By Matthew Rothschild on August 03, 2007

George W. Bush is churning out executive orders and Presidential directives just as fast as Dick Cheney’s lawyers can fill up yellow legal pads.

The power that he is asserting—no, grabbing—with these executive orders is astonishing and alarming. Such power imperils our liberties and our democratic system of government.

Two weeks ago, Bush issued an extraordinary executive order entitled, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.”

It gives to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to freeze the property of people who are engaging in violence or who “pose a significant risk” of engaging in violence against the Iraqi government or the economic and reconstruction plan for Iraq.

It also bans donations of “food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering” to anyone whose property has been frozen.

On August 1, Bush issued a similar executive order, this one entitled, “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions.”

Syrian meddling in Lebanon constitutes an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Bush asserted, adding, “I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

This executive order is even more sweeping.

Where the one on Iraq applies to people who engage in violent acts or pose a significant risk of engaging in violent acts, this one doesn’t even bother to limit it to that. Anyone who engages in any act—violent or nonviolent—against the government of Lebanon can now have his or her property frozen.

And it also gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to freeze the assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose property is frozen.

What’s next? Impounding the family dog?

The executive order on Lebanon also bans food, medicine, and humanitarian aid to anyone whose property is frozen—and that includes the “dependent child” mentioned above.

Representative Dennis Kucinich denounced the new executive order as “reckless and dangerous.” He said it is part of a strategy to “generate more turmoil” in the Middle East.

And amass more power in the Executive Branch.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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