Sunday, February 1, 2009

Within a Whisker of Martial Law

Wow. Apparently Bush or his henchpersons threatened martial law last October while pushing their economic "rescue" package. Here's how The Political Cat reports it:
Later on down the line, we find (Surprise! NOT!) that the League of Incompetent EvilMen actually threatened our elected congresscritters with martial law if they didn't approve the bailout of Wall Street and its legions of fat, slobbering, greedy bankers. Pig man, pig man.

(This little gem is buried in the midst of a nice long rant featuring the best financial meltdown LOLcat ever, so go read the whole thing.)
TPC's source for this is the Santa Monica Mirror:
On October 3, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) stated on the floor of the House of Representatives that “a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no [on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill].” Under National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), the president has sole discretion to invoke martial law in case of a "catastrophic emergency" defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”

Full implementation of martial law would include the invocation of a series of executive orders (10990-11921) which entail government control of all modes of transportation, communication, utilities, food, health, education, and welfare functions. The statutes also allow for the mobilization of civilians into work brigades, the relocation of communities, and control over all U.S. financial institutions.
Now, I don't think it would have actually come to actual martial law. I think Bush and his evil cronies would have blinked. Then again, maybe I'm indulging in what Cornel West would call optimism rather than hope: the dogged wish that the world will be just fine, despite evidence to the contrary.

Regardless, I'm outraged but sadly unsurprised that at a time when we needed sober deliberation and smart policymaking, we instead got scare tactics. Imagine if FDR had pushed through the New Deal with the threat of bayonets.

No wonder the bankers got umpteen billions with no strings attached. No wonder they got to hand out kajillions in year-end bonuses to the same bozos who wrecked the world's economy.

I harbor no illusions that the new administration is going to fix everything. I was pretty frustrated at how Obama birth control funding under the bus last week. However, it looks as though it's going to be packed into the big budget bill, so I'm withholding judgment for now. I'm less forgiving about Obama's vote on the FISA debacle last summer; he's gonna have to prove his rhetoric about transparency and the rule of law before I drop that old grudge.

No matter what, though, I think we can be pretty confident that Obama won't throw a hissy fit and threaten martial law when he doesn't get his way.


ThePoliticalCat said...

Thanks so much for the linky love! It was a good rant, wasn't it? The kind that makes a person feel better, that is. I think Congress blinked because the whole nation was afraid that Bush would really declare martial law and remain preznitwit forever. Ugh.

Sungold said...

Yeah, all through the fall I actually wondered if Bush would find some pretext to suspend the Constitution. Not that he *ever* respected it, but there's a difference between hollowing it out step by step, and overtly suspending it.

I also kept expecting Bush to issue a raft of pardons before January 20, and I'm still wondering why he didn't.