Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Accountability and Transparency

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which would create a public, searchable database of all federal grants and contracts. It would enable the public and press to see where money is being spent, and would be a huge step towards eliminating ridiculous, wasteful spending.

Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who became famous for trying to waste taxpayer dollars to build a "bridge to nowhere” placed a secret hold on the proposal, which prevented it from being vote on. Ted Stevens, the most senior Republican in the Senate, doesn't want you to see the wasteful mess that Republicans have made of the federal budget.

For example, in 2004, the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House carved it to about $40 million, but congressional Republicans agreed to a $286.4 Billion pork-filled highway bill which included a $231 million for a “bridge to nowhere” for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

Under this Republican Congress, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bidding has skyrocketed, as Democrat Henry Waxman on the House Government Reform Committee has documented. There are thousands of examples of money wasted, stolen or misspent under this regime.

From Iraq to our own Gulf Coast, dollars that could be saving lives are being held up, misspent, or wasted. Troops didn't have the body armor they need, small businesses in New Orleans haven't received support, and across the country 45 million people go without health insurance.

Republicans have created the most expensive government in history through their corruption and out-of-control spending, and at the same time they've failed to meet the challenges of governing, like adequately preparing for disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Senate Republicans must be pressured to give this accountability measure an up or down vote. This election is about the open government and the fiscal responsibility taxpayers deserve.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rebuild New Orleans

A year ago, we saw how ill-prepared FEMA was for the unprecedented destruction of Hurricane Katrina. A year later, we see little progress as thousands of victims still can't go home, find jobs, or place their children in school. The Gulf Coast sits vulnerable to the next storm with schools and hospitals in desperate need of repair.

Twenty three percent of displaced Katrina survivors still face unemployment, but Republican leaders stand in the way of extending their unemployment benefits. Colleges and universities on the coast struggle with $1 Billion in damage and try to make do with just $95 million in rebuilding assistance. New Orleans educators are doing their best to pull their schools together, but still need 300 more teachers just to serve the students who've returned so far.

We owe them a plan to fix the federal levee system to withstand a category five storm, to rebuild schools and colleges. We need to extend unemployment benefits to Gulf Coast workers, because displaced survivors have gone without unemployment pay since June.

Bush gave promises in a speech at Jackson Square a year ago, but Katrina debris still sits on New Orleans streets. Forty percent of the city has no power, and half its hospitals and schools remain closed. Down the coast in Mississippi, some towns are seeing as few as five percent of their homes rebuilt.

While these victims suffer, the aid that Congress finally approved is going to waste. Last week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) caught the Bush regime wasting parts of 19 rebuilding contracts worth $8.75 Billion. Every one of those wasted dollars could have contributed to rebuilding peoples' lives. Meanwhile, we’re wasting more than $450 Billion a year in Iraq.

Last year, Congress set aside $17 Billion in housing aid to Gulf Coast homeowners. Only $100 million of that aid has been spent. In Louisiana, aid checks reached Katrina survivors just last week; in Mississippi, a scant two dozen aid checks have gone out. Local governments that relied on federal promises of aid to rebuild their fire departments and sewer systems have found themselves mired in paperwork with little federal help in sight.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hurricane Katrina

A year ago, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast killing more than 1,400 Americans and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes.

We must not forget the images of people stranded on rooftops, or the pandemonium at the Superdome. Remember, the suffering of those unable to escape, who didn't have a car or money to evacuate.

Katrina not only blew away lives and dreams, but it exposed our invisible poor for all the world to see. Our national consciousness was aroused and the disaster brought out the best in America, when people all over the country opened their homes and wallets to people they'd never met.

Katrina's wrath exposed two Americas. A full year after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, it has become clear that the pace of recovery is agonizingly slow. Despite all the political promises about "doing what it takes" to get New Orleans back on its feet, much of the city still looks as if the hurricane hit yesterday. Thousands of homes remain deserted, windowless and covered with flood grime in desolate neighborhoods.

Fewer than half of the city's hospitals have reopened, and there are not nearly enough health clinics to adequately serve all the low-income families who need care. Vast areas are still littered with mangled cars and piles of debris.

New Orleans schools are turning children away because there isn't enough room for them as the educational system struggles to recover. The slow road to recovery serves as a reminder of the challenges facing underprivileged communities across this country.

The fight against poverty is ongoing for communities across this county. We should continue to demand accountability and demand our leaders do what's necessary to get storm ravaged communities back on their feet. Regrettably, assisting the underprivileged has never been a priority for congressional Republicans.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

No Exit Stategy

Michael Scheuer warns in “Imperial Hubris”: "One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the threat from al Qaeda lies in continuing to believe... Muslims hate us for what we think, rather than for what we do. We repeatedly hear; ( because they hate freedom ) from senior U.S. leaders. Such a conclusion is potentially fatal nonsense".

Chaos and pandemonium is happening every day in Iraq because the Bush regime has mismanaged this war and ignored the advice of senior CIA intelligence officers like Scheuer and military leaders like Army's Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki, who dared to tell the truth that several hundred thousand troops would be required to secure Iraq.

The problem is that 60 percent of the people in Iraq are Shia, and 20 percent are Sunni. The Sunni insurgents don‘t want to be ruled by the Shia majority, so their fighting against Shia rule. The Shia majority includes people like al-Sadr’s militia, who are visciously fighting back. 

It’s ridiculous to suggest that al Qaeda is killing 3,000 people a month in Iraq, because they represents a small faction of the people fighting in a sectarian civil war. According to every military estimate al Qaeda is an isolated 5 percent, who came to Iraq to kill Americans, for invading an oil rich Arab country.  

At the same time, Iraq descends into civil war; cargo coming into our country isn't being inspected; nuclear materials sit unguarded in the former Soviet Union; Iran and North Korea are more dangerous; the Taliban continues to present a major threat in Afghanistan; and Osama bin Laden remain free to make videotapes five years after September 11th.

We are spending nearly $2 billion each week or $11 million each hour in Iraq. For what we spend in three weeks, we could properly secure our public transportation systems. For what we spend in five days, we could put radiation detectors in all of our ports, and for what we spend in two days in Iraq, we could screen all air cargo.

Congressional Republicans have allowed Bush to depleted our military strength, and make America less secure.

A Plan

Senator Joe Biden the ranking Democrat on foreign relations has presented a plan to give regional control in Iraq to Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Biden believes the people of Iraq would support the idea of a confederacy which offers a lot of autonomy to these three separate groups. 

Biden’s plan points out that under the existing constitution of Iraq any three of their 18 states can get together and form a region. The people in a region have control over the local laws, just like we do with the local laws on education and property in our various states. A region can have it’s own police force, like our state police, but they would have a central government that makes Baghdad a federal city like Washington, which has control over Iraq’s borders, their national army and the allocation of resources. 

The Sunnis region(s) would get a piece of the oil action, so that they have a source of revenues. This is the basis for Iraq being able to stay together as a loosely federated republic and not a haven for terror. 

Bush said: “We‘re not leaving so long as I‘m president.” Bush is committed to Maliki the new prime minister of Iraq. Biden doesn’t see Maliki as the unifying figure, and believes that Maliki is doing nothing to get the Sunnis to buy into a democratic government. Unless, the Sunnis buy into the new government there’s no chance of avoiding increasing sectarian violence. 

Biden feels Maliki has no intention of doing what has to be done to reach a political solution with the Sunnis. He claims Maliki has no intention of taking on Sadr and his Shia followers that have infiltrated the army and police, and have been acting as death squads. 

Maliki doesn’t intent of to deal with the Shia coalition of three parties including Sadr’s, who has 32 seats in the parliament, because he’s beholding to them. Maliki like most of the Shia, believe that their interest lies with Iran and they are not ready to make the kind of concessions needed to have a unified country. 

The Iraqi vote on the constitution demonstrated that 92 percent of all the people voted for a sectarian candidate. That is not unity, but Bush continues to pretend that it’s not the problem. Bush doesn‘t have a clue on how to keep Iraq together, how do you protect Americans interest or how to get our troops home. 

Unless we have a radical change in policy, and a political solution, we’ll have created a larger Iran. Before we went to war, Iran was hemmed in on the east by the Taliban and on west was Saddam Hussein. We did Iran a great favor by invading Iraq, because we’ve end up with a Shia dominated government, which isn’t prepared to make any political concession to have a united Iraq. 

Friday, August 25, 2006

Politics of Fear

Dwight Eisenhower said: “I think that people want Peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Vice President Cheney is the designated attack dog for the Bush regime. Cheney’s comments concerning Ned Lamont’s victory in the Connecticut Democratic primary were that it would encourage those, who want to “break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.”

Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman in Connecticut scares Republicans because it demonstrates that a free and independent people can hold entrenched public officials accountable for their words and deeds.

Cheney's comments show that strategy of the Republican party is to repeatedly insinuate that anyone who votes against them is giving aid and comfort to terrorists. It's obvious that they lack basic respect for our fundamental freedoms.

The Bush regime is for free and open elections, as long as they turn out their way. They’re for free speech provided it supports their agenda. They’re for the rule of law as long as the law does not prevent them from doing whatever they want to do.

The Democrats of Connecticut spoke out clearly in favor of change. Ned Lamont will stand up for the people of Connecticut, and insist on reasoned foreign policies and homeland security ahead of the politics of fear and failed schemes of imperialism.

Hopefully, voters are ready to replace congressional Republicans that let years go by without demanding the implementation of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to keep us safe. We must elect people to Congress that will challenge the policy on Iraq that has drained our resources and weakened our security.

The November election offers an opportunity to say: “Get out of the way, because you are no longer allowed to use fear to cling to power.” As Will Rogers said, “It's no disgrace not to be able to run a country nowadays, but it is a disgrace to keep on trying when you know you can't.”

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Costly War

Bush's war in Iraq was never supposed to be expensive. The Bush regime suggested numbers of $50 billion to $60 billion. Lawrence Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, was promptly fired for saying the war would cost $100 billion to $200 billion.

Iraqi oil revenues were supposed to pay for the war. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress that Iraq was: "a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." Bush was wrong about the weapons of mass destruction and totally wrong about the cost of the war.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and Linda Bilmes estimated that the "true costs" of the war will eventually be more than $1 trillion, and possibly more than $2 trillion. Their study includes both direct and indirect costs of the war, which our nation will have to shoulder for generations.

Cost include disability payments to veterans over the course of their lifetimes, the cost of replacing military equipment and munitions, the cost of medical treatment for returning Iraqi war veterans, particularly the 9,000 veterans with brain, spinal, amputation and other serious injuries, as well as, the cost of the interest on the money that our government has borrowed from oppressive regimes to finance the war.

The Defense Department expenditures including significantly higher recruitment costs, such as nearly doubling the number of recruiters, paying recruitment bonuses of up to $40,000 for new enlistees and paying special bonuses and other benefits, up to $150,000 for current Special Forces troops that re-enlist.

Bush has made it clear that whatever the cost, our military will not leave Iraq. Presently, this premeditated, imperialistic war, which had no connection to 9/11 is costing $8 billion a month, $96 billion a year. Most importantly, 2,610 Americans have been killed and 19,511 wounded.

Dr. Michael O’Leary, Columbia County’s Commissioner of Mental Hygiene points out: “The true cost can barely be determined since loss and cost have ripple effects such as the impact on the children of vets whose parents return disabled with traumatic brain injury,amputation or emotional disturbance. Presently not-for-profits, for-profits, religious-based and state revenues are being used to address some of the needs of the returning soldiers and their families.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Partisan Politics

Congressional Republicans are playing politics with the lives of our troops in Iraq. They are critical of Democrats who insist on setting a timetable for withdrawal. Senate majority leader Bill Frist claims that any talk about bringing our troops home is: "dangerous, reckless and shameless”, and that "withdrawal is not an option."

A few days later, Gen. George Casey suggests a withdrawal plan. Under, Casey's plan the first redeployment would occur in September, which happens to be perfect timing for Republicans campaigning for re-election in November. This strategy worked very well for Nixon prior to the 1960 election.

Casey’s proposal doesn’t call for a complete withdrawal of troops, and makes it clear that any withdrawals are contingent on unspecified progress in the war. General Casey's plan is not a serious strategic proposal, but a cynical political game.

Hopefully, voters will recognize that the lives of our troops are being used to coverup the gruesome incompetence of Bush and Congressional Republicans.

More than 2,600 American troops have already died, and nearly 10,000 are struggling with anguished bodies that have been torn apart and psyches that have been permanently impaired.

Voters need to understand that Bush's invasion of Iraq was a strategic blunder of the highest magnitude, which has made us less safe, because Bush’s actions are bin Laden's only indispensable ally. It has resulted in mind-boggling levels of bloodshed, chaos and misery in Iraq. We need an exit strategy, because some American are serving their fourth tours of duty in this unnwinnable quicksand of a war.

How many more will die before voters recognize that Bush’s war is a complete failure? Will 5,000 or 10,000 American deaths be enough? Has this war been worth their sacrifice? These questions need to be answered, without regard to partisan politics.

Homeland Insecurity

Conservative Republican Clark Kent Ervin’s book "Open Target", states that Bush and Homeland Security don’t take the threat of terrorism seriously. Ervin is the former inspector general of the Homeland Security Department.

The 9/11 Commission confirmed that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror. Lee Hamilton, the former co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission recently said: “When it comes to protecting the homeland against terrorism, the United States has not done enough. There has not been sufficient urgency, priority, resources, people, put into the protection of the people here at home.” 

Republicans talk tough on homeland security, but their voting record indicates otherwise. Democratic Senator Dodd offered legislation in each of the past four years, which would have substantially increase our nation's investment in homeland security. Republicans voted against every measures that would have increased funding for homeland security.

Democratic Congressman Ed Markey has been fighting for years for better ports security funding, because the easiest way to smuggle a nuclear weapon into this country is through our ports. He introduced an amendment, which mandated 100 percent cargo inspection on all ships coming in from overseas. Every Republican on the Homeland Security committee voted against his amendment, although they knew that 95 percent of the cargo coming into our ports isn't inspected. Republican leadership rejected a dozen amendments, which would have increased funding for port security.

Five years after 9/11 and weeks before the election, congressional Republicans are taking an interest in border and port security. Recently, the House voted to build 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, but neglected to provide the funding. In 2008, they’ll suggest banning the sale of extension ladders to Mexico. Instead of oversight, Republicans allow corporations to decide how much security will be provided American citizens.

Vietnam

After years of mindless killing, dying and widespread atrocities in Vietnam, some components of our military fell into a state of disarray. Morale plummeted and drug use became widespread. Units that had previously fought bravely were threatening mutiny. Officers and N.C.O.'s were targeted for death by resentful enlisted men.

The capabilities and reputation of our military, which were meticulously rebuilt after Vietnam is falling victim to lowered standards, breakdowns in discipline and a series of atrocities, which is a betrayal of the honorable men and women in uniform. We haven't learn from Vietnam and are condemned to suffer the consequences.

The Army has lower its standards because most young Americans want no part of the war in Iraq. Recruiters, desperate to meet their quotas, are enlisting those who are less qualified and disciplined.

The Southern Poverty Law Center states that recruiters are under intense pressure to fill the thinning ranks. Consequently, they look the other way as militant white supremacists make their way into the armed forces. Minor criminal offenses that previously would have prevented enlistment are being overlooked. The Army is reluctant to release soldiers who are abusing alcohol or drugs.

We're faced with the case of American soldiers suspected of raping an Iraqi teenager and murdering her and her family. This is one of at least five cases currently being investigated in which our troops have been accused of killing unarmed civilians. Marines are suspected of slaughtering 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in the western town of Haditha. It calls to mind the My Lai massacre of Vietnam, but at a much smaller scale. Colin Powell’s "My American Journey" relates the My Lai atrocity, when American soldiers "herded 347 old man, women, children and even babies into a ditch and shot them."

While, Rumsfeld attempt to put the best face on this war, the predicament confronting the military is growing more dire. There are still not enough American troops in Iraq to secure the country. Our military has been stressed to their limit, with some troops serving their third or fourth tour of duty.

Financial Mess

The Government Accountability Office can't certify the books of the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, or the Energy Department.

Recently, our government paid $38 billion to the wrong people, and $20 billion just disappeared. The GAO says the Pentagon is the biggest culprit, losing track of billions. The Defense Department acknowledges its bookkeeping problems and claims it’s trying to fix them.

Our government not only failing to keep track of our money, but it's borrowing huge sums to spend money it doesn't have. Last year, we paid $327 billion in interest. Soon we’ll be spending more on interest than we do to run the country.

Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee points out that our biggest lender is Japan, but increasingly, China is our creditor. The oil-rich countries, including some of our enemies, like Iran, are increasingly buying our debt. We're putting ourselves in a very vulnerable situation as far as national security is concerned by having foreign lenders control so much of our economic future.

The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's so concerned about America's financial future it forecast America's debt is headed for junk status by the year 2025. It's going to make it a lot more expensive for our government to borrow money.

Congress is making promises for Social Security and Medicare that it cannot possibly keep. Waste, promises and politics as usual have many concerned this country is on a collision course. Congressman Jim Cooper says, in the near future it will be a better deal to be a creditor of this country than to be a taxpayer.

We must elect leadership with the guts to deal with these issues that are staring us in the face. In five years we’ve gone from 20 trillion to 46 trillion of debt. This year, Congress slipped in 13,012 pork earmarks worth $67 billion. That's a tripling of the pork trough since the Republicans won control of the House in 1994. The future of Social Security and Medicare is at stake in this election, but then Republicans never wanted those programs in the first place.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Peace Vigil

The number of people at the peace vigil has grown, since I began attending in May. I’ve noticed that few young people attend and nearly all are senior citizens. If the draft were revived that would certainly change. The young woman that drove by and yelled something about us peace vigil participants being shot might even end up joining our ranks.

In July my wife and daughter participated with me in a peace vigil in Margaretville. They were surprised to discover that most of the people driving by in cars sounded their horns and gave a thumbs up.

The most noteworthy occurrence at that anti-war demonstration was the man, standing directly across the street from me, who lectured us with an analogy about building a house and not leaving until the roof was completed. He ended with the Marine Corps motto Semper Fi. My immediate reaction was to reply: “Don’t give me that Semper Fi crap, your talking to former Sgt. O’Leary U.S.M.C.” He and his friends left and I never had an opportunity to suggest that the foundation for the Iraq War was build on a quicksand of lies. Our daughter put her hand on my shoulder and said: “Dad, that’s not the way Gandhi would have handled it.”

Some ex-Marines are rabidly militaristic superpatriots. Peace vigil participants are patriotic, but aren't compelled to mindlessly fall into lockstep once the martial music is sounded. Critics of Bush’s policies are not directing their protests against America or the Marine Corps, but against this regime’s incompetent leadership.

At the peace vigil in early August, an inappropriate comment was made by a middle aged man that drove by and shouted: “Get a (expletive deleted) life.” In fact, it’s all about the lives of those that die in Iraq, who will never experience the wonderful life, which many of us have been fortunate to have lived for the last 50 years. A few days after my 18th. birthday, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. My life could have ended shortly thereafter, but for the Korean War ceasefire. My life has been and continues to be a beautiful experience.

On Sat. August 19th. from 11 a.m. to noon, I’ll again be at the Peace Vigil in Delhi, because it’s all about life.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Will the rich get richer?

Someone working full-time for the federal minimum wage makes just $10,700 a year. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at the same rate since 1997, but salary of our lawmakers have gone up by $35,000, which is almost three times the yearly income of someone on minimum wage. The real value of the minimum wage is more than $3.00 below what it was a generation ago, and presently has its lowest buying power in over 50 years.

Democrats forced a vote on legislation that would benefit millions of Americans, and I’m proud to have been one of thousands of citizen co-sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which sought to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25.

Americans believed they could achieve their dream by working hard.  They hoped to provide security for their families, and save for a comfortable retirement.  Today, Americans are losing faith in that dream as the cost of basic necessities like gasoline, housing, and health care continue to skyrocket.

For minimum wage workers, the American dream is impossible. No matter how hard they work, they are forced to make choices, between buying groceries, or paying the heating bill.

Its shameful that in the richest and most powerful nation on earth, one in six children live in poverty and one in five children live on the edge of hunger, because their full time working parents, still can’t make ends meet.

Fifty-three Senators stood up and fought for fairness and the dignity of hard-working men and women. The Senate filibuster rules required a three-fifths or 60 votes for the bill to prevail.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist won’t let it come to a vote, unless it is linked to the repeal of the estate tax. This cynical election year ploy is designed to force Democrats to either vote against increasing the minimum wage, or give a tax cut to 7,500 very rich people at a cost of $753 billion dollars.

The effective tax rate for small business estates worth less than $2 million is 1.6 percent on average. The family keeps $1,968,000 of the $2 million. Those with a $20 million estate, the effective rate is greatest at about 23 percent, which means their family gets to keep $15.4 million.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

False Choice

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, asserts that the war in Afghanistan was the response to the terrorist attacks, but not the war in Iraq.

In June, Senate Republicans forced a vote on a troop withdrawal amendment originally developed by Senator Kerry, who had held off from seeking a vote, while working with other Democrats to seek a broader consensus. Democrats remain divided over a deadline for troop withdrawal. However, the Republican whip, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky simply scratched out Kerry's name, replaced it with his own and offered it for debate. The resolution Republicans offered could not be amended, but only voted up or down.

Last November, Democrats supported legislation, which passed in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, that declared 2006 should be a "year of significant transition" in Iraq.

The Republican resolution under debate in the House declared that the United States and its allies are "engaged in a global war on terror, a long and demanding struggle against an adversary that is driven by hatred of American values and that is committed to imposing, by the use of terror, its repressive ideology throughout the world." It declared that "the terrorists have declared Iraq to be the central front in their war against all who oppose their ideology."

Georgia Republican Charlie Norwood provided the typical false choice: "It is time to stand up and vote. Is it al Qaeda, or is it America?" The resolution was a political ploy, which called for rejecting any withdrawal deadline or being labeled an al Qaeda sympathizer. Democrats were left in a bind, but it also left Republicans in the situation of being committed to an open-ended presence in Iraq.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said of the fight in Iraq: "The alternative would be to cut and run and wait for them to regroup and bring the terror back to our shores." More than 500 Americans have died since John Murtha called for redeployment of our troops last year. He has repeatedly told Republicans: "Rhetoric does not solve the problem. We need a plan. It's not enough to say stay the course."

Signing Statements

The American Bar Association assembled a task force made up of Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, and noted scholars to address the practice of signing statements. The ABA is not a liberal organization, such as the ACLU. This is the same ABA, which gave the two most recent nominations to the Supreme Court, their highest rating.

The task force reported that Bush not only disregards laws, but also charges that he has violated the Constitution, which he has twice sworn to up hold. At issue is Bush's assertion that it’s within his authority to disobey statutes that Congress passes.

The ABA insists that “signing statements” cannot be a substitute for a presidential veto. Bush’s use of signing statements amounts to a line-item veto, which the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional a couple of years ago. The task force said the president has attached signing statements, as they're called, over 800 times, which is 200 more times than issued by all of the previous presidents combined.

It’s not just the number of signing statements, but also what they're saying. The most well-known example, is John McCain's bill, which outlawed the use of torture by our government. Bush's signing statement said that he reserves the right to use torture if it will prevent a terrorist attack.

A very important principle is at stake, because our democracy was founded on separation of powers, which serve as checks and balances. Bush’s signing statements assert that he has the authority not to enforce a law. Such conduct is contrary to the rule of law and contrary to separation of powers.

The Supreme Court has said liberty is destroyed, whenever one branch of government usurp power from another. A president, under our Constitution, has only two choices when a bill comes to his desk from the Congress. He can sign it, and if he does, he is duty bound to enact it and to enforce it. His second option is to veto it. After signing bills, Bush has treat the law as if it’s merely an advisory function of Congress and claims that as commander in chief, he has the authority not enforce the provisions of the law.