Thursday, May 04, 2006

Signing statements

There was a brief mention on the news last night, and an editorial in the paper yesterday about something called a ‘signing statement’. Credit was given to the Boston Globe for the first investigation and writeup of this. It’s the first time I’ve heard of the concept.

When a new law or bill is passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives the president has the option of vetoing it or signing it into law. If the president vetoes a bill then congress can override the veto by voting again and passing the measure with a two thirds majority. If this majority is met then the bill becomes law even without the presidential signature. When our constitution was created this was a concept inserted to provide some independence between our three parts of government; congress, the president and the courts.

Evidently some past president came up with the concept of a ‘signing statement’. This means that when the president signs a bill into law he sometimes also creates and signs a statement that he believes the law is unconstitutional and so will not do anything to implement it, and he directs all departments to ignore the law. During the four years of Bush senior’s service he created signing statements 232 times, Clinton in eight years did it 140 times, and our current president has done this more than 750 times. Other presidents usually veto a bill that they do not like, or at least let the courts decide if a law is constitutional, which is the job of the court system.

So basically we have a president that is admittedly ignoring the laws passed by congress. These laws include restrictions on the CIA ‘secret’ prisons overseas, handling of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay as well as torture tactics, wiretapping of phones, and in many other areas. His aids say he is not merely ignoring laws, he thinks these laws infringe on the power of the presidency, and he is not ignoring all laws. The Globe lists this as more proof of the ‘Imperial Presidency’, where Mr. Bush does anything he wants to do regardless of laws and congress. And unless congress starts reacting it will continue. I think this is grounds for impeachment, obvious proof that we have a presidency that feels itself free to do as it pleases.

And now for something completely different.

Around town:
Cher will be replacing Celene Dion when her contract is up in two years. If you’re into Karaoke you might be surprised at who is singing after you if you hit one of the places in Vegas, Harvey Firestein, who plays Ms. Turnblad in Hairspray, frequently hit Karaoke bars to sing. But his time is up, and he went back to New York last week, so you will not be sing him here. A few weeks ago Bono from U2 showed up at one place and sang several songs. He didn’t stand up and say his name, but enough people took photos and heard him that this sighting was reasonably confirmed. Sting was NOT heard singing at a Karaoke bar for free, he did his thing for a million dollars at the new Red Rock Casino. (yes, $1,000,000 US for an hour). Reba McEntire is now at the Hilton, $128, $134 or $225 with a meet-and-greet (all plus service charge)

And even more completely different.

She has learned to use a spoon.

But evidently not fully figured out where the mouth is.

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