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Bush, Democracy, and the Constitution.

mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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8/2/2012 4:42:46 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I have some points to raise about Bush's Presidency and its effects on Democracy and the Constitution that I have not seem raised the way I would think of them often enough. I would like any opinions, objections, or responses to them.

1) Bush was documented lying repeatedly, straightforwardly, and even maliciously -- I think -- about Saddam Hussein, terrorism, and WMDs. The American people and, ostensibly by extension (I have separate objections to that idea) Congress, agreed to support the Iraq invasion. In a representative democracy, the general opinion of the populace is supposed to be represented by elected officials, such as the President. What happens, however, when the executive official -- the President -- campaigns for one of the options within that decision on false premises? Surely, we can't logically say still that the opinion of the people is represented accurately. It would clearly be the more logical conclusion to say that the opinion of the President has been projected onto the populace, right? And then, doesn't this destroy the very idea of Democracy, does it not revert to autocracy, as in the leader makes the decisions independently and then the population follows?

I have read/heard all too often that this didn't matter, because Saddam was bad and had to go anyways. I think, however, that it does matter. Once the officials project their opinions onto the people, instead of representing the people's opinions, it fails to be democracy and begins to be autocracy, even if the officials have to lie to get it done.

I would love to know what you think.

Also,

2) It has also been suggested that the devaluation of the Bill of Rights is worth it as well, because terrorism is bad and must be stopped. However, these devaluations, or straightforward violations of individual Civil Rights have been committed in the name of Executive authority, with varying Constitutional interpretations or misinterpretations. This, I think, becomes a logical self-contradiction. If the people get their rights, legally, from the Constitution, and the President gets his powers, legally, from that same Constitution, then does he not devalue his own legal justifications for his own powers when he devalues the Rights of individuals provided by the same Constitution that gives him those powers? When he takes away Constitutional rights, isn't he taking away his own power? On what basis is it decided that it is acceptable to destroy some parts of the Constitution for convenience, but leave the rest intact?

The absence of these points from most discussion connected to these topics greatly disappoints me, and I think it suggests just how lost we've become as citizens of this strange state.

Tell me what you think.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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8/4/2012 1:53:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/2/2012 4:42:46 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
I have some points to raise about Bush's Presidency and its effects on Democracy and the Constitution that I have not seem raised the way I would think of them often enough. I would like any opinions, objections, or responses to them.

1) Bush was documented lying repeatedly, straightforwardly, and even maliciously -- I think -- about Saddam Hussein, terrorism, and WMDs. The American people and, ostensibly by extension (I have separate objections to that idea) Congress, agreed to support the Iraq invasion. In a representative democracy, the general opinion of the populace is supposed to be represented by elected officials, such as the President. What happens, however, when the executive official -- the President -- campaigns for one of the options within that decision on false premises? Surely, we can't logically say still that the opinion of the people is represented accurately. It would clearly be the more logical conclusion to say that the opinion of the President has been projected onto the populace, right? And then, doesn't this destroy the very idea of Democracy, does it not revert to autocracy, as in the leader makes the decisions independently and then the population follows?


It depends upon what you think the function of democratic representatives is. I'd tend to agree with your stance, that they should be conduits for the public's feelings/principles, probably filtered through the check of the elected's conscience and/or pragmatism (ie: how they think X could be most aptly realized).

I have read/heard all too often that this didn't matter, because Saddam was bad and had to go anyways. I think, however, that it does matter. Once the officials project their opinions onto the people, instead of representing the people's opinions, it fails to be democracy and begins to be autocracy, even if the officials have to lie to get it done.

I would love to know what you think.

Also,

2) It has also been suggested that the devaluation of the Bill of Rights is worth it as well, because terrorism is bad and must be stopped. However, these devaluations, or straightforward violations of individual Civil Rights have been committed in the name of Executive authority, with varying Constitutional interpretations or misinterpretations. This, I think, becomes a logical self-contradiction. If the people get their rights, legally, from the Constitution, and the President gets his powers, legally, from that same Constitution, then does he not devalue his own legal justifications for his own powers when he devalues the Rights of individuals provided by the same Constitution that gives him those powers? When he takes away Constitutional rights, isn't he taking away his own power? On what basis is it decided that it is acceptable to destroy some parts of the Constitution for convenience, but leave the rest intact?


Not necessarily. You could say that the Constitution has a specific volume of authority, and he's just moving some of it from the "We the People" section into the "Presidential" part. It really depends upon how you envisage the Constitution. I'm not saying you're wrong, just you have a few arguable premises to satisfy first.

The absence of these points from most discussion connected to these topics greatly disappoints me, and I think it suggests just how lost we've become as citizens of this strange state.

Tell me what you think.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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8/4/2012 2:53:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/4/2012 1:53:02 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 8/2/2012 4:42:46 PM, mark.marrocco wrote:
I have some points to raise about Bush's Presidency and its effects on Democracy and the Constitution that I have not seem raised the way I would think of them often enough. I would like any opinions, objections, or responses to them.

1) Bush was documented lying repeatedly, straightforwardly, and even maliciously -- I think -- about Saddam Hussein, terrorism, and WMDs. The American people and, ostensibly by extension (I have separate objections to that idea) Congress, agreed to support the Iraq invasion. In a representative democracy, the general opinion of the populace is supposed to be represented by elected officials, such as the President. What happens, however, when the executive official -- the President -- campaigns for one of the options within that decision on false premises? Surely, we can't logically say still that the opinion of the people is represented accurately. It would clearly be the more logical conclusion to say that the opinion of the President has been projected onto the populace, right? And then, doesn't this destroy the very idea of Democracy, does it not revert to autocracy, as in the leader makes the decisions independently and then the population follows?


It depends upon what you think the function of democratic representatives is. I'd tend to agree with your stance, that they should be conduits for the public's feelings/principles, probably filtered through the check of the elected's conscience and/or pragmatism (ie: how they think X could be most aptly realized).


Yes, they definitely should be conduits, that's why they're there in the first place. That's why they're called representatives. I guess the level of filtering is debatable, I've always tended to think that there should be little to none of that going on, but the behavior of the majority in recent years doesn't make much of a case for itself, so I could be wrong. That being said, Congress and our Presidents haven't done well either.

The big problem, though, is when one of those representatives come up with their own principles or motives and then force it onto the represented! That's a total reversal of the process. And that's what I think Bush did, and he may have set a precedent in the process.


I have read/heard all too often that this didn't matter, because Saddam was bad and had to go anyways. I think, however, that it does matter. Once the officials project their opinions onto the people, instead of representing the people's opinions, it fails to be democracy and begins to be autocracy, even if the officials have to lie to get it done.

I would love to know what you think.

Also,

2) It has also been suggested that the devaluation of the Bill of Rights is worth it as well, because terrorism is bad and must be stopped. However, these devaluations, or straightforward violations of individual Civil Rights have been committed in the name of Executive authority, with varying Constitutional interpretations or misinterpretations. This, I think, becomes a logical self-contradiction. If the people get their rights, legally, from the Constitution, and the President gets his powers, legally, from that same Constitution, then does he not devalue his own legal justifications for his own powers when he devalues the Rights of individuals provided by the same Constitution that gives him those powers? When he takes away Constitutional rights, isn't he taking away his own power? On what basis is it decided that it is acceptable to destroy some parts of the Constitution for convenience, but leave the rest intact?


Not necessarily. You could say that the Constitution has a specific volume of authority, and he's just moving some of it from the "We the People" section into the "Presidential" part. It really depends upon how you envisage the Constitution. I'm not saying you're wrong, just you have a few arguable premises to satisfy first.



Good point, that seems to be the way most people accept it to function, mostly implicitly, my aim is to make these aspects of the conversation explicit. Which, you are the only one who has helped with that yet, thank you. lol

I think that is more than a little unacceptable, though. By shifting the authority, he's completely devalued individual rights. It's like saying, "well, yeah, the Bill of Rights is good, but I need this power more right now." Then that sets a precedent for increased executive power, but then there's no way to rebalance it effectively. Obama hasn't given the individual rights back, so I see no reason to think that any of our future Presidents will either.

Most likely, the next big change will be in the same direction. i.e. even less individual rights and more executive power. There is a historical pattern that this fits, and the end results of that pattern are usually pretty bad.

The absence of these points from most discussion connected to these topics greatly disappoints me, and I think it suggests just how lost we've become as citizens of this strange state.

Tell me what you think.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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8/4/2012 2:57:53 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
See the British Constitution for details.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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8/4/2012 3:03:39 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/4/2012 2:57:53 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
See the British Constitution for details.

What trick is this? lol I'm afraid that does not help me. What are you suggesting exactly?
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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8/6/2012 11:45:11 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
The premises in the OP are false. Saddam deliberately released false information to make it appear he had WMDs. He thought that the US would never invade no matter what, and that fear of WMDs would scare away Iran, who he feared would invade. An FBI agent befriend Saddam after he was captured and got the story. George Tenet, the CIA director appointed by Clinton and retained by Bush, certified that Saddam had WMDs. Hans Blix said he though Saddam had WMDs, but wanted more time to look for them. Bob Woodard of Watergate fame investigated and wrote that all the right questions had been asked by Bush. Mistakes are not lies.

Holding illegal combatants in custody was ruled Constitutional in WWII. The issue was how captured terrorists were determined to be illegal combatants. the original procedure was ruled unconstitutional by the Supremes, so a new procedure was devised, made law by Congress, and passed Court scrutiny. The patriot Act has been endorsed by Obama and has been renewed with large bipartisan support. Nothing has been rled unconstitutional. Roving wiretaps, one of the main issues, has been used against organized crime before the Patriot Act.

Bush did not lie, and while opponents think he acted unconstitutionally, the Supreme Court gets the final say.

Obama told everyone that he couldn't nullify immigration laws by executive order because the Constitution didn't allow it. A few months later he did exactly what he said was unconstitutional. The Courts will catch up, but not until after the election.
mark.marrocco
Posts: 236
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8/7/2012 12:36:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
That seems like a stretch Roy. I don't see how Saddam could have any doubts about U.S. willingness to attack him. It's not like it would have set a precedent... And Saddam claiming he has WMDs is not evidence, it's hearsay. Mistakes aren't lies, but exaggerations are.

And the fact that the government as a whole doesn't think they are violating the Constitution doesn't mean that they aren't in fact doing so. Any decent philologist can judge for themselves that their actions have increasingly opposed the words written there.
"Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence."