You remember the Commissar from old Cold War era movies, don’t you? He or she was a political officer attached to a department of the Soviet government (including the Soviet military) to ensure compliance with the official dictates of the Communist party by all government employees and soldiers. Well, guess what Mr. Unitary Executive has just gone and adopted by executive order, straight out of the Stalinist-Leninist handbook (via The New York Times):

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This is a direct attack on Congress’ authority. It ensures that no matter what the law may require, no government agency under the control of the Executive branch may formulate and pass regulations or rules implementing that law without the official stamp of approval by the White House. In effect, it is rule by fiat, or dictate if you like. I guess we all know what “Decider” stands for now in the Bush lexicon, if we weren’t sure of it before: Dictator.

Of course, in our twisted Orwellian BushWorldTM (or should that be CheneyWorld?) that’s not how the White House is spinning this power grab. Quite the contrary:

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In an interview on Monday, Jeffrey A. Rosen, general counsel at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, “This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable.”

I imagine he said that with a straight face. Irony is lost on these people.

Not surprisingly business groups favor the move. Who wouldn’t like Mr. Bush deciding how safe your factory must be for its workers, or how many pollutants into our water supply and/or particulates and greenhouse gases it can emit into the air? Not any CEO that I’ve ever known or read about.

Imagine a world where the FDA fast tracks approval of drugs for pharamaceutical companies that contribute campaign contributions to the party’s coffers. Where the Commerce and Justice Departments never see a corpaorate merger they don’t like. Where insider trading becomes impossible to prosecute because the rules are so lenient. Where emission controls on coal and oil burning plants are effectively eliminated. Where Banks can invest your savings in whatever they like, regardless of the risk. Where the EEOC primarily takes cases of “reverse discrimination” involving white males. Where the military oath is changed to swear allegiance to the President as well as to the Constitution. Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

Bush effectively neutered Congress when his party had control because he allowed them to wallow in corruption, graft and pork for the folks back home. He also kept them compliant with his ability to win elections and raise money for their campaigns. Now that the Democrats control Congress, the gloves are off. Or I should say the velvet glove over the iron fist has been removed. Bush doesn’t even have to veto legislation, to kill it now. All he need do is issue a signing statement and pass instructions along to his commissars at the affected agency telling them what can and cannot be done.

This is a clear violation of the Separation of Powers, even under the bizarre legal theories of John Yoo. Appointing officials to ensure that government agencies apply the laws in a “politically correct” manner certainly can’t be folded under the cloak of Bush’s authority as “Commander-in-Chief” which is what Yoo based his argument for a unitary executive upon. This is in direct contravention of the Constitution. Congress passes the laws. The President carries them out. He doesn’t get to “decide” which laws to enforce and which to ignore, nor does he have the power to re-write the laws through executive order. Yet that is what this latest step toward an authoritarian Presidency allows.

Impeach him now. We, and the world, can’t wait any longer. He’s too dangerous.

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