There’s this quaint little theory Dick Cheney nurtured in his grinch-sized heart ever since his benefactor and hero Richard Nixon gave a final wave from his the taxpayers’ helicopter: the theory of the unitary executive. Like a previous generation that sang “Save your confederate money, boys/The South shall rise again,” young Dickie saved the shards of his Watergate-shattered theory until the pieces could be put together again.
As we are all too aware, W. became the perfect conduit for the Dick Dreams of Cheney. And as we are all too aware, in the theory of the unitary executive,
1. The Executive rules.
2. Congress can do what it wants, as long as it doesn’t disturb the Executive.
3. The Courts may act at the pleasure of the Executive.
4. The Constitution is historically, well, interesting, but subordinate to events in the here-and-now as the Executive interprets them.
We are aware of what we have become. Vigilance, however, demands that we track the outrages — for posterity, for a Legislature someday doggedly using its investigatory power, for a Judiciary someday willing to set the scales of justice back in balance.
Here’s today’s argument to re-open Alcatraz:
Last week, Mr. Chertoff issued waivers suspending more than 30 laws he said could interfere with “the expeditious construction of barriers” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The list included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom.
The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final.
Lest you think this is just about trees, birds, and graves — Hear ye Hear ye:
Mr. Chertoff explained the reasoning behind the law in a news release last week. “Criminal activity at the border,” he said, “does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”
You give a guy the POWER OF GOD along the border, and he dismisses due process of law as “endless debate?!?” What is he thinking?
Oh, wait, he’s thinking of us, fellow citizens subjects. Chertoff Almighty knows our wants. Thus sayeth HE:
“Congress and the American public have been adamant that they want and expect border security. We’re serious about delivering it, and these waivers will enable important security projects to keep moving forward. At the same time, we value the need for public input on any potential impact of our border infrastructure plans on the environment – and we will continue to solicit it.”
Oh thank you so very much for being willing to listen, sir. Still, we know the priorities. Sicherheit über alles. Uh huh.