July 18, 2011 by Bob Livingston
Having just shed the shackles of monarchy, the Founding Fathers were loath to establish a government with an all-powerful chief executive. To prevent it, they created a government divided into three equal branches. Their idea was that each branch would check the other in order to limit government’s growth.
But the anti-Federalist Cato, thought to be New York Governor George Clinton, warned in Letter V to the citizens of New York that the compact under consideration did not provide strong enough checks and balances. He wrote:
Before the existence of express political compacts it was reasonably implied that the magistrate should govern with wisdom and Justice, but mere implication was too feeble to restrain the unbridled ambition of a bad man, or afford security against negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind. It is alledged that the opinions and manners of the people of America, are capable to resist and prevent an extension of prerogative or oppression; but you must recollect that opinion and manners are mutable, and may not always be a permanent obstruction against the encroachments of government; that the progress of a commercial society begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy to restraint; and that ambition and voluptuousness aided by flattery, will teach magistrates, where limits are not explicitly fixed to have separate and distinct interests from the people, besides it will not be denied that government assimilates the manners and opinions of the community to it. Therefore, a general presumption that rulers will govern well is not a sufficient security. You are then under a sacred obligation to provide for the safety of your posterity, and would you now basely desert their interests, when by a small share of prudence you may transmit to them a beautiful political patrimony, that will prevent the necessity of their travelling through seas of blood to obtain that, which your wisdom might have secured: It is a duty you owe likewise to your own reputation, for you have a great name to lose; you are characterised as cautious, prudent and jealous in politics; whence is it therefore, that you are about to precipitate yourselves into a sea of uncertainty, and adopt a system so vague, and which has discarded so many of your valuable rights. Is it because you do not believe that an American can be a tyrant? If this be the case you rest on a weak basis; Americans are like other men in similar situations, when the manners and opinions of the community are changed by the causes I mentioned before, and your political compact inexplicit, your posterity will find that great power connected with ambition, luxury, and flattery, will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman empire.
Sadly, it turns out he was correct. Congress has abdicated its responsibility, the Federal judiciary has become the oligarchy Thomas Jefferson warned about, and the result is we now have an imperial Presidency.
The imperial Presidency has its roots in 1861 and Abraham Lincoln, who had no regard for the Constitution and the rule of law.
The Southern States had every right to secede under the Constitution. In his inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson said, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
As Judge Andrew P. Napolitano states in his book, The Constitution in Exile, in a later speech Jefferson, discussing the possibility of States seceding, said, “God bless them both and keep them in the union if it be for their good, but separate them if it be better.”
“Lincoln’s act of sending troops to Virginia triggered the armed conflict that became the Civil War,” Napolitano writes. “He did so under the premise that war was necessary to preserve the union. But the truth is that Lincoln had several other options to exhaust before resorting to warfare — and that’s only after we observe that the Southern states had the right to secede from the Union if they wished to do so.”
During the period from April 12, 1861 — when first engagement of the Civil War took place — until his death April 14, 1865, Lincoln ordered the murder of civilians, declared martial law, shut down convening State legislatures, arrested State politicians and journalists, closed newspapers, suspended habeas corpus, seized vast amounts of property without compensating the owners, imprisoned Northern citizens without trial, conducted a war without Congressional approval, ignored orders of the Supreme Court, consented in — and encouraged — the commission of war crimes by his generals, and oversaw the illegal creation of the State of West Virginia.
Even Lincoln historian apologists accuse Lincoln of being a dictator. They just seem to believe he was a “good” dictator because they support what he did during his dictatorship. But tyranny is tyranny.
“Lincoln took all of these actions in the name of preserving (emphasis in original) constitutional government. It’s hard to imagine something more tyrannical than a central government that suppresses life, speech, and political expression with such drastic measures,” Napolitano writes.
Lincoln’s actions effectively ended the prospect of nullification and gutted the 10th Amendment. And ever since Lincoln got away with trampling the Constitution, Presidents, Congresses and Federal judges have been writing laws and issuing edicts and orders in violation of the Constitution and its enumerated powers. In other words, they do what they want, ignoring the rule of law.
The three branches, envisioned by the Founders as a set of checks against one another, became partners in crime. They consolidated their power over those they governed and set about entrenching themselves and enriching themselves, their political parties and their cronies.
Following the events of 9/11, Congress granted President George W. Bush sweeping powers to make war on terrorists and imprison Americans without trail. Like Lincoln, Bush suspended habeas corpus. Congress also passed the liberty-crushing USA Patriot Act that gave law enforcement agencies broad powers to eavesdrop, search and surveil Americans.
As the economy crashed in 2008, Bush — under the guise of “saving” the economy — looted the Treasury to make sure his Treasury Secretary’s old firm, Goldman Sachs, made out like a bandit. It turns out all the big banksters, both domestic and foreign, got a slice of that pie. Congress helped and Judiciary sat on its hands and did nothing.
But as has been the case since his inauguration, whatever Bush did, Obama has doubled down. He has become the Imperial President.
Obama has appointed dozens of czars without the consent of Congress. These czars set policy for Obama’s regulatory agencies — the alphabet soup government agencies that create problems through regulation and then pass more regulations to solve the regulatory problems they created. These agencies are answerable to no one and nothing. Obama’s agenda of killing jobs, suppressing innovation and supporting unviable “green” technologies is their lone goal.
Sadly, not only does Congress not care, it is working posthaste to make it easier for the President to avoid Congress altogether. The Senate, by a roll call vote of 79-20, last week passed the President Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011. It’s set to go before the House soon. The bill’s aim is to eliminate Senate confirmation of 200 of the roughly 1,400 Presidential appointments that fall under Article II, Section 2, according to The Washington Examiner.
Then last week, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated the harebrained notion to give the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own.
So it’s not enough that the President just ignores Congress, Congress has decided it wants to give the President carte blanche to ignore it even further.
Meanwhile, Obama morphs into more of a Third World-style dictator every day. Recognizing that the Federal government was abdicating its responsibility to control the border and guarantee every State a republican form of government, Arizona passed a comprehensive immigration law that virtually mirrored Federal law. The Obama Administration sued Arizona.
As the Texas Legislature grew close to passing a law that would make it a crime for agents of the Transportation Security Administration to fondle airline passengers and ogle their naked photographs, the Obama inJustice Department threatened to establish a no-fly zone over the State. This is the same inJustice Department that ignored voter intimidation by members of the New Black Panthers Party at Pennsylvania polling stations during the 2008 elections — charges the accused didn’t even bother to contest.
Other States that have passed sovereignty laws on issues from medical marijuana to funding abortions to intrastate ammunition and gun sales — oops, there’s the fallout from the first tyrant President’s actions — have also faced lawsuit and intimidation at the hands of the Mafia-style Federal government.
Inexplicably, unions give unqualified support to Obama even as he kicks them in the teeth while playing the liberal class-warfare game. Yachts and airplanes are symbols of the rich to Obama, so he denounces yachts and airplanes and threatens to change the tax code so that the rich can’t buy new yachts and airplanes. Who makes yachts and airplanes? Laborers and craftsman — many of them union members — who will be out of work by the thousands when the rich stop buying yachts and airplanes. So, too, will the engineers, marketing people, accountants, secretaries and all the others who are part of that industry, as will those who work in ancillary industries.
Not content with kicking the yacht and airplane laborers and craftsmen to the curb, Obama also attacks the oil and coal industries. Already, he’s ignored a court order to approve Gulf drilling. So tens of thousands of oil workers remain idle, oil and gas prices rise and thousands upon thousands of people struggling to get by are forced to struggle even harder. His Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rules which will kill coal-mining jobs by the thousands.
But for Obama, that’s OK because Americans are stupid. We cling to our guns and religion, he says. His dismally dimwitted Presidential ventriloquist doll Jay Carney said in a recent press conference that to most Americans, the term debt ceiling “sounds like gobbledygook.”
In another press conference, Carney dismissed a poll of a majority of the public saying the debt limit shouldn’t be raised by arguing that most people “don’t have a lot of time to focus on what is a debt ceiling.” And then he took a swipe at the press corps: “I mean, honestly, did anyone in this room, before they had to cover issues like this, have any idea what a debt ceiling was?”
Obama political hack David Plouffe said: “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers. People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”
When confronted by a reporter with the poll numbers showing 69 percent of Americans oppose raising the debt limit, Obama responded: “Well, let me distinguish between professional politicians and the public at large. The public is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury option goes. They shouldn’t. They’re worrying about their family; they’re worrying about their jobs; they’re worrying about their neighborhood. They’ve got a lot of other things on their plate. We’re paid to worry about it. I think, depending on how you phrase the question, if you said to the American people, is it a good idea for the United States not to pay its bills and potentially create another recession that could throw millions of more people out of work, I feel pretty confident I can get a majority on my side on that one.”
Since you’re not paying attention, Obama says you can just eat cake… or “peas.”
Ignoring the rule of law, Obama has — with Congressional complicity — turned the natural born citizen qualification for the President on its ear. He’s probably committed a felony or two by releasing a forged document that he claims is a birth certificate and by using a fraudulent Social Security number.
With a wink and a nod to Sarah Brady, Obama promised to work behind the scenes to pass stronger anti-gun legislation. He sat back while his appointee to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — and maybe even his Attorney General — pushed guns across the Mexican border. Then, he complained that American weapons were crossing the border and proposed marking that troubling 2nd Amendment off the Bill of Rights to stop it.
Seeking — successfully it turns out — to cow Republicans resisting raising taxes to seal a deal to raise the debt ceiling, Obama threatens to withhold Social Security checks. It’s a typical political ploy to threaten to cause the most pain on the largest number of people in order to get your way.
He lies with impunity, disregards the Constitution, ignores the laws he doesn’t agree with, does what he wishes, and has started three unConstitutional wars — two more than Bush started.
And Congress? Save for a few lone voices they stand by and pledge fealty to the Imperial Presidency.