(In fact, I've never even met him face to face.)
Here are some crazy, decidedly un-American, possibly Communist, propositions:
-- There are three branches of government, designed to check and balance each other, each jealously guarding the powers and prerogatives given specifically to it in the Constitution. The Founders designed it that way to ensure that no single branch, let alone party or individual, would completely dominate the government.
-- Even after he's elected, the President remains a democratic leader, continually responsible to the People from whom he draws his power, beholden to abide by the nation's laws, and subject to impeachment if he seriously violates those laws. It's the difference between an American President and a pirate captain: the President isn't an "elected King."
-- Even in wartime (which this isn't, since Al Quaeda isn't a sovereign state and the "war on terror" is as unending and attenuated as the "war on drugs" and the "war on poverty"), American citizens have the right to due process, to free access to nonclassified information about what their government's doing, and not to be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures absent compelling, emergency circumstances (in which cases, judicial review of the validity and necessity of the search should be conducted as quickly as possible).
-- Not just Democratic Presidents, but Republican Presidents as well, are subject to these Constitutional principles. And not just Democratic Congresses, but Republican Congresses as well, have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and might, in obedience to that oath, conduct hearings and investigations and things like that when a sitting President openly admits breaking the law and justifies it by claiming that the law doesn't apply to him.
If these concepts sound remotely sensible, and if you're interested in learning more about the balance between national security and civil rights that has been carefully worked out over the past 217 years, please pre-order Glenn Greenwald's new book, "How Would a Patriot Act?"
Glenn's the most knowledgeable guy on the planet about the debate over NSA surveillance, the "imperial presidency", and other Constitutional issues that are under the microscope these days. He's never been published before, was basically apolitical until the NSA surveillance issue arose in December, and is best known for posting painstakingly researched and detailed analyses on the blog Unclaimed Territory. He's been quoted by Senators and interviewed on numerous media outlets, but for a book from an unknown, first-time writer, "Patriot" is looking to be surprisingly influential. On its first day of pre-release sales (it's still at the printer's, and will be shipped in about two weeks), "Patriot" rose so fast to no. 1 on Amazon's sales charts that it nearly suffered the bends. After several days, it's now dropped to no. 3, which still ain't bad for a book that isn't even on paper yet.
Not only is "Patriot" an important book for an informed citizenry, but it's also important to keep it high on the Amazon charts. Why? Because watching Amazon is one way that other booksellers (from Borders and Barnes & Noble to small independents) decide what to stock. And yesterday, Amazon dropped the price from its original (incredibly reasonable) $12, to only $7.20 -- not because it's "clearance" but because it's selling so well they can afford to reduce their margin and count on volume to earn their profit. And the more widely distributed the book is, the more its ideas get circulated among the people who help frame the debate over the direction our government takes.
So: the book everyone's going to be talking about, by a Constitutional law expert who prior to the current debate about the "imperial presidency" was basically nonpartisan, for only seven bucks, and it helps support the author and publisher and boosts its marketing profile, too. What's not to like?
Here's the link to purchase. This is the heart of what America's about, folks: democracy, public debate over the form of government, freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, a tad of capitalism thrown in. Please support Glenn and Working Assets Publishing and consider picking up a copy.
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