Thanksgiving Is Ruined
February 07, 2006
Taftian / the coming struggle for the whole enchilada
Interesting that no one in the U.S. Congress, to my (imperfect) knowledge, has overtly noted the "elephant in the middle of the room," in discussions of the logical, end-result implications of AG's legal and political philosophy:
The ultimate prize here is not control of the "intelligence" (information) that passes through the government's hands, but the money.
Those who conclude that AG's outlook apparently writes the U.S. Congress out of existence must remember that, if Congress goes out the window, presumably so does its taxing and spending power. Afterwards, in AG's system of government, which of the remaining two branches of government would gain control of all the purse strings? With no outside oversight?
And if that were considered a laudable future set-up, would clues exist today that anyone has taken steps to set it up already, without advertising it to the outside world too much? Particularly where justifiable (when not overlooked or hidden entirely) under cover of the "Global War on Terror"?
In other words, perhaps we should assume that, whatever the gvt has already been doing with regard to information, it has been doing with all the more alacrity, wherever possible, with that even more precious resource: $$$$. And for the same reasons.
Like the "FISA court," Congress has previously shown a willingness to give the admin basically everything it has wanted, budget-wise, with some exceptions, in terms of "tools" to fight the GWoT. Nevertheless, the "FISA courts" have apparently been considered by some to be too cumbersome or meddlesome, and irrelevant anyway, given the exec's inherent authority. Similarly, regardless of Congress's largesse, given that body's ultimate budgetary authority, the exec has to go back begging hat in hand a few times a year, to raise debt ceilings and what not, which must get awfully embarrassing and annoying after a while.
Should not (or "does not?") AG believe that the executive branch in a time of (permanent) war, perhaps as long as the prez provides occasional briefings ("oversight") to a few Congresspersons on his/her activities, has all the more inherent authority to circumvent or disregard limits placed upon the exec, in the area of gathering and manipulating the real important stuff, the stuff that this admin constantly seems to need more and more of
-- not information but cashola?[and will esp. during the next couple years, when some "Rangers" will be occupied in pursuits other than fundraising]
[especially in a world where the former only seems to truly "exist" to the extent that it is evermore speedily transformable into the latter]
In this regard, the seemingly strange quiescence by some in Congress in the face of a frontal attack on their power merely may be based on their calculations as to whether they will be inside the gravy train rather than alongside it, after the dust has settled a few years down the road, when the real struggle for power starts.
A couple academics at Duke Univ. wrote a paper (.pdf) that recaps (on page 21) the story of President Taft's attempt in 1912 to seize Congress's budgetary authority in his own hands, by means of an executive order.
But that kind of thing would never happen nowadays.