Republic or Totalitarian Regime?
- 27 June 2010 by Author 0 Comments
Republic or Totalitarian Regime?
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 06/27/10
A few weeks ago when speaking to the cadets at West Point, President Obama quipped that, “In some areas my power is absolute.” He then absolved all cadets of infractions and granted pardons to them.
While that was a humorous exchange, it may have revealed a sentiment that has already proven very troublesome to any of us who claim fealty to the United States of America. He obviously feels that he has absolute authority over whatever he chooses.
Our country is a constitutional republic established by a literal document, the Constitution, which specifically itemizes the limits of governmental authority, and delineates that power across the three branches of government. The executive branch, of which Obama is the head, executes the laws which are codified by congressional legislation, which laws are also ascertained by our judiciary to be either constitutional or illegal based on interpretation of our founding documents and judicial precedent.
As such, the president cannot make laws by fiat, or declaration. He executes or enforces the laws established by Congress. For example, it would have been entirely proper for Congress to pass legislation either encouraging or demanding that British Petroleum set aside $20 billion for legitimate claims related to the gulf oil spill. But when the White House conducted their “shakedown” of British Petroleum and demanded it, where was the legal foundation for him to do that? Irrespective of the logic of BP stepping up to the plate to handle such claims, the president had no legal authority to make such demands. He also has no legal authority to pressure BP into not paying dividends to shareholders. This certainly resembles a Chicago-style “offer you can’t refuse” more than it resembles the rule of law in a constitutional republic.
Speaking of the oil spill, last week the president told Matt Lauer that he was wanting to know “whose ass to kick” for the gulf oil spill. He may not have to look very far, if we consider what led up to the catastrophe. He and his comrades in the Congress have coddled and embraced the radical environmental movement for years, and it was due to pressure from those groups that Gulf oil exploration has been pushed into ever deeper waters, as far away from coastlines as possible.
Considering Obama received massive political donations from BP, and how lax federal inspectors were with their operations in the Gulf, a logical person might wonder if the donations bought that laxity by inspectors, which placed the Gulf in jeopardy with precisely the kind of disaster we’re facing there now. You combine those two factors alone, and the president may only have to go as far as his bathroom mirror to see whose “ass to kick.”
The shakedown of BP closely resembles the shakedown of the auto industry after we, with our tax-dollars, and without our approval, bailed out Chrysler and GM. With a phone call, the president essentially fired the chairman of General Motors, wiped out all the equity of the owners of the company (the shareholders), and wiped out the principle that bondholders held in company bonds. Where was the legal authority to do that? There was no statute, no congressional action granting him that authority. Do we have a president to execute the laws of the land, or do we have a dictator in a totalitarian regime who does whatever he wants, regardless of legality?
Even Senator Robert Byrd recognizes the Chicago-style power grab occurring from the Oval Office. In a letter to the president last year, Byrd denounced the 36 “czars” appointed by the president over nearly every aspect of our lives. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.” But in spite of the recognition of this Chicago-style executive branch power grab, Congress does little to curtail presidential totalitarian actions, and serves as little more than a rubber stamp for anything he bothers to seek authorization on, like the takeover of our health care system.
Executive branch power has been increasingly steadily over the past century, but the acceleration and extent of it over the past two years is alarming. We are rapidly losing our republic, as governmental actions nearly daily expand the scope and breadth of government intrusion into our lives, limit our liberty and ability to choose, and commit multi-generational larceny against our posterity to pay for the largesse of government. We apparently are no longer a land ruled by law based on constitutional principles, when the president without legislative or constitutional authority, but by diktat can destroy equity ownership, shakedown companies for political purposes, and reshape national policy with his cadre of czars in the White House.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board.