Thursday, May 25, 2006


On NPR yesterday, Tom Delay called the recent FBI search of Congressman William Jefferson's office "a violation of the principle of separation of powers."

Are you familiar with this principle? We have three branches of government:

* The Executive (that's the President, VP, and the cabinet (ie all those Secretaries of ______)
* The Legislative (that's the Senate and the House of Representatives)
* The Judicial (that's the Supreme Court and (I'm a little sketchy on this one but I think) all the other federal district courts.

The Constitution lays out which branch does what in the process of running the country. The idea is that no one branch has more power than any of the others because bad shit can happen otherwise.

For example, in Iran alot of power is concentrated in the religious courts. Alot of people in Iran do not like the fundamentalist regime there and want democracy. In fact, the previous president of Iran was a reformer and a religious moderate. But he was basically powerless to make changes because the law of the land was decided by the religious courts.

Of course we all know what happens when a single guy gets too much power. He becomes a dictator. It doesn't matter whether he's a benevolent dictator or not; he's still a dictator. Think about this way: A guy who dictates - "Do this." "Do that." "Everyone must wear funny hats on Fridays." - is a dictator.

I don't know of any examples of a legislative body having too much power.

But I can think of plenty of examples in which the Bush administration has violated the principle of separation of powers prior to this search of Jefferson's office, and it strikes me as funny (funny ha ha or funny strange or funny really pathetic and infuriating) that it takes this kind of action - making the Congress itself squirm - to get them to notice it and throw a serious fit.

I'm out of time for now. Tune in later for more ranting.


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