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If We Only Had a King

I guess leftists were right – we truly lived under a tyranny during the presidency of George Bush. After all, just look at how contemptuously he treated the legislative branch of government. In his first cabinet meeting after the Democrats took control of the House, Bush told his top deputies that his “agenda will move forward whether Congress votes for it or not.” Then he added:

“One of the things I’ll be emphasizing in this meeting,” he said, “is the fact that we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need.”

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” the president asserted, “and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”

“And I’ve got a phone,” he continued, “that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life — nonprofits, businesses, the private sector, universities — to try to bring more and more Americans together around what I think is a unifying theme, making sure that this is a country where if you work hard, you can make it.”

It was a common lament during the Bush presidency that we were living under something resembling an imperial presidency. We were told that Bush’s advocacy of a unitary executive, as well as his penchant for issuing signing statements that added his gloss to duly enacted legislation, as well as his mere existence on planet Earth all signaled the end of democracy as we know it. Never mind that the executive branch was specifically designed to be unitary in nature, the Framers having decided against all alternative arrangements. And never mind that the signing statements were nothing more than inocuous expressions of how the executive bureaucracy would carry out legislation passed by Congress. No, we were truly living in Stalin’s Russia.

Thankfully Americans came to their senses and elected the wise and beneficent Barack Obama. Truly he was the change we were looking for. He promised us all a return to a more open administration that didn’t keep secrets, would restore competency to the White House, would be completely honest, and most importantly, wouldn’t disregard the other branches of government.

Alas, if wishes were trees, the trees would be falling.

You see, the above of course was not spoken by George W. Bush, but rather by President Obama on Tuesday.

Checks? Balances? Looks like the constitutional scholar residing in the White House is unfamiliar with such terms.

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Dante alighieri

42 Comments

  1. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” the president asserted, “and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions ”

    This administration has squandered one of the greatest assets that any government can have: a general respect for the rule of law by the population. It is hard for people to keep respect for the law when it is obvious that those charged with enforcing it have nothing but contempt for the law if it gets in their way. A spreading belief that obedience to law is for chumps is perhaps the greatest long term harm that the Obama administration is doing to the country.

  2. This just in: Mass treason! About 53% of subjects disapprove of the king’s efforts to ensalve America. A shocking 39% approve.

  3. That line from Kipling’s poem, City of Brass, keeps running through my mind,
    For the hate they had taught through the State brought the State no defender…

  4. Please saith not, you want more of King Mitch McConnell from KY? He and his party have never met a sensible piece of legislation they couldn’t have conjured up one excuse or another to kill it by their favorite means of plugging the works of representative governance: The Chickencrap Fillibuster. The recent long speeches by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul, R-KY, were not “filibusters” in the good old-fashioned sense. Sanders used the floor to describe what King McConnell and his cohorts refuse at nearly all calls to reason, not to mention, compassion for our growing number of people tossed under the proverbial bus of libertarian economics. At least Paul was addressing a security issue that had appeal to people in all corners. Big Ted’s classic, truly a “classic,” and memorable for his reading of Dr. Seuss’ book “Green Eggs n’ Ham” to his daughters actually managed to “accomplish something,” if you consider gumming up the works of the greatest nation and representative democracy in world history. Oh yes, his delaying act damn near took us to the precipice of economic disaster. But that’s okay in today’s GOP idealized legislature where until every smidgen of ideological truths and falsehoods concerning every scrap of legislation put into either chamber’s hopper, that’s when the real business of governance ought to begin.
    Poor John Adams, who never gets the full credit he deserves for his role in the construction of our national constitution, was rumored to have “monarchial intentions.”
    If he were alive today, he’d turn any offer down in a heartbeat. Just think of the parliamentarians he’d have to put up with today.
    Let’s all be thankful we don’t have a monarchy; and at least we have a Democratic Senate Leader with more actual final say than King Mitch and his party of Neoretrograde Tories. I just wish he’d use it more often to remind “king mitch” where he and his party belongs in a nation where the people are supposed to have the final ultimate say. Even Presidents … all of ’em, have had to admit this, and we know what other kinds of (actual) powers they can rely on.

  5. Mr. Barrett,

    You lost me when your rant went on about Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz. I consider McConnell to be a weasel who feasts on pork in the same manner, if not in volume, as the ex Grand Kleagle Robert Byrd. Your rant, however, goes on and on like a program caller who managed to get on the Rush Limbaugh show.

    You praise the snide, corrupt, despicable Dingy Harry Reid. If this were my blog, and it isn’t, you would be gone forever just for that.

    FDR cared nothing about the law. He ruled as a dictator whenever he could get away with it.

  6. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” the president asserted, “and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”

    So, the White House, which has about 600 employees (or at least did in normal times) will now be dictating to local school boards, local banks, and community colleges to boot.

  7. “as the ex Grand Kleagle Robert Byrd”

    Jesse Helms is one of the most prominent conservatives of modern history. The selective tarring of one side with the segregationist era is beyond retarded, though convenient.

  8. McConnell has led Republican bloc voting against Obama initiatives on several occasions. How he got tagged as a RINO I have no clue, other than he isn’t a firebreather and doesn’t engineer pointless, grandstanding legislative maneuvers like Senator Cruz.

  9. “Steven Barrett, no one here is a psychoanalyst paid to listen to you while you free associate.”

    No, but I could prescribe some good meds for him. 😉

  10. Jesse Helms is one of the most prominent conservatives of modern history. The selective tarring of one side with the segregationist era is beyond retarded, though convenient.

    Jesse Helms wrote speeches for Willis Smith, a politician from Raleigh who a common-and-garden segregationist of the era. Some people also contend that he offered rude radio commentaries on the Tobacco Network, but no recordings of these are around to demonstrate that.

    I have to say I am fascinated by your impulse to equate the main body of Southern opinion with the Klan. The 2d incarnation of the Klan (extant from 1915-44) was a fad organization that grew very large very quickly and then evaporated, going from a seven digit membership in 1922 to a five digit membership less than a decade later. Even so, the bulk of Southern men declined to join. One odd little curio about that era was that the frequency of lynching continued its monotonic decline even as klaverns were being set up all around the country.

    The third incarnation of the Klan was always fragmented amongst a mess of rival and localized organizations and likely never topped 30,000 in membership.

    Robert Byrd was working as a Klan organizer in 1942 in West Virginia of all places. West Virginia has a small black population (currently about 3.5% of the total) as is the norm in the upland South. The Klan was utterly passe at that time and, in fact, on the verge of dissolution. His activities were so out-of-place and time that an analogy might be hawking war bonds in New Zealand ca. 1963. The Congress-shnooks who said he did it to get elected neglect that his stated views on segregation over the period running from 1952 to 1970 were pretty singular in the West Virginia congressional delegation and contradicted by Jennings Randolph (who served along side him) and Chapman Revercomb (who preceded him in office). You gotta wonder if Ted Kennedy told is son to join a skin-head circle in 1982 to further a future political career, because that’s what Byrd’s activities amounted to.

  11. Why do you feel the need to respond to representatives of the 17% minority that identifies itself as liberal/obama-worshiping imbcile?

  12. It was a common lament during the Bush presidency that we were living under something resembling an imperial presidency. We were told that Bush’s advocacy of a unitary executive, as well as his penchant for issuing signing statements that added his gloss to duly enacted legislation, as well as his mere existence on planet Earth all signaled the end of democracy as we know it.

    You may hate me, Paul but… I gotta quote it. 😉

    http://flamingdumbass.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/jonah-goldberg-progressives-and-power/

    When the public was on their side the progressives relied on the public. That’s why we have the direct election of senators. That’s why women got the franchise. Etc. In his early years as an academic Woodrow Wilson wanted Congress to run the country — the way parliament runs England — and relegate the president to a glorified clerk. When the public became unreliable and Congress was no longer a viable vehicle, progressives suddenly fell in love with a Caesarian presidency. Indeed, Wilson himself, the former champion of Congress, became an unapologetic voluptuary of presidential power the moment it suited him — and nary a progressive complained (save poor Randolph Bourne, of course). The progressives rode the presidency like it was a horse they never expected to return to a stable. And when that started to hit the point of diminishing returns, they moved on to the courts (even as they bleated and caterwauled about Nixon’s “abuses” of powers that were created and exploited by Wilson, FDR, and Johnson). After the courts, they relied on the bureaucracy. Like water seeking the shortest path, progressives have always championed the shortest route to social-justice victories.

    As they say, behind every confessed double standard there is an unconfessed single standard. And for progressives, the single enduring standard is “whatever works for us.”

  13. “will now be dictating to local school boards, local banks, and community colleges to boot.”
    My husband’s school board experience , even when we lived in nebraska showed the long arm of federal govt enforcing a “mass culture” . …local boards already have to reflect the “King Washington” image because they are mandated to do xyz and also depend on federal money to do xyz. But it was congress and the faceless bureaucracy. Now the executive branch rears it’s head.

  14. Can’t resist saying: as Paul and Nate both know– it is not water that seeks the shortest path – that would be electricity. Water seeks its own low level. Which might be the better metaphor for Jonah’s assessment of the progressive movement they think they are electricity which can go up and quick but really more like water which only moves lower and then stays at the lowest common level. 😉

  15. Why do you feel the need to respond to representatives of the 17% minority that identifies itself as liberal/obama-worshiping imbcile?

    He’s hawking falsehoods, that’s why. (Such as the notion the Republican and Democratic parties are equally responsible for segregation).

  16. The difference between Bush and Obama is their concern for their constituency. Obama has executed 923 or more executive orders. Each and every order is about seizing power from all the branches of government and from the his constituents. Vision to America News [email protected]. BTW: Normal people do not do that.

  17. You gotta love a pro wrestler that could tweet out this:

    “Democrats are the antithesis of the “Progressive” label they brand themselves with. Creating dependence, class warfare and race baiting…” Eric Bischoff

  18. As an Irish American I learned at my grandfathers house that the law is the Queens way to keep the Irish in their proper place,the rule of law is a joke today and yesterday.

  19. FDR had a pen and a phone, and……”Japanese-Americans were interned as a result of an executive order (see Executive Order No. 9066) by President Roosevelt in 1942. About 77,000 American citizens and 43,000 legal and illegal resident aliens were affected by the order. The last camp was closed in January 1946, five months after World War II ended. It would not be until 1988 that the U.S. government formally apologized, provided compensation to those who were interned, and created an education fund to preserve the history and to teach the lessons of this shameful episode.”

  20. ”Japanese-Americans were interned as a result of an executive order (see Executive Order No. 9066) by President Roosevelt in 1942. About 77,000 American citizens and 43,000 legal and illegal resident aliens were affected by the order. ”
    After Pearl Harbor, interning Japanese Americans became a security measure, and sometimes protective custody. During the War, Marshal Law could be used to defend the country. When the war ended, the internment ended and so did the responsibility of the United States to compensate victims of internment.

  21. Mary. I referred to the interning of the Japanese to support my looking askance at Obama’s excessive resort to executive orders. I cannot entirely refute your observations but there are historical perspectives that describe a great deal of injustice entailed in the event. A majority were citizens and very many suffered losses never recovered. However, I do not wish to take the discussion off-topic. Perhaps Mr. McClarey may discuss it in a future article. Pax Vobiscum.

  22. William P. Walsh: It was wartime and martial law was in effect. Executive orders during war are different from executive orders during peacetime. America was answering an aggressive assault by the Japanese. Is there any reason America ought to have trusted the cousins, aunts and uncles brothers and sisters of those who were assaulting American soldiers? Otherwise, Mr. Walsh, I do agree with you.

  23. Mary, we are in substantial agreement. The subject of executive orders is complex and a detailed study of them could consume much time and more than I wish to spend. The problem remains that the current President has given us many reasons to distrust him. The man is an enigma. Is he a Marxist, a socialist, a corporatist, or a species of fascist? All of these are different flavors of a progressive collectivism that has sought to dismantle not only our Constitution but also the Judeo-Christian heritage from which it sprang.

  24. Is he a Marxist, a socialist, a corporatist, or a species of fascist?

    None of the above. He is merely a manifestation of a certain sort of bourgeois mindset.

  25. Executive Order 13575 Rural Councils allows the government agents to come onto private farms and confiscate them if the agent does not like the way the farm is being run.
    I am from New Jersey where the government confiscated the Otken Farm, in North Brunswick, the Cornell Dairy Farm and forty acres of Michael Smith’s farm, several years ago. What makes anyone think it won’t happen here?
    Bill Clinton made Executive Orders that made all free lands and waterways the property of the Chief Executive. He tried to give the Statue of Liberty to the United Nations.
    Obama just confiscated all private enterprise and all private property. Obama just subsumed all private persons’ possessions into the state. Obama did this in one or more of his 923 Executive Orders. Obama is only telling the people, so that when he confiscates all private business and property to balance the budget or take another vacation or fund one world government under the world bank you will never be able to say that you were not informed.
    OBAMA said: “Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

  26. that quote about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance (Maybe T Jefferson) is so important for us, We need to stay constantly apprised of our situation– but How should we respond to the knowledge we have about all these threats of trespasses and actual trespasses?

  27. The American Catholic blog educates the uninformed as do other Catholic blogs, keeping the truth before the public, calling out and clarifying such transgression of our unalienable civil rights.

  28. Mary, I read E.O. 13575 and found it to be a verbose bag of blather that could be construed to mean just about anything Obama wants to do.
    Art, “He is merely a manifestation of a certain sort of bourgeois mindset”. Really, a middle-class mindset, such as whose? Perhaps a Robespierre? He reminds me of Red Diaper Babies I have known, and they usually deride middle-class values.

  29. David Horowitz is a red diaper baby, as is Ronald Radosh. Both of these men have spent much of their lives cogitating about current affairs and American history. Obama is very unlike them. You go into some social circles, and everyone who talks thinks a certain way. No one whose opinions they have to listen to disputes them. That’s the President. I doubt he has a viewpoint on any matter which is not derivative.

  30. Executive Order 13575 Rural Councils allows the government agents to come onto private farms and confiscate them if the agent does not like the way the farm is being run.

    No, it doesn’t. It sets up a wheel-spinning inter-agency committee.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/09/executive-order-establishment-white-house-rural-council

    Heck knows why they want this, but Obama’s camarilla have a history of coughing up nonsense to fill the dead air at pseudo-events.

  31. Thank you Art, for “camarilla”. Oh how I miss Bill Buckley, may he rest in peace. I rarely read him without adding to my vocabulary. Of course, if one knows Spanish, a little room is obvious but the connotation applied to Obama is apt. He has a tight little knot of people about him and they all think alike. I think their common characteristic is a commitment to central planning. Thus they crank out things like E.O. 13575. Obama, if Dinesh D’Souza and others are credible, may be more a red diaper baby than a typical limousine liberal who lunch only with their kind and never confront a contrary opinion. Such is speculation akin to sleeping in the jungle, wondering what kind of tiger is out there seeking to eat me and how many spots does it have.

  32. Stripes! But spots when the imagination runs wild. Should I substitute stripes for spots or leopards for tigers? Since I am worthy of many stripes, I’ll have to keep the tiger. 🙂

  33. Anzlene wrote, “that quote about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance (Maybe T Jefferson)…”

    I once tried to trace the origins of this quotation. The nearest I could find was the Irish barrister, John Philpot Curren, “”It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” (1790)

    If Jefferson used it, I fancy he may have been inspired by Montesquieu (whose De l’esprit des lois, published in 1748 was vastly popular in America), It was Montesquieu who wrote, « La servitude commence toujours par le sommeil » [Servitude always begins with sleep]

  34. “I am from New Jersey where the government confiscated the Otken Farm, in North Brunswick, the Cornell Dairy Farm and forty acres of Michael Smith’s farm, several years ago.”
    These farms were taken at eminent domain but were not compensated for at market value, nor were they used for public purposes but were promised to and sold to housing developers to fatten the coffers of the townships, that is, so the politicians could keep their vacations and pay raises. Michael Smith’s forty acres were a cranberry bog which he flooded to harvest the cranberries. They took it as wet land preservation because they could.
    Anzlyne: “but How should we respond to the knowledge we have about all these threats of trespasses and actual trespasses?
    I have noticed that when an issue becomes public knowledge and the tar and feathers come out the government backs off. It is the most we, as citizens, can expect.
    Thank you, Art Deco for the clarification. Obama writes orders and sets up commissions with such vagueness that anything could be interpreted. Obamacare is a good example. The HHS Mandate was added AFTER the bill was passed by Congress bypassing informed consent by the people and a vote, taxation without representation. ALL, and I say all bills have a clause in them that says that the government can do whatever it wants to do after the bill is passed. a blank check. In Obamacare Obama can change anything at anytime he so chooses. FREEDOM, accountability, transparency. no.

  35. William P. Walsh: “I think their common characteristic is a commitment to central planning.”
    That is what the title of this post is : “If we only had a king”

  36. The Fifth Amendment “the takings clause” used to read “for public use”, ratified by ALL of the states. The Court changed it to “public purposes” without public knowledge and without ratification by the states, which allows the criminal stealing of private property.

  37. I was just thinking…

    I’ve seen some Catholics seriously argue for monarchy (principally on Shea’s blog so if any of them want to come here and talk…) with such arguments like their power was “more” limited and there was greater freedom back then… etc etc.

    Though upon consideration I wonder… if it wasn’t the monarchs that were more limited but the technology. Let’s be honest, it’s going to be hard for a megalomaniac to oppress anyone when his closest subject might be a day or two’s ride on horseback. What’s going to keep even a monarchy of old from morphing into North Korea or Cuba or any number of African nations with a king?

    Then again, maybe it all comes down to how Thomas Sowell put it:
    However widespread the desire to be free, that is wholly different from a desire to live in a society where others are free.

    We no longer desire for others to be free…

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