KUDZU

liberty kudzu

As trite as it may sound, the Tree of Liberty truly is being choked to death by kudzu.

*Kudzu: AKA “A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies”;

usa.gov/federal-agencies/a

AbilityOne Commission, Access Board, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration for Community Living, Administration for Native Americans, Administration on Aging (AoA), Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Administrative Conference of the United States, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, African Development Foundation, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Agency for International Development (USAID), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Agricultural Marketing Service, Agricultural Research Service, Agriculture Department (USDA), AmeriCorps, American Battle Monuments Commission, Amtrak (AMTRAK), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Antitrust Division, Architect of the Capitol, Archives (National Archives and Records Administration) (NARA), Arctic Research Commission, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Arms Control and International Security, Army Corps of Engineers, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee, Bankruptcy Courts, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, Bonneville Power Administration, Botanic Garden, Broadcasting Board of Governors, Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Industry and Security, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Bureau of the Census, Bureau of the Fiscal Service, Bureau of the Public Debt, Capitol Police, Capitol Visitor Center, Census Bureau, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Chief Acquisition Officers Council, Chief Financial Officers Council, Chief Human Capital Officers Council, Chief Information Officers Council, Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Coast Guard, Commerce Department (DOC), Commission of Fine Arts, Commission on Civil Rights, Commission on International Religious Freedom, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Community Planning and Development, Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT), Congress—U.S. House of Representatives, Congress—U.S. Senate, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congressional Research Service, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Copyright Office, Corps of Engineers, Council of Economic Advisers, Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, Council on Environmental Quality, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Court of Federal Claims, Court of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, Defense Acquisition University, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), Defense Contract Management Agency, Defense Field Activities, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Out-of-Service Debt Management Center, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Legal Services Agency, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Defense Security Service (DSS), Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Delaware River Basin Commission, Denali Commission, Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Defense, Department of Education (ED), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Labor (DOL), Department of State (DOS), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of the Treasury, Office of Director of National Intelligence, District of Columbia, Domestic Policy Council, Drug Enforcement Administration, Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, Economic Adjustment Office, Economic Development Administration (EDA), Economic Research Service, Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, Economics and Statistics Administration, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Election Assistance Commission (EAC), Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of (OESE), Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Employment and Training Administration, Endangered Species Program, Energy Information Administration, English Language Acquisition Office, Engraving and Printing, Bureau of (BEP), Environmental Management (Energy Department), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), European Command, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), Farm Credit Administration, Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation, Farm Service Agency, Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Citizen Information Center, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Consulting Group, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Federal Election Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Executive Boards, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, Federal Financing Bank, Federal Geographic Data Committee, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Federal Housing Finance Agency, Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds, Federal Interagency Committee on Education, Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy, Federal Judicial Center, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Federal Library and Information Center Committee, Federal Maritime Commission, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Federal Protective Service, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Register, Federal Reserve System, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Federal Student Aid Information Center, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Voting Assistance Program, Federated States of Micronesia, Financial Management Service, Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Foreign Agricultural Service, Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, Forest Service, Fossil Energy, Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, General Services Administration (GSA), Geological Survey (USGS), Global Affairs (State Department), Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), Government Publishing Office, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, Health Resources and Services Administration, Health and Human Services Department (HHS), Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control Office, Helsinki Commission, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Homeland Security Department (DHS), House Office of Inspector General, House Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives, Housing Office, Immigration and Citizenship Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Indian Affairs, Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Indian Health Service, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Information Resource Management College, Information Resources Center (ERIC), Innovation and Improvement Office, Inspectors General, Institute of Education Sciences, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Institute of Peace, Inter-American Foundation, Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group, Interagency Council on Homelessness, Interior Department (DOI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), International Trade Administration (ITA), International Trade Commission, Interpol, James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, Japan-United States Friendship Commission, Job Corps, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Joint Fire Science Program, Joint Forces Command, Joint Forces Staff College, Joint Military Intelligence College, Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, Judicial Circuit Courts of Appeal, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, Justice Department (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Labor Department (DOL), Legal Services Corporation, Library of Congress (LOC), Marine Mammal Commission, Maritime Administration (MARAD), Marketing and Regulatory Programs (Agriculture Department), Marshals Service, Mediation and Conciliation Service, Medicaid (CMS), Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Medicare (CMS), Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, Military Postal Service Agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Minor Outlying Islands, Minority Business Development Agency, Mint, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Mississippi River Commission, Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, Multifamily Housing Office, NOAA Fisheries, National AIDS Policy Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Capital Planning Commission, National Cemetery Administration, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, National Constitution Center, National Council on Disability (NCD), National Credit Union Administration, National Defense University, National Defense University iCollege, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Economic Council, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), National Gallery of Art, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Guard, National Health Information Center (NHIC), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Indian Gaming Commission, National Institute of Corrections, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Institute of Justice, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Intelligence University, National Interagency Fire Center, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), National Laboratories (Energy Department), National Marine Fisheries Service, National Mediation Board, National Nuclear Security Administration, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Foundation, National Park Service, National Passport Information Center (NPIC), National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK), National Reconnaissance Office, National Science Foundation (NSF), National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Council, National Technical Information Service, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, National War College, National Weather Service (NOAA), Natural Resources Conservation Service, Northern Command, Northwest Power Planning Council, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of (BOEM), Office for Civil Rights – Department of Education, Office of Community Planning and Development, Office of Compliance, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), Office of Fossil Energy, Office of Government Ethics, Office of Housing, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Office of Nuclear Energy (Department of Energy), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Office of Refugee Resettlement, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, Office of Servicemember Affairs, Office of Special Counsel, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the Federal Register, Office of the Pardon Attorney, Open World Leadership Center, Out-of-Service Debt Management Center, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Pacific Command, Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council, Palau, Pardon Attorney, Office of, Parole Commission (Justice Department), Peace Corps, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), Pentagon Force Protection Agency, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Policy Development and Research (HUD), Political Affairs (State Department), Postal Regulatory Commission, Postal Service (USPS), Power Administrations, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Presidio Trust, Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (State Department), Public and Indian Housing, Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio and TV Marti, Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), Regulatory Information Service Center, Rehabilitation Services Administration (Education Department), Republic of The Marshall Islands, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Risk Management Agency (Agriculture Department), Rural Business and Cooperative Programs, Rural Development, Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Science Office (Energy Department), Secret Service, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Selective Service System (SSS), Senate, Small Business Administration (SBA), Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration (SSA), Social Security Advisory Board, Southeastern Power Administration, Southern Command, Southwestern Power Administration, Special Forces Operations Command, State Department (DOS), State Justice Institute, Stennis Center for Public Service, Strategic Command ,Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Supreme Court of the United States, Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, Surface Transportation Board, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, TRICARE Management, Tax Court, Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, Tennessee Valley Authority, Trade and Development Agency, Transportation Command, Transportation Department (DOT), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Transportation Statistics, Bureau of, Treasury Department, Trustee Program, U.S. AbilityOne Commission, U.S. Access Board, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, U.S. Arctic Research Commission, U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Botanic Garden, U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, U.S. National Central Bureau – Interpol, U.S. Navy, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Postal Service (USPS), U.S. Senate, U.S. Sentencing Commission, U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Trustee Program, US-CERT (US CERT), USAGov, Unified Combatant Commands (Defense Department), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States Mint, United States Postal Inspection Service, Veterans Affairs Department (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Day National Committee, Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), Vietnam Education Foundation, Voice of America, Washington Headquarters Services, Weather Service (NOAA), Weights and Measures Division, Western Area Power Administration, White House, White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, White House Office of Administration, Women’s Bureau (Labor Department), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Madison, and The Chicken Farmer

we the people

So, you might have noticed that we’ve made mention of State sovereignty and it’s demise, a few times.

Okay, more than a few times.

The reason we’ve mentioned it is because it’s really, really relevant to what’s going on today. Bear with us and this long post. This is just too damned important.

A lot of people, especially a lot of people involved in State governments, deny that there’s any truth to the rumor that State sovereignty is dead. That’s because they’re in denial. Not surprising; they’d be out of a job if they admitted the truth to their residents.

And a lot of otherwise lucid, logical people, will get all kinds of bent up if you even hint that their particular geographic unit, be it New York, California, Missouri, or even Texas, is really only a province of The District. Okay, maybe we can exclude Texas. Special case, and I don’t want to piss them off. You know how Texans get.

But it’s the truth. States, today, and ever since, like, almost forever, are only around for conveniences like issuing drivers licenses and parceling out money from The District. Money that was taken from the people in that province in the first place, usually. They get to manage some of their own affairs (unless The District forbids it), and the residents get to vote on issues in The District (for all the good it does them), but the State itself has no real power. Not any more. Not for the last 100+ years.

But they used to. The States used to be proud of the fact that they were independent and had voluntarily entered into a kind of marriage, a collaboration, with all the other independent States. United, as equal members, who agreed to use one set of rules among themselves, and to present a unified (there we go with that “united” thing again) a unified front to the rest of the world. Other parts of the country were tickled pink to join up. Bragging rights belonging to the original thirteen colonies, of course.

Here’s a little aside: to become a member of this union of States, even today, a geographic area has to unite itself, identify itself, form its own government (and that has to be a constitutional republican form to qualify), and then create and enact its own constitution. Simply put, it has to become a country, an independent nation. Then it can apply for membership, for Statehood. That’s what all fifty of the States were: sovereign nations, however briefly, who voluntarily joined the Union.

That was before Abe Lincoln so rudely disagreed with their notion that an independent, sovereign State that had voluntarily joined could just as voluntarily decide to un-join, to separate. To secede. Silly States. What were you thinking? That you were sovereign or something?

So Abe broke the dozen or so upstart States to prove his point. I mean, he smashed them. It’s like the Cosa Nostra, the Mob: once you’re in, you’re in. There’s only one way you leave. You don’t get to change your mind.

So much for State sovereignty.

But the Constitution (of the United-whether-you-want-to-or-not States) still left all the States some leverage. James Madison was smarter than Abe Lincoln. Jimmy knew all about how rulers tend to not want to be over-ruled, so he set things up to so that there was a three-way balance: The Executive – the Prez – was in charge of overseeing the running of the government. The Judicial – the Supreme Court – is supposed to be where all the lawyers hang out; lawsuits, interpreting the thorny issues with laws, yada-yada. The House of Representatives was the direct voice of the people. But people are fickle, and change their minds a lot, and get distracted a lot – admit it; you know it’s true. So he made sure their spokesperson was only on board for a short time. Too short to cause much damage. And he let the general population of each State pick their new reps, so they’d have a voice that echoed whatever it was they thought was important that day. And he set the minimum age to be a Representative low enough that a relative kid could get in there. And he made the House flexible in size, so that, as the country grew, so would the House. This means that the House of Representatives is controlled by the States with a lot of people. The only really important job Madison gave the House is called “the power of the purse”. (They haven’t been doing a great job at handling that, lately, but we’ll wait for another episode to talk about that debacle.)

James Madison knew that the House, so large and so disorganized (think “Animal House” and you won’t be far off base), couldn’t stop the President. He knew the Supreme Court couldn’t stop the President because it takes, like, frickin’ forever to get those dudes (and dudettes) to even consider doing any work, and when they do, nobody understands what the frick they’re saying anyway, senile old farts that they are. So Madison, on the third day, created the Senate, and Madison looked upon the Senate, and it was good. I mean, it was really, really good. Madison knew that the States, who considered themselves sovereign equals in a solemn compact, were jealous of their own power, and wouldn’t stand for being dissed by some Supreme Ruler. So he made the Senate their voice. The States, by any method they wanted, appointed two Senators each, so every State, no matter their size, would have an equal voice in whatever went on. That meant that the Senators weren’t subject to being micro-managed by the people of their State and could focus on what was good for their States, long-term. He set it up so the Senators were older, presumably wiser, heads – think Council Elders – and gave them the longest terms of anyone so they could balance out the hot-heads in the House, and, more importantly, so they were there longer than the Prez. And the States, if they didn’t like the way either of their Senators was handling their business, could recall themfire thembefore their term was up, and replace them with someone who would follow orders.

Is that a beautiful thing, or what? I mean, seriously. The dude was a genius. (And a cynic about human behavior, but we won’t go there.)

And then the railroad came to town. And corrupt/corrupting corporations were born.

Well, not exactly, but close. Corporations had been around, but they were pale weak little things, compared to today. The States saw to that. After the debacle with the King’s East India Company and the revolution, powerful corporations were not welcome here. No, sir.

But, people being people, and memories being short, and money being the root of, and all that…

Railroads, as you can imagine, aren’t cheap to build or to run. State-of-the-art technology never is. Only groups of rich people could afford to do it. (This was back before the government thought it was okay to dabble in private enterprise, of course.) So they formed corporations. And those corporations became very powerful, and financial politics was re-born in the United States. We never learn. Sigh. The bigger the corporations got, the more powerful they got and the richer they got. And the more powerful and richer they got, the bigger they got. They branched out. They ran amok. Completely, gob-smack, amok. And big corporate banks were born. Born, and invested in by both now uber-rich Americans, and uber-rich Europeans. With very little regulation, the corporations did pretty much as they damned well pleased, buying and selling politicians and political influence included.

At the same time, average literacy levels were on the rise. Colleges and Universities were springing up, under every other rock, it seemed. Universities, like railroads, aren’t cheap to build, or to run. Guess who invested in them. (Note: we’re not talking about the land-grant, State-run universities. We’re talking about the private, liberal arts kind.)

And in those private liberal arts colleges, bought by the uber-rich, incubated the First Progressive Era. Those first progressives, had no respect for their elders, or what their elders had built. Typical frat boys, they knew they could change the world, if only they were in charge.

And the mega-corporations and their mega-rich stockholders quietly supported them, and eased their paths, and helped them to prominence. Now, you have to realize: in the 100-plus years since the Constitution was adopted, only 5 amendments had been ratified, and 3 of those were right after Lincoln won his war, and dealt mostly with establishing the rights of the former slaves (for all the good THAT did them. Another story, another time.)

But these Progressives, needed only a couple more amendments, and some extra legislation, to change the world. It had been over 100 years since Madison’s time. The world had changed, you see. People were “evolving”. Things were more complicated. Bullsh*t like that was everywhere those days. So, with the mega-corporations funding and fueling their efforts from behind the scenes, they pushed the 16th Amendment, establishing a new, collectivist-friendly way of taxation that only needed one more new department to manage it – the Infernal Revenue Service. And they got it, and the Devil smiled.  Oh, and while we’re at it, the country had grown too much to be bogged down with something as pesky and limiting as a hard currency, and they had this nifty new idea about how they could pay for things by just letting this international bank print paper money as they needed it, giving government issued IOU’s to that international bank to keep it propped up. That way they could save the world. And so the Federal Reserve Act was created, and the Devil chuckled. And then, because letting the States appoint Senators just wasn’t democratic, they pushed the 17th amendment. And they got it, and the Devil laughed and laughed and laughed.

And that, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, is how the First Progressive Movement, in 1913, destroyed our republic and turned our States into nothing more than provinces.

We’ll get into the 16th Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act another time. Right now we’re looking at what the 17thA did to us.

Before the 17th, if you were, let’s say, a chicken farmer in Arkansas, and you read something in the paper about a Representative from California, up in DeeCee, submitting a bill that says chickens must have so many square feet of space per chicken in their growing pens, you could march down the street to the local drug store, pick up that new-fangled telephone thing, and call your district representative down in Little Rock, and say “Hey! George! I want you to tell the Governor that I don’t like this crap those morons in California are trying to pull! I want it stopped, you hear? How’s your momma ‘n them?” And George, being your neighbor, would tell the Governor. And the Governor would pick up the phone and call DeeCee and get the senior Senator from Arkansas on the line and say, “Listen, Bob, our people don’t like what that California dunderhead down the House is trying to pull. When that Chicken thing comes up for a vote in the Senate, you will vote No. Got it? Good!” And Bob, liking his job and wanting to keep it, would dutifully vote “No”. Because, if he didn’t, the next time he came up for re-appointment, the State legislature would count how many times he didn’t follow their orders and decide to replace him with someone who would. Or, maybe they wouldn’t even wait that long, if he turned out to be a really crappy Senator.

After the 17th, that chicken farmer in Arkansas could pretty much do the same thing, and his local representative to Little Rock could do the same thing. But when it came time for the Governor to call the Senator…well, that’s where the rub comes. Because the Governor can’t fire the Senator anymore. The Governor, in fact, has nothing to do with the Senator’s job. He gets elected by “the people” now, just like the Representatives down in the House. Which means the Governor isn’t his boss. His boss is the people who help him get re-elected, and we all know who they are. So, now, when the Governor calls old Bob, up in DeeCee, Bob’s secretary tells him that Bob is out having lunch with a lobbyist from General Dynamic Chicken Coop Mfg Corp., and can’t be disturbed, but he’ll get back to him “real soon”.

James Madison would be furious. I know that I am.

Because He Can, That’s Why.

033

We’re continuing our responses to Judge Napolitano’s “What If” speech on his Fox News show, questions that strike at the heart of what’s happening to our nation. The Judge asked many questions that are so closely related we’re lumping some of the together. Here are six that we can do that with:

“What if the President, meant to be an equal to congress, has instead become a democratically elected, term-limited, monarch? What if the President assumed that everything he did was legal, just because he’s the President? What if he could interrupt your regularly scheduled radio and tv programming for a special message – from him? What if he could declare war on his own? What if he could read your emails and your texts without a search warrant? What if he could kill you without warning?” And here’s our opinion on them:

Some presidents rule like a dictator because … he has that power. Because he can. And, honestly, sometimes – only sometimes – because he has to. Which kind of makes sense. In an emergency, Congress can’t respond quickly. Hell, they aren’t even on the job half the time. They recess, adjourn, go home. And when they are there, they aren’t, a lot of the time. They’re on the phone or on the run, drumming up campaign funds and support to get themselves re-elected into their cushy spots. Or they’re creating sound-bites and posturing for their up-coming run at the cat-bird seat. And when they really are there, it takes them so long to come to any kind of consensus we’d be toast before they could react. In an emergency, they’re like an entire flock of Chicken Little’s, running in panicked circles squawking like….well, like chickens.

Executive Orders are how a president gets things done, just like the boss of any organization. A president is in charge of running all these dozens, maybe even hundreds of departments, and agencies, and bureaus, and offices, and what-have-you, and Executive Orders are how he does it. Most EO’s are humdrum, everyday housekeeping notes to lower management. A lot of it – a LOT of it – depends on the management style of the particular president. And a lot of it depends on the crises he faces.

But the real issue is the way the presidents can and do use executive orders to forward their personal agendas and rule, if they want, pretty much as absolute monarchs. Since they can do whatever they want, who’s going to stop them? Unless Congress howls loudly enough, or someone gets the judiciary involved, they get away with pushing whatever agenda they want; and they have been known to ignore both legislative and judicial censure for their acts. The only two weapons Congress has is the House’s “power of the purse”, and impeachment. The problem with the purse-strings, other than the obvious political issue of getting a divided group to reach consensus on refusing to fund something a president has done that some of them don’t agree with, is the time interval involved. Even if the House censures a president’s executive action by refusing to fund it, that takes time to take effect. There’s already plenty of money in the pipeline; by the time the supply dries up, the damage is, in most cases, already done. Impeachment is the only real threat, and that, rightfully so, isn’t an easy – or quick – thing to do.

In 1861, when Lincoln issued the executive order authorizing military commanders to suspend the writ of habeas corpus at their discretion, it was immediately struck down by a supremely pissed off Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (See what I did there? I’m so funny…) Lincoln simply ignored him. And Congress, cowering, was too scared to force the issue. “Just do what you need to do to keep us safe.” It was the first time a Supreme Court justice found an EO unconstitutional. And the first time a president ignored them.

Non-relevant historic sidenote: Lincoln issued that EO to prevent Maryland from seceding and joining the Confederacy. Take a quick look at a map. If Maryland had seceded, as it looked like they were headed for, the District of Columbia would have been completely surrounded, cut off. The Confederacy would have chopped off the head of the snake before it could strike. The war would have been over, the Confederacy triumphant, before another shot was fired. In fact, among the first casualties of the war were Union troops moving to reinforce D.C. and rioting Marylanders trying to stop them. But I digress.

The worst offenders of EO abuse were Lincoln (of course), Hoover, Truman (almost as bad as Lincoln), FDR (worse than Truman, not as bad as Lincoln), Clinton (almost as bad as Hoover), Bush (almost as bad as Truman), and (also, of course) Obama (who is FDR-bad and working diligently on surpassing Roosevelt, and is blatantly, stupendously arrogant about it). Bush has to take at least part of the blame for the Patriot Act, but since it’s legislation, he doesn’t get the “credit” for control by fiat. If the Patriot Act had been an executive order, he’d have out-gunned even Lincoln.

And again, to be fair, excluding his signature ACA debacle, Obama hasn’t really “gotten away with” much more than Clinton did. Possibly, if you compared the details, even less, actually. But Clinton was sneaky. Devious. Clever. Subtle. Obama is just clumsy and ham-handed. Or arrogant and ham-handed. Take your pick. Throw in his ACA shenanigans and agenda to “fundamentally transform”, and he’s shooting for the moon. Get out of the way, Bush. Move over, Lincoln.

Clinton didn’t announce to the world that he was going to defy Congress. He didn’t tell them, to their faces (think, State of the Union address), that he was going to damned well do as he pleased, and they better just fall in line, or else. Clinton simply and quietly went about doing whatever the hell he wanted to do, and if it came to light, waved it off as a misunderstanding – and kept on doing whatever the hell he wanted to do.

Bush drummed up war and patriotic fervor to distract the masses (Google “jingoism”), kept Congress cowering like the famous three monkeys: squatting in denial, their hands over their eyes, their ears, and their mouths – and got what he wanted. “Don’t tell us, we don’t want to know. Just save us.” The Bush dynasty has always been in bed with the industrio-military complex; that’s how they made their fortunes, all the way back to before WWII and before, and to this day see no reason to get off a winning horse, even if now they’ve been forced by circumstance to call on the thinner blood of the dynastic line.

Obama is foolish, simple, and such an arrogant sociopath he doesn’t think he needs to be subtle. And not even a Great Pretender like him can fake it realistically enough to drum up a Girl Scout cheer, let alone patriotic fervor. Socialist, progressive, collectivist fervor, oh yeah. Plenty of that. So he’s left with what he’s totally comfortable with: megalomania that rivals the world view of a three-year-old.

How is all this possible? Why is it able to happen? I hate to bad-mouth something I adore, but the reason is because the Constitution is too vague. Evidently the Founders, back when they were creating this wonderful but humanly imperfect document, were worried about setting up a situation where Congress could micro-manage the chief executive. They knew that wouldn’t be good, but it seems they never figured out any way to avoid it and still keep a reasonable rein on the president. Because of the way the Constitution is written, so vaguely and so briefly covering the duties of the president, and with little language about exactly how he’s supposed to do his job, there’s so much latitude for abuse that an impatient president can easily abuse his powers.

Or a less-than-scrupulous one.

Or a less-than-honorable one.

Or a power-mad megalomaniac.

Or a total incompetent.

Or all of the above.

And get away with it.

And too, because of the Constitutionally built-in adversarial roles of the branches of government, that whole checks-and-balances thing, the president, no matter who he is, Bush, Clinton, FDR, or Joe Blow, is never in agreement with the other branches. (Unless they kowtow to him – usually when his party has a clear majority across both chambers, but sometimes because it’s getting difficult to tell the difference between the two major parties.) So he’s almost always in a position of using his authority to skirt theirs.

The Supreme Court isn’t much help, either, since it’s damned difficult to even get a protest before them, and once you do you discover that the benches have been packed with do-nothing, special interest corporatist whores and progressives. Senile progressives, at that. You’d think that when they slam back a few too many glasses of wine, and start nodding off and drooling on their bibs at official functions somebody would “encourage” them to retire, but nooooo…..

So the answer to these six questions the Judge asked about the president is; “But he CAN. And he does, because he CAN.” If you are naive enough to believe that presidents ordering the death of American citizens without benefit of trial began with Barack Obama ordering the killing of citizens, on foreign soil, with drones, then… I have a bridge for sale I’d like to talk to you about. Obama is just the first one arrogant enough to think he doesn’t need to keep it a secret.

The President – not just THIS president – can read your texts and your emails and eavesdrop on your phone conversations, and bug your home, and incarcerate you indefinitely, and all those other evil, evil things, because the Constitution gave him implicit permission, and Congress gives him explicit permission, to do it. They’ve done it, for the most part, since Day One, and they’ll continue to do it as long as this Republic keeps struggling along.

Are We Citizens or Subjects?

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In 2011, Constitutional scholar Judge Andrew Napolitano spent five minutes of his Fox News show asking a series of questions, one after the other, that strike to the heart of the issues facing our nation. You know, bringing up things that make people think. It doesn’t matter if you agree with him or not. Or even if we agree with him or not. What matters is that every question he posed deserves attention.

That’s where we come in. The Judge’s first question was, “Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government?” Here’s our take on it.

In order to address this question fully, we have to revisit 1861, when that Great Emancipator, Ole Abe, decided to completely ignore the Constitution of the United States and invade the Confederacy. The outcome of Lincoln’s War of Aggression decided that question. The government works, not for us, but for itself. It does not work for the people, and hasn’t for a long time.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to revoke the ultimate right of the people as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to give, or to withdraw, their consent to be governed, reduced the states to nothing more than administrative provinces, and their citizens to subjects of the central authority. Before 1861, the government was truly a servant of the people. Even though it was sometimes reluctantly, from the beginning, to an ever-lessening degree, the government worked for the good of its constituent states and their citizens. It was by no means a perfect Union, just as no large family is perfectly content with its siblings – or with its parents. But each member of the family knew that, if conditions became too intolerable, if compromise or accommodation finally became impossible, it could divorce itself from the family and go its own way.

What? Wait. Are you saying…? Yes, that’s exactly what we are saying. The states that seceded from the Union had every right to do so, and Lincoln did violate the Constitution many times. Those states seceded individually, as a truly sovereign State had every right to do. They then voluntarily joined with the other sovereign states to form a new Confederation – dissolving their ties with their former association –  just like the colonies did, and like the Declaration said they had the right to do. All of this was embodied in the principle of State sovereignty, of the concept that the States had willingly and voluntarily entered into the compact as free agents, and could withdraw if they believed the conditions warranted. (No, we are not saying that the states that seceded had a right to keep slavery alive. Besides, anyone who has seriously studied history knows that slavery was not the real reason for that war, so put that argument away. Put it away.)

Lincoln, with his egregious violations of the Constitution, his willingness to force brother to kill brother to achieve his purpose, accomplished his goal of negating the principle of State sovereignty. His ruthless campaign set us on the inevitable path to where we are today: a centralized, autocratic, self-serving ultimate authority. That authority is an amoral, infinitely avaricious behemoth that treats its subjects no better than it must to maintain its own existence and progression. The 17th Amendment, ratified less than 50 years later, was merely the final blow, silencing the states’ last feeble voice in their, and their citizens’, own destinies. On May 31, 1913, the rulers in the royal province, the District of Columbia, declared itself the unlimited, absolute authority of its subjects. From that day until this, and for the foreseeable future, the government works, not for us, but for itself.

“Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.” – John C. Calhoun