Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is There No End to this Abuse of Power?

Listening to a podcast of the terrific radio show from Chicago Public Radio, "This American Life" hosted by Ira Glass is always interesting. And sometimes, like today, it's likely to make me angry. Like today. The overall subject of the show was "The Audacity of Government." I just had time to listen to the first half before my walk was up, but long enough for me to hear yet another tale of how dangerous the present administration is. It has already asserted and assumed more power in the executive branch than anyone could have dreamed possible. What we don't know are all the ways it has done so that we will never hear about.

Here's the gist of the story. Since 1908, a hundred years ago, a treaty between the US and Canada has prevented anyone on either side of the border from building or placing anything within ten feet of the border. This treaty is overseen by a two-person International Boundary Commission, one American, one Canadian. A lady in Washington State, unaware of this prohibition, built a 4-foot high concrete fence 85 feet long within the prohibited area. The Border Commission, which makes no exceptions, ordered her to take it down. But no sooner does this happen, when the American commissioner gets a call from the Justice Department saying they have jurisdiction and the fence stays. Long story short: the commissioner refuses to go along with this and is fired and another commissioner appointed by Justice. First commissioner (ironically, a Bush supporter in two elections) refuses to resign or be fired. Now two commissions exist. Great confusion ensues.

Bottom line is this: the commission existed for the very reason it got torpedoed: to prevent a president or other politicians from deciding such matters arbitrarily. This, in short, was simply another in a long sequence of power grabs by the Bush White House. And it sets a terrible precedent. If the president can unilaterally decide that a treaty provisions do not apply to the United States, what in the world can happen if some lunatic is ever in office and decides to pull US out of NATO or something like that?

Nobody in congress, that lily-livered bunch of pussies, made a move to stop Bush from this outrage. Nor any in his long litany of outrages. This is just one I haven't heard about. I'll bet there are lots and lots of others.
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