scope of their content, asserting a very broad legal loophole for the Executive."

Apparently Bush really meant what he said on November 22, 2000: "The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law."

Side Note: I actually used that Bush quote as a wrong answer on a US Government exam I gave as a high school teacher a couple years back. As each student got to that question on the exam, they'd let out a little chuckle. Good times.


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