Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the Union: Imbalanced

I read, but did not watch, the President's speech from Tuesday night. For those of you who watched it, I'd be interested in how he did.

Pouring over his words, the President did a couple of things very well. They are the same things he's done very well since becoming President. His summary and analysis of Iraq was excellent. An analogy I love is this: suppose you're walking down the street and someone walks up to you and punches you in the head. You begin to fight back. Suddenly, two of his friends walk up and start helping him out. Now, you're in a fight you hadn't anticpated, but you'd better do everything you can to win or your situation will get much, much worse. The President even said something very close to this: that this isn't the fight we entered, but it's the fight we're in.

On other National Security matters, he was equally strong. We can debate the merits of the federal government imposing standards to reduce gasoline consumption, for the issue is not cut-and-dry, and as the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat; yet, as this will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, this protects the National Security interests of America.

He blew it, however, on important domestic matters. His comments on entitlement programs like health care and Social Security were borderline endorsements ("commitments of conscience"?). And of course, predictably, he fell down on immigration. Of course, the President is still a politician, even if he's not running for office, and he may have been saying all the right things considering the changes he's faced with (such as "Madam Speaker").

Nevertheless, one can't help but reflect on how a system of government, properly balanced, would address the issues before us. We've experienced the whole spectrum of balance - from the Articles of Confederation, to the ratification of our Constitution, to where we've come to since then. Here's to hoping that we can return to a proper balance in our lifetime.

23 comments:

Call Me Mom said...

I am concerned that we up here in the North aren't hearing any of the news articles from the Southern states about the armed encroachments on America's borders. I was hoping to hear some reference to that, especially since the National Guard stationed there chose to retreat recently rather than engage these invaders. I'm concerned that nothing was said about that.
I found the story at http://euphoricreality.com/2007/01/08/world-exclusive-mexican-gunmen-involved-in-arizona-border-incident-actually-uniformed-mexican-force/

It's quite alarming that I'm hearing nothing about it on the MSM up here in WI at all.

JWales said...

That's pretty interesting Mom, the airwaves are covered with it down here, but then again were covered up with them (illegals) down here.

Spose you havent heard about the two border patrol agents going to prison (12 years) for shooting an illegal smuggling pot. Pretty ridiculous.

Didnt watch the presidential address, pretty much the same ole empty rhetoric every time. Post address, I did hear Tony Snow say the administration was going to focus more on "principles and "limited goverment", I guess that's what you call a "Snow Job".

The Monarchist said...

Mom and J,

You've got to search pretty hard and listen to a lot of conservative talk radio to hear about these stories.

A dirty shame what the Justice Department did to those men. Bush should be ashamed of himself for not exercising his pardoning power.

-AH

The Monarchist said...

J,

I hear a lot of politicians talk about "limited government" like it's a strategy. I want to shake them and ask them what the h*ll they think they're talking about. I guarantee you not 1 in 100 would have an answer.

We're reduced to being satisfied with trite phrases and platitudes? That's all it takes to make people happy with their elected officials?

Well, I'm not going along with this quietly. And I'm not referring to this forum, btw. I'm out to channel me the mojo of Mr. Horatio Bunce!

-AH

JWales said...

Hey A.H. ?

Have you heard about what the "Ethics Bill" all entails? There is a section (220 I think) in it that is going to put the kabosh on 'grassroots movements', kinda like the Patriot and Federalist blogs. These dirtbags (I mean servants) in Washington beat all I've seen, under the guise of "ethics". If it makes it's way to Bush's desk I wonder if he'll actually blow the dust off that veto pen? Should be interesting.

Call Me Mom said...

JW,
"After being put on hold last Wednesday (Jan. 17), the lobbying ethics reform bill (S. 1) quickly passed in the Senate Thursday night (Jan. 18). The good news is that the Bennett Amendment was included, which leaves out the grassroots lobbying provisions."

However, I am concerned about an attempt to grant the president a "virtual line item veto" that will be coming up.
According to the Washington post, it is: "a measure long sought by President Bush that would allow the president to submit to Congress a list of spending items that the White House wants to strike from congressionally passed spending bills. Under the measure, Congress would then vote on whether to sustain or accept those rescissions. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), its sponsor, called it a modest proposal to help ferret out egregious waste that leaves Congress the final say.

But Byrd decried it as "an assault on the single most important protection the American people have against a president, any president, who wants to run roughshod over [their] liberties." GOP demands for a vote were "little more than political blackmail," he said."(Republicans were refusing to vote on S.1 unless the provision referred to here was attached to it. They compromised by agreeing to attach to an upcoming bit of legislation. )

Having seen what Governor Doyle has done with the line item veto granted to Tommy Thompson, I find this a bit alarming.


And, yes, I have heard about the border patrol agents who are being prosecuted for doing their job. Shameful, just shameful.

Call Me Mom said...

I will grant that this is not quite the same as a line item veto, but it's a step in that direction.

Call Me Mom said...

"...we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money."~Davy Crockett

AMEN!

JWales said...

Mom,
I'm not sure the Washington Post is correct, or I may be reading it wrong (very possible LOL). But I believe the president has the power of recission already, one that Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan used hundreds of times (Bush 2 NONE!). These rescinded items are then sent back to congress for tweaking. I think line item veto can be used by the president and then signed, without being sent back to congress. I personally dont think Bush has proven worthy of this power to be granted to him.

I wonder what else their slipping into the "ethics bill" under the radar?


"What we need to continue is built on Principles and Limited Government" Tony Snow.

I LOVE THAT QUOTE! WHATTTT????

JW

Daniel Webster said...

"I hear a lot of politicians talk about "limited government" like it's a strategy. I want to shake them and ask them what the h*ll they think they're talking about. I guarantee you not 1 in 100 would have an answer."

You know, man, "limited government," c'mon!

As long as the government we have can be said to be restricted in some way, shape, form...er, less than all-powerful, then it is "limited" by definition, no??

This is the strategy -be sure that it can never be said that our government is all-powerful. This continually changing (declining) standard of measure is what scares the h*ll outta me.

JWales said...

Although the beauracrats keep increasing debt, spending, legislation, departments, committees, government JOBS and so on and so forth: techinically it's still "Limited", eh?

I wonder what the limit of "Limited" is?

Daniel Webster said...

Seriously y'all, I can't think of an outgoing President, of recent memory, who didn't pardon about a gazillion people on his way out. Hopefully the border patrol agents in question'll be at the top of President Bush's list come pardon time. That won't serve to negate the injustice already perpetrated on these gentlemen of course, but nonetheless.

I have a question about the line item veto, and I'm really just wondering what specifically y'all have against it. I guess what I'm asking in essence is this -would there ever be a time when the LIV would be an appropriate power in the hands of a president/could any president ever be considered "worthy" of such a power exclusive to himself and his office?

It seems like what you're saying, Mom, is that it's not really a pure line item veto President Bush and the Republicans are vying for, but rather another stage in the legislative process involving the executive branch. I hear you loud and clear on the danger of taking steps in that direction - when it don't work...to someone's satisfaction...then the push'll be to take it a step farther, and so on and so forth. But essentially I just want to know, in more specific terms, what's wrong with a LIV in y'all's opinions.

P.S. with a LIV, would we be forced to alter that quaint old saying: "it takes an act of congress?" That in itself oughta make us think long and hard about granting the executive more legislative power. ;)

michael hargis said...

Andrew McCarthy has written an article on National Review Online about the border patrol agents. Unlike most things written about that incident, his article ignores the hype and goes to the facts of the case...and they don't look too good for the agents. For example:

The smuggler surrendered, hands up and palms forward. Rather than cuffing him and taking him into custody, one of the agents whacked him in the face with the butt of his shotgun, at which point the agent lost his balance and fell down. The smuggler took off running. Fourteen shots were fired at him, all missed. Then one agent managed to hit him in the buttocks, bringing him down.

Again the two agents neglected to cuff the smuggler and arrest him. Instead they gathered up all the spent shell casings and attempted to cover up the shooting. During this the smuggler managed to get away.

The government offered the agents a generous plea bargain which was refused. McCarthy states that when a suspect refuses a plea deal, standard operating procedure is to then go after him with all you've got. Botom line, a jury who for two weeks heard all the relevant testimony, absent media hype, convicted them. It's true that a few of the jurists have expressed regret, but only due to the sentence imposed, not because of any question of guilt.

As they say, bad cases make for bad law, and McCarthy describes a case in which the circumstances simply guaranteed an outcome that few would be happy with. Doesn't mean the agents were "just doing their job" though. They clearly weren't. I highly recommend that y'all read that article. (National Review Online).

As to limited government, I'd say that a government that is limited to doing only those things for which they have constitutional authority would be limited enough for me.

Call Me Mom said...

Mr. Webster,
The best answer I can give you to "What's wrong with a line item veto?" can be found at :
http://www.legis.state.wi.us/senate/sen09/news/eUpdates/2005/2005%20E-UPDATE-011.htm

What you will find there is Governor Doyle's use of the line item veto to turn 4 paragraphs of budget legislation dealing with :

the Marquette Interchange;

the funding of passenger rail service;

the funding of street lights in the Village of Oregon and;

funding for a rail crossing and ramp in Chippewa County

into a single sentence appropriating $427,000,000.00 from the transportation fund budget into the general fund budget.
It required an amendment to the state constitution in 1990 to prevent the governor from vetoing letters to create new words, and another one now to prevent him from using the veto pen to create new and substantially different legislation by vetoing words.
Do I need to say anything else to illustrate my point?

JWales said...

Hmmmm? I just read that the ballistics data was incorrect in the border patrol agents trial, it was on World Net Daily front page today. Like Webster said, maybe they'll get out in two years riding the pardon train.

Mom, that Jim Doyle is a piece of work, ey?

JWales said...

Also, Jerome Corsi has an interesting article today at Newswithviews.com about the border agent trial. Seems the courts wont release the transcripts to the public, gee that's surprising.

Also seems the "ILLEGAL ALIEN" is suing the border patrol for $5 mill. The "ILLEGAL ALIEN'S" civil rights were violated.

ILLEGAL ALIENS with CIVIL RIGHTS?

What a the h*ll is wrong with this picture?

michael hargis said...

J, that suit oughtta be tossed right out of court.

Daniel Webster said...

"Do I need to say anything else to illustrate my point?"

Not that particular point, no, I get it. Allow me to rephrase the question...

Is there anything besides the potential for abuse/misuse of the LIV that you have a problem with; do you have any kind of fundamental constitutional beef with a line item veto? The potential for abuse is ever-present in government, even when the separation of powers doctrine is strictly held to.

Call Me Mom said...

"All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law...."

Not a word about the president being able to alter a bill and make it into law without running it back through congress.

To give the president a line item veto is to remove the legislative branch's ability to check and balance the executive branch.

Who is to say that the line item veto once granted would be confined to the budget?
Once granted for the purpose of curtailing the ever more egregious spending on the part of irresponsible lawmakers, how long will it be before that line item veto may be requested for other areas of law as well?

These are my main objections to the line item veto.

JWales said...

Hear hear Mom, good point.

Heck D., why would Bush need it anyway? He signed every bill that has crossed his desk (except 1)since he took office, he doesnt know how to use a veto pen. He hasnt used the recission power to send them back since day one either, government funds for everyone! Yeehaw!! Limited of course.

Do you trust him with LIV??

The Monarchist said...

Mom,

Yeah, I'm with JW, well-said!

-AH

Daniel Webster said...

"Do you trust him with LIV??"

Do I trust him? No; I don't trust any president with the LIV power. But fundamentally it's not a question of whether I trust him or not. It's a question of whether the executive should be acting as a legislator; excuse me, as THE legislature.

Good answer, Mom. My thoughts were more along the lines of the foundational sentences of the constitutions of the legislative and the executive respectively, er, Articles I and II, paragraph one, sentence one....or, "The legislative power...;" "The executive power..."

-DW

Daniel Webster said...

Whoa! I just realized I made an error in my former post - will wonders never cease! LOL

I like the correct rendition much better anyhow. I find in it nothing left to discretion.