ID Bar
Feature headline
Volume IV, Number 1, January, 2006


King George
Ascends
to the Throne, Playing Loose with the Constitution

By Jamie McKenzie (About Author)

Unbridled executive power is a threat to liberty.

American schools have suffered for years now under an administration that fails to understand the proper separation between national and state powers and understands little about managing healthy and sustained school change. It manages schools as it managed Katrina relief.

The President and his educational cronies have imposed reading and testing programs from Washington that make no sense at all. NCLB is a reckless and simple-minded approach to educational reform launched by folks who simply do not know what they are doing. See "Weighing the Pig."

But the newly discovered illegal spying on U.S. citizens represents a violation of rights that is more serious than the imposition of bad educational policies on schools.

George Bush has shown a reckless disregard for the law of this land and its Constitution, trampling on the rights of citizens in violation of the Bill of Rights, undermining the system of checks and balances and effectively installing a monarchy under the guise of protecting us all from terrorists.

His acts against the Constitution and the people of the United States are high crimes worthy of impeachment - far more serious than the alleged crimes for which Bill Clinton was impeached but much like those listed for Richard Nixon.

A Congressional study has found the Bush rationale for ignoring the courts of questionable legal validity.

Report Questions Legal Basis for Bush's Spying Program
By Eric Lichblau and Scott Shane in the New York Times

Published: January 6, 2006

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 - President Bush's rationale for authorizing eavesdropping on American citizens without warrants rests on questionable legal ground and "may represent an exercise of presidential power at its lowest ebb," according to a formal Congressional analysis released today.

From the Bill of Rights . . .
Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.



The signers of the Declaration of Independence would be horrified to return to America in 2006 and witness the ascension of George Bush to the throne they fought so hard to tear down.

"By ordering the National Security Agency . . . to wiretap and eavesdrop on thousands of American citizens without a court order, Bush committed actions specifically forbidden by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)."

"A Time to Impeach"
By Doug Ireland, Direland. Posted December 20, 2005.

Congress and the Courts
Kowtow to the New King

It is remarkable that Congress and the courts have done very little more than grumble about these very serious presidential actions. We are seeing a radical expansion of presidential power go unchallenged while most of Congress shows little sign of caring. Rather than accusing the President of high crimes, the Congress acts as if spying on American citizens were no big deal.

Even though he violated the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Congress is mostly silent.

kow·tow


Definitions:

1. be servile: to behave in an extremely submissive way in order to please somebody in a position of authority

2. kneel to show respect: formerly, in China, to kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in order to show respect, awe, or submission

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary

U.S. Representative John Conyers has acted more forcefully, introducing three bills to call the Administration to task for its spying.

  • H.Res.635 - A resolution that would create a select committee of Congress to
  • H.Res.636 - A resolution that would censure President Bush for his actions.
  • H.Res.637 - A resolution that would censure Vice President Cheney for his actions.

A full description of these resolutions can be found at John Nichols' Blog at The Nation "Raising the Issue of Impeachment."

Sadly, the prospects for these resolutions in the House are dismal. As long as it is their man who is violating the Bill of Rights and undermining the authority of Congress, many seem content to watch in silence, surrendering power and rights willingly as the Administration plays the Osama card over and over again.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

One would think that all the President's men (and women) had failed to read the Bill of Rights since it clearly prohibits the kinds of eavesdropping they have conducted:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Above the Law

The defense for these violations is always terrorism. Even though Congress authorized quite liberal search activities with special court approvals, and that process has moved rapidly and well since its passage, the Bush administration chose to circumvent the courts and act on its own without heeding checks and balances.

An Educational Emperor

From the beginning, we have seen a pattern of over-reaching with this administration, an opportunistic approach that seizes upon 9/11 as a pretext to push policies across a broad front even when they have little to do with terrorism.

Not long ago we heard a Secretary of Education refer to the NEA as a "bunch of terrorists."

While the Constitution clearly leaves the states prime responsibility for educational policy and funding, this Administration and Congress have dictated educational policy in ways that violate the Tenth Amendment, telling states they must test annually and even directing which reading texts they might purchase.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

As far back as 1995, some members of Congress argued that the U.S. Government had no authority to interfere with local and state educational decision-makjing:

This principle, known as federalism, forms the core of the Constitution I took an oath to uphold. Some may be interested to learn that the United States Constitution does not delegate to Congress the power to legislate on every issue facing our nation. The powers of Congress are specifically listed in Article I, Section 8. There are only 18 powers, and 6 pertain to the ability to maintain a national defense. The other powers range from the power to coin money to the power to establish the federal court system.


Federalism

By U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, June 1995


In my view, the Constitution does not grant to the federal government the power to dictate to parents, states, and/or local education authorities, public education policy. Indeed, we did not even have a United States Department of Education until 1978.

In my opinion, the Department of Education was established as an act of political cynicism, a simple power grab by the powers that be in Washington dressed to look like a commitment to the public education system. Given the current state of public education, I am sure that parents wish that those in Washington had been a little less committed.


Go to http://www.house.gov/hostettler/Issues/Hostettler-issues-1995-06-federalism-2.htm for the full text of his remarks.

The powers granted to Congress are clearly outlined in Section 8 of the Constitution available for review at the US Senate Web site: http://www.senate.gov/civics/constitution_item/constitution.htm

No matter how hard you may look, you will not find any authority listed to run schools, dictate tests or insist on particular reading programs.

Needed: Respect for the Constitution

Sadly, both parties in Congress are to blame for the NCLB disaster. They have teamed to exceed the powers granted by the Constitution. The law in itself is bad enough, but when the law is administered by a Department of Ed that takes a regal approach to school management, the damage is compounded. Despite occasional minor gestures to create the appearance of flexibility, the Secretary of Education has ruled with an iron fist. This was never the intention of the Founding Fathers.

Ironically, vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court have raised cries from the right complaining of justices who might use court decisions as a form of legislative action. They call for strict construction of the Constitution on social issues that concern them, but these same folks remain silent when a President exceeds his authority or a Department of Education dictates policies to schools that conflict with the Tenth Amendment.

It makes good sense to heed the Constitution's decision to leave education to the states. How many years of NCLB folly will it take before folks learn that the law is terribly flawed and damaging? This is a bad law, ill-considered and unworkable whether it be fully funded or disgracefully underfunded.

© 2006, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. This article may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.