(Video) Why we’re losing liberty

September 7, 2015

Via Prager University, Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George looks at several reasons for the decline of liberty in America — from the growth of the national government particularly since the New Deal, to the growing willingness of the courts to “legislate from the bench” and the acquiescence and even collusion of the other two branches in that– and identifies one key reason: citizens’ own ignorance of our founding documents.

Here’s Professor George:

In other words, you’re not going to be a very successful owner, if you don’t understand the “owner’s manual.”

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Kasich for President? Er… No, thanks.

April 24, 2015
Kasich 2016?

Kasich 2016?

There’s something about the Ohio governor I just don’t like, and I think the words “sanctimony” and “arrogance” have something to do with it. In The Washington Examiner, Philip Klein explains why limited-government conservatives should say “no” to John Kasich:

A 2012 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for states to reject Obamacare’s costly expansion of Medicaid — as many governors prudently chose to do.

But in February 2013, despite campaigning on opposition to Obamacare, Kasich crumbled under pressure from hospital lobbyists who supported the measure, and endorsed the expansion. When his legislature opposed him, Kasich bypassed lawmakers and imposed the expansion through a separate panel — an example of executive overreach worthy of Obama.

Kasich cloaked his cynical move in the language of Christianity, and, just like a liberal demagogue, he portrayed those with principled objections to spending more taxpayer money on a failing program as being heartless.

“Why is that some people don’t get it?” Kasich asked rhetorically at an October 2013 event at the Cleveland Clinic, which lobbied the administration heavily for the expansion so that it could access a stream of money from federal taxpayers. “Is it because they’re hard-hearted or cold-hearted? It’s probably because they don’t understand the problem because they have never walked in somebody’s shoes.”

Ugh. That’s a cheap shot worthy of Obama, Reid, and Schumer. It couldn’t possibly be that one opposes the expansion of Medicaid because it represents a looming fiscal disaster for states that do enlarge the program. It couldn’t be because Medicaid has been shown to be no better than having no insurance at all, and that it increases the strain on emergency rooms. Nor could one reasonably object on principled limited-government, constitutional grounds, since the entire Obamacare project represents an anti-constitutional monstrosity.

Nope. It had to be because you’re a callous monster. But thank God John Kasich has the heart you lack, you Grinch.

There’s another problem, too. It’s that Kasich has, like Obama, shown the instincts of a tyrant. No, he’s not had anyone carted off to camps nor had himself crowned king, but his decision to expand Obamacare slapped in the face the principle that laws should be written by the people elected by The People to write them. In other words, the legislature. Article 2, section 1 of the Ohio Constitution reads, in part:

The legislative power of the state shall be vested in a general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose to the general assembly laws and amendments to the constitution, and to adopt or reject the same at the polls on a referendum vote as hereinafter provided.

In other words, the power to write, amend, and repeal laws was granted by the people of Ohio to the legislature and reserved to themselves — none was granted to the governor. Yet, when the elected representatives of the people declined to expand Medicaid, Ohio’s chief executive –not “chief lawmaker”– forced his way around them to do it anyway. Like the old saying goes, it may have been legal, but it sure wasn’t right. That’s the “tyrannical instinct” I was talking about.

And if that gives you an uncomfortable feeling that reminds you of the shenanigans used to pass Obamacare, you’re not just imagining things. Having experienced enough of that under Obama, I don’t want to go through it again when “President Kasich” decides he knows best.

Thanks, Governor, but I’ll pass.


#Immigration: Congress *can* defund Obama’s executive order

November 26, 2014

Obamacaligula

Apparently Caesar Obama can decree all he wants, but getting the money to pay for his tyranny is another matter altogether:

The letter, requested by a Republican lawmaker, addressed an issue raised by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who has claimed it is impossible for Republicans to defund Obama’s amnesty since the agency in charge of issuing the work permits, the United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services office, is almost entirely funded by user fees.

The [Congressional Research Service] found that Rogers’ claim was completely false. From the letter:

“In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that “Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes.” Where Congress has done so, “an agency is not free simply to disregard statutory responsibilities. Therefore, if a statute were enacted which prohibited appropriated funds from being used for some specified purposes, then the relevant funds would be unavailable to be obligated or expended for those purposes.

A fee-funded agency or activity typically refers to one in which the amounts appropriated by Congress for that agency or activity are derived from fees collected from some external source. Importantly, amounts received as fees by federal agencies must still be appropriated by Congress to that agency in order to be available for obligation or expenditure by the agency. In some cases, this appropriation is provided through the annual appropriations process. In other instances, it is an appropriation that has been enacted independently of the annual appropriations process (such as a permanent appropriation in an authorizing act). In either case, the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions imposed by Congress on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds.”

This makes perfect sense constitutionally and legally: the agency is a creation of Congress, which has told it to raise money for its operations from user fees. It would be risible to say that Congress somehow lacked the power to tell that same agency how to spend the money Congress authorized it to collect in the first place.

The Republican leadership is discussing a long-term funding resolution for most of the government, and a short-term one for the Immigration Service, so that the new Republican legislature could then order it not to spend any money to enforce Obama’s order. This would be a first good step toward reining in Obama’s usurping presidency.

Let’s hope they have the courage to do it.


#Immigration: Going off script, Obama admits he usurped power

November 25, 2014
"Caesar Obama"

“Caesar Obama”

(Photo credit: @exjon)

Dealing with radical immigration activists while in Chicago, President Obama spoke off the cuff, once again proving he should never leave the safety of his teleprompter:

“I have heard you, but you have got to listen to me, too. All right? And I understand you may disagree, I understand you may disagree. But we have got to be able to talk honestly about these issues, all right?”

“Now, you’re absolutely right that there have been significant numbers of deportations. That’s true. But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law.

That may be the first time he’s spoken the truth in years. To quote Article 1 of the United States Constitution:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

That includes the power to “change the law.” How odd that there’s no mention of that being a presidential power…

All across America, state attorney generals about to file suit are saying a quiet but heartfelt “Thank you, sir,” for the gift he just gave them.


#ISIS: Rand Paul’s declaration of war

November 24, 2014
"Of course you know, this means war."

“Of course you know, this means war.”

One of the criticisms of President Obama’s conduct of our foreign affairs (and of our domestic affairs, frankly) is that he disregards statutes and the provisions of the Constitution whenever it is convenient for him to do so. This extends to the war powers inherent in the presidency under Article II. Both in Libya and, now, in Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIS, Obama has been accused of acting without authorization from Congress, either under the specific War Powers Act of 1973 or Article I of the Constitution, the latter of which grants Congress the sole power to declare war. With regard to ISIS, Obama has claimed authorization under the existing Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda, since ISIS is an al Qaeda “spawn.” Not surprisingly, critics call that a stretch.

One of the critics is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has often accused Obama of acting unconstitutionally. At PJM, Bridget Johnson reports that Paul has plans to assert Congress’ authority over the war-power by introducing a bill to declare war on ISIS:

The resolution would kill the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force and put a one-year expiration date on the 2001 Afghanistan AUMF. The administration has been leaning upon those war on terror statutes to conduct current operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

It notes that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.”

“The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution,” the resolution states.

“The President is hereby authorized and directed to use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats posed thereto by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”

The bill also contains specific limitations on the authorization to use force, namely action is to be limited to ISIS and its “affiliates,” and specifies that ground troops can only be used to protect Americans and American facilities, and in certain limited offensive operations.

I have my quibbles with this proposal (1), but overall I support the idea. Obama has created a constitutional crisis by pushing the limits of the presidency’s powers past their breaking point. We’re running the risk of passively acquiescing to our transformation from a republic with separate, co-equal branches of government, each with their own powers, to more of a strongman presidential model, such as in France (2).

To prevent that, Congress needs to start acting to jealously guard its prerogatives and assert its status, as Madison described several times in the Federalist Papers. Senator Paul’s bill to declare war may be a good start to redressing the balance.

RELATED: Charles Cooke on why Republicans should not retaliate in kind for Obama’s usurpations. Jay Cost on the proper way to rebuke Obama. Andrew McCarthy on “President Orwell.”

Footnote:
(1) Namely that I believe US “boots on the ground” in offensive operations will be necessary to defeat the new Caliphate; the Arab forces in the area are worthless.
(2) Not that I’m implying that France is a dictatorship — far from it. But the presidency under the Gaullist system is quite a bit more powerful than the legislature.


Endorsed: Bar Obama from making his State of the Union address before Congress

November 21, 2014
The President who would be King

The President who would be King

Since it became apparent that President Obama was about to (and did, last night) usurp the legislature’s authority to write and amend our laws, Republicans and conservatives (and some liberals) have been bandying around several strategies to fight back: some form of defunding, censure, even impeachment.

Writing at Ace of Spades, Drew M. adds a symbolic but very powerful idea: do not let Obama give his State of the Union address before the joint houses of Congress.

There’s one idea I’d like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.

The Constitution simply requires that “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.” Nothing requires that he do so in person. The modern in person State of The Union dates back to Woodrow Wilson but Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon all gave written reports as was the custom from Thomas Jefferson to Wilson.

And Presidents don’t simply show up whenever they please to address the Congress, they must be formally invited. That’s where Boehner and McConnell can strike a blow for the legislature…simply don’t invite him.

Yesterday, Boehner said, “The president had said before that he’s not king and he’s not an emperor,” Boehner says. “But he’s sure acting like one.”

There’s a reason for the reference to the behavior of kings: it’s a part of our history, dating back at least to the crises that gave rise to the English Civil War. In 1642, King Charles I attempted to usurp the powers of the House of Commons by barging in with soldiers to arrest five members. In commemoration of this, the House of Commons slams the doors in the face of Black Rod when he comes to summon them to hear the Queen’s Speech. Nowadays, this is just a ceremonial tradition, a reminder of the Commons’ independence from the Crown.

It is also an echo of a very real crisis.

We are England’s heirs, and Congress is facing its own crisis with an arrogant, usurping Executive. Let Speaker Boehner and (soon to be) Majority Leader McConnell reach deep back into our history and, along with more substantive actions, assert the legislature’s rights as a co-equal branch of government. Refuse our modern King Charles the stage his ego so desperately needs (1).

It’s time to bar the doors.

via Gabriel Malor

Footnote:
(1) Come on, you know Obama’s ego is so brittle that this would drive him nuts. As a narcissist, he craves a stage from which to lecture his inferiors.


Video: Sen. Cruz Invokes Cicero’s Words Against President Obama’s Lawlessness

November 20, 2014

Well-played by Senator Cruz. This Classics fan nods in approval.

Nice Deb

Obamacaligula

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking  Senate floor, Thursday, harkened back to Cicero’s famous warning to the citizens of Rome over 2,000 years ago. The Roman philosopher, Marcus Cicero, was advocating a return to a Republican form of government after the emperor Julius Caesar died. The words, as spoken by Cruz have special resonance today in respect to our current President’s lawlessness.

The text of the speech:

The words of Cicero powerfully relevant 2,077 years later. When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on the border, do not the watches posted throughout the city, does not the alarm of the people and the union of all good men and women, does…

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