Friday, January 17, 2014

Pens And Phones

By now, I'm certain that all my Gentle Readers have heard about Barack Hussein Obama's "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone" speech. The Won might have been trying to lay a marker alongside the late Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech; however, his prospects for a similar degree of acclaim seem remote. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to review the actual, as opposed to the notional, powers of the president of the United States. Obama might be well advised to read the following his very own self, as he seems not to have grasped them.


The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.


He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States. [Article II, Sections 2 and 3]

Couldn't be made any clearer, could it? And it doesn't say a word about making or changing the law by executive order.

Too many people, especially young Americans miseducated by our government-run school system, believe otherwise. But then, they've been told that the Constitution, our "supreme Law of the Land," is actually a blueprint for the oppression of the plebes by the patricians, written by white male slaveholders who were concerned exclusively with their own power and perquisites.

I've said it before, but it seems to require endless repetition: A presidential executive order only binds the employees of the executive branch. Moreover, an executive order that contravenes a law legislated and passed by Congress, or any other substantive provision of the Constitution, is an impeachable offense.

The citation of "high crimes and misdemeanors" as grounds for impeachment has several times been interpreted by fully competent authorities to include presidential traductions of the legislated law. The first impeachment, of President Andrew Johnson, was founded upon exactly such an event: Johnson's defiance of a bill that forbade the Administration to expend any sum exceeding $25,000 without prior and explicit Congressional approval.

How many legislated laws, several of which were signed by Obama himself, has The Won attempted to set aside, whether by executive order or simply refusing to enforce them? After he started announcing "changes" to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I lost count. As for the behavior of his attorney-general, surely comment is not required.

This supposed "constitutional law lecturer" has complete and open contempt for the document that created and defined the office he holds. Worse, he clearly thinks he can get away with his dictatorial usurpations of power -- and if the pusillanimity of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, which has "the sole power of impeachment" (Article I, Section 2), is any indication, he's probably right.

Sent any money to the GOP lately?

"My remarks concern Dame Clytie. I notice that she has been elected to an office which derives directly from the Charter, with duties and responsibilities defined by the Charter, including unqualified defense of the Conservancy against all enemies and interlopers. If Dame Clytie demeans or diminishes or in any way seeks to invalidate the Charter, she has instantly removed herself from office. She cannot have it both ways. Either she defends the Charter in whole and in part or she is instantly expelled from office. Unless I misunderstand her, she has already made her choice, and is now no more Warden than I am." [Jack Vance, Araminta Station]

The GOP caucus in the House did impeach Bill Clinton, on perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges for which the evidence was overwhelming. Partisan politics had already become so absolute that despite the evidence, not one Senate Democrat voted for conviction. Many believe that there would be a similar partisan refusal to vote to convict Obama, even though his refusal to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed" is beyond all denial...and they're probably right.

Oaths of office seem not to matter much to elected officials these days. We've had federal legislators say openly that they "don't give a damn about the Constitution," and that the "necessary and proper" clause grants Congress unlimited power. Today they decline to exercise their responsibility for removing a criminal from the Oval Office. The implications are as clear as the Constitution itself.

But an elected official who has openly refused to conform to the Constitutionally defined powers and responsibilities of his office is a traitor. He has abrogated his oath of office and betrayed his constituents. He is subject to the full and impartial weight of the law...or should be.

When they who supposedly make the law set themselves above it -- when they seize powers never granted by the document that created their offices and refuse to discharge the responsibilities that document charges them with -- what is the law? More critically, upon whose shoulders does its enforcement rest?

There is no pen, and no phone, by which the ultimate responsibility for upholding the laws of the Republic can be shifted from the shoulders upon which it rests: ours.

Think about it.


Backwoods Engineer said...

Mr. Poretto, thanks as always for a cogent piece.

There is, quite literally, no way out of this mess.

Congress will not impeach this president, because if they do, they fear they will be voted out by the "Free Stuff Army."

Obama himself, of course, would never resign, though he has done FAR worse than Nixon EVER did.

Even the coward's way out, the assassination of Barack Hussein Obama, will do nothing but a) make him a martyr in comparison to whom Kennedy will look like a squire to a knight, and b) ensure such a massive clampdown of what is essentially martial law, that it will make Watertown of April, 2012 look like Andy Griffith and Barney Fife.

Secession of states? Nope, that is now prohibited.

About the only thing that could be done are states that say, "we will no longer accept Federal money, nor abide by the mandates of Federal bureaucracy" and dare the FedGov to do something about it.

For the only real power the FedGov has is their ability to print money. They aren't going to nuke Alabama.

A Reader said...

Backwoods, I think that if the States stop taking Federal danegeld and stop enforcing Federal mandates that they would be half-way to secession already.

Also, who says it's illegal? The Union? Of course it does. But, if Jeff Davis was right, the question of secession can't be settled in a court belonging to the State contesting the secession, because said court has no jurisdiction. Thus Texas V White only works if the majority accepts that it does. If the Right of Revolution is a real right, and not just John Locke being clever, then like all other rights, it is inalienable. Secession may be right or wrong, premature or well-timed, but the question of its legality is meaningless. Either it works, in which case force of arms gives it force of law, or it doesn't, at which time the victor would have to declare it illegal or lose the peace after winning the war.

As far as I am concerned "No Secedin'" is a malum prohibitum measure. It can be invalidated be circumstances, including the sorts of circumstances on which the Founders based their claim that they had been absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown. It is a weighty thing to break an oath. It should only be done when keeping the oath would be a greater crime than breaking it, but this is not to say it cannot ever be done justly.

Of course, I am an American, a Southerner, and a Texan, so there are no less than three secessions in my heritage. This might skew my perspective somewhat.

MamaLiberty said...

By what legitimate authority? I didn't sign the "constitution," and I'm sure you didn't. I do not consent to be ruled by any of these people, and never did. Do you? Why is this "constitution" of any consequence to people who do not consent to it?

Who owns your life? How can anyone claim legitimate authority to control your life and property, and steal it from you - regardless of the purpose to which they put it. If you threaten or harm others, how can anyone legitimately prevent you from defending yourself? How can other people agree to a contract which you will be forced to honor, at gunpoint if necessary? How is this "constitution" or any "treaty" different?

Yet even the original writers of this "constitution" claimed such authority, and the Obummer is merely the latest in a long line of tyrants made bold by it.

You can choose such slavery for yourself, of course, but why do you think anyone has legitimate authority to impose it on others?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Well, Mama, from a standpoint that rejects the validity of political representation, you're exactly correct. That was Lysander Spooner's approach, as well -- and I have a great deal of interest in and affection for the Spoonerite thesis. But in a practical sense, we're without the option of declaring ourselves ungoverned. There's nowhere to do so on the face of the Earth where the claim would be honored or could be defended. Even among passionate freedom advocates, the great majority endorse the Paine / Madison postulate of government as a "necessary evil."

At this time, the concept of a Constitutionally limited government is the practical maximum for which freedom lovers can hope and strive. When the space frontier opens, and Man becomes capable of fleeing to genuinely ungoverned lands -- assuming there are any that will support human life, of course -- the situation will change. Yet even then, as I've been writing about fictionally, there will be pressure for government of some sort. That's not because government is inherently preferable to anarchism -- it isn't -- but because anarchism is unstable. The saving clause is that government is just as unstable. Our task is to survive and persevere.

Linda Fox said...

I do hope your financial affairs are in order, as the IRS may surely come a-calling soon. Ditto the NSA eavesdropping on your conversations.

Take care.

MamaLiberty said...

Francis, look at your answer again after you read Larken Rose's "The Most Dangerous Superstition."

The problem is that most people, even "libertarians," actually believe that there is such a thing as legitimate government authority, and that they must beg for permission for some things, however great or trivial they might be. If the masters declare they "need" your property, then they will take it.

We - as individuals, not a collective - won't ever achieve liberty as long as we expect someone, anyone else to "honor the claim." We have to defend our self ownership and self responsibility ourselves, by living that way right here and now, no matter how difficult the slaves around us make it.

You see... I can be forced to do many things if a gun is held to my head, or the head of my grandsons... but not even that lethal threat can make me believe they have any legitimate authority to do so. It's not a matter of degree, but of kind. You either own your life or you don't.

And as long as people continue to believe this evil superstition of other's authority over them, going to the stars will solve nothing... they will take their slavery, and their slavemasters with them.

Francis W. Porretto said...

"You go your way, and I'll go mine." -- Bob Dylan.

When not actually at Mass, Mama, I worship at the Church of Whatever Works -- and just now, declaring oneself ungoverned does not work. That's just asking to be made a target of the State, a status I'd prefer to avoid. (You did notice the part about "or could be defended," didn't you?)

Feel free to disagree, but please don't assume I don't understand you. For reasons my elaborately constructed and carefully maintained veneer of false modesty forbids me to elaborate on, it's much more likely that you would fail to understand me, on this or any other subject.