Wednesday, August 08, 2007

How about a bill called "Restoring our Constitution"?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media. Recommended at Daily Kos. Picked up by Buzzflash and The Randi Rhodes Show

I made a comment yesterday about something that was on my mind for a long time, although I never bothered to articulate it until then. It stems from the talks about bringing the farce of a theory that is the “Unitary Executive” to its well deserved end once and for all, as well as a number of comments made in my diary about this from last week indicating that the current Congress shouldn’t wait until a Democratic President (hardly a slam dunk) in order to put an end to this disaster of a theory.

My comment was geared towards something that would create as much of an impression on the American public as Gingrich’s “Contract with America” did back in 1994, and would not only score points with We the People, but would also drive a stake through the most egregious of acts that this administration has undertaken in its never ending assault on our liberties and the Constitution.

A bill, put out by the Democratic Congress called Restoring our Constitution Act of 2007 would codify (for those “strict constructionist” hypocrites) some of the most basic things that have been chipped away over the past few years. Hell, what would it look like if Pelosi, Reid, Feingold, Durbin or whichever other Democrat stood on the steps of the Capital Building, trumpeting a “return to sane and rational government”? Of course, it would also help if the Democrats were really serious about such things like expanding the powers of Bush or Gonzales to run roughshod over this country, but that isn’t really the purpose of this diary.

Since there are so many things that have been done over the past few years, I am sure that many are missing from this brief summary below, but this is certainly a good start (again, keeping it to a “top 10” for ease of discussion, while many more could come under these subheadings.

No more “free speech cages zones”. This is the biggest no brainer, and while it can address the rights of people to have their voices heard in a time and place that isn’t miles away and cordoned off from those who should hear the protests. How free is speech if (1) it has to be in a designated “zone”, or (2) can only be expressed with a bumper sticker or t-shirt of approval?

Reaffirm habeas corpus. Remember, our own buffoon in chief, Attorney General himself indicated that there was no express right to this in the Constitution. While this is absolutely ridiculous and completely preposterous, apparently this is something that needs additional clarification. I don’t think that many Americans would have a problem with this one.

No torture. Ever. Or Extraordinary Rendition and secret CIA prisons for that matter. Yes, this one was passed already, but there were gray areas here, and it is clear that this practice is still going on. Of course, there are still those who occupy their own branch of government who think a “dunk in the water is a no brainer”. So is the repeal of these practices.

Rejoining the ICC and abiding by international treaties. It is only fair that if we want to regain our status in the world community, or at least save face, that we do what (1) we are supposed to be doing and (2) ask other countries to do. I would add Kyoto and some other things not related to the Constitution to this, but I want to focus on the more basic stuff for now.

Eliminate the validity of signing statements. Not all signing statements, as they are useful and clarify certain issues at times. But those where the President declares that he doesn’t have to follow a law because he doesn’t feel like it is total crap and should be eliminated. Retroactively, if that were at all possible...

Clarify when “Executive Privilege” can be invoked. This should be considered carefully but there are clear instances where they have stepped way WAY over the line here. I would add some methodology for a fast tracking of a ruling here and stiff penalties for non compliance, whether it is against the President or those who are being covered by the bogus claims.

No spying on Americans without a warrant. Period. As ben masel and I were discussing yesterday, this is not a new issue, yet it is very straightforward and very clear. On that same note, there should be a reference to the NSA data mining program and the telecom companies that are clearly a part of this egregiously illegal act.

Anti-voter intimidation, suppression and dirty tricks. This needs MAJOR penalties as it impacts elections on and around election day. Maybe something related to challenging the votes in regions or districts where there is clear issues. Maybe changing the entire election process. Either way, this is perfect for making the case for election reform.

Requirement that people in government positions, especially high level ones, are actually qualified for the positions they are appointed to. No more “Brownie”. No more Liberty University graduates in high level positions at the age of 25. While this is tough to enforce, it may work for certain high level positions.

Reaffirm “co-equal branches” of Government. Yeah, this is the most basic of premises but not only is this not the case in practice here, it is becoming accepted more and more. No more blowing off subpoenas without automatic “inherent contempt”. No more secret documents being hidden from Congress. No more classification of documents for “national security purposes” when it is clearly a bullshit reason. And so on.


Well, that is 10 – and in keeping with the “KISS” theory (no, not the band), those are the first ones that came to mind. As I said, there are probably many many more, including a number that are just as important, if not more so (no “pre-emptive war” for example). But for a Party that is severely lacking in the presentation skills and ability to actually tell people what they are doing right (and take advantage of the good things they are doing), this would be a complete win.

The other benefit is that if the republicans or talking meatsticks start to whine about this being a “cheap political ploy”, then the response is “if this is then what was the Contract with America?”. It also puts republicans in a position where they have to vote for either the Constitution or this administration and its crimes, power grab and lies.

Because, after all, you’re either for the Constitution or you are against it.


Ulysses said...

I really like this idea! My inclination, however, would be to move in the direction of an even more narrowly defined bill. The strategy would be to force anyone voting against the bill to take an extreme position. A stance that is clearly contrary to universally accepted constitutional principles. Habeas Corpus, 4th Amendment, Separation of Powers. The bill would specify how the Cheney/Bush Administration, and the Gonzales DOJ may have violated these principles and betrayed their sworn oaths to uphold our Constitution. Without mentioning impeachment, censure or anything else by name, the bill could simply call for the "immediate investigation into, and swift punishment of" government actions that erode these principles. The bill could consist nearly entirely of language drawn directly from the Founding Fathers. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!!

EyeBox said...

Well Done --
How did Randi Rhodes contact you?
And when did he come back to life? ;)