Recently, Congressman Henry Waxman sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab suggesting that Thailand be taken off of the intellectual property watch list. The USTR reinstituted Thailand on their watch list after Thailand decided to violate patents on AIDS medicine (Abbott’s Kaletra and Merck’s Stocrin) and manufacture the medicine as a generic using its own resources. While this was a motivating factor, video, audio, and software piracy provided additional impetus. Waxman suggests that this action is retalitory even though Thailand has been listed since 1994. In point of fact, Schwab is acting as specified in US Law, performing her function as a member of the executive branch of the government. Congressman Waxman’s letter is another example of Congress attempting to usurp executive power.

This is one of a long list of continuing incursions into other branches Congress has made in its belief that it has the right and mandate to intrude in all facets of American life, executive authority, and judicial review. We are witnessing the evolution of the Imperial Senate, as depicted by the new flag shown below.

The firing of the Attorneys General — political positions in the executive branch, serving at the pleasure of the President — are outside the purview of Congress (even if done in a ham-handed and arguably idiotic manner). If a political appointee does not toe the party line and support the agenda of the person who hired him, then his job is forfeit. Sad, perhaps but understandable. Certainly President Clinton knew this — he fired all the Attorneys. In an incessant attempt to usurp this power, Congress has subpoenaed records from the executive branch which are privileged documents.

In a related missive I discuss the intrusion of Congress into a labeling controversy on suntan lotions. While I have little respect for some of the excesses of the FDA, this is clearly an executive issue. There are other things for Congress to do.

The concept of 535 generals dictating battle plans, coordinating air strikes and ground maneuvers is even harder to swallow. If Congress doesn’t want to support the war, it has a Constitutional right to defund the military. It has no Constitutional right to dictate strategy and tactics to the commander in chief. The very political nature of the body insures that command decisions would be untimely, inappropriate, unexecutable and frequently wrong.

Our New Flag With July 4th long past, we the people of the United States of America need to take a hard look at our Constitution. This remarkable document provides for three branches of government, not one.

The Constitution of the United States tells the government what it can do. Everything else is reserved to the States and the people. Congress has stretched the elastic clause as if it were the costume of Mr. Fantastic. We need to cut Congress’s activities back to size somehow. Perhaps we should send each and every member a copy of the Constitution with yellow highlights over its duties. After we get Congress out of everyone else’s business, we can concentrate on the bloated Federal executive agencies. Flame on.