Fatten The Beast

Many Democrats buy the theory that Republicans, when thinking long-term about government, employ a Starve The Beast strategy; that is, by cutting income taxes, expanding budget deficits and attempting to decertify government, Democrats won't be able to do much damage (read: increase spending, raise taxes) when they're in office. In the off chance that Democrats try to raise taxes, they'll be punished at the polls.

Maybe it's time to construct a Fatten the Beast theory about the administration's aggressive expansion of intelligence collection programs and their equally audacious executive power land grab.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that Vice President Cheney really does want to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. The principle of intertia applies, the more programs exist, the harder it is for a Democratic president to dismantle all of them -- particularly when they prove useful to law enforcement.

Consider: today's article in the Wall Street Journal about how spy satellites operated by the National Reconnaisance Office will be assigned to homeland law enforcement tasks, a policy change that's characterized as a substantial expansion of domestic intelligence gathering. If Democrats object to this, will they campaign to rescind this authority? In office, is it concievable that they'd end the program if it began to produce results? Or would they just cosmetically modify this collection program to give the appearance of more oversight?

## Will the next Democratic president refuse to issue signing statements?

## Will the next Democratic president seek to curtail the NSA's domestic intelligence collection if investigations and operations are hot and active?

## Will the next Democratic president prevent the FBI from stationing radioactivity-detection vans outside mosques?

## Will the next Democratic president order the NSA to halt its joint activities with U.S. data collection companies?

## Will the next Democratic president reform the classification system?

## Will the next Democratic president not rely on those legal precedents claimed by the Bush White House that courts have already sanctioned?

## If the Rove/Miers executive privilege argument is upheld, won't the next Democratic president be sorely tempted to employ it when Republicans begin to investigate?