Thursday, May 08, 2008

Depressing thought for the day

Mission Creep: The expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial success...

Scooted out to the west to go fishing this morning. It's kind of broken country out that way, some ups and downs, not a whole lot of choices in your radio listening pleasure.

Wound up listening to a whole lot of political radio. Actually, what we listened to, was a whole lot of people running their yaps regarding what their chosen variety of poison presidential candidate was "going to do for America".

About the third time someone mentioned "Obama", "Clinton", McCain", "service" and "the American Public" Chris turned to me and said -- probably channeling Will Rogers -- "Isn't 'service' what a bull does to a cow?"

Heh.

I love my brother.

Article II of the Constitution of the United States defines, enables and empowers the Office of the President.

Section 1 of Article II defines how we elect a President, who may be elected, who gets to be President if the guy currently holding the office doesn't hold it anymore, that he gets paid and what Oath of Office he must take.

Sections 2 and 3 of Article II are what should interest everyone this Election Day -- they state what powers the President shall have.

First paragraph:

"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 Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."

Do you see anything in that paragraph regarding abortion? Energy requirements? Global Climate Change?

Second paragraph:

"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."

Do you see anything in there about health care? Social security? Urban policy? Improving schools?

Third paragraph:

"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."

Do you see any mention in there of reforming immigration? Welfare? Caring for children? Parental leave?

Section 3, first paragraph:

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.

How about Investing in Conservation Efforts? Broadband to Rural Americans? Carbon Credit Trading? Human Dignity? Are any of those listed ANY-BLOODY-WHERE in the duties of the President of the United States?

*sigh*

The President of the United States was never meant to be, nor intended to be, King of America.

The President of the United States was never meant to do anything other than what is listed in red above.

The Office of the President is, in fact, expanding far beyond the limits and the very mission which is clearly and plainly carved in the metaphorical marble of the Constitution of the United States for any and all to read.

So when you hear -- or read -- that "John McCain will reform the Tax Code" -- why does no one ask where he gets this unilateral power?

When you hear -- or read -- that Hillary Clinton will "
spur the green building industry by funding the retrofitting and modernization of 20 million low-income homes" -- why does no one demand to know why she thinks she has this ability?

When you hear -- or read -- that "As president, Obama will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 and index it to inflation" -- why does no one stand up and say, "You don't have the power to do that"?

Are we so desperate for an absolute monarch that we blindly and joyously allow our Presidential candidates to claim powers that are restricted to Congress? That -- obviously -- we expect him/her to do so?

*sigh*

The fall of this great Republic started when the people of these United States came to believe the lie that we were a Democracy, instead of a Republic.

The fall of this great Republic has been furthered by an electorate that is deliberately unknowing and willfully blind as to the limits and rights of our government.

The end of this great Republic will begin when our leaders take the power that most of the electorate believes they already have.

LawDog

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

You miss the point. If the POTUS nominies are FOR those abominable actions, they can sign them into law or veto them when the bill comes to their desk.

db

wolfwalker said...

Quite true that presidents alone can do nothing to implement their desired policies. It's Congress that actually writes the laws.

However, when the president and the Congress are controlled by the same party, the president often can get large chunks of his/her/its agenda made into law. Since that's now certain to happen this fall ...

fuzzys dad said...

The office of president has been reduced to national nanny.

Trevor said...

Amen. The Constitution enumerates the LIMITS of government power. Nothing more.

Both parties are equally guilty of promising to do things they have no business doing, because they want people to elect them to do stuff for them, as opposed to keeping the nation safe, and making people do stuff for themselves.

To answer your question, yes, I do think that people are that desperate for a nursemaid to give us things and tell us what to do. We've been told for years that Nanny's always been there, and so she knows what's best, and we've got generations born with Nanny managing our checkbook, and making us share our toys, and telling us we've been very good, so we can have one of our own cookies from the cupboard.

Now all we ask for in a presidential candidate is a nanny who gives us some of the other kid's cookies, and promises she won't take too many of ours.

ColtCCO

Vince said...

Do you not believe that the Executive branch has not already usurped those exact powers?

Snake Eyes said...

Hello,

I had to go back and re-read the red text, just to make sure I got this right. Because it SEEMS like you are saying that encompasses the duties of the president, in their entirety.

Where does the constitution grant the power of Veto to the President? What about him having to sign bills for them to become law? Aren't those pretty major duties of the president?

Not trying to pick a fight--just woefully ignorant and looking for a little education.

Thanks,

Peter
(Snake Eyes/THR)

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget "Executive Orders".
That one should be put to bed perminently by Congress passing a law that states that no executive order will be valid for more then 90 days and then only in time of a declared national emergency.
emdfl

LawDog said...

Article I, Section 7 allows the President to veto a bill:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

Derius Thoran said...

The point here is that the government, in all its glorious wisdom, has been feeding people BS for so long that they have begun to like the taste. Government now tells people either too uneducated to know any better, or too uncaring, exactly what it is they (govt) are empowered to do, and people believe it.

Most people have come to accept, or more frightening yet, have come to EXPECT Big Brother to handle everything for them. I don't see it getting any better any time soon.

Oana said...

As has been pointed out, the president has the ability to sign or veto laws that would affect such matters. So it does matter what they think on such things, especially since they'll be doing things like appointing Supreme Court nominees.

But I do see your point. It's aggravating to see a nominee gushing about all the wonderful things they're going to do for the great unwashed masses.

phoenixtoashes said...

With the wage increase, I can see why no one would say "You can't do that."

It's because those who're working two or more jobs, just to be able to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, want the President to be able to do things like that. They badly want the leader of their country to be able to instate a living wage, so that they don't have to work incredibly long hours just to be able to afford to pay this month's rent and eat something healthy (or even eat at all).

Admittedly, I'm basing this on what I know of the Canadian side of things, since what I know of the American side wouldn't fill a gnat's ear. But, if I remember right, we only just got a wage increase to about %7.50 (possibly %8.50 - it's four-thirty in the morning and I can't remember exactly) - before then, minimum wage hadn't been adjusted from the 1970s era level of $6.50 (again, if I'm remembering right.)
This was a living wage at the time - it isn't any more, and I doubt I'll live to see the day when it is again (if that day ever comes).

CrankyProf said...

Do you really think that most people have read our Constitution and attendant documents, much less understood them? Aw, that's so cute!

They no longer teach such things in history or civics.

"American Idol" is on, after all!

HerrBGone said...

What amazed me when I finally got around to actually reading our Constitution was how approachable and understandable it really is. If you read as slowly as I do both the Constitution with all of its amendments as well as the Declaration of Independence can easily be read in about three hours. I have a nice little pocket-sized copy (printed by the CATO Institute, $4.95 list at your local book seller) that I carry around in my every day grab and go bag. It makes for some nice light reading when I have some time to kill like when waiting at the garage for my car to be fixed (again…).

The way our laws and other government documents are written today make them incomprehensible to the average Citizen. Were I to be the suspicious type, I might suspect that to be a deliberate effort to prevent the average Citizen from understanding just what our government is actually doing in our name. Expanding their claimed powers beyond those enumerated in the Constitution falls right in line with that.

Ignore that man behind the curtain…

Anonymous said...

Law Dog,

And so it was with Rome. The downfall of the American Republic has been a slow but steady death. As some of the posters have mentioned - American Idolatry - is on.

I have taught ancient Near Eastern history for over thirteen years. I have likewise taught American history for the same number of years. What people do or will not see is that we are heading down the same road that both the Greeks and Romans did. In the Late Republic Period in Rome Titus Livius wrote in his Ab Urbe Condita that as long as the masses had the games they were satisfied with life. In essence, they could care less about the nature of the political life and health of their nation. Just give them bread and games and they would be happy.

Contrast this type of Republic with the Assyrians. They were a military society (ala modern day Israel and/or Switzerland) and every man knew the law. They were to be ready at a moments notice and have their kit ready to do battle in the name of the nation. They lasted from the 20th to the 5th centuries B.C. That should say something about how to run a government. This type of society (a military one in which every man and woman has a stake in the outcome and survival of their nation) has stood the test of time (e.g. Assyrians, Spartans, and even to an extent the modern Massai in Tanzania). I am simply saying that if a person does not feel that they actually "have a dog in that fight," then they will not do a gut check when it is needed. As Cranky Prof said - most have not nor will not read the Constitution. I have a copy framed above my desk and refer to it often.

Lastly, I had a student one time do a paper on the Second Amendment and he said to me after he turned the paper in - "Hey, there is a lot of stuff in that old document that I had never read before."

All the best
Dr. Joe

Library-Gryffon said...

That's why I liked Fred Thompson. And of course that's one of the reasons he did so poorly. He wasn't going to make promises that he couldn't keep, and all that stuff the other candidates are promising is stuff they probably won't be able to convince Congress to do.

You can go to the Heritage Foundation's site, www.heritage.org, and they will send you a free pocket size copy of the Declaration and Constitution.

Dad29 said...

I have blogged a few times on the concept of "Savior President".

You filled in a lot of the blanks.

I'm not so sure that the citizens invented that idea, however. I think that the CANDIDATES invented that idea and are retailing the Hell out of it.

It was FDR who opened that gate.

Tam said...

Amen.

X_LA_Native said...

::sigh::
It's a sorry state of affairs, isn't it?

Back during the Shamnesty fight, in one of my conversations with one of Feinstein's people, he said to me, "Well the Senator feels..."
I stopped him there. "That's NOT her job. Her job is to vote what I, and a hefty percentage of her constituency THINK. Idjit had a difficult time digesting that nugget...

Eh, pitchforks and torches...escort them all out of their offices as start over by lottery - or just remove the HVAC system from all the buildings - D.C. should be mostly inhospitable at least half of the year. They'd be able to do less damage, methinks.

Back to the post - Thanks, Dog!

Gary said...

This has been creeping along for a while, but only got out of hand within the past 16 years of so.

The President has indeed become the "Mayor of America". It seems as if he he responsible for making sure the street in front of my house gets plowed during snow storms, funding my local schools, and being sure my cats get enough real chicken in their cat food.

By and large the American public has come to believe that the government exists to give us stuff.

Here's an idea, cut the state and federal governments back to only the things that they need to do and reduce my taxes. I'll decide what I need and don't need from there.

I want the federal government to protect the country from attack, secure the borders, make sure my mail gets delivered, and that we have good infrastructure from end to end.

There should be neither a federal department of education or a department of health and human services. Housing and urban development? Let the cities and counties figure that out.

I want similar limits from the state. Register cars, license drivers, perform public safety and public health functions. By the way, public health is supposed to mean communicable diseases, not making sure that kids don't take up smoking. That's a rant for a different day.

Gary

staghounds said...

Yes, we are that deperate for a savior. Which is hilarious, we are the freest, richest, most educated and open society in the history of Man. What do we need saving from?

Something that always struck me funny is how often people who go on about how terrible the government is- "Question Authority!" "Bush Lied, People Died!"

are the same people who want to turn the health care business, wage and price decisions, and just about everything else over to exactly the same evil government!

Which is something I often say to them- why do you thing government will do a better job with "health care" than it has done with Iraq?

Anonymous said...

Five surgeons from big cities are discussing who makes the best
patients to operate on.

The first surgeon, from New York , says, 'I like to see accountants on
my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is
numbered.'

The second, from Chicago , responds, 'Yeah, but you should try
electricians! Everything inside them is color coded.'

The third s urgeon, from Dallas , says, 'No, I really think librarians
are the best, everything inside them is in alphabetical order'.

The fourth surgeon, from Los Angeles chimes in: 'You know, I like
construction workers.. Those guys always understand when you have a
few parts left over.'

But the fifth surgeon, from Washington, DC shut them all up when he
observed: 'You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate
on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the
head and the ass are interchangeable

gmcraff said...

You know, that would make an excellent debate format:

Start by re-iterating the oath of office of the POTUS.

With that in mind, step clause by clause through the powers and duties of the President, and have each candidate specify how he will ensure that power or duty is to be faithfully executed.

You may have to take a bit of time at the clause "recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient", which I think the candidates are currently spending all their time on in an inaccurate fashion.

At the end of the fourth paragraph, announce that this is end of the legitimate part of the candidate's platforms, and they each now have five minutes to make statements concerning their personal suitability to execute these duties, but the moderator does reserve the right to interject and point out at any time, for the benefit of the voters, any thing the candidate says that implies a power he (or she) will not have.

Anonymous said...

I think this part,
and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessarye"
shows how a lot of the ideas creep in,
and why the aspirants must be so
thoroughly vetted.
Anon, Don

Larry said...

The problem is magnified because the general populace cannot even name two of the three people (two Senators, one Congresscritter) who represent them in Congress.
But they can name the President! So obviously if they aren't happy, it's his fault-and it's his job to make them happy.
Bah!
And we should go back to having the States appoint Senators as well.

phlegmfatale said...

I'm baffled by the true believers who expect a particular candidate to have the key to solving all our country's ills. It's all a little too √úbermensch, and creepily distasteful imho.

"gunner" said...

well i'm one who can name my senators, and house member, but not where there are ladies present. my main concern is not what the politicians say they'll do for my country, but what they're likely to do to it.
"gunner"

Not a US citizen said...

An interesting point LawDog,

As you say The USA is not a democracy. If your readers don’t believe me have a look at the process by which you elect your president... or actually voters don’t elect a president. Voters in the USA actually elect someone who will then vote in a WHOLY different election on who gets to be president.
Don’t believe me? Look up the US Electoral College.

http://www.america.gov/st/pubs-english/2007/October/20071010122843hmnietsua0.9602167.html

US citizens DO NOT elect their president the US Electoral College does. Does that sound like a democracy?

Flintlock Tom said...

If it is Congress that implements laws, levies taxes and allocates spending, then why is it that the president gets the blame when the economy is in the toilet?

Motomom said...

To not a US citizen:

Technically, we're a "representative democracy." Not that I like it, but that's what it's called when you vote for the voter to vote for your delegate. :-D

Also, it's not what the candidate stands for that makes policy, but the people he places in power that agree with what he stands for - appointment of judges, his cabinet, advisors, etc.

Motomom

"gunner" said...

to the notion of fdr and his successors as "saviour president", i'm currently reading jonah goldberg's "liberal fascism" and its enlightening to say the least, exploring the deep roots of the left in statist fascism and its origins in socialism. i recommend it, you may, or may not agree with all of goldberg's ideas and conclusions but there is food for thought.
"gunner"