Thursday, June 10, 2010

Unthinking Action

Last Sunday I wrote an opinion that enacting laws immediately following a crisis was folly wearing the disguise of affirmative action, and yesterday digby at Hullabaloo had a piece that seems to be a case in point,

We are witnessing the most horrific oil spill catastrophe in history. It is ongoing, nobody knows if they will be able to stop it, even months from now. It's impossible to estimate the damage to the environment. The public horrified and has never been so critical of the oil industry or more worried about the future. And all of this is happening within the knowledge that our dependence on fossil fuel is drawing us into wars around the world and that global warming is reaching a tipping point.

Common sense would seem to tell you that there has never been a worse time to defend the oil industry or obstruct a clean energy policy. You would think politicians would be petrified to face voters as supporters of those who are to blame for this unprecedented catastrophe and that it would be very easy to garner a super majority, a la The Patriot Act, to get something passed. Instead, Lisa Murkowski --- with the help of key Democrats --- is going to try to prevent the president from using executive power to enhance the Clean Air Act,

Emphasis mine. I would bet that when the Bush Administration used executive power to have the EPA declare that CO2 is a harmless gas that would not be regulated, digby was howling in outrage about his abuse of that power. Now, after speaking with high emotion of the present “unprecedented catastrophe” in the Gulf (read again that first quoted paragraph), digby wants Congress to stand by and allow Obama to “use executive power to enhance the Clean Air Act.”

This is exactly what I was talking about when I described “emotions running high and hot” and overwhelming reason. The Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, and if it needs to be enhanced then such enhancement must be made by Congress, not by Presidential fiat. I’m sure digby does not want the President changing acts of Congress with the infamous “signing statements” of portions which he will not enforce; why should he be allowed to “enhance” them with statements of additions which he will enforce?

Digby even references the Patriot Act; did she applaud that act at the time it was passed? Or did she, like me and other defenders of civil liberties, deplore it even at that time as an overreaction to fear and war hysteria?
That act would never have gotten out of committee in 2000, but that such a horror passed easily in the aftermath of 9/11 makes my point.

If reason prevailed then Congress, including members of both parties, damned well would act to prevent the President from “using executive power to enhance the Clean Air Act,” but everyone is all pissed off about the Gulf disaster and something must be done, even if it is the wrong thing, a violation of our constitution and against our long term best interests.

There is an old saying about, “Don’t just stand there, do something, even if it is wrong,” and whoever said it was an idiot.

Update: In a subsequent post, which is on another topic, digby reiterates the belief in unlimited presidential power,

And, by the way, going to this length over Blanche Lincoln who is about to sign on to Murkowski's move to limit presidential power to regulate on behalf of the environment is just too ironic. What exactly are these guys fighting for?

When the president is a Republican we scream and object about "abuse of power," but when he is a Democrat we rant about Congress being wrong to "limit presidential power." So anything is right if it is the right side doing it.

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