The campaign to prevent the Senate filibuster of the president's judicial nominations was simply the latest and most public example of similar transformations in Congress and the executive branch stretching back a decade. The common theme is to consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda.Later in the article:
Bush created a top-down system in the White House much like the one his colleagues have in Congress. He has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy, while he looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.
President Bill Clinton oversaw a transition of government away from strong agencies, which historically provided a greater variety of opinions in policymaking. "On the surface it looks like Bush is doing this better than Clinton, but there is much more going on," said Paul C. Light, an expert on the executive branch.
Light said Bush has essentially turned most of the agencies into political arms of the White House. "It's not just weakening agencies but strengthening political control of the agencies," he said.
Secrecy has also increased:
This has coincided with a dramatic increase in overall government secrecy. In 1995, the government created about 3.6 million secrets. In 2004, there more than 15.5 million, according to the government's Information Security Oversight Office. The White House attributes the rise in information the public cannot see to the security threats in a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world.
But experts on government secrecy say it goes beyond protecting sensitive security documents, to creating new classes of information kept private and denying researchers access to documents from past presidents.
"We have never had this kind of control over information," said Allan J. Lichtman, a professor of history at American University. "It means policy is being made by a small clique without much public scrutiny."
Having increased their control over the Executive and Legislative branches, they are also seeking to reduce the independence of the Judicial branch:
Now, the Republicans, with the support of the White House, are looking to reshape the courts in their image. The Senate's bipartisan compromise on judges will cost the president a few of his nominees to the appeals court but will require him to secure only 50 votes for future picks for the Supreme Court and other openings. If Democrats filibuster, Bush and Republican senators can move again to pull the trigger on the "nuclear option" and, if successful, prevent the minority party from ever again using the filibuster on judges. "I will not hesitate to use it if necessary," Frist said this week.
Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) has been assigned by GOP leaders to look for new ways to provide oversight of the federal courts and tougher discipline for judges. In a recent interview he said some judges have "deliberately decided to be in the face of the president and Congress." Senate Republicans are weighing legislation to limit court authority, as well.
This is a must-read article on the increased control of the Executive and Legislative branches by a small oligarchy, as well as the risk of the same happening to theJudicial branch. To fully show the dangers to liberty which is now occuring under Republican rule, I wish it had also discussed the K Street Project and the increased power of the Republican propaganda machine which has greatly reduced the ability of the media to keep a check on excessive government power.