Saturday, December 24, 2005

Newly Discovered Federalist Paper Says President Is Infallible

On Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney made a startling discovery with historic implications. While cleaning out some papers from an antique desk, the Vice President apparently discovered a new “Federalist Paper” hitherto lost to history. The Federalist Papers were a series of eighty-five articles written under the pen name “Publius” by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in late 18th century. Their purpose was to gain popular support for the proposed Constitution. It now appears that an eighty-sixth paper by these founding fathers was lost to history for over two centuries. Even more startling is that the essay appears to directly contradict many of the previous Federalist Papers. Constitutional experts believe that this discovery may result in significant reinterpretation of the doctrine of “separation of powers” as well as reconsideration of the relationship between the President and Congress.

The first hint of a change in tone from earlier Federalist Papers is the surprisingly strident title of the new paper: “Why Congress Should Go Fuck Itself.” The paper presents a less enthusiastic attitude toward the separation of powers doctrine than Federalist 51 which states: “the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other -- that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.” Regarding the relationship of the President and Congress, Federalist 51 states that “in republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” In contrast, the new paper addresses these issues by stating only that: “Congress should do what it’s told like a little bitch.”

The new paper also seems to take a broader view of the President’s war powers than was expressed in Federalist 69 which explains that the President’s powers as commander-in-chief “amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces” while all other powers “appertain to the legislature.” In contrast, the new paper states: “the President, as the physical embodiment of the American people, is the owner of the state, and may dispose of his property, including persons suspected of un-American activities, as he wishes.”

All of this would seem to be a notable departure from the tone of Federalist 70 which argued against concentrating too much power in the hands of one man particularly during times of war:

“Every man the least conversant in Roman story, knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator, as well against the intrigues of ambitious individuals who aspired to the tyranny, and the seditions of whole classes of the community whose conduct threatened the existence of all government, as against the invasions of external enemies who menaced the conquest and destruction of Rome. […] Man, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render him unworthy of being any longer trusted, than in such a manner as to make him obnoxious to legal punishment.”

Constitutional experts were unavailable to comment on this last passage as they had been taken into custody at an undisclosed location.

Friday, December 16, 2005

How To Sell The Patriot Act

SCENE: A supermarket. A woman is picking up and examining various brands of bathroom tissue. Unable to tell the difference between two leading brands, she absent-mindedly tosses one in her shopping cart. As she does this, President George W. Bush steps from behind a display of paper towels.

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me ma’am. I couldn’t help but notice that you just picked the store brand of bathroom tissue. Can I ask why?

WOMAN: Oh, well I suppose they’re all the same. Bathroom tissue is bathroom tissue.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s where you’re wrong. Some bathroom tissue is more equal than others. Uh, ARE more equals than others. I mean, some are more better than the ones that are less good. Oh, you know what I mean. Anyway, that’s why I always recommend Patriot Act Bathroom Tissue. (He holds up a package of bathroom tissue for the camera. The package contains a large smiling picture of George W. Bush. ) It’s the only brand I ever use, and the only brand I allow in the White House and on Air Force One.

WOMAN: What’s so special about Patriot Act?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s made with real pieces of the U.S. Constitution. Here take a closer look. (He hands her a piece of toilet tissue on which the words “We the people” can clearly be seen.) See, there’s the preamble right there. And that’s not just stamped on there. That is an actual piece of parchment from one of the original copies of the constitution produced in 1789.

WOMAN: Wow. That must be expensive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well sure, Patriot Act costs a little more, but believe me, it’s worth it. Every morning after I jog three miles and eat a healthy breakfast, I like to retire to the powder room with my Patriot Act and the junior jumble. It’s one of the few places I can relax in peace. But Patriot Act will make anyone feel like a pampered chief executive. This morning, I wiped myself with the Fourth and Thirteenth Amendments.

WOMAN: But isn’t parchment abrasive?

THE PRESIDENT: No that’s a common misconception. Eighteenth century parchment is actually twice as soft as a Presidential Daily Briefing and three times as absorbent as the paper used in most basic science textbooks.

WOMAN: Wow. I’m sold. I think I’ll give Patriot Act a try. (She puts the store brand bathroom tissue back on the shelf and picks up a package of Patriot Act.) Hey, this roll has part of the Fifth Amendment.

ANNOUNCER: New Patriot Act bathroom tissue. Wipe your ass with the U.S. Constitution just like George W. Bush.