Bush's power "grab" basically followed a pattern of asserting the most extreme vision of a unitary executive in the history of our country (with the possible exception of Lincoln during the Civil War). This was justified in some cases based on the President's "inherent" powers as Commander in Chief and in others based on the President's "inherent" authority over the Executive Branch.
Originally Posted by TXduckdog
The administration used the President's authority as CIC to justify the creation of a new system of "justice" for what it deemed to be "unlawful combatants" under which individuals could be denied essentially all constitutional and legal protections based on a Presidential determination. It was argued, that this determination was not subject to any judicial or legislative oversight or control even after every court review rejected this argument. This same argument was used to implement warrantless wire taps in direct contravention of law based on the administration's assertion that even the very limited oversight provided by the FISA court was too onerous and therefore could be ignored.
Under its broader view of the executive powers of the President, the administration:
Signing statements were used for many purposes, often akin to a line item veto, which is not permitted. Frequently, however, they were used specifically to prevent Congress from exercising agency oversight by imposing direct requirements for Cabinet members to report on activities to Congress (your stated reason for concern about the appointment of "czars".) As one of many examples if this is the signing statement attached to a bill in 2004:
- made unprecendnted use of so-called "signing statements" to rewrite and reinterpret laws as it saw fit, sometimes directly contradicting the language of the legislation itself.
- defined rules of secrecy over executive action that went beyond anything in the post-Watergate era, including refusal of cabinet officers to testify before congress abut issues unrelated to direct communication with the president (e.g. termination of US Attorneys), as well as asserting a unique argument claiming specific exemptions from the public records laws with regard to the Vice President based on the argument that the VP is part of the legislature rather than the Executive branch in those cases where the administration deems that to be more convenient.
"May 25, 2006
Today I have signed into law S. 1869, the ``Coastal Barrier
Resources Reauthorization Act of 2005.'' This Act provides for digital
mapping in support of the coastal barrier resources system and
authorizes appropriations through fiscal year 2010 for implementation of
the Coastal Barrier Resources Act.
Section 3(c)(2) and section 4(c)(3)(C) and (D) purport to require
executive branch officials to submit legislative recommendations to the
Congress. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a
manner consistent with the Constitution's commitment to the President of
the authority to submit for the consideration of the Congress such
measures as the President judges necessary and expedient and to
supervise the unitary executive branch.
George W. Bush"
Altogether, in the first five years of his administration, Bush inserted more than 750 such "signing statements" into laws to modify the intentions of Congress.
I believe the above satisfy your request for a "few examples" of ause.
With respect to having a "friendly Congress", Bush had an unusually friendly Congress for the first six years he was in office. In fact, I do not think any President since World War II had a friendlier congress for six years than Bush faced from 2001 until the end of 2006. LBJ had similar support for about three years. Clinton had similar support for 2-4 years depending on how one counts. Reagan never had that level of support.
In answer to your comment on Obama's "czars", these were used by every recent President. Obama has named more such "czars" than Bush, but even that assertion needs to be considered in light of the fact that "czars" generally exist only in the eyes of reporters. Ultimately, they are simply members of the president's staff and have no legal authority over the agencies that fall under their purview. As one who has been in such roles, I can assure you that the differece between "staff" authority and "line" authority is huge.
EDIT: BTW, the biggest criticisms of Obama from the "left" have been his failure to reject some of the powers claimed by Bush.